Friday, 18 August 2017

What Are You Feeding On?

Dear Friends, 
What Are You Feeding On?


Some years ago, (possibly about 10 years) whilst I was on a Women's Weekend Conference, God challenged me about the books I was reading. I can't remember what the teaching was on, but I do remember that at some point during that weekend God spoke to me. Not that there was anything particularly wrong with the books I was reading, just that I could be filling my mind with other, better books. 

(I just want to make it clear that this was something God was asking of me. This post is not about telling you that you need to do what God said specifically to me at that time. God is taking each one of us on a journey, the route he has planned for me will be different to the one he has for you, however, the destination is the same.  As he takes us on the journey, you and I are responsible for listening to his voice and following his directions for our life.)

From that time on, I focused on buying fiction books by Christian authors. I soon came to love and enjoy them far more than any of the secular books I'd been reading and I have discovered some great authors who tackle issues from a Christian viewpoint. I particularly enjoy Biblical fiction which I find helps to bring the Bible to life.

In recent years, my reading has gone through another change. I have found that I also want to read more non-fiction books on topics such as Christian living and Bible study. Authors I have particularly found helpful are Sharon Jaynes, Lysa TerKeurst, and John Ortberg.

One constant book which I've never grown tired of reading is the Bible. We need to feed daily on God's Word. Not just the parts that are easier to digest, but all of it. We need to chew it over and put it into practice, not gulping it down, but savouring each mouthful. Every time we feed on God's Word it does us good, even though we may not be fully aware of it at the time.

When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Jeremiah 15:16 (NLT)

We see from the following verse that the Psalmist considered God's Word to be his food:

How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Psalm 119:103 (NLT)

The world is far more focused on what we feed our bodies. There are all kinds of diets we can follow. Emphasis is placed on a healthy diet with foods from all the food groups, drinking plenty of water and eating the required amount of fruit and vegetables. Junk food is considered by many as OK for an occasional treat, but not on a regular basis. We have the saying "You are what you eat" as a reminder to take seriously what we are feeding our bodies as what we eat affects our overall health and well-being.

Little attention is given to what we feed our minds. Yet what we feed our minds has far greater significance on our whole being. What we feed on affects our thoughts, our attitudes, our emotions. It affects the way we view ourselves and others. It affects our speech and the way we act. This can be either for good or for bad. So we need to give careful consideration to what we are feeding on.

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NLT)

Am I feeding daily on God's Word or are there some changes I need to make? Feeding on God's Word gives life, sustenance, strength for the day, and hope. 

What kinds of books, magazines etc am I reading? What do I watch on television? What websites do I browse? What would my internet history reveal? Who am I following on Facebook, Twitter, etc? What kind of company do I keep? Do I  keep company with those who are feeding my taste for gossip, crude language, complaining and grumbling or do I keep company with those who help me to develop a taste for the positive, for what's encouraging, pure, true? 

The saying "You are what you eat" is also true for us when it comes to our minds. Whatever we are feeding our minds on, will come out, and will shape who we are. 

Imagine the damage done to our bodies if we were to feed on junk food day in and day out. Now imagine the damage done to our minds if we were to feed on junk day in and day out. Feeding on the wrong kind of things leaves us dissatisfied, uncomfortable, spiritually unhealthy, empty and with a bitter taste in our mouths.

On the flip side, imagine what lasting benefits, blessings and spiritual health comes when our minds feed on what is good and right for us.

Only I can make the decision to change my feeding habits (whether it's for the body or the mind). No one can make the decision for me. In fact, if someone was to tell me what I needed to do, it would probably get my back up and I'd dig my heels in and refuse to make any changes.

However, once you and I decide to change, we have incredible help and support from the Holy Spirit. Only he can challenge and convict us and only he can give us the determination and will power to make those changes. He is on hand every day as our constant companion to spur us on and to make new feeding habits.

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [centre your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

To Think About:
Have you made a habit of feeding daily on God's Word? How has it given you life, sustenance, strength for the day and hope? Have you noticed any other benefits from feeding on his Word?

Have you noticed that what you feed on affects your thoughts, your attitudes, your emotions, your words, your actions etc?

What other things are you feeding on? Are there any changes you need to make to your diet?

Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: 

"Dear Friend..."











https://www.faithfulbloggers.com/

Friday, 11 August 2017

What Satisfies Your Thirst?

