Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Rescued from the storm

He’s our rescuer’ (Rescuer (Good News) – Rend Collective)

When I was a child, I used to love going to the beach for days out. I hated being on the sand, and I couldn’t swim even if my life depended upon it, but it always seemed beautiful and peaceful to me, even with all the noise around me.

Nothing has changed, I still love to visit the sea-side, the lapping of the waves, the colours and how the light hits the water; it is one of my most favourite places.

Have you ever just sat still in a place where you most desire to be, and then done absolutely nothing? We are told to be still by God; I have often bee still in a calm place, but I also have to be careful not to fall asleep.

Be still, and know that I am God’ (Psalm 46:10 NIV).

Most people have a preferred place they like to visit, and mine is wherever there is water; the sea-side, a river, or a water-fall, and they all captivate me, and then make me want to run to the loo.

Water is such a wonderful thing. We can splash in a bath, we can swim in a swimming pool or river etc. we can spray people with it, but it is also a very powerful thing.

We now have tools for cutting that don’t use metal blades or lasers, but they use ultra high-powered water jets. If you think pumping up a car tyre to 35 PSI is a lot, then think again; these machines use pressures in excess of 30,000 PSI (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_jet_cutter – accessed 21/06/19).

Water has both beauty and power, and the only one that can truly control it is God!

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place” ‘ (Genesis 1:9 ESV).

We know that God made the universe and everything in it, he even spoke to Job at one point about creation;

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb… …  when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” ’ (Job 30:8 & 11 NIV).

I [God] made the sand and a boundary for the sea’ (Jeremiah 5:22 NIV – emphasis mine).

Water can also not be very nice to experience, like getting caught out on a sunny day when you have gone out without a coat and then the rain comes incessantly, like it will never stop, and we think “Is this how Noah felt?”

Rain though, is only part of it; storm like a tsunami / tidal wave, or sometimes they are called seismic sea waves, can be devastating. The raw power of the water can be overwhelming, engulfing everything in its path, and leaving behind utter chaos; people without electric, without proper sanitation, and even without homes.

Storms can be horrible!

We also suffer storms in our lives. Storms that threaten to overwhelm us, and take our focus away from where it should be, on Jesus.

Money problems can come without notice, the company you work for suddenly goes bankrupt, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

Family issues, where you argue with another family member, it gets heated, and one of you says something they really should not, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

You have an accident, and the doctor prescribes pain killers, your body gets used to them, and so you ask for something stronger, then stronger, and then you start taking drugs that are not prescribed, and all of a sudden the storm hits.

Unfortunately, storms happen in our lives, but it is what we do and where we turn that will make a difference.

When life falls apart, where should we go?

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans’ (Psalm 118:8 NIV).

It truly is.

I was not part of the church when a storm hit in my life, and yet the first place I went, was a place I had not visited for nearly 10 years, yet a place that I knew would be welcoming at that time of my life, a church; a place where I knew I could find peace, and be rescued from my storm, and ultimately, I knew that God would be there waiting for me. I know that Jesus never left me; it was I that left him, the Bible told me that;

I will never leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 ESV).

God had said the same words to Moses, that he would never be alone, when he was leading the Israelite nation;

My Presence will go with you’ (Exodus 33:14 NIV).

When our storms hit, we may feel totally unprepared to deal with them, but all we have to do is call out to God, and he will rescue us.

To you LORD I call’ (Psalm 28:1 NIV).

And if we turn to God, and trust him, then he will help us;

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way’ (Psalm 37:23 ESV).

Life is full of ups and downs, and no-one ever said it would be easy, in fact Jesus said exactly the opposite;

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily’ (Luke 9:23 NIV).

So life is not always going to be roses, rainbows and fluffy teddy bears; life is hard, (Luke 9:23 & Matthew 10:38) we are living in a world that is broken, (Genesis 3) but the hope we have is eternal, (Psalm 39:7). Jesus is mighty and will save us and sing over us in love, (Zephaniah 3:17) and he will come back (1 Thessalonians 4:16) we just do not know when, so we have to be vigilant (Matthew 24:42) and in the words of the J Bass Ministries, ‘I know that Jesus will fix it’ (Jesus Will Fix It – http://www.jbassministries.com/j_bass_songbook_lyrics/jesus_will_fix_it_lyrics_-_j_bass_songbook_volume_1 – accessed 21/06/19). All we do know, is that he has promised to return soon (Revelation 22:12).

Storms come and storms go.

We need to learn to anchor ourselves to something rock-like, so that when they do hit, our lives will be in tune with the creator of the universe and we will not be traumatised.

Truly my soul finds rest in God… … Yes my soul, find rest in God… Truly he is my rock and my salvation… I will not be shaken’ (Psalm 62:1, 5 & 6 NIV).

Whatever storm comes our way, whenever that storm hits us, however that storm affects us, our lives, and the lives of those dear to us, we should remember the Rend Collective, and what they say about God;

‘He’s our rescuer… we will praise the Lord our rescuer’ (Rescuer (Good News) – September 2018).

In my desperation

He’s our rescuer
He’s our rescuer
We are free from sin forever more
Oh how sweet the sound
Oh how grace abounds
We will praise the lord, our rescuer

There is good news for the captive
Good news for the shamed
There is good news for the one who walked away
There is good news for the doubter
The one religion failed
For the good lord has come to seek and save

He is beauty for the blind man
Riches for the poor
He is friendship for the one the world ignores
He is pasture for the weary
Rest for those who strive
For the good lord is the way, the truth, the life
Yes, the good lord is the way, the truth and life (hey)

So come and be chainless
Come and be fearless
Come to the foot of Calvary
For there is redemption
For every affliction
Here at the foot of Calvary

Rescuer (Good News)

Rend Collective

C. Llewellyn / B. Hastings / B. Fowler / G. Gilkeson / Rend Collective Holding Account

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Father we thank you that whenever we need you, you are always ready for us. Lord we loo to you, maybe not as often as we should or could, but we look to you for strength to deal with whatever life throws at us. Lord help us to spend time with you, in your word, and talking to you in prayer, that when storm do hit our lives, we are in tune with you and are not shaken. God you are our rock, not just in times of trouble, but always. Help us to cling to you.

Amen

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Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Dear God… …Amen!

“Dear God” Amen’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p1).

Have you ever been abroad on holiday with friends, and gone to a country where no-one in the group knows how to speak the local language? The only proper conversations that you will likely have during your stay will probably be with them, unless you meet others who speak your language.

I like to go to different places and explore the surrounding countryside, but I also like to learn some of the local language, even if it is only to say hello, please, and thank-you and good-bye.

Have you ever really tried to have a proper in-depth conversation with someone that speaks a different language?

I have; I remember once speaking to an Aunt who lived abroad, and was over in England visiting another of my relatives. I was having a conversation with her, using bits of English, French, sign-language, and even a little German. I soon became aware of the fact that she could not understand me properly, so I started to speak louder to her. My other Aunt, who was also present, then said to me;

she does not understand you, shouting at her will not help, as she will still not understand you, she speaks Spanish, she is not stupid”.

I thought that this statement was a little harsh until I started to watch other people also try to have conversations in the same way that I had.

But, whatever situation we find ourselves in, there is always someone that we can talk to, no matter where we find ourselves, and whatever language we speak. We do not need to go to their house, we do not need an internet connection, there will be no ‘face-time’, video call or text; the person that we can always talk to is God!

Wherever we are, we have absolute, direct access, ‘back-stage-pass’ if you like, to the creator of the universe. So we can talk to him anytime that we want to, we do not need an appointment, we do not need to schedule some ‘together-time’ we just need to call out to him, as David did;

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry’ (Psalm 40:1 NIV).

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer’ (Psalm 61:1 NIV).

But does God really care for us, or have surplus time for us?

Of course God cares for us; he even created us to like him;

So God created man in his own image… … male and female he created them’ (Genesis 1:27 ESV).

The Psalmist David also asked questions about God and his people;

what is mankind that you are mindful of them… that you care for them’ (Psalm 8:4 NIV).

God created you and me, on purpose, and for a purpose! We were planned and created.

We know that whatever we have done, wherever we are, God is also there with us;

Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Jesus also told the disciples the same thing;

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20 NIV).

And even if everyone else in your family or circle of friends leaves you, you will never be truly alone;

the LORD will receive you [me]’ (Psalm 27:10 NIV – emphasis mine).

So we know that the creator of the universe, the creator of you and me is always with us, then having a conversation whenever we want, is not a problem. Is it?

So how do we really talk to God?

Do we need to get on our knees? No but it may help you feel humble about meeting God in prayer!

Do I have to close my eyes? No but it may help you concentrate on God.

What do I do then?

Well we go somewhere we are comfortable, and then we talk to God using normal language, we speak simply; we do not have to use a foreign language or archaic words, we do not have to use mantras or even speak with specific intonation;

More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of’ (Idylls of the King – Tennyson).

So why do we pray, and what is prayer?

The word ‘pray’ has is derived from the Latin language, and the root of the word is, precari, which means to ask in earnest, or to beg or to entreat, (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/pray – accessed 15/06/19).

We pray because life is precarious’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p8).

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and even to ask for their daily bread (Matthew 6:11), he also taught them that whatever the asked for would be done for them;

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer’ (Matthew 21:22 NIV).

That does not mean that we should all go to pray about what we want materialistically, we do not need Ferrari’s or luxury yachts; they may be nice, but they would also help us to lose our focus, and we should focus on God, we should not conform to the world (Romans 12:2), but be apart from it, live in such a way that we live in the world, but live as Jesus wants us to.

Prayer is a powerful tool, and George Müller knew this more than most people; on one occasion, he stood up and said grace in front of 300 hungry orphans, with absolutely no food to give them; he thanked God for the food that he was ‘going to give them’. Upon finishing saying grace, a few minutes later, a baker came in giving them bread that he had baked the previous night, and he was followed by a milkman offering them milk (How to pray – Pete Greig – p75 – alsohttps://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/church-history-for-kids/george-mueller-orphanages-built-by-prayer-11634869.html – accessed 15/06/19).

Talking to God in prayer should be like talking to a friend, chatting simply; but prayers are not always words;

Sometimes I imagine my prayers… … they’re not always audible’ (Anon – Sicangu Oyate tribal member – How to pray – Pete Greig – p20).

the Spirit helps us in our weakness… … the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings’ (Romans 8:26 ESV).

That does not mean that when we cannot bother with prayer that we should just sit there and groan. When we least fell like praying, that is when we should pray our hardest.

Cause you are strong when I’m weak, so I’m still standing, still standing on my knees’ (Standing on my knees – Sarah Kelly).

Basically, prayer is talking, about what you have done, what scares you, what angers you, what you need help with, asking for specific things such as people you know to encounter God maybe for the first time. We should also find time to thank God for the good things in our lives such as family and health, and also find time to praise him and worship him.

pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).

We need to pray all the time, in the morning with thanks for waking up, during the day with expectation on chances to share the gospel, and in the evening with a thankful heart at the end of the day, and asking for more time to share Jesus with people tomorrow.

P.R.A.Y. – Pause, Rejoice, Ask, Yield. I’m not a big fan of acronyms… … but this particular one works’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p3).

I remember speaking to a worker on a site in Derby about prayer, and he asked what he should say. My reply was simple, and I said, talk to God, in the exact same way that you are talking to me, he is your heavenly Father and just wants you to talk to him.

Prayer should be like talking to a best friend, it should be easy and uncomplicated;

You just say, “Dear God”, chat to him for a bit, and then say Amen’ (How to pray – Pete Greig – p1).

Prayer can really be that simple.

Pray to the One

The splendour of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
he Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves

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Father we thank you for always being with us, we thank you that we can talk to you in prayer any time that we want, we thank you that you are on-call 24-7. Lord, help us to want to talk to you more, help us to be ready to talk to you more. Lord, help us to be better people that reflect you to the world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Authority from God our Rock!

God my rock’ (Brenton Brown – God My Rock – God My Rock #3)

When you were young and you went on holiday, if you were lucky enough to go, did you play on the beach and build large, rambling, majestic sand castles?

Then later on in the day, did you watch as the tide returned, and relentlessly came in a destroyed you creation; hours of sweating and toiling gone with just a few small waves, as it washed away your masterpiece.

I used to try to stop this, I would collect stones and try to build a dam, or I would dig a trench around it like a moat on a castle, but eventually, the result was the same, annihilation for the creation I had worked so hard at.

That is why Jesus said;

everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand’ (Matthew 7:26 NIV).

As a builder, with many years experience, I could explain, and probably bore you to death in the process, all of the ins and outs of building something correctly, with a properly dug, deep enough, sure foundation with which to start, but I will not (yay!).

If you build wisely from a firm solid foundation, or if you listen to the word of God, and then practice it, i.e. walk it out in your day to day life for all to see, then you are like;

a wise man who built his house on the rock’ (Matthew 7:24 ESV).

The very nature of rock is solidity and strength.

If we plan something properly, then what we are planning will generally have a good foundation, a good start to the venture, and a chance that it may succeed. It certainly has a better chance that if we do no absolutely no planning whatsoever, and just ‘wing-it’.

Our Christian faith is a little like that. If we hear the word of God, listen to it properly, then ignore it until we decide to go to church the following week, or whenever we attend, the our faith is a little like the house on the sand, we will have no depth to our foundational knowledge about the gospel and Jesus, who gave so much for us.

People may ask us questions about Jesus, expecting a reply that may challenge them, or help them enter into a debate about your faith and their lack. But if there is no depth to our knowledge, then we may only be able to give a shallow answer that may not really give the person asking any information.

If we attend church, whatever denomination we go to does not really matter; what matters is that we are engaging with God and other Christians, and being present, ready to listen to the word of God, and hopefully hear God speak to us through the service, i.e. through the worship, prayers or message preached.

If we attend and listen, engage with others and God, and really ask him to speak to us, then, like a good cheese, we will mature.

We do not need to be advanced in years to be mature; I have heard relatively young people be very articulate and knowledgeable about the Bible and theology, and really engage the people that they are speaking to, pulling them into what they are talking about; pulling them in because they are so passionate about their topic, Jesus.

We also read that Jesus was so;

because he taught as one who had authority’ (Matthew 7:29 NIV).

And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority’ (Mark 1:22 ESV – emphasis mine).

For with authority and power he commands’ (Luke 4:36 ESV).

No one ever spoke the way this man does’ (John 7:46 NIV).

In our country, the law of the land has authority over all situations, and, if you break the law by stealing something, or by breaking-in to somewhere, or by murdering or trying to murder someone, or cause someone bodily harm etc. then the law will deal with you.

the law has authority’ (Romans 7:1 NIV).

But where does the authority of the law come from?

there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God’ (Romans 13:1 ESV).

God does not let our life randomly proceed; he has a plan for all of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). We may think that we get our job and subsequently the promotion with more pay and better terms, all from what we have done, but we should be careful in how we treat others. We may have had bad bosses in the past, but two wrongs do not make a right (this is life, not Algebra).

I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority, the authority the Lord gave me’ (2 Corinthians 13:10 NIV).

We need to live our life, so that when people look at us, they notice that we are generally different from the people around us. We should be different, and we are called to be different.

Do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:1 ESV).

We should stand out from the crowd. We need to be the light in the dark place, just as Jesus said;

You are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14 NIV).

And if we are to be the light, what do we do with our light, keep it to ourselves? Only share it with our friends? No, we put it where everyone can see it;

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden… … put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light’ (Luke 11:33 NIV).

We need to be able to show others who may not know Jesus, the way to Jesus. We know that he is the way to our Father God (John 14:6), but many in the world do not, and there are even many who have never even had a chance to hear about the amazing saving grace of Jesus and the gospel.

In the film Stardust (Paramount Pictures – 2007), a star (Yvaine played by Claire Danes) falls to earth and a love story ensues, but, ultimately just before the end of the film she recovers from a broken heart and says to her beloved (Tristan played by Chalie Cox);

What do stars do? They shine’ (Yvaine – Stardust – 2007).

So what should we do, for the world that is lacking Jesus, for the world  that may not ever have heard the amazing gospel message? For the person we work with who does not know Jesus? For our neighbour? For our family members?

What we should do, is shine for Jesus!

saltandlight copy

 

There’s a little flame inside us all
Some shine bright, some shine small
The rains will come and the waters rise
But don’t you ever lose your light
In this life you will know
Love and pain, joy and sorrow
So when it hurts, when times get hard
Don’t forget whose child you are

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine, gonna let it shine

May you live each day with no regret
Make the most of every chance you get
Let your eyes get wide when you look at the stars
With the same sense of wonder as a child’s heart
With the ones you love treasure the time
And for those who are gone keep their memories alive
Hold on to your dreams don’t ever let go
There’s a fire inside you burning with hope

There will be days when you want to give up
When the clouds settle in
But after the rain comes the sun
Don’t you ever forget

One day there will be no more pain
And we will finally see Jesus’ face
So until then I’m gonna try
To brave the dark and let my little light shine

This Little Light Of Mine (Addison Road – Stories #3)

Ryan Gregg & Jennie Stiefel

 

 

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Father we thank you sending Jesus to light the way for us, and to show us the way to enter into your kingdom. Help us be the light that is needed in this world that can be so dark. Lord this world needs you, we need you, help us to shine for you and guide others into your presence.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Shine Jesus, shine for Jesus!

whether there is truth in you’ (Genesis 42:16 ESV)

How honest are we as people, or even, how honest are you and I?

Do you tell ‘little white’ lies, or say, I only lied to protect them, to save them from harm or anguish?

There is no such thing as a ‘little white lie’. There is no lie that will protect, a lie is a twisting of events that happened, a lie is like a knife cutting into something, whatever it has cut will never be the same. When you lie, you have to create a collection of lies, each one slightly bigger than the previous one, a whole universe of lies that revolve around your initial lie; you also have to be very imaginative and clever to perpetuate the ‘lie universe’.

No! A lie is a lie, and a lie is sin!

When people tell a lie about something, they have to make up a bunch of lies to go with the first one. ‘Mythomania’ is the word for it.” (Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood).

I would say that everyone at some point has lied, whether for ‘best intentions’ to protect someone, or whether because they had done something that they should not have. Unfortunately, at various points in my life, I am saddened to say that have been guilty of both, on many occasions, but by the grace of God, I am a working progress.

I have recently read some very poignant words;

Never lie to someone who trusts you, and never trust someone who lies to you’ (Prakhar Sahay).

There is much truth in that statement. Generally we lie when we are afraid. Afraid that we have done something that we should not, and worried about being found out for whatever we have done; also if we realise that someone else is lying to us, why, would we ever trust anything that they would say to us. We lie when we are filled with fear, but there is a remedy;

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18 ESV).

If our life is filled with love, it will be filled with Jesus, and then we have nothing to fear, and as Jesus taught;

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32 NIV).

Some people say that the ‘truth’ is subjective, but what is it subjective to? The truth can only ever be, ‘the truth’.

But how ready are we for the truth? Do you really want people to be brutally honest?

Are you ready for a negative when you ask “Do you like my dress?”Will that answer ruin the night?

Are you ready for the negative answer when you ask “Darling, do you thing I have a beer belly coming” or will that send you into a downward spiral?

We have many issues in our lives. Many people these days have issues with how they see themselves. Girls think they are fat based upon ‘models’ that have a dress size of 0. Boys think they have something wrong if they do not have a six-pack or are slightly under-developed muscles, or are late developers.

Body image is a big thing, there are many ‘reality’ programmes regarding the issues, and they command huge audiences.

Lieutenant Kaffe said, “I want the truth!” and the reply from Colonel Jessep was “You can’t handle the truth!” (A Few Good Men – Columbia Pictures – 1992).

The Psalmist David knew what you should do;

The one whose walk is blameless… … who speaks the truth from the heart’ (Psalm 15:2 NIV).

We know that we should speak only the truth, but sometimes we are worried about what people will think, or sometimes we are worried how people will treat us after they know the truth we have been hiding, but;

the LORD hates… … a lying tongue’ (Proverbs 6:16 & 17 ESV).

God hates it when we lie, and we should be honest, because God knows what we are thinking, and what we are going to say, even before we have spoken;

Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely’ (Psalm 139:4 NIV).

So why do we lie? Is it because we are afraid? Is it because we think that people cannot handle or deal with, what we are about to say. If you are honest to, and the people with whom you confide in, love you as a Christian, then you should be able to tell the anything, even your dirtiest, deepest, darkest secret, that was previously known only by you and God, anything should be acceptable.

In the words of Paul, we should;

Present your bodies (mind, soul, everything, leaving nothing in the shadows) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’ (Romans 12:1 – emphasis mine).

If we are truthful in everything that we do, then there are no shadows in our life, no skeletons in the cupboard that could come flying out to harm us, our reputation, our families or relationships etc.

The Lord spoke to the prophet Zechariah, and in turn, Zechariah told the Israelite’s;

Speak the truth to each other’ (Zechariah 8:16 NIV).

Even Jesus came to the earth;

Came from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14 NIV).

Jesus came to earth full of truth, and live the truth, spoke the truth, preached the truth. If it is good enough for Jesus, then it should be good enough for us, for as Jesus taught;

the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth’ (John 16:13 NIV).

Jesus, came, worked, lived, spoke, shone, and died in the truth. We too should live that light, we need to be the light for a dark world that needs saving, a world that needs Jesus, a world that needs us to show others a better way, a way of living in the light, no shadows, no skeletons, no lies, only truth;

If you hold to my teaching… … and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:31 & 32 NIV).

Light shines in Darknes - John - 1

 

Lord, the light of your love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness, shining,
Jesus, light of the World shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth you now bring us.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine, Jesus, shine,
Fill this land with the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze,
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
Flood the nations, with grace and mercy;
Send forth your Word,
Lord, and let there be light.

Lord, I come to your awesome presence,
From the shadows into your radiance;
By the blood I may enter your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me, shine on me.

As we gaze on your kingly brightness,
So our faces display your likeness.
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirrored here may our live tell your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.

Shine Jesus Shine

Graham Kendrick

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Father we thank you sending Jesus to help us realise who we are. You have given us so much, freedom, salvation, hope! Help us to also give, to give your light to the dark world that we live in. Help us to be the salt and light that is so desperately needed in this world. Give us courage daily to do this task, not for our sake, but for your glory.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Free! Available always! To anyone!


every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV)

Being a Marvel fan, I tend to watch most of the films or television series. There is a relatively recent one called ‘The Gifted’ (Fox Broadcasting Company – originally aired 02/10/17) where many of the people that are the stars of the show are referred to as ‘Mutants’. D.C. refers to these people as ‘Metahumans’. But whatever they are called, are they really gifted? They may have certain powers, to create fire of bend metal etc, but are these really gifts that a lot of people would want?

John Newton (1725 – 1807) wrote the wonderful Christian hymn about a gift that is freely available to anyone and everyone who may want (or really need it), and all you have to do is claim it. Amazing Grace; and it basically tells us that no matter what we have done, or what we have lost, or how bad we think we are, God is never too far away to help us and rescue us; now that is Amazing Grace.

The greatest gift that has ever been given to anybody, did not consist of large perfectly cut diamonds, or smooth, perfectly coloured emeralds, or even large amounts of gold or silver; the greatest gift ever given, was a life!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 ESV).

When people buy you a gift for your birthday or Christmas, do they spend hours or even days choosing it, walking from shop to shop trying to imagine if you will like the gift? Maybe they do not, unless you have absolutely amazing friends, but still, probably not.

When my daughter was younger, one year she saved some of her money from her birthday, and brought myself and her mother a bar of chocolate each; there was nothing special about the chocolate (apart from it was Galaxy), she did not wrap it in amazingly coloured paper with bows or ribbons, she did write a long elegant letter telling of her love for us, but what was special was the way that she did it. Young as she was, she gave of her own, she did not ask for any help with this, she did not ask for any money, or anything for that matter, and she did it in secret, without telling us.

When God sent his perfect gift to us, Jesus, he knew exactly how bad we were as a race of people, and;

Just at the right time… … Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

God’s timing is perfect, and what he does is perfect, and the reason that the timing is just right, spot-on, perfect, is that he knows everything that we do;

O LORD, you have searched me and known me!’ (Psalm 139:1 ESV).

Yet you know me, LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you’ (Jeremiah 12:3 NIV).

There is nothing that we can do that God does not already know about. I know that may sound extremely worrying to some, but try not to worry too much, because there is also nothing that you can do that will make God love you any less.

God sent Jesus as a gift to the human race, Jesus would come and show us how we should live, and then, ultimately, he would die for our sins.

Ellis J Crum wrote about Jesus coming to die for us, he wrote;

He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay’ (Ellis J Crum – 1977).

So really what we should be saying, or rather shouting out to God, is a massive thank you;

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift’ (2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV).

The gift we get from God, through Jesus, is eternal hope for an eternal life, with Jesus. But the gift we get when we accept Jesus as our Lord, Friend, Redeemer, Teacher, Rescuer, Counsellor, Leader, Saviour, needs to be used.

We receive Grace and Redemption for our past sins, so we should also give others grace and redemption for what they have or may have done against us. In this way, just as Paul reminded Timothy in one of the letters written to him, we will;

fan into flame the gift of God’ (2 Timothy 1:6 NIV).

In his previous letter to Timothy, Paul had reminded Timothy to devote himself to public preaching, teaching, and reading of the scripture (1 Timothy 4:13), and he also reminded him not to do something;

Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you’ (1 Timothy 4:14 NIV).

Now concerning spiritual gifts… … … Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord’ (1 Corinthians 1 & 4-5 ESV).

