Saturday

Jesus Loves Me - For Seniors

My three-year old granddaughter enjoys singing Jesus loves me..., just like her mother and uncle used to when they were her age. Can you imagine my surprise when I recently came across the same melody with different lyrics? They really spoke to me, so I will share them with you. If you haven't yet reached the age where you can identify, don't worry. Eventually you, too, will get there (Lord willing)...
Image from animated.gifs.com

Jesus loves me, this I know,
Though my hair is white as snow.
Though my sight is growing dim,
Still He bids me trust in Him. 

Yes, Jesus loves me... Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me... The Bible tells me so! 

Though my steps are oh, so slow,
With my hand in His I'll go.
On through life, let come what may,
He'll be there to lead the way.

CHORUS

Though I am no longer young,
I have much - which He's begun.
Let me serve Christ with a smile,
Go with you the extra mile.

 CHORUS

When the nights are dark and long,
In my heart He puts a song.
Telling me in words so clear,
"Have no fear, for I am near."

CHORUS

When my work on earth is done
And life's victories have been won,
He will take me home above,
Then I'll see His unbound love.

 CHORUS

I love Jesus, does He know?
Just today I told Him so.
Jesus loves to hear me say,
That I love Him every day.

CHORUS
All credit for this song goes to the unknown author - thank you! 


Thursday

VALLEYS AND HILL TOPS

Years ago, people used to love singing hymns. Their words were meaningful and sprang to mind during life’s ups and downs.  Remember these words, “There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God… A place where sin cannot molest… A place of comfort sweet… A place of full release.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to continually rest in His presence? While we know in our minds that as those saved in Christ we are always close to God, our emotions can be a different matter altogether. Haven’t we all experienced times of feeling far away from God when immersed in the hustle and bustle of life? Sometimes we need a holiday from our ‘busy-ness’ to draw close again, and that holiday may come in unexpected ways.

There was a time in the not too distant past, when I was doing a lot of good and necessary things. I was getting too busy to spend time with God. Slowly but surely I felt myself slipping further and further away from His presence. My leash was getting too long, and I didn’t like it. Finally I begged God to draw me close again, and guess what happened: I ended up in bed. Lying there with a back injury was anything but what I would have called a holiday, but it stopped me in my tracks and gave me plenty of time to think. After a few days of misery, when the pain suddenly became too much to bear, God showed me His love by miraculously taking away the fiery darts. As I said, this happened only once, but I was so grateful for the reprieve that it became a spiritual turning point. Didn’t I call on Jesus for help immediately after my injury? Yes, I did, but it took five days and the stripping away of the last shreds of self-reliance before I felt near to the heart of God once again. And then, of course, I couldn’t stop praising him. My enforced holiday had done its job.

Sometimes I think I should be more careful about what I ask for (like the woman who asked for patience and received tribulation!), but then I realise that God always knows what I need and only ever has my best interest at heart. While this may require a wake-up call or a time of chastening, I can be assured that all of His corrections work together for my good. Why? Because He loves me with a love that is far greater than any human love could ever be. Jesus proved it by dying for my sin.  

Valleys or hill tops - which would you prefer?
 In hindsight, it has never been the hill top experiences that have brought me nearest to the heart of God, but those in the valley. Mind you, I love the mountain tops! Whenever I see other people become aware of their sin before a holy God and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, I cannot contain my joy (and neither do the angels in heaven).  During an ‘ahh…’ experience of gaining new insight from Scripture I am ecstatic, and when I notice God’s work in my own life or in that of others I am thankful. Who would not love the mountain tops? Yet despite their joys they are dangerous places, for when things go well, we tend to walk in our own strength. Self-reliance, which is nothing less than pride, can so easily exert itself and take back control of our lives.

Yes, on the hill tops I am glad to be God’s child, but in the valleys I learn to walk with Him – if I am prepared to learn lessons instead of asking, “Why me?” in self-pity. Many Christians have confided that their lives, too, tend to be a bit like a roller-coaster, and that it is during the down-turns that they feel their greatest need for God and draw most closely to Him. As a matter of fact, my only outstanding experiences of God’s peace have happened while going through those valleys. I am not talking about a generally peaceful feeling, but about a profound experience of peace that does not depend on circumstances but rather exists in spite of chaos and surrounding pain. 

