What If I Really Believed God Will Answer My Prayers?

The Lord has been speaking to me recently about hope, and faith, and His promises.

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To be honest, I can tend to be negative; pessimistic. Anxious.

I have an overactive imagination. Imagining extreme things that could happen.

Imaging the worst.

Even though I am praying about things.

Even though I am His. I am forgiven. God has forgiven my sins and made me His child. Because of Jesus Christ, I can be at peace. Trusting in Him and following Him, the sting has been taken out of fear; of death; of disaster. God is on my side.

Yet still I fret.

Even when God gives me promises that He will take care of things.

His Word is full of them. Those who follow Jesus (and God gives no promise to answer us if we are living in deliberate sin) have a lot of wonderful promises we can claim.

And sometimes you just know. You just know you have committed something to the Lord, and that His answer is on the way.

‘Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.’ Psalm 34:5

And, somehow, trusting Him; having faith in Him, is significant in it all.

I know God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we want or expect. This world is broken. Things can take time. His ways, in my experience, often seem to be on another dimension to what I expect.

But why does that need to take my hope, when His promises are bigger than the mess and the pain and the waiting and the tears, providing for all of my objections?

Through Jesus, I belong to the Father. He has promised that all things work ultimately for my good.

’28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28

I know my prayers have weight in Heaven.

There are so many promises I can claim as my own.

And there is also provision. Every time. Abundantly.

Even for the waiting… the tears… the times when we don’t understand.

He always has a good plan in the end for those who follow Him.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

So what about this?

What if I lived in the light of the answers to prayer that are coming?

The solutions that I don’t see yet that are on their way?

That may not look the way I think or expect, but are God’s provision?

What if I lived like God is always going to come through in the best way?

Like He is going to answer my prayers?

Like even suffering works for good for those who trust Him?

Like He hears me?

Like He promises to take care of me?

Because He does.

I look back on things He has done in the past. Abundant provision. I really didn’t need to worry! His provision was so good… so kind… so thorough, I had no reason to fear.

Trusting in His provision could change my attitude. Free me up to care more about others, because I’m less consumed with myself.

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’ Matt 6:33

Because the Father’s children don’t need to be anxious; fretful; torn up inside.

Of course we suffer. It’s a broken world, and we’re on a collision course with the direction of the rest of the world, which is in rebellion against God.

But we can also know deep joy, and peace.

We can live like the Father’s listening, and He has got our backs. Because He has. 🙂

He showed me this recently:

‘I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;’ Psalm 17:6a

What an encouragement not just to pray, but to believe that He will answer, and to stand in faith for the answers that are on the way.

To pour out my heart and actually believe He will answer. 🙂

That means I don’t need to carry the burdens anymore.

I can be at peace, trusting His Father heart.

You know, sometimes I find myself suspicious of Him. His ways are higher than mine. I can be suspicious of what I will do.

‘8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.’ Isaiah 55:8-9

But He is good.

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Photo by Felix Mittermeier on Pexels.com

Actually, the verse before that gives context. He is kinder than we think He is. He is merciful.

‘Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.’ Isaiah 55:7

He is better than we think He is.

Our ideas of Him and His ways are always too small.

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

He is good. He is kind. He is faithful.

So I can commit my cares to Him, trust… and rest in Him. 🙂

(We all need to have God on our side. We all need His forgiveness. Judgement is coming. That’s why Jesus came. He came to bring us back to God, when we come to Him for His forgiveness, surrender and follow Him as our Lord. There’s nothing we can do earn His favour… He calls us to receive His free gift of mercy, and find love and faithfulness we’d never dreamed possible. This world is broken, but eternity is coming. Come to Him, follow Him, surrender to Him, and you’ll find help for this life, even through the tears, and hope for all eternity).

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

 

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More Thoughts on Trust and Peace

So, more thoughts on anxiety and worry:

As the Lord has been teaching me lately about resting in Him, I thought it would be a good thing to keep writing about!

