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December 2019

31 Dec – Let Go And Move Ahead

As we step into this New Year take the time to stop and assess what you’re taking with you into this brand New Year.

What hopes, dreams and goals, and what baggage and weights are you carrying. What sort of life are you living, and what sort of life do you actually want to live?

The Bible says “But one thing I do, forgetting those thing which are behind and reaching forward to those thing which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 3:12-14).

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us. He says, I know the plans I have for you, plans to proper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I have come to give you fullness and abundant life “(John 10:10)

HOW?

The way we grab hold of all that God has for us is to LET GO. To let go of our old way of doing and thinking; any thoughts, emotions, or actions that are contrary to Gods best for us. To let go of the past, the disappointments, unforgiveness, bitterness, hurts, loss and lack.

Hebrews 12:1 in the Bible says ”Let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings and entangles us, and let us run….
Looking away from all that will distract us to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith”.

As we step into this New year determine to move forward and to really live by letting go of any weights and negativity from the past, allowing God to heal any brokenness and choosing everyday to run into our best life.  

 

Prayer: Lord thank you for this New Year and all that is ahead of me. Please help me to let go and let you have control so you can lead me in the way I should go. I trust you Lord to help me live my best life. In Jesus name Amen.

30 Dec – When Silence Speaks

in the silence.jpg

When we are talking to our kids and especially our teenagers I know when I have “lost them”. It’s usually after a few minutes when I have been busy talking and talking and I suddenly notice they have this zoned out, glazed eyed look on their face.

These occasions remind me that a lot can be said about the benefits of “less is more” when it comes to our words. Many people think they have to talk and talk to get their point across, or that they have to debate and argue about everything. However I have discovered that there are times when God speaks in and through us the loudest when we are quiet and still and can literally say nothing. Often He’ll use us the most when we talk less, listen more and seek to follow His leading.

A good illustration of this truth is a story I read about a guy who used to regularly go to church and then he suddenly stopped going. After a few weeks the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for the pastor’s visit the man welcomed him in. He led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the silence he contemplated the dance of flames around the burning logs. After some minutes the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realised it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire where it immediately began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave his host said with a tear running down his cheek. “Thank you so much for your visit and especially the fiery sermon, I’ll see you on Sunday.”

God’s word reminds us that, “There is a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Being quiet can be a struggle, but it is also a great habit and discipline to cultivate in our lives. God empowers us to both speak out when we feel led to, and to keep quiet and listen too.

Next time you feel like no one is listening or you are tempted to talk and talk to get your point across, remember the power of God’s ability to speak in the silence.

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Proverbs 17:27-28)

Prayer: Lord please help me to appreciate the quiet and that I don’t need to fill it with words. Less is often more when it comes to our words, and you speak to and through us in many ways. Help me to remember to follow your lead and to both speak when you prompt me and to have wisdom to keep silent and listen when it is the better thing to do. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

29 Dec – One Word

one word.png

There is real power in focus and honing our attention on what is really important. It gives us direction to fix our lives and acts as a compass to guide us when we become confused, weary or distracted.

A helpful key to assist me in keeping focused on the things that truely matter and which will anchor my actions is choosing one word for the year. I place it on my vision board  along with all that I am wanting to achieve for the year as a daily visual reminder. My vision and goals are then filtered through this one Word. If my word was freedom then all my goals directed with the intent of finding freedom in them – financial freedom, spiritual freedom etc. My One word helps me stay focused on my goals.

I’ve discovered that having a particular word for each year helps me to define what God wants me to concentrate on each day. It takes faith and courage to not go through our days merely existing, but having a purpose and to live a life that makes a positive difference in the world and which we actually enjoy living.

Having a word for the year where we have inquired after and listened to God about what He wants us to focus and grow in helps us filter all of our life through His “One Word” for us and helps us not get off course or discouraged.

I love the apostle Paul’s passionate words about what his life was all about. Paul said, “For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognising and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly]” (Philippians 3:8 AMP)

Paul lived an amazing, exciting, meaningful life. Regardless of the high and lows he remained steadfast and fulfilled His calling. And as a result he was able to say towards the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

Today I encourage you to take the steps to utilise the simple and powerful tool of identifying “One Word” for the coming year and asking God to reveal it to you by asking the question, “What do you want to do in me and through me this year? Then write down what comes to your mind and heart.

Your One Word can change and transform everything. Keep it where you can see it as a regular reminder and share it with those who will support you as you live your “One Word” out this year. 

Prayer: Lord thank you for vision and a focus for the year ahead. Please help me to discover my one word so that I will make the most of every day and opportunity. In Jesus Name Amen.

