Advent 1 – Light

I AM the Light of the World

So it is Advent! Lots of busy, lots to do, also lots of Advent Devotionals and Studies, but these lines from the Carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” have really touched me this year and seem so appropriate for this Advent, this pandemic, this life.

Yet in the dark streets shineth

the everlasting light;

The Hope and fear of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

O Little Town of Bethlehem

In the dark streets – our streets are dark, it is winter, the weather has closed in, it is dark, bleak even. There are fears on our streets, fears in our homes, fears in our hearts.

We are still in the midst of a Pandemic, it has not gone away, it mutates, grows, finds new ways to get a grip. Similar really to our fears, they mutate, they grow arms and legs, they can get hold of us and it is difficult to let them go, difficult not to focus on them, difficult not to let them control us.

BUT.

But Jesus.

But Jesus is the light.

In the dark world shines our Everlasting Light.

Jesus is the Everlasting Light, in Him is no darkness at all.

When we turn our fears and our darkness over to Him we find that His light comes into those fears and dispels them and His light shines sanity, serenity, peace and hope into our darkness.

So what are our fears today that we need to turn to Jesus in? Where is the darkness in our life that we need to let Jesus shine into?

My prayer for you is that you will find the Light of Jesus in the midst of this dark world and that you will be the light of Jesus in this dark world!

Secrets

Secrets - Lewis Ballard : Lewis Ballard

I have a secret.

Yep, I do!

Lean in closer and I’ll tell you.

It is kinda something to do with ‘Black Friday’, but not just that!

Have I got your attention now?

Want to know what the secret is?

The apostle Paul call it ‘the secret of contentment’.

It is a secret, something you have to discover for yourself, not necessarily something you are taught. For Paul he learnt it through hardship, through being in want, through being in need of everyday practical things. He learnt that actually he could live without certain things.

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13

Sometimes our need is all we see; it is screaming at us; we cann’t see or think past it. It takes discipline, it takes making a hard decision to lift our eyes off the need onto the glorious riches which are in Christ and to give thanks, which is declaring God is good, God is in control and God will provide enough and more to sustain me through this need.

So as I was reading and pondering on these verses this morning, it is Black Friday and I thought of all those queuing up at shops to grab a bargain or two or those trawling the internet doing on-line shopping and thought, really what do I need? Am I content? Have I learnt the secret? What is the secret?

The secret I think lies in trust. Trust that actually God will supply all my needs, not necessarily all my wants or all my longings and not necessarily all at once or immediately, but what He will do is provide me with the grace I need to wait, the grace to feel the want, the grace to long for and not yet-receive my heart’s desire. It is to trust that God is sovereign and He is able to provide whatever help, deliverance or thing it is that I need. It is placing my trust in God’s ways and God’s timings.

It is also to be content, to be thankful for all that He has already provided, to be grateful and not to be looking longingly at the next shiny thing, but happy with where God has placed me and the circumstance He has placed me in. It is to hold the things of this world loosely so that I am not too upset if I don’t have them or if they are taken away from me.

So today, join with me in asking and pondering – what are my priorities; where is my heart; what am I placing my trust on? I pray that you too will learn this secret of contentment. And if you have learned this secret, then don’t hide it -make it known. [Hide is the Word prompt on today’s #Five Minute Friday group.

See Grace

This is part of a wee mini series I am doing on the Five Senses looking at Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Kindness and Grace.

This week we are looking at Grace – what does Grace look like?

For me Grace looks like Victory!

Grace is strong, Grace wins through every time, Grace reaches down to the depths and comes out victorious!

It is the strength of Grace which reaches down and pulls you back up. It is Grace that calls for you when you are in the depths.

It is Grace which takes you small, dirty, insignificant, as you are and transforms you into being a son/daughter of the King of Kings.

It is Grace which takes you at your lowest and puts you back on the path of life. It is Grace which seeks for you when you are lost. Grace meets you where you are, but doesn’t leave you there! It is Grace which takes you and led you, it is Grace which sustains you, it is all of Grace.

It is Grace which takes you home, through all the trials, all the tribulations, pains and fears of life, it is Grace which wins through and takes you to your forever home with our Gracious Lord and Saviour.

What does Grace look like to you? Let me know in the comments section below!

Touch Kindness

This is part of a wee mini-series I am doing on the Five Senses on Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Kindness, and Grace.

Ephesians 4:32 Be Kind to One Another - Free Bible Verse Art Downloads - Bible  Verses To Go

This week we are looking at – What does kindness feel like?

