Understanding..

“And He (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke.24.45

Understanding what we read or hear is so important. We can have knowledge but no understanding. When I look at a car engine I can know some of the different components, but I am not a trained mechanic or engineer who understands how the engine works. I can have knowledge about parts of the human body, but I don’t have the level of understanding that a Doctor or biologist has about how the body works.

As followers of Christ, we can all at times wrestle with passages of scripture and not understand the bible verses we read fully. We can read a lot but that knowledge won’t help us if we don’t understand it. Understanding the Scriptures is necessary so that we can apply them to shape the life of obedience we are called to live in Christ. This is especially important to avoid being deceived when Scripture is taken out of context and misapplied. Understanding in these days is so necessary to avoid the trap of false teaching and deceit.

Quite often (especially when we are new to faith) the bible can seem overwhelming to read. You might be someone who struggles with reading and it’s difficult to find the desire to start. There are so many books in the bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament..what do I read. Do I start at Genesis and work through? How much should I read at once? It’s in those times that we can feel defeated reading the scriptures and give up. If we don’t start out by reading the right passages at the right level for us and we dive right into the meaty parts before we are ready, then we can struggle and give up altogether. Start reading the Bible in the right place for you..if you are not sure where to start then don’t be shy to ask – your church leader or a fellow believer will help you.

If you find reading the Bible difficult then can I encourage you that help is at hand. The bible tells us this through this wonderful verse in Luke. The first disciples and followers of Jesus were as we know a collection of people from all walks of life – fishermen, tax collectors etc. They were simple men and women of faith who were not trained in the Scriptures to the level that the Pharisees and other teachers of the law were. However, And He (Jesus) opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke.24.45

Jesus took the time to help them understand the Scriptures. One of the first things that Jesus did when He was resurrected was to explain to the two disciples on the road the Scriptures. He helped them understand the Scriptures about the Messiah which He had fulfilled in his death and resurrection. That’s how important us understanding God’s Word is to Him. He wants to help. Jesus through the Holy Spirit that is now living within you, the Lord will help you understand the Scriptures. He wrote them after all so there is no better place to start. Right to the source.

Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you understanding as you read the Word of God. Even down to – Where does the Lord want me to start or which verse, passage should I read today. The Lord knows the best place.

You might be thinking how will I know. Take that first step. Pick up your bible and pray a simple prayer. Lord, I want to read and understand the scriptures. Help me today. Guide me in my reading and help my understanding. Amen

Next find someone that you can read the Bible with and discuss what you learn. That will help you in your learning and make sure that you stay on track in a good way. Reading the Bible with others is so beneficial as the Holy Spirit inspires and opens our understanding of the Word together.

“Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things” 2Tim.2.7

Persecution..

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5 11-12

These bible verses are the verses for today on the Bible Gateway app. It was the first thing I read this morning. Persecution was something the Lord laid on my heart yesterday and I shared a post Persecuted….

Coincidence? I don’t believe so. It caught my attention. When I read these bible verses again today, I know the Holy Spirit is bringing this subject to my heart. Is the Lord preparing me personally or those I know or you dear reader to be ready for persecution because of faith in Christ Jesus.

These verses from the gospel of Matthew are Jesus’s words to his followers. Jesus knows that they will be persecuted because the world will hate their message but Jesus has prepared them for this time of persecution and has also prayed for them. Jesus does not leave them alone either when He returns to the Father but promises to always be with them and us to the end of time and also sends the Holy Spirit to empower, teach and comfort us.

Before Jesus died He prayed for His disciples but not only them, He said a prayer for us too. His disciples to come. That always amazes me that in a time of great suffering and knowing what lay ahead of Him, Jesus chose to pray for us. I know from Jesus’ teaching that His prayer will have been heard by God and answered. That gives me great comfort and hope. Not only that, but we know that even now Jesus intercedes for us before the Father’s throne.

Jesus prayed:

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
John.17.14-19

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
John.17.23-26

We are through faith in Christ at one with God. The love of God for us and in us. What or who can separate us from the love of God. Can persecution or suffering? No. The scriptures declare this truth.

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.” For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom.8.35-39

Persecuted…

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”
John 15:18-27

My friend Dean at Gospel Road 66 is writing a series about prayer for the persecuted church. It is a reminder to us all that persecution is happening amongst the body of believers with some of our brothers and sisters in Christ facing incredible levels of hardship and physical sufferings and death for the sake of their faith. You can find his first post here Praying for the Persecuted Church

The Apostle Paul says in many of his letters that he never ceased thanking God and praying for the saints. Today can I encourage you to take 5 to thank God for our brothers and sisters around the world and to pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith.

