Thirsting After God

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me. Those who want to kill me will be destroyed; they will go down to the depths of the earth. They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals. But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced. -Psalm 63 NIV

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We all experience hunger and thirst.  Have you ever watched an advert on telly that made you hungry or thirsty?  I can think of a few, M&S food for £10, Cart‘or ice cream, PG Tips, etc.  We may be hungry and thirsty for these things of the world, but how thirsty are we for God?

Many of us want to worship God and God alone, but sometimes we wonder if God can really satisfy us completely.  There are times we may feel unsure of His presence or His intentions, especially when life is difficult, the world seems dangerous, or even chaotic.  Today we are going to look at a Psalm where David moves from just simply hearing about God and His love to seeing His power, goodness and loving kindness.

Commentators say that David wrote this psalm whilst fleeing Jerusalem because his son Absalom conspired against him to take over the kingship. The “wilderness of Judah” which was spoken about in the psalm was a wild and uncultivated tract of country lying on the east side of the territory of the tribe of Judah, lying along the Jordan. David knew the area well enough because he fled there when he got away from Saul and here he is again running for his life.  David had a lot going against him, yet in this dry and parched land, his first desire was God.

We have all been through very difficult circumstances in our lives. David was struggling here in the desert.  He begins the psalm by longing for God to praising Him and seeing the future victory over his enemies.  David did not see the victory yet, but he gave God the glory for it.  Have you ever cried out to God in distress and longed for something from Him? We may not have our desire yet, but we should however give thanks for what God has done for us in the past and what He will do in the future.
David was honest and open with God.  He trusted God with his life.  David knows that God is with Him.  God has always shown David loving kindness and has been his help in other difficult situations.  David reminds God of those times.  He remembers being in the shadow of God’s wing, knowing that he has been supported under God’s right hand.

We too can be honest and open with God, in fact God wants us to be.  Yes, he knows what is on our hearts but He longs to hear from us.  When things are difficult, we can share it with the Lord and yes, we can remind God of how He has helped us in the past.

As David was reminding God of His faithfulness, David may have remembered experiences with God.  David would have remembered being anointed as king despite being the youngest, the victory over Goliath and the Philistines, and God’s forgiveness and mercy concerning David’s affair with Bathsheba and killing her husband Uriah.

What are some experiences in your life you may remember and can help you to focus on God through the difficult times in your life?  Give praise to God for what He has done.

David after remembering the past, realised that God will take care of everything just like He always had before.  God is in control and is the judge.  He was on David’s side.  He too is on our side and will take care of our enemy.  He has the victory.  We just have to be still.

In the Psalm, David says his soul thirsts for God and he can only be satisfied in God’s presence. Worship brings us into God’s presence in a very tangible way.  Yes, God is always with us, but when we worship, our focus is on God and God alone.  When we put our focus on God, He will satisfy our longing hearts.  Our problems do not go away, but they will not seem quite as overwhelming because we know God is with us.

Are you thirsty for God?  Does your soul long for Him?  God has been with us in the past and He will continue to do so.  Knowing, experiencing and remembering God’s love and mercy is crucial to finding satisfaction in God.  Do you want to experience God’s presence in a mighty way?  Jesus can satisfy our souls if we seek Him.  Come to the living waters, and allow Jesus to fill you…

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. -Isaiah 41:18 NIV

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. -Isaiah 44:3 NIV

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. -John 7:38 NIV

For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” -Revelation 7:17 NIV

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. -Revelation 21:6 NIV

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. -Revelation 22:17 NIV

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The Good Shepherd

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason, the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” -John 10:11-18 ESV
 
Shepherds in the ancient world had a close bond with their sheep. Lambs were raised almost like children with plenty of hugs and affection. The shepherd would call his sheep by name and the sheep would follow him because they knew that protection and nourishment came from the shepherd’s skilful care. The sheep also responded to the shepherd’s voice because they knew he loved them and he was concerned for their well-being. Security and satisfaction came from staying close to the shepherd.
 
Do you have someone in your family or circle of friends that you feel most secure with and loved? Who do you turn to when you feel insecure or afraid? Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for us. Jesus uses the familiar image of a shepherd and his sheep to illustrate his love for his followers and our value to Him. We are His prized possession, a possession He guides, protects and cares for, just as a shepherd nurtures his flock of sheep. Jesus’ words bring us comfort and assurance in a very threatening and insecure world.
 
