Joining with the #Five Minute Friday writing community who write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Enable
I like this word ‘enable‘ because it conjures up for me the picture that whilst you can’t do something given the right set of tools, encouragement, teaching, learning, power, help etc, that you are then able to do the thing.
But most of all I am thankful that my God enables me to ‘do all things through Him who strengthens me’. He leads me out of my comfort zone and enables me to go beyond that which I would normally go and He enables me to do the thing He has asked of me. He has created me for ‘good works’ and He enables me to do that, even for difficult people. He calls us to preach the gospel/tell our redemption stories and He is teaching me slowly how to do that.
I am thankful that He does not leave me to my own lack and limited abilities, but that He takes me weak, lacking in faith and fearful and He enables me. He enables me to walk in His ways, He enables me to obey His commands; He enables me to love; to live; to give glory to Him.
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In the bible when we are called to be observant, we are being called to be mindful of the things of God, to be attentive to His Word, to heed His warnings and commands; to pay attention.
It has been on my mind a lot recently that ‘we have never been this way before’, we have never gone through a Pandemic; we have never had to be locked away from our loved ones and have our lives restricted by Lockdowns and so it is no wonder that our emotions and mental health are all over the place; no wonder we are struggling, we have never faced this before.
Then the other day I was reading this passage from the book of Joshua and noticed that the people of Israel also ‘had never been this way before’.
After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits That is, about 3,000 feet or about 900 meters between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
So what were they to do? – They were to be observant!
They had never been this way, so they were to carefully observe which way the Ark of the Covenant, the Presence of the Lord was leading them. They were to watch it, move to a place where they could see it; heed any change of direction; any veering to one side; they were to be observant to the ways of the Lord.
So for me today I need to step out to a place where I have known the presence of the Lord and I need to give careful consideration, careful observance to the way He is leading in this time of unknown. When I am walking in those unknown paths I am to give care observance to what He is doing and where He is leading.
One of the biggest things which has come out of this Pandemic and Lockdown situations is our need for kindness; our need for compassion.
We have been writing a series for our church looking at people Jesus met and how He stopped; listened; acknowledged; respected and showed compassion to those individuals. Today I share my own contribution to that series:
Today we meet a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. She was publicly dragged out and accused of her ‘crime’. She was publicly humiliated with fingers-pointing & tongues wagging; so-called friends began to withdraw away not wanting to be associated with her.
She was labelled; she was condemned.
Except by Jesus – He stood by her; He stood up for her and faced her accusers for her, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her”.
That sent them packing; some grumbling; some a bit ashamed, till there is no-one left to accuse. Jesus asks her, Where are they? Did no-one condemn you?
And then Jesus speaks the kindest words;
‘Neither do I condemn you.” I don’t condemn you either.
Jesus doesn’t condemn her, nor does He leave her where she is or has been; He delivers her from that past; from those labels; from the sin. He gives her a new life; the past has been dealt with and He says ‘go now and sin no more”. The past is gone; forgiven; not condemned; but set free.
Maybe you need to hear those words today. Maybe you have been labelled in the past and people remember; people still point the finger; tongues still wag. But Jesus doesn’t condemn you; He sets you free; He delivers you; there is new life to be found in Him.
Know today that Jesus will stand by you; Jesus will stand up for you; Jesus will face your accusers for you; Jesus will deliver you.
“Go now and from now on do not live in that sin anymore.”. Forgiven; set-free; redeemed!
Joining again today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers, today we write on the prompt ‘Once‘.
ONCE upon a time is how the stories start isn’t it? Once upon a time our stories had a start, once upon a time we were conceived and born and our stories started.
Where are we now in our stories? How many chapters on are we? Have we got to the good bit yet? Or are we still stuck in that awful nightmare of a chapter?
Are we the stars of our own stories, or do we let others take our leading place?
Would you like to skip a couple of chapters till the bad stuff is past and we get to the nice happy place?
My friend, no matter what our story is like; no matter what chapter we are on just now, we can be rest assured that if we are a Christian our stories will always, always have a happy ending!! A wonderful, glorious, victorious, happy ending. Infact not really an ending more like a wonderful eternal life of joy and praise in the Home of our Heavenly Father.
