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June 2020

30 June – Know Who To Run To

storm (2)

Some very dark and ominous rain clouds gathered on the horizon as I rode today. The sky quickly turned darker and more threatening shades of grey and I found myself quietly telling the rain to hold up until I was off my horse and safely under cover.

Fast forward half and hour and the weather was steadily worsening as I put Jackson safely into his paddock and gathered his tack and my belongings as fast as I could. Those dark storm clouds weren’t going to hold up any longer and within seconds of picking up my things, the heavens opened and the wind was slamming rain into my face as I made a run for shelter and the safety of the tack room.

Fortunately I knew where to run to for shelter and the quickest route to get there. I didn’t wait around for the full force of the storm to hit me, nor did I pick up or take anything that wasn’t necessary. I got what was important and ran to where I knew I’d be safe to wait out the storm.

It got me thinking that today’s storm is similar to how life can be. Storm clouds ominously gather over our heads and we feel like we’re getting battered about by our circumstances and the situations we find ourselves in.  I’t’s why it’s so important when life looks a little crazy, confusing and storms are overhead to know where to run to.

For me that means running to Jesus and the strength and safety I find in His presence. He has always enabled me to get through any storm I’ve faced and given me the strength and guidance to be able to keep going no matter how much life has tried to tear me down or batter me about. Plus now after knowing who to run to and where to find my comfort and strength I’ve discovered that some storms which would have previously worried or had me running in fear no longer bother me …I either ignore their threat or laugh in the midst of their noise because I know I have the strength in who I am in Jesus to face them. Some stormy skies just don’t scare me anymore.

Today I encourage you to know who to run to. Jesus is a safe haven and a secure fortress to which we will find shelter and peace regardless of the circumstances. He knows what we need and how to comfort us, so that we will not just find shelter from the storm but will be equipped and enabled to keep moving forward no matter how the storm rages.

“He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed.” (Psalm 107:29)

“The LORD is a mighty tower where his people can run for safety.” (Proverbs 18:10)

Prayer: Lord thank you that I can always run to you. Please remind me that no matter what I may face in life I can find my shelter and strength in you to withstand the storm until it is quiet again. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

29 June – Let Go Of Your Lists

let go

“Lists”, we all have them. Where we have held onto the record of our hurts, disappointments or feelings of failure. Lists where we’ve held anger, unforgiveness and bitterness in our hearts. Lists of hurts and grievances? Lists on our husband or wife, partner, friends, family or workmates.

The sad truth is that if we don’t keep short accounts and walk in forgiveness we will all gather in our hearts a great many lists. Some we may have already carried around for a very long time as we tell ourselves our “lists” are okay.

But God also knows about our lists. The lists we have against ourselves and those we have on others, and He asks us to let go of these lists and to give them over to Him. In exchange He offers us a clean slate – with no record of wrongs, hurts, disappointments, grievances or mess up’s, which He then asks us to extend to others. That doesn’t mean people won’t mess up, or that we won’t stumble ourselves. But God, if we let Him will strengthen and empower us to love and to walk in freedom and forgiveness just as He does.

And hope does not make ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”. (Romans 5:5)

Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8)

“But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time.” (1 John 1:9 TPT)

Give God your lists today and allow Him to cleanse, restore and make both you and your relationships healthy and whole again.

Prayer: Lord I give you my lists. Please forgive and heal me where I have held onto hurts and my mistakes and started to see myself in the wrong way. And where I have taken offense and harbored unforgiveness in my own heart. Today I let go of the lists I hold on myself and others and I choose to love and forgive just as you forgave me. In Jesus Name Amen.

28 June – Strong And Stable

like a tree

As a child I grew up on a sheep farm in the south of New Zealand. Across the road from our house there was a giant tree that I regularly climbed. It was my getaway place, where I would nestle high up on the wide sturdy branches and spend hours enjoying being above the world and away from everyone and everything else. I could see for miles from my vantage point and regardless of the weather my tree remained strong and stable, firmly rooted in the soil.

There is passage in the bible that describes a person who is blessed. “He is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

The secret to being like that strong tree, which has an abundant water supply, yields it’s fruit in season, doesn’t wither, and prospers in all it does is found at the beginning of Psalm 1.