You can go on-line and do tests to see what gifts you have, as you may not think that you have any, but we all have them, eternal life being the one most people think of, but you may be called to serve God and be a teacher or preacher, you may be called to serve God in a worship group, or with the youth of your church, or as an organiser, or a some-one who meets and greets people at the door, or a cleaner, a chair stacker, a person who hands out Bibles etc. every position is just as important as the person who stands at the front and preaches, but also pulls all the various elements together.

There are many, many ways in which we could each serve God, and you may not even feel ready or able to serve.  Remember that God does not always call those who are fully ready and equipped for whatever challenge is presented, but he will ensure that if he calls you, that you are equipped.

As I sit here writing this text, I know that the ability I have to write, is a gift from my God, a gift I cherish, the ability to say to others through this blog, what God has put on my heart.

Many years ago, when doing a Bible study as a teenager, we were looking at time, and something was said then that has stayed with me;

Yesterday is history;
Tomorrow is a mystery;
Today is a gift, that is why it is called the present

We all have gifts, and some are more important than others, but the most important thing of all to remember is;

the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23 ESV – emphasis mine).

 

Equips the called.jpg

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet
At Your feet
My lips
So lost for words
Will kiss Your feet
Kiss Your feet

Oh the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

Alabaster

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for giving us such an amazing gift, your Son. We realise that we do not deserve it, but want to live our lives like your Son Jesus did. Lord we want to be better people, and with your help and strength, we can try. Lord help us to be better day by day we pray.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I’m coming back to the start – Chris Tomlin

Put on the new self’ (Ephesians 4:24 NIV)

Why should we need to put on a new self? Why should we need to change?

How many times have you thought “Oops, I should not have said that” or “Oops, did that really come out loud?” or “Why did I do that again?

If you are like many people, you have probably said one or more of those statements numerous times. Many people say things without thinking first, they engage their mouth without putting their brain in gear; in other words, they say the first thing that pops into their mind, which is not always a smart idea.

There have been many times in my life, and I would also presume yours, where I have thought “If only I could do that again, it would be different”.

But how many times in our lives have we been in similar situations, where the outcome is still the same, even though we wished to change it?

Many of us, if not all of us, do things in our life that we really should not. We sin!

A lot of people think that saying we ‘sin’ sounds horrible, it makes us sound like we are bad people. Which we are, generally speaking;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

I do not write this to shock people or to anger them; it is that I am simply pointing out that we are not perfect. There has only ever been one perfect person, that did not sin;

And being made perfect’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth’ (1 Peter 2:22 NIV).

we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin’ (Hebrews 4:15 NIV).

And not only was he perfect, but by coming to the earth, and dying on the cross, he also saved us;

he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

We may be people who have sinned, or rather that statement should really say ‘we are all of course people who have sinned, we are human and fail often’.

But when we go to God, and take him our failures and sins, what does God do with them?

Does God parade your sin around so that everyone can see? Of course the answers is no.

Does God ensure that you pastor and everyone at church knows every dark deed that you do? Of Course he does not?

Does God let people know through visions and dreams, how bad a person you are? Of course he does not do that either.

So we know that we do wrong in the eyes of God and the teaching held within the Bible, we know that we sin. But what do we do when we realise this?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9 ESV).

The Psalmist David also knew what he should do when he sinned against God;

Then I acknowledged my sin to you… … I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”. And you forgave me’ (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

Once when Peter was speaking in Solomon’s Colonnade, he said to those listening to him;

Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out’ (Acts 3:19 ESV).

We need to come to God when we realise, or when some-one points out to us that we have sinned, and broken the laws of God.

Open confession is good for the soul’ (Old Scottish proverb – https://mtvchurchofchrist.org/wp/?p=137 – accessed 11/05/19).

But why is confessing our sin important?

It is true that God know everything that we do; he knows when we get up, and he knows what we are going to say (Psalm 139:2 & 4). God knows everything, but that is not the point.

To confess, we come nearer to God. It is humbling to speak out words saying that you know that you are not perfect, and that you have failed in some way; but, ‘Come near to God and he will come near to you’ (James 4:8 NIV).

Sometimes, verbalising something helps us as humans heal; sometimes actually saying something can take some of the pain away; and sometimes, saying something, can actually help you to come to understand why it happened.

But, by giving our burdens to God, because that what un-repented sin is, a burden; giving your burdens to him, means that you do not need to carry them anymore;

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened… … Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’ (Matthew 11:28 & 29 NIV).

We are free to carry on out life without the burden of sin weighing us down, free to simply be.

God will not hold a grudge against you for not being perfect, he will forgive you, (Psalm 32:5) some of your human friends might hold a grudge against you, and may never forgive you. God will also not stay angry at the sin you committed, (Isaiah 12:1), some of your friends may have trouble letting what you have done, go. God will not constantly bring up your failures or remind you of them, (Jeremiah 31:34) whereas your human friends might, especially if you have just annoyed or upset them. God will not even mention your sins, he has thrown them away (Psalm 103:12) or tread them under his feet (Micah 7:19), and forgotten them, (Hebrews 8:12) it is as if they never ever existed, (Isaiah 43:25); not so with many of your human friends.

But thankfully, God is not human; he is the creator and the sustainer of the universe, so we should be thankful that we have some-one to go to when we have sinned, some-one that is merciful and forgiving;

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin’ (Romans 4:8 NIV).

So we can reboot our life whenever we have done something wrong, we do not need to wait for a special moment, or a special day, whenever we need to we can confess our sin to he who created us, and we shall be washed clean with his forgiveness.

I'm coming back to the start

 

Before I spoke a word, you were singing over me;
You have been so, so good to me.
Before I took a breath, you breathed your life in me;
You have been so, so kind to me.

When I was your foe, still your love fought for me;
You have been so, so good to me.
When I felt no worth, you paid it all for me;
You have been so, so good to me.

Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.
Oh it chases me down, fights till I’m found,
Leaves the ninety-nine.
I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give your-self away.
Oh the over-whelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

Reckless Love

Cory Ashbury, Caleb Culver, Ran Jackson

 

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Father we thank you for being so reckless as to let your only Son come to this earth, and to die for us. We do so much that is not what you want, help us to constantly come back to the start, to find you, to say sorry, and to reboot our heart, to start afresh, from the beginning, clean and new. Lord we love you, help us to love you more.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I am!

I am the law… … prepare to be judged’ (Judge Joseph Dredd – Judge Dredd 1995 – https://www.quotes.net/movies/judge_dredd_6061 – accessed 03/05/19)

On television today, you can choose to watch programmes where people make a spectacle about virtually any part of their life, no matter how private or intimate. Jerry Springer and Jeremy Kyle have been allowing members of the public to humiliate themselves and their former friends for years.

Judge Judy has been on television for over 13 years, whilst Judge Rinder has been around and televised since 2014. People seem enthralled by other people’s problems, and how they deal with them.

Back in 1977, Judge Dredd first hit the comic shelves, in a comic called 2000 AD. The population of the time (around 2099) lived in a dystopian future in a place called Mega-City One, and he and his fellow judges had tough jobs, and they were ‘police, jury and executioner all in one. They were the Judges’ (Narrator – Judge Dredd 1995), although the death sentence was not widely used unless capital offences had occurred (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judge_Dredd – accessed 03/05/19).

In today’s society, with many people actively engaging in people watching, it is very easy to judge people without knowing anything about them. We judge people on what we see on their social media profiles, we judge them on random statements that we hear them say, we even judge them on their fashion if we do not like what they are wearing.

Why have we become such judgemental people?

Jesus said;

Do not judge’ (Matthew 7:1 NIV – emphasis mine).

So why do we, what right do we have to do it?

Even if we do not share the judgement with others, we still do it, but why do we do it?

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV – emphasis mine).

We are far from perfect, and it is presumed, that we do not want to be judged harshly when our time on earth ends, yet we find it very difficult at times to stop from judging others, but yet again;

with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’ (Matthew 7:2 NIV).

This is not a new problem. Thousands of years ago, the Israelite nation was not doing what it should. They had turned from God and his laws as given through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17). Joshua, Moses’ aide had risen to the occasion, to become the leader of the nation, and they still grumbled and disobeyed God (Joshua 7:1). Joshua finally died aged one-hundred and ten years old, and was buried, (Judges 2:6) and when his generation all died out, the Israelite nation again turned from God, and;

served Baal and the Ashtoreths’ (Judges 2:13 NIV).

So we are no different from the old Israelite nation. They did not worship God and do as they should have, and we do not do as Jesus taught us.

When writing to the Roman Christians, Paul reminded them;

Who are you to pass judgement… … Why do you pass judgement on your brother (or sister)’ (Romans 14:4 & 10 ESV – emphasis mine).

It is not our job to judge, God will ultimately judge us, and Jesus will stand with us, but we need to have a heart that is in tune with God, and the only way to have that is to live by the words inspired by God, written in the greatest teaching manual available today, the Bible.

We are not qualified to pass judgement on others. When Jesus comes again, things that are now hidden will be brought into the light, and our true hearts revealed (1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV).

Ultimately, some people will always judge us, but Jesus also reminded us;

Forgive and you will be forgiven’ (Luke 6:37 NIV).

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy’ (James 4:12 ESV).

So we have to choose how we want to live. Do we want to live selfish lives where we pass moral and ethical judgements upon people that we hardly know, basing these entirely on what we see and hear, or do we want to live as Jesus taught us that we should, lights to an otherwise dark world?

Be the tip of a spear light, taking the light of the gospel into an otherwise dark world. Take the light of Jesus to people who without you, may never hear the life saving story of love and grace as embodied in Jesus;

Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another’ (Romans 14:13 NIV).

Jesus said;

I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12 NIV).

As Jesus was and is for all who turn to him, so let us be for others; not judging, critical or re-proving, but full of love, patience, kindness and graciousness, as God is to all of us who have turned to him, and accepted him as Lord.

Grace - John 1 v 16

I’m saying yes to You
And no to my desires
I’ll leave myself behind
And follow You

I’ll walk the narrow road
’cause it leads me to You
I’ll fall but grace 
Will pick me up again

I’ve counted up the cost
Oh I’ve counted up the cost
Yes I’ve counted up the cost
And You are worth it

I do not need safety
As much as I need You
You’re dangerous
But Lord You’re beautiful

I’ll chase You through the pain
I’ll carry my cross
’cause real love
Is not afraid to bleed

Jesus 
Take my all
Take my everything

I’ve counted up the cost
And You’re worth everything

The Cost (Homemade Worship by Handmade People #3)

Rend Collective

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Father we thank you for loving us no matter what we have done, and continue to do. Fill our hearts with your love so that there is no space left with which we can think about what other people do. Fill us with love and grace from you which we can the spill out to the people around us, and mhel make us more like your dear Son.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

2nd Chance, 3rd, 4th, 5th etc.

Hope has a name’ (There is a Song, I Know it Well – B. Cruse, E. J. & R. Williams)

The writer of Hebrews reminded the Hebrew Christians and subsequently us, what God had promised and keeps promising;

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

God even told Joshua the same thing through Moses, when Moses had spoken to the Israelite nation, prior to them crossing the Jordan;

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV).

God even re-affirmed this after the death of his servant Moses;

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

Do we really believe this?

Are we content, happy with our lot, as it is?

We should be, for God in his infinite wisdom and love has given us everything that we need!

for I (Paul) have learned to be content whatever the circumstances’ (Philippians 4:11 NIV).

For various reasons, (pigheadedness really), I spent some time away from the church. I knew best, I didn’t need God for help I could get by quite well on my own. I thought, why do I need God, I’m not ill, I don’t need anything, and so I struck out not really knowing what I was doing, blinded by self-righteousness and self-worth, thinking I had it all sown up.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! Oops!

When I came back to God, there he was, waiting for me, the prodigal son to return, and he welcomed me back with open arms.

I had not really thought about the fact that he was with me throughout it all (how embarrassing!). But that should have been obvious for the verses above say that we will never be alone.

Later, I remember being in a Bible study group one night when that fact hit me, that God had never left, and I saw Jesus, as clear as anyone else present, sitting in a arm-chair opposite me, and he simply looked up and across at me and said;

But I never left, I was always here”.

That sentence floored me!

I looked back at my life, and realised that through the entire section of my life, when I thought that things had been going wrong and there were blockages in the way causing me grief and aggravation, that they had been sent by God to ‘give me an out’, a way back to him and his loving care.

How could I have been so blind!

I thought of the great king David, and how he had sinned, yet God still forgave him.

Save me, O God! O God you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you’ (Psalm 69:1 & 5 ESV).

As the Psalmist David wrote, so we should know that God knows us, intimately. There is nothing that we can plan, do, or think, that God will not know! (Psalm 139).

God loves us so much, that he sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16) so no matter what we do, he will always be prepared to take us back, just like the prodigal son, (Luke 15).

You’ve never gone too far that God can’t redeem you, restore you, forgive you, and give you a second chance’ (Lysa TerKeurst).

We’re given second chances every day of our life. We don’t usually take them, but they’re there for the taking’ (Andrew Greeley).

An infamous slave trader was once known to have said;

My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour’ (John Newton – https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1701-1800/john-newton-discovered-amazing-grace-11630253.html – accessed 27/04/19).

It is true, we have all sinned and fall short of where we can be in God, (Romans 3:23). We live in a broken world. God made the world, but then we broke it. But there is hope, Jesus will come back, and when he does, it will all be fixed.

We love and serve a God of second chances (and in my case 3rd, 4th, 5th etc. thankfully).

Don’t think there are no second chances. Life always offers you a SECOND CHANCE… It’s called TOMORROW’ (Nicholas Sparks).

We should remember that we are not alone, we have family and friends, we may also have church family and church friends, but we also have an awesome heavenly Father that wants the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and will always be with us;

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

We should remember that we are all human and so prone to making errors, but by having faith, we can have Fantastic Adventures In Trusting Him, and the grace offered to us is, God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, yet it is given freely to us by God, when Jesus, Jesus Every Sinners Ultimate Sacrifice, died for us.

We need to remember that we are saved, saved by that ‘Amazing Grace’ that John Newton wrote about, the same grace that he accepted, the same grace that if freely available to us all.

Every second a seeker can start over, for his life’s mistakes are initial drafts and not the final version’ (Sri Chinmoy).

Every moment of your life is a second chance’ (Rick Price – https://www.happypublishing.com/blog/second-chances-quotes/ – accessed 27/04/19).

We have hope because God will always offer second chances to those that seek him and turn from their sin. He will forgive us and accept us back and hold nothing against us (Micah 7:19).

God is our Rock!

IMG_0133

 

When my heart is overwhelmed
I will look to You alone
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock
You will stand when others fall
You are faithful through it all
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

In the blessing, in the pain
through it all You’ve never failed me

You are the strength of my heart
You are the strength of my heart
I can rely on You, I can rely on You
You are the joy of my life
You are my song in the night
There is no one as true
Jesus I trust in You

When I’ve struggled to believe
You have not let go of me
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock
Carried through the darkest storms
You have held me in Your arms
God my rock God my rock God my rock

God My Rock

Paul Baloche / Brenton Brown

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Father we thank you for being our rock in times of trouble. We also want to take this time to thank you for being our rock in the good times too. Lord it is so easy to forget you in the good times, and only call on you when things are rough and do not seem to go our way. Help us to fully trust you, and live completely in the hope of the resurrected Jesus.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Easter · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Risen, Risen Indeed!

By this gospel you are saved’ (1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV – emphasis mine)

Are we not blessed people?

Should we not be on our knees constantly thanking God for sending Jesus?

We really are blessed people, those of us that love and follow Jesus;

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

Wow, what an honour, and an honour that people did not, and also we, do not deserve;

While we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:8 ESV).

The ungodly, the sinners, the liars, the thieves, the murderers, those who covet, all of us;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV – emphasis mine).

And exactly when did this occur?

at just the right time’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

The time that was ordained by God; the time that was set to rescue humanity from the depths it had sunk to. A time;

while we were still weak’ (Romans 5:6 ESV).

A time when we could do nothing for ourselves; it was that time that Jesus died for you and me!

Died in our place!

Died so that we may be free!

We did not deserve that, but Jesus did that for us in pure love.

When we see children, sometimes they will tell people they love them, and when they are asked how much, the will sometimes throw wide their arms and say “this much”. Jesus did the same for us. In love, he said this is how much I love you; then he stretched out his arms to be ailed to a cross, and died in our place.

But the best part of this is, he did not stay dead;

he was raised on the third day’ (1 Corinthians 15:4 NIV).

God raised him from the dead, and he is now alive, and has been ever since that first Easter morning.

It must be admitted straightaway that it is extremely difficult to believe that an ordinary person could die and rise again from the dead. But Jesus Christ was certainly no ordinary person’ (Your verdict on the Empty Tomb – p 52 – Val Grieve).

neither Jews nor Greeks nor Romans thought the bodily resurrection of an individual was possible’ (Encounters with Jesus – p 90 – Timothy Keller).

But, Paul confirms that Jesus was actually raised;

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:20 ESV).

The fact that Jesus has been raised in not a story; it is a historical fact. Josephus, a Jewish writer from a distinguished family (AD 37-100 approx) stated in one of his texts;

He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life’ (The Testimonium Flavianum – www.jonathanmorrow.org/what-did-the-jewish-historian-josephus-really-say-about-jesus/ – accessed 21/04/19).

If his disciples were making the story up, why would they say that the first people to see the empty tomb were women;

The women who had come with him… … saw the tomb and how his body was laid… At early dawn, they went down to the tomb… … but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus’ (Luke 23:55 & 24:1 & 3 ESV).

A testimonial from a woman in Roman times would not have been heard, yet alone believed, so why would they put that fact in if it was not true?

But Christ really did rise from the dead, and because of that fact, the early church exploded onto the scene.

Jesus was not selective, he did not think himself better than anyone else, and so did not only reveal himself to a select few, but to crowds. His appearances seem random and diverse, firstly to Mary at the empty tomb, then Peter, then all the Apostles, then a massive crowd of 500 people, followed by his brother, James, and then to Paul (Luke 16:9, 1 Corinthians 14:5-8).

Yet even Paul, who initially had been a persecutor of the church, and even stood by as some of Jesus’ followers were killed (Acts 8:1), had a life changing experience and started following Jesus (Acts 9:1-19).

Even after the resurrection, life as a follower of Jesus was not all happy days spent preaching and telling people about the ‘risen Christ’. Christians were persecuted and killed in awful ways, but they did not recant their beliefs.

If the fact of the whole story was not a fact, surely, one of the first few martyrs would have changed their minds about being put to death, yet none did, and out of the first apostles, only John died a natural death. If Jesus had not risen, people would not have let themselves be martyred, liars make bad martyrs!

If Jesus really has risen from the dead, then everything has changed!

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life”’ (John 11:25 NIV).

Because of the resurrection, we all have hope, and hope has a name, Jesus!

Changed His status

There is a song, I know it well,
a melody that’s never failed.
On mountains high, in valleys low,
my soul will rest, my confidence in you alone.

There is a light, salvation’s flame;
Christ undefeated, trampled the grave.
See now the cross, be lifted high;
the light has come, the light has won, behold the Christ.

There’ll be a day, my hope complete;
now home in glory, your face I’ll see.
My pain no more, my fear will cease;
I bow my life, I fix my eyes, on Christ my King.

Hope has a name, his name is Jesus;
my Saviours cross has set this sinner free.
Hope has a name, His name is Jesus;
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory.
Oh, Christ be praised, I have victory.

There is a song, I know it well (Hope as a Name)

B. Cruse, E. John, R. Williams

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Father we thank you for raising your Son to sit at your right hand and show us the way. He showed us the way to live, and how to be the light for others. Help us to show others that we meet, the way to your Son Jesus. May we be the light that they need in this dark world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Speak well of – honour

Honour your father and mother’ (Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV)

How do we treat our parents?

Do we love our parents, and do we do what they want us to do, even when we do not want to do something, even though they will only ever want the best for us?

I can remember when I was a youngster, being really angry with my parents at times; either they had forbidden me from doing something that I wanted to do, or from going somewhere, or told me off for doing something. I also remember that one time after my father had told me not to do something, and I could not understand the reasoning behind the decision and the refusal, so in true child like thinking, knowing, or rather childishly thinking that I knew better than my father, I still went where I had been forbidden. It did not turn out well, at all.

So when we look at our lives, have we really done as the Bible told us to? Have we honoured our parents?

Do we continue to honour our parents even now, in the way that we live and the way we remember them and the way we talk about them?

But what does the word ‘honour’ (sometimes written as ‘honor’) actually mean?

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines honour as;

a: Good name or public esteem: reputation

b: a showing of usually merited respect: recognotion

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honor – accessed 30/03/19).

The ancient Hebrew word for honour is written –  – which is pronounced ka-vad.

Strong’s Hebrew reference for the word is H3513 and it means; 

to be great in weight, wealth or importance’ (http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/dictionary/4000.html – accessed 31/03/19).

What we should all do is;

Honour your father and mother, as the LORD your God commanded you’ (Deuteronomy 5:16 ESV).

So we are told to honour our parents, and if we take the analogy further, we should also honour our heavenly Father.

God loves us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us (John 3:16), and he has great compassion for us;

with great compassion I [God] will gather you’ (Isaiah 54:7 ESV – emphasis mine).

The best way we can honour our heavenly Father is by doing what he wants us to do, and the best way that we can do that is by having a relationship with him, in just the same way that we have a relationship with our earthly parents.

We talk to our earthly parents regularly, we ask them how they are, we visit them to chat, and we can go to them if we have problems or things to discuss. That is a proper relationship.

God wants the same.

He wants the best for us;

For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

God has plans for our life, and if we are in relationship with him, we can regularly ask him for guidance, ask him to show us what it is that he wants us to do?

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us’ (Psalm 40:5 NIV).

When we look to God for guidance, we know that he will always be there for us. The writer of Hebrews reminded the Hebrew Christians;

Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

These are the exact words that God also spoke to Moses;

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will never leave you’ (Deuteronomy 31:7 ESV).

If we honour God, he will teach us what we need (Psalm 32:8). We need to honour what God wants from us, we need to honour the fact that Jesus came and died for us.

So really, we should honour our Father, our father and our mother.

Do we?

Honour thy parents

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

‘Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

Family Tree

J. Houser, J. C. Houser, M. West, M. J. West

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Father we thank you everything that you do and have done for us. We thank you that we can have a relationship with you, and that you will never leave us, that you will teach us what we need to know, and that you have a plan for our lives. Help us to fully rely on you, and talk to you always so that we can fully honour you in all ways.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Sticks & stones

The words of the reckless pierce like swords’ (Proverbs 12:18 NIV)

How reckless are we in our life, and how much of that recklessness is still with us when we talk to someone?

I know that sometimes, well quite often really if I am being honest, I speak first and think later, not out of malice, but sometimes if I sit there and think, I think that people may consider that I am not always being honest, so I just say whatever comes out.

I heard it once told to me, that we should all first ‘put our brain in gear before we open our mouth’ and talk to anyone.

Good advice for many people I think!

But should we ‘sugar coat’ information for people when they ask us, or should we be brutally honest?

How painful are honest words!’ (Job 6:25 NIV).

Well we should really be honest, there is a saying that goes,

Honest as the day is long

In other words, we should always tell the truth, we should be honest all of the day. That does not mean that we do not think before speaking, but always tell the truth.

Telling the truth always can be difficult.

How many men would like to tell their wives that the dress they are wearing looks awful, or how many women would tell their husbands, boyfriends that they are getting a ‘beer belly or worse, going bald?

There are ways to tell the truth, without starting world war 3.

Truthful lips endure forever’ (Proverbs 12:19 NIV).

I am quite honest and frank when I talk to people, which is sometimes not what people want to hear; sometimes they want you to blur the lines, smudge the details, and tell them what they want to hear, but this is not always helpful.

But the tongue of the wise is health’ (Proverbs 12:18 RV1885).

Or as the NIV puts it;

The tongue of the wise brings healing’ (Proverbs 12:18 NIV).

That does not mean that we have to use flowery language, or distort the truth, or say what the person we are talking to wants to hear. What it means is, we have to really listen to whoever we are talking to, and to listen means not to interrupt them; let them finish saying what is on their mind. When they have finished talking, we should measure our response, put our brain in gear, maybe even say a quick prayer, and let the Holy Spirit give us the words that are necessary.

When we are speaking to someone, we have to pray that they will hear what we say. Some people will let you talk to them, and say that they are listening then do whatever they feel like;

but a wise man [or woman] listens to advice’ (Proverbs 12:15 ESV – emphasis mine).

When we speak, we should always do so with the help of God, we should ask for his Spirit to be the voice that we use, that the words we say will come directly from him.

When talking about false prophets, God said through Jeremiah;

They… lead my people astray with their reckless lies’ (Jeremiah 23:32 NIV).

We need to be sensible with our tongue;

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body’ (James 3:6 NIV).

What James was saying is that we use various tools at our disposal, to control certain things (James 3:3-4); we use a bit in a mouth, to control a horse and tell it where we want it to go, and we use a small rudder to steer a large ship to tell it where to go. Both of these things are very small in comparison to what it controls, and so it is with our tongue.

So the tongue is a thing that we need to learn to control.

Your tongue weighs in at approximately, 60 grams if you are woman, and 70 grams if you are a man, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue – accessed 23/03/19), and if you look at the average weight within the UK and Wales, using people over the age of 16, a male weighs on average 84 kg, and a female on average weighs in at 69 kg, these were measured in 2009, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_body_weight – accessed 24/03/19).

