“Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81 :10b NIV)
This is the verse that spoke to me today. Then I saw a black collared barbet eating from a half orange on the birdfeeder. He was taking big bites, seeming to enjoy himself. I looked down and saw a thrush. I haven’t seen any around for a couple of months. He was pecking in recently watered soil looking for insects.
It occurred to me that God was feeding them both. He was filling their mouths with what they each individually needed. I thought of what I need today – stamina, wisdom, peace. God does not provide the same spiritual nourishment to all His children like a chicken farmer feeding chickens. He knows our individual needs and provides accordingly. Our job is to merely open our mouths wide and allow Him to fill us. Quite often our needs overlap. I am sure many others besides me need peace. His promise is to all of us.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27 NIV)
Likewise, oranges sustain other creatures beside barbets. Bees buzz constantly around the bird feeder, taking tiny sips of the juice. When we were at the game reserve recently, we saw piles of oranges which had been put out for the wild animals. The monkeys helped themselves from the trees.
My Father, You know exactly what I need today. Please breathe Your Spirit on me and fill my mouth as You have promised with Your gifts, physical, spiritual, emotional and relational. I open my mouth wide. Amen.
We’ve all been hearing about Cyclone Eloise recently. Across Southern Africa at least 15 people have died, including two from South Africa.
It reminds me of the Covid pandemic. It sweeps across the world leaving death in its wake.
There were storms in the Bible too. Elijah was on a mountain and experienced wind strong enough to break rocks, an earthquake and a fire but the Lord was not in any of these natural disasters. God was in the aftermath – in a still, small voice. ( 1 Kings 19)
The disciples were in a boat in the eye of a storm that they, experienced fishermen, thought might kill them. They woke Jesus. I don’t imagine they woke him at the first sign of the storm or when they thought they could cope on their own. It was only when things were out of their control that they called to Him.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lordsave us! We’re going to drown!”He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matthew 8:25-26 NIV)
We are in the midst of a Covid storm. Maybe we think we can cope. Let’s not wait until we are out of our depth to call on Jesus. He’s not sleeping. He is only a whisper away. He has the power and the authority to still any storm.
Lord Jesus, all around me is uncertainty, fear and confusion. Please still the raging anxiety in my heart and bring me peace. Amen.
Jesus sent the disciples out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them, “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” (Luke 9:3 NIV)
He wanted them to travel light.
I picture Jesus taking me on a long hike. “What shall I bring?” I say.
“Nothing. Just trust me,” He says.
That’s just scary. No hiking stick, no spare clothes, no food. What about a water bottle?
I used to lead a Girl Guide company. The Girl Guide motto is Be Prepared. It would be unthinkable to go on a hike without making preparations and being prepared. Trusting Jesus is no easy matter. It is certainly against all we’ve been taught. We feel we need to be in control. I would be inclined to ask Him for a map so I can see where we are compared to where we intend to go. But Jesus won’t give me one. All He asks is my trust and that I will stay close to Him, following where He leads.
In this Covid season we are in at the moment, everybody feels insecure. Matters have been taken out of our hands. Our well-prepared plans have been summarily cancelled and we have no idea what the future holds. With my mind I know God is in control but I still feel unsettled.
Lord Jesus Christ, it’s been a long time since I asked You to come into my life and take over. I am so inclined to try to wrest control back from You. Please forgive me and teach me to trust You and rest in Your love. Amen.
I read an interesting piece on our church’s website this morning called the Plague of Plagues by Michael Philips. It is quite long but thought provoking and very biblical and it turned my thoughts once more in the direction of viruses and sin.
I am a microbiologist by training and I learned a bit of virology, as well as a bit of bacteriology, mycology, immunology, biochemistry and assorted other -ologies. I have often linked in my mind sin to some kind of infection so let’s play and pretend sin is a virus. Unlike earthly viruses, this one infects the soul as well as the body.
Patients zero were Adam and Eve. The virus quickly spread through mother to child transmission as well as contact with other infected people and now everybody has got it.
