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December 2017

22 Dec – When our faith takes a hit!

faith hits

There are times in life where our faith – our trust and believing can take a serious hit and leave us floundering and wondering where to go next.

We pray, speak, believe and things either don’t change as we expected or they get worse, and to be quite honest it can really hurt! We can be left feeling confused and let down as our faith takes a hit!

From experience I have had my fair share of “faith hits”. From battling sickness as a child and teenager, losing two babies, financial loss and hardship, struggling with sickness with our children, my husband and my extended family, and experiencing loss and death through disease and accident. Even when stepping out in ministry and trusting we were hearing from God, even then things haven’t always gone smoothly or to plan. There has been failure, loss, disappointments, loneliness, financial lack, sickness, loss of friendships, and an incessant worry that we have failed God and ourselves in some way. My faith and trust in God’s goodness and care for me has been challenged and attacked more times than I would care to count.

However just because we get hit and our faith often can take a beating does not mean we are out for the count! Though we may struggle and even stumble God promises He will not let us fall. When we pray and don’t see the answers we expect does not mean He has not heard from heaven; though we may struggle with sickness, lack or loss does not mean that God no longer loves and cares for us.

The bible says to expect an immediate answer, but it also says to pray without ceasing, to give thanks regardless of what we can see, and to keep walking because our faith and relationship with God is like running a long distance race; it is not a short sprint, or an easy jog, but a race of endurance and steadfastness. (1 Corinthians 9:24)

The arrival of a Saviour for the world was spoken about for hundreds and hundreds of years, and then finally Jesus came. Over two thousands years ago He returned to heaven and said he would come again…and so now we wait in expectation. In waiting for Jesus as the Messiah I am sure those believing for his arrival faiths took a hit from time to time. As we wait now for answers and for God to move in our midst we too can feel our faith being challenged. But that’s okay as long as we refuse to let go, and just keep on doing the things we know to do.

While we have to wait I’ve found it helpful to take a leaf out of nature’s book and to not undo our prayers by digging them up when we get impatient by speaking negative words. Instead just as the rain waters the seeds in the earth we can water the requests and desires we have brought to God in prayer by praising Him, staying committed to reading and speaking His Word, being around people who encourage us in our believing and having people in our life who will remain with us if or when our faith takes a hit.

For, “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand.” (Psalm 37:24)

Today whatever you are facing or believing and trusting God to do in your life I encourage you to keep holding on. That faith hit doesn’t have to take you out! Instead determine to grab hold of Jesus with everything you’ve got, look Him in the eye and choose to hold onto His promises instead of your disappointment. Then take a breathe knowing you are not alone and get back out there!

He is faithful to fulfil that which He has promised and to complete that which He has started in you. He is alert and active watching over His word to perform it. He does love us more than we could possibly fathom and is working behind the scenes to bring every good thing to pass in our lives.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Prayer: Lord thankyou that even when my faith takes a hit that you are there to help me get back up again and to stand strong. Jesus please strengthen me with your Word and presence today so that I can keep on running my race with you. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

21 Dec – Sensitivity to God

sensitivity to god 2

Today while having my horse riding lesson I was reminded of how perceptive a horse is. They are so sensitive to our every movement, emotion and even thoughts and when well trained will respond in kind. If we are nervous they feel it and respond; if we become distracted and unfocused because we are thinking on other things they too can lose focus; if we’re at peace and in control they gain confidence and trust in us.

Incredibly the slightest change in the tension of my core muscles causes my horse to slow or to change his gait, and even if I make no other movement but to tense those muscles my 400kg horse feels it and responds accordingly.

As I was contemplating the incredible sensitivity of my ride today I felt God whisper to my heart, “that’s how you are to be”. I want you to be so sensitive and in tune with me that at my slightest movement, directive or shift you perceive what I am doing and respond to me”.

As I found out on my ride today that sort of sensitivity to someone or something means we have to focus and not allow ourselves to be distracted by our thoughts, other things going on around us, or our own fears and feelings of inadequacy. Essentially to be that sensitive and in tune we have to hold God in our hearts, to love Him and to lay a lot of what takes up our time, thoughts and energy aside so that we can both communicate and perceive what we are meant to as God communicates with us; He is moving, leading and directing us all the time. However the question is whether we are listening and choosing to be sensitive to His leading, or do we simply want to go our own way?

