Monday, 15 August 2016

Denying what is Plainly Evident

Going through our bookshelves this week I came across the Family Bible and once again sat intrigued by the history of it all - the underlined passages by people long gone the little notes in the margins as 'prompts' for us to consider, grow and learn.

I was amazed as I turned the fragile pages just how loved this old weather-worn book has been over all these years. As my tears spilled onto the old pages I was taken back again to my childhood and the lessons learned from my Mum who has since gone to meet Her Lord on the 14th June, 2000.

She was an amazing and wonderful lady - full to the brim with grace, love and mercy - Her undying love for Jesus was and will continue to be a signpost and a lighthouse hopefully to my family and certainly to both Sue and me.

As I continued to turn the frail yet poignant pages to my surprise out fell two sheets of yellowing pages - one a poem written by my Dad in his old age - His spidery and shaky hand writing worsened by a series of strokes yet still able to delineate his words to get the full impact of what he was trying to say.

He had written a poem to his three Daughters-In-law and drew a comparison between them and Ruth of Old testament fame - His words were so moving and so so true. I was gobsmacked by their simplicity, their truthfulness and their sheer honesty.

The other sheet was written by my Mum - and as I sat there - her words rang so true to me that I could barely speak - Her tenacity in never letting go of God, no matter what, always made me tremble - her faith never wavered and she always spoke the truth. Never worrying what people would say or think.

Here is what she wrote just before her death and speaks volumes of the way she saw her Lord and how she felt about creation bursting all around her.

She entitles it from Psalm 14 verse 1

The fool has said in his heart there is no God! 

By Hilda May Mewett.

"All space is thronged with the witnesses that speak His holy name - All beauty in it's myriad forms - the stars and worlds that flame - that stream in ordered courses through illimitable space - the ant, the bee, the butterfly, the fine spun spangled face of spring, the harvest time; the miracle of birth; the instinct of the birds assembling ready to migrate.

How should they know the time, the place - the date?

Blind worms that work their purposes with tireless energy; the strength of roots - the surge of sap - and life beneath the sea!

And in the midst of all these things; a little foolish man stands up and cries "there is no God!"

What matter? For the plan of life goes on, in spite of fools - the seasons come and go - the trees put forth their leaves in spring - birds sing and flowers grow" 



In just these few paragraphs my Mum captured something that has a profound truth that nobody can deny - the truth that only God can create - only He could knit everything together in such a complex, amazing and incomparable way.

My Mum's thoughts resonated deeply within me - Why, the very existence of the universe screams to us that there MUST be a Creator God. The very design of the animals and birds, insects and mankind proves beyond any measure that the Creator God - just has to be a 'designer' God as well!

What does amaze me more and more as I get older is that this very God is a relational God - A God who wants to have a REAL and PERSONAL relationship with you and me - astounding and true!

Psalm 14: 1 points out dramatically that a person who denies the very existence of God is a fool - a very harsh word indeed but then what else would you call someone who goes out of their way to deny what is so very obvious from the very depths of the deep to the tiniest tiniest microbe, all there to prove that God is real and alive.

When you let your mind just stop and try to capture the enormity of it all is the very picture Hilda May was trying desperately to capture in her pointed words and practical solutions.  To believe in this amazing and real God of hers who had obviously changed her life so dramatically.

In Psalms 19:1 it says "The very heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork"

In Romans 1 Paul bursts forth with " For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made - SO THEY HAVE NO EXCUSE!"

God's existence is all around us screaming out to us that the God of the universe is our God too.

My Mum's amazing testimony about the very existence of God came home to me once again that our God, the Creator God is alive and still wanting to create! He wants to create a new life for you and me - a life filled with His spirit - A life of deep-down peace and joy - of forgiveness for others no matter what they have done to you or said about you.

Turn to Jesus today - Truly God and truly man - Accept His offer of forgiveness and start to live the life that He planned out for you originally.

My Mum's faith was amazing - so simple yet so true - The very same faith we can have by turning to Jesus today.














Friday, 5 August 2016

A new look at STRUGGLES

I hate struggling - I just wish life would go along so smoothly and that everything just fell into line like it should and there was no real problems to face - no one being hurt - no family breakups - no money worries - no job losses.

Often it seems to me that we lurch from one crisis to another in this world and we no sooner solve or seemingly solve one problem that another one looms on the horizon only to knock us down once again - so I hate struggles.

