Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is :- Hold
I have two ‘young adult ‘ children and one of the hardest things about that has been letting them go. It is hard when they no longer live under your roof and so you don’t see them every day, you don’t see what they are doing, or how they are doing. It is a worry.
So one thing I have been trying to practice is placing them into the ‘care of God’. I do that by reminding myself that God loves them even more than I do and I visualise actually handing them over to God, actually placing them in His care.
I am assured then that God has a hold of them and keeps them in that hold. I can trust them to Him and I can hold on to that during anxious times.
For our mid-week meditations this week, I am sharing a post I wrote for our church’s daily devotions, asking the question How long O Lord?
How long? That is what we are saying just now, isn’t it? How long will this virus rum amok in our land? How long will our lives suffer restrictions? How long is all this going to last? How Long? How Long, Lord?
The Psalmist also asked those sorts of questions in Psalm 13
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
How long will our worries and concerns plague us? How long will we wrestle with these things? How long, Lord? What are You doing Lord? Why are You not acting on our behalf Lord?
However, like the Psalmist, we too need to come to the place of acceptance and surrender and trust that God is God, He is on the throne, He is in control and His how longs are different from ours and He wants us to place our hand in trust in His.
Then as we come to that place of trust we can then affirm with the Psalmist when He closed this Psalm with these words:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for He has been good to me.
When we have peace in the Storm it means that we can trust in God’s unfailing love, that we can rejoice in His salvation and we can sing the Lord’s praise because we know and trust that He is good to us.
How long? Maybe that depends on how long it takes us to come to that place of trust?
I have been meditating on this thought since reading this passage in Jeremiah 29
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity”
There seems to be a progression in the Calling, the Coming and the Praying.
Let me illustrate:
We live on a croft (smallholding) and if my husband is up in the field and I want him or want to get his attention I first of all have to CALL him. I call his name, I shout for him. Then when he hears and turns towards me he beckons me to him, to COME. Now I may not want to come to him, I may not have time to go up the field, I may want him to come and see what I am doing or what I want, but he beckons me to COME, so when I come close I see then what he is doing and then we have conversation.
So too spiritually, often I may call to God, I want Him to come to me and see what I have got going on, but He beckons me to come to Him, and when I come to Him and see what He is doing, what His ways are, then I pray, then we are in conversation and then my prayers are much more likely to be God-focused and according to His will rather than if I had stayed in my own thoughts and troubles.
CALL. COME. PRAY.
So often I fear that I miss out that middle stage; I am in too much of a rush, or I come with my prayer list, my concerns and I just want to trot through them, or I am just too caught up in myself and my own troubles that actually I just want God to see what I am doing as if that is more important than what He is doing!!
Whereas that middle stage is so important; that drawing near, that coming close; that time to pause and listen. It is that stage which leads to conversation, otherwise we are just shouting out our requests and then getting on with our day.
And ofcourse we have the wonderful promises that God ‘will be found by us’; He will not hide Himself from us; but He hears us, we can find Him and He will listen!
So let us: Call upon the Lord. Let us come before Him, draw near to Him and then let the conversation begin – pray.
Writing today along with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers who write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is: Your
Definition of Your = belonging to or associated with any person in general.
So it is a case of what belongs to you is yours and what belongs to me is mine! Or I have heard it said, “what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine too”!!
But what if we didn’t associate things as being either ‘yours’ or ‘mine’, what if we ‘had all things in common’ like the early church did?
What if we took away the “y” and made it our?
What if when we confessed sin, it was a corporate act, we confess OUR sin. And what if when we worship, we do it corporately and it is OUR act of worship. What if we grieve with those who grieve, so that it is also OUR grief, what if we sit with the sick and weak, so that it becomes OUR weakness and vulnerability? What if we rejoice with those who are happy, so that it also becomes our joy? What if we carry one another’s burdens, so that we don’t feel the weight of them because they are OURS?
Less of the individualism and more of community, brotherhood, sisterhood, church, fellowship, unity, Jesus.
I have mulled this saying over for a while, not comprehending it:
The wound is the place where the Light enters you
For surely the very nature of the wound means you want to keep it closed, you want it in the dark, wrapped up. How can you want to let the light into it?
Then yesterday I was doing some very severe pruning in the garden and as I chopped down trees and bushes I realised that actually the amount of light now coming into the garden was remarkable. What may have seemed like wounding, damaging the bushes, was infact for their benefit, the light would get in they would grow stronger, the ones at the front now would have a chance to grow and blossom.
So instead of shunning away from light and hiding our wounds in the dark, if we open them to God and allow His light to shine into them, then we may find that actually the act of wounding was an act of love.
The pain and sorrow in our hearts may be the means of God reaching us, so instead of keeping the pain in, instead of holding tight onto our sorrow, maybe we need to release it and allow the light to come in and heal.
Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Church.
I have to say that I have loved, loved, loved on-line church!! I have rejoiced in the way the church has risen to the challenge of putting the gospel ‘out there’, the use of technology and social media which perhaps it once shunned.
I have loved the way in our own congregation different members have taken part in our services when once it was the minister only, seeing those gifts used and brought to the front has been lovely.
However, with Covid restrictions still in place & with us not yet having ‘in-person’ services I have been more concerned and burdened recently about those adherents (church-attenders) who may have been lost and not connected to services, also locally two fellowships have disbandoned and since we are not meeting in person it is difficult to reach out a hand of fellowship and welcome them into a local congregation.
Church, local church, local fellowship and the discipline of meeting together is good, it is beneficial, it is support, it is accountability, but it is also family and keeping the family together and strong in such times is difficult. We have to pray and pray and trust that at the end of all this God will bring in those who will respond to Him, that He will raise up leaders and workers and that we would always be willing to respond with a ‘start with me Lord’ to help bring in the harvest and feed the lambs and sheep.
As I was looking at these verses (13-18) of this Psalm I was struck by how it speaks right into our identity, who we are, who we perceive ourselves to be, or even who we wish we were! Let us look at these verses together:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Psalm 139: 13-16
There we were in our embryonic stage in our mothers’ wombs, being made, being formed in God’s likeness male or female. No gender fluidity here – one or the other – male or female; God did not make any mistakes here, He did not make any mistakes with us.
This being the case means that we should not be rebelling against ourselves, the people we are, wishing we were someone/something else, we are who God created us to be.
