They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength

As I stood looking out at the pink tinged clouds yesterday morning while thinking about God’s faithfulness, I spotted a cloud that looked a bit like an eagle and it reminded me of these words…

‘they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’

Photo kindly donated

It’s a passage full of encouragement…

‘Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?…’

It’s as though God is saying stop and think a moment, He the One that ‘sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:’ is in control!

Lay down all your burdens for a moment at Jesus’ feet and consider… ‘Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.’

‘Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?’

Look around Friend, look at the sun and consider how God has faithfully made it rise again. Watch the little birds and remember that God is also watching them for ‘are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?…’

Photo kindly donated

So what about you Friend?

‘…even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.’

‘Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.’

Friends, God sees, God knows, God understand and God cares about even the minutest details of your life! Even down to how many hairs fell out when you brushed it this morning!!

He knows the new number!!!

‘He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.’

There’s no doubt here, He does and He WILL if we’ll just believe it!

‘Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength…’

It’s only when we acknowledge our weakness that we are in a position to prove the strength of God!

Photo kindly donated

It’s those that wait on the Lord, seek Him and lean upon Him, whose strength He renews, so lean in Friends, lean in again and again!!

Lean into His strength in your weakness.

The grace of Jesus Christ is always sufficient, it’s a river that is always flowing, kneel down and drink all you need, He’s the Water of Life for thirsty souls and will give you His inner strength and carry you through!

‘… they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.’

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Is 40, Luke 12:6

Perfect Peace in Christ

Peace, perfect peace!

Isn’t it what, in some way or other we all are striving for?

Is it possible? Yes! ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.’

Who will be kept in perfect peace? The one whose mind is stayed on God, resting and trusting in Him alone!

This Hebrew word ‘camak’ translated as stayed also means to prop, lay hold of, lean upon, lie hard, rest upon, support, hold up.

Photo courtesy of Abi Lockey

Friends, where is your mind, your thoughts, your trust resting today?

Is it running with all the what if’s or is it resting in Christ?

Is your imagination working overtime or are you ‘Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;’

Friends, perfect peace is found in resting in Christ but you’ll have to fight for it!

Your old independent nature wants to work to solve all the problems itself: the devil wants to keep your mind fretting over the unknown, the world wants to distract you and deceive you into thinking peace can be found there!!

Photo courtesy of Abi Lockey

And all the while Jesus stands with wounded hands stretched wide waiting for you to run and find that perfect peace in resting in Him and all He has done for needy sinners!

Friend, run to Jesus, tell Him all your fears and troubles, literally pour them all out in a heap at His wounded feet and lean your weary head upon His loving breast!

And when the world distracts or you listen the the lies of the enemy then run to Him again and again.

‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.’

Photo courtesy of Abi Lockey

Because ‘In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.’

Friend, His grace truly is sufficient!!

‘Be careful for NOTHING; but in EVERY thing by prayer and supplication WITH thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, SHALL keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

Don’t let the enemy steal your joy and peace Friend, lean in and find rest in Christ, He came to give us an abundant life!

‘The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’

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Is 26:3, 2 Cor 10:5, Ps 62:8, Phil 4:6,7, John 10:10.

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away…

As I listened to the dawn chorus this morning these verses came into my mind…

‘My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’

Her lover has come so joyfully to meet her ‘leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills’ and he looks through the window and invites his beloved to come and enjoy the spring with him.

Friends, each day Jesus invites us too, He comes joyfully to greet us, looking in at the windows of our soul with these gentle, loving words…

’Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Come away from the cares and anxieties that this world brings, come away from all that is crowding into your life and sit a while with Me.

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’

Come and find rest in His presence and joy in His love!

Will you come Friend? Will you choose Jesus over your phone, that book or your to do list?

(Friends, these things are not necessarily bad but they are if they come before God.)

Go with Him Friend, talk with Him in prayer and hear Him speak to you through His word until you can say with the Beloved ‘His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.’

There’s no greater joy here on earth than to experience the sweetness of His lips and the love of His words!

Friends, let’s be always seeking these blessings, so that we can say with Jeremiah ‘Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.’

And with the psalmist…

‘How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!’

Friends ‘His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend..’

Is He yours?

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Songs 2:10-13, 5:16, Matt 11:28, Jer 15:16, Ps 119:103.

Rest in Christ

There is rest in Christ! If God says it then surely he means it!

God promised Abraham that He would give to his descendants the land of Canaan.