God is the God of our stories:
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
God knew our stories before they even came to be. He knows and wrote every chapter. So no matter what chapter we are in whether it is a good chapter or a hard chapter; He knows, He wrote it and he knows the ending!
So my friend, can we trust Him with our stories? Can we hang on in there till we come to a new chapter; Can we believe and hope for a happy ending?
Once upon a time God wrote our story and it will have a happy ending, let us trust Him in the inbetween chapters!
When I read this week’s Word prompt, from the #Five Minute Friday group, I immediately thought of this song from Matt Redman:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name The sun comes up It’s a new day dawning It’s time to sing Your song again Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, o my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger Your name is great and Your heart is kind For all Your goodness I will keep on singing 10,000 reasons for my heart to find Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name And on that day When my strength is failing The end draws near and my time has come Still my soul will sing Your praise unending 10,000 years and then forevermore, forevermore Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul Worship His Holy name Sing like never before, O my soul I’ll worship Your Holy name Yes, I will worship Your Holy name Lord, I’ll worship Your Holy name
The sun comes up. It’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes.
The sun comes up; faithfully everyday showing up whether I see it or not. The sun comes up after a long night. The sun comes up and it is another day. We don’t know what that day may bring; what the post may bring; what a phonecall may bring; what news we may receive; but faithfully, enduringly the sun rises and the sun sets; what we do in the between times is often up to us – not the events, but how we respond.
Do we respond with singing; do we respond with Praise; do we find 10,000 reasons still to bless the Lord? Do we still look for and find the goodness of God? Even when our strength is failing and we are weary, do we still not just bless the Lord, but bless Him as never before? Does our praise reflect our trust, our hanging on? Does our praise reflect the One we are praising?
Today, I will choose to bless the Lord, and to bless Him as I have never done before because though there are hard things in my life to deal with God is rich in love and He is slow to anger and His name is great and His heart is kind . For all His goodness I will keep on singing 10,000 reasons for my heart to find Bless the Lord,
I don’t know why but it has taken me to now, the first of February for me to feel that it is a new year, a new start and to feel hopeful again. Perhaps January is just such a long, dark month, and coming after a Lockdown Christmas and New Year with no let up, it just has been a bit of a slog.
I hadn’t actually realised that until now, until I suddenly feel hopeful! The days are longer, brighter; the snowdrops are out with the crocuses pushing through the snow and frost; spring it seems is not far, just round the corner and it makes me hopeful.
Also for the first time in years I am about to embark on some study!! Whilst in some ways that seems such a daunting thing, in another way it just seems so right and the next step on the journey. I woke up this morning with such a sense that I am where I am supposed to be and that in it’s self is no light thing!
So, I embark today on the next step, the next phase and I praise God, that even to old age and grey-hairs He is still with me, still sustaining, still leading and still filling with hope.
Joining again with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s word is: Design
I am in awe of our Creator God, the design, the intricate details which He put into His creation and into us. We see it in the detail of the petal of a flower, we see it in the colours of the grasses, we see it in the way our body functions and relies on different organs to work and I’m sure artists and physicists could explain it all far better than I can, but to me it is still wonderful!
We know and can say with the Pslamist:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well
I also believe that the Creator created us to create!!
Now we may immediately say, “Oh but I’m not artistic”. Did I say God created us to be artistic? No, God created us to create! That may well be to create fine works of art or poetry, of knitting or tapestry, or even cooking or baking.
But so many of us are much more ordinary than that and live ordinary lives, but in the midst of the ordinary we can create space for love and joy; in the midst of the ordinary we can create friendships and relationships; in the midst of the ordinary we can invite God in to create His good work within us and we can be obedient to do those good works God created us to do!
How is God calling you to create and weave His design into your life?
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is Fix.
Some people are fixers! They don’t like to see anyone in trouble, so they jump right in there to try and fix the problem!
To a certain extent we are all a bit like that especially when it comes to family, we don’t like to see those we love suffer and struggle, so we help out, we try and solve, we make ourselves available, we take on burdens, we try to fix.
But what if in fact our fixing is a hindrance to the work of God in someone’s life? What if instead of fixing we allowed someone we love to reach their rock bottom because we have the assurance that it is in that place that God will meet them. What if our constant ‘fixing’ is actually interfering and stopping them reaching that place and thus stopping that healing, restoring, redemptive work of God in their lives?