So for me, God created me a short person, He created me female, an introvert, emotional, the ‘wonderfully complex’ person I am within a time and place in history. Yes, I am tainted by sin, yes sin has had it effects on the environment in which I grew and that may have affected genetics and my DNA, but still created, known, formed, loved by God even before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book – Wow! He knows my every day – the good days, the bad days, the mediocre days and even the tedious days – all written, all recorded in His book of Life.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. – Even before I was born, God knew my days, how many there would be, my allotted time-span, He already knew!
So what does this mean for me today?
In many ways it means self-acceptance. Acceptance of who I am as a person, of who God created me to be. So I accept my short stature, I accept my emotional temperament, my complexities and in many ways I accept and learn to live with the things I perceive as short-comings, the giftings I don’t have and the ways I may not be like others.
My life has been known and numbered by God, He has seen the sin which has broken me, the experiences which have tainted me, the scars which have shaped me into who I am today, BUT He is also the One who can redeem my story and change me into who I can become in Christ.
And when I think of these things, then my response is worship:
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!
I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,you are still with me!
Psalm 139: 17 & 18
In other words, I am struck by awe at such knowledge! Struck by the thoughts God has of me: the number of them and the good in them.
He saw me being formed in my mother’s womb, He sees me every step of every day, and He sees when I lie down at night and is there again when I wake up in the morning! Surely indeed that is cause to bow the knee and worship?
Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers who write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Could
The word could refers to choice; I could do something, or I could choose not to do it, but I have the means and am able to do it. Whereas the word should give me the impression of having some sort of pressure to it. I feel obligated to do something or other, I feel I should do it.
So choices? Should I, could I, do I want to? Often I do feel pressure, either from society, from friends, from family or even from myself to always be ‘doing’ as if my worth was measured in what I have achieved. At the end of the day do my achievements of the day add up to whether it was a good day or not?
So what if I just made the choice to sit and ‘be’ as opposed to be ‘doing’, could I be satisfied with that, could I count my worth that I have just sat and been with the Lord, been with my own thoughts and feelings?
Could I, should I, do I want to? Choices. Every day there are choices, some days I may choose the right ones, other times I may not always get it right, but always I have the choice to come before the Lord and ask Him, seek Him – could I, should I, do You want me to? And always I have the choice to give thanks – could I, should I; yes I could and yes I should, even if I don’t necessarily want to!
So Lord, make Your paths plain to me, that I may know what I could and should be doing for Your kingdom and may I always choose to give thanks to You. Amen.
Last week we looked at how we are known to God, and how we cannot wear a mask before Him, for He knows us through and through. This week in verses 7-12 of this Psalm I want to look at how there is no place we can escape from His presence.
Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your Presence?
If I ascend to heaven You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning & dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea EVEN THERE
Your hand shall lead me and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, surely the darkness shall cover me and the light about me be night;
EVEN the darkness is not dark to You, the night is bright as the day
for darkness is as light with You.
Psalm 139: 7-12
There is no end to God’s knowledge or presence – Even there He is with me.
There is no-where God will not lead and hold me, and there is nowhere too dark for God to see me.
Supposing it is the heights of heaven or the depths of despair, and everywhere in-between even there God is with me. All the in-betweens – God is there. Heaven & Sheol, Morning and night, Light and Darkness, all are the same to God, His light so shines in them all that they are the same to Him, the Creator fills all of His universe with His presence; even there.
So whether we are at one of the extremes today or just in the ordinary, in-between Even There God is with us to uphold us. Where ever we are, we are in a place God can reach us, there is nowhere out of His reach, God the creator fills all of His universe, even all the empty spaces.
This is a Psalm of faith and trust, trust and knowledge that Even There, even in that hard place God’s Hand and Will and Grace can hold us. So in acceptance, in rest, in surrender let us trust our ‘Even Theres’ to God, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Saviour.
As we get used to wearing face coverings I wonder how much we can now cover up of our emotions, the way we present ourselves to the world? Our smile may be hidden behind our masks, but do we hide our grumpiness or feelings, do we even try to hide our identity and hope that no-one recognizes us?
We hide so much from the world, even from our friends and family, we hide behind that facade of “I’m fine”; “I’m doing okay”, when sometimes we are anything but fine and the illusions of control we have is fast slipping through our fingers.
As we come to the first 6 verses of this Psalm we see that we cannot hide from God, nothing goes without His notice, He doesn’t just SEE all we do and say, but He KNOWS us, He knows why we do things, what brought that thing on, He knows our background, He knows our hurts, He knows the things which have shaped us.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
With God we can’t hide behind any masks of ‘coping’, any lies of ‘I’m fine’. We are known by God.
He knows all our activities – He knows when we get up, when we lie down, when we go out, when we come back in, who we are with, and how we have felt, He knows it all.
He knows our scattered thoughts, He knows our thought processes, He knows the chains which connects them which to others would seem random! He knows our words what we are going to say even before it is out of our mouth!! I wonder if we would cringe if we thought about this when we utter unkind, selfish words?
What does He do? He hems us in, He draws us closer and closer until there is no escape and there is just Him. Breathe. Just God. No need for any pretense, no need for any mask, no need to put on a show, just God.
He lays His hand gently upon us, stilling our wayward thoughts, our guilts, our anxieties, our fears, our worries.
God knows not just what we are going through, but God knows us. Breathe. Be still.
No need to hide, He knows, He knows it all and still He draws, still He wants us closer, He wants us to come, bare, exposed, vulnerable, to be healed, to be calmed to be stilled, to be in awe.
Joining with the #five minute Friday group of writers to write around a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Loud
I am a quiet introvert, noise is an anathema to me, loud people drain me, loud noises are an assault on my senses, I don’t do loud!!
And if I am completely honest I don’t know how I am going to do in heaven!! Heaven is going to be a very noisy place between trumpets blowing, people praising with loud voices & myriads of angels rejoicing, not to mention oceans roaring and thunder crashing! Help!
So strange as it may seem, I have to trust that God will redeem even that broken bit of my character so that I too can join in the Song of the Lamb!
Every bit of the broken me needs to be redeemed and healed, so that in wholeness I can live and move and rejoice with the rest of the redeemed and yes even so I can lift up my voice loudly!
Then I heard again what.sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns.
I have been pondering what it means to have ‘a time for joy’ and wonder is there a time for us to set aside our sorrows, our burdens, our heaviness and just ‘joy’?
Not that in any way I am saying we should skip over any grieving period for the loss of loved ones, or other trauma in our lives. But do we get so set in our ways of being ‘heavy laden’ that we never shake that off to rejoice or have joy in the Lord?
