Saturday, 23 August 2014

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables


Where does my source of joy come from?

That's an easy answer: the Lord! Duh, right?

Maybe it's an easy answer but why do I still feel like I lack joy?

Just ask ... 

Holy Spirit I ask for joy, please.

Joy is yours for the having, it is a fruit of the Spirit, joy as with all the fruits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control - all are available to us through the Holy Spirit.

As we abide in Christ He abides in us, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be produced in us...

So I gots to be abiding in Christ, by praying, listening, reading the Word, praising, serving, and spending time with other believers...

It's simple. but not easy, this is where spiritual disciplines come in... 

but if you are like me you just want to cruse along, not having to put any effort or work into following Jesus, but I have found that - if I want to grow, if I want to thrive, if I want to live the abundant life, if I want to have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control - in my life I need to make a discipline of praying, listening, reading the Word, praising, serving, and spending time with other believers... 

this means getting up a earlier then I might want to, this means turning off the T.V., this means going to church to meet with my brothers and sisters even when I don't feel like it... 

I know none of us want to hear this, right? Come on Maria, we are saved by grace, we don't have to do anything we don't want to do...

Yes you are right, we are saved by grace, and it is by grace that we participate in the spiritual disciplines that through the power of the Holy Spirit transform us from holy to holy! It's common sense, we all know it to be true, if you are training for a marathon you need to be physically discipline, if you are in a relationship you need to put work into it by spending time with the person... right?

I'm not saying anything new, any of us who have been around "the Christian block" a couple times have heard this all before, but we sometimes need (OK I need) a reminder... no?

I'm preaching to myself, my prayer is that some of you out there struggle with some of the same things I do and that Jesus will use these words to bless you.

Some fruit for your meditation:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

John 15: 1-11

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

As Soon As

Reading about king Hezekiah this morning I was struck by this man`s first response in great distress... it was to turn to the LORD his God...

The king of Assyria was threatening king Hezekiah, and the thing is they were not empty threats, we read in Isaiah 36:1 "Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them"... 

the King of Assyria mocks king Hezekiah asking him "On what do you rest this trust of yours?" (Isaiah 36:5) king Sennacherib continues "Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” (Isaiah 36: 18-20).

So you see king Hezekiah was facing a great and terrible threat...

"As soon as king Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord." (Isaiah 37:1)


king Hezekiah FIRST response is to turn to the LORD.

Is this your first response when you're in great distress? what about when you're just having a bad day? I know my first response more often then not is to first turn to friends for advice, inward to try and figure it out myself, to food, drink and entertainment to just ignore it... then when all that fails I'll turn to the LORD in prayer and praise... I think I have A LOT to learn from king Hezekiah...


So king Hezekiah receives a distressing letter and what does he do?

"Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the LordAnd Hezekiah prayed to the Lord“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.” (Isaiah 37: 14-20)

That's right he prays... he as Psalm 62:8 says "Trust in him [the LORD] at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah"

This is such an powerful image  of trust in prayer...

take whatever is distressing you, whatever is hurting you, whatever is frustrating you, whatever and everything that is going on in your life and "spread it before the LORD"... because He is the "Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth..." AMEN!


God answered his prayer...

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria..." (Isaiah 37:21)

Not only does God answer king Hezekiah's prayer, it says "because you have prayed to me..." I don't know what would have happened if Hezekiah had not prayed, I don't know why sometimes God seems to be silent when we pray, or that he seems to say no... I don't really know how prayer works, but I do know from this example that something happened when king Hezekiah trusted in the LORD his God and prayed...

and it happens AGAIN!

King Hezekiah gets sick, and the LORD tells him he is going to die, so what does Hezekiah do?
"Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lordand said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly." (Isaiah 38:2-3)

He prays... and once again the LORD hears his prays and answers him...

"Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city." (Isaiah 38: 5-6)

This is CRAZY! king Hezekiah prays, the LORD his God hears his prays, he sees his tears and he adds fifteen years to his life!!! Now again I don't know how this all works, but I do know that the LORD YOUR GOD also hears YOUR PRAYERS and He SEES YOUR TEARS... he may not add fifteen years to your life, or answer your prayers the way you want Him to, but I believe that he HEARS AND SEES YOU...

So why do we pray? Why do we pray even when it seems that God doesn't hear us? Doesn't see us? When He doesn't save us from our distress or add fifteen years to our lives?

We pray because "Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth..."

and as another king who faced great trials prayed...

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will all of you attack a man
    to batter him,
    like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
    They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
    but inwardly they curse. Selah
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
    for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
    my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. Selah
Those of low estate are but a breath;
    those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
    they are together lighter than a breath.
Put no trust in extortion;
    set no vain hopes on robbery;
    if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Once God has spoken;
    twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
    and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
    according to his work. (Psalm 62)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Broken-Hoped Girl

Who or what are you hoping in?

I recently had another aaaa "disappointment"... OK, I liked a boy and he didn't like me. I am 28 years old and I have been liking boys since I was 8, that is 20 YEARS!!! And this has been the pattern: I like a boy, we are friends, he doesn't like me as more than a friend, and I cry.

I recently was reflecting on the cliche "what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger" and I thought to myself I don't know if that is true, after 20 years of having my heart kicked, I think what is really happening is "what doesn't kill me only makes me weaker for the next blow!"

This is all very tragic and I don't mean to get you down nor have you feel sorry for me. But this is reality of the situation...

Or is it?

This morning as I was sitting in the glorious sunshine journaling to the LORD that I was tired and sad and didn't want to do "this" anymore, I didn't want to meet new people, I didn't want to get my hopes up only to have this dashed to pieces once again,  I'm done. Yet somehow the next words that came out were that I'm not ready to give up hope, followed by the whispered prayer:

Jesus I need new, properly placed hope, in you, and you alone...

There you have it, Maria is done, she has no hope left, but by the power of the Holy Spirit He is hoping for her, and most importantly He is not just giving me hope for the things that I want, he is reminding me that I place my hope in someone far greater, I am placing my hope in something better then anything I can imagine, my hope is placed in Jesus, in the coming of His Kingdom, the Kingdom that is here but not yet. This is hope that is not just for the far future, it is a hope for here and now, I get to participate in His love, in His Kingdom RIGHT NOW!

Now as far as a man goes, I may never meet "the one," I'm not going to lie to myself or you, that would be difficult, and there would be pain in that, and I don't think it goes away just because I have a "Kingdom perspective" because I think that is part of living in the in-between times in a broken world where the Kingdom has come but is not yet completely here. BUT THERE IS HOPE!

And so I ask you in who or what are you miss placing your hope? Is it in a man? a family? a job? being fit and healthy? Whatever it is often the things we place our hope in are not bad, in fact they often are good, but we run into problems when we place hope in these things over and above Jesus, thinking that they will somehow satisfy us, and they may for a time, but everyone and everything will always disappoint us at some point, but Jesus...

Now again this doesn't mean that having your hope properly placed in Jesus means you will not experience pain and disappointment, because you will, but what it will give you is hope in the disappointment, it will give you the ability to see beyond your circumstances to the bigger picture...

So I still I'm tired and sad, my heart is still weakened by yet another blow, but I am by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me turning my eyes from myself to Jesus and He is giving me hope! for when I am weak He is strong!