God is on Your Side – He Blesses in Hard Times - 18 October 2019

Louise Gevers

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 KJV

I will always be grateful for the book of Job in the Old Testament, because Job’s story gripped me at a tender age and I pondered it for many years before I came to understand that hardship and suffering could be not only positive, but a blessing. Through his immense personal suffering, the God-fearing Job reached the greatest blessing of all: to know himself and God more intimately – “but now I have seen you with my own eyes” (Job 42:5) - and to hear God’s own words of affirmation of his righteousness. (See Job 42:7-9)

When things seem hard and we feel too small or weak to handle them, this is when we need someone strong on our side that has compassion for us in our plight. Isaiah 40 is a chapter full of comfort from God’s heart that brings encouragement to His people. Hard times are a fact of life and come to everyone in varying degrees at different times, but it’s how we respond to them that makes us or breaks us. Whether we’re out of work, in a toxic relationship, nursing an ill family member, or trying to calm a crying baby night after night, we can be driven to the end of our energy, but that also creates a fertile field for faith to grow.

A preacher I once heard said that faith is only being exercised when a person is in such dire circumstances that he is hanging onto God by the fingernails. It’s then that he is most sensitive to what God is saying to him and most ready to grow in faith. It’s logical that if we have something within easy reach that it takes away the need for faith. Believing actively in something that cannot be seen is faith, because it is the “evidence of things that we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1) and becomes a blessing from God. 

Problems of homelessness, poverty, sickness, divorce, death, addictions, and alienation - to name a few - are also hardships over which we have no control and bring with them despair. Yet whatever our hardship, when we know that the Lord is on our side we can trust in His unfailing love and He will always give us new strength to carry us. “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God; he created all the world. He never grows tired or weary. No one understands his thoughts. He strengthens those who are weak and tired.” (Isaiah 40:28-29) His heart is for His people.

 “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26), so let us cling to God in prayer, dig into His Word and practise obedience and kindness as we wait on Him to bless us.

Prayer: “To you, O LORD, I offer my prayer; in you, my God, I trust. Teach me your ways, O LORD; make them known to me. Teach me to live according to your truth, for you are my God who saves me. I always trust in you.” (Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5) Thank you that you turn my hardship into blessing and my weakness into strength. Amen

God is on Your Side – Be Fruitful - 17 October 2019

Louise Gevers

“Remain united to me, and I will remain united to you. A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it can do so only if it remains in the vine. In the same way you cannot bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.” John 15:4-5 GNT

Last weekend we went apple-picking in the orchard of a nearby farm where I was delighted by the sight of hundreds of apple trees of different kinds in long rows, each one heavily laden with enormous, red, juicy apples such as I’d never seen before. There is something particularly appealing about voluptuous, ripe fruit hanging in all its fullness from the branches of a tree, bringing pride and pleasure to the farmer; so much so that it’s not surprising that Jesus uses the metaphor to describe the abundance of life in Him.

“An ongoing, dynamic relationship”, fairly sums up the state of prayer that we enjoy with God. This takes place as we remain attached to Jesus, the vine, and become rich, well nourished and vibrant because of what He feeds into us by His Spirit; just as a baby in the womb gets vital nourishment from the mother. If the placenta became detached, the baby wouldn’t survive. Cut the branch off the apple tree and the apples would slowly shrivel up. We need to be part of the Vine.

It’s all about relationship; if we only talk to God as a stranger, our conversation is distant and polite, but if we know Him as an intimate friend who knows everything about us, we are able to engage with Him at the deepest level. This doesn’t happen overnight. The key to this relationship is seen in what Jesus says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way you become my disciples.” (John 15:7-9) He will answer our requests because we will know His teachings and will not ask for things that would inhibit His Spirit working in us, which would reflect badly on God. Sometimes we misunderstand this in our desire for a certain outcome for our prayers. In Gethsemane even Jesus prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42)

When we show good fruit in our lives it brings glory to God, and we grow as His disciples. Outside of Jesus we can do nothing of genuine value – our best efforts, without His Spirit, are worthless. Jesus said, “Whoever does not remain in me is thrown out like a branch and dries up”. John 15:6 Have you ever seen fresh fruit on a dry branch?

