Progress

Wales Pixabay Free Images

This article is written for the Five Minute Friday writing community link-up, where we write for five minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is ‘progress’.

Start…

When you walk in the mountains you keep your eyes fixed ahead, on where you are going, but uphill is hard work, so occasionally you stop and turn round to look back on how far you have come and that encourages you to press on! The hardest mountain walk I have done was a ridge walk, and the reason it was so tough was because you lost sight of your destination! There would be a peak in front of you and after a lot of effort and hard work you got to the top of the peak, but that was not the summit, you went down again, dropping maybe 1,000ft and then back up another hill, hoping that the top of that peak was going to be the summit, but no it wasn’t, down and then up again…..

Progress can only be measured in relation to your destination.

To progress on our journey of faith, we need to keep our eyes fixed on our destination, that one day we will be with the Lord and then we will be like Him. Right now we are a work in progress – the work that God is doing within our hearts and lives, and although some may say that is invisible, there will be an outer working, which over time slowly becomes visible as we are changed.

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

1 John 3:2

We are all on a journey through life, some may be on a straight hill walk and making steady progress, others may be enduring the ridge walk. Whatever the path, to progress on this spiritual journey we need to participate in God’s grace. We cannot take control, it is not possible to do it alone, the only way to receive our strength is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Hebrews 12: 1b-2a

and Stop….

I’ve added a beautiful version of an old song….

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Thrive Where You are Planted

During the summer months the roadside grass verges, and even the lower slopes of the mountains, are full of these bright orange to red flowers. They add a beautiful splash of colour and thrive among the brambles, gorse, and heather. I planted some in my garden, confident that they would grow well, and I was surprised to find out that they are not native to Wales!

Crocosmia Monbretia is a flowering plant from the iris family, Iridaceae. It is native to the grasslands of southern and eastern Africa, ranging from South Africa to the Sudan. (Wikipedia)

How did these flowers, which originate in Africa, end up thriving in Wales? I do not have the answer to that – but the evidence is all around that they are blooming in a totally different climate!

“Truly charity has no limit; for the love of God has been poured into our hearts by His Spirit dwelling in each one of us, calling us to a life of devotion and inviting us to bloom in the garden where He has planted and directing us to radiate the beauty and spread the fragrance of His Providence.”

Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva (1567-1622)

What beautiful words, unchanged by time in their relevance, and the powerful truth that they declare:

  • ‘Truly charity has no limit’ An unusual phrase to apply to ourselves but the truth is we are in desperate need of God’s charity, we are ‘poor in spirit’, we need a Saviour for there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves.
  • When we recognise our desperate need of God, then we are ready to receive the gift of His grace and for the love of God to be poured into our hearts as we receive the Holy Spirit.
  • God then calls us to a life of devotion – chosen to love because He first loved us.
  • God invites us to bloom where He has planted us – not to survive but to thrive, to demonstrate His abundance.
  • God directs us to shine for Him and to be a sweet aroma – revealing His provision and making His presence known to those around us.

I believe that God has placed us where we are intentionally, you are where you are not by chance, but for a reason. There may be times when God directs and move us to another place or location – but wherever God places us, that is the place where we can choose to bloom and thrive in Him!

We can flourish when we are willing to trust in God wherever He has placed us:

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

In this season, where there are many changes to negotiate and many uncertainties to be faced, we can be secure when we remain steadfast in the Lord. When our roots go deep, to sustain us with His ‘living water’ so that we are secure and strong even when difficult testing times come.

Life may be insecure, and change may be unsettling, but we can be secure in God in His intentional plan and purpose for our lives.

Even when circumstances take away and remove all our choices, and dictate where we are to live and what our future is going to be? That is a challenging thought and one we would not want to face, but when everything else is stripped away what remains is our foundation.

Daniel is our inspirational example of thriving where you are planted, that is, being the fullness of who God created you to be, regardless of the situation that you find yourself in.

In Daniel chapter one, we find the story of a young man whose country and city had been defeated in battle and he had been taken as a prisoner to a foreign land. Daniel was part of the first deportation of ‘the nobles and members of the royal family’ from Jerusalem to Babylon. The victorious king Nebuchadnezzar had claimed, as spoils of war, the treasures from the Temple, and the most educated and able of the young people to serve him in his kingdom.

Daniel may well have expected to be a leader, a successful man in Jerusalem, his own city, free to worship at the Temple, the place of God’s presence, making his own decisions and choices for his life. Instead he is in Babylon, having lost his freedom, he is now to be trained in a different culture, language, and tradition for three years, to prepare him to serve a foreign king – his enemy. He has even been given a new name – everything had been taken from him, nothing remained.

Nothing remained of all that Daniel had externally, but Daniel had integrity, a love and faith in God that remained as his foundation. A testing time came, potentially as an issue of faith which could compromise his beliefs, and God gave Daniel the wisdom to make right choices. As Daniel stood this test and proved God’s faithfulness, God then blessed him with knowledge and understanding, of all kinds of literature and learning, with the ability to understand visions and dreams, which brought advancement.

What does Daniel teach us about thriving where we are planted? What lessons can we learn regarding keeping our integrity and staying true to who we are, wherever we are placed?

  • Not to compromise with the truth of our identity – which is rooted in the love of God.
  • Not to compare ourselves with others – either with those who we think are in a better place, or with those around us who are making different choices to our own, but to be secure in God’s love for us, revealed through His word.
  • Not to complain about our circumstances – there is power in our words – but to keep a thankful and grateful heart, by praising God for who He is. Grumbling and complaining show a lack of trust in the goodness of God and will prevent us from thriving in Him – our roots will become twisted, and knotted, stopping the ‘living water’ from flowing, and we will become stunted and unable to grow…

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

Philippians 2:14-16

We can ask God for wisdom – which He has promised to give freely to any that ask – so that we make wise choices to thrive where He has placed us, rooted in His love, revealed through His word.

Rather than the environment changing us, let us become atmosphere changers and bring the sweet aroma of God’s presence to wherever we are – all for His praise and glory!

Thriving and blooming!

Some of the link ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

3 Good Reads for Summer!

There is nothing more relaxing than being on holiday, and sitting in the sun with something good to read! It could well be that this year the first two are not an option – but wherever you find yourself, create a little space to escape with a great book. These three stories are all inspirational, of overcoming in impossibly difficult circumstances. They tell of those who in the middle of a civil war, extreme poverty, injustice and severe opposition, testify to God’s faithfulness and miraculous answer’s to prayer.

