Tag Archives: JusJoJan

The Last Day of January

JusJoJan 31 January

I made it. I managed to write a blog post every day for the month of January. Thank you to Linda Hill for this great challenge. I hope you do it again next year. Thanks also to my fellow travelers along the way. I got to know some of you a little better and met some new and interesting people. Well done to all of you who made it through January.

The word for today is facetious.

The word, “sin,” is one of those words that has lost its meaning in modern life. People use it facetiously in phrases like, “so delicious, it’s sinful” or “it’s a sin to pass by this great offer.”

Sin, as used in the Bible, is not something we do or anything we eat. It is an attitude of heart, a rebellion against God. It is basically saying to God, “You have no claim on me, I owe you nothing. I am the centre of my own life and those around me. I will live my own life, decide for myself what is right or wrong and be god in my own life.”

We all suffer from this rebellious tendency. It’s called human nature. We don’t like to be told what to do. We do what we feel like, regardless of how it affects others. The symptoms are all around us to see:- corruption, exploitation, greed, violence, murder, theft, rape, injustice, bigotry, envy, unforgiveness… the list goes on an on.

Christ died to free us from the entanglement of sin. “…he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…” (2 Corinthians 5:15,17-18a ESV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, I am fully aware of the rebelliousness that still lurks in my heart. Thank You for the cross. Please forgive my sin, come into my life and take over more and more each day. Amen.

Preparing a Place

JusJoJan 30 January 2022

When I heard I was pregnant for the first time, I went straight from the doctor’s room to a department store and bought a tiny babygro and a pair of booties. We were so excited! My mother fished out her knitting needles and bought soft pastel wool. As time went by, we started preparing a nursery. There is so much equipment that a baby needs! We prepared the room with happiness and excitement. We even bought a fluffy star that had a recording of a mother’s heart beat to make the baby feel at home and secure.

Image by Pixabay

My friends at that time were in a similar stage of life and reacted in the same way to the news of their pregnancy. Only the best for Their child!

Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John14:3 NIV)

With as much excitement and anticipation as parents prepare a place for their expected baby, Jesus prepares a place for us. He knows what will comfort us, make us happy and make us feel welcome in our new home. Only the best will do for His child!

While parents are happily preparing a nursery for their baby, God is at work behind the scenes preparing the baby for his new home. The lungs need to be developed enough to be able to breathe this strange atmosphere. The baby needs to develop to readiness for birth.

In the same way, God is working with us to prepare us for heaven. As a line from that famous Christmas Carol, “Away in a manger,” says, …”and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.”

The trials and tests we face are all part of the preparation. Paul says about suffering, “…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3b-5 NIV)

It’s not only suffering as we understand it, but disappointments, irritations, rejection, set-backs, dealing with persistent health issues or struggles, that grow our perseverance, character and hope.

God is the One who does the preparing. We can be sure that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, it is comforting to know that You are preparing a place in heaven for me and You will welcome me one day. May I have Your point of view to be able to regard suffering and trials as part of Your loving preparation. I’m not there yet. Amen.

Never Letting Go

JusJoJan 28 January 2022

Today I have the most difficult prompt word yet, “abscission.” I had to look it up. It means “the natural detachment of parts of a plant, typically dead leaves and ripe fruit.”

I can imagine an avocado tree saying to its mature daughter, “You’re old enough to stand on your own two feet now. I’m letting go. Bye!” The tree starts building a barrier between itself and the fruit until the fruit just drops off. The tree does not miss the fruit or suffer any damage for its loss.

I’ve heard of bird species where fledglings are basically kicked out of their nest by the parents when they are old enough to fly off and make their own life and family. While the chicks are still young, the parents are fiercely protective of them, (I was once attacked by a Guinea fowl when I tried to take photos of her chicks) but once they have left home, the parents seem to forget about them.

Humans are not so. When our children leave home there is always sadness. In South Africa, it is fairly common for adult children to leave for another country, taking beloved grandchildren with them. For the parents it is like having their family torn from them and counselors and psychologists are kept busy coaching them through the trauma. I wonder if it would be easier if some kind of abscission were at play in us.

But we are made in the image of God. God never lets go of His children.