That means that our tongues weigh less than 1% of our body weight, yet they can destroy peoples’ lives, and we know that;

no human being can tame the tongue’ (James 3:8 ESV).

We need to think about what we say. People can be hurt very easily. Our tongues have no bones, but they can break your heart, and once said, our words cannot be forgotten, only forgiven in time.

Words hurt!

We all know that saying from our childhood;

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’.

That is not true, you only have to look at the news, or read accounts of how young and older people are cyber-bullied.

Words hurt!

Were created on purpose, for a purpose, and our tongue which can hurt so easily, can also praise the creator of the universe;

With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father’ (James 3:9 NIV).

We can be reckless in many ways and in many things, especially when we speak in rash ways, but let us be reckless with our tongue in praising our God.

Let our words recklessly praise our Lord. Let us ‘speak the truth from [their] our heart; whose tongue utters no slander’ (Psalm 15:3 NIV).

Lord, ‘before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely’ (Psalm 139:4 NIV).

Help us to try to tame our words Lord, and help us not to be reckless with our tongues, but with our love, let us recklessly love like Jesus.

Sticks and stones.jpeg

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

Reckless Love

Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson

downloadFather we thank you for creating us. Help us to look at the way that Jesus spoke, and to guard our tongue against hurting others with words spoken without thought. Help us to ask for your help when in difficult situations where our words may hurt others. Lord you gave your son for us so that we can live in your love, help us to bless and not cures others with our tongues, help us only to only praise you and build others up with our tongues. Help us to be like Job who said, ‘my tongue will utter no lies’ (Job 27:3 NIV).

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I can – but I need help!

I can do all this’ (Philippians 4:13 NIV – emphasis mine)

Do you believe in yourself?

Do you trust in yourself?

How do you feel about yourself?

However you really feel about yourself, there is one thing that you should always remember, God believes in you, he believes so much that he sent his son to the earth to die for you (John 3:16).

God wants the very best for us, for all of us, and he has a plan for each and every one of us ‘For I know the plans I have for you’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

Gillette came up with a brand slogan in the late 1980’s that was aimed at making men think that what they really needed was their brand of razor, the slogan said ‘The best a man can get’ (Gillette advert circa 1989 – https://www.wired.com/story/gillette-we-believe-ad-men-backlash/ – accessed 16/03/19).

The women’s make-up world also joined in the fight to get women to believe that they needed certain products too. Around 40 years ago, L’Oréal coined the phrase ‘Because you’re worth it’ (Ilon Specht 1973 – https://www.lorealparisusa.com/about-loreal-paris/because-youre-worth-it.aspx – accessed 16/0/19).

The world wants you to believe that you need certain products, that you need to buy their product, and that it will make you feel better. It wants you to think that spending money on yourself will make all the pain disappear, that you will feel better, and that the problems that you are facing will vanish.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world’ (Romans 12:2 NIV).

Paul wrote that to the Roman Christians to remind them that the world will try to take their focus away from God, and that they should guard themselves against it.

We are fickle people sometimes, a lot of the time to be honest, and our concentration can shift from one thing to another really easily.

Many people spend their entire life chasing things, stuff! They want a good job, and then they want a better one that pays more money, a bigger house, a flash car, more, more, and more. People look at their neighbours or friend and many seem to want what they have, but God told us;

You shall not covet your neighbour’s house’ (Exodus 20:17 NIV).

People like this are never satisfied, because they live for self, and never seem to be satisfied.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said;

I have seen all things under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind’ (Ecclesiastes 1:14 NIV).

In all of us, there is a hole, and it is a hole that we cannot fill. We cannot fill it, because it is a God shaped hole, we need Jesus to fill it, we cannot. Jesus said;

Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV).

In other words, we need Jesus in our life; he will fill the hole in us and make us whole. God has said;

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

What that means is that we always have access to God, he is there for us, always at our side, and not only that, but he will show and tell us what we need to do;

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

We are loved by God, we are important to God;

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Fathers care’ (Matthew 10:31 NIV).

God does not make mistakes. Everything that he does is done for a reason. We may not be able to discern the reason, because;

Now I know in part’ (1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).

We should remember the following;

Were created on purpose, for a purpose

IMG_0130

The kingdom of our God is near
Lift your eyes, lift your eyes
The hope of heaven’s drawing near
Lift your eyes, lift your eyes

You’re blessed if you’ve been torn apart
You’re blessed if you’ve a broken heart
For hope is waiting at the door
Salvation’s near

Our God is mercy, our God is mercy
If your heart is heavy, if your soul is thirsty
There is a refuge, a home for the lonely
Our God is near, Our God is near
Our God is near, Our God is near

Lift up your eyes, lift up your eyes
Lift up your eyes and sing

Our God Is Mercy (Our God is Near #1)

Brenton Brown, Eoghan Heaslip, Nick Hrebert

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Father we thank you for creating us purposefully. We thank you that you are always near us and that you show us what we need to do. We are grateful for the plans that you have for all of us. Lord we need you in our lives to help us and give us strength to get by day by day.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

What was I saying?

enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures’ (Titus 3:3 NIV)

Do you get easily distracted by some things?

As I am writing this blog, the television is on, and even though the sound is low, there is a flickering as the images change, and I keep looking up, and suddenly, Pointless is on, and 10 minutes have passed!

Why do we get so easily distracted?

We all seem to have such busy lives these days; there is so much stuff around that can to distract us from what we were originally doing, stuff that can distract us from Jesus and his purpose for us.

When I pray, I can suddenly find myself thinking about something or someone at work, or a friend at church, or a situation with the family that I need to resolve, or even the fact that the car needs a service or that the MOT is due, and then less than 5 minutes later, I am not praying, I am doing anything but!

Buddha, is said to have referred to this as the human mind being a ‘monkey mind’, or rather, the human mind has a big tendency to bounce around from one idea to the next idea, from one worry to the next worry, and we need to get our mind under a proper semblance of control (https://www.potential.com.au/new-blog/2015/self-improvement-thursday-got-a-head-full-of-drunken-monkeys-me-too – accessed 08/03/19).

Distractions are everywhere, but Paul reminded the church in Corinth, and thereby us, that they and we should live full lives, devoted to God, with as few distractions as possible;

I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 7:35 NIV).

Some people are easily drawn to the desires that the world seems to produce in such abundance, but we should remember that where our treasure is, that is also where our heart is;

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21 NIV).

Again, Paul reminds us that we should not be drawn into the pleasures that the world has to offer, but we should set ourselves apart from it; not in an attitude of ‘we are better than you’, because we are not, we are ALL sinful, and we ALL fail God regularly (Romans 3:23), but we should be different in both our outlook and attitude to life;

present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’ and we should also, ‘not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:1 & 2 ESV).

John also wrote about not loving the things of this world;

Do not love the world or the things in the world’ (1 John 2:15 ESV).

It is very easy to say something like, ‘do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:2 ESV) but it is sometimes very difficult to do.

We need to remain focused on Jesus, on what he taught, and the path that he wants us to take, for God has a plan for each and every one of us (Jeremiah 29:11), and in our lives, we need to not be like the seed that grew and got choked;

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants’ (Luke 8:7 NIV).

But what does that mean for our lives, when we read that the seeds grew and got choked?

The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature’ (Luke 8:14 NIV).

We need to focus on Jesus;

looking to Jesus’ (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

The writer of Proverbs also had some good advice for us, on how to live our life;

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you’ (Proverbs 4:25 ESV).

So in this world with its distractions, Facebook ‘pinging’ every five minutes, e-mails arriving and notifying us via a sound, text messages, Whats-App, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and many more, how do we concentrate on what is important?

We need to look to the source of everything, Jesus;

Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

Focus on Jesus, listen for him, shut off the television (yes I have now), mute your phone, or ‘perish the thought’ turn it off! Calm yourself down in a quiet place, concentrate on what is important, on who is important. Remember the promises of God, that he will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), that we are new creations. Remember that you are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is nothing that God does not know about us, and we can hide nothing (Psalm 139). Silence the monkeys jumping around in your head, and focus on the light of the world (John 8:12).

We can try to remember something that I saw written on a Christian website;

‘God has no phone, yet I talk to him every day. God does not have a Facebook account, yet we are friends, and God does not have an Instagram account, yet I still follow him!

Make friends with the most important person you can, talk to him, and follow him.

Talk to, be friends and follow Jesus.

Down in the valley with my Saviour I would go,
Where the flowers are blooming and the sweet waters flow;
Everywhere he leads me I would follow, follow on,
Walking in his footsteps till the crown be won.

Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus,
Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow on;
Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus,
Everywhere he leads me I will follow on.

Down in the valley with my Saviour I would go,
Where the storms are sweeping and the dark waters flow;
With his hand to lead , me I will never, never fear;
Dangers cannot frighten me if my Lord is near.

Down in the valley, or upon the mountain steep,
Close beside my Saviour would my soul ever keep;
He will lead me safely in the path that he has trod,
Up to where they gather on the hills of God.

Follow On

William Orcutt Cushing (1823-1902)

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Father we thank you for not giving up on us, for sending Jesus to redeem us, even though we did not deserve it. You know all things about us, how we get easily distracted from what you would have us do. Help us to try to focus more on you, on your ways, and on what you want us to do for your kingdom.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

store up for yourselves treasures in heaven – Matthew 6:20

Not all treasure is silver and gold mate’ (Captain Jack Sparrow – The Curse of the Black Pearl)

So what is treasure really? The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines treasure as;

wealth (such as money, jewels, or precious metals) stored up or hoarded’ or ‘something of great worth or value’ (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/treasure – accessed 02/03/19).

So what actually defines something as treasure? Even the pirate captain, Jack Sparrow knew that all that is desirable, is not just shiny and pretty, or even very expensive; ‘Not all treasure is silver and gold mate’ (Cpt. J. Sparrow), some things have great worth to us, but are worthless to others, such a photographs of loved ones who have died, or personal items that belonged to them.

Do we have treasure, as measured in earthly standards? We are reminded that we should live, and be different from people who do not love and follow Jesus;

Do not conform to the patterns of this world’ (Romans 12:2 NIV).

Do we have vast treasure on earth, or large sums of money that is there for us, and only us?

Do not get me wrong, I personally think that having savings for a ‘rainy day’ is a good thing. God gives us all things (Romans 11:36), money being only one of them, and being a good steward with what we have, is different from squirrelling away every penny and being miserly with our money. There is nothing wrong with having money and savings in the bank, it is how we think about, and treat those savings;

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils’ (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV).

Having lots of money does not necessarily make you a bad person, and not having much money, does also, not always make you a good person.

Bill Gates is one of the founding members of a 190 strong, growing charity, with its people based in over 20 different countries around the globe, and it was started in August 2010; it is called ‘The Giving Pledge’ (https://givingpledge.org/ – accessed 02/03/19). The members pledge either as a couple or a single person, to give away at least half of their wealth on issues such as;

poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform, and environmental sustainability’ (https://givingpledge.org/About.aspx – accessed 02/03/19).

Some may say that it is easy to give away half of your money, when you are still going to have more left than most people will earn in a lifetime, but they are willingly choosing, joyfully giving away, and there lies the difference.

Could you, or would you decide to give away over half of your money if you had £5,000,000.00 (five million pounds)?

The Bible asks us to;

Honour the LORD with your wealth’ (Proverbs 3:9 ESV).

The Bible also mentions about giving a ‘tenth’ of what we have, as Abraham did, (Genesis 14:20); Jacob also promised to give a tenth if God watched over him on a journey (Genesis 28:20-22)

Some people get hung up on the ‘tenth’, but does the amount you give really matter?

Does it matter whether you give 10% or 8% or less, or more?

Is it not really the way in which we give?

In 1978, Henry Smith wrote a wonderful song called ‘Give Thanks’. The first line says;

Give thanks with grateful heart’ (Henry Smith – 1978).

There were some really wealthy men who would walk past the Offertory plate and drop large sums of money in it, making sure that they were seen doing so, and a little while later, a little old lady, hobbled up, and quickly and quietly dropped in, without making a fuss, a little sum of money, 2 coins, everything that she owned. (Mark 12:41-44 & Luke 2:1-4).

Who gave more, and who gave with the right heart?

In my humble opinion, we should give what we can, but give willingly. There is no point grudgingly giving a tenth of everything you have, what good does it do? If you can willingly give less, then do so, but do it with your heart in the right place. Do it willingly, as a heart-felt gift to the ‘Maker of the Universe’. Some places say that you should give until it hurts, then regularly give just a little less. Others say that it is not all about money, you can give of your time and talent too.

Again, in my opinion, we should give, and not make a huge fuss about it. If you were to help out a needy person, or feed someone who is homeless, that is a good thing, but if you then go about and tell everyone what you had done, did you do it with the right heart?

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’ (Matthew 6:2-4 NIV).

Give!

Give willingly!

Give with a joyous heart!

Give, because God has already given to you;

Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand’ (1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV).

IMG_0210

The splendour of the King
Clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps Himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
And trembles at His voice

How great is our God
Sing with me
How great is our God
And all will see how great
How great is our God

And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
The Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of all praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How Great Is Our God

Chris Tomlin, Ed Cash, Jesse Reeves

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Father we thank you for giving us everything that we have. Help us to be willing to give to those around us that are in need, help us to do so with a willing heart, and heart full of love for you and them. Lord we get everything that we need from you help us to give some of it to those less fortunate than us.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

God my rock!

God my rock’ (P. Baloche & B. Brown)

We need a rock in our life!

Something to cling to in times of trouble!

When my heart is overwhelmed I will look to you alone. God my rock’ (God my rock – 2012 – Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown).

As I look at my life, there is only one thing that has been constant throughout, and that is God.

Even when I did not think about him when I was younger, and I never went to church, never even thought about reading the Bible, and never prayed, but, God was still always there, waiting for me.

O Lord you have searched me and known me!’ (Psalm 1139:1 ESV).

So, even though I knew very little about God when I was younger, he still knew me, intimately.

You… are acquainted with me’ (Psalm 139:3 ESV).

Even more, he knew every fibre of my being, because he formed my body;

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb’ (Psalm 139:13 ESV).

God knew and still knows every little detail about my life, and yours, and now that I have a relationship with my maker, I understand that he has always been there with me, he truly was and is my rock.

 ‘The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge’ (Psalm 18:1 NIV).

I know that I can place my trust in God, and he will never let me down, and always be there for me.

You will stand when others fall, you are faithful through it all’ (God my rock – 2012 – Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown).

I call out to God regularly, whether in the good times, and I call out with thanks, or the bad times when I cry out in pain;

In the blessing, in the pain, through it all You’ve never failed me… … … Carried through the darkest storms – You have held me in Your arms – God my rock’ (God my rock – 2012 – Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown).

No matter what has happened in my life, and what happens in yours, we can always remember what the Psalmist knew;

I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise’ (Psalm 18:3 NIV).

God is indeed worthy of our praise. He is worthy of so much more than we give him, and he is always there, ready to listen to us, and it does not matter where we are. We do not have to be in a church to speak to God, we can be anywhere;

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you’ (Psalm 61:1-2 NIV).

And I know that God listens, and I know that he answers prayer, in his own time not ours, so we have to be patient, but I also know;

I can rely on You’ (God my rock – 2012 – Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown).

When trouble assails us, where do we turn? Do we turn to family or friends? Maybe we do, and maybe it helps a little. But if we want hope in any situation, then we need God;

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him’ (Palm 62:5 ESV).

Everyone needs something in their life that is un-moving, firm, reliable, always there, rock-like. I used to think that was my dad, but then he died and was not there anymore, there was just a massive hole where he used to be. I got past that and grew up, and I now know that I had two dads, my earthly one, and my heavenly dad, so even when my earthly father died, my heavenly father was still there for me, even if at the time I did not realise it.

I know that God is there for me;

he is my mighty rock’ (Psalm 62:7 NIV).

And I know that whatever happens, he has a plan for my life and everybody’s life (Jeremiah 29:11) and if we let him, he will lead us and teach us what we need to know (Psalm 32:8). I also know that he will always be there for us, whatever happens (Hebrews 13:5).

There is no one as true. Jesus I trust in You’ (God my rock – 2012 – Paul Baloche & Brenton Brown).

 

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Who is this King of glory, Maker of all the heavens
Author of all creation, what is his name?
Who is the One who formed us, made us into His image?
At who’s voice will all of heaven one day bow in praise?

His name is Wonderful, his name is Counsellor
His name is Prince of peace, the Living Word
His name is Mighty God, eternal Father
His name is Jesus, His name is LORD

Who is this King of Glory, born to the virgin Mary
Who’s simple words could raise the dead and heal the lame?
He gave His life for many, was crucified and buried
But on the third day He rose up from the grave.

Ransomed for my release, He died to set me free
Oh how amazing is my Saviour’s love for me

His name is wonderful (Our God is Near #5)

Brenton Brown

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Father we thank you for being unmovable. We thank you for always being there for us. Lord you are our rock, in good times, in bad times, all the time. Lord you are amazing, and we thank you for loving us and sending your son to die for us. There is no-one as true, Jesus we love you!

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Want / Need, or both

Follow you heart, and listen when it speaks to you’ (Susanna Tamaro)

Do you enjoy going shopping? Do you get excited when you realise that you have got something to find. Do you enjoy the search when you realise that you need something for the house, or when you want to get some more clothes or jewellery?

Do you like to go from shop to shop whatever the weather, looking for just the right item that you think you need?

We are all searching for something to fill our lives. Some people do not know what they want, and so they fill their lives with ‘things, but unknowingly, we are all searching for God.

We all have a gap within us, a hole that only when filled with God, will it be filled properly.

I spent many years without God, and I thought that my life was going really well. I had my work during the day, and my hobbies that took most of the free-time that I had during the week and weekends. I did not really think that I needed God in my life, or in truth, I did not think about him at all, and so went my own way, how could or would God make it better?

Life felt good, and I did what I wanted when I wanted. What was wrong with that? What else did I need?

I did not think about the things Jesus had said when teaching the people around him, when he said;

where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:21 & Luke 12:34 NIV).

When I was going my own way, I never thought much about what I spent my time on, or much about what the future held. But hind-sight is a wonderful thing, and when looking back, I can see all the times that God touched my life, but all I did was ignore it, and shut the door, over and over again.

I did not realise how much I needed him then, as I thought that I had all I needed, didn’t I?

But again, Jesus had said;

Apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 ESV).

Eventually, I returned to God, received my forgiveness, and eventually, even forgave myself, and then started to grow in faith.

We all need Jesus in our lives, for he will guide us and teach us;

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

We need to show Jesus through our lives in the way that we live, for we are the;

salt of the earth… … in the same way, let your light shine before others’ (Matthew 5:13 & 16 ESV).

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we should;

be content with what you have’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

I had not been content with my life, and had tried one thing after another with the prospect of trying to feel happy with everything, but as Paul reminded the Roman Christians that they should be different from the people who do not follow the ways of Jesus, he also says it to us too, when he said;

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind’ (Romans 12:2 ESV).

We should live in this world, but live as true followers of Jesus, shining his light for all to see, showing his love to all we meet. Life as a Christian may not be an easy life for us to live, but then Jesus never said it would be, what he actually said was;

Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me’ (Luke 9:23 NIV).

All the time that I was walking away from God, he had been, unknowingly following me, and watching over me. There is a famous poem about walking with God, called ‘Footprints in the Sand’, and it says;

But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I need you most you would leave me.” The Lord replied: “My precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”’ (Footprints in the sand – Mary Stevenson – http://www.sapphyr.net/largegems/footprints.htm – accessed 16/02/19).

We need to follow Jesus, and let him fill the hole that only he can fill to make our life complete. We need Jesus, and should always remember that he is always with us;

Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

I am with you when things are going good, when the way is bright and clear, I am with you my child when life looks bleak, and your vision is blurred with tears. I am with you when Happiness fills your heart, when the sun is shining bright, I am by your side when you feel alone, and you’re surrounded by darkest night. I am with you when you have many friends, when others for you care, I am always with you when you’re alone, your loneliness to share. I am with you when you’re radiant with health, when you don’t lack at thing, I am next to you when you’re in pain, I am there to comfort bring. My child, I will always be there for you, remember that I care, Remember that you’re not alone, I am there to your sorrows share! I will always be with you til the end of the world, I’ll be there each step of the way, I am with you every moment, each hour, and each and every day.’ (https://www.onlythebible.com/Poems/I-Am-With-You.html – accessed 16/02/19).

Life may not be easy, but we need to remember;

You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV – emphasis mine).

5cfc1a6bbad4b4fdbc5f27e60209245b

 

Hope be my anthem
Lord when the world has fallen quiet
You stand beside me
Give me a song in the night

And Jesus I need You
Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever

Beauty for ashes
You find the weak and contrite heart
Shoulder its burdens
And carry it into the light

Jesus I need You
Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever

And Jesus I need You
Every moment I need You
Hear now this grace bought heart sing out
Your praise forever

Remember love
Remember mercy
Christ before me
Christ behind me

Your loving kindness
Has never failed me
Christ before me
Christ behind me

Jesus I Need You
B. Ligerwood, J. Leith Rogers, R. Morgan, S. Ross Ligerwood

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Father we thank you that when we come to you with a truly repentant heart, we know that you will not only forgive us for our past sins, but that you will not remember them. Help us to be like that with people who hurt us, help us to forgive just as you have forgiven us.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

The heart of the matter is… … Jesus!

Follow you heart, and listen when it speaks to you’ (Susanna Tamaro)

There are no rules. Just follow your heart’ (Robin Williams).

Is that true that we should just follow our heart, should we live just for our benefit and for no-one else, or is that wrong? Are there really no rules in this life that we need to think about or follow?

Follow your heart; let it lead you to where it knows you want to go, and will never lead you astray’ (Anon).

Should we really follow our heart’s desire, and would we really make no mistakes?

Jesus taught us;

apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV).

If you have, or do, are you happy with the choices that you have made, do they make you feel happy, fulfilled, joyous and content? Do you feel that you are complete, that you have achieved everything that you can; that there is nothing else that you feel is ‘out there’ for you?

There is always something else for our lives; God has told us that;

For I know the plans I have for you’ (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV – emphasis mine).

I do believe that we can follow our heart and be completely content, happy with our choices, and have a joyous fulfilled life.

The way we do that, is by looking to God and following Jesus. We need Jesus in our life to be truly fruitful;

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit’ (John 15:5 ESV).

In other words, we really and truly need Jesus in our lives.

We live in a broken world since the fall of man. Sin has entered into the world, and it is broken, we can’t fix it by ourselves, no matter how hard we try.

I heard a Pastor explain what has happened to the world since God created it, and it says;

 

God made it, we broke it, Jesus is coming to fix it’.

 

We live in a broken world, but rejoice, because Jesus is coming to fix it, that is why God sent him. He sent him because he wants all of us to be saved; why would he do that you may ask, but the answer to that question is simple, he did it, because he loves us so much;

For God so loved the world’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

In the various translations the words generally have a slightly different meaning. Strong’s dictionary numbers the words in the Bible, and this words number is G0025, and the Greek word used here, is agapáō (γαπάω) which is the highest of the four types of love in the Bible (https://www.thoughtco.com/types-of-love-in-the-bible-700177 accessed 09/02/19), and it means;

to love (in a social or moral sense) – of persons; to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly’ (https://www.messie2vie.fr/bible/strongs/strong-greek-G0025-agapao.htmlaccessed 09/02/19).

And that great love is expressed in the continuing words of that verse;

that whoever believes in him shall not perish’ (John 3:16 NIV).

The ‘whoever’ mentioned there in that verse is you; your family, your neighbour, your friend, your co-worker etc. even me!

But the one thing that we need to remember is that we need Jesus;

I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6 NIV).

We all have a God shaped hole inside, deep down. Many people do not recognise this, and try to fill their lives with world pursuits, but remember what Paul to the Roman Christians;

Do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:2 ESV).

Be part of the world, but do not be of the world. Sets your sights on God, and all he is doing for you. He sent Jesus for you, he will teach you;

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

Jesus lived in this world, but he lived as his Father wanted him to. We are part of this world, but we need to live as God wants us to, by following Jesus.

Don’t live a life that is worldly, live it Godly, and focus on Jesus, and live as he did!

To be like Jesus! This hope possesses me, in every thought and deed, this is my aim, my creed; to be like Jesus! This hope possesses me, His spirit helping me, like him I’ll be’ (John Gowans [1934-2012]).

Focus on the Lord

 

For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son
That whoever would believe in Him
Would not perish but be saved, oh how surprising is His grace,
The invitation is for everyone

For everyone, for everyone

This is the good news, it’s a hope that is true
We sing ’cause we’ve found peace on earth

Jesus did not come to condemn but that we might live again
His Holy mission was to rescue us
For long before we cried for help He took our sins upon Himself
He took our shame and gave us righteousness

His righteousness, his righteousness

This is the good news, it’s a hope that is true
We sing ’cause we’ve found peace on earth
And death cannot shake us, our sins have been taken
Alive, we’re alive and we’ll sing Your worth

Take these words and make them louder….

Good news (Our God is Near #9)

Brenton Brown

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Father we thank you for the love you showed to each and every one of us, when you sent your Son to die for our sins. Help us each and every day to live our lives, focusing on the way that he lived, and trying to imitate it in our lives. May people see that we are different and ask to know why, and may we have the courage to speak of your Son and all he did for us, and can do for them.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Judge & Jury – or – Curious & Loving

Neither do I (Jesus) condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more

(John 8:11 ESV – emphasis mine)

When we look at other people around us, what do we see?