I hate it when my children and grandchildren are heartbroken over something that overwhelms them - I hate that we can't solve all the problems that come our way and I hate that I can't make our problems disappear entirely for everyone.

Struggles!! They overwhelm us so often that we can so easily give up the struggle. - We feel our life is just not worth carrying on, that our life really is just worthless

Often struggles are due to people. People who oppose our ideas. People who put us down, who dislike what we stand for and try all sorts of different ways to control or manipulate us.

Our very own negative emotions can dictate to us how we struggle with life and what the outcome can be in our walk here on earth.

If we give into these negative emotions and let them consume us and tell us that we are indeed worthless then we will eventually believe them and start to react accordingly. We give up on our struggles and let them destroy our families and our well being

In Philippians 1 Paul tells of his struggles and says that we mustn't be worried or afraid of any opponents that cause us to struggle because in the end it is they who will be destroyed not us.

It's a pretty comforting chapter really because it doesn't matter who or what opposes you and causes you to struggle it is actually a sign to them that they will be destroyed BUT you will be saved.

WOW!! So we shouldn't be intimidated by our struggles, or by those people or things that cause our struggles. Why? because it is a very BIG sign that you will indeed be saved through your very struggles.

Satan tries so hard to bring us down though our struggles. Our struggles which we take as so very hard and are eventually going to destroy us is actually a good thing because through them we know for sure that we will be delivered.

The struggles we thought were going to destroy us will eventually deliver us. If Satan was going to destroy us through our struggles he would have succeeded by now BUT NO! we are still here. Yes we may be struggling and Yes we may be wondering and doubting but Satan has no control over us not even through our struggles.

We need to move forward with God through our struggles no matter what they are.  Remembering that our struggles are sign that we are indeed fighting against a real power, an evil power in this world and through our struggles we gain our fitness to move forward with Jesus.

Through our struggles God will lead us to a greater level of faith and through that faith to an amazing hope a hope that brings us to the very feet of Jesus to claim victory over of the very struggles that are pulling us down at this moment.

So where are you with your struggles? Are they pulling you down and ready to destroy you. Or are you rejoicing in your struggles realising that they are a sure sign that you are fighting the good fight, prepared and ready for the battle?

God is preparing a great victory for us if we can fight to the end. The enemy is defeated! If he hadn't been then we would surely have fallen by this time but NO we are still here fighting on in the name of the one who saved us.

Let's take heart in our struggles and recognise them for what they are,  a sign that we are indeed in the great battle of the King.





Saturday, 23 July 2016

follow your convictions

Feel like a failure?  Ashamed to follow Christ?

The accuser is Satan - he is the one who not only tempts us but he accusers us night and day.

Praise God for the Holy Spirit - the advocate who is like the defender of a court case who takes the defence for us.

The Prosecutor Satan keeps bringing up your shame and drags it in front of you constantly accusing you and letting you know just how deep is your sin.

When we first come to Christ we realise through the working of the amazing Holy Spirit that we are indeed sinners in need of repentance and when we come acknowledging our sin, then He washes us clean through His sacrifice on Calvary.

That is our GUILT is washed away - God sees us a righteous because when He looks at us He sees what Jesus did to make us that way.

But SHAME is entirely different. SHAME is reliving our past - going back to it time and time again and if we keep doing this then we can pull apart our very faith that brought us to Jesus in the first place.

Many people have forgone the delight in Jesus to live a life of burdens and shame, unable to forgive themselves and thinking that they are 'just too bad' to be saved  at all. It's such a tragedy and so so wrong. God's amazing gift of salvation is free and holy and Satan wants to drag our faces in the dirt and mud of this world. He would do and does anything to distract us from the truth that God loves us with an all-consuming love.

Satan loves to do this, He loves to get our mind off the sin itself, which is freely forgiven if we repent, and keep our minds dwelling on ourselves and the shame. The longer we allow ourselves to wallow in our (forgiven) sin then the quicker we are to turn that (forgiven) sin into shame. And shame is what drives a wedge between us and God - jeopardising and endangering our faith.

If we dwell constantly on our shame we will eventually believe Satan's lie that we are failures and have travelled the sin path far too long to be saved. This is completely the exact opposite of what God intended for us when we accepted His free gift of salvation and repented of our sin in the first place.

God on the other hand will convict you of your sin. If you let Him deal with it then He will forgive you - if you let your sin shame you then your faith will suffer and you will wander away from the very one who gave His life to save you.

