SACRIFICE

 

This topic could not be more timely. As I write, this is what I am currently doing in my Bible study. The book of Hebrews talks about Christ’s sacrifice for us and the enormous benefits that brings.

 

Not only do we have eternal life, but He has opened the way for us to meet with God. Anytime, anywhere! Unlike the high priests in the old covenant who only went into the inner temple to offer sacrifices for the people’s sin once a year! Not only that but this is once for all, never to be repeated.

It is mind-boggling what Jesus Christ has done for us. Sometimes it is hard to grasp the enormity of that sacrifice. And what we do in response? Give Him all the praise, all the glory and live a life that honours Him.

 

It is not always easy living in this world but we have the only help we could ever have to help us accomplish that. His Holy Spirit. What a SACRIFICE!

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Direction

I have little or no sense of direction, geographically, that is. Asking for directions and someone telling me to go north or south, east or west, forget it. I’m lost! At times when inside a building and needing to leave, I have been given directions, go out this door, turn right, then left, go two streets down then turn right again. Before they are even finished I’m already confused. In my head the right becomes the left and visa versa. Well, to a point.

At times I blame not remembering my right from my left on this strange phenomena of ambidexterity. Yes, I am ambidextrous. I can write with both hands, paint a wall with my right hand but do a painting with my left. Something strange happened to me after having gone through school in my younger years writing with my left hand. I suddenly woke up one morning and wrote with my right hand without any practice and which hand I use mostly to this day. To explain this I wrote an article in a Christian counselling magazine entitled “On the Other Hand.” It didn’t bring any more enlightenment so my dilemma with respect to directions continues. But I digress.

Another thing is I hate driving to places I don’t know. Thank God for GPS devices!

Thankfully my spiritual walk is a different matter. Scripture says, “whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6 NIV).

I’m doing my best this new year to keep that spiritual compass, trusting God and walking in His way. I know I will get there finally, to that place He prepared for me when my walk in this life is over.

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Darkness

 

Darkness doesn’t always mean the absence of light. It can mean anything. For me it is not knowing what the future holds. I know we are not meant to know that in detail but if you think of it, we are always planning for the future!

Eleven years ago I was separated awaiting divorce proceedings after sixteen years of marriage. I didn’t know what the future held, and God in His wisdom and mercy didn’t show me. Much as we sometimes plead with Him to let us know what the future holds so we could plan the way ahead, He just gives us enough light for the step we’re on (Anne Graham Lotz). And that’s what He did. He gave me His word in Jeremiah 29:11.

This verse came in so many unexpected ways just before I had to make a big life change that I knew God was orchestrating this change. A beautiful hand-made bookmark landed on my lawn as I was walking by. Where it came from, I will never know except to say that I’m convinced it was placed there by an unseen hand just as I was walking by. A post card given to me by a friend with the words, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, God is already there.” A misplaced wall hanging found behind a dresser during that dark time. An email from a friend and a text from another, all quoting Jeremiah 29:11 and all graciously given within a couple of months before making this life-changing decision.

Here God was reminding me that His plans are always better than mine, than ours. As though He was saying “don’t forget, that’s my promise to you.” I held on to it  as though holding on to a life raft, knowing that I was safe but still unsure that I would get to shore, unsure that this uncertain change would steady my life. And to prove this to me, He kept reminding me of this verse even today and impressed it on my heart that it jumped out at me everywhere I went. Over these past six years since I made that change, life felt safe and steady and my trust in Him grew by leaps and bounds.

Once again, a time has come for another imminent big decision. So what does the future hold as I decide at this present time on where to call home? Although the future is still uncertain, God’s Word is sure and certain. Just as Jesus has been with me and brought me through and used these past six years to grow my faith, I know deep in my heart that He will bring me through the next six years and beyond for He is unchanging. He keeps His promises, He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).

 

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WAIT…..ON WHAT?

WAIT……ON WHAT

 

I am not noted for waiting well. Waiting is not my forte. I’m always in a hurry to get where I am going, to accomplish what I set out to do for that day.

I speak fast, I walk fast, I think fast. I’m unto the next thing before you know it.

