Interpreting the Times

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

This is my 100th devotion. Wow! Who’d have thought!?!? Have a great week everyone!

There are so many sayings that have been created to help us interpret the signs in nature. Many of them hold true. This week, Jesus reminds and encourages us to interpret his coming correctly. Let’s top up our coffees and see what he has to say…

 

Readings for Sunday, August 18: 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 23:16-29; Psalm 119:81-88; Hebrews 11:17 – 12:3; Luke 12:49-56

Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky.

How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

Luke 12:56

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Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning! This is a saying that crosses my mind pretty much every evening as I gaze upon the sun setting. It is just another example of the interpretations that Jesus is referring to when he speaks about how humankind can interpret the earth.

He must have been so frustrated about how blind his fellow Jews, his chosen people, were towards his coming. They had been waiting for a Saviour. They knew a Saviour was to come. They knew the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. They were seeing the signs of those prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. Yet, so many, especially the Jewish leaders, remained unwilling to see him as their Saviour; to see the signs. How sad!

Jesus desired all those people with whom he was in contact to see him as he truly was: God’s son, the long awaited Messiah. They saw him face-to-face and yet many struggled to believe he was God’s son, their Redeemer. (Is it any surprise when we, or those whom we love, struggle with it too?)

In the same way, he desires us to see him as he truly is, our Saviour, to see our need for him due to our sinfulness, and to cling to him always, despite the trials we may need to endure. He encourages us to always be prepared to be called home and to meet him face-to-face. Therefore, while we endure our earthly days, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… and consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12: 2a, 3) Therefore, stand firm in his love and salvation, despite those who may turn away and the hardships that may come, and proclaim with the psalmist, “My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 118:81) Glory be to you, O Lord! AMEN!

Prayer: Dear Lord, open our hearts so that we can see you in these days; so that we can see the frailty of our times and our need for you, our Saviour. I especially pray for (name loved ones here). Be with them and soften their hearts to be open to correctly interpreting you and their need for you, to seeing you in their lives and trusting in your everlasting love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

My Pleasure!

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, August 11: 9th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 15:1-6; Psalm 33: 12-22; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-40

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. . . . But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:29, 31-32

Did you catch it? “ . . . your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32b, italics added)

Wow! I remember the first time this passage really hit me;  that God was pleased to redeem me; that God was pleased to leave his heavenly home and endure this world for me; that God was pleased to endure torture and death on my behalf; that God was pleased to give me life eternal. I was awe struck and humbled. If it pleased him to endure such things for me, a downright sinner, how much more should it not please me to do relatively simple, harmless acts for those whom he puts in my life? It was from this passage that, now, when someone says ‘thank-you’ to me that I respond with ‘my pleasure’.

Then if that wasn’t enough. The passage goes on to encourage us to not be afraid but to be ready for he will come and have us, his faithful, recline in order for him to serve us. Whaat?!?! It will please him to serve us? How can that be? Why? It may be incomprehensible, but it is not for us to question. May it allow us to simply be encouraged to not worry about our lives, to seek him first, and to serve others; to give him our days, and to walk in faith trusting him. There is nothing better that we can do but to seek and trust him, and everything else of this earthly life will fall into place.

So be encouraged that, by your faith in the redemption of Christ, God considers you righteous. You too can add your name to the list: By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, . . .  and (state your name here) are considered righteous and  “God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”  (Hebrews 11:16b) Yes, he has prepared a city for you and when you see him face-to-face and give him praise and thanksgiving, you can be sure to hear him say, “It was my pleasure, precious one!”

Prayer: Dear Lord, it is overwhelming to think that it has pleased you to redeem and care for me. Why do I question your love and presence in my life when again and again you have declared your faithfulness and given me encouragement throughout your precious word?  Please forgive me my unfaithfulness. Lord, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24b) Keep me always ready for your coming and pleased to serve those you put in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Eating, Drinking & Finding Satisfaction

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for Sunday, August 4: 8th Sunday after Pentecost

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-26; Psalm 100; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. …A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too I see, is from the hand of God, for without him who can eat or find enjoyment?

Ecclesiastes 2:18, 24-25

We’ve just moved. This has been our fifth move in our married life. With each home we have spent much time and money renovating and fixing up to make it beautiful and our own. In fact, my daughter has recently said that her childhood life was spent in renovation.

