Posted by: Jo | June 26, 2015

Fixing Our Eyes On Jesus

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

(Hebrews 12:2)

image Our congregation in our local church is experiencing an unsettling, very disturbing time of upheaval, in which all the members have become divided about the major decisions being made. Many of us were feeling bewildered and lost, so both my husband and I were pleased to join a group who decided to meet to pray together, during the prayer time one of the members had a wakeup call for us all. She had suddenly realised we were focusing so much on the problem at hand we had forgotten to focus on Jesus himself, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) What a relief to abandon the problem to him. What a relief to let go. What a relief to stop and listen to that small voice instead of the loud voices of dissension racing through our minds. We had allowed the problem to distract us so much we had taken our eyes of Jesus.

Later I was thinking of how easily one can be distracted in all sorts of life pursuits, in particular while driving, and we read that one of the major causes of road accidents are now caused by distracted drivers who are using all sorts of electronic devices while they drive, from cell phones to lap tops. The list goes on from ladies applying make up to pouring coffee to eating lunch and being distracted leads to lack of concentration and imageoften results in dangerous driving and accidents.

Our Christian walk is no different and distractions that cause us to take our eyes away from the Lord can also lead to dangerous situations. David knew only too well that life produces many traps that can snare us so easily, if we are trusting ourselves to solve them without consulting the Lord to direct us;

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Psalm 25:15)

Our prayer time also revealed that concentrating on what we perceived were others’ shortcomings was a sure way of distracting us and losing our focus yet again on our “perfecter of our faith” who warned us;

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no intention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

So again we heard the Lord’s message for us all for any division that divides his loved ones.

Repentance Forgiveness

Whatever situation is causing us grief, being humble enough to allow the Lord to show us where we might be part of the problem brings about incredible healing and no matter what any of us may be embroiled in from family  problems/ neighbours/ work colleagues fixing our eyes on Jesus is the one sure way to see things his way.image

“Show me your ways, O, Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4 – 5)

Posted by: Jo | June 19, 2015

The Key To The Treasure In Store For Us

“He will be a sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”

(Isaiah 33:6)

image This last week one of our granddaughters turned twenty one and as I was thinking back to when I turned twenty one, memories came flooding back into my mind about what in Australia, was a very momentous milestone. This was the age you became an adult and were able to vote for your country’s leaders, you were now officially considered to be a responsible member of the community and sometimes as part of the celebrations you were very formally given the keys to the house and everyone would sing that silly old English song, “I’ve got the keys of the door, never been 21 before” Today children consider themselves adults long before turning twenty one and birthday milestones don’t have as much weight as they once did.

The importance of keys, though, is still noted in our present society, and the word is often used by motivational speakers in these phrases, “the key to success is… the key to presenting yourself lies in… the key to a successful launch is…” The formal handing over of the home that has just been purchased always takes the form of presentation of keys, allowing access to the new owner.

So when the Lord speaks through Isaiah, to us, about that important key that allows us access to all the treasures of our Heavenly Father, we stop and listen very carefully. Especially the word “treasure” has great meaning for us. Famous childhood stories would end with the dramatic finding of that old, rusty box, securely locked, and only the hero or heroine would have that precious key to unlock the treasures therein and we would all hold our breath as the lid slowly opened to reveal strings of pearls and diamonds etc.

We don’t have to go on long perilous journeys to find the treasure that the Lord Jesus Christ has for us. He graciously provides access for us. He is the key to the richness of life with him, acknowledging him as our Saviour, opens that treasure trove of his love.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God , namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2 – 3)

Sometimes we forget that this beautiful store of knowledge and understanding is readily available to us and foolishly decide to rely on our own understanding in dealing with life’s problems, this is when we need to take heed of these words in the book of Proverbs and vow to eagerly accept the Lord’s gracious gift.

