Heal

The Prompt word for today’s #Five Minute Friday group is: Heal. So in light of the recent shootings and sadness’s experience by my fellow writers in the USA, I have written a Lament.

The Leaves of the Tree are for the Healing of the Nation – A Lament

O Lord our God, how long?

How long before You act?

How long before Your justice

Is revealed in our nations?

How Long O Lord will our leaders remain arrogant and prideful

Filling their own pockets and bellies,

How long will they rob and steal from the poor.

Show Your mercy to the nations.

How long, O Lord, must we suffer

And hear of wars and rumours of wars.

How long must we hear of earthquakes and famines?

Before You make Yourself known to the Nations.

How long O Lord before our children are safe

At school, at college, at play and in the world?

How long must the innocent suffer?

Lord, heal the tears of our nations.

O Lord our God, we look to You,

The Man of Sorrows and the One acquainted with grief.

We make our declaration

That in You there is healing for our Nation.

Know

I’m joining with the #FiveMinuteFriday group of writers to write for 5 minutes on this one word prompt, Know.

I find that I have different levels of knowing things, I may have a vague knowledge of something, or someone, I may think I know, or I may know something in my head, but that doesn’t translate into my heart and life.

I think that is what I feel about knowing God loves me. Yes, I know He does, the bible tells me He does, every Christian book and sermon echoes the love of God, but really how much do I allow that knowledge to really sink right deep down within? Listen to what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 3: 17-19:

“Then you, being rooted and grounded in love,  will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.…

When I think negative thoughts of God, when I choose to accuse Him of being uncaring, or absent, then I am not allowing that knowledge of His love to fill my life. When I am feeling unworthy and withdraw from God’s love, then I am not trusting, not really grasping the length, width, height and depth of God’s love for me.

To know, really know the love of God, I have to allow that love in.

Both

I apologize to the #fmf community for not being with you for a while, been BOTH busy and also writing! BOTH is the one word prompt from today in the community of writers.

We have been looking at the Psalms of lament in our Bible Study this week and it amazes me how the Psalmist can hold both doubt and trust, despair and hope, lament and praise at the same time.

But we too experience that tension between faith and doubt in our lives. We believe, yes firmly and steadfastly, yet at the same time when we worry and allow our circumstances to overwhelm us we doubt God is able for that specific thing. We hold both trust and unbelief in our hands.

Perhaps we are just like the father we read about in Mark’s gospel chapter 9; his son was sick, he was worried; he was more than worried, he was probably despairing at each and every convulsion the boy had, what could he do, how could he get his son better? So he comes to Jesus and asks if it is possible if He could do something. Jesus tests him and says: “Everything is possible for one who believes.” and we get that and in our good moments we believe that, but in our fear and anxiety, like the father we cry out: “I believe, help me overcome my unbelief” .

We hold both in our hands belief and unbelief, but our God is faithful and He doesn’t act according to our faith, but according to His own faithfulness!

A Funeral, A Fire and A Wedding

Life is a strange mix, isn’t it?

This past month of April I feel as if we have had the full range of human emotions – sadness, despair, fear, joy and excitement, all brought through the everyday experience of everyday living.

Firstly there was the sudden and tragic death of a very dear Christian man in our community. He was what is known as a ‘character’, his death, like all deaths was sad, but oh how I heard him chuckle at the number and range of people squashed into the church, hearing the gospel as they attended his funeral. He would have rejoiced to see people there who have never attended church before!.

Joy in the midst of sorrow.

Then last week our community experienced the fear of the power of fire which took hold of the surrounding heathland, it raged day and night threatening our villages. What at first appeared spectacular, became something to be frightened of. The admiration for our firecrews grew as they battled day and night and the relief was palpable when the fire was finally extinguished.

Relief after the fire.

Then at the weekend I attended a wedding, a happy event yes, but for me also tinged with sorrow. I was happy and glad for the groom to have found happiness again in his widowerhood, to have found joy after his sadness. But for me, the best and longest friend of his late wife, it was filled with memories and sadness, her children and her other friends all there reminding me of her and the gap she left.

Sorrow in the midst of joy.

I don’t want it to be a cliché when I quote, “For everything there is a season and a time”, but just like the weather in Scotland when you can experience all 4 seasons in one day, so also it appears that in life you can experience different circumstances all in one short month accompanied with the different range of emotions within each season. Joy in Sorrow; Sorrow in Joy; Awe in Fear; Relief in Tears.

I think it is to allow yourself to experience, to go through the emotions, the grief, the fear, the pain, the joy and the happiness and to remember that for everything – there is a purpose under heaven and to submit to God in each of these times and seasons.

Ecclesiastes 3:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Love

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Finishing off today looking at these three things which last forever – today we are looking at Love.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 

John 15:13

This is Easter Monday, and what a demonstration of love we have just seen – Jesus dying on the cross for us. There could never be more powerful demonstration of God’s love for us.