Yet for those who love others as Jesus loves us, sacrificially, God’s glory will be shown in the fruit of love they bear.

Prayer: Lord, I know that true life means living in You, and that brings fruitfulness that grows through Your Spirit living in me. Thank You that You have promised to remain in me if I remain in You. Amen.

 

 

God is aan jou kant – Hy seën ons in moeilike tye - 18 Oktober 2019

Louise Gevers

maar dié wat op die Here vertrou, kry nuwe krag. Hulle vlieg met arendsvlerke, hulle hardloop en word nie moeg nie, hulle loop en raak nie afgemat nie. Jesaja 40:31

Ek sal altyd dankbaar wees vir die boek Job in die OuTestament. Reeds op 'n jong ouderdom het die boek my aangegryp en ek het dit vir baie jare oordink voordat ek besef het dat lyding en moeilike tye positief kan wees sowel as ook tot seën. Deur sy groot persoonlike lyding het godvresende Job die grootste moontlike seëning ontvang: om homself en God meer intiem te leer ken – "maar nou het ek U self gesien (Job 42:5) – en om te hoor hoe God in sy eie woorde sy geregtigheid bevestig. (Lees Job 42:7-9)

Wanneer dinge moeilik is en ons te klein en swak voel om dit te hanteer, het ons iemand sterk aan ons kant nodig, iemand met deernis vir ons lot. Jesaja 40 is 'n hoofstuk wat baie trooswoorde van God bevat wat sy kinders bemoedig. Moeilike tye is 'n lewensfeit en ons almal beleef dit tot 'n sekere mate op verskillende tye. Dit is egter hoe ons daarop reageer wat ons maak of breek. Of jy nou werkloos is, in 'n moeilike verhouding, 'n siek familielid verpleeg, of probeer om 'n huilende babatjie nag na nag te kalmeer, dit alles kan jou energie tap, maar dit kan ook 'n vrugbare geleentheid bied vir jou geloof om te groei.

'n Predikant na wie ek op 'n keer geluister het, het gesê dat 'n persoon se geloof word slegs geoefen wanneer sy omstandighede so verskriklik is dat hy net by sy vingerpunte nog aan God vasklou. Dit is dan dat hy uiters ontvanklik is vir dit wat God vir hom wil sê, en ook gereed is om in sy geloof te groei. Dit is logies dat as iets binne ons bereik is, die behoefte aan geloof soms verlore gaan. Om aktief te glo in iets wat nie gesien kan word nie, is geloof, want dit is "om oortuig te wees van die dinge wat ons nie sien" (Hebreërs 11:1) en dit word 'n seën van God.

Probleme soos haweloosheid, armoede, siekte, egskeiding, dood, verslawing en vervreemding – om maar net 'n paar te noem is moeilikhede waaroor ons geen beheer het nie en dit laat ons in wanhoop. Tog wat ook al ons probleme, as ons weet dat God aan ons kant is kan ons op sy ewige ware liefde vertrou en weet dat Hy aan ons nuwe krag sal gee om te kan voortgaan. "Weet jy dan nie, het jy nog nie gehoor nie? Die Here is die ewige God, Skepper van die hele aarde. Hy word nie moeg nie,  Hy raak nie afgemat nie en sy insig is ondeurgrondelik. Hy gee die vermoeides krag, Hy versterk dié wat nie meer  kan nie." (Jesaja 40:28-29) Hy gee om vir sy kinders.

"So is die geloof wat nie tot dade kom nie, ook dood." (Jakobus 2:26) Laat ons dan aan God in gebed vasklou, in sy Woord delf en gehoorsaamheid en vriendelikheid beoefen, terwyl ons op Hom wag om ons te seën.