Do we see the person, either man or woman, who is unique, saved by grace, fully loved by God; who is on a journey, who is full of potential, and is waiting for God to show them the pathway they should take; they are eager to serve and please him who rescued them, waiting fervently, patiently, ready for the opportunity to show others what has happened in their life, and how theirs could be different?

Do we see that?

Or do we see, the drug addict, coming down off their last fix, vomiting everywhere, sweaty, stumbling around, rambling and incoherent? Do we see a woman at her lowest ebb, wandering the streets day and night, trying to score whatever helps her through the day? Do we see the dire need of the desperate person who has just stolen some food from a shop, stolen something with which they can feed their child, in order that they may not be hungry?

Do we see that?

Do we think that at times, we maybe walk around with blinkers on, only seeing what we want to see, and missing the bigger picture?

Are we sometimes too quick to judge?

I know I have been guilty of that, and in far better circumstances. I have judged without a second thought, on what I see, what I perceive that person to be like; and generally, I have been very wide of the mark. The person I have wrongly judged, has turned out to be a really good and pleasant person; willing to help others without thought for themselves, willing to help even me at the slightest request. If only they had known, what I thought about them; how different they may have acted, and justly too.

Why do many of us feel the need to judge others?

To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave’ (Elvis Presley).

Are we too, not just as guilty in our own sin?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

No-one alive is perfect. The only perfect man ever to have lived, live a long time ago and yet we crucified him;

made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation’ (Hebrews 5:9 ESV).

Jesus actually told us;

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1 NIV).

When we turn to Christ, we leave the old part of our lives in the past; the world seems to struggle with this part, but the old part of our lives is no longer relevant to us, we do not want it, God has forgiven us for it (Hebrews 8:12), we have left them and our old life behind us, we no longer live there, we live for God, in the light of his word, in the warmth of his love, and in eternal hope, we live in the present;

if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation. The old has passed away’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV – emphasis mine).

We need to remember that we have all come to this point in our lives, by different means, some may have found life easy, others may find it hard, some will find temptation an easier thing to walk away from, others may go hand-in-hand with temptation for a while, until they see the light. Whatever pathway brought us to where we are at present, we can always remember that God loves us, and loves us so much, that he sent Jesus to die for us (John 3:16).

Everyone has untold stories of pain and sadness that make them love, and live a little differently than you do. Stop judging, instead try to understand.’ (Anonymous)

We should not judge people about their life, and how far they have yet to go, we should help them to recognise and celebrate the journey so far, and how far they have come, and also, if we are too busy being judgemental, we may forget to close our closet, and the skeletons may start to fall out.

When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart’ (Russian Proverb).

And most of all, we should remember the following;

If you judge people, you have no time to love them’ (Mother Teresa)

I was nowhere, You came to my rescue
From the grave I’ve been raised
When I needed a saviour to save me
Jesus, You made a way
I was blind, but these eyes have been opened
Now I walk in the light
Ev’ry step on this road I will follow
Jesus, You made a way

You are the way 
You are the way
Lost and dead, but Your love came to find me
Jesus You are the way
Jesus, the only way
Jesus, the only way

All my days are secure in Your promise Never standing alone
You’re the truth, You’re the life, You’re my future
Jesus, You made a way
I’m alive in that love that You give me
Free to dance once again
You will lead me from glory to glory Jesus, You made a way

You are the way
You are the way
You’re the light shining bright in the darkness
Jesus You are the way

The Way (Pocketful of Faith #10)

B. Cantelon, N. Herbert & T. Hughes

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Father we thank you for the salvation offered to us by the death and resurrection of your Son. Help us each and every day to be worthy of the sacrifice he made. Help us to not live in the past, and to love and not judge others. Lord it is so easy to be moved by the world, and help us to remember to live in but not be of this world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Mourn in the morning for past mornings

Blessed are those who mourn’ (Matthew 5:4 NIV)

In Jesus’ inaugural address; as he saw the crowds that were around him, he went up a mountainside to talk to his disciples (Matthew 5:1-2), and we hear him say that everyone in their lives, should feel ‘blessed’ (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus did not say the word only once or twice, but a total of nine times; and each time he said the word, he did so with yet another different reason that we should feel blessed in our lives.

But in the Biblical context, what exactly does it mean to be blessed, and what does it mean to be mourning, and what or who should we mourn for?

Most people have lost some-one in their life, whether a father / mother, grandfather / grandmother, brother, sister or friend; and maybe even a few people, and when you do, it can feel like a part of you has been ripped out of your body. You feel at a loss, that there is a part of you that will never be complete again.

We live in a broken world, and no matter how we feel, and where our life has led us, and what or who has gone from our lives, God can heal the broken-ness, he can heal us; God can and will complete us if we let him.

If we let God into our life, he will bless us in ways that we can never fully know.

Blessed, is a literal translation from the Greek ‘makarios’ ( μακάριος), and it means to be happy. Strong’s number for the word is ‘G3107’ and the definition for the word says;

a prolonged form of the poetical μακάρ makar (meaning the same); supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off; – blessed happy (x-ier).

Strong’s Hebrew gives the word the number H1288, and translates as – ‘bless – מבורך’.

The Hebrew word translates as ‘to bend the knee, as in ‘to respect’ or ‘to worship / pay homage to’ some-one or some-thing (http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/dictionary/1500.html#1288 – accessed 25/01/19).

The Greek word for mourn that is used, is ‘πενθέω – penthéō’ (Strong’s G3996), and the word means;

Deep grief or intense sorrow, openly manifested by weeping audibly’ (https://www.studylight.org/language-studies/greek-thoughts.html?article=12 – accessed 25/01/19).

But what are we mourning for?

Are we mourning for some-one, relative or friend, who is not with us in our life for the reason of dying?

Are we mourning for our past; mourning for our past sins, any number of sins that we committed before we came to God?

Are we mourning for the sins of the world that have, and are being committed?

How deeply are we mourning or lamenting, for past sins? Are we just apologetic for the fact that the sins have been committed, or do we have a deep sense of regret, and lament for all the wrong in the world, ours included, do we weep for the world and the wrong that seems to be ever present?

Do we ask God to break our hearts with the things that break his?

Whatever we are mourning for, we need to give the situation to God; we need to bring all of our problems to him, Jesus said;

Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28 NIV) and carrying around grief can be wearisome to us, and wear us down, leaving us vulnerable. ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’ (Matthew 11:29 NIV).

So if we combine the translations, we could read it as follows;

Happy are those who bend their knee in respect or in worship to the Lord our God, and deeply mourn and lament for the sins that they, and the rest of the world have committed against God, for ‘God will comfort them’ (Matthew 5:4 GNB).

So are we blessed?

Do we feel blessed?

‘Makarios’, happy, blessed! ‘Bless – מבורך’

BLESSED!

img_0142

 

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful 
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out, I’ll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your Name

Beth Redman / Matt Redman

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Father we thank you for the fact that when we come to you, in all of our states of sin and regret, that you offer us comfort when we trust in you. We mourn for our past sins when we were far from you, and thank you for sending Jesus to die for us, and give us a hope for eternal life.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Poor in Spirit – or POOR?

Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

In what appears to be Jesus’ inaugural address to the disciples (Matthew 5:1-2), we hear him say that in our lives, we should feel ‘blessed’ (Matthew 5:3).

Jesus does not only say the word once or twice, but nine times in all, and each time he says the word, he does so with yet another different reason for us to feel blessed about our lives.

But in the Biblical context, what exactly does it mean to be blessed, and what does it mean to be poor in spirit, and should we strive to be poor in spirit?

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association explains that to be poor in spirit does not necessarily mean to be ‘poor’, or to live a meagre life, but it means that we must, ‘be humble in our spirits. If you put the word “humble” in place of the word “poor,” you will understand what He meant’ (https://billygraham.org.uk/answer/what-does-it-mean-to-be-poor-in-spirit-as-jesus-said-we-ought-to-be/ – accessed 18/01/19).

What it means, is that we should not be self-seeking, but be, and live, a humble life.

Blessed, is a literal translation from the Greek ‘makarios’ ( μακάριος), and it means to be happy. Strong’s number for the word is ‘g3107’ and the definition for the word says;

a prolonged form of the poetical μακάρ makar (meaning the same); supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off; – blessed happy (x-ier).

So another translation of the verse could be;

Oh the happiness of those who have a humble spirit, the kingdom of heaven will belong to them‘.

Being ‘poor in spirit’ could also refer to being humble (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association), but it could also refer to the understanding that we as a broken people, desperately need God in our lives, that without him, we cannot live the way that God wants us to, without any help we are unable to perform what scripture says we should be doing; that without Jesus, we simply cannot do anything (John 15:5), that we really need his strength in us, and we know;

He strengthens those who are weak’ (Isaiah 40:29 GNB), which is good news for me, as I regularly fail in many various ways, and some that are really spectacular failures.

They who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength’ (Isaiah 40:31 ESV).

So if we wait for God to show us, and rely on him, then our strength will be restored so that we can try again, to live as he wants us to, so we can really be blessed, life is all about second chances.

In 1964, Ken Dodd released a song, called Happiness.

Happiness, happiness, the greatest gift that I possess’ (Bill Anderson – Columbia records).

Happiness is a real gift, and it is also important to life, it makes it all worthwhile. We need to be and be able to feel, happy, and Jesus came to give us that. By dying on the cross in our place!

We can now be happy that Jesus came to give us a second chance for eternal redemption, and if necessary, a second-second chance etc.

We can be happy that we now have an eternal hope that will end with us living with Jesus, for he has already gone to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).

We can be happy that we did not deserve any of this, yet he still freely gives it, for, ‘Christ died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

Jesus died for the people that we used to be!

But that is the important thing to remember, he died for ‘the person we used-to-be’. We are now different, we are now in relationship with Jesus, and we are now new;

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV – emphasis mine).

So are we blessed?

Do we feel blessed?

‘Makarios’, happy, blessed!

Could this also be a translation of the verse?

How happy are those people who understand their dire need for the One-True-God, and that the need for God to be in their life, and those who know that they need the love and guidance that only he can give them, and the strength to ‘carry on‘, that comes only from him, ‘for theirs is the kingdom of God’ (Matthew 5:3 ESV).

HOW BLESSED ARE YOU?

HOW BLESSED YOU ARE!

 

poor-in-spirit

 

There is no limit to Your power
There is no stopping what You plan
You give us faith to move the mountains
And hope to dream again
We see the fires of revival
The darkness giving way to light
The glory of Your grace advancing
Let it burn up the night
Let it burn up the night

Let the walls come down in Jesus’ name
Let the lost be found in Jesus’ name
Let the church arise
to shine Your light to the world
Shine Your light

Your house forever undivided
All Your sons and daughters one
At the cross we are united
Our hope is in the blood
Our hope is in Your blood

Salvation’s tide is rising
As all Your people seek Your face
Your life a river flowing
To wash our sin and shame away

Salvation’s Tide

M. Maher, J. Ingram, B. Younker, K. Stanfil

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Father we thank you for second chances, and for second-second chances. We know that we do not deserve what you so freely offer to us, but we know that we really, really need it in our lives. Our lives were empty before you came in and changed us, help us to really live out our blessed life and shine for you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

I YAM WHAT I YAM – Popeye

by grace you have been saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV)

Many people I know can truthfully say, “Jesus truly is my friend”, and he can also be yours!

Some people will also say that they  have not always been his friend, there are times that they have ignored him, and even walked the opposite way from him, but most of them return, because they, and I, need him. We want his peace, his love, and we all need his mercy and grace, constantly, because we are sinners, but;

We know that we are loved by God! (John 3:16), and

We try to live like Jesus!

We try to keep his commands!

And because of this, we are saved!

There is one thing I remember, that the apostle Paul wrote in one of his letters, and I do not remember it to say of myself, “look, what a bad person I am or was”, but to remind myself that no matter how bad things go in my life, whether I stray from the path that God has for me, and then return to God for whatever reason, or if I do not love everyone always, as Jesus taught us to. , but I do remember that Jesus came ‘for the ungodly and sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:8 & 9 ESV – emphasis mine).

The world will judge us, and it will judge us in shades, theft is bad, aggravated assault is really bad, and murder is really extremely bad. Murder may be a black sin, and anything else may have shades of grey. But God is not like this, “a little white lie to protect” is still a lie and a sin, and theft, assault, and murder are also sins. Paul told the Roman Christians;

There is no one who is righteous… All have turned away from God; they have all done wrong’ (Romans 3:10 & 12 GNB).

The important thing is what we do with the knowledge that we have all sinned and done what is wrong in the eyes of God. What we need to do. Again, Paul knew how hard it was and is;

I don’t do what I would like to do, but instead I do what I hate’ (Romans 7:15 GNB).

But he also understood why Jesus had come;

we know that the law (of God) is good… … not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:8 & 9 ESV – emphasis mine).

I am definitely not, nor ever will be perfect while I live on earth. We were all born into a broken world, broken since the fall, but I know, and we can all know, that Jesus died for us!

That is so humbling to remember, and whenever I think I am getting too big for my boots, or thinking of myself “look at me”, I remember that our Lord Jesus Christ lay on a cross made of rough wood, for me; he spread his arms wide in love for me, and let Romans nail him to it, for my sin!

Furthermore I remember that Paul prompted Timothy to bring to mind how Paul recalled his life and journey to where he was;

formerly I was a blasphemer (sinner)… …  But I received mercy… … and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me… This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost’ (1 Timothy 1:13, 14 & 15 ESV – emphasis mine).

In 1933, the first television cartoon series with the popular character ‘Popeye the Sailor Man’ (created by E.C. Segar) started, and the first cartoon was titled ’I yam what I yam’ (http://popeye.com/timeline/ – accessed 11/01/19). Popeye used to regularly say, ‘I yam what I yam, and that’s all I yam’ (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Popeye – accessed 12/01/19).

The saying was obviously not his own, not matter how often he said it, though we can all look at it and endorse the thought behind his sentiment. It is obvious that we are what and who we are; we are the sum of all our life’s experiences, the good, the bad and the indifferent, but how are we ‘what we are’?

In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul re-iterated this message to them;

By this gospel you are saved’ (1 Corinthians 15:2 NIV – emphasis mine).

And he continued;

But by the grace of God I am what I am’ (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV).

We are here by the grace of God. By his grace I live, by his grace I breathe, and by his grace I am saved. Saved by his Son, who;

at just the right time… … died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6 NIV).

So no matter what life throws at us, no matter where God asks us to go, no matter what, we are saved by his grace.

You see;

For this is how God loves [loved] the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him’ (John 3:16 – 17 NLT).

So not matter the issue is, we need to think about how we deal with the problems of life. Sometimes we need to stop and think;

All it takes is a little grace (pause) a little of God’s grace, and all our problems seem to fade away. (pause) Now should we demand an explanation from our Lord? Question his methods, or should we merely enjoy the benefits?’ (Walter Goodfellow’s keynote speech – Keeping Mum – 2005 – N Johnson & R Russo).

I think that we should enjoy the benefit of knowing God, and knowing that we are saved by his never-ending grace.

Lord thank you for bringing us grace’ (Keeping Mum – 2005 – N Johnson & R Russo).

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I was nowhere, You came to my rescue
From the grave I’ve been raised
When I needed a saviour to save me
Jesus, You made a way
I was blind, but these eyes have been opened
Now I walk in the light
Ev’ry step on this road I will follow
Jesus, You made a way

You are the way 
You are the way
Lost and dead, but Your love came to find me
Jesus You are the way
Jesus, the only way
Jesus, the only way

All my days are secure in Your promise Never standing alone
You’re the truth, You’re the life, You’re my future
Jesus, You made a way
I’m alive in that love that You give me
Free to dance once again
You will lead me from glory to glory Jesus, You made a way

You are the way
You are the way
You’re the light shining bright in the darkness
Jesus You are the way

The Way (Pocketful of Faith #10)

B. Cantelon, N. Herbert & T. Hughes

 

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Father we thank you for your never-ending love, and grace. Without you in our life we can do nothing but live in fear, but with you, we have peace and a hope of a brighter future, one that you have planned for our benefit. Lord we love you so much, help us to live and show your love for us, to the world around us, and help us to be the salt and light that they need to find you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

I knew I would become NEW!

See, I am doing a new thing‘ (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

 

Do you remember what it was like as a young child, waking-up early on Christmas morning? Getting up and eagerly unwrapping, vigorously ripping the wrapping paper from the presents that were underneath the tree; new games, new books, new toys, new, new, new!

When we come to God, it can be like that.

BOOM!

We are then eager for everyone around us, at work, at leisure, to hear all about our life changing, colossal, mammoth event! And we don’t care how many times we tell people, we just want everyone to know.

As time passes, sometimes, some of that initial zeal that we have ebbs, it leaves us, and we can drift back to what we used to be, or a slightly better informed version of what we used to be; but then we hear someone speak, or go to a Christian event, and we are inspired again, fired-up, just like we used to be; but then that recedes also.

But during these times when we are less inspired by the Bible, and God’s word, we should remember that God has not left, it is us that has changed, and we should constantly keep in mind;

I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me’ (Psalm 16:8 NLT).

God is right beside us in our daily walk through life; all we need to do is talk to him in prayer;

Pray continually’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV).

Most people will go through moments like this. The psalmist David also knew that this would happen;

Even when I walk through the darkest valley… … you are close’ (Psalm 23:4 NLT).

He knew moments in his life, when it seemed like everything could be over, but he trusted the Lord to protect him;

In the LORD I take refuge’ (Psalm 11:1 NIV).

But when we turn to Jesus, and accept him into our life, and trust him, and follow his commands, and try to live like he did, we change. We become a new thing, a Christian, we are new;

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [or she] is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 – emphasis mine).

We become a different person when we accept Jesus into our life, but even so, we can have moments of feeling less, moments of doubt.

The apostle Peter also had moments where he seemed confident in who Jesus was and what he came to do, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ (Matthew 16:16 NIV), and other moments where he appeared to not understand the plot, ‘Peter took him aside… Never Lord… … “You are a stumbling block to me [Jesus]; you do not have in mind the concerns of God’ (Matthew 16:22 – 23 NIV).

We can also have times such as these, where life seems like a ‘bed-of-roses’, all is good, and being a Christian seems easy. Other days, everything seems to be against us, we oversleep, the traffic lights are all red as we approach them, we don’t get that promotion that we thought we deserved; cursing and swearing is not the answer, but the temptation, ooh it’s there; life can be hard when we do not understand it all.

We should remember that God love us all so much, that Jesus came to die in our place (John 3:16), he will always be with us (Psalm 16:8), whatever we are going through, waiting for us to call to him for help;

You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV).

We did not even deserve to be saved, because;

when we were powerless… … While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:6 & 8 NIV).

So, even when things seem really bad, remember that God has a massive, life changing plan for you, that is unique to you and your gifts, and it is for your betterment, (Jeremiah 29:11) and also, you are a new creation in God, your old self has been condemned to the scrap-heap of life, (2 Corinthians 5:17); trust that you can always take their refuge in God, (Psalm 11:1) lean in on him, trust him to bring you through your valley, (Psalm 23:4) he is closer than you think, (Psalm 16:8) and he will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5).

He is our creator God, and he created you for a purpose.

Live for that purpose.

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My future hangs on this
You make preciousness from dust
Please don’t stop creating me
Your blood offers the chance
To rewind to innocence
Reborn, perfect as a child

Oh Your cross it changes everything
There my world begins again with You
Oh Your cross it’s where my hope restarts
A second chance is Heaven’s heart

When sin and ugliness
Collide with redemption’s kiss
Beauty awakens by romance
Always inside this mess
I have found forgiveness
Mercy, as infinite as You

Countless second chances
We’ve been given at the cross

Fragments of brokenness
Salvaged by the art of grace
You craft life from our mistakes
Black skies of my regrets
Outshone by this kindness
New life dawns over my soul

Second Chance (Homemade Worship by Handmade People #4)
Luke Smallbone, Joel Smallbones, Matthew Hales

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Father we thank you for your Son, and his sacrifice for us, giving us a chance to be different, to be new people through his sacrifice. Show us the way that we should go, to live our life for you, showing all people around us that with you in our life, we are different, with the redemption, mercy, love and hope that we have from you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Hope springs eternal – or is eternal

Hope springs eternal‘ (An Essay On Man – Alexander Pope – 1734)

Do you remember times when you were young, and you had dreams about what life would hold for you, the challenges that you would face? Unfortunately, life does not always work out the way we would like it to.

Since the birth of time, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden with God, we have all had things to look forward to. Adam and Eve used to look forward to walking with God in the garden, ‘Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden’ (Genesis 3:8 NIV).

Much has changed since that time; sin entered the world, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, (Genesis 3) and harmony with God ended, and we have been living in a broken world since then.

We have all, globally, lived through a very turbulent year, as many of them seem to be recently.

Early in the year, in February, an earthquake hit Papua New Guinea, affecting close to 16 percent of the population, that’s about half a million people, (https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/slideshows/10-of-the-deadliest-natural-disasters-in-2018?slide=3 – accessed 28/12/18).  In July, in America, a female postal worker died, when record breaking temperatures were recorded during her working day, (https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/07/25/woodland-hills-mail-carrier-peggy-frank-touched-so-many-peoples-hearts-sister-says/ – accessed 28/12/18). In mid-September, hurricane Maria killed just over three thousand people, when it hit land in Dominica and Puerto Rico (https://www.google.com/search?q=hurricane+maria+facts&oq=hurricane+maria&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i60j0l3.4016j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 – accessed 28/12/18). Last month, (November) the wild fires in California, killed over eighty people, leaving over five-hundred people, or un-accounted for, (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46315029 – accessed 28/12/18), and the tsunami that hit Indonesia, days before Christmas (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-28/the-five-most-deadly-natural-disasters-in-indonesia-this-year/10668480 – accessed 28/12/18).

Then we have all the killings, robberies, other violent acts, and terrorist threats etc to consider.

When we read this and listen to, or read, or watch the news, and hear or see all the evil that is happening throughout the world, can we really, truly live in hope?

The answer to this question, is a resounding yes, of course we can!

Less than seven days ago, globally, we celebrated the birth of hope, the wonderful birth of our Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Job questioned where his hope was, after losing everything that he had;

where then is my hope – who can see any hope for me’ (Job 17:15 NIV).

But with time passing, and us living in the present, we can say;

For in [this] hope we were saved’ (Romans 8:24 NIV).

We also know that everything that we have, is from God;

Everything comes from you’ (1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV).

In a letter he sent to the Israelite nation whilst they were in exile, Jeremiah told them what the Lord said about their return; and that when they did return, he would;

know the plans I have for you… … plans to prosper you’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV), and the Psalmist David wrote;

Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us’ (Psalm 40:5 NIV).

Not only does he plan things for us, but he is always there for us, Just as God told the Israelite nation (Deuteronomy 31:8), so the writer of Hebrews reminds us of what God said;

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

When Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, he said to them;

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope’ (Romans 15:13 NIV – emphasis mine).

So we are filled with hope, given from the God of hope, and because we have hope, we should;

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever’ (Psalm 136:1 NIV).

And more than that, we can request from God;

that God would grant what [I] we hope for’ (Job 6:8 NIV).

And beyond everything else, we should remember, that, ‘Hope springs eternal’ (An Essay On Man – Alexander Pope – 1734)

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Hear our cry, oh King of heaven
Jesus hope to every heart
We are lost without Your glory 
We are lost without You God

Be the fire, that burns within us
Flames of love that purify
Send Your power and Your salvation, 
Let us see Your Kingdom come

Only You can move the mountain
Only You can heal our land
Christ alone, our hope and glory
Christ alone in You we stand

Turn Your eyes and show us mercy
How we need Your Father’s love
Lead us home, and out of darkness, 
With Your gospel, burning bright

We believe our God is mighty
We believe our God is here
We believe our King is coming
Christ alone in You we stand

Praise the Lord, our God is mighty
Praise the Lord, our God is here
Praise the Lord, our King is coming
Christ alone in You we stand

Hope and Glory (Pocketful of Faith #11)
T. Hughes / M. Smith / N. Herbert

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Father we thank you for the hope that we have through your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you for sending him to live with us, to teach us, and to die in our place. Help us at this time of year to celebrate his birth, and the hope that it gives us.

Amen

Advent · Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

JESUS – the reason for the season!

Love came down at Christmas‘ (C Rosetti)

Love.

What does the word mean to you?

Does it make you think of how your parents watched over you when you were younger?

Does it make you think of how your spouse or partner makes life seem better after a bad day?

Does it make you think of childhood friends known many years ago?

Or maybe you think about other things.

Love can come in various forms; the way we love our partners will be different from the way that we love our wider family, and different again from the way that we love our friends.

There are four words in the Greek language for the term ‘love’ that are used in the Bible;

Storge (storgē, Greek: στοργή),

Philia (philía, Greek: φιλία),

Eros (erōs, Greek: ἔρως), and

Charity (agápē, Greek: ἀγάπη)

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Loves – accessed 22/12/18).

The love that we want is agápē. This is the love that God has for us, it is unconditional, unending, eternal, life-giving, redeeming, a love ‘no-matter-what’!

That is how God loves the world; he loves it so much;

that he gave his one and only Son’ (John 3:16 NIV).

And God sent him, knowing that we are constantly failing;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 ESV – emphasis mine).

Yet even through our failing, God loved us and sent Jesus. And further than that, we know that he loved the world and wanted to save everyone on it, for;

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time’ (Romans 5:6 NLT).

