Tag Archive | church

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

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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.

Joy! The Heartbeat of Heaven!

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Today has been one of those days when I wish I could have stayed in bed! I clean houses on four days a week and today I felt as if I was working on autopilot! I felt so tired! I expect you, like me, have had days like that. Maybe today is one of them.

When I got home from work, I decided to have a rest before our daughter came home. While resting on my bed I began to read my book at the page where I had got to. The book is called The Happy Intercessor and is by Beni Johnson.  As I read I was reminded that God WANTS to release JOY in us! If we know and love God and have accepted Jesus as our Saviour then we are already citizens of heaven! The world we live in now needs to see happy, joyful, alive people of God who love and serve others with hearts full of joy! The Bible says, ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength!’ Jesus, though He suffered a lot on this earth, was full of joy and He brought heaven’s joy to many many people wherever He went. He wants us to do the same!

‘If I say, “I will forget my complaint, I will put off my sad face and wear a smile.” ‘ (Job 9: 27)

This doesn’t mean gritting our teeth when we are going through a difficult time. It means consciously deciding to accept our Heavenly Father’s offer of the gift of Joy…..a present from heaven. Jesus showed this joy which, like God’s peace, another free gift, is beyond our human understanding.  We can’t always control our circumstances, but we can decide to ‘put off [our] sad face[s] and wear a smile! We can’t do it in our own strength but God will give us the gift of joy…all we need do is ask Him for it!

After reading my book, I decided that I was fed up of feeling fed up!! Even though I am still feeling very tired, I did ask God for His gift of joy, and guess what! I am smiling!

God bless you and fill you with His love, joy and peace. Amen.

“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.

NETS OF MERCY – CHAPTER NINE

‘You are my precious child and I love you.  I am working in those hidden areas of your life which are so deep that you are unaware of them, though you are aware of the effects they are having now.  Don’t be afraid, child.  I will never give up on you.  I won’t give up until you are cleansed and healed from your hurts.  You are my precious, beloved child.  You are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I am with you.  When you go through the fire, you will not be burnt.  I will never leave you alone.  You are always with me.  You will be free, child, I promise.’

April 2009.  One day, as I was reading the book, ‘If only – moving from blame to forgiveness and beyond’ by David A. Seamands, I was reading about Jesus’ crucifixion at the point where, God, His Father, turns His face away from Jesus when He cries out, ‘Father, why have you forsaken me?’  I found I was suddenly very angry at God for doing that.  I tried to push it down because I knew it was wrong, but it persisted.  I realised that there must be some deep down anger against God my Father for hurts that at that moment I knew nothing about, that must lie buried and which I didn’t even know were there.  Maybe I was angry at God because He allowed them?

I knew that Jesus identified with my humiliations and fears, because of what He endured on the cross, but I had not realised that God my Father identified with them too.  God the Father turned away from Jesus at that point.  Because He turned away from Jesus on the cross I felt as if He had turned away from me at the times of my greatest need.  I knew in my head that this wasn’t true, but not in my heart.

My buried hurts had led to a lot of negative feelings against Paul.  I had struggled with this anger for so long.  Also, for a long time, as far back as I could remember, it’s hard to describe, but I hadn’t felt ‘free.’  It was like there was a blockage somewhere.  Even after very intimate times with God, afterwards, I was back to the old behaviour and I had always hated myself for it.  I had always had this nagging voice saying it was all my fault.  Like an weight, but at times, hardly noticeable – but always ‘there’.  I realised that it was a destructive root and I needed it pulled out.  There began a kind of excitement and hope in me that this was the means of my healing – at last!

The following Sunday, I went to church and asked two lovely friends to pray for me.  I cried a lot!  One lady had a lovely song she sang.   The words said that God my Father has called me by name and that I was His child.  I was HIS!  She also had a picture of a shepherd with a sheep on his shoulder, gently rocking it and singing to it.  I believe the song that she sang was the song the shepherd was singing.  The other lady, was stroking my hair and praying.

I knew the root had been pulled out.  I knew I was cradled in my Heavenly Father’s arms.  I cried that I was sorry I had been so angry with Him.  The friend who was praying for me said that it wasn’t my fault.  She also said I must place this burden at the foot of the cross, and I did.  I prayed that God would take it.  He had seen how I had handled it!  She told me not to take it back.  I didn’t want it back.

The friend who had been singing to me said that I would probably be exhausted when I got home.  I did feel tired, so had a rest, but a bit later, Paul, Chloe and I took Megan for a walk along the sea front, starting at the Spa, round the coast and up Holbeck Hill, stopping for a hot chocolate on the way.  It was a gentle stroll in the sunshine and was so lovely.

