January – Week 4

January – Week 4

12 Baskets Full

A Devotional Basket January 2021

A familiar Mother Goose rhyme goes:

 

Pussy cat, Pussy cat where have you been?

I’ve been to London to visit the queen.

Pussy cat, Pussy cat, what did you there?

I frightened a little mouse under the chair.

 

Like that cat, Christians sometimes settle for petty involvements, trivial pursuits – chasing mice – when we have the opportunity to spend time with the King of Kings!  Instead of remaining content with minimum daily requirements, we can deepen our relationship with God and grow in maturity. [1]

Resources to Help you Thrive

Choose a Bible Reading Plan.  Visit the following websites and choose one tailor-made for your seasonhttps://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/ or https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/or https://biblestudytogether.com/top-best-bible-reading-plans/

Join a Bible Study.  I highly recommend www.womenatwork.online if for one or another reason you are unable to attend a gathering in person.

Deepen your Prayer life.  Purchase one of my prayer books and embark on a year of praying wider, deeper and bolder than before.  (Also available in Afrikaans – Saam Bid ons Wyer, Dieper & Kragtiger)

Read Christian Classics: Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, Knowing God by J.I. Packer, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Rich Mullins, The Calvary Road – Roy Hession, 1000 Gifts – Ann Voskamp

Read Christians Biographies:  Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, Just as I am – Billy Graham, God’s Smuggler – Brother Andrew, Lords of the Earth – Don Richardson, Daring to Live on the Edge – Loren Cunningham

Listen to Christian Worship Music

*Amazing Grace – Pentatonix – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obp-9BEZe1c&list=PLKUA473MWUv3VnK3E7ElYEqVN7eb7h92_&index=2

* Who am I – Needtobreath – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUdMMUUYXKs&list=PLKUA473MWUv3VnK3E7ElYEqVN7eb7h92_&index=6

From the day – I AM THEY – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUjuRFwwvaw

Start Right Here – Casting Crowns – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGvfagBOHJE

 

 

[1] Trivialities 738 taken from 750 Engaging Illustrations

 

January – Week 3

January – Week 3

12 Baskets Full

A Devotional Basket January 2021

Although the cowbird is unique to North America, most people consider them a nuisance. Called nest parasites, the female lay her eggs in other bird’s nests, usually a smaller bird. This has become a real problem with serious implications for other native birds. Let me explain. 

Once a cowbird deposits her egg (and she can lay between 20 and 40 of them in various nests during spring) she accepts no responsibility for rearing her young. As their eggs usually hatch more quickly than the other bird’s eggs and they grow more quickly too, the host mother spends an unreasonable amount of time tending to the intruder. Not only do birds tend to feed the largest and loudest of their young first – to ensure survival, but the cowbird, already larger than the host chicks, also outcompetes them for food.  As a result, the cowbird is pushing some other songbirds to extinction! 

Just like the cowbird, distractions in our lives have the potential to intrude and even take over.  It can even cause the extinction of godly activities[1] – like spending quality time with the Lord!   

Let’s get practical!

A Journal & Colouring Pencils: Chronicling our Relationship

Quality time is my number one love language.  And yet, the battle to keep this appointment with God, is real and it is daily, for distractions are everywhere! An early morning appointment in town, visitors, phone calls, deadlines – real and imaginary ones, a poor night’s rest, keeping up with the school calendar, etc.   Yet, the one habit that has kept me on course since High School, has been keeping a journal!   

These days, my favourite journals are homemade, A 4 books that I decorate with old magazine pictures, washi tape, stickers and dried flowers.  At the end of the year, I love to read through them: collecting important scriptures, taking note of repetitive themes, copying promises, celebrating answered prayers, taking down key passages and making sure that each task I was given, or set myself out to do, is completed.  I love to start the new year with a clean slate and conscience – if possible. Naturally, having a mild form of OCD, helps! 

  • Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. Jeremiah 30:2
  • And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. Habakkuk 2:2

2021 Calendar:  Where Kairos meets Chronos

I cannot imagine my time with the Lord without a calendar of some sort.  It grounds me in reality, reminds me that whilst I pray for kairos moments, I am still bound by chronos. Yet, I do not want to manage clock-time like the world does, but live with an eternal perspective.  The Bible teaches us to both trust God and plan for the future.  This calendar/diary filled with appointments, birthdays, upcoming ministry trips and deadlines, become daily Godly appointments where kairos meets chronos. I helps me to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as I ask Him to show me when to slot in work time, free time, rest time, personal time, family time, and prayer time – for the clock is not god.  God is! 

  • Ephesians 5: 15 Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. MSG

A Variety of Blank Cards:  Encouragement is like Oxygen

The phrase ‘one for another’ or ‘one another’ appear over and over in the Bible.  Most of these commands are positive and in many ways from the basis of all true Christian community:

  • Love one another (John 13:34 + another 16 times)
  • Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

For some of us, ‘one anothering’ is a slow and painful learning process; to others it is second nature.  Yet, feeling appreciated is a universal need and fulfills a core emotional desire in us. I love giving gifts and having all kinds of cards – some with envelopes, others more postcard style – for it is a wonderful way to appreciate or encourage someone.  These days handwritten cards are rare, and yet there are such beautiful ones on the market.  But even if your encouragement ends up as a voice note on whatsapp, or an image forwarded from Pinterest, it will still accomplish its purpose – to uplift and cheer someone on, for the road can be long and loyal company, rare. 

 

 

[1] Distractions 156, from 750 Engaging Illustrations

January – Week 2

January – Week 2

12 Baskets Full

A Devotional Basket January 2021

Well known author, Philip Yancey shares an interesting anecdote about Nikola Tesla, electrical engineer, scientist and futurist.  During storms Tesla would sit on a couch by a window.  When lightning struck, he would applaud – one genius recognizing the work of another.  Tesla appreciated more than anyone else the wonder of lightning, for he spent years researching electricity.