Conviction is the greatest gift that God can give you - its the time when he singles you out and sets your thoughts, aims and eventually your will.

Conviction is when God speaks to you. It's that very special time when you and God are in close contact. Satan has a very good reason to make us 'drop the ball' of our faith. He wants us to lose our confidence in coming to God in prayer and trust.

Jesus died so that we can do just that - He died so that we can boldly come to God - so that we can confidently know that God loves us regardless of what we have done or where we have been in our past lives.

If we trust God He will guide us through His Spirit on how to overcome our struggles. How?  By ceasing to focus on our pasts because what has been forgiven by God has been forgotten. We have been spun a HUGE lie by Satan that our past is still attached to us. Focus instead on the wondrous and incredible solution to the our sin crisis. JESUS!

Discover the strength that God can give us. Don't let Satan  try to convince us that we are defined by what we did or when we fell in our past which is actually shame - Guilt doesn't make us what we are but shame can make us believe that what we did is what we are,

You are not defined by your struggles - its in your struggles that God speaks to us. We can grow through struggles - God can make us free and when He frees us we are free indeed. Take heart and let's build on our past not wallow in it.

Friday, 1 July 2016

It's all in the Game

Facing opposition? Facing temptations right at this moment?  Feeling frustrated because you have fallen yet again? Aggravated with yourself because you have once again let God down?

You know Jesus has been there before you - He has struggled with opposition and He faced temptations just like you and me - Only difference is that He never gave into His temptations. We do and we do it ad nauseum over and over again.

Jesus understands where we are coming from - only He understands our frustration and aggravation when we fall. When we face opposition and everything seems to build up and overflow in our lives well guess what? The outcome is assured! It doesn't matter who or what is opposing us because we already know the outcome.

When we are in the middle of some acute attack on us it is so hard to realise that the end has already been written - again the outcome is assured if you have given your life to Christ.

When we are struggling with problems a lot of the time our very struggles are brought on by our insecurities and a lot of our insecurities are brought on by our desire to be 'liked' by the world. Our internal insecurities!

Through our life there are going to be tears. We are never promised an easy ride through life - we are going to be let down by others often by the people we love the most  - we are going to come up against huge opposition - BUT the outcome of it all is already written.

Paul writes in Philippians 1:28-30 says
"Without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved - and that by God. For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me."

So if you are struggling with whatever in your life please be assured that this is a good sign that God isn't finished with you yet. Struggling is all part of the life we have been given here - it's all in the game of life - a game that will give us joy and certainly pain.

So why do we have to go through so much pain and fall so many times in temptation knowing it is wrong and so hurtful to God? Well because it gives ground to relate to others so well. An empathy that can bring others to Christ.

Remember you aren't the only one in this 'game of life' who struggles with all sorts of sin and strife - Jesus struggled, Paul struggled and and through the examples of their struggles we can relate to our own. Jesus said "when the world hates you - well they hate me too." We can share in His struggles because He has shown us how.

Following Jesus makes us stronger - we may not think so because we still seem to fall for the same things over and over again - our vulnerability to sin always seems to be here with us. yet we are getting stronger in Jesus. How about this for a thought; that God allows us to struggle with opposition, struggle with continuing sin, struggle with our motivations and insecurities our doubts and depressions because all the while He is making us stronger in Him.

Is the game of life getting you down - grinding you into the ground - are you facing huge obstacles in the game? Are you just about to give up and hand it back?  Do your struggles seem insurmountable? Are you feeling defeated and alone? God has promised we are not alone - none of us. He has strength for the weary and deep down peace and joy for the faithful.

We ALL struggle with varying things - be it doubt, temper, insecurities etc etc. The great news is God's strength is available to all BUT you have to receive it. If you haven't done it already, ask him into your life right now, ask Him to take control and surrender all to Him.

His strength can you see you through the saddest and darkest of times. Jesus Himself went through probably THE most darkest of times when He took your sins and mine and dragged then up that dark hill and died horribly on the terrible/wonderful day at Calvary. So He knows what you are going through. He knows our struggles and our doubts.

Give them to Jesus; claim His promise and His strength to get you through.











Wednesday, 22 June 2016

When everything seems like it is failing

When life throws us out and makes us feel like everything we have done has been so worthless.
When all around us is failing and we are losing our friends, our confidence and our security.
When we feel like God has abandoned us and we keep asking WHY?
When we feel like we can't go on - not even for another moment.