We are repeatedly told in the Bible that God’s love is faithful, that it is steadfast, that it is everlasting, yet we can doubt that. Perhaps we don’t feel good or worthy enough to receive that love or perhaps that hasn’t been our experience, we have only experienced rejection failure, hardship and we wonder where God is let alone feeling His deep compassion and heart of love towards us.

If this is the case dear friend, still be assured that God is a God of love, look at the cross, look at His son hanging there bearing all the pain and suffering of the world. He has taken it all upon Himself bearing it, paying the price for the sin and chaos and separation which is the reality of the world we live in.

Why? Why did He do that? Because of His great love towards us, so that we may be reconciled to God and have peace with Him. So that the love of God may be poured out into our hearts that we may know Him, know how deeply, committedly He loves us from the beginning of time, in working out this plan of salvation, to all eternity, God loves us.

So these three things remain – faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is holding onto the love God has for us.

Yes and that means you too my friend, God has set His steadfast, faithful, eternal love upon each one of us. As we hold onto faith as we hold onto hope let us also hold on to the love of God which endures forever.!

Hope

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinithins 13:13

Last week we looked at Faith, this week we are looking at the second of these three things which last forever – Hope.

Let me first of all say what this Hope isn’t! It isn’t wishful thinking! It isn’t saying things like “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow”, when there is absolutely no basis for holding to that hope. We use this word hope so loosely that it is hard to define it in a meaningful way.

But let us start by saying that hope needs a foundation, it has to be placed in something/someone trustworthy. Otherwise we are just going to be disappointed, and every time we place our hope erroneously in something/someone untrustworthy it erodes our hope and we become cynical and bitter and find it hard to take people at their word and which then reflects in our reluctance and inability to trust in God.

So hope, as in one of these three things which are going to last forever, what is it?

It is a desire with an expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. So it isn’t a vague wishful thinking, but there is an expectation of fulfillment. So hope in the bible is based on an expectation that God is faithful and that He will fulfill what He has promised, He will do what He said He would.

How do we know this, that God is trustworthy? Well we can read through the Old Testament and see in the history of the Israelites how again and again God did what He said He would do. We can see that He was faithful and as we move into the New Testament we see all His love and promises for redemption fulfilled in Jesus. Perhaps the thing which proves Him most trustworthy of all is that God did not withhold His own Son, His beloved son, so if He was willing to give up His Son so that we can be reconciled to Him surely this is definitive proof that God is trustworthy and we can place our hope in Him?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:32

God then is our solid, secure anchor on whom we can place our hope.

19 This hope is a safe anchor for our souls. It will never move. This hope goes into the Holiest Place of All behind the curtain of heaven. 20 Jesus has already gone there.

Hebrews 6:19

As we go into Easter week and think of the death and resurrection of Jesus, we see that Jesus has already gone into heaven before us to prepare a place for us. He is there, He is waiting, He is preparing our place.

Do not let your heart be troubled. You have put your trust in God, put your trust in Me also. There are many rooms in My Father’s house. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going away to make a place for you. After I go and make a place for you, I will come back and take you with Me.

John 14:1-3

That hope that we are speaking of then is an eternal hope, it is found in Jesus, it is firm and sure, we have the surety of it, the conviction, the evidence.

Our outward present circumstances then are not the end of our story, but we have a hope for a better, more glorious, more secure future for eternity and that is firm, that is fixed, that is unmovable.

Our hope is sure and will last for ever.

Faith

As we enter into April our thoughts turn towards Easter, and just for a change I thought that over the next three weeks our meditations could be on Faith; Hope and Love.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinithians 13:13

This verse is often mis-quoted; quoted out of context and sentimentalized during Wedding Ceremonies, but let us think on them as the things which are going to last forever, looking firstly at Faith.

So what is faith?

The best definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1

Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”

So faith is a reality, there is assurance, there is evidence for it, there is substance to it; it is not vague or woolly, or inconsequential.

The ESV Footnotes says: “Faith is a settled confidence that something in the future – something God has promised – will actually happen because God will make it happen.”

So faith is in God, faith is in His promises.

Our faith then is a belief in God, that God is all powerful, that He can make things happen; and that God is faithful to His promises and will do as He says.

But how can we know that?

Simply by knowing Him! As we come to know God more fully our belief and our trust in Him grow. We get to know Him firstly through the Bible, we read about Him in the old Testament, we read of His acts of mercy and grace towards His people; we see that He set His faithful love upon them and worked on their behalf to bring about their redemption, saving them from their waywardness. Then as we move into the New Testament we see God revealed through His Son Jesus, who is “the exact imprint of His nature” (Heb 1:3)

We see Jesus and He shows us the Father heart of God. We see Jesus, the sacrifice of the Father in giving up His Son for us that we may be saved, that we may be loved, that God’s own promises would be fulfilled in bringing salvation to all who would believe.

