There is a Time

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by Calven Celliers

1, 2, 3, 4……. 36, 37, 38, 39 days until Spring.

Anybody who knows me knows that I hate winter (and if you didn’t, you do now). I’m not a fan of the cold, at all, whatsoever! Despite numerous attempts over the years, by various people trying to convince me that it’s easier to get warm than it is to cool down, the freezing temperatures and icy wind that blows across the highveld, overshadows any hope of ever converting me. I spend my days, from the first autumn leaf that falls, counting down to Spring, and then Summer… aaaah the very word brings a smile to my dial, especially after the bitterly cold weather we’re currently suffering.

As with Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring, in our Christian walk, we too experience seasons that are wonderful and seasons that are not so wonderful; in fact, there are times in life that are far from wonderful, they’re awful and we wonder if they’ll ever end. So many verses in scripture come back to the foundational truth that God knows best and wants us to trust Him in all things and at all times. He made the world and governs the universe, and is never phased nor astonished at what is going on in the world at large, nor the troubling circumstances that are happening in the individual lives of His children.

In Ecclesiastes 3, wise king Solomon reminds us that there is a season for everything; we will experience both good and bad in this life.

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 8NIV)

Therein lies acknowledgement that we may experience seasons of great abundance or great loss. We can experience great joy or great pain. We have wins, and we have losses. But, the beautiful thing in all of this is that none of these seasons or experiences is ever wasted –

11 He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11NIV)

There is a time for everything, life is full of contrasts, and God in His mercy always provides His love and His grace. We need to hold onto the blessed truth that the God on the mountain-tops of life is the exact same God who walks with us through the deep ravines. God is always there with His perfect love. We can trust that His timing is always perfect. God can take even the bad things and, in the proper season, turn them around and use them for good in the way He intends.

You may be going through a season right now that is not beautiful. Your finances look ugly. Your health looks ugly. Your marriage or a friendship looks ugly. Your future looks ugly. But God can make something good out of it as you trust Him with the pieces.

No matter what season you’re in; whether it is lack or abundance, remember that God is with you. He loves you and everything you experience is meant to grow you closer to Him and advance His kingdom. Cling tight to Him, whatever your season. There is a time for everything.

“Thank You, Father God, that You know the end from the beginning and that everything under heaven is within Your authority. Thank You, that You are in control of all that is happening in my life and the wider world in general. Times and seasons have been foreordained by You Lord. You even know the number of hairs on our heads and have scheduled each day of our lives. May I trust You through all the circumstances of life. As I seek Your face in prayer and praise, may I learn more and more to pray, ‘Thy will be done.’ In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

God bless,

Calven

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Food for the Journey: Simplicity

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The following blog post is an extract taken from our Food for the Journey booklet which covers seven disciplines for Christian living. If you would like to download a digital copy of the booklet and work through the daily devotions please click here: FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY

DISCIPLINE 6
THE DISCIPLINE OF SIMPLICITY

KINGDOM ORIENTATION

Through this discipline, the Lord seeks to instill in us a “Kingdom-orientated value system”. From the day we are born there are many influences which shape and form us, the way we think, what we relate to, what we see as important, our desires, needs, wants, hopes. Without the Lord in our lives, all these things are mainly influenced by self and, very probably, selfish desires.

We see clearly in Scripture that a number of people close to the Lord were wealthy, influential people, so certainly the Lord does not begrudge these things. They are there for us to enjoy – they must just not be our reason for living. The Lord Himself chose to live very simply here on earth. He worked, enjoyed visiting and meeting with people, took sufficient “time out” to be alone with His Father.

What the Lord is drawing our attention to by this discipline, is a new understanding of what truly is important, in Him we can always rely on our basic needs being met. What He wants to do is help us separate “needs” from “greeds”. When we are dominated by the things we think we need, that becomes our focus, those needs then become consuming, – it is all we can think about.