The Night The Angels Came – Chrissie Chapman

This story is set in Burundi, a small country in Africa, and is primarily a story of faith, of one woman responding to the need in front of her, of doing what she can and then seeing God do the impossible. Chrissie is a qualified midwife, who initially goes out to Burundi to open a maternity clinic and dispensary in a rural area of the country. After only three years, the government is overthrown, a coup is declared, and the country descends into civil war, which has a devastating effect on the poverty-stricken population. Chrissie finds herself responding to the overwhelming need around her by providing a home for abandoned babies.

“We are called to be extraordinary and because of Jesus we can walk in the fullness of the life He has called us to live and be the people He has called us to be.” Chrissie Chapman.

Out of the bleakness of abandonment and loss of hope, comes CRIB (Children Rescued In Burundi) a powerful testimony of God’s faithfulness to those who are willing to step out and live the gospel. Emotionally moving and at the same time spiritually powerful, as the truth of God’s word is ‘experienced, embraced and lived in’.

Recommended as an inspiring read. Available from Amazon click on the link to see more.

God’s Hostage – Andrew Brunson with Craig Borlase

Andrew Brunson is an American Pastor who, along with his wife and family, worked for over twenty-one years in Turkey as missionaries. By 2016 his children are young adults and back in the USA while he and his wife had just applied for permanent resident status in Turkey. Then, without any prior warning, he was arrested by the Turkish police on charges of espionage relating to an attempted military coup. He was eventually charged with an attempt to overthrow the government, for which the mandatory sentence is life imprisonment with solitary confinement. He is held in jail for 735 days, during which time he descends into a state of anxiety and distress. In the book he is open about sharing his confusion and anguish, his struggle, to come to terms with what was happening. You are drawn along the story concerned for how he will survive this imprisonment! The epilogue is a wonderful testimony of those lessons that we learn in times of severe difficulties – that God’s faithfulness, loyalty and love are never under question – it is our faithfulness, trust and love that are being tested. Andrew states that he had to learn to stand in the dark, to persevere apart from his feelings, perceptions, and circumstances.

“Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and lean on his God.”

Isaiah 50:10

Recommended as an engrossing read. Available from Amazon

Defying Jihad – Esther Ahmad with Craig Borlase

This is a story of a young girl growing up in Pakistan, in a Muslim household. When extremists start to influence her father, the affect is felt by the whole family. At the age of eighteen Esther volunteers for Jihad – to kill for radical Islam, to bless her own family, and earn the love of her own father.

“If you truly love Allah, you will die for him.
Your death will mean much reward for you and your family in heaven.
Only death will prove your love.”

Two nights before she was due to leave to be trained as a Jihadi, she had a dream which changed her life for ever – and the outcome is that she converts to Christianity. Leaving Islam means the threat of a death sentence, and led by her father, she is challenged to a series of public debates against the Muslim clerics – if Esther loses the debate, she must renounce her faith.

This book is a powerful testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness in a time of great difficulty and trial. Eventually Esther was able to escape from Pakistan to a new life, first in Malaysia and then in the USA, free to worship God.

“I love the way we Christians can engage with and debate about the Bible – it is strong enough to withstand our questions. And searching for truth is exactly what we are encouraged to do.” Esther Ahmed

Recommended as a gripping read. Available from Amazon

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Respect

This post is written as part of the Five Minute Friday writing community link-up – we all write for five minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word is ‘respect’.

One of the ways that we show respect to another person is by being willing to listen to what they have to say!

Listening Skills is this weeks post – if you want to read more, click on the link….

Being willing to listen to someone else, with a different viewpoint, with which you may not agree – shows that you value their opinion and are willing to listen to their voice.

We are called to show respect to one another:

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honour the emperor.

1 Peter 2:17

Respect to everyone – because every human being bears the image of God. We acknowledge that even in the family of believers there are differences, in culture, tradition, education, social status but – we respect and love one another, seeing the grace of God at work in all our lives.

We do not get to choose our spiritual family, any more than we get to choose our natural family, each one is chosen and valued by God. We grow into maturity as we learn to love the family of believers, not just our preferred friends, but seeing each one as a friend of God.

We give God the respect and honour due to Him, as our Creator and the author of our Salvation – all that we are is a gift from God. That respect is not just an outward show, but is only a reality when it is demonstrated in our lives.

We are called to honour those in government, and to pray for those who have been placed in authority over us, whether we agree with their politics or not…. When Peter wrote this verse to ‘honour the emperor’ the country was ruled by the godless, brutal emperor Nero – not someone whom it would have been easy to honour or respect….

To show proper respect to everyone is a challenge – and may even be a counter culture in this day and age, but when we accept that challenge our lives become a witness to God’s grace at work within us – all for His praise and glory!

Some of the other link ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Listening Skills

The Importance of Listening Well.

It is interesting to reflect how we are all a product of our time, culture, and traditions, and so particularly in matters of faith we need to be listening well, maybe now more than ever.

There is a difference between hearing and listening – hearing is one of our senses, we hear without even having to think about it, but to listen we need to engage our minds. When we are listening, we need an open and receptive mind which enables us to respond to what we have heard.

I am sure we are all familiar with the parable that Jesus told of the wise and foolish builders – the wise man built his house by digging down and laying a good foundation on rock whereas the foolish man built his house on sand, a shaky, shifting base, which was no foundation at all. Jesus likened the wise builder to the person who hears His words and puts them into practice and the foolish man to the one who hears Jesus’ words but does not put them into practice. Both builders heard the word of God – but only one listened and applied the word to his life.

Jesus makes the same point, but with further application, with the parable of the sower. The sower sows indiscriminately, and it is only the seed that falls on good soil that produces a good crop. After Jesus had finished telling the story He calls out “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Now I’m sure the majority of the crowd heard what Jesus said, but not many were listening, he goes on to explain to his disciples that the good soil is the one who hears the word, retains it and perseveres. And then he switches to the image of a lamp on a stand and warns his disciples to “consider carefully how you listen.”

The disciples were to listen carefully, not just for themselves but for others that they – as the lamp on a stand – would minister to. They would share and bring the light of revelation to others from what they received themselves.

“whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they think they have will be taken from them.”

Luke 8:18

So how do we make sure that we are listening well?

