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?

Sportsmanship….#TestimonyTuesday

One of the stories from the #Commonwealth Games that caught my eye and I wanted to share with you was this one:

In an incredible act of sportsmanship, the Malaysian Badminton coach offers and gives his shoes to the opposing Jamaican Badminton player. The Jamaican’s shoes had been damaged during the match and he would not have been able to continue playing giving automatic victory to his Malaysian opponent.

The Malaysian coach, who is the opposition remember, offers him to try his shoes. They fit and the Jamaican player accepts and is able to continue the match. He eventually goes on to lose the match but keeps the shoes and even wears them in his next doubles match.

What really spoke to me about this story is how it is a testimony for us of God’s love and grace to us in action.

The coach did not have to even offer his shoes, his player would have secured an immediate victory. However, he chose to do so. He freely offered those shoes. That offer had to be accepted by the player to continue with a life line. There was humility on both parts. The coach sat with no shoes and even had to leave with no shoes. The Jamaican kept the shoes..a gift.

It reminded me of these beautiful verses from Romans;

“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 5:8-11

Beautiful. Have you freely offered God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ Jesus my friend.

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

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 🙏

Sharing is caring..

The story of Jonah in the bible is an amazing story to me. It was an early bible story that I was taught as a child, but at that stage just it’s simple outline- Jonah runs away from God, big storm, he’s thrown overboard, a whale swallows Jonah, after 3 days the whale spits him out, he eventually does what God wanted him to do, preaches to Nineveh, everyone is saved in Nineveh.

Now I’m an adult, I can read and understand some of the deeper messages in the story.

I had always thought that Jonah didn’t obey the Lord’s command to go to Nineveh because he was scared. It was a big assignment. Go and tell a city of people that they are wicked, God’s judgment is coming and they will all be destroyed. Not a happy message. I would have been terrified if I was Jonah that the people would take hold of me and kill me bringing such a message.

The story tells us that the city was very wicked and violent. It had a bad reputation. I’m sure some of us can think of places that we would not want to enter…they call them “no go” areas here and to enter is at your own risk.

However, that wasn’t the reason though that Jonah didn’t want to go. These are Jonah’s words telling us why he did not obey the Lord’s command to go.

He (Jonah) prayed to the Lord, ‘Isn’t this what I said, Lord , when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Jonah 4:2

Wow..read that again..that’s a shocker. Jonah didn’t want to go because he knew how merciful God was and that if the people repented then God was so merciful that He would forgive them. That is God’s nature. He is a gracious and merciful God. Jonah wanted the people of Nineveh to pay for their wickedness and be destroyed. They were not deserving of God’s mercy. Jonah wanted judgment.

This is still a challenging message for us today. Deep down I believe there can be a struggle in our flesh about those people who have committed heinous and atrocious crimes. In our humanness we can struggle to accept that such people deserve the grace and mercy of God. How can God forgive such people.? How can God want to forgive such people?

The people of Nineveh believed God’s message from Jonah and they all repented in sackcloth. They proclaimed a fast and turned away from their wickedness and cried out to God for mercy. As Jonah knew, God heard their prayers and saw their hearts and poured out His grace and mercy. He relented of the judgment to destroy them as he had destroyed Soddom & Gomorrah for their sins.

This is the truth of the gospel message that we are called to share with the whole world.

We all need a Saviour for all have sinned before God. Not one of us is righteous even if we try to delude ourselves that we are more deserving of God’s grace and mercy than others. We are not such bad people. The truth is that all our righteousness is filthy rags before God and all of us need the grace and mercy of God.

Let us not withhold the good news of Salvation from anyone for God’s heart is for all humanity to be saved through faith in Jesus who paid the price for all our sins.

That is why it is Outrageous Grace.

Bless you today.

Jesus the Lamb of God

Heaven’s darling,

All Hail the Lamb; All Hail the Lamb;

He is the darling of heaven;

He is crowned with many crowns;

At His name every knee will bow;

He is all majesty and power;

His eyes are like a flaming torch;

He is TRUTH and LOVE;

On His thigh is written a name only He knows;

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE;

He is our HEALER,

He is our Deliverer;

He is the Refining Fire;

Open your eyes today to see Him;

It is time to anoint our eyes with salve so that we can truly see Him;

Those blinded to the truth do not see Jesus for who He truly is;

He is more than a prophet, He is more than a man;

He is the Son of the living God;

He is God;

He is alive;

We live in times when there are many blind leaders of the blind;

Many follow those who are blind along wrong paths;

Are you blinded to the truth;

Have we become blinded to the truth;

I pray the Holy Spirit will open eyes to the truth today so that we can see Jesus more clearly;

Without Jesus as our saviour we are dead in our sin but He can cleanse us from all sin.

