Being Born Again Makes an Eternal Difference - 20 October 2017

Louise Gevers

“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable …” 1 Peter 1:23

Born again; a new beginning. Imperishable seed; what an astounding thought!

Not everyone finds this notion easy to grasp, as we see in Nicodemus asking Jesus how a man could return to his mother’s womb; (John 3:4) but how many people have said that they would love to have the chance to start their lives over again, and not make the same mistakes?

True followers of Christ have been born again, not in the physical sense, but spiritually, and have had their lives turned around, some dramatically, as they start again. This radiant new life comes because Jesus provides what was missing – the living water of His Spirit. He says, “...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

It’s all about the water – it must be living! We are born into this world through the perishable seed of our parents for a limited time; but it is through the imperishable seed of the Lord Jesus Christ that we’re born again into eternal life.

From childhood God prepares us to understand this vital concept, and many others, through clues in nature. Who has not been amazed that a beautiful plant grows from a tiny, dry seed, or delighted by the beautiful butterfly that emerges through the life-cycle of the caterpillar? Who has not been depressed to see everything dying without water?

Yet God is at work even in times of drought! I’ve been astounded by the resilience of my garden to the drought we’re experiencing. I’d planted many plants last year and watched in dismay as they started to shrivel, and the grass turned brown and crunchy underfoot due to the shortage of rain and our no longer being permitted to water our gardens. I had even started removing some when, miraculously, a few showers arrived. Amazingly, some that were brown and dry suddenly started sprouting green shoots and revived, while others that were still green produced flowers that I had never seen before! Doesn’t our marvellous Creator always give us hope?

He shows us that what He sees and does is on a completely different level to us. We see the dead shrub; He sees the life potential that a few showers can bring about. We see the dead body being lowered into the ground – He sees the spirit transformed into something beautiful forever!

Prayer: Loving Father, open my eyes to see how truly great You are! Fill me afresh with Your living water that brings me eternal life. Amen

Love Deeply From the Heart to Make a Difference - 19 October 2017

Louise Gevers

“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have a sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

“Love one another deeply, from the heart” is an instruction that applies to each true follower of Jesus, no matter what age we are and no matter where we live. Wherever we are, there will be circumstances that test us in this matter of loving deeply like Jesus did, and although our greatest tests sometimes come from the people we are closest to, what happens in our calling can also test the sincerity of our  faith.

I have always admired missionaries who go to unknown places to take the Gospel to people who have never heard the name “Jesus” and have never known the joy of possessing the Living Word, the bible. Missionaries must have their faith challenged severely at times in the difficult circumstances of having to live far away from home, and giving of their very best for Jesus while getting used to different cultures and climates.

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot first met at college in America and served as missionaries in different parts of Ecuador for five years before becoming engaged, and later married there. Their work was to bring the Gospel to the savage Auca tribes, however, in an attempt to evangelise an unreached tribe, Jim and four fellow missionaries were killed, through a misunderstanding, by the people they were trying to reach, leaving behind Elisabeth and their ten month old baby, along with the other missionary wives.

Elisabeth and the other wives proved the sincerity of their love and obeyed Jesus’ words, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Matthew 5:44 By deciding to stay and work with the tribes that killed their husbands, and after serving them for a few years, they won over to Christ the people who had killed their husbands. What an amazing act of grace that was!

For Corrie Ten Boom “obeying the truth” in order to “have a sincere love” allowed her to forgive the guard at Ravensbruck, a concentration camp, where she and her sister had been imprisoned and freed her to “love (him) deeply from the heart.” http://www.familylifeeducation.org/gilliland/procgroup/CorrieTenBoom.htm

This doesn’t come naturally; it is evidence of the Divine. It can only happen once we have come to God, have been forgiven by Him and are set free that we can forgive others and love them sacrificially. 

Prayer: Loving Father, we see how wonderfully You work when we obey your Word and how you can bring hope out of darkness. Shine Your light into my heart and transform my understanding so that I can love deeply, just as You do. Amen.

Wedergeboorte maak 'n ewige verskil - 20 Oktober 2017

Louise Gevers

Julle is immers weergebore, nie uit verganklike saad nie, maar uit onverganklike saad: …" 1 Petrus 1:23

Weergebore; 'n nuwe begin. Onverganklike saad; watter verstommende gedagte!

Nie almal vind hierdie begrip maklik om te verstaan nie. Nikodemus het byvoorbeeld vir Jesus gevra hoe 'n man vir 'n tweede keer in sy moeder se skoot kan kom (Johannes3:4). En hoeveel mense sê nie dat hulle graag 'n kans sou wou hê om hulle lewens oor te begin en dan nie dieselfde foute te maak nie?

Ware volgelinge van Christus is weergebore, nie in die fisiese sin nie, maar geestelik, en in hierdie nuwe begin word hulle lewens verander, soms op 'n dramatiese wyse. Hierdie skitterende nuwe lewe kom net omdat Jesus dit wat ontbreek voorsien – die lewende water van sy Heilige Gees. Hy sê: " … maar wie van die water gedrink het wat Ek hom sal gee, sal in alle ewigheid nooit dors kry nie. Nee, die water wat Ek hom sal gee, sal in hom 'n fontein wees met water wat opborrel en vir hom die ewige lewe gee.” (Johannes 4:14)

Dit handel alles oor water – dit moet lewende water wees! Ons word in hierdie wêreld gebore deur die verganklike saad van ons ouers, slegs vir 'n beperkte tydperk; maar dit is deur die onverganklike saad van Jesus Christus dat ons weer gebore word, vir die ewige lewe.

