The fading flower …

Shortly after my last post where I asked “Who wants to live forever?” my mother passed away.  For most of her life she grappled with the highs and lows of bipolar disease.  She’s free of her demons at last. 

My memories of her when she was bipolar aren’t good, but in between times she had a happy, sunny nature.  And that’s how I want to remember her.

I’ve made a youtube video of the powerpoint I prepared for the funeral, showing scenes from her life, which I and my family feature in.

It’s here if you want to see it.  The music is “Who am I?” by Casting Crowns.

It brings to mind the scripture that God has compassion on us mortals – who are here today and gone tomorrow, just like the grass and flowers.  That’s why Jesus wept at the grief of Lazarus’s sisters.

As a father has compassion on his children
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.”  Psalm 103:13-19

I wasn’t sure of how things were with her and God.  He gave me a story to tell her on the last occasion she had a serious heart attack, which I wrote here.

superscript_seven_u2077_icon_256x256God gave us a sign that she’d gone to be with him.  Seven is the number of rest, and she’d entered his rest, dying at 7pm on the 7th day of the 7th month, aged 77.

He explains about that rest in Hebrews 4;

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest … Hebrews 4:9

I recommend reading the whole passage from Hebrews 4:1-11.

SeriousFaith_ImagesREST

Hebrews 4:1-10 The Promise of Rest

So now I know what can go on my mother’s headstone; “At rest.”  Two simple words that say so much.

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Blessed are the peacemakers

peacemakers

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”  Matthew 5:9

I asked the Lord what he meant by that on my early morning walk today.  

First, he gave me a scripture; God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  Colossians 1:20.

The Lord explained that he was the first peace maker; and when we become his sons and daughters, we become his peace makers.  He reminded me what I’d done with my mother last year.  We never had a good relationship.  But he saw her differently from me.

Here’s my story about making peace.

Shepherds call

Seven years passed.  Healed from the hurt of the past, Joanna went from strength to strength.  But she still had bad memories from her childhood.

One day her mother grew seriously ill.  Joanna approached the Lord, concerned about her mother’s salvation.

“Father, it’s up to you whether she’ll pull through this time. I forgive my mother for all the abuse she heaped on us. She wasn’t able to be a good mother because she was abandoned at the age of three.

Is her name written in your book, the book of life?  She believes in you – but she doesn’t know you. I want to be able to bring her to you, but I can’t reach her. I can hardly go through the four spiritual laws, or walk her down the Roman road.  Lord, how can I get her to trust you? You promised that if we lack wisdom, we should ask. I’m asking.”

albrecht_schenck_shepherd_call

Shepherd’s Call, by Albrecht Schenck

“I will come to her,” He replied, pointing to a painting that her mother used to have; a vintage 1900’s painting called ‘Shepherd’s call’ which depicted a collie barking for the shepherd after finding a lost lamb in the snow.

“Talk about that painting. Ask her who the dog is barking for, and then bring me in. I want her to know she is the lamb …”

“What a brilliant idea. I’d never have thought of that,” Joann replied, impressed. “But I don’t want religion getting in the way. What should I do if it does?”

The Lord gave her an answer for that.

Later Joanna sat at her mother’s side, alone.

“You know that painting of the dog and the lamb you had?” she began.

“Yes, I gave it away,” her mother replied.

“Yes, you did. Remember that lost lamb?”

“The lamb didn’t have a mother,” her mother recalled.

“Yes, that’s right Mum, she didn’t have a mother,” Joanna replied, sad.

“The Lord said for me to tell you that you are that lamb” she said, as soon as she’d gathered her composure.

Tears came to her mother’s eyes.

“Who was the dog barking for?” Joanna asked.

“The shepherd,” her mother eventually answered.

“Did you know the Lord is the Shepherd?” Joanna replied.

More tears came.

Just as Joanna had foreseen, Joanna’s mother talked about religion.

“Mum, do you know what the Bible says true religion is?” Joanna responded.

Her mother shook her head.

“True religion is to take care of widows and orphans,” Joanna replied, giving the answer the Lord had given her.

“I’m a widow,” her mother said.

“That’s right, you are a widow,” Joanna replied, impressed at the Lord’s answer.

“Who is the Lord to you?” Joanna cautiously asked, feeling like the Collie.

Her mother was silent.

“Are you afraid of death?” Joanna asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid of the devil – I don’t want to see him,” she replied.

Joanna introduced the Shepherd.

“Mum, Jesus tends his flock like a shepherd. He looks for lost lambs and he saves them. He wants to carry you in his arms, close to his heart,” she added.