Gebed: "Tot U, Here, rig ek my, my God, op U vertrou ek. Laat my vertroue tog nie tevergeefs wees nie, laat my vyande nie juig oor wat met my gebeur nie. Maak my u wil bekend, Here, leer my u paaie. Laat u waarheid my lei en onderrig my daarin." (Psalm 251-2,4-5) Dankie dat U my moeilikhede in seëninge verander en my swakheid in krag. Amen

God is aan jou kant – wees vrugbaar - 17 Oktober 2019

Louise Gevers

Julle moet in My bly en Ek in julle. 'n Loot kan nie uit sy eie vrugte dra as hy nie aan die wingerdstok bly nie; en so julle ook nie as julle nie in My bly nie. “Ek is die wingerdstok, julle die lote. Wie in My bly en Ek in hom, dra baie vrugte, want sonder My kan julle niks doen nie. Johannes 15:4-5

Verlede naweek het ons gaan appels pluk op 'n nabye plaas. Die honderde verskillende soorte appelbome in lang rye het my groot vreugde verskaf, elkeen so vol enorme, rooi, sappige appels soos ek nog nooit voorheen gesien het nie. Daar is iets bekoorliks aan ryp vrugte wat aan die takke van 'n boom hang. Dit maak die boer trots en gee plesier en dit is dus nie verbasend dat Jesus hierdie metafoor gebruik het om 'n oorvloedige lewe in Hom te beskryf nie.

" 'n Volgehoue dinamiese verhouding" som die gebedslewe op wat ons met God kan geniet. Dit vind plaas as ons aan Jesus, die wingerdstok, verbind bly en ons ryklik gevoed en lewendig word deur die voedsel wat ons deur sy Gees ontvang, net soos 'n baba in die baarmoeder lewensbelangrike voeding van die moeder ontvang. As die plasenta loskom, sal die baba nie oorleef nie. As ons die tak van die appelboom afsny, sal die vrugte stadig maar seker verdroog. Ons moet deel wees van die Wingerdstok.

Dit gaan oor 'n verhouding. As ons met God praat soos met 'n vreemdeling is ons gesprek beleef, maar ver en koud, terwyl as ons Hom ken as 'n intieme vriend wat alles van ons weet, sal ons in staat wees om met Hom op die intiemste vlak te gesels. Dit gebeur nie oornag nie. Die sleutel tot hierdie verhouding is in Jesus se woorde: "As julle in My bly en my woorde in julle, vra dan net wat julle wil hê, en julle sal dit kry. My Vader word juis daardeur verheerlik dat julle baie vrugte dra en my dissipels is.” (Johannes 15:7-8) Hy sal ons versoeke beantwoord want ons sal  sy leringe ken en sal nie vir dinge vra wat die werking van sy Gees in ons kan verhinder nie en wat God in 'n slegte lig stel nie. Soms, in ons begeerte vir 'n sekere uitkoms vir ons gebede, verstaan ons dit verkeerd. Selfs Jesus het in Getsemane gebid: "Vader, as U wil, neem tog hierdie lydensbeker van My af weg. Laat nogtans nie my wil nie maar u wil geskied!” (Lukas 22:42)

Wanneer ons in ons lewe goeie vrugte dra, is dit tot eer van God, en ons groei in ons dissipelskap. Indien ons nie in Jesus is nie, kan ons niks van werklike waarde doen nie. Ons beste pogings sonder sy Gees is waardeloos. Jesus sê: "As iemand nie in My bly nie, word hy weggegooi soos 'n loot en hy verdroog." (Johannes 15:6) Het jy al ooit vars vrugte aan 'n droeë tak gesien?

In die lewens van diegene wat ander liefhet, soos Jesus ons liefhet, opofferend, sal God se eer wys in die vrugte van liefde wat hulle dra.

Gebed: Here, ek weet dat die ware lewe beteken dat ek in U leef en dat deur u Gees wat in my woon ek vrug sal dra. Dankie vir u belofte dat U in my sal bly as ek in U bly. Amen

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