Quick update

I hope this blog post finds you well?

I just wanted to post a quick update on why I have been so quiet on the blog these last few days. I am pleased to say that all is well, and actually just taking a few days off of work to spend time with family.

Life, as ever, has been rather hectic of late! I saw an opportunity to take a few days rest, and grabbed it with both hands!

How often do you take time to rest and relax? when you have a strong work ethic, or even a works mentality, it can be very difficult to switch off and relax for a while. Every single one of us needs to stop and rest at times however.

Let us not forget that even our wonderful God, who is infinite in power, took time to rest at the end of creation. This was not because he was tired, but simply because he wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

Likewise, he built a specific command in the 10 Commandments for us to take time each week to just rest in his presence.

Perhaps it is not possible for you to take an entire day each week just to rest. But the principle remains, that each of us should take time to re-energise so that we might continue to serve him with gladness.

Whether we work in a secular job, ministry or at home, too many of us burn out because we do not stop often enough. Don’t let that be you dear reader!

Let’s pray:

Father God, we thank you for your loving grace and mercy towards us who believe. Thank you that you are the one who gives us the strength we need for each and every day.

For all who are weary, I pray that you may give them strength and rest.

Help us not to be so busy that we ceased to be fruitful.

As we lift up our voices in prayer and praise, may our strength be renewed.

We worship you, loving father! thank you for your enduring love. Thank you that you walk with us through our everyday lives.

Thank you for the times when you carious, when our strength is gone.

In the mighty and glorious name of our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Ask and Believe

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “Ask” which you can read here. It was all about encouraging us to ask of our generous and gracious God.

At that time, I prayed a specific prayer to the Lord and am thrilled to say that it was fulfilled this week. The content of the prayer is not for sharing, but please do join me in thanking and praising our Wonderful Lord for His faithfulness.

Here’s the thing though… I was more than a little surprised when the answer came. What does that say about my faith in general, or in that particular prayer? If we are surprised when God answers our prayers, it is because we did not expect Him to do so. Let me be clear; if we do not expect any answer to our prayers, then why pray in the first place? Prayer is not simply “wishing!”

I am truly humbled to see this answer come, and God has challenged me to not just pray big, but to really expect the answer to come. I have heard Christians pray for something, say “Amen!” and then immediately say, “That probably won’t happen…” Why do we undo our prayers like that!

In the first chapter of the letter of James, it says this:

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. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

James 1:5-8 (NIV)

James is clearly talking about the subject of wisdom here, and yet what he says about not doubting applies to all that we ask of God.

Verse six tells us to believe but at the same time, not to doubt. These are two separate instructions, I think. Belief and doubt are not mutually exclusive. For the prayer I referred to above, I did believe God when I asked, but I also doubted it would happen. My doubt was not necessarily in God Himself, but rather in a) my deserving b) that it was His will and c) that the ask was too big for me and my faith right now.

I can say wholeheartedly that I did believe when I asked, otherwise I would not have asked at all. But in the gap between the ask and the result, I began to doubt that the answer would come. Can you relate?

James uses the example of a wave to illustrate his point. A wave is neither on the beach nor out to sea. One minute it is in, and the next it is out. I am fortunate to live by the coast, and so when we take a walk alone the shoreline, I am reminded of this truth. I do not wish to be like the wave. When I pray, I want to be fully in – believing that God will come through and not doubting either Him or myself.

That is why it is so important to pray with the Bible. If we are not entirely sure if something is God’s will, then it is hard to have complete faith in it. However, when we pray with the Word of God, we can be sure that what we are asking for is promised by Him. It gives us full assurance of His faithfulness.

So I am going to continue to pray, and pray big! In an attempt to learn my lesson from this experience, I am going to focus on the Generous God we serve, and try not to allow doubt to talk me out of it. If God shows me that the answer is no, then I shall move on to the next thing!

Tell me your praise reports and prayer testimonies. Are you ever surprised by God answering your prayers? Let’s steadfastly remain in Him, trusting in His goodness and glory.

As ever, do send me your prayer requests. I would love to pray for you in whatever capacity I can. Comment below or get in touch. May your prayers be fruitful this week!

