Doubt

I’m joining with the #Five Minute Friday community of writers today, to write on the one word prompt; which today is: DOUBT.

Doubt.

Friend or foe?

Doubt hangs about me as if he was my friend; he is always there when I am reflecting and thinking things through. He is always there when I have questions on my mind and even in the wee small hours of the night he seems to be there.

So is he my friend? Does he actually help me? Is he a positive influence on my life?

No, he is not!

So why do I still court him?

Why do I still allow him access to my inner most thoughts?

We are always told nowadays to get rid of those ‘toxic friendships’ which are harmful to us.

So I need to get rid of this Mr Doubt fellow! I need to cut him off from my life.

I guess the fear is if I don’t have him to cling to then who or what do I cling to; who will be my new friend?

The song comes to mind, ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer!

2 Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer!

3 Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge–
take it to the Lord in prayer!
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield you;
you will find a solace there.

So I need to court Jesus as my friend! I need to seek Him out.

Jesus is a good friend; His friendship is healing; His friendship is wholesome; His friendship is peaceful; His friendship is freeing.

I need to go to Him for advice when reflecting and questioning and it is Him I need to find in the wee small hours of the night and Him I need to go to for my solace.

So today I say goodbye to Doubt and welcome my friend Jesus.

Receive

Delighted to be joining #FiveMinuteFriday group for the first word of the new year! And the word prompt we are writing on today is: Receive.

So after a short ponder to see where my thoughts would take me on this word and concept of receiving I thought of this verse from John where Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman at a well and he says this to her:

Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to,

you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

John 4:10

If you knew.

If you knew the gift God has for you.

And who you are speaking to.

Your would ask me

And I would give you ..

So is our asking too small, are our prayers to small, is our God too small?

If we really knew God to be the Majestic, powerful God, creator of the universe that He is, then we would not be limited in what we ask Him for!

Do we really believe that He is able to do ALL things, that nothing is impossible to Him?

Then we would ask and we would receive.

Much to ponder about this today!

HOPE

Every New Year, I have a word and a text which I carry into the year with me, I rarely know the significance of that word at the start of the year, but as the year and the word unravel I find that they greet and meet one another as faith and circumstances converge.

The word this year has been with me throughout this past Advent Season, it is the word: Hope. With every carol we have sung there has been a longing; an anticipation, even an expectation and you can’t have those things without hope.

The dictionary meaning of hope = A feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.

So what do we hope for from life, from 2023? Peace; happiness, health; prosperity; good times? And yet do we have assurance that these things will be given? No, we have no such assurance, our hope is unsubstantiated, why? Because no-one has promised us these things, no-one has given us any assurance that these things will be ours.

So what is hope then, what can we be assured off, what have we been promised and by whom?

For that my dear friend, we have to turn to God, because He alone is the promise-maker, the promise-keeper and the one alone who is able to fulfill and carry out these promises in a way that we can place our confident hope in Him.

John Piper defines Biblical hope as: “not just a desire for something good in the future, but rather, a confident expectation for something good in the future. it expects it to happen. And it not only expects it to happen — it is confident that it will happen.”

So what are some of the things we hope for and have assurance of ?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

Ephesians 1:18

Hope is faith in the future tense.

Hope is looking forward to that day of Christ’s return when all the wrongs will be made right, where justice will win, when wars will cease, where sin and sickness are no more and where there are no more sorrows or partings or death. Hope holds on to that glorious day!

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. and hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

So even though life may be tough, even though we have trials and tribulations, the hope that tribulation builds in us is not a hope that will be disappointed.

How?

We have assurance because God has proved His intention to complete His work in us and that proof was in sending His own Son to die on our behalf so that we may have reconciliation with God, so that we might be called His children

God is faithful to all His promises, so we can have hope.

In this ‘in-between’ time of Jesus coming as a man to die for our sins and Him coming again to bring justice and to reign forevermore, we have hope. We have confident expectation that what He has said will come to pass.

Whatever promises of His we are holding onto today or for the coming year, we can have hope, we can have confident expectation that He will fulfill His promises.

So as we enter 2023, we can have confident expectation that God will fulfill all His promises He has made to us.

So we long, we wait, we have assurance, we trust, we persevere and we HOPE.

Hope in God anchors us.

Hope in God does not disappoint us.

Hope in God brings peace.

So as we go forward into the New Year may we place our hope on the Promise Keeper and look to Him with confident expectation that He will fulfill His promises to us because He is able to do it..

Witness

Today, and for the last group of the year, I am joining in with the #Five Minute Friday community of writers, where we are writing and sharing our thoughts on the word Witness.

This is an appropriate word for us at the end of a year for we are called to bear witness to Him, our Lord and our God. Yes we are to be witnesses to Him, for our salvation, but I think also in our daily lives we are to bear witness to Him with the way we live our lives, our attitudes, our demeanour , our walk as well as our talk.

So have we ‘walked the talk’ this year? Have our lives borne witness to the fact that we are a redeemed people, that we follow Jesus, that we have a hope which is beyond anything in this world?

