Comfort

I’ve literally just heard that a dear friend’s husband died sitting in his chair – most unexpectedly; news from another friend tells me that her neice has cancer of the cervix; another friend’s only son dies of a brain aneurysm at 36 year of age just before Christmas. What pain, what agony of spirit, what bereavement, what can we do?

It may all seem and feel hopeless, yet there is One who can bring hope and all the comfort that each of us needs. Whether it is loss or change of circumstance or plain boredom at times or about what we hear on the news, we, as human beings, all need comfort sometime in our lives unless we are hermits but even they need solace, being human!

I know only one Comforter and that is Jesus Christ and through His Spirit, He has made that comfort available to us to have in our lives. I easily go to the biscuit tin for comfort, or I’ll watch something on ‘iplayer’ or I’ll avoid a situation but time and time again I find that the only way to gain comfort is to come to the Lord Jesus Christ and pour out my heart to him. Then, He exchanges my sadness for the reality of what I’m in. I have God guiding my life; He’s promised to meet all my needs; and He is present with me through every emotional situation I face unless He is a liar and I know that this is not true as His words can be relied on from the Bible.

I have found that there are blockages to receiving God’s comfort:

Tiredness – then I see things all out of perspective

Believing lies – The Bible clearly advocates that we wear the belt of truth and this truth can set us free. If we don’t have the Bible words of truth clearly in our vision and thoughts then we become distorted and can’t receive what God has to give us.

Stubbornness – then I need to lay my burdens, worries and problems at the feet of Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30 clearly teaches us to share our lot with Jesus and He states that then our yoke is easy and our burden’s light if we actually come to Jesus in our need. I find it is so easy just to try to work things out myself, leaving Jesus out of the picture and sometimes I can be rebellious to just do my own thing anyway rather than finding out from Him the best way forward. Time and time again, God has to work on me to lay my will down and pursue His.

God is a Father and like a Mother to each of us and can comfort us even more than an earthly father or mother if we let Him. Our children need to know this and see Him provide what is lacking. As we and they call out to our Maker, then He comes and nestles and nurtures us as we are engraved on the palm of His hands and we are the apple of His eye. What a comforter He is as He loves us through the mazes of life!

Jesus – The Word?

What words – each packed with meaning!

Why is it that Jesus is so prominent at Christmas? If he was just a man, then why make such a fuss of him? People come and go. If a good prophet, why do the dates of history start as Anno Domini  (AD) from his birth? If God, why would he bother with the world that He created especially as we people have messed it up?

The early Christians used a fish sign for recognition so that the family of God could be sure of each other in the perilous days that followed Jesus’ death and resurrection. On the fish were engraved several Greek letters that mean Jesus, Christ, God Son and Saviour. These words say it all regarding Jesus as he was either a mad man or who He actually claimed to be and if so, He requests a response from each of us. If He is the Christ (the promised Messiah meaning ‘anointed’) and God’s only Son and a Saviour how does He communicate what we need to know and do?

The answer to this is found in the Bible which is known as the revealed Word of God. God inspired many men to write down what He wanted mankind to know and as scrolls and manuscripts were studied from long ago and after much prayer from men and women who were wanting God’s words to reach every human heart, the Bible, as we know it, became translatable and is now available in hundreds if not thousands of languages (for tribes, nations and various people groups). God used words to create the world and as Jesus came to our planet He used Jesus’ words to create new life in people who wanted and want this.

So, the Bible is not just a word for mankind but The Word as the power of the Bible’s words were made available to us in human form when Jesus visited our planet for just 33 years. Jesus was actually with His Father God and the Holy Spirit when the world was formed. God spoke and light came; God spoke and sky came; God spoke and land came; God spoke and sea came; God spoke and plants shot up; God spoke and the sun, moon and stars were made; God spoke and the sea creatures were made; God spoke and birds were made; God spoke and animals were made; God spoke and people were made. So, when Jesus came to planet Earth, He came with The creative words of life, counteracting all that had gone before with the mess up that took place in the Garden of Eden.

John 1:1-4 succinctly puts it “Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. Through him God made all things, not one thing in all creation was made without him. The Word was the source of life and this life brought light to mankind.” (Good News version of the Bible).

Jesus – The Word sums up God perfectly. Let’s ensure that our children know about him and how He can continue to show His creativity in changing lives from within and healing our broken hearts, bodies and lives. He came to give us life abundantly and if we let Him, he can do just that today!

 

 

Hope

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick” – so says the Bible and of course it is true and many of us have heart disease and other illnesses because of it. However, there is a hope that we can have that provides an anchor for our soul. I read today that “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” (Hebrews 6:19). We can have hope in this world for this journey is only a dress rehearsal for the real thing.