What if instead of always trying to fix, we take a step back, breathe deep and hand our loved ones and their situations over to God, trusting Him not only with the outcome but with the process too. What if we trusted our loved ones over to God?
If God can do it for us, He can do it for others, He is more than able to do it for our loved ones. May we have that courage and strength to leave the fixing to God, knowing that always ‘underneath are the everlasting arms‘ of grace.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group to write for 5 minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Fresh.
It is really hard to stay fresh during a Lockdown – same people, same places, no routine, no plans, nothing to keep you fresh.
I have a very extroverted friend and she needs goals, so during lockdown she signs up for zoon exercise classes, zoom choirs, zoom learning etc. I always feel very lazy besides her because i just cannot be bothered with those things, they seem to zap the energy out of me as opposed to energize me, which they do for her.
So for me, I try to find a little routine like Thursday night is Pie Night!! Friday night is cocktail night!! I try a different walk with the dog, or go round a loop the other direction – not much I know, but sometimes even the little things can make a difference and bring a bit of freshness to the otherwise ‘same old, same old’.
Spiritually we are told is Psalm 92 (my Psalm of the year I think, always finding myself back here!):
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright: He is my Rock and there is no wickedness in Him.
So we are able to keep fresh and green and flourish, planted firmly in the Word, Praising the Lord and proclaiming He is my Rock! It may not be easy, it may take some effort, but we need to keep digging in, keep those roots going down till we come to the waters of life and drink deeply there, till we flourish once again and our drooping, wilting leaves again perk up and shine fresh and green.
Woohoo! #Five Minute Friday is back for 2021 where we write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is- time!
“Time and tide wait for no man” is the saying, so I thought I would compare time to the tide today.
The tide flows in and out, in and out, ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Constant and yet different.
Sometimes it seems to come rushing in, sweeping everything in its way, other times it is long and lazy.
There are the ebb and flows of normal tides which just come and go almost unnoticed, probably like most of our days, just in and out, in and out.
Other times there are big tides, called Spring tides, and they are high, high tides bringing up with them and depositing a load of garbage in its wake. Then they go out, low, low and we find treasures, food even. Life can be like that, a lot of garbage seems to be swept up, sometimes an inordinately amount of it for us to deal with, but we can also find treasure at such time.
Big and low, small and insignificant, ebb and.flow.
Time comes, time goes.
Perhaps we need to learn from the tide and just go with the flow whatever that is in the season of our lives we are in. Go with the big rushes, go with the garbage clean up, go with the slow everyday and always be looking for the treasure!!
I have heard/read many people say how glad they are that 2020 is now past, good riddance to it, ‘we survived it”. Many of course haven’t and for many of us we have been holding on with our finger-tips. But what if we were made for more?
So often our days/weeks are just about surviving, getting by, coping, but surely we were made for more than this? Made to thrive and not just survive?
I did it myself, at the start of the week I’d look ahead to all the tasks, work, meetings etc and my goal was actually just to survive, just to get through the week and I look forward to that space , that gap at the end of the week when I could draw breath, breathe a sigh of relief, phew I’ve survived! Then 2020 happened! However, the past year brought for me more time, more space, more breathing space.
Survive means to continue to live or exist, especially after coming close to dying or being destroyed or after being in a difficult or threatening situation.
The verb thrive means to flourish or grow vigorously
So the difference is to barely come out of a situation unscathed or to flourish within that situation.
So how do you thrive in a global pandemic?
How do you thrive the pressures of Lockdown?
How do I thrive when there are nagging doubts plaguing me?
How do I thrive when assailed and buffeted by the storms of life?
How do I thrive when my to-do list seems longer than the available hours of the day or my days stretch endlessly by with no focus or purpose?
