Sunday, 28 April 2013

The most quoted verse of the Bible summarized and explained

Welcome to Devotionals Daily
The Most Quoted Verse of the Bible

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. — John 3:16 (NIV)
If we ever memorize a verse of Scripture, it will most likely be John 3:16. It is the verse most often heard in the simplicity and beauty of a little child’s voice proudly reciting it from memory. John 3:16 is the one verse showing up on large placards at football games and other major sporting events. Those signs are located where television cameras cannot avoid its message. This is the one verse that has been spoken by many older saints as they breathed their final breath.
John 3:16 is the entire gospel in a nutshell.
Angel Martinez, the late evangelist who had memorized the entire New Testament, referred to John 3:16 as salvation’s formula and observed that it contained four very insightful truths. It is the gospel in one verse. John 3:16 reveals to us salvation’s cause, its cost, its condition, and its consequence.

Salvation's Cause
“For God so loved the world”

The motivating factor behind God’s redemptive plan for every man and woman is His love for us. He not only loves us, He so loves us! Later, the apostle Paul sought to describe this love by speaking of its “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” (Ephesians 3:18, KJV), “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and this deep emotion is what brings about the possibility of our redemption; knowing Him in the intimate relationship of Father and child. God’s love for you is the motivating cause of salvation. “For God so loved . . .”
Salvation's Cost

“that He gave His only begotten Son”

Our salvation, the free pardoning of our sin, and the promise of abundant and eternal life in Christ did not come without cost. Freedom is never free; it is always bought with blood. From the early chapters of Genesis, there is a scarlet thread woven throughout the pages of Scripture revealing the blood atonement. It climaxes in the final and complete sacrifice for sin on a Roman cross outside the city gates of Jerusalem. Jesus not only spoke of His love for us, “but God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Our salvation in Christ came at a great cost: God “gave His only begotten Son.”
Salvation's Condition

“that whoever believes in Him”

Salvation is not spelled “d-o,” but “d-o-n-e.” Many people, however, think their own good works are the pathway to eternal life. Consequently, they do this or do that, or they don’t do this or don’t do that, all in order to earn salvation. But our salvation is done. It is already purchased for us with the blood of Christ on the cross. Our part is to believe, to transfer our trust from ourselves and our own efforts to His finished work on the cross of Calvary.

To believe does not mean to simply give intellectual assent to the claims of Christ. It means to transfer our trust to Him alone for our salvation. The most pointed question in the entire Bible is asked of the apostle Paul by a Philippian jailer:
What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Paul’s immediate reply follows in the next verse: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
I believe in George Washington, but I don’t believe on him; I don’t trust my life to him. Salvation’s condition is through faith—and faith alone—in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Salvation's Consequence

“should not perish but have everlasting life”

What a consequence! What a promise! Those without Christ are perishing, but those in Christ have the eternal promise of “everlasting life.” This comes not from our own human efforts, morals, or good deeds, but the promise is to those who realize that God’s love reaches down to us, was made possible through the payment of Christ, and is received by grace through faith alone; believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

An unknown, yet wise old sage once explained John 3:16 like this:

  • For God . . . the greatest Lover
  • so loved . . . the greatest degree
  • the world . . . the greatest company
  • that He gave . . . the greatest act
  • His only begotten Son . . . the greatest gift
  • that whoever . . . the greatest opportunity
  • believes . . . the greatest simplicity
  • in Him . . . the greatest attraction
  • should not perish . . . the greatest promise
  • but . . . the greatest difference
  • have . . . the greatest certainty
  • everlasting life . . . the greatest possession.

As you memorize John 3:16, this old and oft-repeated verse, meditate on the fact that love is always something you do and remember that “God so loved the world that He gave.” Yes, God knows you, loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.

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Your Turn: Throughout the month of April we have been featuring devotions on the  "Most-Read Verses of the Bible," according to You probably won’t be surprised to learn that John 3:16 is the most-searched Bible verse, with nearly 1 million more views per year than the next most popular verse, Jeremiah 29:11.  If you were to list out your own most-read Bible verses, which verses would make your favorites lists? Leave a comment on our blog and let us know your favorite scripture. ~ Devotionals Daily

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Fruits of the Spirit - beautifully explained

Reposting this brilliant little explanation of the fruits of the spirit from Devotionals Daily - link at the bottom of the page.

The Fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. — Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Fruit is the delectable product of that which is created by the inner life of the vine. On the eve of the Crucifixion, the Lord Jesus put it thus: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4). Earlier on a Galilean hillside, He had said, “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). The fruit we bear as believers is evidence of His abiding on the throne of our lives.
At first glance, there appears to be a grammatical error in this verse. Note carefully: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” The truth is that the fruit of the Spirit is love. Love, period. The nine fruits listed here are a cluster describing the evidence of the life of Christ within us. The fruit is singular here because it is the outcropping of one’s life within. The fruit represents what we are rather than what we do. Here we are reintroduced to the principle of being before doing. What we do is determined by who, or whose, we really are!
The fruit described in Galatians is a triad: three clusters with three fruits each. They are reflected in a countenance that is obvious, conduct that is orderly, and a character that is obedient.
Certain individuals seem to have a countenance of love, joy, and peace. The word translated “love” here is agape, God’s own love. This is the highest level of love, the kind that always seeks the other’s highest good. It is the same word we found back in the John 3:16 statement that “God so loved the world.” It is no coincidence that love is first on the list of nine pieces of fruit here. It is the fountain of all others. Everything good issues out of God’s love.
Next comes joy. It is the inner joy of Christ that reveals itself through our very countenance. This is the joy spoken of by Christ to His disciples on His last night in their presence: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). If ever there were an attribute deserving of a place next to love, it is joy.
Peace makes up this triad of characteristics that are obvious in the countenance of the Spirit-controlled believer. Inner peace is God’s very special gift to us. Again, on the evening before His death on the cross, Jesus speaks these words: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). When we are abiding in the Spirit, the natural outcome is love, joy, and peace. It becomes obvious in our very countenance.
A CONDUCT THAT IS ORDERLY “longsuffering, kindness, goodness”
Longsuffering is synonymous with patience. This translates from a compound word in Greek meaning “far from anger.” This type of conduct, which is virtually void of a spirit of retaliation, cannot be worked up. It is produced from within. In our fast-paced, self-seeking world, patience does not seem to be in high demand. Like all the others in this cluster of fruit, longsuffering arises from love. Love’s greatest triumph is not always in what love does but—more often than not—in what love refrains from doing.
The conduct of one who is abiding in Christ is also characterized by kindness. This same Greek word appears in the Ephesian epistle: “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Since Christ shows His kindness to us and He abides within us, we are to pass this kindness on to others in a conduct that is orderly.
Paul then introduced the fruit of goodness. Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). There is a genuine sense of goodness about those who are abiding in Christ and being controlled by His Spirit. This orderly conduct is seen in the lives of many who have come to Christ. Where once they may have been impatient, now they have supernatural patience. Where once they were self-centered, now they show kindness toward others. Where once they may have been self-seeking, now their actions are characterized by goodness.
A CHARACTER THAT IS OBEDIENT  “faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”
What better could be said of someone than that he or she is characterized by faithfulness to God! Jesus reminded us that “he who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10). When we live a life of faithfulness, there is something inherent about it that strengthens our own sense of self-worth.
Another fruit that issues out of the abiding life in Christ is gentleness. This is the same word we translate “meek” in Matthew 5:5. On the surface it sounds a bit weak. However, it is one of the strongest character traits that can exist. The word picture is of a stallion that has been domesticated. Or, as the cowboys here in Texas would say, “The horse has been broken.” Once it was a bucking bronco and now it has a gentleness about it. This Greek word speaks of power on a leash. It describes an animal that has come under the control of a master. Gentleness is the natural outflow of that life within.
Finally, we come to the last piece of fruit in our cluster— self-control. It is impossible to achieve the highest level of self-control apart from God’s abiding Spirit within us. Self- control does not come by the outworking of mere fleshly energy and effort. Like all the rest of the fruit, self-control is the outcropping of the life of the Holy Spirit within us. When we come to know Christ as a personal Savior, the Father sends the Holy Spirit not only to seal us, indwell us, and fill us, but also to produce fruit through us.
Your Turn
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. — Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
Memorize this verse and meditate on a few questions: What about my countenance? Do others see love, joy, and peace in me? What about my conduct? Are patience, kindness, and goodness characteristic of who I am? What about my character? Do I exhibit faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? The fruit of the Spirit is love! Allow Christ’s love to reign and rule in you and through you today. Being comes before doing, for what we do is always determined by who we are.
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Please feel free to share your thoughts on today's devotional in the comments section of our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Just another email...?

