Closer than you think

‘Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me’
(St Patrick)

Today I’ve been thinking about this prayer of St Patrick. A reminder that Christ is all around us. He is in all things & through all things.

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

If we don’t feel close to God, it’s us that have moved away, not God.

‘Draw near to God & He will draw near to you’ (James 4:8 NKJV)

God is there, whether we can sense Him or not.

Scrabo Tower stands like a sentinel at the head of Strangford Lough, even when its obscured by legendary Irish mist! The fact that we can’t see it doesn’t diminish it’s presence!

‘We may ignore, but nowhere can we evade the presence of God.
The world is crowded with Him.
And He walks everywhere in cognito.
And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate.
The real labour is to remember,to attend.
In fact, to come awake.
Still more, to remain awake’
(CS Lewis)

‘The beauty of the gospel is all around us, in the parables of our lives, in the hearts of those who believe, in the graces that seem so common but really aren’t common at all. God has filled his people and his world with his glory. Blessed are those who actually look for it. Even if it only looks back at you a few fleeting seconds at a time.’
(Chris Tiegreen)

Come close to this God, our God & He will come close to you.

It’s all about choices.

We choose which way our relationship with God goes – whether we’re walking closely to Him, or far away. We decide if we’re going to give our relationship with God the priority it deserves.

We are all sinners-even Saint Patrick declared this. Yet we can know the blessings of Christ in us- the hope of glory.(Col 1:27)

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

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

‘Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart’
(Psalm 37:4-NIV)

Come close to God & He WILL come close to you.

‘Above and below me
Before and behind me
In every eye that sees me
Christ be all around me’
(Leeland)

‘May the strength of God pilot us,
May the wisdom of God instruct us,
May the hand of God protect us,
May the word of God direct us.
Be always ours this day and for evermore.’
(St Patrick)

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

Gather grace, scatter grace

The Christmas story has been put to the back of our mind until it’s unpacked again in November.Yet, the truth of the Baby-sized grace of God wrapped in eternal love lingers on:
‘You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.’
(2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT)

Jesus, the True Word & the Brightest Light became flesh & blood & dwelt among us. In John 1:16 we read how we have received grace upon grace from God:
‘For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.’
(John 1:16 AMP)

God has poured His grace into our lives- sending us a Saviour& giving us His Spirit.

‘By grace I am redeemed
By grace I am restored
And now I freely walk
Into the arms of Christ my Lord’
(City Alight)

His grace is always enough:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

‘And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.’
(II Corinthians 9:8 NKJV)

We don’t deserve God’s grace in our lives.He freely gives it to us when we trust Him.

‘I do not understand at all the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us’
(Anne Lamott)

Just like the manna from heaven that had to be gathered daily (see Exodus 16) God provides grace for today.

Daily grace, day by day.

Just enough for now.

Rend Collective wrote:
‘Gather for strength
Scatter for light’

I expanded that phrase as I meditated:

Gather grace for strength
Scatter grace for light

Gather grace,scatter grace

God’s extravagant grace can’t be hoarded. It needs to be shared. Freely received & freely given- extended to others who (like us) need grace most & deserve it least.

Last year at an OMF meeting, I watched Steve Saint on a video. Sixty years ago his father Nate Saint, along with Jim Elliot & four other missionaries were killed by Auca Indians in Ecuador. The infamous story is recorded in the book by Jim Elliot’s widow entitled Through Gates of Splendour.

The rest of the story Steve told was new to me. After the murders, Steve, his mother & aunt Rachel lived among the Auca tribe. In God’s time, many became Christians & the tribe actually shared God’s grace with Steve when he was a young boy . Steve grew especially close to Mincaye- the tribesman who killed his father. Steve said ‘Hurt people hurt people. But forgiven people forgive people’

God’s grace changes lives & creates (almost) unbelievable stories.

This is counter-cultural, other-worldly, amazing, downright outrageous grace. Such grace is birthed by God alone. Given by Him- gathered then scattered by His children.

When we see God’s grace at work in us & around us, we can encourage others & scatter God’s grace.

Tonight in church, we read this verse about Barnabas:
‘When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.’
(Acts 11:23 NIV)

Gather grace for strength today, then scatter it to encourage others.

