IS GOD SPITEFUL?

There is a story in the Bible about Jesus and a fig tree.

His unfairness towards this fig tree has always troubled me.

I don’t want to serve a God who makes fig trees die out of spite just because they don’t have fruit on them when He wants fruit.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.….In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig-tree you cursed has withered! “Have faith in God” Jesus answered” (Mark 11)

Working on the premise that God is a God of love and does not do things out of spite, I finally researched this portion of Scripture.

I, discovered that God often does or allows things that make no sense to us BUT there is always a purpose, based in love, for what happens to those of us who put our trust in Him.

Fig trees are a source of food in Israel and it takes three years from the time they are planted to when they bear fruit. The figs are harvested twice a year – in late Spring and early Autumn. It was early Spring when Jesus walked past this fruit tree and the leaves should only have been beginning to bud.  This tree, however, was full of leaves. Figs grow as the leaves grow and as there was no fruit it meant that the tree would not produce any fruit that year.

If we are not living in the fullness of God we are like that fig tree.  We are called to bear much fruit If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

If we are not bearing fruit we are spiritually barren and we will wither and die.God warns us about this in Revelations 3:16:

“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

 This tree symbolises God’s immense love for us, His desire that we live our lives to the fullest in Him.  It is a reminder that if we are not producing fruit we are dying.

So, the next time something happens that makes me doubt God’s love, I will reflect on the fig tree.  Either I am not bearing fruit or He has a wonderful plan that I am not privy to at this moment so I will just continue to do what Jesus said and “have faith in God”.

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MARRIAGE ADVICE FROM WINSTON AND CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL!

Mrs. Clementine Churchill, right, laughs heartily as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill talks at Chigwell, England, during his election campain, May 27, 1945. (AP Photo)

One of the best ways to prepare yourself for marriage is by studying married couples.  One couple that has always inspired me are the Churchill’s.

Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.  He also won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 and was the first of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States.

And yet, despite all these achievements, he maintained the following:

“My ability to persuade my wife to marry me was quite my most brilliant achievement…”

Churchill was born in Blenheim Castle in Oxfordshire and it was here that he proposed to Clementine. He said:

“At Blenheim I took two very important decisions: to be born and to marry.  I am content with the decision I took on both occasions”.

Judging by the divorce rate in the world today there are far too few husbands who echo those sentiments.

Pride in persuading their wife to marry them and a feeling of contentment in said marriage!

Winston and his wife, Clementine, were married for fifty-six years and had five children.    The couple stayed true to the marriage vows they took in 1908 “till death us do part” as their bond was only broken by Winston’s death in 1965.

In a letter that Winston penned to Clementine in 1935, twenty-seven years into their marriage, he said this:

Time passes swiftly, but is it not joyous to see how great and growing is the treasure we have gathered together, amid the storms and stresses of so many eventful and to millions tragic and terrible years?

They had lived through one World War and were on the brink of a second World War and yet he took pride in the fact that their marriage was a growing treasure.

They had some wonderful advice to give married couples.

His advice “If you are going through hell, keep going”.

(…suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character and character hope. – Romans 5:3,4)

Clementine’s advice was to feed your husband well and to write down anything that was contentious and hand it to the other person so that they could consider it before responding.  We, wives, could learn a lot from Clementine.

“If you find yourself in competition with men,” she said, “never become aggressive. She who forces her point may well lose her advantage. You will gain far more by quietly holding to your convictions. But even this must be done with art and above all with a sense of humour.”

(“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1)

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A HUGE COLLISION BETWEEN MAN AND GOD

The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ.  The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened.  But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.  (Oswald Chambers)

How can we doubt God’s love?

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HE WILL SEE US THROUGH…

Jesus loved us enough to go through the agony at Gethsemane followed by the agony of hanging on a cross because He loved us then and He loves us now.
He knew then just how much we would sin, time and time again, but He still went through with God’s plan because He loves us.
Hold onto that thought when you feel you are not worthy and your world is in pain.

UNDER A JUNIPER TREE

SAM_0869

Whatever you may be going through at the moment, hold onto this promise from God:
“…He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us…”

He will deliver us from our circumstances in His time.
“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

If it feels like He is taking His time and you just cannot continue:

  • living in the circumstances you are living in
  • staying in the relationship you are in
  • struggling with an addiction
  • crying because of the wrong choices and harmful behaviour of your children
  • mourning a loved one

Remember then these words:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them – your circumstances – for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

2 Cor 1:10…

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MY FAITH IS SO FICKLE

I have spent the past few weeks questioning God and being angry.

I have spent the past twenty years praying about something and not receiving any solution.

I have spent the past year and a half praying about something else, and am yet to receive an answer, and in the past few months I have had another prayer request that God may or may not answer as I have asked!

Faith is not a feeling – it is an act of our will.

In every situation and circumstance we need to pray ‘let your will be done, Lord’. And then we need to thank Him and trust that He does hear us. Often it will not be the outcome we want, at other times there will be no outcome and it is then, in that moment, that hour, that year even if our hearts are heavy, that we need to cling to Him through the despair.

