Seniors without Borders
Seniors without borders meet for fellowship, prayer, testimonies and a meaningful Bible topical discussion over lunch. This is held between 12:00pm and 2:00pm on the first Tuesday of the month.
Robynne’s thoughts on the August luncheon, with a couple of “memory” photos of the day.
I’m always really excited when our Seniors lunch is on. The time spent in fellowship is so precious and the food is always awesome. This month we participated with a different perspective – seated at smaller tables rather than the usual large one. Was much more conducive to conversation and further discussion of the days topic – ” The Hope of Ruth. ” It is so vital that we are able to have this hope also as we prepare ourselves now for our eternal life. How blessed we are. Truly a day of fine food and wonderful fellowship.
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From the October Meeting
Today I am sharing mainly from Esther 4:14 ‘here for such a time as this’.
Background from the Book of Esther. During his third year of reign over the Persian Empire, King Xerxes (Ahasuerus) was ruling from his royal throne in the city of Susa, and he held a banquet for all his nobles and officials. When his wife, beautiful Queen Vashti was summoned to appear before him, she refused to come and as a result she was exiled from the King’s presence, and a new Queen had to be found from amongst the most beautiful young maidens of the kingdom.
Mordecai, a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, had been living as an exile in Susa at the time. He had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had adopted and raised as his own daughter after her parents had died. Hadassah, or Esther, was lovely in form and features, and she found favour in the eyes of the King and was chosen among hundreds of women to become Queen in the place of Vashti.
Meanwhile, Mordecai uncovered a plot to have the King assassinated and told his charge Queen Esther about it. She in turn, reported the news to the King, and gave the credit to Mordecai.
Later on Haman, an evil man, was given the highest seat of honour by the King, but Mordecai refused to kneel down and pay him honour. This greatly angered Haman, and knowing that Mordecai was a Jew, a member of the race he hated, Haman began to plot a way to destroy all of the Jews throughout Persia. Haman convinced King Xerxes to issue a decree for their destruction.
‘Up until this time, Queen Esther had kept her Jewish heritage a secret from King Xerxes. Now her cousin Mordecai encourages her to go into the king’s presence and beg for mercy on behalf of the Jews.
“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” ‘
When thinking about Esther, I wonder if she sometimes thought, like we do, I never pictured my life ending up like this. When she was selected to go to the Kings court, and went through the preparation rituals for 12 months, with the chance of not even being chosen to be queen. Then marrying and being made queen, but unable to live with her husband as a normal wife. Esther chose to be obedient to God and her cousin Mordecai. So when trouble came to her people, she could’ve been safe herself, but she chose to lay down her life for she was called to ‘that she was there for such a time as this’.
‘Believing that God had prepared her for this very moment in history—”for such a time as this”—as a vessel of deliverance for her people, Esther urged all of the Jews in the city to fast and pray for her. She was about to risk her life to request an audience with the king.
Although the Jews had been sentenced to death by King Xerxes’ original decree, through Queen Esther’s courageous intervention and willingness to face death, the people’s lives were spared.’
As Senior citizens of this earth, and as members in particular of Christ’s Body, of which He is the Head, I believe we are here for such a time as this.
Considering Esther, how can we be prepared and ready for such a time as this? What did Esther do to be ready? Was she very different from us today? She listened to her Uncle, and obeyed him, he was her messenger from God, and she obeyed his every instruction, even to the degree of hearing from him daily while she was in the king’s palace. Her mind was set on doing what her uncle and thus what God had to say to her. She knew that He knew best.
We, too, need to hear a word for us from a messenger, and daily seek what the Lord is saying to us, and be willing to obey, even though like Esther, we cannot see the way forward clearly.
