The Final Whistle..

Sadly, my time as a volunteer has come to an end. It was incredibly good fun but hard work with very early mornings and late nights. In this short time though of just 9 days, the Lord has shown me things and I have learnt more about myself than I expected. Lots of it good but some not so…I’m a work in progress still in certain areas even after all these years but God is in the business of refining me and that is part of the process. Hallelujah.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and temptations to resist. Our flesh can try and influence our behaviour especially when we are put into new situations with different people, different expectations and with a hierarchy of responsibility and a team of people, all coming together with different backgrounds and skills. It is in these times that our strengths and weaknesses become more keenly felt. I’m so grateful for the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit which helped me so much during my time as a volunteer interacting with colleagues, athletes and spectators.

I have a lot to process over the next few days and share with you all. I’m excited to start writing again. In the meantime here are a few photos from my time at the #Commonwealth Games 2022 with some of my fellow volunteers.

My friend Liz..a great character as you can see.
Getting ready for the crowds
Our venue Swimming and Diving
A competitor on the 10m diving platform
The end….

The Invite

It’s exciting to receive an invitation especially to a celebration. I have received an invitation recently to attend a party..there is free food, drink, a great venue in Birmingham but it’s only for volunteers of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

The thing is after working 8 shifts (some very early ones), getting home late, travelling, working my day job….I’m tired. I couldn’t really be bothered and started making excuses not to go. It was easy to find the excuses..but then other people started to encourage me to attend. This was a one off event, it would be fun and I’d be with all my fellow volunteers.

Then someone said something which struck me “it’s free..why wouldn’t you go”.

This reminded me of God’s invitation to receive forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ His son.

It’s a free gift…an invitation ..why wouldn’t it be accepted?

The sad truth is that there are people who do not accept God’s invitation. Jesus knew that people would reject Him and His message. He told a parable about people who were invited to a wedding feast but refused to come – they made lots of different excuses. This is what Jesus says:

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. ‘Then he sent some more servants and said, “Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.” ‘But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. ‘Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” Matthew 22:2-10

People will always have the freedom of choice whether to accept God’s invitation or not – that is up to them. We cannot force people to accept Jesus, but we should not give up or be discouraged from issuing the invitation because it gets refused – Jesus isn’t.

Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust from their feet and move on when they and their message was not welcomed at places.

Perhaps we need to shake off some past disappointments and defeatist mind sets and start giving out those invitations again. I know I do.

Sadly, there will come a time when it will be too late to issue the invites – the door will be closed- but we can encourage others to “seek Him while He can be found“. Isaiah 55 v 6.

Who can we invite today to find Jesus?

Launch Out Again

Morning friends, I want to share this encouragement again from Luke 5 because I believe there are people who may need to hear this today. Bless you.

Some people may feel like they have been toiling hard for the Kingdom of God in their ministry, especially in wanting to see people come to know Jesus, but the breakthrough has not happened yet.

You may feel weary and discouraged but the word today is:

“Launch out into the deep and let your nets down again for a catch”.

If you have put an aspect of your work or ministry for the Lord down, then perhaps the Lord is speaking to you today by His Holy Spirit, as he did to Simon Peter.

Let your nets down where the Lord shows you and directs you and in His timing. At His Word the disciples were obedient.

You may need to step out of your comfort zone as the Lord takes you into different and deeper waters.

The Lord may be leading you to a new fishing ground.

Even though we read the disciples were weary as they had fished all night, they had already cleaned their nets to be put away, Simon Peter showed faith in Jesus and obeyed. He put to sea again.

Peter is saying – despite my experience and what has happened in the past, I am going to do what you say, Jesus. He was immediately obedient.

The result was a miraculous catch of fish.

“When He (Jesus) had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.”
Luke 5:4-7

Influence

Influence…this was a word that the Lord spoke to my heart recently and I have been pondering it.

It’s very important that I recognise what it is that is influencing me. Ideas or emotions that are shaping my thinking or actions. The Lord wants me to be aware of what is influencing me.

Subtle influences conforming and trying to mould me to this world’s culture which may be more influential than I realise.

Influence….whether we admit it or not we are all influenced by something or someone. That someone can also be us….our “old” selves rather than our “new” man in Christ.

So something to consider…..our actions, thoughts, desires, decisions, plans….what is influencing them.

The decisions we make or see others make (which may or may not affect us) they are all influenced.

Some sources of influence are open and transparent but other influences are subtle, manipulative, controlling and coercive. We don’t want to get caught in a trap of those influences.

