The Problem of Pessimism

image

Something I’ve been thinking through lately is this: negativity, pessimism and gloom can be tools for Satan to use in my life.

They can feed doubt; fear; unbelief. They can be a breeding ground for worry. They can stifle my faith, and the power of my prayers.

Like worry, pessimism can feel innocent.

But pessimism, like worry, is not innocent because, like worry, it can stifle faith in God through Jesus.

If life has hurt you before, you don’t want to be hurt again. Understandably. But there is a danger of becoming negative and pessimistic, filling your heart with negativity and stifling out the truth of the promises that God has given Christians through Jesus.

Things in our hearts from the past, or fears of bad things that could happen, can cause us to always accept the most negative conclusion.

It can cause a negative, fear-filled way of seeing the world, which always expects the worst and anticipates it, long before it has actually happened.

It can be a way you learn to handle the world, for a variety of reasons.

Pessimism can squeeze out our faith in the promises of God, because we simply don’t dare to believe they are true.

So when God promises something good to those who follow Jesus, we are very resistant to believing Him.

Lots of things can take our faith in God. But this is one of them. Always expecting the worst makes it very difficult to hear God when He speaks encouraging promises to the hearts of His children.

We can be too afraid to receive them; to believe them.

And that’s a bad thing, because faith is very important in the Christian life.

Yes, the Christian life is costly. Yes, there is suffering. Jesus promised that (along with great rewards). But dwelling on the suffering, and anticipating it, or being stuck in the suffering of the past, can take our faith and hope for the future, and stifle out the power of faith in our lives. And faith in very important.

‘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.’ Hebrews 11:6

I’m learning I need to bring blockages to my faith to the Lord, so that He can take care of them… so that they don’t hold me back.

He cares so deeply for us in our suffering. This world is broken, and He knows that. He yearns over us. He longs to comfort us. He can minister into the wounds of the past. He can comfort like no-one else can. He can counsel us. He can share our deepest tears (and there is abundant space for them in His arms). He can heal our hearts up in amazing ways when we let Him in on His terms. He wants to!

And He wants us to hope in His goodness.

And I’m learning that it’s not helpful to be negative and pessimistic. I have an overactive imagination. I been a worrier for many years. I imagine the bad things that could happen long before they happen… and, most of the time, they don’t.

The life of faith is not a life based on seeing, but on trusting what God has said.

Pessimism is not more powerful than the promises of God.

God calls us to live by faith. The life of faith does involve suffering. It does involve pain this side of Heaven. But that does not need to include the anticipated pain that may well never actually happen, and will only haunt us when we don’t need it to.

The Christian life of faith down here on earth can be painful, but it can be positive, too.

God may answer prayer in ways and at times we don’t expect. It can be a journey we don’t expect. Our boxes are way too small for Him to fit into, after all. But I’m beginning to learn that that’s because His ways are bigger and better, not because they are bad.

God is always good, and He is always doing something amazing in answer to the prayer of faith through Jesus.

Because God always keeps His promises.

And prayer and faith are a powerful, powerful combination, which pessimism has no right to stifle out.

 

(There is a way to have hope, for this life and for eternity. It’s found in new life through Jesus Christ. Yes, we have all messed up, and all face God’s judgement. But God gave His Son to give us a way out: a way of hope forever. Jesus died so that we can be forgiven. When we come to Him as Saviour, confessing our sins and accepting His death in our place, surrendering our lives to follow Him as Lord of our lives, we are forgiven and given His Spirit to live within us, giving us strength and help for this life… and hope of new life with Him for all eternity).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Advertisements

A Very Powerful Force That is Available to Us All…

Something I’ve been learning about recently is prayer.

I’m learning that prayer is a powerful, powerful thing. Because God is all powerful and and prayer is God acting in answer to the words of feeble men and women.
IMG_9117
Those who come to God through Jesus (which we all can do if we come on His terms) have at their disposable an indescribably powerful weapon: the power of prayer.

I remember a quote I read from Charles Spurgeon, about prayer being like lightening, cutting through things with power.

“I do believe there is as much reality in a Christian’s prayer as in a lightning flash; and the utility and excellency of the prayer of a Christian may be just as sensibly known as the power of the lightning flash when it strikes the tree, breaks off its branches, and splits it to the very root.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.69

And I believe that the power of prayer is greatly increased when you start to believe it really works, and you start making use of it in faith… and expecting God to answer.