In reading through the book of Nehemiah, I see the exiles returned, the temple restored, and the walls rebuilt. The Book of the Law was then read and what did the people want to do, but weep and mourn [Chapter 8]. Yet it was to be a day of rejoicing!!. God had done so much for them! God had actually done what the peoples around had thought impossible in the restoring of the temple and the city walls in such a short space of time and despite opposition! God showed His greatness. God showed His covenant love towards them, it was a time to rejoice!
But like the Israelites are we so busy looking back at past mistakes and bound by past sorrows, that we can’t shake them off to look and see what God has actually done for us and rejoice in Him?
So, is there a time just to put those sorrows aside, to take off our mourning garments and instead put on the spirit of joy? Is there a time to stop our mourning, our sorrows, our sadnesses, our hurts and look up to God and rejoice?
It may not be an easy thing to do, our sadness may weigh heavy on us, we may have so long worn the ‘spirit of heaviness’ that we don’t know what we would do without it, we may even feel exposed, vulnerable without it. It is what we hide behind, it is our identity. So how can we put those things aside?
And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength [Nehemiah 8:10]
Even in this we don’t have to do it alone; God is with us, His joy is our strength, it is His joy which will enable us to put aside our sorrows, it is His joy which will be our strength as we rise up from our place of mourning, it is His joy which will then cover us, clothe us, it is His joy which will strengthen us and allow us to worship and to praise.
Perhaps for you, for me, today is a day when the time is right not to mourn, not to weep, but rather to rejoice, to dance, to sing, to praise. Perhaps it is the season to take off that garment of heaviness and in its place by covered by the garment of Praise to the Lord.
Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is: Right
We like to be right don’t we? We don’t like when we are wrong and we certainly don’t like when others point out that we are wrong?
Yet Proverbs [14:12] says:
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
So often what appears to be ‘right’ is not, it is not the right path for us to be on and in the end it leads to our spiritual death. So surely then it is better to be checked, better to be warned, better to have the wrong pointed out so that we can turn and walk on the right paths, the good way, the way of the Lord.
So today we need grace and humility to accept correction, to accept rebuke, to accept that perhaps we are not always right!!. We need grace and humility to admit our wrong to ourselves, to others and to God. And we need grace and humility to move on from that to the ‘right’ way, the right things and the right paths.
I have been thinking about sin recently. Yes, you know that little 3 letter word which we don’t like to admit or talk about and which has an “I” in the middle? That word sIn.
We like to cover up our sin, or minimize it, that really it wasn’t that bad, that we were justified in our anger, in our unkindness, in our actions and in our reactions. But when we do that we don’t then come to God in confession or repentance!
We first have to acknowledge our sin, admit it, call it out for what it is.
Then we have to accept that really we have sinned, we are sinners and we may have hurt others by our actions, by our lashing out, by our selfishness. We may need to reflect or as Step 11 in Recovery programs says: “take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admit it”.
And then we have to do something about it, we need some action! We can’t just leave it there. So we go to God, we admit our sin, we admit the warped reasoning behind our sin, we seek God, we ask for forgiveness, we repent, we turn away from it, we take action, put boundaries in place which stop us falling into that same trap again and again.
Listen to what David says in Psalm 51:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love;
according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
David knows he has sinned, he calls on the faithfulness on God to forgive him, for he knows that faithful, loyal love of God and knows that God is compassionate and merciful and he appeals to that. But he is also wanting to be rid of the sin, he wants it ‘blotted out’, he wants it ‘washed away’ and he wants to be ‘cleansed’ from the filth and lingering guilt of it.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
He knows his sin, he is acknowledging it, he is facing it, calling it for what it is, not trying to cover it up or justify it.
Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight;
so You are right in Your verdict & justified when You judge.
As he falls on his knees confessing his sin, he realises that really it is against God Himself that he has sinned, the lack of trust, the fear, the self-reliance, the taking of what we want and want now are all sins against God.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation & grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
Sin, comes between us and God, it mars that relationship we have with Him, we lose that connection, that sense of His presence with us. David knows that and that is what he is praying for here, that his relationship with God would be restored. Is that what we long for? Not just for the forgiveness of our sin, but that our friendship, our relationship with God would be sweet with nothing in the way marring it, not our sin and not our guilt.
Friends, let us keep short accounts with God. When we sin, let us promptly admit it, promptly confess, promptly make any amends required and promptly seek our relationship with God to be restored, to be sweet.
Joining again today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s word is: Progress
I like to see progress, it is encouraging. Doing a huge pile of ironing and seeing it going down is seeing progress. When inputting a pile of data into a spreadsheet you can see your progress as you work through each entry. Some on-line survey’s show you your progress so that you know you are nearly finished and will keep on going to the end.
But what about spiritual progress? That is not so easy to track is it? Infact probably we are the last ones to be able to see our own progress, our own transforming to becoming more like Christ.
But what if progress looks like weakness? What if progress is shown by more reliance on the Lord? What if progress is being able to Praise through the pain? What if it is us in our desperation crying out to the Lord?
We may not see it, we may not feel it as progress, but the starting point could be us coming to the end of ourselves.
If so, dear friend, then let us press on, one dependent step at a time.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I presson to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
We are finishing off a study in the book of Acts in my bible study group and I have been struck in these last chapters of how God’s plans to get Paul to Rome came to fruition!
We see first of all in Chapter 21 that Paul had a mind to go to Jerusalem even though he was warned that he would meet strong opposition & imprisonment there.
Then in Chapter 23:11:
“The Lord stood near Paul and said, ‘have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome”
Hardly had the Lord given Paul this “Word” than Paul was arrested and sent to Caesarea, not Rome! Two years Paul was in prison in Caesarea! Two years!! What happened to that Word, that Promise, that Vision of going to Rome during that time?
Eventually he gets to speak with Pro Counsel Festus, Paul declaring his innocence at the false charges laid against him, he appeals to Caesar!! Yah! On his way to Rome at last? Well not quite!
There is a long journey ahead, it takes time to prepare, time to get a ship organised which will take prisoners, then they needed to wait for a gap in the weather! Unfortunately, they chose the wrong gap and a violent storm came in catching them, battering them, instilling fear and terror into them. And Paul? Well he had Jesus in the boat with him and he wasn’t worried! Again God comes and reassures Paul:
“Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar!” (Acts27:24)
That is still the promise. It still stands. Delays are nothing in God’s timing, but used to refine us. And storms – they strengthen our trust as we hold on to Jesus. Shipwreck – nothing will thwart God’s plans!
We may face all these things, delays, obstacles, seemingly impossible closed doors, YET, yet God. God has a plan and it will be fulfilled.