Blessings,

Ruthx

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

Hope

I’ve ditched new year’s resolutions for bucket lists & one word for the year.

‘For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.’ (TS Eliot)

Last year my word was be.The year before I chose run. This year my word is hope.

Hope: A feeling of expectation & trust

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.’
(Emily Dickinson)

Hope is what’s needed in our daily lives & broken planet. The truth of the Christmas Carol reminds us:
‘A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices’

But hope is more than a feeling. Hope is a Person. His Name is Jesus. He came from heaven to the manger & grew in the carpenter’s workshop. He lived & died in this world. He rose again & left His Spirit in us if we believe:
‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’
(Colossians 1:27 NIV)

God has given us everlasting 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)

‘But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.’
(Psalms 71:14 ESV)

‘Hope is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the belief God is working through all things, no matter how things turn out.’ (Ann Voskamp)

Even when we feel down, we can know hope:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, & my God”
(Psalms 42:5 ESV)

‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.’
(Psalms 62:5 ESV)

‘In the storms of life, we can ‘hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul’
(Hebrews 6:18-19 ESV)

Hope can keep us steady & ground us! It’s an anchor for our anxious souls in the faithfulness of God.

‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’
(Hebrews 10:23 ESV)

We can choose to be hopeful when things seem hopeless. It’s a choice of prospective.

‘Chose hope– it will anchor you’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

When this world makes us weary & grinds us down, we can be renewed by hope. We can rise above our troubles:
‘But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.’
(Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness’ (Bishop Tutu)

‘The promise of hope is that our now is not forever’
(Christy Wimber)

So, ‘Let hope keep you joyful’
(Rom 12:12)

We need to share our hope with those who can see the difference it makes:
‘always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you’
(1Peter 3:15 ESV)

We can sow seeds of hope.

Then…

Wait. Expect. Trust

In our God

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

‘And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.’
(Psalms 39:7 ESV)

In our God, we find hope…
for today,
& for tomorrow,
& always.

Blessings,

Ruth x

For when the year doesn’t feel new anymore

It’s not even half way through January yet & it feels like a month of Mondays!

Planet Earth celebrated another revolution around the sun with great optimism! Shiny happy people around the globe danced as the clock struck midnight.

Turning the calendar with fireworks & parties often doesn’t alter much in our lives. Our mindset may be buoyed temporarily by the ‘New Year, New You’ mantra.

We can step out on 1st January as bouncy as Tigger but we can quickly default to Eeyore ‘Same old, same old’:

*When the same struggles emerge from the year before

*When no news seems like good news

*When you feel the same broken emotions that there’s not even an emoji for

*When pesky viruses clog your head & hamper fitness plans

*When that ‘black dog’ named Depression follows us into 2019

*When your stressors at work don’t stay behind in 2018:

It’s OK not to be OK

‘It’s ok not to feel twinkly’ (Blurt)

Many of us step into a new year with clear resolutions & plans.

The thing is, we ourselves can’t muster up any new ways or lasting change.

We need the love & mercy, goodness & grace of our God- this year & always

‘In the middle of your mess is the Messiah.Look to Him for joy’
(Jennifer Rothschild)

God is with us forever {not just for Christmas!}

‘We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul,closer than our secret thoughts’ (AW Tozer)

He created us, knows us best & yet He loves us most. He is the Unchangeable One who can make things new from the inside out.

He gives fresh starts as often as we ask for forgiveness. He creates new beginnings & multiple chances.

We can pray the words of David’s psalm:
‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.’
(Psalms 51:10)

We can come to God with our frustrations & failings, our misunderstandings & contradictions. He is More than Enough to deal with them- & care for us.

‘He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, & reveals His thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, & treads on the heights of the earth-the Lord God Almighty is His Name’ (Amos 4:13)

By faith, we can walk close to Him:
‘My goal this year? To stay close to the One who made me. Because being close to Him brings me closer to who I was made to be.’
(Michelle Cushatt)

God said, “I will take you by the hand and keep you”
(Isaiah 42:6 ESV)

When we don’t feel buoyant &shiny, when we feel down& frustrated by ourselves & others, we can shift the focus from ourselves to God:
‘Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God’
(Psalms 42:5 NLT)

‘Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.’
(Psalm 42:5 MSG)

No matter how we’re feeling,today & throughout the year,
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

‘No matter what this year holds-
In the stressful times:seek God
In the painful times: praise God
In the terrible times:trust God
And at all times-at all times, & at all times
thank God’
(Ann Voskamp)

Blessings,

Ruth x

All I need

Our God is All-sufficient,

Always enough.

