May He…

Another year draws to a close and another year begins. In some ways, as Christians, this is not an epic event as for us every day is a new beginning.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” (Lamentations 3: 22-24 NKJV)

Every day our hope is renewed because His mercies are new!!

Nevertheless, many of us look to January 1 as a symbolic way to close the door on the old and  open the door for the new. With that in mind I have some verses to give you encouragement for the start of 2019. They are my prayer for you and over you. I hope you will declare these verses over yourselves.

Most of the verses are from Psalm 20, which without apology I will quote in full.

“The Assurance of God’s Saving Work

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

 May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
And strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
And accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfil all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation,
And in the name of our God we will set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfil all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
They have bowed down and fallen;
But we have risen and stand upright.

Save, Lord!
May the King answer us when we call.” (NKJV)

This is an amazing psalm and very appropriate for the start of something new. King David, who wrote it, continually brings us back to the one who we need to keep looking to for help…. “May the Lord….”, “May the name of the Lord…..”, “May He….”, “May He….”, “May He….”, “May the Lord….”, “May the King….”!!!!!

My favourite verse is verse 4…..

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, And fulfil all your purpose.

Wow!!! What else do you need for your new start along with His mercies renewed every day? I pray this for you and have no doubt that God will fulfil this for you. Your heart’s desire may not even be that clear to you, but God knows. He sees your heart. Let me make this clear, your heart’s desires are not necessarily the things you want or feel you need. Your heart’s desire is that deep longing in your spirit that only God can see. He will answer that longing as He is the only one who can fulfil it. It is the second half of the verse, however, that speaks volumes to me and I hope resonates with you.

May He fulfil all your purpose. !!

May the great I Am complete everything He has planned for your life. I love this. God will fulfil everything He has purposed for me. Declare this. You see, that deep longing in your heart, that deep desire, is a desire to obtain the purpose He has for us. He wants nothing more than to achieve that because that is His best for us. That is what I pray for you as you read this post, that you will receive all that He has for you.

I don’t want to labour the point, so let’s look at the other prayer points in Psalm 20.

May the Lord answer you when you are in trouble! May the great ‘I Am’ defend you. May He send you help and strengthen you! May He remember the sacrifices of praise and worship. May God give you answers to your prayers. May He give you the strength of His right hand. Even the strength of His little finger nail would be amazing, never mind His whole hand!!!!! Of course we must remember who sits at God’s right hand.

Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8: 34 NKJV)

This verse brings us very nicely to the final verse of Psalm 20…..

Save, Lord!
May the King answer us when we call.” (NKJV)

Our King is Jesus and He is at God’s right hand interceding for us. Yes our King stands continually in our place right next to the father. He is our go between, our intermediary. He is always involved in our lives.

So… let’s remember that God wants to bless you. He wants to strengthen you and be part of your life. Let these next two verses be so much part of your life and mine each new day.

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”(Romans 15:13 NKJV)

“The Lord bless you and keep you;  The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6: 24-26 NKJV)

 

 

IMPORTANT

If you have that longing to be part of God’s family, declare openly that Jesus is Lord of your life and believe that God raised Him from the dead and you will have a glorious future with Him.

Romans-10.9

OH! Shame

I broke a plate – “OH! shame”54525.png

I have a headache – “OH! shame”

We lost the game – “OH! shame””

I lost my job – “OH! shame”

I failed my exam – “OH! shame”

We’re not together any more – “OH! shame”

There are so many times in our lives when we have the word shame spoken over us. Here areHall-of-Shame-Futuremarks-3DMark-de-lists-HTC-and-Samsung-for-cheating some common shame idioms:

“For shame! Hide one’s face in shame, put someone to shame, shame of it, shame on you, it’s a shame, it’s a crying shame, don’t you feel any shame? I am ashamed of you, you shame me, what a shame, such a shame, bow your head in shame, go to the shame corner, you bring me shame.” 

The list goes on. We seem to have been brought up to feel shame. People have spoken shame into us so much and so often that for some people it has become the norm. I was brought up feeling ashamed to be me. One of my Mum’s favourite sayings was, “Why can’t you be more like Paul Taylor?” Paul was my best friend! We lived in he same street. Went to the same school but he was cleverer than me and was in a higher class.  I tell you I spent my life trying to be someone else because I knew that I wasn’t enough for my Mum. I needed to be like Paul Taylor. All it spoke to me was “Shame you are you!”

Firstly I tell this story to warn you about the words that come out of your mouth. All words are powerful. Be careful what you say to your children.

