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5 April – A Way With Words

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I have a friend who has a way with words. He’s a songwriter and poetic genius and his ability to take a concept, thought or emotion and to then convey a message that can touch your heart astounds me. You just want to listen to what he has to say. Put those words to music, add rhythm, timing, singers and all the components that make a great song and you just want to hear what he has to say.

I think God is much the same way with His words to us. He has something to convey to each one of us and He’s hoping we will take the time to pursue and listen. Unfortunately if the presentation and translating of those words isn’t understandable, doesn’t resonate or is too difficult to hear and understand, the message God has for us can be lost. Much like when someone hears a song but they can’t connect with the tone, beat or overall sound.

A solution is to value God, realise that He has all the answers to our questions, concerns and struggles, and to seek to understand His word. Much like I value and seek to understand what my songwriting, poetic friend has to say.

If you don’t understand one translation of the bible (which is primarily where God’s words are to be found), or someone preaches a certain way but you don’t like it, or you are having trouble comprehending what it all means, then try to listen a different way. Look at different translations and versions of God’s Word until you find one that makes the words “pop” inside you. Not everyone is going to love reading in Old English, but many people still think God speaks in Old King James. Whereas people have made it their life work to make God’s Word understandable and accessible to a modern world. I recommend downloading a bible app, praying and then asking for God to help you understand. Read what He is saying in different versions to get a better understanding, talk to those who are more mature in their journey, and trust that God will open up His Word to you as you seek Him.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Right now we need words of life and hope more than ever, and so I encourage you to go to the source of all hope, life and peace. God has the Words that will calm even the wildest storm, enemy attack, and fear in the night. He says His word is, “useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17 The Passion Translation)

“As for God, his way is perfect. The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30 NIV)

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130 NIV)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you take the time to speak to me and that your word is there to guide, comfort, correct and lead me. Please help me to hear and understand what you have to say to me today and lead me in the way to go. In Jesus name Amen.

4 April – Seeds

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I’ve been thinking a lot about seeds lately. Probably because I’ve been busy planting them in my veggie patch. I am pleased to report that the carrots and beans are doing well and seedlings are starting to pop up from beneath the soil. (I’m excited about that, because carrots have been my gardening nemesis up until now).

The interesting thing about seeds is that even though you can plant a handful all at the same time, in exactly the same conditions and treat them in the same is that some seeds germinate and pop up quickly, whilst others take longer, and some for one reason or another don’t appear at all. When planting each seed you don’t know which seed is going to do what or how long exactly it is going to take to grow into a seedling. You can estimate, have all the conditions as they should be and watch and pray, but it’s up to each individual seed to do it’s thing, which is why it’s wisdom to plant a whole handful, so as to give you the best chance at a bumper crop.

Seeds I think are much like our life choices. If we only focus on one thing and put all our “eggs in one basket” so to speak without seeing what other opportunities there are available to us and what other ways God might be wanting to develop and bless us, we can end up being very disillusioned in the pursuit of our dreams and purpose in life. Perhaps instead we could take a look at how the rest of creation works and sow more than one “seed” so that it is able to take root, grow and develop in our life. For example my vision board has multiple dreams, hopes and points of focus to it. That doesn’t mean I’m not focused it’s just that I don’t need to be one dimensional either. There are many facets to who we all are, and there’s so much life to be lived. We can pursue a career in a particular field, but also have aspirations and interests in something completely different too.

Today continue to be focused on your goals, but also determine to really live your life to the fullest. Scatter some seed in other area’s of your life, try some new interests, study, strategies and approaches to how you do things, and seek God for the opportunities, experiences and blessing he has for you.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-28)

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you have so much life for me to live. Please help me to see myself as you do, so that I don’t limit myself to a life that is much smaller than you created me to be. Thank you for new opportunities, fresh ideas and blessing on my life today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 April – Pray About Everything!

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My brain goes from one thing to the next and often takes “strange” tangents that make perfect sense to me, but cause those close to me to wonder how on earth my thought process got there. A lot of the time I am busy figuring out a problem, going over conversations I’ve had or wondering/worrying about someone or something.

Lately however God has been really encouraging me to forgo wondering and worrying and talking about issues and instead to take the time to “pray about everything”.

I’ve discovered that when He says, “pray about everything’ He actually means it. To pray about our finances, job situation, family concerns, our hopes and our dreams. To pray about the conversations we’re part of and any problems that people share, the needs and wants that we all have and the everyday things in our life. To pray for and about parking spots, the best places to shop, eat and visit, and yes to even pray about where to find toilet paper.

When I choose to be diligent about worrying less and praying about everything I notice that I get far more answers, see provision, change, acceleration and success on a regular and even daily basis. Some things I pray about get an answer instantly, others may take a little longer. But praying about everything takes all the load and onus off me and places it in God’s ability to move whatever He needs to get the promises of His Word through to me as quickly as possible.

