A Firm Grip

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by Graham Mol

Do you have a special verse or passage of Scripture that is a source of comfort and encouragement to you? It may be a promise, or a line of praise of the Lord’s great qualities that resonates with you. It can be something you can recall or recite that helps you put things in perspective, reminding you of God’s presence and goodness in your life. It can be a reassurance in the face of fear and despair.

In May last year I was blessed as a Christian brother from our Church shared with me a verse reference that he felt was for me. Isaiah 41:10 in the Message translation. I don’t know if he realised just how much this verse would come to mean to me in the days, weeks and months since then, even to this day and I honestly believe into the years ahead.

Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. (Isaiah 41:10 MSG)

These words have become precious to me as they have been a clear reminder that God is with me in all the moments of struggle and doubt, a reminder that He will give me the strength I need. I need not fret or worry for He will never let me go. His “firm grip” gives me confidence to walk in the way that He has shown me, no matter how difficult that may be.

It may be that in sharing how much this verse has helped me, that you too may be uplifted and encouraged by these words of Scripture. Or you may be reminded of a passage or verse that is deeply meaningful to you – and you need to read it again to drink in it’s truth. Or maybe you have been feeling the prompting of the Holy Spirit to share a verse with a friend, to offer them encouragement. I’d urge you to do so. You may never know just how much of a difference it could make in their life.

 

God Bless

Graham

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Reflections

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by Caryl Moll

I drift outside to the sanctuary of our garden. My mind is disturbed with the news of the day….and it’s all horrible! Yes, people are dying, there’s illness, suffering, fear, poverty, political power struggles, indecision, international elections, murder, crime… the list is endless. And the prayer requests are endless too. Our world is a mess…and we are home-shackled with a virus raging around us. It’s hard to see God in all this.

But I need to breathe in God… In this moment, I need Him. And the birds, the wind, the skies, nature.

I hunch down on the lounger next to our pool and with my chin cupped in my hands and stare at the rippled water.

“Why God?” I ask. “Why do you allow this to happen? Also, how am I supposed to write an inspirational blogpost when your world is falling apart? If I’m honest, Lord, I’m a little disappointed in you.” I lament. Then I continue…

“Please speak to me, Lord? What do I write?”

And then I ‘hear’ His gentle whisper:

“Look around you, my child, and learn.”

“But how, Lord? I am imprisoned in my own home,” I argue. “I don’t see my friends, or my family. We don’t even go to church. How am I supposed to look around, Lord?”

“Just look.” Is the answer I get.

In my meditation, I stare at the water. I see the distorted reflections. I note that the sky and the silhouettes of the trees are also totally obscured by the pool’s fountain.

“Yes, look…” I ‘hear’ His encouragement. “Don’t you think I’ve been distorted too…?”

At that moment, my thoughts come together clearly. I know what to write and what to share with you today. It’s short and simple:

(Note: this image is actually upside down)

 

So my message today, dear reader, is short:

We should not allow the world’s chaos to distort the beautiful, limited reflection of our Lord. Let’s rejoice in His glory and embrace the hope that we have in Him.

“Thank you, Lord!”

 

With love, in Christ,

Caryl

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Blessed Are the Flexible

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by Luke Kincaid

I am currently sitting next to my amazing little boy and watching over him while typing up today’s blog because he isn’t feeling well. I had various plans and goals for today which I will still try and get around to; but instead of getting frustrated that these plans are now up in the air I was reminded of a motto which my friend Ezra often says: “Blessed are the flexible.”

The first time I heard him say these words was in response to our plans being shifted quite heavily while ministering together. We continued on, while adjusting things on the fly, and accomplished most of what we had originally set out to do. But this only happened because we were willing to be flexible and this has been a much-needed life lesson for me to learn. The reason I say this is because in the past I really did not appreciate plans changing. If plans were made, they should be kept! I am not 100% sure what the source of this inflexibility was whether it is selfishness or the need to be in control but it is an area that I have seen some improvement in.

But the fact is that Ezra’s motto is true – those who are willing to be flexible are blessed – they are happy! And when it comes to being children of God and disciples of Jesus, I think this is a great attitude to have in how we face life’s sometimes unpredictable curveballs. Let’s look at two examples of how people in God’s Word were blessed because of their flexibility:

1 The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. – Genesis 12:1-5

Abram was an older gentleman that was probably quite set in his ways. And one day God speaks to Abram and tells him he needs to make some life changes… not small ones but huge, life altering ones! But these changes were not simply for the sake of it but because God had an incredible plan for Abram’s life – ultimately that the whole world would be blessed by him through the arrival of Jesus many years in the future. In this moment Abram had a choice – continue with what he had planned for the day or respond in a flexible manner!

