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Tis the season…our souls {should} feel their worth

My favourite Christmas carol used to be ‘In the bleak mid winter’ Now it’s ‘O Holy night’ (& apparently it’s the most popular favourite carol in the UK)

It seems a shame that carols are confined to December.It’s a pity to pack them away with the decorations till next year, since there’s such deep truth contained in them:
‘O Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.’
(Cappeau)

I’ve sang this carol many times, but I’ve never really noticed this line before:
‘Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.’

The soul felt its worth.

Our soul is our spiritual, immortal essence, our God-made core, sealed with His image.

God formed us:
‘The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.’
(Psalms 33:13-15 NLT)

God placed eternity within us:
‘Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.’
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

At exactly the right moment, during that Holy Night,
‘when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’
(Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)

The Christmas story is part of God’s Grand Plan, conceived in eternity past- to redeem our souls.

What is your soul worth? What lengths & depths did your Creator God go to reach you?

Our Eternal God Almighty became a helpless baby.

He left the dazzling glory of heaven to be born into squalor.

He stepped out of the realms of eternity to enter the confines of time.

He lived & bled & died…. for our souls.

As Max Lucado wrote, ‘God did something extraordinary. Stepping from the throne, he removed his robe of light & clothed himself in skin’

That same Yahweh God ‘the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it’ (Isaiah 42:5) entered our world as one of us.

The baby in the manger is God the Son:
‘He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.’
(Hebrews 1:3 ESV)

‘He came to us that we might come to Him’ wrote Deitrich Bonhoeffer

This is the good news proclaimed by angels that will cause great joy for all people (Luke2)

‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’
(Luke 19:10 ESV)

‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.’
(John 3:17 NIV)

‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’
(Matthew 16:26 ESV)

‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’
(Hebrews 2:3 ESV)

Billy Graham writes about our soul’s worth in ‘The Value of your Soul

He also wrote:
‘God does not change-
And neither does His love.
He loved you before you were born..
He loves you now…
And He will love you forever’

Can you feel your worth?

Can you sense this great hope?

Will you respond in worship?

‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born
(Cappeau)

Blessings,

Ruthx

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Behold!

‘Let the wonder never cease’

Behold: gaze on a remarkable thing

Wonder:a feeling of amazement & admiration, surprising curiosity

‘For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.’
(Isaiah 9:6 NIV)

‘His name is God With Us and we believe He is.’
(Emily P Freeman)

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the one and only Son,
who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.’
(John 1:14 NIV)

‘He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy,
he the Word,
without whom all human eloquence is mute.’
(Augustine)

‘God is in the manger’
(Bonhoeffer)

‘In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.
(CS Lewis -Chronicles of Narnia)

‘He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.’
(Colossians 1:17 NIV)

‘But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move’
(Andrew Peterson)

‘As he sleeps upon the hay he holds the moon and stars in place
Though born an infant, he remains the sovereign God of endless days’
(Bob Kauflin)

‘Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am’
(Buddy Greene / Mark Lowry)

‘Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the son of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King”
(Mendelssohn )

‘The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.’
(C.S.Lewis-Mere Christianity)

‘Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’
(Isaiah 25:9 NIV)

‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)

Come,let us adore Him!

Blessings,

Ruth x

Neither Merry nor Bright

Tis the season…that God is close to the broken hearted

For the myriad of hurting hearts this Christmas.

The Christmas lights were turned off in St George’s Square Glasgow on 24th December 2014 as a mark of respect to those who tragically lost their lives there when a lorry careered into a crowd.

Christmas lights have went out in homes, hearts & lives across the globe- extinguished by loss, grief, terrorism, cancer,sickness & suicide.

Anguish has been painfully, indelibly etched on the broadsheet & tabloid pages carrying news from Yemen to Myanmar & everywhere in between & beyond.

This month I’ve sat across a desk from too many people for whom Christmas is not the most wonderful time of year but rather the most difficult, dreaded time of the year.

I’ve stared into eyes brimming with tears for as long as I could bear –
Hearing the deafening silence that trails behind grief.
Sensing the ongoing heartbreak & unimaginable loss.
Feeling the palpable pain of an aching void left behind.

I’ve been reminded of the words from Les Miserables:
‘There’s a grief that can’t be spoken.
There’s a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables
Now my friends are dead and gone.’

For many this Christmas there are empty chairs & places in their homes and hearts.

