Christian

In Pieces, or In Peace?

‘And peace to men on earth’

With all the problems that we see around the world and the constant coverage on these events in the 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(John 14:27 NIV). He told His followers that they would have the peace of Jesus, ‘I do not give to you as the world gives‘ (v 27). We too can have the peace of our Lord, Saviour, Friend and Redeemer left to the world; His gift of peace; should we and they seek and accept Him, peace will be theirs and ours, and Jesus told people that they should, ‘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, ‘Never will I leave you‘ (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). 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). All Christians suffer at times, but when they die, they will have His eternal peace when they pass from this life. Those who live for the Lord, and delight in Him ‘The Lord upholds them [him] with his hand‘ (Psalm 37:24 NIV). We walk with God in His strength, but sometimes we also get carried by his strength (Footprints in the Sand).

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 ‘Glory to the newborn King‘ and ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild‘ (Hark The Herald Angel Sing). 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 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 the peace that our hearts crave. God can remedy all things, in His time. ‘God He has called you [us] to live in peace‘ (1 Corinthians 7:15 NIV), for He himself is a God of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Is He the God of your peace?

2 advent - peace

HOPE, PEACE, LOVE & JOY

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and He said ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.’ (John 14:27 NIV). He also said that it was not given as the world gives. The world will want something in return. ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch‘ (Milton Friedman) means you will not get something for nothing, yet Jesus gave, and God gives without expectation. God wants our love, and when we give it, He gives us His peace. ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times‘ (2 Thessalonians 3:16). It may not seem that we have His peace but if we do as the Psalm tells us, ‘Be still and know him [that I am God]‘ (Psalm 46:10 ESV). If we are still and really get to know God, if we then listen, He is there, and He is ‘always ready to help in times of trouble‘ (Psalm 46:1 NLT).

 

The first Noel the angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay; in fields where they lay keeping their sheep, on a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Then let us all with one accord, sing praises to our heavenly Lord, that hath made heaven and earth of naught, and with his blood mankind hath bought

The First Noel

Anon – 17the century

 

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Lord we often sing carols at Christmas that celebrate your birth, and sing about peace on earth, and for all men. This year help us to really mean the words that we sing, help us to really look and work for peace as you did; help us to be ambassadors for peace, so that people will see a change in us. Help us to look to you, and what breaks your heart, may it also affect ours. Lord we look to you and the Bible for all of our teaching, help us to look harder, give us truly eyes to see, and ears to hear, and a heart that is willing.

Lord at this time, special to all Christians, help us to be ready to help those less fortunate than ourselves, help us to consider them more and help them in whatever ways we can, to show your true love.

Amen

 

 

 

 

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Christian

Christmas, or, CHRISTmas!

‘Tis the season to be jolly (T. Oliphant)

At this time of year, the clocks have been turned back, the nights are drawing in, and they are getting darker earlier and earlier, and it is getting colder and colder, we can think of how lucky we are to be living in comfortable houses or flats, with a proper roof over our heads, with money in our pockets and food in the cupboards. Many in this world have little of the comfort that we can enjoy, and some even do not have food in the cupboard, let alone roofs over their heads.

Jesus’ start in life, was very similar to this, He was born with nor proper roof over His or His parents’ heads due to a census being called by the Rome empire; born in a stable (Luke 2:1-7), very humble beginnings, yet this would not stop the story unfolding as God foretold it (Isaiah 9:6-7) and willed it.

As we light the first of the Advent candles, and look at the light of the candle, we think of, and celebrate hope, hope for the whole world, because Jesus was sent by God, to save the whole world (John 3:16).

As the Psalmist said, we should ‘put our [your] hope in God‘ (Psalm 42:5 NIV), and at another said, ‘we [I] have put our [my] hope in your word‘ (Psalm 119:74). The Lord want 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 (Romans 12:12). 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).

What do you put your hope in?

1 advent - hope

HOPE, PEACE, LOVE & JOY

In the weeks up to the time of year that we celebrate the birth of the most important person ever to have lived, we live in a period called Advent, which has been celebrated since the fourth century. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word for ‘coming’. The world would be upon His shoulders, (Isaiah 9:6) but would he be the King that everyone was waiting for?

