Posted by: Jo | August 11, 2017

Courage Or Timidity

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self discipline.”

(2 Timothy 1: 7)

Courage01Some friends and I were discussing what we were like as children and what different personalities our children had developed from us. I certainly was not a timid child, but I was also not the wild spokesperson for the class. None of my daughters are timid, but two of them are much more likely to tackle problems head on!

Later another one of my friends gave me a very interesting quote about this subject which made we think more deeply as to what timidity represents

“Every timidity eventually turns into regret” – Four Seasons in Rome, Anthony Doerr

The more I thought about this quote the more it not only applied to life, but also our spiritual walk. When Paul was writing to Timothy, a young protégé of his, he wanted to encourage him in his faith and sends this beautiful verse to him, ensuring him that timidity will not hamper him because he has the mighty power of God behind him

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self discipline.” (2 Timothy 1: 7)

I think we often underestimate what influence we can have in the kingdom of God. Then that small persistent, voice of timidity begins to intercede, agreeing with us, Courage02undermining our confidence in attempting to try at all;

  • You couldn’t help
  • you haven’t any training in that problem
  • you will never be able to accomplish that
  • you are sure to fail
  • who would listen to you
  • I wouldn’t try that if I were you

There is no sign of timidity when Joshua is given the task to lead the people across the Jordan he is bolstered by a wonderful word from God, ensuring him despite all the obstacles, he will be able to accomplish this because God is filling him with courage.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1: 9)

The secret to having courage is to have the Lord with us. His strength will always outweigh our feeble efforts, but we need to acknowledge his guidance by staying in close with him and obeying his commands.

The lord presents us with many opportunities, many open doors to experience a true fellowship with him, many avenues to use the gifts he has given us. If we allow timidity to stand in the way, regret will become the result. I think the saddest sentence one can utter is – “If only I had tried!

Courage03Sometimes we bravely begin a venture and things seem to be overcoming us, this is when we need to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is always ready to bolster our flagging spirits and listen for that powerful voice as it thunders over what is swirling around us,

“But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”” (Matthew 14: 27)

 

 

Posted by: Jo | August 4, 2017

Treasure in Jars of Clay

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all – surpassing power is from God not rom us.”

(2 Corinthians 4: 7)

Treasure01Many, many stories are written about the quest to find hidden treasure, from wild stories of pirates hiding their loot on isolated islands, to archeologists discovering amazing tombs filled with artifacts worth millions of dollars.   Just recently there was a story about two room mates who bought an old, second hand sofa at a thrift store and when they were trying to clean it, back at their apartment, one of the cushions came off and to their surprise, hidden underneath was a stack of money. Somebody had been using the sofa to store their treasure.

People store, what they consider to be treasure in all sorts of odd places. One old grandmother I knew had a beaten up biscuit tin where she always kept her spare change, figuring nobody would think to look there.

So when Paul says we have a treasure in jars of clay we can relate to what he is saying, the vessel carrying the treasure is not the important part, but what is inside.

Treasure02In the book of Isaiah, the prophet describes us as being moulded by the Heavenly Potter;

“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64: 8)

When my children were young, working with clay was part of the arts and handwork at school, and I can vividly remember them racing in after school to show me the amazing shapes they had made. I must be honest, it was difficult to equate with what they were telling me it was as to what I could see, but because they had made it, these works of art were always displayed on the sideboard next to my fine china.

Not only does the Heavenly Father lovingly mould us, he sees each one of us as his treasured possession.

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession…” (Exodus 19: 5)

I love that reassurance that it is not the jar itself that is so important. It is not how clever we are or how beautiful we are.  It is not how charming or talented we are. We are just the vessel carrying the most incredible treasure given to mankind, if we accept this beautiful gift from the Lord Jesus Christ.  When people see a difference in the way we live they will want to find out how the treasure we carry within us can be theirs as well.

Treasure03Isaiah also provides the clue that unleashes this amazing treasure;

“The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the 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: 5 – 6)

 

Posted by: Jo | July 28, 2017

Hearing His Voice Over The Clamour

“The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.”

(Psalm 29: 4)

BeStill01In our family, July is birthday month and those celebrating birthdays range from 59 to 1. Doing justice to such a wide range of ages, takes some planning and certainly the choice of venues varied as to whom was the honoured guest. This last week we had the five-year-old sharing with his little one-year-old sister and the family dinner party was held at a popular Pizza place where children were welcome. The other celebrant in the same week was our daughter and this meal was celebrated in an elegant restaurant. Both were a lot of fun, but the big difference for me was the noise level! The clamour in the Pizza parlor seemed to overpower one as soon as we entered. The music was loud, televisions blared from every wall, the place was crowded and voices were raised to be heard over all the other extraneous noises. It was hard to hear the conversation.

