Category Archives: Trials and Challenges

Your plus one

I find myself every now and then looking at my three little ones thinking, “God, what were You thinking making me the mother of these three beautiful blessings?” I am grateful, tired, overwhelmed, in awe, exhausted, caught up in my own shortcomings, wondering how to get a message across without shouting, feeling guilty for shouting until I finally give up the battle in my mind because really, “what was He thinking?”

And the amazing thing is that it is never too long after my moment of weakness that I can hear that gently Voice on the inside echo in my heart, “But it’s because I love you.” And it is then that I realize even when I struggle to believe in myself or feel overwhelmed by my circumstances, God, my Daddy God, believes in me, and if He thinks I can, who am I to say I cannot?

Maybe for you the mountain that seems too high to climb is not motherhood, but a job, a project, a relationship or a purpose that feels way above your fireplace that leaves you thinking, “God, who am I to be worthy to do what You ask of me?”

Can I tell you what He says to each of us asking Him that question?

He says, “I made you in my image. I am in you My child. I am with you. And with Me, everything is possible. So go on, climb that mountain, take that chance, love that child, forgive that person, because I AM with you.”

When you allow yourself to listen to those words and let it sink into your heart, you find new strength because you begin to understand that your ability to face and conquer whatever is in front of you is not because of you but in fact it is in spite of you as it is all possible because Jesus is with you.

You are never alone. You always have a plus one. 

Moses faced a similar predicament when God gave him the task to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses, like you and I often do, misunderstood what lied ahead. He thought it all depended on him and his abilities and he was all too aware of his shortcomings so he concluded that God had to have it all wrong. He must have had someone else in mind when He asked Moses to do that.

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 GW)

But God was not oblivious to Moses’ shortcomings but He knew that Moses was merely going to be His instrument to fulfil His purpose. It was not up to Moses to make things happen but it all depended on God. And He was able.

God answered, “I will be with you…” (Exodus 3:12 GW)

Those words should have been enough to assure Moses that he will be fine. However, Moses, still caught up in his own shortcomings and not sure how he was going to explain this out of character act of bravery, he replied to God, 

“Suppose I go to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” (Exodus 3:13 GW)

But God never doubts His purpose for us as He knows He is the one ultimately bringing everything to pass. So His response to Moses was simply this:

… “I Am Who I Am. This is what you must say to the people of Israel: ‘I Am has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:-14 GW)

In a similar way God is saying to me and you that He is with us, He is the one that has sent us on a journey of His greater purpose in our lives and He has faith in us because He sees Himself in us and He knows what He is capable of. Our shortcomings cannot limit Him.

He made no mistake to place that mountain before us because He has no intention leaving us by ourselves because He is with us and with God all things are possible (Luke 1:37).

Let words from the song Be still by Kari Jobe’s ring true in our souls:

“Be still my soul, be still…

Be still I know He is God
He is here, He is here
Be still I know He is God
He is here, he is here”

Maretha Retief 

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Do you believe your circumstances or God?

The news is full of stories with fears and tragedy. Some people show themselves true to their flesh as they disappoint and hurt us. I’m not sure what battle you are currently fighting but the battle is real. Whether it is against other people’s opinions or the lack thereof or whether it is about the circumstances you are facing on the outside. The question I would like you to consider is: do you believe that the circumstance on the outside is greater than God on your inside?

We cannot do anything about what other people do and say, but we can prevent it from having any power over us by not giving it any ground in our minds. We cannot always change our circumstances on the outside, but we can choose how we are going to respond. It may looks like our country cannot see a brighter day as every news article reeks of fear and tactics of the enemy trying to make us lose our faith. People may continue to hurt and disappointment that go beyond our understanding. Break-through may seems like something of the past and no matter how many hours you spend on your news, they do not seem to crawl even an inch closer.

Are we going to allow fear and uncertainty to have a greater say than our faith in God? Are we choosing our circumstances to be greater than the good plans that God has for us? In Whom and what are we going to put our trust?

By his power he stilled the sea…Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14, ESV)

God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. (Job 37:5, ESV)

The God we serve can bless us in spite of our circumstances. He does not need a perfect setting for His plans to come to fulfilment. He just needs a drop of faith and He will reward it with a bucket of blessings.