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;” (Isaiah 49:15 -16a NIV)

Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30 NIV)

With God there is no abscission. Far from building a barrier between us, God is in the business of removing the sin-barrier that exists between us and Him. That is why Jesus came. That is why He died.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise that You will never leave me nor forsake me, that none can wrest me from Your hands. Thank You for Your fierce love that gave Your all for me. Amen.

Beyond Understanding

JusJoJan 27 January 2022

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

These are some of my favourite verses. The trouble with being anxious is that it has nothing to do with logic. There are tools and tricks to try to talk yourself out of anxiety but they don’t get to the heart of the thing. My Mom used to reason thus:

What is the worst thing that can happen to me in this situation? Can they kill me? Can they put me in prison? If the worst possible thing happens, can I cope? Will I get through it?

While these methods can work to a certain extent, they don’t touch the emotions, or the heart. In the Bible, the heart describes a person’s center for both physical and emotional-intellectual-moral activities. That is why we need a peace that affects our hearts as well as our minds.

I first noticed this distinction when I was battling with a personal problem, an unhealthy affection. I stood on this verse for a number of weeks or maybe it was months, until the strong attraction weakened.

The peace that God gives as a direct result of our prayer and petition cannot be explained. It cannot be understood. It is beyond understanding but it can be felt. It is like the touch of our Father’s hand on our shoulder.

Image by Pixabay

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, today I pray for all those who are reading this post. May they experience that peace which passes understanding as Your gift. Amen.

Put it in Writing

JusJoJan 25 January

I am somewhat socially inept. I don’t pick up the unspoken cues that other people notice, or perhaps I was never actively taught the art of conversation and what is and is not appropriate. (My Mother did teach me never to ask anybody how much money they earn though.)

My timing is out and whenever I ask a question at the dinner table, the person is stuck with a mouthful of food. I try to be caring and show an interest in other people’s concerns but somehow I don’t get it right. Appropriate words fail me just when I gather up enough courage to open my mouth. If I’m having a deep conversation about something that affects me emotionally, I normally cry which interferes with the message I’m trying to convey.

I have on occasion resorted to writing letters. Somehow the written word seems more weighty than the spoken. People can always deny having said something, but once you’ve written it, there is no turning back.

In my dealings with God I rely heavily on the written word. I’m so glad that nowadays we have the Bible in print form (and the electronic equivalent) and it’s not just word of mouth traditions handed down from generation to generation.

I keep a journal. In it I write verses that impact me and thoughts about what I am reading or studying at the moment. I find writing things down helps keep my mind from wandering. When I write my prayers I feel like I am serious about them. That doesn’t stop me from whispering SMS prayers during the day, however. It just feels more like a basic contract that I can build on. Another advantage of a journal is that I can keep a record of specific prayers for specific people so that when they are answered, I can note it and my faith grows because I might not otherwise even remember that I had prayed.

To cater for journal-writing-people like me, they now manufacture beautiful journals with appropriate scripture verses or beautiful scenes. That just makes it seem more special but there is actually nothing wrong with a plain school book. In fact, my earlier journals are just that, perhaps with the page of an old calendar or something pretty to cover them.

This is my journal for 2022

Not everybody is helped by journaling their journey with God but it works for me.

My Prayer

Thank You, Father God for the Bible. You have committed Your promises to writing and I can stand on them. Please help me in my everyday communication with people. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, Amen.

Unbelievable but true

JusJoJan 24 January

If you had told me fifty years ago that one day I would be walking around with a computer in my pocket, I would have regarded it as unbelievable. Yet it is true.

image by Pixabay

Much of the Christian faith is unbelievable. Most unbelievable of all is the fact that the Eternal God of the universe, Whom my human mind can’t even comprehend, should love me. That He should want a relationship with me and welcome me into His family. However unbelievable it may seem to me, it is true. And it is true of each one of us.

1 John 3:1 reads, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! and that is what we are.” (NIV)

I’ve struggled in the past and sometimes still struggle with the personal aspect of this. I can accept that Jesus came to save the world but it’s hard to believe that He came for me. What has helped me is the little word, “whosoever” in the old King James version. I am whosoever. Some translations talk about anyone or everyone.

Jesus said, ” And the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, never reject anyone who follows me]. (John 6:37b Amplified Bible)

My Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that You love me. May this truth sink down from my mind to my heart and take root there, colouring all that I think, feel and do. Amen.

