Posted by: Jo | October 21, 2016

Answer Me When I Call

“Hear O, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.”

(Psalm 86: 1)

answerme02My husband and I have finally reached that age where role reversal is taking place in our family.  We have, up until now, always accepted our role as being the ones who take care of the rest of our brood, doing the worrying, making sure everyone is progressing safely through life, etc., but lately subtle little signs are making us realise that times are a-changing! The first sign came when we received a smart phone with strict instructions to carry it with us whenever we ventured out so the rest of the family could check on us. We were very touched at their concern, but a bit dismayed that these younger ones were taking over our former job of being the ones who did the worrying!  We learnt a big lesson a few weeks ago, about smart phones and being responsible seniors.

Smart phones need to be turned on for one to be able to hear the message.

We learned this after we had decided not to go home after church, straight away, but to have a coffee and walk slowly home, unaware that the family were very concerned about not being able to find out where we were because they could not contact us. Lesson learnt!

answerme03Of course we are all are like David who cries out to the Lord, demanding that the Lord answers him, but we are also aware that one must listen for the answer to be given. In our very busy, stress filled lives we often cry out to God, but forget to actually stop and spend time waiting for the answer. God has a good message for us

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

Our pastor had a sweet, but very pertinent story about a little girl who was sending her mother crazy by constantly moving and jumping around the room until her mother made her sit still to calm her down. The little girl obeyed, but then quickly added, “I am still jumping inside myself.

We are a bit like that little girl.  We want to wait upon the Lord and spend time quietly listening to his answers, but all those pressing needs intrude upon our minds we keep thinking of the many tasks awaiting us and on the surface we may think we are listening, but inside we are far from taking in what the Lord wants us to hear. (A bit like our lesson with the smart phone we need to be turned on to hear)

Answers from the Lord often come through his word, but again we have to turn on(open) his words to hear the message;

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130: 5)

answerme04One of my favourite verses to read when I am crying out to the Lord is in the book of Isaiah, but again the emphasis is on opening our ears to hear those words of guidance.  Be ready to listen!

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


Posted by: Jo | October 14, 2016

Count Your Blessings

“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.”

(Ezekiel 34: 26)

countyourblessings01This month, Thanksgiving is celebrated here in Canada and many of the newspapers have various articles as to what that exactly means to people. I was intrigued by many of the answers, but not surprised by others that included giving thanks for family/ friends etc. Later I was reading a devotional about the subject and came across a quote that really caught my attention;

You cannot be grateful and unhappy at the same time.

I suddenly caught myself remembering that I had been guilty of exactly that, admitting I was grateful for something, and in the next sentence saying words like this; but if only I had enough money for… or after receiving a longed for blessing, forget my angst about that problem, and start worrying about another immediately. The other intriguing question for many in this season is; who are we giving thanks to?  Sometimes we can slip into basically thanking ourselves for a positive outcome in our lives e.g. I am so thankful I had the sense to take that course of action.

The psalmists make it quite clear that the Lord deserves our constant thanksgiving;

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” (Psalm 100:4)

countyourblessings02We can also slip into excluding the wonderful power God has in our lives by neglecting to thank him when inexplicably good things happen, and we put it all down to coincidence.

For example, a friend was sharing how she had been in the hallway of her Senior Citizens building when she heard the fire alarm go off inside one of the rooms. She and another lady were able to go inside and see a pot burning on the stove and nobody there. They had time to turn off the stove and remove the pot before the whole room was engulfed. They could have just put that down to coincidence that they were outside the room just at the right time, but our friend loves the Lord and was able to give him thanks for saving the building.

Paul sets a wonderful example of giving thanks for his fellow Christians in prayers to God, and telling them in letters. How lovely for us to tell our friends that they are part of our thanksgiving when we pray.

“I thank my God every time I remember you in all my prayers for all of you.” (Philippians 1: 3)

When I was young we sang a sweet song encompassing all of this and its message is just as important today as it was when written.

Count your blessings name them one by one

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

countyourblessings03The most important thanksgiving prayer for all of us, when we think of the Lord Jesus Christ, is summed up in this verse.