Sometimes because of their sin and unbelief, the fulfilment of this promise was delayed. But the day came when they entered the land.

Orange fluffy clouds behind a tree silhouette

Friends, God’s promises never fail even though our sin may delay the fulfilment of them.

‘And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.’

Friends, GOD IS FAITHFUL ‘for He is faithful that promised’!

‘There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.’

If God has promised, He’ll do for us just as He did for the children of Israel.

When they fully trusted God, putting aside their doubts and fears, the promise was fulfilled and they entered into that place of rest.

Friends, there’s rest to be found in Christ. He’s the fulfilment of that Sabbath rest and if we don’t enter into it it’s not because of His unfaithfulness – never!! It’s because of our doubts and fears.

‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with (or rest in) God through our Lord Jesus Christ:’

(This Greek word translated here as peace is translated in other parts of the NT as rest!)

What about when they had entered the promised land? There were still pockets of Canaanites in the land that they by God’s help were to drive out over time.

This is where things began to go wrong. They didn’t drive them out, in fact they started to copy some of their ways. They became influenced by them and their gods and the evil of other nations surrounding them. Then God left them to their sins and they lost that rest.

When they returned to God, rest returned and He helped them to win any battles. When they turned from God to the idols they were surrounded by, He also turned His face from them and left them to be overcome by their enemies.

‘If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.’

Friends, there’s rest in Christ if we’ll just believe it and lean into it.

Has He not said ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’

They had peace and rest in the land all the while they rested and trusted in God and His sufficiency!

There’s peace in Christ if we keep our eyes of faith fixed on Him and don’t go after the gods and distractions of this life.

Friend, if you’re a true believer you already have this place of rest in Christ, you are IN Him and He in you, all that remains is for you to constantly lean into that!

Lean into the fact that Christ is enough.

Lean into the truth that He is faithful.

Lean into the fact that all you need – Christ – is IN you, always ready to help you.

Lean into and rest in that abiding place you have in Christ Jesus!

Jesus said ‘I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.’

Do you believe it? Will you rest in it?

Trust in Him to drive out the enemies and rest in His sufficiency for each battle you face!

REST IN HIM!

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Josh 21:43, Heb 10:23, 2Tim 2:13, Heb 13:5, John 14:20, Rom 5:1.

Encouragement in the If Onlys…

If only…. then….

Ah Friends, those if onlys! If only this had or hadn’t happened then things would so different.

Sadly this world isn’t perfect, it’s full of the effects of sin and that makes life hard, very hard at times!

Martha and Mary knew this, their brother Lazarus was ill, they’d sent for their Friend, their Jesus, the miracle worker but He didn’t come straight away and now their brother is dead.

When Jesus finally comes after waiting two more days first dear Martha meets Him saying…

‘Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died….’

And then that previously busy, over burdened Martha has the faith to add…

‘But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.’

Martha then calls Mary and she goes to Jesus and says…

‘Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.’

Ah Friends, these women had learnt a sweet lesson. They’d learnt to pour out their hearts before God, to give Him their if onlys. They’d learnt to turn to Him for comfort and help.

How does Jesus respond? Does He reprove them for their if onlys?

No, He goes with them to the grave and He weeps with them!!

Friend have you an if only? If so then give it to the Lord just as these dear women did.

‘Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.’

Give it all to Jesus, give Him your if only, ‘Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’

He knows, He sees, He understands, He cares and He’s with you in the fire!

Give it all to Jesus Friend…

‘And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.’

God may not remove those hard things but He WILL give you the grace to go through them, leaning upon your Beloved Jesus!

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John 11:1-44, Ps 62:8, Phil 4:6-7.

Glorifying God in the mundane…

Have you ever wondered how you can glorify God in the mundane of day to day life?

How about starting with this…

1 ‘Give thanks unto the Lord;

2 Call upon his name:

3 Make known his deeds among the people.

4 Sing unto him,

5 Sing psalms unto him:

6 Talk ye of all his wondrous works.

7 Glory ye in his holy name:

8 Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.

9 Seek the Lord, and his strength:

10 Seek his face evermore.

11 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done…’

Why?

Because ‘He is the Lord our God:’

This is how psalm 105 begins before continuing with a long list of all God’s goodness to the children of Israel in the wilderness.

Photo by Anna Kerley

Friends, glorifying God isn’t a to do list but each of these things draws our hearts away from the distractions of the world and up to God!

