Thursday, 18 June 2015

Trust in Your Heavenly Father

Dear Friends,
When I was 8 years old we moved from the town of St. Leonards to the village of Buxted.  One of my favourite memories was when our family would walk through Buxted Park.  It was a lovely green area and home to many deer.  It was a great place to go hunting for chestnuts on an Autumn Saturday afternoon.

On the walk we would pass a small brick building.  My Dad told us it was called a pillbox.  My sister, Trina, and I had never seen one before but there are several throughout England and they were built during World War Two as a form of defence against the enemy.

Trina and I would love to get our Dad to help us up on to the top of it, so we could then have a better view of our surroundings and be high up.  All children seem to have a fascination with being 'King of the Castle'.

The problem came when it was time to get down!  It was too high for us to jump.  Once again we needed help from our Dad.

Dad would say "Jump and I'll catch you.  It's ok."  It always took me a while to make that leap of faith. I would stand at the top and fears and questions would fill my mind, such as, what if he drops me, what if I fall, what if I'm too big, too heavy?  But every time my Dad caught me.

If you were to ask me at the time do I trust my Dad, then my answer would be, of course I trust him, he's my Dad.  But it's not enough just to say I trust him, I had to exercise that trust in him.  When I took that step or leap of faith, that was evidence of my professed faith in him.

We have a Heavenly Father, who is even more worthy of our trust and faith.  He never lets us down, he never fails us and he's always there for us. "But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness." Psalm 86:15 (NLT). You and I can say we have faith in God our Father, but it's not enough for us to just talk about our faith.  To talk about trusting God, but then not exercise it, means little.  We need to show our faith in God.  It's about having a working faith and a faith that works.  In James' letter he wrote about the example of Abraham's faith: "You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete." James 2:22 (NLT) and so it is for us too.

It can be scary to take a step or leap of faith but we can trust God.  The more we place our faith in him, the easier it becomes.  Each time, as we see God come though for us, our faith grows stronger.  You and I can be living proof that faith in God works.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 (NLT).  The Message paraphrase puts it this way:  "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd." (v1 and 2)

As I write this it's only a few days before Father's Day here in England.  Why not choose this Father's Day to put your faith in your Heavenly Father.  Stop trying to do things on your own or in your own strength.  Instead, as a child of God lean on him, rely on him.

Let's also encourage one another in our faith.  Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and said this "When we get together, I want to encourage you in you faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours." Romans 1:12 (NLT).

To Think About:
Would you say that you trust God?

How does your faith in God show in your actions?  Do you have a working faith?

What are some of the ways you can encourage others in their faith and how would you like them to encourage you?

Vicki

Friday, 12 June 2015

Our Creator God

Dear Friends,
Fluff's first set of bunnies


Josh's rabbit, Fluffzilla (or Fluff as I prefer to call her!) had some baby bunnies last week. This is her second lot of babies.  Just before she was due to give birth she pulled out a lot of her fur.  I've learnt that she does this for two reasons, firstly to use her fur to make a nest so that her babies are safe, comfortable and warm, and secondly, the fur she pulls out is from her tummy so that it is easier for her babies to feed from her.  So she cares and provides nourishment for them.

I am fascinated by this.  This mummy rabbit does not behave in this way because of evolution or because of 'mother nature' but because this is the way God has created her.  God has given her the instinct to care, protect and provide for her young.  She is living out God's purpose for her.

God and his creation is awesome!  Wherever we look we can see his hand at work.  In the blossoming of a flower, the tuneful melody of birdsong,  a rushing waterfall,  young chicks following after their mother, the wind blowing through the leaves on a tree, strawberries as they grow and ripen ready for picking, the majestic mountains, the stars in the night sky, the first toddling steps of a young child etc. 

 And when we look at creation we see evidence of God and his existence.  "The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.  They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.  Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world."  Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)

Paul picks this up in Romans 1:19-20 "19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."  (NLT)

And yet, I don't know about you, so often I can take it all for granted.  I fail to stop and see all that's around me.  I fail to notice the work of God's hand and miss the opportunity to then praise God, the awesome Creator of all things.