Avoid Passive Listening

This is when we appear to be listening but are not paying much attention to the message. Although someone is speaking directly to us, our minds are full of our own thoughts. Often it is only afterwards that we realise we have missed something important. Sometimes we are passive listeners because we think we already know what is being said and so we do not have to pay attention because we already have it all worked out.

But surely, Jesus’ disciples would be attentive and would be listening to what He said?

Peter was often the spokesman for the disciples, the one who would speak up and confidently answer any questions – and he was the first one to recognise and voice that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Jesus blessed him for this insight that he had received.

Shortly after Jesus began to teach the disciples what the fulfillment of His ministry would be – that He would suffer and die, but after three days He would rise again. “He spoke plainly about this”. But Peter took Jesus aside and began to disagree with Him – then Jesus responded by saying to Peter “Get behind me, Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

How did Peter go from being so right to so wrong in such a short time?

Peter’s mind was full of his own thoughts – he thought he knew how things would work out, that Jesus would fit his image of the Messiah. His view was steeped in his own Jewish culture and tradition that Messiah would be the ideal king, anointed by God, who would rescue his people from their enemies and re-establish the nation.

Jesus would predict his death a second and a third time and speak clearly to his disciples that his ministry would be fulfilled in Jerusalem – but when it came to that time, they were unprepared. Their own expectations had blocked their ability to receive and understand what Jesus had been saying.

They had heard the words, but they had not been listening – it is so easy to fall into that trap, and more than ever it is something we need to be on our guard against.

“For a time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

2 Timothy 4:3

Listen Actively

Attentive. To listen well we need to be concentrating on what is being said and to give it our full attention – without any distractions.

Receptive. *To come with an open mind – that is with a teachable spirit, receptive and willing to learn. Be prepared to listen from the beginning to the end, with a non-judgemental attitude and not jump to conclusions.

Active. Engage with the message – make notes and where appropriate ask questions to clarify understanding, not to side-track or to detour off the topic.

Responsive. God’s word is powerful when it stirs a response in our hearts, but more than just an emotional response, when we are affected and changed by what we hear. Then, as we put into practice what we have heard, we build our lives on a sure foundation!

The question is are we open to what God is saying, if it challenges our view, and our comfort? There are many voices clamouring for our attention and some of our attitudes have been wrong, there may be uncomfortable truths to be faced.

Are we willing to examine our views again, to come with an open mind and expand our thinking?

Are we listening well – will we be able to hear, and respond, to what God is saying to this generation?

Prayer – Lord help us to be cleansed of selfish ambition and with humility to value each other, not looking to our own interests but willing to look to the interests of others. In our relationships with one another, our prayer is to co-work with your grace, that we might develop the mindset of Jesus – loving each other, even with a sacrificial love. Amen.

*This is a great resource, a little booklet of about eighty pages, which examines how to prepare our hearts and minds before approaching God’s word. Nine heart postures to adopt – prayerfully, humbly, desperately, studiously, obediently, joyfully, expectantly, communally and Christocentrically – so that we are able to listen and respond!

Before You Open Your Bible by Matt Smethurst

Available on Amazon

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Share Four Somethings – July

Loved – Gardening is a newly discovered love! Our back garden is a bit of a challenge, as there is only a small flat area, and the rest is mostly rock which goes up very steeply, making it difficult to cut the grass. When I changed jobs – over three years ago – and reduced my working hours, I decided I would try and slowly fill it with plants, so eventually there will be no grass to cut! It is very much a work in progress, but this year it is beginning to look colourful and the plants are starting to fill out – as I go further up the slope it will be harder to find things that will thrive, as there is only a thin layer of soil, but hopefully I will be able to find some hardy plants. This year due to lockdown, and having even more time at home, we have started a small vegetable plot – and I am loving home-grown produce, it is very satisfying going out and picking your own veg. We have lettuce, onions, shallots, chillies, tomatoes, potatoes, mangetout, runner beans, rhubarb, and blackcurrants – and have just started from seed now, leeks, cabbage, swede, and carrots for the winter. Now the harvesting has started, freezing, pickling and jam making are adding to the list of new skills!

Read – The Night The Angels Came, by Chrissie Chapman. I have just finished reading this book, it is a very moving story of one woman responding to God’s call on her life and His faithfulness. It is set in Burundi, a poverty-stricken country, during a time of unrest and civil war. Chrissie, who initially went out there to set up a maternity clinic, finds herself adopting three children and then setting up a home for abandoned babies. As she responds to the needs unfolding right in front of her, she recounts stories of God’s protection and provision.

There are many quotes in this book that resonated with me, but this one in particular, for God’s word is so powerful when it is known and felt:

“The faithfulness of God is not something we know intellectually or have been taught: it is to be experienced, embraced and lived in.”

Available through Amazon

This blog is a participant in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, which is affiliate advertising designed to provide a means for sites to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com. – if you decide to buy from here, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

July has been such a good month, because the restriction of having to stay local – and travel no more than five miles from your home – were finally lifted! We are still only able to meet in an outdoor space but at last there has been ‘walking and talking’ time, which I have missed so much.

I have been able to meet up with girlfriends for the first time in over four months and although we have WhatsApp, Messenger, Zoom and phone calls – they do not compare with face to face, heart to heart chat. I do feel blessed to have friends with whom I can share and who I know will speak truth into my life. So, thank you ladies for all those steps!

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17 MSG

Ahead – I am coming to the realisation that ‘Ahead’ needs to be re-imagined and re-shaped.

There are still so many variables! No date set for returning to church fellowship here, although it seems unlikely that we will be meeting for services in our small chapel for some time yet. No definite date for returning to work, it could possibly be August, but nothing confirmed there either.

Some travel restrictions further afield are still in place – the effect on extended family relationships, of less contact, less time spent together, what is the impact of that? I would love for my elder son, who works in Northern Ireland, to be able to come home for his birthday at the end of August – I haven’t seen him since December. We are just beginning to discuss, as in theory, I think it is now possible!

For many of us that is the challenge right now, the realisation that ‘Ahead’ will still contain many changes, some things that have stopped or have halted may not restart. Some new interests, skills, and relationships that have developed may grow further and lead to new opportunities…. ‘Ahead’ is uncertain, but when we love the Lord we can look ahead with a deep sense of peace and security!