Those delays, those obstacles not only do they make me quake with fear and trembling, they make me doubt, they make me doubt, “did God really say …“; was this really a word from the Lord?. I doubt my calling, I doubt God’s ability to see me through, I doubt that it will come to pass. How? How can it? It is impossible.
Yet with God all things are possible!
Delays are not God’s denials. Obstacles are but stepping stones.
As God calls, so shall He equip, so shall He prepare the way, so shall He bring us to fruition, so shall He fulfill His promises, so shall He fulfill His plans.
If we have a call, if we have been given a “heavenly vision”, then keep to it dear sister. Hold it before the Lord. Remember He will bring it to fruition and He will be with us every step of that way no matter the delays or obstacles we face before the fulfillment!
The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand,
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Respect.
Respect is something we all wish for, don’t always get and don’t always earn!
But we want to be respected as a person, we want to be heard, we want our opinions to matter, we want our needs to be met in a dignified and respected way. This is most seen, and most needed in our Care Homes which have been very much been under the spotlight in recent times during this Corona Virus Pandemic.
I believe since we are all made in the image of God, we all have the right to be respected, to be treated well, to be loved even. When do I see Jesus doing this for others? When he washed their feet.
the evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13: 2-5
Dirty, prideful, sinful, corrupted men they may have been, but Jesus got down on his knees and respectfully, lovingly washed their feet.
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early and stay up late,toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
As we start to rebuild our lives, our homes, our work lives, our industries, our services, our country, we must build on God’s ways, God’s principles, God’s justices, God’s mercy, according to God’s laws, for if we don’t then really it is all in vain, and it all may come tumbling down amongst us again.
Unless we build our homes surrendered to God it is all in vain, no matter how beautiful we make them.
Unless we build our churches on the love of God it is all in vain and they will not be the places of refuge and worship they should be.
Unless our defences, our safety is trusting in God it is all in vain for no security is found except in God alone.
Unless our industry and services are built on the principles & justices of God, then it is all in vain for greed and corruption will quickly leak in and spread insidiously among the people.
Unless our work lives are surrendered to God and we work as if serving Him then it is all in vain, all our labour and burning the candle at both ends is in vain; even if we amass a bundle of wealth and material possessions, it is all vain and gives fleeting pleasure.
Unless our lives are centred and surrendered to God and His ways, we will never find our peace, our resting place.
Unless the Lord …..
The Lord …
Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.
Let us build with God, let us build as God directs, let us build according to His ways, let us trust in Him alone for His providence, His supplies, His wisdom, His mercy and His love.
I have been pondering recently our different voices and how not only have we all got a story to tell, but that we tell it in our own way with our own ‘voice’.
Each story is different, each voice is different.
The ability for others to receive a story and to hear a voice differs from one to the other.
Sometimes it is hard to share our stories, they may contain shame, they may not be pleasant and they certainly make us vulnerable when we open up and share. However, I believe in the power of story, I believe it is in our stories that we find connection with others and it is in connection that we find grace to heal and bring relief.
But just as each of these stories are individualistic, so too are our voices, they contain our own special emphasis and nuance, they bring something of ‘us’ into the story, they personalize the story.
So how do we want to speak out our story? In shame and whispers? Or with grace and humility knowing that the One who writes our stories, is the One who redeems our stories and is the One who asks us to speak them out. Speak out the story of His redemption, speak out the story of His Love, speak out the story of His graces which reaches us in the depths and heights and midst of the messing middles.
Tell out His story which He is writing in our lives and do it with heads and hands raised high, giving the glory to the author & finisher of our story. Tell it out with voices full of confidence in our God, tell it out with awe, tell it with joy, tell it with the voice the Author has given us.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
During the Covid-19 Pandemic, lots of questions have been asked about ‘where is God in this?’. Well as we reflect on Psalm 19, we will see that God, as always has been and is revealing Himself in both the Creation and through the Bible.
“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftmanship.
Day after Day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or word, their voice is never heard. YET their message has gone throughout the earth and their words to all the world.”
Day and night, sunrise and sunset, God, our creator paints the skies, His glory is seen, His craftmanship displayed; the order and structure of His creation revealed to all.
When we see a beautiful sunset or sunrise our reaction is one of awe at such intricate beauty, whether we turn up or not God still puts on that display, day after day, night after night they make Him known, pointing to His glory.
“God has made a home in the heavens for the sun, it bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after His wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”
We see the sun pointing to God eager to burst out and be seen! Often here the sun is hidden behind the clouds, but it is still there, still doing it tour of duty, still pointing and reminding us that God is with us, reigning supreme in His universe.
“The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living”.
Just as God reveals Himself in creation, so too does He reveal Himself in His Word, our Bible. We see His glory, His craftmanship in creation and we see that same attention to detail and beauty as He shows us how to live good, balanced, healthy lives lived the right way with Him through His Word.
“Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true, each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward to those who obey them”.
Those laws of God, they are good! They are for our benefit! Just as we teach a child good, safe ways of living and lay down boundaries for behaviour, so does God do for us and they are good, they are sweet ways, they are to be desired and they are to be followed!.
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free from guilt and innocent of great sin.
Yes, God’s Word will point out our sin, it will show us our wrong thinking, our wrong ways, but it also shows us God’s forgiveness, God’s mercy and His love extended towards us in that He still loves us, despite our sin!
“May the words of my mouth & the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock & my redeemer”.
This is an appropriate prayer to end with, that our words & thoughts would be in alignment with God’s. And a final declaration of trust – O Lord, You are my rock, You are my redeemer.
What about you? Have you seen God in creation? Have you seen Him in His Word? Same God, same ways, still speaking day after day, night after night. Do you see Him on the throne, reigning over His universe and do you trust in Him, call Him your Lord and Saviour?
This post is written to link with #Five Minute Friday: write for five minutes on a one-word prompt. The prompt today is “ENDURE”.
To endure = to bear without resistance or with patience.
And there my dear friends is my problem! I don’t seem to be able to bear with patience or without resistance! My first instinct at the first sign of trouble, pain or suffering is always resistance! I don’t want this trouble in my life, I want it out, finished with, never to return. I don’t want to endure hardship, I would much rather have an easy life, so I don’t endure with patience, I fret, I worry, I am cranky, I berate God with ‘why me’!
I have yet to learn grace to endure with patience, grace to bear without resistance.
Despite the fact God has taught me again and again about acceptance and surrender, it doesn’t seem to come easy for me; there is always an initial resistance.
I envy those who seem to bear with great patience the many sorrows of life, those who seem to accept both the good and bad things that come with the same grace and equanimity.
