Dialogue

Yesterday I mentioned Jeremiah and how he had asked God why it looked like there was no justice because it was going well with evil people. This is in Jeremiah chapter 12. The beautiful part of this chapter is where God answers Jeremiah and spells out how He is going to cause justice to be delivered.
In the Book of Job there are a lot of questions posed to God and in Job chapters 38 to 41 God gives Job some very complicated answers to his questions. In Daniel 9:22 the angel Gabriel comes to Daniel and gives him the answer to his prayer. And in Daniel 10:12 – 13 Gabriel explains to Daniel that he was held up for 21 days in delivering the answer by The prince of Persia and that the angel Michael had to come and help him.
Moses speaks directly to God through the whole of Exodus and God answers him. Abraham negotiates with God about Lot’s rescue from Sodom and Jacob wrestles with God all night and demands a blessing.
I can go on and on and on about how God speaks to people and about how He answers their prayers. A two way communication with God was a very common occurrence in the Old Testament. There were prophets and priests and kings who were anointed and on who the Holy Spirit rested who had access to God’s ear. Special people. Then Jesus is born and He speaks to His Father all the time. He makes it seem as natural as if He is speaking to a natural person here on earth. When Jesus is taken up to Heaven after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit is given to all believers.
John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
John 12: 12-14 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
These verses are saying that God sent the Holy Spirit to be our helper and He will teach us all things and He will also allow us to remember things which Jesus said, or in our case it would be to remember things we have heard, and read in the Word. In order to be taught we have to be able to hear. And in this case it is hearing spiritually because He isn’t going to be speaking with audible words. Also Jesus says that whoever believes in Him will be doing greater things than He did. And whatever we ask in His name He will do. Now, if we ask and He does it, it means He hears us, and if He is hearing us, why shouldn’t we be hearing Him?
How come there are so few people who claim to be hearing from God. Even some ordained ministers say that they are sceptical when people say they’ve heard from the Lord. Why should it be such an unusual thing for someone to have heard from God?
I’m speculating that people are often like the Israelites in the desert when they said God should speak to Moses and not directly to them because they were afraid. Are people afraid that God will be showing them where they are going wrong? Maybe they don’t make the effort to spend quality time with God, tuning in to hear His voice. Perhaps they are afraid to say anything when they think they do hear from God because they might embarrass themselves if people ridicule them so they just keep quiet? Have they been hurt by people who didn’t believe them?
I know that God wants to have a relationship with each and every one of us. We cannot have a relationship with anyone if there isn’t communication, and the essence of communication is speech that goes two ways. I know that there is a lot that God wants to share personally with every believer and He isn’t going to tell everything to the prophets to come and tell people. He’s waiting patiently for a dialogue with you and with me. We need to take every opportunity we have to practice hearing God’s voice. Maybe we should ask less and listen more.

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Fly above your circumstances

I was at the filling station when a man I knew pulled up in the next lane and greeted me. I asked how he was and he said, “We’re struggling,” but he said it jovially so it could really have meant anything. I thought that if it goes too well with us we won’t stay on our knees. If we don’t lack anything we really won’t need God.

Then I thought about Moses who grew up in the courts of Pharaoh. He had every resource at his fingertips. He had servants at his beck and call and he definitely never had to wonder where his next meal would come from. The princess who adopted him was the daughter of the Pharaoh. So his adoptive grandfather ruled one of the mightiest kingdoms in the world. I think I can say with certainty that Moses didn’t have a disadvantaged upbringing. The Moses killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave and he had to flee for his life when he was found out. He stayed in the land of Midian for a few years until God called him back to Egypt to free the Hebrews from bondage.

Now what if Moses hadn’t killed the Egyptian and had stayed in Pharaoh’s palace and led a life of luxury? He might have. He would have had a nice life. But when he died he would have missed out of heaven.

How often don’t we think that if we had a better life we would be happy. We won’t have to worry about money and be stressed about where the money will come from that we need. Obviously everyone’s needs are different and wealth is relative. But we all think that way at one or other time.  Why do I have to struggle while my neighbor has it easy? Why can some people go on long holidays and I always have to count the cents. Why?