 

I’ve heard a preacher say that Mary Queen of Scots was more afraid of John Knox’s prayers than the armies of her enemies.

And she was right.

Because prayer is more powerful than any army.

It’s like in 2 Kings 6:

’16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

19 Now Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” But he led them to Samaria.’  2 Kings 6:14-19

The enemies could not touch the people of Israel, because they were depending on their God for help. God’s people were surrounded by the army of Heaven: far more powerful than the forces of their enemies. And God defeated their enemies in a way that was amazing!

And, if we are following Jesus, we too have incredible protection on our side.

If only we could see.

There are some powerful, powerful promises about prayer in the Bible.

And we can so easily water them down; reason them away.

But they are ours, not to be watered down, but to taken and used and claimed.

Sure, our hearts need to be in line with God’s will.

Sure, He gets the final say on how He acts.

Sure, we need to be surrendered to God’s plan and way of doing things.

But let’s not lose the power of the blank cheque we have been given.

Let’s think about some examples we have been given about what happened in answer to prayer.

God stopped the sun.

God stood up the sea.

God defeated huge armies.

God intervened in incredible, astounding ways.

Spurgeon also said this to believers in Jesus who pray with faith:

“You have power in prayer, and you stand today among the most potent ministers in the universe that God has made. You have power over angels, they will fly at your command. You have power over fire, and water, and the elements of the earth. You have power to make your voice heard beyond the stars; where the thunders die out in silence, your voice will wake the echoes of eternity. The ear of God himself will listen and the hand of God himself will yield to your will. He commands you pray, “Your will be done,” and your will, will be done. When you can plead his promise then your will is his will.”

Spurgeon, C. (1993). The Power of Prayer in a Believer’s Life. ed. Lynwood, Washington: Emerald Books, p.67

I found myself thinking last night what my life would be like if I could not pray; did not know how. I couldn’t imagine it. It would be too awful for words! Not to have the joy; the freedom; the relief of being able to lift my burdens up to my Father, and know He will act on my behalf. Life would be so very, very different.

It made me long for others to know this reality, too: the joy of bringing our hearts and burdens to God.

Maybe you already know Him too. Let’s make more use of this unlimited gift He has given us! I know I need to!

Maybe you have never prayed before. Oh, dear friend, you are missing out! God is waiting right where you are, waiting to hear you speak to Him… in your own words… from your own heart… because He wants to meet with you, and to answer.

This same God, Who did incredible things in the past, is waiting to do incredible things for us today.

Okay, so we need to do things His way. We all mess up. That’s why we need the blood of Jesus for forgiveness. That’s why we need to turn from the things that offend Him and follow Him His way. Sin blocks things up and gets in the way of what God wants to do for us.

But God is calling us  to speak to Him: the One Who did incredible things in the past, Who does not change, and ask Him for whatever we want, so long as our hearts are surrendered to Him. Whatever we want.

‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.’ James 5:16b-19

So why do we limit God?

Why do we hold back from asking?

Sometimes I sense Him asking me, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

Well, I think He’s always asking it. But, sometimes, I’m more aware of it.

I guess He’s asking me right now.

I guess He’s asking you right now, too.

What do you want Him to do for you? For those you love? For the nations? In your wildest dreams?

Yes, we need to surrender to Him and His ways. Yes, we need to align our hearts with His. Yes, we need to allow Him to be God in the way and the timing He answers. But let’s not lose the power of this very, very powerful and effective blank cheque that God is holding out to us.

What do you want Him to do for you?

‘Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.’ Psalm 37:4

Without reasoning it away, holding back or limiting what He can do.

What would I like Him to? What would you like Him to do?

Why not ask Him now?

He’s waiting for you. 😉

 

(The most important prayer we all need to pray is the one that opens the door to knowing God as our loving Heavenly Father: when we surrender to Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. Although we have all rebelled against Him, He loves us and longs to restore that relationship with Him. He gave His Son so that we can be forgiven from the judgement we all deserve and have the hope of living forever in His Heaven, when we come to Him, receive His forgiveness and surrender our lives to follow Him. He longs to meet with us, hear us and answer our prayers. He longs to give Himself to us).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why Worry is Not As Innocent As it Seems…

image

So, again, I think the subject for this post is worry… and trust. It’s the subject I feel God wants me to write about again, and it’s definitely one I need to grow in!

