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

I have something to say…

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.

So he said, “Teacher, say it.” Luke 7:40

I read this passage of Scripture this morning and it really got me thinking about how Jesus approached Simon with an important truth that he wanted Simon to hear and understand.

Jesus was an invited guest into Simon’s home. He had been invited in but had not been welcomed in (there’s a difference) as Simon’s behaviour had made clear. Jesus had noticed all these slights from Simon as the host such as not giving Jesus water to clean his feet or a welcoming kiss. We know from this well known bible story that a woman comes in (who Simon knows is a woman of bad reputation) and instead she cleans Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair and anoints him with oil.

Jesus had discerned Simon’s heart from his actions and also his thoughts about the woman washing Jesus’s feet. Jesus had something important to teach Simon about forgiveness and love but first Jesus tested whether Simon was prepared to hear what Jesus had to say.

Notice that Jesus in this situation didn’t just presume to tell Simon. He gave Simon the opportunity to hear or not what Jesus had to say. This wasn’t a general teaching to a crowd but this was going to be directed straight at Simon. It was personal. Simon could have said.. no thanks I don’t want to hear what you’ve got to say. I’m not interested. I think if he had then Jesus would have respected that decision and not said anything further. However, Simon gives Jesus the right and permission to speak to him and even acknowledges him as a “Teacher”.

When I’m wronged, treated badly or just want to get my views across then my first reaction is usually to just “tell” and get it straight out there without thinking of asking the other person whether they actually want to hear what I’ve got to say or not. Generally, they’re going to get my opinion whether they like it or not but the question is, have I asked and do I have permission to speak into the situation. Perhaps, I should first be saying “I have something to say to you”.

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 🙏

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.

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 🙏

Burning Love

I was thinking about relationships and love the other day. This year is my 30th wedding anniversary in July. After dropping a few hints (very heavy hints) my husband realised what a milestone this was and something to be celebrated. I can only think being married to me is a celebration every day so that’s why he had forgotten 🤣

Our relationship has naturally changed over the years and deepened from that initial attraction and fervent love and passion to the developing of a deeper understanding and love for one another that goes beyond that surface knowledge and intimacy to something way deeper. We have learnt from each other and also discovered new things together. Set our own rhythms and become comfortable with each other, trusting each other to be there and challenge and support when things are tough.

There have been different seasons in our relationship. We are now entering that season when our children don’t need us as much and retirement is a lot closer. Our children are off doing their own thing so nights in, days out, holidays are generally just us now. When there’s no-one else around but you, that’s when you need those common interests and to still have fun together.

This navel gazing at my marriage has made me think of the beauty of being able to have a personal relationship with Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit.

When we are mature in faith (I’ve been a Christian longer than I’ve been married to my husband) it is good to stop and consider, whether our hearts still burn with a fervent love for God and for Jesus, our saviour.

Has our fire dwindled and do the embers need a fan of the wind of God’s Spirit.

What is it that motivates us daily in the things we do and say.

Remember that first time you became a Christian and how you were so hungry for the things of God?

If that fervent love is not still there, then what has taken the place which God had in our lives.

The Bible says Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Idolatry is putting something before God – we can make idols of money, careers, other people -worshipping anything other than God.    

Idolatry is one of the areas I believe Holy Spirit is bringing conviction to us as believers in the Body of Christ. The Lord wants all of us.

The Holy Spirit can reveal the true nature of our hearts and what it is that really takes the first place in our lives, our thoughts, prompting our actions. 

Sometimes, we are blind to what or who is really sitting on the throne in our hearts.

We love God because He first loved us and gave His son to die for us while we were still sinners.

Love for God will manifest itself in spending time in His word and in fellowship with Him through prayer and praise. Times of fellowship with God; fellowship with other believers, being obedient to His Will; allowing His Holy Spirit to fill us and mould us.

The Lord draws us with chords of love. Let him draw you to Him today.

The beauty of Holiness

Holiness – it’s a word we don’t hear a lot or generally feel comfortable using these days even in church.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 1:15 “But as He who called you is Holy, you also be Holy in all your conduct“.

