Rivers of Living Water

In the last few weeks I have listened to three sermons with commonality – all three preachers talked about water.

The first two sermons were read in our church one Sunday. They were both written by pastors in the Reformed Churches of New Zealand. One sermon was on Jeremiah 2:9-13, and the second one was on Romans 1:8-17. The third I heard on RefNet; it was by John Piper.

The first illustration is that God is a spring of living water. He supplies all our needs. From Him flows a fountain of life, love, mercy, and joy. Through Jeremiah, God is saying that the Israelites had this, but they forsook God and made themselves idols. Idols are a lot of work to make and look after! And the other thing – they can give us nothing! They are but cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water. Idols cannot provide life and love, mercy and joy. They are brokenness and deceit, a waste of time and a fraud. There is no-one like God.

The second illustration is about us, the people of God. The way I see it is, when all that cool velvet water of life comes pouring over us, what are we doing with it? We can be a reservoir by trying to keep the water for ourselves, hang on to moments, and live in the past. Or, we can let the water flow through every corner of our lives and on into the lives of other people we know. We can follow Jesus, and strive to be like Jesus.

The Gospel must not stay in my heart. It must flow on like a river.

Thirdly, in John Piper’s sermon “The Pleasure of God in Public Justice” he says

I have a fountain of living water that never runs dry and always satisfies my thirst.

That is Who God is for us. So I encourage you to let the waters of God fill your life and overflow into the lives of other people. Serve God by becoming more like Jesus, and do it all with joy!

Love, Rhoda

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The Necessity of Love

Love Heart in Sand
I’m not going to contribute to the fascinating discussion of the different Greek words for love in the New Testament. I’m just going to start this post right here and say –

Without love, there is no real life. Neither is it loving to end someone’s life.
Killing someone is not love, no matter what the euthanasia campaigners would have us believe. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Love is not taking someone else’s life –  it is giving them yours.

Even if you don’t give your life – if you don’t actually die for your friends, love is still about giving. It’s about forsaking yourself in the interests of others.

Jesus didn’t only love His friends – He loved His enemies. In fact, He even died for them, and  for you. Because you were an enemy of God. But He sent His own Son to reconcile us to Himself  – while we were still His enemies, Christ died for us. Now God even calls us His children!

How much does this say about your love? Is your every thought, word, deed and desire rooted and grounded in love? (Ephesians 3:17) Are you truly a loving person?

We are called to love. And now it’s time – for you. To love your God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength. To love your neighbour as yourself.

Because God is Love.
And He’s commanded it.

With love,
Rhoda

Dwelling in the Love of God

love (2)

On Wednesday, Mum has back pains, side pains,chest pains. She can’t do very much. But life goes on much as usual.

Dwelling in the Love of God

Sunday night, I sit on my bed in the half-dark. I cry to God:
“Papa God, I’m not humble enough. And I don’t try hard enough at anything. Please send me a trial,so that I can grow less prideful through it.”

Monday morning, Mum feels even worse. She rings the doctor’s office to ask for an appointment that afternoon. The receptionist says:
“If you have chest pains, you must immediately ring an ambulance! You might be having a heart attack!” Mum feels that it would be silly to ring the ambulance, when she has been in pain for days. So she walks down to the hospital at 1:30. We are left with instructions to ask Mrs Gonen to come and look after my brothers while I’m at work if Mum hasn’t rung by 2 p.m. She doesn’t ring, so I ring Mrs Gonen. As I wash the lunch dishes, I think: No! Just because I asked for a trial, does that mean that this is my fault? Did I do this to Mum? And the answer is no. My prayer has no power to bring this illness. God allowed it, in His Divine Providence. And  whatever the purposes for which He ordained it, I know that it is for our good. (See Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 1.) So I stand, washing, washing, holding back the tears.

Dwelling in the Love of God

I talk to people on the phone. Dad, Grandma, the Library. There is much to do. I tell myself to stay calm, waiting for Mrs Gonen.