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1: 1-3)

Most of us are busy looking for the fruit of our labours; to see results and for our life to have some meaning and purpose. The good news is that God actually promises that we will produce “fruit”, and see results and the product of our life’s journey in its appropriate season. God’s given us the manual to be like the solid, sturdy fruitful tree from my childhood. It’s in walking with Him and meditating on His word every day and in being mindful of who is influencing and speaking into our lives. He wants us to be like strong fruitful trees, not windblown chaff!

Today, take the time to take hold of God’s words to you found in the bible. Think about, and consider them throughout the day. Choose well who and what you are allowing to speak into your life so that you will be fruitful and prosperous in all you do.

Prayer: Lord I want to know and understand you and your word more. Please help and remind me to do that today so that I will grow to be strong and stable in all my ways. In Jesus Name Amen.

27 June – Driving Away Shadows

shadows

Most people avoid dark, foreboding shadows because they are usually likened to ominous oppressiveness, sadness and gloom. Perhaps the only time we want to be in the shadows is if we are trying to keep something hidden or secret and we are choosing to keep out of the light.

However unfortunately there are some circumstances in life that do cast a shadow. Some we walk into through our own choices, and some are cast upon us. As I was reading Psalm 23 in the bible today I realised that a shadow does not have to be permanent. It is but a shadow and it will pass; I can walk through and past it. In comparison to how powerful God is, a shadow or even complete darkness is no match for His light and goodness. No shadow has the power to remain when God is walking alongside us, for he literally drives away the shadows in our lives.

David wrote Psalm 23 and drew on his experiences as a young man shepherding His father’s sheep alone in the countryside. He describes that even “when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death” we do not need to be afraid for God, our good Shepherd is close beside us to protect and comfort us. (Psalm 23:4)

The things we might fear; such as death, sickness, lack, loss and pain are no doubt real; they are shadows, which try to come between the light of God’s goodness and us. But even through they may seem dark and ominous they are still only shadows, which God promises He will lead us through. Those shadows will fade away, because Jesus has bore the cause of our shadows; our pain and the burden of sin and death. They lose their power to permanently hamper or harm us when we choose to keep our eyes firmly on Jesus and to walk with Him and in His ways.

Today if you feel like you are walking through the valley of shadows, or you know you have been hiding out of the light on purpose, know that they are only shadows and you can make a decision to step through and out of them as you fix your eyes on Jesus and journey with Him. Whenever you sense or see a shadow don’t be afraid, just keep walking. He is with you and will bring you out of the shadows and into the light of His love and goodness again. 

“Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me
” (Psalm 23:4 Amp)

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
 (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you are with me even in the darkest valley and the deepest shadows. Help me to know that I don’t need to be afraid but only to keep my eyes fixed firmly on you. Help me to remember that you are close beside me to protect and comfort me wherever and whatever I am going through today. In Jesus name Amen

 

26 June – It’s Not An Emergency

chill out

Many people justify their frenetic crazy schedules and behaviour by believing that life is an emergency! Our actions can signify that we think everything is urgent and life altering, when actually we are the ones who usually create the pressure situations we face as we turn little things into a life emergency.

Perhaps we allow our own unrealistic expectations, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, lack of prayer and time with God an out of balance lifestyle whilst pursuing our goals to steal our peace, quality of relationships and ability to hear God clearly. We instead turn life into a constant series of dramas and stress, when in actual fact most of what we spend our days stressing and striving over isn’t worth it. Life is so much easier when we just Chill Out!

Today, if you are tired of living life like it’s an ongoing emergency then take time to stop, breathe and realise that life does go on and be perfectly okay even if the house isn’t spotless before you walk out the door. That everything doesn’t have to be perfect for things to work and that your goals and dreams are meant to bless and inspire you, not constantly burden you under unrealistic deadlines and expectations which steal your joy.

Most things we think are urgent emergency today we won’t remember in twenty years time. Keep what’s really important and God’s plan for your life in front of you, take the pressure off and cut yourself some slack and know that even when things don’t go to plan it’s probably not an emergency.

God has a way through and the wisdom, strength and resources we need to experience peace and fulfilment in all we do. He simply wants us to learn to wait and listen so that He can lead and guide us.

“For Jesus is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14)

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

Prayer: Lord please help me to keep a healthy perspective and know what thing are really important and where I have the tendency to make things bigger than they are. Please fill me with your peace, rest and the knowledge of your will for me today. In Jesus name Amen.

