Friday, June 27, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-27 [Random Musings] Deeper thoughts on an oft-used verse #3

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose Romans8:28

My friend Celene sent me this awesome quote which beautifully concludes the "mini-series" on Rom8:28.

God's plan for the future must be like that of the Persian rugmakers, who let their children help them. In each family the children work at one end of the rug, the father at the other.

The children fail to carry out their father's instructions exactly, but so great is their father's skill, that he adapts his design at his end to take in each error at the children's end, and work it into a new, constantly adapted, pattern.

So too, God. He does not, cannot have one single plan for the world from which we, by our errors, ignorances, and sins, are ever farther departing.. God does not have just one plan for the world, but an infinity of plans, and with the changing course of events selects those that are applicable to the actual circumstances that obtain. (John Lucas, Freedom and Grace, 39-40.)

The school holidays are here and so I'm going to pause the EmmDevs for a while... I'll resume when the schools re-start. For those going away during the holidays, go with God and travel safely. For those remaining here or not having leave, may you know God's presence and peace.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, June 26, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-26 [Random Musings] Deeper thoughts on an oft-used verse #2

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans8:28

We started thinking about this verse yesterday... (we got as far as the word "good")

The "we" who know (by experience, faith and the help of the Holy Spirit) that God co-works in ALL things are the "we" who _love_ Him.

The wonderful news of God's working for good in all our circumstances isn't just a right that anyone can claim. It's for those who LOVE Him AND are called according to His purpose.

We're not passive in this process of God bringing about good. It's not as though I can experience chaos (or cause it) and then sit back and "claim" God's promise and wait for Him to make it good. We are active and hope-full as we lovingly put our trust in Him and co-work (as junior partners!) with Him to bring about good. Loving Him means we're ready to listen and obey.

The other important thing that needs to be remembered is that we are called according to HIS purpose. Sometimes I want God to deliver on MY agenda, but I need to learn that God's purpose isn't always the same as mine.

The comfort about His purpose for me is that it is ultimately bigger and more wonderful and more beautiful and more meaningful and more fulfilling than my purpose for me is!

(I'll end the reflections on this passage tomorrow with a stunning analogy!!!)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-25 [Random Musings] Deeper thoughts on an oft-used verse #1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans8:28

We quote Rom.8:28 often:
- sometimes as defiant hope in the face of troublesome times
- sometimes as a celebration when we experience Providence in trouble

But let's reflect on a few of the phrases...

"We know": How do we know? We know because God tells us so in His Word. We know because we have experienced it. And we know because sometimes the Holy Spirit whispers it into our souls and we are able to be brave and hopeful when people see no reason for it.

"in ALL things": This is a mind-boggler. We struggle to see the good that comes out of natural disasters, war, violence and heartache. But Paul is convinced that even though God is not the author of evil or pain, He is able to transform it because He is Sovereign. He will have the final say.

"God works": The Greek word implies "God works alongside". What an amazing thought! Even when I do something incredibly stupid, God will come alongside and actively work for good.

"For the good": The Greek word used here covers the spectrum of "good" from pleasant or fitting all the way to moral and righteous. The good that comes from evil never justifies evil - it simply defeats it.

What an incredible thought! What if we stopped bemoaning the presence of evil and actively sought to overcome it with good? If the customer in front of you is rude to the person at the till how about putting in an extra effort to be kind and friendly? (Not to gossip about their rudeness, but to overcome evil with good!)

(We'll carry on with this verse tomorrow!)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-24 [Random Musings] Getting Perspective

This is modified from an eDev I wrote back in 2002. It's still true! :-)
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny. Psalms73:16-17

This psalm is written by a man named Asaph. We don't know very much about him, but what we do learn from the Psalm is that he maintained his personal integrity and blamelessness at great cost. It appears that he went through a great deal of personal suffering and sadness. While his efforts to be righteous seemed futile in the light of his personal circumstances he also had a battle raging in his heart when he saw how carefree and trouble-free the wicked people around him seemed to be.

'It's not fair. It's not FAIR! IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!!!!'
One can almost feel the anger building up inside him and he admits at the beginning of the Psalm that he almost lost his grip:
2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.'

