These are the words that greeted me yesterday on a very large boxed package that arrived with my name on it.
It was very exciting to receive such a large parcel through the post and then to unwrap it and read those words..I had been expecting the delivery in the post although the day and time of its arrival was not known.
I sort of knew what was in the box because I had heard from others who had already received theirs, but this was now my experience of receiving my parcel. Delivered just for me.
The packaging was also a surprise. No-one had mentioned the packaging itself. That really surprised me because the packaging itself was more impactful, thoughtful and challenging to me than the contents of the box. Those words on the outside speaking to me…
Look the Part…
Play your Part….
Sometimes people are so keen to get to the gift or what’s in the parcel that they don’t notice the packaging.
That’s a challenge isn’t it….do we take time to notice the packaging?
This packaging had a clear message on it and reminded me of the Christian gospel message of accepting Jesus as our saviour, ongoing discipleship and walking with Jesus all our lives.
Look the part……Are we washed clean from our sins, dressed in our garments of salvation and royal robes of righteousness. Clothed with love, humility and grace from above?
Play your Part…Are we living our lives out daily as Christians in love and service to God and others. Keeping right accounts with God and each other. Growing in the knowledge of God, Jesus our Lord and Saviour and filled with the Holy Spirit who guides us and teaches us.
Wow all of that from a box. So can you guess what the box was and it’s contents?
You guessed it…..I’m a volunteer for the Commonwealth Games 2022 which will see athletes from all over the commonwealth nations coming to my home city of Birmingham. In a months’ time I’ll be part of a sporting event and helping to welcome and support visitors to our city. A face of the games.
It wasn’t just the message on the outside of the box that challenged and inspired me. There was more on the inside. Read on and see what you think. Whoever wrote these words is passionate about the message they had to impart.
Wow. As the body of Christ we have a message of salvation, joy and hope for non-believers. Jesus is alive…Praise God. I want to shout it from the roof tops…are you hungry? are you thirsty? Do you want life in all its fullness? Forgiveness for your sins? Are you weary, anxious, at your lowest point? Come to Jesus.
Have a blessed day today my friends and you never know what will pop into your day unexpectedly to inspire you. Blessings in Jesus
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.
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.
Today, I am reposting a post from 2018. I find it useful to go back and read some of my old posts and discover again some things the Lord has put on my heart and encouraged me with at various times, especially when I’m in a period which is extremely busy at work and I can feel overwhelmed. This post reminding me that God is sovereign and has a perfect plan for each of us reassures me that my future is secure in Him and to keep my eyes fixed on Him. I am in Him and He is in me which brings great peace and comfort to my soul.
2018 – God reminded me today that even though at times my life seems chaotic and overwhelming to me when I am trying to balance work, family, home and many other things which distract me, the truth is that He is always right there with me and I am made right with Him through Jesus.
I am living out His perfect plan for my life because He is in it. I don’t have to earn it or work at it – I just have to accept the greatest gift which Jesus has given to me – the gift of relationship with God.
I wrote down the following words which came to me as I spent some time with God today:
My children, From the very foundation of the world I had a plan and My plan has not altered. It is a plan set in the heavenly realm and My son Jesus achieved and accomplished in perfect obedience and perfect sacrifice and in perfect timing that plan. Every person on earth who has ever lived and was created with life has a place in My perfect plan. There is no-one who has ever lived who is not able to partake. None has been left out.
I long that all would come into My perfect plan for their lives. My plan is simple. It consists of relationship between Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you in perfect harmony of relationship. There is nothing which can stop you being part of My plan.
All that is necessary is humble acceptance of My son’s sacrifice and offering of Himself for you. He has obtained by His death and resurrection the keys of death and hell so that the door is open to walk into the perfect plan for your life. No other plan will bring you the desires of your heart for no other plan can bring you into perfect harmony with Me. It is simple and it is true. There is only one plan which is perfect and so why accept anything less for yourselves.
I hope that you have found that perfect plan in Jesus for your life with God. It’s called the gospel – the good news. The bible teaches that sin has separated us from God but Jesus, who had no sin, became that bridge to God by dying in our place. Jesus took the punishment that our sins deserved and made it possible to be reconciled with God and adopted into God’s family. We have to acknowledge our sin, accept Jesus as our saviour and then commit to following Jesus as a disciple for the rest of our lives, growing in the knowledge of God and His Kingdom being filled with the Holy Spirit and expressing God’s love to others. Telling others the good news about Jesus.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11
When I was growing up I was fortunate that my Dad taught me about how to manage my finances and honouring God with my finances. He taught me about being generous and supportive of God’s work, helping those in need and giving on biblical principles.
