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31 Oct – We’re Surrounded

we're surrounded.png

It’s Halloween today in Australia, which traditionally is to celebrate the “Day of the Dead” or the night when pagans believe that the boundary between the realms of the dead and earth are thinner and so more easily accessible. As a result people dressed in scary costumes to masquerade as one of the dead so that the dead and any demonic creatures wouldn’t come near them.

Instead of celebrating the dead and the fear of death, I like to instead honour and acknowledge that today and tomorrow are All Saints Day or All Hallows Day, which celebrates and honours the men and women of faith who have gone before us. In remembering their lives we honour those ordinary people who had overcoming, mountain moving, world changing faith. They inspire, encourage and remind me of what is possible if we have faith and that it’s now our turn to make a mark in the history books. Their stories and lives testify that we are not alone but, “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” who are cheering us on to run our race well. They’re  encouraging each one of us to rise to the challenge to make a difference just as they did (Hebrews 12:1-2).

People like Moses who by faith stretched out his staff at God’s command and the waters of the Red Sea were parted freeing millions from imminent slavery and death. By faith Joshua and the people of Israel marched around the great walls of Jericho and they came crashing down. It was by faith Daniel escaped the lions den unharmed, David the teenager won the victory over the giant Goliath and Esther silenced the wicked Haman and rescued her people from certain death.

It was by faith that men like George Muller, trusting only in God cared for and fed thousands of orphans every day without requesting aid or money from any man for over forty years. By faith Hudson Taylor, John and Charles Wesley, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Amy Carmichael, Dwight L. Moody, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Billy Sunday and Jacquie Pullinger crossed land and sea, stepped out in faith and often chose to forgo security, family and support to share what Jesus had done for them. (I encourage you to check out their stories)

They shared not about the fear of death but about Jesus’ love, goodness and grace extended to all mankind and how He cares for each and every one of us.

Today, just as those great men and women of faith lived and shared their life with others, I encourage you to celebrate the fact that you are not alone and that Jesus has overcome all evil, sickness and fear. Therefore there is no reason to fear death or the dead. Instead you can determine to step out with Jesus, to make your mark and fulfil your purpose too. Plus Jesus is no “Skinny Jesus” so you can freely go and eat all the chocolate you want.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”(Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)

Prayer: Lord thank you for those who have gone before us and remind us of the difference one person can make if they put their hand in the hand of God and step out in faith. Please use me Lord to make an impact in the world and to be used by you too. In Jesus name Amen.

16 July – Centre In

come away and rest

To onlookers my life probably seems ridiculously busy. I’m a wife, a mum of six kids, grandmother, run gatherings in our home, a homeschooler and a manager for one of our daughters. Actually most people comment I’m either superwoman or a little crazy.
However I know what it is to have absolutely awesome, great, productive days and to also have the “what on earth am I doing, I’m exhausted, please give me some quiet” type days.

To help me stay relatively peaceful, a pleasant person to be around and to enjoy my life I’ve learnt to lean in. Leaning in is when I quiet my emotions, mind and heart so I can centre in on the core of who I am and where I find God’s quietness and presence. My heart slows, my mind stops racing and my spirit and soul are energised. When we have a relationship with Jesus this art of “centering” instantly helps us connect with Him better and enables us to focus and renew our strength in God.

With practice we can “centre in” wherever we are and some things that can help us do that are by:
Closing our eyes and slowing our breathing, taking deep, slow breaths.
Focusing our minds on quietness and stillness.
Replacing worrying or stressful thoughts that comes across our minds with God’s Word.
Leaning deeper into Jesus. I sometimes picture just stepping intoJesus, or sitting with Him in a peaceful, quiet place in heaven – our secret place with God.

Once I’ve “centred in” I sit silently in that place; I breathe, rest and soak in Gods presence. I dont necessarily have to “feel” or hear anything because what’s important is that we centre or lean into the source of our peace, strength and joy.

Today take some time to spend in that secret place – God is waiting there.

Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

In returning and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength”. (Isaiah 30 :15)

Prayer: Lord please help me to find and step into that quiet secret place with you so that I can commune with you more, and discover peace and joy in the midst of the busyness of my day. In Jesus name Amen

12 April – The power of being quiet

quiet

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” (Benjamin Franklin)

When we study to be quiet, it actually does quiet everything down on the inside of us. Conversations, pursuits, discussions, arguments, even face book and other media comments and conversations we begin to by-pass in our daily life.  Quietness let’s go of a life of noisy, frenetic agitation.

