Tag Archives: Jesus

Unpredictable As Weather

New Zealand is currently experiencing rainy and windy weather, to the extent that many holiday-makers have abandoned their holiday park reservations and headed home. Beaches have been closed, and storm warnings are in place for the Coromandel. Power cuts have occurred in parts of Auckland as a result of the storm and there are predictions of another storm next week.

Meanwhile, our daughter, who is visiting her brother in Russia, sent us their weather prediction.

No matter how much money one spends on a holiday or trip, nobody can guarantee ideal weather. We know full well from our stays at the South Coast that, out of perhaps 60 days holiday, there will not be more than about ten days which are beach days.

For all our technological advances, Man has not been able to control the weather. Only God can do that. The Old Testament contains many accounts of God directing winds, storms, withholding rain or even sending earthquakes.

Exodus 14:21b “…the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, …” 1 Kings 19:11 tells of the earthquake, gale and fire that Elijah experienced although God was not in any of these mighty forces, He sent them. Jonah 1:4, “Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” Later on, “God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.” (Jonah 5:8)

It is no wonder that when Jesus calmed the storm, the disciples “were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:31)

What Man cannot do, God can do. There is also no storm in our lives that He cannot control.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are God. You are my God. I trust myself to You, knowing that there is no storm in my life that You cannot calm if You will. Amen.

Christmas Productions

This weekend we’ve been to two Christmas productions involving our grandchildren. The first was a school production and the second a church production.

In each case the majority of the audience consisted of proud parents, grandparents and other assorted relatives. They had each come to watch their particular child perform and the teachers had the job of weaving the performance together to include contributions from everybody.

Image by scott payne from Pixabay

The performers had various degrees of acting ability, confidence, and costume choice. Nevertheless, each parent had eyes only for their particular child. Mistakes were overlooked and everybody was proud of their child no matter what they did on stage.

God is a Father like that. In the hodge-podge of humanity, He sees us each as His beloved child. He loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love. No matter whether we are out of synch with everybody else, have no confidence, even burst into tears, He looks on us with pride and love.

Jesus taught us to call God Father. In Matthew 7:11 He says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (NKJV)

My Prayer

My Father, I know I am not as good at certain things as others. I am also aware of my character and attitude flaws that You are working on. Thank You that You love me no matter what and that there is nothing I can do that would cause you to love me less … or more. Amen.

Mind Where You Walk

In two-and-a-half weeks’ time we will be heading for New Zealand. One of the things I still have to do is thoroughly clean the bottom of my hiking boots. Australia and New Zealand are very conscious of their ecology, their indigenous fauna and flora. They go out of their way to prevent any threat from microscopic organisms which might carry disease into their ecosystem. Many bacteria, fungi and protozoa are found in soil and mud and these are the ones that might be stowaways on my shoes. Once I’ve cleaned the soles, I have to mind where I walk and how I walk. The airport is fine with its hard floors but my garden is a no-no.

Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

The Bible talks about this. “Therefore see that you walk carefully [living life with honor, purpose and courage; shunning those who tolerate and enable evil], not as the unwise, but as wise [sensible, intelligent, discerning people],“(Ephesians 5:15 Amplified Bible)

Although it is important how we walk, it is also important where we walk. It is not only the Aussies and the Kiwis that know that the places we go can contaminate us. We’ve all experienced the irritation of walking in doggy do or cow pats. If we hobnob with those who tolerate and enable evil, as the verse above puts it, it affects us like a bad smell following us around.

1 Galatians 5:16 tells us how to walk wisely. “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” (NIV)

Of course we are but human and we will go astray and get our feet dirty.

When Jesus was washing the disciples feet, Peter suggested the Lord wash all of him. Jesus said, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.” (John 13:10 NIV)

We have been forgiven once for all through the death of Christ. We have had a bath. Nevertheless, as we go through the world we do sin and it is like picking up dirt on our feet. We need only to go to Jesus and confess and He will wash our feet again.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You have atoned for my sin on the cross and imputed Your righteousness to me. Nevertheless, I have sinned today. My attitudes and thoughts have not been honouring to You. I have been selfish and done what I wanted without consulting You or thinking of others. Please forgive me. Amen.

More Dimensions

In my Christian walk and study I’ve come across many concepts that are hard to understand. Examples are: the fact that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man; the Bible is 100% inspired by God, yet 100% written by man. This latter was explained brilliantly by Nicky Gumbel.

“Sir Christopher Wren, the most famous architect of his time, built St. Paul’s Cathedral. He began in 1676 and it took him 35 years to build it. He was 44 when he began and was 79 when he completed it in 1711. Sir Christopher Wren built St. Paul’s Cathedral, but actually he didn’t lay a single stone—other people did that. He directed its construction. In the same way, God did not “write the Bible”—He used human authors. But He inspired them. He was the “architect” behind its construction. Every stone in St. Paul’s Cathedral was there because Sir Christopher Wren intended it to be there. And the Bible is as God intended it to be.”

