Posted by: Jo | October 9, 2015

Being Commissioned


“But your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time”

(1 Kings 8:61)

image A few months ago, our city police force was replacing the head of the whole detachment and because of the importance of this job and the huge responsibilities attached to such position, a special public ceremony was planned in which the chosen person stood in front of peers and dignitaries and was officially commissioned and part of the proceedings involved a solemn declaration to uphold, in every sense, the responsibilities being undertaken. I was thinking about this ceremony, when last Sunday there was an announcement that two young people from our congregation were leaving on a short term mission trip and after explaining to us the nature of the trip, our Pastor asked them to come forward to be commissioned and he laid hands upon them and prayed for them.

At the end of the service our Pastor reminded us that it is not only those who volunteer for missions, but as followers of Jesus, we are all commissioned by the Holy Spirit for service.

When I looked up in the dictionary what commissioned meant, I grasped what an incredible honour it was to be considered worthy of this calling. One of the meanings is;

Authority given to act as an agent for another.

image What an amazing privilege to represent Jesus in our daily life! As an agent we are free to tell others of his great love and to pave the way for others to find him. As his agents we will be reflecting the joy it is to know him in whatever situation we find ourselves.

As I continued to read the definitions I realised that acting as an agent meant quite a bit of input on our part. Another definition reads;

Commit to entrust oneself to a cause.

When we entrust ourselves to another we are virtually accepting the other person’s values. God’s values are found in his word and Paul reminds his readers that these precious words have been entrusted to us;

“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

The third definition I read about being commissioned was perhaps the most defining;

To act in a prescribed manner

Jesus summed up what this meant when he was asked about the law and summed it up this way;image

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34 – 35)

What wonderful words to hang on to as we listen to the Royal commissioning from above. Being an agent of love seems to me a very fulfilling role and what an honour is bestowed upon us as we gratefully accept.

Posted by: Jo | October 2, 2015

Re-Capturing Wonder

“Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes”

(Psalm 17:7)

image I was watching, just recently, a delightful video on the internet showing toddlers seeing bubbles blown into the air for the first time. Their little faces were filled with wonder as they reached to catch one of these fascinating objects and as they burst, they doubled over with laughter and waited expectantly for the grown up adult to produce more bubbles so they could try again to catch these elusive beings. It was impossible to watch without being infected by their joy and I was suddenly saddened to think that as we grow older we somehow lose that sense of wonder. We seem to settle into complacency, our lives governed by routine, we don’t expect to be impressed by anything new so of course we miss some of the wonderful things happening all around us. I read where marriage counsellors repeatedly hear a spouse say, “Something is missing in our relationship.” I would guess often times it is wonder.

This too can happen in our Christian walk where, without us really noticing, the excitement of following Jesus fades slowly, our prayer time and worship becomes just another routine of the day, we fail to be awed by the wonder of the Mighty God we serve.

Job had slipped into underestimating who God really was, and I love this passage where God gives Job a wakeup call to who he really is and reminds him of his mighty power.

“Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders; Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash? Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?” (Job 37:14 – 16)

Nature is certainly one of the best places to be yet again awed by wonder. In the same video I was watching, one of the little girl’s bubbles burst over the garden and forgetting about that pursuit, she bent right over to study a little flower that caught her attention and again her face was etched by wonder. Capturing the wonder of a child is a great way to enrich our lives.

When we begin to feel a slight cooling, a loss of excitement, a dulling of expectation in our Christian walk, we need to re-read what God said to Job;

Stop and consider God’s wonders

image The Psalmists cried out to God to show them his wonders and then spent their times telling others about them. The word, wonderful means just that, filled with wonder. When the people saw what Jesus was doing among them they recognised that his actions were wonderful.

“When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.” (Luke 13:17)

To recapture childlike wonder, we need to take a fresh look at our lives, to re-read God’s word with an open expectation to be filled with wonder, to be ready to be over awed as he does wonderful things in our lives, to look at others as wonderful creatures created by God, not to be afraid to have a child like attitude to life.

Posted by: Jo | September 25, 2015

Who Am I?