It was just another email from one of the blogs I subscribe to. I was whizzing through my inbox, trying to clear just a little of the backlog before I left for work: speedreading at its best.
I'd just read one from Ed's series on 'Doing Justice', on the work of a Dutch woman with children in the Philippines. I'd been reflecting on living to do God's work, on being part of His Kingdom and what that might look like for us in the next few years as we face illness/change/moving home/retirement...certainties, probabilities and possibilities all mixed in confusingly together.
My mind jerked from missions overseas to a story of a second marriage. Huh?
Yet as I skimmed down, the words tore into my heart and I started to weep as I read a remarkable story of a woman's faithfulness to keep a promise she had made (to try to have another child) and God's provision through that faithfulness against the odds:
"After surgery we waited for the stick to turn blue…never did. Thinking it might be due to my thyroid, I made a doctor’s appointment and discovered that my cancer had returned and it was creeping way too close to my esophagus. Surgery, radiation and four years later… gave birth to a son.

Had I not kept the promise, the cancer may not have been found in time.

Had I not kept the promise to try, we would not have our son – now 12.

Had I not kept the promise, my arms would have ached to hold a child when my daughter died, so my arms were constantly hovering over my son…(he was not nearly as thrilled about hugs as I was!)

God honored my promise to try by giving us a child, healing my disease, and providing comfort.

God made promises to us all through His Word.

He has and will keep…Every. Single. One.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

He promises to provide our every need. He promises to comfort, to give us peace and a future. He promises that He will never flood the earth again. He promises us eternal life with Him when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. There are over 3000 promises in the Bible…and what if God chose to not fulfill even one of those promises? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

We should make our promises carefully. There are promises I’m sure I’ve made to God and to family and friends that I have not kept through the years…and He’s given me tremendous grace.

As you know, making a promise is giving our word. That’s exactly what God did as He breathed promise after promise into the Bible…He gave HIS WORD to us."

And so I come across Jeremiah 29:11/ A promise. (And an added bonus: I was reflecting on God's promise to never flood the earth again, too, as I had taught the story to 8 year olds the day before.)

Plans. Purposes. Promises.


Christmas Stories - heartwarming tales of angels, a manger and the birth of hope: by Max Lucado

I was thrilled to receive this collection of Max Lucado's writings through Booksneeze - for free, but Max lucado's books are ALWAYS worth purchasing. This one is no exception. It makes for charming Christmas reading - at any time of the year. Because `Christmas commemorates God's most uncommon decision to come commonly'. (Think about it.)

Max Lucado unpacks the extraordinary events which happened to ordinary people. A peasant girl. A carpenter. Shepherds. And to the slightly far out - the astrologers. A fresh look, a new retelling - this book helps us see a familiar, a `common' story, through opened eyes.

There is the story of the candlemaker visited by an angel with an uncommon gift.  The man who believed that one of his neighbours was the Messiah - and started treating them as if they were. The account of a baby, borrowed from a manger scene, which brought restoration and hope to a family. The wayward daughter, the faithful father who brought his daughter home with love. The carpenter who wanted to give a gift to God - so he did. An angel's reflections on an incredible mission. Poetic retellings of a timeless story: allegories and reflections on the marvellous gift of Jesus.  Snippets and snatches from Max Lucado's wonderful books which made me smile and cry and gaze thoughtfully into a space inhabited by angels and people and God's love.

Max Lucado does not disappoint - except that many of the excerpts which make up this collection are tantalising tastes of a feast to be found in many of his other books.

Don't pack this book away with the ornaments. Keep it by your bed. Let it call to you whenever your soul needs a little extra feeding.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Grace - Broken, Living, Grace

Grace. One of my 'words' to live by this year. My actual word was kindness, but I can't do that without doing and being and obeying Grace.

I remembered my 'word' afresh when reading Ed's blog recommendations this week, and was reminded of the beautifully evocative words of Ann Voskamp.
She's writing about abortion, but says:
"When we’re all about the best looking good instead of the broken living grace, some don’t think they can take the shame. Some take an appointment. We can shame a woman for getting pregnant and we can shame her for aborting that baby but it’s shame for sin that bullies into further sin and what if instead of shaming, we weren’t ashamed of the Gospel of extravagant Grace?"

The broken living grace.

Isn't it easy just to try to look good all the time? To hide faults and failures and mistakes and misdemeanours and just pretend pretend pretend I'm better than you? 

A couple of weeks ago a woman I know - in church - came to apologise - in church - for her distance/unfriendliness/offences. She'd realised there was an awkwardness between us.

I'd just thought she was being unfriendly.
I had stuffed the problem away, doing the 'vague friendly smile which doesn't mean anything but ticks the social box'. Pretending. Trying to Look Good as best I could instead of extending Living Grace from my Brokenness.

