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?


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..."

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?


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...

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?


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...