I long to grow in that grace, grace which endures, grace to rejoice in the enduring, grace to accept, grace to surrender without the struggle, without the resistance,
“Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” (Job 2:10)
I have had a very safe and blessed Lockdown period, so it is the ‘post Lockdown’ phase which I dread, dread going back into the world, into busyness, into stress. I have taken solace today from the 23rd Psalm in the New Living Translation:
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
I have all that I need, even in the Lockdown, even when supplies were low, I have had all that I have needed.
He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength, He guides me along the right path, bringing honour to His Name.
This describes what Lockdown has been for me – a time of rest, a time just to sit and enjoy the green meadows, a time to reflect, study, write, a time to have my spiritual energy renewed.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod & staff protect and comfort me.
I have numerous fears & anxieties which raise their ugly heads when I think about the ‘post Lockdown’ period, but I remember that I don’t need to be afraid because no matter what, no matter the next valley, how deep or dark that may be, or what it will hold, it will be okay because the Lord Himself, the One who has let me rest besides those peaceful streams & meadows, He will still be there beside me. And when I am confused or have decisions to make His Word & Spirit will guard & guide me in the way to go.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honour me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
So even though the Devil knows my weak spots and knows exactly how to play on my fears – still even there, even then I can feast on the promises of God and my cup will overflow with His blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
No matter what the next phase of post Lockdown will look like, God’s goodness and unfailing love will PURSUE me, actively pursue me even in the yet unknown.
The Lord is my shepherd, He will give me all I need, He will be with me, He will pursue me. I can trust in Him.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday Group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: People
I live in a rural, remote part of Scotland and don’t see a lot of people at the best of times, but especially not recently due to Lockdown with the Corona Virus. So when I hear figures of numbers of people who have died during the virus, I find it hard to get my head round such huge numbers, what does that even look like and how does that equate to individuals?
Then I think of the huge numbers of the redeemed standing before the throne:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Again such huge numbers, but what a joyful mix of people from every race, every tribe, a huge tapestry of colours of humans beings gathered from around the world. A huge symphony of voices raised together in Praise and Worship. Peoples, people, individuals whom God has loved, touched, chosen, called, redeemed, all joined together in Praise!
Peoples gathered together. Peoples joined together. Peoples praising together. Wow! cann’t get my head round that either! But I want to be there, I want to be part of that number, I want to join in that Praise, I want to be part of the People of God.
Joining today again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Compromise
This is a hard one because often Compromise is based on circumstances, situations, feelings, people, pressures etc. it can almost feel arbitrary.
Is compromise a good thing? It can be. Is compromise necessary? It could be.
So what do we do when things are arbitrary, when there are many variables to take into consideration before we form opinions or beliefs let alone know when to compromise on them.
We look to the Lord who changes not. We look to God who IS. He just IS. He is absolute. He is absolute truth, He is absolute righteous, He is absolute just, He is absolute faithful, He is absolute steadfast, He is absolute goodness, He is absolute love, He is absolute.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
There is no variation or shadow of turning with Him because He is absolute.
So when faced with life choices and dilemma’s let us look to God, the absolute judge of all things and align our choices and lives to Him and His ways.
Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday Group of writers, who write together on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: Worth.
How do we determine how much something is worth? For example, what is it that makes something worth spending time and money on?
Is there always a cost in worth? Like something worth waiting for, or investing in something or someone? Do we deem something/someone more worthy, the more it actually costs us, the more we invest in it?
I am thinking about Jesus and how much He invested of Himself into our Salvation. It wasn’t just a passing glance, nor a casual committment, no it cost Him His life! That then must mean that for Him I am worth it, for Him I am worth the pain, the cost, the death. That is a wow! Really? I am worth that much to Him? That is actually quite mind-boggling! I don’t have that much of a high self-esteem and the fact that someone could love me that much, when I’m not even that loveable, is totally amazing.!
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: How
In my Ladies’ Bible Study we have been studying the Woman at the Well in Samaria and when Jesus offers her living water she is puzzled. How would He get this water, where would it come from? He had no bucket and the well was deep – two obstacles stood in His way, two impossibilities.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.
”11“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?
But with God all things are possible! His ways are Higher than our ways, His thoughts Higher than our thoughts! We may not know how He will do something, we may not know where our supply may come from, but we can trust the one who promised that He could and would supply all our needs and that He would be with us.
We may be facing some obstacles, there may be impossibilities in the way BUT God! We may not not the “hows, whys or wherefores,” but we may know the Great I AM, the God who will provide us with living water from Himself, the very source of life.
He will open the way and provide the means, we don’t know how and we don’t know when, but we trust His Word, we trust Him.
Joining today again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, where we write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is Stay.
We have seen and said that word a lot recently – STAY home, STAY safe, STAY a safe distance.
But what does that word mean? The definition in Collins Dictionary is: 1)to stop going forward : pause. 2) to stop doing something : cease. 3) to continue in a place or condition
So how can we apply that to us today? Here are a few suggestions:
STOP where you are. Don’t go forward, don’t go back, just stop.
PAUSE and pray. Take a pause, take a breath, take stock, take time to look at a situation, time to pray, time to reflect
CEASE going along your own way, under the illusion that you are in control, cease your own self-seeking, cease your worry and anxieties.
STAY in the Lord, stay with Him, stay in His Word, Stay in His paths. Stay in His ways.
When all is in turmoil, when darkness seems to cover the land, then go to that quiet place in the Lord and stay there, keep your mind fixed on Him, your eyes looking to Him and your heart aligned with His. STAY.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Forward
For me just now as we approach the lifting of ‘Lockdown’ my biggest fear and regret will be if we just go back to the way things were before, back to our old ways of living, working and worshipping.
Instead my biggest desire is that we move forward on to new things, that having taken stock, we move forward in the way we live and move around this earth, that we find new, creative, meaningful working enivornments and working lives with balance.
And also most importantly I want us to move forward in church!! No longer shackled by the bondage of traditions, but really becoming a church of the people, a church of the community, where the relevance of the gospel is seen and known in everyday life. I want to move forward in God, finding new ways to worship, new ways to serve, new ways to encourage, new ways to BE the church.
Sharing today a post I wrote for our Church’s Peace in the Storm Daily Devotions:
I have a friend who is overcome by grief just now.
Not just the grief of recent weeks and recent losses, but all the griefs and all the losses and all the hurts from all the years of her life. She is completely engulfed.
I feel for her, my heart aches for her, but I am unable to reach her at this time.