There are influences which we can discern are clearly for good and then others which would lead us into ungodly things.

It’s interesting to me that there is this social phenomenon of “Influencers”…people given this label who are “Influencers” because of the power of their social media presence and amount of followers. Advertisers flock to their sites.

As I have thought about sources of influence in my life, I have made a note of the following, you may think of others and I’d be interested to hear:

My bible/Jesus and His teachings,The Holy Spirit’s leading

Me/My emotions (good or bad), my experiences, my character

My husband/My parents/family

My friends

Work

My Pastor/His preaching

My fellowship group at church

Bloggers that I follow/connect with

Newspapers/Magazines/Books

Television/Films

Songs/music

Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagram

Alcohol (any amount will “influence” our behaviour)

I’ve written all these down as I thought about them but it may not necessarily be the case (all the time) that those at the top of the list influence me the most or those at the bottom the least.

What weight do I give to these influences in my life. How long do I spend with each one. Which are more reliable.

Test, weigh, prove. In court as a juror you have to weigh the evidence given. An eye witness account from a plausible witness corroborated by one or two others will far outweigh hearsay or second hand testimony. The evidence is tested and weighed through questioning and cross examining. The trustworthiness of the witness tested.

Are we influenced by things taken at face value without testing the source?

Through the media, it seems people can be whipped up into a frenzy of emotion and opinion very quickly and sometimes over seemingly nothing or things subsequently proven to be false or fake news.

Psalm 24 encourages us to swing wide and open the gate and let the King of Glory, Jesus, come in.  

The Gates of the City were historically important places of influence and decision making. The elders gathered at the gates of the city to discuss and make decisions.

The Gates were opened to allow access or shut to refuse entry and for protection and safety of the citizens within.

The Gates were large, strong and often barred and guarded.

We all have gateways of influence in our lives and minds. 

Every day we make decisions to permit or refuse things to operate in our lives and indwell our thoughts whether for good or bad.

Let us guard the gates of influence in our lives.

I want the gates of influence in my life to be opened wide for Jesus Christ’s influence.  Not just a little bit open for Jesus but flung wide open.

Come Lord Jesus come.

To Know Him

The most beautiful moment of my life was accepting Jesus as my Saviour and surrendering my life to Him. Since then discipleship has been a journey of discovery to know Jesus better and more deeply. Jesus came to show us the Father and through faith in Jesus, to enable us to have a relationship with God. It is in that relationship that we become more Christ like as we live out our Christian faith through obedience to God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings.

Accepting Christ is the start of an amazing journey of faith and not the end in itself.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth has come and dwells in us, to lead us and help us in our discipleship journey. The Spirit convicts us of sin and leads in righteousness and truth, to glorify the Son.

We sometimes think as Christians our goal is to evangelise and once someone has made a commitment to Jesus, it’s job done. But that’s just the start.

Jesus asks us to make disciples and not just converts. We are His witnesses of a new life born again into God’s kingdom. Discipleship is to journey with people and requires love and commitment so that we become rooted and grounded in the truth of the gospel. It’s like bringing people into a family. You wouldn’t invite someone to be part of a family and then just ignore them and leave them to it. You show them how to live life as part of the family. What’s expected of each other. Sharing knowledge, wisdom, gifting, there through the highs and lows, joys, sorrows, successes and failures. Encouraging and supportive. Discipline and love. Forgiveness and grace.

We can journey with many different people as believers in Christ. Some journeys are for different seasons. I’ve been discipled by some incredible people and even now the Lord brings people alongside me who help me grow in faith and develop – sometimes in challenging ways. We have to learn sometimes to let some relationships and people go and move on so they can also grow and develop as the Lord leads. Sometimes we have to move on ourselves. We are a body of believers, members of one another. United in Christ.

I love these bible verses:

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:15-23

Amen 🙏

Lifeline..

On Wednesday at our church prayer meeting, this was the word I heard in my spirit from the Lord – Lifeline.

At the same time I saw us all in a boat that was being tossed about in large waves but in the water were people desperate for help. That is when I hear that word “Lifeline”. I then saw the people in the boats throwing out lifelines to those in the water.

There are many people who need a lifeline. Brothers and sisters in Christ- who can we be that lifeline for today, tomorrow, next week.