The Lord has teaching me recently about trust: about the Lord teaching us; helping us quieten down the anxious flow of thoughts and plannings in our minds- just living moment by moment, abiding in Him through Jesus.

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I was praying recently about anxiety: about the anxious thought that so often trouble my mind.

A picture came to mind: a little child tucked up in her Father’s embrace, head tucked under His arm, quiet. Just resting in His embrace.

And isn’t that the answer?

Just resting in His embrace. Not needing to understand. Not needing to know what will happen: just resting in His arms, and letting His love be enough for right now… and for the fear, too, because what drives out fear is perfect love, and tormenting fear has been broken for all who follow Jesus.

’18 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

If you have been forgiven through Jesus and belong to Him (and that’s the key because we face God’s judgement without that and He longs to welcome us all when we come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender our lives to Him as Lord and receive His free forgiveness because of what Jesus did on the cross), you can learn and grow in the peace of living life with your Lord in control.

Living from His arms.

Moment by moment. Just doing what the song says: ‘Trust and obey’.

‘Lord, my heart is not haughty,
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

 

What can I do when something makes me anxious?

I can be that little girl again, coming back into her Father’s arms. Committing it to Him… and then nestling down, tucking my head under His arm, doing what He tells me to do and trusting Him to fight for me.

When the fear comes back, I can nestle closer; look up to Him more, and trust Him to work things out for me.

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

Like going to sleep in His arms.

 

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Ps 127:1-2

It’s definitely a learning curve! Not that something that comes all at once. But it’s something I can grow in. I’ve definitely seen progress!

It reminds me of another picture that came to mind once, when I used to struggle more often with swirling thoughts.

It was a still, still lake, brilliantly blue, under a bright, bright sky.

Stillness. Perfect peace.

It was a picture of what my mind could be: of what He is doing in me.

I glimpse it sometimes. I suddenly notice that my mind is still: wonderfully, radiantly so. It’s incredible.

I can upset that peace with my worry. I often do.

But it’s growing. Sometimes I glimpse it.

Peace.

Because, really, God has me. I don’t need to know the answers. I can rest in Him.

‘You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.’ Isaiah 26:3

And, in Him, I am so very, very loved. And so many encouragements can hold me, because, through Jesus, I am His.

Those who belong to Jesus, look to Him for salvation and follow Him through our lives (as we all need to), have such confidence, and so many reasons, even when it doesn’t make sense, to be at peace.

Beloved

‘The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;”‘ Jeremiah 31:3a

You are My beloved,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Precious in My eyes.

 

My child, My creation,

By My hand designed

For something so special

With just you in mind.

 

Fear not, you are precious,

Cherished in My sight,

Embraced in My presence,

Held fast in My might.

 

Never will I leave you,

No, never forsake.

I will be your shelter

For each hour, each day.

 

When you walk through valleys,

I will still be here

When you face deep waters,

You never need fear.

 

I’m here as your Refuge.

I’m here by your side.

Loving My beloved,

Longing for My bride.

 

I delight to use you

In ways you’d never dream.

My plan and My purpose

Are wide and vast, unseen.

 

So wide is My promise,

My purpose so great

To awake the nations

To praise My great Name.

 

So live out your calling,

Be all that I made.

I’ll not fail to use you

To honour My Name.

 

You’re loved. Everlasting,

My faithful pursuit.

My love will not fail you.

I make all things new.

 

My love is unending,

My promise to you. My Arms everlasting

Will carry you through.

 

Soon I will come back

To take you to Me.

Each tear I will comfort.

You’ll belong to Me.

 

My treasure, My darling,

Apple of My eye,

My treasured possession,

Honoured in My sight.

 

Arise, My beloved.

You’re precious to Me.

Come rest in My presence.

Come walk close to Me.

 

(To know that wonderful hope in Him, come to Him. Surrender to Him. Turn from wrong. Receive His forgiveness through Jesus. Give your life, all your days, into His hands as your Lord. It won’t always be easy, but He will be all you need and it’s entirely worth it. He will amaze you by what He does!)

