The New Harvest Christian Fellowship

Pastors’ Blog

Unsearchable

Romans 11:33-36

33 Oh, the depth of the riches
and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
35 And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
36 For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.

Paul includes the above hymn of praise in his letter to the believers in Rome. The words acknowledge God’s awe-inspiring sovereignty over all things, His infinite wisdom and power, the fact that He is the source of all life and goodness and beauty. Therefore it is right that He should be forever glorified. This hymn reminds us of God’s praiseworthiness and yet at the same time it highlights one of the frustrations we sometimes have when it comes to God…

“How unsearchable His judgements and untraceable His ways!” Wouldn’t we love to understand God, to know what He is thinking, to have insight into His plans. Especially now during this time of uncertainty. We’d love to know when God will end the pandemic, when nations will begin to recover from the after effects. We’d love to know what His plan is for us, for our family, our Church, our nation. Many have prayed and prayed but no one really has an answer. God does mercifully reveal things to us, but we’ll never know the whole plan, we’ll never fully understand what He does and why He does it.

Verse 35 refers a line from Job 41:11 and emphasises the fact that God owes us nothing for, as verse 36 makes clear, all that we have, all that exists is already a gift from God. It is appropriate that Paul refers to the story of Job as we see in that account that God does not justify Himself before Job. In fact, speaking from the mighty storm, He asks Job the question of who he is to demand an answer from God, he who doesn’t understand how the earth was created and sustained, he who speaks of things he doesn’t truly understand.

God doesn’t owe us any explanation or justification. His judgements are unsearchable, His ways are untraceable. And yet, despite owing us nothing, He gave us everything when He gave His own Son for our sake. He is both Great and Good.

To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

God Bless

Graham

Jesus is with You

For today’s blog I have another song to share with you. I came across this a long time ago while going through a First15 daily devotion which always includes a song to listen to. The reason this song speaks to me is because it is a much needed reminder that Jesus is always with us regardless of what we are going through. It doesn’t matter if we are in the best or most difficult season of our life – Jesus is right there beside us just as He said he would be:

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20

I love how Jesus tells us to remember this fact as it is something I am often prone to forget! Below are the lyrics and link to the song. I trust you will be as blessed as I have been by this beautiful song.

When your faith in perfect love
Can’t explain the pain that you feel
You will find you’ve looked for a sign up above
But He was there in the dirt where you stood
He was there in the dirt where you stood

And there’s hope found
Here and now, here within the real
In the midst of all we’ve done
All we’ve given up on
He was with us every step
Feeling what we feel
When the soul was buried down
Burdened by the long road

And in time we will learn to grow
Through the pain and into hope
For the storms they come
And swallow up the sun
But the light lives on and on
But the light lives on and on

And there’s hope found
Here and now, here within the real
In the midst of all we’ve done
All we’ve given up on
He was with us every step
Feeling what we feel
When the soul was buried down
Burdened by the long road

And there’s hope found
Here and now, here within the real
In the midst of all we’ve done
All we’ve given up on
He was with us every step
Feeling what we feel
When the soul was buried down
Burdened by the long road

Much love,

Luke

Spilling Over

You may have recently come across the following message that has been going around lately:

You are holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps into you, making you spill your coffee everywhere. Why did you spill the coffee? You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup. Had there been tea in the cup, you would have spilled tea. The point is whatever is inside the cup, is what will spill out. Therefore, when life comes along and shakes you (which will happen), whatever is inside you will come out. It’s easy to fake it, until you get rattled. So, we have to ask ourselves, “what’s in my cup?” When life gets tough, what spills out? … You choose!

It’s a great little analogy that gets us to reflect on what’s inside our hearts because, as Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks,” (Matthew 12:34). We’ve all been experiencing a time where life has come along and shaken us at the moment. And we’ve had a chance to see what has come spilling out. The good and the bad.

The great thing is, as the analogy points out, is that we can choose what to fill our cup with. As we consider that point let us hear the words of the Apostle Paul as he prays the following benediction over the believers in Rome:

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)

If we place our trust in the God of hope, believing in Him and His promises, we will be filled with all joy and peace. Joy being the delight of anticipation in seeing one’s hopes fulfilled; and peace that results from the assurance that God will fulfill these hopes. This joy and peace and hope all comes by the power of the Holy Spirit as He fills our hearts. His presence in our lives results in us not only spilling hope when we’re bumped by life, but also results in us spilling-over with hope at all times. Then, when we interact with others, our words, our attitude and actions will spread hope into their lives as they see the hope overflowing in us.