Dear Friends,


I thirst for God, the living God
Psalm 42:2
During our family holiday in Cyprus last month we experienced temperatures ranging from late 30s to early 40s (degree centigrade). Being so hot meant that we were constantly thirsty. I found that nothing quite quenched my thirst like an ice cold glass of water.

It reminded me of something one of the psalmists wrote in a psalm about his spiritual longing and thirst for a relationship with God:

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT)

Whilst David was in the wilderness he wrote Psalm 63:


O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. Psalm 63:1-5 (NLT)

David knew what it was to experience a physical thirst. (I can imagine he was very thirsty in the wilderness, in the heat of the day.) Yet it was his spiritual thirst for God that was most important to him.


The relationship he already had with God was what created within him an even deeper thirst for God. He had experienced the blessing of being in God's presence and of God's unfailing love for him, which caused him to praise God. He knew that nothing and no one could satisfy him as fellowship with God would.


In these few verses we get a sense of how strong a need and desire David had for God. He "earnestly" searches for God, his soul "thirsts" for God, his "whole body longs" for God.


When I was hot and thirsty on holiday, I wasn't satisfied until I was able to get an ice cold drink. 


But I wonder, am I like David? Do I have that same spiritual thirst for God? Do I long for God above everything else? Does my relationship with God satisfy me in a way that no other can? Does my thirst for God cause me to seek him out? Does it lead me to spontaneously lift up my praise and thanks to him?


For me, I've found that the more I determine to have time with God, whether it's alone or with a group of others, when I set out to seek his face, when I make space to hear his voice speaking through the words of my Bible, the more I thirst for him. These things create within me a deeper hunger and thirst for God. To really know him better and not just make do with a superficial relationship. To have a meaningful relationship with him. A relationship which grows closer and stronger over time. This is a hunger and thirst which can only be met in God. 


However, I've also found the opposite to be true. My thirst for God decreases when I stop making the effort to be with him. When I cut down on my time with him. When I'm not interested in building a relationship with him. When I find other things to replace him with.


When I was thirsty on holiday, only an ice cold glass of water would satisfy, a luke-warm glass of water just wasn't good enough.


When I have a spiritual thirst nothing else can satisfy my soul as God can. I may try to find a substitution to meet my need - such as another relationship, work, money, possessions - but I find these are poor substitutes for the real thing. They may help for a short time, but it's not long until I realise that actually these things are meaningless, that they just don't reach deep enough to provide lasting satisfaction.


When you've had a taste of the real thing you never want to go back to any poor imitations which just don't live up to the promise as God does.


When Jesus walked this earth he gave out the following invitation to all who would listen to him. He is still giving out that same invitation today.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. John 7:37 (ESV)


What is your response to such an invitation?

To Think About:

Have you tried in the past to meet your spiritual thirst in ways other than in God? What was the result of this?

Does your soul thirst for God as David's did? When you go to God to meet your spiritual thirst what difference does it make in your life?


What do you think would deepen your thirst for God?


Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: 

Dear Friend...















https://www.faithfulbloggers.com/



Friday, 4 August 2017

The Antidote to Worry

Dear Friends,
The Antidote
to Worry


As a child, I was a natural born worrier. I would worry over anything and everything. I remember my Mum telling me that if I kept worrying I would end up with a stomach ulcer which would be very painful. I'm sure she said this in the hopes I would stop worrying. But now I had something else to worry about! What if I developed a stomach ulcer? I even used to worry about the fact I was worrying!

Because God has made us as a whole - body, mind and spirit - when one part is suffering, all the other parts are also affected. Obviously, worry messes with my mind. It also affects me physically as I end up with an upset stomach, headaches and disturbed sleep. As well as this, my spirit is affected as my worry causes me to lose my peace and I then focus on myself and my problems rather than my God who is bigger than all my worries put together.

As I've grown up I've learned to trust God more and more with my life, and this has helped me to worry less.

In Matthew 6:25-34 (AMP) Jesus commands us not to worry:
Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap[the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?... 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive and green today and tomorrow is [cut and] thrown [as fuel] into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Therefore do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ ... for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I like how the Message paraphrases verse 34:
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
However, there are still times when I return to my old ways of worrying. Recently it was in regards to my children. If you're a parent you can probably relate to this. As their Mum I always want the best for them, I want to have everything under control and I want to fix things when they go wrong. It was so much easier when they were younger. When they fell over and scraped their knees all I needed to do was kiss it better. Now they're bigger they come with different and bigger problems.