How Trust Can Really Simplify Things

Do you, like me, struggle with fear and anxiety, feeling like you need to know what will happen so that you can make sure it will be okay?

Gradually, I am finding more and more peace in life, and the reason is simple: knowing I am loved, and that I have a heavenly Father Who can be trusted.

I am forgiven. Because of Jesus Christ, my slate has been washed clean. I came to God by faith in Jesus, asking Him to forgive me. I gave my life into His hands, to follow Him, not to earn anything but because I am His. I am following Him. And now I have His promise to take care of me. Not because of anything I have done, but because of Jesus. And that security is available to all who will come to Him and follow Him the same way.

And something the Lord has encouraging me in recently is this: knowing the Father’s love through Jesus can really help with anxiety.

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You know, so often I think I need to know the answers: that I need to know why or how or what… or what will happen next…

But something has been clicking recently: I don’t need to know.

I am so, so loved. I can rest in my Father’s arms, and trust His heart when I don’t have the answers; when I don’t understand.

No, I don’t know the answer to  that.

No, I don’t know why. No, I don’t know what. No, I don’t know how.

But I choose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

I don’t need to know. I don’t need to understand.

All I need to do is trust.

Because some things just don’t change.

God is good.

God is trustworthy.

God has promised to provide for those who trust in Him (and He also responds to our faith: to our trust!)

Ok, so it doesn’t always look like He is control- not at a superficial glance.

Ok, so it’s not always easy. Trust, and peace, are things we grow in. It doesn’t always come all at once.

But I chose to trust my Abba Father. I choose to trust His heart.

When I look ahead to the future, it doesn’t need to be in fear. Because fear does not take into account the loving heart of my Father God, Who has promised to give me all I need.

Living in the moment, from His arms.

Choosing to rest in Him.

Choosing to know Him now, because it’s only right now that I can know Him for right now.

Choosing to rest in His love.

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

Now, that could really simplify life!

What has God called me to do now? Then why am I worried about tomorrow?

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matt 6:33-34

I’m not saying I’ve got this! I haven’t! Actually, whilst writing this post, I fell far short with it again. But it’s what He’s teaching me. And I think it’s the way of very deep,  very precious peace!

I can commit my burdens to Him and He will carry them for me, and He will provide.

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

And He will carry my burdens for me, and give my heart His rest.

’28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”’ Matt 11:28-30

(Whether you know Him or not, He is reaching out to you right now. Come to Him through Jesus, receive what Christ did on the cross, turn from sin, surrender your life, your burdens and your cares into His hands and find the way to abundant peace).

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

When You Can’t Sleep

Do you ever struggle with not being able to get to sleep? I do!

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A battle I go through regularly is a battle to get to sleep. I’m so blessed not to have full insomnia, but getting enough sleep is something I struggle with often. It often comes back every few days, more depending on how much is going on around and inside me! I’m not sure how much wisdom I have on it yet, but I thought it might be a good idea to blog about it, if that’s okay. I pray it blesses you too.

So here are some of the things I think I have been learning…

Normally, I can’t sleep because I am tense: anxious about something, trying to figure things out, or else just too busy processing everything that has happened until my heart can get to a place of quiet. Good things keep me awake as well as bad ones, especially if I am processing them.

It’s generally anything that is not yet quiet in my heart and mind- and often, if it is becoming an issue, tension because I’m anxious that I’m not asleep yet! Then, of course, I get more and more tense, and I lay there for a long, long time… until eventually all goes quiet… and I’m asleep.

I think sleep comes when your mind goes quiet.

And I think a big part of the solution is to relax.

And the foundation for that is knowing that, ultimately, all will be well. That root of that is being forgiven; accepted; lovedand secure in the love of Father God (which happens when you come to Him, turn from wrong and receive His forgiveness through Jesus, following Him as your Lord).

I’m an expert at overreacting to things; assuming the worst and getting upset… when things probably aren’t that bad.

And lack of sleep probably isn’t a big a deal as I think it is when I’m lying awake.