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

(Exodus 3:11)

clip_image002When I was young, one of the favourite games played at parties, was called, “Who am I?” Whoever was hosting the party would write on slips of paper the names of famous people. These could be from all walks of life and may be still alive or perhaps part of history. When the game began, the host would pin the slip of paper with the famous person’s name on to each guest’s back, and the object was to discover who you were representing. The first guest to guess the right person won the game. The rules were simple, you went to other guests and were to ask questions like this “Am I a man?” or “Am I a famous queen?” Etc. The person asked could only reply, yes or no and then the round of questions would continue.

We may sometimes wonder who we are. Perhaps we might have reached a point in our lives when we ask ourselves that question, who am I? We may have doubts about our abilities to achieve our goals. We have the feeling that nobody knows who we really are or that no one really cares to find out. We may have a wonderful opportunity opening up in our lives and doubt enters our mind and we ask the question am I capable of handling this? Who am I to take that on?

God’s word is a great place to go for perplexing questions to be answered. Some of the most powerful characters had to not only ask themselves how valuable they were, but took the same question to God. Moses is a prime example of asking that big question. He had grown up in a royal palace after he had been drawn from the river Nile as a baby and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He blew all his good fortune by losing his temper and killing an Egyptian. He runs away and for years spends his life tending sheep until God seeks him out with a wonderful chance to come back to Egypt and become a leader of his people. Does he jump at the chance? No way. He asks that dreaded question of self-doubt (Exodus 3:11) It is God’s answer that we all need to take heed of when we lack confidence.clip_image004

“And God said, I will be with you…” (Exodus 3:12)

Jeremiah is another one who doubts his ability because of being young when God tells him he has been chosen for a special role (Jeremiah 1:6) and again God assures him that he will be given the right words to speak because God himself will put them there,

“Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)

Jesus himself assures his disciples not to worry about how they will cope with difficult situations, the Holy Spirit will be there right with them;

“for the Holy Spirit will teach you what you should say” (Luke 12:12)

Whatever situation we are facing, it is so encouraging to remember that our true identity is defined by our Heavenly Father who calls us his children and refers to us as his beloved and we can boldly answer that big question Who am I? With this reply,

I am a beloved child of God!

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)


Posted by: Jo | September 18, 2015

What Fuels Our Lives?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

(Matthew 5:6)

image There was an interesting story in our local newspapers this week about a gas station that inadvertently mixed a low octane gas with its much more expensive and higher rating gas. It caused much embarrassment to the station owners and much anger from the irate customers whose cars were designed to operate at their best on the higher level of gas. The equation was simple; higher level of fuel, higher level of performance.

In our present day society, athletes know the importance of what sort of fuel they put into their bodies to achieve their best performance. This may take the form of vitamins/ power drinks/ the right balance of proteins etc… So as Christians what is the fuel we use to keep ourselves as powerful servants of the Lord? How do we keep that high level of his love coursing through our very beings?

I love finding in Scripture, those little stories that have great depth, but might be overlooked in a casual reading. I was reading how God was telling Moses how to build the tabernacle, and he could have been thinking how are we ever going to do this when God explains who is really behind the process;

“Then the Lord said to Moses, See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze. To cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.”  (Exodus 31:1 – 5)

We can see where Bezalel got his fuel, he was filled with the Spirit of God.

What a great passage to remind us if we feeling like we are running on low we only have to go to our source of power and ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately the world offers all sorts of different fuel.  We are bombarded through the media and tricked into thinking that we can achieve our goals by trusting ourselves to provide the impetus


image We can see the results of greed being the fuel for all sorts of activities. Selfishness can be the fuel to amassing wealth. Striving to be famous at whatever the cost is not far behind.

Our loving Lord offers us free of charge, all the power we will ever need. In fact the power is made to fit exactly the beloved child who is asking, the only step needed by us is to seek that fuel every day so we function exactly how our Creator designed us to be. The fuel supply is found in reading God’s word, spending time in prayer, worshiping him together with other believers, committing our lives to his direction every morning.

