Favourite Days 2011

It’s new year’s eve, so to celebrate, I thought I’d write about some favourite days in 2011 that I’m really grateful to God for. I’ve picked my top 4:
1. Saturday 30 July: I live near some hills. I’ve walked the length of them in the past (about 9 miles), but I don’t often get up there now. This particular day a friend ask me to go, we picnicked in the car, and then we found a bench outside. The sun was shining (I love being on the hills in the sunshine), and we talked about his family – uncles and aunties and grandparents … We headed back just after 3 o’clock. Such a special day.

2. Thursday 13 October: My friend Alex had come to stay so we could record a feature for her radio-show, including some songs I’ve written and some of my favourites by other artists. Thursday was the day we recorded the interview, and I’ve kept a clip of when she asked a question, I didn’t know how to answer and we both burst into laughter. (If it was on YouTube I’d try to share it here, but it’s not!) I’ve known Alex 20 years and she’s like family, so my mum came in the afternoon and we shopped together, then went round to my parents’ house for one of Dad’s casseroles.

3. Saturday 14 May: I was with my friends and their 2 girls in Scotland. We went with the 4-year-old to her little friend’s birthday party in the morning. After lunch the girls’ dad took them home, leaving me and Kate to go shopping (more shopping!), and in the evening we went to church in Glasgow. My friends attend a Pentecostal church and on Saturday nights, all its branches throughout Scotland can meet together at the Glasgow church. Lots of people turn out, and it was the best meeting I’d been in for ages because we heard from God. At the end there was a prophecy, where God encouraged us to keep our eyes toward Him.

4. Saturday 18 June: I posted about that day earlier in this blog – the Compassion UK conference in Manchester – just an amazing morning hearing about some of the miracles in Haiti.

So, I guess I’m happiest when I’m with God, with friends/family, or shopping! When are you happiest? Do you have any favourite days in 2011 you want to chat about?

Thanks for reading this year, and I hope for lots of special moments for all of us in 2012.

Advertisements

Fire and Rainbows

I was reading this morning about when heaven and earth won’t exist anymore, and there’ll be a new heaven and a new earth, and followers of Jesus will live with God in the holy city (called the new Jerusalem). You’ll find it in Revelation 21, and it was this description of the new Jerusalem that caught my attention:
“The city was laid out like a square … The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst” – Revelation 21:16, 19-20.

As a blind person, I have to admit I don’t know too much about colours, but I’m told jasper is usually red, carnelian can come in red-orange or light orange, and I know amethyst is purple! I’d never noticed this before, but could the holy city look like a double rainbow – the jasper going on to the emerald, back again to the red-orange carnelian, on to the topaz, and the purple amethyst next to the red jasper that starts the whole thing again?

One more thought: Jasper is a fiery colour. The holy city is sometimes called by the same name as its inhabitants – the bride (the bride of Christ), and when John (the writer of Revelation) saw the holy city, it looked like a jasper. “One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” – Revelation 21:9-11. That’s how God feels when He sees us: We’re like a very precious jewel – like a jasper, with the fire of God’s Spirit in us. At the moment the jewel is still being worked on, and sometimes we may not feel very shiny, but our glory is always increasing (2 Corinthians 3:18), until one day we’ll shine completely with the glory of God.

So to all my family in Jesus keep shining, and remember that day when you’ll shine even brighter.

Pass it On

“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them” – Luke 2:17-18.

It’s felt very festive in my house this week! Carol-singing on Sunday, Christmas dinner with friends yesterday, and today present-wrapping, a last trip to the post-office (it’s the last posting-date here in the UK), and my friend’s Christmas radio-show, full of Bible-readings, songs and carols. As I listened, I thought of the shepherds. They passed it on – this news about the baby they went to see.

I’ve been reading a book lately. The author – a Christian – describes how he coped at a difficult time in his life. He quoted a verse in the Bible which explains that, for people who love God and are living in His purpose, good will come out of everything that happens in their lives (Romans 8:28). The author wrote: “That was my one solid rock. Without it I would have drowned”. I stopped the tape, and the truth hit me: There are people who don’t know that. There are people whose lives have been turned upside-down, who can’t see the bigger picture – can’t see that any good could come out of what they’re going through, and I don’t want them to drown.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you have the Answer to life living in your heart – the One you can bring all your problems to. Will you be like the shepherds, and spread the Word this Christmas?

A Good Purpose

A friend wrote this morning: What if just for one day, you were grateful for everything?