We could all certainly do with a little more hope in our lives right now.

 

God Bless

Graham

What is Your Focus?

Guest Post

During this lockdown, there is so much media activity, both social and mainstream. One’s emails and cellphones are constantly being bombarded by articles, videos or people’s opinions. Even watching the news can be very frustrating and frightening.

One doesn’t know what to read with all the media overload. Some things are informative and useful, like how to keep yourself safe and steps to take when washing your hands. Some articles and videos are funny and lift the spirits. But other articles are very scary. All the doomsday prophets and conspiracy theorists are having their say. Then everyone dives in on the various media platforms, and either supports or attacks a certain view point. This gives rise to fear, uncertainty and insecurity.

Even Christian messages, which can be very encouraging, can sometimes get very long winded and lose your attention before the conclusion is reached.  This does the very opposite of what it is meant to do. Some Christian’s messages even seem to be at odds with God’s word.

We read in 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-discipline.”

There comes a point where you have to say “enough”! I will decide what I am going to read, watch and listen to. Do not fall into a trap of being swamped by the media. Be selective and wise. Do not be pulled down by the ways of the world. Above all, keep your eyes on Jesus and read from the Bible to discern God’s message for us and pray unceasingly.

Finally brothers, whatever is True, whatever is Noble, whatever is Right, whatever is Pure, whatever is Lovely, whatever is Admirable-if anything is Excellent or Praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of Peace will be with you.”  (Philippians 4:8-9)

Change your focus. Make a stand and stand out from the world!

Blessings

Helen Meintjies

Remember Who You Are

Two days ago, while working on my sermon for Sunday, I was listening to the soundtrack of the most recent Lion King movie. Now this soundtrack is especially meaningful to me because the original Lion King played a large role in my childhood. I don’t think it is possible to know how many times I watched it as a child and later as an adult. This is a movie that I know pretty much backwards and still unashamedly sing along to it (remembering most of the lyrics to the songs!)

What blows my mind regarding the older, animated movies like The Lion King is the meaningful messages you discover as an adult that may have gone over your head when you were younger. While listening to one of the songs, I decided that I wanted to quickly watch the scene, in which this song played, from the original movie. I opened up YouTube and began the search to find what I was looking for and success! It was found! After watching it, I watched it again amazed at the biblical truth contained in the exchange between Simba and his dad Mufasa who had passed away:

Mufasa: Simba . . .

Simba: Father?

Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.

Simba: No. How could I?

Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba.
               You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.

Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.

Mufasa: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king.

Mufasa: Remember who you are.

Now if you have never seen The Lion King before (the animated one, not the live-action one!) please stop what you’re doing and go watch it if you can (You won’t be disappointed – I promise!). At this point in the movie Simba was the rightful king of his father’s kingdom but was not living in a way that honoured that fact – he had become a shadow of his former self. I love Mufasa’s words, “You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become”

As disciples of Jesus we are literally children of God. Take a look at Galatians 4:3-7:

In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elements of the world. When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

When we forget the fact that we are a child of God I think that we can then in turn forget about God himself. And when we forget our true identity and who that identity is found in, this can then impact how we are live in the present. So the main message I want you to take away today is to remember who you are, to remember the fact that you are a child of God, and will one day share in Jesus’ incredible inheritance as He is the rightful King of the universe; then, in light of this truth, live in a way that honors this fact. If you currently find yourself in a place that is far from God and maybe tied up in a life of sin or one that doesn’t look much like a disciple of Jesus, know that you are never too far gone and that you are more than what you have become. You are a child of God so be encouraged! And then live like one!

Much love,

Luke

Accountability

“Hi how are you? We haven’t seen you at Church lately are things going okay?”

“Hi my friend, I really got a sense that I should call you, do you have some time to chat?”

“Okay everyone lets go round the group and share any highs or lows you’ve had during the week. How is your walk with the Lord going?”

“Hey man, how’s that temper? I’ve been praying for you.”

