Bible · Christian · Faith · Grace · Jesus

Get out of the boat!

Take courage! It is I’ (Matthew 14:27 NIV)

There were times in my life that when I was younger, I could just not handle, and even later in life, when I became a Christian this did not initially change for me.

Even though I believed and trusted God, I still struggled, and at times I wanted to curl up in a corner and forget everything else that was going on around me, I could just not handle it, I felt under pressure and overwhelmed.

Many people go through similar things, when they have problems that they cannot cope with. Some people learn to cope and some do not.

Those who learn to cope may use various techniques; some techniques are not so good for you, and people escape their situations using drugs or alcohol; there are other ways that can help and be beneficial to the body, meditation, yoga, chanting, or prayer. Even atheists admit that they sometimes pray, even though they do not believe in God.

Sometimes, you do not have to know how something works; you just have to believe that it will.

I do not know how a combustion engine works in a car, apart from the basics; it just does work when I turn my key, and if it does not, then I call a mechanic.

I do not know how planes fly, apart from the absolute, very basics; they go very fast and lift up, they just do, and if they do not, then I may meet Jesus sooner than I planned.

When I could not cope with what my life was and the things assailing me, my minister at the time sat me down, and told me that I need to trust God more for his help in those bad situations, that he had plans for me and would not let anything bad happen to me, they were;

plans for welfare not evil, to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

As I grew older, and supposedly wiser, although many will say that there is still no sign of the getting wiser emerging yet, I left the church and struck out on my own, because I thought I knew better. That did not work out too well, and I ended up a physical, mental, and spiritual wreck.

I quickly realised that I needed Jesus back in my life.

Ultimately I know that he never left me, and it was I who had turned my back on him. I had been called into friendship with Jesus and decided to walk away. Yet even back then after walking away, I knew that God had said;

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

After coming back to the church and letting God back into my every-day life, I quickly realised what I had before I left.

God has a plan for our lives, we just need to ask him to reveal it to us, and that plan will surpass everything that we can ever think up;

I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not evil’ (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV).

God wants the very best for us, and nothing that he has planned for us will harm us.

In addition to the good plans he has, he will teach us what we need to know;

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

So if we are having problems that seem to be immensely bigger than us, and much stronger than us, we need to remember;

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you’ (Psalm 55:22 NIV).

When we trust God with our lives, they do not then truly belong to us, we belong to God, we are his and like him, and he said;

Let us make man in our image’ (Genesis 1:26 ESV).

We are created in the very image of the living God. We are made on purpose and made for a purpose, and that purpose is to worship God, and bring others into the knowledge of God!

In our lives there are some things that we can do and some things that we cannot. The things we can do are gifts from God. We each have a purpose on earth, and these gifts help us achieve our God given plans;

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us’ (Romans 12:6 NIV).

Your gift may be talking to people, you may find that very easy, I particularly find that incredibly difficult. Your gift may be serving, or healing, or giving; whatever your gift, do it with the grace that God has given each of us.

Use your gift for the benefit of the Kingdom of God, and not for selfish purposes, because Jesus did not die for a selfish purpose, he died for you and me;

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15 NIV).

So God will not let anything bad happen to us. Sometimes we go through stuff that we do not like, and sometimes in the chaos, God will silence the noise and mess around us so that we can get through whatever it is. At other times, God will give us the peace we need in order to weather the storm, a peace that we cannot understand, peace that transcends everything else.

No matter what we are going through, we should not tell God we have a big problem, but tell our problem that we have a BIG God.

If we trust in God at all times and in all things, then we can be game changers, we can show people around us that no matter what is happening, Jesus is in charge of our life and our situations because we are trusting in him, and by the way we live, we can show people God in our lives.

We need to make a decision, and we need to decide, just as Peter did. Shall we stay in comfort and security, or shall we trust in Jesus, cling to what is good in our lives, and get out of the boat!

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You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand

I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (Zion #4)

Joel Houston, Matt Crocker, Salomon Lighthelm

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Lord we thank you for everything that you give us, the gifts that we have, the grace that we have, the love that we have. Help us the use these to share you with others, that they may also come to know and trust you. Lord we want your kingdom to grow here on earth give us strength, wisdom and courage to share your love with those around us.

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

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!

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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 · 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

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

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

All you need is love – Lennon & McCartney

this is love, that we walk according to his commandments’ (2 John v 5 ESV)

Love is a word that many people use, and sometimes it is used flippantly, with some people using the word, and not thinking about what they are exactly saying.

When visiting another church one weekend, I heard a friend and Pastor preach, and he said the following;

When we use the word love, what does the word really mean? I love my wife and children, I really do, but I love ‘Double-Decker chocolate bars, (chocolate bar made by Cadbury)’.

You hear people saying that they love many things; they love football, they love curry, they love the television, they love certain pop stars etc. People also love other things like going out to the pub, or buying expensive designer clothes, but these are materialistic.

What many people mean is that they love a person, but when they say they ‘love football’ etc, what they really mean is that they like it a lot.

So, is it possible to love God and other things?

Jesus said that we cannot;

No one can serve two masters’ (Matthew 6:24 NIV).

We need to put God first in all that we do; the writer of Proverbs says this, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). What this means is that we should learn to look to God in, and for all things; we need to trust him.

When Jesus was talking to some Pharisees, he said;

people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’ (Matthew 15:8 NIV).

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Matthew 6:33 NIV).

In everything you do, put God first’ (Proverbs 3:6 T.L.B.).

What these verses mean, is that we may glorify God with what we say, by the way we act does not give him glory.

Paul reminded the Roman Christians that they should not love the world;

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God’ (Romans 12:2 Message).

Our culture can draw us in if we are not careful. It can be easy to let ourselves be pulled in, bit by bit and our lives could then spiral into worse situations; little lies one day could lead to stealing later on, or worse. We need to treat our life as a gift, which it is.

God knows us intimately, the Psalmist said, ‘I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body’ (Psalm 139:15-16 NIV).

Not only did God se us before we were born, he made us, and he has a plan for all of us (Jeremiah 29:11), and he has also promised that we will never be on our own;

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

 ‘Placing Him first in your life should be your daily goal, the main pursuit in the midst of all your other pursuits’ (Paul Chappell).

We need to love God in all that we do, in all that we are, our actions, our words, our lives;

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength’ (Mark 12:30 NKJV).

Therefore… … do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV).

There have been many hymns and songs written about God, and how we should love him and worship him first and foremost in our lives;

To God be the glory, great things he has done… … Praise the Lord, praise the Lord’ (Fanny J Crosby 1820-1915).

IMG_0141

To God be the glory, great things He hath done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He hath done.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see.

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Father God, we thank you for the love that you give us, and gave us, we thank you for your Son who came to die for us, to show us the way to you. Help us to see your love in all the days of our lives. Lord help us to show your love to the people around us that we work with, live with and socialise with. Lord everyone needs you; give us the strength to show your love, that others will also want to know you.

Amen