Monday, 27 August 2012

Other side of the Mountain...

Gen 22:14 ~ And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Last night the husband and I were having a chat about our thoughts on tithing, sowing and Gods Provision. This was prompted by a friends very humble, honest and encouraging blog post I'd seen on Facebook which had led me to thinking about our situation with believing God for a house move in the near future.
Whilst Robert and I share pretty much the same views on the above subject, we do differ in a couple of opinions (very healthy I'd say) and this led to Rob reminding me of the story of Abraham in the bible and the miracle God provided for him and his family.

Abraham and his wife Sarah had desperatley wanted a baby to complete their family. They stayed faithful to trusting Gods promises and words over their lives for many years and eventually when Abraham was 100years of age, God did indeed bless them with their promised child, a son, who they named Isaac. God done many miracles through and for Abraham and his family, but still He was to test them further....as we read in the book of Genesis, chapter 22:2-14-
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go further and worship, and we will come back to you.”
 6 So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. 7 But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”
And he said, “Here I am, my son.”
Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”

 8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together.
 9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
 13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day,“In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”


I don't know about you, but when I first read these verses I felt in complete awe and in bewilderment of Abraham...I felt sorry for the innocent child Isaac and I wondered how on earth God could ask Abraham to kill his beloved, precious, much wanted son.
Then when you look closer, and really open your heart and mind to the story, you see that God wasn't trying to be cruel or evil. He wasn't trying to trick Abraham or spite him. God was indeed bringing forth His perfect plan and conclusion on Abrahams whole life story. And whilst as mere humans we can say "wow, God, that sure was a pretty in depth way to test this man who had already been so obedient and faithful to you," we can also marvel at Gods miraculous provision and timing for Abraham...and indeed Isaac!

This story is so relevant in our lives today as believers. I'm sure pretty much everyone who reads this post, is waiting upon a miracle of some sort from God...maybe you are in financial need... perhaps you are trusting God to heal you, a family member or friend from a serious illness....maybe, like us, you are resting in Gods timing for that house move you so believe will happen...but as yet it hasn't....perhaps you are unemployed or have just been made redundant... whatever your need... whatever your miracle... God can and will provide it for you.

Think of yourself as Abraham... on that mountain, desperatley in need of a breakthrough but unsure of when or where it will come from... then ...BHAM!...right at the last second, when it seems all HOPE has gone...there it is ...Gods PERFECT, BEAUTIFUL, HOLY gift...just in time...just for you!
It's there...it's coming my friend...we just to need to ensure we live as Worshipping, Hopeful, Obedient, God Loving, People Loving, Faithful, Scripture dwelling sons and daughters of our Holy God who so loves us and has His Will for our lives very much in place.

Don't try so hard to control the situation you find yourself in, instead, as the bible tells us in Matthew 6:33 "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

It's not always easy, this I know... but hey, no-one ever said it would be my love. Do we really think Abrahams most glorious joyful moment in life was leading his son up that mountain side that day....no...I'm sure it wasn't. But, guess what, by staying faithful to God, I bet the journey back down was!

My encouragement to you today is to continue trusting in God who loves you so much. Don't let life zapp you of His Glory...don't let situation rob you of His joy...don't lose your hope of amazing things to come.
We are already so blessed. Jesus dying for us is the biggest gift we couyld ever receive, keep your eyes on the heavenly things already sent your way and God will continue to unravel the rest of His plan over you!

Lord God, we thank you for your word which is still so relevant to us today. Thank you for the story and example of Abraham and your miraculous timing and provision over his life. I pray Lord that you would help us stay focused on you, that you would bring breakthrough into our situations O'God. Help us keep our eyes firmly on you, our trust rooted in you...and help us be a blessing throughout!
In Jesus name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Landscape of human life...

Have you ever found yourself at the end of the day thinking, "I had no idea when I woke up today that by tonight my life would have changed so much?" Perhaps you just discovered that you are going to be a mummy, or perhaps you heard the doctor say, "Your cancer is back." Maybe you recieved a promotion at work, perhaps a loved one passed away. The truth is just ONE day can definitley change the landscape of a human life.