I don’t know the answers, but I do know that God uses the situations that we are in to work in our hearts. If we live a life of luxury it might be too easy to forget all about God. If we never got sick we could take it for granted that we are healthy and not look to God to live in divine health. If our children were perfect we might think that we are perfect parents and we wouldn’t pray for them. If our businesses were just churning our cash we wouldn’t have to be on our knees. What if our lives were perfect and we had lots and lots of money and we were healthy and our kids were amazing? What if it was like that but what if we didn’t know God? But what if our lives are like they are and we do know God and we think it’s not fair that God’s children would be in the situation we are.

David was God’s anointed. The Bible doesn’t leave us guessing about that. He was physically anointed by Samuel and God even called him a man after His own heart.  (1 Sam 13:14 and Acts 13:22). In Psalm 18:6 David says In my distress I called upon the Lord.

Psalm 13:1 – 2 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?

Psalm 69:1 – 3 Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary with my crying; My throat is dry; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.

Psalm 140:1 – 3 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men, preserve me from violent men, who plan violent things in their hearts; They continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; The poison of asps is under their lips.

Jeremiah was a prophet of God and he complained to God. Just look at Jeremiah 12:1 – 2 Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; They grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth but far from the mind.

Jeremiah did not have an easy life at all. He was imprisoned and beaten and taken captive. Yet, he was chosen by God to speak to the people. Jeremiah certainly did not live a charmed life, but he knew God and that is worth far more than all the wealth in the world.

Next time I want to complain I’ll think about Moses, David and Jeremiah and instead of being miserable about what I’m going through I’ll look up, spread my wings and choose to fly above the circumstances.

Consequences

My husband and I were speaking to a young lady this morning about the consequences of drinking and gambling. Her opinion was that people are way too judgemental and that she should be left alone to do as she pleases. I have been thinking about events in the Bible and how everything that God told people to do had consequences. Every act is part of a bigger picture, but we don’t always see that picture. Everything has repercussions and does not only touch the person who makes the decision.
Just imagine if Moses had ignored God when He told him to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses really didn’t want to do it and tried very hard to get out of it.
Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
Verse 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”
Verse 10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since You have spoken to Your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue.”
And when none of those arguments phased God, Moses says in verse 13, “Oh my Lord, please send someone else.”
The consequences of Moses not going would have been far reaching. I’m sure God had a plan B if Moses did refuse, but just think of the consequences for Moses. If he saw someone else leading his people out of Egypt, can you think how he would have felt? And even though Moses had a very tough time in the desert, he was so close to God. He had the kind of relationship with the Lord that every Christian should desire. He spoke to God face to face, he even argued his people’s case so effectively that God changed His mind and didn’t destroy them all.
God called Jeremiah as a prophet and in chapter 1:6 he says, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”
God answers him, Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’ for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
We have all done things without thinking about the consequences. Sometimes we are desperate and we believe we don’t have a choice in what we do. Other times we simply don’t think. What would you say if God told you to leave your family and friends, your job, your country, your comfort zone and go to a primitive country that you’ve only vaguely heard the name of? You don’t even know where it is on the map. Would God do something like that? Surely not, because you’ve prayed and asked Him to provide you with a stable income and a caring spouse and all the things the world holds dear. That’s what God told Abraham to do. Or what if God told you to do something totally ridiculous that doesn’t make sense at all and you know that everyone is going to ridicule you. Well, God told Noah to build and ark. He wasn’t anywhere near water and it had never rained, thus nobody knew what a flood was. What about Hosea? God told him to marry a prostitute. And look at Isaiah 20:3 Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush…”
Ezekiel 4:4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment on the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you shall lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.”
Does God tell us to do ridiculous things? Yes, I think so. But everything He tells us is for a purpose. Just like every action we take has consequences, we should learn to think about those consequences before we act.

