Praise the Lord in all circumstances!

Praise.

What is it and why should we praise God?

According to the Merriam- Webster’s dictionary, the word praise means to say or write good things about (someone or something), to express approval of (someone or something) and to express thanks or to love and respect (God).

To praise the Lord is to say good things of him, give approval of who he is and what he does and to express our thanks, love and respect to our Father God.

Praise is vital in our relationship to God. We should praise him first and foremost because of who he is. God is our Creator. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die a horrible death to atone us of our sins and he raised Jesus from the dead so we can have eternal life. God is amazing. He is always with us. He cares about us. He enjoys our presence and wants to spend time with us. He is a good God and a good Father.

We should praise the Lord at all times. The Bible says to praise the Lord 377 times! That is more than every day of the year!

Yes, I know it is easy to praise him when things are going well for us.  When we are healthy, happy, family life is wonderful and things could not get better.

But what about when things go wrong. Illness strikes, circumstances are difficult, a marriage breaks up, a loved one dies, there’s no money in the bank and you can’t pay the bills, etc.? Why should you praise then?

Praise puts the focus on God not on our circumstances! Praise puts the focus on God, not on our circumstances!

It is not easy to praise the Lord when things go wrong in our lives. However, it is imperative that we do.  Praise helps us to focus on God and who he is.  Praise puts God first in our lives. God is still in control. God is still good.  He did not cause the problems in our lives. We cannot and should not blame him.

We live in a sin filled, fallen world. God does not give us troubles. Satan does. Instead of blaming God for our problems, let us praise him for goodness.  Praise him for his presence in our lives. Praise him for the good things that are happening. Take time to write down things you are thankful for, for at least a week, even simple things such as a hot shower, and you will quickly find things you can praise the Lord for.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says we are to be thankful in all circumstances.  I know this seems very difficult, but it can be done.  I write in a little notebook, every day of the year, things I am thankful for. Doing this has given me a fresh new outlook on life. I am happier in my spirit and I have found many reasons to praise the Lord.

Being chronically ill and suffering from mental illness as well sometimes takes its toll on me. At first I was angry, even angry at God for allowing this to happen to me and my family.  However, when I started to give thanks to God for the simplest things, I began to realise how awesome God is.

I have found praise helps me to focus on God instead of the physical pain or frustration of not being able to do things like everyone else. I have also found that praising God boosts my mood and I sense his presence with me. Praising him really has changed my outlook on life.

When I am down and feeling rather low, I put on praise music.  I sing (even if I’m out of tune sometimes or even have no voice) songs of praise to God. I even begin to thank him for who he is.

I have heard so many people say it’s hard to praise the Lord.  Their circumstances are too difficult. They say I have a gift which enables me to praise God no matter what.

My friends, everyone can praise the Lord. If you struggle to know what to say, have a look at the Psalms. Start by praying one of them, such as Psalm 100.  Listen to hymns, praise and worship songs, and/or contemporary Christian music to help you to focus on God. Listen to the words sung. If you know the words, sing along. If not, Google the words, as most every song out there can be found on Google (you would be surprised what you can find).

When you begin to focus on God and not your circumstances, your heart will be changed.  Your relationship with God will grow stronger. You will be able to weather any storm.

Life here on earth is temporary. Our relationship with God is eternal. What is more important to us?

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord! -Psalm 150

Praise helps us to focus on God and who he is. God is still in control. God is still good.

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The Wise and Foolish Virgins (based on Matthew 25:1-13)