But what does that mean for us in the everyday? What about when our circumstances are tough and we find it hard to see past them to see God?

Well, we can trust our past experiences of God; we can trust the experiences others have had as described in the bible. And we can trust facts over our feelings, that such a God who was willing to fulfil His own plan of salvation, through the costly sacrifice of His own Son, who proved Himself by sending His Son – this God is worthy of our trust. This is the God we put our faith in.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:32

So we have assurance that God is for us, the evidence of that is found in Jesus. We may not see, but we KNOW. We know God, we know what He has done for us, and we have been shown how much He loves us.

Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen

No matter our circumstance then, or the fact that we are clinging on to Faith with our finger nails, we have the assurance that the things promised and hoped for will come to be, even though as yet they may seem afar off.

May we be strengthened in our faith today dear friends as we know, trust and put our faith in our faithful God, looking to Him who promised and who is faithful to keep His promises.

Be blessed.

Spring

I used to think Autumn was my favourite season of the year, but this year it definitely is Spring. Spring is the word-prompt for the #Five Minute Friday group of writers today.

I don’t know why this past winter has seemed darker and longer than others but it has, February came and I was hopeful for the first signs of spring, but alas none came which made winter drag out even more. But in with March and wow Spring has sprung in!

Such joy, such hope, such delight, such relief!

I wonder if we are a bit like that spiritually too? We long for the dark winter of our souls to be over, to be past, we long to feel the joy of the Lord again. It seems like such a long time that we have been sitting with this darkness and low feeling at our feet, that we long for it to lift, to see a ray of light, even a beam of sunshine in our souls.

We are not good at “sitting” with pain, with trials, with hardships, with depression, with darkness, we are always wanting to rush on, to move past it, to get to the other side. Yet, Yet often it is in our weakness that we see and experience more of God’s mercy and Grace, so perhaps the lesson of Winter is Patience and the joy of Spring is the reaping of that patience?

Today, I am thankful that I live in a country with seasons and I am thankful to have the God who is faithful through each and every season which come, both of nature and of the soul.

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.’
Gen 8:22

Easy

I agree with Kate over at #Five Minute Friday, that I have an easy life in comparison to many around the world. I have much to be grateful for, much to give thanks for, yet I find myself this morning having a pity-party for one!

I haven’t had one of those for a while, I used to be very prone to them, but have been trying to practice thanksgiving which has definitely helped keep the pity-parties at bay.

But today I am feeling sorry for myself. So I acknowledge that, I acknowledge that I have allowed burdens to build and weigh on me, instead of putting them down, I have gathered them all up and I am feeling sorry for myself that I have to carry all these things, no-one knows, no-one cares etc, here I am with a heavy load, poor me!!

But wait a minute.

What was that?

Did I hear my Lord speak?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Ah such sweet words!

But in order for me to take up this yoke, I need to first of all put down all those burdens, worries, cares, concerns and anxieties which I have gathered. My Lord is humble and gentle of heart, He knows, He sees, He understands and He didn’t give me any of those burdens I am carrying. So I put them down, so that I can learn of Him, so that I can take His yoke which is easy because He is the other half pulling the weight and His burden is light, He doesn’t put anything on me which He Himself is not going to help me carry and be with me for the time I do.

Today Lord, I put my burdens down, may I let You teach me, and may it be Your burden and Your yoke I come under and not those of my own making. Amen

Unfurling

The snowdrops have been joined by the crocuses which are beginning to unfurl in the first of the Spring sunshine.

The hens are unfurling from their hunched perches, finding delight in dry ground and dust baths.

The sheep, no longer bunched together for shelter, but relaxed, sitting spaced enjoying the chance to rest with the ewes who are with lamb.

The dog, now sprawled out in the sunshine instead of huddled in his kennel.

Yes, spring has finally come to the Croft and slowly, things are beginning to unfurl! That is what spring is like an unfurling. It has been a long, dark, slow, wet, winter so the joy to be able to stretch out, and feel the warmth of the sun entices even the slowest to unfurl.

And yes I am beginning to unfurl too.

Unfurl from the pain and hurt and fears. Unfurl from the burdens of life. Unfurl from the ‘what ifs’ and the disappointments.

Today, I am unfurling. I am basking in the Sun of Righteousness who has healing in His wings. I am unfurling as I find that peace in the Prince of Peace, who gives, not as the world gives, but as He gives. I am unfurling in the forgiveness of my sins through Jesus, I am unfurling in the Grace of God who extends love and mercy. I am unfurling in the faithfulness of God who knows the end from the beginning and extends grace in the middle. I am unfurling in the love and prayers of God’s people.

The saying is that if March ‘comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion’ and vice versa. So there may still be wild, hard days ahead, but for today I stop, I pause and I unfurl.

As the warmth of the sun and the ever increasing light of the days come, I rest in my Saviour, I unfurl from all that I have been holding in and I surrender it all to Him.