When I received my first pay packet Dad helped me to allocate my wages. God first, then paying for my “keep” to Mum and Dad, saving a bit and spending a bit. I was living at home so didn’t have any other expenses back then. Dad always encouraged a balance of saving and spending. He wasn’t against credit cards but he would always say that you shouldn’t overstretch yourself. If you couldn’t afford something straight away then wait and save for it. If you still wanted it by the time you’d saved for it then great, but otherwise it might have been an impulse buy, you were saved from.
Money was often tight in our house growing up and we certainly weren’t well off but we weren’t poor either. We always had food on the table. We lived with my Nan for a while when we didn’t have a house but we still had a roof over our heads. Quite often I couldn’t go on school trips because we didn’t have the money for luxuries. I didn’t go to University when the opportunity came because I needed to get a job at 18. My dad worked shifts in a factory and if there was no overtime then money was very tight but Dad was always generous with what little there was. He believed that God would always provide and God certainly did provide for our needs.
When the time came for me to have my own home and be responsible for a household budget then Dad’s financial advice was something I relied on. I remember that as I advanced in my career as a lawyer (God blessed me indeed to be able to qualify as a lawyer which is a testimony for another day) and my salary increased, there was a temptation to cut back on my giving. Ridiculous really as I was better off than I had ever been but the temptation was there. In having more than I had ever dreamed possible there was a subtle trap of wanting to give less out of my increase…..the very increase God had blessed me with.
I remember a specific time when the Lord taught me to trust Him with our finances. I had qualified as a lawyer and then a year later became pregnant with our first child. Maternity pay was not as generous then as it is now and we were concerned how we would manage to pay our mortgage, bills etc, without my salary. We were arranging overdraft facilities and loans to see us through this time. It was then that I felt prompted by the Lord to give 3 amounts of money to 3 different Christian ministries. It was a large amount and more than I had ever given before but I felt this conviction in my heart that this was what the Lord wanted.
I prayed and asked the Lord that if I was right then my husband would agree straight away. My husband wasn’t a Christian so this was going to be a big ask. I can recall so clearly being really nervous asking my husband. I plucked up courage and asked and he said yes, straight away. I thought he hadn’t heard me so asked him again and again, he said yes. I was amazed and so thankful because I believe the Lord had prepared his heart.
So, I gave the gifts and it was only months later that I realised that we were not using our overdraft facility. I cannot explain it or how it happened but it did. We didn’t receive a large unexpected financial gift or anything like that but during this time we were able to manage our finances so much better than before. Our money seemed to be going a lot further than before. God was blessing us indeed and His provision was sustaining us. We went through my whole period of maternity leave without using our overdraft or going into debt. God was faithful.
We are familiar with these verses I am sure from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians but it is good to remind ourselves again of these encouraging words from God’s Word.
“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Some days are better than others aren’t they. We encounter set backs and discouragement sets in. We feel like not a lot has been achieved or we don’t see growth as fast as we want. It takes time though for green shoots and fruit to appear or re-appear especially in some seasons of our life. If you can identify with that then I hope to encourage you with this post from 2020. It was inspired by a message from our pastor at church who encouraged us to run the race of Faith set before us with these words:
You can run a lap of faith;
One Step at a time – Mark 1
Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17-18
One Command at a time – Deuteronomy 11
Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Deuteronomy 11:1,8
One Day at a time– Colossians 1
In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:6
One Seed at a time – Matthew 13
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:18-23
One Test at a time -James 1
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
Whatever lap of your race you are on. Keep going..you will cross the finishing line and win the prize.
We are away in the Derbyshire Dales at the moment and the countryside is beautiful. We visited last year and I was inspired by their narrow gates to write this post.
So, to get to the inspiration for this post..the narrow gate. On our first evening here, we ventured for a walk and discovered the “narrow gate”. Here it is..it was the first of many we encountered on our walks in these parts but our first experience of such a gate. As you can see the gate is made of two massive stones, positioned to enable walkers to enter the next field but not the livestock.
I seriously struggled to get through it. I literally had to squeeze myself through. I know I’m carrying a few extra Covid pounds but this was ridiculous. My husband thought it was hilarious as I was trying this way and that way and eventually sideways to get through. I don’t know what was going wrong because I should have easily got through the gap. It is very narrow at the bottom and then widens out (a bit) but I seemed to approach it all wrong.
And there lies the rub…with finding and entering through the narrow gate which Jesus talks about. The gate that leads to God and eternal life.
We have to approach and enter through the gate (Jesus) in the right way. We can’t take any of our selfish ambitions, pride or get through the gate by belief in our own goodness or good works. My own righteousness and good works are just filthy rags and will not do. They just get in the way and count for nothing.
The good news is that you can enter through the gate by simple faith in Jesus alone. Simple childlike faith. The gate is available to be found by everyone from every nation to find and walk through. There is an entrance fee but Jesus has already paid it for us. He died and paid the penalty for sin so the price is paid in full.
