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May 2020

31 May – Love Never Fails

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Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonises it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.

Love it would be fair to say “makes the world go around”. Love makes us flourish and healthier; it gives us a future and our lives meaning. Love also makes our faith work and without it Jesus says we actually can do nothing except crash around like a clanging cymbal. (Galatians 5:6 1 Corinthians 13:2)

“If speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and exult in the surrender of my body, but have not love, I gain nothing.…“(1 Cor 13:1-3)

But how often does our attention and thoughts focus on thinking about the opposite of love and on negativity and how people irritate us instead? Our minds and hearts can easily get caught up in the negative, annoying and even strange behaviour of others, and within a short space of time we are filled with negativity and unlovely thoughts and emotions.

But what if we spent a moment every day thinking of someone to love and to share God’s goodness with? If first thing in the morning we asked ourselves and God the question “Who can I love today? Who can I bless today?”

God said His love in us never fails. That’s because His love is so powerful. The world and everything in it is framed by that love, and we are made with an immense capacity to love, if only we will open up our hearts to God so that He can shed abroad His all powerful love in our hearts.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Mother Teresa whose life of love and service set an example of what a difference just one person can make when they love freely and powerfully said, “The greatest science in the world, in heaven and on earth is love. And the most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved”. She encouraged all to, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

When we seek to love like that we can wake up asking “Who can I love” and keep on thinking that throughout the day as we turn our attention towards the positive and consciously thinking and praying for others. Our minds start to be geared towards love and the good in people as we redirect our thoughts and hearts to love instead of judging and getting annoyed.

Today “Don’t waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbour, act as if you do.” “For love is not something you just feel, it is something you do”. (C.S. Lewis) Look for who you can love and reveal God’s goodness to today and then go and do just that!

“If we have got the true love of God abroad in our hearts, we will show it in our lives. We will not have to go up and down the earth proclaiming it. We will show it in everything we say or do.” (Dwight Moody)

“Love takes no pleasure in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Prayer: Lord would you please fill my heart up with your love today and then give me wisdom as to where I can share it with others today. In Jesus name Amen

30 May – 300 Billion Stars

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The universe is quite an incredible place, especially when we stop to contemplate the immensity of the creation that surrounds us. For example take the fact that if every person were to count the stars we’d have to count over 300 billion stars in our galaxy alone. That’s 50 stars for every person alive on the earth. Or that a snowflake is created from a water droplet formed around a tiny dust particle which then freezes. Amazingly each snowflake is unique from the other, with incredible beauty and detail in every individual snowflake.

God says that He knows the number of stars and calls them each by name, and yet He also knows every hair upon our heads. He know when we sit and when we rise, our thoughts before we speak them, as well as the the hidden things in our hearts. He sees everything, and in the midst of all of this greatness He cares about and loves us personally. (Psalm 147:4; Matthew 10:30)

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.…” (Psalm 139:2)

If He knows us and loves us that much, I wonder if that shouldn’t cause us to trust Him? To trust in His strength, goodness and plan for our lives. To trust that He has it all covered, so we don’t need to worry or be concerned about our life.

When we meditate on the greatness of God we soon realise that He is more than capable of handling and answering our every need, dream and prayer.

Today take some time to think about how powerful, creative and unlimited God is. There are no boundaries He cannot cross or override and there are no limits to His love. It is unfailing, all powerful and faultless.

There are some things that may cause you to go wow in life, but perhaps the greatest is the reality that you are loved and seen by the one who created it all.

Prayer: Lord I’m going to take some time to think about all you have done and to acknowledge your greatness. To say thank you and to trust that you have everything in your hands, including me. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

29 May – God’s Got Something Better

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Part of moving on in life is knowing what to hold onto, what to value as part of who we are, and what to let go of so as to make room for the new. All this holding on and letting go can be really hard on us. We invariably want to either hold onto everything, let go of it all or place such choices in the too hard basket and simply do nothing.

However God I’ve discovered isn’t really into doing nothing and staying stagnant but is always shaping and molding us into the best version of ourselves. He does this even if it means having to confront us with some difficult choices and using our circumstances to make us grow.

Joseph in the bible is a great example of how God works in our lives. Joseph was the favoured son of his father and as a result he was gifted a coat of many colours to signify the special place he held in his father’s heart. His ten older brothers didn’t appreciate this obvious favouritism and resented Joseph to the point of wanting to get rid of him permanently. Fortunately for Joseph instead of leaving him to die in a pit his brothers instead tore his special coat and poured blood from an animal all over it to make it look like Joseph had been attacked and killed. Joseph was then sold as a slave and carried off to Egypt where he was sold once again, falsely accused and eventually imprisoned.