My worry for them was stealing my joy and my peace. My mind was totally preoccupied with worry. I could think of nothing else. And it was all the harder because there was nothing I could do to fix things for them.

As I was going through this I was also needing to spend time preparing for my upcoming preaching slot. The theme for the month was 'Worship' and I had chosen to preach on 'Worshipping in Our Parenting'. I can tell you, I felt inadequate to do this. And the Devil was having a field day with me. I found myself in the middle of a spiritual battle. He was using the opportunity to have a go at me, condemn me and bring me down. Telling me I was no good as a parent and who did I think I was to preach in front of a congregation about parenting.

Then, during this time, while my mind was a mess and the Devil was shouting in my ear, God graciously bent down and in his still, small voice said "Stop worrying and instead, start praying".

This was not new to me, but somehow, in the midst of it all, I had completely forgotten the power of prayer.

So, every time I began to worry about my child (which was more than a few times!) I turned to God in prayer. I handed my child over to him. I acknowledged that he is greater than I am and that he has the answers I'm looking for. God sees and knows it all. He can work out his will for my child. He knows what is best. He can work in impossible situations and do the impossible. I cannot. In praying I relinquish my tenuous control and submit to his authority. The One who is truly in control of all things. 

I have learned that the antidote to worry really is prayer. When I pray I'm no longer focusing on me and my problems. When I pray I am focusing on God and when I focus on God there is no room for worry and there's no room for the Devil either.

Prayer restores peace to my mind. It restores my joy. It brings me hope. It places the burden of care onto God rather than the weight of the burden breaking me. Prayer opens the door for God to step in and move in power.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7 (NLT)

Prayer changes things. It changed my attitude. It changed my focus. It changed my perspective. My circumstances haven't yet changed but that doesn't mean God isn't working and moving behind the scenes. All he asks of me is that I keep praying and not give up.

To Think About:

What causes you to worry? How does that worry affect your whole being and even those around you?

Prayer is the antidote to worry. Have you found that to be true in your own life?


What difference does it make when you turn your worries over to God?


Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: 

Dear Friend...














https://www.faithfulbloggers.com/

Friday, 28 July 2017

Coming Home







Dear Friends,

Our family recently had a lovely summer holiday which was such a blessing to us. It was great to have a temporary place to stay. But I have to confess that, towards the end of our time away, I was really looking forward to going home. As Dorothy discovered in "The Wizard of Oz", there really is no place like home. Well, for me anyway.

I had been in touch with friends and family, via texts and phone calls, but it was not the same as being able to actually see them face to face. I was also missing our dog, Rue, who has so quickly become a part of our family.

I love being home. Home is a place where I feel comfortable and relaxed. I can be myself. Home is where I experience peace and security. A place where I am with loved ones, where I can love and be loved.

Towards the end of his time on earth, Jesus told his disciples that he would be leaving them, returning to heaven with the purpose of preparing a home for them and us.

Jesus said “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:1-3 (NLT)

We see in these verses that there will be plenty of room for us all. God doesn't want anyone to miss out on this, but to receive our place in heaven we do need to first accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour.

In the Old Testament, men and women of faith also understood that earth was just a temporary dwelling place and that heaven was their real and lasting home.

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. 14 Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. 15 If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. 16 But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:13-16 (NLT)

The writer to the Hebrews also says this:
For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

Just as I always look forward to coming home at the end of a holiday, we can also look forward to our eternal home with Jesus.

How can our heavenly home be something we can look forward to when we've never even been there?

I believe the answer, in part, is found in Ephesians 3:17 where Paul writes: Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. (NLT)

Christ makes his home in us. or, as other translations say, dwells in us. The meaning of this word is that Christ is not a temporary visitor but a permanent resident in my heart and life. Heaven is in my heart. And the more I experience his indwelling, the more I come to know and love him. Then the attraction for the temporary things of this earth will grow less and less. I shall desire more and more to be in my heavenly home. This is why we look forward to it, even when we have not yet been there. When we get there it will truly be a feeling of coming home. And what a home it will be - with no more pain, or tears, or suffering, where there is fullness of joy. A place far beyond what we could even think, dream or imagine.

I believe there is this longing in our spirit that there is so much more to life than just this earthly one and having Jesus dwell in us gives us a foretaste of heaven. 