“Faith is not intellectual understanding; faith is a deliberate commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ, even when I can’t see the way ahead.”  Oswald Chambers

It is in my darkest times that God speaks to me – I am coming to value these times of doubt and fear because these are the times that I am at my most vulnerable and open to hear from Him. I make Him a priority again, spend more time reading the Bible and praying and then realization dawns, once again, how fickle my faith really is.

Today I am resetting my priorities according to His will, yet again.

I am His dearly beloved child and as I repent and seek Him, He will reveal Himself to me in His time.

The painting above is titled ‘conversations unspoken’.  I found it poignant and a reflection of so many of us.

Conversations unspoken with the ones we love

Conversations unspoken with strangers

Conversations unspoken with God

A vast majority of us live in our own worlds, shrouded in fear and worry and silence…ignoring the words that Jesus spoke:

“”Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

““The LORD your God is in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”  (Zephaniah 3:17)

Just for today I will rest in the knowledge that it does not matter whether my prayers are answered or not it only matters that Jesus is. I will live the words of The Serenity Prayer:

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will 

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‘IS ANYTHING TO HARD FOR GOD?’

“Is anything too hard for God?”
“Is what I am going through at the moment too hard for God?” “Is this relationship that I am having such difficulty with, too hard for God?” “Is this addiction or habit that I am struggling with, too hard for God?” “Is this marriage that seems beyond saving, too hard for God?” “Are my fears and doubts and worries too hard for God?” “Is my lack of faith too hard for God?”

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son”. (Gen 18:13,14)

When God originally told Abraham that he was going to have a son, the Bible says “Then Abraham threw himself down in worship before the Lord, but inside he was laughing in disbelief! “Me, be a father?” he said in amusement. “Me – a 100 years old? And Sarah, to have a baby at 90?”
When Sarah overheard God telling Abraham that they were going to have a son, her reaction was to laugh and say to herself “A woman my age have a baby? And with a husband as old as mine?”

Exactly a year later, Sarah gave birth to a son and they named him Isaac.

In Luke 18:27 Jesus clearly states “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Nothing is too hard for God.

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:5

Are we prepared to take the time and make the effort to ‘delight ourselves in the Lord’?
Are we prepared to take the time and make the effort to read the Bible to discover exactly what His plans are for our lives?
Are we prepared to take the time and make the effort to spend time in prayer with the Lord?
Are we willing to acknowledge that His plans may not be the same as our plans and desires and wants?

Is anything too hard for God?
The answer lies within us.

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WHY?

One of the most common words used in the English language must be the word WHY?

Why did this happen?  What purpose does it serve?

Most of us struggle with the question of ‘why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”  Incredible that at the time of writing this, my then 12 year old daughter, came into my office and read me an essay she had written.  The title was “Why?” I listened in amazement as my child verbalized this age-old question.

“Why? Why would God make the world if He knew that it would be destroyed?  Why would He make the world if life, for some people, would be filled with pain, loneliness and hurt?’  Her essay continued to echo this question passed down through the ages.

Often, the answer to that question has nothing whatsoever to do with God.  It is to do with bad decisions a government or country has made, or wrong choices our parents made or the consequences of our own wrong doing.

God created us to have a relationship with Him.  He gave us freedom of choice. He did not want robotic creatures unable to have a relationship or interact with Him.

I heard the following story the other day and it highlighted for me the verse “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”. (Romans 8:28)

There was a king who had a devoted servant.  This servant loved the Lord and was continually praising God for His goodness.  The king and the servant went hunting one day and a lion attacked the king.  The servant managed to fight the lion off but, alas, the king lost his index finger.  The lion had managed to bite it off!  The king was really upset and what made it worse was the fact that the servant told him he should be grateful to God for sparing his life.  All the king could think of was the pain and the fact that his finger was missing. He could not believe that his servant was praising God for this so he had the servant thrown into jail.  A few days later the king went hunting and was captured by a tribe who offered human sacrifices to their gods.  The king was bound and laid on an altar in preparation for the sacrificial ritual to begin when the tribe suddenly noticed that he had a finger missing.  This caused great consternation as it was forbidden to sacrifice anyone who was ‘incomplete’. They cut his cords and allowed him to go free.  When he finally made it back to his village, the first thing he did was to go straight to the jail and set his servant free.  He explained to the servant that if it had not been for the missing finger he would be dead. The servant then proceeded to give all thanks and glory to God!  The king listened for a little while and then posed this question, “If your God is so good and amazing WHY did He allow you to be thrown into jail?”  The servant replied, “Because, my king, if I had been hunting with you, I too would have been captured. And when they discovered that you had a part missing I would have been sacrificed in your stead!  Thank God I was in jail!”

We have no idea what the future holds and our time here on earth is very short compared to eternity! If we accept Jesus as our Saviour we will be spending eternity with God and the things that we experienced here on earth will fade into insignificance.

“Measure not God’s love and favour by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof”.   Richard Sibbes

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