Abounding in Love

1 Thessalonians 3 v 12-13 says “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all; just as we do to you so that He (God) may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints”.

Genuine love for one another…it’s a command of the Lord Jesus and a sign to non-believers.

Someone wrote “where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding and conflicts abound to satan’s perverse delight.

We can’t opt out of loving one another if we are followers of Jesus – it was Christ’s commandment to us – to love each other as He loved us.

We recall Jesus’ teaching at the last supper. This was his last opportunity to talk to His disciples before He went to the Cross. Jesus reiterates 4 times His new commandment to love one another.

Jesus didn’t remind the disciples of all the great miracles and signs they had witnessed – it was love which was important.

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:12-14,17 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Jesus said “if you love me then you will obey my commandments.”

1 John 2 v3-6 sets it out plainly to us:

“We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

1John 3:11 “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. “

How can we love each other in this way. I think it is impossible without a genuine love for Christ ablaze in our hearts.

Do we struggle to genuinely love each other in churches because we have lost our first love for Christ. We strive to love through our flesh rather than an overflow from our hearts. Let us encourage each other to prioritise expressing our love for Jesus in our times of gathering together.

It’s a perfect circle of love – we love Christ and He is our first love then out of this love will flow love for one another. Let us start with love for God first and then allow His love to flow through us.

We could try and manufacture this love for one another. We could perhaps do it for a while but it will stagnate and eventually die – this Christ like love should develop as fruit out of relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:5 “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us and love is created in us by the Holy Spirit”

Let us not strive to love in our own strength and with our own love but rather that the love for and of Christ will be ignited in our hearts and will come through us – let the fruit be produced by abiding in Him & receiving God’s love through the Holy Spirit within us.

Our prayer for us today as we gather together on the Lord’s day:

1 Thessalonians 3 v 12-13 says “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all; just as we do to you so that He (God) may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints

Then…

A repost today dear friends on the power of a very small word. Since last Thursday and the death of our Queen Elizabeth II, we as a nation under God are in a “Then” moment. We are in times of huge change that require prayer before God that His will for our nation and our new King Charles III come into alignment. Let us join our prayers brothers and sisters in Christ with our nation at this key time of transition and change.

Then is such a little word but it is can be so powerful. It’s a word which speaks of change. There is a before and THEN something happens which changes the story.

In Genesis, we read the story of Noah. The flood has come upon the earth and Noah, his family and the animals are in the ark. They obeyed God’s instructions and went into the Ark and then God shut the door.

“So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”
Genesis 7:16 NKJV

It was after obedience that the THEN came and God shut the door. Sometimes, we are waiting for God to act and the THEN to happen but we maybe haven’t done our part to enable the THEN. Something at our end needs to change.

Dear brother Alan posted the other day about prayer warriors still being required. You can read that post here which I recommend if you have not yet read it. https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/2022-prayer-warriors-still-required.

There is an often quoted portion of scripture which contains one of the most powerful THENs in the bible.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Prayer changes things and brings about the THEN. If we want to see change then let us seek God’s Will and act on it. Let us be Prayer Warriors for change.

Bless you my friends.

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#TestimonyTuesday – Life Verses

This week at church we did something different. Our Pastor asked us to share our “life verses” or some people call them their “north star verses”. They are verses from the Bible that have guided, helped, encouraged and shaped your walk with the Lord. They can be bible verses that have been lifelines in times of trouble.

Our Pastor invited people forward and there was soon a queue of people eager to share. They read their bible verses and shared why those bible verses were so important to them. Some were able to recite long passages of Scripture which they had memorised.

It was so inspiring and touching to hear these verses and the testimonies. Do you have a life verse? If so, I would love to hear it and why it’s important to you. Please share in the comments section below.

My life verses are from Proverbs 3:5

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.”

These verses give me confidence in God, who cares for me and guides me in the right way. When I am unsure then I remember these verses and declare my trust in Him and submit the circumstances or decision to the Lord.

I took the opportunity on Sunday to share my Dad’s life verses which he shared frequently with us. They had a profound influence on me because they taught me the importance of worship and the intimacy of relationship that the Lord desires with each of us.