I’ve learned by experience that I won’t die if I have a night of no sleep at all. It doesn’t happen often, but it does sometimes. It’s not great, but I’ve survived.

I’ll feel pretty rubbish the next day, but I’ll be okay. I’ve also learned by experience that the insomnia will break eventually. In a few days, if I just stay calm about it, one day soon I’ll be surprised by a good night’s sleep, and I’ll feel more strength come back again, and I’ll feel loads better. And, the more I just relax and stop stressing about it, the more quickly that will happen.

I’ve also learned that being very tired is not necessarily a bad thing. It does make me more sensitive, more easily upset and more easily stressed. It does make it hard to get through the day. But it also makes me very dependent on God because of that. I know I can’t do an exhausted day on my own: that I need God in a special way. And so I’m more intentional. I pray harder. I lean on God more. I ask others to pray for me (I’m so blessed to work in an office of believers). And I find deep peace and strength coming in. It’s more of His strength, and less of mine. It’s beautiful.

I’ve also learned that often I just expect too much of myself. I stay up late and try to do so much because I think that must be what God wants to do. A few years ago, the Lord spoke to me deeply through Ps 127:

‘Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.’ Psalm 127:1-2

It was a breakthrough realisation.

I am only called to do the things the Lord is leading me to do, and, even then, it won’t work unless His hand is on it and, if it is, He’ll be the One carrying the weight and opening up the way. I am not called to do everything. And it’s okay to take time to sleep. Sleep is a gift from God.

That means that an early night isn’t a crime. Making time to ready a book to wind down is okay. I am not called to do everything, and it really is okay to make time to rest.

I’m called to serve God for the long term. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.My salvation is dependent on what Jesus did for me, not on anything I do. And sleep is a gift from God.

But, I also think something that would be really helpful with getting to sleep is to receive the peace of God into my spirit. If I can tune into the spiritual reality of my Father’s love for me, quietening me, reassuring me, my heart will be quieter; more at peace.

I realised that the other day: I lay there, trying to get calm and go to sleep, and I sensed that Father there, loving me, wanting to pour peace into me; wanting to hold me in His arms and soothe my restless thoughts.

‘”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 3:17

‘Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.’ Psalm 139:7-12

‘Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.’ Psalm 139:16

Actually, I suspect maybe the Lord allows the sleeplessness to show me the tension in my heart, because He wants to comfort it. If He gave me sleep straight away, every time I asked for it, I wouldn’t learn how to receive His peace for the things that are keeping me awake. I wouldn’t discover the peace He wants to give.

Realising that my God is with me, for me and in control. Because I am a child of God through Jesus, I have no reason to live in fear anymore. Realising that the things I have not yet resolved in my mind are secure in His hands. Realising that I am loved and, in Christ, because I am forgiven through Him, everything is ultimately going to be okay.

I think the Lord has also given me a key that I’m still learning how to use: His Word. If you repeat a Bible verse to yourself, over and over again, your mind and your spirit will go quiet. It’s like a muscle; I forget to do it. I struggle to do it. Sometimes it feels like it’s not working. But there have been lots of times when it’s really helped… when I’ve woken up in the morning and I realise I had decided to think about a verse… and then I woke up, and it was morning.

My dear friend Jane recommends this verse:

‘I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ Psalm 4:8

It speaks peace into your spirit; as well as your mind.

And there are others, too:

‘I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.’ Psalm 3:5

‘“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

‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matthew 6:34

‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ John 14:27

There will be grace for tomorrow, however tired I am. There is grace for lying awake, too. I can use the long moments of sleeplessness to pray; to receive rest into my spirit: to lift my heart and concerns up to God; to rest in His arms; to receive His love.

And, whether I sleep or not, I can rest in His arms, knowing He will give all the grace I need and fill all the exhausted gaps with His love. 🙂

 

(There is so much comfort and help we can draw from God, and He longs to give it to us. However, the first thing we all need to do is come to Him for forgiveness and rescue from the eternal judgement we all face. We need to come to Him, turn from wrong, surrender to follow Him and receive what Jesus did for sinners on the cross. That’s the way back to God: the way to His forgiveness and grace and eternal life. On sleepless nights and all the time, He is waiting for you to come to Him).