For them, Christmas accentuates winter of the heart & soul.

Like in Narnia – it seems that it’s always winter & never {truly} Christmas again.

There’s no merry & bright.
No wonderful ,white Christmas.
No magic & sparkle.

Yet, it was into darkness like this- indeed because of darkness like this, that God sent His Son- as Imanuel- God with us.

Jesus, the Word of God, God the Son entered our world as a baby in the manger.

‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.'(John 1:14 NIV)

Or as Eugene Petersen paraphrased this verse:
‘The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.’ (John 1:14 MSG)

I also love the deep truth of this paraphrase:
‘He pitched His tent in the darkness of our valley’
(Geoff Thomas)

God came down to be where we are.

Bringing:
Love to the unloveliness of this fallen planet
Hope in hopelessness
Everlasting light in deep darkness
Comfort to those who mourn
Healing to broken hearts & lives
Freedom to captives bound in sin.

‘Christmas means Jesus came down & got involved in suffering. He hears your cries’
(Tim Keller )

‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭34:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

‘When Love came down to earth
And made His home with men,
The hopeless found a hope,
The sinner found a friend.
Not to the powerful
But to the poor He came,
And humble, hungry hearts
Were satisfied again.

What joy, what peace has come to us!
What hope, what help, what love!’
(Stuart Townend)

When you strip away the trimmings & decorations, Santa & the reindeers, the indulgence of over eating & over spending…

When you listen for the still small voice of God…

When you follow the shepherds & the wise men to the stable …

There you’ll find the heart beat of Christmas- Jesus, God the Son- the reason for the season.

At Christmastime, you may find Jesus rejoicing with those who rejoice – at family gatherings & social events.

But I think you’ll be more likely to find Him mourning with those who mourn, drawing alongside the marginalised, the broken & the needy.

During His time on earth, he was familiar with sorrow. He knew the reality of grief & loss. The shortest verse in the Bible simply states,
‘Jesus wept'(John 11:35)

‘Yes he walked my road, and He felt my pain,
Joys and sorrows that I know so well;’
(From the squalor of a borrowed stable-Stuart Townend)

He knows us. He loves us, & He cares deeply about us. The One who scattered the stars at creation’s dawn is also a Collector of tears:
‘You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.’
(Psalms 56:8 NLT)

Even through tears, at this time,at the heart of Christmas you’ll find Jesus. In Jesus you’ll find the hope & comfort you desperately need.

He says ‘Come to Me’

This Christmas, Jesus is not lying in a Christmas card stable. He is not sitting at a Pinterest perfect Christmas dinner oblivious to your need. Rather, He’s reaching down & reaching out – to your hurting heart.

He’s waiting for you – to come to Him.

Jesus said,“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”(Matthew 11:28 NIV)

He’s asking, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

‘While God may not deliver us from pain & suffering, He’ll walk with us through it’ (Tullian Tchvijan- It is finished)

God is with us:

In our pain
In our grief
In our sorrows
In our darkness
In our trials
In our triumphs
In our daily lives

When the lights are switched off at Christmas, only Jesus can colour to our hearts & lives-for He is the great light of the world

‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. ‘(Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Tis the season…to give {& receive} gifts

Tis the season…to shop till you drop,grab a coffee to go, then shop some more!

Of course we started exchanging presents as a reminder of the gifts of gold,frankincense & myrrh presented to Jesus. But at times we go Totally Over The Top. I mean,what do we give our nearest & dearest who have everything they want-& more?

I walked under the canopy of lights in Victoria Square on then through the Christmas market to get inspiration. St George’s market was shut but a red sparkly bow adorned the entrance- making the whole building look like a present.

There are daily emails bombarding my inbox with all sorts of gift ideas- including Boots star buys that I’m tempted to buy for myself!

While we endeavour to give great gifts, God is the ultimate Gift-Giver:
‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’
(James 1:17 NIV)

‘God’s gifts put men’s best dreams to shame’
(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

The Greatest Gift came in unexpected wrapping. All the fullness of God- His grace & goodness, majesty & might, bundled in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The Greatest Gift-
The Hope of the world:
Planned by God,
Foretold by prophets.
Sent by Love,
Under a starlit sky,
Surrounded by angel song,
Wrapped in grace from above.