Today take some time to tune in to God; practice quieting your rushing thoughts and emotions and “Be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10). For it’s only by loving Him, in waiting, listening and learning to be sensitive to his voice and presence that we will find the joy and freedom that we desire, and the guidance that we so often can lack.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8-9)

“Let me hear Your loving-kindness in the morning; For I trust in You; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul.” (Psalm 143;8)

Prayer: Lord thankyou that you are always with me and that you desire for me to know you so closely. Please help me to quiet my busy heart and mind so that I can learn to be more sensitive to your every word, movement and directive today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

20 Dec – Feed happiness!

feed happiness

I was chatting with our second daughter this week and she mentioned that people often comment on why she is so happy all of the time. She tells them she does still have grumpy times but that they usually don’t last long because she chooses to “feed happiness”.  For her feeding happiness means that she purposely listens to happy uplifting music, watches happy movies and television, focuses on inspiring people, spends time with Jesus and knowing Him, and surrounds herself with relationships and pursuits that bring her joy.

Feeding happiness however is in contrast to what surrounds and encompasses most people’s lives. One look at the feeds on social media, the news, movies, entertainment and people’s conversations and you’ll soon discover that many of the world’s influences are not designed to feed happiness, but in fact despair and hopelessness.

Which is exactly why we really do need to take a good hard look at ourselves and determine what we are putting into our lives. What are we actually “feeding” on? Because why do we want to focus on the negatives when there are so many amazing, wonderful people, places and blessings that God has chosen to surround us with everyday. He says that His mercies are new every morning, that He is faithful to His promises and that He will complete that which He has started in us. He declares that with Him we have overcome the world. (Lamentations 3:22; Duet 7:9; Ps 138:8; John 16:33)

The question is, “are we feeding on what God says and the truth of what Jesus has already done for us, or are we feeding on the accounts of hopelessness, lack, sickness and fear?” Everyday we have a choice, but today I encourage you to make a decision to “feed happiness.” It will change your life; for not only will your perspective change from fear to hope but in choosing to “feed happiness” you will very quickly become a source of blessing and constant encouragement to everyone you meet.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message)

Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength! (Nehemiah 8:10)

Prayer: Lord I give you all my worries and concerns today and exchange them for your joy. Help me to feed happiness today in all I listen to, watch, and be a part of. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

19 Dec – First words!

first words

When we are under pressure or we are feeling fearful or stressed what is in our hearts, and what we really believe will come out of us. It will be revealed through our actions, expressions and the words we speak. This is especially apparent in an emergency, and in what our first words are. Are these first words ones of life, faith and blessing or do we choose to speak words of disaster, death and hopelessness.

God encourages us to guard our hearts for out them flow the issues, or springs of life. Therefore if we want life to flow forth from our hearts and mouths we need to watch what we are storing and allowing to reside in our hearts and minds, because what goes in, must come out. The words we speak can be what put’s us over, or what is used to try and bring us down and destroy us.

When we fill our hearts and mouth with God’s words of faith, hope and love then that is what we will declare when we are under attack or pressure. Our initial first words, which are often vital in determining the outcome of a situation, are to be one’s of life, faith and hope. As soon as we start to speak and attach our faith to these first words God gets on the job and ministering angels are immediately released into our situation. However if we speak words of defeat and death we shouldn’t expect too much help from heaven because the angels only “hearken to the word of the Lord”, when spoken with faith and trust. They do not respond to words of defeat, fear and unbelief.

Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. (Psalm 103:20)

“Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” (Jeremiah 1:12)

Today, listen to the words you are speaking. Determine if they words of hope, life and faith, or are they words of death, fear and defeat? If you realise your words and what you believe are contrary to what heaven is saying then don’t just sit there waiting for something bad or difficult to happen until you do something. Get out God’s Word and His great promises and start putting them in your heart and in your mouth. Let them become the first words you speak into every situation, as you make your words and believing one’s for good and not evil, success and not failure, and for blessing, peace and joy.

My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight. Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flows the springs of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious speech far from you. Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established.” (Proverbs 4:21-25)

Prayer: Lord I’m choosing to make my words line up with what you declare in your Word. Please put a guard across my heart and mouth so that I only store up life, joy and blessing, and please forgive me where I have allowed myself to believe and speak contrary to your promises. I declare those negative words would no longer have any effect in my life today. Instead I choose to make my first words in every situation be one’s that put me over and bring me into victory. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Dec – Who are you not to be brilliant?

who are you not to be brilliant

There are situations in life where we may be tempted to shrink back so that other people don’t feel insecure around us. Perhaps it is part of the “tall poppy” syndrome that we don’t want to stand out in case others get offended or try to take us down. Yet if we make it a habit to always shrink back in our beliefs, values, talents and who we are, we do ourselves and others a disservce because what the world needs is people who will shine  in the darkness. For when we choose to shine we also give other people permission to shine too. “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. (M Williamson)

Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

Each one of us has something to bring to the world. No matter how small or insignificant we may feel, for God has created each one of us with the ability and capacity to shine and be a blessing, “Even small lights have a way of being seen in a dark world” (N. Maxwell) Sometimes people may find our “shining” threatening or even irritating, but we shouldn’t allow that to cause us to shrink back, or become less than who God says we are just because our brightness highlights someone else’s state of lack, unhappiness or insecurities.

