Tis mine to obey, tis His to provide

I am currently reading a book by Andrew Murray about abiding in Messiah. It is written as a daily devotional for the duration of a month. One of the things that left an impression on me is the statement: “Tis mine to obey, tis His to provide”. Murray elaborates on this in the succeeding devotions, but, in essence, the point is: We don’t need to worry about how we will be able to serve and do all that the Lord asks of us, because the strength and ability to do all these things, come from Him.

As I prepare for the new school year, these words have taken on an added meaning for me, especially in the context of “sowing and reaping” which have been in my mind since becoming a homeroom teacher. There was so much work to do during this week which filled up so quickly with meetings for the beginning of the school year. My mind has been racing with ideas for activities and topics that I want to share with my class. I hope these ideas will encourage them in their personal faith so that they will not only see their personal need for a savior, but also how they can grow in Him.

All this preparation can be overwhleming and may seem like a lot of work. But, when it’s all done, there is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Still, there is a danger of relying on all the work and effort we have done as teachers, as people, as workers in the field, hoping that the seeds that were planted, will not only grow but grow as we had hoped. I am reminded of an important fact, namely, that although we sow the seed, we are not the ones that make the seed grow. Our duty, is to work the field faithfully, knowing that this field, or whatever field we are working in, is not ours. It is His. So the growth of the seed is not our responsibility, it is His. Our responsibility is to sow and water, but it is God who causes the seed to grow and brings about the increase. He provides all that we need to work HIS field.

Another thing that I am learning is what I do with the field. Although my thoughts and ideas for my class seem to me to be good and useful, I still need to pray and see if this is what I God would have me do. Proverbs 19:21 says: “Many plans are in a person’s heart, but the advice of the Lord will stand.” We can have many plans in working a field and we should be diligent in our work and do it with joy and desire in our hearts. But, we need to always remember that the work we are called to do is in God’s field, so the work in it has to be accomplished according to His plan and will.

Working a field requires effort, consistency and faithfulness in all circumstances, both when things are fun and easy as well as when things are unclear, difficult and tiring. In all circumstances, God provides for us all that we need, to do that which He called us to do. Keeping that in mind helps us to rely completely on Him while laboring in the place where He has assigned us.

Whatever may be the field of your service, let us obey all that He asks us to do and remember, it is His to provide.

Working the Field

The themes of preparing a field, sowing and reaping keep coming up in different contexts recently, especially with regard to teaching. I teach at a junior high school and am a homeroom teacher. I enjoy it and love what I do, despite the challenges of teaching during covid times. 

Teaching during regular times has its challenges: encouraging kids to learn, doing their best and investing in their studies for their future. I discuss these things with students all the time, as well as with parents. But, not many see the importance of doing their best now in order to reap later on the results of their efforts and be satisfied with them. It makes me sad to see students who genuinely don’t care, sometimes even to the point of showing disrespect to what they are learning. They know they can do better, but don’t want to. It’s just like food. I can prepare it for them and encourage them to eat it, but I can’t force it on them. 

It’s not easy doing our best in something but not always seeing the results we anticipate. Sometimes, we need to wait a bit. Sometimes the results are there, only not in the way we wanted them to be.

I am learning through teaching that I have a responsibility to do what I can. There are things I can’t control. But, there are other things that I can control, such as preparing a field and sowing the seeds. I can’t control how the seeds grow or the fruit they produce. All I can do for those things is pray. God is still in control of all things and what is impossible for me is not impossible at all for Him.

Have you been given a field that you need to sow? Be encouraged to continue to be faithful in that and pray over that field. Then wait for the rain.

© Hannah Kramer

There is a higher throne

People disappoint. We have all experienced that kind of disappointment. We have certain expectations of people, think we know them and maybe even regard them as close friends. And then something happens that not only surprises, but disappoints us. And, the worst thing about the situation is that the people who did the offending or who disappointed us didn’t even realise that they did something wrong or improper, or failed to do what was reasonably expected of them.

