Yesterday, Today and Forever

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by Calven Celliers

Spring is without a doubt my favourite time of the year, and I have so enjoyed focusing on little lessons out of the garden for my blog posts this month. As I wonder around the garden, one of my all-time favourite shrubs is the “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (Brunfelsia pauciflora). This magnificent addition to any garden, especially at this time of year, has a mass of sweet-scented flowers that change colour day by day. They begin as purple, fading to pale lavender, and then to white.

You’ve no doubt heard it said that ‘the only constant is change’, that everything flows and nothing stands still. Seasons change. People age. Civilizations rise and fall. Is there anything truly consistent? Is there any firm truth we can hold on to in a world that is always shifting? Many, if not all of us, are facing a lot of uncertainty right now, and as I stood before the “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” shrub, admiring the wonder before me, inhaling its pleasing aroma, I was once again reminded of the wonderful truth that is ours as God’s children. Yes! God is constant; constant in an ever-changing world.  He Himself tells us that He does not change:

I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6NIV)

God will always do what He says He will do. Time does not affect God. He is still the same holy, amazing, kind God He was when He created the world. No matter how uncertain your life looks right now, you can trust in God’s constant love and faithfulness. He has always been here and what’s more He always will be! At a time in world history where nothing seems the same and many of us are contemplating if anything will ever be the same again, I want for us to be reminded of the following verse, because it shows the immutability of Christ!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8NLT)

In the original text the word used for “same” means that Jesus is unchangeable! What good news this is in a world where things are changing at lightning speed. Jesus is the one Person we can depend on. We don’t need to refigure who Jesus is, what He thinks, or what His message is, because He is the same — and everything He represents is the same — yesterday, today, and forever!

I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that with all the sweeping changes happening in the world right now, Jesus isn’t one of them! Whoever He was in the past is who He is in the present and who He will be forever!

In light of this wonderful truth, I want to encourage you to dig deep into the Word — particularly the four gospels where Jesus is so vividly portrayed. What Jesus said and did in the four gospels is exactly what He is saying and doing now, and the reality is that if you come to know the Jesus on those pages, you will come to know and experience the Jesus of today, because He is exactly, identically, and precisely the same! Be blessed as you meditate on this amazing truth!

 

Yours,

Calven

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My Heart Will Choose to Say

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by Graham Mol

In the song Blessed Be Your Name written by Matt Redman and his wife Beth, there is a part of the song that says the following:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord blessed be Your name

These words are a reference to Job’s cry in the Bible when he lost both all his wealth and all his children:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:20-21 NIV)

This is not an easy thing to do, to praise God even in the midst of pain and suffering. At the same time it is one of the most beautiful and powerful witnesses of God’s enduring love through it all. I will never forget hearing these words being sung by a friend who had experienced incredible loss. From that place of pain and loss he still lifted his voice and sang those words from the song. Choosing to praise the Lord rather than curse.

Once again, the words of Job show such spiritual maturity, even when his own health is taken from him.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9-10)

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” These are challenging words. Do we only praise God when we receive good things? Are we only faithful in our worship when things are going well? Do we trust God enough with our pain?

The book of Job teaches us that suffering is a complex issue that we will all face on this earth. And many times it will not make sense. Yet through it all, and despite it all, God is still in control. We know that He loves us and wants the best for us. Jesus’ death on our behalf is proof of the depth of that love. When we know the truth of that love in our hearts, we will find that no matter what happens, good or bad, our “heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name.”

God Bless

Graham

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“Daddy”

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by Caryl Moll

I have a vivid memory of my father in the lush vegetable garden below our old farmhouse.  As a young child, he’d take my small hand and lead me through it – patiently explaining all the plants and pointing out the birds that would annoyingly steal his fruit.  The garden supplied all our household produce and my father tended it lovingly. He particularly enjoyed showing it off and I was a receptive ear during those early morning inspections.

I remember him in his farmer’s attire – a standard issue ‘Safari suit’ with long socks and old weathered ‘veldskoens’. His sweaty, faded hat completed the look. It spoke of wisdom and confidence. These were happy times.

Come Caryl,” he called with outstretched arms. In an instant I was skipping from foot to foot and reaching up towards him. With a wide smile, he’d scoop me up in his arms and hold me high. “Look at the view,” he’d laugh.

I was suspended precariously and it left me shaking with anticipation. And then, he’d suddenly reposition his large, strong hands and adjust his hold. I found myself ‘seated’ in his hands with his arms acting as the ropes on an imaginary swing. I shrieked in delight.

Hold on tight,’ he laughed as then the fun began…

My “Daddy” would explode into a sprint with me in hand.  Sometimes he’d lose his hat. As he ran, he’d bring me low towards the ground – almost skimming the sandy path. Then he’d lift me high… almost upside down. I felt like I could reach the clouds. Suddenly he’d stop and swing me in circles. The breeze fluttered my pony-tail and my giggles echoed across the garden.

These special moments seem suspended in time. I was so happy to be with my “Daddy” – just me and him. I was filled with the joy and delight of being loved. There were no worries because my ‘Daddy’ was the champion of my world.

That’s enough now.” He’d plant me firmly on the ground and take long, deep breaths to regain his rhythm. Then he’d reach for my hand as we strolled back to the farmhouse.

