Tag Archives: scripture

Mushrooms and Dandelions

It had rained for two days in Gqeberha. Our hosts were driving us to visit friends of theirs and we drove past a nearby park. It looked fresh and green after the rain and I thought I saw mushrooms.

As we went on, I saw they were dandelion flowers. When I went back the next day to take photos, I realised they were not even dandelions but other small yellow flowers. My eyesight, which is not wonderful, limits my knowledge of the truth. My husband wears hearing aids. He doesn’t always hear the full story in a conversation. We can only know as much truth as our senses let through to us and we often filter even that through our own misconceptions.

I am reading a book by Francine Rivers called Leota’s Garden. One of the characters lived with bitterness against her mother as a result of lies she was told, and incomplete conversations she overheard as a child.

Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). We can know the Truth if we know Jesus. “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32.)

I know I am not perfect. My eyes are not perfect, my memories are not perfect, my conclusions are not perfect, my ideas are not perfect. The sooner I acknowledge this, the sooner I can be free of my own version of life.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Truth. Forgive me for thinking I know the truth. Please soften my heart to consider other viewpoints besides my own and other interpretations of words and events to the ones I cling to. Please guide me always into Your Truth. Amen.

Watch Out for Low Branches

Last week when we were returning from exercising the dogs, I walked into a tree branch. It was a low branch and I had been distracted by the dog in the garden next door. He was paying no attention to two people walking past his domain with two dogs.

It is not only low branches that can be hazards when we are not focusing. My husband has walked into the clear glass door twice because he didn’t see it. Other invisible hazards include pot holes hidden by a pool of water, holes or spikes in the grass and furniture that sticks out just that little bit too much.

In the Christian life there are also hazards. Some can be avoided if we keep alert, but others are invisible and we don’t see them coming. Recently I made a remark that revealed to me (and probably everyone around) that I was judging another person and looking down on him. Where had that come from? I had been distracted by unimportant things. I realised that my attitude was not what the Lord would want it to be.

It is so easy to slip into sin. Peter tells us to “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive me for judging others. May my attitude be like Yours. Teach me to see others through Your eyes and with Your love. Amen.

Hadedas and Hoopoes

Hadedas and Hoopoes in the Rain

Wednesday was miserable, cold and rainy in Gqeberha. From the dining room window we saw cold birds. The hadedas sat hunched like buzzards. The hoopoes were intermittently sheltering under the hedge to get out of the rain. What a blessing to have shelter when it rains.

God wants to be our shelter in times of trouble. The Bible says “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” (Psalm 91:4 NIV) It sounds so cozy, like being tucked under a down duvet in winter.

However, God will not impose His protection and shelter on us against our will. Jesus said of Jerusalem,  Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37 NIV) God created us with free will and He will always respect it. He offers protection, shelter and comfort but it’s up to us to accept it.

My Prayer

Thank You Lord for Your sheltering hand over me. Please keep me from stubborn self-reliance and pride. May I rest in Your comforting embrace like a little child on her father’s lap.

Lemon Tree

My sister-in-law has planted a lemon tree in a pot in their sheltered patio. It has three lemons almost ripe. My nephew and I were discussing recipes that use lemons and there are thousands. My favourite might be lemon meringue pie. I make mine with condensed milk to which an egg and the lemon juice are added. What makes it special is the juxtaposition of the sour lemon juice and the super sweet condensed milk. Either on its own would be either too sweet or too sour.

Life is a lot like that. If only good things happened, it would be more like a fairy tale where everybody lives happily ever after. It is the negative aspects of life that make the positive more special.

Jesus said, “I have said these things to you that you may have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

Life is not a fairy tale and we must expect setbacks, heartaches and trouble. Only in heaven will there be no more tears, no death and no pain. Meanwhile we are in a fallen world.

Jesus promises to be with us always, strengthening us for times of setbacks, heartaches and trouble. The best we can do is stay close to Him and allow Him to shape our reactions to circumstances, good and bad.

They say, “If life serves you lemons, make lemonade.” I say, “If life serves you lemons, make lemon meringue pie!”

My Prayer

Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You are with me through good times and bad. Please keep me close to You and may I be aware of Your presence especially in the times when I am too weak to hold on to You.

Mighty Rushing Wind

We are currently staying with my brother in Gqeberha, formally known as Port Elizabeth, the windiest city in South Africa. This morning I remembered why. The sound of a strong wind outside reminded me not to be blasé about it. The wind has been known to uproot trees, overturn cars and I remember my Granny telling how she saved herself from being blown away by clinging to a pole.