Why is that? I think people often tend take others for granted, especially if it’s someone that they have know for years, or that they’re close to. Sadly, it is so easy to do and, if we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit that we all fail in that respect. One moment those people need you and are close to you. At another time they don’t and you aren’t beneficial to them now.  What would cause such a shift in relationships? The answer could be multi-faceted. Certainly, pride could blind them from saying so or even from realising it. But, they expect that when they need you again, you will spring into action for them. I think we’ve all experienced that? I certainly have – on both sides of the fence. At those times, when I am on the receiving end of the offense, I try my hardest to understand how this person could behave like this. I often find myself saying that I shouldn’t expect from people to behave in one way or another, so that I wouldn’t be disappointed when they don’t. But I think that attitude is wrong. People are not perfect and no matter how hard they try to be good, human nature is corrupt and, as a result, it will disappoint. The only questions are “when” and “under what circumstances”?

We have a tendency to exalt people and place them on a pedestal, even those we consider friends. But, shouldn’t we look to a higher throne – the throne on which the King of Kings sits, Who knows how we feel as people, as human beings. He knows how weak we are. We disappoint other people, but we sadden Him more by our sinful behaviour. I choose to look to Him who will never let me down, instead of to people. He knows our frame and despite our sinful nature, He longs to be gracious to us. At this season, we need to remember: our redemption is closer today than ever before. Let’s focus our eyes on the higher Throne, because He Who loves us with an everlasting love is seated there.

© Hannah Kramer

Crossroads

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27)

I spent the weekend with some friends hiking and camping. It was a fun time, as well as sweet time of fellowship. After worship in the evening, some opened up about what they were going through in life, and a common theme that emerged was that many were at a crossroad. There were many decisions that needed to be made, some more important, some less important. Some of those decisions would affect their lives for the next several months, others for the next few years.

It was interesting how in a way we all reach a crossroad and, while we may know the general direction in which we want to go to, it’s the actual roads that need to be taken to get there, which are hard to choose. Sometimes, even the general direction is unknown.

I’m finishing my studies for a Master’s degree soon and am hoping to hand in my thesis in the next couple of weeks. It’s an exciting time, yet in a way both peaceful and frightening . I am glad to be finished with it, yet the road ahead seems a bit unclear. I am glad to have the extra time to do other things I need to get done or want to do. People keep asking me what my plans are for next year and what I want to do with my degree. Honestly, I don’t know. One friend described a decision she had to make for something she wanted to do during the summer. It would affect where she would live and work and it was hard for her to reach a decision. She half-jokingly said how easy it would be if God just sent her a note telling her what to do. I guess we all wish that in a way. It would be much easier to choose a job, studies, know who your spouse would be, where to go and what to do at every crossroad. Yet, God wants US to choose. Yes, He knows beforehand what and how we will choose, but He wants us to trust Him in the roads we take. After all, He didn’t create robots.

One verse that I remember learning as a child and which appears at the top of this post, was “let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid”. We all have concerns about the future, worries that we might take the wrong turn in the road, perhaps even fears. But God wants us to trust Him, not to be worried or afraid. I know this is easier said than done, but this is where faith comes in. My dad has a saying which exemplifies this perfectly: For All I Trust Him.

Whatever the crossroad you face right now, whether it is work, studies, having a spouse, traveling, or ________ (you fill the gap), know that God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He will show you which road to take. It may be before you reach the crossroad, or when you stand right at it.

Are you at a crossroad? If you were, what helped you decide what to do?

© Hannah Kramer

A Stone’s Eye View – A Poem

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40

A little stone, aside near the rubble, lay there in silence, all covered with stubble;

bearing witness to much, in the city’s great days, when the stone was much bigger, more worthy of praise.

“What wonderful buildings” the stone heard some say, “yet these will be broken, none spared on that day”;

thus answered the King as He gazed and He looked, at the grandeur of stones, so carefully put.

The stone was a witness, as the King came its way, royal and lovely, as the crowd cried “hurray”;

“glory in the highest” and “blessed is the King”, the people proclaim as they joyfully sing.

Yet some tried to silence the voices that rose, angry and jealous of the praise that it shows;

so the King made it clear, for all men to hear, that the stones would cry out, though others would sneer.

And the King wept and cried at the city’s wrongdoing; He longed to draw near, the sons who were booing.

So before long, great darkness befell, and the stones heard a cry, while the earth seemed to yell;

the King was crowned, then nailed to a cross, and hope for salvation appeared to be lost.

Yet stones in a garden saw a miracle unfold, the King rose again, beating death as foretold.

And oh, how they’d shout, if only they could, to tell of the story so wonderful and good.

Years went by, and the grand buildings tumbled, the magnificent stone, was now shattered and humbled.

A fire consumed both Temple and city, the city of Gold, was now left without pity. 