Christ is… Enough? [Re-post]

Listening to Christian radio this afternoon, I heard another worship song proclaiming Christ is enough… it got me thinking about the below post I wrote a while ago. Re-posting it here for you. What do you think? Is Christ enough? Clearly He is… but is “enough” sufficient?

Christ is… Enough?

Prayer for the weary

How has your week been? How about your day today? I feel led to pray for the weary this evening. Is that you? It certainly is me!

Heavenly Father, we give you thanks and praise for your wonderful, never ending love for each one of us. Whether this week has been good or bad, we thank you that you have been with us through every step of it.

As we approach the weekend, I want to pray for all who feel weary or heavy laden at the moment.

Lord, I ask you to give them strength. I pray that they may know that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.

If there are those who have come to the end of their strength, May they draw on your infinite resources.

If need be loving God, then do carry them through this moment.

Increase their joy, heavenly father, as we know joy is our strength. let them draw on your piece which surpasses all understanding.

You know the burdens we all carry Lord, so do help us to know that we do not carry them alone. let us also know the height, depth, length, and breadth of your unfailing love!

When it is time to sleep this evening, may that sleep be sweet and peaceful. Watch over us as we rest, so we might serve you all the better tomorrow.

We thank you that you have heard our prayers. we lift them before you in the mighty name of Jesus Christ!

Amen!

June 23 Strengthen me

I don’t know about you, but I needed to hear this today! I hope you enjoy reading it, and that it speaks to you as it did to me.

“Lord, I call to You; come quickly to me.  Hear my voice when I call to You.” “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips…

June 23 Strengthen me

Prayer for a Monday

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this new week and for the opportunities it gives us to serve and worship You. Thank you that you go with us into this week, and we take great comfort knowing that that we do not face it alone.

Lord, we may think we know what this week will bring-both good and bad. But what ever surprises this week may have in store for us, may we grasp every opportunity for you, and rise above any storm which may come.

Please protect us from any temptation which we may face. Give us the strength to say no to sin, and yes to you.

We pray for opportunities to share our faith, and to show the people in our lives the love of Christ. Give us the correct words, in the correct way, and at the right time, to bring others one step nearer to Jesus.

As we work, rest, and play this week, may we do it all for you and your glory! Please help us to keep you in your rightful place at the very centre of our lives.

May we be ever rooted and grounded in your love. help us to know the eternal depths of that love from which we can never be separated.

We worship and praise you this day! we give you thanks for every good thing in our lives! We do not forget you’re unending blessing, or your unfailing love!

May that love drive us forward to live fully for you. Help us put to death the sinful nature of our flesh, and to pick up our cross and follow you.

In the mighty and holy name of Jesus Christ, we pray! Amen

Sing To The Lord!

I really do encourage you to check out Allens blog-Devotional Treasures. you certainly won’t regret it!

Formonthills Nature Reserve, Glenrothes, Fife. Photo by Alan Kearns Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and …

Sing To The Lord!

How To Read the Bible

A couple of weeks ago, I was interviewed by the host of “Understand the Bible” Phill Sacre on the subject of prayer. This was part of UTB’s course on How to live as a Christian. You can check out that post – Talking to Jesus here.

This week, I returned to discuss how to read the Bible. The video is below if you wish to see it.

You can find out more about Understand the Bible at their web site – Understand the Bible, or else find them on YouTube here.

Hope you enjoy it!

If you have any questions about reading the Bible, then do feel free to get in touch and I’d be glad to help.

Talking to Jesus

I was interviewed this week by the host of “Understand the Bible” Phill Sacre on the subject of prayer. This was part of UTB’s course on How to live as a Christian. I share the video below and hope you enjoy.

You can find out more about Understand the Bible at their web site – Understand the Bible, or else find them on YouTube here.

And here’s a song I’ve been listening to lately – relevant to the subject of prayer. Enjoy!

Beloved Christians (Psalm 100 #6)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise!

    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

Today we conclude our short series on Psalm 100. Verse five culminates in a crescendo of praise and focusses solely on our Heavenly Father.

The Lord is good

Verse five tells us a simple truth – that the Lord is good. When things get difficult, or we look at the problems of the world, it can be easy to forget this fact. If God is so good, then why… <insert here>? We have all asked this at times, and there are no answers that can satisfy this side of heaven I believe.

