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November 2017

29 Nov – The Giver!

the giver

In the system that this world operates in, the concept of someone wanting to give to you is somewhat foreign. Most people, organisations and institutions want something from you, with little in return. As the saying goes “everyone wants their pound of flesh”. Jesus however is not really interested in taking “our pound of flesh”, mainly because He literally already gave His own when He died on the cross for us.

Jesus only wants to give to us. And the only things He wants to get from us are: our shame, burdens, sicknesses, poverty, brokenness, hopelessness, fear, and every other weight that the world, and the devil has tried to put on us.

Today, that’s what I call good news. There is no toil or hardship, no guilting us into anything, or pressuring us. Jesus just wants to give to us, not the other way around.

He wants to love upon us, to deliver us, to heal us, to provide for us, to pour out His presence and peace and joy on us. He wants to heal our minds, our bodies, our emotions, and our spirit’s. He wants to give us beauty for ashes. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

All He says is, “Come to me so, I can give to you”

Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me;  for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28)

I encourage you to let Jesus give to you today. All you have to do is come to Him and say “Here I am Jesus”,  He’ll do the rest!

Prayer: Jesus, I thank you that you just want to give to me; to love me and to release joy and peace in my life. I come to you today Jesus. In Jesus Name Amen.

29 Nov – Thinking right!

thinking right

Throughout my day I regularly have to check my thoughts. I can be busy doing or thinking upon something and then suddenly I realise I’ve ended up on a negative thought track, or I find myself sliding onto a train of thought that quickly leads to fears of failure, death, lack or loss. Unfortunately the more “hits” we have had in our life the easier it is to get onto these thought tracks, and therefore the more vigilant we need to be to keep our thoughts in check.

Thoughts are important because from our thoughts we start to believe, and from our beliefs we act in either faith or fear and doubt.

Which is why God encourages us to check up on our thinking and to, “not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Then we will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

God cares about our thoughts, concerns and worries because He knows what we think affects what we believe, and what we believe dictates how we act and live out our lives. He wants us to be free from fear and doubt and full of faith and power, living an extraordinary life. However to be transformed in our thoughts means we can’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world any longer. Instead we allow God to transform us into a new person by receiving His love and forgiveness. Then we choose everyday to listen to Him; to read His words, believe what He says and to act upon it.

For as you know him better, he will give you, through his great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: he even shares his own glory and his own goodness with us!” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT)

Today keep a check on your thoughts and catch any wayward ones that try to lead you off on a thought track of fear, loss, failure, and away from what God says is best for you. Those thoughts are not God’s thoughts towards us, and if we take time to read and think upon His words in the bible, and the good things He has done we will soon discover that thinking on what He says and whom He is will soon transform our thoughts and lives. Today think right, believe right, and then you’ll find yourself acting right and living the life you dreamed of. (Ephesians 3:20)

Prayer: Lord please help me to be more aware of the hundreds of random thoughts that pass through my mind so that I can catch the ones that aren’t healthy and throw them away, and ponder upon the ones that are good and choose to act on those. I’m choosing today to think upon your Word, to believe what you say and to act accordingly. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

28 Nov – No shortcuts

no shortcuts

On some of my morning runs this week I have been very tempted to quit early and take a short cut home. However I also know that if I take a short cut today, I’ll be even more tempted to do so again tomorrow ,which will just mess up my exercise routine and ultimately affect my overall health and well-being.

Shortcuts no doubt may make us feel relieved initially, but as with most shortcuts the desired results will be less than they should be and our emotions and undisciplined thoughts will frequently begin to dictate to us, rather than God’s presence, instruction and overall purpose for our lives.

Shortcuts are not just about being lazy about our exercise, but also encompasses the shortcuts we can take in our relationships, as well as ethical, financial, moral and spiritual shortcuts and the wide array of detours and cutting of corners we can be tempted to take in every area of our lives.

Shortcuts are really about our character and what we are focused on. We can if not careful begin to think our way is better than God’s leading, and question why we need to put in all that extra effort when we can take the quick and easy route to get to where we want to go.  When tempted with these thoughts to take shortcuts we would be wise to first ask ourselves, “Am I looking ahead and keeping pace with God’s greater plan for my life or am I being short-sighted and looking for the easy, rather than the best way for my life.”