 

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…

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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.

Why Life Doesn’t Have to be So Heavy

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

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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.

A Place to Rest and Remember He is God

This is another full week when I’m busy preparing for a session in a recording studio. There isn’t a lot of time for blogging. So I thought I’d share a poem I wrote a while ago.

beautiful lake

I wrote it at a time when I was pretty anxious and fretful, and on holiday. In the midst of that time, God provided a beautiful day in a hotel spa relaxation space- a gift from a friend.

It was so quiet there, and peaceful, in a little haven deep below the rushing world. The light was muted and beautiful; water so blue and sparkling softly; everything gentle, soothing and calm. I sat there resting- and I had to get my pen and paper and put the peace into words. This is my attempt.

At the end of the day, God is God. If we belong to Him through Jesus (and that’s the issue that determines whether all is really well with us or not) and are following Him, ultimately, all is well. We sometimes fret and worry, but, honestly, we can receive His peace. All is well. We are loved. Our hearts can rest in Him.

Rest

Soft and shining, water plays,

Blue- a thousand depths of blue-

Smoothing, gleaming, ripples glaze

Still, yet ever shifting new.

Soft, a thousand voices fall

Silent in this melting peace.

Deep, this gentle quieting

To feel the troubled echoes cease.

 

Sapphire, sparkling all around,

Glistening in the muted light:

Calm- so calm and glowing down,

Whispering in softest flight.

Sleep, my troubled murmurs, sleep.

Find peace in the quietness.

Listen in this glowing light.

Echoes of Eden bring you peace.

 

Plunge, my weary worries. Bathe

Within this balm of gentleness.

Wait, my anxious plannings, find

Deeply now this place of rest.

Thunders roar and earth may quake.

Winds can blow around you yet

But now- still to hear His voice:

A gentle haven, where you rest.

 

(All is truly well with us when we know that we are forgiven, and secure in God’s love. He offers us His forgiveness and eternal salvation when we turn from our sins, trust in Jesus as Saviour and follow Him as Lord. That’s the way to true, lasting peace… now and forever).

Remembering to Taste the Joy…

Do you ever forget to smile? To taste the joy? To be thankful for the little gifts right now?  Do you ever look back and wonder why you lived that season so miserably, fretting and complaining, instead of appreciating what was good about it?

view

This is me processing something I think the Lord has been reminding me of lately.

The Christian life doesn’t have to be so miserable! There is a whole lot of joy available when we love Jesus first, follow Him and trust in Him.

I know this is a broken world. Tears are real. Some seasons are so painful. And God doesn’t ever take that lightly. He really feels our grief and walks with us.

And there really is a cost to following Jesus. I believe in reaching the lost at any cost. I believe in doing whatever it takes to reach people for Him. And that generally involves paying a price of some kind, especially when it involves people who have never heard of Him before.

But there can also be a lot of joy along the way… even and especially in pouring your life out for His Kingdom.

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

Most of all, that joy is in knowing God. Sometimes, I think He protects us from too much of a good thing in this world, so that we can learn to find our joy in Him first. And joy in Him is just the best! Knowing God is always better. The more we focus on Him, spend time worshipping Him, lift up our eyes to Him, and deliberately delight in Him, the more joy we will find. Because He truly satisfies our thirsty hearts, first and foremost with Himself. Everything else is ultimately empty in comparison.

‘“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

Joy also comes from gratitude for the gifts He gives us. Gratitude from living in the moment with a childlike heart, thanking Him for the gifts right in front of us: the gifts we could so easily miss. That laughing moment with a friend. That happy song that makes you smile. That sweeping sunset. Take a moment to whisper, ‘Thank You’, and to realise Who it came from. Even in the midst of a trying time, it’s still a gift from Him.