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9: 15) 


Posted by: Jo | October 7, 2016

Power of the Forgiving Prayer

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

(Luke 23: 34)

powerofforgiveness03When one of my daughters was a little girl, she seemed to be having a great deal of trouble relating to one particular school teacher, and every afternoon after coming home from school, would regale me with how terrible the day had been and how mean this particular lady was to her. One night after she had another bad experience, I suggested to her while I was hearing her night time prayers, that perhaps we should ask God about this problem and ask him to bless this lady in some special way. With that my little daughter pulled the sheets over head protesting “Oh no!  I know what he will do, he will make me like her!”  They say wisdom comes from the mouth of babes and these words from a little girl were loaded with wisdom way beyond her years in grasping the power of prayer, especially when laced with forgiveness.

When the disciples begged Jesus to teach them how to pray, they may have been surprised to hear these words;

“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.” (Luke 11: 4)

Forgiveness was certainly what they expected from God, but now Jesus was emphasising the importance of forgiving others, but was combining the act of forgiveness with prayer, calling on the power that occurs when we submit to God’s authority.

When Paul was writing to the Ephesians, he urged them to forgive others and he mentions the ugly emotions which fill our minds powerofforgiveness04when we have a grievance against someone.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4: 31 – 32)

Those ugly emotions, especially bitterness and anger, that Paul mentions, often stay in our minds long after the incident in which someone hurts us, and in the end can spoil our enjoyment of daily living. God is offering us release from those emotions, which have been proved to actually bring about health problems, by allowing him to change our thoughts, even as my little girl grasped, to the extent of loving and not hating.

Praying for those we love is very easy, but praying for those who have hurt us/ betrayed us/ let us down/ damaged us in any way/ is so much harder.

Jesus’ words from the cross, “Father forgive them” have always amazed me. I would expect him to love those who loved him, but his example to the world was forgiveness for those who were trying to destroy God’s own son.

powerofforgiveness01The wise words of the Book of Proverbs, helps us to get this into perspective, as we realise by coming to the Lord with forgiving hearts for those who hurt us, we reap this benefit.

“When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16: 7)

Posted by: Jo | September 30, 2016

Meaningful Words

“… to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

(Deuteronomy 8: 3)

meaningfullwords01We here in British Columbia, Canada, are enjoying a visit from the Royal family as Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge are presently representing the Queen and seeing this incredible and beautiful part of the world. They are a charming young couple and both seem to have the knack of relating to the everyday person who has lined the road to catch a glimpse of them. Watching them on the television, I was constantly impressed with the way they did not just wave their hands to the adoring crowd, but stopped frequently, to chat to individuals.  How do they do that? I asked myself. Surely muttering some meaningless words would not leave the recipient impressed. I was wrong. During an interview with one such recipient of these words, I was surprised to hear that no they were not meaningless words, the Royal couple seemed to be genuinely interested in the answers and always had some background knowledge of wherever they currently were. This made me think of that wise Book of Proverbs.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25: 11)

We have all probably experienced words not aptly spoken and how hurtful they can be and how quickly they can destroy relationships. The ever wise author of Proverbs puts this into perspective; meaningfullwords02

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12: 18)

Many of us have regretted reckless words coming from our own mouths as words can escape our mouths so quickly before we can stop them and of course once uttered, have already done their damage.

So how do we go about making sure what comes out of our mouths are meaningful words?

When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness and perhaps being provoked to utter the wrong response, he uses God’s own words to come out of his mouth.

“Jesus answered, “It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”” (Matthew 4: 4)

I have tried, unsuccessfully, to control my outbursts with my own methods of self-control, but I have realised that I am always going to need the help of the Holy Spirit to allow those words, “aptly spoken” to come from my mouth.

meaningfullwords03The solution is to honestly want pleasant words to be part of our every day conversation whoever we may be conversing with during the day, even if it is a particularly annoying person, or someone we have a grievance with, so to achieve this we need to ask (for me every day) to have our mouths filled with God’s words and when we do, listen to his gracious answer;

“I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand…” (Isaiah 51: 16)

Posted by: Jo | September 23, 2016

Open To Receive The Seed

“Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

(Matthew 13: 8)

SowingSeedI love gardening, but now as we live in an apartment building, I have to be content to pursue my hobby on two balconies on which I have crammed as many pots as I can so bursts of beautiful colours not only bring me joy, but bring delight to passers by. I have reserved one corner for herbs, as cooking is another one of my fun tasks. This corner receives a lot of sun, so the herbs flourish and produce and abundant crop for me to use during the summer.  Last summer I retrieved a pot I had stored away for the winter and when I looked inside the soil was as hard as a rock. I realised it needed a lot of work before the soil was ready to receive my intended herb planting.