Do you ever catch yourself fretting about something you’re already committed to God through Jesus?

Over and over again?

And do you ever think that worry isn’t that big a deal, really?

The other day, I was spending time with the Lord, seeking Him about some things I was, yes, worried about. And He encouraged and comforted me. I could sense Him so gently encouraging me. It was so tender: as if He was saying, “Let go of your fear, Caroline. You can let go of your fear.” … and I kept fretting.

And then I felt Him, very gently and tenderly, encouraging me. It was so encouraging that it wasn’t really a rebuke… but I knew it was what I needed to hear. The sense of it was something like this: “Stop fretting, Caroline! You have given it to Me… over and over again. I know about it and I’m taking care of it! Just relax! You will see My answer soon!”

It was bang on. It was right. I had given my worries to Him. Now all I needed to do was stop fretting, and trust (and even praise Him for the answers that are on their way!).

And I, as I prayed into it, I felt Him showing me how often I fret about things. I allow anxious thoughts into my mind, and I play with them and try to solve them, when I’ve already given them to the Lord, and He’s already encouraged me that He’s taking care of them. And I felt Him encouraging me that this way of thinking needs to change. Yes, He is gracious. Yes, He still loves me when I worry! But I can change, and I need to if I want to achieve all the things God wants to do through my life and ministry. Worry will hamper my ministry and steal my faith in the Lord. Because God responds and does amazing things in answer to faith.

And fear chokes out faith.

Worry will hold back things that God wants to do in answer to faith in Him through Jesus, because it will choke out the faith. If I let Him change me, faith will rise up in new, wonderful ways, and He will do much more than I ever thought possible in answer to the faith that is left after the worry has begun to fall away.

Worry is not an innocent, harmless habit. Not only does it weaken us (and could even make us ill), but it chokes out the faith that God wants to use to do amazing things in and through our lives, when we come to Him through Jesus.

God led me recently to a sermon about how Satan wants to use fear and anxiety in our lives. It was a powerful message. I knew it would be- my computer kept refusing to play it, and so did my phone! So I guessed the enemy didn’t want me to listen to it! And I was right about that, I think. It was really helpful. Satan will try to get into our lives and hold us back in various ways. And one of those is worry and fear. It’s pretty subtle, too- worry doesn’t even feel like sin, and it seems so innocent! But the enemy can really use it to hold us back and keep us down, holding us back from what God wants to do in and through our lives. You can hear the message here:

https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/life06.shtml

Because what children of God through Jesus really need to do is to stand in faith on God’s promises: to commit our worries to God, and believe that He will act in the best way and at the best time- as we trust in Him.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Psalm 37:5

But how can we stand in faith on God’s promises if we are letting anxiety take our faith?

The battle with worry is really a battle for faith in God.

And we are called to fight that battle in our minds.

‘casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,’ 2 Corinthians 10:5

It won’t feel good to break the thought patterns. I guess it will be a healing process, over time. But I think the Lord is encouraging me that the process will be beautiful: like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. As less fear is there, in the silence that remains in my mind, faith will rise up. And He will answer that faith in very beautiful, powerful ways.

My friend was wearing a t-shirt the other day: “Dream Big!” You know, if we’re following Jesus, there’s no reason not to dream big! There is no limit to what God can do in answer to the prayer of faith! All things are possible with Him! Sure, it may not look like what we expect. It means surrendering to His way. It may take a while. It may be unexpected. But that will be because He’s doing more, not less. If we let go of our fears and trust Him, I think He will amaze us by what He does!

As He says,

‘”Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”‘ Psalm 81:10b

And worry will only limit that faith; limit the beautiful, amazing things God wants to do through our faith.

So, yes, it’s time to let go of the worries… Over and over again, if necessary!

Because we really can cast our cares on Him.

“casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

It’s as if He is reassuring me, “You can let go, Caroline. You can let go. I’ve got you safe.”

If you’re following Jesus, He’s got you safe, too. And you can let go too!

(When you know Jesus as Saviour and are following Him as Lord, there really is nothing to worry about because you are His. But that pre-condition is really important, because we all have a big problem: our sin and the coming judgement. That’s why Jesus came, died on the cross and rose again. And He offers forgiveness and new life to all who will receive His forgiveness, turn from wrong and surrender to Him as Lord of their lives. When you have done that and are following Him, you can know that He will take care of you… now and forever.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Moment of Deep Peace…

The other week, I was blessed by a few days staying with a dear friend. My friend has a beautiful garden. One afternoon, I was sitting in it, reading and enjoying the sunshine.

