Is there room in your heart?

‘Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story?’

(Casting crowns)

I like the idea of life as a story-His Story. So this question made me stop & think. It’s from the lyrics of a Christmas song from Casting Crowns. Echoing the words of the inn-keeper who had no room for the baby Jesus, the lyrics ask if we have room in our hearts to allow God into our lives.

Our lives are like an empty page without God, waiting for the Author to write.

If you haven’t invited him into your life, He’s patiently waiting. It’s as if He is standing at the door knocking (Rev 3:20)

Even in these surreal days of global lockdown:
‘In a world that’s figuring out how to open back up, you’ve got to keep figuring out all the ways to keep your heart open to God.’
(Ann Voskamp)

As COVID spreads, we try to keep our lives open & we are connected by stories:
‘The universe is made of stories,not atoms’
(Muriel Rukeyser)

‘We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.’
(Jimmy Neil Smith)

Even in difficult dark days, God can write His story & bring meaning to our lives:
‘Things can change. People can change, stories can change, lives can change.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Sometimes changes are tiny, almost imperceptible:
‘Small things don’t always turn into big things.
But all things begin small,especially in the Kingdom of God.
Acorns become oak trees.
Embryos become President.
Life starts with breath.
Love starts with a Hello’
(Emily P Freeman)

What makes the difference?

Listening to God:
‘I began to listen to His Word while I ran and I let God’s Story in me play louder than any other story around me.’
(Ann Voskamp)

We can try to listen to God’s gentle whispers rather than the noise all around.

After all,God is the One who knows the beginning & the end of our story:
‘You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.’
(Psalms 139:16 NLT)

We can be grateful that God uses our story as part of His grand epic story.
‘I’m thankful we have a God who sometimes chooses to tell his big story in small, delightful, quiet ways’
(Emily P Freeman)

He writes the story & we can share it.
‘Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story’
(Psalms 107:2 NIV)

‘When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s.God is the larger context & plot in which our stories find themselves’
(Eugene Peterson)

‘The God who made us,on purpose,for a purpose,with great love, has laid out a plan for your life,& for my life’
(Shauna Niequist)

When times are hard, when a deadly pestilence is a daily reality, we can still trust God with our story:

‘Everything’s going to be okay-
because the Word Himself walks into our story and walks with us,
until the story ends in His time, in His ways,
for our ultimate good and for His ultimate glory-
and that is why everything’s going to be okay.
And if everything’s not okay yet,
everything’s not over yet. 
(Ann Voskamp)

We can grip onto His promises:
‘Even when the future is unknown, our purpose is not.’(Rend Collective)

God always sees the big picture:
‘No book is a chapter,
no chapter tells the whole story,
no mistake defines who we are.
Hope makes our lives page turners.’
(Bob Goff)

There is always hope:
‘When you invite God into the story he does so much better than you could do in your own strength’
(Cory Asbury)

We live in a story of more than happiness:
‘In Christ we live a narrative of joy’
(Emily P Freeman)

So, today, here & now
‘You, as you are right now, were written into the Story from the beginning and you have a place here’
(Sarah Bessey)

‘Is there room in your heart
For God to write His story
You can come as you are
But it may set you apart
When you make room in your heart
And trade your dreams for His glory
Make room in your heart’
(Casting crowns)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Settling the anxious mind

Even though we trust & believe God, we can still feel restless with thoughts tossing to & fro. At anytime & worries can be bubbling just beneath the surface.

Especially in days like these. Anxiety brings worst case scenarios to the front of our mind. Internal conversations with ourselves can lead to symptoms of stress. Spinning & spiralling thoughts. We get so wound up that sleep eludes us.

‘Many of us find our thoughts circling around problematic circumstances or people. For others of us, anxiety has become the soundtrack of our day, we hardly notice it playing in the background of every scene.’
(Jennie Allen)

But we can stop in the middle of our random, haphazard thoughts to pause & pray.

We need to ‘help create space for your soul to breathe so that you can discern your next right thing in love as we live together in Christ’s kingdom and bring the world along.’(Emily P Freeman)

At the start of each lectio365 devotional we pray these words:
‘As I enter prayer now, I pause to be still; to breathe slowly; to re-centre my scattered senses upon the presence of God.’

‘In stillness we cease our activity; in silence we stop our talking’ (Tony Horsfall)

When we are still we can hear God’s gentle whisper:
‘What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand.’
(Getty& Townend)

Read the verses below slowly. Hold space for silence.

Repeat allowing the truth to soak in. Write out,print out or underline the verses.

‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.’
(Psalms 42:11 NIV)

‘When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’
(Psalms 94:19 NIV)

‘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)

When God renews our mind, His presence & peace displaces worry.

Draw near to God & He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Repeat- re-read those verses again

Reflect & Respond

‘Living reflectively provides opportunities during our day for a closer look at things,at people, at ourselves & at God.The faster the pace of life, though, the more we will miss those opportunities.’
(Ken Gire)

Reframe the words of the verses into prayer.