I’m sure that, in our Christian journey, we have had similar questions asked of us or have asked the same kind of questions of others. There is a name for this kind of thing, accountability. Those of you who remember their days of being part of the youth group might recall the concept of an accountability partner. The idea of accountability is rooted in the Biblical concept of confession and, ultimately, love.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” (James 5:16)

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is overtaken in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual, restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so that you also won’t be tempted. Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:1-2)

The wisdom book of Ecclesiastes insightfully recognises the benefit of having another come alongside us to support one another:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him — a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Many of us know the value of having someone holding us accountable in our daily walk and spiritual lives. Someone who can lovingly challenge us on our areas of sin, who can support us in times of struggle and who can motivate us to grow in Christlikeness. And it need not be one person, it could be a group of friends, a fellowship group, or fellow church members fulfilling this role to various degrees.

The reason for me bringing up the topic of accountability is to remind of its importance especially now as many of us are isolated from each other during the lockdown. No one will know if you’re not at Church on Sunday, or reading your Bible, or praying regularly. Both the stress and boredom of the lockdown can result in us turning back to and engaging in bad or sinful habits. It is therefore vital to establish some sort of accountability, even if you just have a prayer partner who you can contact or message if you are struggling. Heed the warning of Ecclesiastes 4:10 for those trying to go it alone: “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.” Be proactive and reach out to someone, don’t wait for someone to come to you. We cannot afford to leave it to later. Let us fulfill the law of Christ, that of loving God and one another, by carrying one another’s burdens.

God Bless

Graham

Important Note:

If you do not have someone you could reach out to for accountability please contact one of the pastors or send an email to prayer@thenewharvest.org.za and we will help you find a prayer partner to come alongside you during this time.

If you would like to volunteer to be available as a prayer partner we’d love to hear from you too.

Big Love, Small Moments

I really love listening to music. I have an emotional connection to it in ways which my wife thinks is strange. I will often ask her to listen out for a tiny little change in a song or the moment an instrument comes in which I get really excited about! Music has made me cry more times than I can count but is also something I derive a lot of joy from.

 

One of my favorite features of the music app Spotify is the Discover Weekly playlist where the app suggests music based on what you like. One day while listening to this playlist a song called Big Love, Small Moments by JJ Heller came on. As soon as it started I knew that this was an artist and style which I would enjoy and it has been a song which I have listened to numerous times since discovering it. The more I have listened to it the more I have become connected with the beautiful message it is communicating. This is a message I want to share with you today as it is applicable for the current situation we all find ourselves in. You can simply read the lyrics or listen along with the song below.

Heartbeats only happen one at a time, one at a time
You can’t rush a moment so don’t even try, don’t even try
There’s a symphony you’re missing
If you only listen you’ll find…

Big magic in the mundane
The big picture in a small frame
Everything is sacred when you take time to notice
Big love happens in the small moments
Big love happens in the small moments

There’s no use in chasing nickels and dimes, nickels and dimes
Riches all around you, open your eyes, open your eyes
You can’t buy the piece you’re after so don’t even try
‘Cause you’ll find…

Big magic in the mundane
The big picture in a small frame
Everything is sacred when you take time to notice
Big love happens in the small moments
Big love happens in the small moments

Feel the rain on your skin, feel my hand in your hand
You can’t do it all, so just do what you can
Feel the rain on your skin, feel my hand in your hand
You can’t do it all, so just do what you can

Feel the sun on your face (Feel the sun on your face)
Bare feet on the ground (Feet on the ground)
I know you’ll see beautiful things if you look around, yeah
Just look around
And you’ll find

Big magic in the mundane
The big picture in a small frame
Everything is sacred when you take time to notice the…
Big magic in the mundane
The big picture in a small frame
Everything is sacred when you take time to notice
Big love happens in the small moments
Big love happens in the small moments

Much Love,

Luke

Here’s My Heart Lord

In digging through some old papers today I came across a printed out copy of Psalm 119 that I had made a few years ago to reflect on the content of the psalm stanza by stanza. As you know it’s a pretty long psalm so there we quite a few pages, and the majority of the pages were covered in hand written notes with my observations and reflections on each section. I was actually quite impressed with the amount that I had written on each page! Another thing I noticed was that I hadn’t written notes for all the sections – looks like I’d lost motivation about two thirds of the way through. So maybe it’s time to get going on that again…

There was one other thing that I noticed – and this my focus for this blog post – at the top of the first page I had written the song title Here’s My Heart Lord and jotted (Casting Crowns version) next to the title. 

