The Big and the Little

Big vistas are spectacular, filling our hearts with joy and wonder, drawing us closer to our Creator. Things in our heart just seem to settle when we see the big picture, giving us hope for the things that trouble us. Times of beauty, inspiration and rest help our minds let go of tension. Creativity is sparked, peace gets a foothold, relationships can grow. Many of us in lockdown are appreciating the beauty in our own backyards as we escape the four walls to find some balance to our unnatural circumstances.

Then there are the little things. They give perspective to the large. I mean, what is ‘large’ if you have nothing to compare it to?

I was wandering in my garden looking at the winter flowers, the dainty, yet so intricate beauty. It gave meaning to the whole. It taught me to honour the ‘small’ in its place, giving contrast and dimension. There’s power in the small things.

“If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

Luke 16:10 (NLT)

When I was unwell in 2016 I was so encouraged by all the little things people did for me. Flowers, visits, gifts, meals, cards, even a hand embroidered gift. And of course, all the prayers and encouraging words sent to me as people surrounded me with faith. It taught me that the little things we do are so valuable in touching another’s life.

“And to one he gave five talents… So when he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'”

Matthew 25:15-21

Talents were amounts of money, in this case entrusted to his servants to use for his benefit. In this parable, the lord is just as pleased with the faithful servant of two talents as he is with those who had five talents, v22-23. It’s not how much we have that is important, but what we do with what we have been given by God, to use, invest and work with, for His Kingdom.

I was changing the battery inside a clock recently that had been given to our family by two young men from America whom we had hosted. They had come to bring the Gospel to young people through music. Kurtis and Chris had inscribed inside the back, thanking us and reminding us of our small part in changing the lives of many young people. They performed eighteen concerts in eleven days reaching hundreds of students. 271 of those precious young people gave their hearts to the Lord. Our part was small – some bedding on the floor, meals around the table, the craziness of our large family and marshmallows around the fire pit. And yet our small part was important. It was part of the whole picture so that young people could hear about Jesus.

We see this in the Bible: women following Jesus, taking care of His needs, and Joseph of Arimathea risking his position as a member of the high council to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body so he could lay Him to rest – Mark 15:41-46; the Shunamite woman who created an upper room for the prophet, Elisha – 2 Kings 4:8-10; the financial support given to Paul by the Philippians, as he taught them the gospel and then travelled elsewhere to continue in ministry – Philippians 4:5.

Sometimes it feels like there is little we can do. The problems of our world seem so big. We don’t feel we can make a difference. But we can. No one could take away the cancer in my body, but they could surround me with love and care and encouragement. The impact of all those little acts of kindness was so profound. Our small acts of love, generosity, obedience, forgiveness, acceptance, help, and hospitality are vital in these days!

You have been given something from God to work with, to invest, to make a difference in someone’s life here on earth. And such joy that brings. To the person you bless, to Jesus, to you. Your little adds to the beauty and wonder of the big picture.

“Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.”

Philemon 1:7 (NLT)

Blessings. Jenni x

The Path

“Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established.”

Proverbs 4:26

I’ve been contemplating how we see ourselves, how we see God. Why we walk the path we’re on. Do we get our perceptions from our experiences, our upbringing, our own self-talk? Do we interpret God through the eyes of pain, anger or doubt, or wonder and creation, the birth of a baby? It’s important to know why we think what we think, in case it’s wrong!

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.

Psalm 14:1

I don’t personally know many people who really don’t believe that God exists, and yet not all are following Him. Some complain about Him, or ask curly questions. Some have been hurt and so doubt His love for them. Others feel God is too distant to need to be in relationship with Him. Some feel you shouldn’t be too serious about religion, while others have just forgotten, or never knew, that they truly need Him, and He truly wants us!

Jesus speaks to us in the parable of the Sower about the ways we hear and respond to His Word. It gives us some clues, too, to know how we can help others receive the Good News! I’ll start with the path. I’ll look at the other places in later posts.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.”

Luke 8:5

“This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”

Luke 8:11-12

Whenever you speak, live, or express God’s love and His word to others, it is planted in their heart (even the path-seed which is then taken ‘from their hearts’ by the devil). This is encouraging to me. Whatever I do to tell people about Jesus is a seed that gets planted in their hearts. We know that when seed is sown into good soil, and is tended with sun and water, plants grow and produce fruit, vegetables, flowers, crops. So, how do we turn path-seed into productive seed?

Paths are walked on, over and over, making the soil hard under foot, creating a way forward that is easily followed by many. Hearts that have been trodden on, hurt or broken become hard. Hearts that choose rebellion and stubbornness toward God become hard. Some hearts are just walking the path they’ve always known, not thinking if it’s the best way. Some hearts don’t like change, fear the unknown. Sometimes I have a hard heart.

God gives us choice. He is a kind, loving God that doesn’t force our hand.

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life…”

Deuteronomy 30:19

We can’t make people choose Jesus, but we can help them with their decisions. We can pray that their broken heart is healed by the God of love. We can show them a better path by living our best life, in being kind and forgiving, loving our enemies, not judging, being generous, lending without expectation, trusting God to take care of our every need. (See Luke 6:27-42) We can encourage the down-hearted, supporting them with our love and care. We can pray protection over them and over the word planted in their hearts so that the devil can’t steal it. We can pray that people find a new path to walk, free of the routines and habits and brokenness that lead away from life. We are called to be like Christ –

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…”

Isaiah 61:1

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

How we think about ourselves, and how we think about God makes all the difference in the path we choose to walk, and in the fruit we produce. Let’s make God’s Word our first priority, choosing His Truth as our source of hope, strength, direction and life.

“When you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13

“You visit the earth and give it rain…You saturate its furrows, and soak its plowed ground. With rain showers you soften its soil, and make its crops grow.”

Psalm 65:9-10

Blessings, Jenni xx

Actions

  1. Pray for the people God brings to mind, that He would soften their hearts to hear the Gospel and they would receive it.
  2. Perform a random act of kindness – or not too random! Who can you bless today?
  3. Choose to make the Word of God a priority in your life. Read and enjoy what God speaks to your heart.

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.