25 June – Finding Peace

peace 2

The bible says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body” (Proverbs 14:30) But focusing on imperfections, negative traits, and the things we don’t like about ourselves  will steal our peace. Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27).

Yet how often do we give up our peace because we wish we were someone else or our peace is stolen by negatives and our fear? It’s a trap that many of us fall into and it’s usually because we allow ourselves to be convinced that we are less than who God says we are, or that our lives aren’t significant, successful or of consequence. We essentially haven’t learnt to celebrate who God has made us to be and as a result we lose our peace.

We may not be happy with certain aspects of our lives, but we do need to listen to what God says about the essentials of who we are and what He says about us. He longs for us to accept His love and forgiveness, to know that He promises that He will perfect that which concerns us and that He has a plan and is faithful to complete what He has started in us. He will work with us to bring out the best in us, bless our relationships and help us to fulfil those things we were made for.

I’ve discovered that when we begin to accept who God says we are, any wrong thinking, negativity, lack of self worth and fears fall away and we are transformed as our thinking is renewed according to what God says about us. As a result our hearts are filled with peace. (Romans 12:2)

Today let your heart be filled with peace as you choose to listen and accept who God says you are and His plan for your life. He thinks you’re amazing, significant and special and since He is the one who created you, He’d know?

 “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

Prayer: Lord I ask for your peace to fill my heart and that I would listen and accept what you say about my life. Please help me to let go and give over to you any thinking, attitudes and concerns that would try to steal my peace today. In Jesus name Amen

24 June – I’ll Walk With You

walk with you

When I first started dating my husband Philip we would walk everywhere together. We would walk to lunch together, to church, to our friend’s house and even the hour it took to walk to work together. We learnt a lot about each other by simply walking, talking and listening to one another. We watched, listened and adapted as we set our course for life together.

Now because we have been walking together for so long Philip instinctively knows which side of the path I like to walk on, what I do and don’t like, the streets I prefer, and where I like to go. He knows I like to walk and talk and that most of the time it’s just okay for him to listen. He adjusts his steps, and I try to speed up mine.

Walking with Jesus is much the same. When we ask Him to be a part of our life we enter into a relationship, embark on a journey and adopt a new life-style along the way. It’s a long walk, rather than a short sprint and it’s not all about the destination, but also the things we discover and experience along the way.

As with any journey and relationship there are some things we need to leave behind. We don’t want to bring our negative past, fears, sin and baggage. These things will only distract and weigh us down, and it’s the same in our walk with Jesus. He offers to take all our burdens, sin and past, so that He can free and cleanse us totally, enabling us to not only walk, but to run! (1 John 1:9)

When we’re travelling further afield we only have a certain amount of baggage weight available and care must be taken to choose what we are going to pick up and carry along the way. The same can be said for our walk with Jesus. Some things look great at first glance, but the question is “are they actually beneficial to where we are going, and do we want to have the extra weight, distraction and burden?” Other things might look, smell, and even taste enticing, but will give us “food poisoning” if we choose to partake of them. Much the same as the deceptiveness of sin and the things the devil tries to tempt us with in an effort to trip us up and get us going in the wrong direction.

Our relationship with Jesus is a daily walk. We decide each morning to walk in the same direction as Him, taking the time to talk, listen and keep walking so that our focus and attention will be on Him and His plan for us.

It’s much the same as when I walk with my husband Philip. It’s not hard or burdensome but about our love and commitment to one another. Our walk with Jesus is designed to be a long enjoyable walk, where He has promised to always walk with us, in both the sunshine and the rain.

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith just as you were taught.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Prayer: Jesus help me to walk with you everyday. I don’t want to rush ahead, or walk in the opposite direction, but step by step in time with you. Help me to do that in both the sunshine and the rain. In Jesus Name Amen.

 

23 June – Lessons Learnt

learn your lesson

My Dad had a frustration in that he wished people would learn from their mistakes and from those older than themselves who had gleaned a  little more wisdom in life. He said it baffled him why people, especially younger people didn’t listen to the lessons, mistakes and triumphs of those older than them so that they could avoid the same pitfalls and learn from their successes and experience.

The truth is we don’t have to go through pain and heartache to have a great story to tell. God actually doesn’t want any of us to have to go through that, yet if we do He promises He will be there to help us walk through whatever circumstance we find ourselves in and to help us learn from our experiences. It’s not God’s heart to cause us to suffer terribly or to have awful things happen to us, but for us to live a victorious life. We can choose to walk in wisdom and learn from our life lessons and from those who are more experienced or gifted in our area.