It reminds me of a gift this week: singing in our prayer meeting with my friend’s little two-year-old Anna joining in: very loud, out of tune and with the wrong words!! I, as usual, was fighting my giggles! But I know the joy of that moment was a gift from the Father Who treasures little Anna’s efforts at worship- and shares them with us to make us smile, too!

Joy from expecting God to come through. Instead of the gloom of anticipating the worst, choosing to believe that His provision will come- because it always does, every time! Often in ways we don’t expect… but that could kind of make the anticipation and expectancy more fun! Worry really is unnecessary when we have a Father Who cares and always, always provides.

Joy from reaching out to others. There really is more blessing in giving than in receiving. Joy in choosing to forget ourselves for a moment and give something away to someone else: maybe something simple they need; or maybe truth; a word of encouragement; a prayer. I remember days when I was struggling, and I went to go shopping. It would have been so easy to ignore the person at the checkout. But I knew it would help me to reach out; to ask how their day was going. And, the times I did so, it did! There is actually joy in reaching out to others… and especially in sharing with them the Good News of Jesus that can change their lives.

Joy from the right perspective. The glass is always either half empty or half full. I often catch myself seeing it as half empty. But if I stop myself and ask, ‘What can I be thankful for right now?’, there is generally something so good right in front of me, if only I take a moment to notice it.

Joy from looking to the future; to eternity. For the person who is following Jesus, the future is full of such hope.

’16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Joy in trusting, instead of worrying. So much of the weight in my life is from looking ahead, and worrying how I will cope if such and such should happen, or with this or that… And it’s pointless because, firstly, it doesn’t make a difference and, secondly, God’s already got it covered anyway!

’33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matt 6:33-34

It reminds me of the time when a stranger came up to me with a strong sense that God wanted her to share a word with me: Lighter!! This life doesn’t have to be so heavy! And, yes, the word absolutely fits. It did then and it still does, years later.

My shoulders are often weighed down with things I just really don’t need to carry- because they’re His problems, not mine! When you are trusting Him, life can be lighter!

‘”Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”’ Matt 11:28-29

No, the Christian life really doesn’t have to be so heavy. The more we live soaked in His love and surrendered to Him, the more we will find peace, joy and freedom growing… gradually, maybe, but it will come. And it will grow as we live resting in His incredible love for us.

’12 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.”’ Deut 33:12

I think I’ll take a while to learn this. But I’m growing in it, slowly. And it makes life a lot happier… and lighter, too!

Want to join me? 😉

(To begin this joyful journey for yourself, come to Jesus for salvation from the judgement we all deserve, and face. Turn to Him and accept the free gift of forgiveness and new life He so freely offers, turning from wrong and surrendering your life into His hands. It will not always be easy to follow Him, but is so incredible and so worth it… and leads to an astounding, amazing, joy-filled eternal life. You will be amazed by what He will do!)

 

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

Help and Hope for the Journey…

A passage that the Lord has been speaking to me through a lot lately is Psalm 23, so I thought I would share some thoughts about it.

river

To be honest, life isn’t always easy, is it? Belonging to Jesus as Saviour and Lord is incredible. But it isn’t always easy. And, in my experience, serving in full-time ministry doesn’t exactly make it easier! Especially when it’s full-time ministry for unreached people groups. And, whether you’re in ministry or not, to be honest, the promise for God’s children who belong to Jesus in this crazy world is, well, suffering. So this has been my question: What help is there for those of who believe in Jesus and follow Him, not just for eternity but for the journey until we get to Glory?

God showed me Psalm 23. And it’s so, so encouraging!

‘The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.’ Ps 23

It’s a psalm about provision; about bounty; about God helping His children through Jesus as their Shepherd through every single season of life; about His tender care over us; His constant presence; His watchful provision. It’s not just a promise about the final destination; it’s provision for the journey of life.

The Lord is my Shepherd. He takes care of me as His sheep. Sheep are vulnerable; fragile;   often silly. They don’t often make the best decisions! But they are watched over so wisely; so tenderly; so carefully by their faithful, constant shepherd.

