Greater is He

Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
II Peter 3:11 NKJV
This is one of the most confrontational verses in the Bible. Is my conduct fitting a believer and a child of God? Do I look like a follower of Christ? Do I have what it takes? The answer is no. Not on my own or in my own strength. But because I have the Spirit of God living inside of me, I am worthy and I am able to stand in the face of adversity. God is for me and if God is for me who can be against me? The devil of course, but because the Spirit that lives in me is greater than the spirit that lives in the world I am able to resist and overcome the plans that the enemy is making.

God says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord , And whose hope is the Lord . For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7‭-‬8 NKJV
I choose to live in the knowledge and with the conviction in my heart that God loves me so much and so deeply that He will always stand by me and never leave me or dismiss me.
Have a beautiful day.


Dry bones will live

I was so inspired by the message I received at the cell group last night.

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord !
Ezekiel 37:4

If we pray life into situations and people those situations and people will be changed by the words we offer in faith. God hears our prayers. I believe that we should pray in faith and believe the promises God has made to us. Never doubting and never looking back at what is behind us. We must cut off the bad things of the past, the hangups we have that are keeping us from serving God and from living a life that is full and productive and happy.

There are people who think that if you’re a Christian you are (or should be) leading a very boring life. But serving the only living God is all but boring. He has promised us power and life in abundance. God’s only son, Jesus Christ, died for me, and for you, so that we will not perish but have everlasting life.

Peace in the storm

I’m listening to the thunder and watching lightning streak across the grey sky. Soft rain falling softens the edges just so much. The thunder just cracked so loudly that the doves in the fig trees flew away. I love this weather. It’s loud and vibrant and life-giving. Everything looks clean and smells fresh. I don’t hide from it, rather I embrace it and enjoy it. Can I say the same about the storms in my emotional life? A friend told me that her mother used to run from room to room covering the mirrors when there was a thunder storm. A neighbour used to hide under a bed. When Jesus was in a boat on the stormy sea with His disciples He lay down and went to sleep. They became so afraid that they woke him up and he rebuked the storm. I wonder how the disciples reacted to storms after that day. Were they still afraid or did they remember what Jesus had done and put their trust in Him?

We have all been through storms in our lives, big ones, small ones, bad ones and long ones that felt like they were never going to end. Sometimes they’re just a storm in a teacup and they’re over almost before they begin. Whatever the nature of the storm, it’s not really the storm that’s the problem, our reaction to the storm is what determines the outcome. Do we rush around trying to cover the ‘mirrors’ which we think will attract more trouble? Or do we simply hide our heads in the sand and wish the storm will go away? Maybe we frantically confront anyone who is willing to listen to our troubles. We could withdraw from the world and sit and worry. Which of these methods will make the storm pass? Not one. They are going to have no influence at all. Well they wouldn’t have an influence on the troubles we’re facing, but they might make our lives even more difficult, and even the lives of those around us. No amount of manipulation, worry or shouting is going to do the slightest bit of good.

Psalm 32:6 – 7: For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when you may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters They shall not come near him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.

I think these verses make it very plain. We need to trust God and not worry or rant and rave or blame or manipulate. We just have to embrace Jesus in the storm and we will come out whole on the other side. If we hold on to Jesus in the storm we will be able to get through it without fear. We will grow in the storm because storms are loud and vibrant and life-giving.

Spiritual drought

I was watering the garden begin the shop in the late afternoon. I just took two small buckets and gave the plants the bare minimum of water. I didn’t have the time or the inclination to do more. Everything is really extremely dry because of the lack of rain and also because of my lack of care.
God showed me that the church is like my garden. The people who haven’t given up of the church and left, are barely holding on. Their roots are even drying out. Their leaves are wilting or brittle. They aren’t receiving the water of the Holy Spirit, the living water that they so desperately need in order to grow.

The caretakers of the garden (church) don’t take the time or have the inclination to spend time in the Word to get filled up and to bubble over and spill over. The people who are sitting in the pews are satisfied with the scraps because they haven’t received the real life-giving water for so long that they don’t know any better. They aren’t reaching out and searching for more. Complacency has set in and apathy is the order of the day. If the gardener isn’t excited about growing plants how can the plants be excited, and if he convinces the plants that they are receiving enough water who are they to argue?
The other thing I noticed was that there were thorns sticking into the soles of my shoes. They are very aptly named devil’s thorns. Picking up ‘thorns’ is very easy when there isn’t any nourishment and water.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
Proverbs 1:32

The best gluten free porridge

I grew up eating porridge or cereal for breakfast and that’s what I fed my children too. Oats (oatmeal) was a favourite of mine so when I realized I was gluten intolerant it was a bit of a let-down. I know oats is supposed to be gluten free, but it doesn’t agree with me now so I prefer to avoid it. My son grew up mostly gluten free and he doesn’t even like oats. He ate a lot of mealie meal (maize) as a child.