The tongue can bring death or life;  those who love to talk will reap the consequences. (Proverbs 18:21 NLT)

Secondly I tell the story about Paul Taylor because it taught me that shame only comes from one place and that is the enemy. My Mum started the Paul Taylor story but the enemy took it to a whole new level, He brought me into shame. I wasn’t the only one he did this to. Adam and Eve started us on the journey. Remember the Story in Genesis chapter 3. Adam and Eve are tempted by the devil and succumb to eating the fruit. What is the first thing they feel? That’s right…. SHAME!!

At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (Gen3:7 NLT)

One minute they were okay and the next they knew shame. All I can say is thanks for nothing. When I get to heaven I am going to seek out the man and woman without belly buttons and give them a piece of my mind!! Just kidding!!! I digress… psychologists today call it the ‘shame Spiral’ This is exactly what it is, a spiral. It started with the fruit and then, as with Adam and Eve, it just spirals out of control. The outcome was the same for them as it is for all of us. Separation from a loving Father. One minute they are walking in the garden with their Father the next they are hiding from Him, naked and full of shame. When we live ashamed we cut ourselves of from God’s total love.

One of the saddest verses in scripture is in Genesis Chapter 3,

“But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” “ (Gen 3:9 NLT)

You can feel the Father’s heart. You can hear His heart break. “Where are you?”

His children were hiding from Him! When we feel shame it causes us to hide from God and those around us. It often causes us to be isolated. Shame can be a killer. Suicide is often a result of people not being able to bear the shame or not wanting others to see their shame.

I believe there is only one true answer to stop the shame spiral and that is dwelling in the love of God and knowing what He says about us. Let me share with you how God broke the spiral in me. To do this I have to go back to Paul Taylor!! May God bless him wherever he is now!! I grew up believing I wasn’t good enough. If only I could be like someone else then I could find love. This became a major reason for my mental illness. I had to find the person that I needed to be, to be loved. I was never enough. My relationships proved it. My life echoed it. I sought out people to love me and to do that I took on their identity. I liked what they liked. I wanted what they wanted.

I think one of the saddest things was that actually I was a good kid. All through my teens I went to church three times a Sunday. I loved God. I never really rebelled. When I left home to train to be a teacher my first thought was to find other Christians and a good church. I still wasn’t enough though. My mistakes in life, my sin, was amplified. It just showed that I needed to be a different person. Shame for being you! Is all I heard. Shame for being you! Even church told me that I needed to be ashamed of who I was. In fact for a long period of time I stopped going to church because I felt no point. I could never be enough! I knew God loved me, that Jesus died for me and wanted me but somehow I couldn’t get out of the spiral. The Spiral got so out of control that in August 2015  I ended up again in a mental Institution after a failed suicide attempt. I have already mentioned this in previous posts and I do it again not for anyone to feel sorry for me but to see that if God can do something miraculous with someone in a Mental Hospital He can do it for you in your situation.

God began to show me who I was. He showed me I was unique. The key for me was that I started to believe what God said about me in His word. I started declaring what God said about me in His word over my life. Declaring what God says about you is an important part of seeing who you are. There are so many people around who are willing to declare other things over you  that you need to start to counter that by listening to what your Heavenly Father says and begin speaking it over your own life. Start by declaring these verse from Psalm 139 and when you do ask the Holy Spirit to come and make them real for you.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You.” (Psalm 139: 13-18 NKJV)
Make the declarations personal:
My Heavenly Father formed my inward parts.

chosen

My Heavenly Father covered me in my mother’s womb.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Marvellous are Your works, and so I must be Marvellous.
I was not hidden from You when I was made in secret.
Your eyes saw who I was even before I was formed.
Every day you have for me was already written down even before I was born.
You think about me all the time. 
You think I am precious.
You will never leave me.
There is no shame mentioned is there? God is not ashamed of you, so why should you feel shame. God knows more about you than you do, so start believing what He says about you. You see, when Jesus died on the cross He took our shame and bore it himself:

 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

Every thing about the cross was shameful.

He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. (Isaiah 93:3 NKJV)

As it is written:“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offence,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”” (Romans 9:33 NKJV)

If Jesus was willing enough to carry our shame, surely we need to let ours go. If we are still going to carry the shame around it is as if we are saying “Thank you Jesus but I can actually manage fine without you”!!

So Let’s stop living like this:

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And start living in this:

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God’s Glory for us. Start declaring. Have a look at the posts on this blog about declarations and also search the Web. There are some great sites out there. We have no excuse for living a second rate life. Jesus lives in us:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NLT)

We also live in Him in Heavenly places. There is no shame in Heaven so don’t let the enemy put you on the shame spiral any more.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” (Eph 2:6 NLT)

Here are some more verses you can make into declarations about yourself.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor 5:17 NKJV)

I am in Christ therefore I am a new Creation.
The Old has gone therefore my shame has gone.