The voices of fear on the outside have no ground against the power of God inside us. No attack by the enemy is a surprise to God. In fact, He saw it coming and He already provided the way out, but do we ask Him to show us or do we get so caught up in what we see, we forget about His work behind the scenes that never stops?

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26, ESV)

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27, ESV)

Is your faith limited by what you see or do you call forth the things that are not as though they are?

Whatever the battle is that you are facing, know that it does not have the final say. God does. But do you believe it? Instead of listening to the voice of fear telling you that things will never get better, that you should leave, or that you should just give up; stop and ask God what it is that He wants for you. Instead of listening to that opinion that people has of you that is selling you so much shorter than who you are, turn to God and ask Him to show you your true identity that you have in Him as the apple of His eye?

I want to encourage you to look beyond the circumstances on the outside and trust God inside you. Let Him determine your thoughts, your mind set, and the motivation behind every decision you make. No opinion or circumstance has any ground against God who is writing the story of your life. And it is good and it is beautiful.

Maretha Retief

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The one thing God requires of you

Have you heard the silly voices of fear, doubt, uncertainty, insecurity, frustration or anger lately? Maybe circumstances, challenges or conflict has invited these thoughts to come to the fore. It does not matter how they begin, but I know where they end.

They end with these words being declared and believed: “Jesus is still on the throne.”

But things happen, circumstances may cause fear to arise in our hearts and people may hurt us that may lead our attention to the limitations of ourselves and the world around us, but none of that changes Jesus’ position.

He is still on the throne, He is still in control, He is still the Author of good things and His plans for you and me are still good. Nothing can overwrite His writing over our lives as He still holds the pen and is busy writing His story through us. Every single day.

So what do we do about everything that happens and the craziness of the world running around on the loose?

The answer lies in the greatest struggle we face every day. To stay in rest.

God knew what our battle would entail even before we become aware of it  and gives us encouragement through His Word:

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11 NIV)

Why do we find it is so hard to enter the rest Jesus obtained for us on the cross?

Well, that is because we make it our responsibility to step into God’s shoes and try to take control over our lives. A pair of shoes we can try to fulfil but will never succeed.

God knows us so well and commands us:

Do not let your hearts be troubled…” (John 14:1 NIV)

God does not need us to worry about everything for Him to provide. He provides. All He needs from us is to stay in rest and trust in Him, in everything and for everything. Your spouse. Your family. Your job. Your finances. Your relationships. Your vision.

By staying in rest we give God the complete control over our lives and when He is in control, we have the power through Jesus to keep the enemy under our feet. The place God gave him.

God gave His power to us and not to the enemy, therefore he has no footing in our lives. But when we worry, we move away from our position of authority and give the enemy a right to interfere in our circumstances.

When our circumstances change, it is difficult to remain in rest. But, by not worrying and trusting God to fight our battles, we take away any right the enemy may claim to have.

As we remain at rest, the enemy is reminded that Jesus defeated him at the cross and that we are trusting Jesus to work everything for our good; he remains defeated and no evil plan formed against us shall prosper.

So as you look around you and life gets overwhelming, remember this: Jesus is still on the throne and all you need to do is to stay in rest.

Maretha Retief

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Give up and hand it over

Do you manage through a day without worrying about something or someone? Do you sometime wreck your brain worrying about your kids and the struggles they go through, your job and its heavy demands, your finances and where you are going to get it from, your marriage and making time for each other?

They are all valid concerns. But, apart from losing sleep over it and probably causing headaches, stress and putting you in an irritable mood, what had worrying about it benefit you in any way?

Jesus showed us the way to go. He had concerns, just like us, but He did not lose any sleep over it. For example while He was in the boat with His followers, a raging storm began across the sea, but He slept through it (Matthew 8:23-27). The fact that lives were in danger did not unsettle Him because He knew who was looking after Him and who was in control … His Father. He woke up and calmed the storm not for His own sake but for the sake of those with Him.

When He had moments that He needed to talk to someone, He did not turn to man and sought opinions. No, He prayed and spoke to His Father, because He knew that God was the only one who had secure and lasting answers. If Jesus was prepared to not rely on Himself and His wits but on His Father, how much more must we seek God in everything?

