Tag Archive | Christian life

Nurturing friendships

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I have been thinking over the last few days about friendship. A few days ago our car died, and is now ready to be towed away to be scrapped. It is a sorry sight, standing sadly on our driveway, as though it knows that it will never again cruise along country lanes, or meander through city streets. I posted this sad story on Facebook and as a result, received so many messages of support and encouragement from lovely friends, and offers of help. It felt wonderful, like a warm hug. It got me thinking about the subject of friendship, and its more real and tangeable reality in our everyday lives.

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Our friendships are a precious gift from God and as such need to be nurtured and protected. Jesus treasured His friends and nurtured them. The dictionary definition of ‘nurture’ is:
To feed and protect. In John Chapter 6 verse 35, Jesus says, ‘I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and He who believes in Me will never be thirsty.’ 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 7 says, ‘[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’. He spent time with His friends, supporting and encouraging them. 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 verse 11 says, ‘Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’
He also trained them, to enable them to continue His ministry after His ascension, preparing them for the work ahead. (Luke Chapter 9 verses 1 to 27)

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I remember when going on holiday with my family, packing the boot of our car to capacity with everything we considered essential! I can’t go away without plenty of changes of clothes, toiletries, and of course, the absolute essential….hair straighteners! But Jesus on this occasion, told His friends to travel light. He sent them out in pairs, not alone, and their ministry was to proclaim the good news and heal the sick, just as they had seen Jesus do. In doing that, they were fulfilling people’s physical and spiritual needs. The disciples were to be provided for by the people in the villages they visited.  Jesus was training them to trust Him for their every need. This they did, so that different instructions could be given for their future ministry.

Jesus also understood His friends’ need for rest and quiet. He said to them one day when they must have been feeling overwhelmed with the volume of people and their needs, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

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God understands our need for space and quiet sometimes.

Some friendships are short term, others have the potential to be long term, and grow as our lives change.

‘A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.’ (William Shakespeare)

If it wasn’t for my family and good friends, I would never have survived some of the most difficult moments of my life. They gave me advice and a new perspective, they strengthened me and gave me courage to go on, and they were there for laughter and encouragement. Oh how I love to laugh with good friends!

Jesus went through tough times with His friends – Peter, one of His closest friends, denied he knew Him, at the time He needed him the most. In the Garden of Gethsemane, His friends fell asleep while He went through agony, yet, despite all that, they remained friends, and Jesus’ love for them never wavered.  Jesus understands our need for true friends.

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Sometimes we are so busy with life and family that we forget our friends. We must try not to take our friends for granted. Friendship is a choice, not an obligation and if we don’t value our friendships, they will disappear. If we ignore them, they will drift away. That has happened to me, as I get so busy with day to day living. Friendships need time, and communication. We spend time on the relationships that matter to us.

But our greatest and most precious Friend, and the most important relationship we can have, is Jesus. He died for you and me.

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We will find no greater friend. Let’s take time each day with Him, let Him teach us, encourage us, empower us, feed us, support and protect us, by His Word, and His Holy Spirit.

God bless you x

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The Lavish Giver

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I love presents! I love Christmas and birthdays, and I especially love receiving presents that my children have made themselves. The love, care and time that has gone into their creation and the eager anticipation they feel of my reaction to receiving them is lovely and I appreciate and love them so much.

God is a perfect Father. He loves to lavish His gifts on His children but so often we miss them because we get caught up in the things of the world that so easily get our attention. But the gifts that come from God are for building up His body, the church, which has eternal value.

‘If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!’ (Matthew 7 v 11)

”Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’ (James 1 v 17)

I want people to see in me what is from God and not from me. Our Heavenly Father wants to give us ‘the treasures of darkness…riches stored in secret places’ …

Jesus longs for people to know how much He loves them…enough to die for them. Those of us who know that love should be showing it every day. We should decrease so He is increased. We should be a beacon shining His light in a dark world, then people will be drawn to Him.  Why aren’t people being drawn to Him? Because they can’t see Him! Because we are often so anxious to blend in and not stand out from the crowd. Are we embarrassed by Jesus? Are people not seeing Him in us because we are trying to keep Him shut away in Churches?

When we allow Jesus to be seen in us through the gifts He gives us then people will be drawn to Him. Paul the apostle talks about these gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 v 7 – 11. Paul also writes about the fruit that people should be seeing in those who love Jesus. This can be found in Galatians 5 v 22 -23.

‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ‘

God has lavished these gifts on us…they pour from His heart every day. His love, His peace, His joy, His faithfulness and gentleness. These should be flowing through us and out of us every day. The gifts Paul describes in 1 Corinthians are for the edification of the Church and for reaching out to those who don’t know Jesus. The fruit is what we should be producing because we are rooted in Jesus.

