Posted in Devotional Musings

The Lord Who Provides

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus

Philipians 4:19 (NIV)

Have you ever taken time to learn about the names of God in the Old Testament? This is something I love to do.  Each name describes an aspect of God’s nature, character and how He cares for us. Over the years as my relationship has deepened with Him, I will naturally draw towards the aspect of God that fits each situation that I journey through.  The name I have called upon so often of late is Jehovah Jireh which means “the Lord who provides” and may I say, He has never failed to do just that.  This name is the one aspect of God that I see so clearly every day. Looking back there is not a day where He hasn’t provided what I needed for each season – even the times where it was almost impossible to see any good at all.

When I was younger I would get sick quite often and the doctors struggled to find out why. One of my doctors even likened me to a Ferrari.  He said, “when one thing in your system is “out” the rest goes out of wack”.  Before this year I had managed to have 8 years of excellent health (to my systems standard anyway).  2016 has been different.  In the last couple of months my entire family and I seemed to be in a relay team but instead of handing on a baton we would be passing along a virus.

I must admit the flu I had a month or so ago became quite serious and, just for a split second, I wondered if my body was reverting to what it used to be. At this point in time I had a two choices.  I could focus on the negative, or I could draw closer to God.  Because this strain of flu had me bedridden my instinct was to be moaning and groaning with a dash of panic  but instead I took a deep breath and said “OK God, let’s see what I can learn from this time of forced rest”.

You see, when we choose to turn towards God and say “what can I learn” rather than wallowing in the “why me?” moments, we change the posture of our heart from “woe is me” to “teach me” giving opportunity for growth in ways we would never have imagined.

Don’t get me wrong, finding the strength to do this in all circumstances can be difficult but it is amazing what you can learn when you do – especially whilst bedridden for a week in between the exhausted moments of sleeping as your body heals.

I learnt many things during this time but my favorite was this.  When I chose to accept my circumstance and instead work at quietening my spirit – even when it was difficult to focus – it allowed me to hear my internal voice speaking what my soul knew with conviction “God will provide”.

And God certainly did.  He had provided me with a roof over my head and a bed to rest in.  He made sure I was fed every day while I was too sick to cook courtesy of my beautiful Church family and He had given me a wonderful son who looked after me without being asked.  Through this beautiful moment of resting in His provision I was reminded that I am always looked after by a loving God who gives me strength when I can no longer stand.

So friend, if you are in a season of struggle, hardship or general frustration and can’t see the way ahead let me reassure you that God is there, He does provide and will restore you in ways you will not expect.  All you need to do is seek Him and wait – look for the God moments – from a random flower blooming when you needed a lift of spirit, to the friend dropping off a meal when you are too tired to cook.  There are so many moments of provision we miss because we aren’t looking.

QUESTION TO PONDER:

Where have you seen God’s provision this week? I encourage you to start a “God Moments” journal to note down in point form where you have seen God each day – especially in the tough times.

MORE VERSES TO EXPLORE:

Matthew 6:25-34; Ephesians 1:3.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

References:       http://www.lovethispic.com/image/59782

                              Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:                                               Zondervan

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When Words Are Not Enough

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”       1 John 3:18

 

I am not often at a loss for words, so when I stood next to my son to give a “short” speech before he cut his 16th birthday cake I was expecting the words to flow. I knew what I wanted to say, my carefully crafted speech had been mentally rehearsed over and over for a week and I was ready.  I walked up to the front of the room, calm and collected, my moment had come.  I just knew that all the beautiful words that I had written would be expressed as eloquently as I had imagined them.

What I soon found out was that I was not as prepared as I thought.  Yes, I had written and practiced, but I had not allowed for the fact that while delivering the speech I would be looking into the eyes of all  the people who had taken time out of their day to celebrate with us.  When I looked up and around the room what I wanted to say seemed no longer as important because no words could adequately describe what I was feeling.

In that brief moment when I began to speak, my words were “stuck in my throat”, and it felt as though time stood still because just for a moment, I saw love in action and it moved me.

I saw the faithfulness of God who proved yet again that He always goes before.  Each person was evidence of God’s slow-released timeline of divine intervention.  People connected to our family from before I was born up to this day. Family, generational family friends, school friends that have become family and more recent friends who are just as precious to us.

I could see the love of my son and the fulfillment of God’s promise in his life-   “Give and it will be given to you …..For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”(Luke 6:38). My son’s love had been poured out and today it had been returned and was overflowing.

I recognised the gathering as a ripple effect of who my son is as he naturally draws people near.  He has this amazing ability to show the unconditional love of Jesus even when the world would rather ignore and avoid.  He looks past any “quirks” that would make others uncomfortable, works hard to forgive quickly and works hard to rebuild relationships when conflict comes in a way that’s humbling to see.

