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Believe

Believe
verb– accept that (something) is true, to have confidence in the truth

‘Be who you are, and not who you think you cannot be.’
(Claire Díaz-Ortiz, The Better Life: Small Things You Can Do Right Where You Are)

Maybe you are different to me & made of stronger stuff. But my mind gets clouded quickly.I can forget easily.

I mean, I can accept this as fact on a mellow Sunday afternoon:

I am a child of God. Abba’s child.

But the truth can evaporate quickly when the reality of a Monday morning kicks in before my coffee does. Or when I’m triggered & my short fuse blows. Big time.When I’m the worst version of myself. When I fail even by my standards. When can’t even love me- let alone anyone else.

Yet, even when I think I’m doing well, my efforts will never be good enough- ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬) ‘We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags’
‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭64:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

The only thing we bring to the equation of salvation is our sin.

But God… {perhaps the biggest BUT in time & eternity}:
‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
(‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:8‬ ‭NIV)

‘It’s not about our character- it’s about His’ (Michele Cushatt)

We need to preach this Gospel to ourselves- often.

‘God loves you unconditionally, as you are and not as you should be, because nobody is as they should be.’ (Brennan Manning)

‘God’s love is not based on you but placed on you’
(Lysa Terkheurst)

Thankfully our relationship with God is based on His eternal love, amazing mercy & audacious grace.

Not our feelings & failings.
Not our best efforts.
But God stepping in with love,mercy & grace.

I am His & He is mine

Fully known yet forever loved

I am a child of God.

Abba Father, I do believe. Help my unbelief.

For, ‘faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.’
(CS Lewis )

Abba Father, we trust in You. It’s all about You:
‘Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.’
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭3:23&24‬ ‭MSG)

‘Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power].’
(ROMANS‬ ‭5:2‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

We are truly loved by God‬‬. If we began to grasp & believed the enormity of this truth, it could make all the difference in the world.

‘Sooner or later we must distinguish between what we are not and what we are. We must accept the fact that we are not what we would like to be. We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap and showy garment that it is .We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its great and very simple dignity: created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and his unselfishness.’
(Thomas Merton)

‘You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural. You are more than dust and bones. You are spirit and power and image of God.’
(Shauna Niequist)

‘You are who God says you are’
(UCB)

‘In your greatest moments,
you are never more than a sinner embraced by the love & mercy of God, forgiven at the expense of the death of His Son.
And in your most broken times,
you are never less than a daughter of the king,
a chosen child of the Father,
& an inheritor of every blessing in Christ’
(Valerie Murphy)

And in the good times and the bad, our Abba Father draws near:
‘He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.’
(Brennan Manning)

Jesus said, “Make yourselves at home in My love”
(John 15:9 MSG)

Abide
Dwell
Remain in His love

Feel at home in this love.

Home is where the heart is

Believe in your heart, not just your head.

Believe you are who God says you are.

‘You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are’
(Shauna Niequist)

‘I’m not looking for a better version of myself, but a truer version of who I have always been: loved, cherished, beautiful, strong.'(Alia Joy)

I am a child of God. Abba’s child.

Believe:

‘It is enough & everything to belong to God & know it’
(Dale Hanson Bourke)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Praying God-words day by day

Use these verses from God’s Word to pray God-words for others each day.

*The numerals denote the day of the month

1 ‘I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened,2 that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 1:16-20 ESV)

3 ‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- 4 that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’ (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)

5And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, 6 and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.’ (Philippians 1:9-11 ESV)

7 ‘May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfil all your plans!’(Psalm 20:4 ESV)

8 ‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 9 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.’(Colossians 1:9,10 ESV)

10 ‘May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.’ (Colossians 1:11,12 ESV)

11 ‘Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.’(1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV)

12 ‘Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, 13 that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.’ (Ephesians 6:18-20 ESV)

14 ‘To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ (2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12 ESV)

15 ‘Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.’ (2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17 ESV)

16 ‘May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! 17 May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!’ (Psalm 20:1,2 ESV)

18 ‘May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.’(Psalm 67:1, 2 ESV)