Now, with having just left a home to which we did extensive work in order to make it updated and improved, I can certainly understand why Solomon is down in the dumps when he considers man’s hard work and toilsome labour being done for someone else to enjoy. However, that is only true if the one doing the work is doing it for himself, as the rich man did in Jesus’ parable of the rich fool.  In fact, perhaps Solomon even tried to create beautiful masterpieces and store up things in order to find contentment, but learned that such things do not bring joy and satisfaction.

drinkingAs Solomon learned, and Jesus tried to explain, it is not the stuff that brings purpose to our life, but the focus of our work. If we are working to please ourselves, our joy will be short lived. However, when we see all we have and do as a gift from God whether for ourselves to enjoy or to be blessings for others, the end result is pure satisfaction in serving our Lord, and we live in a state of thanksgiving that he considered us worthy to care for these precious blessings: children, spouse, home, employment, etc. Our daily toil is then a continuous response of thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts and abilities he has given us, and we are simply caring for the blessings he has placed in our lives.

We loved the home we left and we thoroughly enjoyed it, along with all the changes we made to make it ours. In the end, it came down to the fact that we simply hoped that we had been good stewards of that piece of God’s creation with which we had been blessed and that it would be enjoyed by the new owners, as much as we enjoyed it.

With our days focussed on our heavenly Father, in the light of Christ’s redeeming love, we can trust that each day has a purpose and that we are simply stewards of all that he has blessed us with until the day he calls us home. Therefore in Christ, we can proclaim with David, “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.” (Psalm 100:1-3a) and every day, “eat and drink and find satisfaction in [our] work.” (Ecclesiastes 2:224)

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see that all I have is from you. I am humbled to be considered worthy of caring for such precious blessings: souls you love and the creation you made. Help me to be a good steward of all the blessings you have bestowed upon me. May I eat and drink and find satisfaction in all I do, to your glory!  And when the time comes to pass them along to others, may they be found to be blessings to them. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Bold & Persistent

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

If you have children, you know how persistent they can be. I know I wasn’t the most patient at times but I did enjoy accommodating them when possible. Well, today we see how God responds to his children in their persistence. Let’s top up our coffees and take a look…

Readings for Sunday, July 28: 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 18: 17-33; Psalm 138; Colossians 2:6-19; Luke 11:1-13

Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord,

though I am nothing but dust and ashes…

Genesis 18:27

Could you imagine standing with Abraham while he is questioning God by asking if he would not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of a few righteous people? Wow! “Come on Abraham, do you know to whom you are talking? You’re going to push him too far. Aren’t you worried you’re going to make him angry?”

Not only does Abraham not make God angry, but God seemed to delight in accommodating his requests. Think about it… God knew how many righteous people were in Sodom and Gomorrah – four, along with some son-in-laws perhaps. Did God’s plans change because of Abraham’s bold pleas? We’ll never know. What’s important is the relationship between Abraham and God.

Abraham knew his place. He knew he was simply dust and ashes before the Lord. Yet his love for his nephew and family was so strong, and his confidence in the Lord’s compassion and goodness so great that he was bold to confront the King of all kings, and not just once but multiple times. And God welcomed it. He welcomed it and accommodated it.

boldWe too can humbly approach our Lord in prayer and boldly present our requests. Just as Jesus stated about the pesty fellow who kept knocking on his neigbour’s door in the wee hours of the morning,  “he will not get up and give [him] the bread because of friendship, yet because of [his] shameless audacity he will surely get up and give [him] as much as [he] need[s].” (Luke 11:8) In the same way, God welcomes our bold requests, and he desires to respond. It pleases him to bestow his grace and blessing upon us, especially when that request is desiring the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, and I believe in the lives of our loved ones, just as Abraham boldly spoke on behalf of his nephew, Lot.

So take your requests and, in humility, persistence, and boldness, lay them before the Lord like a little child who continuously pulls at his parent’s shirt tail until he has received what he is asking for, and trust that the Lord will gracious respond in a way that is beyond our comprehension. For Jesus reminds us:  “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)

Prayer: Dear Lord! I know I am but dust and ashes but I lay before you (name your request for for yourself or a loved one here).  In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Seems impossible?

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

I love the topic for today because it is the setting for miracles to happen. Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…

Readings for Sunday, July 21: 6th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 18:1-14; Psalm 27; Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 10:38-42

Is anything too hard for the Lord? Genesis 18:14a

mountain.jpgIs there anything in your life that just seems out of reach; simply impossible? Whatever it is, give it to the Lord, especially if you believe it is something he has placed on your heart. Seek him. Entrust him with it and watch miracles happen. Just like Abraham and Sarah, who trusted in God’s promise that they would have descendants as numerous as the grains of sand even though they were old, old, old, we too can trust him to fulfill his promises. Hold him to it and be prepared to see miracles, despite any feelings to laugh it away like Sarah did. Nothing’s too hard for the Lord!

