So… I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately.
During my primary school years – around age 9 or 10, one of the most anticipated events at the end of the school day was the ice cream man. As my mind shifted from the joy of not being the last one to be let out of the classroom (everything was a competition when I was younger lol), I could hear the chugging ice cream van parked on the other side of the leafy school fence. Most of the time I would have already spent my pocket money for that day on sweets, which I bought whilst making my way to school in the morning – golf ball chewing gums, jaw breaker fire balls, strawberry pencils – the list was endless. On those days I had no choice but to reluctantly walk past the ice cream van, envying the reception kids, who were not old enough to appreciate the flake vanilla ice cream they were allowing to melt all over the sleeves of their school uniform.
Other days I resisted the morning sweet binge in order to buy my double cone, three scoop ice cream with nuts, sprinkles and strawberry sauce on top. I had a very sweet tooth growing up. But on most days, I had done the former and therefore missed out on ice cream after school, so I felt sorry for myself. It’s not fair, if only I was like the kids whose parents picked them up from school, surely I would also enjoy this privilege. The truth is I needed to practice self discipline, sometimes it’s better we don’t get everything we want, when we want – everyday could not be “ice cream man day” because that would be bad for my health and I would also probably take it for granted – it took me a while to learn this.
Some 16 years later, as I analyse my current place in life, I still find myself grumbling “it’s not fair”. Perhaps there are aspects of your life that cause you to do the same. Why isn’t my reality like so and so’s? Why can’t everything be perfect all the time? It got to the point where I started to question God: why did You allow things to be this way? I was throwing the biggest pity party. Then I started thinking about Job and how unfair his whole experience was. Here was a guy who was so “faithful” to God, even offering sacrifices for the potential sins of his children and yet God still allowed the devil to take everything away from him! Surely he didn’t deserve that,
why would our loving, good God do such a thing?
The Holy Spirit led me to the book of Job and directed me to read the last 5 chapters and they completely shut down my pity party. If you are feeling discontent or frustrated with where you are in life or a particular ongoing situation like Job, I would encourage you to read just these five chapters – Job 38 to 42.
The truth is our understanding of “morality”, “justice”, “good” is so warped by our sinful nature that we can never ever rightly question God. Yes you can take your questions to God like I did, but accusing God’s nature and character because you’re uncomfortable with where you are in life right now, only shows how wavering and fickle our faith in Him really is.
My mind went to sessions of praise and worship were I had heartily bellowed the song lyrics of the band Housefires’ “good good Father”. I thought to myself, am I not the same person that passionately sang these words to this same God? Why was I struggling to grasp His goodness now? The truth is God is constantly molding and shaping our faith, so that it is steady, firm and sure.
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance, proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance [of eternal salvation].
Our faith in God should not be based solely on how comfortable He has made us, or the fact that we prayed and got what we prayed for, or the latest “good thing” that has happened in our lives. God is calling us to a faith that is based on our reverence and understanding of who He is first and foremost.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
It isn’t logical, it isn’t transactional, it’s supernatural – it requires the inner work of the Holy Spirit to sustain this kind of faith, but it is possible to believe God simply because He is God – even when you’re in the storm. You’ve heard of child like faith – it’s very simple – young children believe even before they’ve seen the evidence. So things might be really challenging and discouraging for you at the moment, be encouraged things will get better. My prayer is that the Lord will enable us to wait upon Him, our hope will not be disappointed!
I Peter 5:10
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
May God enable us to be steadfast in our faith and confidence in Him, so that even in the valleys, the fiery furnace, the oppositions our hope will be firmly planted in Him until He comes to our aid in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love ❤
It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me.
Some of us have been to terrible, dark places in our lives – paths we blame ourselves for journeying; so that if any man or woman should choose to love us, deep within us we believe there lies our redemption.
“She can be loved”
His proposal tells the world “she can be loved”, and having her by his side makes him ”desirable”. Is it partly because, although we say Christ has redeemed us, we continue to hold ourselves guilty of our past? This is certain, you will never be able to pay for the life you lived, and there is nothing you can do to change your past. But His blood is more powerful, more than capable of helping you to recover from those mistakes and healing your traumas. His blood calls you a new creation. Even if you were the worst of sinners, there is no darkness, no failure, no history that the blood of Jesus cannot overcome and wash away.
“…bought at a much greater price”
Do you long desperately for ”Mister right’‘? Well contrary to the world’s fairytale there is no knight in shining armour who can save you, because the truth is – we all need saving. Maybe you’re already in a relationship? Do you love it when people talk about your relationship? Does it give you a confidence in your self-worth, which you dare not carry alone? The truth is, no relationship status, no ring can redeem you, because you were bought at a much greater price. Are you able to love and appreciate your worth, the unique value placed in you by God? Or are you still angry and still ashamed? I find I feel more confident since getting engaged, it’s like you carry a stamp on your left hand that says “you’re worth it” (like the L’Orèal ads). But the novelty will soon wear off and then what? Will you seek for the next thing to make you feel redeemed and cleared of your past?
