Don’t Worry – Lessons From The Lillies!

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…

Matthew 6:25

Anxiety. It’s a killer.

Anxiety is a thief that steals away your peace and robs you of your joy.

Falling Apart!

The Greek word for anxious (merimnao) used in this passage, has a somewhat surprising meaning. It means ‘a part – as opposed to the whole.’

The inference is that when we’re anxious, we’re divided, we’re pulled apart, in opposite directions. In other words, we go to pieces. We’re just all over the place.

Gosh, I can definitely relate to this. Can you?

What if…?

As a mother of four, I am constantly tempted to worry and fret and get anxious about all manner of things. What if this, or what if that….and…what on earth is the answer?


Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 6:26


Consider the lillies of the field, how they grow. They neither toil, nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon, in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:28

The word consider here means to thouroughly understand, to learn a lesson from.


Jesus is inviting us to look around and learn a profound lesson here. He deliberately chooses the birds of the air and the lillies of the field (wild, grassland flowers) Why? Because they’re everywhere! They’re all around us as a constant, daily reminder.

Okay…so am I missing something? How do common old garden birds and meadow flowers teach me not to worry?

To understand the lesson, we need to read the passage as a whole.

Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow, nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lillies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil, nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore, do not be anxious saying, “what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things and Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6: 26-34

Five Lessons to Learn…

  • Sow. Reap. Gather. Toil. Spin. Notice, all these words involve labour. They involve effort. The word toil in particular denotes the kind of laborious work that makes us exhausted, both bodily and mentally. As human beings, we tend to focus on the wrong things. We spend our energies on earthly, fleeting treasures. We feel our lives would be so much better if we only had x, y or z. We’re constantly craving the bigger, the better. The next new thing. Being overly anxious about food, clothes, provisions and such like is EXHAUSTING. We’re not meant to live like this. The birds don’t. The lillies don’t. WHY? Because God takes care of them. The birds of the air and the lillies of the field rely solely on the GOODNESS of their Heavenly Father.
  • Anxiety doesn’t add – it takes away. Who by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Anxiety steals the life from us. It makes us sick. It stops us from enjoying the moment. It chains us up and keeps us from really living. From the moment we are born, til the moment we take our last breath, our lives are in God’s hands. Worrying doesn’t change a jot. It’s just a huge waste of time.
  • The phrase: “O you of little faith” occurs five times in the New Testament. Each and every time, Jesus is rebuking the problem of FAILING TO HEAR HIS VOICE. In other words, failing to believe and act on what He says. Anxiety stems from a lack of faith. It’s failing to believe how VALUABLE we are to God (so much more than the birds of the air). It’s failing to believe that ETERNAL things are of much more value than earthly things. It’s failing to believe that we have a Heavenly Father who KNOWS our every need and will provide it at the right time…and so on.

For the Gentiles seek after all these things and Your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be axious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself, sufficient for the day is it’s own trouble.

Matthew 6: 32-34
  • Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter here. If we get our priorities right, then most of our anxiety will simply disappear! Interestingly, He uses two different words for ‘seek‘ here. In the first case, talking about the Gentiles, the word seek means: to clamour after, to wish for, to crave. It speaks of spending our energies on material things, fleeting treasures, vain, empty things that don’t provide real lasting satisfaction. In the second case, where Jesus instructs us to SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, it’s a different kind of seeking altogether. It means: to search for, to require, to seek by inquiring, to search out a matter. It’s about KNOWING, FINDING OUT, LAYING HOLD OF. It’s going after God, and laying hold of all that He promises. It’s about the eternal.

  • And all these things will be added to you – the inference here is one piece at a time. God gives us our DAILY bread. This instruction is so helpful. Stop worrying about tomorrow. It’s not even here yet. Just take one day at a time. God’s grace is sufficient for the here and now. If you’re worrying about tomorrow, you’ve gone beyond where Jesus would lead you. Come back to today, to the here and now! See, that feels so much better! We’re called to live moment by moment.

I really hope this study blesses and encourages you as much as it did me! The word of God does us so much good.

A Whole Lotta’ Self Control…

Emily, our crazy little coconut…

The other evening, I overheard Nathan talking with our six year old about ‘self-control’.

