Saturday, December 24, 2022

  It is Christmas 2022, another year gone by - a new one waiting . A time to reflect on what was important in 2022 and pray for God's blessing to rest on the new year.  .

I want to wish you and your families a most blessed Christmas season with the blessings that come from the One who IS the reason we celebrate with love for Him and one another. 

Last  Sunday was  the 4th Advent of Christmas and it is the 'best' .. LOVE ... 
Listen to Rosemary Siemens sing the beautiful hymn "The love of God "  and make sure to keep listening after her song as she tells the story behind the song.   

Devotional Thoughts on LOVE 

The first three Advents are Hope, Peace, Joy - all wonderful emotions we hold close to our heart.  They warm us , encourage us, give us the strength to persevere through this earthly life.  But- LOVE - is different. 
 Love is -- an action. It  must be acted upon to be experienced.  Without action, it is cold, lifeless.  It is not something we hold for ourselves - it is not rooted in quiet devotional thoughts, or even meditation on God's Word.  No, it's worth is only felt, experienced, realized as it is  acted out.! 
Love is --  self-less. Love is unsatisfying, meaningless when it is directed inward - hoping to be consumed, fed by our selfish inclinations and desires.  Love is something that is only fulfilling and meaningful when we give it away!  Just like a 'runner' is not a runner until he 'runs'  so also love is not love until it 'runs\' from one to another giving the gift that warms another's heart. It is the only gift we can give, and receive it in the giving. 
Did you notice in the first verse of the song, The Love of God,  how it expresses God's 'love-in-action' ?   He 'gave' ,  He 'reconciled', He 'pardoned' !   John 3:16, God so loved that He 'gave', and He gives still to you and me ! 
Love is -- costly.  We need only think about God's expression of love in that He gave His only Son, to suffer and die on our behalf to recognize the incredible cost to Him.  Only LOVE will move someone to give their life for another - unworthy though they be!  So also we, no matter how much loving someone might cost us -- the cost is always less than the worth of the love given. We cannot out give 'love'.  

I know Christmas has in many ways been secularized but even in trying to push "Christ" out of Christmas, no one has been able to remove 'love' from the season,  from the traditions and the celebrations we all enjoy.  What other time of year so stirs people's generosity than the Christmas season --  the giving in so many ways,  toy drives, hampers, dinners, volunteering at  charities and donating to those in need,  caroling at nursing homes, sharing Christmas baking with shut-ins, family reunions , filling shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse, Christmas banquets ....etc. 
I pray that this Christmas and throughout the New Year, love will be our ACTION word. May we start each day asking God to show us where we can 'act-out'  the precious gift of 'love'. 

PRAYER - "Dear Father, thank you for your incredible love that was enacted on our behalf. May our response be to love you in return!.  Your love shed abroad in our hearts - not to keep for ourselves but to give to those whose lives we touch.  Not only to those that love us but also to those who do not love us.  
May your hope and peace and joy in our hearts move us to express our love in action to others, no matter what the cost may be!  
I pray for a safe holiday season -- protect those who travel, protect from harm and accident. Keep us in your joy and peace.
May our eyes be stayed on you  so that this world grows strangely dim.  Only the things of you are of eternal value and we put our trust in you, because there is no other!  In Jesus' Holy Name we pray, amen."

Friday, September 30, 2022

 The Chest 

This morning in my quiet time, my eyes fell on a verse from Deuteronomy that jumped out at me  and I knew the Lord wanted to tell me something about it. 
Immediately,  the memory of a childhood experience flashed into my mind. 

This experience happened when I was,  between one and two years old,. I lived with my parents on a small hobby farm. Every morning my Mom would have to go outside to do the chores, meaning she had to leave me in the house alone. Wanting  to ensure I would be safe and out of trouble, every morning before she went outside she would lift me onto a rounded top wooden chest that stood under the kitchen  window.   Sitting on this chest I could watch her walk away and then wait to see her coming back to the house. 

When my mother came home she would lift me off the chest and our day would continue. Then one day  that all changed. 

That morning my mother , as usual, lifted me onto the chest and I watched out the window.   When she came back inside I lifted my arms anticipating that she would, as always, lift me off the chest.  But she didn't.  Instead she turned my on my stomach over the rounded chest lid and stepped away, telling me to slide off. 
I was confused and started to cry, looking at my mom, expecting her to recognize my fear and lift me off the chest..   But she didn't! Terror filled my heart as only a child can feel terror and I continued to cry.  Looking into my Mom's face, I saw she was not concerned at all..  She just stood there without moving, a smirk on her face. watching me.  I can see her face as clearly today as I did those many many years ago.  I could not understand why she would not help me !  I had never considered that there would be a time I needed help and my mother would refuse to help me. 
I clung desperately to the top of the chest, resisting the pull of gravity threatening my tenuous hold, but my little hands were getting tired and I knew I could not hold on for much longer. 
Finally, the inevitable happened !  I felt my hands slipping and I knew something terrible was about to happen!   But then .... 

