Saturday, September 16, 2017

Dancing when you feel like running away

There is a song we have sung at church a few times - Heroes by Amanda Cook, and it has one line that always speaks to my heart, even after listening to probably more than 100 times,

'You taught my feet to dance upon disappointment and I will worship.'

Yes, what a journey, learning to dance upon disappointment, and I know it is a journey that is not yet finished.

How difficult is it to go from a place of being bitterly disappointment, fearful, having little trust to a place of dancing and worshiping God?

One of my first opportunities to learn how to do this dance was when I had a miscarriage after Marshall was born. Everything had gone so smoothly with the pregnancy and birth of Marshall that we just assumed it would be the same next time. However that was not the case. After the miscarriage I remember many early morning walks along the shores of Botany Bay, crying out to God in grief, asking Him to help me trust that we would be able to have another child.

Two months later we fell pregnant again. Then came the disappointment of a second miscarriage. And more early morning walks, and a deeper crying out to God in grief. It was one of those times when I'd read Proverbs 3:5,

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

and say to God, 'Help me to trust You, my heart is breaking. I want more children.'

Other than walking and crying out to God there were some other things I did during this time to help get to the place of dancing and worshipping again:

1. Kept the communication lines open with God. I told Him all my thoughts (even though He already knew them), including the disappointment and the anger.

2. I continued to read His word, gaining comfort especially from Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV

3. Journalling, writing down my feelings, telling God via written prayer when I was all talked out, helped me process more.

4.We kept going to church, singing worship songs in faith to re-build our trust in God.

5. I kept communicating with Ken about how I was feeling - might have been a bit overwhelming for him at times, thankfully he can be a good listener.

6. Kept socialising with my friends from church and the local playgroup, even though that was emotionally difficult sometimes as some were having healthy pregnancies with their second child.

I kept believing that God would be the lifter of my head,

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3 AMP

I kept trusting that even though because of Jesus, we were more than conquerors,

And we know that all these things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NKJV

I fell pregnant again, and today we have the beautiful Charlotte, so full of life, her presence is not easily missed. 

Little did we know at the time, but that that kindergarten class of learning how to dance on disappointment with the miscarriages, was preparation for the degree course we would take a few years later with our next daughter Victoria.

And in that degree course, we have done exactly those same things I listed above, but much more purposefully, bringing greater intimacy with God, and with the wonderful family and friends that He has blessed us with, over not just 6 months but almost 7 years. Perhaps I should say it has been a double degree followed by a Masters degree. Or maybe it has been 7 years of repeating kindergarten! 

Whatever the class, in that time God has certainly taught us how to dance upon disappointment and worship. And not only has He taught Ken and I, He is teaching our children too. As they experience disappointments (some more than others), the worship music goes on, the journals come out, the drawing starts and their relationship with God grows.

You did it: you changed my wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I'm about to burst with song; I can't keep quiet about you. GOD, my God, I can't thank you enough. Psalm 30:11-12 The Message

Question for today, is there an area in your life that you need help learning to dance on the disappointment? Why not ask God to show you the first step? And then be brave and do it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Unshakeable - keep being persuaded

Over the past few days I have felt this growing intensity, a sort of challenging in my mind. It is hard to explain. There have been questions like, 'Do you have what it takes to stand? Do you really believe you have the victory? Do you really believe that God will have the last say?'

Questions, that if left unanswered for too long, can cause problems. Doubt. Fear. Thankfully after years of experience I am getting quicker to recognise that voice. It is not the voice of God, rather it is the liar. And by the grace of God I am getting quicker at responding with truth - God's word.

In these times we need to be immersing ourselves in the word of God. As we read His truth, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to minister to us bringing peace and encouragement, so we are unshakeable.

Jesus answered them, 'Do you finally believe? In fact, you're about to make a run for it - saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting in me, you will be unshakeable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world." John 16:31-33 The Message

Today, in this world, let's ask God to help us trust more in him, so that we will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace

Following on from this verse we can read Jesus' prayer for His Followers. This is The Message version, it is more the essence of what Jesus prayed, than His actual words, but how comforting is it to know that the Lord of lords, King of kings prayed this for us....

Now I'm returning to you. I'm saying these things in the world's hearing so my people can experience My joy completed in them. 

I gave them  your word, the godless hated them because of it, because they didn't join the world's ways, just as I didn't join the world's ways. 

I'm not asking that you take them out of the world but that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world than I am defined by the world. 

Make them holy - consecrated - with the truth; Your word is consecrating truth. In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. I'm consecrating myself for their sakes so they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission. 
John 17:13-19 The Message 

His word is consecrating truth and it does not return void.

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 AMP

We may not understand, but we are called to trust.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plan your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP

Jesus, please help us to find time in the busyness of the day to read Your word, and to get more of Your truth into our hearts so we can better stand unshakeable.  Thank you that Your word does not return void. Thank you that You are with us. Emmanuel. Thank you that when we do not understand, we can trust You. You are our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 

As it is written:
"For your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, not things present not things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:33-39 NKJV

Note: interestingly in my NKJ Bible, in my early days as a Christian I have drawn a box around verse's 38 and 39 and written 'keep being persuaded'.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Seeing, hearing and trusting

This morning when I was asking God what I should write about, three things came to me - Eyes to see; Ears to hear; Trust in Me.

So I searched for some scriptures relating to these words... and look what I found ...

For this nation's heart has grown gross (fat and dull), and their ears heavy and difficult of hearing, and their eyes they have tightly closed, lest they see and perceive with their eyes, and hear and comprehend the sense with their ears, and grasp and understand with their heart, and turn and I should heal them.

But blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are your eyes because they do see, and your ears because they do hear. Matthew 13:15-16 AMP

Through Christ we have the blessing to see and hear things of God.

