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Showing posts from 2014

The Greatest Gift Ever!

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Dear Friends,

Over the years I've received some lovely presents.  The only thing with gifts is they don't last forever (particularly if they are edible!), some get broken, some wear out after lots of use, over time some need updating and some you grow out of as you leave your childhood behind.

There is however one gift that has eternal value, which is priceless although it cost the giver dearly, which never wears out or needs updating.  This gift is as essential to us now as when it was first given over more than 2,000 years ago.  "the angel reassured them. 'Don’t be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! '" Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)  It truly is the greatest gift ever - the gift of God's own son, Jesus.   Isaiah prophesied about this event many years before it actually happened when he said  "6 For a child is born …

Mary and Elizabeth's Friendship

Dear Friends,

Last week we looked at Mary's response to the news Angel Gabriel brought her that she was going to be with child, and that the child would be Jesus, the Saviour of the world.  

At the same time, the Angel told her that "your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month." Luke 1:36 (NLT)

I don't know for sure, but I believe that being in the early stages of pregnancy must have been quite a vulnerable time for Mary.  Physical changes within her body, experiencing a variety of emotions and having to cope with people's responses to her news.  It could not have been an easy time for her, and I imagine she must have felt quite alone in it as she had to face the misunderstanding, criticism and judgement from those around her.

But she remembered what the Angel had told her about Elizabeth and "39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea,…

Unexpected News

Dear Friends,

With the Christmas season upon us I find myself naturally being drawn once again to the Christmas story, the events leading up to it, and the people involved.  I've been thinking about Zechariah and Mary and their responses to the unexpected news they both receive from Angel Gabriel.

Gabriel appears to Zechariah and says to him “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John." Luke 1:13 (NLT)  Zechariah finds this impossible to believe, he and his wife have prayed for years for children, month after month, year after year, their hopes must have risen time after time,only to be dashed time and time again.  Finally, with old age, they despaired of hope.  Yet God had heard their prayers, the prayers of these two who"were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations." Luke 1:6 (NLT) and now was the time for these prayers to be answered. …

What's the Condition of Your Heart?

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Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago I was preparing for preaching and one of the bible passages I was using was from Luke 9:51-56.  James and his brother John were displaying a judgemental attitude and Jesus' response to them grabbed my attention.  Part of what he said was this: "You don't realise what your hearts are like." (verse 55, NLT).

It was true of them then, but it can also be true of me and you.  We can be going about our daily routine, our various responsibilities at home, work and church, unaware of what may really be in our hearts.  We can be blind to what's in our hearts, blind to an unknown sin which we may be harbouring.  In Jeremiah 17:9-10a we read  "9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?  10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives." (NLT) We may be able to deceive others, or deceive ourselves, but we can't deceive God, he is the one who really k…

With God, Preparation Time is Not a Waste of Time

Dear Friends,

Many years ago I knew that God was directing me to train as a junior school teacher, and I was confident of his guiding hand in choosing the right college for me. I knew with certainty that this was what God wanted for me and I had no doubt that at the end of my training God would also lead me to the school he wanted me to teach in.

However, at the end of the training there was no job for me, I worked voluntarily in a school and as a supply teacher but no full-time job as a teacher opened up.  I found this so strange as I had been convinced that this was God's call on my life.  What was the point of all that training if there was no work at the end of it?  Wasn't it just a waste of four years of my life? 

Then when I became ill I never imagined that the illness would continue through most of my 20s and all of my 30s.  They were years when really I should have been in my prime, with plenty of health, strength and energy.  Such a waste!  All of that time when I coul…

Pass It On

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Dear Friends,

With the help of a friend and also YouTube I have been learning how to crochet.  I have learnt how to crochet a dishcloth, and I'm planning that my next project will be to crochet a scarf. 

I have discovered that I find it easier to learn if someone will teach me by showing me what to do and then give me the opportunity to try do it with them.  I am then ready to try it on my own.  Although there are a variety of ways to learn I believe we learn best in the context of relationships.  We are learning all the time, from the moment we are born we learn by observing our parents and other family members and we also learn by participation, by trying an activity together.