Enough for where we are at,
As well as where we are heading.

Today & always,
Now & forever.

Enough for ordinary everyday life,
And extraordinary circumstances.

Enough for holidays & family life,
And dramas and challenges.

Enough for the storms we may face,
And the halcyon days after.

He gives just enough:
Grace
Strength
Peace
Presence

For the step we’re on in our journey
For the page we’re at in our story

Our God is All-sufficient:

Always enough,
Always faithful,
Always loving,
Always there.

Blessings,


Ruth x

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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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

Just three words

I used to love listening to ‘Just three words’ on Radio 2 drive time. Listeners texted snippets of their news into the radio station in just three words. eg:

School Play Tonight

Broken finger ouch!

Yummy Birthday Cake

Peppermint tea please

Brand new puppy

Homework’s all done

Although the above three words are about relatively minor life events, it got me thinking about the power of words. Just three words:

God is love

If you ever land in Dublin airport, you’ll see those words on a steeple as you walk out of the terminal. The Bible declared it first in 1 John‬ ‭4:8‬: ‘God is love.’ The essence of God is love. At the heart of God there’s love- true love.

God loves you

I read this on a handmade wooden sign hung on a tree between Ballywalter & Ballyhalbert last week. And it’s true. We may feel unlovely or unloveable but we are never unloved. We are loved by the One who knows us best- our Creator God.

‘Knowing God is love is not the same as knowing God loves you’ (Ann Voskamp)

‘You are loved. Rest in your God-breathed worth’(Sarah Bessey)

God so loved

‘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)

God so loved that He gave. He gave His One & Only Son.

Love came down

God,
whose very essence is love,
sent His Love down to our little planet &
wrapped Love in flesh & swaddling clothes.
Love walked earth’s dusty, well-trod paths.
Love grew and gave.
Love brought hope to the hurting,
total healing to the sick,
sunsets and rainbows to the blind,
walking & leaping to the lame.

Love gave,
and kept on giving
to a world dying to know true Heaven-sent Love.

When Love’s God-appointed Day arrived,
Love gave Himself for us-
Love nailed to a cross,
yet held there by Love-
that we, the unlovely,
would know that we are truly, deeply loved by God.

But,
even brutal crucifixion could not kill Love,
for, Love rose with the sunrise in the garden,
and returned to heaven in a cloud.

Now Love dwells in the hearts of those who believe in faith

God’s love speaks

God tells of His love in His Word- the Bible.

He has given us everything we need for life & godliness- His great & precious promises. (2 Peter 1:3&4)

‘Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.’
(2 Timothy 3:17 MSG)

Grounded in love

We can be secure in God’s love ‘rooted and grounded in love’ (Eph 3:17) & begin to grasp its vast dimensions.

Love makes everything grow! (Including us!)

Impacted by love

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

Love one another

‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’
‭‭(John‬ ‭13:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

‘Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out’
‭‭(Hebrews‬ ‭10:24MSG‬‬)

‘Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.’
(1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

I Corinthians 13:4 reminds us:

Love is patient

Love is kind

True love is more than words, for:

Love’s a verb

‘Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’
‭‭(1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

I’ve been listening to audiobooks by Bob Goff. The titles speak volumes Love Does & Everybody, Always about becoming love.

Love lives here

This is the title of Bob’s wife Maria’s book, about love at home.She wrote:
‘We all don’t need to do big things, but we can do equally important things.’

Love builds up
(1 Cor 8:1)

Love never fails
(1 Cor 13:8)

Love never ends

I watched the new purple gliders ‘glide’ through Ballyhackamore as I took my morning caffeine.

Just up the road at Stormont Presbyterian they’d created an acronym on their purple billboard:

God’s Love Is Deep Everlasting Redeeming

There’s great truth & forgiveness in the redeeming, never-ending, eternal love of God.

‘So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’
‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Always remember- no matter what else you’re thinking on this journey called life:

You are loved

Blessings,

Ruthx