In the peace and beauty of that moment, I could feel the sweetness of resting in God; of basking in His love; of knowing all is well for me, His child through Jesus, whatever may come. Yes, I get anxious, and yes, there are trials, but His reassurance is so real. For I belong to Jesus. I am forgiven. I am His. I am following Jesus. My future is in His hands. The One Who made the garden beautiful is the One who is doing beautiful things in my life, too, even when I don’t see the whole picture yet; even when it’s hard. I can trust in Him.

IMG_0574

I took up a pen and tried to put it into words.

In the Garden

Richness in a garden basked

In life and colour, warmth and light;

A breeze that ripples, silky; bright

Beneath a vast expanse- wide sky.

To rest within a Father’s arms,

To sit and smile; to know His care;

To hear; believe that all is well;

His love surrounding; everywhere.

 

I feel the kiss of shivered breeze.

The shadows dance; light moves; I hear

The rustle of the vital world.

I sit in beauty’s gentle bower.

To know the One Who made all this;

So loved; surrounded; endless care.

Soul happy in the loving gaze

Of Him who smiles and soothes each fear.

 

Fat flowers bob; their purple balls

Rise, dancing in this joyous light.

The wealth of rippling shapes and forms

That grow within this place of life.

Though I know not the way He leads,

His tender whispers quiet fear.

I soften as a weaned child

And smile; He holds me gently here.

 

All around, the things that grow

Sprout and bud their wholesomeness

And burst with all this rising life

And richly flower their ripening feast.

I know the One Who makes them grow.

Live in the care behind. Deeply.

He feeds each tree; each flower; each seed.

Yes, my Lord holds the world, and me.

 

My Lord tends to the tiny flower,

All pink and lovely, softly sweet;

So frailly flitting; tender; kept.

Her fragile beauty delicate.

I feel my smallness; know His care.

His touch so very gentle here.

And know that, as the smallest flower,

I am so safely kept; no fear.

 

In the garden, I can taste

The beauty of His offered grace.

The Hand that holds the world around;

The care that breathed it all awake

And know, behind the awesome power,

The tender love that gives me rest

And sit and still and breathe awhile

And know, soul deep, that God knows best.

 

(That peace of resting in God’s love can be yours, too, when you know Jesus as your Saviour. He offers each of us forgiveness from our guilt when we turn from our sin, trust in what He did for us on the cross, and choose to follow Him as Lord of our lives. It’s the way of knowing the peace of a Father’s care through all the trials of this broken world, and the way to life forever in His Heaven).

 

Do You Ever Put God in a Box?

Do you ever underestimate God?

Expect Him to act in a certain way? Limit what you think He can or will do?

roses

I remember a friend at University, who used to talk about ‘putting God in a box’.

Yup, I do that.

And then He bursts the boxes apart by doing far more than we could even ask, dream or imagine… usually on another dimension, with lots of extra thrown in!

I think I often underestimate my Heavenly Father.

Well, that’s an understatement!

Not just in what He can do.

But His kindness. His gentleness. His tenderness. His care.

He much He loves.

How deeply He knows me, in a way that no-one else does. How deeply I understands what I need.

How much He cares.

You see, He cares so very, very much more than we realise. He loves so much deeper than we could ever dream of.

Sometimes I think of Him in a certain way… and then He does something that blows my mind… and I realise… He is so, so much bigger and better and more wonderful than I could ever think of in my wildest dreams! He is real and He is there and He really answers and He really acts… wisely and wonderfully and powerfully, but also tenderly for His people, too.

In big ways, and in little ones. To be honest, it’s often the little ones that get me the most: things that only He could do; things only He could know about. Answering prayers I haven’t even realised I’ve prayed. Doing things I’ve forgotten to even ask for.

And He delights to do so!

He blows my mind, again and again and again.

And I find myself encountering the One Who is so much bigger; so much better than my wildest dreams.

But it’s not just in the big answers. It’s in encountering Him in and through it all.

He cares so much more than we realise when we are hurting. We forget; we go on our way; trying to keep strong; thinking He must want us just to push through. And, all the time, He is there, waiting for us to come to Him; because He wants to comfort us; because He wants to hold us close.

 ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 1 Cor 1:3

He will fix the problems one day- ultimately, in eternity. Those who follow Jesus down the narrow road (and we all need to) have every reason to hope. But He also wants to pour His love in now. He wants us to find Him in it all.

He knows this is a broken world. He never meant for it to be like that. We are the ones who broke it, and He is the One Who is going to put it right when Jesus comes back to judge the world and collect His people: His bride. But even now, in the middle of all the mess, the Father longs to hold us; to pour in His love; to comfort us through it all.

To minister to us in ways we’d never even dream of. To counsel us. To protect us. To give us peace.

To answer our prayers. But, more than that, to give us what we never even realised we longed for: God.

Yes, He loves to amaze us by what He does. But He loves to amaze us in the process, too: by showing up; by pouring in His love; by giving us Himself.

It may be a painful process to do things His way (like labour). But He’ll burst our boxes apart in the process if we let Him in… as we find Him… and discover that He is really all we are looking for, anyway.

I’m learning that it means letting go of our ideas about how we think He should answer… and our timetables, too.

It means letting Him do things His way.

But it’s not because He’s cruel, and it’s not because He’s going to let us down. No way.

He is Love. Pure love.

It’s because our boxes aren’t big enough to hold what He wants to do.

‘”Then you will know that I am the Lord,
For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”’ Isaiah 49:23c

And, when He bursts our boxes apart, we find Him waiting there… real, wonderful and beyond our wildest dreams.

Love.

God.

The One we have been looking for all along.

The One Who is waiting for us with open arms. 🙂

’20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ Eph 3:20-21

 

(He is the One Who cares so much that He gave His one and only Son to bring us into His family. Jesus died in our place, so that we can be forgiven… the slate washed clean… when we come to Him and receive His forgiveness, turn from our wrong ways and surrender to follow Him and do things His way. He is better than your wildest dreams, and He longs to receive you with open arms when you come to Him in faith. He is waiting to rescue you for all eternity: to give you an astounding, eternal hope. He is waiting for you now).

(To receive free encouraging emails, click ‘follow’. I’d love to keep encouraging you!) 🙂

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Love That Can Truly Set You Free…

Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about His love for me as Father, and what that means. It’s so precious; so beautiful; so healing; so freeing. And I want to share more with you, if that’s ok. Because I think it’s crucially important in setting us free in all kinds of ways.

image

You see, all of us are searching. We are searching for peace; for security; for significance. We have caught glimpses of these things sometimes; in our families; in good things; in things that make us, for a few moments, feel secure; feel loved. We spend our whole lives searching for more, in all kinds of places, good and bad. But it never truly lasts, does it?

What we are all truly longing for, deep down, is our heavenly Father.

And the truly amazing thing is that He is longing for us, too! He made us for Himself, and He longs to fill the holes in our hearts with His love. He has infinite, amazing, incredible, endless love, offered to each of us without limit or measure.

He waits for us to come to Him; to let go of the other things we look to, to surrender our hearts with Him, so that He can fill us up with Himself.

He longs to comfort our tears.

He longs to take away our guilt and fill us up with His peace; hold us in His eternal embrace.

He longs to fill the aches with something deeper; something better; something sweeter than the things we think we long for.

He loves to pour in love, and more love, and more love, until we are so full with Him that it overflows out of us to a hurting, broken world.

If we seek Him on His terms; if we let go of other things; if we wait for Him, He will meet with us.

‘And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.’ Jeremiah 29:13

His dreams for us are far bigger and more wonderful than our dreams for ourselves. And the best dream of all is knowing this Love that has been reaching out to us all along; the Love that we were made for. He longs to fill us up. He longs to give us joy. He longs to set us free to be ourselves in Him.

And this beautiful journey has all kinds of beautiful implications. As we come to Him on His terms and surrender and let Him pour His love in, we will begin to be truly more ourselves. We will begin to find freedom from hurts we have carried maybe all our lives. Fear and comparison will begin to fall away. Our lives will have meaning in ways we never could have imagined. We will become vessels who can impart life and love to others.

It’s not a once-for-all thing. It may take time. It’s a journey of knowing Him; surrendering to Him; letting Him be God; letting Him in. In my experience, He often doesn’t do what I think He will- it’s better, and deeper, and harder, and more beautiful, and more wonderful and more healing and more worth it than that.