Our tanks will be overflowing if we take this beautiful prayer of Paul’s to heart;

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Posted by: Jo | September 11, 2015

What Are You Building

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

(Psalm 127:1)

image Just recently I was watching my little grandson playing with his blocks and his various trucks, tractors etc. and I could see he was carefully building some sort of structure so I asked him, “What are you building?” I think he was a bit surprised I did not recognize immediately his masterpiece,  but replied. “I am building a construction site and this is where all the excavators go and this is how the gate opens.”  Already at three years old he wanted to build something that reflected his ideas of how things should look. I began to think of how this was a perfect example of how we all think as humans and how being in control of our own lives assumes great importance as we grow older. I was reminded of the story back in Genesis (Chapter 11) when mankind had this idea to join together to build a building that  would reach to the heavens so that they could make a name for themselves and be in control like God. We haven’t changed much through the centuries!

We use the term “to build” in our everyday speaking and talk about, building relationships,  building one’s confidence, building a community, or in the negative way, empire building, anger building or building up resentment.  When Jesus told the parable about the two builders, he wanted his listeners and us to look closely at what and where we are building in our lives.

In the story (Matthew 7:24 – 27) Jesus describes a foolish man who chooses to build his house in a very unreliable and dangerous place. He chooses shifting sand. The other builder in the story chooses wisely for his house, a solid rock foundation. When storms arise the foolish man’s house is washed away, while the wise man’s house stands firm against any raging gale.

The world’s values are often as shallow as sifting sand and we can be deceived sometimes into trusting them to stand firm for us, forgetting that the only true foundation for us who know and love the Lord, is his word.

We, as believers, are referred to as God’s building;

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9)

What an incredible privilege to be considered God’s handiwork.

image One of the firm ways we can go about building in our own lives is to spend our efforts on building others up. It is so easy to be critical of others, so easy to make that disparaging remark, so easy to refrain from praising another.  When we take these words of Paul to heart, we will truly be part of the team of God’s builders;

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

The story of the wise and foolish builders has been made into a rousing children’s Sunday School song and the last chorus is sung with great gusto and a great reminder for us all

So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Jo | September 4, 2015

Searching The Scriptures

“they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so..”

(Acts 17:11 K.J.V)

image My family tease me for my great interest in social media and I must admit I love to see what they are all up to, and I also like the fact that I can keep in contact with Australian relatives and friends who are so far away, yet through the internet seem very close by, when I see their photos of special occasions or fun holidays, and I marvel at how the children are growing etc. but the thing I dislike about much of what I read, (I call it “social media nonsense”), is what is blatantly displayed as being trustworthy and absolutely true with no evidence to back it up. We have all read it!!! Eat this special food every week and you will ward off cancer. Outrageous stories about very unlikely people, purporting to be true, dripping with sentimentality, but with no word of truth contained anywhere. Sometimes dangerous suggestions about emotional problems and how to solve them. I suppose the real message is, “don’t believe everything you see on this page.”

My husband and I were reading in our Bible study this week, the passage in Acts which describes Paul proclaiming the good news to others and the fascinating section for us was how people received this news, the Bereans (Acts 17) were the ones that caught our attention. They wished to check if what Paul was telling them was true and went back to the one solid source of truth, Scripture. No need for them to worry if this was social media nonsense, his words had the backing of the Lord God Almighty. They also did not stop at a quick “Google check”. Firstly they had prepared minds to accept the truth. Then they realised daily reading of the truth was needed so this amazing message could be totally absorbed into their beings.

