Unfailing Words

“For no word from God will ever fail” Luke 1:37

I’m sat in a well-known coffee shop enjoying a bowl of hot soup on an average January day.  I’ll be completely honest, I’ve found it so hard to get motivated this week and really didn’t feel like writing (not that I don’t love chatting with you – but you know what I mean :D).  Being a goal orientated person I generally love a clean sheet to begin getting organised and make fresh plans and I’m sure many of you are the same.  So…why is it SO hard to get motivated in January!! We have a whole fresh year ahead of us and for most people January is fairly bland and empty, so it’s the perfect time to crack on and get into things – yet we’d rather sit on the sofa with a hot chocolate and watch films all day! It’s funny, because in a few months when the weather starts picking up and we’re going out much more, I’ll be wishing I had more time to do these things!

As always God gave me my word for the year on New Year’s Eve and this year it is literally The Year of the Word…Awesome!  January’s so often a time when we think back to ‘Words’ God has spoken to us over the past year and re-position ourselves once again.  Many people make New Year’s resolutions at this time of year which tend to fade pretty quickly, but God’s word over our lives NEVER fails.  I was really excited when I read this scripture this morning as know it’s a promise each and every one of us needs to hold onto.

When God speaks a Word into our lives we generally feel so encouraged, sometimes nervous and often excited.  It’s interesting sadly though, that as time moves on, it’s like the truth and power of that Word seems to dilute.  Of course, this is not because God’s faithfulness changes, it’s because our faith and patience wanes.  To put this tiny but powerful scripture in context, this sentence is spoken by the angel Gabriel to Mary – straight from the mouth of an angel!!  I reckon if anyone knows God well, other than Jesus and the Spirit, it’s the angels!  He spoke this to Mary as he told her about the coming of Jesus.  He declared it as a fact and a promise for her to hold onto.  I wanted to share this with you today to encourage you to keep this scripture in your heart and mind and speak it out whenever you need it this year.

There are so many promises in the Bible to read and hold onto.  Be assured today that He will never leave you or forsake you; He knew you before you were even born; He who began a good work in you will continue it until completion; He loves you with an everlasting love; if you believe in Him He will give you eternal life.  He walks beside you, loves you, heals you, directs you, knows you.  Whenever you doubt that, remember this very special verse from an angel “For no word from God will EVER fail”.

All those words spoken over your life WILL come to fruition in His time.  Hold onto Him and let Him walk you through each day, knowing He has you, He will never forget you and He will never forsake you.

Father, thank you for Your word.  Thank you that You speak into my life in so many ways.  Thank you for Your promises.  I’m so grateful today that You understand how hard it is for me to hold on sometimes but you give me Your amazing word to keep me going.  Thank you that Your word will NEVER EVER fail.  In Your Name, Amen.

 

Unimaginable Sacrifice

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

As it’s Good Friday today, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts of what Jesus has shown me over this last year. I have shared before about how sometimes I can feel a little immune to many stories that happened and are spoken about in the Bible, because I was brought up on them so have always known them. I don’t think I’ll ever be immune to my feelings about the crucifixion…However, I don’t think I could even slightly access the depth of what Jesus really did until now. I am forever grateful for what He did for me on and through the cross and thank Him for that every day. So last Easter I decided to focus, not just on what He accomplished for me, but what He did for mankind. As it was my Year of Sacrifice and I spent the whole year wanting to get to know Jesus in a far deeper way, Easter was particularly poignant.

Recently I’ve watched a fair few documentaries and ‘real’ dramas about difficult issues. In my naivety I had no idea of the sadness of the red light area in Amsterdam with the prostitutes in the shop-like windows. I have heard and watched testimonies of child abuse, murder, exploitation, sex trafficking, abandonment, manipulation. All heart-breaking and hard to get your head around. I will mention at this point that this is not all I’ve been filling my head with, but there does seem to have been a lot more of it in the media recently.