Take  the supermarket, I look for the shortest check out queue. All excited I’m nearly there. Great! I will have time to get to the next thing on my To Do List for that day before I get home. Everything will be done as planned. Then it all falls apart! The cashiers are changing station. Someone else is taking over, the cash has to be sorted, the verbal interchange during take over. The queue which I thought was the shortest, inevitably got held up. You’ve been there, haven’t you?

How about catching public transport? At the bus station if you don’t take the right bus, the one you get on will take you somewhere you don’t want to go. So I have to wait for the right bus as I don’t  have the time nor the inclination to go elsewhere. Didn’t I tell you I’m not good at waiting?

So how about waiting on God?

During my quiet time my brain is already thinking of all the things I need to do that day, this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, there goes my fellowship time with Him. I then have to tell Him I’m sorry, I’ll do better next time.

I have this big decision to make. A life-changing one and I keep praying about it but have I really been listening to God on making that wise choice? I mean, really listening even though some signs were beginning to become evident? Not until I once again picked up one of Bill Bryson’s books at 4’oclock one morning when sleep eluded me.

If any of you have read Bill Bryson’s books you’ll know how hilarious his writing is, the way he describes things will make you laugh out loud. That morning I had to stifle my laughter to avoid disturbing the neighbours but at the same time, I read something in that book that seriously helped me make a decision.

You see, when we don’t stop to listen long enough to hear what God is saying to us in answer to our prayers, being God, He can use any method to get our attention. He used my insomniac time and Bill Bryson’s book to get my attention.

 

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Tea Ministry

Back in 2013 when I acquired a home in Florida and made the decision to live between the UK and Florida I had no idea what God was up to. The life I was accustomed to had changed, I was now on my own, devastated and seemingly with no purpose yet with no obstacles to living life how I wanted to.

Prior to leaving the UK I had a dream that I would start a business serving afternoon tea the English way. On arriving there and setting up home, I acquired all the necessary crockery and cutlery for entertaining others by having them come to tea. Checked with the council the requirements for so doing but then decided to do it informally, not as a business anymore.

It all happened as planned. I met others at church, outside church and some had become friends. What I hadn’t planned but God did, was those conversations sometimes turned out to be a cry for help. They needed to talk and share their burdens of what was going on in their lives and we could laugh and cry together as I prayed with them. God was combining my skills as a Christian counsellor and my gift of hospitality to just meet with those whom He knew needed help.

I watched how God began to bring my agenda in line with his. All along that was his intention, a ministry he had shown me in a dream that started out as simply tea and talk.

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Why God, Why?

It’s ok to ask God why questions. He doesn’t always answer them this side of heaven but when we get there we will have all the answers.

I met D in church. He helped with the youth projects at church, we worshipped together, prayed together. I had finally found the right person for me. After eighteen months, we got married and life seemed fine. Both working, earning good salaries, going on at least two holidays a year. Yes, life was fine until an adoption process went horribly wrong resulting in the slow degeneration of our marriage.

I’ve question myself many times. Whether that was the right thing for us to do. I have asked God why over and over with no real answers.

God in His wisdom sometimes do not answer us for our own good. My consolation is that one day I will find out why things happened as they did.

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Honouring Him, the giver of all Gifts

I set many goals for myself. My bio for a recent short story published in the ACW Christmas Anthology stated that my aim was to become a travel writer. For me that means attempting to combine my photography/art with my writing. I also speak a little Spanish so I ambitiously joined a Spanish speaking class at my church. And as if that wasn’t enough, I joined the art class too having done some art lessons prior.

Would I be able to accomplish all these goals….becoming a good writer and a travel writer at that, fluent in conversational Spanish, an artist? Deep down I would like to accomplish these goals and although not impossible, they may be improbable.

I took a step back and asked myself while pursuing them, are they in any shape or form honouring to God or are they just for self-gratification? Then I am reminded that God is the giver of all gifts and as long as I am doing them with Him in mind, then they are honouring to Him.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col.3:17)

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The Master’s Touch

When I saw this Friday’s topic ‘TOUCH’ I said “WOW! What timing as I recently had this idea of doing a piece of writing on the Master’s touch and which I am working on right now.

Everyone at some time needs a touch, a hug, some acknowledgement of knowing that they are loved and cared for.