And it does mean doing things His way. It does mean surrendering our hearts. It does mean doing what He tells us to do in His word: things like turning from our sins, and forgiving others, and following Jesus down the narrow road; and surrendering to let Him do things His way.

But it’s worth it. It’s good, not bad. It’s amazing!

It’s the way to life that is truly life… forever.

And, yes, it may involve a process of suffering. This is a broken world after all. It’s not the way it was meant to be, and it’s not the final word. Eternity will change everything, when He comes to judge the world and put everything right (which is why we need a Saviour). For those who follow Jesus, the future is ultimately only full of hope.

But knowing His love changes things here, too. He brings comfort. He brings peace. He brings deep heart healing. He brings hope. He brings joy. When will let Him in on His terms, there’s no limit to what He can do in our hearts and lives.

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,’ 2 Corinthians 1:3

He is always there, waiting for us, longing for us, yearning for us to come to Him.

And He can bring transformation and beauty in incredible, life- changing ways. The verses below talk about the ministry of Jesus:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3

Whether you’ve known God for a long time or this is the very first time you let Him in, He is right there with you right now, waiting for you to come to Him and surrender; waiting to pour His love into your heart.

‘Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.’ Isaiah 30:18

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

When you Want the Very Best Gift of all…

What do you see as the best gift you could ever have in life? The thing you long for most of all?

Something has been clicking in me recently, and I want to share it with you, because it’s life-changing.

It’s something I should have realised a long time ago, and maybe I did, but the Lord has been showing me again.

The greatest gift God can ever give us is Himself.

img_0006

 

Knowing God. Knowing His love. Knowing Him as Father.

There are many good gifts in this world, and they all come from God.

‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.’ James 1:17

But none of them can ever truly satisfy the deep longings of our hearts. Only God can do that.

‘O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.’ Psalm 63:1-8

 

Only He can heal the deep wounds of our hearts.

Only He can truly meet our longings for love; for peace; for significance.

Only He can truly satisfy our souls.

We all have empty, thirsting hearts. We live in a broken world. We are broken too. Our sins have broken us, and the wounds of this life have knocked us down. Some of us are very broken. And we all search desperately for something to fill the ache. We all look in different places, but there are some common ones we look in- like other people, relationships, approval, money, pleasure, quick fixes…

And yet, none of these truly, deeply fill the ache.

‘“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”‘ Jeremiah 2:13

What we are really looking for is God Himself.

The Father we have been looking for all our lives.

The only One Who can truly satisfy our souls and make us whole.

Sometimes, God breaks in and gives us good gifts; things we have longed for for a long time.

But they are not the best gift (and seeing them as best will actually hurt us; not help us).

The very best gift God can ever give is Himself.

That dawned on me recently. God has been taking me on such a beautiful journey, revealing more of His love for me as my Father; pouring His love into broken places in my heart. But still I look for other things. But I realised this the other day: knowing Him and His love is the best thing He could ever give me.

This journey of discovering the love of my Heavenly Father is the best gift of all.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be other blessings. But none of them could be better than knowing Him; than delighting in how good He is; than discovering His love; than the outpouring of love into my heart from His Father heart.

It’s even worth going through tough seasons, when the tough seasons draw you into His arms, where He pours out His love.

There is peace in that. The more you know His love, the more you can stop striving; stop searching. Sure, good things will come in this life. Bad things will come too, until we (those who follow Jesus) make it to Heaven. But they never need to touch the deepest thing: I am loved by my Heavenly Father. He can satisfy every longing. He can quench every  thirst. He can fill every ache with Himself.

Whatever life brings, I already have the best gift of all, because I have Him. Drinking from Him, I am full to overflowing… and more and more as I discover more of His love.

Because He is the One we have all been searching for all along.

And He is reaching out to you with His love, too. He gave His Son so you can be forgiven and accepted as His dearly loved child. He longs to sweep you up in His love… whether for the first time, as you surrender to Jesus as Lord and Saviour, turning from your sin and receiving forgiveness through Jesus as you surrender to follow Him, or again and again as you get to know God more and seek Him to let Him fill and heal up your heart.

God is the One we need, and knowing Him is the best gift of all.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why Life Doesn’t Have to be So Heavy

Do you know what it is to live often tense; often anxious? I sure do!

picture-peace-blog

The Lord has been showing me recently (again) that, the more I know I am loved, the more anxiety can fall away.

I so often worry: living tense; inwardly fretful; hyper-vigilant.