‘The truth is that the God who is creator & sovereign over the universe & the God who conquered sin & death is the same God who wants to be with you in your pain, doubt, shame & other circumstances’
(Jennie Allen)

In these days of distancing & shielding, God is still our Shield:
‘But you, O Lord, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.’
(Psalms 3:3 NLT)

So, ‘Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ’
(Emily P Freeman)

Blessings,

Ruth x

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

Feeling abandoned – but never alone!

Loving God means trusting Him when life hurts

Readings: II Corinthians 4:8&9, Isaiah 43:1-3

I dreaded my 30th birthday for a long time! I remembered how much I hated turning from 19 to 20 and I was sure changing from twenty something to the big 3- 0 would be even worse!

But no matter how many ‘big’ birthdays pass, I am sure they will not be as bad as my 29th. For 16th June 2003 was my worst birthday, in fact it was the worst day of my life so far.

On that day, I was admitted to Knockbracken- a psychiatric hospital. I had been struggling with severe mental illness for 7 months. I was anxious, depressed and even suicidal. I felt so alone. My husband was at home with my two small children, trying to explain “Mummy’s gone to hospital because she’s lost her smile”

A lot of my family were away in America at a wedding. I felt so low as I looked around the grey walls of the ward, wondering how I was ever going to get out of this place. For the first time in my life I felt abandoned by God. The words “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” echoed through my mixed up mind.

Yet even in this deeply dark time, God’s still small voice reminded me that Jesus knew how I was feeling. For on the cross, the cry from Jesus’ anguished heart was “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

On the cross, to a much greater extent than we will ever know, Jesus felt abandoned by His Father God as He took on the sins of the world. And at that time, in the middle of my deep depression, I could take comfort from the fact that Jesus understood, that He could sympathise with my weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15)

The next day Pastor Baird came to see me and read Isaiah 43 and the Word of the Lord was deeply comforting – ‘

But now, this is what the Lord says-
He who created you, O Jacob,
He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour” (Isaiah 43:1-3-NIV)

The Message phrases those words this way- “Don’t be afraid,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 your God, your personal God”
(Isaiah 43:1-3-The Message)

No matter how hard life gets, no matter how down we feel, no matter how much we feel on our own, we are never alone. God is there with us – in the middle of our troubles, heartache and despair.

‘The Lord is close to the broken hearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18 – NLT)

Like the foot- prints poem reminds us, in our darkest hour, when there is just one set of footprints in the sand, we are not alone, God is carrying us.

Slowly and steadily over the days, weeks and months, I began to feel better – thanks to God and a very supportive family (and of course medication and my psychiatrist too!) Looking back, I can see God’s hand at work. I can see how He brought us through and how He taught me to rely on Him.

There are some things that can only be learnt in the middle of difficulties. When our backs are to the wall, we tend to fall to our knees. Our heart cries out to God and He hears us. There are treasures of darkness – times of feeling God close against the odds – character building, spiritually defining times.

And these dark threads are necessary in the tapestry of life. God, the Master Craftsman is working on us, His work of art – and the dark areas give depth and character to the tapestry of life. It’s hard to see all this at the time, but at the end, when His work is complete, we’ll gasp in awe and realise truly that our God does work together all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)

It is in the valleys of life (not the mountain tops) that the real fruit grows. And God wants us to be vibrant, productive, fruitful Christians.

A diamond sparkles best against a black back- ground. God the Master Craftsman knows that we, His precious stones reflect His glory best when times are tough.

Yes, we may feel abandoned, but we are never alone.

‘We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going’
(II Corinthians 4: 8&9 NLT)

As I said before, it’s just as well we don’t know what is around the corner of life – and it is. But God knows, and He is holding us, leading us on. And all around, and underneath are His everlasting arms. (Deuteronomy 33:27)

In the midst of all our trouble, Heartache and despair,
We have a God who stands beside us,
A Friend Who’s always there,
A Hope when things seem hopeless, A Faith when things go wrong,
A Love that will never fail us,
That’s never been more strong!

‘But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold’
(Job 23:10-NIV)

‘Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.’
(James 1: 2-4 – The Message)

A prayer from the heart

Lord, I need You.
I need You now more than ever before.
I need You to minister to me-to help me
rise above the problems and difficulties of life.
I need You to fill up my emptiness, because
I’m completely wiped out and spent.
I need Your grace at this time of need.
I need to sense Your love now more than ever.
I need to feel Your arms of love around me, to enable me to feel safe and secure, despite the turmoil around. I need to be touched by You- so that
I can reach out to others.
I need Your strength at my time of weakness.
I need Your joy now, when life hurts deeply.
I need You to know the cry of my heart, a cry so deep, so silent that no-one else hears.
I need Your patience to take one day at a
time, step by step with You.
Lord, I know that You are all-
sufficient. You are my All in all.
I CAN depend on You- my Rock,
my Song, my Awesome Father God.

(This prayer was scribbled in a journal during another hospital admission. It was truly a prayer from the heart)

The words of our Father

“I am your fortress in times of trouble,
My love is the anchor when things go wrong,
You are precious and in all situations,
I am working to make you strong!

I am your Rock when life seems uncertain,
My presence will guide when things are unclear.