From the bible passage we see several things that the shepherd does for his sheep. The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, he knows them, protects them, keeps them safe and finds them the best pastures. The word “know” here is used in the sense of affectionate regard or love. It implies such a knowledge of their wants, their dangers, and their characters, as to result in a deep interest in their welfare. Jesus knows our hearts, the dangers that face us, and the needs of His people. His kindness as our shepherd prompts Him to defend and aid us. He is known and loved as our Saviour and Friend.
 
The sheep, knowing that the shepherd loves them, trusts him, knows his voice, follows where he leads, and rests in his care (verses 14-16). They recognise they are lost and in need of a Saviour; they come to him, and find that He is all they need, and they love him. As a flock follows and obeys its kind shepherd, so we too follow and obey Christ who leads us beside the still waters, and makes us lie down in green pastures.
Most people can relate to Jesus being a shepherd. We long for someone to protect us, keep us safe, embrace us when we are hurting, and lead us in the ways we should go. A shepherd is kind, knowing what is best for his sheep.
 
What makes Jesus so attractive to those around us as a Shepherd? Jesus gave up His life for us. He loves everyone so much He gave everything for us so we can have eternal life, protection, and rest. People know when they are loved. As Jesus said in verses 12 and 13, a hireling watches the sheep, but because he doesn’t know them by name and is not their true shepherd, he will not fight for them, he will not protect them as if they were his own. The hireling leaves them and runs for his life when the wolf tries to steal one. Jesus tells us He is not like that. He is the Good Shepherd. He loves us; Jesus emphasises in verses 17-18 that He laid down His life on His own accord. Jesus’ death was voluntary; Jesus chose to give up His life so we can have life. Even though God had commanded Jesus to give up His life, Jesus did so through His own free will. Jesus had a right to lay down his life for the good of people. The patriot dies for his country on the field of battle; the merchant exposes his life for gain; and the Son of God had a right to put himself in the way of danger and of death, when a dying world needed such an atoning sacrifice. His death and resurrection gives us life, if we but chose Him.
 
No matter how much the shepherd tries to keep the sheep in one fold, one of them usually wanders off or doesn’t come when called. Have we ever wandered off trying to live our own way? Jesus tells us in verse 16 that the good shepherd goes to find us to bring us back into the fold. He will search for us until He brings us back to safety. What a loving, gentle Saviour we have! The sheep will hear His voice and return to the fold. We can know without a shadow of doubt that Jesus loves us, He gave His all for us, He protects us, keeps us safe, picks us up when we are hurting, tends to our wounds, and never slumbers. Jesus never fails!
 
Psalm 23, a familiar Bible passage, teaches us all that a good shepherd does. David shared his thoughts in this beautiful passage. In God’s presence, we lack nothing. We are satisfied by the Bread of Life and the Water. He leads us to rest in grassy pastures, full of life and health. He leads us beside quiet waters, where we will never have to thirst again. He restores our inner person, our souls. He guides us in the right paths, if we follow, we will not be led astray. He is with us in the valley of death which represents spiritual warfare. God will bring us through even when the path is dark and dreary. He protects with His rod and staff. We do not have to fear the enemy’s attacks because Jesus keeps us safe. A table is prepared for us, keeping us well fed. He anoints our heads with oil from a never-ending, overflowing cup. The anointing represents favour, distinction, holiness (being set apart for God), and priesthood. His goodness and grace will pursue us and stay with us all our days. We will live in the house of God forever.
 
Knowing what Jesus did and continues to do for us, let us rest in the security of His presence. May we be confident in His love, following where He leads us, allowing the Shepherd to protect us, and keep us in His care.
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The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
 
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely] goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
-Psalm 23 ESV
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Suffering is not eternal

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. -Romans 8:18 ESV

Living with M.E./CFS for the past 8 years has been difficult as you can understand. When I first was diagnosed, I really struggled with the news but grateful to know it wasn’t in my head. I had already struggled for two years of utter fatigue before finding out what was wrong. I just thought it was a part of depression and anxiety of which I also suffer from.

I did not want to face up to the diagnoses and take time off as was recommended in the beginning. I worked one more year, preaching and fulfilling my duties as an officer/minister in The Salvation Army. Sadly, my body gave up after that year and I became housebound ever since.

I had lost my freedom and abilities to do things quickly. I was angry. I was upset. I was even more depressed. I hated life.

I prayed for healing (and I still do). Others prayed for me. However, I was told that I did not have enough faith to be healed therefore God couldn’t heal me. I was also told it may be undiscovered sin that is keeping me from being healed. These words added to my despair.