Something arrested his slide down the slippery slope of discontent. Something prevented him from plunging into the abyss of self-pity and the mire of comparisons. Asaph went to WORSHIP. That's what going to the sanctuary was all about: - being reminded that God is greater and longer than our circumstances.
We see the here and now - God sees it all.
We think it will never end - God knows when it will
We think the wicked are invincible - God knows about their downfall
We think we are all alone - in worship we experience God's presence and interest
We think that we have to cope on our own - in worship God empowers us.

I find it tragic that one of the first things people who are having a hard time do is to stop attending church. This is a big mistake - it is precisely when we have doubts and when we are being swamped that we should go! When we don't understand, when the reality of evil seems overwhelming, and when we feel like we are out of strength let us turn to worship.

Steve Wiggins says: 'Take the biggest thing that's got you down and stand it upright next to God - anyone can see who's bigger now!'

And so Asaph finishes the Psalm:
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 20, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-20 [Random Musings] One thing - two things

One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
Surely you will reward each person
according to what he has done. Psalms62:11-12

This is one of my favourite psalms. Its structure is interesting: It bounces between pictures of God and pictures of humanity.

Its pictures of God express His trustworthiness and power to save:
"1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken."

Its pictures of humanity express David's own frailty:
How long will you assault a man?
Would all of you throw him down--
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

And the viciousness of the wicked:
4 They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

But I love the way David concludes the Psalm - both about God and about humanity:
About Humanity he makes it clear: we'll have to answer for how we live.

But it's his thoughts about God that sustain me:
He hears ONE thing about God - but he understands it in two ways:
God is strong and God is loving.
We can't separate these two.
Sometimes we turn God into Father Christmas: Sentimental and kind, but ineffectual. Othertimes we see Him as powerful but aloof from our circumstances. But although David hears two things, they are just two sides of ONE coin! It's _who_ God is and _how_ He deals with us.

This week I've had to face my own limitations and I've faced frailty in deaths of beloved congregants, cancer diagnoses in friends and other heartaches. I've also experienced the reality of evil, duplicity and dishonesty. It leaves one heartsore and diminished in soul.

But like David I must look away from humanity and look toward a God who is strong enough to save and loving enough to heal my heart and restore my soul.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, June 19, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-19 [Random Musings] God and Mountains

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills--
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalms121:1-2

The mountains are many people's favourite natural vista. There is something compelling about them. Mountains are permanent, solid, immovable, comforting and terrifying all at once.

The ancient people worshipped the mountains. A little later the Greeks and Romans had their gods residing on the mountains. Mountains are significant for many religious people. And so many people misunderstand Ps.121 - They will often look at the Drakensberg and begin to quote Ps.121.

The actual thrust of the Psalm is 'I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? Not from the hills, but from the God who made all of the hills and all of creation.' While creation is a signpost pointing toward God, we should never let it become a benchmark that limits Him. He is always greater than the mountains and the rivers and the stars.

It is subtly easy to worship creation instead of the Creator. We should not be relying on the feelings nature gives us to worship God. Should we feel closer to God in the forest than in the office? Should we be more aware of His beautiful nature when we are looking at a rose than when we are driving home from work?

There is nothing wrong with appreciating nature and praising God for that beauty as long as we don't leave God stuck on top of that mountain or trapped inside that flower. He is more than His creation and can find us wherever we are.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-18 [Random Musings] At the risk of repetition

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalms51:10-12

I preached about this on Sunday, but it's not letting me go...

David had failed disastrously, horribly and cataclysmicly.

His response was to rush to God and confess:
- that he was guilty
- and that he had no way of getting better

And so he asks God to heal him and make him better:
- not because he fears punishment or losing his crown
BUT because he doesn't want to lose God's presence and Spirit.

David has enjoyed a closeness and intimacy with God that he just doesn't want to lose.
- He's willing to eat humble pie
- He's willing to ask for major renovations of the soul
- He's willing to let God loose in his life.

It leaves me quizzing myself.
What do I do when I stumble off the path?
Do I miss closeness and intimacy with God or is my heart so hard that I don't miss His presence and the still small voice of the Spirit?

Does my pride ("I can fix this myself!") or my infatuation with darkness keep me from running to Him? Or will I, like David, rush to God who is the only one who can fix me?

Today may our closeness to Him be so important to us that we will be quick to rush to God when we stumble or slip.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-17 [Random Musings] Power for Today!!