The problem with being engulfed like that is that it is all-consuming, it is all we think about, from the moment we raise our weary head to the moment we put it down again. There is no light or spark at the moment, nor even light at the end of the tunnel, just grief.
Total, engulfing grief. Grief from one day’s end to another. Grief which overcomes. Grief which wearies and saps our strength and yes even our faith.
Where do we go with our grief? Who will lift this grief from us? Who will carry it for us?
The Prophet Isaiah speaks of Jesus when he says:
“He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Only to Jesus can we go with such grief.
Only Jesus will lift this grief from us.
Only Jesus will carry it for us.
I know it is hard for my friend to even look out of her grief enough to be able to look up and look to Jesus. But one look at a time, one tear at a time, one sigh at a time, one lifting of a prayer at a time and Jesus will come, that man of sorrows who is acquainted, who knows all about grief, will come and ease and lift that burden of sorrow and pain and grief.
My friend, you are not alone in your grief, Jesus is there, Jesus is with you in it and Jesus will help you carry it.
Normal through the eyes of a 3 & half year old Collie:
Hi, my name is Glenn and you ask me what is normal? Well, I have no idea.
When I came to this house I was brought by a big lad and a mistress. The lad was my trainer, my friend, my playmate, but after a while he left home (sad). That left just the mistress and sometimes the master, but he seemed to be here for 2 weeks and then gone for two weeks, then occasionally a young lady would come home, she would give me lots of fuss and cuddles and play with me. Then they would all go away again and it would just me and the mistress. Some days I would be left alone, other days I would go to work with her. Some days I would have to go in the car on a journey, [which I still don’t like] but yeah often those journeys were short and meant a long walk and I would often get to meet other dogs! [though not all liked to play with me].
Just now my mistress is home all the time, yeah!! The young lady is here all the time too!! Double yeah!! and the master for the past year or so has been home most of the time, going out to work in the morning and coming back in the evening, though sometimes he goes out in the evening and back in the morning!??! As for the young lad? I haven’t seen him for months, where is he?? I miss him.
So basically I have had to learn just to accept all this coming and going and going and staying! I have no idea from one day to the next who will be here or when, when I will be walked or taken out. I just keep my eye on the mistress! I follow her around, she has some consistency so where she goes I go. I know her body language now, I know by what coat she puts on whether it is a walk, or the pen for me. But importantly she knows me, she knows my body language, she knows what I need and what I want, whether that is attention, food or outside or when I am scared or unsure.
She would say that she has a Master too and that she follows Him, where He leads her she goes, and He doesn’t seem to do ‘normal’, so she has to keep her eyes on Him incase there is a change of plan or direction. Her Master is always there and He knows what she needs and provides for Her, He takes care of her and looks out for her and she can run to Him when she is scared or unsure.
There is no normal here, everyday is a new day, every day is a fresh challenge, but also the opportunity for new things and fun!!! Everyday is keeping your eyes on the Master.
Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is Refrain.
Refrain = chorus, the part of a song where a soloist is joined by a group of singers.
Now I am no singer, and don’t always remember all the words of songs or hymns, but the chorus .. it sticks, it comes back to me, I remember them. May get a bit lost with words and tunes for the rest of the song, but I usually manage the chorus!
So what is my chorus today? What is the refrain of my life today?
Well strangely enough I was reading earlier from Revelation Chapter 4 and there are two Refrains there, two Choruses which we can sing over and over again, which when joined with a miriad of other believers is going to sound phenominal!
Holy, Holy, Holy
is the Lord God almighty
Who was and is and is to come
You are worthy, our Lord and God
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.
God is still on His Throne, He is all-powerful, all-wise, all-seeing, all-knowing, Victorious and King!
So today what will my refrain be? One of Praise and trust in the all Mighty and Glorious King, or will I allow fears and anxieties to be my refrain? I know which one will bring me peace, I know which one will still my heart, I know which one will lighten my step and allow me to walk in joy and liberty.
Sharing today a piece I wrote for our Church’s daily devotional called Peace In the Storm
What are you praying for today?
I am praying for wisdom.
I am praying for wisdom for those in the Health Service, tracking this virus and responding to it.
I am praying for wisdom for those in care homes that they would remain clear headed in the midst of panic and frustration and be able to find ways to keep staff and patients safe.
I am praying for wisdom for our MPs, that they would make wise decisions that benefit the people they serve.
I am praying for wisdom for Bosses/Executives in our workplaces that they would seek guidance as to best working practices and not just go back to old ways. For small businesses that they would be able to resurrect their fledgling enterprises.
I am praying for our church leaders, that they would seek God for new ways to do church once we are back in our buildings, that the buildings would not become boundaries or barriers to people.
I am praying for wisdom for our Community Leaders that the care shown at this time will be extended as a ‘new norm’.
I am praying for myself, that I would be seeking God for today and for tomorrow, for next steps, next opportunities, that I would align myself to His ways.
I am praying for us all, that we would seek the wisdom from Above, wisdom from God as to how to look after His planet, and everyone in it. That we would not rely on our own understanding but look to God for His ways and His guidance and that we would align ourselves to those ways and work to put them into practice.
What are you needing wisdom for today?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
I am a very task-orientated person and so don’t like distractions. Let me finish what I am doing first and then I’ll sit and talk with you, let me tick off the items on my list before I sit down and be still.
So I wonder if in my task-focus whether I am missing out not only in human fellowship, but fellowship with God. I want to finish something before I listen, before I take on anything else. I want to finish my agenda before I listen to God’s. If this is so then I need to be distracted by God, I need Him to break through my task list and distract me with His Word, with His presence, with His guidance, with His command.
Then the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
And Samuel answered,”Speak, for Your Servant is listening”.
1 SAMUEL 3:10
I need to put my lists aside, I need to be willing to listen, I need to be willing to be distracted from my own things and be distracted by the Lord and say, “Speak Lord, for I am listening.”
I took the above photograph on my walk this morning and to me it sums up this word perspective!
Down below in the misty flats I am often fumbling around, seeking direction, not sure what I am supposed to be doing/thinking. My perspective is limited to what I see in front of me, my situations, my struggles, my circumstances.
But up high above the mist you gain a whole new perspective! You see the bigger picture! You see that there is a whole different surround from the one you see in the misty flats.
So today my prayer is that the Lord will ‘make my feet like hinds feet’ and that He will set me secure upon the high places, where I may see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly and follow Him more nearly. Where my perspective is influenced by eternity, and where my sight is clear unhampered by the mist of circumstances.
“The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Another.