Isaiah 53:5 NIV says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” The NLT verse 4,5 says 4 “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”

It breaks me to think of this happening to Him just for my sin but when I think of Him taking upon Himself all the sin of the world…past, present and future…I cannot contain the shock and grief I feel. One of the things I always respect God for so much is that He can see all the terrible terrible things that go in our world – all the pain, hurt, grief, disappointment and shame. If I were to feel that on behalf of just one other person, especially if they had been through terrible things or caused terrible things, I could not contain the shame and pain. Yet…He sees it all every day and still loves us so much. Jesus had to literally take all of that on Himself – billions of people’s hurt, confusion, pain and shame. I have tears rolling down my face as I’m typing this. He did it though…because of His great love for us…and went into hell on our behalf, then rose again in such glory to bring us the incredible eternal life that we don’t deserve and to walk with us through every moment of our lives.

This Easter, allow Him to stretch your mind a little so you can grasp just a little bit of what the cross really means.

Burning Fire

Fire

“Why do you turn away from me?” Job 13:24

Sitting glaring into a crackling fire always makes me feel at peace.  Unfortunately, we don’t have a real fireplace in my house or a wood burner but I find having a crackling fire in 4K still does the trick. There’s something about the constancy of the burning flames that calms my worries and fears. Last week I was chatting to someone at church and actually caught myself saying to them, “Well, all we can do now is pray and trust God”. What??? This is something I think we say a lot – or is it just me? ALL we can do…well actually that is always ALL we can do. For some reason we feel this compelling desire to help God to do His job and to try and control outcomes. Then when we’ve exhausted our resources we finally let go and allow Him to move and work. Thinking about it in this moment it’s quite amusing – we, who are weak and dependant on a God who has all power to change any situation and has an amazing plan for our lives, for some reason behave as if we can do better and don’t surrender and allow Him to work.

This year I’m determined to read the Bible in One Year and I’m using Nicky Gumbel’s brilliant app to do so. A short while ago the OT readings were in Job. I don’t think any of us will ever fully understand why God allowed the things to happen to Job that took place in his life but sitting here looking into this crackling fire, it makes me think how constant He is in our lives. How terrible it would be to lose my family; to lose all my possessions; to be covered in incredibly painful sores as he was…but not only that…to have to go through it all without the intimacy of God’s presence. That was the most painful part for Job. Of course, eventually everything was restored to Job far more than before but as he was walking through the valley he must have felt so helpless.

Today, let’s not take for granted the constancy of our Father’s love and provision for us. No matter what turmoil we are in, His unending love burns and crackles for us…the flames of His compassion and the roar of His power to carry us and heal every pain never dies down – never grows cold. Trusting in the steady, safe and sureness of this should be our full focus. Knowing that when we rest in Him in surrender He takes care of everything. There’s nowhere His love and power can’t reach. He plans our very steps and walks with us as we take each one.

Remember today, He has gone before you and He is with you. Trust in the constancy of His love and support – He’s got you and He will never let you go.

Don’t despise the Small Things

hobbit photos

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”

Zechariah 4:10

Anyone who has met me in person will know I am not the tallest person around…in fact, though I have a rather loud voice, I’m only a mere 4ft 11. Throughout my life, I’ve often felt like there are far more drawbacks to being small than gains…not being able to see at events; dreading anyone sitting in front of me at the cinema, not being able to reach things in the supermarket (even yesterday!); always being called ‘cute’ at secondary school (you might think ‘Aw’ but when you’re trying to make your mark on the world it’s not helpful!); people thinking I was always younger than I actually was (I would welcome this one now! :D). Recently though, God has been teaching me to embrace my ‘smallness’. Not just height-wise (though that is part of my uniqueness), but who I am – me – a normal, down-to-earth person.