The bible talks a lot about quietness. We are encouraged to aspire to lead a quiet life. For it is to be our ambition to lead quiet, peaceful lives, free of conflict and hostility toward others.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need”. (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

The purpose underlying Paul’s encouragement in Thessalonians 4:11-12 was to love, to live quietly, and to mind our own business, so that we would behave properly toward others. One of the keys to sharing about Jesus is when we demonstrate peace to a confused, and agitated world, through diligent work attitudes and habits, and living in a loving and tranquil manner. When we respect others’ privacy, and don’t intrude or gossip, it is a powerful testimony, and makes the gospel credible.

Study to be quiet – “make it your ambition to be quiet, and to do your own business.”It’s in direct contrast to the world’s ambition, which is, “to make a great stir,” and “to be busybodies” (2Th 3:11, 12).

Today consider how much more peace and tranquility you and your household would experience if you chose to study and make it your ambition to be quiet. God wants us to be able to live peaceably in our own families, and also to give no disturbance to others by our tale bearing, whispering, and backbiting. He encourages us to behave with quietness in the neighbourhood, town, or city, we dwell in, and to seek peace as we lead a quiet and peaceable life. 

Make a decision to no longer be involved in creating and encouraging factions, divisions, animosities, and contentions – even if you are right in your opinions and beliefs! The best way to get your point across is often demonstated with fewer words, and more action! A quiet and gentle spirit and life pleases God, and others will notice your freedom from the agitation and stress they themselves struggle with.

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless andpure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

Study and practice quietness and discover how stress, fear and worry diminishes from your life. Quietness is powerful, for “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)

In conclusion I like this thought by Anne Frank. “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” 

Prayer: Lord help me to be more quiet and to stay free from the “noise” that so often causes me to become agitated and stressed. Thank you that in quietness I find my strength. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

11 April – Your measure of faith

measure of faith

There’s something about living in Australia that helps us appreciate the wide-open spaces.

When you get out into the countryside, or even just to a place like the beach, hills, or anywhere where you can stand and see the horizon, there is space; and with space comes the feeling of having room to breath.

Having space is something most of us crave, because when we feel that we connect with freedom.

And it’s in freedom that we find the ability to dream, to vision, imagine and unlock the deep things within our spirits, which God has placed there. It is very hard to focus in on that place if we are feeling enclosed, and surrounded by unhealthy boundaries and limitations.

God wants us to have vision: To “see”, and call those things that are not yet manifest as though they are. That is the dynamic of faith. (Romans 4:17)

We are created in the image of God and we just need to take a look around us to see that He is a creative God; He had a vision for the universe.

Because we are made in His image, in His likeness we have hardwired into our very being creativity and the ability to see, and speak into reality those things that are not yet seen or manifest.

Faith is not believing in only what we can see with our natural senses, but believing that what we see within us, with the eyes of our spirits, our future, will be made manifest – that we can then see, feel, and touch it in this realm.

As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations, before him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17)

God wants us to go from “faith to faith”, ever increasing in our ability and capacity to believe. When we’ve climbed one hill, to go to the next one, continually climbing higher until we are not just standing on the top of little hills anymore, we are now standing on the mountain summit.

The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.” (Psalm 18:33)

You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your right hand upholds me; And Your gentleness makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped”. (Psalm 18:36)

 We have all been given a measure of faith. God expects us to do something with that measure. He expects us to grow it, and use it to call those things that are not as though they are. That’s the process that God uses to bring the revelation or vision he gives us to pass.

When we look at some of the mighty exploits of people in the bible and when we read about the men and women who believed God in our own time, we can sometimes feel inadequate. But we shouldn’t. They have simply grown their measure of faith to believe for what they “saw” was possible in God. They held onto God’s promises, fed their faith and got some faith muscles.

It’s not a secret for a select few; we can all do something with the measure of faith we have been given. Use it and grow it!  God says He is not a respecter of persons; He does not show partiality, but He does reward those who diligently seek Him. (Romans 2:12)  

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”. (Hebrews 11:6)

Today God wants each one of us to wait on Him for the vision He has for us. It will no doubt be bigger than your faith right now, but don’t be discouraged or let go of the revelation He reveals to you because it seems impossible or too hard. Build your faith by going to God’s Word and finding out what He says about your vision. When you do it will grow your measure of faith, and cause those things you “see” to come to pass.

