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,