Saturday, April 16, 2022

Only Weeds

 


I remember a childhood experience that is vivid in my memory 

My mother was a very practical woman, always working to make sure everything was in the perfect order  a well maintained home and hobby farm should be. 
I was much happier curled up with a book than I was doing household chores.  Although I wanted to please my Mom, too often I ended up with another  miserable failing mark against me. 

I remember one summer day my Mom took me out to her large vegetable garden and showed me a long row of vegetable seedlings that stood maybe 3 inches tall in company with weeds just as tall fighting for space.  My Mom told me to pull out all the weeds leaving the seedlings with room to thrive in the warming sun and rain. 

I thought, "okay, I can do this.  I will do such a good job, Mom will be impressed."  And crouching down, I began to pull out all the weeds.  It was a long row, but finally I reached the end of it and I stood up to look down a straight clean row of seedlings.   It looked so good.. and I ran to call Mom happily expecting her praise.   
She came to the garden and as I looked up into her face, I knew something was terribly wrong!  Understandably, she was angry and I got the tongue lashing I deserved.
Yes, I had left a very neat garden row - but of weeds - all vegetable seedlings were gone. 

As I visited that memory, I thought about the verse in Isaiah 64:6 that says that all our righteous acts are as filthy rags.  No matter how hard we try to please God in the flesh, it will never be enough to win His approval.  And yet, amazingly, He loved us while we were yet sinners and He died to save us. 
We come to Him with nothing to show but a 'row of weeds'.   Wonder of wonders, instead of the 'tongue lashing' we deserve,  He reaches out to embrace us in His love and forgiveness and in exchange for our 'weeds'  covers us with His righteousness. 

How blessed we are to pause at this Easter season to remember His love and sacrifice that cost Him so much to gain everything for us! 
He is risen, so we too can rise to new life and righteousness in Him ! 


Thursday, February 17, 2022

 My New Book is out!


It is available in bookstores and from Amazon 
(sorry - couldn't make the link work.. but in Amazon.ca books, 
type in No Word Wasted Julianna Joy Klassen 
and it will come up.) 

Over the past two years, to keep my ladies' Bible study group together I put together an online once-a-week e-version of our Morning Break women's morning at church.  
After some time I began to get some comments that the lessons I wrote should be for more people than just our group - could I not put them in a book or something?  I smiled, but did not take the comments very seriously.  
I  had  never considered compiling the lessons into a book.  But God has a way of first planting a 'seed' and then watering it, confirming it and guiding our steps.  
So, as you see, the book happened - thirty-five of the lessons I wrote over the many months - 90,000 words - one at a time! . 

The title came to me after much thought, but I could not come up with a cover design.  I thought and thought and scoured the images on Adobe and elsewhere to get ideas but nothing seemed right.  
I finally decided to just leave it open for the publisher's designer to see what he would come up with,  Then one morning I woke up with a word in my mind. "Dandelions"   My immediate reaction was 'perfect'.  .
We all know a dandelion does not 'waste seed'..  and God's word is compared to seed that is sown in the hearts of man. 

The back cover of the book ,which you can see on Amazon, gives a good overview of what the book is about, so I won't repeat it here. 
The book process  has been a lot of work but rewarding work which I have enjoyed and working with FriesenPress has been a joy. 
My prayer is that the book is a blessing to those who pick it up.  


Saturday, January 1, 2022


 

God's Prescription for a New Year


What a year 2021 has been !  We have had a continuing plague/epidemic, fires, floods, extreme heat, extreme cold, restrictions, isolation, fear and all the other emotions and responses that go with an unstable environment. 

