A thrill of hope

Hope was my word for the year. As we lived through 2019 it was easy to loose hope in the world & myself.

‘Here is the world.
Beautiful & terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid’
(Buechner)

I was reminded of hope as we listened to carols:
‘A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices’
(O Holy Night)

And it’s true:
‘Without the weariness there is no thrill of hope’
(Shannon Martin)

God stepped into our weary world at just the right time.

‘Hope arrives, small & warm’
(Shannan Martin)

Hope wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger.

‘Because of Bethlehem-
Love is born
Hope is here’
(Max Lucado)

Hope has a Name & our hope is renewed when we trust Him.

‘Hope isn’t about about thinking something will get better. Hope is about believing Someone better is already here.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Hope saves us from our sin & ourselves.

Hope anchors & grounds us.

Hope lifts us & leads us.

‘This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary’
(Hebrews 6:19 NLT)

Hope is not lost in personal tragedy or trials.

Hope is not shaken by world events.

‘When everything shakes, God remains unshaken’
(Max Lucado)

The anchor in the storm. The constant in our chaos.

‘O Lord, let me not fear too much the storms & winds of my daily life & let me know that there is ebb & flow.. but that the sea remains the sea’
(Henri Nouwen)

We’re holding onto Hope.

‘Sometimes you don’t hold out much hope for tomorrow – only to find Hope Himself is already holding you now.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Yes, we’re holding onto Hope, but He’s holding onto us!

‘Tomorrow could bring beauty; it could bring heartache. But as I’ve been reminded, even in my darkest moments, Christ holds me fast. Each moment is laced with His grace.’
(Melissa Zaldivar-She Reads Truth)

‘The seasons change & you change, but the Lord abides evermore the same & the streams of His love are as deep, as broad & as full as ever’
(CH Spurgeon)

So, as we begin a new decade
‘Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.      
(Robert H. Schuller)

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.’
(Romans 15:13 ESV)

‘Hope now
Hope always’
(Psalm 131:3 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Spiritually (un)healthy

A friend from Focusfest asked me to speak about Spiritual Health at a women’s event. I couldn’t because I was scheduled to work that day. And public speaking was never my gift & any inkling had been discouraged out of me. But also I really didn’t feel spiritually healthy myself. Not at all.

I know it’s about faith not feelings. But at that time I was feeling as spiritual as a cigarette (stub!) If I was part of the body, I was the runner’s fourth toenail. Missing in action- lying detached

But, the declined invitation made me think about spiritual growth.

There are analogies about plants & gardening throughout the Bible. And the thing is we can’t actually make ourselves grow.

‘So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.’
(I Cor 3:7)

So what can we do? I found this helpful answer:
‘Our responsibility is to cultivate the soil of our hearts through sincere devotion & surrender-so He might find favourable ground to produce His fruit.’
(Billy Graham)

We need to cultivate our hearts & make space for soul-care.

‘Soul space is not an end in itself, it’s not, but it is a way for us to place ourselves in the presence of God. And we can find him anywhere, even beneath the piles of busy, everyday life.
But sometimes we need something drastic. Something longer, something that will allow spacious places for deep work that can only happen in the silence.’
(Emily P Freeman)

We need to come away for a while from the distractions & stresses of the everyday.

Jesus said:
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
(John 15:4 MSG)

We need to make space to be connected to God. We can’t do anything in our own strength.

“Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.”
(John 15:5 MSG)

When we’re disconnected from God , we’re like a dead twig.

And I guess that’s the starting point for growth- Contemplating where we are at.

‘Sometimes when you are in a dark place, you think you have been buried, but you have actually been planted’
(Christine Caine)

‘We must remove that hard crust on our hearts which desensitises us, so that we are open, tender and sensitive before the Lord.’
(Stephen Owen-Evangelical Times)

We need to confront our brokenness & sin.

‘I am just as in need of grace and forgiveness today as I have ever been. My life doesn’t look like Jesus’—it looks like someone who needs Jesus. And it is utterly exhausting (and counterproductive) to pretend otherwise.’
(Tullian Tchividjian)

‘Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless He is the One who loves you the most’
(AW Tozer)

We need to face our anxiety & fear.

‘And yet, freedom waits for the soul who is willing to walk back into the mess of itself, admit the truth, & wait for a real God to move..We can cling to grace at our centre & learn to preach the Gospel to ourselves in small, honest ways’
(Rebecca K Reynolds)

We need to be real with ourself & understand our true identity, then be comforted by God & trust Him for growth.