Dwelling in the Love of God

I am late getting to work. I come out the back, into the workroom. My eyes fall upon Julia. I hug her and suddenly I am crying. :
“It’ll be alright. Don’t worry about your mum, she’ll be fine.” I nod, swallowing hard. “You don’t have to work today. You know you can go home.” I shake my head
“No, I’ll stay. I’ll be okay.” I go into the locker room and kneel on the floor. Papa God, do you want me to stay?
I  put on my badge. I am ready.

Dwelling in the Love of God

Wednesday. I am outside the library, in the garage, when Chris calls me.
“Your mother’s on the phone.” I follow him inside. He puts the call to another phone. I sit down. Mum’s been at the hospital for more tests.
“Hello?”
“Hi darling. How’s it going?”
“Okay.”
“Honey, they want me to go down to Dunedin Hospital today, for surgery. The Gonens are coming to take you all out to Kakanui.”
My mind doesn’t have time to process this.
“Okay.”
Mum says she will ring back in a few minutes with more details.
“Okay. Bye Mum.”
After a word to Chris, I head back to the garage. Then it’s back inside to start boxing up some old books.
Soon, Jean asks me to take a break with her. I don’t usually take time in my one-and-one-half hours each day for a break, but since I’ve been asked,  I  agree. In the staffroom, we make our drinks and sit down. Two volunteers join us, talking contentedly. Suddenly, the door opens, and Mum comes in. I jump up, and hug her close.
“Mum, are you okay? What’s happening?”
“The doctors found some stones in my gallbladder, a whole family of them. Mrs Gonen is taking me down to Dunedin soon, so I can have my gallbladder removed.”
I can’t think of anything to say. Mum goes back around the corner to the small local hospital. Jean asks me:
“Do you want to go with her? You know you don’t have to finish work today. Family is more important than the library. Are you sure?”
I’m confused. I shake my head, and we go back to work. People ask me what’s happening, and try to make me feel better. But I know that the only way to be at peace is to be

Dwelling in the Love of God

On the way to the Gonens’, we drive along by the sea. As I watch the waves, the rocks, the seaweed – a lump rises in my throat,and tears spring up in my eyes. I tell myself: This trouble is a wave washing over me, but I don’t need to be worried for anything. I’m secure on the Rock which never moves.

Dwelling in the Love of God

I look at the faces around the dinner table. I tell myself: No matter who I’m eating with, I’m always with Jesus, the One Who never leaves.

Dwelling in the Love of God

Thursday. We wait for the bus. The two little boys stretch our patience. I cannot see the sea. We talk, trying to fill the time. Waiting, waiting for Dad.

Dwelling in the Love of God

Friday. I get up and begin serving my family. Little Mama cleans, and tidies, and washes, and comforts. Then I am myself again as I walk to work. Everyone is lovely, and I cover seven books. Once home, it is time again for Little Mama to appear. Dad and the boys go to tune an organ. Little Mama is busy, making bread dough, washing dishes, and sweeping floors. Home they come, for the lunch kindly provided for us by a sister in Christ. Dad is off to play for a funeral, and the older boys soon follow across the road to the Anglican church. But little Jamie is asleep on the couch, and Little Mama still has plenty to do. When everyone is home, it is time for the long drive to visit Mum in hospital. We drive out to the farm, where Grandma joins us, and all continue southwards.

Dwelling in the Love of God

Our visit is all too soon over. But on the way home, I am busy talking to my Heavenly Father: “Papa God, I wish I could just die. But no! Then who would care for my brothers? Oh Father, it is so hard to be a Little Mama.” I feel the familiar ache, the longing to be at home. Then I realize, “Home is where my family is. Right now, home is here in this car. And, actually, home is where God is. And He is right here with me.” I feel the hand of God on my shoulders, and I am comforted.

Dwelling in the Love of God