She hadn't meant to offend me.

I had been unfriendly too, in reaction. But as we talked, who knew who had offended first? The whole situation wasn't even 'about us', but had arisen out of other circumstances and difficulties. Our individual responses to those outside issues had coloured our inward selves and poisoned our relationship.

Misunderstandings, miscommunication... it might have become ugly.

She had the grace to approach me first.
Oh, the temptation. To say 'ohnothere'snothingwrong - youmustbeimaginingit'. To give in to that ever strong desire to hide behind the appearance of perfection.To let the pull of denial send her away quickly to feel bad about herself. 

I took courage to admit she was right. I acknowledged my fault. So did she.
We wiped clean a smeary teary slate.

Broken Living Grace.

And so we shamed sin (our unloving attitudes) and prevented it from bullying into further sin by choosing the Jesus way of honesty and forgiveness. Choosing grace.

Interestingly, today I have also read about love here from Max Lucado's Grace for the Moment, and from Devotionals Daily:

True Love Puts Others First
Love is patient, love is kind... It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. — 1 Corinthians 13:4–5...
What is the opposite of love?

It isn't hate (although it may take that form). The opposite of love is selfishness. When a husband and wife  
(or, if I may add, two friends/acquaintances/colleagues/neighbours/church members) are concerned only about their own individual desires, the stage is set for conflict.

The Bible gives us another way—the way of Christ. True love, it says, is self-giving, not self-seeking. True love puts the needs of others first. This is what Christ did when He left Heaven’s glory and came down to earth for us. Begin a new page in your marriage by asking Christ to become the center of your life—and your marriage.

Questions for today: What is your response to "The opposite of love is selfishness"? In what ways can you make Christ the center today? We'd love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments section on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily

Best is Love. and Grace. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Names of God...

I was trying to remember the names of God the other evening, when we were taking part in the 24-7 prayer room at a neighbouring church. (A wonderful experience - so calm and peaceful, time flew by.)
So I found them here.
Jehovah - The Lord - Exodus 6:2-3
Jehovah-Adon Kal Ha'arets- Lord of All the Earth - Joshua 3:13
Jehovah-Bara - Lord Creator - Isaiah 40:28
Jehovah-Chatsahi - Lord my Strength - Psalm 27:1
Jehovah-Chereb - Lord the Sword - Deuteronomy 33:29
Jehovah-Eli - Lord my God - Psalm 18:2
Jehovah-Elyon - Lord Most High - Psalm 38:2
Jehovah-Gador Milchamah - Mighty in Battle - Ps 24:8
Jehovah-Ganan - Lord Our Defense - Psalm 89:18
Jehovah-Go'el - Lord My Redeemer - Isaiah 49:26, 60:16
Jehovah-Hamelech - Lord King - Psalm 98:6
Jehovah-Hashopet - Lord My Judge - Judges 6:27
Jehovah-Helech 'Olam - Lord King Forever - Psalm10:16
Jehovah-Hoshe'ah - Lord Saves - Psalm 20:9
Jehovah-Jireh - The Lord Will See To It - Genesis 22:14
Jehovah-Kabodhi - Lord my Glory - Psalm 3:3
Jehovah-Kanna - Lord Jealous - Exodus 34:14
Jehovah-Keren-Yish'i - Horn of Salvation - Ps 18:2
Jehovah-Machsi - Lord my Refuge - Psalm 91:9
Jehovah-Magen - Lord my Shield - Deuteronomy 33:29
Jehovah-Ma'oz - Lord my Fortress - Jeremiah 16:19
Jehovah-Mephalti - Lord my Deliverer - Psalm 18:2
Jehovah-Metshodhathi - Lord my Fortress - Psalm 18:2
Jehovah-Misqabbi - Lord my High Tower - Psalm 18:2
Jehovah-M'gaddishcem - Lord my Sanctifier - Exodus 31:13
Jehovah-Naheh - Lord who Smites - Ezekiel 7:9
Jehovah-Nissi - The Lord is My Banner - Exodus 17:15
Jehovah-Rohi - The Lord is My Shepherd - Psalm 23:1
Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord is My Healer - Isaiah 53:4,5
Jehovah-Sabaoth - Lord of Hosts - I Kingdoms (I Samuel) 1:3
Jehovah-Sel'i - Lord my Rock - Psalm 18:2
Jehovah-Shalom - The Lord is Peace - Isaiah 9:6
Jehovah-Shammah - The Lord is Present - Ezekiel 48:35
Jehovah-Tsidkenu - The Lord is Righteousness - Jeremiah 23:6
Jehovah-Tsori - Lord my Strength - Psalm 19:14
Jehovah-Yasha - Lord my Savior - Isaiah 49:26
Jehovah-'Ez-Lami - Lord my Strength - Psalm 28:7
Jehovah-'Immeku - Lord Is With You - Judges 6:12
Jehovah-'Izoa Hakaboth - Lord Strong -Mighty - Psalm 24:8
Jehovah-'Ori - Lord my Light - Psalm 27:1
Jehovah-'Uzam - Lord is My Strength When in Trouble - Isaiah 49:26

