Six verses that give security & peace

1.”For I know the plans I have for you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11 –NIV) *

2. ‘But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him’ (Psalm 103:17 –NIV)

3.’You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head’ (Psa 139:3 &5-NLT)

4.God goes with us – ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord Your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you’  (Deut 31:6 – NIV)

5. God goes before us- ‘The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged’ (Deut 31:8 – NIV)

6.’But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him’ (Psa 103:17 – NIV)

*These verses were written in the darkest days of Israel’s history

May these verses give peace in today’s dark chapters.

Blessings,

Ruth x

Keep Walking….

‘Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord.’
(Psalms 89:15 NLT)

My kids still tease me about how triggered I became when a visiting speaker preached about ‘Plodding On’ Plodding rather than running the race! Plodding rather than walking or jogging.

Some Bible verses do compare life to running eg:
‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.’
(1 Corinthians 9:24 ESV)

But no one can run all the time. Right?Even ultra runners walk. But when does a run turn into a jog? Or a walk turn into a plod?

Walking with God has been a theme since the start.

In the very beginning before the fall, God walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam & Eve. A few chapters later, when sin had entangled the world God created with love, we read of Enoch ‘walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.’
(Genesis 5:24 NLT)

In the next chapter we read that Noah ‘walked in close fellowship with God.’
(Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Later in the book of Genesis, Jacob also referred to God walking with His people:
‘And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,”
(Genesis 48:15 ESV)

In this journey of life,the ultimate ultra run, it’s all about pace- God’s pace rather than ours!

Jesus said:
“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)

Living freely & lightly. The unforced rhythms of grace.

Grace determines the pace of life:
‘By grace I am redeemed
By grace I am restored
And now I freely walk
Into the arms of Christ my Lord’
(Cityalight)

‘And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.’
(Getty/Townend)

But we have a choice:
‘Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.”
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
(Jer 6:16)

Jesus invites us to walk through life with Him. It is our decision whether we accept this invitation to draw near.

If we follow Jesus things won’t always be easy.
‘Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.’ (1John2:6)

Jesus’ brother John wrote:
‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.’
(3 John 1:4 NIV)

The words of the old hymn ‘O For a closer walk with God’ can be the prayer of our heart :
‘So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;’
(Cowper)

I love those soothing words- calm & serene rather than flustered & frazzled!

When Jesus was on earth, he walked many dusty paths with His disciples. He also walked on water to through the storm when they were frightened:

‘But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”’
(Matthew 14:27 ESV)

In life we walk through green pastures & past still waters but even through dark valleys we need not be anxious.For Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”‘
‭‭(John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

He will guide as we walk:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭119:105‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Even if times are tough & we’re just plodding,He is with us:

‘For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”‘
(Isaiah‬ ‭41:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

“Because I, your GOD, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.”
‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭41:11-13‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

We cannot change life’s pace or Gods timing but we are in the grip of God’s grace.

So what does God want us to do?
‘He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?’
(Micah 6:8)

‘If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.’
‭‭(Galatians‬ ‭5:25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

‘For all the peoples walk,
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God
forever and ever.’
(Micah 4:5)

‘The best thing I can do for my family is to walk with God.’
(Cynthia Heald)

‘May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you [filling your heart with the spiritual well-being and serenity experienced by those who walk closely with God].’
(Jude 1:2 AMP)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Cultivating our life

‘You may not be everything
you thought you’d be by now
But you can be the one who loves,
serves & gives her all,
& waters & nurtures
every plant in the garden
that God has already given her’
(Morgan Harper Nichols)

I love those words- partly because I can easily identify with the sentiment that I’ve fallen short of my own ideals (never mind anyone else’s) But I also love the sense of place and space. There’s a boundary-a limit to what we have influence over. Although there’s a whole wide world, God has gifted each of us a garden to tend to.