We were made to live forever – wow! Jesus has turned the tables around to enable us to live forever which is amazing. The little baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago provided us with a pathway to everlasting life turning around the wrong choices of our first ancestors.

Even when our circumstances are dire and life is tough, there is still hope as Jesus provides the hope we need and if we have repented and asked him into our lives, we are never alone, as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the midst of us. Fancy having God in your life quite literally? It is amazingly possible. I became a Christian over 50 years ago and this was the most important decision I ever made or will ever have to make. Jesus takes my side and when this dress rehearsal is over, He will be there to stand before God on my behalf telling of His blood that has covered my life to free me up to be in heaven one day.

That’s not all. I believe that God is going to recreate the heavens and the earth as we know our planet is wearing out and even burning out with all the climatic changes that are causing our world to get warmer. Then, we, who have made that simple choice on earth will populate the new heavens and earth and although there will be no more sea we are told (which is a shame) God has greater plans for our planet that only He knows and will explain to us.

So what we do here and now is vital to our eternal destiny. The best is yet to come and we need to impart this to our children, telling them that Jesus promised to return to our planet one day  and that day is drawing closer and closer. So, we can hope most definitely to what is to come. Teenagers, particularly need to be aware of this and we all need to be ready.

So next time you feel a little despair or feel downcast, look up, for that is where our real life comes from and will be available to us for ever and ever. What a hope for everyone especially children who may have been traumatised by war and atrocities that no human being should even witness or even talk about. Jesus is our only hope.

God’s World

God’s world seems in chaos and anarchy at present but it was not always so and it is not God’s intention for it to remain so. ‘God’s World’ happens to be the title of the very first book we produced for reading to 3-4 year olds and is part of a boxed set of 8 books especially showing youngsters how ordered God is. Even when things went wrong at the beginning, God had an ordered plan to redeem mankind from the grips of their wrong choices by sending his one and only Son, Jesus, to get us back on track. God has a habit of working everything for good – see Romans 8:28. He truly is the rescuer even from and within the cycle of muddle we sometimes get ourselves in.

I tend to live in ordered chaos at my home. I love to be organised and yet to an outsider looking at my files and the way I order data may not always seem streamlined. However, God’s order of our world and universe is visibly ordered in every way. Just looking at how the day follows night, how the seasons come and go in a set way and how the years so often have a structure to them which is designed by the Maker of them. We humans, however, don’t always keep the order that God established but there is always a way forward, often through the muddles.

When there is order and structure round a child, e.g. in a classroom situation, then a child can thrive with learning. When a child knows that he/she is loved unconditionally, then a child can relax knowing that this is ordered around him and true and very wonderful. They can then have a sense of self worth and confidence. However, when the reverse is in operation, then there is muddle and uncertainty. God wants to impart his order to our world and very especially onto each individual whether child or adult.

I desire to order my life according to God’s ways and standards. Then I can truly be at peace, knowing that I have a unique place in God’s world, doing his bidding and relishing in his provision and grace. Young children can know this and grow up knowing the stability of the ordered life of Christ, given to us by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let’s not deny this to our children – they and us adults are just like little lambs who need tending and helping and shaping into God’s order for our lives – in my mind, the best way forward..

Quiet

I went to The Sisters of Jesus Way in West Kirby, Wirral, for a quiet day the other day with various church friends including my elderly mum. We think that it was the hottest day of the year so far and we relished in the shade while looking out at the beauty around, made even more exquisite by the sun. The subject for the day was ‘The Voice of God’. We had various Scriptures to look at and introductions to these during each segment of the day and then we each were alone with God.

It is so good to be quiet, to rest and think and listen and stop the mad pace of life for a few hours. It really was a tonic and again I was able to hear the gentle quiet voice of the Lord (not audibly) giving direction especially at this time when we have no carers and learning to adapt isn’t straightforward. I’m again reminded how intense I can be and how God is not like this. He woos us with love and his kindness and gentleness in his daily provisions to us is amazing and so helpful.

God knows us each by name. He made us as we are, uniquely and wonderfully, although so often we look at our flaws not realising just what a work of art God has made with each one of us. God wants the best for us at all times and if we would just relax and abide (I love that word) He will do the rest. We’re called to trust Him and that involves leaning on him when everything around seems to say do otherwise.

I’m reminded of the Scripture “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15). As we learn to abide in God then the confidence can flow and the strength can follow as we cease from our own works and do his.

In this busy life, I need to pause more, be quiet and let God speak. I can come to him daily, as is my habit, but even then the busyness of the day ahead can overwhelm me. So, I highly recommend taking a chunk of time out regularly.