The symptoms are obvious. Paul gives a list in 1 Cor 6:9-10. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? He then goes on to list some of the symptoms:- sexual immorality, idolatory, adultery, theft, greed, slander. There are other symptoms and they all fall into the category of ignoring God, His commands, His gifts, His love. Instead people want to do things their own way making themselves into gods.
Society down the ages has done their best to treat the symptoms, just like we might take decongestants for our cold. It will not cure us, only take away the symptoms. The Ten Commandments were a set of laws designed to treat the symptoms in society and model what cured people might look like. Other societies have laws and customs that do the same. With varying degrees of success they try to limit murder, theft, and antisocial behaviour with punishments which deter many from giving in to the tendencies which are symptomatic of the infection.
There is a cure. Think of it as a blood transfusion. …and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7b NIV)
If we get a blood transfusion with blood that contains antibodies to the virus, we will slowly get better as the virus is neutralised. It doesn’t happen overnight, but slowly we get better. This is a once off treatment. However, to be totally clear of the virus and to prevent re-infection, we need our bodies to make more antibodies. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit to enable this process. We become sanctified. Again, it is a slow process and some of the symptoms take a long time to disappear because of damage that they have caused to our bodies and spirits.
John goes on to say in verses 8 and 9, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Imagine if, at the time of your blood transfusion, the doctor gave you a certificate saying you were no longer infectious, even though you might still have a symptom or two. This certificate could give you access to places you could not normally enter as an infected person. You could go through the screening processes with impunity. You could even have access to the Kingdom of Heaven which has a very strict anti-infection policy.
I’m sure trained ministers and pastors would pick holes in my analogy, but I had fun. Hope you did too.
An encouraging verse to leave you with as we all think about viruses, infections, quarantines, lockdowns, prohibitions, economic collapse and the like.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)
Yesterday I noticed something strange on the patio under our gazebo.
Being the curious scientist that I am, I wanted to know what it was and how it had appeared in such an unlikely place. My first thought was that the grandchildren had emptied squigies, those water absorbing gel beads on the patio, but nobody in the family knew anything about it. On closer inspection, it didn’t have any signs of spheres which I would have expected if that was the explanation. Google was not all that much help either. Although I found several comparable images, most related to sightings of the stuff and other people asking what it was. Apparently such globs of goo suddenly appearing on the ground but usually on grass, have been recorded since the 14th Century. Folk lore accredits them to comets passing close to earth and the general name of star Jelly was adopted.
Scientific explanations have ranged from water-retaining gels added to soil to frog spawn, especially when the frog had been eaten by a predator and the ovaries ripped out and either left by the predator or regurgitated up by the predator after the gelatinous substance had swelled in their stomach. There might be different types of star jelly caused by different natural phenomena like slime moulds. I have scooped up some and put it in a bottle to see what happens – whether anything hatches or whether it just dries up. The stuff has no smell and I wasn’t sufficiently curious to taste it. Suffice to say, I have to accept that some things are beyond my understanding.
That, of course, reminds me of a bible verse, one of my favourites.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus. (Phil4:7 KJV)
I don’t understand this peace that Christ offers. It can’t be explained by science, psychology or the world. Luckily I don’t have to understand it to appropriate it just as I don’t have to understand electricity to use my microwave.
Dear Lord, please give me this peace that passes understanding and may I share it with those you bring across my path Amen.
God talks to us in many ways. Today, I’ve mostly heard from Him through scripture. It started this morning with my verse for the day from Psalm 24:1 NIV
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.”
God is in control. It is, after all, His world. We are His too and He knows how to care for what belongs to Him.
Our Church is putting out a series of Daily devotions, based on the fruit of the Spirit. Today’s reflection on Peace contained a number of verses that spoke to me.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
It should come as no surprise that we are facing trouble in the world at the moment. Jesus said we would face trouble. He did not promise that we would not have trials, troubles and even persecutions but He did promise to be with us in them and through them. He will always be our Anchor.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27 NIV)
The peace that Jesus gives is so much greater than anything the world can offer. Today is Monday, sometimes referred to as Blue Monday. Today let us wallow in God’s peace rather than the Monday blues.