The suffering of the world, and the pain we experience, does not disprove the existence of a “good” God. This world is broken, corrupted by sin and far removed from what God had originally intended. Yet He has not left us in this mess, alone and uncared for. The cross has said it all. God is indeed good because He came down into this fallen place, lived perfectly and died for each of us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

This verse from James not only tells us that God is the source of every good thing, but that He is ever unchanging. He is good now, and will always be.

Enduring Love

Psalm 100:5 goes on to say that God’s steadfast love endures forever. This continues the theme of the verse from James above, in that God is unchanging. The word “steadfast” (describing God’s love) can be defined as “fixed in direction.” God’s love is not whimsical. It depends not on our behaviour, and His mood. He loves you today, and He will love you just the same tomorrow. You can count on it!

I have sometimes heard Christians say, and probably been guilty of saying it myself, “I just don’t feel that God loves me…” God’s love is not dependent on mere feelings. When your feelings are in disagreement with God’s Word, it is your feelings that are wrong, not the Bible. Whether you feel the love of Christ or not, you can know without a shadow of a doubt that it is true. This is but one of many verses which extol the permanence and endurance of God’s love for all of the saints.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

What a prayer! And I pray it for you dear reader, and please do pray it for me!

Faithful to all generations

Psalm 100 closes with words about God’s faithfulness. God is faithful to His people, and we can rely on Him and His Word without question. God is true to His Word, and if He has said it, you can consider it done.

God is not just faithful to us however, but also to the generations that come after us. This is another sign of His steadfastness and consistency. We can rely on the fact that God is no respecter of persons, and that He will bless my children in the same way He has blessed me. Too few of us take a generational view, thinking primarily of our own lives. If the Lord tarries however, then a new generation will rise up after us and we are responsible to them.

We can trust in the goodness of God, and we can know that God’s faithfulness will remain for those who come after us.

Summary

Psalm 100 may only be short, but I hope it has encouraged you as we have plumbed its depths in the last few posts. It is no doubt a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to our Creator God, and I want you to come way with many reasons to “shout for joy!”

You are a “Beloved Christian!” That is the culmination of this psalm. God’s love endures, and as a result we have much to thank and worship Him for. God’s love for each of us is reciprocated, and in turn we live to serve Him with gladness. We belong to Him, marked as His people, and so live our lives in gratitude for all that He has done for us.

Are there parts of this passage which really stand out to you? Is God saying something in particular to you during this season of your life? As we read and study the Bible, it should often lead to some form of change in our lives. This might be a specific action you take – like starting all of your prayers with words of thanks – or it may be less tangible than that. Has this psalm provoked you to action? I’d love to hear from you if it has.

Serve the Lord with gladness! Give thanks unto Him, and bless His Name!

Further posts in this series, if you wish to read more, are:

Shouting Christians #1

Serving Christians #2

Singing Christians #3

Created Christians #4

Thankful Christians #5

Thankful Christians (Psalm 100 #5)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise!

    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

Thankful Christians…? Is there any other kind? A Christian who does not give thanks, is like a Christian who does not pray!

This psalm directs us to enter the gates of our God with thanksgiving. Even in the midst of terrible trouble, we have much to be grateful for. It should not take us long to reel off a list of things we can thank the Lord for.

It was a privilege recently to record an interview with “understand the Bible.” When the video comes out, I’ll share it here so you can see it. One of the questions I was asked was, “Why do Christians pray?” Had you never heard of prayer, and studied our prayer lives to find the answer, what would you say? If you are anything like me, one might study my prayer life and say that prayer is “asking God for things.” Of course, this is woefully inadequate, and yet our prayer lives reflect little more than “petition” at times.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again, but in our prayer lives, our praise should always outweigh our petition. We should thank God and worship Him with far greater frequency than we make demands of Him.

As we “enter His gates” why not use this as the primary way to start off your prayer time. Enter the prayer time with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are especially grateful for right now, and let that overflow into praise.

Verse four concludes by again telling us to give thanks, but also to “bless His name!” Could it be that by giving thanks, we are blessing His name? Is it a blessing to the Lord when He hears His people expressing their gratitude? I think so.

Being thankful is an admission of how good we have it. It helps us remember that no matter whatever else is going on, we do have some positives to focus on. The Bible is full of exhortations to thank God, and I for one am convicted that I should be doing it all the more.