How we need to train our children to be still even through the holidays – well we can aim at it!.  Even young children can easily curl up with ‘The Creation Series’ and see what God has already done and given them as they look at the wonderful illustrations in this set of books.

Security

What a referendum! I couldn’t sleep and put on my radio at 1am to hear that ‘remain’ votes were coming in fast, then at 2am there was a change in the air and then at 3am there was a decisive change and I had to get up and follow it on the TV. (The BBC, I have to say, did a wonderful job keeping us informed!) I was very excited and thrilled with the result but there are many of us Brits not so happy this week. However there is hope on the horizon.

With all the turmoil with the vast changes that are occurring in the UK many feel very insecure and I can appreciate that. If we look at the situation and listen to all the politicians and so called economic experts it can bring doom and gloom to our hearts and we can feel apprehensive and wonder what’s ahead.

I think that it’s bringing us as a nation to our knees and that can never be a bad thing. God has a plan for our country which in itself is comforting to know and as we call out to Him, then He will develop our spiritual antennae so that we can get to know Him as individuals as well as whole families and communities which may feel broken at present. God never despises brokenness – in fact it is a good thing as then we realise our need of a Saviour – Jesus Christ being that One.

Our security can be based on God who never changes and is always around to help, sustain, provide and strengthen us, if we simply  just ask. God is faithful to His word. He says In the book of Hebrews in the Bible – chapter 13 “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 121 comes to mind where it says My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Our children need to be assured that God is in control here. Even if the adults around them wobble, their simple faith in Father God can be so real and can keep them anchored when there is volatility in our society. That’s why, it’s so important for children to read the Bible – and us adults, too, as the words in this book are not just words someone has just written but are words from God’s very heart towards mankind. ‘The Creation Series’ provides a little visual addition to the Bible’s words for young children which we trust will help them to appreciate the love God has for them. They can then also see the power of God which he exerted just by speaking and things and people coming into being.

What security we have as humans to have the opportunity to hide ourselves in God’s big embrace at this difficult time in our country’s history. God is well able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think (see Ephesians 3:20-21) as we call to him in our distresses and disappointments. He will build our country again and we’ll look back and thank Him for what He is now doing.

God’s Answer

Whether we have small or big problems, God has an answer. I think He sets up situations in our lives so that we have to depend on Him. He wants our closeness of relationship more than anything else it seems and He wants us to draw near to Him continually.

I had a headache this morning and dragged myself to an early morning prayer time where my family (brothers and sisters in Christ) prayed for me. The headache did not go straight away as God wanted me to have some rest. I put peppermint on my temples and took some medication (less than the usual dose) and went to sleep on getting home. I think that this was a wake up call that I have been overdoing things. Hence, the warning in the form of a headache.

I believe God has an answer to every situation if we will but lean on Him and acknowledge that we don’t have the answers. This requires humility and discipline. We’re told to be like children in the way they trust and simply go about their lives. For them, it is easier to let Daddy God help them whereas we adults often get too proud or too busy to even realise that God is waiting in the wings to answer any request we have. “Ask and it shall be given you,” said Jesus (see Luke 11:9-10) “seek and you will find and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” and He never lied. So we can have confidence in asking God anything even our non verbal cries of our hearts.

God has one answer for the human heart that He says is desperately wicked (see Jeremiah 17:9) and that is shown in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ on the cross, dying instead of us (which we deserved). Jesus did an exchange, giving us His immense love in the form of forgiveness instead of leaving us to wallow and receive the consequences of our wrong doing which comes about by the choices we make

Let’s give our children hope by letting them know that the God who loves us also has an answer to every situation or problem we face. He has a habit of weaving everything together for good especially for those who love Him (see Romans 8:28) so it’s worth our children knowing that to be on God’s side makes them winners!

Letting Go!

Yesterday, I attended the burial service of a dear housegroup leader of my late husband. During this time, a poem was read that encouraged us to let him go.

I was in a similar position when in hospital when the doctors said that they couldn’t help my husband. A dear brother in Christ said to me ‘You’ll have to let him go’. I was believing for healing for my husband at the time and wasn’t able to do this then but as time has gone by after the Lord took my Mike home to be with Himself, I am learning to let go.

There are so many areas of our lives where we need to let go and let God. The many challenges that we face as humans sometimes can get us all frustrated but if we dare to believe God, that He will come through to work everything together for good (see Romans 8:28) then we can rest in Him. I have just received an email that tells me just that. I am such a slow learner! God can be trusted – I’ve proved Him so many times!

Our children need to know how to face the challenges around them. So often they can compare themselves (as we adults do, too) with others and not realise that they are amazing and unique in their own right as God has made them. As we adults learn to rest in God and let Him be in control, then our children can feel the safety and security of knowing that their Heavenly Father is in charge and will bring a good outcome.