‘Once in our world, a Stable had something in it that was bigger than our whole world.’
(C.S. Lewis)

As we grow older our Christmas wish list gets shorter & we find that the things we want aren’t things. Sometimes the best gift we can give to others is our time.

Someone once wrote that love can be spelt T-I-M-E. Jesus loved us so much that He gave up eternity to spend time on earth.

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His One & Only Son’
(John 3:16)

‘Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor.’
(Frank Houghton)

He came to earth & became flesh, so that we can be adopted into the family of God through faith. The Gift of God means that we can become children of God.

‘The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.’
(C.S.Lewis-Mere Christianity)

‘Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’
(John 1:12 NIV)

‘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)

God’s gift is a long lasting, never-ending present-eternal life.

‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
(Romans 6:23 NIV)

God’s gifts can be found in unexpected places in our lives-in the dark, difficult days:
‘God said “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.”
(Isaiah 45:3, 7 NIV)

Going forward through the darkness into the light, His Presence is the greatest present.

Christmas is:
when God reached down,
when God became one of us,
with us in this journey of life.

Isaiah foretold this crucial aspect of the incarnation:
‘All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)
(Isaiah 7:14 NLT)

‘His name is God With Us and we believe He is.’
(Emily P Freeman)

‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’
(2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV)

This Christmastime, if you haven’t already done so, will you accept this ultimate gift from God – the Gift of Himself, for now & forever?

Blessings,

Ruthx

Shine!

On these short days before Christmas,the early darkness accentuates the light:

*Twinkling Starlight
*Mellow Moonlight
*Flickering Candlelight
*Sparkling Christmas lights
*Shining Car lights
*Beaming Torch light
*Glowing Firelight

Light also beams through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Light dispelling darkness is a bright theme shining in God’s epic story.

‘In the beginning,at the dawn of time, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light’ (Genesis 1:3 NIV)

And,at the setting of time, in the eternal city of God,’the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23 NLT)

These words are an echo of Isaiah’s prophecy written hundreds of years before:
‘The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. ‘(Isaiah 60:19, 20 NIV)

Life-Giving Loving Light is the essence of our God:
‘You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. (Psalm 36:9 MSG)

God’s gifts of grace & blessings on our lives are also portrayed as light:’Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.’
(James 1:16 MSG)

In between today & 25th Dec we will be reminded by mini wise men in nativity plays that bright starlight led VIPs from the East to the manger- to worship the Jesus, the Light of the world.

Yet, as we step into December our social calendars fill up, & the pace of daily life speeds up to keep up with our schedule, we can fail to appreciate the difference that this Light sent from Heaven has made in our hearts, our home & our world.

Even we who are Christians {followers of the Life-Giving Light} can be tainted by our postmodern world’s mangled view of Christmas. We can fail to grasp the enormity of the truth that this Baby beamed from the translucent Light of Heaven was born to defeat & dispel darkness.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.'(John 1:5 NLT)

In the opening chapter of Dr Luke’s Gospel, Zechariah burst into song after months of silence. He concluded:
‘Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. (Luke 1:78&79 MSG)

Three decades later, Jesus proclaimed, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

He said, ‘I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.’ (John 12:46 NLT)

If we trust in Jesus, the Ultimate Source of light, we become light-bearers in this dark world for Him:
Jesus said,“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:36 NIV)

‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.’ (Ephesians 5:8-11 NIV)

Paul urged Jesus’ followers (like us) to ‘Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life’ (Philippians 2:15-NIV) & ‘Carry the light-giving message into the universe’
(Phil 2:15-The Message)

Jesus the Light of the world said,“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world.” (Matthew 5:14 MSG)

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.’
(2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NLT)

If we have trusted Him as the only True Light to shine &redeem the darkness of sin in our lives, then the all powerful Life-Giving, Loving Light of God’s Spirit lives at the core of our messy lives!

We need to shine in the darkness & walk in the light! This means spending ourselves, to illuminate the darkness:
‘If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.’ (Isaiah 58:10 NIV)

Light gives way to light. It only takes one candle to dispel the deep darkness of a cavern.

‘We are only the lightbulbs, & our job is just to remain screwed in!’ (Desmond Tutu)

‘So, Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.’
(Isaiah 60:1, 2 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Tis the season …to make room

December starts with good intentions of organization & calm & cards posted on time. Yet as the month rolls on, it gains momentum like a giant snowball gathering more & more festive events & shopping.