In the search for a breakfast porridge I have found various recipes but nothing was really up to scratch. So I started experimenting and I think I have hit the jackpot! It does take about 20 – 25 minutes cooking, but I make more than I need and it keeps in the fridge for at least 5 days. Here’s my recipe:

Gluten free breakfast porridge

½ Cup Quinoa

2 tablespoons flaxseed (linseed) flour

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons dessicated coconut

Pinch of salt

Cook the Quinoa in 1 to 1½ cups of water for 14 to 18 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Mix the rest of the ingredients with a little water and add some of the hot quinoa to the mixture to avoid lumps. Add the flaxseed mixture to the saucepan and put back on the heat. Boil for a few minutes until cooked. Serve with full cream yogurt, or any other flavouring you prefer. Peanut butter? Cream? Etc.

There you are, my new favourite breakfast porridge. Please try the recipe and let me know what you think.

Grace and Mercy

The ‘grace’ I’m referring to means free, unmerited favour or goodwill. Clemency, mercy.

In music a grace note is an extra note added for embellishment.

  1. God shows grace

    1. Ps 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

    2. Proverbs 3:34 – Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble.

    3. Deut 9:5 – 6 – It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, ad that He may fulfil the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  6. Therefore understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.

We are a lot like the Israelites who came out of Egypt. We like to complain. We like to selectively recall events out of our past according to the mood we’re in. We like to look back and say ‘if only’. If only I had invested in bitcoin three years ago I would be a multi-millionaire now. If only I hadn’t wasted my time by hanging out in clubs instead of studying for my degree. If only I hadn’t fallen with my skateboard and hurt my knee, I might have been selected for the national soccer team and been rich and famous. If only I quit smoking 10 years ago I wouldn’t have had lung cancer now. And so it goes on. If only, if only, if only. The Israelites weren’t any better. If only they had stayed in Egypt they wouldn’t be starving and in danger. They forget to add that they were slaves in Egypt and treated worse than dirt!

We want our rewards and we want them now. We want to pray a quick prayer and have it answered immediately. Not only do we want it answered right away, we want the answer that we want to hear.

Grace is when I don’t do anything to receive favour, but I receive it anyway. I go to work every day just as usual and one day the boss call me in and gives me a huge raise. That’s grace. I didn’t work particularly hard or do anything special to deserve the raise.

Mercy – a disposition to temper justice with mildness. Clemency, compassion.

Micah 7:18 – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

Titus 3:5 – He saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Mercy is when you deserved to be punished but you aren’t. If I pour a glass of Coca-Cola onto your laptop keyboard because I’m mad at you and your keyboard gets fried, and you don’t get mad at me and demand for me to replace your laptop. You just wipe it off and go out and buy a new laptop. That is mercy. I was purposely vindictive towards you and you didn’t retaliate at all. God shows us mercy all the time. How many times have you done things that just aren’t right? And you didn’t get struck by lightning or fall down dead. As these versed illustrate God shows us mercy all the time and He also expects us to show mercy to others. Matthew 5:7 even says that if we are merciful we will be shown mercy. Showing mercy is not a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. It is much easier to give a harsh answer or to mete out punishment than to be merciful and give someone a second chance, especially if the other person has hurt our family, our finances or our feelings. It’s the principle of reaping what you sow. I really, really want God to show me mercy. Hebrews 10:31 – ‘It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’

Let us grow in grace and be merciful for the sake of our own souls.

He shall direct your paths

I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer lately. Especially about crisis prayer. That king of prayer when someone is badly injured and all of a sudden people who never pray start praying. Nothing wrong with that. Prayer can never be bad. So everyone prays and the injured person gets better and everyone says hallelujah and everyone stops praying because the crisis is over. Not? Really? Of course they stop because, after all, that’s what prayer is for isn’t it? For  God to listen to us when we need something and then give it  to us. At least that is what a lot of people seem to think. Why would we speak to God when everything is going well? What would we say?

