Saturday, September 24, 2022

Weekend Words

 From A Year's Journey with God...

Moments of Heaven

"God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper." - Numbers 8:24-26

Today I went down the garden with my three-year-old granddaughter Molly to pick the apples from my funny little tree.  Its branches are so low she was able to fill a whole basket to take home to her mummy.  Then we went into the field beyond my garden gate and sat in the patch of sunshine munching away together happily; the dogs sat down beside us, watching hopefully for our apple cores.  We didn't talk; we just sat - it was one of those moments of stillness and pure delight.

Life often makes me feel as if I am a hamster endlessly running inside a wheel, but I'm sure God wants to punctuate each day with these 'moments of delight', times when we just stop for a moment and let something funny, beautiful or unusual seep down deep into our inner being.  The more we expect such moments, and look out for them, the more often we experience them.  Yet I find it so easy to rush through the day with my head down and my mind too full of earthly concerns to make room for these glimpses of heaven.

I love the thought of you smiling at me, Lord.  I know I must make you look sad sometimes, but I love it when the clouds of busyness and earthly concerns are parted and we can share together those rare moments of stillness and beauty.


From Water My Soul...

Soul Gardening - John 15:1-11

Each Spring, anything seems possible again as I wander along the flower-bordered paths where plants are awakening.  I dream of perfect gardens with large flowers and abundant fruit, vegetables with no blemishes, and rain when we need it.  Even though reality invades the vision eventually, I dream anyway.

Then I think of the things God would like to grow in my heart garden: fruit of the Spirit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and goodness.  Plus faith, humility, and self-control.  What blights and droughts and diseases are preventing me from performing to my full potential, and how can I cut them out of my life?  Does the Master Gardener ever grow weary of the chastening and pruning I require?  And how grateful I should be that He never gives up!  For no ground is too hard, dry or stony for God to make beautiful with flowers and fruit.

It doesn't happen overnight, or even in one season.  I spend a lot of time walking through the gardens, watching the performance of the plants, studying their progress, deciding what each one needs.  What can remain and what must be removed?  Some of the plants must be divided so they can continue to grow.  Others are dead.  My goal for the gardens is always to make them better, and there's always work to do.

Does God work in a similar way in my life?  Does He watch over the progress I'm making as I grow as a Christian?  Does He send periods of drought to help me sink my roots deeper into the soil of faith and trust?  What will He trim from my life because it is not bearing Him fruit?  Are the rainy seasons reminders for me to draw closer to the solid Rock that He wants to be in my life?

God is always vigilant when He watches over my life, and He is always working to bring good things out of what were once barren places in my soul.  I know He wants to help me grow to be more like Him, and that the pruning He does will eventually shape me more fully into a woman who brings Him glory.

I'm not always fond of His methods as He prunes my soul and discards the parts that hinder my growth and bear no fruit.  But even when it seems hard, I still believe it's necessary and that it will allow me to bloom abundantly for Him on some tomorrow.

Prayer: I don't always understand your ways, Lord, but I do believe you are working in my heart to make it better.  Let me help and not hinder the progress. 

Illustrations by Frank Francis from the book Grandmother Lucy in Her Garden by Joyce Woods

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Weekend Words

From Our Daily Bread Classic Gems...

 Turning Evil into Good - Read: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-18

"We wanted to come to you ... but Satan blocked our way." - 1 Thessalonians 2:18

The apostle Paul told the believers at Thessalonica that he and his co-workers wanted to visit them, but Satan blocked their way (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

Does it disturb you to read that a child of God can be blocked by the devil from doing what he believes to be the will of God?

If it does, remember that nothing happens without God's knowledge, nor apart from His direct or permissive will.  The Lord can take any deed, whether of Satan or man, and turn it around for His own purposes and glory.  The devil's hindering of Paul, for example, resulted in great benefit to Christians!  Because the apostle couldn't speak to the Thessalonians personally, he wrote them a letter.  This portion of the Bible has been a source of rich blessing and comfort to believers down through the centuries.

I'm reminded of Joseph's response to his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  They feared that he would seek revenge, but he said: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good" (Genesis 50:20).

What a comfort to know that nothing happens apart from the will of our heavenly Father.  He is all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful.  Under God's sovereign control, evil can be turned around to accomplish His good purposes.