Before I grew into Seniorhood, I had heard and believed that old people were set in their ways, and would not accept change. Is this true of us? Do we just look longingly back at the ‘good old days’ when children respected their parents, teachers and generally those in authority, when life was simpler, not so much technology? My Mum went to school in a horse and cart, and now she owns a mobile phone, in NZ so a cell phone, not that she uses it much, but she has one. It will be like that for some of us too. God whispered to me recently ‘would you be content if you could do nothing?’ and I had to think about that, I could not say immediately to the Lord, yes or no, because in all honesty, even though I say..not my will, but yours be done Father….this was a hard thing to hear. And inevitably, unless the Lord takes us home sooner rather than later, it is a natural part of the aging process, is it not? But I believe the Lord is saying is, don’t let your identity and what makes you feel good about yourself be in what you can do for the Lord and others, but rather let it be to be found in Him, filling out who He planned for you to be, doing what he planned for you to do…holding all things lightly not tightly, as belonging to Him not me. Esther didn’t try to escape from her suffering, but she did use her initiative to fill out what the Lord required of her.
So, here we are as Seniors ‘for such a time as this’. It is an unsettling time for the world and its inhabitants, change is coming and coming fast. In many parts of Australia and the world, Religious Education or Instruction in the Bible, even public prayer is no longer allowed. And what we know is, that God’s standards are being eroded away at an incredible pace.
But we are here for ‘such a time as this’. We all have been through times of hardship in our lives: sadness, grief, poverty, loneliness, health issues, financial worries, family concerns.
Do we still want to play an important part in the life of others, even though we have limitations? My dad has dementia, and in relating to him over the years, I have learnt something marvellous, he lives in the now, this very moment, and it encouraged me to learn to live more simply too, in the now, not looking back at the past, longingly or otherwise, not looking to the future, but filling out now with what the Lord has for us. Yes, we fall short, but we have a loving Father, a loving friend and Saviour, Lord Jesus, and an excellent helper the Holy Spirit to keep us on this everlasting journey.
Lynnette Chin Fat
From the September Meeting
The Book of Job – What a Journey
The book of Job deals with two issues crucial to every person; the problem of suffering and the sovereignty of God.
If God is so great and good and powerful, then why does he let awful things happen to people? He is supposed to be a loving God and yet He allows people to suffer terribly. You have probably heard statements like these bandied around before now, particularly after something disastrous has happened. I certainly have.
So, why would our loving God allow us to suffer? And how am I to respond in the midst of suffering? Will I have the capacity, the strength, the perseverance, and the trust in God no matter what, to accept the trial He has put me in and walk through it in faith, even though my whole world is tumbling down around me? Or will I walk away a bitter person, angry with God for allowing such a terrible thing to happen? I think we can learn some very important lessons from Job.
So just a bit of background on Job. He was a rich farmer living in the land of Uz, somewhere northeast of Palestine. “He was the greatest of all the people of the East” the scriptures tell us. (Job 1:3) He was a devout man who was richly blessed with possessions and family. He had a genuine love for his children as shown by his willingness to pray for them daily. (Job 1:5)
However, his troubles begin shortly after God presents him to Satan as this shining example. “Have you considered my servant Job?” He says. “That there is none on the earth like him; a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” (Job 1:8)
What an indictment on the rest of mankind that there was no one else on earth in those days to be found blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil.
So Satan argues “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” (Job 1:10) The implication here is that Job is only ‘virtuous’ because God has blessed him so and because God has him hedged in so that he is protected. Satan’s challenge to God is “Stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11)
So God gives Job over to Satan but He sets the boundaries for Satan to work within. He says “Everything he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” (Job 1:12) So Job’s children and his possessions and servants and livestock are taken away from him, but, even though all is crashing down around him, still Job perseveres in faith and worships God. The scriptures say that “In all this, Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” (Job 1:22) Job’s response was “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Again Satan comes before God and again God holds Job up as an example. He says “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) And Satan responds again saying “Stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (Job 2:5)
God then gives Satan permission to touch Job himself, but not to kill him, again setting the boundaries for Satan to work within. Painful sores break out all over Job’s body. Job’s wife urges him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9), to which he replies “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10)
It is very easy to walk with the Lord when everything is going great. It is very easy to praise and worship Him when we are receiving good things from Him. But where do we go to in our mind when all is not good? How do we respond when a whole heap of ‘adversity’ is dropped in our lap?
