Thoughts on Going into a New Year…

I don’t know how it happened, but already we are on the cusp of another year, and it’s time to reflect and pray and take stock again.

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How do I look at another year? To be honest, sometimes I’m a bit afraid of what the new year will bring; what trials will come; how I will cope if this were to happen or this were to happen…

But I’m often reminded of those words from Proverbs 31:

‘Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.’ Proverbs 31:25

Some versions say that she laughs when she looks at the future.

The godly woman of Proverbs 31 laughs when she looks at the days ahead.

Why? Because she is confident in her Father’s provision.

I must be an expert worrier. I look ahead and see the problems long before they’ve ever arrived… And they probably won’t anyway. Yes, there may be trials, but they probably won’t be what I expect, and the provision for them will probably not be what I expect, either.

And God has been reminding me to look back at how He has provided and led me in the past… Abundantly. Most times, His provision was on another level entirely to what I’d expected… Something I didn’t see coming because it was just so much better than I could imagine.

His provision was deep and thorough and very, very wise, and very, very good. He led me in ways I didn’t expect, but ways that were so right.

He knows us so well. He cares so deeply. He knows just how to provide. There has never, ever been a time when He has let me down.

When He closed doors, it was because He had something better. When He did things slowly, it was because they were thorough, and whole. When He led me through valleys, He met me in them. Even in the little things, His provision has been so abundant, so tender, so wise, and so good.

And He loves to throw in blessings and surprises and gifts I never would have expected… Even in the darkest times, but also in the good ones, too. Blessings I never would have thought to ask for, because He knows us far better than we know ourselves and His provision is so very kind.

This verse often encourages me:

‘I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.’ Psalm 27:13

Because I have been forgiven through Jesus, that’s my future. That’s where I am headed in Christ: the Promised Land. It may be a way off, but it’s the final destination. And I will see His goodness and provision all along the way there.

There may be valleys, but they will be lit with His presence. There may be tears, but He will wipe them abundantly away. There may be brokenness, but it’s the way to far greater healing.

He will always be with me and He will always give me all I need.

I have no reason to be afraid.

In the light of that, how do I face a new year? Confident that He will provide, it’s a great time to look forward and take stock: to prayerfully seek Him and plan ways to serve Him in the coming year.

I always like to take time before a new year to pray and seek Him and write down some goals. I’m generally too ambitious! But it’s still good to seek Him about His plans for this new year.

It’s a good thing to make goals. It’s wise to do it after seeking Him in prayer. There are things He has called me to do, and it’s good to refocus and to plan. If we are not careful, time gets wasted on Facebook and shopping and watching films… Or a thousand other things…
And we let go of the things God is calling us to do.

Like reaching the people around us who don’t know how much they need salvation… And the over 2 billion who’ve never even once heard His Name.

But the best goal of all is to know Him; to love Him; to seek to stay close to Him through whatever comes.

Paul put it like this…

‘…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.’ Philippians 3:10-11

And to live to glorify Him, and to make known to the nations how good He is.

How can I look into a new year?

‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 3:12-14

Laughing at the days ahead, confident He will provide. Putting His kingdom first, knowing He’ll give me all I need (Matt 6:33). And seeking to know Him, no matter what comes.

Knowing that I will see His goodness every step of the way, and I have no reason to be afraid.

So I can hug my friends and say ‘Happy New Year’ and smile with confidence, because, although I don’t know the future, my Father does, and He will go with me all the way. 🙂

(If you don’t yet know the salvation and forgiveness He offers, the best way you can go into a new year (if you ever see it, for none of us know how long we have) is to get right with Him now by surrendering to Him as Lord and receiving His forgiveness… So that His love will lead you forward into the mercy and grace He wants to pour into your heart and life. Seek Him today, before it’s too late).

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

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If I Was at the Manger…

Christmas is almost here and I want to spend more time thinking about what it means before it’s all over and life rushes forward. I want to think with my words: to stop slow at the manger and breathe- and grasp something of what it means. So I want to try and do that in a blog post, if that’s ok.