We see this so often in the bible, moments defining peoples lives. Think of Moses standing before the burning bush, or Mary learning she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What about Noah being given the assignment to build an ark bigger than a football field, or Simon Peter being called from his career as a fisherman to be a preacher? Then there was a shepherd David chosen to be King of Israel and the Christian killing Saul, chosen to be the amazing preacher, evangelist, theologian Paul. These are dramatic examples of God's life changing power, a power we encounter in quieter moments as well...such as when He comes to alongside to calm our worries, to remind us of His FAITHFULNESS, to shine HIS guiding LIGHT into the darkness of our confusion, to TOUCH our HEARTS with HOPE when circumstances seem hopeless, to whisper to us of His LOVE!

Even a gentle touch from our HEAVENLY Father can change the landscape of our life!

I encourage you today...whatever your day may hold, whatever circumstances you find yourself in whether by choice or by life just being life...whatever your day looks like come evening time, to keep hold of the truths that God is with you, for you and does have a plan in place for you. You don't need to pray for Him to have a perfect plan...that part has been done already for you my sweet.
You just need to immerse yourself in the LOVE of the HOLY SPIRIT and feel your HEAVENLY FATHERS gentle touch...

Lord God, we thank you that you love us so much. That in good times and challenging times, you don't change, your still the same with the same love, promises and grace towards us. Help us seek you first in our days and soften our hearts we pray.
In your name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Childlike Faith...!

For people who know me well, you know my real passion and calling is working in children's ministry. I adore meeting and getting alongside the kids on my Sundays of serving and absolutley LOVE teaching them biblical truths and seeing them connect with God, believe in the power of prayer and worship with open hearts. It's an amazing experience...it of course comes with its challenging moments, upsetting moments, deep moments and plenty of fun moments.

From serving in children's ministry for the last 8 years at my brilliant church and also being a Christian mum of 5 children, I see how hard it is for our younger generations to sometimes have the confidence to share their faith. I'm so blessed that my eldest two boys love Jesus and are proud to share it...if you read an earlier post, this has caused a whole host of problems for my biggest boy Josh at times...bullying, name calling, telling off from a teacher to name but a few....but through it all he never lost his faith or doubted it. He stood strong in his beliefs.

Whilst many people overlook children in this world, when many people don't believe children can possibly connect with God or are too young to have a living relationship with Jesus, I stand firm on what the bible tells me...let's have a look at a particular passage taken from the NLT version of the bible:

Mark 10:13-16
13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
 14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.

I love this snippet from the new testament. Jesus clearly loved children. No matter how busy or tired he was, he liked to have children in His presence, by His side.
He valued them as people, He even taught as we read in verse 14, that adults should become like children in their Faith.

How?

Well simply, as children trust and depend on their parents, we should trust God and depend on Him for our needs. We need to strive to remain pure in our thoughts and motives, as many children do. Children are usually pretty quick to forgive a grudge...squabbling followed instantly by displays of brotherly love are a constant scene in my home.
As the parents in this passage were so excited to have their children meet Jesus and want for Him to bless them, we too, should daily be bringing our children to God. Seeking His guidance as parents, His patience, compassion, wisdom and love towards them. Lifting them in prayer for success, right decisions, to be good examples in the communities they mix in....we shouldn't be like the disciples in this chapter and be quick to dismiss the time Jesus wants to spend with our children or His love for them!

I started my journey with God at the age of 16...and whilst I know this was His plan and I'm secure in who He has made me to be in His timing, I have to be honest and say, I often wished as a new believer, that I'd had the foundations of Gods love for me poured into me as a young child...I believe it would have saved me from alot of hurt and nastiness...whilst I can't be sure of that and whilst I know many children who attend church at a young age can move on from it, one thing I truly believe is once you've experienced the true amazing-ness of our God, you never fully turn from it. Once He has pierced your heart with His love, you have it there, even if your not actively living it.