It's those very moments when we have nothing to rely on; when we come face to face with the big question

What do I really and truly believe?

Where in the name of goodness is God in all of this mess.

Feeling like this is not something new - not for you and certainly not for me.

Life can be so disconcerting it makes my head spin sometimes! Maybe when you have paid so much attention into building a life worthy of what you believe - maybe when you have put so much energy in training your kids and trying with all your might to give them a secure and encouraging future - maybe when you have given your all to your marriage and worked tirelessly to bring about successful and happy union yet it all falls in a heap - suddenly and inexplicably. WHY?

At special times like this we are NOT alone - God is never going to leave you alone NOT ever - so lift your head - break the chains that are holding your down and lean on Jesus.

Satan is trying so hard to destroy that very foundation of your life as you see it right at this moment - the evil one is using that very thing to come between you and God - BUT God may be able to use that very thing to make you and bring you into the place where He can use you even more and bless you even greater.

You may think that God has abandoned you but the good news is that He hasn't and He never will  - Although it is us that could abandon Him!! This is satan's plan all along to drive that wedge deeper and deeper into that little crevice of doubt and ill feeling to eventually try to separate you from the one who loves you the most and will be there for you through thick and thin.

God has never promised us an easy ride - He has never promised that we will be able to have everything our hearts desire and make every dream come true. It is us that places that pressure on our very beings not God.

We don't know the future - we never can - and we never will. Just when we think we are going along OK it is usually then that something tragic may happen that throws us into turmoil and confusion.

Hang onto God no matter what - that's why He has given us the beautiful gift of prayer - where we can pour our hearts out Him - He will refresh us and enable us to lift our hearts and heads to Him.

What an amazing couple of verses are these - let's not despair but give God the glory -  no matter what is thrown at us - or who has abandoned us. Let's worship God and lift our hands in praise to Him. Let's spend quality time with Him alone no matter what we are feeling and what we are going through.

Psalm 143:4-6 "So I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. I remember the days gone by; I think about all you have done, I bring to mind all your deeds. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you"

God bless you no matter what you are going through this week- remember we are all carrying burdens - the thing is, are we ready to give that burden to Jesus? Are we ready to share it with Him?

Will giving it to Jesus make our burdens disappear? NO! But he has promised to see us through to the very end.

Grab His promises today.



Saturday, 11 June 2016

Suddenly

Suddenly things can change
Suddenly life can throw us a curved ball
Suddenly our life as we know it can be over!

I didn't realise just how suddenly life can end until this very week when our neighbour and friend for 44 long years died so suddenly that really none of us could believe it.

living near this beautiful person was indeed a privilege and over the years we became even much more than neighbours we became good friends and travelling companions. Their house was ours and vice versa which I suppose was a good thing in the end because we were able to access the house when there were no signs of everyday life.

Yes! It has indeed been hard week for all concerned. Us as friends and neighbours and of course the family who are and will be for quite some time shocked beyond belief and suffering the on-going pangs of grief and sadness.

So where does that leave us? Well, it came home to us in a very real way that life is indeed transient. There were photographs of our dear friend taken just hours before they died, enjoying life and friendships completely unaware that their life would be taken in just a couple of hours time.

The death of someone we love and respect is just heartbreaking - each bereavement is set in their own context and emotions. There is the death of losing someone who has suffered for years with a terminal illness and there is, like our dear friend, a sudden and shocking unexpected and early death which immobilises us with sorrow and grief.

Love sort of pins us to wall sometimes - we are stricken with an emotion that we can't really explain when that person we love is suddenly taken from us and we become so vulnerable to sorrow and grief.

So what do we do - and what does God say about our grief, our loneliness and whether we should in fact hold off loving people because of the hurt we may one day feel when that person is ripped away from us?

When our loved ones die we can often beat ourselves up thinking we could have done this or said that and I wish I had only been there maybe I could have helped! But I really feel that God in His love doesn't want anyone to punish themselves over the death of anyone.

The Bible tells us a lot of times about joy and peace that is deep within those of us who have given our lives to Christ. God wants us to repent of our sins and start trusting in Him. Then when life overwhelms us and the waves crash around us then we can tap into the ever embracing arms of our Lord who is always there for us all of the time. He is waiting earnestly for us to call on His name.

Life for the Christian certainly doesn't mean living in a bed of roses or a nice little chocolate box type home. Life for us followers of Jesus is often hard and filled with the normal trials and tribulations of everyone else. The grief we feel is just as real, the hurts, frustrations and emotions are just as strong.