Toilet paper, soap, food and those everyday essentials that seem to be taking up a lot more mental space and energy to locate at the moment seem to find us, rather than us stressing about finding them. Concerns and needs I have with our kids get answers. I’ve seen food multiply in the cupboard and arrive on our doorstep, money deposited in our account, new opportunities open up and peace fill my heart and mind as I pray.

Today don’t worry or talk around and around about an issue. Take the opportunity to pray; and not just for the big things, or to only utter the “God Help” prayers, but to really and sincerely pray and to make your requests to God about everything! Because as you do you’ll start to see that God is very present, interested and cares about the things that concern, worry and fill our hearts and minds too.

I highly recommend praying about everything. It works and will change the outcome and vibe of your whole day.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

Prayer: Lord thank you that I can come to you with my concerns, requests and dreams and that you hear me. Please help me with …………………………………………today according to the promises in your Word. I trust you to answer me and I give over any heavy load or worry so that you can take care of it. Thank you. In Jesus name Amen.

 

2 April – Two Are Better

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Today it is 31 years since my husband and I went on our first official date alone. It was lunch and I’m pretty sure I asked him.

There have been times in our 31 years together which have been amazing, wonderful and full of the best memories. Buying our first home, the birth of our six children, seeing God move as we ministered together, witnessing the miraculous, the many adventures we’ve gone on as we’ve taken God at his word, travels we’ve had and seeing and experiencing God’s provision and hand on our life over and over again.

There’s also been some tough times which have tested and put pressure on our resolve, relationship, commitment level and faith. Losing two babies, sickness, financial stress, full time study whilst working and raising a family all at the same time, church planting and what that entails, stepping out in faith only to fail and remaining steadfast in the face of opposition.

In the midst of it all I have often been inspired in our journey by the account of Abraham in the bible. He had a faith that simply believed God’s promise to him, and because of that he remained steadfast. He didn’t deny the facts or circumstances before him, but he did refuse to believe that they were the whole truth. Primarily because facts usually don’t consider God’s promises, whereas mountain moving faith does. (Romans 4:18-21)

I’ve learnt that we don’t have to deny the circumstances and facts of what is going on around you, but it pays to refuse to allow those things to be your ultimate truth, especially when they don’t agree with God’s Word and His promises. Faith is made to overcome, but we do have to put our faith muscles to work to see the results we know are possible.

Which is why I am encouraged today, that even though we are 31 years into our relationship I can still believe for more. For a bigger life, for more adventures, for God to give us stretching, faith expanding assignments and for us personally and together to increase in our capacity and ability to impact for good the world we live in. We have and will probably still make mistakes along the way and have to deal with some issues, hurts and disappointments. But the important thing is that we continue to focus our eyes on Jesus, listen to what heaven is revealing and keep walking together anywhere and everywhere He leads.

Today be encouraged that God has more for you. He wants you to live with an expectation of His promises and that He will do exceedingly more than you can ever dream, pray for, ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Look for what He is doing and saying, and don’t allow the circumstances or even the facts to nullify the truth of God’s promises to you. He’s looking for people who still believe and will act on His Word and direction. Actually, I think he’s looking for people He can connect and position to do that together, for two are better than one.

Take a step today, put your hand up and say, “Pick me Lord” and then determine to say Yes to Him when He calls.. and if need be, make a move and ask that special someone, (the one who loves Jesus, who makes things better and has the ability to amplify the greatness in you) to lunch. You just never know what might happen.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Prayer: Lord thank you for the plan and purpose you have for my life. Please help me to be aware of what you are doing and saying to me, and to be ready and available to step wherever and whenever you call. Thank you that you direct my steps and will perfect all that concerns me. In Jesus name Amen.

1 April – Undo The Knots In My Heart

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Have you ever felt like your heart and mind is in knots and that you are all wound up and out of shape on the inside? It’s not a great space to be in, but if we are honest most of us have probably felt our hearts and minds have been in knots at some point in our lives.

The definition of a knot is a tangled mass in something, or a fastening made by looping a piece of string or something similar on itself and tightening it. Yet the encouraging thing about knots is that if we were able to make a knot, there is a good chance we will be able to, and especially with some help, get that knot undone.

Last night one our children received a gift for their birthday which touched their hearts. They’d not been feeling very happy on the inside over the last few weeks, but one of their gifts especially helped them to feel loved and important. As a result they told me that the knot in their heart had come undone. They explained that just like a knot in a piece of string, our heart can get in knots with hurts, disappointments and being upset. However, time with Jesus and opening up your heart loosens all the tightness and feelings of being turned in on yourself so that the knots in your heart can come undone. Sometimes the loosening up of that “knot” is a quick thing and other times it takes a little longer. In this case it simply took an act of love, kindness and encouragement to open up a knotted up heart so that it could be set free.