The First Noel, on a Silent Night, Holy Night, While Shepherd Watched Their Flocks by night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing to the shepherds, about the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:8-17), Angels From The Realms Of Glory, brought Joy To The World.

Wise men sought Him, and went to visit Him, (Matthew 2:1-2). Wise men today still seek Jesus; He  said that we should, ‘Seek the Kingdom of God above all else‘ (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

Do we do that?

 

When faith is shaken, when fears surround, my feet will stand on solid ground. In every season, my song will be

 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

Here With Me – (Pocketful of Faith #1

T. Hughes, P. Wickham, N. Herbert

 

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Lord we thank you for your great love for us, and the hope that it gives to us. Help us to live with that hope at the front of our thoughts. Help us to seek your will for our lives, and to follow you and to live as you did, showing your love to all those who we come into contact with in our day to day lives. Help us to be salt and light to a world in need.

Lord we know that you have a plan for all of our lives, and that this plan will be for the betterment of us. Help us to look to you in all things, and to be willing to trust you in all aspects of our lives, that you will provide for us in all areas. Lord we know that you love us unfailingly, help us to love you better.

Amen

Christian

The Whole World Needs Him

Christ for the whole wide world‘ (Hattie Bell Allen 1896-1981)

In everything that we do, every relationship that we have, every decision that we make, we should always consider the fact that we are children of the Living God! A few years ago, people started to were bracelets with the letters W.W.J.D., and the letters stood for, ‘What Would Jesus Do?‘ if every Christian would act like this, then the world would be a much better place.

Living our life, considering how Jesus would react, how He would deal with a situation; how He would speak, listen, act and love, would show His light and love to the world around us. Unfortunately, being human means that this is not easy. Jesus, when teaching about enemies said that we are to love everyone including our enemies, then people will know that we are, ‘children of the Most High‘ (Luke 6:35 NLT). Loving people that we like and care for is easy, but loving the people that we do not get along with, the people who annoy us, the people who spread gossip about us, that is the difficult part, but we are called to do it. We can only do these things if we are with God, ‘apart from me [Jesus] you can do nothing‘ (John 15:5 NIV); if we are separated from God, we do not have the strength, not on our own.

We should base all of our relationships on what God has told us through the words of Jesus; what He did and how He did it, and how He taught, and also by the fact that we know that God loves us so much, (John 3:16).

Jeremiah wrote a letter to exiled Israelite’s whilst they were living in Babylon, telling them what God had for each of their lives, ‘For I know the plans I have for you… .. to give you a good future and a hope‘ (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT); even the Psalmist David knew that the Lord would, ‘teach me [you] in the way I [you] should go‘ (Psalm 32:8 NIV).

God knows what plans there are for our lives, David even noted this by saying, ‘all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be‘ (Psalm 139:16 NIV).

We need to trust that God knows what is best for us.

Ask God what that plan is, and then start living His great plan for our lives.

 

World map

If we do not show other people Christ in our lives, or if we do not share the love of God with others, are we actually doing what Jesus commanded us to do?

Jesus told His disciples that, as you go about your business, when you get the chance, you should share the love of God, and that of the Good News of the Gospel of Christ Jesus, with those around you, and also teach them to obey all that I (Jesus) have commanded you  (Matt 28:19-20).

He is truly Christ, for the whole wide world

 

 

Lord please, I ask that you show me your plan, for my life it is dreary, and I need some focus. Help me to seek, and to search, and to find, help me to see, and no longer be blind.

Lord will you show me how I can be bolder, it’s hard for me Lord, for I cower from the crowd, help me to be, the salt and the light, take me and use me, to fight in your fight.

Lord will you use me, to  show others it’s true, that only with you, will my life be fulfilled.
My part in this story I willingly play, Lord, please help me to show some people your way.

 

 

Spent today in a conversation, in the mirror face to face with somebody less than perfect I wouldn’t choose me first if I was looking for a champion. In fact I’d understand  if you picked everyone before me, but that’s just not my story. True to who You are, you saw my heart and made something out of nothing.

I don’t need my name in lights, I’m famous in my Father’s eyes. Make no mistake, He knows my name.