The bible is a treasury of lessons that can be learnt from the lives of others.  It is full of men and woman who knew God and walked out their faith both in victory and in struggles, through mistakes and pain. When we read the accounts of such people as David, who was led down the wrong path by failing to be on the battle-field when he should have been and instead finding himself in a whole world of trouble because he chose to lounge around on rooftops looking at another men’s wives (2 Samuel 11) or Naaman who in wisdom chose to swallow his pride and dip in the Jordan river seven times under the instruction of the prophet to be cleansed of leprosy. He could have let his pride dictate to him but chose instead to listen and obeyed a word from God even though it didn’t really make any rational sense. As a result he was cleansed and healed. (2 Kings 5) Or Jonah who teaches us that when God is speaking and wants you to do something He will chase you down, even if that means getting a whale to swallow you whole and leave you there for three days to make the message loud and clear. He discovered the hard way that it would have been far easier and less smelly to choose to obey a directive from God in the first place. (Jonah 1)

Esther chose to stand in courage rather than fear and gained understanding that God is the one who directs our steps and always has a plan and a purpose for where we find ourselves if we listen to Him. Because she acknowledged that God was in control of her life she was able to react to a situation with courage and lead her people into victory. (Esther chapters 1-5) Peter’s life lessons remind us that even when we mess up if we come to Jesus and ask His forgiveness He will respond with loving kindness and restore us to relationship with Him. (Luke 22:54-62) It doesn’t matter how far we have fallen or how many times we have denied Him access to our life and heart, He always welcomes us back with open arms and  restores and gives us a mission and purpose as He transforms our life. (John 21:1-25)

Today I encourage you to make a mental note to yourself that you don’t have to make a pile of mistakes or go the long or hard way round. God will make all things work together for our good but He would I think, love for us to not have to go through many of the heart breaking situations, toil and delays that we can find ourselves experiencing, if we would only choose to pay attention from lessons learnt, from other people and in reading God’s word.

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives….for those who have been called to fulfil his designed purpose.”(Romans 8:28 TPT)

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” (Proverbs 18:15 NIV)

Prayer: Lord thank you that you direct my steps and make everything work out for my good. Please give me wisdom to learn from the lessons I have learnt already and also from those who have gone before me. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

 

22 June – Fix Your Focus

focused

Today I am recovering from concussion as a result of a football making contact with my unsuspecting head. But what I have noticed is that I am able to function and go about my day productively if I fix my focus on just one situation and thought at a time. However if I allow my brain to do what it normally does, being very busy and often darting from one thought to the next, my head actually starts to hurt.

It reminds me about a story I once read about a man picking strawberries in a strawberry patch. This man would pick a strawberry here… and then he’d look up and see another strawberry a couple of rows away and off he’d run to pick that berry. Then he would look up and see another berry a few plants away and off he’d go, again and again and again all across the patch. In the time it took him to fill one bucket, others around him had filled ten.

That’s because this man’s eyes were always wandering across the strawberry patch looking for the easiest berries to find, instead of staying focused on what was before him. The bible says that a fool is like that, but “the perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard; fools look for it everywhere but right here“ (Proverbs 17: 24 –The Message).

God doesn’t want our lives to be full of toil, disappointment and unrealised dreams. He is right here with us, desiring to speak and lead us into far more than we could ever find, or dream up by ourselves. (Ephesians 3:20). He wants to impart vision, for us to be focused in life and to know where and what we are called to do each day. Sadly though we can all be like the man in the strawberry patch, running frantically here and there as we search for meaning, success and happiness but never fully achieving or reaching our goals and potential.

Today take time to consider what God has placed in your heart to focus upon? 

Choose wisely what are the most important aspects of your life and then hone your focus as you ask God for His wisdom and for Him to lead you. 

Focus on what and who really matters, seek wisdom, and determine not to be like the man in the strawberry patch who wore himself out for little reward when he could have been blessed with so much more.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.”(James 1:6-8 The Message)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps”. (Proverbs 16:9)

Prayer: Lord please help me to be focused on what is really important and not be pressured by every thought or fancy that pops into my head or be influenced by those around me. I choose to fix my eyes firmly ahead to where you are leading so that I may follow. In Jesus name Amen.

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