I then read Andy B’s testimony of being prompted by the Holy Spirit to buy a packet of biscuits for a lady. It turned out to be the lifeline that woman needed. You can read that testimony here Kindness doesn’t need to be costly

We can throw a lifeline to someone today..reaching out as the Holy Spirit prompts us whether in little acts of kindness or into the deeper things as the Spirit leads for the Lord knows and hears the cries of a wounded heart.

Definitions of a lifeline:

A way of getting help on which you depend:

A rope or line used for life-saving, typically one thrown to rescue someone in difficulties in water or one used by sailors to secure themselves to a boat.

Provide (someone) with a means of escaping from a difficult situation.

A lifeline is a safety feature on a boat, a rope that either protects you from falling off or you throw to someone in difficulty.

A lifeline also protects those on the boat from falling off. This is also important I believe in this season. The boat I saw was not on calm waters but was being tossed around. That may be you today. You are going through a really difficult season. Buffeted from all directions. The Lord’s lifeline is there for you. He is your rock..when you pass through the waters He will be with you.

Lord hear our prayer today. Show us those around us who need a lifeline. Be the lifeline that we throw to help and anchor them securely to you. For those Lord whose faith is wavering and who need a lifeline to protect them in this season from falling off the boat, then let us be those who notice and help them to be rooted in you and not to lose hope or faith. Lord we are so grateful that you are not only in the boat with us but you are the boat Lord. Help us to remain not only attached to you and to each other, but to abide in you always. Amen

The Doldrums

I read a post yesterday which reminded me of something I had written a while ago, and I felt prompted to share it again today. Perhaps there is someone who needs encouragement this morning that there is always hope to move forward.

This post is for anyone who may be experiencing a feeling that they are stuck in the doldrums at the moment – where they are seeing a lack of activity, movement or progress in their lives- a feeling of being stuck in the same place.   

Do not despair, there is hope for you and breakthrough awaits.  

In some instances, God’s hand has kept you in that place until His perfect timing and He has worked in you and prepared you so that you are ready for the suddenlies – the wind of God’s Spirit will come suddenly and you will see great acceleration and growth.  

There will be a sudden shift.  Some people have been waiting for the wind -God’s wind and a fresh breath of the Spirit of God to propel them forward to where they need to be.  

I pray that such people will be stirred up in hope and experience a fresh impetus to push forward in God and let Him breathe new life again into their vision.

For those who have lost hope and feel stuck in the Doldrums, I pray that such people will experience new zeal (great energy and enthusiasm for something you feel strongly about) which will replace apathy (feeling of not being interested or enthusiastic) and complacency (a feeling of being satisfied with yourself or with a situation so you do not feel any change is necessary) and despair (feeling that all hope lost) which can hinder progress and moving forward. 

I pray that we will reject apathy and complacency, throw off the shroud of apathy and complacency and put on the garment of zeal instead.  

That there will be an exchange of  the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3) for the garment of Praise.

If you find yourself thinking “what is the point” then that could be an indication that you are stuck in the Doldrums.   

Be careful that unbelief and fear has not set in and trapped you.   Unbelief will need to be dealt with in prayer and repentance.

James 5 V 16 – The effective, fervent (very strong feelings about) prayer of a righteous man avails much.   

If this resonates with you then I encourage you to seek God in this season.

Be led by the Holy Spirit into all He has for you. Amen 🙏

 

The Imposter…

I was very fortunate to be invited to the First day of the Test Match at Edgbaston on Friday to watch India play England. I confess I’m not a huge cricket fan but Test matches are special and there was a great atmosphere in the crowd. People had dressed up in all manner of outfits from minions to Disney characters.

We were seated quite high up on a balcony so had a really good view of the whole cricket pitch. When one of the Indian wickets fell the next player up for India entered the field. As he walked on, he hadn’t reached the wicket when he was suddenly surrounded by men in security vests and we realised that this man wasn’t one of the Indian team. He was an imposter.

He looked the real deal though even down to the cricket helmet, pads and bat. He had boldly strode onto the field (as bold as brass as my mum would say) as though he had ever right to be there. He really looked the part but he was an imposter.

Security in bottom corner leading him away

We can all easily be fooled by appearances but I’m sure if that man had actually faced one of the English fast bowlers, he would soon have been exposed as a fraud. Bowled out or more likely knocked out by a cricket ball coming at him at over 80 mph. His team mate I’m sure would also have easily spotted he was a fake and not part of the team.

The bible warns us about people and spirits that are not what they appear…false spirits, false teachers, false apostles, false prophets….Imposters and not the real deal.