I am completely new.

 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; (1 Peter 2:9 NKJV)

I am chosen.
I belong to a royal priesthood.
I belong to a holy nation therefore God sees me as holy,
I am called out of darkness.

I live in His marvellous light.

Make some declarations from the following verses:

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”  (Col 3:3 NKJV)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: (John 1:12 NKJV)

and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Rom 8:17 NKJV)

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Cor 2:14)

Always remember who you are!!

iknowwhoiam2

 

A Glass Half Empty

Arevenuehalfempty-full_0re you a glass half full or half empty person? Do you see things as if they are positive or negative,  are you optimistic or pessimistic? How do you look at your life? Is your life a half full life or is it a life half empty?

I want to challenge you to see the glass completely differently. Have a look at the picture at the top of the page. What do you see? I want to challenge you to see the glass as full. Not half of any thing but full. The glass is full. Bottom half is liquid and the top half is air. It is full. Now stay with me, don’t go away! I will explain.

When we look at the glass we look with our knowledge, what we think we know. Turn it around to our lives. If your life has always seemed to throw up complications and pitfalls, your mind will tell you that this is the norm and so you tend to look at situations pessimistically. Even when your life is going swimmingly you are waiting for the problem to arise! You may have the opposite mindset and know that you have always some how got through, you may be a ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ type of person. Both ways of looking at life are intrinsically wrong. Why? Because we need to start looking at life as God does and not as man does.

If you are an optimist or a pessimist both arguments are wrong because it makes you think that life is all about you. Situations always workout well for me and so I look positively at life, or conversely nothing works out for me and so what can I hope for. SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Life is not about you but about God. We are created for God, not ourselves. We are here for the sole purpose of bringing Glory to Him. We need to start allowing God to change our perspective. How many of you pessimists out there have tried in vain to change your outlook on life. You have tried valiantly to learn ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, and for a time you succeed but it doesn’t last. The reason is that you think that life is about you but it’s not. Life is about God. Your life is all about God and we need to learn how to Glorify Him in it. Paul in his letter to the Romans explains it better than I can:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12: 1-2 NKJV)

Our life is about God. We give ourselves to God as a “Living Sacrifice” and through this our mind will be renewed. When Paul wrote this letter he didn’t write with chapters and verses so it is important to see what he wrote before this. At the end of chapter 11 we have:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counsellor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?”  For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NKJV)

Read them both together………. Do you see the picture? God is all Glorious and so we give our lives to Him as a living sacrifice. If we don’t conform to this world, i.e., don’t think like the world thinks but have a change in the way we think. This is the renewing of the mind. Life is not about optimism or pessimism, life is about God. God is in charge. He is our shepherd. When Paul in his letter to the Phillipians tells us to Rejoice always, he is not telling us to think positively. He wants us to know that God is in charge. How is it possible to be anxious about nothing. We are born being anxious but if we can see that we are here for God and that He is our Shepherd,  then we can have peace that is beyond what you can understand.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV)