It is SO important for us to recognise what God CAN and WANTS to do in the lives of the children around us. We don't have to wait until they become teenagers to disciple to them (teach them). Why wait, when the youngest, purest heart is there...ready...willing! Children love to learn, children love to share....Jesus loves to use them to do amazing things...in their schools, in their activity clubs, in their families...as Jesus wasn't too busy and corrected His disciples attitudes that day, we too must learn from His actions and humble ourselves to ensure our children are on the right path...His path. And I have seen so many children experience the power of God in their lives, answers to prayers, families reconciled, parents who had divorced...remarried and happy, bullying stopped and complete favour over friendships, children baptised and praying for their peers...amazing! Truly amazing :)

Whilst I totally appreciate not everyone will agree with my post, I pray for hearts to be softened towards our precious children...who one day may be parents themselves...that we would open our eyes, ears and hearts to them and be there to love them, guide them and re-assure them.
It's not a coincidence we are alongside the children we have in our lives...it's a calling, a deeper purpose than just making them 3 meals a day...yes, that's important of course, but I consider their eternal destinies at the top of my list!

And to encourage you further...take a look at your faith. Have you made it complicated and messy? Are you making your walk with Jesus harder than it should be by trying to have all the answers, the conclusions, the perfect plan you want your life to have?
Or is it like a childs...pure...easy...quick to forgive...ready to learn...not shy to share?
I'm challenged by that too. I know the times I make it complex, but I continuously strive to be more child like and accept Gods ways and plans...we can learn much from the younger generations around us, this I know!

Lets pray!

Jesus, THANK YOU that you have a deep rooted love for children. Thank you for your example in the bible verses above, that when your friends were quick to overlook the children around you that day, you hushed them and spent time blessing them. Thank you that your word is alive today, that when you look at our children and the children around us, that you have great plans for them, that no life is an accident but that you have ordained their days...you have great plans for them. Help us to recognise the responsibility and role we have in their lives and help us to seek that child like faith you taught of for ourselves, help us Lord keep it simple and about you. In your holy name, Amen!

Be Blessed :-)




Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Part of the crowd....

I felt stirred this morning about crowds, whilst watching a news report about the 2012 Olympics which has just finished here in the UK. Thousands upon thousands of people gathering together to watch different sporting events over the past two weeks cheering on their hereos and countries. Crowds aren't a modern day invention. Over history there are many times, we hear of large groups of people gathering to witness an event and the Bible speaks of several times where the crowds of people spent their time following Jesus.
 The people followed Him because they were amazed at the miracles they had seen, the authority He taught with, and the exorcism of demons.
Below are a few scriptures about crowds following Jesus:-

Mark 3:7 "Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed."

John 6:2  "A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick."

Matthew 7:28-29  "When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, For He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as the scribes."

Jesus was very used to people being intrigued with Him. He enjoyed teaching crowds of Gods love and promises over their lives. He adored seeing people changed through their encounters with Him. Jesus just had a heart for people and his love, compassion and delight in humans was what brought Him both many "fans" and many enemies. Jesus was God in human form on earth. He knew His destiny and purpose and so knew that he was going to have a big following of haters who were constantly willing and waiting for Him to mess up in some way.
But this didn't stop Him from being Him. This didn't stop Him from fulfilling the role He was called to live.
I have thought before about how if I knew I was going to die at the age of 33, all the things I would want to cram in, places I would want to visit, people I would want to spend my days with, memories I would want to make...whilst I can't say what went through Jesus's mind, one thing I know from what the bible tells me is that despite knowing how and when he was going to die, Jesus constantly put himself out for others...whether they liked Him or not.

One particular chapter of the bible I was drawn to whilst thinking about crowds and how they responded to Jesus is John 7:12-41, where we find Jesus teaching openly at the temple before a crowd with very mixed reactions to Him:
12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, "He's a good man," but others said, "He's nothing but a fraud who deceives the people."13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach.15 The people were surprised when they heard him. "How does he know so much when he hasn't been trained?" they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, "My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me."20 The crowd replied, "You're demon possessed! Who's trying to kill you?"
21 Jesus replied, "I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed.22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses' law of circumcision.23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath?24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly."25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from."

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I'm not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don't know him.29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you."30 Then they tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. "After all," they said, "would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this
man has done?" 32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus.33 But Jesus told them, "I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me.34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going." 35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. "Where is he planning to go?" they asked. "Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks!36 What does he mean when he says, 'You will search for me but not find me,' and 'You cannot go where I am going'?"37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart."
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, "Surely this man is the Prophet we've been expecting."41 Others said, "He is the Messiah." Still others said, "But he can't be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?