How about you? On a scale of 1-10, how thankful would you rate yourself? Be honest…

Let us all get into a habit of being grateful. Help each other by commenting below with tings you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be long, even one-word answers will inspire each of us to say “thank you!” to God for something.

It must go deeper than just saying the words however. I train my children to say “thank you,” after we give them something they have asked for. For a long time (even years) they may repeat the words out of pure habit. Hopefully, sooner or later though, they will learn that thankfulness is in actuality an attitude of the heart.

A heart which is not thankful is one which is arrogant. It demands, or even, expects to have whatever it wants. A humble heart though gives thanks for even the smallest of contributions. One who is humble and thankful recognises what others have done, and acknowledges it.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever! Amen!

Further posts in this series, if you wish to read more, are:

Shouting Christians #1

Serving Christians #2

Singing Christians #3

Created Christians #4

Created Christians (Psalm 100 #4)

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

2     Serve the Lord with gladness!

    Come into his presence with singing!

3 Know that the Lord, he is God!

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise!

    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

5 For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100 (ESV)

We pick up where we left off at verse three of this fantastic psalm. We have so far thought about us shouting and singing to the Lord, and also how we can serve Him with gladness. Today we turn our thoughts to who God is, and the fact that He made each one of us.

Verse three in the ESV Bible (as above) tells us to know the Lord, he is God! This word “Lord” here is again the Holy Name of God – Yahweh – which is often rendered Lord or LORD in other Bibles.

In our society, we use the word “God” a great deal. Sometimes it is a simple curse, but other times just a flippant throw away term. Other religions use the same word – God. Christians believe in “God” but so do Muslims or Jews, and then other religions such as Hinduism believe in more than one god.

My point is that we may all use those same three letters, but we mean very different things by it. The God of the Bible, of both the Old and New Testament, is the LORD – Yahweh, and He is God!

We, Christians, must never fall into the trap of believing that any religion that claims to follow God is actually doing so. There is One God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He is the One this psalm sings of.

This God is the One Who made us – we are Created Christians.

The Bible opens with the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (see Genesis 1:1). Understanding and accepting that truth is critical in grasping the full extent of the Gospel. As our society strays further and further away from this truth, we fall further from God and deeper into sinfulness.

If we are indeed “created,” then we are not the top of the food chain. We are not the masters of our own destiny, nor are we supreme or sovereign. Humanity may be the pinnacle of all created things, made in the very image of God, yet we are not equal to God Himself. We have a Creator, and we are His (see verse three above, again!).

If we really did just evolve from the ether, then humanity is nothing more than the mere product of chance. And, may I add, the “chance” is so small you would have better odds of winning the lottery every week for the rest of your life in comparison! Spontaneous life without a Creator has no meaning. We are no more than animals who come and go, and life has no meaning.

Thank the Lord God this is not so! We were made by a Loving Creator, we belong to Him and we belong to each other. Verse three also tells us that we are His people. We are not individuals, but a crowd. We are a people who belong, and belong to Him!

The Bible often uses the analogy of sheep and their Shepherd.

As above:

    It is he who made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Psalm 100:3 (ESV)

And here:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Psalm 23:1 (NKJV)

And perhaps the ultimate example:

I am the good shepherd. (Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11-12,15,22) The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who doesn’t own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and flees. The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them. 13 The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, and doesn’t care for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own;

John 10:11-14 (WEB)

I have left in a couple of the references which also point to Scriptures about sheep and Shepherds.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, and we are the sheep of His pasture. He laid down His life for each of us, bearing our burdens and sin on His very own shoulders that we might go free. The world may not value you, but Christ does! If you ever feel worthless, remember that Jesus poured out His blood for you.

Now that makes we want to shout (or make a joyful noise at least!)

We thank You Lord Jesus that You died for us! Thank You that You became as one of Your created beings, suffered and died that we might live. We shout for joy to You today! Praise Your Holy Name! We recognise that You are indeed God, the Creator of all things. We humbly surrender to You and Your Lordship. In the Name of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ! Amen!

Further posts in this series, if you wish to read more, are:

Shouting Christians #1

Serving Christians #2

Singing Christians #3