‘Diamond Books’ exist to bless children with the ways and truths of God as shown in the Bible. Some children, even here in the UK, have no idea about Jesus and His love for them. So, I’m encouraging as many as can, to purchase a set of ‘The Creation Series‘ and give them to some child/children who may not be aware that God made everything and has a wonderful plan for each life even when we/they blow it and need forgiveness.

Exposure

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get exposed when I am least expecting it. We can get exposure to the sun which can be harmful, we can get exposure to poisonous fumes or gases that equally are not good for us but sometimes we can get exposed emotionally when a circumstance triggers a deep feeling. The latter happened to me yesterday.

Having recently lost my husband (although he is far from being lost as he is in heavenly places with Jesus which must be wonderful for him) and having my dear Mum living in our home has suddenly exposed the fact that my Mike isn’t here. We usually have a carer for Mum who comes into the home regularly but since last Friday we’ve had no carer and I’ve been trying to juggle all sorts of things around. Then, I find I’m very tired – so try to sleep only to have broken nights as I’ve experienced ever since Mike went to be with the Lord. So am trying to come to terms with my exposed emotions and see how God will take me through this situation.

What about children when they go through emotional turmoil and exposure? What about Henry? Here in England, we have a radio serial (that is on most days just for 15 minutes). There has been an incident in this (the vital episode I happened to miss) where a lady has been emotionally abused by husband and she got so irate after months and months of exposure to this that she stabbed him. Little Henry, her 5 year old son, was in the house when it happened. Fortunately, in this fictional story, he has stable grandparents while his mother is  in custody and heavily pregnant (due anytime). Dear Henry may have many emotional scars and could get more when he hears more snippets of what happened let alone what he might have seen and witnessed. How do children deal with their emotional baggage when exposed to such awful situations? The hugs and understanding of close relatives can help a bit.

There is only one remedy for this that I know of and that is for children to come to their Heavenly Father and tell Him all about how they feel. They will need help to express their feelings as they so often lie dormant or can’t be expressed verbally. Just coming to One who knows and loves them can really help. How grandparents who have faith in God can help here. In Book 1 of ‘The Creation Series’ there is an illustration of children sitting in a Father’s lap. That’s how we can come to God, whether we’re adults or children.

Wrong exposure can draw us to being exposed to the love of God who can handle all our emotions and even heal the memories of them. Let’s encourage our children to come to their solid, strong Father as we run to Him, too, as without Him we can do nothing.  We can’t even untangle the memories and deep emotions we have – so let’s hand them over to the One who can manage them all. After all. we can come to Him as children!

 

Resting Place

It’s so good to have places where we know we can rest or relax but there is one place that can fit all. We were made to love God and enjoy Him forever and when that dimension of relating to God is missing then we miss out on God’s balance and provision for our lives.

We can rest in our homes, we can rest in the countryside, we can rest even while doing physical activity like walking, we can rest by having a snooze and we can rest by just stopping our usual activities. The deep rest that God gives is in our hearts as we make a place for Him. If He has first place in our lives then our resting place can be available to us at any time. We are to rest from our human labours and gain His resources to do whatever He has called us to do. Then, the pressure is off to achieve or do better than others or even to satisfy our our beings. Having a resting place in God is sufficient for us to thrive and be at peace as human beings.

Our children, more than ever before, need these quiet oases of space and peace. Sometimes, especially if introverts, children will take themselves off to their bedroom or a den (in the garden perhaps) and read or use their latest gadgets or use their computer or phone to have a resting place or even in large families to use the bathroom as a quiet spot!. However, even more so than earlier generations of children, they need to have that inner resting place by being in tune with God.  Setting time aside for God is vital for us adults but also for our children to develop the habit of getting to know God for themselves. The Bible, being the word of God, is very important for a child to read. Hence, the Bible based reading books that our project supplies. Because the visual is so important, the illustrations can speak to children, too and help them to grasp the truths that God wants to show them.

Here in the UK, the Sunday trading laws are still limited to 6 hours a day. Having a day of being in a different slower routine works wonders for the soul. God instituted a day of rest each week for our benefit not for us to get hung up about it. He loves us enough to suggest the best way to go about living our lives.

Jesus spent much time with His Father when here on earth. He had a busy schedule and literally the world to save yet he savoured the resting place to recharge and to gain the wisdom and direction He needed. He spent hours at a time, even whole nights in prayer with His Father. So with us, we need to model our lives on Him and seek this place of rest tangibly each day and within our hearts from moment to moment. Then, the  high stress levels can come down and we can be at peace with our Maker who knows how individually each of us ticks.

The Contemporary English Bible puts it  this way – it’s Jesus talking: “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on you shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.” Be blessed in His resting place!