We sang a beautiful song during our church service this week and one of the phrases really made me stop and think;

Help me to be open to receive the seed.

The phrase made me think of my pot with its soil so hard no seed would be able to flourish and suddenly the song’s lyrics had a special meaning for me. I thought perhaps my heart is like the soil in my pot, unwilling to be open to receive God’s word. Jesus tells us that God’s Word is like a seed and in the parable of the sower, he describes how the seed is received in different ways, and how it flourishes depends on the quality of the soil.sowingseed02

In the parable Jesus tells us some of the seed fell on rock.

“Some fell on rocky places where it did not have much soil…” (Matthew 13: 5)

Our hearts are really the receptive soil for God’s word, and it depends on the condition of those hearts as to how the word grows and flourishes.  Fortunately for us who love the Lord, he knows that all sorts of circumstances can sometimes begin to harden our hearts and perhaps we don’t even notice at first, just like I didn’t notice my pot’s soil hardening over winter, but the Lord has provided a solution for hard hearts, we can call out to him and this will be the reply;

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36: 26)

Of course we have to recognise when we need the Heavenly Gardener to do a little preparation in our hearts to receive his word, and then the next ssowingseed01tep is to see that the word is firmly planted and has strong roots so it will resist any attempts to dislodge it.   I love how the psalmist describes how he will do this;

“I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119: 10 – 11)

So we can sing the song confidently…

Help me to be open to receive the seed (And he will!)

Posted by: Jo | September 16, 2016

A Beautiful Thing

“… She has done a beautiful thing to me.”

(Mark 14: 6)

beautifulthing02A beautiful thing. The word beautiful conjures up many images and perhaps nature springs to mind when we think of the astounding beauty found in majestic mountain peaks to tiny perfect little flowers nestled in the grass. Perhaps gazing at a little baby fills us with wonder at the beauty of the human form, but the word beautiful can also be attributed to an action and I was struck by this while reading the story of Jesus being anointed and how Jesus describes the woman’s gracious, generous breaking of the alabaster jar and pouring the expensive perfume over his head;

She has done a beautiful thing to me

People witnessing this did not agree with him and grumbled about the waste of money and how the money could be put to better use, but Jesus was not adding up the cost of the perfume, he was talking about the woman’s heart and what prompted her to perform such a loving gesture. This is what transformed the act into a beautiful thing.

Jesus adds another very important message to the crowd who were watching his reaction to the woman anointing his head and a wonderful message for all of us who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

“She did what she could…” (Mark 14: 8)

beautifulthing01Sometimes we may wonder if we can contribute anything to furthering the kingdom or spreading the good news to others. If we begin to compare ourselves to others who are being lauded for great missionary work or others whose oratory draws hundreds to listen, or those whose books everybody wants to read, we feel useless and unworthy to be called children of God. Jesus was making it quite clear this was not true.  It is just a matter of doing what we can!

Jesus emphasises this in the parable of the sheep and the goats and points out that the smallest of loving actions made in his name will certainly noted by the Heavenly Father;

“The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25: 40)

So “doing a beautiful thing” takes on a whole different meaning for all of us when we hear Jesus’ words. He knows our various limitations. He knows our gifts. He knows that when we exercise those gifts in his name, we bring him the glory.  beautifulthing03It may be befriending a lonely neighbour, being patient with a difficult co-worker, visiting a shut in, comforting a friend struggling with self worth.  God is not expecting us to take on mighty tasks we are not capable of doing. We only need to do what we can, in his name, and then it becomes a beautiful thing.