To me it feels soft, warmth, almost fluffy but not quite!

Against the harsh realities of the world, jagged personalities, bitterness’s and resentments kindness feels soft.

Against the anger, hurts and even violence kindness feels soft.

It is not so much that we touch kindness, but that kindness touches us and when it does it leaves its mark. Strange that something so soft can have such a profound effect, and can leave a mark.

But kindness can soften hard hearts, kindness can dispel anger, kindness can stop violence in its tracks.

Kindness can wipe away tears of loneliness, kindness can take away the sharpness of broken personalities, kindness can remove barriers between those who were estranged.

We can reach out in kindness to our neighbours, our friends, our colleagues, our family, those whithin our sphere of influence. We can be kind, in word and deed, we need to extend kindness in this harsh world.

But we also need to let kindness into our own souls and lives, to feel that softness against the harsh realities, to know that touch when we are feeling bitter, to feel that touch of forgiveness when we feel judged and condemned. We need to feel that touch of the loving kindness of the Lord.

And be kind to one another

What does kindness feel like to you? Let me know in the comments section!

Hear Courage

This is part of a wee mini-series I am doing on the Five Senses on Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Grace,

Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courage...

This week we are looking at – what does courage sound like?

For me it sounds like a bell!

Courage for me means that I am having to be brave about something, it means taking a big gulp and doing that something which naturally doesn’t come easy for me and so courage may at first sound like the little tinkle of a bell.

I may have to face a difficult day, I may have to apologise to someone I don’t find easy, I may have to face a medical issue or I may need to step out in faith and do something God is asking for me. However little or however big the thing is I need to garrison my courage.

And then when I have garrisoned the courage, taken a deep breath and start out on the pathway of the difficult task, I hear that little tinkle of courage, but as I progress along that pathway the tinkle gets louder, as my courage grows so does the sound of that bell, it is no longer a tinkle of courage swamped by fear, but a boldness comes and with it the sound of courage changes to a much more resounding gong.

So often in the bible God tells us to ‘Be of good courage’ to be ‘courageous’. He knows our fears you see and when He calls us to do something which goes against our natural instincts He is asking us to step out and trust Him, that He will bring it to pass, that He will step in where we are weak and make us strong.

What does courage sound like for you? Let me know in the comments section.

Mind Your Senses - The Research Group
wordpress.com/post/findinggodintheeverydayblog.wordpress.com/1851

Taste Forgiveness

This is part of a wee mini-series I am doing on the Five Senses on Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Kindness and Grace,

Sweeter than Honey — Intentionally Yours

This week we are asking – What does forgiveness taste like?

For me it tastes like honey – sweet and soothing.

If we are living in unforgiveness, not having accepted that Jesus died for us, died for our sins; that our sins are removed from us, along with the guilt and shame of those sins, then we don’t know that sweetness of forgiveness. We are not experiencing the soothing forgiveness of Jesus washing away our sins.

If we have unforgiveness in our heart towards others it taste like bile in our mouths, it is bitter and it comes out like poison. Honey sweetens that. Honey smoothly slips down and on its way it touches everything around transforming them to sweet.

Honey heals, honey soothes, honey sweetens.

Forgiveness heals, forgiveness soothes, forgiveness sweetens a sinner heart.

We are told to taste and see that the Lord is good’

Tasting, partaking of the Lord’s forgiveness is seeing He is good, tasting of His forgiveness, His compassion is like tasting honey.

If we have a sore throat and drink a little hot water with a spoon on honey it soothes.

If we have a wound and rub a little honey on it, it heals.

If we are sore with our sin, drinking in of the Lord’s forgiveness soothes our sorry souls,

If we are wounded, broken, shamed, rejected then finding the Lord’s forgiveness and applying that to our wounds heals our sad, broken souls.

Honey, honey on the comb, sweet, healing

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”

What does forgiveness taste like to you? Let me know in the comments!

Smell Hope

A while ago was listening to a Podcasts by Emily P Freeman, #The Next Right thing where she was talking about the senses and posed the question what does Hope smell like? I found the question interesting and began to ponder what our senses communicate to us about Hope, Forgiveness, Courage, Kindness and Grace and so for the next five weeks we will look at these very things.

So today we start with the sense of smell – one of the most evocative of all the senses they say, bringing us back to childhood memories and can conjur up situations both good and bad. Yet strangely enough my own dad was born without a sense of smell and I remember trying to describe a smell to him, but in my bad effort it was only comparing it with other smells!

