May Memories: “I Will Bless the Lord forever (Made me Glad)”

I’ll be honest. This song is one I struggle to sing in full:
I will bless the Lord forever,
I will trust Him at all times;
He has delivered me from all fear,
He has set my feet upon a rock
.

Anyone who read about the concerns I had before I went to South Africa will know that I’m fearful at times, so I don’t have a problem singing He can, instead of He has. Sometimes I fear; sometimes I fall short of living the way God wants me to. That’s not an excuse so I can continue to do wrong; it’s just a fact.

Romans 3:23-27 talks about how we all fall short of God’s glorious standard, but that’s where Jesus comes in. We can own up when we fall short, ask for His forgiveness, and allow God to make us more like Him. Then we can boast about our ever-present help in time of need.

Advertisements

May Memories: “All who are Thirsty”

Here’s a song that seems to follow on nicely from yesterday’s, because this talks about mercy too:
Let the pain and the sorrow be washed away
In the waves of His mercy, as deep cries out to deep
.

If you wonder about that, deep calling out to deep, it’s in Psalm 42:7: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls”. I read recently that it has been phrased like this: “My deep need calls out to the deep kindness of Your love”.

The message of this song is that if you’re weak, if you’re feeling dry and in need of some refreshing water, you can come to the waves of God’s mercy. His deep kindness will meet your every need.

May Memories: “Above All”

In a previous post, I said a Scotsman changed the words to a song. He did the same with this one. The original words are:
Like a rose trampled on the ground, You took the fall
And thought of me, above all
.

This man thought it was irreverent to say Jesus thought of me, so it became ‘Rose again, above all’. At the time we just sang it without question, but having listened to it since, I can’t bring myself to change the lyric. John 3:16 says God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so the fact that Jesus took the fall with me in mind? Surely that’s the whole point of the song. If I was altering the words at all, I might say ‘Thought of us’, but I think I like it as it stands.

Still Alive

Lent is over now and it’s Easter, or ‘Resurrection Sunday’ as some of my friends call it. I wish I could get used to doing that, because I like it better than Easter.

Anyway, I read the last day of my Lent devotional today: “Faces Around the Cross”. It focused on the two people walking with Jesus along the road towards Emmaus, when they didn’t yet recognise Him. For anyone who doesn’t know the story, it’s in Luke 24:13-34. They’re walking along the road when someone joins them. They think the man’s a stranger, so He asks what they’re discussing and they open up to Him. “We had hoped He was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel.” They were sad and disillusioned.

The author of my devotional said this is what it would have looked like without Easter – “A tragedy; a story without a moral; a drama that ends before the final act”, and then it hit me: We can feel exactly that. Christians aren’t immune to life’s challenges. We go through problems like anybody else, and when we see others in the midst of great suffering, it can feel like Jesus isn’t alive anymore.

Where are you with Jesus today? Are you disillusioned with how your life’s turning out? Let these words encourage you: He’s still alive. Instead of “We had hoped”, we can keep hoping. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not over, and it’s not too late for God to step in. Maybe you’re not having the greatest day today, but it’s my prayer that there’ll be better days to come.

He’s still alive. Please don’t lose hope.

He Makes us Able

“It is God who makes us able to do all that we do” (2 Corinthians 3:5). When I read that verse, it makes me feel optimistic about life – that it’s full of possibilities, if the God who created everything is the One enabling us. In the book of Job, conversations take place in heaven. They’re conversations that Job himself isn’t privy to, but they concern him. First, the devil makes the accusation that Job’s only interested in serving God because his life’s going well (Job 1:9-10). Later, when Job’s experienced tremendous loss, Satan says he hasn’t cursed God because nothing’s happened to him personally (Job 2:4-5). God disproves his point by allowing Satan to hurt Job, but He had to allow it. Satan can’t hurt anyone without God’s permission, and that includes us.

Want to know how this truth helped me step out and do something amazing? Read the rest at Worship Unlimited Ministries, home of the Worship Unlimited radio-show.

Learning from Naomi

Naomi’s family lived in Moab for roughly a decade. During a famine, they left Israel in favour of a place where there was food. Her husband died, but she watched her sons settle down and marry. Then they also died, leaving Naomi with just her daughters-in-law.

When Naomi decided to return to Israel, she was distraught about her life-choices. First, her family had put filling their stomachs above living in the land God promised to them. Secondly, her sons had married women from Moab instead of Israelites, which was contrary to what God wanted (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). Naomi obviously felt guilty about this because she told her daughters-in-law: “My life is much too sad for you to share, because the LORD has been against me” (Ruth 1:13). Not only had she lost her family, she’d lost her security in God.