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I want to imagine, for a few moments, that I’m there too- in that world-famous little stable in the tiny little town of Bethlehem. It’s just me imagining, but here goes…

There, in the manger, lies a baby. He is weak and vulnerable. He is newborn, only a few hours old. He may be shivering. There may be baby cries. It is probably dirty and smelly and cold, and the world is new and strange and not very welcoming.
This is my God. This is God the Son, eternal and wonderful and equal with the Father. This is the One Who created this world… for the world was made through Him.
‘All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’ John 1:3
This is the One Who planned me out; Who designed me so intimately and lovingly in my mother’s womb… Only, now, He has been formed in a womb, too… And the plan for His life is full of tears and suffering… So that the plan for my life could end only in eternal good.
My God spoke the universe into being. He placed the stars in the sky. He sits enthroned above it all. He holds it all together. None of it could exist without Him. Yet, here He is… Asleep in the straw. Tiny hands. Tiny feet. Tiny lungs. Tiny frame.
He must learn like any of us did… How to speak… How to walk… How to work.
But He existed before any of it. He knew it all before it was ever around.
Yet here He lies, so small.
If I could go there, I would want to hold Him. I would ask His mother if I could cradle Him… If I could hold Him close… And, if I had been there, I could have done: hold in my arms the One Who made me; the One Who is holding me all together even now. And I’ve always loved holding babies but this One is different… This is my God… And I’d be terrified that I’d drop Him but how can you drop the One Who is holding you all together? And yet He made Himself… Hurtable… Crucifiable.
And I would want to cradle Him; to protect Him; to keep Him safe from all the suffering down here. But, if He did not suffer for us, His people’s suffering would never end. That’s why He came.
It’s stunning and astounding and crazily, breathtakingly good.
I could walk outside with Him in my arms; gaze up at the stars He made; the stars He is holding together; the galaxies He formed… that ‘were made through Him’. (from John 1:3) I could breathe in the good, clean oxygen that He needs to breathe too. But, then, it would be cold outside… and He would be so very small… and the stable, however dirty, is shelter from the cruel world… The cruel world that He will live in for 33 years… The cruel world that He will die to save.
For it won’t end here, in the stable. He will grow. He will suffer. He will feel pain down here. He will cry. He will hurt. He will be betrayed. He will love and serve and counsel and help and heal. He will change so many lives for good.
His beautiful, wonderful, world-changing life will lead to the cross… To the agony for my sins… To the bursting forth from the tomb… To the eternal reign of glory and justice and joy. It will be so glorious… And so painful… And so good.
Maybe I’d be too overwhelmed with His presence to take it in. Maybe I could only feel awe… and faltering, trembling, tearful love. But maybe there are some things I could take away…
If God loves me so much, that He would give me His only Son, won’t He also give me everything else I need? If He cares this much… If He loves this much… why do I ever worry about the smaller things? He gave His own Son. He will freely, abundantly, give me His best… because I know He already has.
’32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ Romans 8:32
God is not distant. God is not far away. God came this close… into the very heart of the mess. I can let Him into my mess, too… let Him come close… and let Him work.
God has given Himself to me… to us… to all who will accept Him through Christ. He gave Himself at the manger, and He has given Himself to us for always. This Gift will never be taken away, if we only receive it. He is God with us… and He always will be. Through every need… every trial… every moment. He is mine… He is ours… for always…. forever.
 
And how can I keep this to myself? I cannot leave the manger unchanged… and I cannot leave it silent. Too many others need to know… need to encounter Him as I have done… need His love to change their lives forever.

It’s stunning and overwhelming and life-changing. I cannot take it in, but I cannot stay the same. And right now I just want to wait here: to gaze: to hold Him close in my arms and marvel that that’s what He is: close.

(If you don’t know Him yet as Saviour and Lord, come to the manger… come to the cross… turn from your sins, surrender your life and receive His full and free forgiveness. He loves you so much that He came so small… and so full of love. He longs to meet with you).
May you have a very blessed and happy Christmas. 🙂
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

What Do You Really Want for Christmas?

What do you really want for Christmas?

What do I really want for Christmas?