I remembered the times that the beautiful people in front of us had surrounded, supported and carried us through the valleys as well as celebrated with us on the mountain tops. I felt the comfort of knowing that this would never change.

For one brief powerful moment I saw the intrinsic relationship of love in words, truth and action. I knew in that moment that the only action necessary to convey what I needed to express was for the tears to flow, my imperfect inadequate words to be spoken, for God to be given the glory and for our family and friends to “fill in the blanks”.

Reflect and Respond:

Is there a point in time when you were on the receiving end of love in action? If so, how has that one act made a difference in your life?  What things could you do to show love in action to the people around you?

More Verses to Explore:

Romans 5:8; John 13:34-35

                                                                                                                                                                   

References:       Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:                                               Zondervan                                                                                                                                                             Image: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/59436

Posted in Devotional Musings

Flashback: True Love

True love stories never have endings –  Richard Bach

Valentine’s Day, a day in Australia where shop owners go crazy changing their window displays to invite thoughts of love.  They madly stock the shelves with a variety of gifts which often involve an abundance of heart shaped objects, flowers and over the top “mushy” cards in the hope there will be a rush of customers all wanting to shower presents on their beloved ones. It’s one of the biggest days of the year for florists and more often than not there is a wedding or two.  It is a day that at times seems to scream “couples” and “romance”.

While I think that the idea of Valentine’s Day is a combination of “sweet” and “commercial” I prefer the way it is celebrated in Antigua Guatemala.  In Antigua it is known as El Dí­a del Cariño, most closely translated as “The Day of Affection”.  It is the day where the people of Antigua show appreciation to those around them – neighbours, co-workers, friends, family, spouses and such.  What a beautiful sentiment.

On Valentine’s Day this year, I was asked to give the Communion message at Church.  Originally I giggled at the thought that I, a single mum, was to give a message on “the day of love” for couples. But then I paused to think of the one who loves me more than anyone could.  Below I share with you my Communion message:-

“Valentine’s Day, brings a myriad of emotions to a variety of people both negative and positive.  Love lost, new love, a parent’s love, heartache of unrequited love, yearning for love or just beginning to understand love – there are so many emotions brought up on this day every year.

For me though, it is a beautiful thing being able to share in communion on Valentine’s Day because in partaking in communion we are remembering and celebrating the ultimate act of love from the only being who loves each and every one of us with a pure relentless eternal love, our Heavenly Father.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that anyone who would believe in him would not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16

That precious sacrifice, the aching separation of a father and son when Jesus bore our sins as He stretched out his arms and died on the cross.  And the magnificent jubilation in heaven resonating for all eternity when He rose again.  A journey full of the most extreme of emotions all given and acted upon out of love, so that we may have an eternal relationship with God.

So as we take the bread and remember Christ’s body broken for us, as we drink the juice and remember His blood that was shed for us, I encourage you to meditate on the fact that He loves you with a pure, relentless, unconditional true love to a depth that we will never experience from anyone or anything else in our lifetime.”

Have you experienced this love?  Have you truly realised the depth of the love your Heavenly Father has for you?  If not I encourage you to open up the Bible and spend some time studying it.  The Bible is full of verses which are testament of His love for you.

For those of you who have experienced God’s love and do know how deeply loved you are, I encourage you to share in the comments below your favourite Bible verses that helped you to understand the depth of that love.  I would also love to hear why the verses you have chosen to share resonate with you.

(original post 26.2.2016)

                                                                                                                                

References:

Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan

Webpage:   http://antiguadailyphoto.com/

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/162468/pretty-flower-heart

 

Posted in Devotional Musings

Peace in the Crazy

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the darkest valley,  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4

It is 10.30pm at night and I blink my eyes over and over trying to focus on the words which I have been attempting to absorb for the last five minutes.  With each tick of the clock another unfinished task flashes into my mind. “stop it” I tell myself as I turn my focus back to the precious Bible resting on the desk in front of me.  I begin to turn the fragile pages which hold words of life, comfort and instruction.  Words which can help me to strengthen, grow and minister. After 10 minutes of trying to study I make the decision to stop and try again tomorrow.

“Why do I do this?” I ask myself.  I have been a Christian for years, I know that we are to spend time with God each day and yet I still let the craziness of life, housework, parenting, career and ministry commitments constantly get in the way. For some reason I have allowed myself to be ok with the sporadic once or twice a week intense unorganised study sessions with my Father God. The study sessions that usually occur because I am preparing for a Bible Study Group I am facilitating, or for a talk that I have been asked to give.