This song from Casting Crowns echo’s what is in my own heart at this time:
Here in this worn and weary land Where many a dream has died Like a tree planted by the water We never will run dry So living water flowing through God we thirst for more of You Fill our hearts and flood our souls With one desire Just to know You and to make You known We lift Your name on High Shine like the sun made darkness run and hide We know we were made for so much more Than ordinary lives It’s time for us to more than just survive We were made to thrive
Into Your word we’re digging deep To know our Father’s heart Into the world we’re reaching out To show them who You are So living water flowing through God we thirst for more of You Fill our hearts and flood our souls With one desire Just to know You and to make You known
So how do we achieve this? How do we thrive in the midst of a Pandemic? How to we thrive when pressed in on every side? How do we thrive when we are faced with adversities and the daily grind and toil? How do we more than just survive, but actively thrive and flourish?
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
So to flourish like a palm tree and grow we have to be planted in the house of the Lord, planted with a firm grounding, our roots going down deep into the Word of God. Saturated in God’s Word, AND surrounded by God’s people in fellowship. Then we will still be bearing fruit in old age, still staying fresh and green! In other words flourishing, thriving, more than just surviving!
So my dear friend, let us drink deeply, let us drink daily of the fountain of grace so that we are fed and watered and fruitful and reaching the end of the week thriving, reaching the end of the year stronger, reaching the end of a pandemic with deeper roots in God, reaching old age still fresh and green! Let’s dig deep into the Word, let’s put our faith into practice and proclaim that ‘The Lord is upright, that He is my Rock and that there is no wickedness in Him’.
We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives It’s time for us to more than just survive, We were made to thrive.
Those are the words which stand out for me from this year.
Hard being locked-down; hard facing sorrow and suffering; hard coping with loneliness and separation from loved ones; hard navigating our way round all that the year has brought! Just hard!
And yet ..
And yet, I do want to finish off the year with thanksgiving, for through it all God has been there. If ever we have needed a steadfast, strong, reliable God it has been this year and His faithfulness has remained.
So through the hard, God has been in control; through the hard God has remained faithful; Through the hard God has still blessed, still provided, still looked upon us and has brought us through and so I give thanks.
Psalm 65, verse 11 says:
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.
Through the hard our pathways still overflow with abundance, our pathways have still been overseen by God in His kindness and goodness, He has not entirely wiped us out, He has still blessed.
Through the hard we have had to seek God harder in ways perhaps we haven’t done before, we have had to press in harder, pray harder and read our bibles harder, but those things have reaped for us a spiritual blessing and this is why at the end of this hard year we can return thanks to God and acknowledge that He has ‘crowned the year with a bountiful harvest’.
So through the hard I will give thanks; through the storm I’ll praise His Name!
[Sharing this post I wrote for my Church’s Facebook Post]
Everyone agrees that this has been a strange year, a year like no other when our world has ground to a halt. Many have suffered financially, mentally, emotionally and physically, most will be glad to see the end of this year.
However the words which come to my mind at the end of this year are from Psalm 65, I will quote the Psalm as I think that is the best way to conclude the Year:
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled. 2 You who answer prayer, to you all people will come. 3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. 4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.
5 You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, 6 who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. 8 The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.
9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. 10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. 11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. 12 The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. 13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.
God bless you all over the Christmas and New Year period, may we indeed know and walk in the Lord’s goodness.
Today is week 3 of Advent and every reading I have seen all focus on the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. It was also my reading today too, from this there was one particular aspect which struck me fresh as I studied this passage from Luke 1:1-25.
That fresh insight is how God’s big plan for salvation for mankind and how His plans for our individual lives are intertwined.
Israel had waited 400 years for this promised Messiah to come. Long, long years of waiting, hoping, losing hope, hoping again, and still waiting. But God had a plan, He had made a covenant with David and had promised that “Your house and your kingdom will stand before me permanently, your dynasty will be permanent” (2 Sam 7:16)
That was God’s big plan.
But when we look at this passage, we see how this Big plan comes down to be little, squeezed down to one particular family’s life! From verse 8 we see that at this particular time in space and history there was a priest called Zechariah, he just happened to be on duty in the temple, it just happened that he was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies at that time.
The people were outside praying and suddenly Zechariah’s routine duties were dramatically interrupted by an angel! An Angel with startling news: that his prayers were going to be answered and that they would have a son called John who would be a forerunner of Messiah! Wow, wow, wow! How could this be? Both he and Elizabeth were old?, But God is the God of the impossible and it would be, it was part of the plan.