That’s especially important today in these unprecedented days. Days with frightening headlines. Constant talk of a global pestilence, with climbing mortality rates. Stalking fear. Rising anxiety

While it feels like this planet we call home has shifted on its axis & paused, we can look to our own backyard. While the gravity of the situation weighs heavy on our shoulders & while we can pray for our whole wide world (which is all under His care) God gives us our garden to look after.

Our patch of Earth- that only we can tend to.

Our home- more than just the rocks &beams, but our family & friends that bring it to life- the children that grow before our eyes.

Even in these dark days.

Especially in these dark days.

Dark chapters in earth’s history.

In our garden, the soil can be a dark seemingly lifeless place.

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

‘New life starts in the dark. Whether it’s a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, new life starts in the dark.’
(Barbara Brown Taylor)

So hold on to the truth.

‘In darkness God’s truth shines more clear’
(Corrie ten Boom)

In the Bible, Jesus said that God is like a Gardner, & we are like the branches of a vine.

Jesus said:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:5 NIV)

As we look after our gardens gifted to us from our Gardner God,we can only do it with His help

‘Whatever I have, wherever I am,I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am’
(Phil 4:13-MSG)

‘I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me (I am ready for anything & equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me’
(Phil 4:13 AMP)

‘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)

When we draw near to God. & remain close to Him, His Gardening Spirit works in our hearts & helps us cultivate our lives.

‘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’
(Galatians 5:22-23 MSG)

‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.’
(Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

God will water our gardens & produce fruit that we cannot grow on our own. So let us draw near to our Creative Gardening God.

‘So let us know and become personally acquainted with Him; let us press on to know and understand fully the [greatness of the] LORD [to honor, heed, and deeply cherish Him]. His appearing is prepared and is as certain as the dawn, And He will come to us [in salvation] like the [heavy] rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.’
(Hosea 6:3 AMP)

He is the one who sends rain to us & our garden- gentle spring rain to make us grow.

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

Sometimes it’s hard to envisage how the gardens we have been given will turn out. Especially against the backdrop & upheaval of COVID.

We need our Gardner God’s perspective.

‘This is not a time to look too far into the future, or even the next few weeks or months. This is a time to think in terms of moments. Leaning into your faith during this pandemic means asking yourself, ‘What is my next right thing?’
(Emily P. Freeman)

‘Sometimes life is so hard you can only do the next thing. Whatever that is just do the next thing.  God will meet you there.”
(Elizabeth Elliot)

What is our next right thing to tend to in the garden we have been gifted?

‘Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.’
(Galatians 6:4-5 MSG)

We can do our creative best with the gardens we have been given.

‘Cultivate thankfulness’
(Col 3:17 MSG)

‘Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.’
(William Arthur Ward)

‘Discover beauty in everyone.’
(Romans 12:17 MSG)

‘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)

Let’s read that poem one more time, then serve, give, water & nurture the garden we have been given.

‘You may not be everything
you thought you’d be by now
But you can be the one who loves,
serves & gives her all,
& waters & nurtures
every plant in the garden
that God has already given her’
(Morgan Harper Nichols)

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!

Run to the Tower

We were at Glendalough today. We had some of St Kevin’s Coffee, walked past God’s Cottage to the boardwalk around the lower lake & gazed up past the tree line to the Spinc where we walked last time.

But the sight I love best at Glendalough is the Round Tower- built in the Middle Ages & still standing tall!

This tower & others like it remind me of the verse in Proverbs:

‘The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’
(Proverbs 18:10 NIV)

He is the Tower we can run to when life hurts as these verses remind us:

*’GOD is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout; My mountaintop refuge, he saves me from ruthless men.’
(2 Samuel 22:2-3 MSG)

*’For God alone my soul waits in silence; From Him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, My defense and my strong tower; I will not be shaken or disheartened.

Trust [confidently] in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Selah.’
(PSALM 62:1-2,8 AMP)

*’God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’
(Psalm 46:1 NIV)

*’The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him’
(Nahum 1:7 NIV)

If you read the verse from Proverbs again, it’s the NAME of our God that is the strong Tower to run to.