Anyway, what does Hope smell like?

For me, it smells sharp, citrus like Lemon. It is something which awakes the senses when you have been dull, when you have been in a fog and then you smell something citrus it freshens your other senses, heightens them even and you begin to wake up, you begin to pay attention and as that smell increases, gets stronger you become fully alert

That for me is what hope is. You get a glimmer, maybe just faintly at first, but a glimmer and with that glimmer, you sit up, you pay attention, you are on the lookout for further signs. Then as you see further signs, maybe something you had missed in your dismay, too wrapped up in your despair to see, hope stirs within you and awakens you.

Why are you cast down O my Soul

Hope in God, my Help and my strength

What does hope smell like to you? You can let me know in the comments section, I’d love to know!

/

Equinox, Shifts & Blessings

It is less than two weeks since the Autumn Equinox a time which I normally love as we begin that change from Summer into Autumn. But this year we have been plunged straight into Autumn, infact it has felt almost like winter. There has been a sudden and large drop in temperature along with the usual gales and unsettled spell of weather.

The Equinox has been pivotal changing Summer to Autumn/Winter and sometimes life is like that too, there is a pivotal shift in our circumstances or even just within ourselves, a shift in our thinking which changes the direction we were going in. Sometimes we can pinpoint when that shift took place, sometimes it is more subtle and almost sneaks up on us.

Last year we celebrated our 25th Wedding anniversary during Lockdown, but as I meditated on this milestone I realised that a shift had taken place within our marriage from a place of brokenness God brought healing, from desperation to blessing. A definite shift.

Indeed God gave two promises last year that He would “restore the years that the locusts had eaten” and that ‘the latter glory would be greater than the former “. As we approach this year’s anniversary I see the fulfilment of God’s promise to us and the blessings we have had this past year and the huge, huge blessing of gifts friends and family have given to us in the form of dinners out, hotels to stay in, times away.

So it is with thanksgiving in our hearts that we approach another anniversary and celebrate God’s deliverance and blessing on our lives. We will praise the Name of the Lord who has dealt wondrously with us, who has brought about that restoration, that shift within us.

Purpose

The Chief End of Man is to Glorify God - Free Bible Study Classes, Free  Bible Resources

It is Five Minute Friday time again! This is where we write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt. Today’s prompt is Purpose.

So what came to my mind was the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

  • Q1. What is man’s primary purpose?
    Man’s primary purpose is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

That is our ‘raison d’etre‘, our purpose or reason for living.

To glorify God – that means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honour by praising and worshiping Him, mainly because He, and He alone, deserves to be praised, honoured and worshiped, we give glory to Him by recognizing that greatness, by giving Him His rightful place in our lives.

Enjoy Him – that means we have fellowship with Him. We have His presence! We have relationship with this great God.

So we are not worshipping an unknown God, we are not worshipping and glorifying God out of fear, but in relationship. We are worshiping, praising, giving Him the glory because we know Him and love Him. There is no greater purpose and no greater joy that this.

City

The word prompt for today in the #Five Minute Friday Group is City.

What does this word conjure up for me? What do I think about when I think of a city?

Well truthfully, my heart sinks! I think of noise, crowds, traffic, fumes, dirt, people shoving, jostling, dirty streets. I think of getting lost, of feeling overwhelmed, of feeling like a country bumkin who doesn’t know the rules of the city amidst the city-slickers who know and play by the rules!

It is the feeling of inadequacy and of not fitting in which the city brings out in me. Although thinking of this is a bit like life in general really, we all want to “fit in” to belong; we want to ‘be part of’ what is going on, no-one wants to feel alone and vulnerable, unseen, unnoticed, unimportant.

So city life or country life – same human needs, same human desires, same basic need for connection.

I’m a country bumkin, but I still need human connection, I still need that touch of someone understanding; someone seeing me, hearing me and just as importantly I need to be that ‘someone’ to another person who crosses my way today; just to sit with them, stand with them and let them known that they are seen, that they are important.

So many people with similar stories desperately needed more than the help that we were prepared to give. What they wanted even more, however, was for someone, anyone, even a stranger who was still trying to learn their language, to sit for a while, or just stand with them and let them share theirs stories. I perhaps should have known this, but I was amazed to see the power of human presence. In my pride, I thought that I knew exactly what these people needed, but I would never have thought to put conversation or human connection on my list. Once again, I was profoundly humbled.

Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God, Pg 86