19 ‘Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, 20 working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.’ (Hebrews 13:20, 21 ESV)

21 ‘May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! (Psalm 20:1, 2 ESV)

22“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 23 Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 24 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)

25 ‘Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.’ (Psalm 119:18 ESV)

26 ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:23, 24 ESV)

27 ‘Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.’ (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

28 ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.’ (Psalm 19:14 ESV)

29 ‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.’ (Ephesians 3:20, 21 ESV)

30 ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.’
‭‭(2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

31 ‘To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Timothy 1:17 ESV)

Abba’s child

‘One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are’
(Henri J M Nouwen-Here&Now)

‘Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion’
(Brennan Manning)

Many of us struggle with identity- who we are & where we fit in this planet. We can become distracted & develop spiritual amnesia, forgetting who & Whose we really are

If we have turned to God & trusted in Him for forgiveness, we are now a child of God:
‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.’
(‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‘See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are!’
(‭‭1 JOHN‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

Back in Easter 1988 I trusted in God as my Saviour- I was adopted into the family of God, along with countless others who have called to God in Jesus’ Name through the years:

‘But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.’
‭‭(Galatians‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

We can call God our Father in heaven. Or “Abba!” (Daddy) We are adopted.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

“I have called you by name- you are mine!”Isaiah 43:1)

Adoption was once a somewhat abstract concept to me. But this Easter changed that- as I met for the first time three children adopted into the Canez branch of the Coulter family tree!

One photo taken to celebrate their adoption contained a chalkboard with four words written on it:

*Wanted
*Chosen
*Loved
*Adopted

The Bible uses these words to describe our relationship with God:

‘just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will– to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ].’
(‭‭EPHESIANS‬ ‭1:4-6‬ ‭AMP‬‬)

We need to read & re-read these deep truths & embed them into our hearts & minds.

‘So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.’
(‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:15-17‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

We are no longer a slave to fear- we are children of God. Speak this truth to yourself again & again.

The only Perfect Parent is God our Heavenly Father. He can be trusted. He is a Good Good Father. He is love & He loves us.

‘For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.’
‭‭(Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Yet, we can forget Whose we are. Over years, our close relationship with God can drift.We can turn away from Him & chose to go our own way.

Many of us are prodigals. Of course, we’re still our Father’s children – nothing can change that. But we’re certainly not close to our Father- we’re living in a distant land, far from the Father’s house. We’ve squandered His riches, freely given to us. We’re missing out on the privileges of His children – we’re searching for scraps in the pigsty when we could be feasting at His table.

Maybe today, we need to come home, to return to our Father’s house, to feel the warmth of His embrace and the unspeakable joy of a restored relationship. There’ll be no anger, or awkward questions, just His tender voice saying, “Welcome home” and His deep unconditional love- the love that He’s been aching to show us while we were apart. And we’ll wonder why we were away so long – away from our Father’s house, but we’ll realise that we were never, never away from our Father’s love.

‘You may go through seasons
Of sun & wind & rain.
You may tread the desert
And in out of pain.
You may run through years
Wondering if you’re good enough,
But you will never run too far
That you’re outside of His love.’
(Morgan Harper-Nichols)

We may be unlovely at times but we are never unloved!

‘If we were all to live as how we are loved – everything would change’
(Sarah Bessey)

‘How glorious the splendour of a human heart that trusts that it is loved’
(Brennan Manning)

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS ‘Abba’s child’ is the title of a book:

*Abba’s Child:the cry of the heart for intimate belonging- Brennan Manning 1994

Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Spring clean your life!

Spring is the season of new beginnings & a great time for a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to reflect on our tattered lives & move forward.