A present? Something you’ve wanted wrapped up with a ribbon?

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We may or may not get those things wrapped up in a box for us on Christmas Day.

But there’s one thing we can know for sure: God has given us a Gift already.

It’s a gift that will fill our deepest longings, whether we know it or not. It’s a Gift that satisfies the longing soul. It’s a Gift that deeply quenches the thirsty heart. It’s a Gift that meets our deepest need.

For all who will receive Him, God has given us Himself.

For the past few days, I’ve been camped out in Christmas verses- like these in Isaiah 9- a prophecy written hundreds of years before Jesus… about what God would do… about what happened in the manger and what will happen Forever afterwards.

‘For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’ Isaiah 9:6-7

God has given us Himself.

When you start to think about what God is saying here, it’s incredible!

‘For unto us a Child is born’. Isaiah 9:6

God gives us a Child. Actually, God gives us Himself.

More than what we think we want, more than what we think we need, all we really, truly want is God Himself.

And God has given us Himself in Jesus.

Who is this Child?

He will rule… forever.

He will be King of a whole new order… a whole new way of doing things.

What is He like?

He is the Wonderful Counsellor.

He is wisdom for all of the things that trouble us. He is help for all the perplexities of life. He is the One Who always listens; always understands; is never too busy and always has the wisdom we need.

For many years, I lived with a lot of confusion that troubled me deeply. I sought Him for wisdom, sometimes desperately. I am still amazed at how much He has done in answer: at how He has brought peace and wisdom into questions I thought would always trouble me. There are more questions, of course, but there has been so much healing… and deep peace. No one can counsel like Him!

He does counsel! I’m amazed by the wisdom in His Word… the way He puts a perfectly timed book into my hands when I need it… the way He gives wisdom in a variety of ways.

Whatever is troubling you, ask Him about it! He is the best Counsellor you could ever have.

He is the Mighty God. He is the One Who rules; the One Who reigns; the One Who created it all. He is sovereign and powerful and oh-so-good. He is strong and faithful and powerful to save. He is Mighty God… with us.

Everlasting Father.

Deep down, all of us crave the love of a perfect Father. We long to hear the tender, powerful affirmation of a Father Who loves us just as we are, treasures us and longs to give us His best. We can find the Father we have always yearned for through Jesus Christ.

He is the Prince of Peace. The One Who brings peace; deep wholeness into our troubled hearts and minds. The One Who waits to impart to us deep, calming peace.

He gives peace with God and peace between people it seemed impossible to unite. He gives peace in incredible ways.

And He is bringing an eternal reign of peace, justice and joy to all who will surrender to Him as Lord and receive Him as Saviour.

We live in a crazy, unstable world. But there is a new order coming: an eternal reign of peace under King Jesus. Everyone who knows Jesus as Saviour and Lord in this life will be there in the next. To live in His Kingdom will be pure joy. There will be freedom. There will be harmony. There will be happiness forever. And it is all because King Jesus will be on the throne.

He was not just a baby in Bethlehem. He is the Answer to our deepest longings. He is God… God giving us Himself in His Son.

No matter what your circumstances, there are reasons to rejoice this Christmas. God Has given us a Child.

God has given us a King.

God has given us Himself.

In Him is hope beyond our wildest dreams… Forever and beyond. 🙂

And He is reaching out to you right now.. in love.

(if you don’t know Him for yourself yet, He waits for you with open arms. Come and tell Him you are sorry for choosing other things instead of Him. Come and ask His forgiveness for things that you have done. Come and surrender your life to Him as your Lord- and let Him change it in incredible ways. You be amazed by what He can do in response to a prayer like that).

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

More on anxiety… How being loved changes everything…

Our Father always knows what’s best. Sometimes that’s easy to see. Often, it’s very hard. But it’s true, just the same. If we are following Jesus, we are so, so secure in God’s love (and if you’re not a Christian yet, you can find that security by becoming one!).

God has been encouraging me in a lot of thing lately- and I’m struggling to grasp them, and live them. But they’re still worth sharing, because they’re true… and I think they could be life-changing!