Monday, 15 April 2013

Here we go again....

Here comes Jeremiah 29:11 again - at the end of a long post on marriage.

In the interim, we have had 'ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened...' (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9; John 15:7) several times. In mine and Richard's daily readings; in meditating on our church's 'verse for the year'. In a sermon.
New International Version (NIV)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
The Voice (VOICE)
If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you.
The Message
Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. 

Seek. Sheila Walsh says:
Seek Jesus First
What mother could bear to see her son nailed to a cross, mocked and tortured, executed in such a barbaric way? What had Mary’s trust in God gained her? The next time we hear Mary’s name, she is one of the crowd in the Upper Room, just before the Holy Spirit fell on them all (Acts 1:14).

We see her as a disciple and follower of Christ the Messiah and Savior. Yes, Mary has lost her husband and watched men torture and kill her firstborn son; she knows pain and loss. Yet we see her acting in trust as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

What an encouragement Mary’s example is! Her experience means that wherever you are in your life right now, the joy and purpose that Mary knew are within your grasp. You see, Mary discovered a calling on her life that was far greater than her calling as a wife or a mother.

It was the calling to be a follower of her son, Jesus, the Christ. She let go of what she cherished more than her own life to embrace that higher calling.

I do not for one moment want to minimize the pain of what your life has brought you or what might come. But I want to remind you that there is a Rock we have been invited to build our lives on, and this Rock cannot be shaken.

Bottom line, we are loved by the One who is love. We are loved by the One who has overcome the enemy. We are loved by the One who says, Trust me.

Almighty God, I simply want to follow Jesus. You know the things that interfere—my sin, my wandering heart, my easily distracted mind as well as responsibilities as wife, mother, church work, and career. And just living—the housework, the laundry, the shopping, the cooking—takes so much time and energy. Teach me to follow Jesus despite and in the midst of all this.

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. — Jesus in Matthew 6:33

By Sheila Walsh, from her book Good Morning, the blog.~ Devotionals Daily

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Making Godly Decisions

Still thinking about the future, as more twists and turns, probabilities and possibilities, choices and changes appear in our lives.
After a 'sleepless' night - well, of course I napped inbetween wakefulness, dreamt lots - this appeared in my inbox from Devotionals Daily:

Making Godly Decisions
In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. — Proverbs 3:6 (NIV)

Are you facing a significant decision? Then look again at these words in Proverbs 3:6. Implicit in this verse is the truth that God knows what is best for us, and that He wants to guide us so we will make right, God-honoring decisions.

When you face a decision about your future, seek God’s will above all else. Make your decision a matter of prayer, and ask Him to guide. If we are truly open to His will, He will direct us.

Does this mean we should just wait around until God gives us some kind of miraculous sign or deep inner conviction? No, not necessarily. God wants us to be practical. Do research if you need to; understand yourself and your gifts; seek the advice of others. Make your decision in the light of God’s Word also; God never leads us to do anything that is contrary to the Bible.

Remember, too, that God often guides us only one step at a time—but that is all we need to know. So don’t be anxious. Trust God to guide you, and He will.

— Billy Graham, Wisdom for Each Day

Monday, 8 April 2013

Immense power...

Looking at Luke 11 in Good Morning Girls, we start with the Lord's Prayer. 

I've been listening to a great series of talks on the Lord's prayer by Louie Giglio: this is the second one in a series entitled 'Shift', February 24th'.
Louis points out that the prayer is not so much as to tell us WHAT to pray for, but HOW to pray. Coming up close and personal is the first thing, coming to our father - a bit like saying, 'Dad, what are you/we doing today?' Can we 'rewrite' the prayer as a child greeting her parent first thing in the morning? A daughter coming into the kitchen where her father is preparing breakfast?

