Tag Archives: scripture

Facing Failure

We are leaving for New Zealand in a week. Part of my preparation has been to think about which clothes to take and whether anything needs replacing. I bought a green jacket at the beginning of winter which was very convenient when we went camping as it has pockets and a hood and is shower-proof. It has never looked smart, however. It just didn’t hang right. I decided to look at it carefully and see why. It seemed that the lining had shrunk or was never the right size for the outer shell. Surely if I separated the lining from the shell and just neatened it off, it would improve the hang? Maybe I used the wrong material to edge off the lining but, suffice it to say, I gave away the jacket and bought another one.

On Tuesday afternoon my daughter came to show me how my granddaughter’s ballet character skirt had become too loose for her. She needed it fixed for her ballet exam. Safety pins in the waistband would not cut it. She asked if I could fix it by Thursday, which was the last practice. It seemed a simple job – unpick the elasticised waist band and put in new elastic. Easy! I even found a suitable piece of elastic in my sewing box.

Image adapted from Image by Fiona from Pixabay

After twenty five minutes of trying to unpick black thread from black fabric and making only 1cm progress on one of three rows of stitching on the elasticised band, I came up with another plan – cut off the waist band and make another one. It was after 9.30pm before I could get hold of my daughter to OK the plan (especially as the fabric I had was not a perfect match colourwise.)

The Bible says, “The heart of man plans his way; but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16: 9)

My plan started well but by Wednesday night, once I had finished sewing the three rows to keep the elastic from twisting, the stretch no longer seemed enough. Maybe it was old elastic I had found.

Suddenly, on my worktable, was not only the new band I had made, but also another one which was much stretchier. I couldn’t understand it. The one I had cut off the skirt was in the dustbin, and yet here was just exactly what I needed. And the material was a perfect match. I had prayed about this project that the Lord would help me make a success of it. Surely this was His provision! We were looking after the grandchildren on Wednesday night so it was easy to get my granddaughter to try on the new waistband. It was quite a bit too tight but if I attached a piece from the one in the dustbin it could work.

It was in attaching the skirt to the waistband that the wheels really came off. You know it’s time for bed when you have sewed the entire waistband and a big chunk of fabric hangs down, un-incorporated.

By Thursday morning I was a soggy mess of stress. I had managed to unpick a lot of the stitching but not all. I couldn’t stop crying. My husband tried to cheer me up by saying that we could buy a new skirt if necessary. That didn’t help because it would be another failure. I had undertaken to do something and I had failed.

I knew the Lord had brought this upon me for a purpose. The extra waistband had apparently been from when my older granddaughter had had a similar issue with her character skirt just before an exam, only hers had been too tight and I had cut it off and made another one. Only I had forgotten. And exactly how it had landed on my work table I still don’t know. God’s handiwork was obvious. Surely He isn’t trying to tell me that there is a time to give up!

After a lot of thought, I think He wants me to learn to cope with failure. Looking back on my life, I have not failed often. Perhaps I have become too proud and independent. I have prided myself on being able to deliver on my promises, on being capable.

I had so wanted to be Super Granny!

My Prayer

Lord, I am not quite sure what You are doing with me at the moment and I don’t like it. Forgive me for relying on my own gifts and talents rather than on You. If You are teaching me something, may I learn quickly so I may be at peace. Amen.

Gold Star

On our way home from walking the grandchildren to school on Monday, I came across a small gold star hiding among the natural detritus on the pavement.

It was so well camouflaged that I’ve had to desaturate the rest of the photo to show it clearly.

When I was in primary school, a gold star symbolised excellence. Having a workbook full of gold stars was something to be proud of and a bragging right for your parents. Yet here was this lone star lying unnoticed on the ground.

Paul writes to the Philippians, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16 NIV)

It is true that in this self-seeking world of social media, doing everything without grumbling or arguing will not cause us to stand out in a crowd. We might well be overlooked and ignored like the little gold star on the ground. Yet God sees. He sees us shining like stars amidst the ordinariness of life. We need only to hold on to the Word of Life, who is Christ. He will enable us, through His Holy Spirit, to lead a life pleasing to God – and that includes doing everything without grumbling and complaining.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, Word of Life, sometimes my hold on You grows slack. Yet Your hold on me never falters. Forgive me when I grumble and complain. Please lead me and empower me to live a life pleasing to You that I might be blameless and pure and hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That will be to me, a gold star. Amen.

Enlarging territory

And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested. (1 Chronicles 4:10 NKJV)

In the days of colonialism, enlarging territory involved sending people to other countries and persuading the inhabitants, by treaties or gifts or military force, to give you land for your empire where you can settle your excess population. Things haven’t changed much. After all, humanity is planning to do something similar by sending settlers to Mars, although that planet, as far as the scientists can tell us, is uninhabited by intelligent life.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

In either case, I don’t think that was the enlarging of territory that Jabez requested. I think it is more like the blessings of God to work through his life bringing increase to his character, service and sphere of influence.

Consider for a moment. A young couple gets married and moves into a one-bedroomed apartment. After a few years they have a child or two or more. They have to enlarge their territory. Fortunately, the husband has now established himself in his job and they can afford to move into a bigger apartment or even their very own house.

As the children grow and mature, they attract boyfriends and girlfriends. Before long, the family doubles as sons- and daughters-in law are added to the people they love and care for. An 8- or 10-seater dining table might now be required.