Life is even more difficult than when I was first diagnosed. In the past couple of years I have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, and osteoarthritis in my lower spine. I am unable to walk more than 10 metres, therefore, I have use a wheelchair when going out anywhere. I get exhausted and have bouts of pain anytime I go out and do things. Flareups can last for a week or more.
I cannot cook, clean, launder, drive (I just turned in my licence), walk much with crutches within the house, etc. Most of my days are spent in my recliner chair.

Since being off work for five years, my outlook on life has changed. I keep myself busy everyday with a strict schedule. Most days I have my devotions, share posts online, have a nap, lunch, write and listen to lessons, play a few games for myself, have tea, finish playing a few games, knit or make cards for people and watch telly, read, and then go to sleep.

I have decided to focus on what I can do. This keeps my mind off the negative.

My relationship with Christ has grown. He has been healing wounds from my past. He has been reaching deep into my heart and showing me his amazing love.

I have learnt to be grateful for every day and the gifts God has been giving me. I even keep a journal of things I am grateful for. I was inspired by Ann Voskamp’s book, 1,000 gifts, and have written more than a 1,000 gifts God had given me since last year.

God has been teaching me patience, contentment, love, and especially hope.

Hope is such a beautiful thing. Hope is what keeps me going.

Hope is knowing that no matter what I go through Jesus is with me. Hope is also what Paul speaks about in Romans 8:18 ESV, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

What I am going through now is just a blip in the light of eternity. Heaven is a place where there is no sickness, pain, sorrow, or tears.

Because of the hope I have in Jesus, I continue to trust him. I have faith, trusting Christ despite the illnesses.

You can have the hope I have as well, if you will just take your focus off your problems and focus on Jesus instead. Jesus is worth our attention and praise. I promise you, it helps greatly.

Be authentic with Jesus. He knows our hearts. He longs for us to be close to him. Don’t use illness as an excuse to stay away. God did not give us these illnesses. He has allowed us to suffer them, but for his glory. Everyone suffers at some point in their lives.

Remember, what we suffer here on earth is just a blip in eternity. God’s glory which will be revealed to us will be worth all the suffering we go through.

Stay strong. Place your hope in Christ. Keep going. God bless you.

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Go Deeper (based on Ezekiel 47:1-12)

In this bible passage, Ezekiel has a vision of a river flowing from the temple. At first, the angel shows him water that goes only up to his ankles. Then the water goes as high as Ezekiel’s knees then his waist and then so deep that he has to swim in order to stay afloat. He makes it back to the shoreline and as he looks around, he sees trees. These trees bear fruit all year round and the leaves have healing properties. The water that flows from the sanctuary gives the trees life.

This same vision is spoken about in John 7 and Revelation 22: “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this, he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” (John 7:37-39)

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-3)

Even Joel speaks about this river in chapter 3 when he shares about the new wine and milk flowing from the hills and a fountain will flow out of the House of the Lord.

This vision was not just for Ezekiel but it is for us today. The water coming out from under the threshold of the Lord’s temple flowed toward the east. The stream of water flowed out of God’s presence. When we plunge deep into God’s presence and are engrossed in Him, we will produce fruit. God wants us to go to the River of life. He wants us to plunge beneath the waters and be totally submerged in Him.

Imagine that you are by the riverside. Most of us don’t mind getting our feet wet by the water’s edge. It feels good especially on a hot summer’s day. Some may even like having the water up to their knees, no worries about not being able to swim, just enjoying the coolness of the water lapping around you. A few may start panicking when the water begins to rise around their waist. It may seem a bit daunting as the water flows around us and we are not necessarily able to move as swiftly as before. It makes us feel uncomfortable. As we walk further, the water begins to be much deeper. Fear and panic-stricken us and we feel as we cannot move. We have a choice, to fight against the water or go with the flow and swim.

Going deeper with God is just like being in this water. We have a choice what we will do. Many Christians stay at the water’s edge getting their feet wet with a bit of the word on Sunday morning and maybe a Bible study during the week. Some may got a bit deeper in the water and spend a bit of time in the Word and prayer but only when it’s convenient, and let’s face it, life goes on and that time just passes by while we are only getting a little bit wet. A few more will plunge a bit deeper and allow God to minister to them and allow the water to be waist deep. They have a great knowledge of the Word, can seem just right with God, but there is a fear of going much deeper because this is comfortable enough. Why venture out more when this is familiar? We can keep God in our tidy schedules and boxes and not have to worry about being completely changed. I mean really, do we want the world think we’re barking mad? Do we really want to be classified as a Spirit-filled, radical disciple of Jesus?