“Who would you like him to be?” she asked, watching her mother’s face.

“My protector,” her mother replied.

“Like a saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother agreed.

“Do you accept him as your saviour?” Joanna asked.

“Yes,” her mother replied, with childlike faith.

“You are saved,” Joanna told her, relieved to see the lamb now cradled in the Shepherd’s arms.

“Now that you have accepted Jesus as your saviour, you need fear no evil in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Lord is your Shepherd, and his rod and staff will comfort you,” Joanna reassured her, remembering her own staff.

That was as much as she could do.

Outside, a piece of rainbow shone out from clouds above the Ruahine mountain range.

That night, her mother sang.

Choose this day …

WChoicee live in a sea of possibilities and choices.  Some choices are bigger than others, for instance who we will marry, or where we will spend eternity.  Sometimes we are the answer to someone’s prayer. 

On Easter Monday we picked up a guy from the side of the road, I’ll call him Shaun.  This guy didn’t have a lot of choices to make at this point of his journey – just stick his thumb out or keep walking north.  He was stuck in the North Island at Easter without any money or transport.

We had a choice to make too.  Should we turn the car around?  We’d gone past him, but 3kms up the road the Lord asked my husband to turn the car around and go get him.  I’m glad we obeyed.  We found out he’d been standing for two hours waiting for a lift, and hadn’t eaten for two days.

While he was sleeping his friend had ditched him at a motel, taking his pack and wallet.  Shaun told us his friend had got onto meth, which he hadn’t known abour prior to their reunion at Easter.  He noticed how much it had changed his friend, and had a bad feeling about it.  The bad feeling hadn’t stopped him being robbed.

choose wiselySomeone at Taupo (the town he’d been stranded at) contacted a church at Tokoroa – a town further north.  The church told him they could help with accomodation until he could get back to the South Island, he just needed to put $40 towards it.  We gave Shaun the $40, plus the food left over from the long weekend, including some Easter eggs.

I asked Shaun if he knew who was helping him, and what Easter was all about.  Shaun didn’t know, so we explained how Christ had died on the cross for our sins.

Click here if you want to know about salvation.

Shaun realised he had a choice to make, and somewhere between Taupo and Tokoroa, he made Christ his Lord.  It’s the biggest and most important choice he has ever made or will make.

If you know you have a choice to make about the Lord, then don’t delay.  It’s getting dark out there.  Choose this day whom you will serve.

Now to the next most important choice, who we will marry.  I chose my first husband, and it didn’t work out.  When I came to know the Lord, I asked Him to choose the next one.  The Lord promised I would remarry, and told me He had a guy already chosen for me.  In the Kingdom I referred to this man as the ‘chosen’, and (after I met ‘Ishmael’) I called him ‘Issac’.

‘Isaac’ had been praying for a wife.  When he arrived in my life seven years later, he believed the Lord had someone else for him.  It tripped me up big time.  Isaac didn’t know he was ‘the chosen’, and I was grumpy and not saying anything.  I expected if I knew about him, it would logically follow he would know about me.  Not necessarily!  Chapter 62 Choosing the Chosen tells the story.

Sometimes we are the answer to someon’e prayer.  Happy choose day!

 

 

The covenant

Abraham's promiseWhen God made Abraham gaze into the night sky, He had stars in his eyes. “He took him (Abraham) outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  Genesis 15

God made a land covenant with Abraham that starry night, promising Abraham a son.  Abraham and Sarah decided to give God a little ‘help’ with that promise, as Sarah was too old to have a child.  Abraham had a son named “Ishmael” through Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden.

Ishmael means ‘God hears’.  Abraham asked for his first born; Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”

 Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.” Genesis 17:17-21

When Sarah laughed, the Lord asked “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14.  Isaac means ‘laughter’.

Ishmael became the father of the Arabs, and Isaac the father of the Jews.  There is emnity between them to this day.  Ishmael’s descendants founded the religion of Islam, and they believe they are the rightful owners of the land of Israel.

I believe that God has not forgotten about Israel.  It states it quite clearly in Romans 11;
1 “Did God reject his people? By no means!
2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.
11 Again I ask: Did they stumble as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!

The Church does not supplant Israel or take her promises.  Romans 11:28 makes it clear that Israel has a separate covenant with God, which still stands.  I love the Jewish people.  How could I not?  Jesus was a Jew.  The church was born in Jerusalem.  In Romans 11:17 it says that Israel is the olive tree, and the ingrafted branch of the Church is nourished from the root of that olive tree.God's Kingdom

 In the New Testament the Apostle Paul explains how Sarah, the mother of Isaac, and Hagar the mother of Ishmael represent two covenants; 

There is the covenant of the law.  God gave us the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai.  Its been a law that none of us can keep. The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The new covenant is provided by Jesus who could keep the law.  He has been the only man born without sin, and He fulfilled the law to save us.