I posted this reflection on facebook, inadvertently on the Good Morning Girls page rather than in our little Guernsey Girls group. Immediately below my post, Whitney at Good Morning Girls comments: "I love how these verses reflect a right relationship with God. What a powerful reminder to remember WHO I am speaking to when I pray!! We are to recognize and honor Who He is, trust in His daily provision and forgiveness, and persist in our dependence on Him. He longs to provide for us (wow, more than I long to give to my own children?!?! That's hard to fathom - I am so undeserving!!). Father, help me to daily seek you, knowing that all that I need comes from You. God, grow my relationship with You so that it is Your presence that I long for more than anything else you can provide!"

And I wonder - because Whitney is one of the authors of Good Morning Girls, an expert, a leader, one who 'must be right' - I wonder, am I wrong? Did she write this comment to 'put me right' to stop me leading others into error? Or are we both right?

Perhaps we are. Perhaps I do not know HOW to pray if I do not realise WHO I am praying to. Perhaps this is why Ephesians 3:20 has just jumped out at me:

Ephesians 3:20  "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

The Message says: "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."

So my prayer is to KNOW WHO I AM PRAYING TO. To realise this is the God of the universe, the Almighty, who can transform Himself into a seemingly insignificant speck of humanity. A young man named Jesus who says: call the Almighty One, that one who created the earth and makes the mountains tremble at the sound of his name:
"God is the best, High King over all the gods.
In one hand he holds deep caves and caverns,
in the other hand grasps the high mountains."
Psalm 95:3 - 5, The Message

He made Ocean—he owns it!
His hands sculpted Earth!""Earth wobbles and lurches; huge mountains shake like leaves,
Quake like aspen leaves
because of his rage.
His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke;
his mouth spits fire.
Tongues of fire dart in and out;
he lowers the sky.
He steps down;
under his feet an abyss opens up.
He’s riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then God thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger."
The Message, Psalm 18

So how would I 'rewrite' the Lord's prayer, if I was a small child?
Perhaps like this:

"Hi Dad, I found you! I thought you'd be here in your study. Are you busy?
What are you doing today? 
I know you have loads of really important things to do. Your plans always seem to work out 'cause you try so hard to fix things for us.
(Are you going to save the world today? Fight dragons, defeat monsters and get rid of all the baddies?)
Can I hang out with you and watch you? I'll do whatever you like just as long as I can be with you. It would be cool to see you at work. (I'm up for a drive in the car, too, if you have plans to go out.)
Can we go for pizza? Or ice cream? I'm quite hungry... oh, no, I haven't had breakfast yet. Yes, please, toast and marmelade would be good.
And I'm sorry I kicked up a fuss about going to bed last night. I was in a bad mood with that brother of mine, but I'm over it now. (Did you know he broke my ipod?  He was way out of order but it's OK.)
So can I come with you? I promise I'll be long as you help me. 
Dad I know you go to some places that aren't so safe. But I'm not scared. I know you'll look after me.
'Cause you can do ANYTHING! You are the best and the strongest and the safest dad ever and I love you loads and loads and loads.
Wow, Dad, now I think about it - you're absolutely AWESOME! Thanks for being such a great Dad!"

Perhaps, if I 'hang out' with God, if I open my eyes and ears and heart to see and hear my heavenly father, I'll be able to catch a glimpse of what he is doing and 'help'. 
Like a five year old, a fifteen year old or a fifty year old.
Whatever age I am, I'm his daughter and he longs to have me alongside him.

This is how Lisa 'hangs out': by listening...
Linking with 

Give yourself grace

Just a little gift from  heldbyhishand


Catching up on old emails today - subscriptions to blogs....

"For I Know the Plans I Have for You
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Have you ever found yourself at the end of a day thinking,“I had no idea when I woke up today that by tonight my life would have changed so much”? Perhaps you just discovered that you are going to be a mom, or perhaps you heard the doctor say, “Your cancer is back.” One day can definitely change the landscape of a human life.
Think of Moses standing before the burning bush, or Mary learning she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. What about Noah being given the assignment to build an ark bigger than a football field, or Simon Peter being called from his career as a fisherman to be an itinerant preacher? Then there was the shepherd David chosen to be king of Israel and the Christian-killing Saul chosen to be the amazing preacher/evangelist/church planter/theologian Paul.
These are dramatic examples of God’s life-changing power, a power we encounter in quieter moments as well . . . such as when he comes alongside to calm our worries, to remind us of his faithfulness, to shine his guiding light into the darkness of our confusion, to touch our hearts with hope when circumstances seem hopeless, to whisper to us of his love. Even a gentle touch from the Father can change the landscape of our life.
What day in your life, if any, came to mind as you read the first paragraph of today’s devotional? Describe what happened and what made that day so significant.
Sometimes instead of changing our circumstances, God changes our hearts. When have you experienced that kind of his work in your life?
Today's devotional is by Sheila Walsh, from her book Good Morning, Lord. Feel free to reflect on these questions on your own, or in the comments section of our blog.