2022 is standing on the threshold and once again it is the time the age old question arises...  … “What about New Year Resolutions?” 
I doubt anyone is thinking about New Year Resolutions this year.  We can hardly predict what tomorrow will bring, let alone make long range plans or set future goals. 
The only hope we have for the new year is to hold onto God's hand and trust that He will guide us through the coming days.  If we keep our eyes on Him we know we will be safe. 
When it comes to the bottom line I think we will all acknowledge that if something feels secure, if something has the settled feeling of truth, we can easily trace it back to God as the source of it. 
So why don't we start the year with putting God's directives first and strive to hold onto that no matter what the new year is destined to bring. 
 I did a search  and found some interesting scripture references about the first day of a new year, and I want to share the important truths these verses hold for us today.  
 I will quote the verses in the order of occurrence in the bible. I invite you to walk with me through “God’s Prescription for a Happy New Year!” 

Trust His Promises 
The very first reference to the first day of a new year is in Gen. 8:14 where it says……”And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry.” Here we have the first reference to a New Year’s Day .. and isn’t it exactly how we see a new year - as a new beginning, a clean slate, a reason for renewed hope and excitement of what the new year will bring? Here we see Noah standing with the promises of God over him , symbolized by the rainbow ! How thankful we can be for God’s promises that are new again on the first day of a new year! What promises of God are important to you as you  stand to begin 2022? 

Pay attention to His Commandments 
In Ex. 12:2 we read…”This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Then God gives His instructions to Aaron and Moses regarding the Passover. If they would follow His instructions God promised the destroyer would not have power to strike them ! 
The first month of a new year - take time to review God’s commandments. Are we obeying God’s laws so that He can bless our coming in and going out in 2022?   Do we hold His Word  high as our shield to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy ?

 Prepare a Place of Worship 
In Exodus 40:2 God commanded the Israelites ….. “On the first day of the first month you shall set up the tabernacle of the tent of meeting.” What a perfect time...the first day of the first month… to set up a time and a place for us to fellowship with God - to prepare our heart as a tabernacle in our busy, and oft, confusing lives. A  spiritual  'tabernacle'  where we can retreat to meet with God face to face  -- a habit that keeps us faithful throughout the year. 

Make Necessary Repairs 
In II Chron. 29:3 we read about Hezekiah , the king. “In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he opened the doors of the house of the LORD and repaired them.“ Perhaps your ‘tent of meeting’ needs some repair. Has something crept into your life that has broken it down or made it a place cluttered with things that should not be there?  How easy it has been over the last year to allow negative thoughts, attitudes, habits to find a seat in our hearts and minds.  Maybe it's time to do some 'house cleaning'.  To bring it all to the Lord, and commit ourselves afresh to make Him Lord of our life - the One who sits on the throne of our heart. 

Sanctify Yourself 
In II Chronicles 29:17 we read, "Now they began to sanctify on the first day of the first month, and on the eighth day of the month they came to the vestibule of the LORD. So they sanctified the house of the LORD in eight days, and on the sixteenth day of the first month they finished." 
Sometimes we are overwhelmed with thinking about how often we fail before the Lord, or how far we are from 'perfect'.  But notice the word 'began' in the above verse.  Though the sanctification began on New Year’s Day .. it took some time. As it should for us as well. It takes time to examine the things in our life and put them in order. To prioritize, to downsize, to sort and discard, to clean. We belong to the Lord, we are His tabernacle. Is everything in our life ‘sanctified’ -- set apart ‘ for His use? Or are there things that we keep just for ourselves, our own selfish pleasure or profit? 
Let us  examine the things in our life - and begin the work needed in our personal inner life as well as the outer things seen by others.  Let us desire to be in the best place we can be to offer ourselves as a 'temple of service'  to honor and glorify our Lord?

Prepare for a Journey
 It is interesting that Ezra, having received permission from the king to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of his beloved city, began his journey on the first day of the first month. "On the first day of the first month ...". (Ezra 7:9)
I love that he began his journey …. “according to the good hand of his God upon him.” (Ezra 7:9) 
What a journey 2021 has taken us on.  And now we are about to embark on a new journey.  It too is of a year's duration!  We have no idea where the journey will take us …or even if we will complete the journey. Though the journey is one into uncharted territory, how comforting to know it has already been planned  ‘according to the good hand of God upon us’ !! He has already gone before  to prepare the way for us! 