Add Value to Survival

JusJoJan 23 January 2022

When I was at school, probably preteens/early teens, it was fashionable to have an autograph book. One would pass the book around the class (I was in an all-girls school in my early high school career) and everybody would write a short funny saying or rhyme and their name. Girls wrote clever things like “YY U R, YY U B. I C U R YY 4 me.” (Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are too wise for me.) One girl made a page of bricks in her book with the question on top, “What is better than gold?” The plan was for everybody to write their answer and their name in a brick to build a friendship wall. One girl, I think her name was Colleen, wrote “Peace with God” as her answer. I was not a Christian at the time and I thought that a weak answer.

I think differently now. If I had an autograph book, I would ask the question on my Wall of Life, “What adds value to surviving that makes life worth living?” People would come up with many answers.

I’ve heard it said, “Friendship has no survival value but it adds value to survival.” So “Friends” could make up one brick of my wall.

The Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.“(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV) This is true not only of friends, but husbands and wives, parents and children, family or any other person who enriches our lives by being who they are.

My classmate, Colleen, was also right. Peace with God makes the difference between living and surviving. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)

There are more bricks to be filled in. Please add your contribution in the comments. If you can add a relevant scripture verse, all the better. I think “Chocolate,” “Cappuccino” and “Sunsets” would look good on my wall.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for the people and things that add value to my life. May I never take them for granted but value them and give You thanks always. Amen.

Trusting

JusJoJan 20 January, 2022

This year I’d love to trust the Lord more, looking to Him for protection, guidance, provision and wisdom. This morning I realized how far away I still am in trusting God.

Out of the blue, our outside alarm went off. My husband was in his study, the grandchildren, who live next door in the main house, had just left for school. Suddenly I was afraid. I pictured somebody sneaking into the property as the automatic gate was closing and now roaming the garden. I locked the door. I had been about to go out and spend time with the Lord in the gazebo in our garden. Now I hesitated.

Then I heard my husband’s phone. The security company had picked up the alarm activation. Normally they would only phone him if my daughter hadn’t answered her phone. She is the first contact. Perhaps she was driving. I heard my husband say, “False alarm. Everything’s OK.” How did he know? Had he checked?

Image from Pixabay

It’s not as if I had forgotten about the Lord. It’s almost as if I could hear Him say, “What! Don’t you trust me to protect you?” I have no idea why I reacted like I did. I am not normally that fearful. My heart raced and I had this queer feeling in my stomach. All I know is, despite what I profess to believe, I was not trusting the Lord. I was leaning on my own understanding, and especially my own imagination.

Of course, my husband was right. It was a false alarm. He had realized that because the clangor had only been sounding for about thirty seconds, somebody must have switched it off.

The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

My Prayer

Lord, I am sorry I am so fearful. I know it is a sign of not trusting You completely, of doubting Your love for me. Please forgive me. Amen.

A Pilgrim’s Prayer

JusJoJan 19 January 2022

Brother Lawrence, who prayed, “Lord of all pots and pans and things…Make me a saint by getting meals And washing up the plates,” could say, “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

Image from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday

Seasons and Cycles

Up until a month ago, we had oranges for breakfast every morning. My husband, who must be the best husband in the world, would prepare them by cutting along the skin of each segment with a grapefruit knife. We paid about R30 for a big pocket of lovely, juicy oranges. Suddenly one Tuesday, there were no piles of orange pockets outside the greengrocer. I asked one of the staff if there were no oranges. He said they only had the half bags and fetched me one. When I looked at the till slip after I had paid for my vegetables, I saw the half bag of oranges cost R45! It was obvious the orange season had come to an end.

Life is a continual procession of repeating cycles. The cycles are made up of different seasons and we have to adapt our behaviour according to the season. The Bible talks about seed time and harvest. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease. ” (Genesis 8:22) There will always be cycles and seasons and what we do during those times depends on the season.

Ecclesiastes 3 begins, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” It then continues to list different pairs of opposites for which there is a time. I was struck by verse 5b, “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” During the hard lockdown of Covid in 2020, we experienced a time to refrain from embracing. People built special shields and gloves just so they could hug their grandchildren. This season is not over yet. In most countries relatives can still not visit their loved ones in hospitals.

I’m looking forward to the next season of “a time to embrace.”

Image by Pixabay

My prayer

Father God, thank you that You created the world to include cycles and seasons. Please help me to discern which season I am in now and give me the wisdom to act appropriately. Amen.