In the quieter restaurant, it was much easier to hear, and distractions were fewer so we could concentrate on exactly what everybody was saying.

I often think life is like that noisy Pizza parlor. We are inundated with strident voices from the media, urging us:

  • to take up this activity
  • don’t miss this movie
  • invest your money
  • think about your retirement
  • worry about your health

News of major disasters or terrorist attacks is beamed around the world in minutes of happening causing our hearts to beat anxiously. The clamour of the world can deafen our ears to that all important voice we need to listen to.

The Lord is always ready to have a special quite time with us, where there is no clamour of the world getting in the way, but we must be the ones to invite him to join us.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3: 20) 

Listening for that knock is also is an important part of then being able to converse and enjoy the warmth of sharing time with the Lord and he describes it as sharing a family meal with him.

If our lives are so packed with things:

  • we must do
  • errands to run
  • telephone calls
  • excessive exercise

there will be no to time to even hear the gentle knock or the tender voice. The Lord has some good advice to ensure there is time for him.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46: 10)

BeStill02The more time we spend being still before the Lord sharpens our ears to hear that small voice as it becomes more and more familiar so even in the clamour of the world’s voices we will still hear his, as we face the cross roads of life.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  (Isaiah 30: 21)

 

Posted by: Jo | July 21, 2017

An Open Mind

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.”

(Luke 24: 45)

OpenedMind01Just recently my husband and I were studying the last chapter of the book of Luke and many sermons have been written about this wonderful story of Jesus travelling beside two disciples who were very downcast after Jesus had been crucified as they had not yet heard of his resurrection. They did not recognise the Risen Jesus, but were astounded as this person they thought was a stranger, began to explain what the Scriptures meant and how they all pointed to the fact that the Messiah had come in the form of Jesus Christ.

Even though I have read this chapter many times, this time of reading I was struck by the phrase, “he opened their minds.”  I started to think more deeply as to what that meant and how important it was for us today to have an open mind to absorb what God is saying to us through Scripture.

We speak about, the mind, in all different ways in our present day

  • this is a mindless task
  • he is a doubled minded man
  • I cannot make up my mind
  • she must be out of her mind to do that
  • I think I am losing my mind.

I often return to the Psalmists for their wisdom and they grasped how important it was to keep their minds free of wrong thoughts/ wrong ideas/ mindless and unthinking useless thoughts.

“Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.” (Psalm 26: 2 – 3)

OpenedMind02Jesus himself summed up the Commandments in two important ones and the first emphasised that we love the Lord God not only with our hearts and souls, but with our minds as well.

“Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”” (Matthew 22: 37)

The dictionary describes the mind as a place of thought/ feeling/ purpose/intention

It is probably the most private place in our bodies and I must be honest, sometimes when I am thinking ugly thoughts about somebody I am glad they cannot hear them, but when uneasy thoughts invade my mind and doubts and fears overtake me, I know that if I open my mind to the Holy Spirit, he can deal with them so much better than I can.

OpenedMind03Paul assures us in his letter to the Romans that we can be renewed repeatedly in our minds. We don’t need to be trapped into worldly ways, if we open our minds to the blessing He wants to bestow on us.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12: 2)

 

Posted by: Jo | July 15, 2017

What A Powerful Name It Is!

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name”

(Philippians 2: 9)

PowerfulName01Just recently we were invited to visit a beautiful property owned by a very wealthy business man. The man was not going to accompany us, but he assured us that everybody who worked for him would be notified that we were coming and all we had to do was to mention his name and that we were his guests and we would be looked after. That proved to be exactly what happened. If we mentioned his name we were treated like royalty. His name was the key that opened all doors. I was thinking about the importance of names in our present everyday life, and the beautiful song we sang at our church service this Sunday, reminded me that we know the wonderful name that is above all names. This was the song.

What A Powerful Name It Is! The name of Jesus!

That name is so powerful that Paul reminds the Philippians that it has so much power every knee will eventually bow before it.

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2: 10 – 11)

PowerfulName02I think that sometimes we forget the wonderful privilege it is to be able to call on the name of Jesus Christ. That powerful name opens the door and allows us into the presence of the Heavenly Father. We have access to the ear of the Creator of the universe, only because we can use Jesus’ name to allow us to do so.

After the resurrection, the disciples quickly realised, the power that name held and when Peter and John were approached by a crippled man begging for money, Peter called on that name and a miracle occurred!

“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” (Acts 3: 6 – 8)

Unfortunately, the world does not revere this precious name and it is casually used even sometimes in swearing. We who belong to the Lord have a great need to preserve the reverence that powerful name deserves.  We can do that by remembering when we use it to have that reverence it deserves. Many prayers end with the words, in PowerfulName03Jesus’ name, but so often those words roll off our tongue without us acknowledging we have just blessed the words we have spoken with incredible power.

