Sunrise

I love sunrises – waking up early to greet the day. My heart fills in such a special way to see God’s beauty in creation. So, I drove a little way up the mountain to find a viewing place. Suddenly, God placed a road name in my heart. I had my doubts, but as I arrived, I came across a wide-open space where I could see so much of Sydney – the city scape, Penrith lakes, the hills and gullies, right up to the Hawkesbury. Just lovely.

It’s funny (not) how you can argue with yourself and God because you thought He was wrong, or you didn’t think you’d really heard from God, or you just didn’t want to do it. This opportunity had no risk attached, so I followed the prompting. O me of little faith!

It was quite fresh – it was winter! – but I still put the car window down. I was greeted by wattle birds singing and cockatoos squawking directions as they headed out for their day. Oh, and the glow – the reds and oranges as the sun crept its way to the horizon.

I find such joy and peace in creation, watching God at work, breathing in the calm, the beauty, the space. I am full of contentment and gratitude. Sometimes a beautiful concert or musical will fill me, too. Or watching children play, sing, laugh, run. Like my emotions are getting a tune up, my heart’s fuel tank is being topped up. I even cried once at my daughter’s dance class, filled with joy as these little people danced, listening to their wonderful teacher, moving their sweet little bodies to their own special version of the choreography.

Where is your place to have a heart refill?

‘I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.’


Eric Liddell – Chariots of Fire

We need these moments – having our hearts filled with joy and smiles and wonder and peace. They help us through the days, the pain, the work, and the unknown. We gain strength from these times –  

“The joy of the Lord is our strength”


Nehemiah 8:10

As I was watching the sunrise, a verse from Malachi 4:2 dropped in my heart –

‘…the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.’

I pondered on this as I saw the changing colours and light. I recalled other verses that use wings as metaphors for God’s goodness and mercy to us. How wonderful to be able to hide under His wings -to find healing, shelter, forgiveness, peace and comfort. We have a place to go!

Later I noticed the caveat in this verse, ‘But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise…”

What is it to fear our wonderful God? It is acknowledging Him, revering Him, obedience and worship. We read and believe His Word in wonder.

Healing, peace, comfort don’t just come. Oh, they are there for us. His promises are “Yes, and Amen”. God’s heart is for healing, victory, overcoming. But the promises of God don’t just fall out of heaven. Oh, the world would like it that way – ‘If God was a good God…’  So would many Christians. But what is our attitude? Where is the ‘fear’? Where is our prayer, “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”?

He is ready to welcome us to Himself. He wants us to come under His wings. And so we come, with reverence and awe and wonder and worship and faith to our great God. “The Sun of righteousness will rise”!

Blessings,

Jenni xx

Actions

  1. Search ‘wings’ in the Bible and find yourself hidden under His goodness.
  2. Breathe in God’s creation, or take time for the activity that fills your heart with gratefulness and praise, that draws you closer to Jesus.
  3. Come before Him with worship and awe, and seek Him for the things on your heart. Believe His goodness, trust His promises and wait expectantly.

Balloons

‘Jack of all trades, master of none’

I am surrounded by intelligent people. Ph.D.’s, Master’s degrees, CEOs, business owners, and so it goes. They are my family, my friends. So, I often felt like the lesser one. The jack of all trades, but not an expert at any one thing. Oh, I can sing pretty well, I scraped out a degree. I’ve done things I’m proud of, but I allowed others around me, allowed their gifts and achievements, make me feel lesser. Not enough.

They didn’t. I did.

God gave me an image of many balloons. Like the person selling balloons at a fair.

This was years ago. He didn’t want me to be like others. I’m me. Jack of all trades was just fine. Being pretty good at many things is useful anyway – wife, mother, teacher, worship leader, friend, helper, family member. I realized I wouldn’t have been happy mastering just one thing in any case. Realizing this took way too long, though.