My Dad’s life verse was from Psalm 84 verse 10. He recited this passage of Scripture often especially when he had his first stroke and was so ill.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked

In sharing with others our life verses then we also help disciple others by showing the importance of God’s Word in our lives and how it shapes us. We show that God’s Word is living, active and powerful.

I look forward to reading the comments and your life verses.

Have a blessed day my friends.

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In Green Pastures

I was searching on my bookcase yesterday for a book by C S Lewis. I know I have it but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I have probably either lent it to someone or put it elsewhere. I easily lose track of my books and am also a bit of a magpie. I did find several books lent to me though which I’ve yet to return. Whoops and apologies to those who thought they’d lost them.

My searching wasn’t fruitless though because I came across this tiny little book called “In Green Pastures” by J R Miller. He is not an author I had heard of before but he is credited in this book as being the author of another book called “ Come ye apart”. That sounds like a book worth reading doesn’t it..Come ye apart.

The title of the book had caught my eye as we have recently studied Psalm 23 in church and I thought the book was on that theme. However, it’s actually a Daily Devotional. It’s been clearly written in another generation, which you can tell from the language used, but there is no date of publication inside.

A quick search on Amazon though revealed it was first published in 1904 and you can still buy this book. That’s longevity. Dr. James Russell Miller was born in 1840 in Frankfort Springs Pennsylvania and died on 2 July 1912. He wrote quite a number of Christian books which are available still. He may be more familiar to my fellow American blogging friends? I’d be interested to hear.

The book was given to my late mother in law, Clare, by a friend who had written these words on the first page:

To Clare, in remembrance of many happy days, with love and all good wishes…”Hold fast that which thou hast”. Revelation 3:11

What a lovely inscription. I am sure each time our dear Clare picked up this little book, she thought of her friend and those words encouraged her. I love the exhortation to hold fast that which you have. Our faith and trust in Jesus is so precious. The most precious thing we have and not to be taken lightly or for granted. Let us be encouraged today to hold fast what we have been given through the grace and mercy of God.

Clare must have valued this little book because she had kept it all her life. We found it amongst her possessions when she died. It was precious to her so we didn’t want to part with it either. It has sat on the bookshelf though unread. Who knows what little treasures I will now find within.

Anyway, I am digressing, but if you are looking for another daily devotional then perhaps you could consider this little book. Even though it is written over a hundred years ago, God’s truths are constant. Culture may change around us, blown by winds of change, but God’s Word stands firm like a beacon in the darkness. I thought I would share today’s devotional on the Sin of Thoughtlessness below:

Lord please forgive me my thoughtlessness and for causing hurt to others even unintentionally. Help me through your Holy Spirit to be kind, gentle, loving, thoughtful and considerate particularly today and in the weeks ahead. I pray for a gentle heart. Amen 🙏

A Financial Storm

We are living in a time when people are worried and anxious about rising inflation, energy costs and the economy, not just in the U.K, but in other nations. The Lord has brought to my remembrance this morning a post from November 2020 and so I am re-posting today for weighing, testing and prayer. Our God is faithful and He is a good, good God in all times and at all times. He never leaves us or forsakes us.

At the beginning of November I had a picture whilst praying to the Lord.

I was seated with the Lord in a quiet place when suddenly a great wind blew up which started howling all around us and the walls and the ground started shaking. I was terrified as the wind was so strong and the walls around us started to collapse, but the Lord drew me close and put me in the crook of his arm. Even though I could still hear the wind roaring I felt safe and secure.

After that picture, as I prayed I felt the Lord say that we are going into days ahead of great darkness. There is a storm coming – a financial storm.

I believe the Lord is warning us that there is going to be a shaking again of the financial institutions of the world.

They have been shaken before but this time there is to be a mighty shaking which will cause many of them to collapse.

Great fear and panic will seize people as they realise that their assets and funds have been exploited by these institutions.

I felt the Lord was also warning us to be watchful to see who will come to the aid of people when all seems lost.

Beware of those who are the vultures just intent on picking over the carcasses of what has happened.

Those who intend to prey on the vulnerable and exploit their misery even more.

At this time the Lord says that He will arise amongst His people to bring ships to the rescue of those who are suffering.

This is the time for those nations to come forward and do good. This will be their opportunity to feed and look after and help those in need.

These ships will arise out of countries who will come to the aid of those from whom they have received aid in the past.

Woe to those nations who choose to turn a blind eye at this time. For they will have to answer to the Lord.