Just as we clean & clear our homes in spring, we may need to clean & clear the clutter in our lives:

*Deep cleansing

Easter is a time to contemplate costly forgiveness. Deep cleansing of our souls begins at the cross:
‘Where your love ran red
And my sins washed white’
(Chris Tomlin)

Only God can truly clean our messed up lives when we ask Him to forgive us. And as broken people in a broken world we need to keep returning to our Creator, asking Him to create a clean heart in us:
‘Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean, scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life. God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.’
(Psalm 51:7 & 8 MSG)

*Seek God first

‘Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.’
(Matthew 6:30-34 MSG)

Don’t worry what others think, live to please the One who knows you best, & loves you most!
‘I live before the audience of One-before others I have nothing to gain, nothing to lose, nothing to prove.'(Os Guiness)

*Draw a line under what’s past

‘Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!’
(Isaiah 43:19MSG)

Clear the mental clutter! Don’t over-think things. Let go of emotional baggage that’s weighing you down & affecting your present reality. Recognise what you can influence. You can’t change other people or circumstances , but you can change your own attitude:

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.’

Make changes, for if you keep doing what you’ve done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got!

*Banish negative thoughts

‘Be careful what you think. Your thoughts run your life’
(Proverbs 4:23-paraphrase)

We can dwell on God’s love, for:
‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.’
(1 John 4:18 NIV)

If your mind is going to wander, camp out in positive thoughts:
‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.’
(Philippians 4:8 NIV)

*Trade cares with prayer

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

*Carve quality time with those you love

We need to be intentional to set aside quality time with friends & family. Someone wise once said LOVE can be spelt TIME

*Rest

Rest before you get tired! Our Creator designed a weekly Sabbath, a day of rest for us to recharge. Our lives are built for a rhythm of rest.

‘Hurry keeps the heart earthbound’
(Sarah Young)

*Demonstrate God in your corner of the planet

Look beyond yourself to what God wants you to do with His help.
‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ (Eph 2:10-NIV)

*Just do it!

Take steps to spring-clean your life today rather than someday.

‘You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.’ (Meredith Willson)

‘May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.’
(2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Easter 1988

Easter 1988. It’s 30 years ago now, yet happy memories are etched forever.

Fun & fellowship at the Immanuel Church Easter Youth Weekend.

There was friendly banter & deep chats. There were campfires on the beach under star studded skies.

And on the Sunday night our speaker- Gerald Titmus spoke. I don’t remember what he said but as he spoke, the Spirit moved in at least eight lives.

One thing I recall was Gerald saying that in God’s eyes there were just two categories of humans- those who are trusting in Jesus to forgive their sins & those who are not. Race, colour, gender, religion & good works are irrelevant in the big picture. Just going to church wasn’t enough. We were all sinners in deep need of a Saviour.

Instantly I realised which category I was in & I wanted to change it. I prayed a simple prayer- & asked God to forgive my sins & come into my life. And He did.

The next day our youth leader Ivis shared this promise with me:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
(‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

It’s a beautiful picture- Jesus knocking & waiting for us to respond to His offer of forgiveness. Yet, He also said:
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last”
(‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‘None of us is the leading character in the story of our lives. God is the larger context and plot in which all our stories find themselves.’
(Eugene Petersen)

God is at work in our broken sin-stained lives. He is our Creator & Recreator when we turn to Him in faith:

‘GOD made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him’
(‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:20 ‭MSG‬‬)

‘God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.’
(Psalm 18:24 MSG)

For me, responding to Jesus’ invitation that night was like a light switch. For others the realisation of truth is more gradual- like the sunrise. The dawning of the truth of knowing. God rather than merely knowing about Him. This makes all the difference in the world -for time & eternity

“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
‭‭(John‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV)

Before we left Ballycastle to go back to ‘normal’ life in Belfast, Ivis shared another verse. Another promise from God:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
(‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

God is our Help & Strength through life-no matter what.
Before He died,Jesus promised a Helper within:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,”
‭‭(John‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

As believers, we have the Spirit of God within. So,
‘What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.’
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

At the campfire we praised the Creator of the ocean crashing on to beach beside us- the same One who had scattered those stars above us. We worshipped our Heavenly Father who sent His Son to die in our place & gave His Spirit to endue us with everything we need in this journey called life.

We sang:
‘Jesus my Saviour is alive
And I can feel His power
He guides each step & holds my hand
And I know He understands’

And those words are as true now as they were then:
‘For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.’
(‭‭Psalm‬ ‭48:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Because He died

Because He died, we are redeemed & restored.
Because He lives,we are rescued & renewed!

