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Learning to Live in the Present

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Jan 182017
 

One of my biggest downfalls over the years has been that I often want something that God has promised for the future right now. I am not the most patient person when it comes to things happening in my life and at Bible College I was given a prophecy that I tend to push things ahead of God’s timing which unfortunately has certainly been true over the years.

Now I have been learning to live more in the present. I admit I probably still have a long way to go before I get this right all the time but I have improved. I am learning that often God only gives us light for the next step even if we have received a promise for the future we often can’t see exactly how that is going to play out or the journey God will take us on to get us there.

Sometimes God gives us a snippet of what our future holds by giving us a promise of something but He doesn’t tell us when or how it is going to happen and there is this big gap inbetween that we need to walk in faith, knowing that ultimately God will fulfill His plans and purposes for my life, all I need to know is the next step and that He will show me as I walk day by day.

There is purpose in the journey. We may want what God has shown us immediately but we may not yet be ready for it. If we are faithful in taking the small steps He shows us and not try to push things ahead of His timing then I believe that He will be faithful in getting us there, one step at a time and that when we do eventually reach our promised land that we will be better prepared for it than if we had tried to do it in our own timing.

I know this is difficult and I am still learning but I just want to encourage you to enjoy the journey as I am learning to do and not rush things. Let God work out in you what He needs to before you reach your destination.

 Posted by at 2:46 pm

Sacrificing the Promise

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Jan 172017
 

Have you ever had something that you feel God has promised you but then you feel He is asking you to lay it down and sacrifice it on the altar but you still believe it is His promise? Probably when I say this you immediately think of Abraham.

God promised Abraham Isaac and that his descendants would be reckoned through Isaac but then God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. I believe Abraham showed incredible faith when he started the journey to sacrifice Isaac and really would have done it had God not stopped him at the very last moment (when Isaac was already on the altar). Abraham believed God had promised him Isaac but he also believed in God and knew that God fulfilled His promises so whatever He was going to do through this he would somehow still have Isaac.

Sometimes God asks us to lay things down that He really has promised us but do we show the same faith as Abraham? I am currently reading Derek and Ruth Prince’s book “God is a Matchmaker” and in this book Derek says that one of the actions that may lead to a successful marriage is the principle of resurrection, this principle of laying down what God has promised in order to receive it back again.

I love what Derek says about this principle:

“As I wrestled at that time with God’s dealings in my life, I cried out, ‘Lord, why do you give us something and then ask for it back again? Why do so many of the things You bless have to pass through death and resurrection?’ I felt God give me the following answer: Because when I resurrect something I resurrect it the way I want it to be , not the way it was originally.”

This is something you don’t often hear talked about in Christian circles but I believe it is perhaps one of the hardest things God asks of us. Are we willing to be like Abraham and lay down what God has promised and believe that if it really is His will that He can give it back to us in His time and in His way or are we going to selfishly hang onto it and refuse to give it up? Fortunately I don’t think God always asks this of everyone but I just want to encourage those who may be going through this that you are not alone and God is faithful to His Word no matter what the situation may look like now.

 Posted by at 2:59 pm

Life is Hard

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Jan 162017
 

Last week I shared something that had spoken to me from one of the devotionals I was reading in Nina Smit’s ‘In Touch with God’, today I want to share something else I got from this same devotional and her devotional today was titled ‘Life is Difficult’.

So many people I have spoken to felt that 2016 was particularly hard and although we are more positive about 2017, the fact is that hard situations keep coming and sometimes don’t seem to stop.

The truth is that God promised us there would be trials and hard times but He also promised us He would be there with us through those trials. The verse Nina shared today was John 16:33 which says “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”.

Through the hard times we can draw closer to God and strengthen our faith. When things are going well for us it is sometimes easy to forget God and just keep doing our own thing but when times are really tough that is when we realize how desperately we need God. How we can’t do life without Him.

In the midst of these trials we can receive great peace and even joy if we take them to God and learn how to experience His presence in the midst of trials.

No matter what you are going through today know that God is with you. If things are going well, praise God and ask Him to keep you strong. If things are not going so well then know that God is still with you and pray that He would grant you His peace and strengthen your faith in the midst of your trials. I pray that God would bless each one of you and strengthen you in Him.

 Posted by at 1:52 pm

Grace

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Jan 112017
 

Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “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.”

No matter what we do we can never be ‘good enough’ to be saved. Salvation is a free gift that comes to the best of us and to the worst of us if we want to put people into categories. The truth is that in God’s sight no one is better than another person and it is only our human nature which causes us to classify one sin as worse than another. Jesus came to save all with absolutely no effort on our part.

This verse tells us that if salvation came because of what we did then we may be tempted to boast and say things like “but I don’t murder anyone, I don’t steal, I don’t commit adultery’, etc. while by boasting like this we would be committing the sin of pride. As a free gift though there is nothing we can boast in.

We also don’t keep our salvation because of the good works we do. James does tell us that faith without works is dead but it is not our doing good works that keeps our salvation but rather it is just the fruit of our salvation. If we are saved we should be doing good works, not because we have to do them in order to be saved but because our love for God should flow out naturally into our love for our fellow man; because God has shown us so much grace, we also should be showing this same grace to others.

Salvation is a free gift of God, you can’t do anything to get it or keep it. God has given it to you and God will hold you and protect your salvation but will you show this same grace to others? Will you forgive those who sin against you? Will you forgive those who you disagree with and who are doing things you don’t believe to be right? After God has given you so much can you really withhold it from others?

 Posted by at 4:23 am

He Will Carry You

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Jan 092017
 

Today I decided to read from a devotional book I haven’t read from in a while, Nina Smit’s In Touch with God.

Today’s reading was called ‘Carried by God’ and looked at Isaiah 46:3-4 “You whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have been carried since your birth. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He. I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you.”

Today in South Africa many of us are going back to work after our annual holidays and this verse is such an encouragement for me as I step out into the new year. God is with us and is carrying us no matter how old we are and we can simply rest in Him as a child rests in their father’s arms when he carries them.

Being carried means we don’t need to strive, there is nothing we need to do but rest in our Father’s arms and He will carry us where we need to go.

I pray that this year you would also know God carrying you through, no matter what you go through may you know God’s presence carrying you into the new year.

 Posted by at 3:50 am

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