‘Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other’
(Paul Baloche)

Years ago when the kids were younger, life was more balanced &amp & work was contained,friends & I gathered round the book ‘Lord I want to know you’ by Kay Arthur .It was a devotional study on the names of our God- Jehovah, Yahweh,the great unchangeable I AM. I still feel encouraged when I think back to the deep truths of God together:

Jehovah Jireh (Gen 22:8)The Lord who provides- all that we need

Jehovah Tsidkenu (Jer 23:6)-The Lord our Righteousness – who cleanses our sin- our deepest need of all

Jehovah Nissi (Ex 17:15)- The Lord is my banner- my leader & protector in battle

Jehovah Raah (Psalm 23) – The Lord is my Shepherd -who leads us through life

Jehovah Rapha (Gen 20:17)- The Lord who heals-& restores

Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24)-The Lord is peace -in stormy times

Jehovah Mekoddishkem (Exodus 19:6)-The Lord who sanctifies you – & cleanses our sin

Jehovah Shammah (Ezekiel 48:35)- The Lord is there – at all times

He is there. Always there when we need Him. Our invisible Tower of refuge , whether we recognise Him or not.

He is there, even when life seems too dark to see the Tower:
‘Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.’
(Isaiah 50:10 NIV)

We can rely on Him for He has said:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head,
I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters,
you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-
Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. ”
(Isaiah 43:1-3 MSG)

When we are tired & weary, we must keep running toward the Tower.

We can run to the Tower, & know this truth:
‘You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my fortress.
But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.’
(Psalms 59:9, 16-17 NLT)

We can run to the Tower & cry from our heart:

‘Hear my cry, O God; Listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For You have been a shelter and a refuge for me, A strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever; Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings. Selah.’
(PSALM 61:1-4 AMP)

Pray, in the words of that ancient Irish hymn:
‘Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.’

Amen!

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

Bright beginnings

Spring has officially started- despite the rewind to the chill of winter today.

Daffodils are sprouting wildly along hedgerows & tete-a-tete in window boxes. Croci erupt across roundabouts in purple,white & orange. Lambs are bouncing in the fields- full of the joy of spring!

‘Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.
The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come’
(Song of Songs 2:11-12 NLT)

‘It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.’
(Rainer Maria Milke)

Spring is a very visual reminder of new life & bright beginnings. A whisper to our hearts that no winter lasts forever.

‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’
(Genesis 8:22 NIV)

‘When spring comes it leaves no corner of the land untouched’
(CS Lewis- Miracles)

The Creator God who ushers in new seasons, who brings new life in to hardened ground in spring, can breathe new life to hardened hearts. His grace can give a bright new beginning after a winter in the soul.

If you have been weighed down by the pressures & cares of this life, God offers hope of a bright new beginning.

If you turn to God for forgiveness, He doesn’t just give a new start in life but rather a new life to start.God doesn’t just rearrange our life when we come to Him, He recreates it:

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.’
(II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

I was thinking of the simple but profound truths contained in a chorus we sang in Youth Fellowship :
‘I am a new creation
No more in condemnation
Here in the grace of God I stand’

‘Therefore, having been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom also we have access by faith into this gracein which we stand,and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’
(Romans 5:1-2 NKJV)

Don’t keep dwelling in the chill of winter – embrace the warmth of God’s grace this spring.

Rejoice in the hope of bright beginnings.

‘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?’
(Isaiah 43:16-21 MSG)

‘God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life’

(Psalm 51:10 MSG)

‘And now to him who can keep you on your feet,
standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—
to our one God, our only Savior,
through Jesus Christ, our Master,
be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time,
and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.’
(Jude 1:24, 25 MSG)

Blessings,

Ruth x

Named not labelled

I’ve watched all the Disney princess movies- many more than once. Or twice! In our house we preferred the Disney Princesses with mischief in their eyes & sass mixed with sparkle (like Princess Merida in Brave or Rapunzel in Tangled)

We celebrated when Princess Leia became a Disney Princess.Our children were introduced to the epic adventure of Star Wars from a young age. I have cute photos of a little Luke Skywalker wielding a light saber beside our very own Princess Leia with blonde hair twisted into buns. Hours passed on the planet of make-believe.