I can identify with Bilbo Baggins who said, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

Someone wise once said ‘Rest before you are tired’ And the Wisest of All created rest in the beginning.

We need to create margin, or white space as we approach this time of the year. Our diaries may be jam-packed already, but:

‘It’s in the white space- the in between moments of stillness- where the joy of Christmas is found’
(Rebecca Cooper)

‘White space is where the magic happens’
(no sidebar)

‘The quieter you become the more you can hear’ (Ram Dass)

In the middle of the mayhem & busyness attributed to Christmas celebrations, the  sound of silence can be deafening. Last month’s minute of silence on Remembrance Day felt much longer than  sixty seconds.

‘There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech.’
(Charles Spurgeon)

Even in this season,‘We must also identify what gives us life, what recharges us and restores our capacity.’(Alli Worthington -Breaking Busy)

In the quiet, we can connect with God. We can make room to  marvel & wonder at the miracle of Christmas, that God is with us – Imanuel

How can we make room for God this Christmas?

*Read

In December I set aside my usual reading plan & start off each day reading from an Advent book

This year I’m reading The One True Gift by Tim Chester. Last year I read The One True Light by the same author.

The year before I read The Time is Now by Amy Orr-Ewing

*Pray

We can pray for our family,community & our broken world.

I love these little books to help us pray using God’s Words:

5 things to pray-
For those you love
For your church
For your world

*Listen

Listen to Christmas music.  I love traditional carols blended with contemporary worship:

A Christmas Offering-Casting Crowns
Adore– Chris Tomlin
A Hallelujah Christmas – Cloverton
How many kings-Downhere

*Explore

Wrap up warm & escape into the great outdoors to  breathe deeply, clear your mind,  & star gaze.  Creation is the ultimate whitespace- the best way to unplug  from the un-necessary & connect with the One who made it all!

Each day we have choices to make:

‘Each of us is an inn keeper who decides if there is room for Jesus’
(Neal Maxwell)

‘Let every heart prepare Him room’
(Joy to the world)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Joy snatchers

‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.’
(Psalm 126:3 NIV)

As children of God we are beloved & truly blessed. God has done great things for us & filled our hearts with joy.

We should be forever grateful- & I am.

It’s just sometimes I don’t live as though I am.

We humans can feel truly grateful with an attitude of gratitude one day (Thanksgiving) but frantically shopping for things we don’t really need less than 24hrs later (Black Friday)

Our thankful thoughts can disappear like Irish Mist. All too often our joy-filled feelings don’t last long.Actually & regrettably, I can feel utterly miserable- even though I have been blessed with an abundance of material & spiritual blessings by our Heavenly Father.

This post is first & foremost a note to myself, a memo to my soul. But maybe it’ll resonant with you too.

For, in this journey of life, we all encounter joy-snatchers.

Joy-snatchers…

That phrase triggers an image of the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- poised to snatch with his net! Now I’m smiling thinking of Neuschwanstein Castle where the scene was filmed!
But back to the point…

What are joy snatchers?

Overthinking

AKA listening to ourselves & the running commentary in our mind. Brene Brown writes about the stories we make up & accept as truth. But they AREN’T actually true & steal our joy.

Overpacking

Jam-packed days & weeks can exhaust us & sap our joy, to the point that we feel like we’re running on empty. Or like an overpacked suitcase we can feel under immense pressure-like we’re about to explode.

Grumbling

Even when we are surrounded by abundance, we can develop a bad attitude & complain. Just like the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt by the mighty power & outstretched arm of Almighty God. Despite manna raining from heaven, & water gushing from rock, they complained that they were better off in slavery in Egypt. We can choose a negative perspective that displaces joy.

Disconnecting from God

Jesus said,“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
(John 15:10-11 NIV)

Our joy stems from an obedient relationship with God:
‘the joy of the Lord is your strength.’
(Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

Jesus also said ‘Apart from me, you can do nothing’ (John 15:5)

Comparison

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
(Theodore Roosevelt)

It’s not just coveting material possessions but rather the lives we perceive others live. I compare my God-given assignment to others. I look at others who don’t appear to have stress in their work lives. I estimate that they’re not under as much pressure as I am.(Another story I tell myself)

But what we see of other’s lives is often just the tip of the iceberg. In reality, everyone has their own trials to deal with.