Paul  also says:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thes 5:16-18 NKJV)
This is God:
“For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.” (Isaiah 64;4 NKJV)
No matter how hard we try to understand God’s ways we can’t. His ways are not our ways. He never seems to do the same thing twice. Every miracle that Jesus did is done differently than the one before. One blind man is healed differently than the next. Jesus shows us how big God is and yet we still put Him in a box. He is too big for that. He will show us how amazing He is if we let Him. He wants to glorify Himself through us! David puts it so well in my favourite Psalm:
“He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3 NKJV)
Why does He lead us? For His name’s sake!! Not for our sake but for His Glory!
I know I might be stretching the analogy but look at the glass at the top of the page again. It is a glass just waiting, resting, standing……. expectant. The glass has a purpose, it is useful no matter how much is in it. Let us all see that we are all useful to God no matter how we think our lives look. He has chosen you before the beginning of time to bring Him the Glory.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1:5 ESV)
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,  having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:4-6 NKJV)
 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11 NKJV)
We need to see this is God’s truth. When Paul talks about the armour of God, he tells us to put on the Belt of Truth. The ‘Truth’ here is God’s Truth, what God says. The only way we can find out what God says is by getting in His word. You will be so surprised about what God says about you. I can tell you that you have ideas about yourself that are certainly not God’s.
“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth” (Eph 6:14 NKJV)
If you look at the first couple of  Posts on this Blog you will see they are on declarations, declaring God’s word over your life. It is so important to see yourself as God sees you. Put on the belt of all that God thinks about you. You need the best information to make the best decisions! Who has the best information about you? God does! Where do you find that information? In His word! In the Psalms we find this verse:
I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. (Psalm 119:147 NKJV)
Most Bible historians attribute Psalm 119 as a psalm of David although the Bible doesn’t tell us. So by the looks of this verse David was a glass half full kind of guy, an optimist. The key is the word ‘hope”! His hope is in God’s word. At least optimists have hope. They feel there is going to be something better. Hope is vital to life, but…..and yes there is a but!! There is something bigger and stronger than hope and that is FAITH!
 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1 NKJV)
Faith is real, it has substance. It is not some airy fairy thing. Faith is reality. Let me give you an example… You are promised a house by an elderly relative, it is a great home but until you get the deeds of the house in your hand, you can only hope that the house is yours. When you do get the house and you can move into it, then it becomes reality. That is Faith. The reality of a hope. When we look at our lives we are often still in hope that things will turn out right whereas the reality is that if you are in God then of course it will. No doubt.
Let’s get back to our glass:
Half empty – Pessimistic, very little hope if any. If something can go wrong then it will.
Half full – Optimistic, there is always hope that things will turn out good.
Full – Faith, seeing that God is in charge so life will be abundant no matter what.
Without Faith you can’t please God:
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6 NKJV)
The bottom line is, God either is who He says He is or not. There is no half way. He is either God or not. Therefore let us come to Him as God, believe what He says about us, trust that our lives are in His hands and have Faith that He loves us unconditionally. Start declaring what God says about you. There are over 7000 promises in the Bible!
Our glass is full. It is always full and not only that but our glass is full to overflowing. He pours out of us. We can’t contain Him. Rivers of living water flow out of us when we have Faith in Him.
My cup runs over. (Psalm 23:5)
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Full to Overflowing

He Heard Music And Dancing!

Sometimes when you read the Bible there are certain passages, sentences, or even just words that suddenly stand out, even though you have read the Bible Story over and over again. You suddenly have a new revelation! You see something in a different light. The Holy Spirit, living inside you, gives you a little nudge and says, “Look closer. Sometimes it’s not just a little nudge either!!! The title of this post is one of those! I had read this story probably hundreds of times, heard countless sermons on it, have seen dramatisations of the story but this time these words just stuck out!

He Heard Music and Dancing!

For those of us who possess a vivid imagination, words really do paint pictures. The saying, ‘A picture paints a thousand words” is not just the lyric to a Bread song!! Words do paint pictures. So what picture does ‘He heard music and dancing’ paint for you? Obviously there is a man and hears something. Can you see the man, can you hear the music, can you hear people dancing? Obviously something is happening. So this guy is walking somewhere and hears something unusual. You know it’s unusual because you tend not to notice the usual sounds in your life. Maybe you are sitting at home relaxing, nothing will move you unless you hear a loud crash, or something smash! Then you are up like a flash! (Did you see what I did there!!! CRASH! SMASH! FLASH! Not impressed? Can’t please everyone. What if I tell you they are all onomatopoeias? Still no?? Oh, Well!) Back to the story. This guy hears something unusual. It makes him stop and take note.  In the story he actually stops someone and asks what on earth is going on? Things around him had changed, he was slightly unnerved.

Perhaps the time has come to unveil another part of the story. The music and dancing arer from a celebration. It’s a party. Someone is having a get-together beyond all get-togethers! The man listening to the joy is not part of it. He is an outsider looking in. It’s an awful feeling isn’t it when you feel there is something amazing going on and you are not involved. So this is where this guy is at, he sees something that he is not part of and he doesn’t like it. What makes it worse is that the party is in the house where he lives. There is a party happening and he hasn’t been told about it. In fact he has been out all day working for the person who is holding the party. To add to the bad feeling, the host of the party is his dad!! What? Come on? No way!! Yep way! This poor guy had been working for his dad all day and on his way home he hears music and dancing coming from his dad’s house and he wasn’t invited.

You probably have guessed the story now. The Prodigal Son! You can find the story in the Gospel of Luke chapter 15 along with the stories of ‘The Lost Sheep’ and ‘The Lost Coin’. The items that are lost are not the main focus of each story but the people looking for what they have lost. It is the shepherd, who has lost his sheep, and the woman, who has lost the coin, who are the main characters of the first two stories in the chapter. 499dc05169199b8992338b1407a1aa7aIt is the same with the story of ‘The Lost Son’, it is not the son but the father who is the main character here. The son and his brother are minor characters. They are important to the story but not the main focus! The story is about the Extravagant Father! He was the one who provided the ‘Music and Dancing!’

We know the story really well and we know it shows us how God forgives the one who goes away from Him. We are taught from an early age that the father in the story is a picture of God and the son is the one who goes against God! This is a story about forgiveness but more than that it is the story about God’s extravagance in His love for us! ‘Music and Dancing!’