Today if you know you have a “knot” in your heart or mind, or feel like you are a tangled, uptight mess on the inside, I encourage you to spend some time with Jesus and ask him to help you loosen the knots. Give your burdens and concerns to him, let go, receive his love for you and determine to loosen and undo the knots. And if you know someone who is suffering from “knots”  in their life don’t underestimate what an impact you can make by showing kindness, love and encouragement to help loosen up those knots. We can literally change people’s lives that way. 

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deut 7:9)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Prayer: Lord please help me to open up my life to you so that the knots in my heart and mind can be loosened up and undone. Thank you. In Jesus name Amen.

31 Mar – What Love Is

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The world has a view of love which is understood to be an intense felling of deep affection or fondness for a person or thing. A great liking. This meaning is taken from the Latin and Greek words – eros and amore’. It is speaking essentially of a “love of the worthy”.

Love is also mentioned 735 times in the Bible. The word love in the bible however has a different definition. It is when someone is loved no matter what, even if totally unworthy!

1 John 3:16 explains love this way, “This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us”.

If we speak of God; of His greatness, His power and His righteousness, but omit to say He is Love we miss what matters most of all!

He is Love and the most important thing we can grasp is to know and experience that love for ourselves. God encourages us to earnestly pursue and seek to know His love and to make it our aim and greatest quest. (1 Corinthians 14:1)

It’s a love which holds nothing back, is always giving and overlooks cultural, economic and class boundaries. It’s a love demonstrated in action when Jesus gave His life for all mankind on a wooden cross.

Look for yourself at Jesus as He loves the women who was sentenced to death for adultery (John 8:3-11), or the raising from the dead of the only son of a widow (Luke 7:11-15). Of the acceptance of Zaccheus, a previously despised thieving, little man (Luke 19:2-10), or the demon possessed man who lived in the cemetery, whom Jesus loved and set free to live a new life (Mark 5:2).

Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. How he loved then, is still how he loves now. It doesn’t matter if you think yourself invisible to everyone else, He still sees you. It doesn’t matter what you have or haven’t done, how successful you are, or if you feel a complete failure. It matters not! Jesus loves you.

“Love was demonstrated to us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.(Romans 5:8)

Jesus says you can know that kind of love. He says “You will find me if you seek me, when you search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Today I encourage you to really seek to know and live in God’s love for you, and that as you do you will have the power to understand how wide, long, high and deep His love is, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

Prayer: Lord please help me to know what real love feels and looks like so that I don’t settle for anything less than your best for me. In Jesus name Amen.

 

30 Mar – Persevere

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Perseverance is persistence, tenacity and the effort required to do something and keep believing even when it’s hard. It’s something I think we could all benefit from focusing and growing in right now as many people are shut in, bored, afraid and have had their jobs, livelihoods and families affected by what is going on in the world at present.

Learning to persevere and endure in life and in our faith is an important part of living the life God has planned for us. The bible talks about perseverance and that persevering in our faith produces steadfastness. This “steadfastness has its full effect so, “that we may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4;12)

When we fail to persevere through difficulties, setbacks or things we may be afraid of and find challenging we will be far more prone to keep giving up, which is not something God wants for us.

He doesn’t give up, He remains faithful and He always says, “Keep going, keep running your race, keep believing and keep moving forward with me.” That’s because He wants us to fulfil the purpose for which He made us, so that we would be able to live the full life that He has planned and desires for us.  Plus we also have a great cloud of witnesses in heavenly places who cheer us on and encourage us to keep persevering with endurance. We will often be amazed by how strong we actually are if we do not give up.  (John 10:10 Hebrews 12:1-2)

Today I encourage you to hold steady and to keep running your own particular race in pursuit of your dreams. Take the extra time you may have at the moment to lean into what God has to say to you; make the most of the opportunity to reflect, refocus and readjust and to get onto those things you may have been putting off doing. God has a destiny for all of us and will strengthen us to persevere with endurance and get to the other side of any challenge we may be facing. Hang in there, keep the vision before you and just keep moving forward in any way you can.

Prayer: Lord please strengthen and encourage me today to persevere so that at the appointed time I will reap the reward of not quitting. Thank you that I can do all things because you give me strength. In Jesus name Amen.

29 Mar – Trust Me

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God frequently says, “Trust me” and actually promises He will not to let us down. We may not understand all the time what He is doing but He does promise He will be 100% reliable and our ever-present help in time of need. He is the one who actually has the power to be completely trustworthy. He doesn’t say anything He can’t or won’t do. If He said it, He will do it! 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

That sort of trust in God does not mean an indifferent, “Oh, I guess it might come out all right.” That is not trusting. Instead trust is a real and definite attitude and confidence that Gods faithfulness will see us through as we acknowledge our need and God’s ability to meet it.