Reflect and Pray

There is a certainty of love  That sets my heart at rest,

A calm assurance for today  That what God does is best. - Anonymous

God can bring showers of blessing out of storms of adversity.


Peace and Joy on Guard Duty

"Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! ... Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:2-7

Towards the end of his letter, Paul suddenly feels the need to remind the Philippians again that anxiety is the biggest joy-robber of all.  We simply can't 'rejoice in the Lord' when our worries are constantly churning around inside us like pebbles in a cement mixer.  Paul linked joy and peace very closely here, perhaps because it is impossible to have joy if you do not have peace.  Someone once said that peace is joy resting and joy is peace dancing.

The people in Philippi could have felt infuriated with Paul for telling them, "Do not be anxious.'  They faced terrible danger on a daily basis, but they would have known exactly what Paul meant when he said God's peace would 'guard' (garrison) their hearts and minds and save them from worry.  The wealthy city of Philippi was kept safe from enemy attack by its thick Roman walls.  On top of these fortifications, fully armed, highly trained soldiers kept watch, guarding the Philippian citizens day and night.  Paul was saying, "I'm telling you to be full of Jesus-joy because you know He is surrounding you and your families all the time, like the soldiers on those walls, so you don't have to feel worried in your hearts, or think worrying thoughts in your minds."

"Be still and know that I am God..." - Psalm 46:10

Friday, September 16, 2022

On the home front...

Here's a bit of a recap on the last month.  Has it really been a month since my last 'home' post?!?  My, how time flies when you are having fun.  Or busy! 

Quite a bit of spring color around now...








And lambs being born over my back fence...


In the kitchen, I've been baking bread...

And a date and walnut loaf...


And rock cakes...

Finally finished this scrappy granny blanket I'd been working on...
Still a few ends (which I've discretely hidden away) to be woven in, but I'm glad to have it finished

Back to working on my squares for the Wrap with Love blanket...
13 done, 15 to go

Finished reading these recently...

And now re-reading this...
first read in 2014

Had Freya to the vet (again!) with an infected cat bite...

And when she's not getting into cat fights, she likes to sit in boxes...


Down by the river at various times over the last few weeks...







Had Marnie, Denver and Sophie (Denver's friend) here last night for dinner: spaghetti bolognaise, garlic bread, and apple pie and ice-cream for dessert.  And there are leftovers!!  So, I'm headed for the kitchen to heat some up.

I hope you are having a good, better, best, day!

xx

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Weekend Words

 From A Prairie Devotional ...

Even If

"If He doesn't, will you lose your faith?" - Old Man

When we pray for a miracle, we have to ask ourselves if our faith will remain even if the miracle doesn't come.  Or will it fall apart, as if we were trusting the miracle rather than the God of miracles?

God has the power to heal us and our loved ones, but how we respond says everything about surrender.  When Charles Ingalls's son James is shot and lies in a coma, Charles goes into the woods to pray and build an alter to God.  An angel, whom he names Old Man, asks him the question.  Charles's response is a confident no.  Nothing can take away his faith in God.

Whatever happens, it doesn't change who God is.  If He doesn't move the mountains or raise the dead, He's still faithful.  He's still good.

A small piece of metal stamped with IT IS WELL hangs on a chain around my neck.  I made it after my surgery, and I rarely take it off. It reminds me that even if God doesn't do what I hope or ask, He has been faithful to me through so much.  I'm not about to give up on Him now.  "It Is Well" is more than a song or saying.  It is total surrender to Jesus, our Lord and King.

The Ingalls family had their share of joys and sorrows, just as we do.  Charles demonstrated to his family (and a world of viewers) that God is worth trusting.  Even in the hardest moments of life, even if He doesn't answer our prayers.  Even if the events of your life are leaving you hopeless and you don't think you can go on another day, God is with you.  He is trustworthy, and He loves you.  Hold fast to your faith.

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us ... But even if He doesn't, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods." - Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

What happens when your prayers seem to go unanswered?  Is God still good even if He doesn't answer the way you had hoped?


From Our Daily Bread Classic Gems...

Reading and Remembering - Read 2 Timothy 4:13-18

"My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word." - Psalm 119:81

My elderly aunt was having difficulty with her memory.  She tried to recall Scripture verses she had learned earlier in life, but they weren't coming to mind.  This bothered her.  I told her that God understands our weaknesses.  He remembers His promises even when we can't.  It's more important that we rest in His faithfulness.