He said, ‘Blow up your balloons.’ A puff here, a big blow there, bit by bit. And, bit by bit, I have. Believing God, holding onto His promises, praying for them, stepping out in faith… Here’s one of those promises that help me be who God has called me to be-

“Be strong and courageous… act carefully in accordance with all the law… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and very courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:6-9

This is one of several verses I pray and believe over my ‘balloons’, over me. A verse I’m doing life with.

Our lives are never just about one thing. We have to work out our priorities. Sometimes family comes first, sometimes church, sometimes our workplace. Sometimes we press into busyness, other times we must rest. Following God is the most important thing. Our pastor described it as a wheel. Jesus is the centre. Our life revolves around Him. All the spokes, our various responsibilities and activities all flow from Him.

Jesus is the centre

Brian Houston wrote recently, ‘The theme of your heart will ultimately determine the story of your life.’ (See link below)

“My heart overflows with a good theme.”

Psalm 45:1

As I reflected on that, I saw my balloons again, being blown up bit by bit. God reminded me that they wouldn’t pop.

‘Just keep blowing. Once they’re filled, they will lift you up.’

What an encouragement!

And I’m starting to feel that, after years of blowing. I’m feeling a lightness, a confidence, that I’m on track, that I’m doing what God has called me to. All those years of doubting who I was and what I should be doing, of thinking I wasn’t enough. As I look back, I see that I had the vision all along. I just wasn’t sure, I lacked confidence – I wasn’t doing what others were, so maybe I was wrong. I even spoke foolishness – ‘I still don’t know what I want to do!’ – when in fact, I was doing exactly what I felt God was showing me. Oh, I still have moments of doubt. But I keep my eyes on Jesus. He will show me.

He will show you, too.

Blessings,

Jenni

Actions

  1. What is the theme of your heart? Which promises/instructions/wisdom from the Bible will you hold onto?
  2. What lies have you been believing about yourself? Ask the Lord to reveal them, so you can repent and consider His truth, and renew your mind to His good plans for your life. Ask Him for courage to be you.
  3. How will you ‘blow your balloons’? What steps of faith can you take to help achieve what God has for you?

To check out Brian Houston’s comments, go to the link below.

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/10498-help-me-i-need-to-change-my-life/day/6

Credit: Balloon photo from Pexels Free Photos

Metamorphosis

I feel for the humble insect. So maligned in many ways.

Firstly, there’s the way we treat them. Mosquitoes and flies the world over are swatted or sprayed. Caterpillars are squished. Snails (not insects, I know!) are drowned in beer concoctions. Ants are dealt with by foot. Pest control is big business!

Then, we use these insects to malign someone’s character. You might be called a grub or a parasite. (Well, it may not be an insect, either, but you get my point.) You may know someone who ‘bugs’ you. And what about the postie who is judged as we complain of ‘snail-mail’?

Then there’s the humble, but extremely valuable worm. Even the Bible uses them as unpleasant metaphors. King David described himself as a ‘worm’. Jacob was called a ‘worm’ – by the Lord! Ouch. God also called the Israeli enemies ‘flies’ and ‘bees’.

And what about grasshoppers! I’m sure you know the story: Twelve ‘spies’ are called by Moses to investigate the land they had been promised by God. On returning, ten of the twelve explorers called themselves ‘grasshoppers’, compared to the giants of the Promised Land. Fear and cowardice at its best. Sadly. What did the grasshopper do to deserve that?

“We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are… the land we explored devours those living in it… We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Numbers 13:31-33

Now, have you heard of these ten men? – Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, or Geuel? No? Their names are not on the Top Baby Names’ list!

But Joshua and Caleb? Now, they are names you hear often. They were the two who believed what God had told them about the land – a land flowing with milk and honey, huge clusters of grapes, pomegranates and figs. They trusted God’s word to them and to all of Israel, to give help and victory as they fought their enemies. They weren’t calling themselves grasshoppers, even with enemies staring them down.

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Trouble. Enemies. Giants. In our fallen world there will be battles.