It doesn’t mean that it will happen right away. You may have to wait. Sarah and Abraham had to wait. In fact, because they got tired of waiting, they even tried to take things into their own hands with their servant girl, but that was not God’s plan. How many times do we do that; take things into our own hands? I know I am tempted often and many times give in. (Oh woe is me!) It takes patience to wait. It takes trust to wait.

May I encourage you to wait patiently, trusting that God, who loves you so much that he died for you to pay the penalty that your sins deserve in order for you to spend eternity with him, is fulfilling his plans for you and it pleases him to do so. Then, as you wait for his miraculous answers, continue to seek him, rejoice in him, and proclaim his goodness, just as David proclaimed, “I will sing and make music to the Lord… Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:6b, 14)

Prayer: Dear Lord, I know nothing is impossible for you. Today I lay before you (state desire/need here) and ask for patience as I wait for your answer according to your will. All praise and glory to you, Lord, for caring for me and working all things, even those that seem impossible to me, for my good. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN!

The Qualifying Race

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Have you ever been part of a club or team where you need to qualify for a particular, prestigious competition or race? Well I have, and it can be quite stressful. Let’s top up our coffees and check out where we stand in our qualifying race for Eternity…

Readings for Sunday, July 14: 5th Sunday after Pentecost

Leviticus (18:1–5) 19:9–18; Psalm 41; Colossians 1:1–14; Luke 10:25–37

…giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

Colossians 1:12

I dragon boat and at most regattas, for particular races, like the 2km race, teams need to qualify for the race by having the best times in earlier races. Well, needless to say, all 20 teammates are mentally psyched to give it their all and paddle their best in order to qualify for the race-of-all races. Unfortunately, there are regattas where we do not qualify for such races. We are not good enough to be considered worthy to race in such races, and some teams seem to give up when they learn that their times will not qualify them for the ultimate race.

Isn’t it easy to look at our life of faith and our qualifying for our heavenly home in the same way? Don’t we at times get caught up in striving for heaven as if we are qualified by our acts of love and ability to keep God’s laws? Some people are confused of their salvation because they’re not sure if their ‘times’ are good enough to qualify, or simply, if they are good enough to qualify. Well, in such thinking, let me tell you that you will never qualify, I will never qualify, to be considered worthy of life eternal.

However, at some regattas, the ultimate 2km race is open to every team, and every team member qualifies for this prestigious race. In such circumstances, I have found that our team continues to strive to do their best in preparation for the big race. Each race leading up to it is just a stepping stone in getting you ready for this give-it-all-you-got 10 minute challenge, and just making it over the finish line is what matters.

In the same way, in Christ, and only in Christ, are we qualified for life eternal. Thanks be to God, our heavenly Father, for he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14) There is no qualifying race because those participating in Jesus’ regatta are considered qualified already.  As a result, we can look forward to each day as a race which is preparing us for the ultimate goal. We do not need to worry about if we did well enough or compare ourselves to others. We simply get to stay focussed on the finish line and strive to give our personal best as Christ coaches us to the end. In Christ you are already qualified!

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help me to always remember that in Jesus, the Son you love, you have qualified me for life eternal. Help me not to get caught up in comparing myself with others or letting the burden of my sin keep me from you. Please forgive me all my sins and wash me clean as only Jesus can. In His name I pray. AMEN!

Lambs among Wolves

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well! Happy Canada Day!

It certainly is a joyous time for Canadians. We love our country and all that it offers and we are proud to proclaim it! We rejoice in our freedom and revel in the diversity of our land and our people. I am thankful and proud to be Canadian!

As followers of Christ, we too can rejoice in our freedom.  This week we look at our freedom as innocent lambs among wolves. Let’s top up our coffees and dig in…

July 1, 2019

Readings for Sunday, July 7: 4th Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 66:10–14; Psalm 66:1–7; Galatians 6:1–10, 14–18; Luke 10:1–20

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3

Can you picture a few lambs, not full grown sheep but young innocent lambs, wandering amidst a field of wolves. What a scene! …That’s us!

Yes, that’s us… the lambs, not the wolves. How many times have you experienced Christians acting like wolves, ready to devour others and rip them to shreds. This should not be so. The believers in Christ’s redemption are to be the lambs.

lambYes, that’s us! We are the lambs! We are the lambs that are to go out in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22b-23) We are privileged to go out in innocence to simply rejoice and proclaim God’s goodness in our salvation in Christ and his constant presence in our lives. We are called to go out and fulfill the law of Christ; to love your neighbor as yourself [which] is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:33b) We are privileged to carry each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2a) We are free to love and serve.

There is no need to be a prowling wolf as if God needs our protection. Nor do we need to be worried about the wolves that we fear will devour us. There is no fear for Christ is our Shepherd and he will protect us. We simply need to listen to his voice, trust in his promises, and rejoice in his blessings as we ba-ba-ba (that’s ‘speak’ in lamb language) his goodness all the way home – to our heavenly home, that is.