Most of us are far more powerful than we give ourselves credit for, and when we know Jesus that capacity only increases as we realise who we are in Him and the authority and ability we have. In Him impossible things become possible as previous limits are lifted off our lives and His power working in us causes us to only shine more brightly.

Today determine not to shrink back any longer in life, but to step up into all that God says you are. If you’re not sure who that is yet I encourage you to spend some time with Jesus; open up His Word and see what He has to say about your life and the good plans He has for you, and then choose to shine because “who are you not to be brilliant, talented, gorgeous and fabulous? – You are a child of God!”

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before me, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:15-16)

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are.” (1 John 3:1)

Prayer: Lord thankyou for all that you have made me to be. Please help me to stop shrinking back in case someone else gets offended, or living in fear when you have created me to shine. Help me to come out of hiding and the shadows so I can begin to be all that you have made me to be today. In Jesus name Amen.

17 Dec – Consistency

consistency

Several years ago I was reflecting on what  my “lids” or limits were to my potential and growth. I was talking to God about this and He clearly spoke to my heart and said, ”You are not consistent enough”. I wasn’t impressed. I thought I was pretty consistent, but God started to show me the areas I WASN’T consistent in.

My inconsistency was that I’d get all inspired about something and then run out of steam, or circumstances would highjack my good intentions and I wouldn’t get back to what I’d started out to do.

Fortunately when we have these “lids” in our life they don’t have to be permanent. We can, with God’s help “lift our lids.”

Over the last few years I have made the decision to be more consistent. One of those is in blogging every single day – 736 blogs to be exact, and what I have discovered is that when we make an effort and choice to be more consistent in one area of our life it starts to flow over to other areas of our life. Not only do I blog consistently, I now exercise regularly during the week; essentially going from a “couch potato” to a runner, being the fittest and healthiest I have ever been!

There is a phrase “IN CONSISTENCY LIES THE POWER”

Here’s why:

Consistency allows for measurement.

Until you have tried something new for a period of time and in a consistent manner, you can’t decide if it works or not.  How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently?

It’s often minor tweaking instead of major overhauls that make the difference.

Consistency creates accountability. 

The simple fact is that if there is a set time to report on progress it is often the catalyst that moves an initiative to a successful end. Accountability motivates us.

Consistency establishes our reputation and makes us relevant.

We can’t establish a track record if we are constantly trying new tactics. Many efforts fail before they get to the finish line. The problem is often that we simply didn’t stay the course to achieve the objective. We need to give it some time.

Consistency highlights our message.

People pay as much, or more attention to what we do as to what we say. Our consistency serves as a model for how others will behave; our family, children, team at work, sporting group etc. If we treat something as unimportant, we shouldn’t be surprised when we find those around us doing the same.

When God draws our attention to something in our lives He just doesn’t leave us feeling like a failure. If we ask for His help He gives it. If we spend time with Him and in reading His Word He causes us to become more like Him; constant, dependable and consistent.

Ask yourself today, “what could I accomplish and what type of person could I grow to be in the next few years if I chose to be more consistent?”

Being consistent is a daily choice. It is a “Habit”, so be encouraged to cultivate the habit of doing successful activities consistently, and determine today to be more consistent. Start in just one area of your life and see the difference it makes. For “In consistency lies the power!”

“And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

Prayer: Lord please help me to be honest about the “lids in my life” and to seek to be more consistent in pushing past any of my limitations so that I can grow to be all that you made me to be. Help me to cultivate the habit of doing successful activities consistently and to be more like you – constant, dependable and consistent. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

16 Dec – All those little things!

 

lttle things

It’s often the little things in life we miss, but it’s these little things; those little moments in life that really do count. Unfortunately far too often we only applaud and focus on the big gestures and events which happen sporadically, whilst missing the significance and happiness to be found in the “thin slices of joy” that occur everyday.

Perhaps for us to find joy more in our everyday lives we could try not taking the little things in our lives so much for granted. Like walking into a room and pausing to enjoy the smell of fresh baking or a home cooked meal, or the welcome glance or smile from a loved one when you first see them. The little things that people say or do for you throughout the day, or that you can do for them.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday routine and busyness that we forget to stop and “smell the roses”. But joy is found in the little moments that make up our lives and in not taking any of it for granted. “It’s important to recognise these “thin slices of joy” that happen all the time, that at first may seem unremarkable.” (C. Tan) Because the more we notice these moments the more they add up, and the more we will experience the joy found in them.