God did not spare His only Son but watched Him die a horrible and excruciating death for us and why? Because His love and mercy and not wanting any of us to perish but to go on living eternally with Him - the very Creator of our universe.

2 Peter 3: 9 says:- 'The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you. not wanting ANYONE to perish but everyone to come to repentance"

God does not want any of us to die not knowing Him and asking him into our lives to lead us. His plan for all of us is to come to a realisation of Him and get to know Him personally. We can accept his offer of forgiveness and love or we can reject Him entirely. The  outcome for us is exactly the same in  regards to death. We are all headed in that same direction. Unfortunately death waits for all of us.

Like our friend and neighbour death can come on us all quite unexpectedly and so suddenly that our friends and family are literally bowled over. The difference of course is that we have to make very sure as to where we are going after death and are we prepared for it to hit us at any time?

How do we do that? By asking Christ into our lives - being one hundred percent committed to Him. making sure that there is absolutely nothing that is gong to prevent you from being able to commit your life to Him. Maybe asking forgiveness for that someone who has been wronged or has wronged you.

Life is short! VERY short. None of us have any idea when our lives could be asked of us. Are you ready? Are you sure? Make it your priority to give your life to Jesus right now.






Saturday, 28 May 2016

The idol of 'ME"

I used to think that I was so rid of idols in my life!

Or so I thought!!!

What is an idol anyway - I have heard it explained that an idol can be anything! In fact an idol can be anything that gets in the way of God and you - that takes precedence in your life - that can be something/someone you just can't live without.

Some idols can be our addictions or our pastimes - they can also be our homes, our jobs, our hobbies even our families.

So where do we go from here? Well personally I have prayed and considered idols in my own life for quite a while now and I figured I had it all pretty much worked out. I realised that my idols can come between God and me and my wonderful God who loves me so much is a jealous God (if I can use that word in all sincerity) and He wants my total life often in all of its wretchedness and wants nothing to come between us.

I read with all honesty Colossians 3 and prayed that God would enable me to put aside all of these things that could come between Him and me.

"So put to death the sinful, earthly things, lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust and shameful desires. don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. God's terrible anger will come upon those who do such things"

I realised that to follow God I would have to put aside all things that came between Him and me so I tried not to be greedy for the so-called 'good' things in life.

So all these things I faithfully tried to out aside and worship Him alone.

It was just recently that I have realised that I have left ONE big idol out of my cleansing and that BIG idol is ME!

"ME" probably the biggest idol of all - talk about not seeing the elephant in the room!!

The idol of "ME" can be so so deceptive. "Me" can creep up on us often without our even knowing it.

"ME" likes to control our own will and whatever else we can grab hold of. I found I liked responsibility and being noticed - I liked to influence others - I liked to be in control of every situation I found myself.

When I look back on my life I can see just a few instances where I have not been in control and master of my destiny - taking responsibility of my choices and decisions.

The moment I came to the ultimate conclusion that having "ME" in my life was a real problem and such a huge idol I am astounded as the patience of God that He never gave up on me.

What is so hard is letting go of control and letting God take it. Handing over the reigns as it were to Him can be so hard and scary because for years that is all I have ever known - "ME" in control of ALL situations that impinge on my life.

It's really scary letting go and learning to live again in Jesus - handing everything over to Him and obeying Him to the utmost degree and learning afresh what it means to actually REALLY live by faith.

I have finally come to the very same conclusion as to what God has been saying to me over all of these years to remove "ME" that wretched idol sitting there brazenly on the throne of life and putting God in His rightful place as Lord of my entire being.

So how do we remove "ME" the idol? Well can I say it is not going to be easy. "ME" will not willingly give up the throne - he may have to be dragged screaming, biting and punching but with God's real help he WILL be removed.

It will get easier, for once we have named and identified "ME" as the BIG idol in our lives then when we do falter God's amazing Holy Spirit will encourage and support us.

"ME" is not hidden any more - I have identified him and know his little tricks to ursurp the rightful King and re-gain his control. God is the ever faithful Warrior and He is there beside us helping us to press on to victory.

So how are you with idols - Have you identified any at all? Who do you give glory to?

Are you like me with a BIG "ME" idol lurking there in the middle of the room yet unseen by you?

We need to be willing to hand everything over to God - even  your own personal "ME"