And so it is in the ebbs of life that I have learnt about the necessity of valleys for the process of becoming more like Christ. It is here that God has shown Himself to be all-sufficient for any situation and I have experienced Him to be all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present. He is the mighty Creator of the Universe who says, “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his night, nor let the rich glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these I delight.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)


Tuesday

FREE GOSPEL TRACT

Just quickly today, here is a gospel tract, which you may freely download, print and use. My husband wrote it for a gospel meeting he took, and I did the design and layout. As you know (and might have seen on http://heartbeatpresentations.org), creating anything associated with God’s work is my favourite hobby.

But back to the tract… It’s a colorful tri-fold that you can print back to back and fold into 3 columns. We use 120 GMS paper, but normal photocopy paper will work as well. Our supplies usually vanish when we take them along to meetings.





Click here for free download from Biblical Publications

This tract is available in both A4 (AUS & EU) and Letter (US) formats.





Monday

LIFE IN CHRIST AND BLACK FOREST CAKE

Life in Christ and Black Forest Cake, what do they have in common? Both are rich and wonderful beyond measure :-)
Yesterday, a big red book came to light from the depth of our 'old book box'. I almost threw it out because it looked like a ledger without a title. But on its pages I discovered a mixture of old German recipes (some of my totally forgotten favorites from childhood) and bible study notes from long ago. I was glad for both and will share one of each with you today.

REFLECTIONS from Colossians 2:6-15

Scripture: As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Reflections – Christians are wealthy beyond measure:
We are not deceived by worldly teachings but can rely on what is written in the Word of God.
We know that wisdom and knowledge are found only in Christ, not in any of the many philosophies on offer in the world.
Christ is the bodily dwelling place of the Godhead, i.e. all that pertains to God.
He is the head of all principality and power.
He is the unwavering object of our faith.
He is our surety of a glorious life to come.
He is the source of spiritual life right here and now.
He lives in us!
We have been buried and raised with Him through baptism (in a symbolical way).
Our naturally corrupt, spiritually dead nature of rebellion against God has been dealt with in Him.
We have been made alive together with Him.
He is our root and sap, our source and sustenance of life.
All of our sins are forgiven.
In Him we are complete.
We are privileged to live under grace, not under the law.
The law was against us because no human being could ever perfectly fulfill it.
But Jesus fulfilled the law and thereby wiped out the requirements that had been against us, nailing them to the cross.
Let us therefore live in a manner that is worthy of all these blessings and always abound in thanksgiving!

BLACK FOREST CAKE – an old family recipe

Ingredients:
5 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of potato or corn flour
1 tablespoon or normal, white flour
4 rounded teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of good cocoa powder (van Houten is a good brand)
½ litre of whipping crème (can be thickened)
1 (or 2 if you want to indulge) glass of sour cherries (Aldi brand works well)

Preparation:
Place greaseproof paper across bottom of a 28 – 30 cm diameter springform (the one where the side can be removed by opening the clasp) and grease the bottom only – not the sides.
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celcius normal oven or 170 degrees Fan-forced.
Beat egg whites, adding sugar very slowly as it is being absorbed, until mixture is very stiff.
Add lightly beaten egg yolks and fold under very gently and carefully by hand – no stirring or further whipping.
Sift all flour, baking powder and cocoa over mixture and fold under quickly and carefully.

Baking:
Place into springform and bake approx. 20 – 25 minutes.
Remove from oven, let cool slightly, then remove the rim of the springform and gently lift the cake off the bottom with a cake lifter (or turn upside down onto wire wrack and lift off the bottom of the springform and pull off the baking paper).

Decorating:
When cool, cut the cake into 3 layers and dribble a little fruit liqueur (optional) on the bottom 2 layers.
With a knife, place a layer of thickly set fruit jam (cherry, strawberry or orange) over the bottom 2 cake layers – optional, but it keeps the cherries from making the cake soggy.
Then add cream and well-drained cherries onto the 2 layers and top with with the 3rd layer.
Finally, place a little more cream across the top and around the sides of the cake, grate dark chocolate over the top for garnish - and enjoy!

Blessings to you all,
Margaret

Wednesday

IT'S ALL ABOUT JESUS



o how do WE reflect our great God and Saviour?