Van kindsbeen berei God ons voor om hierdie belangrike konsep te verstaan, soms deur leidrade in die natuur. Wie was nog nie verwonderd oor 'n welige plant wat uit 'n klein, droë saadjie groei nie, of oor die pragtige skoenlapper wat voortkom uit die lewensiklus van 'n ruspe? Wie van ons was nie al depressief wanneer ons sien hoe alles sonder water doodgaan nie?

En tog is God aan die werk, selfs in tye van droogte! Ek is verstom oor die gehardheid van my tuin in hierdie droogte wat ons tans ondervind. Ek het verlede jaar baie plantjies geplant en moes hartseer toekyk hoe hulle verdroog, en die gras het droog en bruin geword as gevolg van die tekort aan reën en die feit dat ons nie langer ons tuine mag natlei nie. Ek het selfs begin om plante te verwyder, toe ons wonderbaarlik 'n paar buie reën gekry het. En daar begin van die verdroogde plante skielik groen blaartjies uitstoot en die wat nie heeltemal verdor was nie het begin blom, sommige vir die eerste keer! Hoe wonderlik dat ons Skepper altyd vir ons hoop gee!

Hy wys ons dat dit wat Hy sien en doen op heeltemal 'n ander vlak is as wat ons dinge sien en doen. Ons sien die dooie struik, Hy sien die lewenspotensiaal wat 'n paar buie reën kan bring, Ons sien die dooie liggaam wat begrawe word – Hy sien die siel wat verander is in iets mooi vir die ewigheid!

Gebed: Liewe Vader, open my oë dat ek kan sien hoe groot U is! Vul my opnuut met u lewende water wat aan my die ewige lewe skenk.  Amen

Hê mekaar van harte en vurig lief om 'n verskil te maak - 19 Oktober 2017

Louise Gevers

Noudat julle julle in gehoorsaamheid aan die waarheid gereinig het om mekaar as broers ongeveins lief te hê, moet julle mekaar dan ook van harte en vurig liefhê.  1 Petrus 1:22

Om mekaar van harte en vurig lief te hê, is 'n opdrag wat betrekking het op elke ware volgeling van Jesus, ongeag ouderdom of waar jy woon. Waar ons ons ook al bevind, daar sal altyd omstandighede wees wat ons vermoë sal toets om soos Jesus van harte en vurig lief te hê. En alhoewel die grootste toets soms kom van diegene wat die naaste aan ons is, is hierdie opdrag ook 'n toets vir die opregtheid van ons geloof.

Ek het nog altyd sendelinge bewonder wat na onbekende plekke gaan om die evangelie te gaan verkondig aan mense wat nog nooit die naam "Jesus"gehoor het nie en wat nog nooit die vreugde geken het om die lewende woord, die Bybel, te besit nie. Sendelinge moet seker by tye ernstige geloofsuitdagings ondervind in moeilike omstandighede waar hulle ver van die huis af is, en om dan nog, terwyl hulle gewoond moet raak aan verskillende kulture en klimaatsomstandighede, steeds hulle beste vir Jesus te gee.

Jim en Elisabeth Elliot het mekaar tydens hulle kollegejare in Amerika ontmoet en toe vir vyf jaar as sendelinge in verskillende dele van Ecuador gewerk voordat hulle verloof geraak het, en later daar getroud is. Hulle werk was om die evangelie aan die wrede Auca stam te verkondig. In 'n poging om hierdie ongekerstende stam te evangeliseer, is Jim en vier ander sendelinge as gevolg van 'n misverstand vermoor deur die mense wat hulle wou bereik. Elisabeth, hulle baba van 10 maande en die ander sendelinge se vroue is agtergelaat.

Elisabeth en die ander vroue het hulle opregtheid bewys deur gehoorsaam te wees aan die woorde van Jesus: "Julle moet julle vyande liefhê, en julle moet bid vir dié wat vir julle vervolg." (Matteus 5:44) Hulle het besluit om by die stam wat hulle mans vermoor het, te bly. Na 'n paar jaar van onbaatsugtige diens, het hulle die mense wat hulle mans vermoor het, vir Christus gewen. Watter wonderlike daad van genade was dit nie!

Vir Corrie Ten Boom was dit "gehoorsaamheid aan die waarheid … om mekaar ongeveins lief te hê" wat dit vir haar moontlik gemaak het om die wag van Ravensbruck konsentrasiekamp waar sy en haar suster aangehou is, te kon vergewe en dit het haar vrygemaak om hom van harte en vurig lief te hê.  Lees gerus meer oor haar verhaal van vergifnis: http://www.familylifeeducation.org/gilliland/procgroup/CorrieTenBoom.htm

Hierdie vergifnis kom nie natuurlik nie; dit kom van God. Dit is slegs wanneer ons deur God self vergewe is en vrygemaak is van die sonde, dat ons ander kan vergewe en waarlik liefhê.

Gebed: Liefdevolle Vader, ons sien hoe wonderlik U werk wanneer ons u Woord gehoorsaam en hoe U hoop in 'n donker wêreld kan bring. Skyn u lig in my hart en verander my begrip sodat ek netsoos U van harte en vurig kan liefhê.  Amen

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