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Miracles in the West

In an age of skeptics and unbelief, we can so easily put down as irrelevant the supernatural happenings that occur often unexpectedly. Jesus Christ was One who made miracles more common place – yet even reading about these in the Bible can even make us think that these were just for that day and age in which Jesus graced our world.

I have recently viewed a DVD of the miracles that are happening in Africa today. The dead are being raised to life in Jesus’ Name and deaf ears and blind eyes are able to hear and see – just like in Jesus’s day. Cancers also are disappearing. Maybe here in the West, we don’t get so desperate for God to intervene. Many in some parts of Africa have very little materially and yet spiritually they can be rich in faith and receive much from God’s generous hand. We don’t need to limit God and his capacity to do miracles today – of all kinds.

Children need to know that God can do anything and the impossible! As faith is required and “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (See Romans 10:17) we have developed our reading project on the Bible so that as children master reading skills they can also grow their spiritual antennae and capacity. When a crisis occurs, we, as adults can panic or work out how to overcome a situation by logic or simply bring our need to the Father of all, shown to us in Jesus. The name of Jesus is all powerful and by using His name miracles can literally happen today. Children with their simple faith can actually bring about miracles as simply believing is all that is required. Children here in the west are literally being denied their inheritance so the Diamond Books project redresses this lack and gives children not only a spiritual foundation but also foundations in learning to read.

Habits

Habits can be hidden or obvious. The vices of habits are well known and we say that these habits need to be broken. However, as humans we are incapable of breaking the root causes of such habits. I believe that only the power of the Holy Spirit can deal with these and as we submit ourselves to God in Jesus Christ then freedom can come.

The other day I had a morning when the challenges increased even after praying for no interruptions or delays to the limited time I have to work on the project God has given me to do. The electricity was cut off – how we rely on our computers and extras that so many people in other countries don’t have at all. How we rely on the usual way of doing things – a habitual way of living. So, what did I do? I prayed a little bit and panicked a bit and then set to doing some practical stuff that I hadn’t intended to do including phoning for an emergency electrician.

Then a kind friend pointed me in the right direction when I realised that the big black fuse switch was actually off when all the others were on. I hadn’t even noticed this black switch! So now, I am on catch up and endeavouring to write this blog in a matter of minutes. We are such creatures of habit that when things go differently from usual, it throws us … well it throws me!

It’s easy for us to say and quote that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) when things are going right but when the difficulties come, we can be ignorant of putting our trust in God at these times. So I am learning to do this even though it is so alien to do this. It is the truth however, just as praising God in all circumstances is alien to our minds and wills.

How we need to be flexible and taking things in our stride whatever a day may bring. Children are creatures of habit even more than adults. However, they do seem more adaptable.

As we develop good habits and allow God to break off the bad ones, then peace and contentment and order can take place in our lives. God ordered the creation of our world and then he had a rest – how we need to develop this habit in our busy lives so that we refresh and recharge to be ready and more useful in the Master’s service. Book 1 ‘God’s World’ of ‘The Creation Series’ (for reading to 3-4 year olds) illustrates this beautifully as our artist Sharon Renta has shown. May our children get into the habit of 6 days of work and one day of rest even within our families.

A Successful Life

With the death of Barbara Ford recently and all that she did and advocated, we can see an outwardly successful life. She influenced many people and had a very full life with her family and ideas. She was an admirable lady and will be greatly missed.

We can all be successful as God has given each of us abilities, talents and gifts that can be used for the good of mankind. If we connect to our Maker on a daily basis then we can be guided to use these for the greatest good. Our inner life and our connection to Jesus is vital so that the Holy Spirit can work powerfully through our lives – if we let Him.

Jesus advocated that doing the will of God was more important than anything else. Our flesh, sin and choices can stop us from doing this in our individual lives but I believe that there is no greater fulfilling place to be, other than being in the centre of God’s purpose for our human journeys. We can be satisfied, sufficient, at peace and joyful in knowing we are doing what we were created to do while on this planet and thus contributing to the whole of humanity really – like a cog in a wheel, we affect so many lives just by being here on the Earth.

Because we are all unique but equally of value and all loved the same by Jesus, we don’t have to compete with one another but rest back in knowing who we are and finding God’s purpose for our lives. As we seek to know what this is, God is faithful to show us the way as He is the Way.

We can all be a part of God’s family, the church, which in the Bible is likened to a body that has many parts which function differently. When one part hurts, the whole body feels it. Love is central to this body as Jesus is likened to being the Head of this body and all that flows from Jesus is love in its varying forms.

So, we can teach our children to not only give their lives to Jesus for Him to use as He will but they can also actively seek His will and purpose for their lives which will always be good. Then they can be successful even if their earthly work may not be appreciated or even noticed (like some parts of the body are hidden from view). There is One in Heaven who sees all and when the crowns are given out to wear to bow before King Jesus in person one day, He will say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ and that will be worth hearing and be real success.

Changes and the one who doesn’t change

“Through all the changing scenes of life…” comes to mind, but when I looked it up in my hymnbook it wasn’t there. If anyone out there who is reading this can supply the rest of the hymn, that would be a blessing! I know this hymn has some really good words but can I remember them?