Job is struggling to understand what is happening to him. He thinks God has left him and begins to question why. But even in his questioning, he does not become bitter or angry with God. Eventually God speaks to him and Job comes to the realisation that God is sovereign and He can do with us as He wills, but it is for a purpose. Everything has a purpose.
What a journey Job had to take to come to the place where he says to God –
“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” (Job 42:2)
What a heart he had. He had lost everything and his own health was sorely tried. He was in great anguish, great suffering, great grief, and he was going through a great wrestling with God, trying to find answers as to why God had left him, but still he stayed in faith. “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” (Job 13:15)
God had a plan and a purpose in Job’s suffering and it was all for Job’s good. The scripture, Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
God has a plan and a purpose for each and every one of us and He is at work in our lives, to bring this plan and purpose to fruition. We can either work with Him, accepting all that He brings to us – both good and bad – or against Him, by refusing to walk where He has called. But we, like Job, have to humble ourselves, knowing that we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t always understand what He is doing, and come to the realisation that everything He brings to us is for our good, even if it doesn’t look like it at the time.
If we have chosen to walk with the Lord and are seeking His will for our lives, we are no longer under time and chance, but under the hand of the Lord. It is a great encouragement to know that He sets the boundaries or the limits of our trials and suffering. He says ‘this far and no further’. We may have to journey through much anguish, much suffering, and much grief but we need to understand that God has a purpose for it all. He has a plan. “He knows our way” (Job 23:10). In the end, as we wrestle with Him for understanding, and persevere through the suffering, He will have His way and we will be changed – we will be more of the person He intended us to be – more of a son.
Suffering is a part of our life in Christ and how we respond to it is important. Job did not sin with his mouth nor did he charge God with wrong, but he worshipped God. And, even though he went through a real wrestling with God for understanding, his faith did not waver. He has set a standard for us to follow. His responses in faith in the midst of his suffering show us the way we should respond through suffering, right through to where we, like Job, can say –
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5-6)
Endurance or bearing fruit
When we think of endurance, we think of stamina to keep on going. Fortitude or grit and strength and even survival are another way to explain endurance.
Matthew 10:22 says “He that endures to the end will be saved”
Endure here means to abide in Christ so our lives are fruitful. This is not a resigned, stoic acceptance of the situation but a response of faith knowing God’s purpose for our lives are worked out while we patiently endure. His love is shaping us to His Image. We are confident that He has a name and a work for us and through enduring in faith in every circumstance in life that comes upon us, we can be confident and sure that we are being conformed to His image and likeness.
Nature teaches us the need to endure to bear fruit as a woman. As any woman who has had children knows, we are not in control of the timing of bearing children. We would love to be able to control our lives and plan exactly when it would suit us to fall pregnant but this is not the case. It all takes time and is in God’s timing. Likewise when it is time to give birth this again is outside our control!
In nature a tree needs to grow and flower before it can bear fruit. No fruit is instantaneous.
For us to bring forth fruit is to abide in Christ, which is a restful endurance.
Good Fruit is the Divine Nature
For a season, good and bad fruit may look very similar. Good fruit is not the automatic result of lots of activity in our lives. Actually sometimes the only fruit we bear from the busyness of life is weariness. We probably all can relate to this!
With our human capacity, we only ever bear bad fruit, no matter how good our intentions.
If we are to bear good fruit, we need sovereign intervention! God needs to bring an actual change to our lives, so that we are able to produce something that is of the eternal life of God.
The great hope of the Christian gospel is that God has made a way whereby we need no longer to be slaves of sin, producing only the fruit of death in our lives. He is putting the seed of His divine nature into our hearts, that it may grow and enable us to bear the fruit of His life which is eternal!