To Think About:
Have you ever invited Jesus to dwell in our heart - to make his home within you? If not, and you would like to, you can pray the prayer at the end of this post. If you decide to pray that prayer I would love to hear from you.

If Christ dwells in you, how "at home" have you made him? Has he got access to all areas or have you closed the door on some rooms? Will you allow him full access?

What difference has it made to your life having Christ dwell in you?

Vicki

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:
"Dear Friend..."















Lord Jesus, 
I'm sorry for my sins. I confess them to you now. I thank you that you died on the cross and took the punishment for my sins. Would you please forgive me and bring me into a relationship with you. Be my Lord and Saviour as I submit my life to you and I invite you to take up residence in my heart. With grateful thanks, Amen.





Friday, 21 July 2017

Take A Leap Of Faith

Dear Friends,

During our holiday in Cyprus, Jason suggested we (and the kids) all went paragliding. Now, if you know anything about me, you'll know what my answer was. It was a no brainer. Nuh huh! No way! No how! Brave is not a word I would describe myself. I don't do heights; I don't do fairground attractions; I don't do water slides and I don't do water sports! I prefer to have my feet on terra firma! I was perfectly happy for the rest of the family to do it, whilst I sat on the side-lines watching.

However, with gentle persuasion by Jason, I agreed I would do it. Now where did that come from? I can't believe those words came out of my mouth! The heat must have addled my brain because I would never have agreed to it if I was in my right mind.

This holiday I've been reading John Ortberg's book "If you want to walk on water you've got to get out of the boat". It was as if God was prompting me to go paragliding. To take me out (way out) of my comfort zone and exercise trust. Without meaning to be flippant or irreverent, I believe God wanted to use this practical experience to teach me a spiritual lesson.

The morning we were to go paragliding I had the following verse on my phone: 

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7.

Could God be any clearer?

The five of us - Jason, me, Josh, Jess and Jordan were given a talk about the procedure by the professional. We were then given life jackets and harnesses were put on us. Two men who worked for him took us out in the boat. My heart was pounding! I was scared! I wanted to go first before I had too much time to think and chicken out of it. However, the kids were told to go first and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Now for my turn! I didn't back out of it.  I did it scared. No one is more surprised than I am that I went through with it. (I have witnesses and a certificate to prove it!) To do it meant putting my faith in the men who were in control, who had the experience and the know-how and also to believe that the equipment would hold me. One condition I had was that I would do it only if Jason was with me. I needed the reassurance that came from knowing he was right there with me.

It was an incredible experience and one I would have missed out on if I'd chosen not to take that leap of faith. How I would have regretted it if I'd stayed in the boat. I could have experienced it through the eyes of those who had seized the opportunity but that would not have been the same as experiencing it for myself.  

So, what was God teaching me through this experience?

1. To step out of my comfort zone when he provides the opportunity. To take that leap of faith. To act even though my heart is pounding and I'm fearful of what may happen. And don't let fear stop me. Just do it, even if it means doing it scared.

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (NLT)

2. God is right there with me, just as Jason was. As much as I gained confidence knowing Jason was beside me, how much more confidence and encouragement is there when the Almighty God is right beside me. His presence with me means I never need to face anything on my own.

For God has said, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you." Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

3. To put my trust and faith in God. I can safely put my trust in him because he knows what he's doing. He's the one in control; he's the one with the power and experience; he's the one with the know-how. He's got a hold of me. Taking a leap of faith is not about the amount of faith I have, rather it has everything to do with the one in whom I'm placing my faith. My faith may be small, but placing it in a great God means great things can be achieved. 

4. God produces the results when I make myself available. When it came to paragliding, the men on the boat did all the hard work, the result was their responsibility. All I had to do was be obedient to their instructions. When I'm obedient to God he's responsible for the results.

I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfil His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] Philippians 4:13 (AMP)

5. It's not always easy to take a leap of faith. It's not always comfortable. But is it worth it? Oh yes!

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. Jeremiah 17:7 (NLT)

I believe God is preparing me to take a leap of faith with him. Perhaps you too have been sensing him calling you to move out of your comfort zone.

Will you, and will I, take up his challenge?

To Think About:

What is it you're fearful of? What may be at the root of that fear?

Do you believe God is calling you out of your comfort zone? Can you take that step (maybe for you it's a leap) of faith?

What would help you take that step?

Vicki 

If  what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below:

Dear Friend...













https://www.faithfulbloggers.com/