The ‘turn around’ moment for me occurred a month ago when I was speaking to my son about something he had discovered in his quiet time.  It was this moment, the moment when I heard myself telling him how amazingly consistent he was at spending quality time with God that it occurred to me “I’m the parent, aren’t I the one who should be setting the example?”

This was the moment when I made the decision that things had to change and I had to choose.  I had to choose to let my housework wait one more day, I had to choose to leave the ironing pile and just iron the shirt I wanted to wear tomorrow, and I had to choose to look after my soul by drinking deeply and regularly from the Living Water rather than dehydrate it by “watering” every other activity in my life with the little water I had left.

So, for the last beautiful month, I have been working to create a habit.  A habit of choosing my relationship with God over my obsessive need for everything to happen in perfect order and to a self-imposed standard of quality.  A habit of dragging myself out of bed 40 minutes earlier every day so that I can have the quiet distraction-free time that I so desperately need to be able to focus on God. A habit of not sleeping in on the weekend so that my quiet time is not only consistent but I am left with plenty of time to do housework. And a habit of setting aside any projects for a time so I can focus on growing in my faith.

This past month has been a time of immense growth and discovery. I have discovered that my day starts peacefully when I have spent time with God and I’m not as irritated at work or home because I am resonating with His presence all day long.  I have discovered that it has improved my relationship with my son in that I have been more invested in our conversations because I am not so distracted by things that aren’t important in the bigger scheme of life.  Most importantly though, I have been reminded by my gracious God that a quiet time with Him is what my soul needs to rejuvenate, to strengthen and to fire up when He calls me to.

It is during these times when I sit at the Father’s feet just allowing myself to be in His presence that I find my peace in the craziness of life, where I hear His voice, where He restores my soul and where I am able to keep my eyes fixed firmly on eternity.

Reflect and Respond:

Do you spend regular time with God?  I encourage you to take a look at your schedule and if you haven’t already, plan time each dayto spend time with God.  There are an abundance of resources available for quiet times.  If you have a favourite please share in the comments.

More Verses to Explore:

Phil 4:7;  John 4:10

                                                                                                                                                                                References:

Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:Zondervan

Image: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42260/he-restoreth-my-soul

 

Posted in Devotional Musings

Flashback: Like it or not Change Happens

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

I am a creature of habit. I like things occurring in a way that makes sense to me.  When something slips out of place and forces me to re-arrange my routine, or when I come to a fork in the road where I have to decide where I am supposed to be, I don’t particularly enjoy the process.  This happens even when I am prompted by God to try something new before I feel I am ready.  It’s at these times that I feel like I am back at square one, starting again, just like a baby taking their first steps.

You know, I think that this is a big reason as to why change causes discomfort for so many of us.  When you are well into your journey of life and like to think you are an expert in your field, to have to start something new, when tragedy occurs or when you have to go somewhere that was never in your “life plans”, it is an uncomfortable and at times humbling experience. I have had to do this many times and it has taken me quite a while to be able to ignore the internal voice which starts making me doubt.  You know that tape recorder that plays in your subconscious making statements such as – “Have I chosen the right path“, “Was it really God speaking to me?”, ”Can people see how uncomfortable I am?”, “Does it look like I know what I am doing?”,  “Why me?”, “I am just going to fail or make a fool out of myself!”.

To drown out this internal voice I draw on God’s truth, repeating one of my favourite passages in the book of Jeremiah which cuts through this doubt with words of reassurance:- “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (NIV)

What a comfort it is to know that when I stumble across hurdles on my path, when unexpected detours come my way, the God of the universe knows the plan, my life has meaning and I am not alone.  What peace it brings in the midst of troubling or changing times in my life to know that I can call on God and He will listen. I pray that the next time change comes your way you will remember this truth and that it will bring you peace and reassurance.

(original post 26.1.2015)

                                                                                                                                             

References:

Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). GrandRapids, Mich.: Zondervan;                        Image: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/236429/isle-of-skye

Posted in Devotional Musings

Flashback: The Value of a Moment

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory” – Dr Seuss

It’s 5am and I toss and turn trying to go back to sleep.  I focus, craning to hear a sound or a voice calling me to see what brought me out of my slumber.  It is still dark, the moment just before the birds awake.  The world outside is mostly silent apart from the odd car engine grumbling as the shift workers head out to start their day.