Meanwhile, the couple’s sphere of influence grows as they interact with work colleagues, other parents at the school, then teenage friends and their parents, then finally the family of their sons- and daughters-in-law.

All this supposes the blessing of God is with them and that the hand of God is upon them. There are so many snares and pitfalls along the way that can shipwreck the process.

In the same way, our ministry should expand under God’s leading as our character and experience grows. I consider my blog my ministry and I shall certainly pray that the God of Heaven enlarges it.

Expanding territory can also include our business. It is good to pray for God’s influence in expanding our business or endeavours.

God answered Jabez’s prayer because it was according to His will.

Jabez also prayed to be kept from evil (which accords with Jesus’ model prayer) and not to cause pain to others. These are both things we can pray and know we are in God’s will.

My Prayer

O God of Heaven, please bless me indeed and keep Your hand upon my life. Enlarge my capacity to love all those you have given me to care for and serve. Enlarge the borders of my ministry. Please keep me from evil and open my eyes so that I may not cause pain to others. Please grant my request. 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.

A Rose in the Car

Recently a friend gave me a single rose. I wanted to keep it from wilting in the car on my way home. We have been in the middle of a heat wave for the last week or two. I asked for a small bottle that I could use to keep the flower in water. I managed to find a suitable spot in my car to wedge the bottle and keep the flower upright.

As long as the stem of the rose remained connected to the water, the rose would stay alive and drink up the water. However, should the stem be removed from the water for a while, it would suck up air instead, leading to a quick decline.

Jesus said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NLT)

Jesus was talking about a vine and its branches but it is also true of a rose and water. The rose stem needs to remain in the water so the water can remain and flow through the rose stem.

In John 7, Jesus talks about “living water,” by which He meant the Spirit. If we walk by the Spirit, i.e. keep constantly connected to Him, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh, (Gal 5: 16) which cause us to wilt and fade as the living water is no longer in us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I do not always keep connected to You. Please help me to walk more and more by the Spirit, like a rose keeping its stem constantly in the water. I know that without You I can do nothing. Thank You for Your life-giving Spirit. Amen.

Letting Go

For my party I ordered a number of helium balloons. One of them was a foil balloon with a clichéd 70 adorning it. By the day after the party, all the other balloons had lost their buoyancy and looked like any air-filled balloons. The foil one held its head high and floated about the ceiling, trailing its long ribbon behind it. After another five days, however, it was past its prime, tethered to the ground by the weight of the ribbon.

It reminded me of myself, now past my prime. Although my health is good and I have outlasted some of my contemporaries and near-contemporaries, I am certainly not the woman I was in my prime. I seem weighted down by life, experience, the past, society as it is at present, and nostalgia for the way things used to be (or at least the way I remember them.)

I took a pair of scissors and cut the balloon’s ribbon close to its mouth. Up it popped to the ceiling again.

Two scriptures come to mind.

Isaiah 40: 31: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (KJV) Our Father works gently with us and, if we trust Him, He does cut away the things that weigh us down and turn our eyes away from the world and rather to Him.

Philippians 3:13b: “…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, sometimes I do feel weighed down by life and circumstances. I come to You so that You can cut away the unnecessary ribbon that holds me down. May I get into the habit of waiting on You every day so that my gaze may be upward and not earthward, forward and not backward. Amen.

Birthday Wishes

Tomorrow is my 70th Birthday. My cousin gave me a lovely magnetic Birthday card.

I thought it would be fun to try to find a Bible verse for each line.

Be the best you can. Col 3:23: Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, God. (MSG)

Inspire yourself and others. Thes 5:11: Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (NIV)

Reach for your dreams. Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)

Treasure your best moments. Psalm 143:4: I remember the days of old; I meditate on all you have done.(ESV)

Hold on to special friendships. Prov 18:24: Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (MSG)

Dare to conquer any challenge. Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (NIV)

Accept yourself as you are. Romans 12:3: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each one of you. (NIV)

You are simply the best. Psalm 139:14: I thank you, High God- you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration- What a creation! (MSG)

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord God, for my seventy years. You were involved in my life before I even knew You. I remember all You have given me, all Your blessings, great and small, and I worship You. As I go into the next chapter of my life, may I know You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly, day by day and year by year. Amen.

Quiet and Peace

We are now in Nottingham Rd in a caravan park called Glenschillen. It is an oasis of tranquility. We have a site overlooking the dam.

   The Bible says, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.“‘ (Isaiah 31:15 NIV)

On Wednesday, soon after we arrived, we wandered down to the common area, where there are tables and chairs, a pool table and various other amenities for general use. We came across three elderly gentlemen who were having their weekly Bible study and discussion. My husband mentioned that we are members of the Gideons.

Yesterday the oldest of the three, David, who happens to be a co-owner of this place, sought us out. We had a long chat with him. He told us of some miracles in his life and how God has always been faithful, even though he’s had many struggles in his life, including the death of his first wife after three months of marriage.

David is ninety-five and he ended our chat with these words, “The waters are calm, my compass is true. I trust my Captain and I know where my ship is heading.”

I believe the Lord arranged this meeting to bless us and as an illustration a life based on quietness and trust.

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord for this place of quiet and rest. Being here is almost like a retreat. Thank you for enabling us to meet Your servant, David. Please continue to bless him and his family.