If Jesus did nothing without God’s blessing, how much more should we seek God before we even dare to open our eyes each day?

Even in Jesus’ darkest hour He did not freak out. Even though He got scared, He continued to turn to God and follow His guidance. Nothing was more important to Jesus than to remain in fellowship with His Father. Jesus was the perfect example of surrendering everything to God and to turn to Him for everything.

Fears, responsibilities, doubts and concerns will come our way. That is the enemy’s way of stealing our focus away from Jesus and unto our realities and our shortcomings. When we lose sight of Jesus, our struggles feel like mountains and what is not worth getting a second glance from us, keep us awake at night.

It does not have to be that way.

God’s Words give us the way out:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

I urge you to not accept the enemy’s challenge to take care of your own troubles. You cannot. Well, not in a way that will prosper your life and turn out for your good. But if you dare to give up the fight on your own and surrender it all to Jesus, you are in for a show-down of Grace.

Watch Him as He turns you tears into joy, your sleepless night into divine visitations and your concerns into prayers and blessings, your ashes into beauty, your setbacks into stepping stones and losses into gains.

Give up life by yourself and your ways. Hand over every concern, every moment of every day as you pray: “Jesus, I give [this] to you. I cannot deal with it. Thank you for taking care of it and making it work out for my good”.

If Jesus cannot take care of your struggles, no-one can, including you!

Maretha Retief

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You are never again without love

You will never again go a day without God’s love!

His love is real. His love is present. His love is overwhelming. His love is yours. He loves you for you, inspite of your shortcomings. But are you walking in His love for you or do you need a fresh revelation of His love for you?

You kissed my heart with forgiveness, in spite of all I’ve done.
You’ve healed me inside and out from every disease.
You’ve rescued me from hell and saved my life. You’ve crowned me with love and mercy and made me a king.
You satisfy my every desire with good things.
You’ve supercharged my life so that I soar again like a flying eagle in the sky!
… Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness…”
(Psalm 103:3-8 TPT)

A revelation of God’s love places your life on a path that leads to favor and blessings. A life where He will set you on high in places with authority and feet to claim more territory for Him. A life where you will have more than enough, for yourself and for others. A life filled with strength, power and health. A life where your words, your actions and your ways will be a testimony of Jesus for others. Your life may be the only Bible people ever read but as you live it embraced by the love of God, it will be worth everybody’s read.

Are you missing any of these aspects in your life?

Do you need a touch-up on your revelation of His love?

Well, let’s start with a picture of how it looks. Imagine a dry river with a single yet desperate stream struggling its way through  dry and rocky riverbed … that is our need.

Now, imagine a strong flood of water gushing its way along a river that tries everything within its ability to keep it contained within its bank but fails. The water overflows and nourishes not only the river itself but all the areas surrounding it and with whatever it comes into contact.

Now when you look at the ocean, you can see no end to it. That is the same as God’s love, there is no end to it. When you look at the ocean, you know there are fish and an entire other world of life happening within it, but you may not always see it or feel it when you swim in it, yet it is there and it is beautiful. Only when you dive deep into the waters and put on special goggles do you see the clear and spectacular display of its presence. So it is with God’s love. It is always there. As you swim in the busyness and reality of life you may not always see or feel it but it is still there. It takes a conscious choice to focus and look for it. And when you find it, it will amaze you with its beauty and spectacular presence.

Never doubt God’s love just because you do not always see or feel it. Know it is there and pray that God will reveal it to you as you continue to go your way every day.

Maretha Retief

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Consider a second chance

Do you find yourself at times in desperate need of a second chance? Maybe you have hurt a loved one, you messed up a friendship or you really blew the opportunity at work you have waited for too long?

There are some good news and bad news I need to tell you.

Well, the good news is that we serve a God of second chances. The bad news is that we sometimes forget it.

Because God is so great, He saved us by grace. That is not of our own doing but because of Jesus’ selfless love on the Cross. A love I find difficult to comprehend but eternally grateful for.

A sacrifice that gave us eternity. He forgave us our sins – past, present and future. The consequence of His mercy towards us.

And so we received a second chance. At life. At love. At eternity.

