Abundance

The analogy of the Vinedresser found in Scripture1 indicates that God is committed to our abundance. He expects to find a good harvest in His vineyard.

Abundance is a nice-sounding word. Thinking of abundance gives a fullness-of-joy type feeling. Having plenty. Enjoying sweet fruit. Yes, that is well and good.

But is it the vine or the vineyard owner who benefits from this abundance? The answer is obvious. The vine has simply done what it was created to do, and the owner reaps the harvest.

Bottom line: My life is not my own. The fruit that I produce, hopefully in abundance, is harvested and used for the purposes and plans of the vineyard owner.

Along with God’s intention of leading me into abundant life,2 I also reap joy in abundance. This comes not from feasting on the fruits “I” have produced, but from knowing that I am abundantly useful to the Master.

~ Diane

  1. Isaiah 5:1-5             2. John 10:10
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The vineyard

One of the analogies used in Scripture for our relationship with God is that of God as the Owner of us, His vineyard.1

Isaiah wrote the parable of the vineyard in reference to the nation of Israel. But God is also our personal Vinedresser. He patiently and precisely prunes us so that we will yield the best.

God IS good. That includes being a good Vinedresser. He knows what He is doing, even when we doubt it. Even when the pruning hurts—after all, it involves chopping and cutting—our Master can be trusted.

You see, getting a good harvest requires a lot of hard work, wisdom and love. God provides those ingredients as He works in us “both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.”2 He is looking for a good crop. He has a good purpose in mind for our lives.

~ Diane

  1. Isaiah 5:1-5             2. Philippians 2:13
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Anticipation

I am expecting 2023 to be a really good year. Pondering its twelve months and 364 remaining days evokes a positive feeling. “You can’t feel your way through life,” my husband often chides. True. But feelings can make all the difference between a joyful or miserable existence.

Positive anticipation and worry are both housed in the future. One of them sees the future as bright and the other sees the future as bleak. Just as much as it makes absolutely no sense to drag tomorrow’s problems into my experience today by worrying, so it makes perfectly good sense to bring tomorrow’s joy into today’s reality. Why not? Why not enjoy life – even in advance?

If I look forward to going out for Ethiopian food, I can enjoy that delicious experience all week instead of just during the few minutes of the actual meal. If I anticipate the joy of a family outing, I extract excitement from the experience for months before it even happens.

Luke 3:15 says of the era before Christ’s birth: “During those days, everyone was gripped with messianic expectations” (TPT); “waiting expectantly” (NIV); “filled with anticipation” (NEV). Their expectations were not disappointed.

When we anticipate the best, we are able to change anxious thoughts into confidence. Experts agree that positive expectations lead to overall well-being and mental health. There is power in positive anticipation.

I trust that you are looking forward to what will unfold in 2023, and that it will be a wonderful year for each one of us.

~ Diane

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Walking in His presence

This morning on my usual walk, I became aware of a unique presence. For a stretch of about one kilometer, the butterflies started fluttering as if responding to an unseen command. They created colorful zig-zag circles around me.

My heart quickly connected to our Creator in adoration and praise. In that fresh morning breeze, when everything else is silent, the leaves and branches swaying back and forth and different shades of butterflies dancing in the wind, my spirit leapt for joy.

But how could I qualify for such delight and peace in a world full of turmoil, fear, death and destruction? I believe that God still wants to communicate with us, even in these days. I could hear Paul’s words to the church in Philippi: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

There seems to be a paradox here. We are in this world but not for this world. The pain and suffering are pressing in, yet at the same time we are treated to an out-of-this-world walk in fellowship with our Maker. It is a privilege that only sons and daughters of His kingdom can experience.

That explains why Paul so boldly says, not when things are good, but always: “Rejoice!”

~ Ibrahim

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Happy 2-2-22 Day!

I love numbers and the patterns they form. If you want to plant optimistic expectation in my soul, just tell me that the groceries cost 33 dollars and 77 cents. Or give me 337 shillings in change after a purchase.

The number 2, according to biblical numerology, represents harmony, kinship and cooperation. It also speaks of integrity – an integrity provided by God. God united man and woman, 2 persons, into one marriage union. Number 2 also symbolizes the joining of Christ and the church.

The Bible is made up of two covenants, the Old and the New. Jesus, as the second Adam, brought eternal life and salvation to humankind. Fulfillment of the second Covenant is found “Adam number 2”: Jesus Christ.