Something else that has bothered me is the fact that in one place the Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Romans 10:15) and yet Jesus told the parable of the sheep and the goats where the King welcomes into the kingdom those who have fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the poor, looked after the sick and visited the prisoner. “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40 NIV)

I recently attended a Conference on the letters of John by Robert W. Yarbrough. He added a third dimension to the confusion by citing Matthew 7:15. “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you.'”(NIV)

These people obviously believed in Jesus and did good works in His name. But He did not know them. In other words, there was no love relationship between them and Jesus. Dr Yarbrough explained these three conflicting criteria for entering the Kingdom of Heaven with a three dimensional graph. The X-axis is Faith, the Y-axis Works and the Z-axis Love. All three are needed simultaneously.

On our own we can try to do good works but faith and love are miraculous works of the Holy Spirit in us. Until Jesus is Lord of our lives, we will not know the faith and the love that He imparts to us and grows in us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know that many concepts are beyond my human understanding. I want a three dimensional faith and not a flat, lifeless one. Please grow me in directions and dimensions where I am lacking. May I know You more clearly, love You more dearly and follow You more nearly, day by day by day. Amen.

World Conqueror

How can we overcome the world?

I am not talking about military force.

Image by Thanasis Papazacharias from Pixabay

The Apostle John, in his first letter, explains it to us.

“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)

From my Anglican upbringing I remember we have to renounce the world, the flesh and the devil. We mostly understand the flesh and the devil, but where does the world fit in?

We live in a fallen world, ruled by Satan, and it is easy to be conquered by it. When we succumb to the world’s way of thinking and doing things, we are overcome by the world. When we lose our temper and swear at the computer, or kick the dog because everything went wrong in our day, or succumb to despondency or anger because we have had a run of bad luck, the world has the upper hand. When we repay evil for evil, the world has conquered us.

When I was still working, I had the use of a slow, problematic computer. I am also not the best computer operator. I used to play a game with myself. If the computer changed my mood or caused me to be grumpy, it was one point to the computer. If I was able to maintain my calm despite its best efforts to frustrate me, it was one point to me. I didn’t always win.

John’s letter gives us hope. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God and we are born again, we should be able to see the world from a different perspective, from God’s perspective. It isn’t necessarily easy, but Christ has overcome the world and He is in us. He told us plainly, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

John says earlier in his letter, “You, dear children are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (! John 4:4)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I confess that I often succumb to the world. I don’t avail myself of the victory You won for me and I forget that I am the daughter of the King. Please forgive me and empower me to face the world in Your strength. Amen.

Gates and Doors

Like many people in South Africa, we have an automatic electronic gate. To open it we point our dedicated remote towards it while depressing the button. The gate opens and stays open for a pre-set time then closes again. Or we can override it and depress the button again to close it.

Last night we left to attend our Community Group and the gate opened as usual. But it didn’t close. My husband pushed the button several times and it still wouldn’t close. He got out of the car to try from a different angle. At that moment he saw a Checkers delivery scooter. It appears the driver had forgotten part of my daughter’s order and found it at the bottom of his carrier. My husband buzzed my daughter to alert her and trusted that she would close the gate after the delivery man had left. Presumably she, too, couldn’t get the gate to respond. Our son-in-law put it on manual to close it then back on automatic. The same process had to be followed when we returned.

This morning the gate was found open. You have no idea how scary that is. It means that anybody could have strolled into our property while we were asleep. Even with the gate on manual, which it is at present, anybody who cares to try to open it, could do so. I feel insecure.

I have a new appreciation for the function of gates and doors. A gate allows us to select the people we allow on our property. Crime is a big problem in South Africa and unscrupulous thieves have been known to use all sorts of ruses to gain access to properties, from pretending to be service providers, delivery vehicles, potential buyers and more. When we were invaded at our previous property, the thieves sneaked in after we opened the gate and held us up at gun point. On another occasion they hijacked us outside our gate.

Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9-10 NIV)

Up ’till now, I related to the next part of Jesus’ teaching, “I am the good shepherd” but not really to the thought of Him being a gate or a door. Now I understand. The sheep will be safe with Him controlling access to them. He is our security. I have been told that the shepherd used to position himself at the door or gate of the sheep fold. I can just imagine a nervous sheep snuggling up to Him and sleeping peacefully.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You are my security and my protector. You know exactly what threats are out there, both in the physical and spiritual worlds. I trust myself to You. Thank You for Your promise that You came to give me life to the full. Help me to appropriate the security and abundant life You offer me. Amen.

The God Who Sees Me

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. (Like 19:1-6 NIV)

When I was still working, I could stand on the corridor outside the science lab, which was on the second floor, and see what was happening below as learners changed classes. One Valentine’s day I saw a boy give red balloons to a girl.

Image by yousafbhutta from Pixabay

It was a touching scene. There is a certain anonymity about seeing but not being seen. Most people do not look up much. I think that is what Zacchaeus was counting on.

When Hagar ran away from Sarai, the angel of the Lord found her and told her to go back to her mistress because she was pregnant. “She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.'” (Gen 16:7 NIV)

Jesus knew Zacchaeus was in the tree. He called him by name. The One Who Sees, El Roi, had seen him and he was never the same again. Jesus did not just see and note, he saw and engaged.