‘I shall not want.’ (Ps 23:1b) Now that’s a promise! I will always, always have what I need. Ok, so not always what I would like. But I’ll always have enough. And I see it, looking back. Not just enough, actually, but an abundance. Not just of food, clothing etc, but of the things I didn’t even know I needed: wise counsel when I was confused… friends to help me out… the perfect book or sermon for the issue I was struggling with… the right place to live in… people to speak things into my life that I’d never have seen myself… and so, so much more. An abundance.

And He provides for the journey. Seasons. Green pastures. Still waters. Restoration of my soul. Rest. The Christian life is a journey, and it involves seasons. Rebuilding times. Refreshment. Happy times as well as hard ones. Strengthening times when we are exhausted. I look back and see that, too. And I see a pattern: times when God stretched me; when He was doing deep, painful things. And times when He gave me rest, to rebuild me. Or times when I was being stretched on one level and resting on another. And blessing. Happy holidays with friends. Times when He ministered deeply to my hurting heart. Restoration and rest. And in ways that only He would have even known I needed. Like once when I was pretty low, and exhausted, and a friend suddenly gave me a ticket to Spain for a week! Abundant provision from an abundant God. Provision for the journey. 

‘He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ (Ps 23:3b) Leading. Guidance. A promise that, if we will look to Him, He will lead us in the best way; in His plan; in the way He would have us go; in the way of ultimate blessing and victory and eternal fruit.

And He is with me in the valley. Close. Tender. Present.  Comforting. There is no fear when He is that close. I have known it. Maybe you have, too. It’s such compensation for the pain when you feel Him that close. It’s worth everything. It makes the hard times somehow sweeter than the easier ones… because of Him.

A table in the presence of my enemies. Abundant provision. And, yes, I have enemies. Not so much human ones as spiritual ones. They warned me when I joined Gospel for Asia: you’ll have a target on your back for spiritual attack. And, over seven years later, I have felt again and again that I do! All of our team do. All believers face spiritual attack, actually. But this is true, too: in the presence of my enemies, there is a table of abundant provision. I have seen it again and again. And it’s not just a half-hearted table. It’s abundant. Incredible, amazing things He loves to do for us. Wonderful times with friends. Soaking times in His presence when He comes so close. Healing up of our hearts. Teaching that is so alive it seems to be directly from His heart to us. Provision of things we’d never dream of ourselves (and, yes, I really have been given, among other things, a piano, a car and more than one phone in answer to prayer!).

‘You anoint my head with oil’. (Ps 23:5b) He pours out oil over my head. That makes me think of the oil of His Spirit; His presence. And there is nothing better; nothing more wonderful than knowing Him; than encountering the Spirit of the Lord. And it’s not just His presence; His Spirit gives us power for the journey; strength for the journey; anointing for the journey, to be powerfully used by Him.

‘My cup runs over.’ It’s a powerful picture; an overflowing cup. Not just enough, but abundance. Abundance for our thirst. When the missionary Hudson Taylor lost his wife, he came to realise that the Lord will always satisfy our thirsty hearts if we drink from Him. He said it like this:

‘Then it was I understood why the Lord had made that passage so real to me, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” Twenty times a day, perhaps, as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to Him,

“Lord, you promised! You promised me that I should never thirst.”

And whether I called by day or night, how quickly He came and satisfied my sorrowing heart!’

Howard Taylor, Dr and Mrs. (1989, 20009 edition). Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. ed. Chicago: Moody Classics, Chicago. p. 179-180.

We never need to be thirsty. If we keep drinking from Jesus, our cup will be running over; our thirst will be satisfied from the Fountain of living waters.

‘Surely and goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life’. (Ps 23:6a) That’s hope. Hope when I look into the future, knowing that there will be trials, uncertain of what life will bring. What will follow me down the road? Goodness and mercy. The goodness and mercy of the Lord. I don’t know what will happen, but I can be sure of that.

And at the end? ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’ (Ps 23:6b) Now that’s Hope. With the Lord forever, in His house of abundance and peace and joy… and love. 