Nathan said to Emily: “Have you heard about the fruit of the Spirit?”

Emily replied: “Oh yeah, I know all about that…I think one of them’s a coconut!”

Well, as you can imagine, there wasn’t much self control after this comment – we just errupted into laughter! Kids! Don’t you just love them?!

I think one of them’s a coconut!

But i’ve found myself thinking about self control ever since. I hope you don’t mind me sharing a few thoughts…

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls!

Proverbs 25:28

Confession Time

Wow! Isn’t this such a powerful and accurate image? I can so relate to this…When I first got married and had kids, I’m sorry to say, I discovered I had a bit of a temper. Maybe it’s the red hair, or something, I dunno? Or maybe it was the stress of having twins first time round? But anyway…it wasn’t good!

Here’s a typical scene that might have played out : (the part about the eggs is absolutely true btw)

The kids would wake up at the crack of dawn. I’d be cranky and tired after being kept up in the night. One of them would spill their breakfast. Milk would literally be dripping off the table. Then me and Nathan would have a cross word about something or other as he was going out the door to work. I’d decide to bake a cake to cheer myself up. I’d open the fridge door and realise we were out of eggs. I’d load the kids into the double buggy, and set off down the road to the shops. Whilst shopping, one of the twins would start screaming because they wanted some sweets or a magazine. The buggy would keep tipping up. I’d plod home feeling more and more wound up. I’d unload the shopping and place it on the kitchen table. Then the phone would ring. It would be an annoying sales call. I’d walk back into the kitchen to discover that one of the kids had cracked every single egg I’d just bought, and I now had a sloppy, gloopy mess all over the floor. And to top it all off, I’d now have to go back to the shops.

And then something inside me would just go snap!

I’d fly off the handle, yelling at the kids only to feel hopelessly, despairingly guilty about it afterwards. I’d berate myself mercilessly and vow I’d never shout at the kids again – only to do it again a few days later. It was like a terrible cycle. I felt powerless and unable to change.

Like a city broken into and left without walls

I don’t know if youve ever heard of Colin Buchanan, the Australian Kids worship guy? Well, he’s just fantastic! He’s written a song called ‘A Whole Lotta Self Control’. The words are great:

When you bite your tongue, and you hammer your thumb,

And your brain is starting to ache,

When the traffic’s crawlin’ and the mower’s stallin’

And you’re just about ready to break,

When you’re getting hassled beyond belief,

Don’t give everybody else the grief

It’s time for a whole lotta self control,

It’s time to fix your eyes on the heavenly goal,

Well it’s time to keep in step with the Spirit,

If you’ve gone and put your big foot in it,

Confess your sin and consider the good of your soul,

And pray for a whole lotta’ self control!

Colin Buchanan – from the album entitled “follow the saviour”

The Good News!

I am so pleased to say that things began to change in me, when I regularly began to cry out to God for help!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and SELF CONTROL!

Galatians 5:22

Self control is NOT produced by human effort…it’s not a work of SELF, as it’s name might suggest, it’s a work of the Spirit!

Friends, this is such amazing news! I don’t have to try and conjur up self control without the Holy Spirit’s help. I don’t have to grit my teeth, or beat myself up in order to produce it. The law renders me powerless. My flesh is just flesh. I can’t produce any Spiritual Fruit without the Holy Spirit.

Grapes, or tomatoes, or apples or peaches – they don’t struggle to appear, do they? Fruit comes as a result of the tree being rooted in good soil. The sun shines, the rains come…and pop! One day the fruit just appears.

The wonderful Farm Shop at Pollhill, bursting with fruit and veg

I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do NOTHING.

John 15:5

My job, is just to abide….to remain attached and connected to Jesus, the Vine. My job is to keep in step with the Spirit. How? By asking for help. By leaning in close to my ALL SUFFICIENT SAVIOUR. By asking Him to fill me and give me all I need to face the day. By coming daily to the throne of grace, for mercy and help in my time of need.

If you’re in need of some self-control today – ASK! Speak to Your Heavenly Father – confess your lack, and ask for the Holy Spirit’s help. He is able to strengthen us in the inner man.