He Knows My Name – S.Mosley, F. Battistelli, M. Fieldes

 

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Lord we thank you for your great love for us, we know that we are loved and cherished as your children, and as you children we need you to help us to show others your great love, mercy and grace. Help others to see you through the way that we live our lives. May we be lights for a dark world, help us to show your way to people around us, help them to see you in us.

Lord we pray for all the situations around the world where your love and hope are needed. May the people that respond to disasters everywhere fell you with them at all times. May your love go with them, and show them the way to help. may your love show through their actions, and be a blessing to all those that are ministered to.

Amen

 

Christian

Prayer gently lifts me – to highest Heaven

God is near to us whenever we call on him‘ (Deuteronomy 4:7 NLT)

Prayer should not be the last refuge for anyone. Many great men and women throughout the Bible prayed often, and Moses was no exception, when interceding for the Israelites, (Exodus 16:4, 33:12-13). In many places it says that people spoke to the Lord, but what is prayer if not speaking? Talking to our Creator God is a privilege, prayer should be the first place we go in any situation, not the last. ‘who [what great nation] has a god as near to them as the LORD our God is‘ (Deuteronomy 4:7 NLT), and He is indeed! Whenever we need Him, turn to Him and call to Him, God always hears us. And when He hears us, what will He do? He honours us for being close to Him, ‘He… … honouring his faithful ones – … who are close to him‘ (Psalm 148:14 NLT). When we are ‘close to Him’ it says, yet even when we were all far from Him, and constantly sinning, ‘He brought this Good News of peace to us [you]… who were far away from him‘ (Ephesians 2:17 NLT); it was when the world was far from God and in a state of sin, that He interceded for us and sent His Son, for, ‘Christ died [to die] for us while we were still sinners‘ (Romans 5:8 NLT). No human who ever lived is or was perfect, only Jesus was, ‘everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard‘ (Romans 3:23 NLT). The Psalmist wrote, ‘I love the LORD, because he hears my voice‘ (Psalm 116:1 NLT). Samuel knew that prayer was central to living a holy life, ‘far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray‘ (1 Samuel 12:23 NIV). So prayer is not only important to living the way that God wants and intended us to live, but it is a sin not to pray.

Solomon prayed for wisdom (1 Kings 3:7-9); Hannah prayed for a baby (1 Samuel 1:11). David prayed for Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:10-19),  and Hezekiah prayed during a siege (2 Kings 19:15-19) Daniel prayed for his people (Daniel 9:4-19). Jesus prayed often, teaching His disciples how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13) , sometimes even going off by himself (Matthew 26:39).

What do we pray for?

All these people found time to pray, and some of them, even during adversity.

When do we find time to pray, and is it enough time?

Pray to the One

Jesus knew the significance of prayer, and staying in communion with His Father, especially when things got tough; He often went off alone to pray, (Luke 5:16, Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23). Because of how Jesus was with prayer, the disciples also realised that prayer was important, and they asked Jesus to ‘teach us to pray‘ (Luke 11:1 NIV). At times, it can seem that God has not heard us when we pray, and what we want or want to know, we generally want and want to know, now. God has a plan for our lives, (Jeremiah 29:11tell us that, we just have to trust Him to reveal it to us, but do we ask to know it?. Jesus told His disciples that, ‘whatever you ask for in prayer, believe… … and it will be yours‘ (Mark 11:24 NIV). We need to be patient, the answer to our prayer may be ‘not yet‘. We need to remember that ‘The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results‘ (James 5:16 NLT).

Pray without ceasing, (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT) let him pray, (James 5:13) you are ever in our prayers,  (2 Thessalonians 1:11) say prayers for one another (James 5:16), we pray to our God our Father about you (1 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT)

Prayer gently lifts me to highest Heaven, from earth’s confusion to Jesus’ breast; my sin and weakness, my doubt and sorrow, are lost forever in sweetest rest.

