Friday, August 30, 2013

The joy of the Lord is our Strength

“The joy of the Lord is our Strength” Psalm 81:1

This past week I was reading about Paul and Silas who had been severely flogged and thrown into jail (Acts 16:23-26). Even though they were in pain, they still loudly and joyfully praised God.  At midnight they were praying and singing hymns when an earthquake occurred, their chains broke apart and the locked doors flew open.

I was thinking about how physically weak, tired and scared Paul and Silas must have felt sitting in the darkness.  I’d read somewhere that the hymns they sang were most probably psalms put to music.   

 I struggle to remember huge chunks of Scripture, but I find it’s much easier to remember psalms and Bible verses that have been set to music.   To my way of thinking, when we spend time focusing on God, singing His word back to Him in praise and worship, we may very well find the chains that have bound us broken, doors opened to us and in the darkest of nights we will have a light which will lead us closer to Him.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Raksha Bandhan

Last week, on the 20th of August, Hindus celebrated Raksha Bandhan. It’s a day when sisters wrap a Rhaki (sacred colourful string) around the wrist of their brothers to symbolise the love and prayers for each other.    

While I’m not Hindi, I like the idea of showing love this way to another.  I don’t know about you, but occasionally I feel that the differences I have with my Christian brothers and sisters can sometimes outweigh the things we have in common.

I reckon that it’s easy to become frustrated when you feel a certain way about how a church should look, how a church service should be conducted or when the sermon on Sunday isn’t relative to where you are spiritually.

The other day, I heard someone say 99% of our frustrations come from the fact that others aren’t behaving or believing as we think they should be behaving or believing.  We do it with our sisters, our brothers, our husbands and our wives.  We do it with our children, our parents, other church folk and our ministers and pastors.  I wonder what if we stopped fighting with them and allowed them to be them?

What if, Instead of saying “you should do this”, or “you should do that” we said, “I feel this” or “I feel that”  By empowering someone to be themselves, we actually empower ourselves to walk the walk Jesus has given us.

I think it would be wonderful if all in the family of God, who call themselves brothers and sisters wrapped prayers around each other but also wrapped strings around the wrists of each other as a tangible reminder of our love for one another.

What do you think?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Love Without Limits

A few weeks ago Sharon, a lady in my church, shared a message in church based on 'The Good Samaritan' parable of Jesus.  She called it "Love without Limits" and I've spent time reflecting on her message and trying to work out what it could mean for me and for the church…both our church and the world wide church of Jesus. 

I wonder what our church would look like, what our faith would look like, if we took Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan seriously and decided to love our brothers, our sisters and our neighbours without placing limits on it.
What would church look like, if every time someone’s face or name popped into our heads we gave them a call, sent them an encouraging card, an email or a Facebook message? 
What would our faith look like if we dropped in with some flowers to a Muslim neighbour, or a meal to an atheist family without feeling the need to tell them what they are doing wrong with their lives? 
What weight would our testimony have if we developed the habit of sowing good things into others lives and we made it a priority to make somebody else feel better about themselves?
These are the sort of things that have been running around my head when I think what loving without limits looks like.  What do you think? 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Trees clapping their hands

On Thursday morning my cat had a case of what we call “The Maddies”  He runs crazily around the house, jumping on and off furniture and dashing from one end of the house to the other.  He jumped at the base of the curtains, kicking them up and then proceeded to  meow loudly at the poor confused dog. He then rushed into the bathroom, jumped into the bathtub (which was thankfully empty at the time) and threw himself around the porcelain.  We think the reason the cat was going crazy was because of the wind.  Either that or one of our neighbours is growing catnip.  Hehehe

Whenever I look at the trees blowing, I remember the verse in Isaiah 55:12 that says the trees clap their hands as part of their praise to God.   

And then I am reminded me of the time when Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The disciples were cheering and praising God loudly and when some Pharisees suggested to him that he quieten the crowd, Jesus replied “If they are quiet, even the stones will cry out!”

This got me thinking, Jesus said that the most important command was to love God with everything that is within us…  I love how The Message puts it: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence.” 
I reckon that if an inanimate object such as a tree or a stone can praise God with unbridled passion, then I can do no less.  Don’t you agree? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Miracles and Traffic Lights

This week, on a drive into Newcastle with a friend, we were discussing miracles. 

The subject came up because we had just driven through an intersection that I call “The Scary Intersection” where the traffic lights were green.  I was able to turn left into the cross street then move over into the far right lane without any incoming traffic.  I confessed that I really dislike merging into busy traffic and then I went on to say that God fixes the traffic lights for me at this particular intersection every single time and that to me, it’s a miracle.  No matter what time of day it is, the traffic lights at this intersection were always in my favour.

She scoffed at the thought and said it was a coincidence.  I said there was no such thing as coincidences only God-incidences.  My friend then asked me for a definition of a miracle. Without any forethought, I said “a miracle is Heaven touching Earth in inexplicable ways”   

She seemed satisfied with that statement and to be totally honest, I had never said those words before in my life. Maybe I had read them somewhere but I wasn’t planning on saying them.  Quite possibly, this exact statement was directly from the Holy Spirit for that exact moment.  

Over the years I have witnessed people being healed instantly, I have heard of amazing things happening and I have had massive and unbelievable answers to prayer that that are, quite simply, unexplainable.  And even though I have seen these miracles with my very eyes, I still believe the biggest miracle of all is when Jesus died for my sins and then sent the Holy Spirit to live and work in me. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jesus' Arms of Love

The other day, my friend James, was visiting family in Geelong when he posted this tweet “Street preacher was preaching judgement, I got to release Jesus' love on him and watch his astonishment as pain in his hand lowered”

James was with some friends when he met this preacher and instead of condemning him; my friend showed the love of Jesus to him.  

James may have planned to go to Victoria to visit family and friends, but God sent him there for His reason: which was to share Jesus' love and grace with someone who only knows of a God who is bent on judgement and condemnation. I am fairly confident this street preacher will never be the same again after being caught up in Jesus’ loving arms after years living in fear.

This got me thinking…  Over and over again in the Bible we read of people who, for some reason or another ran away from God.  Instead of being offended, God decided to chase these folk until they were so mentally and physically exhausted, they had no choice but to let themselves be caught by Him.  And then, after God had caught them, he wrapped His arms around them and began to whisper words of love into their hearts.  

Those caught in Gods arms of love then went on to do earth shaking things that changed the course of history!

We all go through times where we feel close to God and other times where we feel a million miles away from Him.  I have no doubts, that no matter where we are, our Daddy's eye is upon us.  He longs for us to be wrapped in His arms and to listen to His words of love.  Who knows, maybe He has some earth shaking plans for you and for me.   We just have to be prepared to be caught and to be loved by our Daddy God.