WOW.

God’s timing is perfect, ‘while we were yet weak’ (Romans 5:6 RV1885). Christ came to this earth, as a baby, for us; you and me!

We are in the time of Advent, and ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ (Jesus is the reason for the season – G. Nicholson & M. Chapman).

He is indeed.

Jesus is the only reason that we celebrate at all, if he had not come to earth, where would we be now? But we can take solace in the fact that;

the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19;10 NIV).

To save the lost; to save me; to save you, he came to offer salvation to every-one who would listen;

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16 NIV – emphasis mine).

While he was on earth, during his ministry, he taught about love, and he lived that love out in his daily life. Would it not be great if we could be able to do the same; but we can, and should, for Jesus said;

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV).

God loves us and wants the very best for each and every-one of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

Each and every day, we should, ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us’ (1 John 3:1 NIV).

Not only are we loved now, but we were known and loved from the very point of creation, for;

we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will’ (Ephesians 1:11 ESV).

God even spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying;

I will never stop doing good to them’ (Jeremiah 32:40 NIV).

Love is patient’ (1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV). God wants us as part of his family, that is why Jesus came, and he will wait for us.

Love is not happy with evil’ (1 Corinthians 13:6 GNB). Paul told the Roman Christians that they should not conform to the world, that they should set themselves apart from it, love and follow God, and not the world (Romans 12:1-2).

Love never fails’ (1 Corinthians 13: NIV). Agápē, this is a ‘no-matter-what’ love. Love never fails, because it comes from God, and God loves us, no matter what we have done. ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 ESV – emphasis mine). Jesus came for us, the lost, the marginalised, the lonely, the people that many do not want, ‘the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10 NIV). ‘While we were yet weak’ (Romans 5:6 RV1885), Jesus came for us.

God has said, ‘Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). He will always look after us, ‘he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways’ (Psalm 91:11 ESV).

“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything.” (T. Tolis) so with God’s unfailing love for us, we have everything. “And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” (Les Miserables).

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

4 advent - love

Yes Lord, I love you,
Because you loved me first.
You showed us the way
To live a life of peace.
You guide us and help us,
To live as you did.
Lord I’ll love you all my days
And praise your name.

Yes Lord, I love you,
You came to take my sin.
To die on the cross,
To suffer pain and loss.
To make me free, and
Give my life a hope,
Lord I’ll praise you all my days,
And show your love.

Yes Lord I love you,
You came to die for me.
You showed me a way I,
Could live a better life.
You spread your arms in love, and
You died for me.
Then you rose again to give
Eternal hope.

Lord you show us love and mercy,
Yes you are the way,
The truth and light, so I’ll follow you
And glorify your name,
Because I love you.

Yes Lord I love you,
You came to save my life.
You came from heaven,
Born as a baby boy.
You lived and you served, to
Make a way for us,
To spend all of eternity
With you.

Love Wonderful

R. Phillis

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Father we thank you for the love that came down that first Christmas. Help us to show others, that without your Son Jesus, that there is nothing to celebrate. May all the people we meet this season, see your Son in our life, making a difference, so that they will know, Jesus is the reason for the season.

Amen

Advent · Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Lets have Joy, Lets us be Joyful

‘Joy to the world’ (Isaac Watts)

The Psalmist wrote, ‘Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise‘ (Psalm 47:1 ESV), and ‘Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad‘ (Psalm 96:11 NIV) and, ‘Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth‘ (Psalm 98:4 NIV).

So what the Psalmist is really telling us, is that we should be joyful with our God, and to praise Him.

Between the years of 1674 and 1748, Isaac Watts wrote the wonderful words to this marvellous carol, ‘Joy to the world’. It has been over 260 years since then, and we are still singing the words that were inspired by the birth of a special child, foretold in the book of Isaiah,

For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace‘ (Isaiah 9:6-7).

It happened over 2000 years ago, and it affected many of the people in the surrounding area, and some were changed because of it.

Today, and in the years between, have also moved the hearts and minds of men, women and children, and people are still moved by Him and the truths found within the wonderful treasure that is the Bible.

At this time of year, we sing, ‘Let every heart prepare Him room‘, and about, ‘The glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love‘, and also, ‘Repeat the sounding joy‘, (Joy To The World). These are fantastic words of both praise to our God, and encouragement for others.

The First Noel‘ (Anon), angels came to inform local people about the birth of a baby, Jesus. This was a special birth and every-body needed to know; and everybody still needs to know today, possibly more so with today’s society.

In modern times, there is more today that can draw us away from God, with social media and modern trends of ‘self first’, but Paul reminds us;

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world‘ (Romans 12:2 ESV); rather, we are to be, ‘transformed by the renewal of our [your] mind‘ (v 2 NLT).

That is why it is so important during this Advent, that we are open to the moving of His spirit in and around us. We also need to be prepared to wait on Him, and be joyous in the waiting, and joyous in the hope that He brings to mankind.

We need to live-out the peace that we can have when we surrender our lives to the Lord of All.

We need to be full of the joy that can only come when we have a fully committed relationship with our Lord, the only person that can help and save us.

2000 years ago, wise men came seeking the new-born child;

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea… … that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived asking “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”’ (Matthew 2:1-2 NLT).

And what about now?

‘And wise men still seek him, their King and Messiah… … as their hearts filled with love for Jesus their saviour and their King’ (Wise men still seek Him – SATB version – Lindy Kerby – 2001).

Only Jesus can truly help us, and so we sing;

And fit us for Haven to live with thee there‘ (Away in a Manger – Anon).

3 advent - joy

 

My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord, there is none like you.
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love.

My comfort, my shelter,
Tower of refuge and strength,
Let every breath, all that I am,
Never cease to worship you

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name

I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.

My Jesus My Saviour
Darlene Zschech ©Hillsongs 1994

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Father we thank you for the joy that comes from relationship with your Son who came to this earth to atone for all of our wrongs, please help us to be worthy of his sacrifice, help us to walk close to you and talk to you and know you truly in our hearts always.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Live in peace – not in broken pieces

And peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased‘ (Luke 2:14 NLT)

With all the problems that we see around the world, and the constant coverage of these events in the local, national and global news and internet, along with natural disasters that seem to be constantly occurring, it is hard to see or imagine peace anywhere.

Yet Jesus said;

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you‘ but not only did he say that but he continued; ‘I do not give to you as the world gives’ (John 14:27 NIV – emphasis mine).

Jesus left us his peace, but the peace he left us was his perfect peace, not as the world gives, the world is imperfect, and anything of the world is flawed, Jesus left us his perfect peace, and Paul, when writing to the church in Philippi, reminded them of this in his farewell part of his letter;

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7 ESV – emphasis mine).

Jesus told his followers that they would have his peace and also, ‘I do not give to you as the world gives‘ (John 14:27 NIV). We too can have the peace that our Lord, Saviour, Friend and Redeemer left to the world. His gift of peace is available to us and all people, should we and they seek it, and accept Him as Saviour. And if they and we do, peace will be theirs and ours, and Jesus told people how, and what they should do to get this peace that he offered;

seek first his kingdom and his righteousness‘ (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

Jesus also promised us that once we have come to Him, and accepted Him as Lord of our life, that He would stay with us forever; ‘Never will I leave you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV), which is what Moses reminded Joshua of, shortly before his death;

The LORD himself goes before you… he will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Once we are with God, we are never alone.

We can take comfort in the fact that, ‘the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones‘ (Psalm 37:28 NIV).

Most Christians will suffer to varying degrees, at various times, but when they/we die, there is knowledge of the place they will be going to, Jesus said;

I am going to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2 NLT).

I have heard some Christians say that they are getting ready to ‘go home’, and they will have His eternal peace when they pass from this life.

Those who live for the Lord, and delight in Him, know that, ‘The Lord upholds them [him] with his hand‘ (Psalm 37:24 NIV).

We walk with God in His strength, but sometimes we don’t have the strength, and so we get carried by him (Footprints in the Sand). We know we need Jesus in our lives, for he said;

apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NLT).

From the very beginning, Jesus was always going to be special; as His birth became imminent even the angels could not keep silent; they spoke to the shepherds saying; ‘Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased‘ (Luke 2:14 NLT).

We also sing other songs with words such as, ‘Glory to the newborn King‘ and ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild‘ (Hark The Herald Angel Sing – F. Mendelsson).

Jesus though said that he did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34), but he did share with His disciples so that they would have peace (John 16:33).

We may not always feel at peace, we may have issues that require addressing, but whatever is wrong in our lives, Jesus is the answer. Only Jesus can give us what our hearts crave for.

Within us we know there is something missing, and that brings us to seeking, and we seek because;

There is a God shaped hole in all of us, and it’s a void that only he can fill’ (God Shaped Hole – sung by Plumb – written by Wayne Kirkpatrick & Tiffany Arbuckle Lee)

God can remedy all things, in His time. ‘God has called us [you] to live in peace‘ (1 Corinthians 7:15 NLT), for He himself is a God of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

God gave the undeserving world the greatest gift of all, his Son (John 3:16), and all he requires from us is the gift of our life lived for him. Did you return the gift voided or unwarranted, or did you accept the gift?

Is He the God of your peace, and have you given Him the gift of your life yet?

 

2 advent - peace

 

Every point of view has another angle
And every angle has its merit
But all comes down to faith
That’s the way I see it

You can say that love is not divine and
You can say that life is not eternal
“All we have is know”
But I don’t believe it

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only he can fill

Does the world seem grey with empty longing
Wearing every shade of cynical
And do you ever feel that
There is something missing?

That’s my point of view

Plumb – God Shaped Hole

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_DbnBCVGPc

Wayne Kirkpatrick / Tiffany Arbuckle Lee

 

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Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to give us the peace that we did not know that we needed. Lord we seek you and want to remember at this time of year the perfect gift that you gave us, your Son. Help us to show others this season that life is so much more when the God shaped hole is filled with the love, mercy and forgiveness that only comes from you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Christmas & CHRIST come

‘Tis the season to be jolly’ (T Olliphant)

We are entering the time of advent, which comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’, which is the translation of the Greek word ‘parousia’, and this term, is commonly used to refer to the second coming of Christ. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advent – accessed 2/12/18).

This is the first week of advent, and in the first week of Advent, we consider hope, the hope that comes to all people on earth. As we light the first of the Advent candles, and look at the light of the candle, we think of, and celebrate hope, the hope for the whole world, because Jesus was sent by God who loved us so much, to save whosoever, the whole world (John 3:16).

Jesus came to be the hope of the world; to free the world from sin by being a perfect sacrifice. That was to be the final part of the perfect plan, set in motion by His Father, our loving God. And it is all possible, because of Bethlehem.

Isaiah gave a prophecy of hope, about the coming of Jesus (Isaiah 9:6-7). He also continued to say that the coming child would reign on the throne that belonged to king David. When this actually came to pass, in the beginning, there was the young boy, born in such a humble setting. This child grew into a man; God had a plan for this man just as He does for us all (Jeremiah 29:11).

What hopes and aspirations did he have? Did he want to follow in his earthly father’s footsteps? We will not know the answer to that question for some time. For now though, we have the hope that is given to all who follow Jesus, because of Bethlehem. Hope is like a light shining in a dark place.

As we look at the light of the Advent candle, we celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ; we put our hope in the word of God;

because I have hoped in your word’ (Psalm 119:74).

We know that through the endurance of the scriptures, and the encouragement they provide, we can have hope;

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope’ (Romans 15:4).

We live now to serve our God; if we put off our hope in salvation to a later time, our heart becomes sick, but ‘a longing fulfilled is a tree of life’ (Proverbs 15:12 NIV).

Hope is available to us all, and all we have to do is repent of our sins and trust God with our lives, and try living as Jesus did, we may not be perfect, but we can work towards perfection, towards the day that we will meet Him face to face.

As the Psalmist said, we should;

put our [your] hope in God‘ (Psalm 42:5 NIV).

And again;

‘we [I] have put our [my] hope in your word‘ (Psalm 119:74 NIV).

The Lord wants us to turn to him, and to love Him, because,

the LORD delights in those… … who put their hope in his unfailing love‘ (Psalm 147:11 NIV).

The hope we have in our Lord Jesus Christ, is an eternal hope, ‘if only for this life we have hope in Christ‘ (1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV), and, ‘in this hope we are [were] saved‘ (Romans 8:24 NIV), and with this hope, we can be joyous in life, ‘Rejoice in hope’ (Romans 12:12 ESV).

The Scriptures give us everything that we need, they are spiritual food for us and give us encouragement, that we, ‘might have hope‘ (Romans 15:4 NIV).

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul said that our hope should not be put in the things of the world, but we should, ‘put our [their] hope in God‘ (1 Timothy 6:17 NIV).

We all occasionally lose focus in our walk with the Lord, but when we are in tune with him, and walking closely, we need not worry, for;

When everything shakes, God remains unshaken.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 44).

We know that Jesus has risen from the dead, and that death has been defeated and this gives us our greatest hope, because of Bethlehem.

Why do we need hope?

Well it is simple really, because without hope what do we have?

You may save yourself from a broken heart or going broke or running out of gas. But you aren’t good enough to save yourself from sin. You aren’t strong enough to save yourself from death. You need a Saviour. Because of Bethlehem you have one.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 31).

So the question is;

What do you put your hope in?

The innkeeper missed the opportunity.’ (Max Lucado – Because of Bethlehem – pp 53), will you?

1 advent - hope

When darkness deepens
The path unsure 
The sun is hidden by the storms 
I look to heaven
And cry to Thee
Oh God be here with me

In every breath
Every joy and tear
Every passing hour
Let me know You’re near
In life, in death
For eternity
Oh God be here with me

When faith is shaken
When fears surround
My feet will stand on solid ground
In every season
My song will be
Oh God be here with me

And in that moment
We’re face to face
I will not need these eyes of faith
Forever after, God I will see
That You’ve always been with me
You’ve always been with me

Here With Me (Pocketful of Faith #1)

Tim Hughes, Phil Wickham, Nick Herbert

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Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to be the light of the world, and to show us the way to live our lives, and to give us hope. Help us at this time of year to be more patient with those around us as they rush along their way, help us to be ready to tell about your love, and the hope that it gives us.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Light of the World

‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3 NIV)

The first words that God uttered after creating the world are recorded in the Bible as being;

Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3 NIV).

Is there a reason that these were the first words? We do not know, but without light, we know that there is only darkness, and in the dark we cannot see, no matter how many carrots we eat.

God created the light, and once it was created, he then separated it from the darkness, so now, we have day and we have night.

We need light in order for us to function; there is a reason that during the night-time, we rest. We need light to see, and God knew this, and so because of this, light was and is important.

As Christians, part of what we are meant to do, is to take the light of God into an otherwise dark world; ‘Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl’ (Matthew 5:14 NIV).

God not only knows what is good for us, he knew before we were created, the Psalmist David knew this, for he wrote;

Your eyes saw my unformed body’ (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

Not only is there a plan for us, (Jeremiah 29:11) but if we ask for it and want it, there will be guidance for us as well, God tells us so.

You will show me the path of life’ (Psalm 16:11 NKJV).

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 ESV).

And how do we know that he will teach us and show us what we should do? David knew this too;

he instructs the sinners’ of which we all are, everyone of us, ‘in his ways’ (Psalm 25:8 NIV).

When Jesus came to this world, he said; ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:12 ESV). Not only did he say that, but he told those listening to him what would change, ‘Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness’ (John 8:12 NIV).

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says;

You are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14 NKJV). After saying that we are the light, he continues and says, ‘Let your light so shine before men’ (Matthew 5:16 NKJV).

In the longest chapter, in the longest book in the Bible, the Psalmist writes;

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path’ (Psalm 119:105 NIV).

Solomon, the son of King David, was a very wise man, and the writer of Proverbs, and wrote;

this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light’ (Proverbs 6:23 NIV).

We know that we should take the light of God to all people that we see (Matthew 5:16) but how do we do that.

We take the light of God to all, because as we go out into the world, we know that there is much darkness. Darkness is not just sin and evil, but it can come in the way of distraction, or temptation. Temptations of the world vie for our attention, to take our focus away from where it should be. We should have our focus on God.

Paul reminded the Roman Christians about this;

Do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:1 ESV).

Peter also told the Christians of the early scattered churches;

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance’ (1 Peter 1:14 NIV).

Jesus taught many important things to us, but one of the most important things is that we are;

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD’ (Matthew 5:15 NIV).

Pray to the One

 

There’s a little flame inside us all
Some shine bright, some shine small
The rains will come and the waters rise
But don’t you ever lose your light
In this life you will know
Love and pain, joy and sorrow
So when it hurts, when times get hard
Don’t forget whose child you are

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine, gonna let it shine

May you live each day with no regret
Make the most of every chance you get
Let your eyes get wide when you look at the stars
With the same sense of wonder as a child’s heart
With the ones you love treasure the time
And for those who are gone keep their memories alive
Hold on to your dreams don’t ever let go
There’s a fire inside you burning with hope

This Little Light Of Mine (Stories #3)
(written by Ryan Gregg) by Jennie Stiefel

 

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Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to be the light of the world, the light that we can follow, and the light that we can show and lead others to.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me (Randy Newman)

In 1995, Pixar Animations completed and released to the ‘big screen’, for many children (and adults), an amazing animated film, which when it debuted, was all about friends helping each other, with the main featured song being;

‘You’ve got a friend in me’ (Randy Newman – 1996).

Friends should help each other shouldn’t they?

And family, well, that should be a foregone conclusion.

Isn’t that how it goes?

When Jesus started his ministry, he went around and about the local area, healing people, and teaching them through the use of parables (a parable is a simple story that people can relate to, and teaches a moral or spiritual lesson). In reality, just being a friendly person to all he met.

In essence, Jesus was travelling the country, saying through his actions, that he was their friend by virtue of him helping them.

Atticus says you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose our family.’ (Jem in – To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 1960).

Yes we can choose our friends, and we tend to do that with great care, and no, you cannot choose your family, you are stuck with them in some cases, but Jesus gave us a command that really nullifies all boundaries when looking at friends and family, in fact it concerned all people.

A new command I give you:’ so basically, the choice about whether we comply or not has already been taken out of our hands, if we are a Christian and trying to live as Jesus did; ‘Love one another.’ That does not seem to hard does it, we generally do tend to love our family members, and some friends too, maybe, but Jesus then continues, ‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34 NIV).

Love one another as Jesus did, a selfless love, looking for the needs of others above you-self, putting the well-being of others first; that may be possible for family and some very close friends, but everybody?

Is that not going too far?

Not according to Jesus.

In Matthews Gospel, Jesus seems to take this command further, when teaching a large group of people on a mountainside. His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is probably one of the most well-known parts of the Bible; and he says;

You have heard… love your neighbour

What!!!? When they play loud music at night and keep me awake when I have work the next day? When they are rude to me in the street, or ignore me when I speak, or when take my parking space, or fill my bin with their rubbish so that I cannot use it?

I tell you, love your enemies’ now this is getting really hard, next to impossible for some of us, ‘pray for those who persecute you’ (Matthew 5:44 NIV).

Who can accomplish this?

The answer to that question, is really very simple, because on our own, no-one can accomplish this.

We need Jesus!

We cannot ‘not love’ our neighbours, or even enemies, and say that we love Jesus, that would be wrong;

We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19 NIV).

We need his strength to do the hard tasks!

apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 14:5 NIV).

We initially, and then continually need his forgiveness!

For if you forgive… … your heavenly Father will also forgive you’ (Matthew 6:14 NIV).

We need his grace, always!

For it is by grace you have been saved’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

But to each one of us grace has been given’ (Ephesians 4:7 NIV).

When we have Jesus, our friend, on our side, forgiveness and love become a little easier for us to share, because we realise, and know what has been given to us through the mercy of God. And when we need help;

he gives us more grace’ (James 4:6 NIV).

These days with social media making such an impact on the lives of so many people, it is very easy to get sucked in. People have hundreds of ‘friends’ but they know only a fraction of them. We can friend people and un-friend them, it is so easy, just click a button and it’s done.

With Jesus, we can also be his friend or not, but being a friend with Jesus brings us so much more than we can get without him.

I truly believe that Jesus want to be our ‘best friend’, Jesus wants us to be with him forever, he even has a place all ready picked out for us, he told his disciples that their places would be ready for them, so why not us;

I am going there to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2 NIV).

Could the words of Randy Newman have been spoken by Jesus? Who knows, all that I know is that Jesus is my rock (Psalm 63:6), the foundation for my belief, he save me by his amazing grace (Ephesians 2:8), he loves me and has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to be with him in glory (John 14:2).

I believe that Jesus could have said these words to me;

You’ve got a friend in me. When the road looks rough ahead, and you’re miles and miles from your nice warm bed. You just remember what your old pal said, boy, you’ve got a friend in me’(Randy Newman – 1996).

 

IMG_0152

 

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer
What a Friend we Have in Jesus
(Joseph Medicott Scriven – 1819-1886)

“You have liberty to cast all your cares upon him who cares for you. By one hour’s intimate access to the throne of grace, where the Lord causes his glory to pass before the soul that seeks him — you may acquire more true spiritual knowledge and comfort, than by a day or a week’s converse with the best of men, or the most studious perusal of many folios.”
John NewtonThe Letters of John Newton

 

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Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to be our friend. Help us to be worthy of his friendship, and of his sacrifice for us. Lord we want to see Jesus lifted high, and the glory going to you, help us to be beacons of light for you in an otherwise dark world.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Pride comes before a fall

God opposes the proud’ (1 Peter 5:5 NLT)

Are you bothered when you walk into a room and the people within just look over at you, continue chatting, and don’t immediately flock round you?

Do you spend much of your time talking to people who you meet, telling them about what you do, or how good you are at your particular job?

Some people like to ‘big themselves up’. “Don’t you know who I am?” is a phrase that I have heard many times at work. Some people just think that they are more important than they actually are; and also that everybody that they meet should know exactly who they are.

Is it really important that everybody knows who you are? Do you chase the plaudits? Are you completely driven by the praise that you may get from people when they know what you have done?

For some people, not being in the lime-light is a far great fear for them, than actually being ill. Mac Davis got it just right for many people, when he wrote;

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way’ (It’s Hard to Be Humble – Mac Davis).

There is nothing wrong with being good at something, and being recognised for it, the Bible tells us to work really hard;

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord.’ (Colossians 3:23 ESV).

The verse does not say, ‘work hard, seek the praise, and tell everybody all about it; but Mac completes his words with how we should be working;

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can’ (It’s Hard to Be Humble – Mac Davis).

It can be really difficult when we have done a task that we think has been completed well, and we think that we should receive some praise for it, a hearty ‘well done’, and a big ‘pat-on-the-back’ from the boss, or some other similar accolade.

So, what should we do? How should we behave?

Jesus told a parable regarding this, (Luke 14:8-11) which basically, he said do not be big-headed, and do not think of yourself being better than other people around you;

when you are invited, take the lowest seat’ (Luke 14:10 NIV).

There will always be someone who is better, or quicker than you, athletes see this all the time. In 1912, Sweden saw the American Donald Lippincott, who probably thought he was absolutely unbeatable with his 100m time of 10.8 seconds, and then in August 2009, the Jamaican Usain Bolt had an amazing time of 9.9 seconds.

Equally there have been other athletes, Muhammad Ali, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are two who come to mind, they used to say to their opponents, that they need not take part in a competition, as they had already lost to them. Ali is even said to have spoken these words;

‘I’m the greatest thing that ever lived’ (Muhammad Ali – When Clay Shook Up The World – February 2004).

What we, as Christians should do, is to be humble, both in the way we treat people, and the way that we act towards people.

God told the Israelite nation that they should also be humble;

Then if my people… … will humble themselves’ (2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT).

So we should look to God and be humble in our heart. God sees us completely; there is no hiding from God. The Psalmist David knew this, for he said;

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me’ (Psalm 139:1 NIV).

James also reminded the twelve tribes that were scattered amongst the surrounding nations;

Humble yourselves before the Lord’ (James 4:10 ESV).

When writing his letter to the various churches, Peter reminded the people of the early church, to;

clothe yourselves with humility towards one another’ (1 Peter 5:5 NIV).

The Lord spoke through the prophet Micah, who prophesied between 737 – 696, and told the people what was required of them, and what did the Lord require of them?

And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly’ (Micah 6:8 NIV).

So as you go about your business; walk humbly, clothe yourself with humility, and be like Jesus.

Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, but I’m doing the best that I can’ (It’s Hard to Be Humble – Mac Davis).

saltandlight copy

I’d like for them to say: 
He took a few cups of love.
He took one tablespoon of patience,
One teaspoon of generosity,
One pint of kindness.
He took one quart of laughter,
One pinch of concern.
And then, he mixed willingness with happiness. 
He added lots of faith,
And he stirred it up well.
Then he spread it over a span of a lifetime,
And he served it to each and every deserving person he met.

Muhammad Ali (interview with David Frost 1974)

Oh Lord, it’s hard being humble,
But I do the best that I can
Most times I am really trying,
At others, I’m told that I am.
Lord, help me be just like you,
And share the gospel with all,
I try really hard to show your love,
To be salt and light to all.

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Father we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to show us how to live our lives. We try to be like him, but at times it is difficult and we struggle. Help us to look to you first, and to live a humble life, that shows you to all the people we know. Lord in the words of Mac Davis, help us to do the best that we can.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Rest on your laurels, or in God!

Be safe and stay at Blue Camp 20

Do you want more for your life, or are you happy with what you have and how things are going?