Have you found the narrow gate dear reader and entered through? Or are you approaching the gate in the wrong way and making it too difficult for yourself. Don’t let the things of this world get in the way of walking through that gate. Divest yourself of them and simply come as you are. Believe in Jesus and follow Him.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14
“so he (Jesus) explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:7-18
“Among my people are the wicked who lie in wait like men who snare birds and like those who set traps to catch people. Like cages full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; they have become rich and powerful.” Jeremiah 5:26-27
Among My people – That is a sobering thought. I believe God is warning His people again now to beware of the wicked one’s trap of deceit. If we fall into that trap, we will be in great trouble. If our minds are deceived then our eyes become blind to the truth and our ears do not hear correctly. The communications we receive are tainted. We see through a distorted lens of deceit and hear through a filter which corrupts us.
The messages we receive become mixed and we are in danger that wrong things are heard and not discerned.
The trap of deceit sucks us further and further into it. The door of the gilded cage is shut and we cannot fly and soar in truth as free as we should be. We are ensnared and our wings are clipped by deceit. Yet we do not see it or hear it.
Let us avoid these traps by keeping to God’s Word revealed in Scripture as our plumb line of truth, stay close to Jesus, follow His paths. We encourage each other to weigh, test and discern the truth. It is Jesus, who is The Truth, who sets us free from deceit. The bible teaches us that –Who the son sets free is free indeed. Lies and deceit are a snare to God’s people and the father of lies, satan loves it so. Let us rather submit to God and resist Satan’s lies. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth and Jesus teaches us that He, the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth.
Peter in his second letter to the early churches reminds them that there were false prophets throughout history and that there would also be false prophets amongst them and the same is true for us as believers today. There are false teachers and false prophets at work still.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
Peter warns us that such people will deny truthful aspects of Jesus, are greedy, exploitive and goes on to say that such people despise authority, are bold and arrogant, boastful, appeal to the flesh, entice people with promises of freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity. If we follow them the consequences are dire, and as people who once knew truth we are worse off than before we knew Christ. What a terrible thing. 2 Peter 2:10,17-20
I pray that we will pay attention to these warnings and not be like the people who Jeremiah spoke of:
“An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land. The prophets prophecy falsely and the priests rule by their own power and My people love to have it so.”
I pray that we as followers of Jesus are not be deceived by flattery or words that “tickle our ears” and appeal to our flesh. The Word of God is like a fire 🔥 which refines and purifies us to be more like Christ.
“Behold I will make your words like fire and this people like wood and it will devour them” Jeremiah 5 v14
Please Lord keep us from the trap of deceit and reveal to us if we have been entrapped in any way.
The next gate in this series of posts about the gates which Nehemiah rebuilt is the Horse Gate.
This gate speaks of battles and as Christians we must not forget that we are in a spiritual battle. There will be battles.
We have an enemy, Satan, who doesn’t want us to follow Christ or mature spiritually and discover the fullness of who we are in Christ. He certainly doesn’t want us telling anyone else the good news about what Jesus has done for us or making disciples for Jesus.
Our enemy has a strategy against us and will try and discourage us, hinder us, entrap us and stop us in our Christian life. He will do what he can to put thoughts into our minds and build strongholds there to frustrate our Christian walk. He will try and deceive us, tempt us, cause us to be fearful, to give up because we are weary, frustrated, anxious and being a Christian just seems too difficult.
That’s all a bit heavy but there is great news. This Christian life is a life that is so worth it and if it wasn’t then we wouldn’t encounter such opposition. We have discovered life in all its fullness in Christ Jesus. It’s precious and valuable and our enemy wants to steal it from us. No wonder he opposes us, but we have been fully equipped in Christ Jesus to resist satan and overcome him.
Let us not give up but let us fight the good fight. Let us contend for our faith.
We are very familiar with Paul’s encouraging words in Ephesians 6 but let us remember to apply them.
“Finally, my bretheren be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.
Stand therefore having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
The Lord has not left us alone at the mercy of the enemy. We are children of the Most High God. Adopted into God’s family through faith in Jesus. Jesus intercedes for us before God’s throne. We are baptised in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The bible teaches us that when we submit to God and resist the enemy then the promise of God is that our enemy will flee from us. We submit to God when we are obedient to God’s Word and commandments. We resist the temptation to act or fail to act as we know God requires of us. We bring our will into submission to God. We choose life and not death.
Be confident in God’s Word which is living and powerful and is at work in us. We are in a battle that we can win. Jesus has already won the battle and has overcome all that is in opposition to God’s kingdom.
These are such incredible verses to root us in our faith from Colossians:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:6-15