One more good thing. Today, I don’t have to worry about whether I am writing the day and month in U.S. style or Kenyan style. It’s all the same!

Happy 2.2.22!

~ Diane

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The Promise of Prayer

How many times do we tell someone, “I will pray for you”? Do we remember to pray? Hopefully, the answer is yes.

But my own experience is that I often go away and forget – or neglect – the promise to pray.

How about developing the practice of praying on the spot? The moment you hear someone’s need, take it to prayer. Right there. Right then.

You can still come back to this prayer request, but at least the pledge to pray has been initially fulfilled. Having prayed over the need once could even help you remember to pray the next time.

This simple practice has helped me keep the promise of prayer.

~ Diane

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The Place of Prayer

We are creatures of habit. Have you ever noticed how you can find the same people seated in the same place week after week on Sunday mornings? Or at the same desks in your college classroom? No one has assigned them to sit there, but they just naturally do it.

Of course, we can pray anywhere and at any time. Yet, it is great to have a specific place for personal prayer. Having a special place that is set aside helps to reinforce the habit of having a special time set aside as well. The converse can also be true. When we are travelling and I don’t have a specific spot for prayer, my prayer life tends to falter.

Luke 11:1 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.” Was this “certain place” a frequented, special place? Jesus also seemed to like out-of-the way places for prayer. Going away to the wilderness or mountains is mentioned more than any others.

Where is your sweet place for prayer?

~ Diane

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The Privilege of Prayer

Have you seen prayer as one more duty that you need to take care of? Have you been plagued with guilt for not waking up earlier to pray? I have!

Jesus told His disciples that when He would leave, they would be given the privilege to pray directly to the Father. Prayer is not something we are obligated to do. It is something we get to do! It is a unique opportunity to open our hearts to the Creator and Sustainer of life itself–and to listen to His heart in return.

In some large churches, getting an appointment with the pastor can be quite a task. What about having audience with the President of a country? Most of us never will! But we do have the privilege to talk to the King of kings any day, any time. Every day – every time. Wow!

Besides that, He listens. And responds. I don’t want to miss this divine opportunity.

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Here we go!

Twenty twenty-two is actually here. There were no great plans to welcome it. It just came rather unobtrusively. We still don’t know what it will bring, given the experiences of the last two years. Should we be excited or sad? We are not sure yet.

However, compared to 2021, this New Year was well received. Driving to church at 10 p.m. for our all-night prayer vigil, the road was comparable to Monday morning traffic. It looked like everybody was going somewhere. The parking lots of a shopping mall near our home were overflowing as city residents waited in expectation of the midnight fireworks.

Last year, we were under a curfew and could not gather. This year’s vigil was well attended, mainly by young people who were ready to dance the whole night.

So, what can we expect this year? In Nairobi, we have been praying for revival. If last night’s full tent is anything to go by, I believe that God is already doing it. There is such a hunger and thirst for God in these young people. Oh, that they would not be disappointed; that God would visit us again; that we would witness a time of refreshing—and that 2022 would be the year that spurs revival.

Yes, COVID-19 and its Omicron variant are here. The statistics in Kenya are approximately 40% positive for those who are tested. The good thing is that the cases are mostly mild. Our prayer is that this too will pass as the world recovers from this pandemic.

So, welcome to 2022! May you experience God’s presence like never before. May we have open heavens as He showers us with a freshness of His Holy Spirit.

That is our prayer for 2022.

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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Shut the door

Why did those words, scribbled among many pages of notes, jump off the page at me? Obviously because I needed to hear them – again.

As Christ-followers, we absolutely need to block OFF time to spend with God and block OUT all the distractions. Intentionally.

Matthew 24 warns of increased persecution in the end times and says that “the love of many will grow cold.”

Sometimes I feel that part of the persecution, perhaps self-inflicted, is all the technology that makes us 24/7 accessible and distractable. Or, the schedules that run us ragged until time alone with the Lord slips through our fingers.

Our friend Steve Prokopchak tells in his blog of the National Radio Quiet Zone, designated by the U.S. government to house the largest, fully-steerable radio telescope in the world. The dish, located in West Virginia, is larger than a football field. The use of cell phones, Wi-Fi, microwaves and wireless speakers within a ten-mile radius is prohibited. The “quiet” makes it possible for scientists to hear infinitesimal signals from outer space.

We also need an intentional “quiet zone”—especially as so many voices lure us to listen to them. Lord, help me learn better to shut the door and enter the secret place of your presence.

~ Diane

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