This is what caught my eye this time. We have such an Extravagant God! This is part of His character all the time! It is not just for the lost, we are His children too. The brother who had stayed with the father and was working in his fields is the key to seeing God’s extravagant Grace towards us. Let’s start at the end of the story. We’re not doing a Julie Andrews because in this case the end is the best place to start and not the beginning. (Just a quick nod to the Sound of Music.) So at the end of the story the father says to the brother:

“Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. (Luke 15:31 NASB)

The son was very angry that the father had wasted so much money on his brother but what is interesting is the father’s reply. The words ‘always’ and ‘all’ are important. Can you see where we, as Sons and Daughters of the Mighty God, stand. We are always with Him and all that He has is ours!! The brother’s problem was that he didn’t ask. If he had asked for the cloak, ring, fatted calf and the party, he would have got it. How often do we complain about things without seeking God and asking Him. Do you actually believe that God will give you all you ask for as the Bible says or does your experience tell you something else! The brother’s experience tells him that life is a hard slog. You work and work and really get nothing. He lived as if he had nothing but all the time his father has extravagant love for him.

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. (Mark 11:24 NASB)wayward-the-prodigal-son

Let’s stop just hearing the singing and the dancing but join in. Go for all that He wants to give you. Don’t ever settle for anything other than God’s best. His desire is to bless you. As a child of God expect the robe, the ring, the party with the best food.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:5-6 NASB)

We can spend our whole earthly lives on the periphery looking in. We see other people being blessed and appearing to be free while we have to work, work, work to get anything from our Heavenly Father. Why don’t you just stop, take time to get to know who your Father is? Get to know His character. See that He has everything for you. The ring, the cloak, the feast and He provides the music and dancing for you to enjoy. ‘His cup overflows’! Just imagine pouring something into a glass and not stopping when you reach the rim. Pouring out over every where. That is God’s Love, Grace and Blessing. Abundant! Extravagant! Seek and find Him and you will see. He is faithful!

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:33 NASB)

Don’t wait for Heaven to receive what you can have now. Read the two posts  Where Do You Live? and The Sequel” and see that we are already seated with Christ in Heavenly places and therefore can claim what is rightly ours.

 

 

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I Am The Vine

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John ch 15 v 5 – 8)

I love this passage of scripture. For me it seems to some up what a Christian is all about. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. So why do we try? We put in a lot of effort to be all that God wants us to be, without, at times, actually being attached to the vine. We have this attachment in our heads through knowledge but our hearts are crying out for a real relationship with Jesus. It’s as if we flip in and out of  a real connection with Him. Can you imagine a vine branch suddenly deciding to have a few hours off and go and join an orange tree or a rose bush, just for a change. I know it’s a silly analogy but often we are like that, we take time off to be attached to another tree.

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This is such an old vine! Nothing weak about this vine!!

When a branch starts to grow from a vine it starts as a shoot. It is part of the branch. The tiny shoot is not separate from the branch. The same DNA is in the shoot as in the branch. The structural support tissues of the vine provide the nutrients, water and everything that comes from photosynthesis. I hope you are suitably impressed, I looked it up!!! It means, simply put, that if the shoot isn’t part of the vine it withers and dies. What I love about the shoot growing from the branch is that there is no effort involved! It doesn’t strive to be part of the vine,….. it is. All that it needs is provided by the vine itself. Are you getting the picture? Say it to yourself again. ” All that it needs is provided by the vine itself”. Let that sink in. If we are a branch coming from Jesus then He has all we need!

 

The key to being part of Him is to ‘remain’! Jesus says it over and over in this chapter. Remain! Remain! Remain! I heard Pastor Mark Zschech speak recently and he said if anything was repeated in a passage of scripture, we were to “Lean in”. I loved that expression. It is so visual. Lean in, go towards it, observe it closely, give it more attention!  In John chapter 15 where we find this passage there are eleven ‘remains’ in the first eleven verses. Obviously Jesus was trying to make a point!!!!!