We spend so much of our lives wishing we were someone else or feeling the pressure to become ‘someone’. All the while God desires that you be ‘you’! There’s only one ‘you’ and never will be again. I encourage you today to make a decision that in 2019 you are going embrace ‘you’. ‘You’ as a friend, parent, child…’You’ designed, loved and cherished by God. Life and love are built one small moment at a time by normal people. God doesn’t need you to succeed by becoming something or someone – He wants to be you to be ‘You’ – the amazing person He created.

If you allow Him to use you as you are in the small moments, He will accomplish great things through you in and through the small moments of your life. I used the picture of The Hobbits at the beginning of this blog because in The Lord of the Rings it isn’t the mighty warriors that overthrow Sauron – it’s the small Hobbits. One tiny step forward at a time, loving and supporting each other, they climb into Mount Doom and destroy the ring of power. Looking at them they look very normal (apart from the hairy feet!) and nothing special, yet the assignment they accomplished was of great importance. I’m sat in a beautiful tea room writing at this moment and I’m surrounded by mothers and daughters, couples and friends happily drinking tea and eating together – sharing life…Normal people but each with a special assignment of sowing into each other’s lives.

Embrace your smallness – be You! Make the most of life’s moments and watch how God uses you to sow into people’s lives. I once read a book about a woman who experienced heaven for a few moments. She said she expected to see all her relatives and friends that she’d lost waiting there for her but instead she saw streams of connection where she’d shared life and God’s love with people and how that in turn had affected others. The streams went on and on and she was blown away by how God had used her small moments of connection and commitment.

The scripture I quoted at the beginning refers to the rebuilding of the Temple, which was built one brick at a time. Keep building those bricks of life and relationship and embrace your uniqueness today and every day.

The Little Things that Chip Away

Jesus replied “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matt 22:37-40

A couple of weeks ago I went to collect my teenage children from church after their amazing trip to Soul Survivor, a fantastic five day convention for teenagers, where thousands come together to worship and learn more about God, aswell as indulge in water fights, foam parties and silent discos.  If you are a teenager or a parent with teenagers I would highly recommend it.  My children always come home completely on fire for God.  This said, I knew the whole coachload would be on a real high.  However, the one person who wasn’t was the coach driver!  From the second he got off the coach he was muttering under his breath and throwing his weight around.  He bellowed at a boy who knocked on the window to wave to a friend and barked as he unloaded bags and threw them at people nervously waiting for their luggage.

It struck me how quickly this had the potential to chip away at their happiness (and also the parents who were standing back observing!).  These teenagers had had an incredible time away with each other and with God and were revelling in the joy of that.  It seemed the coach driver was on a mission to single-handedly tear this down brick by brick.  The atmosphere was poisoned by his miserable attitude.  How much better would it have been for everyone, including himself, if he had hung his actions on this commandment.

Many people struggle in this world, not because of something tragic happening in their lives, but because of the little things that chip away at them day by day, grinding them down bit by bit…stealing their hope.  Many predators catch their prey in this way.  Picking at them until they lose the strength to fight back and defend themselves.

If we turn all this on it’s head and say “Why don’t we build each other up a little bit at a time?”, what a different world we would live in.  Encouragement is a powerful tool to lift people up.  Whether you’re a person of faith or not, learning to do everything out of love and care would make such a difference in so many people’s lives, including your own.  When you smile at someone in a shop or hold the door open for them you’re injecting something positive into their life and it also makes you feel good too!

The scripture says “All the Laws and Prophets hang on these two commandments” because it’s the ultimate way to live: To love God with all your heart, soul and mind and be rooted in Him and as he fills you with His love, to love others out of that.  It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort.  It’s often the small things that are the most powerful and have the greatest impact.  In what ways can you increase this in your life today?