Dr Harry Ironside used to tell a story about a man who lived in a small country town in England. One day, he went to London where he would need to stay for several days. He was glad to be there on a Sunday because that gave him opportunity to hear some of the great preachers of that day. He wrote home to his wife, and he said: “Last Sunday morning I went to hear Dr Jones, and in the evening I went to the Metropolitan Tabernacle to hear Charles Spurgeon. I was so greatly impressed by both of them. Dr Jones is certainly a great preacher, but Mr Spurgeon has a great Savior.”

That was an astute observation and led me to thinking… Who are people impressed with when they have been with me? Are they impressed with me, or are they impressed with my Jesus? How authentic is my life? How much impact for God does it have on the world around me? These are sobering questions because, like the apostle Paul, I want to live for advancing the Lord Jesus Christ and His cross, not myself. I hope that goes for you as well... 


JUDY'S 70TH BIRTHDAY - A JOYFUL POEM

Judi is a dear Bible Study friend and a lady with many talents. One of them is poetry. I hope you'll like what she wrote for her 70th birthday (you'd never guess her age!). Her secret to keeping young? Rejoicing in the Lord always and living up to her name (it's Young - hee hee). Enjoy...

It’s a wonderful view from the top of the hill
Looking back at the valley below.
And it’s been a long climb, over hurdles at times,
But the blessings are all mine, I know.

My children aren’t perfect and neither am I
But our love will overcome all.
I wouldn’d change them for a million quid
For then I’d have nothing at all.

They’ve all got partners to help them along
And kids of their own to love,
And now their kids have also got kids
All gifts from our Father above.

As I look back o’er the years that have gone
And think of the things I have done
I’m hoping that down by the other side of the hill
There’s plenty more yet to come.

So I, now having reached my three score and ten,
I’m hoping for strength of days
To watch all the children grow up big and strong
And for that I’ll give God all the praise.

© 2009 Judi Young

Saturday

MOTIVATION TO LOVE - LUKE 7:47

Today's texts are Luke 7:47, Prov.10:12 and 1 Corinthians ch. 13. Sorry I've been away for so long. Busy, busy, busy, which isn't good. I keep thinking about Mary's sister Martha who chose not to sit at the Lord's feet because of her many (though very necessary) chores.

And so I've been thinking. My waiting room wall displays a pictorial chart of 1 Corinthians ch. 13. It shows Noah building his ark and then different animals acting out love's manifold character in various scenarios. A brilliant object lesson, and many people comment on it. But what about the motivators for this love and its connection to understanding? Consider the following statements and keep chewing the cud...

Love without understanding is blind.
Understanding without love is legalistic.
The right kind of understanding generates the right kind of love.

Jesus once said, "To whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." (Luke 7:47)
"Hate stirs up strife, but love covers a multitude of sins." (Proverbs 10:12, 1 Cor.13:4-6)

Even among Christians this may be worth pondering... Are you aware of how much you have been forgiven by God (that is, IF you have been forgiven and know it)? What motivates you to love others?

Have a lovely and loving day,
Margaret

Tuesday

WHY DO CHRISTIANS SUFFER? - CAN WE TRUST GOD?

When we are in a mess and there are things in our lives we find extremely distasteful, unjust, intolerable or painful, we experience suffering - and we tend to ask questions. “Why, Lord?” is a frequent response. And sometimes, when we are focused only on self, we even ask, “Why ME, Lord?” Here are some examples of life’s tragedies:

Jenny moved to the city a year ago to attend university. She now has new friends and leads a busy social life, but most of her friends do not believe in Jesus. More and more she slips into their habits. She doesn’t talk about her faith any more because she knows they wouldn’t like it. She hardly finds time to meet with other Christians. She still talks to God, but their times together become shorter and less frequent. When she first arrived, things seemed to go well for her and she loved her new life. But gradually her mind became focused on worldly things, and she began to feel more and more dissatisfied. Now her grades are slipping, some of her ‘friends’ are turning against her, and her boyfriend has just broken up with her because she wouldn’t sleep with him. Jenny feels angry and exhausted most of the time. “Why is everything going wrong for me?” she cries out to God.

Carmen and her husband are happily married and have three sons. Two of their sons are walking with the Lord and doing fine, but the third one has been addicted to drugs for a number of years. His parents have tried to help him. They have prayed; they even moved to stay close to him to offer support, but all to no avail. Carmen loves her son and has suffered for years. “Why are you not changing him, Lord?” she moans.