As Christians, we are surrounded by more love than we could ever dream of. As God’s children, we are secure in His love.

Because He loves us, we can have peace that His plan is best.

Because He loves us, we can trust in the dark, when we don’t understand.

Because He loves us, the sting of fear of the future can be gone.

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“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

In Him, we can find peace, because He loves us. We can rest in the Lord- trusting, and therefore at peace. No hurry, because God’s timing is perfect. No care, because God is our heavenly Father. No worry, because God cares for us.

Do you,like me, live in constant low-level anxiety, afraid that everything will fall apart, afraid that you won’t be able to cope; afraid that you won’t have what you need? Being in control will never resolve that, because little human beings are never ‘in control’ enough to silence our fears. Knowing what will happen will never resolve that, because there are always new things we could worry about in this world (and God knows we can’t handle knowing too much).  There is really only one resolution, and that is grasping more of the Father’s love. The more we meditate on His love as Father, the more we can be at peace, because we know that He cares so much.

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

When we begin to understand that our Heavenly Father cares for us so tenderly, and that He reigns sovereign over circumstance in our lives, our fear begins to lose its grip. If He shows tender compassion to His children like a father for his child, then we can be assured that He is watching over us so very, very tenderly; so very, very lovingly… and we can trust that He always has our best interests at heart, and will never make a mistake.

The more we trust in His love, the more we will find peace. This is the life He wants for us: the life of simple peace and quiet trust, abiding in our Father’s love.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding“. Proverbs 3:5

As we meditate on what He is like, we realise that He is tender, compassionate and kind. He will not let your needs slip through His fingers. He never forgets how frail you are, or how much you need His care. If you belong to Jesus, Jesus is always interceding for you, and He will never forget your need. You are dearly, dearly loved and cared for, and in that you can find abundant hope, rest and peace. Where is the place for fear in the light of such loving care as this?

He often asks me a question: “Do you trust Me?”

It’s so simple. Will I actively decide to believe: to rest in His goodness: to trust that He is in control: to trust that He will be good to me?

If I trust Him, the fear, anxiety and striving will go away. The weight comes from thought patterns I practice so that I will be control. But He asks me to lay down my understanding and simply to trust. In that, I will find peace, joy and strength to face whatever He sends.

“Who among you fears the Lord?
Who obeys the voice of His Servant?
Who walks in darkness
And has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord
And rely upon his God.” Isaiah 50:10

Trust. It feels such a good, wholesome, comforting thing to do that I somehow think it’s a luxury that is just too good… But it’s not just a luxury. It’s a command. And it’s help and healing and peace: actively resting in the peaceful assurance that He is Who He is, and that He will do me good. And He wants to give the sweetest, most incredible peace that He wants to give as we trust in His goodness, wisdom and love.

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10b

Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.”

Ps 131.

 

“Underneath us, O how easy!

We have not to mount on high,

But to sink into His fullness

And in trustful weakness lie;

And we find our humbling failures

Save us from the strength that harms;

We may fail, but underneath us

Are the everlasting arms.”

(‘Art thou sunk in depths of sorrow’, Albert B. Simpson: 1843-1919 (Public Domain))

This is the place of freedom: the place of being little: a little child with a big Dad. When you are little, you don’t have to know the answers. You don’t need to be in control. You don’t need to understand anything at all! You can just be still and let Him be God. And we see in Psalm 131 that this place of humility, of not lifting up our hearts or eyes too high, is not a difficult place to be but rather a place of peace and rest: a place where we can just rest in our Father’s embrace… and just be loved. It reminds me of Zephaniah 3:17:

‘In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.’ Zephaniah 3:16-17

What an encouragement! It’s a picture of our Heavenly Father singing over us, rejoicing over us with delight as He holds us close to His heart. What a reason to hope! As human beings on this little planet, we see very little. We have no idea of the heavenly realities going on around us, do we? And, yes, there is the reality of spiritual battle… of the demonic… of the angelic… of lots of things we have no idea about. But there is this, too: there is the Father’s song of loving delight over His children in Christ! And we can be little, and rest in that!

