Shout for Joy

This is my shout for Joy this Marvellous Monday.

God is good, worthy of all praise and glory. He has taken me who was destined for death and judgement because of my sin and has redeemed, restored and given me the greatest treasure…Jesus and eternal life. He has totally transformed me by His awesome power. I am a new me.

I am no longer dead spiritually but am alive in Christ Jesus, my Lord. I am lifted high through Him who loves Me and who has demonstrated already His great love for me by giving Himself totally for me. He died and rose again from death that I too might live, but not only that He has give me, His Holy Spirit.

His Spirit lives in me and empowers me.

When I fall, Jesus picks me up. He tends my wounds and heals me. He encourages me to endure and persevere. Jesus is in my corner. I am not alone.

He teaches me to be an overcomer of the works of the evil one and to laugh with joy at the works of God.

God’s handiwork of creation is bold and beautiful and reminds me daily how awesome my Father God is.

How wonderful, how amazing that I am now counted His child.

Adopted into the family of the most loving, merciful, gracious, trustworthy, good and powerful Father there ever is and who is for everlasting to everlasting. Praise His glorious name.

Join me in giving a Shout of Joy today for our most marvellous God and His son, Jesus.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

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.

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.

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

 

 

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

Gates-inspirations from Nehemiah

All my recent posts on gates can be found here:

Gates-The Sheep Gate,

Gates-The Fish Gate,

The Rubbish Gate,

The Valley Gate,

The Fountain and Water Gates,

The Horse Gate

Gates – The Inspection Gate

Gates-The Sheep Gate

I did a series of posts a couple of years ago on Gates and I am re-posting them with a couple of tweaks over the course of this week. The posts were inspired by a teaching I heard a Pastor give many years ago at church from the story of Nehemiah. I have also over the years used the material in small group teaching. The book of Nehemiah is rich material for a bible study and discussion group as there are valuable lessons for us that we can apply.

To set the scene, the Lord leads Nehemiah by His Spirit to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the ruined gates and walls of the city.

Here are some questions for us to consider. How and what are we building in our lives?

I am encouraged by the example of how to build from Nehemiah Chapter 3. The order in which Nehemiah describes how the gates and walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt is an example of how the Holy Spirit leads and inspires us to build in our lives.

The Sheep Gate was the first gate to be rebuilt. This is the most important gate in our lives. We have to come to God through the Sheep gate. The bible teaches us that it is only those who enter in by Jesus Christ (the Shepherd and the Sheep gate) who can come into relationship with God. Jesus said that no-one could come to the Father but by Him.

Have we come to God by repentance through the Cross of Jesus and understood the power of the Cross in our lives. That the power of sin and death is broken because of what Jesus has accomplished for us by His death and resurrection. That we are now children of the living God, adopted into God’s family. If we try and build on anything apart from the true foundation of the revelation of Jesus Christ and the Cross we will build wrongly. Jesus Christ has to be the cornerstone of our faith.

We all need to enter in through the Sheep gate to be a true sheep, no exceptions.

Jesus Christ warns us about those who don’t come in by the Sheep gate.

They are not sheep but wolves in Sheep’s clothing and there are false shepherds.

In John chapter 10 v 1-11 Jesus says “Most assuredly I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” “But he who enters by the door is the Shepherd of the sheep – To him the doorkeeper opens and the sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus went on to explain: “Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before me are thieves and robbers but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, If anyone enters by Me he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.”

Please be on your guard of any teaching or doctrine about Jesus which is contrary to what the Bible reveals to us about Jesus.

We need to come to God through a true revelation of who Jesus is, why his death on the Cross was necessary and the power of His resurrection. The bible teaches that Jesus was God’s son, the Word made flesh. Jesus came as God in the flesh. Jesus died for our sins but was raised again victorious and ascended back to Father God in heaven. God has given Him all authority and power and a name above all Names. Jesus sits at God’s right hand and makes intercession for us. One day Jesus will return for His church as He promised.

An interesting detail is that the Sheep gate was the only gate that didn’t have locks and bars. To me this symbolises that the way to God is open through Jesus and it is open to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. Nothing can disqualify you from receiving grace and forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ and the redemptive power of the Cross.