Quite often we can become blasé about God’s power. “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:2 ESV) I have heard this story so often that I haven’t realised how scary it must have been.

I’ve been reading the Old Testament about the time of Moses recently. The power of God and His requirements for His people take one’s breath away.

Hebrews 10:31 reads, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (NIV) This was brought home to me by the following account of the 1949 revival in the Hebrides.

One of the seven men and two women who had decided to pray earnestly for revival, read from Psalm 24, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart…”(Vs 3-4a NIV) He then prayed, asking God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure. That night, God met with them in a powerful way. “Three men were lying on the straw having fallen under the power of God. They were lifted out of the ordinary into the extraordinary.” (Duncan Campbell, The Price and Power of Revival)

We cannot play games with God. He is not a “Tame Lion.” We do not come into His presence on our terms, but on His. We serve Him according to His will. Best I don’t forget that.

My Prayer

My God, thank You that You deal gently with me, masking Your power that I be not overwhelmed. Please keep me from taking Your power or majesty lightly. Teach me Your ways. I have taken You for my God. Amen.

Times of Refreshing

Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” (Acts 3:19 NIV)

Today we flew to Gqeberha. We got up at 6 although we had both been awake since soon after 5am. We packed the last things that were still in use until this morning, went across to say goodbye to the grandchildren before school and then our daughter took us to the Gautrain bus at 7.45. The plan was to arrive at the airport, drop off our luggage, go through security and have time enough for breakfast at Wimpy before boarding. Our timing worked perfectly – except I hadn’t calculated that boarding time was at least half an hour before take off. There was no time for breakfast – not even to buy a cup of cappuccino at the coffee stall near where a line had already formed outside our boarding gate.

The last time we flew Covid was still very much of a danger and, even when flights were allowed, certainly there was no eating and drinking on planes. Imagine our delight therefore when we were told that light snacks would be served and we could choose between a chicken and beef sandwich.

Now I understand a bit about what the Bible means by “times of refreshing.” Eating a meal with juice and coffee when one is hungry is such a time.

When our spiritual life is dry and faded and perhaps we have slipped into lethargy or subtle sin, repentance and turning again to God can bring just such a burst of energy to our spirit as a meal can do to our hungry and thirsty body.

My Prayer

Father God, please show me the symptoms of spiritual hunger that I may come to You for times of refreshing when I am under-nourished and languishing. Amen.

The Diary

My husband, who was born in the first half of the last century, still uses a diary for his time management. It is fairly easy to buy him a Christmas present. If he hasn’t bought himself one by Christmas, I can’t go wrong with a hard-backed, page-a day diary for the next year.

If an event is not yet finalised, my husband will pencil it in, either to be inked in later, or rubbed out.

Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

When we pray together in the morning, we’ve recently been getting into the habit of specifically confirming to the Lord His right to change our plans and our agenda if He wishes. It is like the plans we make, and there are many, are only penciled into our diary awaiting His final confirmation. This helps us cope when unexpected things crop up and when things don’t quite work out according to our plan.

Currently we are planning to fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday to spend time with my mother and other members of both our families.

James says, “Come now, you who say ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”(James 4:13-15 ESV)

So our plans have only been penciled in. If the Lord wills, we will fly to Gqeberha on Tuesday.

My Prayer

Father, I don’t know the future. You do. I know Your plans toward me are good so I can trust my future and my plans to You. Amen.

Even the Most Insignificant

Tuesday was one of those days. On Monday night we had both power and water outages. For some strange reason when we have a water cut, hot water comes out of the cold tap until it dries up completely.

On Tuesday morning we had left-over dishes from our community group meeting on Monday. We had had soup and rolls as well as the usual tea and coffee. The electricity was back and we were able to do a double wash- load of bed and bath linen. The cold water was back but not the hot. Nothing but coughing and spluttering came out of the hot tap even after ten minutes. We decided that since the washing machine was working, we would load all the dishes into the dishwasher rather than boiling kettlesful of water for dishes. After the two-hour cycle, the dishes were no cleaner than when they had gone in and we ended up having to boil the water anyway and was them.

Tuesday is our shopping day and this particular Tuesday we had to be home earlier than normal because my husband was fetching our grandson at an earlier time than usual. Meanwhile I was expecting a delivery of ink cartridges for the printer and I notified the family so my daughter or son-in-law who were working from home, could take collection if necessary.