How have we dealt with hardships or sadnesses? Do people see that we rely on Jesus to be our help and strength in our hard times; that we are not in total despair because we trust in the sovereignty of God?

Have we shown kindness, compassion and empathy to those not only in need and struggling, but also with those who are different to us?

Have we moaned and groaned at the state of affairs in our country or have our lives been marked by thankfulness?

As one year soon draws in and a new one opens out what lessons can we learn from the past year and going forward how can we be witnesses to Jesus in our everyday lives, following and emulating Him, bearing witness to His grace and goodness to us?

Endure in the Joy

This is our last week of the review of the word Endure. We have looked at Endurance in the Mundane everyday and last week we looked at Endurance in the Hard times. This week we look at endurance when things are going well, when life is smooth, comfortable and relatively trouble free.

Now, you may think that it strange to talk about endurance in happy times, because surely that is what they are and they don’t take any enduring, we are happy, we are coasting along, life is good!

But you see, often when life is good, when we are free from pressure, that is when we can let our faithfulness slip, that is when we think we are doing okay and so we can relax, we don’t need to attend that meeting, we don’t need to read our bibles so much because life is good!

And we do praise God for those times, and I think we often don’t acknowledge them, almost as if we are not meant to be happy (or perhaps that is just the dour scots in us!!)

So another helpful book I have found this year is ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ by Eugene Peterson which is a meditation on Songs of Ascents in the book of Psalms.

In the Psalms the people are on a journey, on this journey they experience all of life just as we have looked at over the last few week, the long plod, the hardships, but also times of joy. Take Psalm 126 for example:

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
    when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
    we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
    “God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
    we are one happy people.

4-6 And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout “Yes!” at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Psalm 126, The Message

They have walked through the mundane, they have faced dangers and hardships along the way, but they arrive home exuberant “with arm-loads of blessing”; they are “one happy people”.!

We may be in that place, we may be experiencing a time of happiness! So let us be exuberant, let us rejoice, let us give thanks to the Lord. The Lord has blessed, let us give Him thanks. That pathway of prayer we have made is now filled with praise. That pathway to the scriptures is filled with remembrances of the Lord and His faithfulness. And that pathway to fellowship which we have established is now glorious as we worship God together.

It is not a time for self-reliance, it is not a time for pride as if we have arrived here in this place by our own hard work or doing, but it is a time to reflect and see how the Lord’s hand has been upon us and brought us to this place, a time to see how God has been faithful at sustaining us and upholding us. And from this place to have a deep sense of gratitude and thankfulness.

My dear friends, I don’t know what you have faced this year or the path you have walked, I’m sure at times it may have seemed like a long hard slog, at other times down-right hard, but I hope too that in the midst of that you have also experienced the joy of the Lord and can end the year with thankfulness. Whichever it has been may we walk on in that long obedience in the same direction day in and day out – “he who endure to the end will be saved!”

Endurance in the Hard

Last week we looked at enduring in the Mundane Everyday. But what happens when life throws a curve ball and we are plunged into the unexpected, the frightening, the unknown? How do we endure in our faith, remain faithful, remain obedient and trusting in the hard times?

We keep to the paths we have trod. Those paths we trod in the mundane, those paths we trampled on faithfully, perhaps every wearily, are the ones which will keep us when times are hard.

Remember the path to prayer – we go again, now in desperation we run to that place, we are glad we have established it and know the way to the place of prayer and we go pouring out our souls, our troubles, our anxieties, our fears. And we find grace to help in our time of need.

We tread that path of scripture reading – those words which we instilled within us in the everyday are the ones we now cling to in our need. Those words of truth are what overcome the lies of our doubts, those words of our Saviour, our suffering saviour are what comfort us in our need, we see our faithful God never forsaking His people and we see His love poured out for us on Calvary.

And that path of fellowship which is now established means we are able to go to our brothers and sisters in Christ and share our burdens with them. They are able to minister to us, feed us, hold us, pray with us because we have persevered over our shyness and trusted them with our every day, now we trust them with our sorrows, with our hearts.

We are able to endure in the hard because we have already laid the ground-work of being faithful in the everyday, of enduring the mundane, so that we have the well-worn paths to tread when hardship stri

Endurance in the Mundane

So, as the Name of my Blog suggests I’m very much into ‘finding God in the everyday’. God has got to be real, He has to be there in the everyday, there is no use having a faith for the hard times, or a belief in a distant God, but God here and now day in and day out.

So it is no surprise then that in following on from my new year word ‘endure’ that I have to apply that in my every day.

So what does it look like to endure in your faith in the every day when mostly your every day is mundane? Most of us the majority of the time don’t live in times of crises, they may come and go, but thankfully the majority of the time we are just plodding on going to work, keeping house, looking after family, attending our church. My question is not so much where is God in this, but where am I? What can I do to keep my faith alive, bright and growing?