Seasons of Pruning
John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
All branches which are bearing fruit need to be pruned back at times so they can bear more fruit. In our lives, there are times of pruning and adjustment where fruit is not immediately evident.
A pruned branch is very different from a branch that doesn’t bear fruit. There is still life flowing through the branch that has been pruned because it is still connected to the vine. It needs a season of growth before it is ready to bear fruit again. The pruned branch is fundamentally a fruitful branch. The Lord prunes all of us at times, so that we may be able to bear fruit to our full capacity.
We must understand the seasons of the Lord in our lives and take care that we don’t draw back or become offended at our apparent lack of fruit! We must take care to be patient and not be tempted to try to copy others whom we deem to be bearing good fruit. We are not defined by measuring ourselves to someone else’s talent or by the fruit they are bearing. We need to put away all comparisons. Fruit cannot be borne by trying to copy the life of someone else. We need to wait patiently to receive God’s life for ourselves and be diligent to work with what He has given us. It takes endurance.
The Lord is faithful to meet us in every season. By His love, He chastens and trains us so that we do not become unfruitful, but continue to bear the fruit of His life. No matter what the season is, we are encouraged to be diligent and endure, and keep ourselves connected to the life of God, receiving His word and being joined in fellowship within His Body.
The hope of Ruth
Where did she get her hope from?
Noah’s hope came from a word the Lord spoke to him
But Ruth did not know God
When Ruth said “your God shall be my God”
She was also revealing that Naomi’s God was not yet her God
Or she would have said ” we will serve him together”
Ruth was saying an amazing thing
As far as the story tells us, Naomi was on her own in the foreign land
Ruth didn’t just want Naomi’s God, but to be with her people
Naomi’s love for her God
Gave Ruth so much hope for her life
She was prepared to throw all else away
Leave behind her whole life,
And all that contained
When they arrived in Bethlehem
Not only was Ruth lead by the life of Naomi
But by her word of instruction
When Ruth heard and obeyed the instruction of Naomi
Ruth met her kinsman Redeemer
So to us
When we hear a word
And follow its instruction
We too, meet our Kinsman Redeemer
The God of the person we are obeying
Becomes our God
And their people our people
Our hope becomes secure in the Body of Christ
The word shared at the July ‘Seniors Without Borders” lunch
THE HOPE OF NOAH
Noah’s hope was in a word that the Lord spoke to him, but how do we know that?
We know that the Lord spoke to him and said, “build Me an ark”; and he obeyed.
His first response could have been, “What’s an ark?” How could he have known; he had never seen an ark before. What is it made of? Where do I get all this material? How much is it going to cost? Who’s going to help me build it? It is so big, just think of all the felling, sizing, planing that will need to be done, not to mention the cartage.
He couldn’t just go to the lumber yard and order his timber, or to the hardware store for nails etc., and who could he go to for advice… and encouragement? Where would he get his labour force from? Everyone he spoke to mocked him. He was the laughing stock of the time. Why would he need an ark? Maybe a tinny to go fishing…. but something that big!! No way. And, what was rain anyway? It had never rained on the Earth up until then.
But then, when the ark was built, all three decks of it, and it was loaded with all the animals and food, would it be watertight? Would it be able to float with all of that weight or would it be top-heavy and just roll over? And how is it going to steer? And then there is the feeding and cleaning up after.
So the point is, where was Noah’s hope? It certainly was not in the work of his hands or the size of his labour force or even his past experience. Nor was it in the resources he had or in what he could see and hear around him.
It was in the source of the word that was spoken to him – he trusted in God. He trusted God when He said that Noah and his family and two of every kind of bird, animal, and creeping thing would be kept alive in the Ark. He trusted God because He knew Him.