Let’s ‘Lean In” on the word remain. Well first we need to be clear on one thing, Jesus didn’t speak English!! So He didn’t actually say ‘remain’. Jesus spoke Aramaic and although there are a few Aramaic phrases in the Gospels the majority of the New Testament is written in an old form of Greek. Scholars call it New Testament Greek! You would think that being scholars they would have come up with something more original than New Testament Greek! Any way the Greek word for remain is μένω.  The Phonetic Spelling is men’-o. As in (A)men and OH! (dear), men -oh. μένω means : I remain, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand, abide, stay, wait. You see the point. We need to ‘remain, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand, abide, stay, wait‘ in Jesus for Him to work through us. Unless we ‘remain, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand, abide, stay, wait’ in Jesus we can do nothing. All these words are verbs, doing words, words about action. We cannot just sit back and expect it to all happen around us, we do have a part to play. The exciting part of this, is that we have someone inside of us who helps us, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our advocate. (John ch 14 v26). An Advocate is a champion, upholder, supporter, backer, promoter, proponent, exponent, protector, patron etc. I can honestly tell you that I cannot survive without the Holy Spirit in my life. God is so amazing that He asks us to do something for Him but then gives us the help to do it. What a Good Father we have! In a lot of churches the Holy Spirit is very rarely mentioned. God, the Father is talked about and so is God, the Son but God the Holy Spirit is talked about much less and yet He is on equal footing with both Father and Son. To put it simply, the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ replacement on earth. Just as the Disciples had Jesus to teach, encourage, help and even admonish at times, so we have the wonderful Holy Spirit to exactly the same. We have Jesus with us all the while.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt ch 28 v 20)

Let’s get back to the point. We have established that it is important to remain, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand, abide, stay, wait’ in Jesus and that the Holy Spirit helps us do it. We know that Jesus laboured the point, continually saying “Remain in me”, but why is it so important for us.

First of all let me remind you of this scripture,

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter ch 5 v 8)

Say no more! If we step outside of fellowship with Jesus we are more likely to allow our enemy to have a foothold. We have God’s protection.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling,
 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command  his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;  they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra;  you will trample the great lion and the serpent.” (Psalm 91 v 9 -13)

Not only do we get protection from our enemy but also the power to crush him. (verse 13) Don’t you want that?

Not only do we have protection but we also have rest.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  (Psalm 91 v 1)

Remember the word dwell means the same as remain. You remain in Him, joined to the Vine and He promises rest. Remember our little shoot? It doesn’t have to strive to grow because, ” All that it needs is provided by the vine itself”!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.(Matt ch 11 v 28)

Unless we remain in Jesus we can’t produce fruit.grape-2852

If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15 v 5)

We don’t produce fruit but ‘much fruit’. I love this. We don’t produce the fruit, Jesus does. Fruit refers to our spiritual lives and all that develops from that. Our character, our prayer lives, how we are outside church, in work or school etc. With Jesus, our lives will be fruitful.  The Holy Spirit will show us how to be fruitful especially in the area of caring for the people God puts in our path. Just as an aside, God wants us to be there for each other and if we take time in our daily conversations with others to ask God what He wants us to say and pray during our conversations we will see much more of God in action.

By remaining in Jesus we have the privilege of being called His friend,

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. (John ch 15 v 15)

This is such an incredible concept. Quite mind blowing! The Son of God, the Great  ‘I Am’ is my friend. The Apostle Paul goes one step further,

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians ch 4 v 7)

If we remain in the Vine we are called friends, sons and heirs.

It is obvious the blessings that come to us by remaining and of course I have mentioned  only a few, but as I said  earlier, we do have a part to play. The Holy Spirit will show us the way, definitely and the starting points for this are simple. Read your Bible and pray!!! readpraysmallerYou can’t remain in the Vine unless you know who the Vine is. You will definitely end up attached to an orange tree or even worse a thorn bush. If you don’t already read your Bible, start in the Gospels, which tell us about Jesus’ life. Perhaps even start with the Gospel of John which is where the teaching about the Vine comes from. Wherever you start keep going. Spend time each day. When you are reading, ask the Holy Spirit to show you new things. I can tell you, there are times when I read a passage of scripture perhaps for the fiftieth time and suddenly I see something completely new. One of the most powerful ways to see see the power in the Bible is to declare it out loud. If you look at the first two posts on this blog you will see some examples. Also pray! Praying is just talking to God. It is a conversation between Him and you. Tell Him how your day is going. Ask Him questions. Tell Him when things are not going well. Ask Him for help? The Bible teaches us that if we come close to God He immediately will be close to us.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4 v 8)

Jesus also says this about prayer,

  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John ch 15 v 7)

Now if that is not an amazing blessing I don’t know what is. Remain! Remain! Remain!

Without remaining in Jesus we will wither and die, producing no fruit. Blessing-less! It’s a choice as all our Christian walk is. To be (in Jesus) or not to be (in Jesus) that is the question? See what I did there? Not just scripture but a bit of Shakespeare’s Hamlet too! What will be next? Ibsen, Chekhov, Shaw, Rogers and Hammerstein!!!!