Trust does not mean ignoring the facts but looks and sees the dangers, the need, the challenges and assesses them. Then upon seeing all this, trust looks beyond and sees God, whose name is also “El-Shaddai” – the all-sufficient one who has everything we need. Trust sees that God is greater than the challenges, dangers and difficulties and trust enables us to face them.

Trust makes us strong as we cease to operate alone and we draw on God’s strength.

In trust there is peace; the peace of God which goes beyond understanding. There is calmness as we are no longer overwrought with fear and worry as trust brings confidence, calmness, peace and we gain assurance because God loves us so much.

Three Hebrew young men; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego trusted God and the fiery furnace could not even singe their garments. (Daniel 3:16) Daniel trusted God, and the hungry lions could not touch him. (Daniel 6). Abram who God renamed Abraham trusted when God asked him to leave his relatives, his country and his home to go into a land he did not know. He trusted that God would bring him to a new land and that He would protect, bless and be faithful to His promises. God spoke and Abraham trusted that what God said, He was well able to do. (Genesis 15)

God still asks us to trust and rely on Him to do what He has promised. He wants us to trust Him to lead and guide us every day. Not because He wants to control us but because He knows the way and the best route to get there. He knows what is going to prepare and grow us to be all that He has made us to be, and so He asks that we don’t just lean on our own often limited understanding of the situation but trust in His unlimited knowledge of the past, present and future.

Today be encouraged to rely on God. Trust Him for He is able to get you to where you need to go. He knows the way and He will willingly show you if you choose to trust and listen to Him.

Trust Him to speak. Trust Him to protect you. Trust Him to heal and deliver you.  Trust him to help you fulfil the dreams in your heart (Ephesians 3:20). Trust Him because there is no shadow or changing in Him, for He is not a man that He should lie or promise things that He then cannot deliver. (Numbers 23:19)

Today trust God and have confidence and rest assured in the firm reliability and ability of who He is and His great love for you! Even when you don’t understand and things don’t make sense know He has a way through and knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. He is good and so if it’s not good yet He hasn’t finished His work yet.

For, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

“In God, whose word I praise in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?“ (Psalm 56:4)

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture”. (Psalm 37:3)

Prayer: Lord thank you that I can trust in you. Forgive me when I rely on myself instead of choosing place my confidence in you. Please help me when I forget just who you are and how much you love me. I choose to trust you today. In Jesus Name Amen.

28 Mar – Hygge

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I read an article a while ago that talked about a particular country being rated as having the happiest people in the world and it made me think everyone can learn something from what they do.

Interestingly the country rated with the happiest people in the world is a place where the sun shines fewer than seven hours during the height of the winter solstice, which no doubt can stir depressive and shut in feelings. In the midst of this, the concept of a cozy place, full of love and enjoyment seems to what they recommend as the the antidote to people’s feelings of sadness and dreariness.

They call this concept hygge and it’s considered the major weapon in combating the dreary darkness that befalls countries over the winter when everyone is shut in, cold and often isolated.

Hygge (pronounced ‘hooga’) translates into English as ‘cosiness’. The term comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well being” In essence it means creating a warm, comfortable atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life. The warm glow of candlelight, or my personal favourite – fairy lights is an example of hygge.

“Hygge could be enjoying a meal with the lights dimmed or time spent on your own reading a good book, playing or listening to music, a movie at home snuggled up or enjoying a hobby. “Hygge works best when there’s not too large a space around the person or people.” The idea is to relax and feel as at home as possible; forgetting life’s worries.

Eating home-made cinnamon pastries. Yum! Watching TV under a doona, tea served in your best china, your favourite coffee in a mug, family get-togethers; they’re all hygge (cosiness) too.

In a time when many are in isolation and quarantine I think practising Hygge is especially important. It’s all about being creative and finding ways to bring cosiness and connection when it may not be easy or even obvious how. To stay connected and in touch with what makes you feel cosy, and to make an effort to generate and be purposeful about enjoying and making special our connections and occasions, even in extenuating circumstances. To be kind to ourselves and others and essentially expressing love; and so I think Jesus himself loves the idea of Hygge. – cosiness.

All through the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) we see Jesus sharing meals together with others. We see Him feeding everyone at a picnic, of telling stories and doing life with others. He embraced and loved every single person He who came to Him, and desired them to know Him and be part of His “family”. Sounds pretty Hygge to me.

Jesus said it this way, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Today why not embrace the concept of “Hygge”. Get cosy and adopt Jesus’ way of love and doing life. Give yourself a hug, eat something yummy, spoil and be kind to yourself, and then be kind to someone else too.

Prayer: Lord we may feel disconnected right now from others but we are never disconnected from you. Please show me some creative ways to bring some hygge into mine and others world today. In Jesus name Amen.

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