But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.(Daniel 11:32)

Prayer: Lord reveal to me the vision you have for me. I take my measure of faith and choose to use it and grow it, so that I can fulfil all that you have planned for me. In Jesus Name Amen.

10 April – Bridging the Gap

bridging the gap

In my walk with God I have discovered “The Gap”. The gap between who God says I am and what He says about my life and future, and the actuality of how I live and think in my everyday life.

We struggle with the connection between the two and in our efforts to live and be all God says we can be we can often give up. The “Gap” between what we see or hear God saying and what is right in front of us just seems too big.

If the bible says I have self-control, why do I not exercise everyday or get of bed to pray, or lose my temper, have trouble paying my bills, struggle in relationships, or whatever the gap is?

When we acknowledge we have a gap, we also then have to recognise that God is not a liar. The Gap is to do with us and the fact that we are not accessing and connecting with who God says we are now and the plans He has for our future. There is a CONNECTION ISSUE on our end!

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19)

It I could use an illustration from technology it would be the, “In the cloud” illustration. All the information we access on our technology is not on our devices. It’s in the cloud – “the server”, elsewhere.

All we need is in the cloud. In our life Jesus is “our cloud”. All we need is IN HIM. Which means we must stay hooked up and connected to our “cloud” to close the gap. If there is a gap in our ability to access all we need in “the cloud” it is because we are missing or failing to remain in connection. (John 15)

When I bought a Mac I couldn’t operate my new Mac using old PC knowledge. (I did try, but it usually ended with me getting frustrated)

When we try to do things outside of God and His ways we are also trying to use our old device, (like my old PC). The old man/women doesn’t have it. Your old ways can’t fully access the things of God.

But ask yourself how often do you try to live our Christian life banging and crashing your way through using your old ways (old technology). We see what is possible and available to us in God’s word; we see how others are living a life of overcoming victorious faith, but then far too often we fail to recognize we have to live differently if we are going to be all God says we are. We have to receive from “the cloud” – from Jesus  for the gap to be closed and to receive.

If we keep reverting back to our old ways when it gets uncomfortable or hard while still trying to live as a follower of Jesus, the gap in our life from what He says and reveals to us, and what we experience will only remain and perhaps even grow wider. (See Ephesians 4:22-24; 2 Corinthians 5:17)

“If we want a different result we have to do something different”. If we want to close the gap we have use our “new technology” as a follower of Jesus that keeps us connected and powered up to Him.  

Today cut off the ties to your old way of doing things. How are they working out for you anyway? Instead take hold of your new life – it is like new technology and it may stretch you at first. Take hold of what Jesus says about you. Take hold of how He says to live. You have open access to “the cloud” of heavenly power and possibilities, and Jesus promises that He will close “the gaps” in your life.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him”. (1 Peter 1:3)

Prayer: Lord show me where I have areas of my life with “the gap”. Between what you say about me, and how I’m living. I want to connect with you where I know I have access to everything I need for life and victory. In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

9 April – Look for the good!

the good

Training my eyes to see the good in my day is one of the ways I have learnt to bounce back from negative or painful circumstances. It’s in focusing our attention and vision on the often-unseen goodness of God all around us that reminds us of His love and concern for us, and draws his favour into our lives.

There are always going to be negatives, people who are more than ready to criticize, and trials in life. Jesus even said there would so we wouldn’t be surprised. But He also said that He had overcome these trials for us and that if we will stay vitally connected to Him we will continue to walk through every circumstance life may try to throw at us.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Goodness and favour actually already surrounds us and when we start seeking out and looking for the good things in our lives we will soon realise that there is evidence of God’s goodness and kindness towards us everywhere. Even when it seems that no good can come of a situation, God if we are looking will surprise us by revealing just how He has been working all the time behind the scenes on our behalf and with our best in mind.

It  however does  take practice and a renewed mindset to begin to look for the good, rather than to focus upon the bad. Some people may think that is just “putting your head in the sand” and not facing facts, but when we know God and His Word any contrary facts have to line up with the truth of His word to change things that previously looked hopeless.