... it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians2:13

Life can be tough.
Sometimes the problems of the world and my circumstances can be overwhelming, especially if I am tired, depleted and exhausted or when I am sin-broken, failure-discouraged or wisdom-insufficient.

The good news is that I don't have to tackle my problems by myself. When the rubber hits the road I am not alone - I don't have to manage by myself.

Paul reminds us that God, by His Spirit, is at work in us.
According to Paul, God works in us in the areas of will and action.
I tabulated how this might happen:
Will: He will Motivate, Inspire, Provoke, and Prompt
Act: He will Energise, Empower, Enable, and help me Endure.

I think of David and Goliath.
The truth, if you think about it, is that Goliath was going to a gunfight with a knife. Even today Israeli and Palestinian shepherd boys can hit tin cans with slings from 20-30 metres away. Goliath couldn't throw a heavy spear that hard or with such accuracy.

But David should have been overawed by King Saul, his brothers, and the rest of the army - not to mention the giant and the Philistine army. He shouldn't even have wanted to go into this battle. But God helped him to WILL - to be motivated and focussed...

When David approachs the battle line, Goliath knows he's in trouble. He tries trash-talking David and his God to rattle David. But David cuts it short - He _runs_ to the battle line and throws his stone. God helped him to ACT.

Today the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is at work in you and me. May He help us to WILL and ACT to His _good_ purpose!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 13, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-13 [Random Musings] Never saw You coming!

Apologies for the late arrival of yesterday's dev - I sent it in the morning, but it seemed to have been caught in a logjam somewhere.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35 "Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans11:33-36

God loves us and saves us by giving us His very best: His Son AND His Spirit. What an incredible, amazing and wonderful thing!

The incredible thing is that we could never imagine that God could or would be SO good to us.

In response to this goodness:
Paul wrote about the depth of the riches of the wisdom of God.
John Newton wrote "Amazing Grace"
Isaac Watts wrote "When I survey"
Charles Wesley wrote "And can it be that I should gain"
And more recently a gospel singer by the name of Bebo Norman wrote "Never saw you coming" when he was caught unexpectedly by the BIG and wonderful love of God.

Bebo Norman

I am the lonely, the ones who slip away
I am the secret, the words we dare not say
I am the promise I'm about to break again
I am the leader who cannot find the way
I am the preacher who somehow lost the faith
I am the beggar reaching out my hands again

And I never saw you coming
I could never dream of running
I have never known such love before my God
You come, come and breathe Your breath in me
Steal away what's left of me
'Til You are mine and I am Yours

I am the lover with no one to hold
I am the seeker with an empty soul
I'm everyone who's ever lost hope

And I never saw you coming
I could never dream of running
I have never known such love before my God
You come, come and breathe Your breath in me
Steal away what's left of me
'Til You are mine and I am Yours

Fall like stars on my shore
Still you are so much more

And I never saw you coming
I could never dream of running
I have never known such love before my God
You come, come and breathe Your breath in me
Steal away what's left of me
'Til You are mine and I am Yours
I am Yours

(You can listen to the song by clicking the link below: )

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, June 12, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-12 [Random Musings] Yesterday's Manna

(Talking about the Israelites collecting Manna...)
Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."
20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. Exodus16:19-20

In her last note to me, Janice Taylor, who is a missionary with OM and a good friend asked me to pray for her: "I also want to take some refreshment biblically and do some fresh study, I don’t want to rely on yesterday’s manna."

"Yesterday's Manna."
It was one of those phrases that just grabbed my heart.

How often we are tempted to do this emotionally and spiritually!
We think and hope that what we've done in the past is enough to get through the present.

We rush along in our relationships, not taking the time to find a fresh way to say "I love you", "I value you", or "I appreciate you." We rely on the past to carry us through the struggles of the present.

We do the same in our relationship with God:
"I was saved and studied the Bible a lot back then."
"When I was younger I was very fired up about God."

We seem to develop a been-there-done-that mentality.
But yesterday's manna can rot quickly and unexpectedly.

I guess the Israelites thought that if they could gather a bit extra, they could have a lie-in the next day. But it seems God wanted them to learn to develop a daily habit...

(The beautiful exception was that on the sixth day, they could gather double so that they could focus on God on the Sabbath.)

How old is the spiritual and relational manna you're living on?
Maybe it's time to go out and get some of the fresh stuff!!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-11 [Random Musings] Unseen Spirit - Tangible Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1Peter1:8-9

Stephen Njiro used this as his text at the Sunday Evening Service and it has been bouncing around in my soul!