Mary’s daughter is about to move out. She is expecting a child and wants to set up home with her non-believing boyfriend. Mary is distraught. Hasn’t she always been conscientious in teaching her daughter the ways of God? She has prayed for her since she was born, encouraged godly habits, and tried to be a good role model herself as both mother and wife. And now this…She wonders whether her daughter was ever truly born again and petitions God for the welfare of her soul. Mary wrecks her brain – did she do something wrong in rearing her child? Why is her daughter so distant? “Lord, why are you not stepping in here?” she cries.

Melanie is ecstatic. She has a wonderful husband and three small children, and just last week they moved into a brand-new house. Melanie is having fun as a homemaker, but she is starting to feel so tired all the time, and her headaches are getting worse. She puts it all down to the stress of moving, until she starts feeling sick as well. Maybe she is pregnant again? A trip to the doctor and many tests later, a shocking revelation is made: Melanie has cancer. All she can utter is, “Why, Lord? Why?”

Anna is our final example. Most people like her, but her closest co-worker constantly undermines her wherever she can. What has gone wrong? Hasn’t she always been nice and helpful to this woman? Anna prays about the problem and continues with her positive attitude, but the behaviour of the other woman becomes worse instead of better. And then Anna doesn’t get the promotion she deserves and hears that her co-worker has influenced the decision-makers. Someone also tells her that this woman calls her ‘Miss Goody Goody’ behind her back, and that she hates Christians. Anna’s question of “Why?” has been answered.

Most Christians encounter messy circumstances at one time or another, and it would not be wise to jump in and offer advice – just think of Job’s misguided friends. They were miserable comforters and God rebuked them sharply for assuming wrongly. Job’s response to suffering, on the other hand, is a marvellous example to us: When Satan attacked and murdered his servants, destroyed his flocks and killed his children, Job grieved terribly. Nonetheless, he asserted his belief in God’s sovereignty: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Then came another attack. Satan struck Job’s own body with painful boils from head to toe, and his wife suggested that he should curse God and die. But Job responded differently, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)

When one of Job’s friends tried to tell him that innocent people do not suffer (thereby suggesting that he must be guilty!), Job’s anguish heightened. He pointed out that no one is righteous before God, and that no one is able to withstand the only sovereign God (Job 9:2-12). He also grappled with the concept of wisdom and came to the conclusion that, “the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). And then Job went to great lengths to defend himself before his friends. He asserted his innocence in regard to three issues: sensual sins, trusting in his wealth, and being uncaring toward his enemies. Finally, he pleaded to meet God personally in order to defend himself before the highest authority. But then God turned things around and questioned Job directly. And what did Job do? He admitted his ignorance and confirmed God’s ability to do anything He purposes. His conclusion, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).

Job’s mess was organised by Satan and approved by God in order to demonstrate Job’s faith and God’s faithfulness. But what about our troubles? Sometimes we suffer for the same reason, but at other times we may endure the consequences of our own foolish actions. Or we may suffer without apparent fault of our own because of the transgression of others. At times we may even be privileged to partake in the sufferings of Christ, and at other times the hand of God chastens us for the very reason that we are His children. He prunes His trees to bring forth more fruit. He cuts and refines and polishes His jewels, so “that in the ages to come He might show forth the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:7).

When we are in a mess, we need to seek God’s wisdom to discern the reason for our suffering. Rather than asking, “Why?” point blank, it may be more helpful to ask, “What can I learn from this situation, or what can I learn through the process of suffering? How can I honour God through it all, and how can I grow spiritually?” Since God is in control, all suffering has the potential of drawing us closer to Him while at the same time magnifying His glory. Death itself is not something to be feared by God’s children, but a promotion to glory.

At certain times of my Christian walk I myself have experienced great anguish but, looking back, each encounter has strengthened my faith and reliance on Christ. For over a year now I have been forced to live with a mess that I can neither understand nor define or resolve. God has not answered my questions, and all I can do is trust and remain patient. God’s timing is not our timing, and His thoughts are higher than ours. My favourite verse is, “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” (Prov.3:5-6). I am comforted by the fact that He is in control, and that He promises to work “all things…together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom.8:28).

I will leave you with the well-known words of the hymn writer H.G. Stafford, who also knew suffering:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

May you trust in Christ no matter what befalls you...
Margaret