God’s words in the bible have some wisdom regarding shortcuts and says, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 NLT)

Jesus said, “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with sure-fire, easy-going formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention. (Matthew 7:13 The Message)

Next time you are tempted to take a shortcut, first stop and assess the wisdom in that decision; whether it is the best way rather the easiest route, and if is going to lead you completely in the way God’s word instructs you to go? Because hasty shortcuts, where we rush into things can cause us to miss the mark and the abundant life God has planned for us. Better to do things God’s way, run our race well and receive the prize.

Don’t you realise that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step? I am not shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-26)

Prayer: I’m choosing to run my race well today, and to not take shortcuts. Lord please help me to have wisdom as I walk through my day, and to recognise where I might be being tempted to make hasty decisions or to cut corners in my life. Instead I want to choose your better way and ask for your strength to do that today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

27 Nov – Guess who’s coming to dinner? (Pt 2)

togetherness

Hospitality is an action of warmth and generosity, which is contagious and warms the hearts of those it touches. It is warm, big-hearted, kindness in action and the Velcro that joins us together.

While visiting an old friend who used to be in our young adults group over 20 years ago she commented about the hospitality she remembered experiencing from us. Our home wasn’t perfect, but interestingly it wasn’t our funny little house, or the food, or whether everything looked perfect or not that she remembered but instead the fact that we were always welcoming, anybody could come into our home and that they felt loved and accepted when they did.

I’ve learnt over the years some helpful tips to aid us being more relaxed as we’ve sought to follow Jesus’ example to keep practicing hospitality.

Keep it simple – you don’t need to have a four-course meal or try out a new recipe at first. Just be who you are. If it’s a bbq, or brought pizza served on a napkin or paper plate embrace it and go with it. Just do it with a smile and in a friendly, warm, and generous way.

Start small – you don’t have to invite twenty people over all at once if you’ve never been particularly hospitable. Just invite one or a couple of people over to begin with.

Create a welcoming atmosphere – think about the music, lighting, and making sure the house is reasonably clean house; that the toilet and bathroom are tidy, and there is soap and a hand towel available. Have a game or something to do after dinner if you feel it might be needed. If you’re having families over then have ready a movie, some few toys or something to keep the kids occupied.

Check if people have allergies and any particular likes or dislikes when you invite if possible. Preparing a lamb roast while hosting vegetarians is a bit awkward.

Not everyone is an animal person – beware of guests with small children especially. Put pets outside or in a separate room if needed.

Plan – think about when; aim and schedule in for regularly inviting people into your home. Think about what you need: seats, plates, cutlery and then either borrow or buy what you need beforehand. Spontaneous is great, but if it is going to put you off being hospitable then plan instead.

Watch the level of alcohol consumption.

Jesus’ first miracle involved turning water into wine for a wedding celebration (John 2:3-11) but he cautioned against excess.

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18 NLT)

Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.” (Proverbs 23:20 The Message)

It doesn’t have to be perfect – the thing is to be welcoming, open and choose to invite people with a smile and love in your heart. We have had times where our ceiling was peeling and in the middle of the meal a big piece of paint dropped right onto the table in front of our guests dinner plate. Learn to laugh, take it in your stride and go with it.

The cake may not turn out perfectly, the roast may overcook, the kids probably will want to stay up past their bed time, (that’s okay it’s how they learn to be hospitable too – perhaps give them a nap beforehand or do lunch), but we get better at it the more we practice being hospitable.

Most importantly have fun being the Velcro that brings others together as you practice hospitality.

Prayer: Lord please help me to be like Velcro and to be a person who brings people together. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 Nov -Guess who’s coming to dinner-Pt 1

hospitality pt 1

In days gone by to share your home and a meal with someone was to share your life. However perhaps with our fast food, busy schedules and often disconnected lifestyles we have lost the understanding of how significant hospitality is to our life and the health of our communities.

The definition of Hospitality is; the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers, in a warm and generous way

Jesus is a great example of how impacting sharing our homes and meals with others can be. He ate with tax collectors and associated with all types of people including the one’s nobody wanted to spend time with and it was through this  that He communicated a powerful message of acceptance, intimacy and unity. ( Luke 11:37)

The bible repeatedly encourages us to “Practice hospitality to one another and to be hospitable, a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Jesus’ followers. And in our hospitality to do it ungrudgingly and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him” (1 Peter 4:9)

Jesus said the world would know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (Jn. 13:34-35), and one way others can experience His acceptance and love is through the hospitality we extend. Plus some have even entertained angels without knowing it because they chose to open their homes.