We are to test all things and check the fruit. Jesus said:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.”
Matthew 7:15-20

Expectation – What is my expectation

On Thursdays, I publish something from my archives which has inspired or challenged me in the past. Today’s reminder was about Expectation and some questions I asked myself 2 years ago.

I have been thinking about this today and it is a challenge.   What am I hoping/expecting to receive from God when I pray to Him or seek Him for direction in my life?

Do I have a confident expectation in the goodness of God?

I sense God is saying– What is your expectation of me?  

Don’t be limited by past experiences.

Widen your expectation – expect the unexpected.

God can do immeasurably more than we can do or think.  

Do I come to Him with a limited expectation based on past experiences or disappointments and a misunderstanding of His word and character?  

The truth is that God can do awesome things and totally surprise us by His amazing love, grace and mercy.

It is easy to get in a rut and expect the same to happen all the time.

Expectation can be stifled through habit and tradition.

I am being encouraged to allow the Lord to guide and shape my thinking by His Word and hence my expectations – After all – God’s ways are far above our ways.

God reminded me of the story in the Acts of the Apostles of the lame man who was seated outside of the gate Beautiful begging for money.  

He must have sat there day in and day out holding out his hands expecting to receive money from the people going in and out of the temple.

He had the same expectation of Peter & John, but they gave the lame man so much more than he expected. They gave him healing and restoration by the power of Jesus Christ. What a beautiful day that was at the Gate.

It was interesting that the story also says that the people around did not expect a miracle of healing either because the man was said to be “old” – he was above 40 years of age – goodness what an expectation!

Does our age and what other people think of us affect our expectation of God – that we are too old, too young or don’t qualify for God to move in our lives in power.

God forbid.

The beautiful aspect of this story is that the lame man received so much more than he expected to receive. It is such an amazing demonstration of God’s abundant love and mercy.

I pray for us all to have a right expectation in the goodness of God, not limited by past experiences but to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to increase our expectation and expect the unexpected.

Amen 🙏

#Testimony Tuesday -What if……?

Today’s testimony is about a recent experience I had at our last Sunday Service. It was towards the end of the service after the message. We were having a time of praise and worship before taking communion.

I started to feel a heat in my left shoulder and top of my arm. I was sat by the window so at first I thought it must be the sun coming through the window but there was none. The heat in my arm got stronger and stronger and I started to recognise that this was the work of the Holy Spirit. I have felt this heat in my body before when I have been healed or when praying for others for physical healing.

The surprising thing to me though was that I didn’t have a problem with my shoulder. I started wondering if this was the Lord prompting me to pray for someone with a bad shoulder. Then I thought what if I’m wrong. What if I’m wrong…??

What if….Those two little words can be the gateway to doubt or faith. I then thought what if I’m right and I don’t follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I was contemplating the what ifs of the situation and all the time this heat in my shoulder was getting stronger and stronger. I decided to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

As we went forward for communion I went aside and told my Pastor. I left it with him to weigh and test. This is key in discerning and exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a public place. The pastor is the authority in the church and we submit our gifts to His authority as leader as the gifts are for the benefit of the body of Christ. He is responsible for the flock.

After communion our Pastor shared the story from the Old Testament of the time when Moses made a snake at the Lord’s command which was lifted up for everyone to see. Everyone that had been bitten by the snakes looked at the snake and lived. He went on to say that Jesus was lifted up for us, Jesus lives and we are to fix our eyes upon Him and live. God healed then and he still heals today. He then shared what I had told him and encouraged anyone who was experiencing pain or had a problem with their shoulder to respond and we would pray for them for healing after the service.

We had a final song of praise and worship. The what if…raises its head again. What if no-one comes forward for prayer….What if I’m wrong….I decide that I will be ok with that as yet again the stronger thought is but what if someone needs healing and this is the time and way the Lord chooses to heal them. Did I believe that the Lord could heal them..Yes I did.

At the end of the service 3 people came forward for prayer. As we prayed there was such a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit and I believe the Lord will heal them. One lady said she only responded because the word was specifically about pain in a left shoulder. As we prayed the word deep tissue came to me and I asked her if she had a deep tissue problem which she confirmed. We prayed specifically for the Lord to heal in this area.

I praise God and thank the Lord for His healing touch and for the work of the Holy Spirit. I pray that you will be encouraged by this testimony and may God bless you today. All honour, praise and glory belongs to our God. Worthy is the lamb. Amen