My mind is calm but curious as to why I am awake so early. Naturally I raise my internal voice to sing the bridge of the song still resonating with my spirit from Church the night before:-

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Saviour” (Hillsong United)

 “Speak Lord your servant is listening” I say to my Creator and wait. Flashes of memories come into my mind, they are memories of my father’s parents.  I see my grandma giggling in delight as she gives me her “squidgy” hugs. I see my grandpa showing me how to spin honey out of the honeycomb in the back shed. I remember….. I feel the delight of just being in their presence as a child, the love. The memory moves on to when I had to say goodbye, the last time I saw them before they died.  What sadness and yet what beauty knowing that they had a relationship with Jesus.

Have you ever had moments like that?  Where you have allowed yourself to remember, let in the sadness, relived the happiness and re-processed the confusion?

Have you ever allowed yourself to see the value in that moment?

Over the last 6 weeks I have been reliving moments of significance as I complete the study “Undaunted” by Christine Caine. Some of the memories have brought me back to a time in my life where my world was turned upside down and I was asking “why me?”. It has been a challenging and enriching process even though some memories were painful.

I wonder if we stop ourselves from looking back as an observer because all we see are bad moments….

Can bad moments have value? Yes! I firmly believe that they often have greater value than the good moments because it is in the hard times that we tend to dig deeper into God and is the time of most growth. I know that sometimes it is easier to avoid certain memories but let me reassure you with something I know to be true. 

Every moment in your life can be overcome with Jesus.

God’s power is present whatever storm we are going through as true as it is when the sun is shining.  Every moment had and has value.

God’s Word is full of His wisdom about our moments. His truth contains words of comfort, instruction, healing, praise, correction and encouragement.  You name it and there’s a verse for it! Even the questions – just look at King David pouring out his anguish in the book of Psalms:-

“Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.  Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.  My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” Psalm 6:1-3.

I encourage you to take time to listen for your Creators voice in those moments of silence. To wait to see what He wants you to learn moment to moment. I encourage you to remember – not to hold on to the past but use what you learn to move forward into what God has planned for your future.

You have a purpose, a calling that God is eager to move you towards.

Just remember even taking one small step moves you forwards.

(original post – 19.8.2015)

                                                                                                                                               

References:         Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan; Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Flashback: Waiting Well

 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Psalm 130:5 – 6a

Sometimes I find waiting extremely difficult.  In fact I don’t recall ever meeting a person who enjoyed waiting.  Whether the waiting is for something exciting or potentially life changing in a negative way, either way, it’s during these moments that time seems to slow down.  Every second feels like forever and every tick of the clock is as loud as the sound of banging a hammer.

While I find waiting difficult (most of the time) in this current season I have discovered that waiting can be a joy no matter what the circumstance.  How do I know this?  Because more often than not waiting is not the problem, it’s what we do while we are waiting that’s the make or break of the situation.

I have found that one of the biggest hindrances when waiting is our underdeveloped fruit of the spirit also known as patience and that inner voice that questions everything, you know the one, the one that asks things like the following:–

Why is it taking so long? Why aren’t there more people manning the counters? Why can’t my child get ready quickly?  Why can’t my life be like her life? When will I get to sing from the platform? When will it be my turn to preach? When will people see the value in me?

We build up layer upon layer of “why’s”, “where’s” and “when’s” feeding our impatience rather than developing the ability to patiently wait upon the Lord

When waiting is a struggle, how do we ensure that we are waiting on the Lord and resting in Him as we wait? (I’m glad you asked) – one of the best things to do is declare God’s truths over each situation.  Seek God, ask Him to guide you to Bible verses that can be declared over each situation – This will ensure that there is less room for our frustrations and impatience to surface fully.  More importantly, this leaves no room for the enemy to speak into any insecurities or fears we may have.  Some examples are as follows:-

  • If you are waiting to hear about whether you still have a job“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
  • If you are waiting to see if you have enough money to pay the bills“So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?” or “What shall we wear” For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31 – 33
  • If you are waiting for reconciliation/resolution“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins…….If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.  If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:8 -9; 11

Every situation you find yourself in has a verse that you can use to speak life into that situation and each one of God’s truths combats the enemy’s lies.

Waiting well means learning to refocus by resting in the knowledge that “God has got this”, He is in control, His timing is perfect and He knows what’s best for us – he uses everything to draw us closer to him. So instead of seeing waiting as a negative thing, how about we use it as the “prime time” to dig deeper in his word – spend more time in prayer, learn more about where God is going to take you.  Be still and listen.

This week I encourage you to spend time in God’s word seeking verses to declare over whatever you are going through.  Feel free to expand on this blog by sharing some verses you have declared during the week – I would love to see where God is speaking into your life.

(original post: 25.1.2016)

© 2016 by Tracy Thompson. All rights reserved.

                                                                                                                                                           

References:       Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, Mich.:                                               Zondervan; Image: http://www.lovethispic.com/image/200497/waiting