This post is part of the #sharefouresometings linkup –  https://wp.me/p7bPF0-xi

Some of the other link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

A Place of No Restrictions

Slowly, bit by bit, the restrictions of the last few months are being relaxed and lifted – although we are all getting confused with what rules still apply in different parts of the country! For some the lack of physical contact with family and friends has been the hardest part, those bonds of love and companionship outside of your household – of just being able to be with other people. While others have missed the large outdoor spaces and are now flooding back to visit the mountains and the beaches, not just for exercise but to enjoy the peace and tranquility. For many people there is a feeling of freedom when you are out in the wide-open spaces of this amazingly beautiful planet.

But there is also a place of no restrictions, that has nothing to do with the literal wide-open space, but everything to do with real freedom!

What if I mean, in faith, starting to remove the restrictions you place on yourself? What if, the wide-open space, the place of freedom is a mindset?

What is God whispering to your spirit? Is this a time to re-imagine the way ahead, to seek God for fresh direction and purpose? Some things which have come to an end during lockdown may not restart, conversely it may be that this time has given you a new outlook and fresh interests which you want to develop further. Is it time to move into a new season where God is stretching you to reach out for more?

Sometimes before God can do something new for us, He has to change something within us – He has to change our view of Him. Often we limit ourselves because we limit God!

God created each one of us uniquely, with an individual plan and purpose for our lives – only you can do, what you can do! You see we all have a bad habit of comparing ourselves to other people, but we need to get this into our spirit, we are unique – we are God’s masterpiece, we are not mass produced….

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 139:14

When we look competitively at someone else’s life, and we start to compare ourselves to others, our focus slips and we allow envy and covetousness to gain a hold. Seeds of discontent start to creep in and then we look at what we think we lack, rather than what we have been given. We justify to ourselves, if only I had what they had, then I could be doing what they are doing – but the fact is, you are not meant to be doing what they are doing!

God has a plan for you, which fits perfectly who you are, because God made you for that reason.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10

So what are the restrictions that hold us back from exploring the wide-open space of God’s grace? Fear? Fear of failure, and fear of what other people might think?

May our choices be led by faith, rather than be governed by fear!

When we realise that we are set free from fear in God’s perfect love for us, we are released to try, to step out trusting that what God has prepared for us to do, he will enable us to do. In God’s plan we find, a place of blessing, a place where there is a deep inner rest for our souls – that is the place of our calling!

God’s unique plan for you is exactly that, and to be able to walk in that plan free from other people’s expectations, is the freedom of being yourself in the Lord!

“By entering through faith into what God has always wanted for us – set us right with him, make us fit for him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide-open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise”.

Romans 5:1-2 MSG

Will you join with me? Edging out into the wide-open space, to shout our praise and glory to God, visible for all to see, with the freedom to be ourselves, secure in our God given identity.

Some of the link ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Young

This post is written as part of the Five-Minute Friday link-up to write for five minutes on a one-word prompt – today’s word is ‘Young’

When I saw today’s word what immediately came to mind was the song ‘Young at Heart’ by The Bluebells! I will not be able to get the tune and the one phrase out of the song that I know – ‘you’re so young at heart’ – out of my mind now for the rest of the day! For those of you, who are too young to know what I am talking about I have placed a link at the bottom of the post…

It is a song based on the English idiom of being ‘young at heart’ a much admired and positive attribute. My interpretation is someone who mentally has maintained a youthful attitude of optimism and energy – they have not become disillusioned or jaded by life.

A biblical example is Caleb – who “had a different spirit and followed the Lord wholeheartedly”. He had the same strength and vigour to go out and to do battle, and to be able to claim God’s promises at the age of eighty-five as he did when he was forty. An example and a challenge to us all!

My prayer is to be wise, with the wisdom that God gives, but also to be ‘young at heart,’ retaining my hope and expectancy in the Lord – the only sure foundation for optimism.

Hope in my salvation, as the anchor for my soul. Hebrews 6:19

Hope in God’s unfailing love and compassion towards me, which are new every morning. Lamentations 3: 21-23

Hope in His promises, to renew my strength, so that I do not grow weary, or jaded, but am able to soar in faith and expectancy!

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:29-31

There will be moments to soar supernaturally, going above and beyond what could be expected. There will be times to run with the strength that God alone provides, so that we can complete the course, without becoming weary. And every day, there will be the strength for that day, to walk with God without being overwhelmed.

I would suggest that there is a gift from God, for those who place their hope in Him, to be forever young at heart!

Should I Forgive and Forget?

It can be hard to forgive those who let you down, who break your trust, who intentionally, or, is it even worse, unintentionally disregard your view and your feelings, and act in a way which they know will be hurtful and cause you pain. If you are feeling like that right now, you are not alone, I’m sure that in varying degrees we have all been there at one time or another.

Today worldly wisdom recognises the importance of being able to forgive, for our own mental health and well-being, and the call to exercise forgiveness as a principle of life is very clear in scripture:

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Matthew 6:14-15

To all those who sin against us, we are called to forgive with the understanding that as we have received mercy from God, and the forgiveness for our sins, we will be willing to forgive one another. Practically it is not always easy, if we have been humiliated, maligned or even damaged by someone, but it is not impossible either. When we commit to being obedient to God’s word, His grace brings an enabling power, and as we forgive we are released and renewed. Forgiveness leads to peace.

“Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if anyone has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14

This is a message to the Church, how Christians should behave towards one another, recognising that none of us are perfect, that we will all make mistakes, and forgiveness needs to be an ongoing process. We are called to clothe ourselves with qualities which enable us to be gracious to each other, and when necessary to forgive, so that we are bound together with the love of God.

But forget, should we forget the wrong that had been done to us?

This is a question which is debated endlessly and broadly speaking there are two opposing views:

Yes, forget, for our own peace of mind, put it behind us, move on, so that when necessary, and if appropriate, we are able to continue to have a relationship with that person in the future.

No, don’t forget, so that we don’t allow the same mistake or situation to develop or to occur again. Our relationship, if it continues, with that person is changed and will be different now because of their actions.

What does God’s word teach us then about forgetting those offences that have been committed against us?

If the basis of our forgiving others is the recognition of how much we have been forgiven, and the godly principle is to give out of what we have received, the first question we need to ask is, does God forget our sins?

This scripture is part of a quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34, a prophetic announcement of the new covenant that God would make with His people :

  • God will enable His people to do His will as His laws become inner principles.
  • God will not be remote but will be relational with His people.
  • God will remove sinful ignorance of Him and His ways.
  • God will remember our sins no more and forgiveness will be an everlasting reality.