Our Pastor says when you think of being Holy just think it’s being separated and different to the world because of Jesus.

It seems to me that when we try to be Holy ourselves (apart from Jesus) then it just becomes a religious list of dos and don’ts which lead to frustration and guilt when we fail.

We can end up doing lots of works with little fruit.

A wise person said “Holiness will take care of itself when we see ourselves as the Holy people of God with a Holy destiny“.

The way of holiness is living in and through Jesus.

In Revelation 2 Jesus says to the Church at Ephesus:

“I know your works, your labour, your patience and that you cannot bear those who are evil, and you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not and have found them liars, and you have persevered and have patience and have laboured for My name’s sake and have not become weary, Nevertheless I have this against you; that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent and do the first works

Jesus said they were patient, hardworking, persistent, hated evil – but they no longer had a fervent love for Christ and God out of which their works were to flow.

They had lost their first love.

Jesus said the greatest commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind” and then “to love your neighbour as yourself“:

I like to think this expression of love unto God and others is Holiness in action.

By Invitation Only

My dear children – you are all children in my sight, dear and beloved to me.

How my heart aches for you. How my heart longs to take you in my arms and remove the burdens you are carrying.  

I am here – just waiting for you.

Waiting to lift you up in my arms and carry you through the night.

Do you hear me calling to you?  Do you hear my still small voice crying out to you?  

Do not try and block out my voice.   Do not fill your hearts and lives with worldly things which would stifle my still small voice.  

Make room in your hearts for me.   Make room.

Some of you need to clean out the house, to make room so that I can come in and sup with you and talk to you and make you mine.

Some of you have squeezed me into the smallest room of your heart and tried to close the door and keep me in that small space. You will not allow me to have access to the parts which I need to access – the parts which need healing, cleansing and release.

Some of you have opened up a parlour, the best room, where I am invited to sit.  

Where everything to outward appearances is swept clean and tidy – all rubbish hidden out of view – a room where a fire burns and which seems welcoming and inviting and where everything appears to be alright – but you are not comfortable with me.  

You are not comfortable in my presence and you do not know how to be comfortable with me.

You are not really comfortable with my presence because you are fearful that I will want to go into the other rooms and all the other rooms are barred to me.

You are ashamed of them.

You feel that they are not good enough for me.

You feel that I would not want to really see inside those rooms – rooms which are dirty, unclean, cluttered, and full of things which you are ashamed of –

those are the very rooms I need to go into with you and help you clean. Help you bring warmth and light into those rooms.

Those areas of your life which you are ashamed of – those areas of your life which you try and keep me out of and pretend do not exist.

I am not fooled.  

I want to come into all areas. I want to be able to access all areas of your life and your hearts.

Do not be afraid my children. Do not be afraid.

If you will open the door then I will come in and we will eat together. We will talk together, we will commune together. I made you, created you, I know you better than you know yourselves.   I will not be shocked or outraged by anything in your life or in your heart. If you are willing to submit to me completely then I will come in and do a work in you. I will restore you and refresh you.

Some of you ran well once. Who interrupted your race? Who hardened your heart against me? Who deafened your ears and muffled my voice? Who stole away your desire to be with me and the intimacy that we once enjoyed? Who stole your first love?

I am the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I sit at the right hand of my father in heaven. I am not a thief or a trespasser. I do not enter in where I am not invited.

Do not keep me out of my rightful place in your heart and in your life. I want to take up my rightful place in your heart and in your life.   Let me take up my rightful place.  

Come to me and submit yourself to me. Open the door and let me into my rightful place.   Open the door and let me into the closed places.  

I am King and Lord of all and there is no other but me. Let me come in.     Do not leave it any longer.   The time has come to let me be King and Lord in my rightful place.  

For the time will come when I will no longer be stood here knocking.  