 16 As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 17 “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.19 Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat putting their nets in order20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him– Mark 1:16-18.

Imagine going about your day and a prominent man comes and calls you to follow him knowing that you would need to give your life in service to them not necessarily knowing what that means. These four men became world changers as Jesus’ first disciples. They were flexible and saw an opportunity that would not present itself again.

Now I know that these are two extreme examples of flexibility but I believe that God has plans for all our lives and sometimes those plans will reveal themselves through interruptions in our days, through how we respond to plans changing, and being open for God to nudge us in different directions when He needs to. I believe that if we are more flexible in life’s seeming inconveniences, we may just experience a blessing which we may never know possible. So, the next time life throws you a curve ball, ask your Father in heaven how He would have you respond and see what He has to say!

 

Much love,

Luke

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Knock on Effect

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by Calven Celliers

An acquaintance of mine in Los Angeles includes me on his mailing list with a “Weekly Word”. Last week’s devotion included the following story about a gentleman by the name of Edward Kimball. Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher who was concerned about one of his young students who worked at a shoe store in town. One day Kimball visited him at the store, found the student working in the back stocking shelves, and led him to Christ then and there. Dwight L. Moody eventually left the shoe store to become one of the greatest preachers and evangelists of all time.  D.L. Moody went to England and worked a profound change in the ministry of F.B. Meyer.

F.B. Meyer, with his new evangelistic fervour, influenced J. Wilbur Chapman. Chapman helped in the ministry of converted baseball player Billy Sunday, who had a huge impact upon Mordecai Ham. And Mordecai Ham, during an evangelistic campaign in North Carolina, led Billy Graham to Christ. And we all know the incredible way God used Billy Graham to reach millions of people worldwide with the gospel. Billy Graham apparently communicated the gospel to more people than any other person in history. And to think it all started with a humble Sunday School teacher named Kimball.

As I read that story, I was reminded of a game I used to play with dominos as a child. I’d spend long periods of time painstakingly balancing dominos on their short end at just the right proximity to one another in long rows and different formations. Once I was done, I would knock the first domino over and watch with glee as the cumulative effect would cause the entire row to tumble one after the other in quick succession.

This got me thinking about the knock-on effect of our witness in the world. Cumulative impact is an encouraging way to think about the process of expanding God’s Kingdom on earth. It might not feel like your witness is doing much, but I want to assure you, your contribution is significant. Have you ever experienced the frustration of putting together a puzzle, only to discover in the end that a piece was missing? Even though that piece is just a tiny portion of the puzzle, its absence leaves a very noticeable flaw in the whole picture. As believers, each and every one of us has an important part to play in God’s amazing plan, and before you even say that your part isn’t important because it isn’t a visible one like preaching, consider the many behind-the-scenes people – people you’ve probably never heard of – that God has used to change the course of history. History may not record the names of all the behind-the-scenes individuals, but history would not have been the same without them! No part in the Kingdom of God is insignificant!

In this well-known verse from 1 Corinthians 3, the apostle Paul illustrates that each and every one of us as believers have a significant role to play, as we do our bit in obedience to God’s prompting and leading –

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. For we are co-workers in God’s service…”
(1 Corinthians 3: 6 – 9NIV)

I think we all wrestle with thinking ‘my contribution’ doesn’t matter’ from time to time. But I just want to say to you ‘that is an absolute lie, your life and your work matter greatly.’  Somebody needed to bring the food to Jesus for Him to multiply it.  We might not all be Billy Grahams, but the Edward Kimballs of this world play just as an important role. Jesus is gracious enough to invite you into His story, to bring your gifts, and to bring your talents, and to bring who you are to Him, and to give them to Him and to see what He might do with them. Faithfully take up your place in God’s plan and do the best you can, with who you are, right where you are. Let the cumulative effect play out and who knows who might influence, impact or touch down the line. 

“Every one of us can be a simple witness for Christ. And how wonderful it will be to meet the ones who are in heaven because of your and my witness for Jesus. Only Heaven will reveal who these ones are.” (Nico Bougas)

 

God bless,

Calven

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