The Lord says that these days will be dark but He will provide for His people.

Turn to Him and call on His name for He will miraculously provide what is needed. He will care for His children.

Let our light shine before men who will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

The Lord will not let His faithful be put to shame. He will crown them with glory at this time.

This will be a time of great suffering and perseverance and endurance will be needed within the body of Christ. Let faith and hope arise.

Clothe ourselves with love and grace and put on mercy and tender kindness.

The King is coming. He is not slow in His coming as some would think but He will arrive at the appointed time with great glory and triumph over all His enemies.

Arise and keep your eyes fixed on Him for He is the author and finisher of our faith.

He will sustain us through these times ahead and will not let us stumble or fall. Call on Him and you will be saved. Amen 🙏

Overwhelmed….

I woke in the early hours with thoughts racing through my mind of all the tasks I had not done and were overdue. As I went through them one by one I started to feel overwhelmed and stressed. The more I thought about them all, the more overwhelmed I felt. Stress was building and I wanted and needed some more sleep.

I told myself “Stay calm”. You need to stay calm. I kept repeating those words to myself “Stay calm”. “Stay calm”.

As I repeated that word “calm” I thought, I can stay calm because Christ Always Loves Me.. yes, Christ Always Loves Me. That is never in doubt. His unfailing love never changes or diminishes. He always loves me.

I then thought of dear brother Alan’s post from the other day of how God rescues us in His Firm Hold. I encourage you to read it. It blessed me and I know it will bless you too. As I thought of Alan’s words, I thought, yes I can stay calm because Christ Always Lifts Me. Christ Always Lifts Me. Jesus always draws me closer to Him. I could focus on all the things I haven’t done or I could fix my eyes on Him.

I prayed a simple prayer. Lord take these burdens from me. I give them to you. I know you love me and care for me in all things. Thank you Lord. You are my help.

So those are my two reminders to myself for today. Perhaps you are also in a similar situation and it would help you to say….Christ Always Loves Me and Christ Always Lifts Me.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Letting Go…Testimony Tuesday (Update)

The wanderer has returned! You may recall my post about my youngest daughter (who set off for over 5 months on a solo back pack to the Far East) and my thoughts in Letting go…#TestimonyTuesday. Now she is back……but not for long. She heads off on her next adventure to university in Newcastle Upon Tyne, a city in the North of England about 4/5 hours away from us.

I re-read my post from that time she set out and I thank God for His faithfulness in being with her during her travels as her protector and guide. She has told me stories of things that happened to her and her friends and I know that the Lord was at work during those times. She calls it “luck” but I recognise the hand of God and am grateful for His answer to my prayers.

She travelled (even with the difficulties of Covid still) into Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Bali. She learnt about man’s inhumanity to man in the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the realities and horror of war from her time in Vietnam. I don’t want to repeat the things she told me about the genocide in Cambodia here as they are too distressing. She spoke of the impact of those atrocities still hanging over the country and people in a tangible way. These experiences will stay with her. God will use them in the future.

I was prompted by the Lord to fast and pray before she went away. It was only the Lord who knew what the months ahead held and I believe in times of our uncertainty that it’s so important to pray and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don’t fully comprehend or see how God looks after us and the outworking of His providence, but I believe one day we will see and understand fully. Whilst I can thank God now for His faithfulness and goodness, I believe that one day when I will truly understand what God has done then my thanks and praise will seem so inadequate in comparison to His grace. Even in situations when I believed my prayers went unanswered or did not go “my” plan, I will understand that God in His inestimable wisdom and goodness was working things out for good in the long term. God is a good, good God.

They say travel broadens the mind and I can definitely see that this experience has helped my daughter mature. She has challenged herself in many ways and these experiences have helped her grow and develop. She is more ready for university life now. We were concerned that after 2 years of life during Covid and missing out on so many life experiences at college, that she would go a bit wild with her new found freedom. Have you seen cows when they are let out to pasture after being in the winter stables. They run, frolic and jump with excitement. We didn’t want her jumping recklessly into danger looking for “fun” after all those months cooped up in isolation.

The Lord has been laying on my heart that it is a season of change. I can see how this relates to certain things in my family and my life but I believe this change is going to be more widely felt. My husband and I enter into a new season of change for sure as both daughters will have left home. I look at the empty rooms and wonder what we will do with them? There will be a way I am sure and I believe the Lord will show us.

Have a blessed day my friends.

One of the beautiful places visited