I loved that! I commented that I am grateful for lots of things, but struggle to be grateful for not having a job. Well, just now, I came across these verses:
“Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you” – Ephesians 6:21-22. To update people and encourage them was his purpose. That was the work Tychicus had to do for the people of God. No salary, except the peace of knowing he was doing what the Lord wanted.

I still struggle with knowing I don’t earn the money I get, but even in that, I can give thanks because I know God loves me and I have some use in His kingdom, despite being unemployed. It’s enough to make you smile.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

Before I was a Christian, I hadn’t heard much about the Holy Spirit. At the church I went to as a child, we stood there and said He “proceeds from the Father and the Son”, and “With the Father and the Son He is worshipped and glorified”. It gave me the impression He was a bit of an aside, not Someone crucial to the Christian faith.

After becoming a Christian, when I wanted to attend a church, we had a leaflet put through our door by the Christadelphians. They were organising a Bible exhibition. We’d never heard of them, but we assumed they were some form of Christians, so my mum and I went along. We stood in front of the glass cabinets, she read me some of the information about what was on display, and we stayed for the talk afterwards. I was impressed with their passion. For example, the man speaking said he once gave someone a Bible and told them: “If you can find a contradiction, I’ll burn it”, and we gave him a round of applause.

I came home, phoned a friend and excitedly told her where I’d been. I said: “They don’t believe in the devil, and they don’t believe in the Holy Spirit”.

Alarm-bells must have started to ring in her head. “Ah. That’s where they go wrong, see.”

“But why?”

“Well, they just … do.” It was fairly late; she probably didn’t want to get into an argument, but I think I was ready to learn about the Holy Spirit. If you are too, hopefully this post will be helpful.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, so He could only be passed on to us when Jesus had finished His life on earth, and gone back to heaven to be with the Father. “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). “I will not leave you as orphans” (John 14:18). The Holy Spirit is our Comforter – the whole reason why the disciples didn’t sink into complete despair after Jesus left them; they had His promise He would send His Spirit.

He’s also our Helper. I wrote yesterday about keeping our relationship with Jesus fresh (remembering His part in our lives, instead of letting that become a thing of the past). The Holy Spirit helps us to do that. He reminds us of everything Jesus has said to us (John 14:26).

And one more: He’s our Empowerer. He gives us power to live our Christian lives. Jesus told His disciples to wait until they were clothed with power from on high before they spread His message to Jerusalem, the places surrounding it, and then to the ends of the earth (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). The more influence the Holy Spirit has in our lives, the more effective we’ll become as Christians. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). If you want to know whether you’re maturing as a Christian, look to see whether there’s evidence of this fruit growing in your life. If you’re someone who used to get irritated with people, do you see yourself becoming more loving, more patient? If you’re someone who would get frustrated and fly off the handle, are you finding that happens less frequently? Hope I can say yes to that one!

God’s Holy Spirit has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). There are plenty of gifts of the Holy Spirit – wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy etc (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). I would really encourage you to find out about these, and if you’ve got a question, please ask in the comments. I just wanted to give you a taste of the Holy Spirit – how important He is, and what He can do for us.

Any thoughts?

Transformed

Someone at church this morning encouraged us to think of Jesus not only as our Comforter, but our Challenger. Back home afterwards, I got to thinking of the woman caught in adultery – John 8:1-11.

People often read this passage and focus on the love of God, saying: “Jesus doesn’t condemn”.

They’re right; He doesn’t condemn, but He does ask something of us. “Go, and sin no more”, or “Leave your life of sin”.

For the woman caught in adultery, that must have meant a big change of lifestyle. Presumably, she wouldn’t have committed the sin if there was no attraction there. As followers of Jesus, we don’t stop being tempted, and we’re not suddenly zapped out of the community where we live to start afresh somewhere different. She would’ve had the same people around her, including the man she had feelings for, who’d never met Jesus and may not have wanted things to change.

When she was with Jesus, there was no escaping the fact she could have been stoned to death, and owed Him her very life. But as the days, weeks and months went by, as she looked through the window and saw the man she loved walking down the road … I don’t know about you, but I sometimes wonder what happened to that woman. Did she make it to the end of the race? Is she in heaven now, sharing in Jesus’ glory? Did she allow Him to transform her life, or did she desert Him and go back to the life she’d left behind?

“Leave your life of sin” can be a tremendous challenge, but Jesus is a tremendous Saviour! Just like that woman, we need to remember His part in our lives. Let’s never forget what He did for us that day on the cross. God is a just God; He can’t tolerate sin. We should have been cut off from God for the things we’d done wrong, but God loved us so much, He sent Jesus to take that punishment, so we could be in a loving relationship with Him. Let’s give Him our gratitude, and our love; and with His help, let’s live to please Him.