There is a lesson for us to learn from Noah. God provided an ark for him to be saved and he believed God and he and his family were saved. God has also provided an ark for us to be saved. It is the Body of Christ, and it is the only vessel of salvation for us. As in the days of Noah, we can hear a word from God and by obeying it, we will be involved in building the Body of Christ, in which we will be saved, just as Noah built the Ark and was then saved in the Ark.
In His Body we will hear His voice in the mouth of messengers, and we will know it is His voice. But again we have to learn from Noah.
What am I focused on? Is my focus on what I have, what I can do, or what resources I have? Am I trying to fulfil all of my desires and wants? Am I trying to make a name for myself? Am I building my own empire, my way? Am I building my own tower, so I won’t be forgotten or be seen to be a nobody, a failure? If I am focused on all of these things, I am not trusting God for my life, I am just wanting my own way.
There is always a word direction for our lives proceeding from the mouth of God. When God spoke to Noah, He didn’t have to hatch up a plan; He already had a plan and a purpose for Noah. It just had to be revealed to Noah.
In the same way, God already has a plan and a purpose for us; it just has to be revealed to us. We are receiving back our name and work that was predestined for us before time. This is our hope. It has nothing to do with us achieving our own will but being the person who God made us to be. And all I need, all the resources I will ever need, are waiting in His hand for me to ask for. Not for me to use according to my own will but TO ENABLE ME TO GROW AS A SON IN HIS BODY.
Word shared at the June Seniors lunch
Let’s take an example in scripture of God saying ‘no’.
Jude 1:11 “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”
The error of Balaam is that he could not hear God’s ‘no’.
The tendency is to think of Balaam as historical and referring only to Old Testament times, but Jude brings it into New Testament times and, therefore, into our time now.
A telltale sign of not hearing God’s ‘no’ is unrest. As Balaam tried to find a way of having his relationship with God and at the same time be accepted and rewarded by Balak’s kingdom, he was in turmoil and then agitated at what was happening to him. For us, this is a sure sign we are trying to go another way. If our way is causing us agitation, anxiety, fear, or anger, it is definitely the ‘way of the flesh’.
When we inquire of The Lord and the messenger He sends says ‘no, not that way’, do we go a little further on our way, then return and ask again, with a little different perspective, but wanting the same answer we were hoping for the first time?
Throughout our whole life, we will be a people enquiring of The Lord, needing to hear exactly what the word of the Lord is to us, so that we can be obedient to His will for us.
So, how do we know if God is saying ‘No’? How can we be assured we are being obedient to the ‘yes’ of God; and how do we stay in that path and not stray to the other? How do we ‘pass the fork in the road’ with hardly a glance???
As we ‘pass by’ the yes of God looking hopefully and intently for another way, we ‘pass by’ the opportunity to: –
- Meet God in the Garden of Gethsemene
- Hear a word from a messenger prepared and sent to us by the Father
- Have our heart changed by obeying that word
- Having our name revealed and sealed in us by the Holy Spirit
- Be changed in the situation and not try to change the situation to suit our purpose.
The answer is simply not to look for another way once we know God has spoken to us through His messenger.
Reflections – There is a rest for Senors
The Lords “No” sets a fence around us
It’s not a fence to fence us in
but so that we know the boundary of our name.
Balaam was trying to go beyond the name The Lord had given him
That was expressed by the work of his hands with Balak
Balaam wanted to do a work that he had not been given to do
for earthly gain.
Slowly, over time, our name and our work is revealed to us
The word He sends in the mouth of His messengers to fence us in,
Is the same word that allows us to fill out with joy
All that He has for us within that boundary of our name
His plan for us
Is to fill out all He created us for
As we walk in His will
Revealed to us through fellowship with His messengers
That is the whole purpose of life
And it will take our whole life to fulfil that purpose for Him
In the Body of Christ
If we can come to Him
As a little child
When He calls us
He will teach us
To learn to hear the No of Christ
To hear the Yes of our Heavenly Father
As it is revealed to us by Holy Spirit