The story of the wise and foolish virgins is an important one to remember. Let me start by introducing you to a bit of background of an Eastern style wedding. The ceremony of marriage was performed commonly in the open air, on the banks of a stream. Both the bridegroom and bride were attended by friends. After the ceremony of marriage, there was a feast of seven days if the bride was a virgin, or three days if she was a widow. This feast was celebrated in her father’s house. At the end of that time, the bridegroom brought his bride, with great pomp and splendour, to his own home. This was usually done in the evening, or at night. Many friends and relations attended them; and besides those who went with them from the house of the bride, there was another company that came out from the house of the bridegroom to meet them and welcome them. These were probably female friends and relatives of the bridegroom, who went out to welcome him and his new companion to their home.
This begins our story of the ten virgins. The virgins mentioned in this parable were the female friends and relatives of the bridegroom. Not knowing precisely the time when the procession would come, they probably went out early and waited until they should see indications of its approach. In the celebration of marriage in the East at the present day, many of the special customs of ancient times are observed. The “lamps” used on such occasions were rather “torches”; they were made by winding rags around pieces of iron or earthenware, sometimes hollowed so as to contain oil, and fastened to handles of wood. These torches were dipped in oil and gave a large light.
The church of Christ is called a virgin as she is supposed to be pure, holy, spotless and righteous. This story represents us as the church. Five of the virgins were wise and brought extra oil for their lamps whilst five of them were foolish not bringing oil for theirs.
The conduct of those who were “wise” refers to those who are “prepared” for the coming of Christ, humble, seeking after His heart, longing for His return, holy, and not being just saying we are his professed followers. The conduct of those “without” oil expresses those who profess to love Jesus but do not live a holy life, and are therefore unprepared to meet him.
The five foolish virgins probably expected that the bridegroom would come immediately; therefore, they made no provision for any delay. The wise virgins knew that the time of his coming was uncertain, and they, therefore, were prepared with oil. The oil was carried in “vessels,” so that it could be poured on the torches when it was necessary.
The bridegroom was long in coming, and all the virgins were drowsy and began to fall asleep. This is not to say that the whole church is completely asleep not ready to meet Christ. There will be some who are and others who are eagerly waiting for His return.
At midnight the cry rang out, “the Bridegroom is coming!”
All the virgins trimmed their lamps. Burning until midnight, the oil was exhausted: they gave a dim and obscure light. They trimmed them by removing the burnt parts of the linen or the torch so that they would burn clear. It was needful, also, to dip them again in oil, or to pour oil upon them. This strikingly represents the conduct of most people at the approach of death. They become alarmed, anxious, and trembling, and ask the aid of others, but often when it is forever too late.
The foolish virgins who did not bring oil for their lamps began questioning the wise ones for oil. They saw their preparation, desiring to be like them. The wise tell the foolish to go and buy their own oil. The word “buy” is significant here as the Bible says in Isaiah “buy wine and milk without money and without price” and Revelation tells us to “buy of Christ gold tried in fire.” What we buy becomes our own. Our salvation was bought with the price of Christ’s death on the cross.
As the foolish virgins went away to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived and the wise virgins were able to go to the marriage feast. This part of the parable represents the entrance of those who “are ready,” or prepared, into the kingdom of God, when the Son of man comes. Those who have repented of their sins; who truly believe on the Lord Jesus; who live a holy life; and who wait for his coming will be READY.
The door was shut and no one else could come in. When the truly righteous are received into heaven, the door will be closed to everyone else. There will be no room for preparation afterwards. The foolish virgins tried to get in, knocking on the door and asking the doorkeeper to please let them in. However, the person at the door said, “I don’t know you. You were not in the company of those who attended me to the marriage-feast.” These words apply to professing Christians, who have ONLY a profession of religion but bear no fruit, are not holy, or ready to meet Christ. It means I do not know you as Christians. I do not approve of you or admit you are my friends.
The scriptures before this parable talk about people being left behind that was not ready. I have heard people say this is a scare tactic and should not be taught. We must tell people the truth.
Catherine Booth said “Many do not recognize the fact as they ought, that Satan has got men fast asleep in sin and that it is his great device to keep them so. He does not care what we do if he can do that. We may sing songs about the sweet by and by, preach sermons and say prayers until doomsday, and he will never concern himself about us if we don’t wake anybody up. But if we awake the sleeping sinner he will gnash on us with his teeth. This is our work – to wake people up.”
Stop worrying about what people think, eternity is far more important! What if Christ returned today, who would be left behind because we wanted to keep appearances or popularity?
The parable ends with Jesus saying, “we are to keep watch because we do not know when He will return.” Like the virgins, many are professing they are going to meet Jesus and like the coming of the bridegroom, his advent will be sudden. Many, even professing Christians, will be engaged in the business of the world; thoughtless about eternity; not expecting his approach, and not prepared. They will only profess to know him, but in their actions, they will deny him, and death will come. All approaches of the Son of God to judge men are sudden. Just like the foolish virgins, many will be trying to be active, preparing to die but not ready and for them it will be too late. Those that are ready for Christ’s return will enter in, and heaven will be closed forever against all others.
As the virgins, should all have watched and been ready, so should we. Christians should be ever watchful for when Christ returns.
It’s been more than 2000 years since Christ shared this parable, a long time to wait for His return. Because of that, apathy and complacency have become too prevalent in the church. We tend to just go about our business without thought of Christ’s return. Oh, Christian, we must wake up. William Booth said, “We must wake ourselves up! Or somebody else will take our place, bear our cross, and thereby rob us of our crown.”
Ask God to stir up the fire within our hearts and to keep us ready always for his return to meet Him. I don’t want to be left out when the door closes, do you?
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We Are Loved and Victorious!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:31-39 ESVUK

As I read this portion of Romans, I got excited.  My heart was leaping from within as I thought about God’s love for me and for you.  God loves each of us so much and He wants the best for us.  God is for us!