To flourish & grow we need to be nourished:
‘But blessed is the man who trusts me, GOD, the woman who sticks with GOD. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers-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-NIV)

We are fed spiritually by God’s Word:
‘Receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.’
(James 1:21)

We are renewed by worship:
‘Worship does to the soul what a spring rain does to a thirsty field. It soaks down,seeps in & stirs life’
(Max Lucado)

We need to break up bad habits & clear away life-weeds:
‘Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.’
(Hosea 10:12 ESV)

‘But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.’
(Galatians 5:22-23 MSG)

So,
‘In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.’
(James 1:21 MSG)

And even our little acorns of faith may grow to ‘be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.’
(Isaiah 61:3 ESV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

The boundless love of God

Readings – Psalm 8, Eph 3:14-21

When I was a student in Dundee, I used to go for ‘stargazing stomps’ down to Magdelene Green to clear my head. On many crisp, clear nights, I would stop and gaze at God’s handiwork. It was awesome to look up and see the star-studded night sky.

The heavenly splendour that stirred the shepherd David so long ago, gripped me. Yet, looking at the vast universe made me feel incredibly small. I was just one little speck on planet earth, which itself was only part of just one solar system. As David wrote :

‘ I look up at your macro-skies, dark and enormous, 

Your handmade sky-jewellery,

Moon and stars mounted in their settings.

Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, 

Why do you bother with us?

Why take a second look our way?’

(Psalm 8:3-4 – The Message) 

In this day and age, as we strive to feel significant in the crowd, as we struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, we too may wonder why God bothers with us.

But any thoughts of insignificance should vanish when we consider our status. For though just part of creation, we are children of the Creator! His hands that set the stars in space, that flung the planets into orbit are holding us, and moulding us and keeping us in place! Wow! We should be overwhelmed by the present reality of God!

This Creator God is our very own God. He not only bothers with us, He loves us – He really, really loves us, with a deep, unfathomable agape love. We have been ‘loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know’ as the hymn says. 

Paul wrote ‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’ (Eph 3:17-19 – NIV)

David wrote ‘Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. How priceless is your unfailing love!’ (Psalm 36:5 & 7 – NIV)

God’s love is boundless. We will never fully grasp or understand it.  It goes beyond our dimensions. It just can’t be measured.

It is so wide that it encompasses the whole world.

It is so long that it can reach us just where we are, when we need to feel loved the most.

Its height is higher than our highs and its depths are deeper than our downers!

It is like a waterfall, deep and never ending from before time began to eternity!

Paul says ‘May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love’ (Eph 3:17 NLT)

May we draw nourishment and energy for daily life as we meditate on the awesome love God has for us.

‘And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

‘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’ (Eph 3:17- 20 – The Message)

‘How high and how wide

How deep and how long

How sweet and how strong

Is Your love

How lavish Your grace

How faithful Your ways

How great is Your love O Lord!’

Blessings,

Ruth x

 

*Edited from ‘It’s all about love’

In-between Right Now & Not Yet

Hope is my word for the year.

I’d almost forgotten all about it, but since September felt like a new beginning, hopeful thoughts were replenished.

I read about living hope:
‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’
‭‭(1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.’
(1 Peter 1:4&5 MSG)

We have everything to live for:
‘Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
(John 10:10 MSG)

Through Jesus we have new life that never ends:
‘And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.’
(John 17:3 ESV)

And here & now we’re trusting & believing the promise that Jesus will return. Now we’re ‘waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
‭‭(Titus‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

We have hope of eternal glory.

But not yet.

Just now, we may face

Life-altering diagnoses.

Life-shattering events.

Life-draining stresses.

But, ‘What is happening in your life just now is not going to last forever’ (Billy Graham)

‘In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.’
(1 Peter 1:6 NIV)

For a little while, we live in the space between the promise & its fulfillment.

For a little while, we live on planet earth:
‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’
(James 4:14 NIV)

Just now, we wait for our living hope.

For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;”
(Hebrews 10:37 ESV)

C.S. Lewis wrote of Aslan’s return in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
‘Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.’

‘Is everything sad going to come untrue?’ Sam asked in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

In a little while.

Not just now.

Not quite yet.

Just now, we’re in Narnia where it’s always winter & never Christmas. We long for Spring.

How long is this little while? It’s God’s perfect time & He works outside our time in eternity.

A little while is just a moment for the Ageless One to whom a thousand years are like a day.

It’ll be just the right time
‘You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.’
(Romans 5:6 NIV)

At Christmas, we celebrate ‘when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son’
(Galatians 4:4 NIV)

And in a little while, at just the right time, God the Son will return & truly be Immanuel (God with us)

‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)

Now we hold onto:

Faith
Hope
Love

Then,
All things will be made new.
Faith will turn to sight.
Hope will be fulfilled
Love will remain.