There are the few who are willing to go deeper and take the plunge beneath the waters and allow God to totally consume their lives. This is total surrender, something that is one not easy nor something to take lightly. I warn you, going deeper with God will be a radical revolution in our spiritual condition!

The only Christ people will see is the One we make known.

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What would it be like if Jesus accompanied us in our daily living? Going deeper will take us out of our comfort zones. Brother Lawrence once said, “What I wanted was simply to belong totally to God, so I decided to give everything I could in order to attain the greatest blessing in return- knowing Him.”

How deep is our relationship with God? Paul tells us in Romans 12 verses 1 and 2 that we are to be living sacrifices, set apart for God and that we are not to conform to the world. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Living waters will flow through us and we will bear much fruit for the world to see and want when we are totally submerged in God. Jesus asks the same question of all of us will you come and follow Me? If we are willing to go deeper, we will be radically changed. The changes are not easy to go through, but well worth it. What’s more important to us, the temporal or the eternal?

God calls us to go deeper. Deeper in our personal relationship with Him. Deeper in His grace, mercy, love, and worship. Deeper in our commitment to Christ and our ministry to others.

What are we going to do? Are we going to stay by the water’s edge just getting our feet wet, having a taste of Christ but missing out the greatest relationship that man could ever experience?

Having the Word of God memorised is not going to get you into Heaven. In fact, Jesus said there will be those who declare they know Him but He will tell them, I’m sorry I don’t know you. Let us not be one of those people left behind because we weren’t willing to give our lives to Him. Allow God to take you to the waters up to your knees. Here you begin to grow, getting know the Lord better and slowly changing to be more like Him. Don’t just stay there though, go further out. Keep moving forward to the waist level water. Many if not most of the church is hanging out at the waist water level. Don’t be afraid of God. Yes, there will be a radical change in your countenance and life, but it will be worth it. Allow the water to overflow you and pour out through you. Take the plunge. Don’t be scared of the unknown. The relationship with God here will be beyond what you can imagine.

Going deeper to the point that you are submerged and will have to go with the flow, is a bit scary, but I promise it is well worth it. It will be uncomfortable at times, but God is always with you. He will carry you through. The more submerged you are in Him, the more His love will radiate from you. I pray that our goal is for others to see Christ in us. They don’t need to necessarily know our names, they need to know Jesus!

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Contentment leads to joy

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then travelled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.

 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. -Philippians 4:10-20

 

Joy comes from being content in all things. The more we give thanks to God for the gifts he gives us, the more we experience joy.

Tell the truth. How would you fill in the following statement “If only I had….”?

“If only I had more money I would…” “

 

“If only I had perfect health…”

 

“If only I had a beautiful face…”

 

“If only I had no problems at all…”

 

“If only I had a month off holiday, I would go…”

 

We often times think if we had the right things we would be happy and our lives complete. But until we meet Christ, it doesn’t happen.

Paul talks about contentment in the above passage from Philippians. In the beginning, Paul seems to be reflective, thinking about the concern and care the Philippians have given him.  He is grateful for their financial help as they were the only church that did. He is also grateful for the gifts they sent to him with Epaphroditus. He shares how pleased God is with their gifts.

Paul doesn’t ask for more gifts. He has plenty to sustain him wherever he may go. He wants to see the Philippians be full of Christ’s glorious riches. He wants to see fruit evident in their lives. He wants them to know the joy and contentment he knows.

What does it mean being content? The adjective meaning for the word content is being satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else (dictionary.com). Paul says that he has learnt “the secret of being content.” No matter what Paul has been through, he has learnt that true contentment is only found in Christ.

The things we have here on earth are momentary. They will not last forever. When we die, we will not be taking our possessions with us. Our souls matter more than any possession we can have.

Without Christ, we are lost. We are heading to an eternal life of hell and damnation. Without Christ, we will always be looking for something to fill our hearts. We will always want more and more because nothing will satisfy us. People today are looking for answers everywhere. Contentment can only be truly found in Jesus Christ.

I have been keeping a journal of things God has given me which gives me joy. I am going to be honest, some days already have been harder than others to find joy. However, I am determined to find something good in each day. How can I do this? Being content in what God has given me. I have so much to be grateful for. In fact, the more I discover things that bring me joy in each day, the more I am encouraged in my spirit and realise how content I am in Christ. I have also found that fellow Christians have encouraged me by their gifts and words. Those things have brought me joy on days where it has been very difficult just to make it through.