I looked up the word ‘another’ in a bible dictionary to see if it occurred at all in the bible, seemingly in the NIV version it occurs 343 times!!!
Instances of another child, another battle, another plague, another sin, another murder and for Noah another day stuck in the Ark!!
So for us, what is our ‘another’? Another day of sameness, another loneliness, another sorrow, another worry, another anxiety? These things are real and felt, but I want to draw our attention to another kind of another!
One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.
When this Covid-19 is past, and we talk about it, tell stories of what we did, how we passed the time, how we coped, may we also tell of God and how He has shown Himself during this time of crises, how He has provided, cared, sustained and walked with us through it.
Whilst I too feel the restrictions and sorrows of the Pandemic, Lock-down and uncertainty, I also am really excited about the spread of the gospel in these days. Homes and hearts which were once closed to God, are now live-streaming church services straight into their homes! There is an openness to hear of the things of God and the gospel is reaching ‘every nation and every land’ in a way it hasn’t been able to before.
So I leave you with this Psalm and pray that you will be able to know it and repeat it from one generation to another:
A psalm of praise. Of David. Psalm 145
1 I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. 14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name or ever and ever.
Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Patience
It is that time of year of sowing little tiny seeds and waiting for them to germinate so that they can be planted out and eagerly wait for them to grow and produce and become a harvest. But if there is one thing I have learned over the few years I have been growing my own vegetables is that you can’t rush it!!
You can’t rush that germination process, each seed takes its own time according to its variety and type of plant. I have had whole packets of seeds not germinate at all, and had to start over. I don’t know if it has been a bad batch, or the soil not right, or it was too cold, I started too early and should have had patience to wait for the right conditions.
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.
In this strange time of waiting, this time of ‘Lock down’, which we are in just now, we want it to be over, we want to get on with our lives, yet the Lord has His work to do and we can’t rush Him! He is sowing seeds in people’s hearts and lives, we could spoil the whole batch by trying to rush through. Be patient. Stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near.
Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Now
For many people their ‘now’ is actually a very long space of time, they do one task, and then ask, ‘what am I going to do now’? From having very little time, or no time to do anything, suddenly there is lots of time. What do we do with our time, how do we fill our ‘nows’?
Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on our stewardship of time, how we usually fill our days: with good things, necessary things, godly things even, but are they the things we should be doing? Do we need to restock and think of the amount of time we would have spent out at meetings, and now actually we can spend in contemplation? Rushing from one committee meeting to another, pressed by the decisions to be made whereas now we can take a step back, pray and ask God for His better way?
How to we fill our nows? We have a choice, many choices, but one thing I would suggest is Praise. Praise lifts the heart, praise lifts the mind, praise exults God, praise it not about us.
So take one of your ‘now’ moments and choose Praise:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven; To his feet thy tribute bring; Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Evermore his praises sing: Alleluia, alleluia! Praise the everlasting King.Praise him for his grace and favor To our fathers in distress; Praise him still the same for ever, Slow to chide and swift to bless: Alleluia, alleluia! Glorious in his faithfulness.Father-like, he tends and spares us; Well our feeble frame he knows; In his hand he gently bears us, Rescues us from all our foes.…
Joining again today with the #FiveMinuteFriday group of Writers, where we write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes flat. This week’s prompt is: Adjust.
I don’t know about you, but I take a while to adjust to new things, new ideas, new ways of thinking etc. I like time to ponder, time to think things through, time to take a leap from one idea to another, time to make adjustments.
But at present there is no time, things are happening too fast, I can’t keep up, I felt as if I was in a bit of an overload situation this week and that then makes me feel panicky. There has been no time to adjust from one way of living to another, no time to adjust from one way of working to another, no time to adjust from one way of doing church to another! It is a bit like being on the proverbial wheel – stop I want to get off! It is all happening too fast for me!
So what can we do? What is God saying to me in the midst of this daily changing world?
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Be still. Calm yourself. Life your eyes heavenward. Be still and know that I am God.
Be still – God is in control.
Be still – Know that He is God, trust it believe it, declare it.
In the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the change, in the midst of making those quick and necessary adjustments – Be still. Be still and know. Be still and know that He is God. Be still and know that He is God and that He will be exalted among the nations. Be still and know that He is God and that He will be exalted among the nations and exalted on the earth. Be still.
Hello & welcome, today I am joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday Group. We gather every week to freewrite for five minutes flat on a single writing prompt. This week’s prompt is: Tomorrow.
Well, in a week that has seen more change with each passing hour it is impossible to predict what tomorrow may bring! At work all week every hour brought e-mails regarding the changing situation, changing plans, changing procedures till now – lock-down!
It is certainly a time of trial, a time to dig deep, a time to really place our trust in the Living Eternal God who changes not and a time to take each day one day at a time.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Tomorrow will have its own problems, its own challenges and sometimes we may worry about those and all the “what-ifs”, we fear whether we will we have the resilience to cope with one more thing on top of all the other things.
But Christ promised strength for TODAY, bread for TODAY. He promised that He would equip us for every good work which was the theme for me for New Year (Equipped).
In what appears to be the last days, facing trials of an unprecedented nature, does our faith fly out the window and we give in to the fear, or are we standing strong, knowing our God has prepared us for such a time as this? We are not exempt from the trials, we don’t sail through unscathed, we are human too, we feel the pain of loss of work, loss of services, loss of life as we have known it and even sadly loss of loved ones. We feel that, we go through that, but we still stand knowing that :
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
We place our hope in God, our hope for tomorrow, our hope for the future, our hope for what is still to come we place in God knowing His love has been poured out into our hearts and that will sustain us in the days and tomorrows ahead.
Hello & welcome, today I am joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday Group. We gather every week to freewrite for five minutes flat on a single writing prompt. This week’s prompt is: Less.
Today in light of the Corona virus Pandemic I want to think about the Panic surrounding it. As Christians, we are not to give in to panic, we know the God who is in control and who is never caught out, never surprised by events and never panics because He has it all under control.
What does God tell us to do:-
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
Panic Less – Humble more
Panic Less – Pray more
Panic Less – Seek God’s Face
Panic Less – Turn from your wicked ways of ignoring God
Panic Less – God will hear
Panic Less – God will forgive
Panic Less – God will heal our land.
So for every panic less there is more to be found in God.
More just ways
Let us turn our panics down, let us count them less and let us trust the Living God, turning to Him, seeking Him and interceeding for our land.
Welcome today when I am joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday Group. We gather every week to freewrite for five minutes flat on a single writing prompt. This week’s prompt is: Table.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
We all know and love Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want .. .. but when we pause and look at each clause there is more to it.
