To continue the theme of gratefulness, Glenn tells me I must share what we achieved last year through God’s grace.
Here’s some things that come to mind: we worked on our house, built a chicken coup, started reviving the old orchard, and planted an orchard and garden; we did the wedding ourselves; I finally published two of my books, one to raise funds for the Congo ministry; Glenn ministered through preaching at chapels and teaching at the school, and I ministered through teaching in ywam SA, Rwanda and Uganda.
Of course we’ve also been blessed to travel widely, which allowed Glenn to meet many of my family and friends.
Finally we absolutely have to mention our three adorable adopted stray kittens and our chickens.
Thank you to all who shared our 2015 year and those helping care for our house & pets whilst we’re away.
Grateful for His favour in 2016
What comes to mind when I look back on 2016? Here are the highlights:
God gifted us with life this year – a precious baby boy to come in 2017. What greater miracle is there than this ?
God’s financial provision exceeded all expectations – we started the year in Fiji, spent time with my family in Australia, Glenn was able to attend his brother’s wedding in America and I was able to travel to Rwanda to teach as well as to Lesotho for a family trip. He also provided financially for us to renovate our home.
We were also blessed to have time to enjoy our marriage and learn about each other. God has grown us together and continues to draw us closer as we learn what it means to walk as one.
I was able to publish a third book – The Inductive Bible Study Companion; Unlock the Word available via PDF for free by request through Contact page. I was also blessed to welcome a dear friend to our home for three weeks to begin working on children’s books over viewing the Bible story. You know God is at work when you finish three first drafts in three weeks!
Finally, the year ended with direction for the future and release back into ministry – starting in 2017 by moving south to help friends with their church plant.
What are you grateful for from 2016?
I must admit that I like taking time to set a list of goals in the lead up to each new year. I find it fun to look back on what I hoped for the year before, too. My love of introspection might play a role in the enjoyment factor! There is usually two sets of goals – one set about what I want spiritually or feel God calling me to, and another set just things I’d like to do.
This year with baby soon to arrive my whole list is pretty much “subject to motherhood”! But the top three remain important – God first, then Glenn, then baby/our family. But what does this look like? What is it to put God first, and what should I be doing in order to set Him first? It’s a fairly ambiguous goal as simply “God first”.
We currently have some friends staying with us who are pastoring a church. They commented that the outcome of a big pastor’s conference was that Christians grow the most when they read the Bible; that discipleship must start by getting people into His Word. My first reaction was a little judgemental – “Really? They had to have a conference to figure that one out?” But then again, the Word is my passion so of course I’m going to feel that way.
Last night, reflecting on the conversation with friends and my ambiguous goal, I was able to come back to a very simple truth. God has given us two incredible gifts to enable us to walk with Him and draw close with Him. One is His Word, and the other is His Holy Spirit, who dwells in all believers. How blessed we are to have the Spirit and the Word. But it is up to us to read, study, and meditate on the Word. It is also up to us to keep up a connection with the Spirit; a relationship only grows when both sides invest in it.
If you haven’t set a New Year’s resolution yet, or even if you have, I would encourage you to set this as one too: Spend time daily with the Spirit and daily in the Word. Set aside time to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit, and find a study or reading plan that gets you into God’s Word.
May His richest blessings be upon you this year. May He give you strength to persevere through trials, and joy to celebrate achievements and times of abundance.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-17
Word of God
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
It seems strange that a New Year is to signal new strength and new energy, but it does make a good to time to pause and reflect. Tomorrow I am looking forward to settling down to look back on God’s faithfulness through 2012 and pray into what 2013 will hold.
I recently taught on the book of Hebrews and it continues to challenge my mind set and my thinking. It is a book that challenges us towards an eternal perspective and it has been one I am reflecting on since a potentially traumatic and life changing event two days ago.
Two days ago we went for a trip to the beach. We pulled in, to the curb as we arrived to change drivers in order to coordinate parking. When we took off again, the car wasn’t accelerating properly and I wasn’t really sure why, being in the back. The next thing I knew, the car was accelerating, just as the lights ahead of us went red. However, we kept accelerating… and there was a car already at the lights! Our driver couldn’t break and we pulled to the left where we were lined up to hit a petrol tanker! I remember thinking “I wonder if the tank will explode? Ha, well I guess I will discover what it feels like to burn to death after all.” (referring to the torture believers went through at the time of Emperor Nero, when the book of Hebrews was written; see below). It had the strangest peace; I knew with absolute certainty that whatever happened, pain is only temporal, and then we will be with God. What a blessing it is to know the Lord!
But obviously Im writing the story so something else happened . . .
Already we had missed a car and a tanker – 2 objects we should have hit given the close proximity. But next thing I knew, we were heading towards a lamp pole and rubbish bin. Again, we should have hit them, and I still can’t see how we didn’t. I remember thinking “well, at least we’ll stop and a bit of damage to the car is better than hitting the tanker!” – yet we didn’t hit either of them! We went up onto the wide, beach-side pedestrian strip. The front seat passenger calmly reached over and put her hand on the break. The reason we weren’t stopping wasn’t faulty breaks but that the driver couldn’t find them!!! The final miracle = there were no pedestrians at that point on the busy beach-side strip!
I am 100% certain that all of our dodges were miraculous. We had prayed as a school before the holidays began as the Christmas season is a dangerous time to be on the roads here in SA. Thank you Lord!
Reflecting on the incident, I am amazed at the total peace in death that comes from knowing Christ!
– Hebrews 9:11-15
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Historical Background for Hebrews:
It was (probably) written to the church in Rome around 64-65 AD just as the Neronian persecution was heating up. It is assumed that perhaps the congregation being addressed was a small home church of Jewish Christians who were part of a larger church body. Because of the persecution, they were withdrawing from meeting in the larger group, to avoid being associated as Christians.
To be a Christian in Rome during Nero’s reign could get you burnt at the stake, fed to lions in the arena, or used as a human torch to light up the night at one of Nero’s feasts. He was responsible for burning down 3 whole areas and 7 partial sections of the 14 regions of the city of Rome. The populace came to blame him and he used Christians as the scapegoat. Not a nice guy!
The Jewish Christians, however, had a unique temptation to renounce Christianity -> when Nero became Emperor, at the influence of his half-Jewish wife, he allowed the Jews to come back into Rome (they had been exiled under the reign of the previous Emperor, Nero) and placed them under legal protection. To be a Jew was to be safe in a time where being a Christian could get you tortuously killed, and your family.
So the book of Hebrews was written to encourage the original readers to remain firm in their faith and not turn back to a dead religion. The author builds his argument by showing his readers how Jesus is greater than (Jesus>) the things of Judaism: Prophets, angels, Moses, Joshua (superior rest), greater covenant, greater High Priest of a greater priesthood, greater single sacrifice for sins . . . The author also gives a series of warning against apostasy (believers renouncing Christ as Lord, declaring Him not to be God and not to be able to save). In the final 4 chapters the author concludes, essentially, by saying: “Okay, you now know Christ is greater, so this is how you can keep going and are to live in light of that, with an eternal perspective: . . .”
New Year’s Challenge:
Remember to find time tomorrow to reflect on what you have received in Christ, how God has proven Himself faithful through the ups and downs of 2012, and what you are trusting Him for in 2013.
Why not set aside an hour now to reflect on these questions and ask Him for guidance entering into the New Year?
May His blessings rest upon you in 2013!