Do you concentrate on everything that God wants for you, or are you tempted by the world and your own desires?

Paul reminded the Roman Christians that if, and when they are tempted by what the world has to offer, they should, ‘offer your bodies as a living sacrifice … to God’ (Romans 12:1 NIV), and above all, we should, ‘not conform to the pattern of the world’ (Romans 12:2 NIV).

We need to be in the world, but not of the world.

We need to be doing in our lives, what God wants us to do, to further his Kingdom. God may not want us to travel the world telling strange exotic telling people we meet about him; he may just want us to talk to our neighbours or the people that we work with. We do not need to travel the globe to pioneer.

But not everyone listens to God and does what he wants us to do; sometimes we decide to rest on our laurels, thinking that we have done what is necessary.

All of God’s saints pass through Blue Camp 20 eventually’ (Dirty Glory pp 147 – Peter Greig).

At various points in our lives, many of us will reach points where we do not seem to be able to discern God’s plan for us from our plan for us, or we feel that there is a chasm between us and God; a point where we cannot seem to hear the voice of God in our lives. At this point we should not rest and stop doing what we think we should be doing for God, we need to remember that we are not alone, ever, God has promised not to leave us;

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

When we stop doing what the Lord wants of us, we have decided to walk away from him. What do we do then? We are going through a waste land in our own strength, and we cannot survive that.

For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you’ (Philippians 2:13 Amplified Bible).

We, who are Christians, all know that we need Jesus in our lives, we know that we need his power for all things, the first and foremost reason is to save us. Without Jesus, we have nothing.

It is not by force nor by strength but by my Spirit, says the LORD’ (Zechariah 4:6 NLT).

We need to trust that God plans only what is best for us, the plans he has will be for the furthering of his Kingdom;

For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you … not to harm you … to give you a hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

Even when we do not know what to do, ‘He gives us the strength to move forward even though we feel weak.’ (Crystal McDowell).

If we choose to do what God wants us to do, then we know that he will, ‘show us the proper path’ (Psalm 25:8 NLT).

Jesus said to his disciples, and therefore to us also, that we should not settle for the easy life, we should not rest and take it easy, but we should, go out and talk to people, tell them about him, and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

Jesus did not settle anywhere, ‘the Son of Man has no place to even lay his head’ (Luke 9:58 NIV). If the plan for our life, was for us to settle down, Paul would not have told the Corinthian church to imitate Jesus, ‘Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ’ (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV).

We may choose to rest, to stay in our safety zone, to resist what God has planned for us, to do our own thing and ignore the will of God. The safety and security of Blue Camp 20 can be very tempting, but we need to remember that God has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and;

The plan was not to settle down’ (Dirty Glory pp 141 – Peter Greig).

Called according to purpose.jpg

I walked along the stones by the sea.
My Lord, to me, You are my rock.
This is your life said the Lord.
Not every path is an easy one,
look for the right way to go.

Test the stones, not all are true,
pick your path last you stumble.
Sometimes you will strike like a giant,
confident and sure in yourself.
Other times you will just amble.

Unsure and timid, life just a jumble
I am with you, You say, trust me,
Place your faith in my hands.
I will show you the path to take,
I will show you what to avoid.

The slippery stones, wet with weed,
The puddles that may seem small,
but they can cause you to slip,
fall, and lose your sure footing,
the path before, hard and unsure.

Trust in me, and only me,
I will be with you always.
Walk with me on the stones,
This is your path, come with me.
I will show you life.

The wind at your back,
pushing you on, or at your front,
pushing you back, halting your steps.
The sun will not always shine,
but I will always light Your path.

It will not forever be easy,
but I will always be there for you.
You may not see me all the time,
but call out my name, and I will answer.
Trust me and follow me over the stones

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Father we thank you for everything that you give us, day by day, help us always to be thankful even in the darkest of times. Lord we need you more when you seem far away, help us to see you in all that is around us, especially when it is hard. We know that when it is hardest to pray to you, it is then that we should pray the hardest. Lord we love you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Rest in life or Rest in God?

The peace and safety of Blue Camp 20

 (https://www.theodysseyonline.com/blue-camp-20 – accessed 19 October 2018 – 18:01)

Are you happy with your life?

This question is generally quite easy to answer. I have a good job that I enjoy, or, I have a good social circle of like-minded people, or even, my family life and church life are going well and we are content.

Do you believe that you are where God wants you to be?

People say, my church life is going well; I am in a bible study group that is both challenging and fun, or, I am doing well at work and it is a job I worked hard for.

Do you think that you have achieved everything that God has planned for you?

This question is a lot harder than the two previous questions.

Many people can say that they are happy with their life, and that they believe they are where God wants them to be, but have they achieved everything that God wants them to, is something that many people would avoid talking about.

I knew a person that never seemed to worry about anything; but, they had walked away from God and the church, and thought that they knew best. They said that God had held them back from so many things that they wanted to do, and so they struck out on their own, doing their own thing, being their own boss; doing what they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Well, what a bad decision that turned out to be. Their life spiralled out of control until it hit the bottom, and there was nowhere left to turn, in desperation, they did as the Psalmist had done, many, many years ago; ‘I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me’ (Psalm 77:1 NIV), called out to God and said, ‘I’m in a desperate situation… … let me fall into the hands of the LORD’ (1 Chronicles 21:13 NLT).

God answered the prayer, of course he did. They had walked away from him, but he had always been by their side, and it was then that the words from a famous poem were remembered; ‘The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of   footprints, my child, is when I carried you.” ‘ (Mary Stevenson – 1936).

We should all remember that God never leaves us, and Jesus tells us that in the book that we should never stop reading and learning from, ‘Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

The words that first brought me to Christ many years ago, echo in my head regularly, they are the wonderful words that John wrote in his vision, ‘Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in’ (Revelation 3:20 NIV).

How happy we should be to hear those inviting words, we should be prepared to rip that door off its hinges and make sure that it should not be able to be closed again!

We may at times, be desperate and afraid, but as we repent and seek God’s will, we need to say, ‘Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me’ (Psalm 57:1 NIV).

Much may have happened since the time God came into our life, but we should never want to stop in what we do for God. The old pioneers stopped; they decided that they had reached their limit; they wanted to settle down and have an easier life, if living on the edge of unknown territory could be called easy. ‘Inevitably, some of those old pioneers reached Blue Camp 20 and stopped’ (Dirty Glory pp139 – Pete Greigwow, what a book!).

We know that God has a plan for our lives, pioneering may not be part of that (at least for mine, as far as I know!) but we should want to live for God, and not stop for the easy life. ‘I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you… to give you hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

I do not know what those plans are in my life, many of us may not, but they are plans for us to be out there somewhere, somehow. They are not plans to settle down in Blue Camp 20! None of our plans should be to be in Blue Camp 20 for long; ‘Therefore go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19 NIV).

Words from Jesus telling us exactly what to do; “Go out from Blue Camp 20, don’t settle here for comfort and easy living. Go out there and work for me.”

Many times, Jesus told us that there was work to do, ‘the harvest is great, but the workers are few’ (Luke 10:2 NLT).

So what are we going to do? Settle for an easy life, or do what needs to be done, get a little grubby, a little dirt under the nails. That is nothing compare to what Jesus did for us!

In my desperation.jpg

 

I walked away from you Lord!
Shut you out, to live my life
I stood alone and turned my back
Left behind your love and care
In a world, too much for me to bear
Why did I always need you there?

I walked from your presence without a thought
And pursued my life with money, and brought
My happiness, and filled my life
With all the things the world could give
And still a void, an emptiness;
An empty hole I could not fill

My life was a single drop of rain
But soon the downpour started to come
The rain became a raging storm
A tempest ravaged at my soul.
My life went bad, it grew much worse
As I took a devastating deadly course

All of a sudden my life was still. . .
How had I gotten so far from You?
I stood alone in grief and fear,
Not knowing what to do, how to hear
I stood on a lonely precipice, what had I done?
Until that moment when I stopped to think

I sought you out, went to Your home
What had I missed, was it too late?
Your voice was silent, I tried to hear
Nothing came, and still I feared
Emptiness and loneliness, a life apart
My God was silent, at the start

I entered prayer and sought you out
My life be yours I said
A ray of light beamed down on me,
You walked right by and hugged me!
Your voice was soft like a whisper
All you said, ‘I love you’

My heart exploded with newfound love
My life was new to start afresh
Redeemed by grace my soul now is
No longer alone, now I’m His
My God had spoken and so had I
I will never leave Him till we see eye to eye.

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Father we thank you for everything that you give us, day by day.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Sing, sing a song – The Carpenters

I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted’ (Exodus 15:1 NIV)

Do you enjoy singing, or is it something you just do because you are in a church at that time?

How well can you sing? Can you hold a tune, or do you talk loudly whilst moving your voice up a down a little, just so that you sound like the other people in the congregation?

Does it really matter how well we can sing, or is what really matters, the ‘why’ that we sing?

Do we sing because we like to sing? Do we sing so that others can hear us, or do we sing for the glory of God?

If we sing so that the most important thing is that other people who hear it will immediately think about God or Jesus, then that is what matters.

It does not matter in how we sing to God, it matters in what way we sing to God.

Jesus said;

These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’ (Matthew 15:8 NIV). What he was really saying is, “They talk a good talk, but they do not mean what they say, there is no honour in what they are saying”.

When talking to Isaiah, God said basically the same;

Their worship of me is based on merely human rules’ (Isaiah 29:13 NIV).

Our worship needs to be based upon what God has done for us.

God saved us when he sent his Son to die for us, and the reason that he did that is because God loves us so much (John 3:16), in fact he saved us at a time when we did not deserve to be saved, when most people did not even follow him, for;

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV). Not only that, but we only love, ‘because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19 ESV).

I believe that when we sing, not only are we singing to glorify God, but we are also singing to those around us, telling and reminding others about the good aspects of our mighty God, and what he has done for us.

At the dedication to God, of the Temple that David built, he sang, ‘Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints’ (Psalm 30:4 ESV).

David wrote many Psalms, and he and the other Psalm writers, extolled the virtue of singing praise to God;

Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion’ (Psalm 9:11 ESV – David).

Sing praises to God’ (Psalm 47:6 NIV – Sons of Korah).

I will sing praises to you’ (Psalm 57:9 NIV – David).

You are my strength, I sing praise to you’ (Psalm 59:16 NIV – David).

The book of Psalms is a songbook, as the Psalms are meant to be sung, sung as worship and praise to our Lord and God.

In his letter, James, the brother of Jesus, reminded people of the importance of singing;

Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise’ (James 5:13 NIV).

In the Old Testament, the Levite clan of the Israelite nation, were generally accepted as being in charge of music and singing when religious ceremonies took place, ‘the head Levite was in charge of the singing’ (1 Chronicles 15:22 NIV).

Today, in churches, we may have worship teams, and they may lead the worship on a given day, by we can also sing our own worship at any time. There are many radio stations that play Christian worship music, and we are free to sing along and glorify God anytime we want to.

We need to be singing is praise to God, to give him the honour that he deserves, we need to sing, ‘Glory to the Righteous One’ (Isaiah 24:16 NIV).

Brian Mark Johnson and Jeremy Riddle wrote the lyrics, ‘and I sing because You are good’ (You are Good – Be Lifted High – 2011 – #1).

We sing about God’s worthiness, but equally, we also know that God sings over us;

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing’ (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV).

IMG_0235

I want to scream it out
From every mountain top
Your goodness knows no bounds
Your goodness never stops

Your mercy follows me
Your kindness fills my life
Your love amazes me

I sing because You are good
And I dance because You are good
And I shout because You are good
You are good to me, to me

Nothing and no one comes
Anywhere close to You
The earth and oceans deep
Only reflect this truth

And in my darkest night
You shine as bright as day
Your love amazes me

With a cry of praise my heart will proclaim
You are good, You are good
In the Sun or rain my life celebrates
You are good, You are good

With a cry of praise my heart will proclaim
You are good, You are good
In the Sun or rain my life celebrates
You are good, You are good

You Are Good
Bethel Music – Songwriters: Brian Mark Johnson / Jeremy Riddle

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Father we thank you for the gift of music which we can use to sing to others about your glory, your love and your forgiveness. Help us to approach you with humility and awe, help us to show your love to others in the way that we worship and sing to you. You are a great God, worthy of our worship, help it to bring you glory, and lead others to you.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Rock of Ages!

abide under the shadow of the Almighty’ (Psalm 91:1 NKJV)

We do not know for a fact who wrote Psalm 91, although some people ascribe it to Moses, who also wrote Psalm 90; but, by the words used within it, we know it was someone who completely trusted the Lord, and had full faith in what God had said to them.

The writer further went on to say;

I will say to the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”.’ (Psalm 91:2 NIV).

We know from reading many different passages within the Bible, that God gave protection to the people who trusted him.

Abraham was a great man of faith, who trusted God with all his heart; he was to be the seed of a nation (Genesis 17:4). He trusted God when told to move his entire family; he became a nomad, living in tents (Genesis 12:1-3). He trusted God when told he would have a son (Genesis 15:4); he also trusted God implicitly when he was asked to sacrifice his son, his only son (Genesis 22:2).

Israel became a nation because of what Abraham had done with his life, and how he had trusted in the security of the word of God.

Daniel loved and trusted in God so much, that even though he and many others had been forcefully taken from the nation of Israel to Babylon; he still prayed to God three times every day (Daniel 6:10), even when the entire nation of Babylonia had been instructed to pray only to their ruler Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 6:1-9). Because of his faithfulness to God, he was thrown into a den of lions (Daniel 6:16), but had such faith in the security of God, he trusted that he would not be harmed, and he was not (Daniel 6:21-22).

Even though many Israelites had been taken to Babylon, Daniel never forgot God, and trusted him in all areas, praying to God regularly, he was secure in his faith, and it never wavered.

Joseph also completely trusted the word of God, as told to him through an angel (Matthew 1:20-21).

Paul who was originally called Saul; initially did not trust in what God had said, quite the opposite, ‘Saul was ravaging the church’ (Acts 8:3 ESV). God spoke to Saul (Acts 9:4) and he became blind after the encounter until a Christ follower called Ananias visited him (Acts 9:17-18).

Do stories like this inspire us to trust in the word of God and know that God will look after us?

Do we want to trust in the security that only God can give us?

If we trust in the word of God, then we can rest secure in the knowledge that he will protect us, that he is indeed our ‘rock and [my] fortress and [my] deliverer’ (Psalm 18:2).

The writers of the Psalms often comment upon the fact that God is our rock;

God was their rock’ (Psalm 78:35 ESV – Asaph).

I say to God my rock’ (Psalm 42:9 NIV – Sons of Korah).

‘For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock, except our God?’ (Psalm 18:31 NIV – David).

Blessed be the LORD, my rock’ (Psalm 144:1 NKJV – David).

declare that the LORD is upright, He is my rock’ (Psalm 92:15 NKJV).

‘My mighty rock, my refuge is God’ (Psalm 62:7 ESV – David).

God is indeed our rock and our refuge!

He is our rock because he did what we could never do; Ellis J Crum wrote it exactly as it is;

He paid a debt He did not owe 
I owed a debt I could not pay
’ 

He came to die for our sins, ‘obedient to death – even death on a cross’ (Philippians 2:8 NIV).

He came to this world, as a small baby, lived his life with his parents and siblings, and then as an adult, travelled around the local area and preached, until it was time for him to die for us. He is our refuge because when he died, he died for our sins, ‘Christ also suffered once for sins’ (1 Peter 3:18 NIV); he rose and conquered death (Mark 16:6), and now is seated at the right hand of God.

Now we can turn to him for anything.

So the question is;

Do we really know the security of God as our protector, our fortress and our rock?

Can we say as the song says;

When my heart is overwhelmed
I will look to You alone
God my rock
(Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche)

 You are my rock

When my heart is overwhelmed
I will look to You alone
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

You will stand when others fall
You are faithful through it all
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

In the blessing, in the pain
through it all You’ve never failed me
You are the strength of my heart
You are the strength of my heart
I can rely on You, I can rely on You
You are the joy of my life
You are my song in the night

There is no one as true
Jesus I trust in You

When I’ve struggled to believe
You have not let go of me
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

Carried through the darkest storms
You have held me in Your arms
God my rock, God my rock, God my rock

God My Rock
(Brenton Brown, Paul Baloche)

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Father God, we thank you that you are indeed the rock of our life. We trust you to guide us through our life. We trust you that you will protect us in our troubles and that we can turn to you at all times in our life. Lord you are so good to us, help us to pass this goodness on to others that we may show your love through our lives.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Well I am older now, if not wiser

Teach me good judgement and knowledge’ (Psalm 119:66 ESV)

When we were young babies, and we tried to copy people as they spoke to us, we may have gurgled and garbled and made many funny noises rather than spoken properly; we could not talk, as we had not learned speech. It may have been cute to listen to, but it made no sense to others listening.

As we grew up and matured, we learned many different words; and then, we learnt when to, and how to use them properly in the conversations that we had.

I heard of a man who travelled from an old eastern communist country, and then decided to settle down, to live and to work in England. Most nights, when it was time, he would go to bed with a dictionary as his bed-time companion, there he would try to learn 3 new words. He tried to use these newly acquired words whenever he got a chance, sometimes with amusing reactions from his work colleagues, but, he continued to practice, and constantly persevered, eventually becoming fluent in the language.

Paul, whilst talking about love, and how that never changes, reminded the Corinthian church, how people could and did change, ‘When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child’ (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV), then as we get older and presumably ‘wiser’ ‘When I became a man, I gave up childish ways’ (1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV).

This is true. When we are young, we may have a fully formed mind, but it is empty. Well, not completely empty, but there is not much information in there when we are very young, just the basics.

As we grow and learn, information fills our mind with experiences, and experience is what we generally use to make our life choices, sometimes these are good ones, and occasionally really bad ones.

Some people though, seem to cling to their childhood with everything that they have, not wanting to let it go; even Jesus said;

Let the little children come to me… … the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’ (Mark 10:14 NIV).

Many times, when I was younger, growing up, and even recently when being mischievous, people have told me to ‘grow up’ or ‘act your age, not your shoe size’. But did not Jesus say, we have to be child-like?

anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’ (Mark 10:15 NIV).

Behaving like a child is not the part that we have to be fixated upon. What we need to understand is that we have to have the ‘mind-set’ of a child, to be trusting, and be willing to listen, explore, and at times, to have an unquestioning child-like faith.

When I was young, if my mother or father said something to me, or told me anything, generally I believed them; I had faith in them. Faith that they would not lie to me, that they would tell me only truths, and, or, things that would be of benefit to me personally.

King Solomon is said to have been the wisest person ever to have lived, and is said to have written over 3000 proverbs, many of which are stored within the pages of the Bible. Solomon wrote;

My child, listen when your father corrects you’ (Proverbs 1:8 NLT).

Not only should we listen to our earthly parents, but when God, our heavenly parent speaks to us, we should listen all the more. The reason that we should be more willing to listen is, ‘the LORD gives wisdom’ (Proverbs 2:6 NKJV), and as we learn to listen, we also grow, ‘those who take advice are wise’ (Proverbs 13:10 NLT). The reason that God gives wisdom is, ‘To God belong wisdom and… … understanding is [are] his’ (Job 12:13 NIV), so we go to the source of all information and knowledge for anything that we need to know, and in addition to this, ‘it is impossible for God to lie’ (Hebrews 6:18 NIV). We will get only truth from our heavenly Father!

That being the case, as Jesus taught;

What father… if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent’ (Luke 11:11 ESV).

There is a life lesson here. What Jesus is saying is, that even though we are not perfect parents, we do the best that we can for our off-spring, but, even though we do our best, we still fail, and some of us may fail our children, a lot.

As a parent, I can see times when I have not ultimately done what was the best for my children in the past, and have failed them, and it pains me to realise this; but God, is our all loving heavenly Father, and he is perfect, and will not fail us, ‘God will supply every need of ours [yours]’ (Philippians 4:19 ESV).

Whatever we need, we can ask of him;

this is the confidence we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us’ (1 John 5:14 ESV).

Whatever happens, we have to trust that God wants the best for us;

For I know the plans I have for you’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

God has a plan for every one of us, he wants what is best for us, he is a perfect parent; and like any parent, our heavenly Father will guide us;

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

God is a perfect parent, and we can learn from his words, and lean on him as we grow, and know that he will always be with us, ‘ Never will I leave you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV), and he will  never leave us alone, ‘Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close’ (Psalm 27:10 NLT).

‘Wisdom comes with age they say, and with wisdom, comes knowledge;

Wise words are more valuable than rubies’ (Proverbs 20:15 NLT).

How much better to get wisdom than gold’ (Proverbs 16:16 NIV).

When we grow and mature, we learn from experience, but we need God, for he has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11), and he will instruct us in what we should do (Psalm 32:8), and ultimately we can ask of our heavenly Father;

Teach us… … that we may gain a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12 NKJV).

 

Wisdom - James-1-5

 

There is something that’s better than the latest toy 
There is something that never can be destroyed 
It’s worth more than jewels and gold 
Or anything money can buy 

W-I-S-D-O-M spells wisdom, I need it 
W-I-S-D-O-M in Your Word, I find it 
I need Your wisdom, Lord, each day 

Left to my own self I always tend to go astray 
But in the Bible You reveal Your perfect ways 
You teach me to think like You 
Instead of being a fool 
 
I wanna love it, live it, learn it, read it (W-I-S-D-O-M!) 
I wanna know it, think it, speak it, breathe it (W-I-S-D-O-M!) 

W-I-S-D-O-M
 Zach Jones

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Father God, we thank you that we can come for all things. You are always there for us, even though we are not always there for you. Give us wisdom to come to you for all things. Give us wisdom to know what to do. Give us wisdom to know what you want us to do for your kingdom. Lord we want to live our lives for you and for your glory. Give us wisdom to know what to do and what to say when we meet people. Lord we ask you to help us grow in you and your love daily.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Trust & Obey

God is our refuge and strength’ (Psalm 46:1 NIV)

How much do you trust people? Years ago, when a stockbroker made a deal and shook some-one’s hand, that was the deal done, ‘my word is my bond’ was the understanding. Now, with shady dealings, under the table deals, and people breaking promises etc. Some people have very little trust left, and it is a commodity in short supply at times.

So, how much do you trust people?

How much do you trust God and his word?

Do we fully trust and rely on our Lord and Saviour?

We can and should always rely on God, and trust what he says.

Abraham trusted God, when God promised him a family;

I will make you into a great nation’ God said, ‘and I will bless you’ (Genesis 12:2 NIV).

This promise came from God directly;

her name will be Sarah, I will bless her and will surely give you a son’ (Genesis 17:16 NIV).

When they finally gave birth to their son, Isaac (Genesis 21:2), God asked Abraham to trust him, and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham trusted God, and went to Moriah, where he was to perform the sacrifice of his son. When as the time for the sacrifice came near, and asked by his son where the sacrificial lamb was, Abraham’s reply was, ‘God himself will provide the lamb’ (Genesis 22:8 NIV), Abraham’s trust was rewarded, as God, called out to Abraham to stop, and, ‘Abraham looked up and there caught in a thicket he saw a ram… … and sacrificed it’ (Genesis 22:13 NIV).

Naaman also trusted in a ‘man-of-God’ (Elisha), when after visiting his house due to an illness. Elisha sent a messenger to give the message to Naaman, who wanted a more important person to speak to him. He thought that a ‘man-of-God would speak directly to him, (2 Kings 5:11). Later, after his servants spoke to him, he decided to trust God through what Elisha had said; he was healed and returned to Elisha, saying, ‘Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel’ (2 Kings 5:15 NIV).

Abraham placed his complete trust in his God, and was fully rewarded for his trust and faithfulness. Naaman did not completely trust God, but did what he eventually thought best, and was rewarded by being healed, and finally trusted in what God could do. God is indeed truly our strength, when we need it.

How much do we trust in the strength of God in our lives?

Do we talk to God when things are going well in our lives, or do we only talk to him when things are falling apart, when chaos is knocking at the door and our world is coming apart at the edges? ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast… … for I will yet praise’ (Psalm 42:11 NIV).

We need to rely on God for all things, ‘The name of the LORD is a strong tower’ (Proverbs 18:10 NKJV).

Do we really believe in that statement?

We should! We should fully rely on God!

We need his strength for everything, Jesus said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV). If we fully rely on God as our refuge, the Bible tells us, that because God is a strong tower, ‘The righteous run to it and are safe’ (Proverbs 18:10 NKJV).

We should rely on God for everything, when we are with God, we have the joy of the Lord in our lives, and, ‘the joy of the LORD is our [your] strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV).

Rely on God for all your help, ‘I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you’ (Isaiah 41:10 ESV).

If we trust God to be Lord of our lives, we can always turn to him for strength in times of good, and not-so-good. We can trust in the words that are written within the Bible, words inspired by God, words of encouragement, words of love, words to help us and strengthen us in times of trouble, for God has said;

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye’ (Psalm 32:8 NKJV).

Are you prepared to trust in God, to give you strength for all things, to guide you, teach you? Rely on God for all things, for he has only the best in mind for you;

Let us rely on God, and trust Him fully for all our needs!

 ‘For I know the plan I have for you… … plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

 

keep-calm-trust-and-obey-God

 

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favour He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Trust and Obey
John H Sammis (1846 – 1919)

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Father God, we thank you that we can come to you in times of need, for strength and refuge. We thank you that we can come to you no matter what is happening in our life. Lord help us to rely on you fully for all things in our life. Lord we know that you have a plan for our lives, help us to look to you in all areas, and to fully rely on your word, for we know that as you said to Isaiah, ‘so is my word that goes out from my mouth it will not return to me empty’ (Isaiah 56:11 NIV). Lord help us to trust you fully.

