Wisdom from James

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Dec 272016
 

Today I thought I would do something a little different and share a couple of quotes from one of my favorite books in the Bible, James. This book for me is packed with wisdom and excellent quotes. There is so much practical, if not sometimes a bit difficult, advice in this book so here are some of my favorites:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

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

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:7-8

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16

I pray that some of these verses speak to you as they encourage me. Let us ask God for wisdom, His wisdom, as we going into this next year and let us trust Him no matter what our circumstances may look like.

 Posted by at 10:56 am

Reflecting Christ’s Love

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Dec 212016
 

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At this time of year I am often reminded of a song I learnt when I was a child which says “Christmas is a time to love” but really we should be reflecting Christ’s love throughout the year. The Bible tells us that God is love and that the greatest commands are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Now there are three aspects to this – firstly we need to love God. It is only in Him that we discover what true, Agape love is and so can reflect that to others. We need to know that no matter what we have done He still loves us because there are no hooks attached to His love. He loves us because He is Love, not because of us or anything we could do.

Secondly, we need to share His love with others. As we love God with all our hearts, soul, minds and strength this love should overflow to loving others including those who are considered unlovable. It means not judging people but seeing that just as God has forgiven us we also need to forgive others whether this is because of something they have done personally to us or someone we love or whether it is just one of those ‘sins’ that rank quite high on our list of ‘sins’ – remember in God’s eyes all sin is the same, there is no hierarchy to sin.

Lastly, we need to love ourselves. Unfortunately a lot of people these days do not love themselves but just as God commanded us to love Him and to love His people He also commands us to love ourselves. He has made you fearfully and wonderfully and He is happy with the way He made you so who are you to judge His handiwork? Learn how to love yourself and you will be so much better at reflecting His love to others as well. In fact I was tempted to put this as the second point because I honestly believe in order to love others well we need to love ourselves first. Not to be proud but to have more love to give to others. Have you ever noticed how those who don’t love themselves can tend to put others down and be overly harsh and critical because they actually don’t like themselves so they want to make the other person appear worse than they are. Love yourself and you will be better equipped to show love and respect to others and to help build them up.

So this Christmas let us show love as God loved us. Let us love God first, then ourselves and others. Let’s build others up and encourage them and be a light this Christmas.

 Posted by at 7:29 am

Waiting Patiently

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Dec 172016
 

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This morning in my Bible reading I got this verse again, Hebrews 6:15 “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.”

I think one of God’s favorite words for me is ‘wait’ but I am afraid I sometimes struggle with the ‘patiently’ part. God’s timing is hardly ever our timing for anything but are we prepared to trust His timing?

One thing we may do when we tend to get impatient is to try and make things happen quicker, We take things into our own hands and try to make our own plan, forcing things to happen. It’s not that we don’t want God’s will for our lives it’s just that He has promised us something and we want it NOW, not in His time so we try to rush His will when He is actually trying to take us through a process at the same time to make us ready for whatever He is wanting to give to us. When we rush things ahead of His timing we may not be ready for what He wants to give us and then we end up with a mess.

The other temptation is to just give up on what God has promised us and think it will never happen, this is not trusting God. We know God has said something but we just don’t believe it. We begin to doubt instead of having faith and this does not please God.

I think the most important thing to realize in our seasons of waiting is that God is trustworthy and will do what He has promised but first He will take us through a process to make us more ready to accept the blessing He is sending our way. If we trust His timing and accept His processes then we will end up far better for it but I will be the first to admit that this is’t always easy. Let’s spend more time growing our faith and learning to trust God no matter what we see or don’t see. He will fulfil His plans and purposes for our lives.

 Posted by at 11:15 am

Peace I Leave with You

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Dec 142016
 

Peace – do we really understand that word anymore. In a world that seems to be going crazy and with lives that are often so rushed and busy, do we really understand peace? Still Jesus tells us “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” in John 14:27.

I believe the only way we are going to find that peace is by making time in our hectic schedules to really spend some time quietly before God. One of the best practices I have found for rediscovering peace each day is my time of soaking which I discussed here.

Making time to be still before God, listening to what He has to say and quietening our souls before Him gives us peace that is so necessary in this day and age. It is easy to become stressed and worried when we are faced with so many difficult situations but the Bible tells us not to worry or be afraid and so that means taking all our concerns to God and giving them to Him.

The Bible also tells us to “Be Still and know that I am God” and so we need to practice stillness. Even if it means getting up an hour earlier every day so we can fit it into an already crazy day it will be worth it.

As we enter this Christmas season let us remember those words “peace on earth, good will to men” and make time for some peace in our lives.

 Posted by at 4:02 am

Do You Celebrate Christmas?

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Dec 132016
 

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Christmas is just around the corner and Christians have differing views on this, for some it is the most important holiday of the year; others believe that as Christians we should not celebrate it. Personally for me it is the best holiday and a celebration of all that is good.

Firstly it is a celebration of Jesus’ birth. Although we know that Jesus was not really born in December it is the time that we choose to celebrate His birth. If you don’t choose to celebrate His birth in December then when do you choose to celebrate it? We celebrate our birthdays each year so why not celebrate His? Jesus was the greatest Gift we could ever receive. He brought us eternal life, forgave us for all our sins, heals our diseases and is so much more that we can’t even begin to tell of who He is. I really believe that whether we do this in December or some other time of year there needs to be a special time of celebrating His life, not just an ‘Oh we celebrate Him every day’ and then continue with our normal lives.

Secondly, Christmas is a celebration of love. God is Love and Christmas is a time when we celebrate love and enjoy time with friends and family. As an old song I used to sing as a child goes ‘Christmas is a time to love’.