But I am His child. I am forgiven; accepted; secure in the Father’s love (and you can be too when you come to Jesus, trust in Him as your Saviour for His forgiveness, turn from your sin and follow Him as your Lord. It’s way of eternal rescue from the coming Judgement… and the way to know the love of the Father Who is reaching out to us all).

In the Father’s love, there is peace. There is security. There is provision for our every need. There is hope for the future. There is the promise that ultimately, when we belong to Jesus and follow Him, all will be well.

It doesn’t mean there will be never be trials, but it does mean that every trial is tenderly measured out; and accompanied by abundant provision, which we generally cannot see in advance.

Being so very, very loved by a heavenly Father is the grounds for being less anxious about life (actually, He tells us not to be anxious at all!), because He really has got it all in hand, and He really is so very kind, loving and wise.

‘As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:13-14

The more I soak in His love, the more I will began to grasp how loved I am; and the more I will begin to be more relaxed; less tense; more at peace. Secure in the love of the Father. Because His strong arms are around me and His provision is assured, I really don’t need to be afraid.

‘Of Benjamin he said:

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him,
Who shelters him all the day long;
And he shall dwell between His shoulders.”’ Deuteronomy 33:12

And I will have a happier heart in God.

‘A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance’. Proverbs 15:13

That doesn’t mean there won’t be trials. This is a broken world. God uses trials to grow us while we are down here. And He does give His people work to do for His Kingdom (not to earn anything, but as a response of love). But He promised to provide abundantly. Each trial is measured tenderly, with abundant provision. And He wants me to rest in His love to send the provision right when I need it; instead of fretting about what if.

Because He is the One Who wants to carry me.

‘“Listen to Me, O house of Jacob,
And all the remnant of the house of Israel,
Who have been upheld by Me from birth,
Who have been carried from the womb:
Even to your old age, I am He,
And even to gray hairs I will carry you!
I have made, and I will bear;
Even I will carry, and will deliver you.“‘ Isaiah 46:3-4

And, actually, God is such a gracious God that He delights to come through for those who lean on Him. He is glorified when we trust Him; when we live like He really is good. He delights to come crashing through with provision when we trust in Him alone.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;’ Proverbs 3:5

‘In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from His temple,
And my cry came before Him, even to His ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled;
The foundations of the hills also quaked and were shaken,
Because He was angry.
Smoke went up from His nostrils,
And devouring fire from His mouth;
Coals were kindled by it.
He bowed the heavens also, and came down
With darkness under His feet.
10 And He rode upon a cherub, and flew;
He flew upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness His secret place;
His canopy around Him was dark waters
And thick clouds of the skies.
12 From the brightness before Him,
His thick clouds passed with hailstones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord thundered from heaven,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.
14 He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe,
Lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
The foundations of the world were uncovered
At Your rebuke, O Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.’ Psalm 18:6-16

 

And it’s the way to a more peaceful, more joy-filled life- joyful in God.

‘”Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”’ Nehemiah 8:10c

I know I won’t get this all at once, but sometimes it sinks in… and it will, progressively, all the way to Glory. And He wants bless you with it, too. He is reaching out to all of us, first to draw us to receive His forgiveness and rescue from judgement through Jesus when we come to Him truly sorry, and then to pour His love upon us as we walk with Him… and His love increasingly sets us free to live more at peace, with joy, even in this broken world, because we know that we are loved.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

It’s Not Over Yet

Below are some words I wrote to encourage Christians who are going through hard times.

When you are trusting Jesus as your Saviour and following Him as your Lord, though life can be very tough at times, there is always a reason to keep going, because God always has a good plan in the end.

Eternal blessing is coming for those who follow Jesus. It’s always worth holding on.

(And, if you’re not a follower of Jesus yet, He longs to receive you, forgive you, give you a fresh start and give you this hope too).

image-sky

‘Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5b

I hope these words encourage you, too.

It’s Not Over Yet

It’s not over yet.

You can’t see the end:

What God is doing in love.

So don’t forget:

Lift up your head.

God will work all things for good.

 

All is not done,

Though you just can’t see

How your God moves; how He’ll come.

Faith will win out.

Time will tell yet

Why you were right to hold on.

 

You have a part.

You have a goal.

You still have something to do.

Keep pressing on.

Fulfil your call.

Sow through the tears. He’ll bless you.