John tells us by believing in that all powerful name our lives will be filled with his Spirit and everything we do in his name will be blessed.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”  (John 20: 31)

 

Posted by: Jo | July 7, 2017

Nature Reflecting His Glory

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

(Psalm 8: 1)

Nature01Summer has suddenly made its presence felt in B.C. Canada, where we live, and the relief of seeing sunlight, feeling those pleasant, light breezes and warm temperatures, gives one the urge to step outside man-made structures and revel in the outdoors! This week end, thanks to a son-in law and our daughter, we could do just that, as we went away on a trip with them.  Our route took us through breathtaking vistas which made me exclaim in wonder at the Creator’s work in moulding the earth and every turn of the road would bring yet another example of his glorious creativity.

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 108: 5)

We live on the coast, but our trip took us through fertile valleys, over steep mountains, some still wearing their caps of snow, through beautiful little glens filled with wild flowers until we finally reached the hot, dry grape growing area, our destination.

While we were travelling, I began to realise how easy it is to forget the hand behind every living creature, every living plant and tree, every craggy outcrop of jagged rock. We get lulled into thinking that man is in control of nature and our media is filled with stories of breakthroughs that mankind is making in new fertilizers, wonder drugs, new methods of beating the seasons, so we can eat strawberries all year round. This constant focusing on man’s achievements, distances us from acknowledging the one who is the Creator and sustainer of all living creatures.  We lose a little of the awe of who he is and I especially felt on this trip that I had not spent enough time remembering this in my daily walk.

Nature02After we returned home I went back to reading Job’s story, where God reminds Job of whose hand created the amazing earth he allows us to live in;

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38: 4 – 7)

The whole weekend away I tried constantly to be aware of the Master’s hand on everything I saw and as we were staying by a beautiful lake I also saw his power as one evening a strong wind came up and the calm waters of the lake turned into choppy waves. I was surprised by the effect concentrating on God’s creation had on me. A feeling of serenity enveloped me. A feeling of tranquility ensured. A letting go of anxiety. Nature03A chid like feeling that I did not have to worry, the Heavenly Father was in control.

Psalm 148 is a psalm of praise coming from the very earth he created and one worth reading when we his created ones also want to praise him.

“Praise him sun, and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.”  (Psalm 148: 3 – 4)

 

Posted by: Jo | June 30, 2017

Safe Within his Refuge

“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”

(Deuteronomy 33: 27)

Refuge01My husband and I frequently watch a programme on the television about a wild life refuge which often amazes us, when we see damaged and often badly hurt birds or animals, brought to the refuge and then restored and released back into their own habitat. We also had an example of this in our own area, recently, when the media reported a baby bear cub being found in distress with no sign of the mother and this little one was transported to a local refuge centre to be cared for.

The word, refuge, is one of those words that immediately brings such reassuring thoughts to our minds. The dictionary uses these;

  • Protection from danger
  • a place of safety
  • security
  • shelter
  • comfort
  • asylum
  • a stronghold
  • a place to be helped 

The Psalmists knew that when the Lord God promised to be their refuge there was always a place of safety to run to when troubles beset them;

“I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91: 2)

refuge04Psalm 91 is one of my favourite psalms, especially when I am facing all sorts of problems or even if I just want to be soothed by the reassuring love of the Father. To be able to just grasp a little of the enormity of this love, his word paints beautiful pictures so we can relate to how he wants to comfort us. This verse, in particular, always speaks to me;

“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)

There are times when I would like to retreat from the world and this beautiful thought of snuggling under the protective feathers of the Lord brings a deep sigh of contentment, but of course we need to voluntary go and seek that refuge and we do that through prayer and then we need to release, whatever is attacking us, to him to take care of.

As we read through this psalm of comfort we get a range of problems that can be solved by entering the refuge of the Lord;

Verse3 talks about being saved from “the fowlers snare” Evil is always bated and ready to trap us, but by always seeking to stay in that safe refuge we will be safe.

Anxiety can rob us of our sleep, but once again if we choose the refuge, even those restless nights will be no more.

“You will not fear the terror of the night…” (Psalm 91: 5)

refuge03The first verse of this magnificent psalm shows us the door always open of the safest refuge anyone would ever want. We just have to ensure we enter and dwell with him

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91: 1)

I heard a beautiful description of what this means and I find great comfort in this

Evil cannot penetrate the shadow of the Almighty!

 

Posted by: Jo | June 23, 2017

Learning What No Means

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

(Deuteronomy 6: 5 – 7)

WalkThisWay01Our youngest granddaughter who is 11 months old, has begun crawling and last Sunday she and her family were at our house for dinner. As soon as she was put down on the floor I rushed to protect, what I thought, would be objects she might damage or might damage her. My son-in-law, stopped me by saying.

We want her to learn what “no” means.  