How lovely it will be to hear these words

Well done good and faithful servant. You did what you could!



Posted by: Jo | September 9, 2016

Confidence In Him

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”

(Jeremiah 17: 7)

confidenceinhim003September in North America is the beginning of the new scholastic year and thousands of would be scholars ranging from kindergarteners to university students are preparing to stretch their knowledge in all sorts of areas. Many are seeing this as an exciting challenge, but many more are not so sure and anxiety and perhaps trepidation are prominent in their minds. They are not so confident this next step will fill them with joy. I saw a sweet little video about parents who had just left their little ones at kindergarten for the first time, and instead of leaving the playground, were peering through the classroom window unable to leave their loved ones.  They certainly were not filled with confidence that their beloved children would cope without them.

Our sermon ( on Sunday was entitled “Confidence in Christ” and it was both challenging and comforting at the same time, and started with this question.

Who and what do we place our confidence in?

We can turn to the world for advice and there are thousands of seminars/ courses/ motivational speakers all willing to help us. It is interesting to see how the main thrust of most of them have, is encouraging people to have confidence in themselves.  Often the mantra is; you can do it! confidenceinhim002

Scripture also encourages us to hold fast to these words but with a totally different meaning, yes we can do it, but not relying on our own strength.  We need to place our confidence squarely in front of our Heavenly Father drawing our strength from him.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 16)

God’s word offers us a solid rock to stand on, a loving spirit to walk beside us, arms to lift us up when we fall, guidance when we take that first step on a new path, encouragement when our confidence begins to wane. His words constantly tell us we are worthy. As children of his we don’t have to doubt ourselves. We don’t need to frantically psych ourselves us up, learning new tricks to appear we have it all together. The prophet Isaiah has a beautiful way of saying all this;

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (Isaiah 32: 17)

confidenceinhim001Our sermon was also stressing that we have to constantly be filled with this confidence and the renewing of it occurs when we come into the presence of the Lord, speaking to him in prayer, reading his word, worshipping him, meeting with others in his family, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. The writer of Hebrews implores us not to discard in any way this beautiful gift, to hang on to it and blessings will flow our way. This is a worthy verse to help us to do this.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10: 35 – 36)



Posted by: Jo | September 2, 2016

Head Or Heart Knowledge

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

(Psalm 119: 11)

HeadHeart01Quite a few years ago my husband and I were attending the Alpha course 2 and during one of the sessions Nicky Gumble used a powerful little story to illustrate how having a lot of knowledge about a subject and actually taking it to heart and using it, were vastly different. The story went something like this. A young man was given a new very expensive car from his uncle, delivered to his home. He carefully took the owner’s manual from the car and spent many days studying every detail of the engine and some days he opened the door and admired the immaculate inside. Eventually his uncle came to see how he liked the car and the boy could recite all the details on how the engine worked, Then the uncle asked, “How do you like driving it?”  The boy was surprised and answered, “Oh I haven’t driven it!”

Nicky Gumble was really illustrating how sometimes we as Christians think that knowledge of God’s word is all we need and forget that we need to take it to heart and live it!

It is quite amazing to check two words in Scripture; heart and knowledge and find so many verse containing these words. According to Proverbs, knowledge is very desirable to obtain;

“Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” (Proverbs 10:14)

But at the same time knowledge alone without it being stored in our hearts is not enough, we need to make sure it enters our hearts.

“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” (Proverbs 2: 10)

HeadHeart02Jesus, himself, became very angry with the teachers of the law who were taking pride in their knowledge of the law, but not putting it into practice and what was even worse, hindering others from experiencing the joy of living God’s word.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourself have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11: 52)

So what is the key to knowledge that Jesus is talking about?

Firstly, it is still important to know the Heavenly Father through his word. Unless we read and study Scripture, we will not know who our Lord and Saviour is. Next we need to call upon our Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, to illuminate the words so we grasp the meaning. Then we have knowledge.

HeadHeart03But the next step is the most important one, this beautiful knowledge needs to be stored deep in our hearts. What a pity not to take this final step. The boy in the story who only knew all about his car mechanically, was missing out on the joy of driving his car. When we hide God’s word in our hearts we have the joy of actually living with and walking in the footsteps of Jesus.