This brought me back to when I did this exercise of working through Psalm 119, it was during my sabbatical leave in 2018, and one of the things that God was teaching me about was the concept of meditating on His word. I had found myself asking, what does it mean to meditate on God’s word? How do I do it? And one of the methods I had arrived at was to incorporate worship into my time of reflection on God’s word. Before I’d read through and write notes on a stanza of the psalm each day, I’d play the song, Here’s My Heart Lord, using the words to help me focus on the Lord and what He had to say to me. The song is a bit repetitive, but that actually works well as a meditation, the lyrics also remind you of the truth of who we are and what we have in Christ. Here’s a section of the lyrics:

Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord,
Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe
I am healed, I am free

Here’s my heart Lord,
Speak what is true

Have you taken some time today to stop and turn your full attention towards the Lord? So often we go to Him with a whole lot to say from our side and we forget the importance of just sitting and listening to His voice as He speaks into our hearts. Let us recall and learn from the account of Mary and Martha as Jesus visited them:

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

God Bless

Graham

Imitating the One We Love

Yesterday afternoon, after playing with Seth in the garden for a while, we sat down and ate some chips together. This will be a moment I will always remember as there was something special about just sitting together, sharing some chips, and being in each other’s company. While snacking, I noticed Seth start leaning backwards in a relaxed manner on the step we were sitting on. This is something which I hadn’t seen him do before and I then realized that I was leaning back in the same way. My son was imitating what I was doing and this was such an amazing reminder of the fact that we imitate the ones we love or admire.

But imitating the ones we love or admire is not always beneficial to us. I am an avid YouTube viewer and there are certain people that I watch on a daily/weekly basis. One day while having a conversation with a close friend, I ended up responding to something he said with words that were not my own. I used nearly the exact response of someone who is known to be controversial and I realized that I was now imitating this person to my detriment.

While I didn’t say anything offensive I responded in a manner that was not normal for me (which I could tell based on my friends expression to hearing these words). In that moment I realized what had happened and later that week I unsubscribed from this person’s channel and made a concerted effort not to be influenced in the same way again.

While imitating others can sometimes be detrimental there is someone who exists who is only beneficial for us to imitate and His name is Jesus. In Ephesians 5:1-2 Paul writes the following:

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

We can only find benefit from imitating Jesus as He shows us how to live in the way in which humans were designed to live. And when we strive to imitate Jesus this is also a way in which we can know that our faith in Him is authentic:

This is how we know that we know him: if we keep his commands. The one who says, “I have come to know him,” and yet doesn’t keep his commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly in him the love of God is made complete. This is how we know we are in him: The one who says he remains in him should walk just as he walked – 1 John 2:3-6.

Just as a child imitates their parents so should we be childlike in our faith and imitate our incredible God.

Much love,

Luke

“Fake News”

In his letter to Timothy, a fellow Christian worker who was in a pastoral role, Paul wrote the following to urge him to oppose teachers of false doctrine in Ephesus.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  (1 Timothy 1:3-7 NIV)

It is interesting to note what Paul says is the result of such false doctrines, myths and genealogies (spiritual pedigrees) is that it promoted controversial, or meaningless and empty, speculations. Instead of making things clearer, these things caused uncertainty, more questions and arguments.

In his commentary on 1 Timothy, theologian A.D. Litfin remarks that “Such speculations were to be avoided because they did not further God’s plan, which is grasped and implemented not by human imagination, but by faith. By contrast, human speculations tend to lead off down endless blind tunnels which serve only to confuse and obscure God’s truth.” Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of that going on at the moment. Thanks to social media, we are bombarded by a host of opinions and declarations from random people who claim to have the truth. We know nothing of these people’s character, beliefs or agendas aside from what they choose to show us. The problem of “fake news” is not merely a secular, worldly problem, so much of it comes from those who claim to be Christian, or who are in fact genuine believers but are misguided.

Paul sees the job of opposing false teaching as an important one. The goal of commanding people to stop with the speculations was so that they would have love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. I have seen how false teaching or misguided “revelations” have caused much grief and doubt in the hearts of sincere believers. Now, more than ever, we need to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves as we go among the wolves (Matthew 10:16).

We need to oppose “fake news” with the Good News of the Gospel. Let us measure every word against Scripture and where we lack the knowledge to evaluate a certain message, reach out to someone you trust, someone whose character you are sure of. Let us pray for discernment from the Holy Spirit and instead of getting caught up in the speculations and conspiracies, let us ground ourselves in simple, sincere faith, having a pure heart and good conscience before our God.

God Bless

Graham