This is how we overcome!


  • Happy…Sad
  • Rich…Poor
  • Big…Little
  • Bad…good
  • Faith…

Up until yesterday, my natural inclination would probably have been to fill in the blank with the word ‘FEAR’.  But my Greek Bible taught me something which totally stopped me in my tracks.  The most appropriate antonym for the word Faith, is not fear…


Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things NOT SEEN

Hebrews 11:1

By faith, Noah, being warned by God about things NOT YET SEEN, in reverence, prepared an ark for the salvation of his household

Hebrews 11:7

For we walk by faith, NOT SIGHT – 2 Corinthians 5:7

2 Corinthians 5:7

In the absence of sight, faith gives me flight!

Seeing is NOT believing!  Oh no my friend, it’s quite the other way around!  

Image from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Faith is going, not knowing.  It steps out in the dark.  It leaps into the unknown.  It gets out of the boat and walks on water.  It says yes when everyone else is saying no.  It can part the red sea, it can move the mountains, it pleases God, it really, really pleases Him.  It turns the worrier into a warrior, the barren into the fruitful, the weak into the strong!  It’s the currency of heaven and it only operates in the absence of sight!

Then he said to Thomas, “reach here with your finger and see My hands, and reach here with your hand and put it into My side, and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Because you have SEEN me have you believed?  Blessed are they who did not SEE, yet believed!”

John 20:27-29

Oh, Lord increase my faith!

Gleanings from The Book of Ruth – Part Two

He has brought me to His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love – Song of Solomon 2:4

Our story resumes at mealtime, when the harvesters have a break from their labour and sit down at the table to eat.  Ruth’s natural inclination is to sit on her own, apart from the others.  She is a Moabite, from the wash-basin of Israel, and so her tendency is to separate herself from those who belong at the table.

But Boaz beckons her: “Come here that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar.”

So Ruth is offered a place beside the reapers where Boaz serves her roasted grain.  She eats her fill and is satisfied and has some leftover.

The symbolism here of Christ’s love for sinners is beautifully striking – immediately a verse springs to mind:

The promise is for you and for your children and for all who are afar off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.” – Acts 2:39

There’s something strangely familiar about this scene, isn’t there?  Bread being given out, with some leftover?  Was there not once a man who broke bread around a table, serving His disciples, and saying “This is my body, broken for you?”


As I read this scene, I feel my heart being strangely warmed, just like those two travellers on the road to Emmaus who finally recognised Jesus only as he broke bread.  Do we not now recognise our Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus, in this lovely little scene played out between Ruth and Boaz?  What a wondrous foreshadowing of our Saviour’s redeeming love, of how he took on the nature of a servant to redeem the poor and the unworthy – the Bread of Life giving bread to those who were once afar off!

Jesus has called each one of us to come close, to come to His banqueting table, to eat of the bread of life and be fully satisfied!  What an invitation!

And from here, the story continues.  After a series of  sweet little twists and turns, Boaz and Ruth go on to become husband and wife!  A story that begins with death and famine and grief, ends with a wonderful wedding!  Though weeping endures for a night, joy comes in the morning!  God takes a poor, destitute woman, from the washbasin of Israel,  and makes her into a fruitful bride!  A woman with no prospects, no wealth, and nothing to offer but her exemplary devotion to Naomi, ends up becoming a joyous bride, and goes on to bear for Boaz, and indeed for Naomi, a much longed for son!  The child is named Obed, and he grows up to become the Father of Jesse, who grows up to become the Father of none other than King David – surely the most notable King in the bible.

Does this not make your heart sing?  How extraordinarily wonderful!  Ruth – a Moabite, a poor woman from a nation that is despised and looked down on, becomes the Great Grandmother of King David – thus sharing in the lineage of Jesus Christ Himself!  I don’t know about you, but this completely blows my mind!

Can you see how it has always been in heart of God to take the far off Gentile, once excluded from the Household of God, and bring them to His banqueting Table?   To take the hopeless sinner into His heavenly home to become the bride of the King!  Doesn’t it make your heart leap for joy when you put yourself in the place of Ruth, when you understand all that God has done for you?