“…and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3 – 5)


Posted by: Jo | June 12, 2015

No Tear Goes Unnoticed By Our Heavenly Father

“For the lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

(Revelation 7:17)

image Just recently a long-time friend and I were talking about our lives and the many experiences we had shared together as neighbours, friends and nearly twenty years of volunteering together in an outreach ministry to Single Mothers. The stories were interlaced with lots of laughter, but also sprinkled with tears as we remembered not only the challenges of the women we worked with, but the upheavals of our own personal lives, that we also weathered together. My friend remembered one very difficult stage of her life and as she was speaking I suddenly remembered her beautiful gift of poetry and also remembered the poem she had given to me during that terrible trial she was facing. The Lord had spoken comforting words to her which she was able to record through her gift of writing. That following day I found the poem and marvelled how our Heavenly Father was able to wipe away her tears through the gift he had given her. I asked her if I could share it with you;


You are my dear, beloved child,

I hear each word that causes you such pain

I’ve seen each tear, you have not cried in vain,

I’m right beside you when you stumble and you fall

I’ve heard your anguished cry for help and answered quick your call

I’ve picked you up and carried you when battles you have lost

Each one has long since been forgiven on the cross

Come, now and rest awhile beneath the shadow of my wings

And so refresh your soul

Come, drink from quiet, peaceful streams

And I will make you whole.

– Elvera Corben, 1987

As I re-read my friend’s poem I was yet again able to marvel at the Father’s love for his children. Once we commit our lives to him we will never cry alone. We will never have to say, “nobody cares about what I am going through” No tears will ever fall unnoticed, we have his promise that no matter what has happened, no matter what mistakes we may have made, no matter how huge the problem is, he will be right beside us;

“…The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)

Sometimes we may see tears as a form of weakness, but Jesus himself was not ashamed to cry in front of others at the death of his friend Lazarus, so he can identify with any raw emotion that can overcome us.

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

image We can look forward to that special day when there will be no need to cry anymore for sorrow and sadness will be no more.

“…They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10)

Posted by: Jo | June 6, 2015

Seeking Wisdom

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault…”

(James 1:5)

image When I was a child the most incredible source of knowledge that I was aware of, was to be found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I can still see my Father’s copy of those mighty tomes, lined up in the right alphabetical order on his shelve, ready to be delved into immediately any discussion came up, or any problem needed solving. Likewise my own husband insisted when our children began to go to school, we needed to buy our set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, so they would not be without this wonderful source to help them with their studies. Discovering answers from them certainly contained a lot of searching and reading, and one had to buy additional volumes to keep the knowledge up to date, but one trusted the publishers to be diligent in overseeing the accuracy of their work. O, how things have changed with technology taking over. “Just Google it” I hear my grandchildren say!! Seeking wisdom has certainly changed. It now seems to be found with a click of a button.

imageBut, and this is a big one, many hands have access to the internet. False information can easily be transferred to web sites, it is hard to verify who contributed to what and how does one sort through what is really worthy to be acknowledged and what should be discarded. So where to turn to for that wisdom that has stood the test of time, has been challenged and found to be true, has been the rock for countless generations? Only God’s Word can make this claim;

“Every word of God is flawless….” (Proverbs 30:5)

The first step in being able to access this wisdom (and no you don’t need to remember the password) is to get to know the author. David discovered that once he sought to know the Lord more intimately, and only then, God was able to allow his wisdom to flow through David’s very being, to invade his heart so wisdom resided within him and he was able to recognise God’s hand in this beautiful transferring.

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” (Psalm 51:6)

image Scripture also urges us to seek wisdom from others who have sought and found this precious gift. How many times have we urged our teen agers to choose wisely the companions they share their lives with? This verse from Proverbs is just as true today as when Solomon penned it for his son to heed;

“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Life is perplexing and when problems arise and decisions need to be made, it is tempting to use the world’s avenues to find solutions and we often overlook the depth of wisdom to be found in God’s word and when we remember his beautiful offer and seek him it is amazing how the problems unravel and when we share this great news with others we lead them to a greater understanding of God’s riches.

“Those who impart wisdom will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)

Posted by: Jo | May 29, 2015

An Authentic Seal

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”

(Ephesians 1:13)

image Just recently I had reason to go through some very old papers of mine because I had received in the mail, from my dear friend in Australia, a piece of nostalgia from my past and the envelope contained my wedding invitation to her which she received 58 years ago. She was my bridesmaid that day and she had tucked the invitation away for safe keeping and while sorting through one of her cupboards had come across it and on an impulse had popped it in the mail for me. I decided to place it in my special trove of treasures I keep (haven’t we all that special box or draw filled with all sorts of memorabilia?) As I sorted through these memories from my past, I started to read through some official documents; my teacher’s certificate, a legal document, a diploma I had earned and I noticed they all featured a seal attached to the bottom, signifying the document was authentic and was verified by the authority that had placed it there. Some of the seals were embossed deep into the paper so they could never be removed.