We start making choices that bring strain and worry to us, and hurt relationships that we have. Under these circumstances we have very little over to give others as everything goes to our “need” and Kingdom values are sacrificed.

When we talk of a “kingdom-oriented value-system” we are seeking to discover what God thinks is important for us and for those around us. We are pounded all the time with what the world thinks we should have. In the workplace it can be very difficult to not get sucked into the work, work and more work frenzy. Christians will always seek to do their very best at work, but in the light of “kingdom values” will learn where to draw the lines.

Achievement, success, healthy goals and desires, have a definite place in “kingdom values” but they must just not crowd God out or take us over. If the need for “material possessions” becomes our driving force, when will enough be enough, and what are we prepared to sacrifice to have the things we want?

There are many, many inspiring testimonies of people who have chosen a God-centered life, which then influences all the choices, needs, wants, desires that people have. The enrichment of lives of people who have chosen to live trusting God for their needs are immeasurable, and along with this comes the freedom from a “debt-controlled” life, and the journey into “The uncluttered life”.

One of the results of this discipline in our lives, will definitely be a lessening of anxiety. We will also learn to say no to anything that is producing an addiction in us, things like television, movies, money, even petty things like coffee, tea, shopping!

Most importantly we will learn to refuse to be a slave to anything or anyone but God!

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A Gift from God

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by Graham Mol

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from Him.”
Psalm 127:3 NLT

I’m going to pull the ‘proud parent card” and talk about my kids in today’s blog post. Solomon, in his wisdom got it 100% right when he said that children are a gift from the Lord. Sometimes in our busy lives we lose sight of this truth.

We as a family were blessed to get away for wonderful holiday a few weeks back. We got to spend time in God’s incredible creation as we relaxed, played and enjoyed ourselves. What a blessing it has been!

One of the things that I have been reminded of as I got to spend time with the kids, going on hikes, playing tennis and putt-putt, kayaking on the lake and playing “Dos” (a fun card game similar but not similar to Uno), was just how much I love these two children of mine. I could appreciate how much they’ve grown, not just physically but in terms of their personalities. I felt privileged to be part of their lives as they discover and grow into the people God made them to be.

I can see why God loves children. Why Jesus would say, “do not hinder the children from coming to me.” He loves their innocence, their excitement at life. He knows that they are not perfect (as any parent would quite clearly tell you) but despite their mood swings, obstinacy and sometimes downright naughtiness, they are capable of such genuine warmth and love.

I am oh-so-aware of the challenges and responsibility of raising children in such difficult times as these. And yet, despite the struggles there is indeed a rich reward. Their laughter, their growth and achievements, their easy company. Our children are truly a wonderful gift, one that not everyone gets in life, so let us not forget to appreciate them and be grateful for them.

The wonderful truth for all of us, for those who have children, those who do not and those who have lost, we all have a wonderful Father in Heaven, and He loves us each and every one.

 

God Bless

Graham

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A Mighty Fortress is Our God

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by John Doyle

Psalm 46: 1 – 11

“A mighty fortress is our God” Martin Luther wrote these words as well as the tune around the year 1528. This was a time of great danger. It seemed as if the leaders of the Reformation could be killed at any moment because of there faith in God and there proclamation of the Gospel.

Martin Luther’s close friend Philip Melanchthon, was particularly worried about it all but Luther responded to him in a letter:

“With all my heart I hate those anxieties you have stated in your letter that you seem to be consumed with. They rule your heart . . . by reason of the greatness of your unbelief in God and His plan of Salvation. What we have shared and Believe is true, so why should we make God a liar who has given us such great Promises and who commands us to be confident and not be anxious despite the days we live in… What good do you expect to accomplish by these vain worries of yours? God is in control irrespective of the circumstances we find ourselves in.”