Though some stones had fallen, were burnt and in pieces, they were renewed and their splendour increases.

But the small stone remains, still unseen and unheard, with stories to share, for our hearts to be stirred.

If stones could talk and their stories convey, I wonder if we would hear what they say!

© Hannah Kramer

When answers the heart

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.” Ezra 7:10

This has got to be one of the busiest months I’ve had in a long time. In addition to my studies and soap business, I’ve been preparing for a community fair where I will have a display table for my soaps. In addition, I have at least one conference every week, sometimes even twoYes, do mean EVERY WEEK this month. And it’s only mid May 🙂

Last weekend, I attended a young people’s conference, where we briefly talked about Nehemiah. I say briefly because this book is so so rich and full of things to learn and talk about, that one day of sermons was not enough. I feel we barely scratched the surface of the treasures this book has to offer. The speakers talked about how we can all be Ezras and Nehemiahs, in that we can all be people who can lead in the placewhere God put us – among believers or among those in the the secular world. Then they asked what we had on our hearts that we would want to see happening in our land.

I don’t believe we are all called to be an “Ezra” or “Nehemiah” in the sense that every person will hold a public, on-the-front-line position. But, I do maintain that each and every believer has a unique role in building the body of Messiah, so that it would a praise to the LordBoth “Ezra” and “Nehemiah” had a heart for their work. But first and foremost, before their work, they had a solid faith in God and belief in what God wanted them to do.

Back to the conference  Thinking about the question that was posed, my initial thought was to see the nation circumcise their hearts (spiritual circumcision), in accordance with various passages in Scripture (for example Deut. 30:6, Jer. 4:4). Then thought about what Ezra and Nehemiah actually did. One of my favourite verses is the one at the top of this post, about Ezra preparing his heart for the Lord. He prepared his heart to seek the Lord. How amazing is that? Thinking about it, I realised one must have his heart circumcised (the preparation) prior to seeking the Lord. This allows for seeking the Lord with all our hearts, which would allow Him to be found by us (Jer. 29:13-14). After all, the matter of the heart is heart of the matter.

There are many gifts in the Body, all meant to build, encourage and strengthen the Body. Some exercise their gifts upfront”, while others do so behind the scenes. The calling to get the work started is something the Lord lays on people’s hearts. Just as He laid it upon the heart of king Cyrus to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, so today God awakens His people. In that sense, we are all called to be an Ezra or Nehemiah and answer God’s call. But, not everyone follows through and completes the work assigned, even after a good start.

Yet, just as Ezra was awakened by God, he also prepared his heart to know the Lord intimately. That is something I wish for myself and I know many others do as well – to prepare to seek the Lord, to do it, to rise to His calling and encourage others to be obedient to Him. And this causes me to wonder: when our hearts are stirred by the Lord, how will we respond?

© Hannah Kramer

Interceding with Compassion

“And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him” Isaiah 59:16

I returned from a two-day youth conference Saturday night. It was such a special time, getting to see people I haven’t seen in a while, as well as meet teens from all over the country.

The theme of the conference was “transparency”, a subject which concerns all of us, but which was particularly applicable to the youth. The speakers exhorted them to be transparent in their walk with the Lord Yeshua, to reflect the light of the Lord and be honest in their spiritual life – with God and others.

As counsellors we noticed that there is an increase in the boldness the teenagers and soldiers have, in sharing their faith. They are not ashamed of what they believe in and actively share their faith with others, knowing well the price they could pay (and some do) for doing so. As some increase in boldness, others still remain hesitant.

Reflecting later on the events of the first day, the verses in Jude 22-23 came to mind: “And have mercy on some, who are doubting, save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh”. While there are many who are bold and courageous in their faith, as counsellors we always emphasize that there are others who need to be pulled out of danger, like a girl I talked to who had a non-believing boyfriend. We talked about the slippery-slope dangers regarding compromise and relationships with non-believers. We continued our conversation the next day and as the conference drew to a close, she expressed a desire to meet together, although it would require travel (she’s from a different city). May that opportunity to meet be soon.

We prayed during our counsellors’ meeting that morning, as we did throughout the conference, for ways to help the youth, without pushing them away and for wisdom in all our conversations with them.

