Wednesday, November 23, 2011

See what great love...

The other night, while giving Adira her bath, I was just overwhelmed by how much I love this little baby of ours.... I told her how much her daddy and I love her and then how much God loves her. I started singing "Jesus loves you this I know...." and started crying. I know He loves her so much more than I do but heard Him whisper to me, "the love you have for Adira gives you just a glimpse of the love I have for you, Renate."

The tears of course flowed even more, then. I know that I am loved, amazingly enough, by the God of the universe but that night, I experienced the love of my heavenly Father, again, in a way I hadn't for a while.

1 John 1.3 (NLT) says, "See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children..." In the NIV the word 'lavish' is used to describe how God loves us. Lavish means "to expend or give in great amounts or without limit". This is how God loves me. This is how God loves Adira. This is how God loves you!

As I write this, I am reminded that I have been praying that I would experience more of God's love, praying for myself and others Paul's prayer for the Ephesians (Eph 3.14-21). God is answering.

How have you experienced God's love lately?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bringing God Joy

Do you ever find yourself thinking about what's next? Wondering about what the next thing is that God might have in store for you?

I have been thinking about those things lately. My husband and I spend alot of time investing in the lives of young people in our community, helping them to encounter and journey with Jesus. I've been wondering and asking "is this all there is"? I find myself thinking that there's more I could do for God - bigger and better things. Does God see my life the same way?

Reading Matthew recently I was struck anew by God speaking about Jesus as Jesus was being baptised by John: "This is my Son who brings me joy." (Matt 3.17) God the Father, pleased with God the Son – retrospectively.

Here's what I mean: It seems as though it wasn’t that God was just pleased with Jesus at that moment, for being baptised that day, but that his life up to that point, had been pleasing to God.

Jesus pleased God. Not much is said about the 22 years between Jesus in the temple (Luke 2.41-50) and then Jesus starting his ministry, apart from a few verses that talk about the fact that Jesus “grew in stature” (Luke 2.52), he honoured his parents and became a carpenter. And yet, God was pleased with him.

The ‘before’, equipped Jesus for the future. Jesus pleased his Father in the ‘small’ things - honouring his earthly parents, walking with God daily, the way he faithfully did his work as a carpenter - before he was entrusted with the ‘big’ – before being pointed to as 'the One'...

I find this challenging as I look for the next thing or the 'big thing' that God wants for me and yet he asks me to be faithful with the small things - the everyday stuff. God asks me to be faithful with how I look after what and who he has entrusted to me today - my gorgeous daughter, my time, my money, the youth in our community... I need his help to see that really, the things I consider to be small or perhaps mundane or what others may overlook, may just be the big things God is needing me to be faithful with today and may also be the things that equip me for the next thing he's bringing my way.

We must please God in the ‘every day’ before the ‘big’ or the specific ministry task. We must be faithful with the small before being entrusted with more... (Matthew 25.21)

I want to bring God joy. I want to be faithful like Jesus was in those years when no one pointed to him as 'the One', when he was busy being about his fathers' business - his earthly and heavenly fathers. If others don't see, what does it matter? God sees and asks us to be faithful. I want to hear "this is my daughter, she brings me joy"...

What are the 'small' things God might be asking you to be faithful in today?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Voluntary Worship

Today I read Ps 54.6: “I will sacrifice a voluntary offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.”

What stood out was the voluntary part – this offering was not an obligation or a ‘have to’. The offering was voluntary, chosen by the psalmist, in the midst of circumstances that were tough.

This Psalm starts with David asking God to rescue him from those attacking him but it ends with David praising God for rescuing him from his troubles.

Is this faith or hindsight? Is David praising God in faith, knowing God will answer?

I think David is praising God in faith but also knowing that God has answered before and he knows who God is – worthy of praise.

I want to have that faith and joy. I don’t want to feel like I ‘must’ praise and worship God but that I will voluntarily do so. I want to be able to choose to worship God even in the midst of tough circumstances, knowing that God will answer and has before and because he is worthy and he is good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Enlarge my heart

God has been challenging me for a while now to enlarge my heart.