It is this intersection of plans which I find intriguing: God has a big plan spanning thousands of years (just like one day to Him) and our life span is so short, so small within that time-line, yet for us God is there with a plan for us, for us to also be part of the big picture! We live both within the Big picture and the smaller picture of our own lives.
To me that is pretty awesome! And I pray for open eyes to see that bigger picture.
So in our times of waiting, hoping, losing hope, hoping and praying more and more waiting we can take encouragement that our God is faithful and He will fulfill both His big plan and the smaller plans for our own lives.
You know what? I am tired and weary and the best present I could get this year is a hug! I just need a hug and I so want to hug my Christian brothers and sisters.
At first I loved Lockdown Church, loved all the on-line materials, loved connecting with churches/groups in different parts of the country, but now, even for me an introvert I am tired of it all, weary of it all, I just want us to be able to meet together and to hug each other!
There is an abundance of posts out there on what Advent is, it’s true meaning etc. I am not going to duplicate any of that, but just want to share what it means to me personally.
For me it is all about preparation, as I prepare the house there is a sense of intentionally making room for Jesus. I clear the ordinary, everyday ornaments away to make room for Christmas decorations. As I place the figures of my nativity scene I am struck afresh with wonder at the Shepherds going about their daily/nightly business of protecting the sheep, unaware of what was going to burst into their ordinary. The yet unknown events which were to lead the Wise Men on an incredible journey to meet the King of Kings. And I am filled with awe at God’s plan of salvation.
It is not just about lighting up the house at a dark time of year, or making it pretty, it is about making room for Jesus, reminding me to make room for Him in my heart, that He is central and not just an added on at Christmas.
As I prepare food I am thankful to God for my loved ones who will gather (yes even this year!) and I pray for them and a blessing on our time.
As I write cards and notes to people I haven’t seen or maybe even heard from this year, I think of them, I wonder how they are doing, how they have coped with this year and I send them a message and a prayer.
And as I do all these things, I intentionally prepare my heart for Jesus, make room for Him to come in a new way, yes even to burst into the ordinary.
What do you do for Advent? How do you prepare? Do let me know in the comments.
Strangely enough that is what came out for me in my bible.reading this morning from Ephesians 1:3-14
📍 Blessed with every spiritual blessing:- Chosen to be blameless Adopted as legal heirs Have grace freely bestowed upon us Redemption Forgiveness of our sins God’s own possession Sealed with the Holy Spirit
🖊 As Christians we are ALL given these blessings, they are lavished upon us, this is now what we have and who we.are.in Christ.
No matter our physical circumstances or status these are.our blessings and if we can’t find anything else in our lives to give thanks for, we can give thanks for all these spiritual blessings.
God has given them to us generously, according to His riches, according to His good pleasure and for the Praise of His glory. There is no way then that we should be living as spiritual paupers, or as unthankful people, instead we should be living rich lives, full of gratitude for all our many blessings.
So today, no matter what our circumstances look like we are richly blessed and for that I am grateful.
With more Lockdown and travel restrictions being imposed in parts of our country, one of the things my elderly mum very much misses is that human connection. None of her children live nearby, she has friends, very good friends and lots of cousins she would normally she would meet up with, so to face more isolation in yet again another lockdown is actually just depressing for her. She has done so well, she was in a routine, she was going out for walks and chatting to people from a safe distance, and in the summer she could even sit in her front garden and chat to people passing by.
But now? Drawing the curtains against the dark at 4 O’clock in the afternoon is isolating, taking a walk involves wearing multiple layers of clothing and waterproofs which weighs down and frankly just seems too difficult at times.
These restrictions on family/friends/social life are so hard on the elderly and those living alone, they need to see a friendly face, they need to be able to get out and socialize or the danger is that they will wilt under the isolation, they need contact to keep them going, give them something to do, have a focus other than themselves.
And what about touch? Some people have not experienced human touch for months. No kissing as a greeting, no hugging to say goodbye, no holding hands in empathy, no laying your hand on an arm as an act of solidarity. Nothing, none of that warmth of human contact. Just cold and empty.
What is it about touch? There is no substitute for it. It comforts and reassures in ways that other gestures and words cannot. Touch can be like medicine to relieve stress, calm nerves and ease tension. Without touch, without that feel of another human being, life is lonely.