We find the answer in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

In the Amplified version it says:

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart

And do not lean on your own insight or understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge and recognize Him,

And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].

If we trust in the Lord with ‘all your heart’, it means that every part of our lives must depend on God. Not just the parts that are convenient to us, or the parts that we choose. Every little part. The impatient part, the addicted part, the lazy part etc. We can’t decide from day to day what we are going to trust God with. “lean not on your own understanding…” Means can’t say, or tell ourselves, that we are trusting God, but we are still taking certain matters into our own hands by manipulating people and situations. Praying also doesn’t mean that we tell God what He must do and then sit back and wait for Him to do it. What if He doesn’t do it? Then we say prayer doesn’t work? The very first step is to give every little part of our lives, even the parts we aren’t so proud of, to God. Revelation 22:17 is an invitation to all, “Come! Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Whosoever means all of us. Not just the perfect and holy ones.

The next line, “In all your ways acknowledge Him,” says to us that we have to sit down and tell God what we are busy with. We have to let Him know what is going on in our lives. The fact that He already knows each little detail of our lives only means that He already has the perfect solution to all our troubles. He loves us so much that He desires a relationship with us. As we all know, relationships need words. So we have to use our words and tell our loving Father what is going on in our lives. Even the parts that embarrass us. No-one is so bad that God is going to reject a relationship with him. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke we find the story of the woman who had an ‘issue of blood’ which made her unclean. Despite this she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was made whole. The laws of that time meant that while she was menstruating she was not allowed to touch anyone. Because this problem had been going on for a very long time she became desperate and broke the law in order to be healed. Sometimes we have to break self imposed ‘laws’ in order to become whole. We have to change our way of thinking and even our way of seeing ourselves. We are not going to be rejected by God just because people might reject us. John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  I wish I could put a whole row of smiley faces in here. This is the crux of it all. We accept Jesus as our Saviour, invite Him into our hearts, and because God then sees us through the holiness of Jesus – through the blood He spilled for us.

“And He shall direct your paths.” We come to God, redeemed from sin by the blood of Jesus, and tell Him all about our lives. We don’t go around making our own plans to overcome our problems (we really trust Him) and He will lead us to do the right things. Just picture this: we are in trouble, irrespective of whether it is of our own making or not, and we put it before God, we can be secure in the knowledge that He will handle that trouble. He will give us the solution to the problem, and we will have peace of mind. The peace that passes all understanding (Philippians4:7) will belong to us. He will prepare a table in the presence of our enemies (Psalm 23:5) and goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6). It doesn’t mean that nothing bad will ever happen to us, but we will have the assurance that whatever happens, when we bring it before God, we can have the peace of mind that He will handle it.

Be still and know

I have a coffee mug with the words “Be still and know that I am God” on it. I have heard and sung those words so often that they have almost become a cliché. Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” As I was pouring the boiling water onto the teabag (I have tea in a mug), I looked at the words again. 

Be – to exist, to live, to become, remain, continue 
Still – at rest, motionless, quiet, calm
Know – to have a clear and certain perception
These three words are the crux of the verse. I see it this way – My existence must be rooted in and at peace with the clear and certain perception that God is who He says He is. When God makes a promise He keeps that promise. When God says that He will never leave me or forsake me, then He won’t. Here are a few verses telling us how we can trust God:
Exodus 14:14  – ‘The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.’
Isaiah 40:31 – ‘But those who ait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.’
Isaiah 51:12 – ‘I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man that will die, And of the son of man who will be made like grass?
Luke 12:22 – 23 – ‘Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about your body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.’
I believe that God doesn’t want us stressed out and rushing around like a dog trying to catch its own tail. He needs us to be calm and at peace. We must not look at our circumstances, rather we must see life as a journey and the Kingdom of Heaven as our destination. Everything that is here on earth is temporary. The only thing that we have that is of eternal value is our faith. We have to have the kind of unshakeable faith that Jesus had while He walked on earth. It’s not easy, and the Bible never tells us that following Jesus is going to be easy, but the more we read our bible and communicate with our Heavenly Father, the easier it becomes. We have to learn to take the Scriptures at face value and not overcomplicate things. Just be still and know.