Scripture does not say that God ‘forgets’ our sin, what it says is that God will ‘remember our sins no more.’ Is the language important, is there a difference between forgetting and remembering no more?

As I am writing it is my brother’s birthday – a big birthday in fact – so let’s use that as an illustration.

If I had forgotten his birthday, the implication would be that I had not sent him anything or acknowledged it in any way because it had not been in my thoughts.

If I remember his birthday, however, the assumption is that I will have done something to show that I have remembered – that I have sent him a card or a gift or contacted him in some way to add to his celebration!

So true remembrance is associated with action and that is the way the word remember is used in scripture – when God remembers, He acts!  

  • Genesis 8:1 But God remembered Noah……and He sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.
  • Genesis 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel; He listened to her and enabled her to conceive.
  • Exodus 2:24-25 God heard their (Israel’s) groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham…and was concerned about them. (Which then leads to God’s rescue plan and the call of Moses.)
  • 1 Samuel 1:19-20 Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.

When God remembers our sins no more, the action that the remembrance of our sin would bring about is removed. God’s ‘not remembering’ is not forgetfulness – He is omniscient, He knows everything and forgets nothing.

God removes our sins from us – the psalmist says ‘as far as the east is from the west’ – an immeasurable distance! When we are saved our sins are completely forgiven by Jesus’ one-time sacrifice and removed from us, we are declared righteous before God and there is no condemnation, we are set free!

God no longer remembers, that is takes any action, over our sin – He now treats us as righteous we are born again to experience new life in Christ, life to the full.

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

I would suggest that we need to forgive and receive healing from the Lord, for any offences that we are struggling to deal with, so that we remember no more. When we choose to remember no more, we are choosing to acknowledge what happened but without any action. The response of hurt, pain, anger, shame and confusion have gone, the offence no longer has the power to cause us grief. Deep and grievous offences will leave scars, but they are testimony of God’s healing power and a witness to His redemption and restoration.

How do we remember no more? By remembering God’s healing power and transformation, then we remember without pain.

Think on this: The day will come when we can glance back to those difficult times, as if looking in the small rear view mirror of a car, just to check what was behind – as a reminder of how far, by God’s grace, we have come. Then we fix our eyes ahead again, as if through the windscreen/windshield of a car, looking ahead at the way forward, the big picture of all that God has in store for us now – we are moving on, into the wide open spaces of God’s grace!

If you are struggling right now with unforgiveness, then take it to God, His heart is to forgive and to heal the broken-hearted.

Prayer – Lord, I recognise that there are offences in my life that still require healing, I find it difficult to think about those events and the person who hurt me without experiencing pain. I choose to forgive, and ask that you will heal the hurt, believing that when we ask according to your will you hear and grant our prayers. I want to be set free from the past, and move into the fullness of life that Jesus died to give me. Grant me your peace, Amen.

Some of the link ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Smile

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Today is World Emoji Day – does that mean we will see smiling faces everywhere?

But are they fake or genuine smiles?

We don’t have to put on a fake smile with God, He sees our heart and He knows how we are feeling, and we can have honest conversations with Him.

The psalms are examples of where the psalmist feels free to express honestly exactly how he is feeling – confusion, anger, frustration and pain:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?How long will my enemy triumph over me? Psalm 13:1-2

Sometimes it is as we offload all of our questions and all of our anger, frustration, and fear onto God, there comes a divine exchange – as we let go of our hurt, we receive comfort from Him. It is when we are honest with Him acknowledging our own need that God can move in and with a whisper bring peace to our spirit. Then we can recall and reflect on God’s goodness, His unfailing love towards us and the gift of our salvation.

But a genuine smile, when we know the peace that passes all understanding, when we know our identity in God, when we know how much we are loved and cherished, that enables us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.

We can be real and genuine with our emotions.

A smile is infectious it can be a blessing, and bless someone  else, as they see the love of God shining out of us…..

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:25

This post is written as part of the Five Minute Friday linkup – where we write for five minutes on a one word prompt. Today’s word was ‘Smile’

Balloons

There is something fascinating about balloons, although as they lie quietly in the packet, they do not look like much at all. When we breathe life into them, though, they grow before our very eyes and once sealed they become what they are meant to be. They invite a response, to interact, and who can resist, reaching out and stretching, to keep that balloon floating in the air. We do not want to see it hit the ground, or get caught – we want to see it rise and soar, to claim it’s freedom and  go with the wind, far above us, onwards and upwards…

Is it the freedom that attracts us? Even now, does it speak to you, to the desire buried within, to be truly free from all constraint?

This short piece of prose was written for the Wednesday writing prompt – 131 words on balloons!

A Safe Place

Sometimes things do not work out the way we think they are going to – take Elijah’s first God given task, a commission to contend with the king of Israel. Elijah obediently speaks the word that God has given him to the king – but it was not well received, in fact, just the opposite! Elijah is then sent by God into hiding.

Was he expecting that, was that the reaction he had been hoping for? But God had things under control, and we read that he sent Elijah to a safe place.

I wonder when Elijah arrived at the Kerith Ravine, a desolate and lonely place, whether it looked like a safe place to him. It is unlikely that this is where Elijah would have thought he would be – from the palace, straight to the wilderness. Sleeping rough, camping out in this ravine or canyon next to a small brook.

Do you feel that you have been in a safe place over the last few months or has it felt lonely and desolate? We certainly did not anticipate this season, and in fact we may have been looking, or expecting something totally different from 2020.

God provided a natural supply of water for Elijah and a supernatural supply of food. God told Elijah that He would direct ravens to feed him. This would have seemed very bizarre to Elijah, as an Israelite who was being obedient to God’s laws, ravens were unclean birds. The meat of dead animals – carrion – that ravens would naturally feed off were also regarded as unclean. What was going on?

God’s provision was there, indeed it was a very safe place. The king of Israel sent men throughout the land, and the surrounding nations, searching for Elijah, to kill him, but they never found him. Although Elijah only found this out later – he was hidden by God.

We are often unaware of what God is hiding us from, when He keeps us in a ‘safe place’. We may be frustrated as to why we are in this wilderness, a barren place, with no visible sign of growth. We may be focusing on the restrictions, which then become barriers preventing us from seeing what lies beyond, or even beneath. Often, the greatest growth is the change that God works within us!

