One faith-filled step at a time

I’m quite a fan of Susie Larson, whose written prayers inspire me with new strength and hope. Here’s one for today:

“May the Lord Himself lift you up and make you strong. May He steady you where you feel unsure. May He strengthen you where you feel weak. May He bless and affirm you before a watching world! You are His and HE is yours! His banner over you is love and He will never let you go. The assessments of others have no power to diminish you because God is the One who establishes you! Stay humble and confident and do what He says. He loves the plan He has for you. Take it one faith-filled step at a time. He’ll get you where you need to go. Embrace His grace and sleep well tonight. Bless you!”

Dear Lord – may we choose, with Susie, to embrace your grace today. May we remember that our lives are in your hands, and you will never let us go. Jesus is before us and behind us, and we can walk confidently forward knowing that we are covered and protected by him. He will show us the way.

Note to friends and followers:
Sorry I’ve been an infrequent WordPress visitor lately. I recently started a course in Old Testament Studies at Bible College, which, among other new commitments, has taken time to adjust to. I hope to get into a more regular rhythm with my blogs and comments on your posts soon :-)

Our stories have value

Today, over florentines and coffee, I heard how two of my church friends came to know Jesus.

I love hearing people’s faith stories. They remind me how God uses people – ordinary people like you and me – to share the truth of his grace.

They also remind me that people are complex, and often it takes years and years before ‘the penny drops’ and Jesus becomes real to an individual.

And they provide evidence of the miraculous power of God to work change in the lives of broken people like myself…

Sometimes it can be hard to ‘articulate’ our faith and the evidence for it, but there is so much value in sharing our life experiences. Each journey is unique; each response to God like no other. And each salvation account reveals the awesome glory of the one who welcomes us – the lost, weary and repentant – into his family with open arms.

untitled

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven…” (Matt 10:32)

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:11)

What’s your weakness?

What’s your weakness? Your main struggle in life? Your unrelenting burden that won’t get its grip off you?

Paul knew about burdens. He describes his battle in 1 Corinthians 12:7…

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

Many commentators have suggested this refers to a physical ailment, but John Macarthur, in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ, states his belief that the thorn is a person – in particular, the ringleader of the Corinthian opposition who was personally attacking Paul’s character and ministry.

While we can’t be sure what afflicted Paul, it is clear that Satan was behind it and God allowed it. Pastor John Piper adds his thoughts on the passage:

“Satan afflicts the children of God through his angels or messengers,” said Piper. “His aim is destruction and death and misery. But it’s not that simple is it? Satan is not the only one at work here. God is at work. This thorn is not just the work of Satan to destroy. It is the work of God to save.”

In the passage, Paul goes on to say:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Paul’s testimony we see both opposition and redemption. There is no doubt we will be opposed – tormented if you will – in our lifetime.
Our own sin, and the actions of others, will prove an obstacle at times. But there is a savior… One whose redeeming love and all-surpassing grace will set us free – again and again.

Perhaps you’re on your ‘third time’ of pleading with the Lord… Why not take the opportunity to just rest and listen to his voice. Hear these words again:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”

We must accept that God’s grace is enough for each new situation we face, and as his children we have complete access to his power. This power enables us to rise up stronger and fight our battles, allowing them to humble and transform us in the process. God is enough, and we are mighty in him.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

blog

The push and pull of motherhood: Some reflections…

Motherhood – this endless pushing forward and pulling back… this compulsive strain towards an unachievable goal in a world of achievable goals, checks and balances. This is the balancing act of a behind-the-scenes circus performer – the one no one is watching but many depend on. She is responsible for survival, perpetuation.
A mother knows there’s only a short window of time whereby she can press her lips into the back of her baby’s rosy softness… a slightly longer window where she can hold them close without feeling that wrench-away of excited, confident independence.
Yes, we know the unvoiced desire to drown in your child, freefalling into the cushiony-soft yet highly strung world they inhabit. It is a battle between fierce animal mother embraces, unselfconscious saliva kisses and bloodied finger sucking… and the sensible, unemotional decision to teach them independence, autonomy, freedom, apart from you. It’s the delicate push-pull every mother knows, yet never gets exactly right. This job is notoriously lacking in exactness or scientific reasoning and can make us feel like unemployed poets – doing what we love yet not contributing to the economy in any quantifiable, reliable way. It’s a role comprising both art and necessity. We need to paint the picture, messy as it might turn out.

images

Indeed, the brush strokes of our days are complex and varied, borne of passion and an indefinable purpose.
Parenting is like throwing kites to the wind.
And it’s this drunken, mad uncertainty that we’re both desperate for yet terrified of. It’s a gift and a calling that’s out of our control – and sometimes out of control.
Yet we choose it anyway.