Instead of racing past these “thin slices of joy” take some time to enjoy them a little more. They happen everywhere, everyday and once we start noticing these things, that we usually take for granted, we’ll soon realise that God’s joy, presence and blessings are all around us all the time, we just haven’t paused long enough to realise it.

Today make a list of those little things that you don’t want to take for granted and be thankful for them.

Decide that when you experience a “thin slice of joy” such as the first bite of food, a cool drink on a hot day, the touch of a loved ones hand, a smile when you walk in the door, the feel of the shower after a long day, a comfy bed, or God’s presence as you wait on Him, that you’ll pause and take the time to recognise and appreciate them more. It will help put your day into perspective and cause you to be more grateful and joyful, because those little things are often actually the big things that really matter.

Prayer: Lord please help me to recognize the ”thin slices” of joy that surround me everyday. Thank you for all the little things that really do matter and which you have blessed my life with today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

15 Dec – Power up!

powerup

Our family loves smoothies – a blended combination of milk, bananas, fruit and ice; and it would be safe to say our blenders all get a lot of use. Sometimes with a family our size however our blenders really struggle to manage the workload and we often hear their motors struggling with the demand put on them, which is probably why yesterday one of the blenders started to smoke and make an unusual noise like it was about to blow up as my husband used it. Knowing how much use this blender gets in our house he quickly switched it off and preceded to tell me that we needed to get another one.

My husband loves buying gadgets online and was delighted to find a whole range of blenders, ninja’s and food processers for him to choose from. Not only that, he soon decided that we should get a more powerful blender with a bigger motor and capacity so that we could blend more things! We needed, he surmised to increase our power and to up size!

How much power something has really does affect its  capacity, such as our blender, and the same could also be said for us. Our capacity and therefore our ability and the way we live our lives is affected by how strong, resilient and powerful we are on the inside. When we are put under pressure with our workload, responsibilities and just doing life we soon realise how much “power” we have to draw upon, and where we are lacking.

God however has a solution to our need for power and strength. Alone we are capable of only so much, but with Him all things become possible. He essentially offers to increase our power and upsize our abilities and capacity. Where we are weak He declares we are strong; where we lack, He says we are complete in Him; when we are frail, He strengthens us; where we are simple, He gives us wisdom and knowledge.

The bible says that we can have this increase and upsurge of power when the Holy Spirit’s power is released in our lives. Suddenly instead of drawing up from “a well” within us which is often hard work; He says we can have a river of life and the power of God Himself flowing in and through our lives.

Jesus said to His first disciples to wait for this power from heaven so that they would be able to follow in His footsteps and continue to do the things he did, and He still says the same to us.

 “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” (John 7:38)

All we need do is ask. To ask God’s Holy Spirit to fill us with his strength and ability so that we then start to more fully operate in the power that opens blind eyes, unstops deaf ears, raises people from the dead, regenerates tired bodies, and brings wisdom and clarity to our hearts and minds. Ask, so that we can run and not grow weary and walk and not grow faint.

“Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 41:30-31)

Today don’t keep struggling on half power, and in your own limited ability and strength when God has available for you all you need to upsize and “power up” in Him today.

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:11)

Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.  And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” (Acts 1:1-2)

Prayer: Holy Spirit I ask for you to fill me with power and strength from heaven today. With you I know I can do all things, for nothing is too hard for you. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

14 Dec – A Fresh start

fresh-Start 1

Jesus is more interested in your future than He is in your past. He actually says, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.” (Isaiah 43:18 The Message)

He is more interested in our future because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives, yet many of us can get stuck on our past. Jesus however is not. He repeatedly says, “Forget about the former things. Stop going over and over what has happened before; where you have failed, been disappointed, abused or let down. Look up and ahead and see the new things I am going to do in your life”.

Today if you are feeling condemned, guilt ridden, disappointed and ashamed of your past, there is an answer; Stop dragging it around and allowing it to dictate to your future. Choose instead to give all your past to Jesus and allow Him to wash away the hurt and stain of sin and guilt so that you can start again, with a brand new beginning in Jesus. He is the giver of life abundant, and with Him all things are made new.

Choose today to give Jesus your past and then take hold of His free gift of love, forgiveness and a brand new start to life.

“The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly.” (Job 8:7 (NASB)

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that you offer me a fresh start and new beginnings. Please take my past and help me to let go of it completely so that I can take hold of the amazing future you have for me. In Jesus name Amen  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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