All that God has created has beauty and purpose.  That includes you and me, dear friend.  Paul writes "But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live."  1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT) We were created by God, he is the one who breathes life into us and we were created for God.

Psalm 104 is a creation hymn.  We can use the words of this psalm to give our praise to God for his creation, but for now I just want to direct your attention to a few of the verses which you may like to meditate on: 

"O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all...May the glory of the Lord continue forever!  The Lord takes pleasure in all he has made!...I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.  I will praise my God to my last breath!... Let all that I am praise the LordPraise the Lord!" v24, 31, 33, 35b (NLT)

To Think About:
Take some time during the coming week to consider God's creation - for example, take some time to sit in your garden, or go for a walk, or picnic in the park.

Write you own song, poem or prayer of praise to God.  You may like to use Psalm 104 as a starting point.

What does it mean to you to know that you are created by God and for God?

Vicki

 
 
 
 

 

Friday, 5 June 2015

T.E.A.M

Dear Friends,

I enjoy being on my own and doing things by myself.  I like to do things in my own way and my own time.  To be in control.  To have freedom of choice and the freedom to organise myself. That's why I enjoy blogging.  I am responsible for when I write, what I write and when I post it.  I don't need to check with anyone else. 

Although that is my preferred way of working, I also recognise the value of working with others - working in a team.  You may be familiar with the acronym T.E.A.M: Together Everyone Achieves More.  It may sound corny to you, but it is so true.

God never created us to be self-sufficient, to do things on our own, all the time.  He recognised right from the beginning that it was not good for Adam, the first human, to be on his own.  He needed someone like him for relationship and animals could not meet that need, that's why God created Eve.  They were to help one another, to fulfil God's purpose together.

I've learnt over the years that I can't do it all myself (much as I would like to!)  It can be easier to do it myself, after all I know the best way to do things and I don't tend to ague with myself!  But I do know I need others. 

I need Jason and our children to help out at home.  There are some things I know I could do better than the children, housework, for example, but when they help it means I have the energy, capacity and time to do something else, or it creates space for us to do something as a family.  It's also good preparation and training for them!

I need others with me as I serve God - once again I can't do it all myself.  I belong to a great home group, but a big part of what makes it great is I have a very good friend who is a huge support, helps practically and encourages me.  I haven't done it all on my own.  Neither would it have been the success it is if I had tried to do it on my own.  "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

Recently I put on a morning event for women.  I say "I" but it was actually a team of us.  We had an event co-ordinator who worked behind the scenes, Jason also helped a lot behind the scenes and I worked with another woman who also has a passion for women's ministry. It was the first time she and I had worked together, she was able to provide skills that I don't have and we found that we complemented each other.  The team were able to accomplish far more than I could have done by myself and we achieved a better standard.  Proving that together we really can achieve more.

Working in a team can be hard at times.  It certainly comes with challenges.  Working together teaches me to be more flexible, to let go of my control, to compromise, to take into consideration different opinions and ways of working, to delegate.  It helps me realise that I don't have the capacity to do everything myself and helps me understand what my strengths are and to work to those strengths, whilst recognising where my weaknesses are and where the strengths of the team are. The challenges are far outweighed by the benefits and blessings of being part of a team.

 "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other... 11 It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have." 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11 (NLT)

What makes our team even greater is that we have God with us, he has given us the gift of his Holy Spirit.  He gives us the power to enable us to serve God, he gives us direction and a sense of purpose and he brings unity to our team.  We need to work together to keep this unity.  "Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace." Ephesians 4:3 (AMP)

God calls us to work together in unity, using the specific gifts he has given us, to accomplish his will for his glory.

To Think About:
Are you willing to work as part of a team? What strengths and gifts can you bring to a team?

What do you find challenging about working in a team?

For you, what are the benefits of working in a team?

Vicki