Posted by: Jo | August 26, 2016

Our Daily Bread

“Give us today our daily bread.”

(Matthew 6: 11)

Bread02When I start to think about bread, a friend who is the most incredible baker of bread I have ever known, always pops into my head. When she offers to come and see us and bring us some of her fresh baked bread, there is no hesitation in our voices as we agree wholeheartedly we would love to see her (of course not only for that delicious bread). Bread in its various forms has been the most widely consumed food in the whole world for thousands of years, even going back to pre-historic times when it is thought early man mixed gruel with water and let it dry into a paste. Tracing its various components, shapes, recipes through the world’s ethnic groups is quite fascinating and I found it to be a very enlightening study as I was getting ready to write this blog.

Bread is very much a part of Scripture and we first read about it in Genesis when Abram (later to be called Abraham) meets Melchizedek and he blesses Abram;

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High and he blessed Abram…” (Genesis 14:18)

Bread then takes on a special significance through out the whole Bible until it reaches its most important role in Jesus’ words;

“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6: 33)

Bread03When I was a child, the Lord’s prayer was said every morning at school before actual classes began, but as no one ever explained it to us children we just rattled it off without thinking what it could possibly mean. It wasn’t until I became an adult and a committed Christian that I discovered the powerful message behind those beautiful words and it was only just recently that I grasped the importance of give us our daily bread.

When I was younger I assumed when we used the words, daily bread, we were asking to have enough to eat for the day. Later I assumed it meant more than that and it encompassed all we needed to sustain us such as our finances etc., but when we read Jesus’ words

“I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.” (John 6: 47 – 48)

We see the real reason Jesus taught his disciples and us, to ask for our daily bread, lay in the fact we are asking not just for food, far more than that, we are asking for Jesus, the bread of life, to sustain us during the day. Just like we need daily food to sustain us, so too, do we need to ask every day for that infilling of the power of consuming the bread of life.  It is such a pity that the Lord’s prayer is often mumbled, rattled off without even thinking about what the powerful words mean and what an amazing change happens, when, before Bread01we begin, we ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate these beautiful words so they minister to our souls.

“This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:58)



Posted by: Jo | August 19, 2016

Brand New

“Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

(1 Peter 2: 1 – 3)

BrandNew01_smallOur family has been celebrating the birth of a little new granddaughter and she has become the centre of many activities during the last three weeks. The wonder of studying her tiny little features has gripped us all. The big tough men among our relatives seem to melt as they hold this sweet bundle close to their chests.  Teenage cousins even put down their smart phones to take their turn to have a cuddle of such a tiny creature.  Aunts study her closely to see who she might resemble among our big clan. She is a brand new addition to our family.

Brand new!

I used this term lately in telling a friend we had a brand new baby granddaughter and afterwards I began to think what exactly that term meant. Scripture talks about us becoming new creatures after we have experienced and accepted the loving forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5: 17)

So what does it take to make us “brand new.”  I went to a special site that examines common phrases and sayings, and I was intrigued by the meaning of the word, “brand”. It comes from a German word that means; flame, firebrand, torch, fire and to associate it with another word can mean;

Fresh from the fire, moulded into just the right shape. Refined to just the right degree to be made perfect.

We talk about branding cattle. stamped for ownership. BrandNew02_smallCars are carefully engineered to perform and when approved the brand name is attached proudly in a prime position for all to see.

It is wonderful to find how we become new creatures in Christ. We sing a new song, no longer a dirge of complaining, no longer a list of requests, no bad mouthing of others, a song of joy displaces the old habits.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God….” (Psalm 40: 3)

Even our minds can be changed as we don that new self;

“to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4: 23 – 24)

Another beautiful gift we receive as we become new creatures is “hope”. Whatever is happening around us cannot ever quash that amazing gift.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1: 3 – 4)

BrandNew03_smallJust as our little newborn craves milk so she can grow, we too as Peter tells us, (1Peter 2: 2) must crave to become that beautiful new creature the Heavenly Father designed us to be and when we do this the next beautiful gift we receive is this;

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11: 19)



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