 Salvation Army Song Book (new edition) 783 – Hal Beckett (1888-1971)

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Father God, we thank you that we can come to you at any time, to speak to you in prayer. Whether we are walking, driving, having a bath, wherever we are, we know that you will always have time for us. Help us to model our behaviour on you, help us to be available to those around us that may want our time. Help us to look for people that we may be able to help, to shine your love on an otherwise dark world, may we be beacons of light for you Lord.

Lord we pray for families everywhere, that they may know your love and peace now and always. Be with them in their times of grief, and their times of joy, shower them with blessings, and help them to see your path for their combined lives, leading them ever closer to you.

Amen

 

Christian

how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to your children‘ (Matthew 7:11 NIV)

Whenever we want something we can either get it our-self, or ask for it, and when we ask for something, we are generally asking someone we know, a family member or a friend. Are we also planning for the potential let-down that can also come? If we ask God for something, there will never be any ‘let-down’, God always answers prayer.

When we come to God, we can ask anything that we want as long as it fits within the teaching of the Bible. Jesus told His disciples and therefore us to, ‘Ask and it will be given to you‘ (Matt 7:7 ESV, Luke 11:9 NIV); He also told His disciples ‘I will do whatever you ask in my name‘ (John 14:13 NIV).

I am sure that the mother of Moses prayed and asked that he be spared and not drown when she floated her watertight  basket containing her precious cargo into the Nile river; the Hebrew word for ‘watertight basket’ used here is the same as in Noah’s ark.

And as we all know, God did indeed answer and save the life of the baby Moses, and he grew up and saved the lives of all of the Israelites, and with the mighty power of God, led them out of Egypt and slavery, (Exodus 2 – 13).

At some point we all get rid of things for various reasons, Moses’ mother put him in the basket and sent him away for protection. We too have to remove things from our lives to get the ‘full benefit’ of living with Jesus, and the benefit of following Jesus is eternal life with Him I heaven. ‘I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you‘ (John 14:2 NIV).

You Don't Understand

 

In order to benefit from the promise of eternal life, we have to throw away those things ‘of us’ that do not fit with the teachings of the Bible, those are;

the works of the flesh… … sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these‘ (Gal 5:19-21 ESV).

What a list. These are all things that will be barriers between us and God, and we do not want any barriers to separate us, ‘your iniquities (sin) have separated you from God‘ (Isai 59:2 NIV). So if the list above separate us from God, what do we need to do? We need to clothe ourselves with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, because;

the Holy Spirit produces… … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control‘ (Gal 5:22-23 NLT).

The ‘Fruits of The Spirit’ are what help us work towards the goal of eternal life that we are promised when we follow Jesus. He said ‘follow me‘ (Matt 4:19 NIV), and He said to everyone, ‘I am the way‘ (John 14:6 NIV).

 

Christian

Be Thou My Vision

Rop tú mo baile, a Choimdiu cride‘ (c 8th century Irish)

The words above are from the original version of what would become the beautiful hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision‘. The original poem was found on old Irish manuscripts, and have been dated between the 6th – 8th century. It was translated from the original Irish dialect by Mary Elizabeth Byrne (1880-1931); following this, it was ‘versified‘ by Eleanor Hull (1860-1935) and published in a book of poems (Poem Book of the Gael – 1912). In 1919, a non-liturgical tune, or a tune not from a Church, was taken from ‘Patrick Weston Joyce’s Old Irish Folk Music and Songs‘ (a collection of 842 previously unpublished tunes), and the rest, is history.

The song talks of God being the centre of the writers being, and that He would give to the writer the best parts of each of his days; the wisdom that came from the writers mouth, the strength to battle the devil, and whatever he needed, God would provide, and ultimately, shelter and refuge when all seems to be failing.

God, through the words of Jesus, has already promised all of these to everyone that turns to Him. Jesus said, ‘ whoever comes to me I will never drive away.‘ (John 6:37 NIV), and He continued later saying that He prayed for the people that believed (John 17 9), and PAul reminded the Hebrews that God had said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you‘ (Heb 13:5 ESV). And why did He promise all of this? ‘the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost‘ (Luke 19:10 ESV),‘For God so loved the world‘ (John 3:16 NIV).And the best news is the God celebrates when we come to Him and seek Him out, ‘there is joy … … when even one sinner repents‘ (Luke 15:8 NLT).