Let me in to that locked and darkened room in your heart so that I may bring my light and my healing touch.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Revelation 3:19-20

Letting go…#TestimonyTuesday

I don’t know about you but I’ve found that is actually very hard to let go as a parent. I know it needs to be done. It’s the natural rhythm of life – to let them find their own way and do their own thing without interfering. It’s hard though. To trust that our Father in Heaven is the One looking out for them. You’re not the protector any more. You have to give them over to God. They were His all the time anyway. I guess my parents felt the same way about me…

My youngest is currently 2 months in to a solo back packing trip of the Far East. Her dad dropped her off at Heathrow Airport in early March. She flew into Bangkok on her own and then a few days later (after complying with COVID restrictions) she booked and took a night train to the North of Thailand. All on her own at 19. She still seemed a baby to me. Too young to be making her way in a foreign land on her own. It’s COVID times as well. No friends or travelling companions. How would she cope. More to the point.. How would I cope?

My friends were all asking me .. how could you let her go? Why didn’t you stop her? As if I were a reckless parent leaving her in danger. But how could we stop her? I guess it would have been easy enough to have interfered and put fear into her and obstacles but it wouldn’t have been right. We had brought both our girls up to explore this world. It’s a beautiful world with a wealth of opportunities to meet incredible people. Created by our wonderful Father. We love to travel and have adventures.

When she was 4 we took her to America. No big deal but it was a holiday when we hadn’t booked any accommodation. A road trip with endless possibilities. Wonderful. Trips followed to Sri Lanka, Dubai, South Africa…. A school trip to Indonesia for her World Challenge. We had opened her eyes to the world and now she wanted to explore it without us. Oh my…that was the hard bit. On her own. No Mum, No Dad. She wanted to go on her own. I wasn’t prepared for that.

It’s hard. I’m not going to lie. She’s on the other side of the world. There is 6 hours difference in time. I’m awake, she’s asleep for some parts. I can’t hold her, comfort her, guide her. I have put her in God’s hands. I fasted and prayed before she went. I thank the Lord for His protection, grace and favour over her. I’m overwhelmed with the grace and favour shown to her on her travels so far. So many incredible examples of God being on that journey with her. I can’t wait to see what God has in store next.

She is in Cambodia now. The next stage of her journey. More new experiences and adventures. God is with her. I thank God that however much I love her, He loves her more than I can possibly love her and understand His love. She is His and I’m so grateful for that. God is good, all the time. I’m so thankful for His faithfulness and still after all these years learning to trust Him in all things. Amen.

Our last family holiday all together in New York 2018
London best city in the world 😊
The world was waiting
The world is our there..
And I can’t have family photos without a nod to Spurs..best team ever 😊

#TestimonyTuesday

God loves people. He sees their hidden wounds and wants to bring healing. Sometimes, it is a prompt from the Lord which is the catalyst to expose the hidden pain and bring release. I want to share this short testimony today of how God spoke into someone’s life to do just that.

A friend and I were praying in our local town as part of the monthly street prayer team. A man was walking towards us and as he approached, a man’s name came to me. I can’t recall the name now but I’ll say “Keith” for the purposes of this story.

We said good morning and he stopped and asked what we were doing. We explained that once a month on a Saturday, we prayed for people on the street who wanted prayer, either for themselves or others. We asked if he wanted prayer. He said no but continued to chat with us.

Whilst we were chatting, the name came to me again, so I asked him if he knew a man called “Keith”. He considered it and then said No. I thought, ok – I’m mistaken. However, he then went on to say that the only “Keith” he knew had run off with his wife. This opened a floodgate which the Lord alone knew was there. This man poured out the pain of the situation he was in and the loss of his children who he now saw only rarely.

This man then asked me how I knew about Keith. I explained that I didn’t but how God loved him and that I believed God had spoken that name to me because God saw his hurts. God wanted to help him. We asked if we could pray into the situation. This time he agreed. We prayed together on the street and it was beautiful to see God’s love reaching out to this man.

Today, God wants to use you to show His love to someone too. It can be demonstrated in so many different ways. God know what each person needs. I pray that the Lord will use each one of us today to show someone God’s love for them.

Lord God, how do you want us to show your love to someone we meet today. Show us we pray. Amen.

Bring the love letter from God