Amen

 

 

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

The past is where it belongs!

I know that the LORD saves his anointed’ (Psalm 20:6 NKJV)

What does it mean to leave something behind?

I remember being told about relatives that had never met, because they had died before I was born. Stories were told about them, when they were younger, and what they had done, where they had travelled to, and sometimes, even the mischief they had gotten into.

How do we want to be remembered?

Do we want to be remembered as someone who always went to church no matter what was happening, or as someone who sang loudly for all to hear, or as someone who helped to put the chairs out or away, or for making the coffee and tea?

These are all nice things that may be said about people, but are they really important?

How do we want to be remembered?

Do we want to be remembered as being giants for God? Do we want to be remembered as defiant against the enemy in the times of personal trials, and/or persecution? Do we wish to be remembered as being outrageously ‘out-there’ for God and for the spreading of the gospel!

When we think about how we will be remembered, we can sometimes focus on the things in our past that we are not proud of, there may be things which we would like to forget, or there may be some areas of our life that we are downright ashamed of!

Remember this;

When your past calls out to you, do not answer it, for it has nothing new to say to you’

When we trust in Jesus, we do not have to worry about our past, it is passed. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). Do not think about what happened before you came to Christ, ‘The old has gone, the new is here’ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV – emphasis mine).

We do not need to focus on our mistakes, if people did that, then everyone would be far too busy to do anything else at all, ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

It was because of sin, sometime known as ‘The Fall’, that the first humans were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-23).

We are not perfect, and we live in a fallen world, where sin is prevalent. Sin entered the world, when Adam and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden, (Genesis 1:6). In the New Testament, Paul reminds the Roman Christians, that sin entered the world through man, ‘just as sin entered the world through one man’ (Romans 5:12).

Do not be burdened with your past. Jesus said;

Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden’ (Matthew 11:28 NKJV), and, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ (John 14:1 NIV).

Jesus did not want us to constantly look backwards in life, we need to focus on Jesus, and what is in front of us.

The past has passed!

Do not dwell on what you cannot change!

Do not waste energy on something that you cannot alter!

God has forgiven you, because you called to him.

The Psalmist David knew this from personal experience, when he was being hunted by Saul;

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice’ (Psalm 18:6 ESV).

Another un-named Psalmist said the same,

In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me’ (Psalm 120:1 ESV).

There are many times within the Bible, and especially the Psalms, where people call out to God, and he answers;, and why does he answer? He wants the best for us; he has a good plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). The plan does not have us dwelling on our past.

God has said;

I, even I, am he who blots out your transgression, for my own sake’ (Isaiah 43:25 NIV).

So we should not remember our sins, because God has blotted them out!

When we have, ‘acknowledged our [my] sin to You’ (Psalm 32:5 NKJV), we know that he will be gracious, just as the Psalmist said, ‘you forgave the guilt of my sin’ (Psalm 32:5 NIV).

Our sin has gone, it has been forgiven, blotted out, thrown away, ‘you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl them into the depths of the sea’ (Micah 7:19 NIV).

Do not dwell on the past, it has passed.

How do you want to be remembered?

I know how I want to be remembered, I want to be remembered for the amazing grace that God showed and gave me, and for the light of God in my life;

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.’ (Traditional Folk song).

Arrive at the pearly gates

All these pieces, Broken and scattered,
In mercy gathered, Mended and whole,
Empty handed, But not forsaken,
I’ve been set free, I’ve been set free.

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, But now I am found,
Was blind but now I see

Oh I can see You now,
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes,
Laying Yourself down,
Raising up the broken to life

You take our failure, You take our weakness,
You set Your treasure, In jars of clay,
So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be Your vessel,
The world to see Your life in me

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, But now I am found,
Was blind but now I see

Broken Vessel (Amazing Grace)
Joel Houston, Jonas Myrin

download

 

Father God, we thank you for seeing us as we are now, members of your family. We thank you for forgetting our past sins, and the ways in which we hurt you. We know that we are far from perfect, and we want to be better people, living better lives for your glory. Help us to focus on the teachings within the Bible, and help us to live for you and your glory. Help us to radiantly shine the light of life at all we see daily in our lives.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Family Matters!

Isn’t there someone else you could annoy?’ (Eddie – Family Matters)

Family Matters’ (W. Bickley & M. Warren – 1989 – 2004) was a family comedy television series that showed many of the different issues that a family could have to deal with, and generally everything ended well.

Michael J Fox is attributed as saying, ‘Family is not an important thing, it is everything’.

Family should matter to everyone within the family, and everyone that is associated with them.

In the Old Testament, family is listed often; Adam’s family line is listed (Genesis 5:1) Noah’s family, (Genesis 6:9). Other families are also listed within the scriptures (Genesis 11:10 & 27, 25:12 & 19).

We should remember how important family is!

Now we trust Jesus and are known as a Christian, we are part of the largest family of all. We belong to the world-wide family of believers, and as a family of believers we should look after each other, we should;

do good to everyone – especially those in the family of faith’ (Galatians 6:10 NLT).

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially the members of his household, ha has denied his faith’ (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV).

Our earthly family can cause us lots of problems if we do not have God at the centre of our relationship. But even as Christians we are not perfect, and can slip up causing problems between people, such as arguments and disagreements; but we should be, ‘bearing with one another, and forgiving one another’ (Colossians 3:13 NKJV).

As a father or husband, we should, lead our family in the way that we live, the way that we trust Jesus in all that we do, the way we model our lives after Jesus;

Love our [your] wives, just as Christ loved the church’ (Ephesians 5:25 NIV),

love your wives and do not be harsh with them’ (Colossians 3:19 NIV).

do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV).

As a wife, you should love our family with all of our heart, we should be virtuous and upright, strong in the Lord, wise and loving (Proverbs 31:10-31). You should also trust, love and let your husband lead you, in the same way that you let Jesus lead you (Colossians 3:18).

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown’ (Proverbs 12;4 NIV).

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine’ (Psalm 128:3 NIV).

As a child you should look to your parents for the way you should live, in the same way that your parents look to Jesus;

Honour your father and mother, that your days may be long’ (Exodus 20:12 NKJV).

My son [daughter], keep your father’s commandment and forsake not your mother’s teaching’ (Proverbs 6:20 ESV).

obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord’ (Colossians 3:20 NIV).

Families can be complicated, hard to deal with, and cause all manner of problems. Families belong with each other, and they are part of a whole. As Jesus taught us, we should love them no matter what

What we should remember is that our family is a gift from God;

Children are a heritage from the LORD’ (Psalm 127:3 NIV).

We need to trust in what the Bible tells us, follow Jesus, and live our lives as he would have. All that we have is given to us by God, but all that we can leave our children is the legacy of our lives.

How we trusted Jesus in all areas.

How we lived and loved like Jesus.

How we treated our family, both members of our direct family and the family of the church.

 ‘A good person leaves and inheritance for their children’s children’ (Proverbs 13:22 NIV).

Family

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

‘Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
Oh, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

Family Tree
Jason Houser / Jason C. Houser / Matthew West / Matthew Joseph West

downloadFather God, we thank you for families, even though at times they may appear to give us nothing but trouble. We know that all of them are a gift from you, and that you know each and every one of us. Help us to love them, and guide them in the right ways that they should go. Lord we know that we all need you to show us the path that we should go, in order that we may fulfil the plan that you have for our lives. Help us all to live our lives that you may receive the glory, and that your kingdom will grow.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Passenger or Participant!

Elisha A. Hoffman wrote a hymn that was subsequently published in 1878, with the following words;

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

                                                (Published 1878 – now Public Domain)

Have you gone to Jesus, are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

When writing to the Hebrew Christians, Paul reminded them, ‘he (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him’ (Hebrews 5:9 NIV). Their obedience would mean that they would be trusting Jesus, therefore, saved, and washed in the blood of their saviour, Jesus Christ, who died for them.

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation’ (Ephesians 1:13 NKJV). When we believe in Jesus, we become part of a heavenly family, who turn to God, and trust him and let him into all areas of our lives.

Whilst preaching in Rome, Paul said that salvation was for everyone not just the Jewish nation, ‘God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles’ (Acts 28:28 NIV).

Salvation is not for a select few, it is for everyone, and it is a gift from God; ‘that whoever believes may have eternal life’ (John 3:15 ESV).

All we need to do to receive salvation is to accept that we have done wrong, that we have sinned and gone off from the path that God has for us;

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23 NIV).

Yet even though we have sinned and are sinners, ‘Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV); because of the debt that Jesus paid for us, we are, ‘justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus’ (Romans 3:24 NIV).

And how much does our salvation cost us?

Nothing!

Jesus came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay.

There is no cost to us; all we need is to have faith;

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8 NIV – emphasis mine).

once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9:12 NIV).

God’s grace, like all the gifts that he gives us (Galatians 5:22-23) is free, all we need to do, is to use these gifts for the glory of God’s kingdom.

Paul told the Christians in Ephesus, ‘In him (Jesus) we have redemption’ (Ephesians 1:7 NIV). What exactly is redemption? It is, ‘the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace’ (Ephesians 1:7 NIV).

We now have a hope of eternal life with Jesus, for, ‘he has delivered us from the powers of darkness’ (Colossians 1:13 NKJV). Where have we been delivered to ’He has delivered us… … transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:13-14 ESV).

Jesus said to the disciples; ‘I am the way’ (John 14:6 NIV).

Our sins can be forgiven, by faith in Jesus;

I was a slave in a foreign land, So very far from the Father’s loving hand. He rescued me one glorious day. He brought me out, paid a debt I could not pay. Chorus I am redeemed. I am redeemed. Jesus loosed the chains of sin and set me free’ (Phil Cross – I Am Redeemed).

IMG_0146.JPG

 

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last?
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Son,
Stop fighting a fight-it’s already been won”

I am redeemed. You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains and
Wipe away every stain. Now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head,”
I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed. You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains and
Wipe away every stain. Now I’m not who I used to be…

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
‘Cause his day is long dead and gone.
Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home.

I am redeemed. You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains and
Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed. You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains and
Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be.
Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be.
Jesus, I’m not who I used to be.
‘Cause I am redeemed.
Thank God, redeemed.

Redeemed
Big Daddy Weave (Mike Weaver)

downloadFather God, we thank you for your gift of our salvation when we turn to you and put our trust in you. Lord help us to put our trust fully in you, that we may put you in control of all areas of our lives. We thank you that because of our trust in you, that the chains that kept us in bondage for sin, have been removed by the loving sacrifice of your Son. Help us to live lives that bring glory to your kingdom, and your name.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Strength… but not ours!

Be strong and very courageous’ (Joshua 1:7 NIV)

The Merriam Webster online dictionary, defines courage as, ‘mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty’ (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/courage – accessed 20/07/18 – 19:10).

The Cambridge online dictionary defines courage slightly different, as, ‘the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation’ (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/courage – accessed 20/07/18 – 19:15).

Being a Christian is not always an easy thing to be, in the world as we know it, with all its material consumerism, and idols that are ever-present, ready to take our focus from Jesus. We need courage sometimes to speak to people about our belief and faith in Jesus. Jesus never said that it would be an easy thing, to follow in his footsteps, in fact he did say that it could be very difficult.

If anyone would come after me (Jesus), let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matthew 16:24 ESV).

God promised the Israelite nation in the Old Testament, through Moses, that he would never leave them, and that he will always be around;

It is the LORD… … He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you’ (Deuteronomy 3:8 ESV).

He had also promised that to the early Christians, through Paul’s letter to the Hebrews;

I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 ESV).

God calls all of us, into his family, because he has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11) and, when we accept him into our lives, he promises to be with us through thick and thin, just as he said to Joshua, when he (Joshua) took over leading the Israelite nation after the death of Moses.

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV).

If we are right with God, he will stay with us, and fight for us, just as he did for Joshua when they fought the five kings and won the battle.

Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies’ (Joshua 10:25 NIV).

Whatever we do for God, we need to be courageous. Our mission is to take the message of the Good News of the Gospel to all people that we meet;

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19 NIV).

Our mission is to tell all people that we come into contact with, about Jesus, and the Good News of Salvation and Redemption that comes through him. We need to be courageous in our mission.

As Christians, we should be willing to tell people about Jesus. We need to talk about Jesus more, and not be afraid of what people might say to us, or about us. We need to be strong and courageous in all that we do for Jesus.

In his letter to the Corinthian Church, Paul reminded them to be strong for Jesus;

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men [and women], be strong. Let all that you do be done in love’ (1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV – emphasis mine).

Jesus spoke to his disciples after the feeding of the five-thousand, when they had been on the water during the night, and he had been praying alone. He was walking on the water towards them in the boat, when he called out to them;

Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’ (Matthew 1:27 & Mark 6:50 NIV).

We have to rely on Jesus for everything that we need. When teaching one day, Jesus said;

apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 ESV).

We can take strength from knowing that Jesus is with us always (Hebrews 13:5), just as Peter and John did;

they saw the courage of Peter and John’ (Acts 4:13 NIV).

Let us all be always strong and courageous in all that we do for the kingdom of God. What we need to do is;

be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD’ (Psalm 27:14 NIV).

IMG_0212.JPG

When confusion’s my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near

When I’m caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I’ll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness,
my brokenness all on Your shoulders

Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see t believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what was once shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from You
Don’t have to see it, ’cause I know, ’cause I know it’s true

My help is from You
Don’t have to see it to believe it
My help is from You
Don’t have to see it, ’cause I know, ’cause I know it’s true

Shoulders (Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong #5)
Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone, Tedd T, Ben Glover

downloadFather God, we thank you, that we can take our strength from you. We thank you that as you promised, you are always with us, whatever is happening in and around our lives. Help us to place our trust fully in you, and put our faith completely in you. Lord we know that apart from you we are nothing. Help us to fully rely on you for all of our wants and needs.
Lord we want to hear from you and to know that what we are doing is what is your will. Help us to listen for your voice so that we can know that we are truly doing your will in our lives.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith · Jesus

Sometimes all it takes is a little grace’ (Rowan Atkinson as Walter Goodfellow – Keeping Mum – 2005)

The Merriam Webster online dictionary (accessed 12/07/18 – 22:30) defines grace as;

Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification, or as, a virtue coming from God, or even as being in a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance’ (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace).

The film ‘“Keeping Mum” is quirky, humorous, and in my opinion, good family entertainment, but equally it is really deep when you think about it, because grace is exactly the answer we are all looking for; it is the answer for everything that we require.

Douglas Adams would have us think;

The Answer to the Great Question. . . Of Life the Universe and Everything. . . Is. . . Forty-two’ (Deep Thought – Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy – p.152 – Pan Books).

42 is not going to help us get far in life, but grace will, grace gives us a hope, ‘we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus’ (Acts 15:11 ESV).

Grace is by no means a little thing when we consider what our Lord and Saviour went through for us;

 ‘for the joy that was set before him (Jesus) endured the cross’ (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

When you think about grace, it is not even something that we deserve, why should we deserve it?

While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8 NIV).

Jesus said to his followers, ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5 NIV), so in order to live a life fulfilled, we need Jesus. Yet we do not deserve what he gives us (Romans 5:8).

Paul knew how hard it was to live a godly life, he said to the Roman Christians;

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do’ (Romans 7:18-19 NIV).

Yet even though he struggled, he knew everything would work out, just as God intended, and because of it, he could, and we can say;

by the grace of God I am what I am’ (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV).

So we are the people we are, because God loves us so much, and it is because of that love, that he sent his only Son to earth to die for us (John3:16).

In fact, Jesus was the only person who could do what he did, no-one else could have accomplished what he did;

He came to pay a debt he did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay’ (Anon).

That is grace!

What in the end all this comes down to is how we deal in life with the problems we have to face. Sometimes it’s a question of just taking action, of making decisions, of involving others, of finding your resolve and seeing it through. But at other times, it’s about something much less tangible. Sometimes all it takes is a little grace. A little of God’s grace, and all our problems seem to fade away’ (Rowan Atkinson as Walter Goodfellow – Keeping Mum – 2005).

Grace gives us everything, it allows us to, ‘come boldly to the throne [of grace], that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).

It also gives us, ‘forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace’ (Ephesians 1:7 ESV).

What now?

We have grace even though we do not deserve it (Romans 5:8)

So we are forgiven through grace! (Ephesians 1:7)

We can boldly come before God, because of grace! (Hebrews 4:16)

So what do we do now? Let us have a little bit more wisdom for the Reverend Goodfellow;

Now, should we demand an explanation from our Lord? Question his methods? Or should we merely enjoy the benefits? (Rowan Atkinson as Walter Goodfellow – Keeping Mum – 2005).

Me, I try to enjoy the benefits daily as I walk with God!

What are you going to do?

 

Grace - John 1 v 16

 

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh…

Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)
Casting Crowns

downloadFather God, we thank you for your grace and forgiveness towards us, that is given so freely, even though we do not deserve it. Help us to be worthy of the gift that you so freely bestow upon us, help us to live lives that are full of your love and joy, and may we be willing to share all of it with other people that we meet along the way, that we may do as your Son commanded, love others, and go and make disciples of all the world. May your name be glorified in everything that we do.

Thank you Jesus, Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith

We want to be together (Prudential advert – 1992)

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken‘ (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV)

a triple-braided cord is not easily broken‘ (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT).

When we stand together in unity, we are stronger.

Unity, is the coming together and acting as one body, the Church. We are one Church, yet there is ‘approximately 36,000 different denominations and Christian streams [exist] today‘ (One for All – The Foundations, p.37 – M. Duncan – 2017).

We claim to be one, but there are many differences within our worship, our practices etc. that separate us. We let minor things divide us, when all that should matter, is,

We all worship the same God, the creator, who sustains all of life, and who is the redeemer of us all!

An old African proverb states, ‘Where there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you‘. In other words, if we did not squabble with the people around us, and within our own churches,  then we would be working together, and when we are working together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

A cord of three strands, you, me, and God!

Jesus taught about the vine, and said, ‘If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you‘ (John 15:7 NIV). So if we are working together as a Church, to perform the will of God, then we are stronger, and there is no enmity within, and therefore if we have problems outside of the church, then we take them to Jesus, and they will be dealt with.

We are not on our own, Paul reminded the Hebrew Christians of that fact, when he wrote to them saying that God had said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 ESV).

So if we are united, working together for a common aim, and that aim is in line with God’s will, then we can ask for help, and it will come. We will always have God’s help (Hebrews 13:5) and will be able to say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear‘ (Hebrews 13:6 ESV).

Christian unity lies in, ‘our common identity in Christ‘ (One for All – The Implications – p.19 – M. Duncan – 2017).

Ultimately, we may be able to work in unity with the people in our churches and our community, but what has the future got in store?

As we get older, the church will decline unless we do something about it. There will be no unity in the future if there is not going to be a radical shift in the way people think and act.

If you look around at your church, how many youngsters does it have? I have been to churches, where the vast majority are over 60, maybe even over 70 years old; the youngsters are 30-40 years old, or there are only a few younger people aged between 5-30 years old.

Unless we change the appeal factor for the younger generation, the church will decline, and yet in persecuted countries, the church grows at an amazing rate;

persecution fosters a robust Christianity, confident of its faith and bold in its proclamation
(
https://www.christianity.com/church/does-church-thrive-under-persecution.html – accessed 22/06/18)

Out of the younger generation, only 1 in 5 between the ages of 11-18 describe themselves as active followers of Christ, and only just over half of these are regular church attendees and practicing Christians (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/17/one-six-young-people-christian-visits-church-buildings-inspire/    – accessed 22/06/18).

Without growth, in a few generations, there will be no-one left, to be in unity with!

We need to be bold, with our actions. They need to magnetize the people around us. The way we act needs to draw people to God. We cannot be ‘Sunday Christians‘ or ‘Weekend Evangelists‘; we need to be consistent in the way we speak and act.

Tozer is attributed with having said the following;

If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95% of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95% of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference‘ (https://www.christianquotes.info/quotes-by-author/a-w-tozer-quotes/?listpage=2&instance=2#participants-list-2  – accessed 22/06/18).

We need to work together to build the church, and try to get back to the way it was in the New Testament times.

The early believers were amazingly dedicated to Christ, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teachings‘ (Acts 2:42 NIV).

And all who believed were together and had all things in common‘ (Acts 2:44 ESV). Not only did they have things in common with each other, but they, ‘sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need‘ (Acts 2:45 NKJV).

And because of this wonderful behaviour, that demonstrated the love that God has for us through Jesus Christ, ‘the Lord added to the church‘ (Acts 2:47 NKJV), but he not only added, but, ‘the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved‘ (Acts 2:47 NIV – emphasis mine).

If we want the church to survive and thrive, we need to behave like the early Christians did, sharing everything we have, our time, our money, our love, our all.

Saved by Grace

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my saviour lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy He gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

And then one day, I’ll cross the river
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to victory
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

Because He Lives
Gloria Gaither / Willam J. Gaither

downloadFather we thank you that you are with us daily, and we ask for your help to live the type of lives that can make a difference for the kingdom of heaven. Lord help us to live the sort of life that will make people want to know more about you, more about your love, and more about your amazing grace that saves us. Lord we know that you love us, help us to love others with that same love. Help us to build your kingdom bigger and bigger, so that the church flourishes.
Lord we thank you for everything that you give us, help us to be equally generous with what we do and give for others that surround us.

Amen

 

 

Bible · Christian · Faith

Let us walk in the light of the Lord

‘Those who walk with God, always reach their destination’ (Henry Ford 1863-1947)

 

千里之行,始於足下 (A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Laozi)

When you walk into a room, how do you walk?

Do you walk slowly, with a measured purposeful step, or a heavy determined stride?

Do you swagger or strut into a room, like a cowboy walks into a saloon, and try to command the attention of everyone in their?

Do you rush into a room, like you have some important news, hoping that everyone will stop, and think that you are important?

Do you walk quietly into a room without any fuss, in the quiet authority of a man who knows who he is?

We do not need to walk in the same way that the people who belong to the world do. Paul reminded the Roman Christians of this, when he said, ‘Do not be conformed to this world’ (Romans 12:2 NRSV).

We need to be different to the people of the world who choose not follow Jesus.

We need to stand out from the crowd and be different from those that do not know Jesus as Lord of their life. We need to be blazing beacons of light, that shine out into the darkness, showing people of little or no faith, the path they need to take; the path that leads them to an everlasting life of redemption and Salvation through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There is something for each of us, whether we know it or not, and all we have to do to receive it, is believe and trust in God. What we will then have access to, is a gift from the Creator of the entire universe.

What, you may ask is this wonderful gift?

It is a plan for each of our lives. A perfect plan, from God, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV), and these plans were made even before we were born, ‘all the days ordained to me were writen in your book before one of them came to be‘ (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

There is a plan even for those who do not yet trust God or believe in Jesus, and chose to live their lives for their own benefit. God does not play favourites; there is a plan for each and every one of us.  

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD.’ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV). The ‘you‘ used there is meant for all of us.

The Psalmist David knew this, ‘Many, LORD my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us’ (Psalm 40:5 NIV).

Not only does he have a plan, but we are not alone in that plan. ‘I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go’ (Psalm 32:8 NRSV).

So how do we get access to this wonderful plan?

David knew this also, ‘I desire to do your will’ (Psalm 40:8 NIV).

To get God’s plan, working in our lives, we need to be in tune with him, we need to trust him, and we need to follow him.

We need to walk with God.

We need to, ‘walk humbly with our [your] God’ (Micah 6:8 RSV).

As Christians, when we walk, we are not alone. We are ever alone, for as God told the people of Israel, the same is true today, ‘I am the LORD your God… I will walk among you’ (Leviticus 13 & 12 NIV).

God never walks away from us, it is us who walk away from him, He is always with us, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).

As God has said; “I will live with them and walk among them” ’ (2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV).

As followers of God, people watch us, some watching to see what makes us different, others, watching and waiting for us to make a mistake, so that they can say, ‘I thought you were a Christian’.

We are not perfect by any means, though we should strive to be. Jesus told us to, ‘Be perfect, therefore‘ he said, ‘as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48 NIV).

We are a walking imperfectly through life, as a ‘work in progress‘. We are not finished product.

Life is not a 100m sprint, it is a marathon to be run at a steady pace, so that we do not burn ourselves out. We walk through life, and as we do, we need to ‘press on towards the goal’ (Philippians 3:14 NIV). We all need a place to aim for, the light at the end of the tunnel, or a personal goal, something that is worth it. Our eternal hope in Christ Jesus, is the main goal.

Let us stay true to the words of the Bible, and the teachings within.

Let it be always said of us, ‘The law of truth was in his mouth, and injustice was not found on his lips’ (Malachi 2:6 NKJV).