This is not an easy task. I didn’t expect it to be. However, I just want a glimpse of the God-moments of each day. I want to take time to say thank you for what he has given me. There is good in each day, despite the constant nerve and muscle pain and fatigue. I have plenty. My Lord provides all that I need.

I have also found prayer is key to when I find it hard to find something joyful. When I begin to share with God my frustrations, he gently speaks to my heart and gives me insight to the gifts he has given me.

Paul says all of his needs have been met. He is taken care of. Paul has been through a lot. He wrote most of his letters in prison. Prison in his days was cold, smelly, wet, and miserable. They didn’t have the luxury of three square meals a day, exercise, etc. Usually people were chained together in awful conditions. Paul even praises the Lord in prison, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. If anyone had any reason to be angry, to be discontent, and turn his back on God, it would have been Paul. However, Paul’s heart was dramatically changed and he saw it a privilege to undergo such treatment for the Lord’s sake.

From Paul’s example, we can be content in all things. We don’t need possessions to make us joyful. God takes care of our every need. He looks after us. We have the strength to keep going through Christ in us. No matter what each day throws at us, we have the power of God living in us, carrying us through.

We have many reasons to be joyful and content. First and foremost, we have eternal life because Jesus is our Lord and Saviour. Second, we have all we need as God has provided for us. Third, we are abundantly blessed. Fourth, we have Christ living in us, empowering us for his ministry.

I have had several people say they could not think of something to be joyful about every day. I believe we can. We can do all things with Christ who strengthens us.

Once we find contentment in all things, joy will just come naturally through the power of the Holy Spirit. I challenge you to find something to be joyful about today. Even if it is difficult to, pray about it. I promise God will bless you in return. The more you do this, the more content you will and your attitude will change towards life.

My goal is to be joyful. I want to live joy out loud. I want joy to flood my soul. I want to be content in all things despite what other people and especially the world may say. Will you join me?

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Under God’s Protection

But let all who take refuge in your rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. For you bless the righteous, O LORD: you cover him with favour as with a shield. -Psalm 5:11-12 ESV

Thunderstorms were my enemy, or so I thought when I was a child. As soon as I saw lightning, I would hide behind a chair or under a blanket. Even as a young adult, pregnant with my firstborn, I hid under a stairwell where I thought I was safe during a bad storm.

I wasn’t scared of thunder, just lightning. I honestly thought I would be struck by lightning. So whenever a storm came, I tried to “hide”.

I am no longer afraid of storms, especially after living in Florida for 8 years before moving to the UK. Storms here are not as big or as scary as the ones in Florida.

Storms are not the only thing that I tried to hide from. If I see a decent sized spider (anything the size of 10 pence or larger), I scream and move away from it waiting for my husband to come and remove it.

Okay, go ahead, laugh at me. The type of fears I just explained are small in comparison to what we go through.

I think most people have a fear of something which we try to run and hide from. For example:

*We don’t make new friends because we are afraid of being hurt again. We hide by not going out to meet new people.

*We make excuses as to why our in-laws cannot come by because we don’t want to hear their complaints about how we do things.

*We stay in the background at work, so we don’t have to be seen or picked to do things because we are uncomfortable in the spotlight.

*We hide behind masks at church, so no one can see the pain we feel inside.

*We avoid human touch because we were abused and scared that someone might actually care about us. We do everything we can to push them away.

The culprit for hiding under a cover for which we think will protect us is fear. Fear stops us from living fully as God intends.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants us to live in his fullness. He loves us and wants the best for us. Fear robs us of peace, refuge, security, protection, and all we can be.

God is our protection. We don’t have to hide to feel safe. God preserves our lives. The Bible does not say we will never suffer when we become Christians. However, we can be assured our souls are protected no matter what comes our way. No one can steal our salvation!

Our refuge is in the LORD. He is our shelter and safety. When we are afraid, we can cry out to the Lord and ask him to cover us with his wings (See Psalm 91:4). Imagine a chick hiding under its mother’s wings. The chick is at home, feels safe, and knows he is loved and cared for. He doesn’t have to fear because he knows his mum is going to protect him. How much more will our Father God protect us!

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Knowing God is our refuge and he protects us should cause us to rejoice. The rejoicing mentioned in this passage means a lively and triumphant joy. This is indeed the opposite of fear. Perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

God blesses the righteous. One meaning of the word bless is “to protect or guard from evil.” God indeed blesses us with his protection and he keeps us safe from the enemy, Satan. God will not run away or hurt us!