Oh, how your Heavenly Father loves you! If only you could get a grasp of His wide, vast, unending love, what a difference it would make to everything! He is there, waiting for you to realise how much He loves you… waiting for you to realise that He is waiting for you, waiting for you to realise that you can come… just as you are… that all of your trying is only keeping you away… that all He wants is you: humble, surrendered, just as you are… and He will meet you there. And oh, oh, His love! His wide, wonderful, astounding love… His love that satisfies… His love that we can never understand because it is so, so big! Let go of your trying. Just look up. Look at Him. Receive. Let Him meet you just where, just as you are. His love will meet your every need… will set you free, if you will only come to Him.

 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

No, I haven’t ‘got’ these things yet. But I think they could be life-changing… don’t you?

 

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

For worriers like me…

Do you ever struggle with worry?

So often, the answer is found just in resting in the Father’s love.

I am such a worrier. I look ahead and try to see what God will do: how He will provide. I panic and fret and try to make God’s plans for Him. But I am learning that there is a place of peace: a place not of knowing the answers, but of knowing Him.

A lesson that God has been speaking to me lately is about trust. One of my greatest failings is anxiety, and God has been speaking into it: encouraging me that the solution is found in trusting my Father’s love: that He really loves me, and, because He does, I don’t need to worry, because He really will work everything for my good.

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The Christian life is not meant to be a life of hopelessness, but a life of peace, joy and victory. Yes, it is likely to be a life that includes trials and tears, and, yes, there will be tough times, but, through it all, dependence on the Lord Jesus can bring a peace and joy into it all that the unbeliever would think impossible.

The key to joy is worship: having God first in our lives and being satisfied in Him alone, with or without any other gifts that He may choose to give us- and not for the sake of joy itself, but out of deep and real love for God.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25

And there is such peace in His presence: in simply knowing Him as Father: in knowing that He is love, and that His love is always, always enough.

Knowing Him is better than knowing the answers. Knowing Him is better than knowing what will happen. Knowing Him is peace in the very middle of the storm… because, if you know Him and you know that He loves you, you can trust… and trusting takes away the need for answers.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and she was reminding me of something very simple and very true: we are called to trust Him. We are called to have faith. We are called to believe Him, even when we don’t understand.

And that believing is surely rooted in knowing Him; in His presence; in His love.

Because, when you know Him, you can trust Him as Father; you can trust in His love.

“For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:“In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” From Isaiah 30:15

You know, it sounds crazy, but the more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to think that the life God means for His children is a life of freedom and joy: not without hard work or trials, but without worry, because He really has got it all in His strong, capable hands.

When I was nineteen, I went to a summer school at a Bible college. During the final question session, a number of us asked questions about guidance and finding God‟s will for our lives. As students wrestling with the impact of the Bible in our lives, there were important questions to consider about questions like full-time ministry, mission, vocation, marriage, money… I don’t know about everyone else, but, for me, those questions were questions full of anxiety- I handled them with a heavy heart, fearful that God would let me down…

So the advice of one of the speakers really stuck with me. He gave principles, advice and information about possible options. But before he did that, he said the most helpful thing:

“Relax!”

If we were honestly seeking Him, we weren’t going to miss God leading us! He would make it clear, in His time… so, instead of sinning by worrying, we should relax and enjoy the ride!

What if we could relax and ENJOY abundant life in Christ as we joyfully serve Him? He will not fail us and, boy, will we miss out if we spend all our time worrying! Instead, maybe we can even have fun as we watch for Him to work things out in His wholly faithful and wholly perfect way and time! 

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

“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

The Lord recently reminded me of a time when He really encouraged me: I was out for the day, and I was waiting at a bus stop when a stranger, a girl, came up to me. She said that she felt that God wanted to encourage me with something: LIGHTER! It’s not meant to be a heavy burden!

I knew that that was from God. And I have found it so  hard to apply. But it’s true- and it’s good news! We can relax! Trusting in God, life isn’t meant to be so heavy!

The bedrock of this attitude is the character of our God… He is LOVE!!!