And He replied to them, to you it has been given to know the secrets and mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. Matthew 13:11 AMP

What we see and hear from God requires a response. Maybe it is an act of forgiveness,

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 AMP

Followed by repentance. 

From that time Jesus began to preach, crying out, Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Matthew 4:17 AMP

Maybe it is time to confess and pray with someone.

Confess to one another, therefore you faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mine and heart]. James 5:16a

Maybe it is more fervent prayer.

The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (dynamic in its working). James 5:16b AMP

But whatever the response is there is always a component of trusting God, maybe trusting Him more than you have ever had to before.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight and understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP

Jesus, please help us today to be discerning with what You show us, and with what we hear from You. Help us to give an appropriate response, acting in love, always being a good ambassador for You. Help us to trust You more, knowing that Your ways are higher and that You have a plan. Thank you that you will direct and make our paths straight. Amen.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Despair Vs Hope

For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the [east] side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted, neither did spirit or courage remain any more in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Joshua 2:10-11 AMP

When we hear what our God has done our perspective changes. For the people of Jericho, a sense of hopelessness and despair came over them,

We heard it and our hearts sank. We all had the wind knocked out of us. And all because of you, you and GOD, your God, God of the heavens above and God of the earth below. Joshua 2:11 The Message

For us, as believers in Jesus Christ, what happens when we hear about what our God has done? When we hear about the victories He has delivered for His people, individually and corporately. Does our faith rise and we say "Yes and Amen"?

For as many as are the promises of God, they all find their Yes [answer] in Him [Christ]. For this reason we also utter the Amen (so be it) to God through Him [in His person and by His agency] to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 AMP

What happens when the circumstance looks too big, like a forgone conclusion? Where is our "Yes and Amen" then? Are we standing in faith? In these times we need to remember that God sees the full picture. We need to go back to His promises, His truth and stand.

And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.  Joshua 1:8-9 The Message

Don't be timid. Don't get discouraged. Stay close to God. Align your thoughts with His truth. Pray. Trust. Wait. God always has the last word.

Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God's Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge - a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete. 2 Corinthians 1:20-22 The Message

Question for today, is there are a "Yes and Amen" you are struggling to declare in faith in response to one or some God's promises?  If yes, then why not ask God to forgive you for your unbelief and ask for His help to believe, to come to a place when you are fully aligned with His Yes. Hope restored.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

His love for us

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16 AMP

Are you feeling loved today? Do you know that the Creator of heaven and earth loves you? Yes, regardless of what you do or don't do today, He loves you. 

He waits to spend eternity with you. He waits for you to choose Jesus as your Saviour, because only then comes peace with God.

Therefore since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). Romans 5:1 AMP

We receive a grace that carries us through every day and every challenge. 

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God's favour) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God. Romans 5:2 AMP

His overwhelming love keeps us returning to Him, regardless of circumstances. What other real options are there?

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. Romans 5:3 AMP

Apparently (at least in my life), there seems to be an on-going need to produce patient and unswerving endurance!

And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confidence hope of eternal salvation. Romans 5:4 AMP

A grace that leads us to hope. A hope wrapped in love.

Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5 AMP

Close your eyes and picture God pouring His love into your heart through the Holy Spirit. Stop, wait and receive it.

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Romans 5:8 AMP

Jesus, thank you for your love, peace, grace and hope. Today, help us please, to be at home in your love. Amen.

I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done - kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love. John 15:9-10 The Message

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The dwelling place

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. Psalm 23:6 AMP

His presence. My dwelling place. How do you stay in that place?

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul. Hebrews 10:39 AMP

Believe. Cleave to. Trust in. Rely on. JESUS

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Hebrews 11:1 AMP


Why is it that sometimes we can be so full of faith and then at other times our faith level appears to be zero? What happens to that complete belief in those words ....

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength to me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]. Philippians 4:13 AMP

What makes it a struggle to totally believe what Jesus said?

But Jesus looked at them, and said, With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God. Matthew 19:26 AMP

What is wrong? Why have I moved away from that dwelling place. 

The words of the world have crept in, the 'this is what will happen', the 'we will have to do this'. The words that don't take into consideration the authority and power of the Creator of this world and of us. The words that look at the facts, but not the truth.

Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. John 14:6 AMP

The dwelling place. I need to return there. My Jesus. 

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). John 10:10 AMP

My Jesus. Life in abundance. Goodness. Mercy. Unfailing love. Hope. Choosing to dwell with You today.

Praying that these thoughts are a blessing to you, and encourage you to dwell with Jesus today.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Jesus - strength, grace, mercy and love

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. Ephesians 6:10 AMP

When we start this day, we do not start it alone. We are in union with Christ, Who gives us strength for all things.

I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal  to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]. Philippians 4:13

Each morning we wake up to a perfect love. A love that does not cease. A love that is given continually regardless of what we do or don't do. Mercy.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

And then there is the grace. The unmerited favour that is there for every moment of our day, ready for us to partake of. It is enough to get us through.

But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to beat the trouble manfully];  2 Corinthians 12:9a AMP

Every day it is in our weaknesses that our God can show His perfect strength. And we experience more of the peace that comes from being utterly dependent on Him. We can rejoice in that growing intimacy with our creator.

For My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. 
Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Corinthians 12:9b AMP

Precious Jesus, please help us today to live each moment knowing that we in union with You, and that we can draw strength from You. Thank you for your mercy and grace, sufficient for those times of weakness that are ahead in this day. Thank you for Your love, steadfast and faithful. Thank you that today we will experience Your love in a new way, growing deeper in relationship with You. Amen.

Surely or only goodness, mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place. Psalm 23:6 AMP