28 Dec – Extreme Kindness

god's kindness

How we think about God determines how we respond to God”, which is why God doesn’t want to use fear or manipulation to cause us to draw near to Him, but rather He wants to reveal His goodness, love, grace and great kindness to us so that we can see Him for who He truely is.

The bible says that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to be able to come to Him and to change in any way, and “it’s His kindness that leads to repentance“, (Romans 2:4) The word used in the original Greek for repentance is to “change ones mind”, but any great change occurs most when we have a revelation of God’s goodness towards us.

When we focus on knowing and then sharing with others just how good God is, it makes us far more likely to want to choose Him and His ways in all we say and do. We come to realise just how amazing God is and how everything else is a ridiculous alternative in comparison to knowing Him and His way of doing life.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear of punishment or impending judgement, but with a consciousness of His grace and forgiveness. It’s that kindness that captivates our hearts and draws us away from the pursuit of things that are not full of Him and into a friendship with Him.

Today take some time to think on the kindness of God and the truth that He gave up everything for you so that you might know Him. Know that He longs to wipe away the shame of your past so that you can freely live the life He made you for. Rather than a fear of punishment let an understanding of God’s kindness and goodness lead and guide you in all you do and in the way you relate to others.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

Prayer: Lord, thankyou for your goodness. Would you please reveal to me your kindness and how good you are on a whole new level today.  Let it transform me as I begin to understand just how much you love me, and help me to share that kindness with others today. In Jesus name Amen

27 Dec – Puzzle Pieces

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One of our daughters is particularly good at doing large, colourful and difficult puzzles – especially the ones with thousands of pieces.

As I was watched her sift through, find and place each tiny puzzle piece in the correct place  I was thinking that life is like her puzzle and if we approach every situation with the same process we would find life and the people and situations in our world less challenging.

When doing a puzzle (and living our lives), there are some keys which are helpful to best  complete the picture.

  1. Get it out of the box. You can’t achieve or do anything in life until you first get all the pieces of a puzzle out of the box and out in front of you.
  2. Lay it all out -place all the puzzle pieces picture side up so you can see what matches, how the colours of the picture goes together and what you have to work with. Anything we undertake in, life much like a puzzle, takes understanding, thought and being able to see the size and complexity of the task before us before we begin.
  3. Frame it up. Find the pieces that create the border of the picture or the frame first. Just like a puzzle life needs a framework or foundation to hold everything together and to give us a clear and reliable base to work the rest of the picture from. Once we have the framework in place we can begin to fill in the rest. The best framework I’ve discovered is Jesus and what He says. He holds my life and it’s pieces together, which then gives me the freedom and confidence to live out the picture.
  4. Find the pieces that match and fit together. God has already designed the story or picture of our lives and has given us everything we will need and desire. Its up to us however to partner with him in joining up with, arranging and fitting each puzzle piece of our life and destiny snugly together. Sometimes the puzzle pieces may not look like they don’t fit together at first glance, but in the big scheme of things they do. Or other times we can presume a piece goes with another, especially if they look alike, but on trying to connect them up they just don’t fit. It’s okay to see how things work, to explore and to discover. These pieces can be in our relationships, career choices, hobbies, a church community or even our exercise routine. Take time to see what actually works and fits in your big picture.
  5. Perseverance and time – large, intricate, colourful puzzles, much like what life looks like, take time and perseverance. To complete the picture we have to regularly assess each piece and section of the big picture. Some pieces look right but as the puzzle progresses obviously aren’t meant to go together; and some pieces take a long time to locate to the correct spot. We can even lose a piece and have to stop and look on the floor or under something to find it again. Life can throw us curve balls; we can make a wrong move, connect to the wrong people or pursuits and in life things change…fortunately God is faithful and goes looking for and restores our missing or bent out of shape pieces so that our picture can be completed. 

God knows what it’s all meant to look like so we can trust him to help us find what may have become lost in us or never even made it out of the box. He’ll guide us to connect each little piece of the puzzle together, bring the right connecting people and pieces into our lives, and to give us the strength to persevere, until all the pieces finish the picture.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

Prayer: Lord please help me to bring all the pieces of my life together and to trust that what you have started in me you will complete so that every piece fits perfectly. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26 Dec – Get In The Game

get in the game

I’ve just finished playing a very noisy game of cards with our family, and as I watched everyone around the table I thought how playing a game of any sort is similar to how we  do life.

In life we get to choose how we will “play the game” and whether we will be all in, boots and all giving everything we have, or remain sitting on the sidelines watching others play the “game”, or be even further away from the action watching or listening from another room.

Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why we are sitting back from the action or watching from the sidelines. Perhaps the game been played in front of us is not ours to play and we need to choose another playing field or game plan. Or maybe we’ve been hurt or disappointed and it’s easier to opt out rather than be hurt again and we need to give ourselves time to heal and refocus so we can get back out there again.

However I think we are all created to participate in our own particular “game” and it’s when we get involved, engage with what is happening and venture out that life takes on meaning and we are energised to keep going. As with any “game” we also need and benefit from having breaks in play where we can regroup, refocus and refuel for the next play. And we do need to check in with our coach (Jesus and His word) to make sure we understand his strategies and are sticking to the “game plan” and His guidelines, so we don’t get off track and get lost along the way.

Today I encourage you to check in with the ultimate coach who coaches us to win. Pray and ask Jesus to direct you to the right playing field for you so that you can thrive with the right people, culture and game plan. He promises that He will direct our steps, heal our hurts, lift off our disappointments and guide us in the way we should go, so we can trust Him to lead the way. Then go for it, get in the game, don’t hold back, have fun in the process and play to win.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?” (1 Cor 9:24)

Prayer: Lord please show me the way to go and the right game and playing field to be on. Thank you that you help me to win in life. I’m trusting for you to direct my steps today. In Jesus name Amen.

25 Dec – The Nativity

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Our first nativity was over 25  years ago when I sent my very obliging husband all over the city collecting various animals I had located to be part of the Christmas play. Eventually he had stowed in the back of a borrowed station wagon 2 baby goats, a managory of chickens, guinea pigs, and several rabbits which either noisily bleated as they poked their heads out of the car windows, or snuffled about in the front seat as he drove carefully home. My task was to collect a sheep I had found from one of the neighbouring hobby farms and which I, being a sheep farmers daughter thought would be fine to walk down the road back to our home. Sheep though are not especially clever and think only about eating, which I discovered it liked doing a lot of as I struggled to drag it home. Once safely installed in the nativity scene it remains in my memory as the sheep who in the middle of the play decided to urinate all over “Mary’s feet”, causing everyone to burst into hilarious laughter. Poor “Mary’ (who happened to be my younger sister)  was not amused.

Not to be deterred by such events, the next year we put on a Christmas service, which was the first time we did a community event which included the FULL nativity – as in a choir, children dancing, barn animals, camels, turkeys, chickens, alpaca’s, dogs and a donkey. I remember all the organisation and busyness before the evening, with the musicians practicing their singing, the people playing the Christmas characters rehearsing their parts and getting their costumes organised, and in amongst it all us having three young children suffering the end stages of the chicken pox.

This particular year we had a live donkey and had organised to have Mary and Joseph enter through the audience. My brother-in-law played Joseph that year, and “Mary’ dutifully rode upon her donkey. Somehow unknown to me the donkey decided it didn’t want to go where Joseph was leading it, and down the back of the audience poor Mary was being whirled round and around at an uncomfortable speed on the back of this wayward donkey, as Joseph attempted to bring him under control. This resulted in Mary half losing her costume, and being quite dishevelled in appearance as she finally made her way through the enthralled crowd.

To top it all off as Philip my husband shared his Christmas message and proceeded to give an opportunity for people to invite Jesus into their lives the alpaca, one of the main stable animals right in front of the audience decided it was an ideal time to get amorous with it’s mate. This “excitement” seemed to trigger the turkeys, chickens and even the donkey into a symphony of squawks, clucking, and braying, which totally overrode Philip’s evangelistic endeavours.

Not to be deterred Philip kept right on preaching above the noise and chaos happening behind him. As a result even with all the laugher and amused giggles, people’s hearts were touched by his message of God’s love and forgiveness. That night regardless of all the activity and noise, people met Jesus in the simplicity of the truth that we don’t have to be lonely, sick, broken, guilty or a sinner anymore. Jesus came to set us free.

Sometimes it takes someone, or something to stand up above all the chaos and point out to us the truth and to what life is really all about. Much like Philip did on that, and many other Christmas Eve’s like it. For when our life is over, only one thing will really matter: Did we get to know Jesus the Son of God and did we love Him and others? All the Christmas presents we buy, the long hours we work, the degrees we study for, the meals we prepare, the perfect holidays we take, and the houses we buy and build won’t matter. What will matter is whether we spent time getting to know Jesus, who for each one of us made the effort and sacrifice to come on that very first Christmas day.

This Christmas time enjoy all the season brings. Celebrate as much as possible and make memories with your friends and family. But don’t let Christmas go by without searching out and looking for Jesus; listen for him, that you might hear him call you aside. Let this Christmas be the one in which you listen to Him tell you of His love, forgiveness and the good things He has planned for you.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3:16)

This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.(1 John 4:9-11)

Prayer: Jesus, please forgive me for my mistakes, where I have allowed the noise of the world around me to shut you out and have let other people or things take precedent in knowing you. This Christmas I want to hear and know you more. In Jesus Name Amen.