And, when we are sure of Him, we are free to pour out our lives in service of others, seeking to share His love with them, secure that He will take care of us. 🙂

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:33

I love the very true words of this old hymn:

Like a river glorious is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth deeper all the way.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,

Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

 

Every joy or trial falleth from above,

Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully, all for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

(‘Like a River Glorious’, Francis Ridley Havergal, Public Domain)

I’m not saying I’ve got this. I really haven’t! Just ask my friends! But it’s what He’s showing me is possible. And I think it’s worth growing towards, don’t you? 😉

 

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

Who will tell them?

I don’t even know when I first came to know Jesus as my Saviour.

I was tiny, I know. I was taken to Sunday School from the age of two, and there I learned that Jesus died in my place so that I can be forgiven, and that He wanted to come into my life as my Saviour and Lord, giving me forgiveness and eternal hope if I asked Him to and surrendered my life to Him. I gave my heart to Him when I was very small, and He did what He promised. He came into my heart, and has been the sweetest, kindest, dearest Friend ever since. I can’t imagine what it would be like not to know Him. Knowing Him is peace; joy; hope; strength; comfort; hope for this life and the next. Knowing Him is being secure in His hand, no matter what happens. Knowing Him is a clean slate before my Maker when I meet Him one day as my Judge. Knowing Him is rescue from the judgement that I as a sinner deserve. Not knowing Him would be unthinkable.

But, for billions of people in this world, that is not the reality. Actually, 2-3 billion have never even heard had the opportunity to hear of Him even once.

For countless thousands of girls who live and die on the cruel, merciless streets, life is the stuff of nightmares… And they do not know the peace and life and hope of Jesus in them, with them and for them.

I wrote this poem from the perspective of one of them. She is imagined, but I think her story represents the stories of countless thousands who really exist.

CS of a girl looking through the window.

No-one Told Me

I grew a heartbreak child,

Unwanted and unloved,

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Abused when still a girl,

In terror, walk alone

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

I gave my heart away.

I cannot buy it back.

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

I’ve learned to bleed for breath.

For food, I pay the price

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Hopeless, I live the streets,

Die with their grasping hands

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

I walk a lonely road,

My burdens on my back,

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Fast locked in all my sins,

No hope of finding peace,

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

My family never cared.

So lost, I’m all alone

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Rejected, now I’m old.

Nobody wants to know

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Survive through scraps of food.

Fast fading, not long now

And still nobody tells me about Jesus.

 

Alone, I leave this world,

So dirty, so afraid,

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

I stand before my God,

My sins upon my back.

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

I face the night of nights

In horror. All is lost.

And no-one ever told me about Jesus.

 

Another little girl.

For her, there’s still a chance.

But who is going to tell her about Jesus?

 

Billions have never heard.

So many do not know.

And who is going to tell them about Jesus?

 

We hold their only hope

Within our blood-bought hands.

Oh, who is going to tell them about Jesus?

 

 

(You can help reach people like her at http://www.gfauk.org ).

Are you searching for love you just can’t seem to find?

imageThis is the time of year when I get to spend two weeks in a tent. And, to be honest, I love it. Ok, so the tent thing brings challenges. But the other side of it is that, along with thousands of others, I get to soak in the presence of my Heavenly Father’s incredible, amazing, freeing, healing, satisfying love.

Every summer, I have the huge privilege of spending time at Christian festivals, talking to people about missions. And, with thousands of others, I get to spend chunks of time singing songs and basking in the love of my Heavenly Father. It’s always amazing to see what happens: as we fix our gaze on Him and seek Him, He meets us and works in amazing ways.

And I’m realising something: so simple and yet it’s the answer to everything. The love of our Heavenly Father is what we are all craving so deeply and, when we seek Him honestly through Jesus, He comes and meets with us, cleans us up, gives us a fresh start, heals us up inside and sets us free to live a whole new and wonderful purpose, tailor-made and designed by Him. At these festivals, I get to see it happening: people come broken, start seeking Jesus and find Love they’d never imagined existed, and freedom they’d never dreamed possible.