Anyway what will you choose to do. There is only one answer really,

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John ch 15 v 9)

Prayer – God thank you that you love me so much that you call me your child. Help me today to remain in you. Holy Spirit guide me and encourage me in my walk with you daily. May I have all that you want for me in my life. Amen

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God Loves You

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A few years ago, this statement, God Loves You, was everywhere. There was often the word Smile attached to it. Every other car seemed to have it as a bumper sticker. People used to add things to it, ‘God loves you but I find you really difficult’. ‘God loves you! At least someone does’. ‘God loves you and I am trying too but it is so hard’. etc etc  I don’t think that anyone really got the message. God Loves You!

Today as we gather in our churches, small, bible or prayer groups we spend hours looking at the word and hearing that God Loves You! Again I don’t think anyone really gets the message.

In church we stand and we worship. In our worship songs we have lyrics that explain how much God Loves You but again we don’t get it.

We sit at home and read the Bible and spend time finding out about God’s Love. We pray and God tells us of His Love. But we really don’t get it.

The reason I say that is,  if we did get it. we would change the world. Nothing could stop us. Everywhere we go we would be a people who were Loved by God. Who could stop us? What could get in our way? God Loves Me!! Either we don’t understand God, or we don’t understand love, or we really, deep down, don’t believe it!!!

Let’s go through the three statements and see where our problem might lie.

We don’t understand God

The whole nature of God revolves around Love. If we look in the Bible at the verses that show us the character of God, we can’t ever get away from Love as being an important aspect of the whole essence of God.

“……..but his favour lasts a lifetime; …….” (Psalm 30 v 5)

“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.” (Psalm 145 v 8)

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”  (Isaiah ch 49 v 15 -16)

“….you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you …..” (Isaiah ch 43 v 9)

Then of course we have the Apostle John’s first letter,

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John ch 4 v 8)

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John ch 4 v 16)
The whole of God’s character is about Love. The interesting aspect of the last two quotes is that they were written by a man who was called “The disciple whom Jesus loved”. He knew first hand the character of God because he had spent time with the one who had come to show us the character of God, Jesus.
“I and the Father are one.” (John 10 v 30)
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14 v20)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John ch 1 v 1) and
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John ch 1 v 14)

So, in Jesus we can see how wonderfully Loving our God is. He doesn’t look at rank or favour. He treats everyone the same,no respecter of persons. He ate with those who were thought of as less than. He touched lepers, who were the lowest of society. He healed the sick. Set free the people who were trapped by the enemy. This is your God.
God is the Creator of All Things, Full of Wisdom, Without Measure, Sovereign, Holy, Omnipresent (present everywhere), Omniscient (His knowledge is infinite, You can’t hide anything from Him), He is also Faithful and more than anything, Full of Love.
This awesome God, Loves You. Shouldn’t that be a world changer. He Loves You. Say it again and again. This Awesome God (and you can go through the list above) Loves Me.
What can stop us? Something does. Perhaps it is in the next point?
We don’t understand Love
What is Love? There are millions of songs that speak about it. Apparently it is ‘All You Need’. There are poems that tell us of its virtue. There are stories, films, plays and musicals that tell us of the effects of Love! So, what is it?
We have got the answer for who is Love and that is God, as shown to us by Jesus, therefore the answer to what is love can be seen in the work of Jesus. I don’t want to go into too much detail here. I have a feeling that whoever reads this will have some idea of the kind of person that Jesus was and I have covered some aspect of Him under the last heading. To find the answer to what is Love you can’t go to far wrong by looking at 1 Corinthians, chapter 13, the famous Love chapter written by the Apostle Paul.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.” (1 Cor 13 v 4 – 8)

This is only a small part of what Love is, but even this blows your mind. Many people are really condemned by this passage. They feel that if they are to show Love like this, they come up short. Remember God doesn’t condemn us, so this chapter is not to show us our failures but to show us the true nature of Love and therefore the true nature of God. Just for an experiment try replacing the word Love with the word God. for example, God is patient, God is kind, God is not envious, God is not boastful, God is not proud etc etc.   We see here what God’s Love for us is really like. His Love is immeasurable.

“For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies”(Psalm 108 v 4)

All this amazing Love and we haven’t even mentioned the greatest example of His Love:

“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 ch3 v 16)

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom ch 5 v 8)

Again this is life changing! This is world changing! This is the Love that is ours! This is how much we are loved! We are Loved by a God who sees no wrong in us, who thinks highly of us and more than anything sent the Son who He dearly Loved to die on a cross so that our sins can be forgiven and we can have the gift of eternal life. Why then doesn’t it have the impact on the world as it should. Perhaps it is in the next point?