At the moment I am reading ‘Everyday Faithfulness’: the Beauty of Ordinary Perseverance in a Demanding World by Glenna Marshall where I am seeing her echoing and articulating my own thoughts of this faithfulness in the everyday. She says

Faithfulness to Christ is a daily, lifelong pursuit. A lifetime of daily faithfulness will be full of unremarkable single days of faithfulness. And what encourages us to be steadfast on a daily basis is keeping an eye on this lifelong perseverance Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:13. Rather than fading from following Him because our love has grown cold, ‘the one who endures to the end will be saved'” (Pg 22)

A lifetime of daily faithfulness will be full of unremarkable single days of faithfulness – yet, yet it is those daily unremarkable single days which are really laying the foundation of our faithfulness, so that in the good and the bad we are able to endure and remain faithful.

How? By treading a path to prayer, so that it is well worn, so we that know the way, so we will know the way in the dark, so we will know the way through our fears, we will know the way to the Father and will be no stranger coming to Him in our time of need.

By treading a path to scripture every day we are reorienting our hearts onto the truths of God’s Word, we are learning the truths of His character and His ways, so that when ill winds blow and doubts assail, we can stand on the truths of His Word and His character.

Another path we tread in our everyday faithfulness is the path of fellowship. We commit to a local fellowship and we turn up, we commit. If we neglect this path we will not know what it is like to ‘stir one another up to love and good deeds’, we miss the opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by others.

Building habits, treading paths of discipline, walking the long road, takes discipline and patience, it requires vigilance and endurance and commitment to the long view of faithfulness and our sanctification. We need to pace ourselves, we need to be steady and committed and to keep on going. Growth doesn’t happen in one big decision, but in the hundreds of daily little ones we make. We need to keep before us Jesus, looking to Him, knowing that each step we tread in the long plod is worth it when we become more like Him and when we see Him more clearly.

Endure – A Review

It has been a while since I have met with you here on the blog, but absence hasn’t meant that I haven’t thought of you and wanted to reach out, but I’ve had a necessary ‘time apart’, a time of reflection, a time of learning, leaning in and listening.

I have been reflecting on my New year word ‘Endure’ and as we fast approach the end of this year, 2022, I want to take this month of November, before all the Advent Reflections begin, to reflect on that word and how it has unfolded for me over the year.

I began my new year post with a definition of ‘Endure’ which is = The ability to continue with an unpleasant or difficult situation, experience or activity over a long period of time.

And throughout the year I have come to experience that endurance is ‘long obedience in the same direction. I had felt at the time that the endurance wasn’t that the year was going to be full of difficulties which had to be overcome, but more in the sense of being faithful and keeping on being faithful, keeping on being obedient whether in the ups and downs or just in the daily plod of everyday life.

So over the following 3 weeks I want to look at:

1) Endurance in the mundane everyday ;

2) Endurance in the Hard things and

3) Endurance in the Joy and happy things.

Hope you will join with me in these next three weeks!

Generous

The Word-prompt for today in the #Five Minute Friday group of writers is: Generous.

When I first took my first faltering pen to begin writing I listened to a week of Conference talks by Christian writers and I was blown away by how generous they all were of one another and their works. There was no jealousy, no grabbing of the limelight for themselves, no holding onto their own writing tips, rather they shared, they shared their journey, their fears, their tips, the things they had learned along the way, they encouraged.

I found kindred spirits at the conference and immediately thought, ‘I want to be like this, I want to encourage, I want to have this same generous spirit’. Where did this generosity come from? I believe it came from their walk with God, they had humble, teachable spirits and walked with a generous God.

So, then my walk with God should reflect in my life. If I am walking, talking, emulating my generous God, then that should flow on out of my own life, where I am then generous towards others with my possessions, my time, my praise, my encouragement.

We only have to look at creation to see how generous God is, the way He abundantly blesses the creation, it is not just functional, it is beautiful.

O Lord my God, how great you are!
    You are robed with honor and majesty.

    You are dressed in a robe of light.
You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens;
    you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds.
You make the clouds your chariot;
    you ride upon the wings of the wind.
The winds are your messengers;
    flames of fire are your servants.

You placed the world on its foundation
    so it would never be moved.
You clothed the earth with floods of water,
    water that covered even the mountains.

Psalm 104

He is generous in His forgiveness of our waywardness,

Let the wicked change their ways
    and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
    Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.

Isaiah 55:7

He is generous in His salvation.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

When we know the generosity of God then who are we to hold back, we should freely give of all that the Lord has given us.

Show

The word prompt today for the #FiveMinuteFriday group of writers is: Show.

The first thing you are told in any writing course is “show, don’t tell” but that can be hard to do, it is easier to just tell.

However, in relation to the stories in our Bibles they have captured that knack of ‘showing’ God’s goodness, faithfulness and patience with us rather than just telling of it.

Take for example the Patriarchs in Genesis they had such dysfunctional families! They lied, they deceived, they had favourite children, they had broken, messy relationships. At times we may wonder why their stories are even in the Bible, yet, yet they SHOW us God’s patience, they show His mercy, they show His grace.

And where best does God SHOW His love to us but at Calvary, on that cross of Jesus.

How do I know God loves me and has mercy on me, but in His Word, in my Bible. Again and again there are examples of God showing His love to mankind and also in my own life again and again.