We look for a change without – in our circumstances or in those around us – but God is looking for a change within!

For Elijah, there was fresh clean water for him to drink and he was undisturbed. The ravens brought him food, bread and meat for breakfast and supper. This was a miracle, they are scavengers and will feed on what they find, where they find it, but God directed them to carry food to his prophet. The ravens also had another less obvious role they helped to keep Elijah hidden. To anyone observing ravens flying or hovering in an area this was a sign of death – that they were there feeding off a dead animal. No-one would suspect on seeing ravens that they were bringing life, by providing food for a man in hiding. All things are possible to God!

This season of being alone and depending on God’s word every day was preparing Elijah for what was to come next – it was here that he would learn that ‘man does not live on bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’

We will all have our own unique experience during this pandemic, but we can make a choice to dine at the King’s table – even through difficult times! What we choose to feed off will affect our health – what we choose to think, talk, and give time to, will grow as we keep feeding on those things. Fear, anxiety, resentment and frustration can easily take a hold or we can choose life, to dine on the word of God. As we allow His word to nourish us we can replace fear with trust, anxiety with peace, resentment with contentment and even frustration with satisfaction!

I would suggest that Elijah became comfortable in the Kerith ravine. For those of you who know the story, the brook dried up, the natural water supply came to an end, due to the drought in the land. Then God spoke to Elijah with new instructions, it was time for him to move on – and without water, he had no choice. This gave Elijah a push – after all the ‘lack’ of water was no problem to God, He could have provided a fresh water supply, supernaturally, if that had been part of his plan.

Some of us may have become comfortable, in this slower, quieter rhythm of life, will we be ready when it is time to move on or will we have become comfortable and need a push? Sometimes God allows circumstances, to appear to work against us, for our good.

It was time for Elijah to move on and to apply the lessons that he had learnt in the Kerith Ravine in the next season of his life. What he had learnt for himself, he was now to put into practice and to speak into someone else’s life.

God can redeem the time for each one of us, if we are willing to trust in Him. What we learn now in this season may be an essential component for the next, to apply and to pass on, even to, bless someone else.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Some of the link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Endure

Endure – to hold out against, to sustain without impairment or yielding.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

I have always loved this verse, the thought that God holds us and helps us, He is the One who sustains and supports.

God is the ultimate source of all endurance and encouragement.

The context of this verse is at the end of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he is summing up his message, to a church that was full of diverse people, of different nationalities, social status and education. One of the main themes of his message is the importance and priority of unity among believers, to have the same attitude towards one another that Jesus has towards us!

There is power in our unity – the unity of God’s people is the accomplishment of God’s purpose and glorifies His name.  It is a witness and a testimony to what Jesus has done – it is by the love that we have for each other, in Him, that the whole world will know that we are his disciples.

This then was part of Paul’s prayer for the church – the strength to keep on working towards unity with the mindset of Christ, and empowered by God’s grace.

God given endurance is the ability to complete effectively, with the strength and capability to continue!

As much as we love encouragement, let our prayer be for endurance…

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up – to free write for five minutes on one word. Today’s word is ‘Endure’.

Light for the Shadows

I remember as a child, going with my mother to visit an elderly aunt – now that I stop and think about it, she may not have been that old, but that’s how she seemed to me at the time. What sticks in my mind about this visit, though, is that she showed me this lovely strong cardboard box with a picture of flowers on the lid. It looked like a very expensive chocolate box, but inside there were lots of tightly rolled pieces of pink paper. There was also a slot for keeping a special, little tongs – a bit like blunt tweezers. My aunt told me that it was a promise box. She then went on to explain that with the little tongs you selected and pulled out a piece of paper, and when you unrolled it, on the inside there was typed out a promise from God!  She would select one each morning and keep reading it throughout the day, especially if she felt lonely or sad.

I was fascinated that she had all these promises from God in a box! I understood, even as a child, that a promise is something good, something special, it is something that you treasure and hold onto, and that you are looking forward to!

It made a lasting impression on me…….

There can be times in our lives when things can change suddenly, even overnight, and we can find ourselves suddenly in difficult circumstances. The way ahead had looked clear, on our journey of faith, but now there are huge obstacles to negotiate. These are the times when we need to strengthen ourselves by reading God’s word and remembering his good promises to us.

My soul is weary with sorrow;

strengthen me according to your word.

Psalm 119:28

There are times in our lives when we struggle in the shadows and the battle seems very real. God’s word, however, promises that he will give us all the strength we need.

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Isaiah 40:29

It can be in those times of real need that we depend on God’s word more than at any other. When a verse of scripture, a word of hope and encouragement speaks to our spirit and helps us through the day.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Our feelings are unreliable they can shift and change, often even throughout the day, they darken and lighten depending on our circumstances.

God’s word, however, is steadfast and true, never changing. We can rely on his word as being totally dependable. We can strengthen ourselves with God’s good promises, reminding, and recalling what his word says to us.

whatever is true, whatever is noble,

whatever is right, whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable

– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy –

think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

I have always loved studying the Bible and making copious notes. About seven years ago, long before I had ever thought of doing any writing, I started jotting down some verses of encouragement and then recording them in a little notebook. I enjoyed collecting the scriptures together and tried to find a promise or a verse of encouragement for each letter of the alphabet. When I had finished the little book, I carried it around with me in my bag. I was convinced that at some stage I would feel that it was right to give it to someone, and that the words would be a comfort. I carried that little book of verses around with me in my bag – declarations of our faith, of God’s good intentions towards us and his promises. A book full of words of encouragement – but I never felt prompted to give it to anyone…

I have now, after all that time, added reflections to each verse, and some further testimony, when we are obedient in responding to those things that we feel God is prompting us to do, nothing is ever wasted!

Available on Amazon

You are: Accepted

Accept one another,

then just as Christ accepted you,

in order to bring praise to God.

Romans 15:7

You are: Blessed

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile

the same Lord is Lord of all

and richly blesses all who call on him.

Romans 10:12

You are: A Child of God

See what great love the Father has lavished on us,

that we should be called children of God!

And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

Some of the link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

People

What kind of people ought you to be?

The apostle Peter asks that question – and then answers it! That in the light of the transitory nature of life and indeed of this whole world, as we know it, our values and priorities should be fixed on eternity. That is easy to say, but harder to live out….