“More haste less speed,” they say. My husband knocked over his cappuccino, making a big mess but fortunately not breaking the mug. When at last we were ready to leave, much later than we’d intended, my husband pushed the panic button by mistake and we had to waste another couple of minutes sending messages.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

As we finally drove out of the electric gate, the delivery vehicle drove up. He scanned my ID document and handed me my parcel. If we hadn’t been delayed, we would have missed him. I am not sure if he would have given the parcel to my family if he needed my ID card. Is it possible that the Lord took control of my schedule again and delayed us? Or was it just co-incidence?

The Bible says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV.) The verse doesn’t say “all significant things,” just “all things.” Neither does it mention “great good” just “good.”

I believe that my loving Heavenly Father uses even insignificant things like spilled coffee for my good, even a tiny good. Receiving delivery as I did saved all kinds of hassle like the courier having to come again, red tape, possibly having to stay at home all morning waiting.

My Prayer

My Father, thank You that You are interested in even the insignificant things in my life:- the incidents that will not be remembered, the daily bumps and spills and mistakes. You can use all things both big and small, pleasant or unpleasant for my good or the good of others according to Your design. Please become more and more involved in the detail of my life. I surrender my plans to Your control. Amen.

Walking to School

On a Monday we usually walk the grandchildren to school. This last Monday they got up late so we had less time to get there before the bell. That meant, for the youngest, no picking purple flowers and no stops to admire the bottlebrushes. There was less time to chat about anything and everything. There are two ways to walk to school:- to enjoy the walk and to get there.

Image by นายพิพัฒน์ศักดิ์ ไชยวงษ์ from Pixabay

In the same way there are two ways to live life. There was a motor car advert which said, “Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” We can appreciate each different stage of life we are in. Looking back on early married life, money was tight and we were inexperienced and unsure of ourselves. We were so happy. Then came the kids and life was hectic and sleep was a luxury. Those days were such fun, seeing the unfolding world through the eyes of children. Then life happened and things didn’t always work out according to the fairy tale script. Now we are retired. There are health constraints and money constraints but we are happy. What a joy to walk grandchildren to school, to watch junior sport, to be taught a new game by my grandson, to go shopping and enjoy the pensioners’ tea.

The other way to go through life is at breakneck speed, having no time to stop and look around. There is a goal to be accomplished and no time to waste.

Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” ( Matthew 6:28 KJV) God wants us to rid our minds of ceaseless worry about worldly things. He wants us to stop and look – at the flowers, at the birds, even at the insects. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6 ESV)

If we go through life appreciating all God’s blessings at different stages of our lives, when a burning bush comes along, we will turn aside and gaze in wonder and give God a gap to show us something amazing.

My prayer

Slow me down, Lord, that I can look around me and see all the wonderful things You have created. When You want to interrupt my everyday life, give me the grace to turn aside and give You my attention. Amen.

Pruning Time

When our youngest child was two, the bank where my husband worked transferred him from Durban to Johannesburg. We bought a house we liked but made the mistake of agreeing to the sellers’ requirement that we only move in after six months. Fortunately the bank paid for us to be accommodated in a guest farm for that period. It was called Siesta.

I met an older lady there whose family was also in limbo. They were waiting for all the red tape to be processed before they could move to Australia. They had had a very traumatic burglary and had decided to get out of South Africa as soon as possible. She took me under her wing. One of the things she taught me was how to prune roses. She said you had to control where new shoots would grow so you get an open look and not a crisscross pattern in the bush. You do this by cutting just above a growth node in the direction you want the branch to go.

Image by RitaE from Pixabay

We had a visiting preacher at church today and he preached on John 15. “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (vs 1,2,4 NIV)

If we want to bear fruit, he said, we must do two things – remain, and expect to be pruned. Pruning is not a punishment or a sign of God’s displeasure but a necessary step to growth. Just as gardeners prune roses to produce bigger and healthier blooms and well shaped bushes, God prunes us to train our vigour into healthy growth and much fruit.

It is nearly pruning season for roses. If I were a rose, it is certainly not something I would look forward to, even if it were for my good.

My Prayer

Father God, pruning is not something I relish nor look forward to, yet I have to trust You to know exactly when I need pruning and how to do it. I submit my life again into Your hands. Please help me to remain in Christ. Amen.