“…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11 (K.J.V))

What a wonderful example for us to follow. God’s word has so much depth of knowledge we also need to have our minds ready and to daily seek wisdom from this one solid source of truth. When Solomon left wise words for his son to live by, he emphasised the need to make it a priority, an urgent necessity, more important than silver or gold, to know and understand God’s word;image

“…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)

Reading rubbish that floods all forms of media certainly fades into oblivion when it stands up against the timeless truth of God’s Word and what confidence it gives us who love the Heavenly Father when we read this assurance ;

“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6)

Posted by: Jo | August 27, 2015

A Joyous Occasion Filled With Love

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”

(Revelation 19:7)

image We celebrated a joyous occasion this week with a family wedding. Weddings always are preceded with a flurry of preparations, weeks before, involving venues, food, invitations, and are also accompanied by pre-wedding worries. Will the weather cooperate? Here in Nth America we are in late summer, but the venue included a beautiful outside deck, what if it rains? The wedding party included a three year old little boy! Who could forecast what he would do? Parents of the bride are elderly, how will they cope? Dear little flower girl, will she be brave enough to be the first down the aisle? Truly, at the end of the day we were able to echo these words as the Lord richly blessed our day.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!

The Old Testament makes frequent references to the images of marriage and in the book of Isaiah we read how the Heavenly Father sees himself in the role of a bridegroom who rejoices over his bride. We, his people, are that bride and we are the recipients of that beautiful outpouring of his love which is a symbol of the most intimate of relationships which binds the Father and his beloveds together.

“…as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

Again the prophet, Hosea, records how deep is the Fathers’ love for us in terms of marriage vows that will never be broken;

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19 – 20)

image Jesus, Himself, chose the setting of a wedding celebration to perform his first miracle, a sign that the Heavenly Bridegroom had become one with his people. (John 2)

The most important wedding any of us will ever attend is yet to come and the Holy Spirit reveals this to the apostle, John, and commands him to write it down so the magnificence of this wedding will be etched on our minds and our hearts as we look forward to that glorious day;

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Revelation 19:7 – 8)

Just like any earthly wedding, invitations will be sent out inviting God’s people to join in to this most awesome celebration;

“…Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9)

Again, just like the earthly wedding, the invitation must be accepted and the recipient plan to be present. We sang a beautiful song in our Sunday service, entitled, WE ARE YOUR CHURCH and as our voices rose to a crescendo I felt we as a body of believers were answering, as the bride, accepting our Heavenly Bridegroom’s invitation to be his.

Who would ever want to miss out on that magnificent wedding supper?

Posted by: Jo | August 14, 2015

Admitting How Much We Need Him

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

(Philippians 4:19)

image Our worship service this last Sunday morning was filled with an incredible sense of oneness. We were singing one of my favourite contemporary songs, based on the old hymn, O, Lord How I need Thee, the modern version uses these words, every hour I need you, and as our voices rose together, I was surprised to realise the tall, young teenager beside me was wiping a tear from his eye and as I stole a look around at other members, raw emotion was etched upon many faces. I saw a wide range of ages from elderly men to young parents, grandmothers, business women, young people, but what was unifying us all was the realisation of how we all needed the Lord Jesus Christ and the fact that we were in a sacred place where we felt safe in expressing that emotion.

The world would tell us a different story even to confining the needy to a position where they are pitied or looked down upon. The world would tell our young people to strive to be self-sufficient, never admitting any weakness, constantly promoting the idea, you can make it on your own. God’s word has quite the opposite message. King David is a remarkable example of a mighty powerful ruler who acknowledged his complete dependence on God’s help and had no shame in admitting how much he relied on the grace and mercy of his Heavenly Father.

“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble.” (Psalm 142:1 – 2)

God accepts David’s humble acceptance of help by calling him A man after his own heart. so the Lord welcomes us all to share whatever is troubling us and loves it when we take him into our confidence, and we don’t have to pretend we have it altogether, admitting we need help is not a sign of weakness, but is actually a sign of wisdom to go to straight to the strongest source of help available to mankind.

When we realise our own neediness we become much more aware of the needy around us and are braver to admit to others how we need to lean on the Lord and as the song describes it, not a one off thing, but constantly every hour I need you, encouraging others to do the same.

One of my favourite verses on this subject is found in Hebrews which points out that we can confidently come to the Lord(the King James version says “boldly” come), not wondering if we should be bothering our Father about our own concerns, but expecting to be flooded by grace and mercy.image

“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)

I know the tears I witnessed through our Church’s song were an outward sign of deep thankfulness for such a loving, caring Saviour.