The last message of the conference focused on Isaiah 60, verse 1: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you”. Suddenly I realised the exhortation to arise and shine for your light has [already] come, is a direct continuation from chapter 59, where it says people looked for light yet there was darkness – darkness of deeds, of injustice and lack of truth. Yet, the Lord would save by coming with His glory. Arising and shining must be done in relation to all these things and more and, when doing so, the glory of the Lord reaches us. The person or nation in this case must act because God has already acted and has done His part to shine His glory on the nation.
It seemed relevant to the previous discussion with this girl.

It was a relatively full conference. There were many teens present whose love for the Lord Yeshua was evident. And, there were others there who claimed to be saved, but who had little or no understanding of what it meant to have a relationship with the Lord. As for the latter, the answer for “snatching them from the fire” seemed clear – we needed to intercede for them, to have compassion and mercy on them, while encouraging them to seek the Lord and to draw close to the Throne of Grace.

Many counsellors this past weekend were people of compassion and they were fervently praying for the teens, both during the conference and privately when at home and serving them at their congregations. Yet, there is much work that needs to be done and, sadly, the workers are few. This weighs heavily upon my heart and others as well, and I solicit your prayers for the youth and teens in your own communities. Today’s generation faces a multitude of challenges and temptations in a spiritually dark world. It is becoming harder to live “transparently”. But, it needs to be done.  “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even His enemies to be at peace with him.” (Prov. 16:7). May we extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones and reach out, however we can, to those who are being prepared to carry the mantel of responsibility. And may the Lord help us to be so transparent in our walk with Him that others would see right through us and see Him in us.

Just a fig picker…

“I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs” (Amos 7:14)

Have you ever thought about this statement that Amos made? I recently started studying the book of Amos and this prophet’s life just intrigues me. Although he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, still, he had a grasp of the times and events. I sometimes laugh as I think of his knowledge of world affairs, while here I am pursuing a Master’s degree in “International Relations”, learning how to dissect strategies and behaviour of states. Yet, it seems that what Amos knew and how he implemented the understanding he had, was something that no school of political thought can teach.

He knew God’s heart.

Amos spoke before the king of Israel. He prophesied judgment on the surrounding nations, as well as Israel. God called him from shepherding sheep and picking sycamore figs, which was common work among the poor, in order to speak before the policy makers of his day. How could he speak judgement on these mighty nations who were the world powers of the time? Wasn’t he afraid? Clearly, God spoke through him and enabled him to do so. We desperately need people like that now – people who will  speak what God has to say to the nations and their rulers. At a time as this, when nations are quick to declare war, parliaments are falling apart and election is in the horizon at what is considered the world power of today, Amos’ words need to be proclaimed anew loud and clear.

The judgments which Amos declared were frightening, so much more because of the transgressions which are still going on today. “…they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron… they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:3,12). These were transgressions of two different nations. Yet upon reflection, it is clear they exist also today. How silent the world is to the scream of those who suffer and the silent scream of the unborn?  The description in this passage is so horrific, but so is what is done today in many countries around the world. So is what is done by abortions throughout the world today. So is what is done by our self-centered society, which seeks to enlarge its own borders for its pleasures. Where are the Amoses to speak out against this?

The people are there. Yet the work is great and they need help as the world covers its ears tighter and tighter from hearing God’s word. Learning about Amos encourages me to know God’s heart better, so I may be a vessel to share His word. Amos didn’t have a “status” or come from a known circle or family. He was just a fig picker. Yet he was available for God to work through him. Today, my prayer is to be and do the same. Here and Now. Any of you “fig pickers” out there feel led to do the same?

© Hannah Kramer

A Love Story Written in Heaven

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11)

“So…how old are you? Oh…ok”; 

“That person just broke the age barrier. Now she’s old” (said of a 30 year old); 

“I’m getting old” (said a 29 year old); 

“And you’re not married yet?!”; 

“Those poor single and old people” (said of those over 25)

I went to a conference two months ago, which discussed the topic: “Being a Godly Man and Woman”. The turnout of people was amazing and the discussions were very good. The topics of being single, yet satisfied, and what it means to be godly, as a single or a married person, were discussed. 

Some of the things that came up for discussion among the young people were sobering; others disturbing. Many expressed despair from being pressured by family, friends, work and generally their surroundings, about getting married. They were in their mid- to late- 20’s, some already in their 30’s, and the pressure for some became unbearable and they resorted to entering into relationships with people from the world who showed interest in them. Some said that if they wouldn’t be married by a certain age (like 30), they would die (meaning, they could not look beyond that age for a meaning in their life and could not see or plan for their future beyond that). 