As I was contemplating these various seals I remembered how often in ancient times placing a king’s seal upon a verdict, an edict, a proclamation was the most binding of all procedures. We have many instances in Scripture where this is recorded, one is in the book of Esther.

“Now write another decree in the king’s name in behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring- for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.” (Esther 8:8)

A piece of clay was often used and once applied the king would roll his personal signet ring over it sealing it for all time. Even when I was younger, documents were sealed by melting wax and imprinting the mark of the lawyer/ company etc. thus making the seal unable to be removed and the paper valid.

With a deeper understanding of a king’s seal, how much more are we awed and grateful for the beautiful message Paul has for us. We have been stamped, sealed by the mighty seal of the King of Kings. Nobody, nothing can ever cancel his ownership of us when we accept his beautiful offer of belonging to him

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21 – 22)

image Sometimes life seems to be a constant challenge as we seek approval from all sorts of different avenues. Physical beauty seems to be the one the young amongst us feel is the most important one to strive for. We seek approval from others, always feeling we have to compare how well we are doing with them. We seek approval in the work place even within our own church family, and this constant searching for approval drains us of joy. This is when we have to remember we have the stamp of approval from the only one that really matters, Our Heavenly Father, and to remember his seal cannot be broken and Jesus tells us to stop running after those joyless pursuits, the one authentic seal of the Holy Spirit is all we need.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” (John 6:27)

Posted by: Jo | May 22, 2015

The Radiant Smile

“Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”

(Psalm 34:5)

image   All of us are familiar with that, important part of popular culture, the smiley face that greets us through shopping mall posters, badges, magazine articles and now through our e- mails, making us smile in response. I was fascinated to find out the other day how that cheery, yellow face came about. According to the article I was reading, it originated with one, Harvey Ball in 1964, and was an assignment for an insurance company poster to be displayed in their offices, but I was most interested in the reason why the company wanted such a poster. It was a friendship campaign, firstly to promote happiness in the work place and secondly to allow that feeling to flow though the workers when they answered the telephone, welcomed customers or dealt with problem complaints.

As I was absorbing the brilliant work ethic this approach had, I saw a startling resemblance to all of us who love the Lord. We don’t need a smiley face to create a warm, loving feeling towards others, our Heavenly Father has provided us with the most powerful reason to smile ever created, his own radiance, and what is more amazing we can access that radiance just by looking to him and asking him to fill us with that light, He would want us to spread this radiance wherever we go.

“…Let the light of you face shine upon us, O Lord.” (Psalm 4:6)

I think most of us are aware of how powerful a warm smile can be. As I child I heard adults say, “Her smile could light up a room.” How as parents that first wobbly smile from our baby warms our hearts. An intimate smile from a loved one, shared just by two, is very special. A smile can bridge generation gaps. It can eliminate the barrier of language and can create a sense of belonging between strangers.

I checked the word, radiant, in the dictionary and this is what it said;

Sending out rays of light

When we know how our smiles can be transformed into radiant ones that can spread his light to others, it is so important to stay close to the source, so our smiles don’t become mechanical or forced, lacking in warmth. This can be so important within the community we live in or even in our church fellowship so visitors are enveloped in light and can be drawn to the real source of this light, Jesus Christ.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word…” (Hebrews 1:3)

image When the prophet, Isaiah, was encouraging the children of Israel, he entreated them not to be downcast, but to look up and seek the Lord and this will be the result;

“Then you will look and be radiant, and your heart will throb and swell with joy…” (Isaiah 60:5)

So what a wonderful way for us to start our days, if we look up, seek the Lord’s face, ask for that radiant smile to adorn our faces so we spread light/ joy / acceptance/ understanding/ warmth/love to all we come across in our daily walk.

Posted by: Jo | May 15, 2015

A Sanctuary Filled With Grace

“I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.”