I encourage you to begin to look for the good all around you. Start to retrain yourself to focus and expect to see God’s favour and goodness towards you everyday.

 Some helpful ways I have discovered to look for the good are:

1. Keep your eyes and ears on God’s Word so as to build your faith and expectation for God’s favour and blessing to pour into your life.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17)

2. Give God your cares and concerns and then leave them with Him. It’s hard to see the good when you are weighed down with burdens and worries.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

3. Spend time talking to God in prayer and then declaring what He says about your life, rather than focusing and repeating the negatives, or what others or the world say about you.

 And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14: 13-14)

4. Honour even the smallest good thing in your life. Don’t take God’s blessings for granted.

Give the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendour of [His] holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Honour the LORD from your wealth and from the first of all your produce.” (Proverbs 10:9)

5. Look for the “silver lining” in situations, and remember that God has promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him. Somewhere, somehow good will come.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

Today even if it is only a tiny sliver of joy and goodness that you can see choose to acknowledge and honour God for it. As you do you’ll soon be seeing goodness all around you as you train your eyes, heart and mind to focus on the good things and to then expect God’s daily favour to be made evident in your life.

Prayer: Thankyou Lord for your love and goodness, and for your help to retrain my eyes, heart and mind to see all the good that is part of my life. Please help me to become someone who easily sees the good so that it becomes an everyday expectation to daily experience your favour. In Jesus name Amen.

8 April – Get Wisdom!

wisdom

Wisdom, it’s something all of us could do with more of. A simple definition of wisdom is the “application of knowledge, and the capacity to correctly apply knowledge acquired through life’s experiences”.

Often people assume that the older you get the wiser you are. But that is not necessarily so. We are only wise to the degree that we have learned to rightly apply our knowledge in life.

God has a high regard for wisdom. Proverbs 4:3-9 says, “Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don’t forget one word! Don’t deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you.

Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!

Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won’t regret it; never let her go—she’ll make your life glorious.

She’ll garland your life with grace, she’ll festoon your days with beauty.” Dear friend, take my advice; it will add years to your life”

God instructs us to put effort into becoming wiser tomorrow than we are today. That means it is an ongoing continual process, and is not only found in the gaining of a formal education, but also the daily, lifelong process of growth.

 

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

God wants us to live fulfilled joyful lives, and for most of us that is what we desire. He knows it will take walking in wisdom to attain this and He even says, Grow a wise heart—you’ll do yourself a favour; keep a clear head—you’ll find a good life.(Proverbs 19:8)

“Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gets understanding.” (Proverbs 3:13)

The gaining of wisdom is the way into a hope filled future, and the key to lasting happiness is found in wisdom.

As Proverbs 16:16 puts it, “To get wisdom is better than gold; to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”

So how do we get wisdom? Firstly desire wisdom with all your might.

“If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you” (Proverbs 4:8). To prize, means it must be valuable to us.

Not everyone wants wisdom; they don’t prize or value being wise at all, mostly because they want to follow their emotions, or plead ignorance when their foolish behaviour catches up to them.

Other people can be motivated by their circumstances rather than logic and wisdom. Many times we can be act foolishly when actually we know better. We can choose to ignore wisdom. Often people are not lacking information, but they are lacking motivation and determination to follow wisdom.

Today make a decision to value wisdom and ask to God for it, that all your ways will be filled with hope, and the years of your life will be many. 

Prayer: Lord help me to prize wisdom and the understanding that comes from you. That I may gain a heart of wisdom, and discover the key to both long life and lasting happiness. In Jesus Name. Amen.

7 April – OMG Wow!

wow

The universe is quite an incredible place. Just contemplating the immensity of the number of stars is mind boggling. If every person were to count different stars, each person would have to count over 50 billion stars without counting the same star twice.
If you were to pour a small amount of salt into your hand and then look at one grain of salt, each grain has many, many atoms inside it. Everything is made up of tiny, tiny atoms, including us.
A snowflake is created from a water droplet forming around a minute dust particle which then freezes. Amazingly each is unique from the other, yet all have six sides. What incredible beauty and detail each individual snowflake exhibits.

All around us creation says “Look at how I was created, look at the infinite wisdom and insight with which I was formed. Look at the sunrise and the sunset, the ebb and flow of the tides, the rhythm of the seasons, the beauty of a newborn baby or the greatness of the heavens above on a cloudless night” “Look and see”,  creation cries out there is a God, a creator, of infinite love and limitless power.