Author Lillian Helm learned that lesson, too.  At 91, she spent an hour each day reading her Bible and Christian literature.  Her friends asked: "What good does all that reading do if you can't remember much of it?"  She replied by recounting her blessings and saying: "My cup runneth over.  I'm not concerned about my memory.  I just do my reading and God does the remembering."

Paul was in prison awaiting execution when he wrote to Timothy: "Bring ... my scrolls, especially the parchments" (2 Timothy 4:13).  He knew the importance of keeping his mind filled with God's truth.  All of us need to do that every day of our lives.

But Paul's confidence wasn't in his books.  It was in God, who would lovingly care for him and preserve him for His heavenly kingdom (v. 18).  That's true for all of us, even if we can no longer read or remember.

Reflect and Pray

I'll trust in God's unchanging Word, Till soul and body sever;

For though all things shall pass away, His word shall stand forever. - Anonymous

Memory may fail, but never God's promises.


The Difference

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;

I had so much to accomplish that I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.

"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered. He answered, "You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, grey and bleak,

I wondered why God didn't show me, He said "But you didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence; I used all my keys at the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided, "My child, you didn't knock."

I woke up early this morning, and paused before entering the day,

I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

- Author unknown


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Change is in the air...

Sorry I've been so slow with general updates.  Apart from the garden work ramping up due to Spring, I've had a few changes I've been working through.  

The main one being, that I am no longer attending the Mennonite church.  To those of you who have been following my blog for a while, this will come as no surprise.  You will know I only last a couple of years with them before I have to leave. Casting no aspersions on them, it's just me :)  

I always enjoy my time with them (their church services and singing), a sort of re-grounding in the faith, but I know that I will never join.  It's their church rules and regulations I find too narrow.  Try as I might, I just feel life does not have to be that restrictive.  But if it works for you, then go for it!

I think it is a very good way to live if you can, but I don't think God expects (or even wants) us all to live like that.  It is very inclusive (if you are a member of the church), but it is also exclusive if you are not.  Unless you actually join you are always on the 'outside'. There is always an unspoken barrier between them and you.  I don't think it is intentional, but it is there, nonetheless. 

So now I'm waiting to see where God leads me, but I feel my options are not restricted by 'the church'.  When you find yourself thinking "what would the church think/say about this thought/word/action?" and not "what would God think/say?", you know there is something wrong...

Wow...more words than you've seen from me for a while!!

I'll be back... :))

xx

PS - some things never change...

still getting out for my river walks :)

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Weekend Words

photo credit: Jefferson (on a starry night camped near Mt Kosciuszko)

"When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches" (Psalm 63:6)

Often in the night time when we are wakeful, out minds go back to the past and memories flood our thinking.  Our memory seems to work overtime at night.

David had remembered the wonderful things God had done for him, and pondered on God's wonderful kindness to him.  "Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You" (Psalm 63:3, Amplified).  How dear life is to us.  We make every effort to prolong it and care for it.  But David believed that the loving-kindness of God was better than life.

In the barren places of our lives, in times of helplessness, we, too, can experience God's loving-kindness.  As we recognize all that God has and is doing for us, what joy it will bring into our lives.

When we can't sleep, how often we begin to think of all the things we have to do, or we worry about our problems.  The more we try to sleep, the wider awake we become.  But David had learned a wonderful way of spending his sleepless hours at night.  He had a wonderful occupation, remembering God and meditating on Him.  His experiences with God were real.  Thinking of Him in the night watches brought joy.  He said, "When I remember THEE upon my bed, and meditate on THEE in the night watches" (Psalm 63:6).

This is a wonderful occupation for our sleepless nights.  We can think of all that He has done for us and meditate upon who He is.  Instead of counting sheep, we can count our blessings, numbering them one by one.  As we do this, our hearts will be filled with praise.  What sweet times we can have with Him in the quietness of the night.  What peace He will bring to us.  It may be He has some special word to share with us for our encouragement and comfort.  It may even be a gentle admonition.

Meditation is not dependent on books, methods, or our own efforts.  We are to meditate on HIM. "My meditation of HIM shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord" (Psalm 104:34).

photo credit: Natasha (from Vermont, USA)

From Our Daily Bread Classic Gems...