 We don’t really believe God Love’s us

I believe that as you read the last two points you have known what God is like and the nature of Love. I think we have come to the crux of the problem. We can see that we have an awesome God who loves us and and who loves us more than we can ever understand but it doesn’t have the impact on those around us as it should. We know all this in our heads but in our hearts we have a different story.

Many of us are disappointed in God. We are not where we thought we would be. We are still struggling with the same old sin. We are still sick. We are lonely. Some of us struggle with mental illness and put this down to God not being there. Christians have hurt us and we blame God. The church has rejected us and we blame God. We are still broke. We thought we would be leaders by now. He still hasn’t answered my prayer from a month/year/2 years/5 years/10 years or more ago! My wife/husband left me. My children/parents don’t speak to me. The church leaders don’t understand me, they don’t even see me. There are a thousands of these thoughts and we put this down to the fact that God doesn’t really Love us.

You see this has a knock on affect when we are with our friends who don’t believe in God, or our work/college/school mates. We don’t share about God because we are  not sure He will come up with the goods for them because He hasn’t appeared to always do so for us! If we are not sure of God’s love it will reflect outwardly from us!

Is this speaking to you? Have you been disappointed by God or God’s people? Do you doubt that God really Loves you?
You are not the only one. I have come across many Christians recently who have felt God has abandoned them in their calling. Who have been hurt by church leaders, may be twenty years ago but it still holds them back. They believe that if God could hurt them so much then, He could allow it again. Finances are a big sticking point at the moment. There are many Christians who are struggling and they put this down to God not Loving them.
How can we change this? How can we become more secure in God’s Love. To be honest there is no easy answer.
“There you go,” you say,  “I have read all this and he still hasn’t a clue.”
Firstly may I congratulate you on figuring out I am a guy and secondly I never actually said that I didn’t have an answer, only that the answer is not an easy one!!!!!  The reason that it is not easy is that it requires work on your part. You have told yourself a lie for such a long time that you need to change your way of thinking. As the Apostle Paul says…… renew your mind.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Rom ch 12 v 2)
By renewing the way you think, you will be able to test God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. You see, the bottom line is that God cannot not Love you. It is His nature to Love. That is fact. Say it out loud, God is Love and HE LOVES ME!! There is no doubt in this. We have been telling ourselves a lie and we know who the father of lies is, satan, who wants to destroy our relationship with God. As I have mentioned in a previous post, my friend YBW calls this, partnering. We have chosen to listen, partner, with the enemy rather than believe God.
Somewhere along the line, we have believed that God has to answer prayer in a certain time frame. Or we have believed that because a certain promotion or acknowledgement hasn’t come along when we thought it would, then God doesn’t Love us.
He wants the best for you and only the very best. Jesus often uses the analogy of an earthly father and compares it with how God’s Love is far more superior. Father’s do not give their children everything they ask for or if they do they will be heading for trouble. God knows what he has in store for you. God/Love never fails! He can’t fail you. He is unable to let you go! He will pursue you.
One of the first actions you take is to forgive God. That’s correct forgive God. Don’t hold grudges against anyone especially God. Forgive Him. God is gracious enough to let you do this because He knows the principle behind it. Then ask God to forgive you for partnering with the enemy. Finally start declaring scriptures about God’s unfailing Love. If you are not sure what declaring is all about, have a look at the first two posts of the blog. You will soon start to believe what the Bible says and then we will see a difference in those around us. Declaring what God says about you will change your whole perspective of Him.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor ch 4 v 18)
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Col ch 3 v2
How amazing it will be, to be a people who actually believed that we have the Creator of the whole Universe Loving us. What can stop us? Who can stop us. I believe that by trusting in God and not fighting against Him we can see a great change in the impact that the body of Christ can have on the world.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans ch 8 v 31)

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (Romans ch 8 v 33)

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans ch 8 v 35)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans ch 8 v 37 – 39)

The above verses are true but they are also Truth. Their truth will never change. It is how the kingdom of God works. This is how I know we will radically change the world around us because God says we will. You have a choice, will you believe the Truth about God or will you continue to partner with the father of all lies. It is your choice. It is easier to stick with what you have been saying for years but you will miss out on all that God has for you. If nothing can separate you from God’s love, nothing can. It is very simple. God doesn’t ever promise that there won’t be hardship but God’s love will be there. His Love is life changing if you dwell in it. It will change those lives around you too.
So make sure we:
“…. demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”(2Cor ch 10 v 5)
Please don’t let the enemy rob you of what God wants for you. Be vigilant! Take every thought captive. A thought is just a thought, it is not truth. Check your thoughts before you partner with them. Declare truth.“God LOVES Me
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In a later post my friend YBW is going to go into more detail about God’s love, so look out for that.