Verse 5 – God prepares a table for us, where/when? – in the presence of our enemies. When we are faced with temptations, when we face our inner demons, when life is tough, when others are letting us down, when we let ourselves down, when we listen to the lies of satan who is telling us that we are not up to much, that my friend is when and where God is preparing a table for us. A place to recline, a place to be fed, a place to be nourished, cherished, nurtured, refreshed.
At that table of refreshment, God feeds our souls, He wipes away our weariness and restores us to right relationship with Himself. And we rise and leave that table we are filled, cleansed, refreshed, with our cup of blessing overflowing.
So today when we are weary, when we are in need, when we are being buffeted by the trials of life, let us come to the table which God has prepared for us and allow Him to minister to us there…
God prepares a table and my cup overflows with His goodness and grace.
Welcome today when I am joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday Group. We gather every week to freewrite for five minutes flat on a single writing prompt. This week’s prompt is: Before.
For there to be abefore there as to be an after
So for me I could divide my life up into;
Before I got married
Before I had children
Before I left for a remote island
After I got married
After I had children
After I returned from the island
But then I am missing out the life which happened inbetween , missing out on the messy middle, the ‘inbetween’ the ‘during’ process, or even the enduring process. God has been there in the ‘befores’, God has been there in the afters and God is most certainly there in the ‘durings’.
So whatever your Before, or after, whatever your ‘during’ or even ‘enduring’, rest assured that it is the same God who sees you through to the afters.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
Welcome today when I am joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday Group. We gather every week to freewrite for five minutes flat on a single writing prompt. This week’s prompt is: Risk
I am so not a risk taker! I like to play it safe. I like to know what is going to happen, I like to have it all planned out! Yet the path of faith is often not like that and at times it seems as if we are having to take a risk, a ‘leap of faith’ to move out of our comfort zone and trust in God.
When I think of the great Bible Hero’s they all took risks: Abram to leave the land he was in, Moses in leading the people out of Egypt, Esther to go before the king, Ruth to follow her mother-in-law, Daniel not to bow down before the king. Each took a risk, each exercised their faith, each put their trust in God.
And yet, and yet was it really such a risk? Or was it more moving on in assurance? Were they assured of God’s faithfulness, did they know their God and know that He wouldn’t let them down, so that it hardly seemed like a risk at all?
What about me, what about you? Does following, trusting, believing seem like a risk to you or are you just walking out with God your faithful Father, placing your hand in His and trusting where He may lead you?
Joining today again with the Five Minute Friday Group of Writers, where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is: Experience.
As I approach my 6th decade, I have quite a bit of life experience behind me, so I want to share with you 3 things experience has taught me.
I have learnt the wisdom behind the saying “this too shall pass“. I have been in circumstances which I thought would define me for life, ways I thought my life would always be. But praise God, those things and times have passed and I have seen God redeem those very situations.
I have learnt not to compare my situation, my inside with those of others’ external outside. They may seem to have it all together, they may seem to be having a far easier time than I am, but actually I don’t know. I don’t know the struggles and trials they are actually facing behind those seemingly ‘smooth’ external circumstances.
And I have learnt through the ups and downs, through the trials and blessings, that God is faithful. As I have seen Him work, show up, strengthen and guide, then that encourages me and grows my faith in my God who is faithful and in control of all our situations.
And Praise Be, I have learnt that God is not finished with us yet! Another page to turn, another chapter to be written and lived.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Joining with the Five Minute Friday Group of Writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is: Talent
Some people are SO talented aren’t they? They can sing, draw, paint, dance, and just seem to excel at everything. That leaves me feeling a bit flat, I can’t do any of those things, doesn’t that mean I dont have any talents? This can lead to a lot of negative, unhealthy introspection.
But if I say I have no talent, then I feel as if I am denying God, the creator who has made us in His own image and has made us creative, He has given us talent and to deny that talent is to negate the gifts He has given each one of us.
They may not be up-front, obvious gifts or talents, but like our personalities may be hidden, shy, retiring. It may just be a knack of saying the right thing at the right time, the knack of making scones and being able to take them to some club or meeting, or it might be the knack of remembering people’s birthdays and important dates. What ever that ‘knack’ is that you have you are to use it.
Use it as if working for the Lord. Don’t wory about what people think, don’t worry about it not being as good as someone else’s talent. Just use what you have, and use it well, and use it for God and the good of others.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Joining today with FiveMinuteFriday Group where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. This week’s word is: Sacrifice.
The dictionary definition of sacrifice = an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
So the thing about sacrifice is that it is costly! We are giving up something we hold dear, something or someone of utmost importance in our life we are sacrificing for Jesus, for something He is calling us to do, for some act of service, or act of Praise.
One of the hardest sacrifices is to Praise in the midst of pain, to give up our own self-pity, our own feelings, to lay them aside and to Praise the Lord. Or perhaps it is to forgive someone a wrong they have done to us and we have hung on to that hurt for a long time, till it has flourished and taken on a root of bitterness. It is hard to give up those things, hard to sacrifice them so that we can move on in God, move on to new things, move on to Praise.
In 2 Samuel Chapter 24 we read of a time in David’s life when David had to give time, energy and money into intercession for his people. He knew it would cost him personally, but he knew that he needed to make that cost, he did not want to cheat on God and give Him something which cost him nothing:
Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. Your Majesty, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the Lord your God accept you.” But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.
2 samuel 24:22-25
I love this song by Matt Redman, the Place of Praise, the chorus:
I will not bring that which costs me nothing I will not bring that which costs me nothing If the highest praise is a sacrifice And the greatest song is to give my life then I will not bring that which costs me nothing
What will be my sacrifice to the Lord today? What will be your sacrifice to the Lord today?
I am joining today again with the Five Minute Friday group where we write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s Word is: Direction
I think there can be a lot of pressure at this time, the start of a new year, to think that you have to know what direction you are taking or even be changing direction.
But often you start the year as you finished the last year, facing the same way without specific goals or knowledge of what the New Year will bring. And who of us does know what the year will bring? Circumstances change, situations arise halfway through the year which may cause us to pause, even turn around, or just face a different dirrection, but until that situation arises what are we to do?
God has told us what he requires of us:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
With that in mind, our face set towards God and our hearts focused then we walk on, one step at a time, one day at a time, one month at a time throughout the year. We walk in the light He has give us for that next step, and then the light for the next step. They may not be huge steps, they may not be hugely illuminated, but we walk on in that light. And when we look back at the year we see that indeed God has guided our steps in His ways.