Today as I reflect of all of these things, my heart echoes with great joy, the words of the Psalmist:

“He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,  to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people.  He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children.  Praise the Lord!” –  Psalm 113:7-9

Gleanings From The Book of Ruth – Part One

“Priceless gems have often been found in unlikely places.  Many a choice flower has been found blooming in a rocky crevice.  Rainbow artistries have suddenly lit up the drabbest skies.  Beauty spots have charmed the traveller at surprise turns on the least promising road  It is even so with this superbly beautiful little idyl, the book of Ruth”

Sidlow Baxter, Explore The Book (Bible Commentary)

Imagine my delight, when I checked the Sunday School Rota a few weeks back, and discovered that I had to deliver a lesson on the book of Ruth!

My thoughts whirred – how on earth was I going to explain, to a group of 3-4 year olds, what a ‘Kinsman Redeemer’ is!   It had been years since I’d read the book of Ruth, but I vaguely remembered something about sheaves of barley…and wasn’t there that part when Ruth laid down at the feet of Boaz, asking him to cover her with his cloak?  Hmmm.  There was no doubt about it…Ruth was a book full of strange old customs.

Despite my initial reservations, things went really well! I even managed to find a beautiful sheaf of dried wheat on Amazon, which the kids were fascinated by.


With the Sunday Class behind me, I began to sense that there are absolutely no coincidences.  God was drawing me into the book of Ruth.  There were delightful hidden treasures within the story that He wanted me to discover.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, here is the basic backdrop of the story:

  • The story begins when a Judean woman called Naomi, who has spent the last ten years residing in Moab to escape a famine in her homeland, is left destitute when her husband and two sons die.
  • Her two sons had been married to Moabite women – one called Orpah, and one called Ruth.  (This was an ungodly alliance, and was forbidden in Levitical law).
  • Naomi decides to return to her people, where she fairs the best chance of survival.
  • She means to set out alone, and urges her two daughters-in-law to remain in Moab, and go back to their childhood families.  Naomi has no other sons to be given in marriage to Orpah or Ruth.  Their best bet is to remain in Moab, where they have the best chance of finding new husbands.
  • The two young women have an agonising decision to make.  They have come to love Naomi, yet if they go with her, they will have to live in Judah as sojourners in a foreign land – this is a huge risk to take.
  • Justifiably, with much weeping, Orpah decides to stay in Moab, but Ruth ‘clings to her Mother-in-Law’, refusing to be parted with her.

“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you, for where you go, I go, and where you lodge, I lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”

So what becomes of the lovely, loyal Ruth?

Well, it just so happens that the two women arrive in Bethlehem at the beginning of the Barley Harvest.  Their arrival does not go unnoticed.  Everyone is curious.  What has become of Naomi?  Where is Elimelech, her husband?  And what of her two sons?  And who is this strange Moabite woman at her side?  I bet tongues were wagging!

One of Naomi’s relatives, a wealthy, upright man named Boaz, owns several Barley fields and employs teams of servants to harvest the barley.

The key to Ruth and Naomi’s survival can be found in a strange harvesting custom, found in Leviticus 19:9

“Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Nor shall you glean your vineyard nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard.  You shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger, I am the Lord Your God.”

Wow!  Isn’t that just like our God?  Always making provision for the needy and the stranger?

So Ruth becomes a “gleaner” in the fields of Boaz.  She follows behind the team of harvesters, gathering up the scraps that they accidentally drop.  She has to keep her distance.  Moab was known at the time as the ‘washbasin of Israel’ – basically, a foot- basin for washing feet!  She is totally vulnerable, putting herself at the mercy of others, and showing herself to be utterly destitute.  She is therefore open to any kind of mistreatment.

But Boaz notices Ruth.  He makes enquiries about her.  And it seems he is deeply impressed by her loyalty to Naomi.  He speaks to Ruth, showing kindness to her in three ways:

  • He instructs her to glean only in his field;
  • He commands his servants not to touch her;
  • He invites her to drink from the water that his servants draw if she gets thirsty.

It must have been fairly unusual for a foreigner to be treated with such kindness, as Ruth falls on her face, bowing down to the ground, saying: “Why have I found such favour in your sight, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?”