You Light Me Up

“You, O Lord keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into Light”  Psalm 18:28

I was just listening to Philippa Hanna’s song Lighthouse in my car.  In it she sings a line “I feel not good enough but you light me up”  It’s repeated twice in a row and crescendos on the second which gives it impact and it made me think about how our opinions, feelings and standards of ourselves get in the way of God’s blessing so much.  We are like stained glass lanterns, beautifully crafted in bright colours.  Each pane representing a unique and special facet of the character God created us with.  I have a lantern just like this at home and it has a little door with a tiny catch on it where you put the candle.  Situations, opinions, tough relationships and criticism come at us frequently throughout our lives.  These play on our minds and sadly grind us down and make us feel unworthy….What have I got to offer anyone?  How can God love me, I’m ugly and undesirable?  Often this criticism comes from within.  Over time we have believed the lies and they darken our perception of ourselves.  As a result, the lantern stays dull and no one gets to see the beautiful colours.  We keep the latch firmly shut, trying to appear to be doing well and keeping our real self hidden.

God longs to change all of that.  If you open the catch of your heart and allow Him in, He will light you up. He will shine through you in true colourful brilliance.  He delights in you and your uniqueness….He thinks you’re so amazing that He sings over you.  When you let Him into your life the darkness falls away and all the true colours of who He made you to be will be illuminated.   The lies will burn away and you can rest in the truth of the valuable, cherished person you are.  Open the catch of your heart today and let him light you up.

“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.”  Zeph 3:17

Let your Dreams Set Sail

Dreams Plaque

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11

I love the ability God has given us to dream, to use our imagination.  Imagination, I feel, is something used so little now compared to years ago.  I remember playing regularly on a ladder that was laid flat on my Nan’s back yard with my brothers and imagining it was a huge ship.  You weren’t allowed to step off it or you would drown in the sea (unless it was lunchtime, in which case nothing mattered but food!).  We would imagine great voyages and fighting with pirates.  Children seemed to use their imagination so much more before the types of toys they have now that are all singing and dancing.  My son loved the Tweeny ‘Jake’ and I was so excited for him when my mum bought him one for his third birthday.  I knew he’d love it!  It was quite a surprise when he opened it and all he did was shake it and say “What does it do!”

We live in an age where everything is done for us and sometimes become lazy even in our dreaming and especially in working with God to make those dreams come to fruition.  I had dreams in my heart that had faded due to busyness and illness.  In January 2015 God spoke to me through a word a friend gave in church and it changed my life.  She said “I feel God is saying there is someone here who is like a ship that is stuck in the harbour and God is saying that while ever it sits there it’s getting damaged.  God is saying it’s time to set sail out onto the ocean”….I knew this word was for me and in relation to the dreams in my heart.

Are there lost dreams in your heart?  Do you need to begin dreaming again? Helen Burns once said “While ever there is breath within you God can use you and do great things in you”  Dream big – don’t just get stuck in one place, and allow God to work in those desires He has for you and has done since you were planned in the secret place.

Squelching in the Mud

“But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.” Psalm 33:18,19

I set out walking today having no idea of the state of the terrain.  The sun was shining, the air was fresh and the sky blue.  Everything felt just right for my walk.  Shortly after I set out on the track the ground began to give way underneath me and very soon I was surrounded by mud.  My feet began to slip in different directions and I had to walk very carefully and slowly.

As I waded through it at a snail’s pace the mud-filled track seemed endless.  I began to think about a friend of mine who set out on an amazingly exciting journey in her life and just when she was feeling that all the conditions were perfect for it, it turned into an incredibly heartbreaking situation.

We all arrive at mud-filled parts of our journey at times in our life and when we do so the track can feel endless and the pain and disappointment can be excruciating.  It’s difficult to keep your eyes on God as you’re so afraid of sinking, of sliding and of falling.  Every step feels unstable and unsure.  Everything seems grey, sludgy and messy.