Christ is before you asking you, “Woman where are thine accusers?” Think about the woman accused of adultery, even after the accusations ceased why did she remain there, stood before Jesus? Perhaps her greatest condemnation – the one that kept her where her accusers left her, was her own. What have you done wrong? How have you messed up? Whatever it is, I have news for you, you have been redeemed. You don’t have to justify God’s love towards you or His blessings in your life. There is no need to feel ashamed anymore, when the spotlight is on you. They don’t see who you used to be, they don’t see your past sins and struggles, they see God’s glory. They see YOU, redeemed and refined by Christ – because you are. Jesus took your shame to the cross, you have been redeemed and there is no catch, but believe that your redemption is in Christ.
Your redemption is not pegged on your relationship status. When it comes to the matters of your inner-self, your relationship status is irrelevant. Start addressing those memories that try to convince you that you haven’t changed. Read about Paul, he could have carried the shame and guilt of a notorious past, persecuting the church. He would have been justified to seek the approval of the people he was sent to share the Gospel with, but instead he allowed his identity and call in Christ to be the driving force of his life. You can too.
It isn’t my relationship that redeemed me. I was a wreck, and Christ saw me, broken, desperate and tired, and He carried me. Long before my Fiancé noticed me or even knew who I was, long before there was any proposal in sight, Christ began a work of redemption in me. So I encourage you today, to forgive yourself and forgive your past, and begin to learn about your redemption that is everlasting in Christ. As my Pastor often says – “your past is past”, and no man can, no man has redeemed you and no man will, but the living God.
May God help us to believe His unconditional love towards us, may He teach us step out of the shadows of our past and hand over every negative memory and guilt to Him, and may God teach us to truly love ourselves, in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love
It could be through a dream, conviction of the heart, a revelation.
When God speaks, something new is born – a vision, an assignment, a calling, an ambition. It changes the way we see all that is around us. Our priorities are often rearranged, we sing a new chorus in our hearts, and our minds are filled and fuelled by it.
“God said” starts more and more of our conversations, especially the ones we have within ourselves; as we try to defend the promise God has entrusted to us.
What should we do when God said, and nothing has happened… yet?
God said to Abraham, “Get out of thy country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing”
God said to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.”
The angel of the Lord said to Abraham and Sarah “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, “shall I surely bare a child, since I am old?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”
It had been twenty-five years since the promise was first mentioned in the Bible; imagine how long Sarah had already been waiting before we hear of this promise. She had waited so long for this promise, that when she was told specific details of how long it would be, before she would have a child – her longing and her desire had overwhelmed her faith. Anticipation became anxiety, and waiting turned into worrying. Perhaps secretly within her, Sarah had loosen her grip and let go of the promise. Because having the type of faith that has no bearings by the world’s standards, the type of faith that exceeds mere “optimism” or “positivity”, may have been too difficult for her.
If you could utter words of encouragement to Sarah, in the midst of her waiting, knowing what you know about Isaac and Israel, what would you say?
I would tell her that the possibility of her not having a son was impossible. I would make her aware that a lineage specially chosen by God, was dependant on her having her son. I would assure her that God had plans, hundreds of years in the future, that rested upon her receiving her promise.
So, what has God said concerning you? What has been revealed to you? Is it in line with the character and nature of God? If God has confirmed it as His Word, then it must come to pass. Don’t let go of it, prepare yourself – it will come.
May God pour out over us the grace to trust in Him and wait upon Him in Jesus name amen
Peace & Love
Even as a Christian, don’t make the mistake of believing that your acknowledgment of God is the end of the journey.
The journey has only just begun.
You are no longer the same, in fact you will spend the rest of your life being changed forever.
You are created with such intricacy, such specific detail – nothing in this world can ever fill the void – this world alone is insufficient for you.
There are things hidden within you that only God knows about.
There are joys and rays of peace you strive for, and God has kept them in a secret and lovely place.
There is no one person without a destiny in Christ; as wretched as you may think you are, or think the next person is. God carefully designed this unique vessel, this God-inspired creation, for His own joy of loving us and the incomparable, indescribable joy of being loved by the Father.
So I encourage you today, to return to that secret place, the place that God called Jacob back to, so many times. The place where God first met with you.
Don’t ever be too busy for God, He is your sustenance – without Him, you will run out of steam. Sunday isn’t enough, everyday you must desire to rekindle that special love between you and the Father – spending time with Him in your own special way.
And if you don’t know Him, He has been waiting to know you all of your life.
Wanting to know God, is enough to begin the journey.
Pray this prayer with me: Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I’m a sinner. And I ask for your forgiveness. I believe your son, Jesus, died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins. I repent of my sins. I invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus’ name, amen.
For the joy of the LORD is your strength
“I choose Joy”
How easy is it to hold on to joy, when a wave of sadness floods your mind?
A misplaced item, the wrong choice of words, a scornful look, the playing out of injustice, a subtle descending of sadness – covering the heart. But the day is not spent.
See, the Son still shines, even in the thickest night, look up and see, the Son still shines.
His smile radiates over us. Beloved of Christ, hear the voice of the Living God, serenading your soul. His love for you, colours each day. Even in the silence, listen, for your inhale and exhale are only echoes of His profession of love to you.