Today, where I am, we are a storm battered people – again! The weather, which is a constant topic of conversation is so changeable. Yesterday we sat outside in the garden in the sunshine and had a family BBQ. Today seemingly out of nowhere a storm has blown in off the Irish sea with strong winds and pouring rain….It is a constant example of how quickly, even overnight things can change and how transitory our plans can be. And how easy it is to be affected by our circumstances – no-one that I have met so far today has said what a good day it is!

So, to answer the question, for me it is:

To be a people who seek to please God, and not purely other people.

To be a people who accept each other, in order to bring praise to God.

To be a people, who know that we are blessed, that indeed we are the people of God – by His mercy and grace!

Stop….

This post is written as part of the Five Minute Friday writing link-up – to free write for five minutes on a one word prompt – today’s word was ‘people’.

Some of the other link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Share Four Somethings – June

Loved, Read, Treasured and Ahead

This June, I have loved the peace and quiet on the beaches here – and at the same time I have been saddened by the reason behind it. I have felt very selfish as I have enjoyed the space, the tranquillity and the slower pace of life. Because of the Coronavirus we are now into week fifteen of lockdown in Wales, we are still to stay at home, to stay local within five miles of our home and only allowed to go out to do essential shopping or to meet one other household in an outdoor space. Whereas May would normally be the beginning of the tourist season and everything would be ramping up for a busy summer, this year the closed sign is still officially up! So this has been a unique month, we have had a lot of sunny weather, and it has at times almost felt eerily quiet, with hardly any cars and very few people. By the next government review, which is due on the 6th of July, we hope the restrictions will be lifted further and that people can start to return to visit this very beautiful part of the country – a lot of small businesses are dependent on the tourist trade for their main income!

Read!

I have read several books, and usually like to have two or three different types of book on the go at the same time. Of course, with not working at the moment, I have had more time than ever to read. So which one to share? I decided in the end to comment on this little book, by Professor John Lennox and published by thegoodbook company. It is only sixty-two pages but manages to present a clear concise view of God through the subject of suffering. It is written from the dedication onwards, “To a world in pain”, with compassion and sensitivity. The introduction states the intention of the book to offer some comfort, support and hope, which I feel it does, not only in relation to this pandemic, but also to the bigger question of suffering. The postscript acknowledges that not everyone’s questions will be answered, and that in fact the author still has many areas where he would like clarity himself, and so he finishes with a quote from Spurgeon:

“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.” C.H.Spurgeon.

It is a little book that more than deserves its place on the bookshelf, and I am sure I will pick it up and refer to it again, when those difficult ‘why God, why’ questions arise.

Birthday Cake – but no candles!

Treasured moments are always the milestones marked in old age – they become more precious as they become less certain. This month it was my Mum’s birthday – which would normally mean a lunch out, a drive and a little visit to somewhere different, a birthday treat of some sort. All not possible at the moment, but we felt really blessed, that a couple of days before her birthday the restrictions were altered to include the proviso that you could meet one other household in an outer door space close to your home. The little things, in this simplified lifestyle take on more significance – to be able to drop off some gifts in the morning and then go and visit again in the afternoon. The sun shone, it was a warm mild day and we were able to have a little stroll around the village and a good chat! I made and we shared a birthday cake, and we were thankful for just being able to be together.

Looking Ahead in Faith!

Looking ahead is still very difficult, the uncertainty of when and how, so many questions still with no definitive answers. When will I go back to work, how will I be able to do my job if social distancing measures are still in place? When will we be able to welcome family and friends into our homes again? When will we be able to meet in Church again?

I opened a website and started this blog during lockdown, a ‘redeeming of the time’ or the ‘making the most of every opportunity.’ Looking ahead, I know I want to continue with online writing, there are so many new possibilities and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed! So, among all the questions, I am placing my trust in the One who knows all the answers and believing for just one step at a time. I am moving forward into a new season, in the wide open spaces of God’s grace, where anything is possible!

This post is part of the #sharefoursomethings linkup – https://wp.me/p7bPF0-xi

Some of the other link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Still Waiting

I’ve noticed recently on social media, and in conversation, that ‘stay safe’ seems to have become a new catchphrase – as if it is in our power to keep ourselves safe from any harm. I know we all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves – to look after our bodies, to eat healthily, to exercise regularly, to sleep sufficiently – these are all good recommendations, that in the main, we try to apply to our lives. But can I really, by some act of will, choose to ‘stay safe’ – has this phrase become popular as some sort of reassurance that we are in control of what is happening?

Where I live, we were beginning to feel after nearly four months, that we were finally approaching the lifting of lockdown restrictions, we were beginning to feel safe and to want to venture out and socialise again, but there has been a peak of new cases of the coronavirus that threatens to change all that. This has created a sense of real sadness, particularly for those who are affected, but at the same time uncertainty, frustration and even anxiety for everyone – is there going to be a delay now in the lifting of the restrictions?

There is a feeling of lament, of loss, for time spent with extended family, for fellowship with the Church family, for employment, for business – how much longer do we have to wait?  So many unanswerable questions!

But whether we wait patiently or impatiently will not change the waiting time – it just impacts and affects our relationships! First our relationship with God and then our relationships with each other.

How we wait, does not change the waiting time – it changes us, either for worse or for the better!

The psalms are full of honest conversation, where the psalmist in a moment of need pours out his thoughts and feelings before God and then, slowly the answer comes, a glimmer of hope for the future. Psalm 13 is an example of this where the psalmist starts with a whole host of questions and ends with a declaration of faith:

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6

There are four points that we can reflect on from this, four ways to help us to wait well. To bring us from impatience to patience, from doubt to trust, from questioning to accepting and from apprehension or fear to faith!

TRUST – a firm belief in the reliability, truth and ability of someone.

As we place our trust in God’s unfailing love our perspective starts to change. His love which is available and accessible to all, so vast that it is beyond all measure, everlasting, true, unchanging and demonstrated for us by Jesus. We begin to glimpse the bigger picture, that our Heavenly Father is God of the Universe and that He is in control of all!

REJOICE – is to feel or show great joy or delight.

As we reflect on God’s love towards us, His gift, that while we were still sinners He gave His only Son, to set us free from sin. Jesus by his death and sacrifice, reconciled us to God and has given to all who believe in Him, the promise of eternal life! The joy of our salvation and the realisation that it is the joy of the Lord which is our strength¹

PRAISE – expression of approval or admiration.