For all have sinned

Do you remember when you were a child and the teacher left the classroom with the instruction: “Be quiet while I’m out!”? And you try your best. You really do. You try to concentrate on the work in front of you and not on your friend next to you. You try to ignore the whispers around you and the paper jet that just landed on top of your Math book. You even try not to acknowledge the boy who is poking his pen into your back or the one who is pulling your braid. You try. You try so hard but before you know it you are caught up in all the activity around you when the teacher returns your name is on her detention list and you just can’t understand why. If we try to be good people, if the try to follow the laws and ruled in the Bible we are going to get caught up in all the worldly activity around us and become so involved in it that by the time we have to stand before the Judgement Seat we are not going to receive the ultimate prize of living in Heaven for eternity. That is, if we TRY.

Romans 3:11-18 tells how there isn’t even one righteous person who is under the law. Verse 19: ‘Now we know that whatever the law says, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deed of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ We can’t be good on our own. We can try as hard as we want, but in our own strength we cannot keep the law. We can for a while, or sometimes, or with certain things, but not all the time with everything. All that’s going to happen is that we will wear ourselves out trying and then find ourselves mixed up in everything that’s against the law.
So, what do we do to avoid this?
Make the decision that you want to be a child of God. Ask Him to forgive your sins and ask Jesus to come and live in your heart.
Make a decision that you want a relationship with Jesus Christ and allow Him to be master of your life and stop TRYING. All His grace to rule within you. Give the Holy Spirit the reigns and let Him lead you.
Are you now going to be perfect? NO!! But you are going to be justified. Romans 3:23-24 – ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’ In verse 25 – 26 Paul goes on to say that because Jesus died for us, God has forgiven our sins. This grace that we are given because we are children of God is enough to keep us from going to Hell. It is not an excuse to just carry on doing what we want to do without regard for anything, but it covers the things we do that we shouldn’t be doing and it gives us the strength to resist the temptations that come before us daily. We can’t DO anything to win God’s favour. The only way we get His favour is to hold onto His Son and give our lives to Him. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 15:31 “…I die daily.”
Just like Paul we should ‘die daily’ to the old things, to the worldly things that drag us down and be alive and aware daily of God’s redeeming grace.

Pray for the bad guys

I am reading ‘The President’s Keepers’ by Jacques Pauw. It is insightful and shocking to say the least. I am not getting upset or cross while I read because the things that are written are in the past. They have happened and I can’t change the past no matter how hard I try. I am reading the book in order to understand why the situation in the country is as it is. I want to understand how the politicians and their associates think. Even though there is nothing I can do about the past, there is something I can do about the future.

I can pray.

Last week I heard a gentleman say that the churches have it all wrong because you shouldn’t be praying for corrupt politicians as they aren’t going to change. Matthew 5:44 – ‘But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use and persecute you.’ That statement Jesus made is so profound I think I should read it every day just to remind myself what prayer is all about. In the next chapter (Matt 6:9-13) Jesus gives his disciples The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father. It’s lovely and most Christians know it off by heart. What we choose not to read though is verse 14 and 15 which state the following, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Therefore we aren’t only called to pray for our enemies but we also have to forgive them.

If someone is cursing you, hating you, spitefully using you or persecuting you, you are called to love them, do good to them, pray for them and forgive them. Are you doing all these things because you approve of what they are doing or because you excuse their behaviour? Not at all! You are setting yourself free from the bondage that holding a grudge or living with unforgiveness brings. You are asking God to set you free so that you will be able to live your life to its full potential. Living with unforgiveness makes you sick. It’s like hanging a potato around your neck on a string. At first you feel the weight of it all the time but after a while you actually get used to it. Then, you start to smell something and much to your dismay the potato has started to go rotten. It is in your nostrils all the time and you can’t even get a good night’s sleep because of the stench. You can’t get rid of the potato and the smell unless you cut the string. Cutting the string is forgiving the person for whatever they have done to you and then praying for them. Who benefits from the string being cut? The potato is still in the same state it was. It’s not going to suddenly revert to being a good potato. You are reaping the benefit because now your friends won’t mind being around you again, you can enjoy life and sleep well at night.

So, we have to love and do good and forgive and pray irrespective if our ‘enemies’ are politicians, criminals, acquaintances or our brothers and sisters that we had a disagreement with. What will God do then? In Psalm 35 David is speaking to God about the people who are trying to kill him. Verse 5 says “And let the angel of the Lord chase them.” I believe if we do the things that the Bible tell us to do and if we earnestly see the Lord and put Him first in our everyday life, He is going to make our paths straight and we can say, “Praise the Lord, O my soul! It is well with my soul!