My hands gave way... I slipped .... and to my shock my feet hit the floor.  The whole time my feet had been no more than three inches from the floor.  
I was not an adventurous child and my mother wanted to teach me how easy it was for me to slide off the chest - that I no longer needed to be lifted off !   The memory stayed clear in my mind along with a feeling of confusion that my Mom had not been willing to help me when I was so desperately afraid. 

As I relived this childhood experience, I saw a mind picture that showed me how Jesus would have responded had He been there.  Even though my Mom was a loving Mom and did nothing wrong ... if Jesus had been there He would not have stood watching my terror with a smirk on His face knowing that I was going to be just fine  and would learn something valuable from the experience. 

No...  He would have bent over the chest beside me, and with one arm over me whispered in my ear ... "It's okay, I'm here, let's just slide down together!" 

Difficult or painful times come to all of us - it is part of life. We so often feel that inner terror as we desperately cling to our 'chest' - looking to whomever we trust to help us and see they are not willing or able to help. We are alone...and we know that  we cannot hold on much longer. We can feel everything slipping away and our cries for help go unheard.   

God wants us to know that no matter how terrifying life circumstances may be, He will never stand by and just watch -- even though He knows He has it all in hand.  He will always be close, sharing in our pain. And always, beneath us - no more than three inches - are the everlasting arms that will catch us and hold us close to His heart!  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

 A Strange Plant with a Lesson

I have a plant that I bought on a whim - - I don't know the name of it .  I planted it in a patio flower box and it immediately reached out and grabbed hold of the patio railing spindles and curled its way up.  
I was wondering why some of  its leaves kept turning yellow since I knew it had enough water and the rest of the leaves looked green and healthy.  So I picked the yellowed leaves off, hoping the plant would thrive to where its leaves would no longer yellow and die. 
BUT ... the plant did not flower and I knew it bloomed because the little starter plant I bought did have a pretty, white with a purple center flower on it. 
Then I got busy and did not remove the 'dead' leaves from the plant for a few days and I made a surprising discovery.   The 'dead' looking leaves were not leaves at all but were the actual flower buds.   They opened into the pretty blooms!   How silly I felt that I had been picking off the buds and then complaining that my plant was not blooming !!  

But what an insightful  analogy this presented !  
I thought about how we all encounter experiences that we would so gladly have avoided. Accidents, health issues, disasters, emotional pain, disappointments, hardships, financial losses, etc.  We can all compile a personal list.   
If we could  we would have removed these from our life before they happened ... BUT what if these less-than-desired things in our lives are actually the buds that produce the 'blooms' in our character and in our relationships with God and bring about the blessings we so love?

I think of Joseph.  I'm sure he would have quickly removed the 'dead leaf' of being thrown into the pit and then sold by his brothers to the slave traders -  but would he then have 'bloomed' as ruler of Egypt saving many from starvation?
I think of Esther.  How quickly she would have removed the 'dead leaf' of being taken into the King's harem ... but if she had, would she have 'bloomed' as the favored Queen and savior of her people?
I think of the apostle Paul.   He would gladly have removed the 'thorn in his flesh'.  But God explained to him that it was there so he would 'bloom' in his ministry... saving him from the pride that would have destroyed him. 

I think of Jesus Himself.  He would have removed the 'dead leaf' of suffering the horrific death by crucifixion, It is here that he proves how 'human' He was - He begged God - if it were possible - the remove the 'dead leaf'  of suffering that filled his soul with dread.  Luke 22:22-24
 and YET - He understood -- he knew that the 'dead leaf' was necessary for Him to fulfill His purpose  - to sacrifice Himself for the ones He loved. 
He knew that the 'bloom' was coming .. He said ... "for the joy set before Me I will endure the cross." He knew what looked 'dead'  would rise and open into beauty that would save all who called on His name.  The thought of the 'blooming' to come'  filled his heart with joy! 
 Hebrews 12:2

Are the difficult things that come into our life easy ?  No... they weren't for Jesus, they won't be for us... but we have the promise that He will carry us through and the 'joy' will come. 
So let us learn patience, holding onto the promise that nothing in our life is for naught, but all things WILL work out for good, because 'JESUS SAID SO !"  Romans 8:28 .. 
Even Jesus longed for the support and comfort of His dear ones.. but they were not there for Him.. so Jesus understands what it is like to feel alone in our difficulties.. but He will never forsake or leave us -- and we know how important it is to support with our love and prayers those who are going through a difficult time. 

 Remember ... God doeth all things well ... even the things we do not understand!  

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 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! 

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. ***