24 Dec – The Best Gift

jesus is the best gift

How do you prepare for Christmas? In our house the preparations start in mid November, straight after our youngest daughter’s birthday. It begins with the playing of Christmas carols whilst putting up the Christmas Tree; finding once again all the ornaments from when the kids were really little. We joke about how many fairy lights my husband Philip can manage to squeeze on the tree this year. The fairy lights also go up outside and I hope nobody is going to fall off the roof in the hot sun.

Gingerbread, lots of fruit mince pies and apple cider, light looking, celebrating with lots and lots of food, music, more lights, the annual Christmas movie marathon and shopping galore.

It would be fair to say our family loves Christmas…a lot!

But have you ever wondered, what would the world be like if Jesus had never come? What if we had never had that first Christmas? Imagine Christmas day with no Christ in it. No stockings hung out on Christmas Eve, no trees, no carols, no wreaths, no churches, or their special services to celebrate, no books in the library about Jesus, no holiday. No comfort for the lonely, the dying, the seeker; no promises, no good news of the gospel, no freedom, no consolation, no hope of heaven.

It’s so easy in the midst of all the preparations, and busyness to overlook and perhaps even to forget just how important this event is. We see in the bible that the birth of Jesus coming to the world was a gift for all, but just as the gifts under our Christmas tree must be received and opened, we too must receive the gift of Jesus’ coming for ourselves to truly enjoy it. (Luke 2)

Today consider how your life and the world would be if Jesus had never come? And does His coming make your life any different? If so how does your life reflect that? Or have you forgotten Jesus and that you can know Him for yourself this Christmas time.

I encourage you this Christmas time to open up and get to know the best Christmas gift the world has ever been given. Jesus is the reason for all the lights, food, gift giving, celebrations and holiday and He came for you that you might know Him and His love and forgiveness.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son”. (John 3:16-18 NLT)

Prayer: Jesus, thank you that you did come. That you loved mankind so much that you left heaven so that our we could have a relationship with you. Help me to remember in amongst all the busyness of the season, that you are the reason for it all and for me to live that out today. In Jesus Name. Amen.

23 Dec – One Word Can Change Everything

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Really life is all about trust – about trusting in God or in ourselves; in trusting in His love for us, or in the world’s ability to harm us and  in trusting that what and who we are God will continue to shape and guide so that our life will be more than okay. Or letting doubt in and believing that evil will have its way.

Trust is talked a lot about in the bible and literally means “a bold, confident, sure security and then living based on that security.” It’s trusting God because He is good, faithful and trustworthy and learning that we can believe in His promises in all circumstances, even in those where the  evidence in the natural realm seems to be contrary.

Proverbs 3:5 in the bible teaches us a few things about trust and says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. This sums up how God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to learn to trust in Him and not in ourselves, nor only in our own plans, or the world’s wisdom and devices.

One of the main ways I have learnt to trust and keep trusting God even in the face of contrary circumstances is to take hold of His word about every situation I am facing. Just one word from God can be enough when we rely on the truth of His goodness and faithfulness. One word believed on and spoken forth will literally move mountains, silence demons, shrivel up sickness, release provision and bring God on the scene.

Simon Peter one of the first disciples of Jesus discovered this one word from Jesus. He and his friends had spent all night fishing but had caught nothing and were returning home when Jesus called from the shore, “put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch again”. Simon was tired, probably annoyed and just wanted to go home to bed, but he chose to stop, listen and receive that one word from Jesus, trusting in Him and His goodness, and it paid off.

“When Jesus had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch. ”Master, Simon replied, we have worked through the night without catching anything. But because you say so I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear.” (Luke 5:4-6)

Just one word from Jesus can and will change everything. Today I encourage you to spend some time with Jesus. Get to know Him better by reading His Word in the bible, and spending time seeking Him and His presence and being round others who know Him too. If you are facing a situation or you are feeling afraid or unsure about the future search out and ask Him to show you the answer in His Word regarding what you need or are facing. God says He is “alert and active watching over his Word to perform it, and that the angels hearken to the word of the Lord” when it is spoken in trust and faith. (Jeremiah 1:12; Psalm 103:20)

Hold onto that one word and believe and trust in His love and ability to bring it to pass, because when Jesus speaks it changes everything!

Prayer: Lord I know that one word from you will change everything. Please speak to me and help me to trust in your love and faithfulness today. In Jesus name Amen.

 

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