We should rejoice at every age, not frown upon it. Life itself is a gift from God and every age is one that can be used by God for His glory, if we allow Him do so.

The message in the conference was clear: whether you are single or married, you are special in God’s eyes and He has a unique plan designed for you from before the foundation of the world. Marriage does not make you more or less of a complete person in Messiah Yeshua. 

The expressions at the top of this post have been made by many and heard by many more. I think it’s time we change our lingo. Enough treating unmarried young people (mainly women), as poor, old and miserable creatures for being older than a certain age and single. To those who are unmarried young adults – stop treating yourselves and others like that. It does not build up our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but has a discouraging effectDid you ever think that God might have a different plan for those people than what you may think“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). 

I know people who were married at 19, others who were married at 30 and still others who married close to 40 and even 50. Each one is happy and would not trade a moment in their lives for what God gave them, when He did. 

Two days ago, I turned 28. I have single friends for whom I pray for that God would bring a spouse. And when I see a friend getting married, I rejoice for answered prayer. I didn’t expect to still be single, but I know God has a plan and a purpose for this time. I don’t know what it is, but I do trust Him for it. 

God gave me a loving family for which I am eternally grateful, wonderful friends who, with just a small note or word, can make my day. God wrote my love story and it is still being written. He gave me my prince charming, my Lord Yeshua, who’s love I wouldn’t trade for the world. If He chooses to bring me a husband, I know it will be in His time and place. He is the centre of my life and I am able to rest in His love. 

If you are single and reading this, be encouraged. God is writing your love story, and if you trust Him to complete it the way that He wants, it will have a truly happy ending.

© Hannah Kramer

Though the mountains quake

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46:1-3)

I sat and watched as the news broadcasted some of the funerals of soldiers who were killed during operation “Protective Edge”. There was one funeral in particular which shocked me and I’m still having difficulty comprehending it. The fallen soldier’s mother recorded her last conversation with him, before he went into Gaza. He told her that the soldiers were ordered to write a note to their family – just in case. Just in case they didn’t make it out alive. Just in case they didn’t have another chance to tell their family how much they love them, how much they are thankful for them. Just in case they didn’t get a chance to tell them how they felt about going in, maybe one last time.

The mother played the recording of the conversation just before her son’s body was lowered into the ground. Her son’s voice could be heard explaining where he wrote that note and where to look for it – just in case. She then read the note, where the soldier expressed his love and gratitude to his family, his parents and siblings. He went on to say how happy he was and that he fought well. He also said, that if they are reading that, it meant that his career was finished.

The very thought of a soldier having to write a letter like that makes me shudder. I didn’t know that our soldiers were given that order. Young people, some as young as 19, have to stare death in the face, have to write farewell letters to their loved ones – just in case. Many probably believed that those will be their last words.

At the time of this post, 33 soldiers have been killed during the week that our soldiers entered Gaza during Operation “Protective Edge”. Thirty-three men who were fathers, husbands, sons, brothers and friends. Hearts all over Israel ache over their loss, over their sacrifices and service to their country.

The situation here in Israel is hard. As the missiles continue, our soldiers continue to fight, so that I would have the freedom to write this post safely. All who read this are being asked to pray. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, pray for our soldiers now in Gaza and in its outlying areas. Pray for wisdom for the government to know what to do and to have the courage to do what is necessary. Pray that those who fight against Israel will know there is a God in Israel Who is fighting for her. Pray for the people in Gaza who suffer from Hamas, for the believers there who are amidst a leadership who seeks their death. Pray for Hamas that there would be repentance there and their love of darkness would be replaced with a love of light and life. Pray for the families of the fallen soldiers, that God would comfort them as only He can.

To the believing soldiers, I say: don’t give up. You serve as a soldier in two armies – the Israeli army and God’s army, which is even stronger and more powerful. Your commander knows your needs and cares for you. Continue to be a light where you are. Share the Good News of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and everlasting life with your comrades in arms. It may be the only opportunity that they might have to hear the message. Some of you haven’t been home for a long time, more than you are used to. Your work cannot stop until it is finished. We know that you are tired, but He can renew your strength. We know that you grieve over friends who were killed and wounded. He is able to restore your soul and your joy. Trust in the Lord and lean on Him. He is with you in all your service and will see you through.

© Hannah Kramer