Repent
In Ezra 10:17 we read “By the first day of the first month they finished questioning all the men who had taken pagan wives.” Is there sin in our life that is displeasing to God? Are we willing to rid ourselves of it, repent and then wholeheartedly follow after God and His righteousness? We know that if we repent, He is 'faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us ... " (I John 1:9) 

Listen for God's Voice 
There are several verses I found where it speaks of hearing God’s voice as in Ezra 29:17 “And it came to pass in the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came to me, saying…”   Do we hear God’s voice this New Year’s Day ? Are we listening, eager to hear what He is saying to us ? We are so quick to make our own plans, but if 2021 taught us anything, it taught us that plans can change in a moment. How important it is to listen first to what God has to say and then our choices, our decisions will be good ones and our steps will fall in solid places! 

Prepare a Sacrifice
 In Ezra 45:18 God called for a special sacrifice on New Year’s Day…. “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘In the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall take a young bull without blemish and cleanse the sanctuary’ .” A sacrifice… something special you offer to God that is of value to Him because of what it accomplishes. I offer you a challenge. This new year give something to God that is just between you and Him…perhaps something He has already been speaking to you about… perhaps something you have never done before… perhaps something no one else will ever know about!

I wish YOU, my dear friends, a very blessed New Year ! and pray that it might be a special journey that leads you into an ever closer walk with God. ***

Monday, November 29, 2021


 When bad things happen, where is God?

Probably about a year ago or more... I noticed a strange lump on my left elbow.  It grew and grew until it was so large it fit into the cup of my hand.  It was rather unsightly so all summer, no matter how hot it was, I wore long loose sleeves to keep it hidden. 
It was a lipoma -- a benign tumor that grows under the skin.  It can grow anywhere on the body. 
There is no cure or treatment -- it can only be removed by surgery.

      I was combing my hair in front of the mirror one day last week and  looked at the growth protruding from my elbow.  I talked to the Lord about it. "Lord, I know it isn't life threatening and maybe I am being vain , but ... couldn't you just melt it?  Take it away?"
Later it seemed to me it might be smaller, but I thought I was just imagining it and I went to bed.  The next morning when I got up, I realized that it was completely gone, completely, as if it had never been there. I could feel the bones of my elbow !  I went into the kitchen and said to my husband.. "Do you believe in miracles?"   He said, "Yes, of course !"  and I held up my arm.  He looked, stared and then shouted .. "Praise the Lord !!!!"   
It took me a while to believe what the Lord had so lovingly done for me.  It felt like a warm hug.  

     I could have asked... "Lord, why did you so easily get rid of this tumor when I asked, but you have not healed me of Celiac nor rheumatoid arthritis that has caused me so much pain and suffering over the last 25 year." I did not ask God that question because I know the answer.  God did not heal me of my RA because there is a reason for  it.  It is needful in the purposes and plan of God that would be hindered if He healed me.  

     I like to think of it this way.  A child becomes very ill and is in hospital undergoing frightening (to the child) ,uncomfortable, painful treatment and procedures.   The child cries and begs to go home - looks to the parents to stop the hurting.   The parents are there and their heart aches for the suffering of their beloved child but they do not remove the child from the hospital or prevent the treatment given by the doctors and nurses.. Why?  Because they know this is the only way for their child to be helped and the only way for it to get better.  They stay with the child,  bring candy and treats to brighten their day , hold the child in their arms and love it... their hugs assuring the child of their love. And the child trusts them. 

      So God too has a reason why He does not always heal us or prevent the difficult times that come into our life.  But He allows only what He can turn for our ultimate good and for His glory. 
It is not easy to understand or see purpose when we are in the middle of suffering, just like the child in the hospital -- but one day looking back we  see what God accomplished through it.  