Fairytales aren’t always sweetness & light & ‘happily ever after’ For every damsel in distress, & prince that’s trying to save her, there are witches, dragons, wolves & allsorts of darkness lurking!

The real-life stories of princesses (& actresses) are rarely straightforward & carefree.Carrie Fisher (the actress who played Princess Leia) struggled with drug addiction & Bipolar Disorder.

Carrie Fisher wrote in the Huffington Post:
‘At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.’

Sometimes we can feel smug & sorted about what we’re dealing with. A sense of pride when we feel calm & controlled.We can be functioning well despite emotional baggage & unwelcome diagnoses.We can project the best versions of our broken selves.

At other times we can be highly functioning but a little fragile just beneath the surface . We can feel we’re just one small tug on the thread away from totally unravelling.

As we journey through life unwanted labels are stuck on that we can’t take off.

Depression.Anxiety. Stress. Burn out. Anorexia.Psychosis.Bipolar.

The labels extend beyond mental illness to physical ones & our current status in life:

Single.Divorced.Childless.Bereaved

& to our children:

Autism.ADHD

In my day job I give labels & discuss labels given by specialists. Of course diagnoses have their place to aid treatment. But some diagnoses hurt & sting. They bring tears to our eyes & put an ache in our hearts.They can be life-altering & life-limiting .Some labels we give ourselves can affect us too. Energy-sapping. Growth-stunting.

After a brief moment of self-sufficiency we realise we’re haven’t got it all together.

Whatever our story, our struggle, our label,
We’re not doing life on our own.
We’re not holding on,
We’re being held.

Jesus’ words echo deep:
‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’
(John 15:5 ESV)

Without God we are like a dead twig. Lifeless. We couldn’t breathe-let alone get through a day without Him

As Jesus-followers struggling with mental illness & emotional health, we can’t function without:
God’s grace & strength
A supportive circle of family & friends
Necessary medication
Daily doses of God-Words
Conversations over coffee (talking to the right people)
Fellowship- being the church even when we don’t feel like it
Counselling to get us on track
Whatever else it takes -running reading,writing,caffiene,chocolate(…you name it)

And I’ll write it again-above all, we can’t function without God Himself!

He is close to the broken hearted (Psalms 147:3) He knows the  name of each twinkling star in our galaxy & galaxies far,far away. (Psalm 147:4)

Even more amazingly, He knows my name- He knows your name. He calls us by our name-  not only our first name but our true name, our new name given by God:
‘And I will give to each one a white stone, & on the stone will be engraved a new name that no-one understands except the one who receives it’(Rev 2:17-NLT)

God gives us names, not nick- names or derogatory names to pull us down but rather new names to build us up:

Precious
Chosen
Sought-After
Cherished
Truly Forgiven
Deeply Loved
Never Forsaken
Forever Blessed
Mine
Daughter of the Most High God

His perfect love casts out fear (1John4:18)

‘Fear calls out our doubts; God calls out our names.’(Bob Goff)

As we respond to Abba, calling our name, we will know that He is:

Always Faithful
Always There
Always Enough
{No matter what}

Our Good,Good Father knows our name & our heart, our struggles & our failures, yet truly loves us.

‘His love never runs away or wavers. It extends into all of those places where you feel most unloveable, where you can’t imagine he would want to go. Those parts of you that cause others to run away are the very parts of you that God runs toward.’
(Tullian Tchividjian)

‘The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.’
(Psalms 147:11 ESV)

‘If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.
If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.
He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning.
Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen.
He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart.’
(Max Lucado)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS If doubt & fear seem louder than the voice of God calling your name listen to:

You say-Lauren Daigle
I am who you say I am– Hillsong
No longer slaves-Jonathan David & Melinda Helser
Good good Father-Chris Tomlinson

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