For God is love.

And God is forever.

God’s love flows from eternity past, grounded in grace.

This love makes the little while a little longer:
‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’
‭‭(2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Till then, between here & now & not yet, dare to hope, for:
‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’
‭‭(Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

For these inbetween days, Jesus said:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NIV)

‘Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God’
(J Oswald Sanders)

Between now & not yet,
For time & eternity
He will be our God forever
For He was before the beginning & after the ending.

And He promises:
‘Strength for today
And bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine,
With ten thousand beside
(Thomas Chisholm)

So, trust for a little while longer.

If you’re journeying through
Green pastures or dark valleys,
Still waters or stormy seas,
Hold onto Hope, for a little while longer

‘And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.’
(I Peter 5:10 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS I’ve read the last page of The Book & it’s going to be ok:
‘He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.’
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)

Grace all the way from here to eternity.

Grace to carry us all the way from Just Now to Not Yet.

Amen!

Broken & blessed

This morning at church Pastor Andrew was preaching on Lamentations chapter 2. It’s a disturbing poem inspired by the dark days of Israel’s history during the devastation & desolation of Jerusalem.

These days, this year may feel like dark days in our families & our community. In our nation & across the globe.

There’s too much bad news to bear. Unwanted diagnosis. Unexpected death.

Politics is in disarray. God’s laws are disregarded. There is no absolute truth (we’re told)

We can look around & sigh. And conclude:
‘The world is broken. I am broken. And my need is dire.’
(Rebecca Reynolds)

‘We are all broken-that’s how the light gets in’ according to Hemingway. And how we need the Great Light of the world to shine!

As children of God, we live in tension & contrast.

We are made in the image of God- yet struggle with our flaws & failings.

The Darkness seems deep yet flickers of light break through.

There’s toil & trouble yet {thankfully} the hope of glory.

Evil feels like it’s crouching nearby, ever ready to pounce on Goodness.

Our earth is a groaning planet-earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, war.

At a personal level, day to day life rarely feels smooth or predictable . While we have many blessings there’s usually something to taint our happiness.Even bright sunny days can be overcast by boulders carried in our hearts.

Rick Warren has spoken of how his wife Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same that his book ‘The purpose driven life’ was becoming a bestseller.

I listened to an audio-version of Rick’s wife’s book ‘Choose joy for happiness isn’t enough’Her words feel even more poignant since the tragic news that their son committed suicide. In the book, Kay describes joy & sorrow like parallel tracks on the railway of life.

Lisa Harper wrote:
‘Delight and despair absolutely coexist. They ebb and flow like the tides.Circumstances may prompt one to rise to the occasion and eclipse the other for a while.’

I too am convinced that joy & sorrow, love & suffering, peace & pain are inextricably linked –but in an even more intricate way than parallel tracks or tides on the shore.

Perhaps, they are intertwined like the twisting double stranded helix molecule of DNA – the blue print of life itself. Just as DNA is held together by hydrogen bonds, the twists & turns in life are stabilised by intricate bonds of the love & mercy, grace & goodness of God.

Just now, in this moment of time, our lives may seem like a tangled mess- but with the eye of faith, we can choose to see that even the troubles & trials, stresses & strains, the bitter & sweet are part of the intricate plans of the perfect infinite wisdom of our God.

Our God created the cosmos, designed our souls & planned our destinies. Yet He carries our burdens and collects our tears:

‘You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in your book?’
(Psalms 56:8NASB)

‘You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.’
(Psalm 56:8 MSG)

We have to choose to see the unseen-to trace the invisible fingerprints of God in our lives, as He weaves His thread of blessings through the twisting helix of life. He alone can weave all things together for our good (Romans 8:28) into the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11)

Even when things don’t seem to make sense, & everything seems random & chaotic , we can praise Him where we are at ‘in the storm- even when our hearts are torn’ (Casting crowns) 

God brings blessing to our dark days. And often, the greatest blessings is the gift of God Himself. The gift of knowing He is there- with us. And that knowing God is better than knowing why bad things happen.

As Laura Story wrote:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise’

I listened to that song on repeat during days of dreadful diagnoses & life threatening surgery in our family & pondered:

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

God’s tender mercies & gentle blessings come even {maybe especially} when everything feels broken:

God said:
“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
(Isaiah 45:3 NLT)

Our God gives:
Treasures in the darkness
Calm in chaos
Peace in the storm
Hope in our dark days
His presence forever
And ever!