Because He died, sin is conquered.
Because He lives, we are beloved & blessed!

Because He died, our past is forgiven & forgotten.
Because He lives, we can face tomorrow!
(as the Gaither song states)

Because He died, we can truly live.
Because He lives, we have strength to have the life He died to give us.

Let’s live the life He died to give us!

Death is dead!

Death is dead! It might initially seem like a strange statement. But on this Easter Sunday, it’s a very appropriate truth.

Today, more than any other day, we celebrate the fact that Jesus is alive!

‘And then on the third at break of dawn
The Son of heaven rose again
O trampled death where is your sting?
The angels roar for Christ the King’
(Hillsong-Anastasia)

The stone was rolled away.
The tomb was empty.
The angel gladly proclaimed, “He is not here He has risen!”

‘See What a morning!’ is a powerful song & its words inspired this post. The last verse triumphantly proclaims:

‘Death is dead
Love has won
Christ has conquered’
(Townend & Getty)

When Jesus cried ‘It is finished’ with His final breath, it was a declaration that He had completed His redemptive work.

He came to bring:

•Beauty instead of ashes
•Gladness instead of mourning
•Praise instead of despair
(Isaiah 61)

He arose, ascended & in now lives in resplendent glory in heaven.

‘Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’ (Hebrews 7:25 NIV)

These are great words to ponder, & cherish.

If we ask God for forgiveness, through accepting what Jesus has done, & trusting in Him, He will completely save us. (the older versions say ‘save to the uttermost). And now, Jesus ‘always lives’ to intercede for us. He is our Mediator. He liaises between us & God, acting on our behalf.

Jesus ‘always lives’:

‘Because he lives…
We can face tomorrow
Because He lives…
All fear is gone’
(Bill & Gloria Gaither)

Before He died, Jesus comforted His followers,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

Jesus also promised that He is preparing a place for us:
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”(John 14:1-3 NIV)

I believe He’s still preparing that place in His Father’s House, our Eternal Home even today.

As Keith Green said & sung:
‘ And if this world took six days and that home took two thousand years,
Hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to
What’s going up there!’

For,
No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
(1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT)

Since Jesus conquered death, we can place our hope in God- not merely for this life- but for the next. Our hope transcends time into eternity. Death is not the end- it is but a shadow.

Because of Jesus’ triumph we can have a happy never-ending!

‘Everything sad is going to come untrue’
(Tolkien)

Today let’s worship the Life-Giving, Death-Defeating God who can give the strength & ability to stand today & forever. Now & always.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:20 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Held by love

Last Easter we visited Glasgow. We saw the famous painting by Dali in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery. It depicts Jesus on the cross, above the earth, in space. A closer look reveals that there are no nails in His hands or feet. No nails-illustrating the fact that it wasn’t the nails that kept Him there on the cross.

He could have summoned a host of angels to take Him away from the suffering but instead He chose to die for you and me – because of His love for us.

In fact it’s the greatest love, for ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13 – NIV)

‘God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom 5:8 – NIV)

I used to have a little bookmark in my Bible that said:
‘I asked Jesus, “How much do you love me?”
“This much” he answered,
and He stretched out His arms and died’

‘This is how much God loved the world: He gave His Son, His one and only Son’ (John 3:16 – The Message)

The cross is God shouting through history how much He loves us! The cross declares in blood red letters that God is love.

The prophet Isaiah was able to look down through the years and foresee the suffering the Messiah would go through for us: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa 53:5&6 –NIV)

In love, Jesus left the glory of heaven to walk this earth.

In love, He hung on the cross, taking the punishment for our sin.

In love, He redeemed us, paying for our salvation with His own precious blood.

And the amazing thing is this –‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ (Rom 8:32 –NIV)

Reflect on the words of this old hymn:

When I survey

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my god:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small,
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

(Isaac Watts 1674-1748)

Easter Blessings,


Ruth x

Forever blessed…because of Him

‘What’s so good about Good Friday?’ asked my young son after first reading about the suffering of Jesus for himself.