It’s at these times when hope is such a precious gift…The hope that you will once again, in time, walk on fresh green grass and stony solid paths.  It’s hard to focus, but if you ask God to fill your heart with hope and the strength to move through it, you can be sure he will.  He will place large stones in your path so you can find a way through and stand and rest a while.  He will cause streams to trickle across your way and wash your mud covered boots.  He will uphold you so your feet do not slip.  Whatever you’re going through today, let Him walk you through it one step at a time.  Put your hope and trust in Him…He won’t ever let you down.

That Familiar Bed of Security

Myself and my family have just moved house, which is why I’ve been absent from blogging for quite a while.  In fact, I’ve been going through a fair few life changing events this summer, which I’ll blog about over the coming weeks :).

Way back in March when I began blogging I attended the New Wine Women’s conference, where Jane Achiloi shared some mind-blowing testimony. One of the stories which really spoke to me was about giving what you have and God blessing and using it.  After a fair while of seeking God my family and I felt it was right to sell our house, pay off all our debts and for me to leave my job, which was crippling me, and go into ministry full time.  It was a huge step of faith, as you can imagine, and I’m extremely happy to say we’re on the other side of it now and living in the blessing of God’s provision :).

God has caused everything to run smoothly, but it hasn’t always been easy.  I remember feeling so strange and insecure on the day we moved out of our beautiful home, where we had lived for 16 years and brought up our children.  As I stood in our rental house looking around at all the boxes piled up, wondering where on earth we were going to put everything, I had this overwhelming feeling of ‘What on earth have we done?’  During those moments I couldn’t imagine how we were going to settle into this new house.  I dragged my tired body up the stairs and into my new, smaller bedroom and there was something safe and familiar….my bed!  As I crawled into it and pulled the covers over my head I felt safe and secure.  Psalm 4:8 says “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety”.

Whatever situation you are in today where you feel alien or insecure, our Father is constant and we can always crawl safely into His arms.  He will never leave you or forsake you…Deut 31:6. Sometimes we just need to rest secure in Him for a while, until we feel safe again. No matter where we are, He is always with us.

The Father’s Heart

As Father’s day approaches and Dads all over the country begin to look forward to their full cooked English Breakfast and their brand new pairs of socks, it’s a good time to think of, and appreciate our incredible Father God.

“If we take all the goodness, wisdom and compassion of the best mothers and fathers who have ever lived, they would only be a faint shadow of the love and mercy in the heart of the redeeming God” Brennan Manning.

This Compassion Sunday at church we heard about some fantastic things that God is doing in our city and across the other side of the world. It struck me once again how vast our Father’s heart is for His people. Hearing about the hungry being fed, the babies of the destitute being clothed, those abandoned and lost being housed, those in pain being cared for and the broken and abused being loved. Whilst all of that was mind-blowing, it only revealed a tiny glimpse of the depth of the Father’s heart.

Our Father’s heart is SO vast.

It’s unending…..it goes on and on and on.

It’s all emcompassing….there’s room for EVERYONE, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

His love is unconditional and abundant….it NEVER ends.

He sings over you, He lifts you up, He strengthens and heals you and He delights in you. He’s planned a future for you.

As Jesus showed us in the story of the prodigal son, He lovingly allows us to learn, and not only that, but He is patient with us and doesn’t condemn us.

I love that His heart for us is to be the unique person He created us to be, to be free and to learn. He loves to see us grow and celebrates every step we take. He brings discipline for us to learn and forgiveness to set us free. He is both the boat that keeps us afloat and the light that rises to give us hope.

Psalm 103 gives us an amazing definition of the Father’s heart.  He is our Father….

v3-12 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

 

…..v17-18 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey.

 

Of course the Father’s heart is revealed most through His Son. Jesus said in John 14:9 “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” What was accomplished for us on the cross is EVERYTHING. Wayne Jacobson says “We did not see what really happened there between the Father and his Son that opened the door to His love so vast and so certain that it cannot be challenged even by our darkest days. Through that door we can really know who God is and embrace a relationship with Him that our deepest hearts have hungered to experience.”

So this Father’s day “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” Eph 3:17-19