Posted by: Jo | August 7, 2015

How To Pray For Others

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

(Jeremiah 29:12)

  imageWe were watching, yet again, a tragedy unfold on the evening news and the person relaying the details finished his explanation with these words:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families

As I listened to this all too familiar phrase I wondered how meaningful it was and did it make the speaker feel better or did it comfort the bereaved at all, but perhaps just knowing someone cared was a small consolation to them, and then I pondered did the speaker actually stop and do what he had promised, Pray?

We as believers may have also slipped into uttering an also familiar phrase We will pray for you but do we follow through and devote time to do exactly that? Our topic for our sermon on Sunday was, “Understanding Mental Health And Spiritual Well Being”, and our speaker made us aware that mental health should not be a shameful or secret topic within our church family and we all could exercise our powerful privilege of being able to access the ear of the Heavenly Father through prayer, but how do we do that effectively and in so doing help people?

I have learnt through my spiritual journey that we can help people much more by offering to pray “with them” rather than “for them”. Allowing those in need to hear the prayers and coming before the Lord together is very powerful.image

When Paul was praying for others he wrote to tell them his prayers and urged new believers to pray for one another. His prayers are wonderful examples for us to follow.

Firstly: he always began with a thanksgiving for the people and thus affirming them as worthwhile children of God. (So important for those struggling with self-worth)

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15 – 16)

Secondly: in his prayers he reminds them of the gifts given to all who love the Lord, again giving them something solid to hang on to amidst chaotic thoughts that make one uncertain.

“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.” (1 Corinthians 1:7)

imageThirdly: Paul prays for wisdom and revelation about who Jesus is. A firm rock to stabilise one’s life.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you may know him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)

Fourthly: he restores hope for those who so desperately need it.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of the glorious inheritance of the saints…” (Ephesians 1:18)

Fifthly: he asks for discernment for the best solution to any problem

“And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9 – 10)

Lastly: he prays for strength for those for whom he is praying.

“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father…” (Colossians 1:11 – 12)

imageWhat an incredible example for us to follow when we pray with others for them and what amazing blessings are poured out on both of us when we seek the Lord together.

Posted by: Jo | July 31, 2015

Anointed By The Oil Of Joy And Gladness

“You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God , your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

(Psalm 45:7)

Our sermon this Sunday was exploring the second last Psalm (133) in the series known as the The Songs Of Ascents. imageI felt our young minister would expound on the first verse about brothers living together in unity, and of course he did, but then he surprised me by an in-depth look at the reference to the anointing of Aaron by the precious oil.

“It is like the precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.” (Psalm 133:2)

This precious and expensive oil was not just a sprinkle on the top of the head, it was a real soaking of head and beard even running down over Aaron’s clothing and because of the ingredients, myrrh, cinnamon, fragrant cane, cassia and olive oil (Exodus 30:23 – 25) the recipient was left surrounded by an exquisite aroma.

This ceremony was originally reserved for priests serving in the temple, and perhaps we might have overlooked the incredible privilege we have been granted through Our Saviour, that we too are now considered to be part of a royal priesthood and so too become recipients of this anointing, so joy and gladness envelope our very being.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

The writer of Hebrews writes to assure the new believers that they have this anointing

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:9)

image And with this fragrant blessing comes a special purpose for us believers, who now carry this oil of gladness and joy with us wherever we go and Isaiah tells us how we can make use of it.

Firstly we can reach out to those who are poor in spirit who do not know the Lord. We can bind up the broken hearted, we can help those trapped by fear and evil and bring them freedom from that darkness, we can comfort those who grieve, we can bring beauty instead of ashes for those who are mourning we can bring praise instead of despair into a desperate situation (Isaiah 61:1- 3).

Being anointed gives one a sense of authority. We don’t have to ask, “What can I do to help?” We have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to act as one of Christ’s ambassadors and bring with us joy and gladness for those around us who most need it. The other great benefit is for ourselves when we go through turbulent times, we can draw on that same anointing oil to ease our pain. The fragrance of knowing our Lord and Saviour spreads through our lives blessing us and others.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him, For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 – 15)

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