As our feelings start to change and we feel the joy of our salvation, we start to express our praise to God – as the overflow of a thankful and grateful heart. When we take our eyes off our own situation and start to focus on God’s love, and all that He has done for us, how can we stay silent! As we praise Him, from our hearts, there is a divine exchange, as we bless God, He lifts up our heads and bestows a blessing in return.

REMEMBER – bring to mind an awareness of someone or something from the past.     

It is good to remember, to reflect on what God has done for us personally. Our gratitude comes as we look back and we see God’s hand at work in our lives, our testimony, our story of God’s faithfulness, of answered prayers, of unexpected and often, undeserved blessings. Testimony is powerful to silence the doubts and fears – God does not change, what He has done before, He can do again! As we remember, our hope is stirred, and our faith is strengthened.

The safe place is always walking with the Lord, trusting in His love, rejoicing in our salvation, and praising His Name as we remember His goodness. Our future, whatever that may hold, is secure in the Lord. How do we wait well? We wait well by activating our faith!

God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot see His hand, we must trust His heart. C.H. Spurgeon.

¹Nehemiah 8:10

Shane & Shane – “I will wait for You” – based on Psalm 130

Some of the link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/

Compromise

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday writing challenge, where you write for five minutes on a one word prompt – today’s word is ‘compromise’.

To compromise is to give concession in an argument or disagreement with the aim of being able to reach an agreement. This is not always easy…When my husband and I were dating we had our first argument over whether you should be willing to agree to differ – we didn’t agree!

In our relationships (we learnt) you do need the ability to compromise – family life is dependent on everyone being willing, at times, to compromise on personal preferences. We are not always going to agree on everything. We will have different views, opinions, likes and dislikes based on our character and personality. For a family unit to work together, every day, there has to be a willingness to compromise, while working to be fair and to take everyone’s views into consideration.

However we should not compromise on our integrity, on our core beliefs. There is one relationship that demands our all, our wholehearted commitment, and that is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and strength.

Throughout history there are those heroes of faith who stood for what they believed in, who fought for the freedom of speech, and the freedom to practice our faith that we now take for granted. We should not compromise and we should not be complacent – we need to encourage dialogue and discussion with those who have different views from our own, but also to be willing to speak out. That is the challenge, to do what is right in God’s sight, and the challenge today is very real! I pray for the strength, when needed, not to compromise but to be true to the One who gave everything for me…..

Stop – I found that a difficult topic today to try to write something meaningful in just five minutes. I am intrigued to see how everyone else has got on – time to do some reading!

Worth

That is a nice horse – what is she worth? Or oh, she must be worth something?

And whether I think the question is rude or appropriate the answer is the same –

Nothing and everything!

It depends, of course, what you are basing your valuation on.

With horses a value is placed on them, in part by their breeding and confirmation, but also by their potential, what people think they will be able to do. Whatever discipline they are looking at, racing, eventing, dressage or show jumping – the horse’s value, ultimately will be based on their performance and their results.

Now my horse had average to good breeding, good confirmation, and a lot of potential when I bought her as a youngster. And the more I trained and competed with her, her value went up but unfortunately, as with a lot of horses, due to injury and a major illness her value then went down again. I no longer compete, and she has signs of wear and tear, and an old injury to her legs. Due to her illness I can no longer insure her because the insurance company paid out, more than her worth, for her last hospital bill! Although she is fit and able for light leisure work, she is no longer fit enough for a competition career, she is getting older and is now classed as a veteran!

So what is she worth? To other people, nothing – set against the cost of keeping her, they would not see a positive return on their money.

But what is she worth to me? Everything, she is priceless! We have now had eleven years of trials, difficulties, communication issues, worry and for the main part a whole lot of pleasure and fun. We have a developed a bond of mutual trust. We have built up a relationship.

How can you place a financial worth on a relationship? It has a worth beyond what money can buy.

Relationship is everything, it brings meaning and value to life.

Thank God that our worth is not based on our performance or results, our worth does not go up or down – we are precious to God. So much so, that he was willing to send his only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sinful lives and to restore our relationship with him.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Remember, we have a worth that is priceless!

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up – where you write for five minutes on a one word prompt – today’s word was ‘worth.’

Skies Always Blue

This was the outlook on Monday morning this week, grey, cold, damp mist rolling in off the sea, with the sound of the foghorn in the distance – not the usual late spring sunshine that we had been getting so used to. We went out for a walk, but with our jackets back on as it was cold and wet, no inspiration from the sea views today! Or so I thought. By mid-morning, however, everything had changed, the mist had blown away to reveal the blue skies and sunshine that had been there all along, just hidden by the low cloud.

This reminded me of an old hymn –

God has not promised skies always blue, 
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through. 
God has not promised sun without rain, 
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love. 
By Annie Johnson Flint.

I learnt this ‘poem’ as a child, which sounds very worthy, but I have a confession to make, I learnt it because I was ‘bored’ sitting in Chapel. We went to Chapel on a Sunday morning, in the days when children were expected to sit quietly through the service – Sunday School was at a separate time! And one Sunday the sermon seemed to be particularly long and difficult to understand, but my Mum had these two verses on a bookmark in her Bible, and so to entertain myself I started memorizing the words – in the same way I learnt the ‘shortest psalm’. I know, I was a strange child!

But that little ‘poem’ is powerful and has stayed with me through some of the darkest and most difficult times of my life. God has not promised that we will always see blue skies, but he has promised that He will provide the strength that we need, when we need it.

There are times when our problems seem too big, the weight of worry is too heavy, and it can feel as if our heart is breaking – emotions which can so easily overwhelm us. But it is at those times of unsettling fear, that God calls us to put our trust in Him, that He is our refuge and strength.

When doubt and fear close in, we may struggle to see and feel God’s presence, but it does not change the fact that He is there – God’s word declares that He is our ever-present help in times of trouble. In the same way that we know when the cloud rolls in, the blue sky is still always there even though it is obscured from our sight.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid.” Psalm 56:3-4

It is only in those fearful times that we learn, that with God, we need not fear.

It is only in those dark stormy times that we learn, that with God, we can find peace in the height of the storm.

It is only when the cloud closes in that we learn, that with God, there is always enough light for the next step.

As we move forward, with just enough light for that next step of faith, we learn to put our trust in God. In that place of trust, we find we need not be afraid, for with help from above, the cloud will roll away and the sun will shine again!

Some of the link-ups I join can be found here: https://limitless-horizon.com/about/