Later, lying on my bed, I felt tired out.  I actually felt sore, as if I had had an operation.  I asked God to pour His healing balm into the wound to heal it completely.  I rang my friends who had prayed with me from my mobile, while still lying on my bed and told them I felt just as if I had had an operation.  They were over the moon!  They advised me to fill up on God’s Word, to fill up the hole that was left.

Just like an operation, when something bad is taken out that shouldn’t be there, it takes time for the wound that is left to heal.  My lovely friend told me to be kind to myself.  All I wanted to do was just sit on my Heavenly Father’s knee and let Him guide and love me.

The next day, during the early evening, I plonked myself down on the settee and settled down to watch the Antiques Roadshow.  During one of the commercial breaks there was an advert for ‘Roundup’ – a weed killer!  It showed the weed being killed from the roots.  The slogan was, ‘Kill the root – kill the weed!’

That morning I had tried to read my normal daily readings, but I just couldn’t study the readings at all.  I had got to the book of James and managed a few verses, but I just couldn’t read any more.  It was a strange feeling, as if something was pressing on the sore part of me.  I needed something soothing, like a balm.  I read Psalm 23.  The night before, I had asked God to put a calming verse into my mind and the words, ‘He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul,’ came into my mind.  Those last few words had a wonderful new meaning for me.  So I read Psalm 23 and it really was balm to my soul.  I didn’t need instruction at that time, just my Father God sitting me on His knee, stroking my hair and saying soothing words to me.

I had told Paul what had happened to me and he was lovely.  That evening he came home from work at teatime, and I knew he meant well, but he was rather ‘in my face’!  He really wanted to help and I loved him for it, but I couldn’t take any kind of pressure.  I just needed to receive from God and allow Him to heal the wound.  I tried not to be irritable, and felt momentary panic that I might have gone back to square one, but I knew without a shadow of doubt that God had done something wonderful in me and would continue to work in me.

‘The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.’  (Zephaniah 3 v. 17)

May 2009.  One morning I got to town early after dropping Chloe off at school.  After grabbing a take-away coffee, I sat on a seat overlooking Scarborough Harbour and sat silently listening to God.  I watched the seagulls soaring on the air currents, effortlessly.  A lady in our housegroup the previous evening had told us of when she was on the island of Lindesvarne and she was watching the seagulls.  It was windy, and some were struggling against the wind, but others were flying with the wind.  The birds trust the air currents completely and depend on them, resting on them and going where they take them.  Those struggling and flapping against the air currents are striving in their own strength, but those leaning on them and trusting them go where they take them and don’t have to strive.

This was how I wanted my relationship with God to be.  I wanted to be utterly dependant on Him, not struggling and striving in my own strength.

‘…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’

June 2009.  One Saturday I went to a New Wine Conference.  Mark Carey, the son of Archbishop Carey of Durham, led it and spoke on Luke 4 verses 1-15, about Kingdom Breakthrough.  At the end of the first session a lovely lady prayed for me and she told me that God thinks I am beautiful!  She said that when He looks at me, I am the apple of His eye and as she prayed I fell to the floor.  When I got up the lady said she had seen a picture of a wild, bubbling stream, going anywhere it pleased.

Later on there was a seminar on prophecy.  During the seminar we split into groups of four and three of us prayed for one person.  Then we swapped around, but I didn’t get a turn to be prayed for as we ran out of time!  So the leader of the seminar asked those of us who hadn’t been prayed for to go to the front and he would pray for us.  When it got to my turn he said I was a people person, (he called me an evangelist!)  He also told me that I had a pain in my lower back which he thought related to my work.  It was true!  I had been sitting on a high stool at work behind the shop counter and it had given me a pain in my lower back.  As he prayed for me, down I went again (I thought, ‘this is becoming a habit!)  When I got up, a man who had been sitting next to me in the seminar said he had been getting a picture in his mind of a fragile vase, easily hurt and easily broken.  He said I felt like I was that vase (true!) but that actually I was protected, as if I was totally wrapped in bubble wrap, but that it wasn’t restricting.  I had a freedom and strength that came from God.

He also said that I felt trapped as if in a spider’s web.  That I didn’t feel free or released.  He prayed for me and I saw chains around my feet!  He told me to take a step forward.  I took a step forward and actually found myself stepping over the chains!  He told me to take another step forward.  I did, and he said I was free of the chains.  He told me to walk in that freedom from now on.

‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’ (Galatians 5 v. 1)

Another step on my journey…..