Finally after many years God delivered Joseph and he was promoted by Pharaoh to second in command of the whole land of Egypt. “Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as second in command, and men shouted before him, “Make way!” (Genesis 41; 41-43)

Joseph’s story highlights the importance of trusting God, forgiveness and moving on with what God is doing. If Joseph had simply held onto what his father’s favour and what the coat of many colours had meant to him (even after his position and circumstances had changed), God would not have been able to work in and through him as he did. Joseph would have ended up a depressed, bitter and broken man as a result of his brothers’ betrayal, his slavery and imprisonment. However because he chose to let go of the negatives, adjusted to his circumstances and continued to grow as a person he not only received a new life, but also a new coat and a far more powerful position than his father would ever had offered.

God made sure Joseph’s ‘new coat” and life carried greater authority, wealth and blessing than his first. 

Joseph’s first coat signified his father’s favour, but unfortunately created jealousy and trouble. Whereas Pharaoh’s gift of a “second coat” gave Joseph not only increased favour but also enabled him to bless his whole family, saw his relationships with his brothers and father restored, and saved thousands of people from starvation. 

Today don’t be discouraged if things are changing or you are faced with hard choices and circumstances that are pushing you to let go and move on from the place and status you once held. Take hold of God’s promises, remember who He says you are and be prepared to let go of the old  “coat”  and your past, so you can step into God’s plan and the better things He has for you.

Prayer: Lord please help me to see where you are working and guiding my life. I know that you always work everything out for my good and that if I have to let go of something, or someone that you have better things ahead. I’m choosing to let go of the “old coat” so that I have room for the new one today. In Jesus name Amen.

28 May – Being Held Together

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God knows all about everything we go through in life and especially those times when we need help. He repeatedly tells us in His Word that when we are feeling at the end of our strength or just needing a break that we can, “…approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

While the terms have similar meanings grace and mercy are not the same. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve because of our sin and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it.

No matter what we have done God promises that when we come to Him he will be merciful even though we don’t deserve it and that His grace will give to us abundantly. He says because of His grace and mercy that we are able to come boldly to Him knowing that He is going to be there for us, and that He won’t fail us in our hour of need.

When Paul wrote that we could approach God boldly for His grace, mercy and help he was talking about help in the midst of a life-threatening storm. He chose to use the unusual word for “help” being boethia in Greek, which is an ancient nautical term.

The definition of boetheia is aid; specially, a rope or chain for frapping a vessel:
(frap – is a nautical term; to bind or wrap tightly with ropes or chains).

Frapping is a tactic sailors used when a ship was being beaten by a storm and threatened to be broken apart. They would take ropes or chains and literally wrap the boat with these bands to strengthen the vessel. This would hold the wooden ship together against the pounding of the waves.

Paul was trying to tell us that we could be ‘frapped’; held together or helped by the strongest cords of all; God’s bonds of love. Nothing can destroy us when God has hold of us and we can approach Him boldly because of His grace and mercy and then allow Him to help and hold us together.

Today whatever you may be going through God wants you to come to Him, and to come boldly and confidently knowing that you will receive all that you need to keep moving forward and to overcome any difficulty and circumstance. Come to Him “with confidence and draw near to the throne of grace, that you may receive mercy and find grace to help in your time of need.” (Heb 4:16).

“For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together”. (Colossians  1:17)

Prayer: Lord I’m asking to your help today, knowing that you promise to extend your grace and mercy towards me whenever I come to you. Please hold me together in your love. In Jesus name Amen.

27 May – It’ll All Be Worth It

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This is a repost from last year, but since I didn’t get to ride this week due to storms in our part of the world, I thought I’d share again. It’s good to remember when you’ve had a win.

Today I’ve been buzzing on the inside all day…primarily because I had a win this morning as I went on my weekly horse ride. For months I’ve been riding a little horse who has some anxiety issues and quirks which I needed to learn to manage to be able to ride her. That or I’d probably have ended up on my backside in the dust. She and I have had our moments over the months as we’ve both learnt to trust one another and to deal with our anxiety, fear and my ability to remain calm and in control.

However today thanks to the months of learning to handle my emotions, thoughts and body’s reactions as I rode that little horse, I got to ride another bigger, stronger and very pretty horse who made all the past months of learning, self evaluation and pushing through my fears worth while.

I came away from the stables feeling on top of the world and knowing all that work and practice had just paid off. Everything I’d learnt I applied today and as I did the usual trepidation at handling such a powerful animal was replaced with exhilaration.

It reminded me that when we are in the midst of the hard work and the constant pushing to breakthrough our limits, fears or present capabilities it can feel like we and our situation is never going to change…that we are not going to ever change. Yet if we just keep walking, (or riding) stay consistent and remain holding onto Jesus, the Word He has spoken and the dreams and desires in our heart, we will breakthrough, overcome and see the victory.