Welcoming people and doing all we can to create a true experience of community touches people profoundly.  We live in a time when people long for connections and some form of togetherness. Families move from place to place more often today than in previous generations which affects family connectedness and friendships.  As individuals we frequently do not even know our own neighbours or only know people  on superficial levels.  However when we invite people into our homes to share a meal or a cup of coffee, or we help and support others to be able to do so if we don’t have the space or freedom to do so, it has the potential to change both ours and other people’s lives for the better.

Let’s make our lives larger not smaller and open our hearts and our homes in the showing of hospitality and generosity.  Simply use and share what you have to give right now; whether that is a little or a lot and impact someone else’s life for good today.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2; Genesis 18:2-5))

“Be hospitable to one another without complaint. (1 Peter 4:9)

‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;” (Matthew 25:35)

Prayer: Lord please help me to open my heart and my home to others so that I can grow  as a person and share my life with others in generosity and warmth. In Jesus name Amen.

25 Nov – Enjoy the skin you’re in!

enjoy the skin your'e in

This is a repost from a while back, but since in my part of the world we are heating up for summer, the beach and all that goes with that, I thought it was a timely reminder to not be too hard on ourselves; to continue to seek to be the best version of us that we can be, and to just enjoy who and how God has made us as we “enjoy the skin we’re in”!

This week our youngest two children are having swimming lessons at the local pool. The weather is heating up, and there is quite a few people making use of the pool. Swimming pools are places where one really sees the different shapes and sizes of those around us. Both short and tall, young and old, those who have spent the winter months working out at the gym, and those whom my kids describe as a little “fluffy” or squidgy around the edges. There are the loud and the shy, and those who confidently “strut their stuff” poolside, and those who hold onto their towels as long as possible before quickly submerging themselves into the water.

The wonderful thing is that God has made each of us unique. There’s nobody else like me, and there is nobody else like you. And in a world that seeks to categorise and shape everyone to look, talk, dress, and live out their beliefs and faith in certain models and frameworks, its refreshing to be reminded that God loves uniqueness. He is the one who formed us physically, and how we are each wired towards particular interests, talents, passions and abilities.

Being poolside this week has reminded me to love and enjoy the “skin we’re in”. There is no point trying to be someone else. We can admire and be inspired by others, but the balance of looking at others is that it must lift us up, and not make us resent our own journey, or cause us to try to be somebody else.

Our shape; both internally and externally is created specifically for God’s plan and purpose for our lives. He has wired each one of us to experience, to contribute, and to enjoy life in our own unique way. He wants us to spend our lives firstly discovering who we are in Him, and then enjoying how He has made us, and how we can serve and glorify Him.

When we “get happy” with the shape we’re in, and seek to stretch and grow into the best us we can be, it not only feels good, but it also makes God smile. He is a loving Father and just as parents delight to see their children discovering who they are and using and enjoying their gifts and abilities, our Heavenly Father does too.

Today choose to enjoy the “skin you’re in”, whilst discovering and exploring all that God has wired you to be. And next time you are poolside, why not throw your towel to the wind; don’t bother with what anyone else looks like or thinks, (why should you care) and go make a great big splash!

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jeremiah 1:5)

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you know me, and have made me unique and special. Help me to embrace all that you have made me to be, and to enjoy the journey.  In Jesus Name Amen.

 

 

24 Nov – Celebrate like it’s your birthday

celebrate like it's your birthday

What if we celebrated today? If we had the attitude and mindset that regardless of any dramas, worries, pressure or life’s challenges we chose to give everything into Gods capable loving hands, and to enjoy the life we’ve been given every day.

Then instead of worrying, being anxious or allowing ourselves to get grumpy we celebrated like it was our birthday, or some other special occasion on a daily basis? That we consciously made an effort mentally, emotionally and spiritually to not fret or worry; not to allow momentary things to bother us, and to trust that God has our best interests at heart so we can relax and enjoy our life? How different would we be? How much happier would our families, friends, children and everyone we deal with be because we choose to look at each day with the view of celebrating it like it was something special, rather than a day merely to be survived, or filled with our scheduling and incessant activity?