Ok, so it’s messy. Ok, so it can take a process. Ok, so it doesn’t all happen at once. Ok, so there’s no cookie cutter solution (God is far, far bigger than that and He knows how to work with each individual because He made us all!). But the bottom line is this: in the love of your Heavenly Father is the love, the forgiveness, the freedom, the deep inner healing you have been searching for all along. And, if you seek Him, surrender to Him and spend time in His presence and His Word, He will meet you and minister to you in amazing ways.

You see, deep down, I think we are all searching. Searching for love. Searching for acceptance. Searching for meaning.

And I believe we can only truly find that meaning in our Heavenly Father’s astounding, faithful love.

You need to know that God is the One you have been looking for all your life.

Maybe you already know that. But, you know, it’s not a one-off discovery. The Father is always waiting to meet you on a new and deeper level.

And, if you’ve never surrendered to Him for the first time, turning from wrong and receiving His forgiveness through Jesus, He is waiting for you to do that, so He can shower you with His love.

And you absolutely do not need to be at a festival for that to happen! No matter what you have done, you are never too far away. God is so close to you right where you are, just waiting for you to reach out to Him.

Because He has been pursuing you all along (and that includes right now).

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:8-14 (KJV)

Has Brexit maybe brought a little fear to your heart?

Does the world ever seem a frightening place to you?

It does to me!

Things can sometimes seem crazy and upside down and out of hand and I sometimes wonder how I can find a truly safe place to stand on. And, yes, Brexit hasn’t helped that feeling either. Of course, I knew it was a possibility, and it may have even been the best thing (I honestly don’t know- this isn’t meant to be a political blog post!), but it’s sure taken me by surprise. Maybe it has taken you by surprise, too. Maybe you also find a bit of fear in your heart. I hope these thoughts are helpful.

How can I respond to this big, frightening, unstable world?
Rainbow

 

Well, there is an Anchor. His Name is the LORD and He doesn’t change no matter what may come or go. He laughs at the efforts of the nations to resist His rule (Ps 2). It’s all part of His big, amazing, sovereign plan. So I can be still and know He is God, and He is never, ever taken by surprise.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10 (KJV)

And I am so, so loved by Him. I may be very small in this crazy world, but I am so very, very loved… held in a mighty Hand… and utterly, utterly secure. Hidden in Him, nothing can ever move me. No matter how uncertain or difficult the road may be, I am His… and He tells me not to be afraid.

“And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.”  Daniel 10:15a (KJV)

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18 (KJV)

I am promised all that I need. So long as I am seeking His kingdom first, I will always be provided for. Abundantly. It doesn’t matter what the state of the economy looks like. His promises are not dependent on the economy. They are dependent on the faithfulness of my God, and He does not change, Brexit or no Brexit!

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:33-34 (KJV)

I still have a purpose. The orders haven’t changed, no matter what may come tomorrow. Live to glorify Him. Go tell all the world of Him. In joy or pain, in stability or chaos, in poverty or riches, in war or peace… No matter what, I have a job to do: to reach out to others with the Good News He gave His people to share with the lost.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matt 28:18-20 (KJV)

And maybe a season of instability is a ripe ground for sharing unshakeable hope in the One Who does not change: Who has promised forgiveness and eternal hope to all who repent, believe and put their hope in Him.

At the end of the day, He is God and I am His. Even if things go crazy, even if it becomes very difficult to live, even if I must die because of what I believe, still I don’t need to fear, because I am His. Paul said it so well:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21 (KJV)

So, how should I respond to Brexit? Just keep going! Keep praying! Keep trusting! Keep loving others! Keep reaching out! Keep seeking to reach the world for Him…

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)

…and He will meet me with His abundant, wonderful provision… and peace.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Proverbs 26:3 (KJV)

(Oh, and if you don’t know Him as your Saviour yet, you need to! This world is crazy and unstable… and, to be honest,  it’s headed to Judgement Day- anytime! Please, please seek Him in repentance and faith so that you will be ready when that Day comes… and then you, too, can find hope and peace no matter what).