So I encourage you today to celebrate each step you take, because in the consistency, in the deliberate moving forward, the trusting and believing for better things ahead your breaking through and dreams are getting closer and you will receive all that God has promised if you do not grow weary and give up.

Hold steady today and determine to keep moving forward, for as I experienced today the win is worth it and there is better up ahead.

“And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!” (Galatians 6:9 TPT)

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded”. (2 Chronicles 15:7)

Prayer: Lord please help me to keep moving forward and to remember that all the hard work, consistency and staying focused on my dream and the what you have spoken will reap the benefits. Please help me to stay strong today because it will be worth it. In Jesus name Amen.
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26 May – When Will I Be Good Enough?

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I’ve been having a conversation with one of our son’s about being good. He wants so much to do the right thing and often berates himself for not being good enough.

It’s not an uncommon mindset and many religions and traditions throughout history have focused on mankind’s ability to be good and the quantity and quality of their good works. So often we hear people commend someone they admire for being a “good person”. Yet sadly in making “being good” our goal there is also an inherent danger of comparisons, self righteous attitudes, finger pointing and judgements made about others.

When we hold to these beliefs there is also the danger that when something difficult or tragic happens to a person to draw the conclusion that unfortunate circumstances and loss are because people are flawed in some way. When we too experience suffering we can begin to ask, “What have I done wrong, or aren’t I doing enough good to deserve better than this?”

On the other end of the scale is the need for us to try and make up for our past mistakes and the hurt we may have caused.  The thought is that, “If I’m only good enough and do enough “good” things I can balance out all the bad I have done in my life.”

All these “good works” however rest primarily in our limited ability and strength and leave us lacking, comparing ourselves to others and falling short of a holiness and standard of goodness that is impossible to attain on our own.

The whole point of Jesus coming to earth was to eradicate the need for anyone to be good enough. No one can do that, for we all fall short. (Romans 3:23) Instead Jesus offers to take our shortcomings and failures and to cleanse us from all our mess ups and lack of goodness. All He asks is that we stay connected to Him and allow His love to fill our hearts. As a result His goodness (which never runs out), love, peace, and joy will flood our lives on an ongoing basis. No toil on our part, just simple connection and union with Jesus. (John 15)

The simple key which I’ve been endeavouring to teach our son is that life isn’t about being good, it’s about love. When that love focus is directed to loving God first and foremost, then the goodness we so often strive to exhibit in our lives will flourish without us even trying to be good anymore. We will be good because God is good and His goodness is now who we are.

Today rather than trying to figure out how to be good, instead make love your highest goal. It will simplify everything, enable you to focus on what and who is important in your life, remove guilt and shame and produce the fruit of goodness, without all of the self reproach, striving and stress.

“Three things will last forever- faith, hope, land love – and the greatest of these is love…Let love be your highest goal.” (1 Corinthians 13:13; 14:1)

But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Prayer: Lord please help me to drop off the pressure and mindsets I can fall into of having to work at being good enough, when all I need do is focus on love. Thank you that when I come to you that you take all my mess up’s and shortcomings, cleanse me and declare me to be more than good enough. In Jesus name Amen.

25 May – When Can We Go Back To Normal?

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“When can we go back to normal?”  It’s the question that many people have been asking whilst in isolation, not at their regular jobs, schools and pastimes, and only now being able to see friends and extended family.

But perhaps a better question to ask whilst we are seeking after the comfort of our normal is, “Do I really want to go back to what was normal, if that’s even possible?”

Whenever we are faced with sudden changes in our circumstances we inherently crave for the safety of what we know; it’s the comfort seeker in us that wants things to stay the same, regardless of whether if was God’s best for us or not. It’s why people stay in the same job, struggle with the same relationship issues, remain stuck in negative or limiting habits and mindsets and why we can repeatedly fail to change long-term. Many people just want things to stay the same and to remain their “normal”.

However, God I think rarely thinks in line with our normal. He’s too creative for that. He instead seeks to take us to the next level, give us fresh ideas, open up opportunities and repeatedly says, “see I am doing a new thing”. I don’t believe God, who is only good, sends evil, stressful circumstances to harm or teach us a lesson us, but He will use whatever we may be facing to help shift and change things for the better in and around us. “He works all things together for our good” (Romans 8:28)

So today instead of hoping and longing for things to get back to normal, look for the new ideas, development opportunities and revelation God is releasing and wanting to share with you and choose to make that your “new normal”.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Prayer: Lord please help me to see where you are releasing new things in my life and positioning me to grow and develop. I don’t want to just get back to normal, but to take hold of every opportunity you have for me, even if that means me stepping up into something completely different from what I’ve known before. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 May – You Can Trust In God’s Goodness

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There are seasons in life where we will find ourselves living in conflict between what we are experiencing and what God says about our life and who He is.