{Amen}

Blessings,

Ruthx

All things

I’ve been doing a Bible Study on Romans 8. I’ve fallen behind in the programme, but I’m enjoying reading the chapter slowly.Verses like this one:

‘And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’
(Rom 8:28-NIV)

If we love God, He can work ALL things together for our good. The good,the bad & the ugly can be woven together by our Creator-God to form a masterpiece.

ALL things includes the little things, the annoying things, the huge life changing things & devastating losses. Nothing is wasted in God’s hands.

‘That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good’ (Rom 8:28-MSG)

At a women’s conference a few years ago, Ruth Hamilton spoke of multi-coloured grace for multi-coloured trials. I love that phrase taken from 1Peter 1:6 & 4:10.

Grace to match each trial.

It means that, no matter what- God’s grace is sufficient (2Cor 12:8,9) His grace always enough!

The multi-colours of God’s grace are manifested in a rainbow spectrum of ways e.g.:

*God’s written Word-the Bible, after all, ‘The Bible is the transcript of the heart of God’ (Grudem)

*Walking through creation – & sensing our Creator

*Words of encouragement from friends

*An unexplainable sense of God’s presence in the storms of life

No matter what is looming this week,

‘All you need to remember is that God will never let you down, he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit, he’ll always be there to help you come through it’
(1 Cor 10:13 MSG )

That’s His awesome, amazing, multi-coloured grace!

‘There is no problem too great that it exceeds the grace God has given’ (Elizabeth George)

God says ‘As long as there is a God in heaven, there is grace on earth, & I AM the spilling God of the uncontainable, forever-overflowing -love-grace ‘ (Ann Voskamp)

Whatever life throws, whatever lies around the corner, whatever is happening across the world, God is always there & that’s always enough.

Take your mind off your seemingly giant problems & focus on our Gigantic God.

He is Eternal
Ever-Lasting
All-powerful

Our Loving Father
Our Good Shepherd
Our Mighty God.

Blessings,

Ruth x

The last photo

I wish I could post the last photo-but it was only allowed to be taken if I promised not to. I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of their first day back at school in the Autumn, but we made an agreement back then that I could take a photo of their last day at school together (before both finished for study leave & one leaves school forever)

I nearly forgot- but realised just in time that Friday was that last day. My teenagers dutifully stood side by side on the front step- as they have done many times before wearing their school uniforms. The moment was digitally recorded & I promised again that there would be no sharenting.

This significant event almost passed without acknowledgement.

As we walked along Knockinelder Beach that evening, we talked about how parents mark their childrens’ firsts

*First tooth

*First steps

*First shoes

*First word

*First birthday with cake & candle

*First day at school

*First wobbly ride on the bike sans stabilisers

We applaud these first milestones & the happy memories that coincide.

But the lasts go unrecognised.

There was a day when I picked up & carried my children for the final time and then never lifted them up again.And I have no recollection of that moment.

Or of other finales:

*The last bed time story

*The last pair of Doodle shoes or red check summer dress

*The last McFlurry between school pickups

The lasts sweep by because we don’t grasp the significance of the moment.

Of course the lasts & firsts are part of life & as our children grow there’s different firsts to celebrate eg first time driving

I don’t cope well with change & can get sentimental about the cute memories of the past (yet I’m very proud of the two teenagers that I’m blessed to call mine!)

It’s grounding to know that God is beyond all of our firsts & lasts. He is Alpha & Omega. He is the Ancient of Days- present from before He created time.

He is before & after all:
‘From life’s first cry to final breath’
(Getty)

We read the anchoring words of Psalm 90 in church last Sunday:

‘Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭90:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Our life is like a droplet in the oceans of eternity.

God can help us to make the most of our time, to redeem it & make it count.

‘Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.’
‭‭(Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Carpe Diem- Seize the day!

Blessings,

Ruthx

PS You might also like Memos to myself & Captured Time

Give me your eyes

Apparently,’The eyes are the mirror of the soul'(Yiddish proverb)

The missionary Amy Carmichael famously prayed that God would change her brown eyes to blue. He didn’t – for good reason.

Often our eyes betray our true emotions, so when Irish eyes are smiling, our hearts are smiling too!

One of my best discoveries in recent years has been trail running. I love running through nature, listening to God-songs. The song ‘Give me your eyes’ by Brandon Heath is on my ‘On the run’ playlist. These words challenge me every time:

‘Give me your eyes for just one second.
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted,
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten,
Give me your eyes so I can see’

Wow! Imagine having God’s vision for even just one second! Imagine being granted a brief moment to truly see others & get a glimpse of their reality through the lens of His penetrating gaze & his heart of love.