And here is Boaz’s response:

“All that you have done for your Mother-in-law, after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your Father and your Mother and the land of your birth and came to a people that you previously did not know.  May the Lord reward your work and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”

Someone once said that you can find Jesus in every book of the bible.  Like a golden thread woven through the whole tapestry of scripture, is the overarching theme of Redemption.  Every now and then, if we examine the tapestry in the right light, we catch a glimmer of this glinting gold.  The book of Ruth is no different!  Boaz is a type of Christ.  And here we begin to get the first glimpses of a man that possesses amazing integrity, kindness and generosity.

It also may be worth noting here that godly men are drawn to godly character.  They are not merely impressed by the outward appearance, but by the inner qualities a woman displays by her conduct.  Boaz was deeply struck by Ruth’s courage and commitment.  He also recognised the evidence of her new found faith – By cleaving to Naomi, Ruth had ultimately chosen to put her faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God never turns away any that would seek Him.  The time of salvation for the Gentile had not yet come.  Yet God seems unable to resist showing compassion, grace and kindness towards this young, courageous Moabite woman, who has so selflessly thrown herself upon His mercy.

As the story unfolds, we get to see how sweetly Boaz and Ruth become increasingly drawn to one another.  And we begin to see more of God’s wonderful, extravagant heart towards the Gentile.

Part Two to follow soon…!

A Study On Kindness


This week, the Lord has been repeatedly drawing my attention to a very beautiful quality: kindness.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but kindness seems to be pretty ‘in’ right now!  Perhaps you’ve heard about people carrying out these ‘Random acts of Kindness, in which kind deeds are bestowed on unsuspecting recipients, with absolutely no strings attached – apart from perhaps inspiring them to ‘Pay it Forward’ by doing something kind to someone else. An example would be paying someone’s bill in a cafĂ©, or  leaving some coins selo-taped to a vending machine for whoever should next come along, with a post-it-note saying: “Treat yourself to something nice!

I love these kind of stories…they warm the cockles of the heart, don’t they?!

“But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword.” – Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth.

But what exactly is kindness?  What does it look like?  Is it giving someone your last Rolo?  Or baking a cake for a new neighbour? Is it a natural quality that some people are just born with? Or is it a choice?  Well…I decided to delve into the scriptures to find out.  I didn’t get very far!  It seems kindness is an ocean, and I’ve only paddled in the shallows.  But here’s what I learned from just four verses:

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you – Ephesians 4:32

Kindness is tender-hearted.  It’s warm.  It receives others with openness and understanding.  Kindness is having a heart that is soft and malleable, not hard and unyielding.

Kindness forgives…The more a person ‘gets’ how gracious God has been to them, the more they are able to extend kindness and forgiveness to others.  The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Now I’m no expert, but if studies were conducted, my guess would be that some of the kindest people on earth would also turn out to be the most thankful to God.

But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” – Luke 6:35

Kindness is giving to others who may never repay you or even seem to appreciate your kindness.  So hooray for all those times when you’ve washed up, cleared up, picked up, hoovered up, put up and shut up- and nobody seemed to appreciated it!  Sometimes the arena where our kindness is most acutely tested is in our own homes with our nearest and dearest!    And how about loving our enemies?  It’s easy to be kind to the kind.  Genuine kindness is demonstrated by our Heavenly Father who is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” – Proverbs 11:17

The great thing about kindness is it’s a bit like a boomerang.  You throw it out and somewhere down the line it’s going to come back and bop you on the head!  (It’s worth noting at this point that cruelty works in the same way too – ouch!)  And even if people do not repay you, God most certainly will!  In fact, the reward for kindness is the highest of all honours:  You will be sons of the Most High.  Wow!

Put on then, as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience – Colossians 3:12

Kindness is fitting apparel for the people of God.  Kindness belongs in the same closet as compassion, humility, meekness and patience.  By the help of the Holy Spirit, we are to ‘put on’ kindness along with the other qualities listed- to clothe ourselves in these most beautiful of garments.  Why?  Because they show the world, a world in which kindness can be sadly scarce, the heart of our wonderful, heavenly Father who is overwhelmingly gracious and infinitely kind.