This conflict leaves us with a choice. “Do I trust in my present circumstances which scream fear, risk, uncertainty, disappointment and worry, or do I trust in the dependable and reliable goodness of God and that He is working for me?”

David in the bible is a great example of someone who repeatedly had to put His trust in the goodness of God rather than allowing himself to be overwhelmed by his circumstances. He faced seasons of great adversity, loneliness, waiting for change, betrayal and the constant threat of violence. Yet his response was, “I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

For us to live the life we dream of and also still live in a place of rest and peace, David’s expectation and response must also be ours…”I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.”

A great illustration of this has been happening in our house. Due to restrictions on sporting games we have been watching reruns of games of our football team the West Coast Eagles being played on TV. We already know the score, who is going to kick the goals, take the best marks and play what, where. As a result we can just sit back, relax, cheer, chat and enjoy watching the game. There is no stress on our part because the outcome has already been decided. Our team wins.

Much like our football game watching, there is one thing we can rest assured of in our walk with God. It is knowing the outcome. God’s already recorded the score of the game in the record books – His book and guess what? We win, and He will work things out for our good! 

It’s why God says for us not to worry or to allow our hearts to be troubled. “Don’t worry or surrender to your fear.” (John 14:1 TPT)

Whether its adversity, conflict, viruses, global strife, pandemics; whatever the problem or pressure is we may be facing, it does not need to lead us into panic or fear.

We know the score ahead of time. God says, “All things work together for our good,” (Romans 8:28). So, if it’s not good yet the God’s overall game plan isn’t complete. God’s not done yet.

When we base our whole life; our decisions, reactions, expectations and dreams on the simple truths that God is good and He works all things together, (that’s ALL THINGS work together) for our good when we walk according to His purposes, it changes everything.

Why? Because we don’t need to worry, stress or wonder if everything will work out. We may be faced with decisions, struggles and uncertainty, yet when we base our responses and believing upon God, who is good, perfect and does not change, then we can relax,  and live our lives from a place of peace and confidence.

God knows the score and every play in the book. Nothing is a surprise to Him. He declares, “I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

This week if you find yourself troubled, worrying, or know you have to take a step forward but you are unsure, then base your trust, actions and responses in these truths.

  • GOD IS GOOD!  “He’s so much better than you think!”
  • You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
  • That God is faithful to perform what He has promised.
  • God will work ALL things together for your good.

Prayer: Lord I thank you that in every circumstance of my life you are already working for me to bring good. Please help me today to trust and base my life and expectations in your goodness and to remember that you are always working ALL things together for my good. In Jesus name Amen.

23 May – 10,000 Hours

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Repeated practice is one of the most basic principles of learning to excel at something. Whatever we practice most is what we will become. Studies reveal that practising any skill for 10,000 hours is sufficient to make you an expert.

It’s therefore no surprise that what we practice is going to become second nature to us. As my son’s classical guitar teacher tells him, “eventually as you practice you gain muscle memory and your fingers will play almost automatically what you have repeatedly practiced.”

Perhaps that muscle memory comes into play far more than we realise. Our thoughts go instantly to  particular pathways in our brains when someone says something. Our face expressions respond almost automatically on hearing or thinking particular things. Our bodies respond instinctively under certain circumstances.

Repeated practice causes us to form habits, and as we all know we can form positive habits or negative ones. We can get in the habit of being uptight whenever life isn’t quite right, repeatedly reacting to criticism by defending ourselves, insisting on always being right, and seeing every challenge in life as an opportunity for a melt-down. If we practice these responses repeatedly we will eventually find ourselves reacting automatically this way to life.

Likewise if we choose to focus on the positive, to think before we speak, to practice self control and to spend time with Jesus, putting His word first then these things will become part of who we are. Practice this way of life from the heart repeatedly and it will generate qualities (or fruits) of compassion, patience, love, joy, peace, self control, and kindness.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

That’s essentially what “working out” our salvation is all about; it’s allowing who God has made us to be to be outworked in our lives.

Jesus said it this way, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)

It’s immensely helpful to become more intentionally conscious of the habits we are practicing. The Holy Spirit helps us with this by giving gentle reminders when we are  putting into practice the negatives. He prompts us to think about what we are thinking about. To shift our focus if it’s unproductive and to choose to respond positively. To check regularly where and what our attention is, and whether we are cultivating habits that are in line with what we want our life to stand for?”

Today ask yourself, “Am I practicing what I want to become?”

Prayer: Lord please help me to practice what I want to become most, and to be sensitive to your Holy Spirit guiding and transforming me into all that you say I am. In Jesus name Amen.

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