 

Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press

When Waiting is Hard…

My little friend, Anna, is around 20 months old. There’s one word that she’s learned, but she doesn’t understand. If I say to her ‘Wait!’, she will repeat the word. She will wiggle her fingers, making the baby sign that she learned when she was very small. But she doesn’t understand! She asks for food that isn’t quite ready yet. ‘Wait’, she hears, and she repeats it, as though, by saying it, she will get what she wants… now! She doesn’t understand yet that ‘wait’ means just that: wait! And she quickly gets impatient when she doesn’t get what she wants. Anna isn’t so sure of what I can see: that, before very long, she will be tucking into good food, forgetting the struggle she had to wait.

image

It’s fair enough. Anna is still very little! But I think we can all be a bit like Anna sometimes!

And I don’t mean to trivialise it. Waiting for God to act can be HARD. I know from my own experience. Sometimes it can seem like nothing is happening, and the wait is just excruciatingly too loooooooong. God has often encouraged my heart through Isaiah 64:4:

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (KJV)

I wrote the words below as an encouragement from things God has impressed on my own heart about waiting on Him. They are not always easy but, for those who are trusting in Christ and following Him, they are true.

Wait

Hold onto hope.

God is not done.

He is on His way.

Mercies new break every day.

Trust in Him, and wait.

 

Hold onto faith.

Don’t give up now.

God will make a way.

His promise will be fulfilled.

Just believe, and wait.

 

Hold onto joy

Though dark the skies.

God will make a way.

Look to Him through everything.

Sing! Rejoice! And wait.

 

Reach out in love.

He’ll be Enough.

God will make a way.

Sow through tears. You’ll reap in joy.

Give your all. And wait.

 

Share His words,

Though through your tears.

God will make a way.

You still have so much to give.

Spill your love. And wait.

 

Bring to God

Your sighs and fears.

God will make a way.

He will answer with His peace.

Ask. Believe. And wait.

 

Cling to God.

He’ll show His love.

God will make a way.

Find sweet comfort in His arms.

Nestle deep. And wait.

 

Press still forward.

Don’t look back now.

God will make a way.

Sun will spill through these dark clouds.

Still move forward. And wait.

 

Look forward in hope.

The dawn will come.

Dark will turn to day,

And, Forever afterwards,

Your reward awaits.

 

Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press

Do you ever feel your life doesn’t matter?

There are a lot of ideas in this world of ours that just aren’t true… and yet they can hurt our hearts and weigh us down. One is the idea of what a meaningful, successful life is.

image

As I look around, I see precious women who love God and show their love for Him in quiet service of others (not just women, but this was written primarily for them, as I can relate to their struggle). Their lives are not about trying to earn anything from God, but just in gratitude for what Jesus has done on the cross, humbly seeking to serve and to tell others about what He has done for them. And I believe that such lives are deeply precious to God. They may not always be quiet in that they are willing to speak about what they have found in Him, but they are quiet in that they are often hidden, and seem to be unimportant.

In spite of what the world says, success is not about money or power or applause. It’s not even about being well known. It’s about faithfully serving God wherever He has called us to be… trusting that His opinion is what matters in the end.

I hope that the words below are an encouragement.

A Quiet, Faithful Life

“She is far more precious than jewels.” Prov 31:10b (KJV)

There is a gift oft overlooked

By those who rush on by:

A legacy of loyal love:

A quiet, faithful life.

 

Not loud applause or neon bright

But soft said, unsung days

And love lived out, sincerity:

Faith in the everyday.

 

In quiet ways and steadfast days,

Little things we may not see,

But God sees differently to us,

With His own currency.

 

The rich worth of a faithful life

In loyal love lived out

Is treasured high in Heaven’s realms,

Where different values count.

 

The normal can be beautiful

When lived out true in love,

And God can use a willing heart

That serves in simple trust.

 

Not perfectly, for Christ paid all.

He died upon the tree.

But thankfulness; a tender heart

That just serves gratefully.

 

Like gemstones hidden in the sand

Or diamonds in the rough,

This treasure of obscurity

Is precious, rich, from love.

 

And when we stand on Heaven’s shore

We will be surprised

At how God honours love lived out

In quiet, faithful lives.

 

Scripture quotations from The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version in the United Kingdom are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press