You are loved and in all your problems
You can trust and have nothing to fear.

I am your Helper in times of testing,
My strength shows up best when you are weak, You are my child and through all the tough times, You can know my strength whenever you seek”

P.S. My 30th birthday (& 40th too!)has long been and gone! On my 30th we had a great barbeque-complete with an adult sized bouncy castle. It was a bright, sunny day- and more importantly there was sunshine in my heart- a complete contrast to my 29th

Blessings,

Ruth x

*Revised & updated from ‘Its all about love’ self published in 2007

Celebrate the moment!

The love of God means today is for really living


Readings: Lamentations 3:22-26, Psalm 118

‘Just a tiny little minute, only sixty seconds in it’
But, it’s the minutes that make up the hours. The hours turn into days and the days become weeks. The weeks make up the months on our calendars. The months mark the seasons, and so the year rolls round. The years blur as major life events, birthdays and anniversaries make landmarks in our lifetime.
In these ‘wiping years’ when we’re wiping little bottoms, noses, faces and messes, it’s easy to let the day go by in a blur of seemingly mundane tasks!
We aren’t able to see beyond the messy room, the endless dirty dishes and laundry. And we feel like we’re going to scream if we hear “Mommee!” one more time!
Sometimes, we merely exist, rather than truly living life as God intended it to be. It’s easy to miss the point. It’s easy to miss the wonder of these years when our children are growing, discovering and absorbing so much.
But, no matter what, the Bible says: ‘This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it’(Psalm 118:24-NIV)

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

On 1st September 2001, I took my 6-month-old baby daughter for a walk along Ballywalter Beach. It was a bright, sunny day. The tide was out and the water sparkled. It was the first day of the new school term. A woman stopped me to say, “Make the most of it! My baby has just started school!”
And now, 19 years later, I wonder where the years in between have gone. Caris is now at university and that walk along the beach is just a distant memory- though we’ve walked that beach together many, many times since. I’m just glad that I chose to go for a walk that day and didn’t just get bogged down with the housework!
A Scandinavian proverb says: ‘This day is a gift from God. What you do with it is your gift to Him’
Some one put it like this:
‘Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift,
That’s why it’s called the Present!’
Every new day is a fresh opportunity to experience God’s love and mercy.
‘The unfailing love of the Lord never ends!
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each day’
(Lamentations 3:22&23 –NLT)
‘God has called us out of ho-hum mundane living to experience the abundant life’
Jesus said:
“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10 – NLT)
“I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of”
(John 10: 10 –The Message)
I was very challenged by something that Gloria Gaither said in an interview that was published by In Touch magazine in March 2001: “When your children are saying “Mommy, mommy” and you’ve got other things to do, I think you have to ask “Is there any eternity in it?” and give yourself away for things that last forever. A child is more eternal than a clean house…A calling builds itself into a calling out of a lot of days of regular stuff. There is eternity in every moment”
Wow! Think about it-there is eternity in every moment, when we see those tiny little minutes from God’s perspective! ‘Everyday we stand on chords that vibrate throughout eternity’ (Charles Finney)
We have got to ‘Make the most of every opportunity’ (Colossians 4:6-NIV)
What we think is an interruption may be a divine appointment. Don’t let opportunities pass you by because you think you know how your day should unfold! Listen to those inner promptings, and gentle nudges that come from the Holy Spirit. And remember, a coincidence is when God acts and decides to remain anonymous!
God wants our tiny little minutes, our days and our 24-7 lives to be given to Him.
‘Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him’
(Romans 12:1-The Message)
I probably don’t need to remind you that just 10 days after that carefree walk on the beach, the unthinkable happened.11th September 2001. 9-11 is a date etched on our minds forever- the day that shook the world.
And many more terrorist attacks, natural disasters & unexpected events have happened since. Just now, our planet has paused- reeling with the effects of coronavirus.
We truly don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. Tomorrow might never come.
I truly believe that God wants us to seize the day- Carpe Diem! What a difference it would make if we viewed our limited, precious time from God’s perspective.
‘Celebrate God all day, everyday’ (Philippians 4:4-The Message)
‘And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him’ (Colossians 3:17 – NIV)
‘What you have done and created and loved in the Name of Jesus is all that will last’ (Angela Thomas)

We have this moment

‘Hold tight to the sound of the music of living,
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through
the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making mem’ries of what was today.

Tiny voice that I hear is my little girl calling
For daddy to hear just what she has to say;
And my little son running there by the hillside
May never be quite like today.

Tender words, gentle touch, and a good cup of coffee, And someone that loves me and wants me to stay;
Hold them near while they’re here, and don’t wait for tomorrow
To look back and wish for today.

Take the blue of the sky and the green of the forest
And the gold and the brown of the freshly mown hay,
Add the pale shades of spring and the circus of autumn,
And weave you a lovely today.

For we have this moment to hold in our hands
And to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday’s gone, and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment-today!
(Gloria Gaither-quoted with permission)

‘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 ‭6:34‬ ‭MSG‬‬)

Blessings,

Ruthx

*Edited & updated from my book ‘Its all about love’ 2007

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

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

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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