When was the last time you showed someone mercy, giving them a second chance?

It is a choice you make – someone has done you wrong and you choose willingly to show them mercy by forgiving them and giving them a clean slate with you.

It is about not giving them the bad consequences they deserve (mercy) but rather giving them the good consequences they do not deserve (grace). It is not about deserving, but all about being willing to forgive. You let go of your hurt and pride and leave what has happened in the past and provide a future – where you can share again in the love and forgiveness of Christ.

God’s grace towards us in Jesus gives us the opportunity to have a relationship with Him today. He doesn’t hold our mistakes against us, as He already took every bad thing we deserve away from us and forgave us through His mercy and we gained access to every good thing we do not deserve by His grace through His act of love.

Do you find more space for yourself to breathe knowing the grace you are allowed to walk in?

If this is something that resonates with you, I have some exciting news to share. In my latest book Your Undiscovered Family: The position of belonging you were destined to have, I unpack the truths about your position of belonging in spite of the pain and brokenness you see all around you.

You can find the e-book on https://www.kobo.com/za/en/ebook/your-undiscovered-family. You can also order a print copy at http://groep7-selfpublish-books.co.za/christelik/571-your-undiscovered-family-maretha-retief.html or you can contact me directly at info@seasonswithchrist.com.

If you have missed out on our latest bible study about finding time for Jesus in your fringe hours, I have prepared an e-book for you that will help you catch up with everything you missed. You can download the free e-book here.

Blessings in Him,

Maretha Retief

 

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Does your darkest secret scare Jesus away?

“… For he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalms 44:21 ESV)

We all have those little secrets we hide inside our hearts. Some may be bright and reflect a side of us that remain unseen to the world. Others are locked down with as many locks of guilt and shame we can find.

You may have done your best to hide it from the world and from God, but to Him it remains as visible as can be. The reality thereof is not to make us feel more embarrased or ashamed but to be open before God. He desires for us to share our dirtiest, darkest little secrets and our deepest heart desires. He already knows all of them but therein lies the relationship we get to have with Him.

He wants to help you get rid of the dirt and polish the diamonds hidden inside you.

As you allow Jesus to wash you clean and bring worth your true value, you get to walk in His promise of 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

… “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit who dwells in us searches our hearts. He speaks to us in a way that brings change. He touches our heartS to beat according to God’s unforced rhythms of grace. He opens our eyes to God’s presence. He opens our ears to hear His voice.

Nothing about you can scare Him away or keep Him from loving you and giving you the best He has for you. The secret lies in this: the darker your secret, the greater will you experience His love for you as you realise the only good there is, in you and in me, is Him.

Join me in prayer:

Lord Jesus, You know me inside out. You know my darkest secrets as they are tucked away in my heart. And You still love me endlessly. You know My deepest desires and You polish me and clean me to perfection so that where I go, I will leave Your footsteps in the heart of people. Jesus, I pray that You will open My eyes to see You in everything. Open my ears so that I will hear Your voice and touch my heart that it will beat according to Your unforced rhythms of grace. I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

Maretha Retief

Photo credit: Liza Grace Photography

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{Psalm 91:16} – Does God want you to have a long life?

God satisfies you with a long life“With long life I will satisfy him, and show Him My salvation.” (Psalm 91:16 NKJV)

Is it God’s will for you to have a long and prosperous life?

Yes!

No matter what circumstances you are facing, let this verse take root in your heart that God’s will and promise for you is a long and good life. In Jesus, you are mighty and strong to take on and conquer any giant you may be facing in the future.

In Joshua 14 we read about Caleb who is a perfect picture of a long and good life. The older Caleb got, the stronger he got. He even said that he was as strong at the age of 85 as he was at 45.

And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. (Joshua 14:10-11 NKJV)

The long and good life God wants for us is not just in terms of quantity (the number of years) but also in quality in being healthy and strong.

Caleb was prepared to fight giants at the age of 85 to conquer and possess a mountain. In return, Joshua blessed Caleb for his obedience and gave him Hebron.

Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. (Joshua 14:14 NKJV)

The secret to a long life for Caleb was embedded in simply following the Lord. “Hebron” means fellowship or association that speaks of intimacy, closeness and connection with the Lord. As we follow Him, He promises us a good and long life. Our satisfaction sets the limit and according to our faith it will be done.