(Ezekiel 37:26)

image There has been much more public awareness about that often hidden, devastating condition that according to statistics, affects one in five North Americans; mental health. This last month the media has concentrated upon bringing the problems that those who are burdened by this, into the open. Once an affliction of shame which one was not able to admit coloured one’s life, is now freely spoken of in great hopes that those who are suffering will seek help and probably more important that they will find that help in the love and understanding of others.

We listened to a powerful sermon this Sunday on this topic and the theme was “Loving Into Wellness” The speaker enlightened us to the fact that, mental health, came in all sorts of different forms ranging from depression, compulsive behaviour, addiction, unresolved conflicts from the past crippling normal thoughts. He also challenged us to the fact that possibly many in our own congregation, perhaps among our friends or fellow workers, were hiding behind a facade, too afraid to admit they needed help.

Following that sermon I came across a beautiful expression in a devotional I was reading,


The message summed up all I had been reading this month about mental health and answered the question, “how could we as servants of a loving God possibly help?” I looked up the definitions of these two words. A sanctuary is a safe place, a haven, a refuge from anything harmful. Grace can be defined by a divine influence, a rendering of the soul to perform with supernatural power. I realised we can do this in our own lives with the help of the Holy Spirit.

image A sanctuary does not necessarily need to be a place. God promised the children of Israel that he himself would be a sanctuary in the midst of them. (Ezekiel 37:26) so we can ask that others will feel his presence when we make space in our lives for those who are hurting and grace is also a gift from him, so we can fill that space with his grace so others can come to feel safe and to be blessed. If we are nervous about what we can say to those hurting ones we can take courage that the Lord will provide the words;

“… and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.” (Psalm 45:2)

The other powerful message I received from the sermon was this;


God does most of his work through people and when we remember what a mighty and powerful God he is, we can have confidence that through his love recovery is possible and we can bring that confidence with us when we welcome the hurting to share in his love.

image Jesus welcomed the burdened into his presence

“Come to me, all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

But often the burden is so heavy for those beset with mental illness they need somebody beside them to help carry that burden into Jesus’ presence.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

The Lord is asking us to open the eyes of our hearts so we can see those who need his grace.

Posted by: Jo | May 8, 2015

You Don’t Need To Have All The Answers

“…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God was making his appeal through us…”

(2 Corinthians 5:20)

We were shown an incredible video during our service this Sunday, imagewhich was a forerunner to commissioning volunteers for the Stephen Ministry. This ministry is an outreach to those who may be going through any sort of trial in their personal lives, and need someone to come along side of them to listen, encourage, be compassionate in whatever the situation is. What struck me to begin with was the eye catching title blazoned across the screen


Too often, and we may be guilty of this ourselves, people look at another’s problems and come up with a quick solution that they think will fix whatever is wrong. For example, just stop drinking, leave that abusive man, get over that grief and move on, forget what has gone on etc. or the reverse may happen we feel we have no idea how to help someone in deep distress and consequently do nothing. The message of this video was how to develop a deep, compassionate, grace filled approach to those who are hurting, not offering solutions, but offering time, a listening ear, prayer.

I think this approach could be developed in all our lives, particularly remembering the wisdom of the title of the video, we don’t need to have all the answers I find that very comforting. When we realise that any real help for those hurting will come from our Heavenly Father, it leaves us free to fill the supporting role, remembering these words;

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

image The other great comfort I received from that powerful title, was the realisation that as Christ’s followers we are not expected to know all the answers. There will be no final exam about how many Bible verses we know; no thesis to be written about science and religion; no having to explain how the universe was created. I love that section in the book of Job, where Job has a lot of questions about God, and God answers him (Job chapters 38 – 39). After listening to God expound on his own majesty in creation, Job is humbled and realised of course he does not have all the answers;

“I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:2 – 3)

Many things are too wonderful for us as humans to understand, imagebut when we accept that, we can relax in the fact that yes, we don’t have all the answers, but we do serve a mighty God who holds the universe and us in his hands, and we can call upon him in any circumstance to fill us with that power to carry out any task he sets before us, to be his ambassadors of his love to others.