Walking With God - Read Genesis 5:18-24

"Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." - Genesis 5:24

As we read through the Bible, Genesis 5 sounds like official records kept by the authorities.  Name, age at death, survivors.  But in this terse list, we are suddenly confronted with a man who stands out from everyone else.  "Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away" (v. 24).

We don't know much else about Enoch.  He probably took care of the herds, worked the land, and cared for his family.  Whatever his duties were, we know that he had an ongoing conversation with God.  Enoch expressed his joys, his hurts, his confusions, and the responsibility he felt for his children.  He walked with God.

Enoch came to love what God loves and hate what God hates.  More interesting, though, the Lord was pleased with Enoch (Hebrews 11:5).  One day, He must have said something like: "Enoch, we've come a long way together.  Why don't you just come on home and stay with Me?"  The ancient writer simply reports: "Then he was no more, because God took him away" (Genesis 5:24).

The Lord still looks for those who will walk with Him.  What a privilege for us!  The One who is the Creator of the cosmos, the Ruler of heaven, and the Redeemer of mankind seeks our friendship.  Are we seeking His?

Reflect and Pray:

Savior, let me walk beside Thee,
Let me feel my hand in Thine;
Let me know the joy of walking
In Thy strength and not in mine. - Sidebotham


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Weekend Words

 

From Be Still and Know...

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Jesus' earthly ministry was coming to a close.  Just before His betrayal, He spent His last evening with his disciples.  He knew they would encounter difficult days ahead, days filled with trouble and trials.  He encouraged them by saying, "I have told you all this so that you will have peace of heart and mind.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, but cheer up, for I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, LB).

Since those words were spoken nearly two thousand years ago, there have been few intervals of peace on earth.  Many conferences have been held to draft plans for world peace, but none have resulted in a state of peace.

Since we have not been promised freedom from tribulation, we need not be surprised when trials overtake us.  The Lord Jesus Christ told us to expect them.  He said, "In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration" (Amplified).

We need not panic when tribulation comes, for we are promised peace.  This peace is in a person.  Jesus said, "IN ME you may have perfect peace and confidence ... be of good cheer - take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted - for I have overcome the world. - I have deprived it of power to harm, have conquered it [for you]" (Amplified).

"IN ME" ye shall have peace.  The source of this peace is Jesus Christ Himself.  We read in Ephesians 2:14, "He is our peace ..."  We can have His peace at all times of conflict, confusion, and chaos; in the midst of insurmountable problems; in times of sickness; in times when our lives are filled with tension, turmoil, and trouble.  Our peace is in HIM, not our circumstances.

In the midst of our trials we can "BE OF GOOD CHEER."  Why?  Because Jesus said, "I have overcome the world."  He accomplished this by His death and resurrection.  In Him we can be triumphant.

In the world - tribulation!!

In Me - Peace!


From Beside the Still Waters...

Facing Perilous Times - Read Psalm 37: 1-25

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me." - Psalm 23:4

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1 that "in the last days perilous times shall come."  Perilous times are hazardous and dangerous.  David said in verse 1 of today's Bible reading that a common reaction when facing something perilous is to fret.  Then he explained that fretting is something a child of God should not do.

We might respond by saying, "But David wouldn't have understood the extremity of my situation."  So perhaps we should consider what David's lifetime experiences consisted of.  To me they seem very perilous!  Usually our path is not physically perilous, but it certainly has spiritual perils.

Notice in today's Bible reading the great advantage that the godly have as they travel on a perilous path.  Their goal is eternal life whereas the wicked are focused on earthly things.  It is very encouraging to notice the secure stepping stones that God provides for His children during perilous times.

Step 1: "Trust in the Lord."  As we take this step, we also do good.

Step 2: "Delight thyself also in the Lord."  The natural path of mankind is to delight in selfish, carnal activities.  

Step 3: "Commit thy way unto the Lord."  This difficult step of commitment means rolling everything over into the Lord's care.

Step 4: "Rest in the Lord."  This can be the experience of all who are godly.

Consider the path of the ungodly: fear, worry, frustration, hopelessness.  This is in direct contrast to the path of the godly: trusting, delighting, committing, resting.  God has provided clear instructions for a safe journey through perilous times.

- Joseph Kuepfer - Newton, ON

"He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." - Psalm 23:3