Do you want to know what impresses me about Naomi? You can read more at Worship Unlimited Ministries, home of the Worship Unlimited radio-show, and why not sign Alex’s guestbook while you’re there? I’m sure she’d be pleased to see you.

The Engagement Ring

In a letter to the early church, Paul says God “set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:22). I loved hearing at church about the ancient Greek word for ‘Deposit’. Apparently it doesn’t mean anything in modern Greek, except they do have one word like it – their word for ‘Engagement ring’.

As I said in my previous post, betrothal (what we think of as engagement nowadays) was a binding agreement. It wasn’t like a couple hoping to get married one day, but more like two people who’d already committed themselves. In that context, can you think of the Holy Spirit as an engagement ring? Once we’re in that covenant/agreement with Jesus, we’re His bride. The engagement ring guarantees our place at the wedding banquet in heaven, where we’ll be to our Bridegroom “one bringing contentment” (Song of Solomon 8:10). What a great guarantee to have in our lives. Isn’t that something to thank God for?

Thanks for Sharing

I’d like to write about the night I became a Christian. Let me start with these verses from the Bible: “Surely you know that the people who do wrong will not inherit God’s kingdom. Do not be fooled. Those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, those who are male prostitutes, or men who have sexual relations with other men, those who steal, are greedy, get drunk, lie about others, or rob – these people will not inherit God’s kingdom. In the past, some of you were like that, but you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). I love the thought that whatever you’ve done wrong, when you come to Jesus, He can clean you up and make you new – make you fit to follow Him.

That’s what the preacher talked about on 2 October, 1999. He listed various wrongs and one of them was envy. He told us: “Envy rots the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). I wonder what would’ve happened if the preacher had thought: “There are sure to be people here tonight who struggle with envy. Maybe I shouldn’t share that verse. I don’t want to upset anyone.”

As it was, he did share it, and it was a shock because I knew I was envious. My sister was having driving lessons and as a blind person, I was extremely envious of her. I remember thinking if what he said was true, my bones must be well and truly rotting away. For the first time, I knew that hell was real and if nothing changed, I was on my way there. But that uncomfortable feeling? That’s what made me reach out to God in prayer.

At the end of the preach, as everyone else sang a final song, I sat in my seat and told God I didn’t want to come to Him just out of fear of going to hell. That seemed to me a weak thing to do. I had never known God in a personal way or heard His voice in my heart before, but when I said I didn’t want to come to Him out of fear, I felt Him reply: “Come because I love you.” It was totally unexpected and completely life-changing, as that’s when I started following God.

Jesus prayed to God: “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). The Word of God is true and absolutely authoritative. I want to thank not just preachers, but anyone who shares God’s Word in any way: In songs, school assemblies, hospital or prison ministry … Please, never stop sharing the truth. God loves the people He’s created. His love is available to everyone, and the world needs to hear that.

Having my Say – “Home and Away”

You might have heard the Aussie soap “Home and Away” is supposed to have made history recently by introducing its first gay character. I was a big fan of H&A in the early days and have been watching it again in the last year or so. This homosexual teenager is only a guest on the show for a few weeks, thankfully, because I haven’t liked their approach. All his fellow-characters (even the older ones, who’ve made a stand in the past on moral issues) have made it very clear that homosexuality is part of who he is, and he has no choice in the matter. I think it’s very sad. They seem so afraid to offend homosexuals that they’re not prepared to let anyone have a different opinion.

As someone who believes the Bible, I know that in Genesis chapter 2, it talks about a man being united with his wife and the two becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24). That’s how we were created to be: A man and his wife, not a man and his husband. The Bible goes into greater detail in the less quoted and less talked-about book of Romans. It tells us God’s revealed Himself to mankind through His creation; He’s plain to see, so people have no excuse for their wrongdoing (Romans 1:20). But because they ignored the greatness of God, because they didn’t honour Him or thank Him, He let them go their own way. They became immoral; women stopped having sex with men and had it with other women, and vice versa (Romans 1:21-27). When people dismiss the importance of knowing God, He takes a step away and gives them over to that lifestyle. It is a choice, and there is an alternative. People can honour God with their lives; show Him gratitude by living the way He wants them to live.

Personally, I think it would have made “Home and Away” much more interesting if Marilyn had struggled to accept Ty’s homosexuality. The fostering agency could have pressured her and John to accept it, but she could have genuinely felt (as she did with Irene’s surrogacy twenty years ago) that it was wrong to mess with nature. Wouldn’t that have made the storyline more balanced and given people something to think about?