Ask, and You Will Receive

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I’ll start by giving you something to do: Read Matthew 7:7-12.
Now, I’ve always had this little niggling fear about those verses. I’ve been afraid that I might once pray for something, and never have my prayer answered. But the minister of my home church explained this in a recent sermon…

Today I am guest posting on Danella’s blog, Footprints in the Sand. Click here to read the rest of the post 🙂

Did you watch Ken Ham debating Dr Bill Nye yesterday? You can still watch the debate at debatelive.org. And this afternoon at 2 NZT, Ken Ham and Dr Georgia Purdom will be discussing the debate. (You can see it here.)

One more thing – today it is 174 years since the Treaty of Waitangi was signed! There is a lot of controversy about the signing, translation and meaning of the Treaty. I have read, and can recommend, The Great Divide, by Ian Wishart. I don’t agree with absolutely everything he says, but definitely good reading on the topic of early New Zealand History.

In Christ,
Rhoda

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The Call to Personal Reformation

I’ve heard many times the challenge to be a real Christian. Not just an I’ve-said-a-little-prayer ‘Christian’, but a true Christ-follower, who knows her Lord and Master, and strives to serve Him with a joyful heart.
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Our family recently attended a baptism at a local church to which we have several connections. But since then, I’ve promised myself to avoid that church like the plague, and here’s why: During a ‘message’, a lady gave this call to the congregation: “Don’t just be a good Anglican, saying and doing all the right things. We must be true followers of Christ.” This was hard to take, as many present we knew to be just that, “good Anglicans.” I don’t know what they were thinking as they sat there. But it didn’t seem to go very deep, because they all went to the kneeling rail for Communion.

Just saying a little prayer, or answering an altar call, or going to church
can’t make you a Christian. We were all dead in our sins, and only God can change that. And He does!

He has saved us, and we should rejoice in that. And we’re completely safe and dry. But we’ll never, in this life, be able to say “I’ve made it. Now that I belong to God, I do everything I can for Him.”  Well, you don’t, do you?

No matter who you are, where you live, or how old you are, there is always more work to be done. We don’t live our lives triumphantly, holding with uplifted arms the cup, the prize we’ve won. No. Instead, we press on toward the prize (Phil 4:13). There’s always more to be done. We can always be more humble. More obedient. More Christ-like. We can always be Reforming.

…He must increase…
…and I must decrease…

Dwelling in the Love of God

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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

Treasure God’s Name, Part Two

white flower“I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:2

“Oh Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth, who have set your glory above the heavens!” Psalm 8:1

“Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. The Lord is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.” Psalm 113:2-4

So, last week in Treasure God’s Name, Part One, I wrote about being wary of misusing God’s name. In contrast, His name must be viewed with reverence and awe.

A name is a reflection of a person’s character. God gave Himself the name ‘I AM’. This indicates His eternal being, He who was and is and will be, forever. God’s name is clearly to be regarded as precious. It is strong, sparkling, a precious stone. It is a privilege to use it. A privilege which must not be abused.

Use God’s name to worship Him. Read one of the many Psalms which extol the glories of the Lord.

Use God’s name with awe at His Majesty, and His creation.

Use God’s name with thankfulness that He has allowed us to speak to Him through His Spirit!

Finally, use it with joy. Because you are His child, you know Him, and He has forgiven you your sins!

Treasure God’s Name, Part One

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” Deuteronomy 5:11

“And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.” Leviticus 24:16

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

I would like to encourage each of you to watch yourselves carefully, as to
how you think of His name,
how you represent it,
and how you respond when others abuse it.

Being constantly in prayer can be dangerous if we forget who it is we are praying to. If you are always thinking “God, please may this matter go well for me,” and not remembering exactly who you are talking to, that could be blasphemy. It may be effectually praying to yourself, if you are only thinking of yourself.

As children of God, whose citizenship is in heaven, we are ambassadors of Christ. Anything that we do as Christians can be seen by others as representing God and His church in general. Our actions will be a good witness for Christ. Or, they can send the message that being a Christian is nothing special, that God doesn’t care what we do. We must be a good and faithful reflection of God.

What should we do when someone misuses God’s name? Well, we are not to be silent bystanders, for then it would be as if we were joining in the crime. Instead, we should speak up! Say, ” Excuse me, but do you realize what you’ve just said?” “I can’t allow the blaspheming of God’s name to go past me without saying something.” The dishonouring God’s name is not something to be overlooked.

Coming soon: Treasure God’s Name, Part Two!