Prayers for life’s battlefield

What battle are you fighting today? Before things get out of hand, it’s important to arm ourselves well. When I’m feeling vulnerable spiritually, I pray the words below, based on Isaiah 54:17.

“No weapon formed against me shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against me in judgment I will condemn.
This is my heritage as a servant of the Lord. My righteousness [or in other versions - my 'vindication'] is from God.”

As a child of God, you can be assured God will go before you and fight for you. But he has also given you the authority to refute the enemy’s schemes and claim your ‘heritage’ as a servant of God because of what Jesus Christ has achieved for you in his death, and triumph over the grave. Don’t forget that in Christ you have all you need to disarm opposing forces.

Another strengthening prayer I like to speak out is this:

“Dear Lord,
I pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that I might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Amen…”
(based on Ephesians 3:16)

May our great God remind you of these things today:

* You have been given authority to refute the enemy’s schemes against you, in Jesus’ powerful name;
* Although God already won the war when Jesus broke the power of sin and disarmed Satan at the cross, the battle we fight against Satan and his demons still rages here on Earth. In the book of Ephesians (chapter 6), the Apostle Paul tells us we’re in a spiritual battle and we have a very real enemy who has specific schemes and plans of attack against us.
* BUT – you can be strengthened with power through his Holy Spirit;
* Jesus Christ dwells in your heart as you trust in Him;
* His love is wider and longer and higher and deeper than you could ever imagine. And this love is what gives you power to love others and shine His light in a world of darkness;
* He truly gives us all the resources we need to fight right when the battle is raging around us.
* Chip Ingram said this:
“As believers, we don’t fight ‘for’ victory; we fight ‘from’ victory.”

May you keep strong in Him,
Ali

Who am I and where am I going?

Who am I?

What should I do with my life?

Am I living up to my full potential?

Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less?

What are my talents, and what should I make of them?

Am I channelling my energies in the right direction?

Am I doing what God wants me to do?

How do I really know what His will is?

God… are you there?…

Questions are good, but they can also stunt our growth.

We can ask ourselves so many that we end up in circles, more confused than when we started.

* Image credit: gajitz.com

* Image credit: gajitz.com

Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense. The answers about our future aren’t clear or linear.

Drifting and circling can become a state of being.

But at one point we have to stop… and look up…

Lord, are you there? Are you really there…? Because I know you care about all these things. You care about who I am and where I am and what I’m going to be. You say you have a plan, and I really want to believe you.

Lord, I’m willing to give you my hand. I can at least do that. And I can ask you to lead me. Would you do that for me Lord? Would you show me the way? I know I can trust you… You’ve never let me down before…

Thank you that the questions are just part of my journey with you, Lord. Help me not to start and end with questions, but to truly seek your answers. Help me to listen… to truly listen… to what you’re saying to me.

Show me who I am. Show me where to go. And show me your way. I will go wherever you lead, my Lord and Saviour…

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

“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)

Seeking parental approval: Why the Father’s love is better.

Some of us spend our entire lives seeking our parents’ ‘blessing’ or approval.

And even when it’s found, an emptiness might still remain.

I love this verse, which describes the ‘father heart’ 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)

He has lavished us with love. If you want to think of his love as water, it’s like a great big ocean – not just a few drops. I love God’s love!!!

We are children of God. Adopted sons and daughters. We receive His inheritance! We are His! That is what I am! That is what you are! Child of God. Royal son or daughter. Forever beloved. Forever found. Forgiven, redeemed… once – and for all time.

images

And when we receive the ‘blessing’ of our heavenly father, we can stop trying to change the unchangeable in our own lives. We can accept what has happened – or not happened – and bless our very human parents with the love only God can give. Forgiveness and redemption doesn’t have to stop with us.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 914 other followers