Every day is a gift from God, who actually wants us to enjoy our lives. To revel in it and in our relationship with Him. He repeatedly says in the bible to rejoice, and then to rejoice some more; to not waste our days fretting and worrying; to hand all our worries over to Him so He can help us, and to trust Him with every detail of our lives. To choose joy instead of focusing on the negatives, and to expect and activate our faith for good things to happen, and to also be an instigator of these good things in other peoples lives.

Celebrate Him all day long, everyday. I mean revel in Him….don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praise shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Jesus displaces worry at the centre of your life.” (Philippians 4:4-7 The Message)

Jesus taught regarding the things he said and did, “these things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 25:11)

The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10 Amp)

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it”.(Psalm 118:24)

Celebrate today like its your birthday or the best day ever. Expect good things, actually plan to celebrate the day in some way, give your worries and hurts over to Jesus; declare the promises in His Word over your life, count your blessings and then go and find at least one way today to celebrate your life and those you share it with.

The more you celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate.”
(O. Winfrey)

Prayer: I’m choosing to find joy and a reason to celebrate like its my birthday or special ocassion today. Thankyou Lord for the blessings in my life; for walking with me every step of the journey and that you make all things work together for good. Please help me learn how to celebrate, and to find a reason every single day to rejoice in the day you have given me. In Jesus name Amen.

 

23 Nov – Special Person

love in action

Each week in our house we write everyone’s names on a piece of paper and place them in a bowl. Then we each secretly pick a name out. The name of our chosen person is our “special person” for the week, and it’s each of our task and focus to  give specially into their lives for the entire week.

All week gifts are left on pillows, treats in the fridge, deliveries of breakfasts in bed,  daily jobs around the house done for our special person, encouraging notes, or spending time with our special person, doing something they like.

Our special person tradition started because it’s easy in a busy house to get caught up in only doing what is necessary to get things done, rather than encouraging and taking the time to think of others, and serve them as Jesus would. Love is what makes a family work, and Jesus gave us the example that love is to be demonstrated in how we treat one another, and in what we do and say.

Having a different special person each week means we all have to listen, watch and think about the other member of our family. We take notice of each other’s favourite foods, each other’s schedules and how we might be able to help, how we can  express love, and also simply be less caught up in our own little world. Our special person tradition has helped our whole family be kinder and more considerate; it’s taught us how to practically serve one another, and to appreciate the blessings we all receive when we choose to go out of our way to think about someone else.

Everyone benefits from knowing that they are special, unique and worth thinking of. That their particular likes and dislikes have been noticed, and taken into account in how we relate to them. Life isn’t meant to be just about us, and what we want. As I say to our kids “Life does not just revolve around you”. In actual fact life is so much richer, and more meaningful when we take the time and effort to share it with others, and make them feel appreciated.

“Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.” (Rick Warren)

The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT). We can all talk a lot, and even say, “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act towards others, our family, friends, neighbours and workmates. Love is action.

Start today and think about the people in your world. Then choose someone to be your special person for the day or week, and put love into action.

Prayer: Lord show me who to choose as my special person that I might be a source of encouragement and blessing to them today. Help me to love in action. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

22 Nov – Being cheerful – choose joy

We all have the capacity within us to live a life filled with joy; to be cheerful. Plus when our hearts are glad and cheerful it benefits our whole body, heart and mind. Medical research reveal that cheerful people have less heart attacks, healthier blood pressure, lower cholesterol, weight management, and decreased stress levels. These studies match what the bible says in that, “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Proverbs 15:15)

In studies reported by the Journal of Positive Psychology researchers discovered that subjects were able to control feelings of happiness by simply trying to become happier and using the right methods to encourage it; the key is to look within and discover those things that make us cheerful. It doesn’t need to be big or flashy like the latest new car or an overflowing bank account, but just for us to regularly look into our hearts and discover the wonderful opportunities for joy in a relationship with Jesus and the amazing things all around us.

Today, choose joy and look for those things that bring a smile to your face and lift your heart. Things like to:

Try something new

Spend time with loved ones

Do something out of the ordinary

Slow down and enjoy your food, a good cuppa, and the great outdoors

Put on some uplifting music

Give of your time, talent, and energy

Encourage someone

When practiced in the long term these small joys both internally and externally are powerful enough to create and cultivate cheerfulness in our lives and make us feel more generous, friendlier and healthier.

Choose to cultivate cheerfulness today.

I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 1:12)

Prayer: Lord help me to be more aware of those things that bring me joy, and that I would centre in on them and give more time in my day to those things that bring joy. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

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