So often we go on about our business of life and things begin to take their toll.  We may begin to feel inadequate, frustrated, lonely or even afraid.  Paul tells us in Romans that we don’t have to be.  Nothing or no one can come against our souls because God has paid the price.  When Jesus died on the cross, His blood made a way for our souls to be saved.

We do not have to fear what may come our way.  We can be assured of God’s love.  Paul gives us five reasons why we can never be separated from God’s love and reminds us that we are victorious in Christ:

God is for us!  He proved this by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ.  Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, He opened the door for our eternal salvation and everlasting life.  We don’t have to fear what others say or do against us.  The media and society tend to take a mickey out of Christians. So, what? God is for us. Paul even asks the question, if God is for us, who can be against us?  As long as we are following Him and are Christians, we are under His protection. He is on our side.

Christ died for us!  God gave us His very best, He gave us His only Son, Jesus Christ.  He loves us so much He made a way for us so that we can have everlasting life.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  God did not give His Son to condemn the world but through Him the world can be saved” (John 3.16-17).  God gives what we need.  He gives us love, salvation, compassion, inner healing, strength and courage.  God cares for His creation.  He takes care of the birds of the air and the sheep of the fields and He looks after the flowers and trees.  If God takes care of the sparrows, does He not care even more for us?  He knows the very number of hairs on our head.  He calls us His children, He takes care of every detail of our lives. Christ’s death made a way for us to be called children of God.  His death and resurrection gives us eternal life.

God has justified us, given us right standing with Him.  He declares us pure and righteous, clean, holy, without blemishes before Him.  Satan will accuse us, but Jesus will cover us and stand up for us.  We are God’s chosen people and accepted as a part of the Kingdom family.  When we give our lives to Jesus, He takes away our rubbish and dirtiness.  We all have done or said things that have hurt or upset God.  These things are called sin.  Sin separates us from God, but Jesus’ blood washes us clean and gives us a fresh start. All we have to do is accept that Jesus is Lord, believe that He died and rose again and confess, tell Him and mean it that we are sorry for all the wrong things we have done.  When Jesus saves us, we become His.  He calls us His family.

Christ intercedes for us.  He pleads for us, praying each day and even when we don’t have the words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays for us (see verse 26).  Jesus died for us and now talks to God on our behalf.  He sits at the right hand of God.  Jesus gives us grace and power to overcome the temptations and whatever the enemy, the devil, throws at us, we have the victory.  Jesus is our Advocate!  He can forgive our sins and restore fellowship with God.  Jesus stands up for us, speaking on our behalf.  Jesus does not condemn us.  In fact, He favours us!  We are precious to Him.  He sees us as His brothers and sisters and friends.

God cannot fail us.  We may fail God, and we may do this often, however, God’s love for us remains the same.  We will have difficulties in life.  We will question many times why we have to go through those difficulties. But, because we go through them, it does not mean that God doesn’t care anymore.  In fact, it is for our own growth that He allows these difficulties to happen.  These things are to work for us not against us for our good (Romans 8.28).  He wants us to use the difficult times for His glory.  We endure them for Christ’s sake.  Even though it may feel as if God has forsaken us, He hasn’t.  He is always closer than we can imagine. I always think of God holding us in His arms especially in the most difficult times.

God gives us the power to conquer the enemy.  We are super-conquerors in Christ Jesus.  Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loves us!  Jesus gives us the victory.  We are never alone!  Because God loves us, Jesus gives us victory over sin, temptation, and the enemy.  We are secure in God’s love.  We just need to believe it!

Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love! It doesn’t matter what we have ever done, God loves us.  He’s given us a way for freedom, salvation and healing.  When we accept Jesus is who He says He is, does what He says He can do and accept Him as Saviour and Lord of our lives, we can live victorious lives.  May we remember that we can be free from judgement, defeat, discouragement and fear.  Jesus is our Advocate who died for us and rose again and now pleads on our behalf to God our Father.  Christ lives in us, Christ is coming back for us one day to take us home.  If God is for us, who can be against us? We are loved!

Nothing, absolutely nothing canseparate us from God_s love! Jesus gives us victory over sin, temptation, and the enemy. We are secure in God_s love. We are never alone! We just need

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.

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

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!

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..png