(And remember… we are not the wolves that devour each other or those that oppose us. When tempted to attack… Stop! … Then just knock the dust off your hooves, and walk away.)

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have called me to go out as a lamb among wolves to proclaim your love and salvation. Help me to be that lamb that hops and baaahs because of all your goodness and eternal care which permits me to be fearless and joyful always, despite the wolves that may have surrounded me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

Walk Resolutely

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Have you ever let fear and anxiety keep you from something God was calling you to do? Well, take heart! We have a God greater than any fear. Let’s top up our coffees and learn from him…

 

Readings for Sunday, June 30: 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

1 Kings 19: 9b–2; Psalm 16; Gal. 5:1, 13–25; Luke 9:51–62

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.        Luke 9:51

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A few weeks ago, I spoke at a Christian women’s convention, the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League (LWML) – Ontario Convention to be exact. There were about 150 women and clergy present. In November 2018, after prayerful consideration, I had accepted their request to be their keynote speaker. I truly did feel that it was something that God was calling me to do and I spent much time preparing for the talks.

However, as time got closer and the event was upon me, I must say that I was very nervous. What was I thinking? I had never done such a thing before? It’s a big task keeping 150 people engaged for a longer period of time; I’ve seen what happens to listeners when speakers are not seemingly engaging enough. (Just speak to any pastor, and they only need to speak for about 20 minutes.) Mankind can be a tough crowd! Besides, what did I have to say that people wanted to hear….  Well, despite my own fears, I resolutely headed onto the stage. Yes, I continued to move forward with a purpose because I trusted that God had brought me to that moment, even though I felt the full strength of those undesirable feelings.

Perhaps it’s because these feelings of anxiousness, and worry are so fresh for me that the above passage really stood out for me. “…Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Jesus knew what he was in for when he got to Jerusalem and yet he moved forward anyways, and with a purpose. Jesus knew exactly, or should I say even more so, how I had felt; how we feel, when faced with such scary, anxiety filled events in our life. Maybe it’s a surgery, maybe it’s a consequence to a sin, maybe it’s something that requires you to step into the unknown and step outside of your comfort zone, or maybe it’s the last steps of this earthly journey, like Christ’s. In any case, we can trust that Christ knows how you feel, he knows what you’re going through, he knows your fears, and he is desiring to walk with you through it.  In Christ, we too can walk resolutely in whatever lies ahead, despite our own fears.

(P.S. The talks went well. God was faithful to his promises and my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ were gracious.)

Prayer: Dear Lord, please calm my worry and fears about__________________. Help me to walk resolutely and keep my eyes focused on you. Help me to trust that you are guiding me and with me every step of the way. I know that you will never leave me nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

The Royal Children

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

I have always loved the Royal family. Have you ever considered yourself royalty? Let’s top up our coffees and ponder this for a moment….

June 17, 2019

Readings for Sunday, June 23: 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Isaiah 65:1-9; Psalm 3; Galatians 3:23-4:7; Luke 8:26-39

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith… Because you are his [children], God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 3:28, 4:6-7

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Photo by Jared Subia on Unsplash

My husband and I have just started watching the TV Series entitled, Crown. It is based around the life of the British Royal family in the twentieth century. One thing I’ve noticed is that being an heir of royalty has its privileges. There was one scene where young Prince Charles was riding his tricycle, in a beautifully manicured courtyard, in and out of the guards with nannies fritting around after Princess Elizabeth up and left to oblige a beckoning from her father, King George VI. The guards remained tall and still as the young heir just nipped the side of their pant legs as he vroomed by and the nannies paid full attention to the young lad and his sister. Although the children had freedom to do whatever tickled their fancies, they were being watched over with great care for their well-being and safety.

In the same way, although we may not currently live in a breath-taking castle with beautifully manicured gardens and courtyards, (those will be coming later!) faith in Jesus’ salvation has instantly made us heirs of the greatest royalty of all, sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! What a privilege. In Jesus, we are 100% his children FOREVER!

Also, just like those guards and nannies, God himself, in the Holy Spirit, comes to us and guards our hearts to seek him and call out his name. He sends his angels to attend us. Therefore, bask in the assurance of his unseen guidance and protection as the events of your day and week unfold and that no matter what tickles your fancy, God is with you and you are His as you trust in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Saviour.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for making me an heir of your royal, holy Kingdom, your daughter/son, now and forever! I am not worthy of such a calling and yet it pleases you to lavish upon me the gifts and care as your beloved child. Guide me all my days and keep me in the saving faith of Jesus, my Saviour, always. In His name I pray. AMEN!

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