If ever again you notice that wave beginning to descend, or you feel the heaviness of it covering your heart, remember that you are the apple of God’s eye. He sustains the universe for your benefit. In jealousy Satan endeavors to steal a joy he has lost forever. He recognises the strength of a joyful Spirit and the might of a heart filled with gladness. A heart better able to love, to trust, and to forbear. But have you noticed how difficult it is to love yourself, to love your neighbour, when you are sorrowful? I am learning that deep sadness is like a filtered lense. When you put it on, it takes the colour, the beauty away from everything, and since only we are seeing the things around us through this filter, it makes us feel alone.
So I challenge you today to take off the shades, lift the blanket, shake off the waves and choose joy, because
the joy of the Lord is your strength
We can, to a very great extent control even our own emotions; but then, besides, we can do more than that. It may be quite true, that you cannot help feeling sorrowful in the presence of sorrowful thoughts, and glad in the presence of thoughts that naturally kindle gladness. But I will tell you what you can do or refrain from doing-you can either go and stand in the light, or you can go and stand in the shadow. You can either fix your attention upon, and make the predominant subject of your religious contemplations, a truth which shall make you glad and strong, or a half-truth, which shall make you sorrowful, and therefore weak. Your meditations may either centre mainly upon your own selves, your faults and failings, and the like; or they may centre mainly upon God and His love, Christ and His grace, the Holy Spirit and His communion.
You may either fill your soul with joyful thoughts, or though a true Christian, a real, devout, God-accepted believer, you may be so misapprehending the nature of the Gospel, and your relation to it, its promises and precepts, its duties and predictions, as that the prevalent tinge and cast of your religion shall be solemn and almost gloomy, and not lighted up and irradiated with the felt sense of God’s presence-with the strong, healthy consciousness that you are a forgiven and justified man, and that you are going to be a glorified one.
Today, you will be confronted with many choices, many opportunities to make decisions.
There is one decision that you can make, that will enable you to see, taste, hear and feel the goodness of God which already surrounds you. Choose Joy today.
Peace & Love
One thing I think a lot of Christians struggle with is waiting…
For some people working in faith, serving in faith, sowing in faith, even being persecuted and still having faith, is not as much of a challenge for them as waiting in faith.
We become uncomfortable, we pray and we don’t hear anything, we fast, we seek counsel, and that feeling of waiting grates on us. We read over the scriptures that are supposed to encourage us, but we use them to fuel our anxiety. If God said I should ask, and I have asked, and He promised I will receive – why am I not receiving?
But a persevering faith is precious and it will only reap reward from Heaven.
When I feel like doubting God, trying to find a compromise to what I am waiting on God for, I hear the Holy Spirit cheering me on, encouraging me. Telling me to keep on waiting, not to relent in waiting, to be hopeful in the character of the Almighty God and confident in His love for me. Don’t stop looking unto God for this, He will do it.
If we are able to persevere in trusting God, even when everything and everyone else is counting the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years. We show God that our faith in Him goes beyond us getting things from Him. Instead we put our faith in God because we believe He is the only Way worth pursuing, the only Truth worth knowing, and the only Life worth living.
God’s grace is sufficient for us.
Have a wonderful day.
Peace & Love
Rightly so, as children of God we desire to look like our heavenly Father. All too often I understand the frustration when we fall short.
As one of three children, I remember how jealous I became when a family friend visited and said my sister resembled my Mum more than I did. She was clearly mistaken. The competition was never-ending between my Sister and I, to resemble our parents.
“You have your Dad’s eyes”, they would say. “You are a carbon-copy of your Mum!”
They were so passionate and sure of their observations. They enjoyed making the comparison and I enjoyed being reminded of my roots, where I came from.
Identity is a complex thing.
Whilst reading daily devotionals about what it means to be Set Apart – to be Holy, I recognised my strong desire to be like my heavenly Father and God’s even stronger desire, expressed in His word, for us to be like Him.
As the devotional revealed to me:
The more time I spend with my Father, the more I seek Him – to learn Christ, to know Christ – the more I will look like Christ. The fruit of the Spirit of God can be borne in my behaviour, my character, my lifestyle and the condition of my heart. My journey in Christ isn’t hopeless.
It amuses us when we see the resemblance developing between a married couple. They may have the same mannerisms or finish each other’s sentences. The similarities that become apparent between two good friends – two peas in a pod – so that one might be mistaken for the other. Likewise, a growing relationship with God is the avenue to looking more like Him.
Being Set Apart may not be easy, and yes it is a daily exercise and a continued goal, passing days, passing months, years and decades.
But how delightful it is to look like my Father,
A display of His splendor,
To be refined by His manifested love for me,
Created in His image, formed in His likeness.
The more we spend time with God, the more we are conformed to the image of Christ, the more we can be Holy and Set Apart like Christ.
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
My prayer is that Lord, Your love for us will not allow us to weary of seeking You and spending time with You. Teach us to delight in You Lord, so that we will look more and more like our Lord and personal Saviour Christ Jesus. So that we will be conformed to the image of Christ, just like You intended in Jesus name amen.
Peace & Love