Under the new covenant of grace, we should aim high and settle for nothing less than God’s best.

Psalm 91 ends with a promise that God will show us “My Salvation”. The Hebrew word for “salvation” is the word yeshua that is Jesus’ name and means the One who saves us.

Verse 16 therefore says, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him My Yeshua”. God promises us a life filled with revelations of Jesus. As we see Jesus, we get wisdom, health, wealth, favor and the list goes on. Because of Jesus’ perfect work on the Cross, He unlocked all of God’s blessings and promises for us and gave us access to God’s presence and the gift of eternal life.

My prayer is for you that you will choose each day to follow Jesus with every part of your being and that He will be revealed to you in everything you do as you walk in the fullness of Christ Jesus.

I hope you enjoyed the study of Psalm 91 during this month as much as I did and that Jesus may continue to sow Himself to you as you continue your brave walk with Him.

The next Bible study on Finding Time for Jesus during the Fringe Hours will begin on 12 November.  There will be exciting resources made available during the course of the one week Bible study that will assist you on your walk with Jesus. If you have not previously indicated that you would like to join us, you can still do so by sending me an email at info@seasonswithchrist.com and I will subscribe you to that study.

Maretha Retief

Illustration credit: Jeanne de Villiers

 

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{Psalm 91:15} – Jesus is the answer for everything

Does God answer when you call upon Him?He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 NKJV)

Do you sometimes wonder whether God has time for you?

He does.

He wants you to run to Him for anything and everything. He wants to protect you. He wants you to call on Him so that He can be everything to you as He intended to be.

God gives us three promises here: “I will…answer, be with us in trouble and deliver and honor us.” A verse jam-packed with the goodness of God. When life has you running on an empty tank, remember this verse, because if you call upon Him, He will answer you. There is no qualifying criteria for us to be heard by God, because Jesus was forsaken at the Cross so that we can get instant and unconditional access to God at all times (Matthew 27:46). Because Jesus was forsaken then, God will never forsake us now (Hebrews 13:5).

God does not only want us to call upon Him when we are in trouble but also to stay out of it. If we seek Him for wisdom, He will help us to side-step many unnecessary circumstances we would have encountered otherwise.

The biggest favor we can do ourselves is to seek Jesus’ wisdom every day. Christ has become our wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30); so all we need is Him. Through His wisdom, He brings us into the right place at the right time and protects us from danger.

The challenge is yours: In everything you do, acknowledge Jesus and He shall respond, keep and direct you in all your ways (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Maretha Retief

Illustration credit: Jeanne de Villiers

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{Psalm 91:14} – When God’s love overshadows the danger

God loves overshadows me“Because he has set His love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.” (Psalm 91: 14 NKJV)

Do you believe you are qualified to receive God’s protection?

Psalm 91 must be read through the lens of the new covenant through which we have been saved by Jesus on the Cross.

God knew we would never be able to fulfill His law that we must love Him with all our heart, mind and soul, so in sending His Son, He was saying to us, “I know you are not able to love Me that way, but let Me love you with all My heart, mind and strength.” This is what the new covenant is all about:

In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 AMP)

Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of the law and qualified us for ALL of God’s promises and blessings. Even when we make mistakes and fall short, we are still loved by God and receive His protection as we are qualified in Christ.

Under the Old Testament and the old covenant, God’s protection was conditional upon people’s ability to keep the law. Then, protection had to be earned, but now under the new covenant of grace through Jesus’ perfect work on the Cross, we can receive our protection without having to earn it.

As we journey in our relationship with Jesus, the way we set our love on Him is by praying, worshiping, acknowledging Him, reading His Word, meditating on the Word and by spending time with Him in whichever way.

Because we are now the righteousness of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 5:21), we are lifted up in Him and seated with Him in heavenly places and enjoy God’s unconditional protection.

Be conscious of God’s unconditional love for you and receive His protection. If you wonder how you do this, try this way: think of the worst thing you have done and see how God still loves you irrespective of what you have done.

Maretha Retief

Illustration credit: Jeanne de Villiers

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