PAUSE & THINK: The crowd had such mixed thoughts and emotions that day about who Jesus was...I'm sure the doubting would have affected even the most secure mindset amongst the people there. All each person had to do was stand secure in what they were being told, as Jesus was willing them to do, regardless of what the person next to them was saying. Why do we feel the need to talk about every opinion we have? Why can't we just accept that whilst one person prefers sirloin steak, to another rump tastes so much better...

There was deep confusion amongst the people in that crowd before Jesus. Whilst the leaders at first appear secure in their knowledge, with the whisperings amongst the people around them and Jesus's words, they too start to doubt what they thought they believed.
Lets think back for a moment to the riots that happened in the UK last August. What started as a small gathering of people protesting about the fact a man they knew had been shot by police officers, soon turned into a fully fledged horror of homes and companies being torched and vandalised. People being hurt, killed even. Crowds of people looting (stealing goods), shouting, fighting and so on. I read an article in a magazine about a young girl who was imprisoned during the riots as she had been caught stealing a tv from a well known shop. Her actions were described as "out of character." Usually a nice, friendly, gentle person who had been training to be in the army...she claimed she had been drawn in by the crowds around her, and had a moment of madness - "the atmosphere had been contagious," she claimed. Her allowing herself to be influenced by the people around her, led to this young woman spending 8 months in prison and losing any hopes she had about joining the army and representing her country. How often do we scupper our chances of success or opportunity because we allow ourselves to be influenced by the people around us instead of trusting in what Jesus has already told us thousands of years ago?

Another modern day example we can look at with a more positive outcome is what Mo Farah said in an interview following his triumph in the mens 5000m race of the Olympics I mentioned at the start of this post. That the crowds cheering him on that day, helped him to find that extra burst of energy to sprint the last 100m and claim gold for the UK. If the crowd had been silent throughout the race, would he have found it so easy to have won...possibly not!
The truth is crowd psychology is a branch of social phsychology. It's so easy to be influenced OR be an influence to the people around you. It's so easy to forget your morals, beliefs and standards when your around people who don't share the same views as you. Wanting to be a part of the "IT crowd" so to speak. Seeking approval from whoever you happen to be sharing your time with at that moment. Fear of rejection, fear of being gossiped about if you don't join in with the latest gossip...wanting to know the latest gossip...wanting to be accepted by every person you encounter...wanting to be liked...wanting to be invited to every social gathering whether your friends with someone or not...wanting...wanting...wanting.
 Why are we so concerned with being a part of the crowd? Why can't we just be content with being more like Jesus and happy to be one person strong in our beliefs and purpose? No matter who or what we face?

PAUSE & THINK: As Jesus stood in front of crowds declaring to be the Messiah, sharing truth and hope to the doubters around Him, I so want to share His attitude of being secure in me...whatever people think...whichever crowd that means I "miss out" on being a part of.

Whilst crowds can be an amazing atmosphere to be a part of in many friendly settings... church... music concerts... theatre... fun family beach days... olympic stadiums to name but a few, lets be aware that like the crowd in front of Jesus that day, sometimes the people around us can confuse our knowledge...influence us in a negative way and lead us to being tempted to drop our standards and behave in a way we may not usually do so.

I guess my challenge to myself and any one reading this post is to think about the crowd your already a part of...or the crowd your desperate to push yourself in to. What do you contribute to these settings, what do you gain from them...what's your motive with being a part of them?
Our purpose - in different ways - is to be like Jesus to the people around us. In order to do this well, we must spoend time in His presence...absorbing Him...spending time listening to Him...A CROWD OF TWO...just you and Him. Just me and Him.
And whilst we must associate with people in all walks of life and circumstances, we must NEVER let our guard down with standing secure in what we know to be TRUTH, what we beleive WE are CALLED to be and do.

Lets pray!
Lord God, we thank you that you are a God who loves all people. That whether it's a large crowd, a small gathering or a lone person, you see evry heart and mind before you and love each one of us so much. We thank you that you sent your son Jesus to earth to teach your good news. That despite the trials he faced...the crowds who followed Him in life...and leading to death, that He came so that we could live life in abundance.
I do pray Lord, that you would bless each person reading this blog. Reveal to us O' God the crowds and persons you want us to be involved with. Help us to be secure in the people you have put in our lives and help us stop striving to be accepted by people, but to know our acceptance in you.
Thank you Jesus!
Amen

Be Blessed :-)