My dad was the tactile one more so than my mum. I remember how he would tickle us until we couldn’t stop laughing, romp with us like a kid himself, play hide and seek with us, up to when we became young teenagers. His hugs were unforgettable and he would carry us on his shoulders where we would be so high up we could see the world, or so we thought at the time. He was also a good listener. To this day I tell people he was the best listener after God.

So how much more to us is our Heavenly Father who has reached down to us and touched us with His love by sending His Son, Jesus Christ who, in physical form, touched and healed all who came to Him, both physically and spiritually.

When the blind man came to Jesus, He asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”….The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” (Mark 10:51). What about the woman caught in adultery. “Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” (John 7:10-11). Wherever we need Jesus’s touch whether physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, He is always ready, willing and waiting to give it to us, all we have to do is ask.

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Why Bother? I’m going to Heaven Anyway.

There are professing Christians everywhere. When asked what is their religion, whether it is face to face or completing a form of some sort, they say, “I’m a Christian, I believe,” or tick the box that says “Christian” they may or may not have come to saving faith, but what do they really believe?

• They claim they haven’t done and do not do anything that is unlawful or immoral.
• They may be Christians but do nothing for the Lord (not using their gifting)
• Some occupy church seats, week after week, year after year but do not allow the HS to change them (no sanctification taking place)
• Others continue to live like the world (hoarding worldly goods, unkind to others, unjust, etc.)
• They do not make Jesus the Lord of their lives (hearts not fully given to the Lord)
• Those who think witnessing to others is not for them, they say their gift is not evangelism
• There are those who do not raise their children/families to know God (lifestyles at home…swearing, etc.)
• Many do not make prayer a lifetime habit (only when disaster comes)
• They have a Bible but do not read, study or even meditate on it but leave it to gather dust on a shelf. They dispute that the Old and New Testament are connected but do not realise that the Old foretells of the coming of Jesus in the New)
• Some do “good” works as their ticket to heaven
• There are those who are afraid of death. Who have no understanding that Jesus conquered death and that death is just a transition from one life, the earthly life, to another, eternal life with God forever.

It is convenient and comfortable to live this way because it doesn’t demand anything of or from us.

But what about those who have come to real saving faith?

• They understand that the Christian life is a blessed and joyful life, and that this earthly life is short and temporary. That real life is long and spent with God why it is called Eternity. A life without end.
• That while they are here on earth God has a purpose for them
• These people find their purpose and live it out through studying God’s Word, helping other and providing for their needs
• In this life they experience the same challenges and struggles as everyone else but the difference is they have HOPE, hope for the future
• Why did Jesus come? So that we would have life eternal and live in such a way that it would mean something, that it would make a difference and ultimately bring Him glory
• We are not to keep this “GIFT” of eternal life to ourselves but to share it with others by our witnessing of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

Feel free to add anything to this list that you feel I may have missed out and that would be helpful to others.

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The Crossroad of Choices

I found myself coming to a crossroad. “Which path to take?” I asked myself. The one veering to the left or the one veering to the right? Both paths looked good, they both offered opportunities to accomplish my need at the time but I kept asking which one to take! Remember, they both looked good and appeared to be answers to my need. Finally, I made a choice. I took the one veering to the left.

I happily went along for a number of days, weeks, even months but all the time praying and saying to God, “Do not let me do anything that is not in your will for my life” But so much of what I thought was the answer to my need had such a pull, it made me determined to take the path I had chosen. The flesh is indeed weak!

Then along the way I came across an unevenness on the path that made me stop and wonder, is this God’s answer? I didn’t wonder for long so I kept going. Then a small pothole, but I kept going and, at the same time praying, but this time, more fervently. The path that seemed smooth for a while had become a fool’s paradise, but I happily went along, for days, for weeks, for months. Then further along the way I came across a hump, a larger pothole and a barrier up ahead. I stopped! Really stopped! Instead of looking down, determined to go my own way, I finally looked up, yes up! While I was enjoying the journey I wasn’t really paying attention! All along God wasn’t only hearing my prayers, He was answering them and provided His protection, grace and mercy along the way. I know it’s because I kept Him in the picture in spite of wanting to go my own way.

The paths, or should I say, the choices we sometimes make are not bad of themselves but if they are not in God’s will for our lives, we could end up in disastrous situations. Yet if we keep praying and listening for God’s answers, He by His grace and mercy, gets us back on the right path.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” (Isaiah 30:21-NIV)

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