Once we have learnt something we can then pass it on to others.  I still iron shirts in the way my Mum taught me, and have passed that skill on to my son, Joshua, (having said that it's been some time since he ironed one of his own shirts!)  I can also remember teaching Josh how to tie his shoelaces and …

It's A Girl!

Dear Friends,

I learned this morning that I have a new baby niece, Abigail, born to my sister-in-law and her husband late last night.  My sister-in-law and her husband have waited, and longed for, and prayed for a baby of their own for a long time and now they have this wonderful miracle from God.  You can imagine how the whole family are celebrating with them at this time.

We are all looking forward to seeing her for the first time, and Josh, who has a busy day at college and then is working in the evening, has only a short window of time to see her today, but we are under strict instructions not to see her without him!

Whenever I think about the birth of a child my thoughts always go to the amazing words written by David in Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT) 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my bodyand knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utte…

Meditations on Psalm 23

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Dear Friends,

In church last Sunday morning Psalm 23 was mentioned, and as I continued to think about it during the rest of the day I decided that I wanted to meditate on it each morning this week to see what truths God had to show me.  Psalm 23 is one of the better known Psalms, and sometimes when I'm reading a more familiar bible passage I can find that without intentionally doing it my mind switches off because I've read it before and I "know" it.  However, the truth is that we can never fully know it all, because God still has more to teach us and if I am not careful I will miss what he has for me today, right now, in the season I am in. That's why I wanted to take another look at this Psalm this week, not just skim over it, but really meditate on it and also read it in other versions instead of just my usual one.

So, I'm sharing with you today some of the things God showed me and reminded me of this week. 

Psalm 23 (NLT)
1 The Lord is my shepherd;I have all…

Removing the Mask and Being Real

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Dear Friends,

Have you ever worn a mask?  The kind of mask you wear to hide who you really are, to pretend to be someone you're not, because you're afraid of being real and open with others.  I know there's been times in my life when I've firmly fixed my mask in place as I've left home and before meeting up with people.  With my mask on, I've said to people I'm ok, I'm fine thank you, but inside, the person who I really am, I'm struggling, I'm depressed, my poor health is getting me down.  I've kept the mask on in the past because I'm afraid of being judged, of being misunderstood, I'm afraid of letting myself be vulnerable, of people seeing the real me.

Wearing a mask for any length of time is hard work, it takes a lot of energy, it's exhausting and impossible to maintain.  It's certainly not a healthy way to live my life.

Perhaps you've worn a mask or are wearing a mask now to stop people getting too close to you, you may …

Choosing to Live for God Despite Our Limitations

Dear Friends,

I've been thinking lately about the Apostle Paul.  He strikes me as a man who liked being active, always on the go, always doing something.  As a result of God's call on him he went on 3 missionary journeys, planting churches in the places he visited, teaching, encouraging and supporting new Christians.

Later in his life he is placed under house arrest for approximately 2 years, his freedom is taken from him, he is no longer allowed to travel to do those things God had called him to do.

We read in Acts 28:16 "When we arrived in Rome, Paul was permitted to have his own private lodging, though he was guarded by a soldier." (NLT)  Even though he was in his home, he didn't have complete freedom within that setting, he was constantly chained to a soldier who guarded him.

That must have been so hard for Paul to adjust to, being chained and confined to his home, not able to do the things he enjoyed doing, not able to go where he wanted, visit who he wanted.  T…

Incorruptible Beauty

Dear Friends,

As a teenager I used to find it amusing when my Mum had to hold whatever she was reading further away from her face in order to see the words clearly.  I don't find it so amusing now that I'm needing to do the same!

I've recently found a few grey hairs and the wrinkles on my face are getting more noticeable.  (Although I like to think of them as laughter lines.)  What's also scary is when I sometimes look in the mirror I see my mum's face looking back at me.  When did I begin morphing into my mother?!

Society seems obsessed with body image, with being physically fit, with body size and shape and the way we look.  People can spend enormous amounts of money in order to feel good, look good and appear younger than they are.  Spending hours at the gym, perfecting a fake tan, injecting poisons into themselves and even going to the extreme of going under the knife.  All for the sake of trying to slow down the inevitable - the aging process.  The truth is that …