In a similar way, the more we know God and his Word, the more deeply we will applaud his mighty deeds.[1] Knowing God lies at the heart of this first basket of 2021 and each element we are adding is to help us grow in our understanding of God.

  • But let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me –Jeremiah 9:24
  • And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent – John 17:3

Let’s get practical!

A Scented Candle:  for in Him there is no darkness at all!

Intentionally light this candle as you sit down with your cup of liquid wisdom, and remember Jesus who simply stated… I am the light of the World!  Also remember that:

  • He calls us to walk in this light, so that we can have fellowship with one another.1 John 1:7
  • We are the light of the world, and therefore should not put our lamp under a bowl, but on a stand, so that it can give light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15

Prayer:  A Prayer Journal or Prayer Cards

Welcome to the adventure of prayer!  The one element in this basket that fills me with great joy is this very discipline – far too often labelled as a struggle or a burden. As the main function of prayer is communion with God, I do get the lies, yet it is far more common to experience lightness, joyfulness and peace than defeat, toil and strife.

My one concern is that we mostly tend to pray for the same 10 topics – marriage, kids, family, work, friends, finances, health etc.  Thus, I launched a collection of 366 prayers last year called, A Challenge to Pray Wider, Deeper & Bolder.  Divided into 12 months and 52 weeks, these scripture verses and prayers are designed to help us pray beyond our own pain, failures and seemingly unanswered prayers.

But you can also create your own prayer topics – relevant and up to date, by keeping a newspaper in your basket; a map of your town, or neighbourhood; missionary newsletters or a family picture.

Regardless of how you choose to go about it, make sure that there are grace structures in place, especially when you are plagued by constant defeat.    Whether that is a structured approach like above, an online prayer group, or a prayer journal where you can draw, write, or paint your prayers – don’t miss the joy!

An Empty Brown Paper Bag:  for we are called to – Live it Out!

One day a man asked me, “What is the best translation?” (He was referring, of course, to the best Bible version.)

I answered, “The best translation is when you translate the Word of God into your daily life.”

He said, “But I’ve got my Living Bible,” (He still didn’t get the picture)

I replied, “You ought to be a living Bible!  The Word made flesh ought to be visible in your life.”[2]

Applying what we read to our own lives, is crucial, for not only are we called to draw closer to the Lord, but to obey his commandments.  James is clear – genuine faith in Christ must result in good works.  Putting what we read into action, to be a living Bible, as Rick Warren puts it, is how we perfect our faith.

Whether it is a warm coat, an extra pair of socks, left over shampoo, or a sandwich – let us heed the promptings of His Holy Spirit and add something to our paper bag for delivery later in the day!

 

 

[1] Knowing God 364 from 750 Engaging Illustrations

[2] Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods (Twelve Ways You Can Unlock God’s Word) pg 16

 

 

January – Week 1

January – Week 1

12 Baskets Full

A Devotional Basket January 2021

I remember the first time I came across the phrase describing man as ‘a bundle of habits,’ for I was homeschooling my youngest two and that in a very busy house.  With two flats and a large area office on the premises, I also pioneered a new ministry.  Overworked and stressed, I despaired of my own poor routines.  How was I ever going to model healthy disciplines to the next generation, I wondered.

During this and various other seasons of overload, it has been my time spend with the Lord in Bible reading and prayer, that sustained me.  I may have ignored a bunch of other truths, but quality time with my heavenly Father, was not one of them. Here, in His Word – studying, meditating, praying and worshipping, I found myself anchored and well-watered, able to keep my eyes on Christ.  

It is Eugene Peterson that taught me that it is far healthier to embrace the seasons and rhythms of life, than trying to strive for balance or manage my time with a schedule only. Thus, I have seen the value of a devotional basket, one that can travel with me – whether that is to the back porch to see the sun rise, or to my favourite armchair in the kitchen area where I brew my coffee.  I try to stay away from my desk – for the pull to check emails or glance at my diary, is real! 

Let’s get practical!

What to put in a devotional basket, you may wonder.  Here are a few suggestions for this week.  Next week we will add a few more items. 

Worship:  A silk banner & worship music

During lockdown the past year, when gatherings were restricted to no more than 50 people, I really missed Sunday morning worship.  Tone deaf and with zero musical talent, I craved to raise my hands in adoration and sing my praises to the living God. During this time, a lady in my cell group started to daily send us worship songs. With the music loud and my bedroom doors closed, I would worship and dance before the Lord in great joy and thanksgiving for His grace in the midst of an impossibly difficult time.  It made me realize afresh that the divine priority is worship first.

Bible Reading: Your Bible

God has spoken to man and His words can be found in the Bible.  Created for His pleasure, we are called to know Him, not just about Him. Time spend in study and meditation, will enable us to hear God’s voice and obey His commands. As we internalize and personalize the scriptures, we will experience change, find our purpose, bear fruit and show great boldness for God. 

  • Choose a Bible Reading Plan for this year.
  • Make use of various translations simultaneously, even reading passages in different languages if you are bilingual or trilingual.

A Coffee mug/ tea cup:  A steaming hot cup of liquid joy – for He Brews!

That first cup of coffee or tea is a wonderful part of my early morning routine.  Oh, I can still do my quiet time with God and without something to drink, but it is wonderful to realize that He knows us, loves us and cares about the things that we love and enjoy. While the ritual is not more important than the Person, the Person doesn’t mind the ritual. How blessed to have a Father in heaven, who knows his children and remembers that we are dust and our days few and brief.  Thus, enjoy every sip of your liquid wisdom! 

Until next week – may you flourish in Him!!

 

 

 

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