For Israel there was land to be taken, enemies to defeat, ’squatters’ to be removed that were living in the towns and cities that God had dedicated, set apart, for His chosen people.

When we look at our enemies, our battles, our troubles – fear, lack, health issues, relationship breakdowns, anxiety, abuse, bureaucracy – we often see them as too big or too strong, and so we end up looking at ourselves as unable and weak, ‘grasshoppers’ to be devoured. This thinking not only defeats our hearts and lives, but also maligns God’s word, His promises, His character and ability.

For nothing is impossible with God.”

Luke 1:37 (NLT)

We must be like Joshua and Caleb and have faithful hearts that look to God’s word, His promises, as faithful; to get our courage from Him, instead of allowing our hearts to fail through the circumstances that surround us.

Now, insects can be very destructive, from plagues destroying harvests, to my rose buds being eaten, which is why they’ve been used to describe negative characters! Yet they are vital as the pollinators for our harvests and gardens, as well as the myriad of other jobs they perform for our environment. They’re even edible! (I’m still not convinced!) God has used these humble creatures throughout the Bible to teach us many special things. So He often asks us to ‘consider’, ‘look at’, ‘go to’ – the ant, the lilies, the raven.

“Look at the birds of the air…see how the flowers of the field grow”

Matthew 6:26, 28

We have much to learn.

I recently learned that flies are the primary pollinators of cacao. That changed my attitude toward the annoying fly! I love chocolate. Of course, a fly in my home is still subject to the swat, but I do have a new-found appreciation, nevertheless! Oh, and as for the bee, how sad would it be to not have honey in our world?

Random Groovy Bible Facts – Home taught me some amazing things. One worm, coccus ilicis, or Kermes vermilio, is an insect which, in the female, loses its legs and so is called a worm. It is found on the Kermes Oak, a common shrub in Israel. This ‘worm’, which looks more like a beetle, clings to the tree when it is going to lay its eggs. It clings so tightly that it dies, protecting the larvae. During this time, it produces, or melts into, a crimson gel, which people used to create beautiful dyes for clothing and other articles, like the High Priest’s garments. This gel was only available for three days on the tree for the artisan. What an amazing analogy of Jesus who clung to the cross so we might have life, who shed His blood for our salvation. Then on the fourth day of death the insect forms into a heart shape and becomes waxy and white.

Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they are red as crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

And in the Psalms, David writes in his distress,

“My heart is like wax; it is melted inside my body.”

Psalm 22:14

Such rich imagery. I love how God’s creation teaches us His story, His salvation. Incredible!

Finally, the butterfly. We’ve all learned in school about metamorphosis – a complete transformation – and heard the analogy of our lives becoming new in Christ. How true that is! As we become who God calls us to be, our wings open, like the new butterfly. Instead of crawling, we learn to fly. Sometimes we look like the new butterfly, hanging upside down, flapping its wet wings to dry, while the blood flows through them. Our lives aren’t always perfect, without issues, but we find our life, help, strength in the One who created us. And soon, we take flight and travel from flower to flower, finding nourishment for ourselves while pollinating those around us. Such an amazing picture of how God, our amazing Father, wants to not only provide for us, but use us in bringing life to all around us.

At the beginning of this year, I sensed this picture of transformation, of a butterfly’s wings unfurling, ready for flight. Jesus reminded me to be brave, like the song I sang throughout 2016 when I had cancer the first time. He told me that in this year of a new way of living, I could fly, not crawl. I could be brave and live my best life for God, in this season, whatever it brings. I can live the life of a new creation, made new in Christ, ready to live the transformed life I have been given. How about you?!

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that He has considered me trustworthy, appointing me to His service.”

1 Timothy 1:12

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here.”

1 Corinthians 5:17

Blessings.

Jenni xx

  1. Consider! Take time to learn from nature’s lessons and enjoy the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork.
  2. Listen to a song that makes you brave!
  3. Choose some Scriptures from your studying to believe in, to hold onto, to trust in for your present circumstances. Don’t give up!