If, rather than packing our troubles in an old kit bag we threw them up in the air along with everyone else’s,we might be very relieved if we caught our own!

Anxiety

‘Worry is a waste of the imagination’

We know in our heart that worry is a joy stealing waste of time & energy.

But once I board that train of thought, it feels impossible to step off & I arrive at worst case scenarios.

Of course we all have legitimate responsibilities & concerns:
‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.’
(Luke 12:48 NIV)

Having joy is a choice. Remaining joyful is a decision.New York Times best selling author Brendon Burchard wrote:
‘And then one day I decided that hurry & stress were no longer going to be part of my life. Stress is self-created; I decided to stop manufacturing it. We can choose an internal calm & joy even amid the chaos’

How can we hold onto joy?

Embrace your true self

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life’
(Steve Jobs)

Be who you are created to be!

Find joy in the ordinary

‘Have an attitude of gratitude’
(Thomas S Monson)

Literally list your blessings if it helps!

Create Margin

‘We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so that the best of who are can emerge.’
(Lysa Terkeurst)

Carve space in the chaos & allow yourself room to breathe. Create margin

See beauty

Focus on positive points-in people & places.

Refresh hearts

Reach out toward others, rather than dwelling on yourself.

‘Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.’
(Philemon v7 NIV)

Ask ‘How can I be a blessing today?

Connect with others who are on the same page

I can vividly remember cautiously walking into the Mums & Tots group in the village where we lived when Caris was a small baby. I knew no-one. But through that weekly group, I made deep friendships with mums at a similar stage. They were there for me through tough times, & gave me some of their joy when mine had ran out.

Unplug from toxic relationships

People whose persistently negative attitudes deeply affect us can snatch our joy repeatedly. If we allow them.

We can get into unhealthy patterns.

But, ‘If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got’

There may need to be necessary endings – as Dr Henry Cloud wrote.

Last but most importantly:

Pray

Prayer is the glue that holds our life together, the super-glue that actually holds us together.

It’s a conversation with the Source of True Joy.

It’s the antedote for worry.

‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians 4:6-7 MSG)

This week remember:

‘Joy is portable- bring it with you’

‘Scatter joy’
(Emerson)

Blessings,

Ruthx

The task ahead

As always, I’m thankful for the weekend – especially after ‘overstuffed’ days without margin. I’m well on the way to feeling overwhelmed, with increased responsibilities , & big issues looming .

I’m sure some of you feel this way too.

I read three verses this weekend in separate places, that helped me gain perspective for the task ahead. I think they may help you too, whatever you’re facing:

*Bring it to God

‘Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.’
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)

*Know He is able

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)

Or to put it another way:

‘God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.’
(Ephesians 3:20-21 MSG)

*Remember He has already provided all you need

‘His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises’
(2 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

The tasks ahead are part of our unique God given assignment, so:
‘Show up in the place where you already are fully alive as the image bearer God made you to be’
(Shauna Neiquist)

‘When you go to God,
He will infuse you with
The strength you need
To do that which He has asked you to do!’
(Patsy Clairmont)

At the start of a new week:
‘Give up last weeks burdens, so you can head into the week ahead without them. Surrender all troubles to God & forgive yourself & others’
(Marianne Williamson)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Back soon!

We have a coffee table that needs painted. But until we agree on the colour (limegreen versus brown or cream) we’ll cover the worn parts with books & magazines.

We have the Indie coffee guide & coffee map. There’s the Rolling Home inspiring Van life. Lagom sits where Hygge used to be.This Danish book was relegated it to the bottom shelf after a torrential downpour in Copenhagen washed away any hygge I had!

VWt & Star Wars covered Empire magazines are scattered- along with freebies from Tescos & Boots with ideas for Christmas gifts.

But the most thought provoking magazine cover on our coffee table so far in 2018 has to be Insight with its ‘Back Soon’ sign

This edition of our church magazine refers to the fact that Jesus is coming back soon.

‘Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!’
‭‭(Acts1:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I don’t think about this truth often enough. These words were spoken by an angel over two thousand years ago.

‘But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

In God’s timescale a long weekend hasn’t even elapsed yet! But:
‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

God’s mercy, grace & love are entwined in the perfect timing of Jesus’ return.