 

Be still and know

That He is God.

Your God is still good; in control.

Weeping will turn

Into deep joy.

God has a plan all along.

 

It’s all in hand.

He thinks thoughts for you

Filled not with evil but good.

The end will be bright.

From tears will spring joy.

Be still and know He is God.

 

Fight through the night.

Hold onto what’s right.

God’s promises never can fail.

When Morning comes,

He will amaze.

You will be happy and whole.

 

And, after all,

God is your God.

He is the joy of your soul.

He will provide.

He satisfies.

He is your heart’s All in All.

 

(The Father is reaching out to all of us in such love. Though our rebellion has broken our relationship with Him and we all face His judgement, He gave His only Son to put that right. When you come to Jesus, turning from your sin and putting your trust in what He did on the cross, surrendering your life to follow Him as your Lord and Master, you receive complete forgiveness, eternal hope… and the encouragement that all things will ultimately work out for your good. He is reaching out to you today).

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Is There a Safe Place in this Crazy World?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

Do you ever feel frightened by the vulnerability; unpredictability of this crazy life? I do.

And sometimes things happen that shock you, and could paralyse you with fear.

Like what happened this week in Manchester.

IMG_9117

Manchester. The place I have learned to call home.

I took a tram through Victoria station the other day, right near where the attack happened.

And then this.

It’s shocking. Sickening. Heartbreaking. Terrifying.

But the horrible thing is that it’s real.

A group of us went to a peace vigil the night after the attack at a local church. Actually, the church had planned to hold an election hustings. But then things changed. Bigger things because more important. So the election candidates can along, and we had a peace vigil instead at the local church. It was precious; beautiful. All were welcome, and many came, including some who had probably never before set foot in a church. A group of people joined together by a common humanity. Normal people like me. Politicians. The old and young alike. We sat silent in God’s presence… While they read prayers… While our local election candidates read well- known, well-loved passages of Scripture about the Lord being our Shepherd; about the One Who knows us intimately; about God Who is our fortress; about casting every care upon Him. It was a precious time of peace in a crazy world.

And I was asking God a question: how can I ever feel safe in this unsafe world? How do I know there won’t be another attack right where I am? How can I not be paralysed by fear?

Is there a safe place in this crazy world?

The passages they were reading answered my question.

‘The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46:7

Yes, there is a fortress. His Name is the LORD. He is the only truly safe place in this crazy world.

You get into the fortress by putting your trust in Jesus as your Saviour, turning from your sin and following Him as Lord of your life. And you really do need to be in the fortress. Not just because this world is crazy now, but because it will only get crazier. We don’t like to think about it, but God makes it clear in His Word. Judgement is coming… anytime. That’s why we need a place of refuge.

And there is one. As you come to Jesus as your Saviour, turning from wrong and trusting in what He did on the cross, placing your life in His hands as your Lord, you are forgiven… accepted… welcomed… no matter what you have done.

And you are in the fortress. The place of safety. The place of security. The place of peace.

God doesn’t promise we will never go through suffering, but He does promise that, when we trust in Jesus and follow Him, He will always hold us tenderly, abundantly in His hands and provide for every single one of our needs. As we abide in Him, placing our lives in His hands, our hearts will find a safe place.

(The Lord led me to a helpful sermon about this yesterday- I recommend checking it out!   https://www.preachtheword.com/sermon/safe01.shtml  )

And something else clicked in me as I sat in that silent church, looking round at all of the people who had gathered. Other people need what I have. They need to know the peace; the hope; the security of what I have in Christ. And, because I have Him as my safe place, I am free to reach out to them in love.

When you know that you are held safe by God, you are suddenly free to reach out to others, because your heart is secure and because other people need what you have in Him. They too need the peace; the comfort; the eternal security that can only be found in Christ. I need to know that I am secure within the fortress of God, so that I can lean hard on Him… and reach out to others. Even if it puts me in harm’s way. Because God’s hand is on me, and He is holding me safe.

Other people need to know that He is God; that He can be their (your) fortress, too.

I think it is a journey to feel secure in this. It takes time. It takes leaning on the Lord. It takes soaking in His Word. It takes prayer. Maybe sometimes courage is deciding to act even though you still feel afraid. But it is true, however we feel.

There is a safe place in this crazy world. And He is available to all who will take refuge in Him.

‘God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;
God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.
The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;
He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.’ Psalm 46

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.