Jesus told Thomas that those who believed without seeing were more blessed than those who "saw and believed." Most of us would be sceptical of this statement. We feel that the disciples who got to walk and talk with Jesus were more fortunate than us.

But Jesus was referring to the reality that Peter is now affirming: We can powerfully experience God's life-changing love in the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

We can't see Jesus like the disciples did. But through the inner working of the Holy Spirit we can triumphantly affirm: "I have Jesus in my heart!"

How do we know?
We are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy...

Try it!
Stop. Slow down. Think about what Jesus did on the cross.
Think about what He did for YOU.
Think about the day that He brought you to Himself and you surrendered to Him.

What happens?
Joy happens!
Not frothy temporary happiness but deep inexpressible glorious JOY!

Even though we can't see Him!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-10 [Random Musings] A movie image

There's no fixed theme for the next while... Each day I'll be sharing something that has spoken to my heart...
This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.
16 You said, `No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore you will flee!
You said, `We will ride off on swift horses.'
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you will all flee away,
till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill."
18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion
For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. 20 Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah30:15-21

Do you remember the "Karate Kid" movie series?
It was all about a young teen named Daniel who was always getting into scrapes and disasters and then Mr Meaggi who teaches him karate, but also is his life-coach and mentor, bails him out.

Karate Kid Daniel always reminds me of Israel in the first part of this passage: They're planning to make a deal with Egypt to protect them from the Assyrians but Isaiah is calling them to put their trust in God. They're coming up with their own schemes and plans, but Isaiah warns them that everything will blow up in their faces.

That's how it happens in all the Karate Kid movies... Daniel tries this, that and the next thing - everything except asking Mr Meaggi's advice - and it blows up in his face.

But Mr Meaggi remains faithful and devoted to Daniel, even when Daniel hurts him and shuns him. Mr Meaggi gives Daniel the space he needs and when Daniel gets to the end of his tether then Mr Meaggi steps in to counsel and guide.

I think the dynamic of Daniel and Mr Meaggi is a good illustration of something bigger, deeper and even more wonderful: The coming of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete (The ONE called to be beside us)

When Jesus introduced the Holy Spirit as Counsellor, Comforter, Guide and Helper it fulfilled the promise articulated in our reading: "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"

I hope I can be less like Daniel today and be quick to listen to the prompting of the Spirit who loves me and longs to show me compassion.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, June 6, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-06 [Light] Our identity

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1Peter2:9-10

We're going to finish our series on light with today's thought:

Peter describes how God sees us, values us and treats us.
We are chosen, royal, and holy (because of what Jesus did for us).
We have belonging and purpose.


Because He called us into His "wonderful light".
We weren't a people (because we were so broken),
we didn't have mercy (because we didn't deserve it)
But because of Jesus we're a people and we've received mercy.

And it's all because of the light of Salvation that has shone on us!

Do I hear a HALLELUJAH!?!

And what's left for us to declare His praises!!!


It's Pentecost this weekend - a chance to remember that it is by God's Spirit that the light of salvation shines in our hearts.

May it be that we will raise our sails afresh to His wind.
May it be that we will open our hearts so that His living streams can flow from us.
May it be that His light will shine from us.

Go shine with His light and declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light!!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

EMMDEV 2014-06-03 [Light] Transformed

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2Corinthians4:5-6

In this series on Light we have been thinking about the light of salvation as it has come to us through Christ.

We've celebrated the Ascension and move toward Pentecost. Pentecost is significant in that it reminds us that Jesus, the Light of the World, sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts.

This means that we have hope, power and love alive in us!
His light shines from us.

Have you seen a life transformed by grace???
- When a soul realises what complete forgiveness is like,
- When a human heart is grasped by unconditional love,
- When brokenness is healed and heartache is comforted,
- When confusion and darkness is supplanted by light.
People just seem to shine with an inner light!!

I've had the privilege of being such a person and of seeing God do this in the lives of others. It's no understatement to say that in these moments it IS as though people glow with the glory of God.

When last have you felt like you're glowing with the fullness and love of God?

Our souls are a bit like an old fashioned camera - we have to open the shutter to let the light in. When last have you opened your heart to this incredible God who lets light shine out of darkness??

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at