It’s as though God through these verses is saying to each believer, this is how you can glorify me.

Feeling discontent? Thank God for all the many things and people He’s already blessed you with.

In trouble? Ask God to help you…

‘call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.’

Wondering if God will appear?

Tell others about all God has already done for you and see if it doesn’t help you trust Him for the future too!

Feeling down?

Sing praises to God for He is always worthy and sing until those praises are coming from your heart, He will cheer you up.

Wondering how you can share about God?

Talk about all his wonderful works in your life. Don’t boast of your own achievements but rather glorify God for all He has helped you to do and in all has done for you.

Seeking God? Do it with a joyful heart for ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.’

Feeling weak, wondering how to continue?

‘Seek the Lord, and his strength:’ His grace is sufficient and His strength made perfect in your weakness!

Friends, by God’s grace let’s live our days remembering all ‘his marvellous works that he hath done…’ Because ‘…He is the Lord OUR God:’

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Ps 105:1-7, 50:15, Lam 3:25,

Peace, Be Still…

Jesus ‘went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.’

You’ve probably read this many times but look again, we don’t read of any hesitation by the disciples, Jesus commanded, they simply obeyed!

Yes, they were His disciples, He was their teacher and that was what they were expected to do but Friends each Believer is a follower of Jesus too and obedience is expected of us also, following Jesus is what we’re supposed to do, it means going where our leader leads, walking in His footsteps.

Photo by Rebekah Suckling

‘And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.’

Here they are, being obedient, following Jesus and a storm came!

Friends, we’re not promised it’ll be easy following Jesus but we are promised that He’ll be with us.

But Jesus was asleep and they had to wake Him.

We see here that Jesus didn’t just step in and calm the storm, they had to go to Him!

In their fear they ask Him…

‘Master, carest thou not that we perish?’

After all the love He’d shown them they say don’t you care?!

But Jesus just calmly gets up…

‘and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.’

Then He gently rebukes them for their lack of faith.

‘Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?’

After all they’d seen Him do, after all His love they’d felt, after all they’d seen of His power and goodness, why were they fearful?

Because just like us Friends they were weak and sinful and sometimes they too looked at the waves rather than the One who controls them!

Where are your eyes fixed Friend, ‘why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?’ Jesus is in the boat with you, the storm cannot harm you.

We don’t know the strength of the Anchor until we’ve tested it in a storm and it’s in the storms that we learn to ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’

So Friend, follow where Jesus leads, fix your eyes upon Him, He’s with you even in the storm ‘for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’

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Luke 8:22, Mark 4:37, 40, Eph 6:10, Heb 13:5.

God is sufficient…

As many of you know I have multiple chronic illnesses which leave me with very little energy and getting back into the swing of things after the Christmas break felt really daunting this year!

Photo by Abigail Lockey

But God is so good and faithful because when I opened my Bible randomly first thing this morning I saw this…

‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;’ and it was so encouraging!

Friends, maybe like me you’ve started the week feeling very aware of how inadequate you are but as Paul said, no, we’re not sufficient in ourselves and we never will be BUT…’our sufficiency is of God’!!

The Corinthians example was not just a pen and paper letter of commendation but living, active proof of how God had worked in them through Paul’s ministry.

Photo by Abigail Lockey

My first thought when I read that context was ‘so is this verse just for ministers?’ but friends, whatever we do, if we do it for the glory of God, through Jesus Christ, is ministry!

Yes, even putting the laundry away (the job I always put off 🙈) getting a wriggling toddler dressed, picking up dirty clothes from floor – again, or doing the same mundane tasks at work, all seemingly unnoticed and unappreciated.

So Friend as you start the first week of a new year remember that it’s only in our weakness that we get to prove the power of Christ!

‘And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…’

Photo by Abigail Lockey

Can we continue with Paul?…

‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’

I’ll leave you with this beautiful promise…

‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I WILL strengthen thee; yea, I WILL help thee; yea, I WILL uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.’

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2 Cor 3:5, 12:9,10, Is 41:10

What If…

It’s so easy at the moment to get bogged down with the what ifs and the whys!

Many of us are wondering how restricted our holidays and celebrations will be this year and what we’re going to do about it, some may be wondering what the future holds, others think persecution isn’t far off, some that a new world order will be imposed on us. There are so many conspiracy theories and talk about the end of the world being near but Friends although being informed and knowing different view points isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it is when it takes our eyes off Jesus and our focus off our God who is in ultimate control!