Buy a field

On Saturday, the day before Christmas, we had gale force winds all day. And just to add insult to injury there was a power failure that lasted from 8am to 6pm. Fortunately my handyman had decided a couple of weeks ago that we would braai on Christmas day so there wasn’t a lot of cooking to be done beforehand, just a couple of salads. I am so glad that I had mulched the garden with wood chips because that wind just dried everything out – except the soil that was covered with mulch. It is still hot and dry and looking at my garden I see that lost of the plants are still alive, but there really isn’t any growth. Only rain will make them grow now. It would be extremely easy to give up and blame the weather. I feel depressed when I see the spinach wilting and the parsley and coriander seedlings dying. In Nehemiah chapter 2 the king sees that Nehemiah looks unwell and says to him “This is nothing but sorrow of the heart.” That is how I feel about my garden.

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In the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 32, things are going very badly for Jerusalem. God tells Jeremiah that He is going to allow the king of Babylon to besiege the city and carry off all the people too Babylon. Jeremiah is actually in custody in the court of the prison while this is taking place. Then God tells Jeremiah to buy a field. That is quite likely the last thing that he expects, or wants, to hear at that moment. But God tells Jeremiah in detail how his uncle, Hanamel, is going to come and offer to sell him the field, and goes on to describe in more detail what he has to do.

Eventually in verse 25 Jeremiah can’t stand it anymore and says, ‘And You have said to me, O Lord God, “Buy the field for money, and take witnesses”! -yet the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’

Verse 26 – 27:

Then thee word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying,

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

That is the reason I can go out into the garden and fasten string to the poles around the tomatoes to hold them up when they grow taller. That is the reason I water the plants that look like they would rather not be alive. That is the reason I get up every day and get dressed and smile. That is the reason I live. I know that even when things look impossible, God has everything under control. I also know that even when bad things happen (they do and they will) that everything will work together for good to those who love God. (Romans 8:28)

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I picked this patty pan squash and cherry tomatoes today as well as beans that have dried that I can use for seed.

 

Then also in Romans 8:31 we get the well-known words, “If God is for us, who can be against us?

I know that it will rain and even if the rain comes too late to transform my garden into what I want it to be, it won’t matter.

Daily Prompt: Ancient

via Daily Prompt: Ancient

I planted some heirloom tomato seeds recently. I had no idea what “heirloom” meant when I was given the seed. Google informed me that they are seeds from plants that existed before the Second World War and are not hybrid seeds. That means that the seeds will give you a plant which is identical to the mother plant. That’s my interpretation. In days gone by, since ancient times, that’s how plants were grown. The farmer would plant a crop and then save the seeds until the next season and plant those seeds. Science and technology intervened and made all kinds of modifications to plants by crossing varieties and by genetically modifying fruits and vegetables.

 

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One of my heirloom tomato plants

 

 

Take potatoes for instance. You plant potatoes by cutting off the “eyes” and planting them into the soil. Stems and leaves grow from these cuttings and produce a new crop of potatoes. The problem is that if you use cuttings from modified potatoes you get wonderful foliage but no potatoes under the soil. Seeds from certain hybrids also don’t germinate. It can be a very frustrating and disappointing exercise. The reason that plants are interfered with is that by crossing varieties there is a higher yield and also stronger and disease resistant plants. This is very good for the farmer who grows for the market and is reliant on his crops for an income. This is very good and can potentially solve the world hunger crisis. There are less and less people who grow their own crops. Its much easier to simply go to the store and buy fresh vegetables. No need to till the soil and water and fertilize and pull up weeds.

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My apple tree planted from a seed

 

Its becoming more and more expensive to buy seeds. What has become of the tradition of neighbours exchanging seeds and cuttings and every household having their own garden and growing their own vegetables? Have we become so comfortable in our daily routines that we don’t want to be bothered with ancient traditions? Even the smallest flat (apartment) has space for a window box with a few vegetables. See this website for ideas for small areas. Square Foot Gardening in South Africa

Jeremiah 6:16 – This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  But you said,’We will not walk in it’.

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A brand new patty pan squash plant

 

Is that what the problem is with the world at this time? Aren’t people willing to follow the ancient paths? Do they just want to follow their own minds and their own hearts? We should be willing to learn from the ancient ways in order to survive the modern ways. We will be much less stressed and there will be less depression and suicide. Slow down and stand at the crossroads and look …