In most religious imagery Jesus is depicted as blood stained & thorn crowned- suffering & in anguish. We need to look beyond the narrative using the wide angled lens of God’s eternal perspective to see the ultimate good in Good Friday.

On that day eternity’s plan & Satan’s schemes intersected. Heaven & hell collided (not by chance but by Grand Design) On the cross wrath & mercy mingled like Jesus’ sweat & blood. And as love & grace flowed painfully, yet freely, the course of the cosmos shifted for all time & eternity .

On the cross we
‘See God’s salvation plan
Wrought in love
Borne in pain
Paid in sacrifice’
(Keith Getty)

The cross dissects history in two-before & after Christ. At the centre of history stands Jesus on the cross for, ‘in Him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:16,17)

The cross is the pivotal point of the cosmos- everything in history & eternity revolves round Jesus who was there in the beginning with God & is God (John 1) It hinges on the fact that Jesus, the Lord of the universe & Lord of all was the Messiah-the Chosen One. Jesus was the Lamb of God- born in a manger & slaughtered on the cross.

He died that we might live.
He suffered that we may be healed.
His body was covered in midday darkness – so we could walk in His light.
He was separated from His Father God (Matthew 27:46) so that we don’t have to be.

He took our sin that we would have his righteousness. In this unthinkable exchange ‘God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

‘Jesus was made sin, not a sinner but sin-a sin offering & a sacrifice for sin’ (Matthew Henry)

The wide angled lens of God’s sovriegnty captures all the pathos of the day – the awful, awesome, shocking fact that ‘God Himself gave Himself, to save us from Himself’ (John Stott)

Read that profound truth again:
‘God Himself
gave Himself,
to save us from Himself’

There are no words to follow on from that profound truth.

If we truly grasp the outrageous grace & audacious love of God, we are speechless:

‘Undone by mercy & left speechless
Watching wide eyed at the cost
May I never lose the wonder
The wonder of the cross’
(‘The Wonder of the cross’-Vicky Beecher)

The cross symbolises the immensity of pure grace and the dimensions of God’s amazing love. Its breadth flows from one nail pierced hand to the other. Its height stretches from earth to sky-from hell to heaven.

Yet,
‘We live our lives & never really know
How loved we are, or how far love will go’
(Andrew Peterson)

So,tonight,
‘I pray that you may have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ’ (Ephesians 3:17,18)

And that you would respond to the amazing love in faith.

For, we are forever blessed because of Him, because of what He has done.
And that makes today & everyday truly, deeply Good!

Amen!

Blessings,

Ruthx

The colour of Easter

We made an Easter tree & hung pastel coloured eggs on its branches -& Caris added a gingham bird cut from a Cath Kidston template & hand-sewn with love!

Last week, I stopped to look at some Easter cards en route to do some grocery shopping. Fluffy chicks & bunnies, cuddly bears with rabbit ears- on pastel green & pale yellow cards, with warm & cosy sentiments written on them.

I smiled at the cute pictures, then stopped & stepped back to do a quick reality check. These are not the real colours of Easter!

In the Wordless Book that we shared at Whizz Kidz, the colour of Easter is red.

Deep red. Crimson red- the colour of blood.
For, the real Easter is not fluffy & cute.
It’s torture. Brutal. Real.
Nails hammered deep.
Love deeper still,
Keeping Him on the cross.
Creator tortured by His creatures,
That he might bridge the chasm made by sin.
The Light of the World, totally eclipsed by darkness,
as the midday sun fell from its orb.

‘Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered’(Graham Kendrick)

The Good Shepherd became the Lamb:
‘But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him the sins of us all’
(Isaiah 53:5&6-MSG)

On Good Friday, consider the only One good enough to pay the price for our sins.

He was punished that we may go free.
He died that we may truly live.
He took our sin,that we might gain His righteousness.
He took our shame, that we might know the hope of glory.

On this day, remember, because of Jesus, because of the cross:
‘He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12-MSG)

And as the Casting Crowns lyrics say:
‘Tell me just how far the East is from the West –
one scarred hand to the other’

Blessings,
Ruth x