I wonder if that is why Jesus when He was healing people often reached out and touched them, they needed more than a Word of healing, they need the feel of compassion, the feel of being heard and seen, the feel of worth.
He took Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and took away her fever (Matthew 8:14-15). He touched the eyes of two blind men and gave them sight (Matthew 9:27-31). He touched the ears and the tongue of a deaf mute and gave him hearing and speech (Mark 7:31-35). He even touched a leper to make him clean (Mark 1:40-42) and He allowed a hemorrhaging woman to reach out and touch Him (Luke 8:44). Touch, oh to be touched by the Saviour!
Lord, when we can’t be there, when we can’t reach out and touch, will You do that for us? Will you reach out and touch our loved ones? As You reached out to those in need, will you please reach out now and touch those who are lonely, those who are struggling, those who are weeping with no-one to even see, those with heavy, heavy hearts and those who just don’t know how they are going to survive another lockdown, please reach down and touch them.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to free write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt is: Grief.
Grief is such a mixture of emotions, a real rollercoaster, it is also a very personal and very indivualistic thing, with people responding/coping with grief in different ways,
There is no right way to grieve, you have to just find your own way through it, you have to make space for it in your life and you have to cut yourself a little slack along the way.
One thing I do know is that suppressing grief does not work, it will find its way out in someway and at sometime. It may manifest itself in bitterness and resentment; it may catch you unawares years later when faced with a similar situation. So grief is a process, one we have to allow to do its work. If we hadn’t felt so deeply, we wouldn’t be feeling the grief so deeply, we have loved and lost; we had expectations and they were killed; we had hope and it was extinguished. We need to come to a place of acceptance of these things and allow grief to do it’s work in our life, till we can again see the light of life and find the Lord of life who will wipe away every tear.
to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; (Is 61:3)
For our mid-week meditation this week sharing my post from our Church’s ‘Peace in the Storm’ Series:
‘On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we shall remember them’
We remember those who gave their lives in both World Wars, and the many others who have given their lives in conflicts since 1945. We remember those who loved and lost, those who fought and died, those who returned in body, but not in mind, those who came back and who still bear the scars and still suffer the nightmares, those who cannot forget; those who carry their scars beneath their medals and ofcourse those still serving, still sacrificing.
There was another one, another man who also served & sacrificed and bears scars, He has been called by some as ‘the Man of Sorrows’. The scars He bears are the scars left by our sin, the scars when He took our punishment upon Himself, the scars of injustice, the scars of greater wars, the scars of friends who betrayed, the scars of humanity, sickness and conflict.
Jesus the Man of Sorrows, bears our scars, you can see the nail prints on His hands and feet, you can see where the sword pierced His side, those scars of love are still visiible, for it was love for us which held Him to that cross, it was love for us that caused Him to suffer for us, that we may have peace, and reconciliation with God. Once we were at enmity with God, but through Jesus we have peace with Him.
So, today as we remember those who gave, those who suffered that we may live in a country in a time of relative peace, may we be grateful, may we honour those men and women in our two-minute silence. And may we also remember that Man of Sorrows and the scars He bore for us, the One who gave and forgave and honour Him with our lives.
Joining with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers today to freewrite on a one word prompt. Today’s prompt is: Ahead
I have recently taken over a very small role within my church, it is unseen and probably few even know that it is me that is doing it! However, as it any role you at first just follow on doing what was done before, but now I am beginning to see a way ahead.
I have been planning the weeks up till the New Year! I have a bit of direction, even a bit of a vision and you know what, deep down inside that gives me a bit of a thrill!
It may not be big, it may not be seen, but there is a plan and there is a way ahead; to God be the glory given.
Living on the other side of the Atlantic from my American brothers & sisters, it can be easy to be smug and judgmental because we are not in an election year here. And yet there is still so much we can vote for, we can still lobby parliament for freedom of speech, for human rights, for life, for care, for the liberty of the gospel.
So that makes me think that really we should be casting our vote daily in how we live our lives and not just every big term of office. In our every day, where do we cast our vote when we walk past the homeless man in the shop doorway, where do we cast our vote when we do nothing about the rise and rise of secularism, where do we cast our vote when we don’t stand up for what we believe in the staff room at work?