Christmas is also a celebration of generosity. Most people give gifts on Christmas and remember the greatest Gift of all that God gave us when Jesus came to this earth.

This is a time of year when even those who are not Christians recognize Jesus and celebrate Him so use it as an opportunity to witness for Him. People are already thinking about Him and it is an amazing opportunity not to be missed.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Go out and celebrate Jesus’ birth (even though we know it was probably a lot earlier in the year), celebrate love and generosity. Spend time with friends and family and know that our God is far greater than any pagan god or demons that may have been celebrated around this time of year too.

 Posted by at 3:53 am

Be Thankful and show Gratitude

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Dec 122016
 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 we read “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” but how often do we really give thanks and express gratitude? I think too often we are like the ten lepers that Jesus healed where only one came back and gave thanks. We often come with our requests before God but how often do we truly give thanks, and I don’t just mean saying ‘thank you for this and thank you for that’ without really meaning it or thinking about what we are saying but I mean real genuine gratitude for what God has done in our lives or for blessings He has given us.

I have recently started a habit of a gratitude journal. It is not a prayer but it does help me “be thankful in all circumstances” and forces me to think about those things that I am grateful for. I commit to writing down three things I am grateful for a day and not just ones on repeat but preferably new things every day and to be honest sometimes it can be really hard to even just get three but I force myself to think of three and I usually can come up with them with a bit of thought.

I think the reason God wants us to be thankful in all circumstances is that it also helps us practice Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.” When we are grateful we are more likely to be thinking thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, etc. 

Let us make a habit of giving thanks, whether it is keeping a gratitude journal or saying sincere prayers of gratitude and try to think of new things we can be grateful for because God really does bless us with so much.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Jehovah-M’Kaddesh – The Lord Who Sanctifies

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Dec 082016
 

Continuing our discussion on the names of God I came across this one which I would like to discuss today: Jehovah M’Kaddesh or The Lord Who Sanctifies and Makes Holy. The truth is we can never be saved by our own good works, if this was the case Jesus would never have had to come and die for us on the cross. We can’t add to or take away from our salvation our works, good or bad. Salvation and sanctification come through God alone.

I have seen a sad trend recently amongst some Christians where some Christians are becoming like the church in Galatia and wanting to go back to Old Testament ways of living under the law again. This isn’t going to help and Paul addresses this quite a bit in Galatians.

Remember always that it is by grace that you have been saved, not by anything you could do. All you need is faith in what Christ has already done and you will be saved and sanctified. We are told that this is so not that no man can boast. It is all too easy to classify sin and say that this sin is worse than that sin and therefore I am better than you because I only do this but you do that. By taking it off us and putting it all on God, it puts everyone on an equal footing, no matter what you have done, no matter how bad you think it is, God can still forgive you and sanctify you because He does it.

So wherever you are I encourage you to trust in Jehovah M’Kaddesh, whether you still need to come to Him and give Him your life; whether you are walking with Him daily or whether you are fighting the temptation to get caught up in law again trust in Him and He will sanctify you and make you holy.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

El Shaddai

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Dec 072016
 

I have always loved this song. The meaning of the name El Shaddai is debated as the Shaddai can have various meanings but generally one would translate it as “God Almighty”. Enjoy the song.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Jehovah Shalom

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Dec 062016
 

Jehovah Shalom is the name I want to look at today. It means “The Lord is peace” or “Jehovah send peace” and is the name Gideon gave to an altar he erected in Judges 6:24.

In the world we live in today we are often presented with situations that try to steal our peace but if we put our trust in God and know that no matter what we face, He has not relinquished His control then we can know His peace in our lives.

This year has been a particularly bad year for me, I honestly never knew so much could go wrong in one year as it has this year but at the same time God has drawn me so much closer to Himself and has given me such a revelation of this peace. That no matter what I am going through I can come to Him and He will surround me with His peace.

The other day I shared Bethel Music’s “It is Well” and the part I love about that song is where it says “So let go my soul and trust in Him The waves and wind still know His name” The same Jesus who calmed the storms in the New Testament can calm the storms in my life if I will let go and trust Him.

No matter what you are going through today I encourage you to let go and trust God and let Him calm the storms in your life. Let Him be your Jehovah Shalom, the Lord, your peace. Experience His peace which goes beyond human understanding in all the situations you face in this life.

 Posted by at 8:00 am

Jehovah Rapha – the Lord My Healer

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Dec 052016
 

The other day I covered the name Jehovah Jireh meaning The Lord, My Provider; today I want to talk about Jehovah Rapha, The Lord, My Healer. This name is taken from Exodus 15:26 where the last part says “I am the Lord who heals you.”

When Jesus came as God to earth we see He often performed miracles of healing and we are told that Matthew 8:16 says “That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick.” Isaiah also tells us that when Jesus died on the cross He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.

Even today God is a Healer and I have seen His work of healing in my own life and the life of others. In 2007 my father had cancer and the doctors gave him a less than 10% chance of living even with an operation. They almost lost him on the operating table and to them the situation did not look good but people were praying and at that time my father was healed of cancer and there was no sign of cancer for nine years until this year again and we are trusting God to heal him again. This time the doctors have told us it is inoperable, chemo is doing nothing and so the only hope really is God and yet today my father is actually doing so well and in such good health despite the fact that the tumor is still there. We believe God is going to completely remove this too.

I also believe that God is not only our physical healer but also our emotional healer. If you are suffering emotional pain or mental illness God is also able to heal you. He made our bodies and our minds and He can restore us to perfect health.

This is my prayer for you: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 1:2)

 Posted by at 8:00 am