Yet, looking beyond ourselves & even glancing at others & considering their wishes at all is so counter- cultural to society’s norm.

God’s eyes look beyond polished exteriors & designer clothes to the heart- the reality deep within, the attitude of the heart & the burdens carried there.

For,’The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’(1 Samuel 16:7)

Our God is the God who really, truly,deeply sees directly into our heart & souls. Hagar had fled, barefoot & pregnant from her unbearable situation. She was found by the Angel of the Lord in the desert. Hagar gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13 NIV)

‘Eyes are the home of silent prayers’ (Alfred Tennyson) & God saw through Hagar’s eyes, into her heart, & answered her unspoken prayers.

Sometimes, as we meander through life, we have our eyes wide shut!

It’s true that ‘People only see what they are prepared to see’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

So,what will we choose to see?

We can get distracted by eye candy – attractive, dazzling sights-photos & advertisements that disappear from our screens & visual fields too quickly.

To have God’s vision & perspective, we need to set our eyes on Jesus.We need to focus on ‘fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.’ (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

Jesus, God the Son, could also truly,deeply see into lives.‘When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed & helpless, like sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36) The Message says that His heart broke, as He saw how confused & aimless the people were.

‘Keep the Son in your eyes’- a T-shirt slogan exclaimed last summer!

If we have Jesus in our eyes, if we see through His eyes, we will even be able to ‘Look at annoying people with imaginative love'(Carolyn Simon)

With His perspective, we can see beyond angular personalities & prickly people, through the lens of His love & grace.

For,’The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes’
(French Novelist Marcel Proust)

‘For beautiful eyes look for the good in others’ (Audrey Hepburn)

‘See need
Show hope
Know joy’
(Slogan for Show Hope)

Blessings,

Ruthx

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 us the strength to keep going.Today & forever. Now & always.

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

Blessings,

Ruth x

Spiritual Amnesia

Easter 1988 is etched in my memory. Way back then, I truly prayed to God for the first time. I asked Him to forgive my sin, & be Lord of my life. Eight others also committed to follow Jesus. It was an amazing Youth Weekend. The presence of God was palpable as we sang songs under the stars on Ballycastle beach.

A couple of years later I was asked to give my testimony. I stood at the front of church & shared my story. I shared this quote:
‘We get & forget
God gives & forgives’

It’s so true. God forgives us & blesses us. But we get & forget.

In the busyness of life, is it possible to forget the God we cannot breathe without?

Yes, we have poor memories. We forget God’s presence day by day.

We look at the storm & forget about our Anchor.

We focus on our problems & forget our powerful God.

Terror looms across the globe & we forget our Conqueror.

We forget to connect with our unseen Shepherd, the Guardian of our souls.

We easily unravel. In times of trouble we forget how God has led us in the past

We forget the cost of undying love.

Francis Chan in his book Crazy Love wrote about Spiritual Amnesia- how we forget how awesome God is.

‘For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God.’
(Deuteronomy 10:17 NLT)

Forgetting God is not a new phenomenon.

In Exodus, the Israelites felt hungry & thirsty & forgot their dramatic rescue from Egypt & the miracle of crossing the Red Sea.

The night before He faced the agony of the cross, Jesus had his last meal with his disciples & washed their feet. He spoke challenging last words.

‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”’
(Luke 22:19 NIV)

He knew the disciples too well. He knew their shortcomings, & that they needed to intentionally remember Him. Although they had witnessed the miracles & parables, & done life with the Servant-King, often the human default setting is forgetfulness.

Yet, God will not forget us.

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands’
(Isaiah 49:15-16 NIV)

We are engraved on His hands, & he will not forget us! He will not let go.

Jesus prayed for us before the anguish of Gethsemane, the night before those hands were nailed to a cross:
‘I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.’
(John 17:20-21 NIV)

How can we respond to our God who gives & forgives?
‘And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul.’
(Deuteronomy 10:12-13 NLT)

‘We can be tempted to forget about the miracle work of grace & begin to notice all the things we do wrong. We can begin to confuse ourselves with our sin’
(Trillia J Newbell)

We need to remember God- tolook at our Saviour rather than our sin, to focus on His forgiveness rather than ouf failings:
‘Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’
(Psalm 103:2-5 NIV)

Samuel set up a stone,and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
‭‭(I Samuel‬ ‭7:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

We need to look back on our lives & trace God’s grace woven through.

If we’re suffering from spiritual amnesia,we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Take time to reflect & remember:

‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home’

Blessings,

Ruthx