     God so desires us to trust Him, know Him as a loving Father and he gave us so many examples in the Bible to show us His ways and purposes when 'bad things happen'. We tend to read the stories backward and go... Wow!!  but stop and think about what it was like for them BEFORE they saw the purpose of God. 

     We see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo who were trying to survive in a foreign land,to worship God when everyone else was worshipping false gods and idols.  And of course they were hated !  They were 'tried and found guilty'  and they were condemned to be thrown into a burning furnace.  We read their brave words but any one in their situation would  have felt dread and fear twist their emotions . just  thinking about being burned alive !!  Where was God?  The king looked into the furnace and saw 4 men walking.. not three ... God was in the furnace WITH them !  (Daniel 3:25)

     We think about Joseph and all he suffered for so many years..  torn from his family, made a slave, falsely accused, thrown into painful stocks in a prison and yet Joseph recognized that while 'men' meant his suffering for evil, God was working it for good... not just for Joseph but for many many people. (Gen. 50:20)

    Who does not know the story of Job and his suffering ?  The  financial losses, the killing of his servants and his children, then the loss of health .. his wife turning on him, and his friends accusing him. Where was God ?  watching over him, in control, knowing that all would be restored to Job double.. but the best thing would be that Job , instead of living in fear, would come into an intimate relationship with God. (Job 3:25,26 -- Job 42:5)

     We see Paul who begged God to take away "his thorn in the flesh" but God refused. Why?  Because God understood Paul's natural bent and He knew that without a 'deterrent' in his life Paul would grow proud of what God could do through him and his ministry and God's purposes would be spoiled. Without the thorn in the flesh , Paul may not have written much of the New Testament. (II Cor. 12:7)

     A king' son was sick and he died.  Why did God allow the child to die when he had not done anything wrong?  Why was his life cut short?  Where was God?   Watching... and we are told that God took the child to Himself because  the palace family was evil. Only the child had 'goodness' in him and God could not bear for the child to suffer the wickedness around him so He 'rescued him'. ( I Kings 14:12,13)

     Then we have Jonah, unwilling to obey God's command to go to Nineveh and he ran away to hide in a ship going in the opposite direction.  Then when the storm threatened to sink the ship, there was only one way to save the ship and crew, throw Noah overboard.  Where was God?  Right there watching, and had a big fish ready and waiting to swallow Jonah and when Jonah repented , throw him up on land.  Jonah reluctantly then obeys even though his heart is not in it and he hopes that God will NOT save the Ninevites.  Jonah has a bad attitude but where is God ? Right there.  He even causes a plant to grow to shelter Jonah from the heat.  (book of Jonah)

     I could go on and on. The stories are so many,  addressing so many different 'bad things that happen'. Take note when you read the accounts of the Bible characters, put yourself into their shoes and then follow through to what God was able to do in the end. It is the endings we love and remember but the 'end' could not have come without the difficult times.  

     So when you feel alone and abandoned in the middle of trials and trouble remember that God cannot lie!!  He says that He is "no respecter of persons" -- meaning that God does NOT make one person more important than another.   If you believe that ANYONE is important to God then you have to write your name alongside   What God will do for one, He is committed to do for you!   He will not let you go through anything that He will not go through with you and work for good, no matter how hopeless it looks. 
     He gave us His Word, His LIVING Word .. .it is not a yellowed letter, long-ago written and forgotten, out of date. NO .. it is new and fresh every morning, not one word has ceased to have meaning for YOU.   God put  living examples in our Bibles  to prove who He is and since God is the same yesterday , today and forever, we know that what is true in the past is still true today. 

     Our God is truly a faithful and ever present God -- His eyes, full of love, are upon us , His purposes for our life are for good and not evil and we can without reservation trust Him completely knowing He is right beside us walking WITH us. And we can count our blessings, even in the midst of the storms.