I’m not very good when changes occur especially the ones that happen really quickly and take one unawares. I’ve been thinking about how children manage the huge changes around them not only in their physical development which is colossal but also in their day-to-day encounters. Starting school is a biggy for many children and then moving up a class each year presents yet more changes and sometimes anxieties. Because children have an open slate, as it were, and don’t have a history of what may happen in their lives, I think they are quite resilient. Many of them don’t show their fears or worries. Sometimes these come out in later in life and sometimes unpleasant experiences need counsel and prayer.

The only One who doesn’t change is Jesus – representing God on earth when he came to visit our planet and yet being alive today to help us just as much and more than he helped people on the earth when he came over two thousand years ago. In the book of Hebrews Chapter 13, it reads “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Wow – what a statement! As children grasp this, they can be secure in knowing One who can help them through the changes that occur to them. Hence our focus in Diamond Books on the unchanging character of God.

Born to Die

Jesus Christ was born on time and his mission to die for the whole world was spot on time, too. God is never too early or too late with what he does.

It’s obvious that after we are born we have to die sometime (unless Jesus comes back first and takes us to be with him forever – and we are still waiting for his second coming) but God has some amazing plans that enable us to die while we live if we will yield to him.  God wants to so fill our lives that the self life dies (we are told to reckon ourselves as dead – see the whole  book of Romans in the Bible) and then we can be fully alive in him. Then strangely enough we get to live life to the full as a result.

There are hardships, difficulties and circumstances that we wouldn’t have chosen but God uses these all for our good (Romans 8:28).  Diamonds are bedded in the depths of the earth and until they are discovered, honed and polished one can’t see their true value.  Similarly, we are like diamonds being polished by our maker and as we surrender ourselves to him then the true value of what he has made  comes out and shines and becomes evident to all.

That is why diamonds are so graphic in giving us an example of deadness (looking of no value) and real life (when polished – showing what they were meant to be and appreciated). So with Diamond Books – we are endeavouring to show children the life of God that is available to them so that they can grow and become fully developed and mature as they take in God’s life changing word.

Then we can say ‘beautiful, beautiful’ – God makes all things new and all we have to do is play our part in his tapestry of the world we live in.

So this Christmas let’s thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love to us as individuals and to mankind as a whole.  Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters round the world who struggle, are persecuted in a big way and have few of the benefits that we in the west experience. We can pray and give to them and make a huge difference.

A Wake Up Call

Death has a habit of bringing good to light. With Nelson Mandela’s passing and my dear mother-in-law, Isobel, too, this past week, it has been a time of reflection and reordering of our lives.

Mandela brought peace across many peoples and even began a link between nations with the handshake of Obama and Castro at the memorial time.  Lasting peace of any kind, however, can only be found in Jesus when a person humbly comes to him and admits their need of him in repentance for their wrongdoing.  Then peace with God is experienced and then peace between people can take place in a real way.

My mother-in-law was a colourful character, living life to the full until her surprising death after an accident in a home that she often visited with much delight. However, her life’s journey did not end here as, while in hospital,  prompted by a close relative,  she said the sinner’s prayer and became eligible for heaven. So, we are so pleased for her that now she is resting with her Saviour and will be safe with him forever.

Diamond Books seeks to let children know that there is more to life than just here on planet Earth.  In various ways, the books provide starting points for discussion that can lead children to ask all sorts of questions.

As was quoted from our Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday in a tweet ‘Don’t wait until you are older to find out about Jesus.’ Our young generation need to be steered towards their Maker and then as they get to know him he can direct their steps along his best path for them.  Their lives will then be so purposeful and amazing that they will never regret the step they could take in giving their lives to Jesus for him to do with them whatever he likes. A great adventure indeed!

Lordship

When life does not make sense, Jesus is Lord!  When everything seems to go wrong, Jesus is Lord! When our best plans go pear-shaped, Jesus is Lord! When my body hurts, Jesus is Lord! When I’m misunderstood, Jesus is Lord! When everything seems so right, Jesus is Lord!

I’m amazed at how personal God is.  He not only created the universe but he also sent Jesus in the form of a tiny embryo that grew into a foetus and was born a man.  His mission was to die for our world’s sin (and of course my sin). He also has such immense qualities at listening to his human creation now and answering simple prayers.

Diamond Books has been birthed in prayer which is why it is developing now.  It has taken a long, long time to get this far but then Abraham and Moses and Paul and all the Biblical characters had to wait a long time for their paths to unfold.  I am finding that God is not in a hurry. When Jesus walked this earth did he ever race to help his disciples or panic his way through difficulties?  He simply entrusted each day to his Father God and let the day happen.

I am convinced as I go on in the Christian life that busyness is the number one problem amongst God’s people certainly in the UK and perhaps elsewhere too.  If we can stop and begin to listen to him more then we will find our lives enriched, fruitful and certainly a blessing and help to many. Abiding, I think, is the key so that he does his work in us.  Our trying and striving does not produce the same thing!

Let’s let God have his way this Christmas season so that even if half the things we intended to do don’t get done, he can prove his Lordship in our lives. Then he can be glorified in us with no fuss or self aggrandisement while we quietly and simply trust like Mary did.