Posted by: Jo | May 1, 2015

God Is Our Rear Guard


“…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard”

(Isaiah: 52 12)

image My husband and I had a very demanding example of what it means to be a rear guard this week when we offered to mind our little grandson. One of the plans for the morning was a visit to the neighbourhood park. Even donning the appropriate clothing from proper boots to warm jacket and checking that we remembered a towel (wet slides and swings not good for clothing or fun) took thoughtful planning, but the actual adventure was where we knew we had to take seriously our role of protecting our little one. We knew he would be oblivious of the danger of crossing a road, running ahead of us, jumping on equipment meant for older children, perhaps doubling back to check where that chipmunk went, any spur of the minute a change in direction, so we knew he needed one of us up front and the rear guard coming up behind.

Our Heavenly Father describes himself as fulfilling that role for us, making sure we are protected, sending his angels to specifically watch over us;

“For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91: 11 – 12)

We have a choice of allowing the Lord to play that role or we can choose to be in charge of our own lives, the Lord never forces us to rely on him, but as I was watching our care free little grandson I was made aware of, without us guarding him, how easily he could have wandered into the surrounding woods, how easily he could slither down that steep embankment, and it made me realise how easily we can be misled or distracted in our own lives and how incredible the gift God, Our Heavenly Father is offering, in promising to guard us.

“…he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.” (Proverbs 2: 7 – 8)

image The book of Proverbs is full of comparisons of the “wise” and the “foolish” and the Psalmists define who a fool actually is;

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God…”” (Psalm 14: 1)

So acknowledging who our Heavenly Father is, is the first step in accepting that blanket covering of protection so freely offered by him. The next step is to make sure we are travelling on the same path as he is. We do this by keeping in touch with him by daily prayer, worshipping him with other believers, reading his word.

I particularly like the Lord describing himself as the “rear guard”. How often have we exclaimed or have heard others say, “I didn’t see it coming!”? Disasters can creep up on us unexpectedly without us being aware. We can be hurt by others failing us. Dark despair can overtake us. This is when we can take great comfort that our rear guard is not surprised by anything that can rob of us of joy. He is there right behind us, helping us overcome whatever assails us. Isaiah the prophet reminds us of this in beautiful words that will sustain us through any rough waters;

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will call for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Isaiah 58: 8 – 9)

Posted by: Jo | April 24, 2015

In Awe Of God’s Majesty

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth”

(Psalm 8:1)

image Spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere and after a cold, grey winter the sun has begun to shine, bringing warmth and new life to everything it touches. It also stirs in us humans, a desire to leave the confines of our houses and feel the sun ourselves, to breathe the fresh air, to just revel in the outdoors. My husband was suddenly struck by this urge this week and it didn’t take much persuasion for me to readily agree to pack our lunch and to head out to one of our favourite spots.

This particular spot, a little cove with a rocky beach, is set in one of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia and to reach it one must take a dramatic scenic highway named fittingly, “The Sea To Sky.” The highway winds along the water against rugged cliffs and on a clear day every bend in the road reveals yet more and more awe inspiring mountains and at this time of the year, still wearing snow on their summits. One of the bends reveals a glacier far in the distance, nestled between two massive peaks and when I see this one I am forced to cry out;

O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth.

I think sometimes we tend to forget the beautiful creator side of our Heavenly Father. We forget to recognise his majesty in nature. We forget that he created the beauty of this earth for us his children to yes, enjoy, but also to be reminded of his mighty power and to never lose the sense of awe that we too are the work of his hands. The psalmists believed that nature itself cries out, glorifying our God;

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1 – 2)

We certainly don’t all live near mighty mountains, but all of us can witness the beauty of the sky and I love this passage in Isaiah that reminds us that all we have to do is to look up to be filled with awe;

“Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26)

The other great reminder I had about God’s majesty was when we witnessed the water slowly covering the rocky beach that had been dry when we arrived. No man can control that mighty tide, the sea belongs to the Creator.

“In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” (Psalm 95:4 – 5)

image Our little escape into the great outdoors became a new awakening, a new realisation of the awesome majesty of our God.

When we recognise God’s majesty, it humbles us and makes us aware of his grace in allowing his son to die for us. The beautiful hymn, Majesty, says this

Here I am humbled by your majesty

Covered by your grace so free

Here I am knowing I’m a sinful man

Covered by the blood of the lamb

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