If you have never come through the Sheep Gate then I encourage you to confess your sins and take that step by faith in Jesus today. Receive forgiveness and start a new life in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Joseph Hero of the Faith (7)

We’ve been looking at Joseph’s character over the last series of posts, which had so much to encourage and teach us about Godly character as disciples of Jesus, but today’s question is Why Egypt? Why was it necessary for the action to take place in Egypt.

Jacobs’ family lived in Canaan. They were shepherds with livestock who moved their flocks around in search of pasture. Their environment and pastures were suitable for that but not for large scale agriculture. The famine that was coming was going to be devastating on an unprecedented scale and preparation was key.

It was not uncommon to have famines in those times. We read in the bible that there had been several famines already. In Abraham & Isaac’s time they had been forced to travel to foreign lands to buy food. This famine was going to be different though. 7 years was a long period of famine. It was going to affect a large number of people.

Where was a fertile place that could produce enough food to sustain the people and surrounding nations over seven long years with planning and preparation. Egypt was the answer. It was a natural resource.

The river Nile regularly flooded and the delta region around the Nile with its mud flats was rich in minerals and natural fertiliser. It was an extremely fertile region and capable of producing great harvests. A land of abundance.

Joseph was found and placed in the place where the resources were. God put those resources in his hands to be a blessing to many.

Has God given you a vision or mission field but at the moment you just don’t see how it’s going to be possible because you don’t have the resources currently. If God has given you the vision then He will provide. He is Jehovah Jireh. The Lord who provides. God knows where the resources are and can make them available to you for His glory and His purposes. God will provide according to His riches in glory.

God can provide not only the resources to make the vision come to pass but can also direct your paths to the place that is ready to receive. Your mission field. The place of harvest. God can take you to a place which is fertile and ready to receive God’s Word. You might already be right in that fertile place. A place where the soil of men’s hearts, through the work of the Spirit of God, been turned from stone into flesh, softened and ready to receive the Good News of Jesus.

Prepared in prayer with tears of intercession for men’s souls. Brother Alan posted recently the passionate plea of John Knox “ Give me Scotland, or I die”. What passion in prayer for the lost. You can read that post here John Knox

The Nile valley was so fertile that any seed which was sown didn’t need to be ploughed into the ground. The ground was so softened by the regular floods it was ready to receive the seed and the seed could immediately take root and grow.

The fields by my home ploughed ready for the seed

The Lord will show us those people whose hearts are prepared ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus. They are out there desperate and thirsty for the gospel. Jesus told His followers that the harvest was great. There are people who are open and desperate to hear the Good News of Jesus.

Then He (Jesus) said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2

One of the greatest lies the enemy would have us believe is that people are not interested in what Christians have to say. They are interested. People are hungry for the Truth and are looking for it in all sorts of places. Be encouraged and bold that the Lord will direct your steps to share with those who are open and ready to receive.

If the ground is hard and not ready to receive then the seed is going to wither and die. Have you seen what happens when a heavy rain storm falls on hard ground. The water can’t penetrate the ground quickly enough and there is flash flooding. The ground was not prepared ready to receive the rain let alone the seed. It doesn’t penetrate the soil but runs off.

We don’t want run off.

We don’t want our words to run off like that water but we want them to penetrate and water the soil of men’s hearts. Ploughed soil is ready to receive. Ground that is broken up is ready to receive the rain. Little raindrops from heaven. Little words sent in due season.

If the soil is not ready to receive then it needs to be prepared. If those around you currently are hard hearted to the gospel message then we can intercede in prayer for them before God’s throne for the Holy Spirit to minister to their minds and hearts. For those hearts of stone to be turned to hearts of flesh. We can cry out for them to God. May our cries reach the ears of our Father in Heaven who sent His son to seek and save that which was lost.

If you are like me then I’m sure you have experienced rejection by people who were just not ready to receive you. It can be discouraging and cause us to hold back in future. I am learning that I need to recognise the conditions and discern when to sow and when to reap. To be led by the Holy Spirit and move on if the conditions are not ready yet.

Jesus told those that He sent out to minister that if there was no Peace in the house i.e the place was not ready to receive them – then their peace would return to them. If the disciples were not received then they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Matthew 10:14

Even though those disciples must have encountered some of the rejection that Jesus warned them about, they still returned with joy to tell Jesus the things they had accomplished in His name.

We will do likewise. We will rejoice over those who receive Christ and come into the Kingdom of God.

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

The seed sprouting in the fields