Arrive at the pearly gates

There’s a better version of me
That I can’t quite see
But things are gonna change
Right now I’m a total mess and
Right now I’m completely incomplete
But things are gonna change
‘Cause you’re not through with me yet

This is a redemption’s story
With every step that I’m taking
Every day, you’re chipping away
What I don’t need
This is me under construction
This is my pride being broken
And every day I’m closer to who I’m meant to be
I’m a change in the making

Wish I could live more patiently
Wish I could give a little more of me
Without stopping to think twice
Wish I had faith like a little child
Wish I could walk a single mile
Without tripping on my own feet
‘Cause you’re not through with me yet

From the dawn of history
You make new and you redeem
From a broken world to a broken heart
You finish what you start in everything

Like a river rolls into the sea
We’re not who we’re going to be
But things are going to change

I’m living a redemption’s story
With every step that I’m taking
Every day, you’re chipping away
What I don’t need
This is me under construction
This is my pride being broken
And every day I’m closer to who I’m meant to be
I’m a change in the making

I’m a change in the making
I’m not who I’m going to be
I’m moving closer to your glory

Change In The Making (Addison Road – Stories #2)
Jeff Pardo / Alli Rogers / Jenny Simmons

downloadFather, we thank you that you are always with us. Thank you that you were with us, even before we even thought about you. We know that you will never leave us, and ask that you help us to stay on the path that you have for our life, help us to always see that what you have planned for us is better that what we could ever plan ourselves. Help us to light the way for others to find you and accept you as their eternal Salvation.
Saviour, friend, redeemer, light of the world, Abba, Father, all these names and more we know you by, but the most important knowledge, is that through Your Son we are saved, and for t hat we are truly thankful.

Amen

 

Bible · Christian · Faith

Changed, Made Better, Refined

God’s refining fire, may it purge me now(Mac Lynch)

 When a tree grows, and has reached the size to be cut down, it is not perfect or ready to use.

When iron ore is dug out of the ground, it is not perfect, or ready to use.

Whenever we want to use the wood or iron ore, something first has to happen to it. The wood needs to be cut into pieces, and shaped, ready for specific purposes. The iron ore has to be heated, then separated for the impurities within, to make it ready to use.

And what are the processes that make these items ready to use?

Refining.

The timber is refined by initially storing them to allow moisture to evaporate, then they are taken to a saw mill for conversion into planks, and then they are cut again to make the timber we see in shops.

The iron ore is removed from the ground, and then crushed. Following the crushing, it is heated to over 1500°C, and then the impurities are removed, making the remaining material ready to shape and use.

As we become a Christian, we do not become perfect immediately. We become more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we do not, not need the Spirit. We are by no means a finished article, we are ‘a work in progress‘.

As God created man and woman initially, (Genesis 1:26), they were perfect and lived in harmony with God and His creation (Genesis 2:15-16 NIV). The Psalmist David knew who created him, and how he was made, ‘For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb‘  (Psalm 139:13 NIV), and we know how we were made, by God.

We are malleable, pliable, flexible and supple, which allows God to mould us into something better than what we are. We are clay in the hands of a master potter, who is God. ‘We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand‘ (Isaiah 64:8 NIV).

Darlene Zschech wrote a beautiful song called ‘The Potter’s Hand‘, and some of the lyrics say;

all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan
.

So when we think about how things go from their natural state, to the ‘ready to use by us‘ state, materials go through many changes. They start in a rather rough but flexible condition (timber can be shaped relatively easily, and even metals are flexible when heated) and following some refining and changing of their initial condition, they become what we are used to seeing.

Even through all of his sufferings, Job knew that he was being refined, and he never gave up on his faith, ‘Surely there is a mine for silver And a place where gold is refined. Iron is taken from the earth, And copper is smelted from ore‘ (Job 28:1-2)

The Psalmist David knew that he needed, and we need help to shape us into what God really wants us to be, ‘The LORD’S promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times‘ (Psalm 12:6 NLT).

In Peter’s first letter to the scattered Church, he reminded the people there, that they should not be, ‘surprised at the fiery trials they were [you are] going through‘ (1 Peter 4:12 NLT).

Everyone needs to change, everyone needs to move forward in life. If water does not move, eventually it stagnates. If we do not move forward, then we do not grow as a Christian. If we do not move then we cannot change.

Take me, mould me, use me, fill me. I give my life to the Potter’s hand‘ (Darlene Zschech – Potter’s Hand). The master potter will use what happens in our life to shape what we will become. Gad has a plan for all of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

We have to trust God in all things, and, ‘be (being) confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in us [you] will complete it‘ (Philippians 1:4 NKJV).

So, in order to change, we need to be refined;

O Lord, feed the fire, Your refining fire.
Now as gold and silver must be tried, (Mac Lynch)

God wants all of his people to belong to the same global family, so he takes us in our brokenness, and shapes us; our lives are then given meaning. He refines us into something much, much better than what we were prior to this. We are made into something that can be used for His, and the Kingdom’s glory. We become a beacon of light, showing others the way to God and life eternal, for we know that Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me‘ (John 14:6 NKJV).

God wants the best for us, and because of this, sent Jesus to die for us, (John 3:16) and because of this, ultimately, we should remember;

You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined‘ (Psalm 66:10 NKJV).

Gods-work-is-progress 

Purify my heart
Let me be as gold and precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold, pure gold

Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will

Purify my heart
Cleanse me from within
And make me holy
Purify my heart
Cleanse me from my sin
Deep within

 Brian Doerkson

downloadFather, we thank you for your great love for us, that you sent Jesus to die for us. We thank you for having a plan for all of our lives, a plan that will be good for us, and help to build your kingdom, and bring glory to your name. Help us when we go through testing, to know that you are with us, and that when we come out the other side, we will be better stronger people, ready to be used by you.
Lord we pray for all people who do not have a proper home, whether due to personal circumstances, or due to natural disasters. Be with the people who come alongside of them during their trial. Help them to be compassionate and to help them see you through their actions.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith

I Knew, or I AM NEW!

He gives new life to my soul‘ (Psalm 23:3 – Bible in Basic English)

God spoke to Isaiah when Israel were being unfaithful, yet again.

He said to him, ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old‘ (Isaiah 43:18 ESV).

When we read that passage in the New Living Translation, it puts it into a more modern easier way of speaking;

forget all that… … … it is nothing compared to what I am going to do‘ (Isaiah 43:18 NLT).

And why, you may ask should we forget the things from our past?

Jesus said that we should forgive people, ‘even if they sin against you seven times a day… … come back… saying “I repent”, you must forgive‘ (Luke 17:4 NIV).

We need to forgive, and move on with our lives.

The reason that we need to forgive and let the past stay in the past, is that our God, is the God of second chances. Even when we sin and turn from God because we think we know best;

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease… … his mercies begin afresh each morning‘ (Lamentations 3:22 & 23 NLT).

And not only that, but even after we have sinned against God, we can return at any time, he is always waiting for us;

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness‘ (1 John 1:9 ESV)

So each and every day, yes every day, that we are on this planet, God’s mercy, love and forgiveness are renewed towards us.

Every day his goodness towards us starts anew; he renews us daily. Some renewals we dread, such as car tax, or car insurance renewal. But with God, we know that he will do nothing that will hurt us, he only ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

So how does God renew us?

He restores my soul‘ (Psalm 23:3 ESV).

He renews my life‘ (Psalm 23:3 HCSB).

He restores my strength‘ (Psalm 23:3 NET).

Restores and renews. That is what our God does for us. And what does he restore?

He restores, soul, life and strength; whichever version you read, the important word is ‘restores’ or ‘renews’.

Restore me to the joy of Your salvation‘ (Psalm 51:12 NKJV).

If we turn to Jesus, we can find restoration and renewal.

We need to remember what Paul reminded the church in Corinth about; ‘if any-one is in Christ, the new creation has come‘ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV). So when we go to God initially, or we return to God, after trying it n our own, he is always there waiting for us.

When we are renewed in Christ, we need to remember, ‘throw off our [your] old sinful nature and our [your] former way of life, which is corrupted‘ (Ephesians 4:22 NLT).

You may ask, how do we get rid of our old self?

We separate our-self from what is around us, ‘Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world‘ (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Why should we not copy the ways of the world you may ask?

We need to be more lie Jesus; change and start again, ‘ by the renewing of your mind‘ (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

We cannot do things like this in our own strength, we need help; Jesus said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing‘ (John 15:5 NIV).

We need to trust God.

We know that he love us so much (John 3:16).

Renewal comes as a gift from God, as do all things, and it is free to everyone who wants it, and the renewal comes in us in our eternal life, we are changed from some-one who will eventually die, to some-one who will live forever with Jesus, the ultimate renewal;

We all need to remember, that, ‘whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life‘ (John 3:16 NIV).

Christ takes me seriously

 

In the crushing
In the pressing
You are making new wine
In the soil I now surrender
You are breaking new ground 

So I yield to You and to Your careful hand
When I trust You I don’t need to understand

Make me Your vessel
Make me an offering
Make me whatever You want me to be
I came here with nothing but all You have given me
Jesus bring new wine out of me

You are breaking new ground

Jesus bring new wine out of me
Jesus bring new wine out of me

Cause where there is new wine
There is new power
There is new freedom
The Kingdom is here
I lay down my old flames
To carry Your new fire today

Jesus bring new wine out of me
Jesus bring new wine out of me

New Wine
Brooke Fraser

 

downloadFather, we know that in you we can have a newness of life, and an eternal hope of a glorious life with you forever. You are so, so good to us; we know that everything you give us is for our benefit, your plans for us are to help us grow in you, and for the expansion of your kingdom. May everything that we do help those in our community around us, and may everything that we do bring you glory and honour.
Lord we thank you for all the gifts that you give to us. Help us to use these gifts for your glory, and for the good of the kingdom of heaven. May we honour you in the way that we use our gifts. Lord we know that everything that we have comes from you, help us to be good stewards of our lives so that you get the glory.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith

Forgive as the Lord forgave you‘ (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

At some point during our lives, we will probably be hurt, and the hurt may come from a family member or a friend, but what do we do when that happens, and how do we feel when these people hurt us?

We may go completely ‘over-the-top’, we may shout and rage at the person, we may go really quiet and seethe / fume with anger, or we may just storm off from them and the situation.

The Bible says that we should, be patient with each other, ‘bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other‘ (Colossians 3:13 ESV).

How difficult is that? Is it even possible to be patient with some-one that is hurting us?

It can be very hard to forgive, even though we are told to. When some-one has hurt you, forgiving them for what they have done against us, or said to us, may be the last thing you want to do.

Forgiveness requires an inner strength that we do not have on our own. We need Jesus to help us, and we know this, because Jesus said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing‘ (John 15:5 NLT).

No matter how difficult forgiving some-one can be, the Bible tells us that we must / should do it.

You may ask, what difference does it make to me whether or not I forgive a person?

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins‘ (Matthew 6:15 NIV).

So forgiving others, is what Jesus has told us to do, so really we do not have a choice; if not, there will be consequences for us.

But, if we do choose to take the moral high-ground and Biblical teaching by forgiving those who have hurt us, then we benefit also.

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you‘ (Matthew 6:14 NLT).

And how do we go about the difficult task forgiving people?

We need to, ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other(Ephesians 4:31 NIV) and why should we do this?

We should do this, ‘just as in Christ God forgave you‘ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV).

Well now we read that, we really should forgive. If God can and does forgive all the horrid stuff that we do, then forgiving some-one for hurting us seems to be the least that we can do, doesn’t it?

How many times do we need to forgive people?

Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks for forgiveness, you must forgive‘ (Luke 17:4 NLT).

So if we work with some-one, or know a person, and they annoy us regularly, (and we all know some-one like that), then if they apologise to us and ask to be forgiven, we must do as Jesus says;

you must forgive them‘ (Luke 17:4 NIV).

That is a very tall order.

In the Old Testament it was said, ‘eye for eye‘ (Exodus 21:24 NIV), and that is how some people still behave; yet when questioned by Peter about forgiveness, and how often should he forgive, Jesus answered;

I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven times‘ (Matthew 18:22 NIV).

So what should we do?

Isaiah sang praises to God, ‘O LORD, I will praise You; Though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me‘ (Isaiah 12:1 NKJV).

The Psalmist David, during some contemplation, knew what he should do to get forgiven;

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt… … And you forgave me‘ (Psalm 32:5 NLT).

Micah knew what the Lord was like. Throughout the book, he either warns of destruction, or tells promises of restoration. Finally, at the end of his book, Micah says of the Lord, ‘you [God] will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean‘ (Micah 7:19 NLT).

But the main reason that we should forgive, is that God has told us, what he does for us.

I, even, I am he who blots out your transgression… … and remembers your sins no more‘ (Isaiah 43:25 NIV).

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more‘ (Jeremiah 31:31 NIV).

And I will forgive their wickedness‘ (Hebrews 8:12 NLT).

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven‘ (Romans 4:7 NLT).

And how do we know that we are forgiven?

as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us‘ (Psalm 103:12 NIV).

God spoke to Isaiah, and said, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They shall be as white as snow‘ (Isaiah 1:18 NKJV).

But ultimately, when we become a Christian, we know we are forgiven, we become different, ‘if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come‘ (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

And how did this happen?

It did not happen by chance, God had an ‘end-game’. He knew what he had to do, God, sent his only Son to be sacrificed for our sins, (John 3:16).

And we need to remember, ‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace‘ (Ephesians 1:7 NIV).

We have done nothing, grace is free;

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me… … T’was grace that taught my heart to fear… … And grace will lead us home‘ (John Newton).

chains

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

T’was grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Saviour has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Saviour has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)
Chris Tomlin

 

download

Father God, we are thankful that we do indeed get the forgiveness from you, that we do not deserve. We know that when we turn to you in repentance, whatever we have done in the  past is no longer remembered. Whatever we have done, we know that you, God will forget, and forgive. We know that we also need to forgive, and for that we ask for your strength to help us. Without you, we know we can do nothing. Help us we pray.
Lord we pray for all people who have entered into marriage, that you will be central in their life. Help them and guide them through their life that they share, but help them to keep you their focus. May they know your love and show and share your love with each other, and others. Lord may all people know you centrally in their lives.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith

God wants the best for us!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens‘ (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

There are many times or seasons that occur throughout our lives; different things happen within our lives, some things that happen are easy times, others are much tougher. Sometimes things are easy in our lives, other times it seem as though we are going through stormy waters; we need to remember that when we go through the stormy waters, God allows us to go this way, because our enemies cannot swim; at other times, we are purified through trials, ‘God, tested us… refined us like silver‘ (Psalm 66:10 NIV). At other times, God lets the storm rage around us, and fill us with his peace, keeping us safe in the calamity around us.

Enemies cannot swim

The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything, ‘a time to be born and a time to die‘ (Ecclesiastes 3:2 NIV). Whatever happens in our life, we need to remember to have wisdom when we are looking at what we are going to do; there is, ‘a time to search and a time to give up‘ (Ecclesiastes 3:6 NIV).

When we are looking for something, or making decisions in our life, we need to have some solid, positive guidance.

God will give us this, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life‘ (Psalm 32:8 NLT). The Psalmist knew God intimately, ‘You make known to me the path of life‘ (Psalm 16:11 NIV). We know that God will guide us, because he wants the best for us, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD‘ (Jeremiah 21:11 NLT); not only does he have a plan for us, the plan is a good one, ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT). The plan for us is a good one, and it is for our benefit, the advantage for us is that it will, ‘give you a future and a hope‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).

If we trust our God, he will be there for us, always, ‘I will never fail you, I will never abandon you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NLT).

When we are looking at making big decisions in our life, life changing decision, we need to seek God’s guidance.

Are we looking at marriage? Have spoken to God about the relationship and the person we are with? Are we wanting to change jobs, and have we asked for guidance about the company where we want to go?

Do we want to  buy a new vehicle, moving house, invest heavily in shares, do we feel that we want to go to another church etc. God will guide us in all situations if we turn to him, and ask.

The Bible is a book that can teach us many things. The words within are God inspired; there is much wisdom to be found within its’ pages.

Jesus said to his disciples that, ‘my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name‘ (John 1623 NIV).

If we ask, what will happen?

Ask using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy‘ (John 16:24 NLT).

So if we ask, then God will come along-side of us and guide us. He will guide our lives and our decisions, and because of this, our life will be full of joy.

We know that he will never leave us, and will always be there for us, (Hebrews 13:5).

We know that he has a plan for all of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).

We know that he will guide us through that plan (Psalm 16:11 & 32:8).

All we have to do to get that is trust God, and ask in his name (John 16:24).

Are you prepared to put your trust in the Creator of all you see?

Calms the storm or the child

 

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer Hymn

William Williams (1719-1791) (tr Peter Williams 1771)

 

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Father God, we are thankful that we can turn to you for help and guidance any time. We know that you have a plan for our life that will be good for us, as long as we follow your teaching in the Bible. Helps us to always follow you and know that whatever you have for us, it will be for our benefit, and will give us a hope and a future in you.
Lord we pray for all the people who hurt in the world. We pray that you will surround them with people that care, and will pray for them, support them, and guide them through their troubles. We know that you will be with them, help them to feel your peace in their lives, and to know that you are with them.

Amen

Bible · Christian · Faith

Do it, or stop talking about it

KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid‘ (Kelly Johnson – 1910 – 1990)

Although I do not like to use the word stupid, that is how the phrase started. It is attributed to a Kelly Johnson, who was working at the Lockheed Skunk Works. It was used by the US Navy as a design principle. Keep it simple, don’t over complicate things, why have a great mass of complexity when easy designs and simple elements will work; i.e. keep it simple.

There is no need for the last word, you could say;

Keep it Simple and Straight-forward
Keep it Short and Simple

When we talk to people, we should generally, keep it simple, talk to them in a language that they understand. When we say ‘language they understand’ we do not mean to use French to talk to a person of French descent or Chinese to a person of Chinese decent, this too could cause problems.

We mean, talk to a person, at ‘their level‘ using words that they will understand.

There are many people in this country now, where English is not a first language, or where they only have rudimentary speech and understanding of English.

If we are talking to a well-educated person, we may use long words or multi-syllable words; but if we are talking to someone less educated,  we may temper our conversation with shorter words, and easily understood phrases.

That is not to say that we talk down to them.

Many years ago, I worked with a man who had a great philosophy, that I have tried to use in my life.

Always speak to someone, the way that you would want to be spoken to.

This is not always easy, and has not always worked, but I always try, especially when working with people who I do not really know, and even more importantly, when working with people that I know, and know that I am a Christian.

Jesus followed this pattern of talking to people in a way that they would understand.

Why do you think he used so many ‘parables’? (stories with meanings)

When Jesus was in his ministry period, he knew the people around him.

He knew their style of life.

He knew their struggles.

He knew how they thought.

So he used parables,

Parables about coins, people, sons, things that had been lost, or found, seeds, and sheep.

The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

If you had a 100 sheep, and one strayed, you may think, ‘oh well, at least I have 99 left’, because if you left the 99, to look for the one that had strayed, you may lose the rest of the sheep, (Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:4-7) The parable was told to show the great love that God has for his people, that no matter what, he will look for us, he wants us to be part of his family, he does not want to lose us, we are that precious, ‘In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish‘ (Matthew 18:14 NIV).

WOW.

The Parable of the Lost Son

This is about the son that took all that was going to be his, and left. In the times that the story was set, even asking for his portion would have been a grave insult to the father. Many of us know the story, but if not, have a read please take the time to do so, (Luke 15:11-32). When his son finally comes to his senses, he decides to return, but now  he returns understanding what he has done. His father’s reaction is not the usual one; he runs to him, which would be really unusual for a man of his status. But ultimately, the father was joyous, because the errant son had returned to him. That is how God is with us.

Again, WOW.

We are loved by the Creator of the universe, the one who spoke everything into being. Love so much (John 3:16).

And although, like the sheep, we may stray, God never will, Paul reminded the Hebrews of this in his letter, ‘Never will I leave you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).

Moses reminded all of Israel this, when he made Joshua the leader. He said, ‘the LORD will personally go ahead of. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you‘ (Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT).

God wants us to be in his family, he wants the best for us. God delights in us, Jesus said, ‘there will be more rejoicing in heaven over on sinner who repents‘ (Luke 15:7 NIV). And as we praise and worship our Awesome Mighty God, he sings to us.

We need to remember this verse.

‘The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
I his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing

(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV).

Listen for the singing.

 

Zephaniah 3 v 17 v1

 

Outrageous love
You poured outrageous love on me
Outrageous love
You gave Your life for all to see
Poured Your love on me

The cross stands tall, showing Your great love
A sacrifice, so pure, paid for me, so undeserved
Love, a mighty ocean, flowing over me
Vast, unmeasured, boundless
Love has set me free

Redeemed and forgiven, I am healed and restored
That I would gain such grace
So amazed, I stand in awe
Now You’re risen, resurrected 
Seated high on heaven’s throne
Christ the hope of this world
Your love has set us free

His love is overflowing
The sound of heaven pouring
Rivers of living water
Love overflow, love overflows

Outrageous Love

Noel Robinson

 

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Father God, we want to thank you for your outrageously great love for us. Help us to treat all people we meet, with that same love and respect, that you showed to everyone that you met, whoever they were, and whatever they had done. Help us to be salt and light in a dark world. Help us to show you and to share you with anyone that asks. Help us to be ready and willing to share the Good News about you.
Lord we thank you for all the people in our lives, that help us with our walk of faith. We thank you that they are prepared to walk with us, and help us when we have troubles. Thank you for their faith, love and respect for all Christians, and the time they spend helping us. Bless them in all areas of their lives, and may they also have people who help them to grow in their faith.

Bible · Christian · Faith

Sticks & stones!

Careless talk costs lives‘ (Anon)

During the second world war, there were many propaganda posters produced by the government, with the purpose of encouraging people to be more careful in many areas of their lives.

Talk

Talk2

Some posters were designed to get people to be less wasteful, and some to warn them that not everywhere is safe to talk, hence, ‘Careless talk costs lives‘ (Anon).

Propaganda can be used for both good and bad purposes, but during the war, it was used to get people to think positively about situations that they were involved in, and what they did.

We need to remember, that whatever we do, has consequences. Whenever we open our mouth, we should always think first, and put our ‘brain into gear’. Anything that we say has power; power to do good, or the power to cause harm to people.

In the playground, we used to say;

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me

This is not true, yes sticks and stones may hurt us and cause us physical harm, but words cut deep and hurt us emotionally.

We need to use our words properly, ‘encourage one another and build each other up‘ (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV).

Our words need to be healthy, and we should think about what we are about to say, and say, ‘only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs‘ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

In his letters, Paul said to the Corinthian church, that the authority we have, was given to us from God, ‘our authority builds you up‘ (2 Corinthians 10:8 NLT).

Paul also to the church at Ephesus, ‘Let everything you say be good and helpful‘ (Ephesians 4:29 NLT). Not only should our words be helpful, they should, ‘benefit those who listen‘ (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

We need to keep our mouths pure and wholesome, and not let any, ‘filthy language [come] from our lips‘ (Colossians 3:8 NIV).

We should make sure that, due to the fact that, ‘mouths are full of cursing and bitterness‘ (Romans 3:14 NIV), we are careful in what we say.

We have to make sure that our words are good,  because, ‘tongues are filled with lies‘ (Romans 3:13 NLT).

In Malachi, the Lord spoke prophesy to Malachi, and said, ‘nothing false was found on his lips‘ (Malachi 2:6 NIV).

What we need to remember is that both good and evil come out of the same mouth; ‘Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God‘ (James 3:9 NLT).

The tongue is a dangerous part of our body, that has to be constantly controlled. ‘The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body‘(James 3:6 NIV).

What we need to remember is, ‘words are destructive‘ (Proverbs 16:27 NLT) if they are used without thought.

‘There is no one righteous, not even one‘ (Romans 3:9 NIV). All we have, is God’s grace.

We need to remember that just as Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, ‘I pleaded with the Lord‘ (2 Corinthians 12:8 NIV), and the response from God was, ‘my grace is sufficient for you‘ (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). That is all we need to know. The grace we have, is undeserved; we have it, only because of the great love that the Father God has for us (John 3:16).

Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, that there is a time for everything, there will be, ‘A time to tear down‘ but more important, and most important to remember, is, there will be a ‘time to build up‘ (Ecclesiastes 3:3 NLT).

Remember, ‘Careless talk costs lives‘, but if we remember the love of God for us, and remember that his word is here to teach us, then his words are written for us. ‘The word f God is alive and active. Sharper that any double-edged sword‘ (Hebrews 4:12 NIV).

The word of God is for us, and for everyone. Use it, and the words given to us for good only.

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For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son
That whoever would believe in Him
Would not perish but be saved, oh how surprising is His grace,
The invitation is for everyone

For everyone, for everyone

This is the good news, it’s a hope that is true
We sing ’cause we’ve found peace on earth
And death cannot shake us, our sins have been taken
Alive, we’re alive and we’ll sing Your worth

Jesus did not come to condemn but that we might live again
His Holy mission was to rescue us
For long before we cried for help He took our sins upon yourself
He took our shame and gave us righteousness

His righteousness, his righteousness

This is the good news, it’s a hope that is true
We sing ’cause we’ve found peace on earth
And death cannot shake us, our sins have been taken
Alive, we’re alive and we’ll sing Your worth

Take these words and make them louder….

Good news (Our God is Near #9)
Brenton Brown

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Father God, we thank you for your great love for us. Help us to stay true to you, and to your teachings. Help us to think about what we say to everyone we meet. May all of our words be used to build people up, and not tear them down. Lord we know that we need you to help us, we cannot do this on our own, or in our own strength. Lord we want to live for you, and use our words for you, to encourage, help, build-up, and bring joy to others. Lord help us in this task.
Lord we thank you for all of our gifts, help us to consider that they all come from you. Help us to use these gifts for the benefit of your kingdom, and others. Lord we want to give you the glory, by using what you give us. Help us to Glorify you in all that we do.

Amen