I am an introvert and by nature, am quite solitary and inward-looking. I prize my space and time alone. I need time apart from others, with God, in order to be refreshed and to be able to cope with the rest of what goes on in my life.

God has been calling me to make more room for others. He has been calling me to make more room for those in my community who don't know him; to make room for those I don't know but who need someone to fight for them, to speak for them, to love them.

Prov 31.8-9 says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”

James 2.14-17 “ without deeds is dead...”

Prov 31.20 “She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.”

Who are those in my life or who have been brought to my attention that need me to speak up for them, to ensure they get justice? Maybe they are those being oppressed and exploited in my city or in far-off lands.

Who are the poor and needy that I can extend a helping hand to? Maybe they’re those in my church, my workplace, my community.

I cannot say “it’s not my problem”. If God has opened my eyes to a need, perhaps he wants to meet it through me.

You may wonder what one person can do but we can listen to God. We can speak, act, live in obedience. God will move and hearts and lives will be transformed.

My prayer: Keep opening my eyes, Lord. Enlarge the territory of my heart. Bring freedom...

[Through organisations like Watoto and The A21 Campaign, God has opened my eyes and many others' to those who need our help and ways to help them. If you hear God calling you to enlarge your heart but don't know where to start, look at the needs around you in your local community, gather others together and see how you might be able to meet them. You could also check out the above websites and see what God is doing and how you might be able to get involved.]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I love journalling. I have been keeping journals for years and it's one way I keep a record of what God is saying and doing in my life and what he is wanting me to share with others.

Another thing I have done for many years is that I have kept prayer boxes. A friend read a book once where the heroine in the story kept prayer boxes - a smaller box inside a larger one - to record her prayers and the answers God gave. One Christmas, my friend gave me a gift of two boxes so I could do the same.

I keep a small notepad and pen in the small box where I write prayer requests. As God answers, I place the answers in the bigger box which becomes my praise box. I love going through the box and being reminded of all that God is doing and has done.

Throughout the Bible, God gives us reminders to 'not forget' and to 'remember' what he has done so we won't turn away from him when circumstances change - either for the better or for the worse.

We see so many times how the Israelites 'forgot' and turned away from God almost the minute things changed for them. They rejoiced when God brought them out of Egypt and yet complained as soon as they knew the Egyptians were after them. They rejoiced when God brought them through the Red Sea and their enemies were destroyed but complained when things became difficult in the wilderness. They worshipped God but then built a golden calf and worshipped it when Moses had spent 'too long' with God on the mountain.

How many times did the Israelites forget and turn away from God even though he’d brought them out of Egypt, protected and fed them in the wilderness, gave them victory as they took possession of the land God was giving them?

We read about the Israelites and wonder how they could turn from God when he has done so much for them and yet, are we really all that different? How many times do we doubt God in our trials or in our ‘wilderness’ and forget his goodness, his promises? Do we 'forget' when things are going so well we don't 'need' him?

Why do we need to remember? – So we don’t turn away when circumstances change or are difficult; so we won’t get proud when success comes; so we can share with others including those who come after us - the next generation - so they will walk with God.

Deuteronomy 8 warns against forgetting and sends out a call to remember and obey : v6-18 “So obey the commands of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills…It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today…Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfil the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” (NLT)

In this case, God wants us to remember him in the good times - knowing that he is the one who provided, who brought us through, who sustains us. We didn't do that on our own.

Psalm 77.18-19 (NLT) says, “O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.”

Here, we're reminded to remember all that God has done and to share it with those coming after us so they too 'remember' and follow God and don't turn away.

I love looking back on what God has said and done in my life. I love sharing those things as well as seeing lives change and others go on to remember and share what God is doing for them too. I guess this blog is a part of that journey.

My husband calls my journals and my prayer boxes, my 'paper or wooden altars'. So many times in the Old Testament, when God has done something amazing for his people, they erected stone altars (a pile of stones in the place where the thing occured) as reminders for them and for all who would come after them. I guess my journals and my prayer boxes are like that - a place where I can go and remember who God is and all he's done and then worship him.

What do you do to 'remember'?