I pray today that you will see and know Jesus in all His glory.

Take hold of Him today and His redeeming Love for you in faith.

Amen

Look the Part…Play your Part

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?

There’s a clue in the corner

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.

“When we come together, we form something even more powerful.” Power in unity…that’s the body of Christ

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.

Game on…

Someone has put a lot of thought into every element…God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Created in His image.

Have a blessed day today my friends and you never know what will pop into your day unexpectedly to inspire you. Blessings in Jesus

The Perfect Plan of God – Harmony

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.

sky sunset person silhouette

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

 

 

Someone to notice us

Do you sometimes feel invisible? Overlooked? That people just don’t notice you.

A visiting preacher from Turkey once told us that Mission begins with Seeing.

In chapter 2 of the story of Ruth we read in verse 5 – Boaz said “whose young woman is this?”

Ruth who was a foreigner, a stranger, a refugee and destitute is noticed by Boaz.

From that moment on when she is noticed – everything in her life changes.

When we notice someone or when someone notices us – things change.

There were a lot of reasons for Boaz not to notice Ruth or pretend he hadn’t noticed her- she was a woman from another culture. She was poor – not a worker in the field just there to pick up the leftovers – but Boaz noticed her.

When he noticed her – he also did something proactive to change her circumstances forever. He showed her favour, gave her advice, gave her his protection and then redeemed her in marriage.

Ruth needed Boaz. Ruth was a widow from another country who had gone to Bethlehem with her mother in law Naomi, also a widow, to escape a famine in the land. They had heard that there was food in Bethlehem.

Ruth was a Moabite and was an outsider from a different culture. The Jews and Moabites were often in conflict. Ruth as a widow had no husband to represent her. She had no voice and no legal rights. She had no-one to protect her. She is living in a desperate situation having fled from a country suffering a severe famine. She has nothing other than her mother in law Naomi. She no doubt felt shame about her destitute circumstances.

Ruth was someone who desperately needed someone to notice her and help her.

Boaz was at the other end of the social scale. He was a wealthy landowner who has power, influence and privilege. He is a Jew. He has a voice. He has a position.

Sometimes “having” can stop us seeing how others – the “have nots” are affected and living, but not Boaz. He sees Ruth. He notices her situation and then uses his position to help her. He doesn’t ignore her plight.

This story is set in Bethlehem which is called the “House of Bread”.

Hungry people come to the house of bread to be fed.

When Ruth and Boaz marry and have children their descendants lead directly to Jesus. Jesus is from their line. Jesus who is and called himself the bread of life.

Hungry people need Jesus who is the only one who can truly satisfy their hunger.

Do we notice spiritually hungry people and signpost them to the true bread of life. Do we notice those who are actually hungry and feed them.

We are all refugees like Ruth in one sense in that we too as mankind lost our original place with God when sin entered the world through Adam & Eve eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge.

We all need a Boaz – a saviour to step in and help us. Someone who notices our plight and has the ability to be able to save us from sin – there is only one who can truly do that – His name is Jesus the son of God who through his death and resurrection saved and redeemed us from sin.

We are then refugees no more as our home is now in heaven with God forever and ever. We are now part of the family of God as Ruth became part of Boaz’s family on marriage.

If you feel invisible, insignificant or overlooked then I want you to know today that God is a God who sees us – God sees you.

God notices you. He is just waiting for you to notice Him. He sees you right where you are.

When Hagar fled to the wilderness and hid it was God who saw her – She called him “you are the God Who Sees” because God saw her in her predicament and helped her.

Even if those around us don’t notice us, if our families don’t notice us – God does. God always sees us. He loves us.

We are God’s eyes too – who does he want you to notice today so that you can show His love. Who does God want you to see?

Mission begins with seeing.

Whether you identify with Ruth or Boaz in the story, I pray that you will be encouraged today. You will know that God has noticed you – He sees you and loves you.

I pray that we will also notice those who God wants us to see, notice those who are in need today and help them.

Have a blessed day.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

The Narrow Gate

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.

Photo taken at Youlgrave

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

I hope you have found the narrow gate.

It’s a tight squeeze