God says that He knows the number of stars and calls each of them by name. (Psalm 147:4) That He knows every hair upon our heads or the lack of, whatever the case may be. He know when we sit and when we rise. He knows our thoughts before we speak them, and the hidden things in our hearts. He sees and knows everything, and in the midst of all of this greatness, and majesty He loves us.(Psalm 147:4; Matthew 10:30)

“You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought 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, should that not cause us to trust Him? To trust in His strength and His goodness.  Trust in His plan and purposes for our lives.  Trust that He has it all covered. When we meditate on the greatness of God we soon realise that He is more than capable of handling our every need and prayer.

Today take some time to think, to meditate on, just how powerful, creative, and unlimited God is. There are no limits or boundaries He cannot cross or override. There are no limits to His love. It is unfailing and faultless.
There are some things that may cause us to go wow in life, but perhaps the greatest is the reality that we are loved by the one who created it all, and that He did it all for us.

Prayer: Lord I’m going to take some time to think about all you have done and acknowledge your greatness. To take the time to say Wow, and thank you.  In Jesus name Amen.

 

 

 

6 April – Run you own race.

run

Everyday we are faced with a choice. “Do I keep my peace, and walk my own journey, or do I try to keep pace with all those around me”?

Making comparisons will tempt you to try and keep pace. Instead of focusing on running our own race, comparing ourselves will lead to us trying to run like someone else.
I read a great quote recently. It said, “every moment you spend comparing yourself is a minute you spend subtly accusing God of short changing you.”

Whose race are you trying to run?  Has comparing and looking too much at what others are doing in life caused you to feel like somehow you’ve been shortchanged by God, and He’s run out of the “blessings” for you?
You’ve been busy singing “what about me, it isn’t fair, I’ve had enough and I want my share”.

I run as part of my exercise routine.  It’s my time out, de-stresser, and the way I start my morning with the Lord. (He’s my running buddy)
While running I quickly learnt some things about myself, and discovered some lessons I can apply to life along the way.

1. I need to run my own race. When I ran with others, who inevitably have longer legs than me I end up hurting myself. I have to run at my pace, with my length strides. If I  try to keep up with others when I’m not fit enough, or not matched to them I start to feel deficient and even embarrassed at my ability or lack of.

But how often do we do that in everyday life? We are constantly tempted by the world around us; through social media, advertising and just being part of society, to compare ourselves and then try and live life how other people live it; looking how they look and moving like they move. When we try to be someone other than who we were created to be; when we try to do things the same as someone else does, without exploring if that is the right way God has planned for us, we run the risk of ending up singing “What about me, God have you forgotten about me?. The result is we begin to doubt God’s love, goodness and unique plan and purpose for our life. What’s worse we lose our peace and rest in life.

2. Don’t bother worrying about what others may or may not be thinking. I run alongside a very  busy road. If I worried too much about what people driving past me might be thinking as I run past them I’d never get out the front door.
Instead I’ve taken the attitude of hoping I inspire others if they happen to glance my way. “If she’s out running, maybe I can too”.

Too often we spend wasted time worrying about what others might be thinking about us. It’s unproductive and energy sapping and not what God wants for us. God thinks we are awesome and all of heaven is cheering us on. So go for it, and forget about what others might think.

3. When running stay focused on where you are going. Have a goal.
It’s much easier to last the distance on a run and in life if you have a point of focus; a goal to reach, whether it be to reach the end of the block, or to fulfill a dream you’ve had in life.

There are so many distractions and opportunities for discouragement. It’s important to not look to the left, to the right or even behind, but firmly up ahead.
Some wise words from the bible say it this way, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25)

Today, run your race at your own pace. Let peace fill your heart and mind. We all have a life to live, but let God be your coach and guide. He instructs us not to listen to the negative voices or the noise and pressures of the world. Follow Him and His way of doing things. “Let peace, not pace be your motto and you’ll reach the finish line.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1)

Prayer: Lord I ask that you reveal to me where I compare myself and try to keep pace with others, instead of simply running my own race. Please let your peace and wisdom guide me. I choose not to play the comparison game any more, and trust you to bless and prosper all I do. In Jesus name. Amen

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