Watchman Nee in one of his daily readings describes how I want to be each day, and how I see myself. We need a contrite and humble heart daily. We have a sinful nature that can be stirred up at any moment. My ideas are undependable. I dare not trust myself and unless I am sustained by God I will fall. This is why I want people to see Jesus and not me. I have been bought at a huge price. I belong to Jesus and in Him is fulness of joy, peace and love. It is the best way to live!

‘The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.’ (Isaiah 58 v 11)

‘I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.’ (Philippians 3 v 12)

God bless x

Gentle Waves…

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I’d like you to picture if you would a speed boat on the edge of a large lake. Underneath the boat are gentle waves, making it bob up and down. The boat is built for speed, but it has no engine and it is not going anywhere.

As humans we often want to do our own thing and get ‘ahead’ of God. With our own natural ‘engines’ which drive us we can go speeding off in any direction; humanly speaking, this is how we are naturally. But when we give our lives to God, trusting Him, then we can rest in Him. We are meant to be led by the Holy Spirit, His ‘waves’ leading us in the direction He wants us to go and, just as the boat doesn’t seem to be going anywhere at the moment, sometimes we just need to slow down, rest in God’s presence, and ‘Be still and know that He is God’.

It can be frustrating when our human nature wants to veer off and run ahead, but God in His grace and mercy removes our human ‘engines’ if we trust what Jesus did for us on the cross and in doing so, removes the power of sin and self-centredness from our lives, which frees us to be led by Him, who knows what is best for us and who guides us to our ‘desired haven’, our eternal home in heaven!

‘Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and He guided them to their desired haven.’ (Psalm 107 v 28-30)

Do you feel stressed, burned out, tired? Are you fed up of striving in your own strength? Do you feel as if you are running around in circles but not really getting anywhere? If you feel like this, just stop for a moment, find a quiet place and ask God to speak to you, even if you don’t know at this moment whether He even exists!  Just say something like, “God, I don’t know whether you are there, or if you are, whether you are listening, but if you are, please reveal yourself to me now somehow.” God answers an honest prayer like that. He wants to fill you with His love, joy and peace and He wants you to stop striving and start resting and trusting in Him to guide you. He loves us so much and wants the very best for us!

God has a great plan for your life. Why not ‘be still’ for a little while today and talk with Him about it? 

God bless you.

“Is God Deaf?”

A strange title, you may think! But there have been times in my life when I did think God might have selective hearing!! And it always seemed to be during the most difficult times of my life when I was crying out to God that He seemed not to be listening.

Why is this? Is God really not listening to our cries for help? Or is it that we are so busy yelling at Him and questioning His promises and His faithfulness, that we are not willing, or even thinking about being still and just…listening. When Elijah hid in his cave, God did not speak in the earthquake, the fire, or the wind, though He was there in the midst of all that. God spoke in the stillness….though He is awesome and mighty and all powerful, His was a still small voice….and in order to hear that still small voice we need to ‘be still…and know that He is God’. He is in control. He loves you. He has your best interests at heart. He KNOWS what you are going through. He knows your pain. He has answers to all your questions.

Faith is quieting…faith is knowing. Faith is stillness in the midst of the storm. Faith is a gift from God. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

Be still….and be at peace, knowing God really is in control. It will be ok. Bless you.

THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE

ImageThe Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.’  (Matthew Chapter 13 v. 44-46)

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John Chapter 3 v. 16)

Do you love anything or anyone enough to die for them?  It is a question I am asking myself, and the answer that comes to my mind as I think about it is…I hope so!  I hope I would die for my children, or anyone I love.  

When I think about the above verse, about God, the Creator of the Universe, holy, mighty, perfect, and then I think that He loves us so much that He gave up the most precious thing He had to save us, US!  We are certainly not perfect.  It seems like in the great scheme of things that we are like ants, we don’t really matter.  We live, we die, we do our best to be good, but fail so many times.  We have all done things we are ashamed of.  Yet, the perfect, awesome God gave Himself for us.  

It is nearly Christmas as I write, and at this time of year we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  He was born of a virgin, and He was the Son of God.  He came to this earth for one purpose, to show us what God is like, and to die a cruel death to take the punishment for everything we have done wrong.  God Incarnate, God, embodied as a man, living the perfect life because He knew we never could, dying for us, so that we could be saved and be with Him for ever when we die.  Why did He do that?

Jesus Himself tells the story of the Merchant who was looking for fine pearls.  When he found one of great value, he sold everything he had and bought it.  God created us.  He created you.  You were not an accident.  You were made for a purpose.  He loves you and showed His immense love by giving everything He had for you…His life.  He doesn’t want any of us to be punished for the things we have done wrong, so He took the punishment for us.  He loves us THAT much!