A Prayer for Today:
Lord, I don’t need drama; I just need you. Help me to rest in your promise that your plans for me are plans for good—and help me to follow your lead and cooperate with your Spirit as those plans unfold."

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Jeremiah 29:11 again.  Yesterday, in reading; and today, while I was praying for someone.  Hmmm....

Friday, 5 April 2013

God works for the good - ALL THE TIME

Ah ha. Having written a post yesterday on living for the Kingdom here and now, while considering future plans, I finished with referencing another blog and Jeremiah 29:11: "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” (The Message)
Devotionals Daily dropped this into my inbox todayIt's from Hope for Each Day by Billy Graham.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding. — Proverbs 3:5

There will always be secrets and motives of God that lie beyond our grasp. God knows everything; we do not. Only in Heaven will we understand God’s ways more fully. As Paul said, “Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). But based upon what we do know about God’s character, demonstrated supremely in the cross, we can trust that God is doing what is best for us. God says in His Word, “I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).

As Corrie ten Boom once explained, “Picture a piece of embroidery placed between you and God, with the right side up toward God. Man sees the loose, frayed ends; but God sees the pattern.”

God is in control. Whatever comes into our lives, we can confidently say, “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).

I have quoted the whole of Billy Graham's advice and scriptures - how could I not, coming from such a.... words fail me.... TRUSTWORTHY man.

I'm fascinated to see when next something similar trips me up.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Shifting into a higher gear - into the kingdom of God coming here on earth.

I'm listening to Louie Giglio preach on shifting gears, shifting our thinking to God's kingdom. Praying for 'YOUR kingdom to come, YOUR will be done.'  Praying for less of ourselves and more of God's. To be part of His promises and his work and to trust God to shift me into the future, not to 'die' in the desert and wilderness because I have not stepped into the future God has for me.
"Shift out of less and believe God for more." For God wants to lead me into a land of grace and hope, into his promises for me.
Then Louie says this: "We occupy our space with whatever has occupied us."

I have been occupied with resentment. With anxiety. With unforgiveness. With cares of the world - what to wear, what I look like, how much weight I need to lose.....
Ouch. Do I bring resentment or anxiety or unforgiveness with me?  That doesn't sound like being a 'sweet aroma' to those around me.

"But when Christ takes up His place in our lives, we start taking up His place in our space."  How? Not just by praying for others. but by being aware of who and where we are and praying for the people around us. To pray like Jesus prayed. To occupy space with prayer for Jesus.

I can pray for ANYONE and EVERYONE. For those I pass in the street. For acquaintances and colleagues. For the children in my class. For the parents and families.
To live intentionally and with purpose. To occupy my space in the kingdom. Now.

Interesting that, inbetween writing this post, another dropped in my inbox. Susan Lawrence talks about 'reapplying God'.
She says: "When you access God’s presence and provision, it immediately soaks in. God will use what He applies in your life in the areas of most need for that season or moment. He pours through you onto others. You don’t reapply God continually; He reapplies Himself onto and into your life. He is the giver, but you must be receptive. And you must be a giver, too. What He gives you isn’t just for you. When you completely yield your life to God, He uses your life and everything in it for His purpose and glory. Nothing goes unused. God knows just what you need and when you need it—again, not just for yourself but for those in your circles of relationships. God is unlimited. Trust Him to constantly give himself to you. Give yourself to Him....

Reapply something today. Wax your car. Paint your nails. Put ointment and new bandage on a paper cut. Keep it simple. During the reapplication process, ask God to invade your life with his presence. Trust him to provide what you need, then move on without questioning or doubting his provision."

And then she quotes Jeremiah 29:11-13: God says: "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” (The Message)

As Louie talks about leading us into a BETTER land, a BETTER life, a life of freedom and purpose in God, we consider our future in the next few years. Retirement looms. We know God has plans for us, but in the meantime we pray for change IN THE PRESENT.

Boy, I want that . I want to really LIVE in the PRESENT and see God's kingdom COME NOW.

After Easter...

I'm in the middle of a study of Luke, with Good Morning Girls.  I'm finding it quite hard to 'go back in time' after the trauma and joys of Easter - but it's interesting rereading what Jesus was saying, too.