God’s covering is a defence over us. He’s responsible for us. His favour covers us as a shield. Shields usually cover just the front of us, but God’s shield covers our whole being. He hides us under the shadow of his wings, those wings cover us completely.

God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants us to rest assured that he has everything in control. God takes care of his children.

What fear is keeping you back from being all that God wants you to be?

What are you trying to hide from?

Come to our Father God and give him your fears. Instead of hiding from life in your own way, come under the protection of God. He cares for you. Don’t allow fear to stop you from living fully as God intends.

Prayer: Father, so often fear grips me and I try and hide for cover thinking I am protected. True protection comes from you. I give you my fears (tell him all of them). Please take them and fill me with your joy. I run to you today for my refuge. I desire to live fully as you intend me to live. Please help me to stop trying to hide from you and from my fears. Amen.

Fear stops us from living fully as God intends. God doesn_t want us to live in fear. He wants us to live in his fullness.

Undignified!

Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.

-2 Samuel 6:14-15, 22a

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Have you ever danced wildly before the Lord? What about a sway or raising your hands in church? If we were completely honest, the majority of us would be too afraid.

Dancing in church is acceptable for some and for some reason not others. In Africa, many dance with tambourines and hand flags. Pentecostal churches are known for dancing and being charismatic in their show of adoration of the Lord.

However, in the majority of churches I have seen, people do not dance, raise their hands, or sway. On the odd occasion a ballet style dance or a few flags flown are a part of a special “piece” in the service. The general rule is that dancing or hand raising is not allowed in churches. We have to solemn, respectful and staid in church.

In 2 Samuel, chapter 6 David is seen dancing wildly before the Lord. David had just won victory over the Philistines, where the ark of the covenant was being held, and he received the ark back to be taken to its rightful place. However, when the Israelites took the ark, they placed it on a cart instead of using poles to carry it according to God’s law. A man named Uzzah tried to steady the ark with his hand when the oxen stumbled. No one was allowed to touch the ark, therefore, Uzzah was struck dead.

David was at first angry with God for striking Uzzah dead. However, the anger turned into fear. David was afraid to take the ark any further. He instead took it to Obed-edom’s house, where it stayed for three months. Whilst there, Obed-edom and his family were blessed.

David heard about the blessings and decided it was time to take the ark back to the city of Jerusalem where it belonged. When David and his people went to retrieve the ark, he rejoiced before the Lord and made a sacrifice before Him.

David was dressed in a linen ephod which was white and thin. In fact, it was so thin he was practically naked. David was dancing wildly in the street half naked with the people of Jerusalem.

As he came through the street, his wife, Michal was watching the parade. She became angry and despised David for dancing before the Lord and being almost naked.

David and the people brought the ark to a tent he had erected. He offered sacrifices and offerings before the Lord. Afterwards he blessed the people who were there. They ate some food and went back to their homes.

David went to bless his own household, but Michal, came out to meet him. She was livid. She thought he was honouring himself. She fussed at him about being half naked with the women servants around seeing him.

David quickly responded and told her he was dancing before the Lord who appointed him over Israel. He said to her he will celebrate before the Lord at any time and will be even more undignified than this!

The difference between David and the majority of us, is he was not afraid of what other people thought of him, including his wife. He rejoiced and celebrated before the Lord with dancing.

I am not in any way saying we should go dancing half naked in the streets or in our churches! What a mighty stir that would cause.

Firstly, we should not be afraid of what other’s think of us, especially when we are worshipping and praising the Lord. When we worship, we should have our eyes focused on God and not on those around us.

Secondly, may we not be like Michal judging others who raise their hands or bop up and down whilst praising the Lord. Those people are not doing it for show (although I do understand some may and have done so).

If we are worried about what others think, our focus is not on God, but them. Likewise, if we are judging others for what they are doing, our focus is not on God either.

God loves our praise. He blesses those whose focus and praise is on him.

We all have different ways of praising the Lord. My prayer is we all will be undignified when it comes to showing God our passion, affection, and adoration. I pray we will not be afraid of what others think.

I promise you that in heaven it won’t matter how we praise him. There will be dancing in the streets and shouts of joy all the time. Our affections will be upon Jesus and not on those around us.

The next time we desire to dance before God, imagine yourself in heaven with Jesus standing there. It’s just us and him.

Now dance!

Be undignified!

Praise the Lord for he is worthy of our praise!