‘He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.’ Song of Songs 2:4

Yes, the Christian life is hard. Maybe it will get harder as times get crazier in our crazy world. But that doesn’t change this: there is abundant provision for the journey from our abundant Shepherd. 

And that’s an abundant reason for hope… and even to relax in His faithful promises!

If you’re in a tough time right now, look for His provision. If you can’t see it, ask Him. It will be there… and will continue to be there as you follow Him, all the way to His (and our, if we belong to Him) eternal Home.

(To know this hope and abundant provision for yourself, come to Jesus. Receive His free and loving forgiveness for all you have done wrong. Turn from your sin. Surrender to Him as your Lord. Follow Him on the pathway and you will know the most tender, abundant, wonderful Shepherd as yours, too… forever).

 

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

How the Father’s Love Can Help With Fear…

You know I struggle with fear and worry. I blog about it often, because I battle with it often!

Here is me processing more, in the light of what God has been showing me about His love as Father, and how His love can help to cast out fear.

IMG_9996

’18 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

Do you live in a cage of fear, afraid? Those who believe in Jesus as Saviour and are following Him as their Lord can know a love that can set us free from fear. When you remember the love in your Father’s eyes, love deeper and stronger and wiser and more tender than you could ever begin to conceive, the fear will begin to fall away. As you learn to trust His heart, the fear will lose its power over you.

The safest place in the world is being held by your Heavenly Father.

The reason that believers in Jesus don’t need to be anxious about the future is that our Heavenly Father loves us. Really loves us. He cares so much. No detail is too small for His tender concern. No situation is unknown to Him. He loves and He cares, and that is why we can be sure that we have nothing to be afraid of. He has promised never to fail us, and He never will. He will never break His promises to us. He is God, and He never breaks His word. And… He loves us!

God’s children through Jesus are secure, because He holds us in His arms.

’12 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

Oh, and by the way, He knows just how to take care of even the most fragile and vulnerable, and just what pace to take them forward.

’13 But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. 14 Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure, until I come to my lord in Seir.”’ Genesis 33:13

Your anxiety about the future falls away when you feel the strong arms of your Father around you, holding you secure. You no longer need to be afraid when you realise that your Father is strong and able and will always protect you and provide for you. You’re not alone anymore, and there is Someone so strong and faithful, so tender and yet so powerful, Who has promised to protect, cherish and provide for you. The present is no longer threatening, because you know you are safe and secure. And the future begins to lose its fear, because you know you are not alone, because you are His. Again and again, the Lord tells His people in His Word not to be afraid. Why? The world is big and scary and anything could happen. But, He is with us. When we realise Who He is, that is all the comfort we need! Your Father’s tender, yearning, oh-so-strong love is the certain assurance that He will always give you what you need. It is your Father’s job to provide for you, and He delights to do so! So you have no need to be anxious!

‘”‘Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”‘ Isaiah 41:10

‘”The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’”‘ Deut 33:27

‘“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

God’s children are carried.

He longs for us to know His peace; His presence; the tender, sweet release of simply being still and knowing that He is God.

Something God has been ministering into my fear has been this: no matter what happens, I am held. Whenever I become conscious of fear, I can remember that my Heavenly Father is right there with me, holding me. And I can look for His provision, for it will always, always be there.

When I become aware of my fear, I can take it to Him. I can bring it into His presence, and rest in His arms. I can be held, and let Him minister to my fear with His love.

‘Lord, my heart is not haughty,
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.’

Psalm 131

I am always safe, because I am always held in His loving arms. Sure, I may come under attack, but I am held within a strong and mighty fortress.

‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lordwho is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”’ Psalm 91

Help will always come to God’s children. Provision will always come. Strength will always come. He will give His children through Jesus all we need, because He is our Father and He loves us.

Now that’s security! 🙂

(To know this security for yourself, come to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Turn from your sin and believe Jesus died to buy your forgiveness. Surrender to Him as your Lord. Place your life in His hands and follow Him. You can know the security of the incredible, unending love of the Father for yourself… forever).

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