This is also true of the days in which we live with the Pandemic and Lockdown. But the Lord knows the Beginning from the End. God is in control and just like He was able to Create the Heavens and the Earth, He is also able to uphold His Church in these difficult times. If we are not strengthened by His Promises in His Word, then we need to Rebuild our Faith in our Soverign God to whom these promises apply.

The World often does seems to be out of control – particularly in these days, with so much uncertainty about the spread of COVID-19, and the economic effects of the steps taken to limit its spread.

Psalm 46 is written for times like 1530 – and for times like 2021. Let me encourage you to read this Psalm. Consider verses 1-7 together under two headings, and then verses 8-11 under a third.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

1. Is Everything Falling Apart?

In 1530, Melanchthon was worried that everything was falling apart. Today, the coronavirus leads to similar feelings.

The psalmist pictures those feelings. In verse 2 he speaks of “the earth being being removed,” and “the mountains being moved into the sea.” Indeed, the “waters of the sea roar and are troubled, and the mountains shake with its swelling” but “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the City of God” v4

To understand these expressions, it’s helpful to remind ourselves of Gods creation in Genesis 1. Before God works, darkness is over the face of the deep waters. There is nothing but water. On the third day, God gathers the waters into one place, the sea, and commands dry land to appear.

So note: in Psalm 46 God’s work is being reversed! The mountains – the dry land that looks most powerful, most secure – are moved back into the sea. God ordered creation; now disorder seems to reign.

Verse 6 tells us, “The nations rage, the Kingdoms were moved.” The physical order is being moved and shaken, and thus is falling apart; just so with the political order in our World today.

But the Psalmist exhorts us in verse 2, “WE WILL NOT FEAR.”

He then enforces that in the Promises of God in this Psalm.

2. God Secures His People

In the creation God imposed order on the World. In Psalm 46, God shows His people that while all may appear to be returning to chaos, He still rules. He still governs. And He secures His people.

Verses 1-7 tell us of three ways that God secured His people at that difficult time – ways that He continues to secure His people today:

1. God is with us!

This is the primary message of this Psalm.

He is our Refuge – that is, He shields us from danger. He is our strength, empowering when we feel weak. He is not only a help, but a present help, right beside us, in our presence; He never leaves us nor forsakes us.

To enforce this point, verse 7 is repeated in verse 11: The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress. With Him we are secure. No enemy will defeat us. No danger can destroy His plans and purpose for our Lives.

So the first way that God secures His people: He is always with us.

The second way that God secures His people: He stabilises us.

Remember, verse 2 speaks of the mountains being moved into the sea, and verse 6 (literally) of the kingdoms being moved. But verse 5 tells us that since God is in the midst of the city, “she shall not be moved.”

Even if both the created order and the political order are falling apart – even if a new virus threatens our entire world – God stabilizes and secures His people. They do not slip, do not fall, do not stumble.

The third way that God secures His people: He controls the dangerous forces

Verse 6 is my favorite in this Psalm: “The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved, He uttered His voice, the earth melted” (Psalm 46:6)

In the midst of chaos and political upheaval, in the midst of war and betrayal. In the midst of disease and disorder all falls before Him. He doesn’t organise His people into an army to fight the enemy, though He could; He doesn’t send lightning and wind and hail to destroy them, though He could. Rather – just like during the time of Creation – He speaks – and His will is done. His Words all by themselves are mighty and powerful.

Though all around you may seem out of control, or may seem to be falling apart, God is in control. He is never out of control. He only has to speak – and that chaos, that opposition, is over and done with. So when we see chaos continuing, when we are hurting and perhaps discouraged always keep in Heart, Mind and Soul *A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD* He is Almighty, He is in control of all.

So Psalm 46 tells us that today God’s people are His City, surrounded by His FORTRESS.

May the LORD bless you and keep you in these days of Lockdown. It’s time to sing with me this great Hymn of the Faith. The words are very appropriate for His Church at this time:

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
HIS KINGDOM NEVER FAILETH

 

In the Love of the Lord Jesus,
John and Barbara

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