Hundreds of small daily choices, myriads of ways we choose to live, choose one thing over another, many may seem inconsequential, but in the long run they determine the way we live.
“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?
So may we vote daily, may we live daily, may we choose daily to walk in the way of the Lord.
I can’t believe where the time and the seasons have gone this year, dark mornings mean that we have already moved the clocks back one hour! Wow!
Perhaps it is because of the Covid 19 Lockdowns & Restrictions that time has passed without it being marked by the usual meetings, arrangements, holidays, trips, visits , birthday occasions etc., yet seasons still come and still go whether we are prepared or aware of them or not.
But now that we are here, last week in October, just about to enter our darkest months I am brought up short and think ok, winter just about upon us – what now? How do I prepare for this?
There are things I do ofcourse about the house and garden, I prepare, I get ready, I take action. I put away light summer clothes, I pull out the big warm jumpers and jackets, I get in a supply of logs, I get the candles out, I prepare hearty stews and soups. In the garden/poly tunnel I dig up the last of the vegetables, I turn over the ground, but I don’t just prepare it to lie dormant, I actually feed it with organic matter so that it is quietly, silently being prepared for fruitfulness next year.
So what am I going to do spiritually to feed my soul, how am I preparing for this dark, dormant season so that I am ready and prepared for the next season of fruitfulness?
I have listened to a couple of podcasts recently where the speakers have spoken of seasonal goals & plans, I have never really done this, but on mulling these things over I see the benefits so that I don’t just drift along, stagnate, lose my joy or focus. I don’t yet have written out goals or plans, but I am thinking about it.
The questions I am asking to formulate those goals are:
What am I going to study in the Bible – what book do I want to get into, read through, write out?
How am I going to cultivate the practice of praise?
What books am I going to read – not just novels, but doctrinal, teaching, spiritual, devotional books – should I do research and compile a list?
What about church life – what sphere of service should I be growing?
What about family life & marriage – how am I going to grow the fruits of the Spirit in family relationships?
I don’t yet have an answer to those questions and it may be enough just to pose them, but I would like to take them further and think of at least one thing for each question.
What about you? Not just how are you going to survive the winter, but how are you going to thrive?
Joining today with the #Five Minute Friday group of writers to write on a one word prompt for 5 minutes. Today’s prompt: Disappoint
Disappointment is linked to our expectations. We expect something to happen and are then disappointed when it doesn’t. We expect people to act in a certain way and are disappointed when they don’t.
We get disappointed when plans, people, places don’t match up to our expections.
There was a time in my life when I was also disappointed with God, He too wasn’t meeting my expectations, He wasn’t giving me what I wanted, asked for, expected and certainly not in my time-scale. I went through quite a few years of ‘disappointment with God’. It wasn’t something I could discuss with others as they all seemed perfectly happy with their God, walking in trust in faith. But I was hurting, I was disappointed and I was confused.
Until like the Psalmist I came to a place of surrender:
Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
For our mid-week meditations this week, I am sharing a post I wrote for our church’s daily devotions, looking at how we are to love the Lord .
Heart; Soul; Mind,
When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, He said:
Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ [Matthew 22:37]
In other words, we are to love God entirely, with our whole beings. Any following after God, any obedience, any act of being a disciple should stem from our love for God. And how are we to love?
HEART = inward self where feelings & emotions occur
To love the Lord with our hearts means that He has our devotion, our hearts are given over to Him. Love for God is our leading affection, He is our highest affection, our hearts are open and sensitive to Him, He has our heart and we respond to Him in love.
SOUL = the entire inner person.
This is our beings, our wills. This is where we choose to love and obey, for sometimes it is a choice, whose voice are we going to follow today. Perhaps we are not ‘feeling it’, perhaps our emotional love for God has gone cold, but we can choose to love, choose where we place our devotion, choose to follow, choose to obey.
MIND – The inward part of us where thinking occurs.
Our understanding, our intellect, to know Him is to love Him. We are not just to love, tossed about by our every feeling and emotion, but we are to love God with our minds, with our intellect, coming to know and understand who He is and what He has done for us. Our response then is to bow, love and worship.
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)