—xXx—

Our earthly fathers play such an important role in our early childhood development. They are tasked with nurturing our talents and giving us direction. My own father, although complex, was a good example of a caring, loving Dad. Yes, he had his faults, but he was my protector and the man I looked up to. I idolised him.

Dad gave me an appreciation for the landscape which was our home.  I followed him everywhere. I was sensitive to his moods and learned from them too. I knew when he was hopeful for his harvest, worried about his farm stock or angry because things had gone wrong. Through him I shaped my own ideas of how to treat people, respond to authority and nurture a family. I learned his routines, adopted his principles and followed his orders implicitly. He and my mother became the framework for my own life.

I loved visiting my Dad in the fields. I’d take a basket to him – of cookies and tea – to brighten his day. He’d stop all work when he saw me and beckon me to the shade of a Marula tree. There, we’d share our ‘picnic’ and absorb the healing silence of the bush. He’d marvel at his crops and lament about the lack of water. Above it all, he oozed a love for God’s creation and a hope to make the best of it. This was my “Daddy”: a man who tilled the soil and fed those who were put in his trust.  

But life happened. I eventually grew up and left the little farm. It was time to get an education and start my own life. I found myself attending university in the city – a busy metropolis – surrounded by millions of people all on their own mission. It was a harsh environment without the time to take a breath and ponder the little things in life. I felt lonely, miserable and directionless but somehow made the best of it.  I hankered deeply after those early years and their sense of belonging.

The turmoil in my soul grew stronger.  I wanted my “Daddy” back as well as the joyfulness of my youth. Not to mention the beautiful Eden I’d been born into. I was searching – like many of us – for a deep, spiritual, somewhat elusive love…

And I eventually found my “Daddy” … at the foot of the cross one day.

I loved the story of how this “Daddy” has always wanted to rescue people like me. I loved that through His Son, Jesus, He has made a way for us to no longer wallow in pain. He fills up our ancient longing with his steadfast promises:

 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.(Deuteronomy 4:29)

My new “Daddy” is larger than anything I could have ever have hoped for. As I began to acknowledge that I was simply a sinful human being, I began to understand the gift that He was offering me… one of eternal life with Him.  I merely had to surrender myself to Him. His gift was Jesus and His Spirit – His risen son – a person more powerful, more loving, more glorious than anyone before. I was catapulted into a path of love, joy and peace. I no longer felt lonely. I was truly “in Christ”.

Nowadays, I’m thankful for the opportunity to “picnic” with “Daddy” in my quiet times. I often feel Him picking me up and allowing me to reach for the skies. I am secure and joyful in His arms as He leads me into new adventures. He is the quiet voice of reassurance and direction. I have a spiritual home now and a family, and am blessed beyond measure.

So, dear reader, like me, you never have to feel alone!  “Daddy” is always accessible – He’s only a prayer away. Why not give it a try? And yes, I look forward to the day when He will return (for real), scoop me in His arms again and run along that beautiful path.

 

With love, in Christ

Caryl

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God Can Speak to Us through Others

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by Luke Kincaid

I have struggled a lot with my neck this year. Some time ago I must have slept in a really strange position because when I woke up one morning the muscles in my neck were super tense and since that day I had many head/neck aches. This would mean waking up some mornings with nausea inducing pain that would only subside with some sort of pain killers or an anti-inflammatory. Normally I would be quick to book an appointment with my brother who is a physiotherapist but he had recently immigrated to New Zealand and I really didn’t feel like finding someone new to treat me as I honestly think by brother is the best physio on planet earth!

So you could say that some of my pain was self-inflicted as I wasn’t getting the help I needed until one day I got a WhatsApp from a fellow disciple of Jesus. She said that while she was praying she really felt like God was telling her that I needed to go and see a chiropractor. Not long after receiving this message Cammie had booked an appointment for me with the chiropractor who had treated Seth and a few days later I got my treatment. Since that treatment my neck has been feeling a lot better and I have had way more good days than bad.

I am so grateful for this person’s obedience in sharing this seemingly random nudge from God as I may still be struggling with the same amount of pain if this was not shared with me. And while thinking about this I was reminded of a chapter from a book that I read previously read called “Note to Self” by Joe Thorn called “Listen to Others” based on his reading of Hebrews 3:12 -13. This is an excerpt from that chapter:

“God has put certain people in your life and will lead others across your path to encourage and correct you. The problem is that much of the time you are just not listening. You like to think of yourself as a listener because you so desperately want God to speak into your life and provide wisdom. You think you are ready to move once God provides direction, but you expect God to make this known to you privately – perhaps while you’re reading Scripture or praying – without the involvement of others. What you fail to realize is that one of the primary ways in which God will answer your prayer for wisdom is by speaking to you through other people. While God can reveal himself in dramatic visions and dreams, his common means of providing wisdom and guidance to his people is through his people as they exhort one another in the Word.”

I find it so encouraging that God will speak to us through other disciples of Jesus. This means that we need to be more willing to hear people and then ask for God’s discernment if that is Him speaking through them. But what this also means is that we can play an important role in someone else’s life by being obedient to God speaking though us. So the next time you feel as if God wants to share something through you to someone else don’t just dismiss it but seek God and you never know how that may impact another’s life for the better.

 

Much love,

Luke

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