We cannot hide from God, no matter how many fig leaves we put between us. Whether we are running away, like Hagar, or in an unusual situation like Zacchaeus, Jesus sees us and longs to engage with us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, You see me and You know me. You know exactly what I need in any given situation. Thank You that I can trust You even when I feel overawed by You. Amen.

Who is This?

The disciples were in a serious storm and thought they would drown while Jesus slept. They woke Him and called for help. “And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'” (Matthew 8:26-27 ESV)

I understand the awe of the disciples. Those who read my blog will know the frustrations I’ve been having applying for visas to visit New Zealand. My son in New Zealand waited two hours to speak to the help-line and the information he got was not very helpful. I went along the rabbit warren of links and websites again and tried to make an appointment to hand in our passports. At least I found the sub-category that applied to our visas but the message was, “There are no slots available for this visa at present.” I discussed with my husband whether we should pay R1 104 to buy a walk-in appointment. We had almost decided on that but to buy the service we first had to make an appointment. So I tried again. This time there were two slots available, one on 30 September which is only a week away. We booked it, deciding not to go for the walk-in option which would show a lack of trust in the Lord.

Later, idly looking through accumulated emails, I found one from Immigration New Zealand. It said our visas had been approved and we could download our e-visas. The letter requesting us to present our passports has disappeared from my dashboard.

I was overwhelmed and filled with awe. When does an official government directive just disappear? I serve an awesome God. I have no idea what happened. The God who stilled the waves and the winds can also cause websites and technology to do what He directs. My God reigns!

Image by axonite from Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord, I am overwhelmed by Your sheer power. Thank You, thank You, thank You. I don’t understand what You did but I praise You. Amen.

If It’s not Messy, It’s not Real

When one is on a camping holiday, one gets to observe birds up close. I saw sparrows having dust baths right outside our tent. I googled it and discovered that indeed it is a way they clean themselves. They work the dust into their feathers then flap their wings and give them a good shake and the dust cleans them from mites and grease. A messy way to get clean!

A sparrow having a dust bath

When I was in grade two, my teacher told us that, when Jesus was a boy, He crafted sparrows out of wet clay and they flew away. I never heard that story again. Today’s chapter from John Stott’s book deals with sparrows. For the first time since 1958 I read that story again. John Stott writes, “The so-called Infancy Gospel of Thomas preserves a rather charming story (though almost certainly not authentic) of Jesus as a boy of five. He and other children were playing together beside a stream, and Jesus fashioned twelve sparrows out of soft clay. When his father Joseph asked him why he was breaking the law on the Sabbath day, ‘Jesus clapped his hands together and cried out to the sparrows and said to them ” Go!”, and the sparrows took their flight and went away chirping.'”

My Bible reading today was from John 9 and deals with the story of Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind. “After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ he told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam.’” (John 9:6-7a NIV)

We all know what happened. But have we ever thought how messy it was? Jesus was standing with His hands covered in mud. The blind man was (presumably) led away to the pool with his face slathered with brown mud.

Fairy tales are neat and sanitised. “…and they all lived happily ever after.” Real life is messy. The Christmas card showing the immaculately clean baby in the arms of a serene mother, is not the reality. Giving birth is messy. It involves pain and blood. Lots of blood. Mary would have been exhausted, possibly tear-stained. Somehow we get it into our heads that when we become Christians, all our problems will disappear. That’s the fairy tale. The reality is that life is messy. It involves broken bones, times of struggle, hard work, disappointments and loss. Jesus never promised a problem-free life, only that He would be with us in the messiness. Jesus did not come to make life easy but to make men great. (I can’t remember who said that.)

So if life seems messy at the moment, don’t despair. Invite Jesus into the mess. He doesn’t mind getting His hands full of mud. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33b NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have preconceived stereotyped ideas about You. Please help me to come to grips with reality. You are much bigger than I can ever imagine. Help me to trust You implicitly , even in the mess. Amen.

Under or Above

The view from our motorhome is amazing.

It is no surprise that, from a place 500m from the main Scottburgh Beach, I could see surfers on Saturday morning when the weekend visitors arrived. I had every intention of writing a post for Streams of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt was “board.” I even took photos with my DSLR camera. Then I realised that my computer’s card reader no longer works and I left my plug-in one at home.

After the Sunday sermon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBZNtW-SL9A&t=54s by a visiting missionary, Martin de Lange, I decided to redirect my ideas.

Martin spoke about conversations he’s had around a braai where people are asked how they are doing. “All right under the circumstances,” many reply. Martin says Christians are not supposed to live under the circumstances but above them.

That’s where the surfboard illustration comes in. A surfboard is not meant to keep its rider under the water, but above it. Even if the wind blows or the sea is rough, a skillful rider stays above the waves, using their momentum to gather speed.

Faith in Christ is like our spiritual surfboard. Jesus said, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].” (John 10:10 AMP)

Jesus did not intend us to live under the circumstances or to just keep our heads above water. Sure, we have problems but without problems there can be no miracles. We need to give our problems to Jesus and leave them with Him.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, please help me to keep my eyes on You and not on my problems. I don’t need to tell You how big my problems are, but perhaps I should tell my problems how big my God is. Amen.