“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.  Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.”  Galalations 4.

Even though Abraham is the father of the Arabs and Jews, and spiritual father of the Christians – we don’t all get along.  How can two walk together unless they are agreed?  I was friends with an Arab man, a Moslem from Iraq.  He wanted more than a friendship, but that I could not give him.  I belong to a different covenant, and I will not bow to Allah.  I encouraged him to return to his wife who had left him (by the way, it had nothing to do with me).  We have remained friends.  In the Kingdom story, his name is Ishmael.  I wondered why had I attracted Ishmael?  Why had my life been a desert?

God wanted me to trust Him.  He told me I was the one who chose the desert, and that is why Ishmael appeared.  I was trusting in myself, rather than God’s promises.

Ishmael always appears first.  Like Abraham, we are told to get rid of the son by the slavewoman, because he doesn’t share in the inheritance God has under the new covenant.

 “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.”  Galations 4:30.

This does not mean that God has forgotten the children of Ishmael.  Jesus has been appearing to many Moslems in dreams.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jhtxqpAQQE

They can and do come to Jesus, and when they make Him Lord they also come under the new covenant.  I believe God had that in mind when He saved Hagar and Ishmael from the desert.  The sons of Ishmael have this in common with the sons of Isaac;   they both have difficulty understanding the new covenant, which began in Jerusalem on the night of Passover;LastSupper2 resized

At the last supper, Jesus took the cup saying  “Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 

I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”  Matthew 26:28-29

The new covenant is available for all who believe and accept Jesus.  Will you believe and drink from the cup the King has provided?  Think about it this Easter.

 

MOST – The Bridge

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Here is a short story for you, for Easter.  No words are said.  It is a Czech film, a moving story of a father forced to choose between love and duty.  MOST is the Czech word for Bridge.  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0345672/

The King’s ransom

The ransomWhy do we need a ransom?  We need it because we are a fallen race, trapped within our sinful nature, and helpless in the face of death.

Look at all the utopian experiments that begin with high aspirations of equality, justice and freedom, and end in bondage, injustice, and inequality, or witness how freedom for one group results in oppression for the other.  All the ‘isms”, and we don’t learn from history.  There’s something wrong!  These are the words of Solomon;

“Absolute futility,” says the Teacher.
“Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”
What does a man gain for all his efforts
that he labors at under the sun?   Ecclesiastes 1:1-4

Even the prophets of the world know it.  I think the band Aerosmith hit the nail on the head with their song “Living on the Edge”;

There’s somethin’ wrong with the world todaycharacter_falling
I don’t know what it is
Something’s wrong with our eyes

We’re seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain’t His
It sure ain’t no surprise

We’re livin’ on the edge
You can’t help yourself from fallin’
People running into holeLivin’ on the edge
You can’t help yourself at all
Livin’ on the edge
You can’t stop yourself from fallin’
Livin’ on the edge

We can’t help ourselves from falling.  Sin is a destructive force, and it has affected all of creation.  Sin gets its power from the law, which points its bony finger at us from Sinai, where Moses got the ten commandments.  We aren’t able to free ourselves from the destructive power of sin.  A price had to be paid to free us, a ransom we couldn’t pay.

Did you know how much a human life is worth?  “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them, the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough so that they should live on forever and not see decay.”  Psalm 49:7-9.  Life is held so cheap in this world, but not to God.  For Him, we are worth a King’s ransom.  Each one of us!

Here’s the King’s ransom; Christ said “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28.

… God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. 1 Timothy 2:5

If you haven’t approached the King to be ransomed, think about it this Easter.

1 Timothy 2

The lost lamb

The lambing beat, Sharon & Jo Dassler

Sharon & Joanne Dassler, back from the lambing beat

There is nothing more endearing than a lamb.  This is me in my earlier life when I lived and worked on our family farm, bringing in a lamb we found next to its dead mother. 

We did a lambing beat each day to check the ewes and bring in any orphans and we were really happy when one was found.  We did our best to search for the little ones and save them.

In the same way the Lord goes out of his way to search for and save us.  Jesus said;

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?

And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.

In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  Matthew 18:14

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40:11 (Old Testament)

This shepherd loved us so much He laid His life down for us.

Jesus said I AM the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  John 10:14-15 (New Testament)