Of course, all we adults were watching her to protect her from harm, but when her father said, “NO” in a firm voice as she went to towards our gas fire place (off at the time) I was surprised to see her look at him differently, stop for a minute until he picked her up and turned her around. He wanted her to learn that when he said no, it was important to stop and listen to him.

Later I was thinking about this and thought that that was exactly what our Heavenly Father was doing when he gave us the Ten Commandments, he was basically teaching us what “NO” meant to protect us from the ravages that not listening to him can bring about. Often, we have the mistaken idea that the Heavenly Father gave us the law to make life difficult or to spoil our fun somehow, not realising the incredible love for us that prompted him to write these laws for our own protection. His love is not one of indifference, but one of deep caring. He designed us, he knows how we can so easily go on our own way which often leads to great heartache for us. He knew we needed protection.

When Moses was preparing the children of Israel to go into the promised land, he impressed upon them the importance of listening to the Lord’s voice so they then would live life the way God had intended it was to be lived, under his guidance.

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19 – 20)

WalkThisWay02Later, the prophet, Isaiah, also reminded the people and of course us as well the importance of listening to God’s voice, especially when we are about to choose a course of action.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30: 21)

Even as adults we need to be like children and stop and listen to the voice of caution and stay covered by the loving protection of our Heavenly Father.

 

Posted by: Jo | June 16, 2017

Content With Today

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

(Psalm 118: 24)

Content01I have a dear friend with whom I walk with each week and as we live in such a beautiful part of the world, our walks take us through spectacular displays pf God’s majesty in creation. One of our favourite walks, is along the sea wall which is boarded with stately trees. After one of these walks my friend wrote a beautiful poem about the contentment she felt the trees were exhibiting, which really intrigued me and made me realise that the glory of the Lord is proclaimed though nature and what we humans can learn from this.

“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)

Morning Glory

Champagne sunshine bubbling though a canopy of variegated green

Stately trees silhouetted against a sapphire sky

Taking their place in history.

Quiet nature content with today

Letting the ebb and flow of existence

Tell the story.

Happy and sad but unaffected by emotion

Accepting the inevitable rhythm

Of life.

– Anonymous (My Friend)

After reading this poem, I too saw the contentment of the trees, accepting their Creator’s complete control of their lives. They weren’t wasting time worrying about how many leaves they were able to produce, yesterday. They weren’t concerned that perhaps a big wind storm might occur tomorrow. They knew they were part of the incredible plan of life and they were content to accept the day planned by their Creator.

What a wonderful lesson for us to learn! We could save ourselves so much useless heartache and worry if we adopted that attitude, recognising that we are not in control, being willing to trust the Lord with our lives, being willing to be content with today and when we do that, the Lord blesses us

“The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content untouched by trouble.” (Proverbs 19: 23)

Content02When we look at the apostle Paul’s life it certainly does not look like he sailed through without any trouble, but his attitude is an amazing example for us to contemplate and try to follow if we wish to obtain the contentment Scripture refers to.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12 – 13)

 

Posted by: Jo | June 9, 2017

Walking Humbly With The Lord

“Walking Humbly With The Lord.”

(Proverbs 11: 2)

Humble01Last week we had a wind-up brunch for the Women’s Bible Study, organised by our Church. It is a large number of ladies who meet together for worship and then break up into small groups with a leader, to study God’s word.  In September of last year, I had no intention of joining, until my daughter pressured me to come with her, as she was joining the Mom’s Group, also part of the wider study. I am ashamed to say my reluctance was based on pride. I have had extensive training in Bible study and have led many groups over the years and felt there was no need for me to attend yet another one. In the midst of my arrogant thinking I came across a saying of St. Ignatius, I had recorded many years ago and I was suddenly ashamed of what I had been thinking. Here are St Ignatius’ words;

In these days God taught me like a school teacher teaches a pupil. I remind myself that there are things that God has to teach me yet, and I ask for the grace to hear them and let them change me. 

After reading these words I asked for the grace to humbly join the study and my reward has astounded me. I met a delightful group of sisters in Christ who have shown me love and acceptance and have inspired me by their devotion and their dedication to God’s word.  One of the big lessons the Lord helped me with, was to keep quiet (still learning) and listen, rather than air my knowledge.

I often return to the Psalmists with all their wonderful wisdom and one of my favourites is Psalm 25

“He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” (Psalm 25: 9)

Teaching us his way, is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ did when he said these words;

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11: 29)

If the King of Kings and Lord of all can be humble we have an incredible example to follow.

Humble02Over and over the Israelites in the Old Testament forgot to practice humility and took things into their own hands and made decisions without consulting God, believing in their arrogance that they knew best. Our present society is still doing much the same and we need to heed these words that God spoke to Solomon and learn to walk humbly with the Lord.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7: 14)

 

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