The challenge this week has been to show Jesus' love in action. I've been part of 40acts during Lent - wonderful inspiration for 'doing Lent generously' - but of course I am sure we all try to do this anyway.

Following Jesus has to be about giving up of self, putting others first: loving my neighbour. The parable in Luke 10 of The Good Samaritan. Going out of our way to love others.

I am praying for a prompt to do something 'unusual' - something I wouldn't normally think of or do. As Acts40 says: "There are opportunities to be generous all day long, if you keep your eyes open.... But sometimes when opportunity knocks, you’re just not prepared."

They talk about creating a 'Generosity kit' - a bag of useful items you could give away.   But my 'generosity kit' has to start with a generosity attitude - all too often I don't notice an opportunity until it is, quite simply, too late.  
And, to be brutally honest, I find it hard to do even the things which are right under my nose: loving those people who are part of the fabric of my life, being generous towards them.  
Having a more easy-going attitude: forgiving others easily, overlooking irritations and failings, being considerate: especially to my husband and colleagues, those nearest to me.
Responding with kindness, not anger - even if it is 'justifiable anger'. I need to remember there are always three sides to an argument: mine, theirs, and the way God sees it.  
Even when I DO notice I could do something to help someone else - whether usual or unusual - I find myself making excuses:
It's too much trouble.
I don't have time.
I'll have to go out of my way.
I can't be bothered.
They don't really need my help.
What will they think?
I shouldn't butt in on other people's business...  

So there I am, praying for extra generosity when I am not even able to do the basics.

And feeling guilty for it.

This week, I had the privilege of spending a couple of hours with Renee.
Renee is my closest righthereinreallife friend.
She befriended me when I arrived to live on this island 9 years ago.
She asked my family - before she had even met us - to lunch in her beautiful home.
She left a basket of a prepared meal and home baked treats
I can tell her anything and everything that is on my heart - she has heard as many confessions of my failures and shortcomings, perhaps more, even, than my husband.
We have shared more gospel stories - the joys and struggles of following in Jesus' foosteps - than I can remember.
She is warm chocolate sauce, hot fudge, freshly made lemonade, spiced wine, green curry.
Our friendship has been characterized by smiles and giggles - often naughty.
She is thirty years older than I am - but that has never made any difference.

Until now.
Renee has now become very elderly and frail, to the extent that, after several falls and needing 24 hour care, she now lives in a residential home. I still chat, but she doesn't respond in quite the same way any more.
Her memory is flaky.
I am wary about tiring her out with my ramblings.
Let alone that she now uses a wheelchair full time, her body causes her more distress than I am aware of.

This has, I am embarrassed to admit, been something of a barrier to my visits (apart from the logistical ones of a busy working life).
With memories of my mother's difficult personality and increasing (but undiagnosed) dementia in the last decade of her life, I am afraid that our conversation will become difficult.
I am afraid of the distress I will feel when she cannot follow or contribute to a discussion.
I am afraid that I will not be able to ask her questions about her family - because she won't remember what they are doing.
I am afraid I will not be able to cope with her physical needs.

I am unwilling to be generous.

This post started off as a reflection on MY generosity and what I could do.

Ugh. I am grateful that God has reminded me about the loving generosity of a dear dear friend.
I am grateful that this week, while enjoying the break from school, I have gone over to see Renee. I took her out to her favourite beach. We sat inside the car, in bright sunshine but safe from the cold blustery winds, drinking tea and gazing at the waves breaking on the rocks. And we talked. The time went all too quickly, but I still carry the sweet memories of being blessed by her presence.

And I did do something else out of my comfort zone. I invited a family I don't know very well to tea, in celebration of the children's recent exam success - achieving scholarships to secondary school. It was good. It was fun. It felt, at times, awkward. But I'm glad I did it.

So, how did I do it? How did I stir myself out of selfishness?

It wasn't easy. Partly, it was sheer determination. I KNEW I needed to do these things. I made myself pick up the phone, send the text. I took myself by the scruff of the neck and hauled my unwilling body out of the door.
But I couldn't do it just in my own strength.
The key, of course, is Jesus: When I truly do keep my perspective on him, my selfishness decreases somewhat and I "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above myself, not looking to my own interests but the interests of the others." (Philippians 2:2-4, NIV)

I can do this because I begin to "Think of myself the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." (Philippians 2:5 - 8 The Message) Or, more briefly, in Hebrews 12:1-3: "let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

What next, Lord?