What is our response to such incredible love?  To receive it.  That’s it.  To believe that Jesus died for us, to invite Him into our lives, and receive all the love He has for us.  To realise that we are not perfect, and that we never can be, that we can never ever earn our way to heaven.  We can in ourselves never be good enough, but Jesus was.  He lived the perfect life for us, showing us how much God loves us, and He died the death that we deserve, because ‘….all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3 v. 23)

We have all done things that are wrong and we all need forgiveness.  Jesus is worth giving our whole lives for.  He is the pearl of great price, and, amazingly, He also thinks of us as precious pearls.  He gave up everything for us, but that wasn’t the end.  He rose again.  He is alive and will reign forever in heaven.  

God loves you.  You are precious to Him.  Will you accept His love and His precious gift today?

God bless you.

Heather x

Grasshoppers and Giants

ImageAre you facing a giant today?  In the Bible, you will find the story in Numbers Chapter 13, verses 26 to 33, twelve men were sent out from the Israelites to explore the land of Canaan, which God had promised them as their inheritance.  Twelve men were sent out, but only two were confident that they could take the land.  Ten men were afraid of the people they saw there, called the Nephilim, and who seemed like giants because they were very tall!  They said to Moses and Aaron, “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them!”

If we abandon our faith in God and turn away from our problems, then we easily put ourselves in a position to be swallowed up by what was meant for our growth.

In the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 2 verses 1 to 5, Paul speaks to the church in Corinth, and in this passage and elsewhere, he and others present to us two kinds of Christian experience, both are equally valid and necessary.  On the one hand, there are such strong, almost boastful affirmations, for example, “God…always leads us in triumph in Christ!” or “To me to live is Christ!” and “I can do all things in Him that strengthens me!”  Yet, on the other hand, Paul, and others, with equal truth, write that they have had to confess “We despaired even of life!”, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the worst!” and “We also are weak in Him!”

This seems to be another kind of Christian!  Faulty, frail, fearful, and alarmingly lacking in confidence.  But in fact, the real life of a child of God consists in the co-existence of these two experiences.  We would all prefer, of course, to concentrate on the first, and forget the other, but to know them both is to know Him who is our loving Heavenly Father, our God, however we feel…and we can know and rely on His strength, whatever we are going through.

The trials we experience, and there may be one confronting you at this very moment, may be quite as gigantic as were some of the Canaanites, but God intends to use them for our good, and on our way to our destination in heaven, where they will be no more, they will bring us closer to Jesus as we rely on His strength and not our own.  I don’t know about you, but not having to rely on my own strength is a great relief!  I am weak but God is strong! Amen!

Whatever you are facing today, turn to God, be honest and tell Him how you feel…He loves that!  Be still, and know that He is in control and that He loves you very much.  He wants the very best for you – He is the perfect Father and He is bigger than all our giants!  I pray you will know His peace in the coming days.  God bless you.

Heather

12 Again

If you have children, you may have seen the programme on CBBC called 12 Again.  In this show, celebrities look back at the time when they were twelve and to things they remember most about that year, things that happened in the news and to them, and what they would say if they were to meet themselves at twelve years old again.  The latest celebrities on the show were Dominique Moore, Ian Watkins and Angela Rippon.  It is so interesting to look back at the shows that were on in the years they look at, especially when it is someone who is my age!

I have recently been reading about another famous person, looking back at when he was twelve years old.  This story can be found in Luke 2 verses 41-52.  It describes the account of Jesus, who went that year with his parents (as they did every year) to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  When they were returning home, his parents lost him, as, unbeknown to them, he had stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Eventually, after travelling on without him for a day (there were many people with them and it would have been easy for them to think he was among the crowd), they eventually began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  They could not find him, so they travelled all the way back to Jerusalem.

They found him in the Temple and his Mother was rather upset!  She said to him, “Son!  Why have you treated us like this?  Your Father and I have been anxiously searching for you!”  It was understandable – I would feel the same.  But Jesus gave her a very unusual answer.  He said to her, “Why were you searching for me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

What did that mean?

Jesus knew He was on this earth for a purpose.  Both His parents knew who He was, the Son of God.  Jesus was secure with His Heavenly Father.  He knew who He was, He knew He was loved by His Father in heaven.

Our Heavenly Father, our Creator, wants us to be that secure in our relationship with Him.  What are your memories of being a twelve year old?  God wants us to come like a little child to our Heavenly Father.  He wants us to know that we are loved, that we are secure in Him.

In Luke 18 verses 15-17 people brought children to Jesus and He loved them and blessed them.  He never turns anyone away who comes to Him.  We need to come to Him just as we are, simply, like a little child.  Know this…you are loved and God created you for a purpose.

Jesus knew His Heavenly Father loved Him.  He knew God would always affirm Him as His precious Son.  God does the same with us…if He is not saying it to Jesus, He is not saying it to you or me.  He says “You are my precious son…You are my precious daughter.  I have great plans for you.”

Don’t strive to do better, don’t screw yourself up and try too hard.  The best gifts of God are free.  Come to Jesus just as you are, like a little child, and know you are loved…..