‘However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.’
‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭24:36‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

There’s a boulder at the edge of Strangford Lough beside the Portaferry Road. Painted on one side are the words:
‘Prepare to meet thy God’
‭‭(from Amos‬ ‭4:12‬)

One day we will all meet our Maker (whether we believe in Him or not)

A wall beside Portavogie harbour proclaims:
‘The fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.”‘
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭14:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬)

We can fill our homes, our barns & our lives with things- but not consider our God.

‘Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.’
‭‭(Luke‬ ‭12:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

‘That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.’
‭‭(Luke‬ ‭12:21‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Today, if you havent thought about it, prepare to meet your God.

‘If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭130:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭3:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We can bring our sin to God, asking for forgiveness & receive His grace. Then, living by faith we’ll be ready to meet our Maker.

As He said,”Every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
‭‭(Romans‬ ‭14:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’
‭‭(John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

On the other side of the boulder by the lough, there’s just two words- ‘Eternity where?’

The difference between heaven & hell, being judged or being saved- is in Jesus:

‘God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.’
‭‭(John‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

He’s coming back- not as a newborn baby or as a suffering servant.But as Lord of All & King of kings.

If we’ve trusted Him for forgiveness, then we’re waiting for our Good,Good Father to take us Home.

No-one knows when – but its closer today than yesterday.

When I was in Sunday School we used to sing ‘The countdown’s getting lower everyday’ It’s closer today than yesterday.

In this broken,groaning world where it seems no news is good news, we have hope. We have an anchor for the soul.

And it’s in the One who one day will return:
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.’
‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

And He’ll be back soon.

*Perhaps today*

Blessings,

Ruth x

*I heard the story of a retired pastor who wore cufflinks. On one was engraved ‘perhaps’ On the other ‘today’ It was a visual reminder of the truth that He’ll be back soon.

What a difference it would make if I lived like I really believed this truth!

Calm for the anxious mind

‘Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.’
(Jodi Picoult)

I know worrying doesn’t get me far , but still I sit & rock.

‘Worry pretends to be necessary, but serves no useful purpose.'(Eckhart Tolle)

That’s true too. But it’s hard NOT to worry isn’t it?

What can we do instead? When we read our Maker’s Handbook it tells us:
‘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)

Turn worries into prayers & God’s peace will displace our anxieties:
‘Don’t fret or worry.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it,
a sense of God’s wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.’
(Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

We can bring our concerns to God:
‘Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.’
‭‭(1Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

His love can dispel our fears {if we let Him} for:
‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We have a powerful God to turn to -Who is greater than all things:
‘You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world'(1 John 4:4)

We need to focus on God rather than our problems. For:
‘Anxiety & fears are like baby tigers. The more you feed them the stronger they grow’
(Billy Graham)

We need to tune into God’s whispers rather than our insecurities:
‘When the cares of my heart are many, thy consolations cheer my soul’(Psalm 94:19-KJV)

‘Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.’
‭‭(Proverbs‬ ‭1:33‬ ‭ESV)

‘Forget about self confidence- it’s useless –
cultivate God- confidence’
(I Cor 10 MSG)

There’s plenty to worry about – but worry doesn’t diminish any stress. We don’t have capacity to deal will anxiety- but God does:
‘For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭3:18-20‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

In this world there will always be trouble. Bad things happen to good people. We are living in a broken world where it feels like no news is good news. But no matter what,we can place our confidence in God.

‘You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.’
‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We can place our hope & confidence in God & thrive rather than just survive:
‘But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.’
‭‭(Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

‘Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.’
‭‭(Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7-8‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

I like that phrase- serene & calm – though often I’m the opposite. We can gain calmness by being rooted deep in Him.

Often we worry about things that haven’t happened & that might never happen. When we do, we’re just sitting on that rocking chair getting nowhere!

‘So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’
(Matthew‬ ‭6:34‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

‘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)

‘Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.'(Charles Spurgeon)

We have choices to make to maintain a tranquil mind:
‘Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.’
(Henry Ward Beecher)

If you’re like me, it’s not just the tomorrows you worry about- it’s the yesterdays. Overthinking what’s already happened is futile. We need to leave it with God who understands our situations & forgives us quicker than we forgive ourselves.

Take heart:
‘The Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.’
(CS Lewis)

So, be present:
‘Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.’
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Keep looking up:
‘Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow;
the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace then,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations’
(St Francis De Sales)

‘Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD, the LORD is the Rock Eternal’ (Isa 26:4)

Blessings,

Ruthx