Photo by Abi

‘There are many devices [plans]in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel [purpose] of the LORD, that shall stand.’

Friends, whatever the future may hold, hard as it may be, it won’t be able to drag us down if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, trusting that whatever God may allow He works together for the good of His children!!

‘And we KNOW that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.’

‘Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.’

Photo by Abi

When God promised Joshua this He said ‘only be thou strong and very courageous,’ to walk in God’s ways and to meditate on His word day and night so that God might prosper his way.

It’s the same for each of God’s children, if we live each day seeking to follow Jesus, walking in God’s will He WILL prosper our way.

BUT that won’t necessarily be earthly blessing, (although we are surrounded by them) but if we’re truly seeking God in everything He’ll give us the wisdom to walk in all His ways and spiritual prosperity because we’re trusting in His presence and promises!!

The world’s prosperity is stuff, ‘things that will fade in a moment away’ but the Believer’s prosperity is in walking Jesus and having a close walk with Him!

So Friend, keep seeking, keep leaning, keep abiding, keep feasting upon God’s word, keep communing with God in prayer, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and God will be with you whatever the future may hold!

Photo courtesy of @erstephenson2020

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Prov 19:21, Rom 8:28, Josh 1:9.

Sacrifice…

‘If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious…’

Have you Friend? Have you tasted a little of His love to you?

Have you come to Jesus in all your weakness and need and found in Him a Saviour?

‘To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious…’

If so then…

‘Ye also, as lively [living] stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’

Photo by Makayla

The old system of sacrificing animals was finished when Jesus died on the cross becoming to one perfect sacrifice for sin and yet here we see that there are these spiritual sacrifices to be offered but what are they?

‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.’

First of all, if we’ve been born again we’ve been bought with a price and we no longer belong to ourselves…

‘What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.’

Photo by Makayla

So we see that our lives are no longer ours for us to live to please ourselves but to glorify God and that will mean sacrifice, it may mean giving up things that we love if God shows us do not please Him.

It may not be something wrong in itself and may be very different for one person than another depending on what it is in our lives that pulls us away from God and distracts us from living our lives for Him and for His glory.

Maybe social media is a distraction to you or a love of shopping, maybe you have an unhealthy relationship with food, looking to that for comfort rather than turning to God?

Maybe you don’t think there is anything that pulls you away from God in your life, if so I’d just encourage you to ask God to open your eyes in case there is and you’re missing it.

Maybe this all sounds very depressing, why should we want to follow a God who makes us give up things we enjoy?

Because Friends when we sacrifice those distraction for Jesus sake we gain the joy of a closer walk with God which far exceeds any earthly pleasure!!

Photo by Makayla

So what other sacrifices do we see mentioned?

‘Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.’

Initially praise and thanksgiving don’t sound like sacrifices but what if God asks you to praise Him in those hard times, to praise Him as you watch someone you love fade away, to thank Him as you sit by the bed of someone you love that is dying?

It’s a sacrifice then Friends but it’s a sacrifice that as God helps you to offer it, will bring that peace that passes all understanding. I’ve been there and I’ve proved the peace and joy it brings.

Friend, is there something in your life you need to be pausing and thanking God for?

Paul in his letter to the Hebrews also tells us to…

‘offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name…’

But he adds this…

‘But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.’

Here we see doing good and communicating or sharing what we have is added to praise and thanksgiving.

Photo by Makayla

Friends, everything we have is not truly ours, it’s all been given to us by God and we have so much compared to so many, are we willing to sacrifice and share with open hands and hearts?

Then there’s this…

‘And to love him [God] with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’

Is love a sacrifice? Well firstly this Greek word ‘agapao’ translated here as love is a verb, this love isn’t a feeling it’s a doing!

Do all our actions show a whole hearted love, yes first to God but secondly to those around us, to everyone around us! To those that are unkind or who we would naturally avoid?

Are we willing to make this sacrifice of wholehearted love for everyone for the sake of Jesus who gave up everything for us?

Again friends, it’s the path of peace! Is there some way we can show a little of the love of Christ in us today to those around us that we wouldn’t naturally love?

Friends, do we love the One who sacrificed His life for us, enough to make sacrifices for Him?

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1 Peter 2:3-5, Rom 12:1, 1 Cor 6:19-20, Ps 107:21-22, Heb 13:15-16, Mark 12:33,