Aimlessness

Last month, I had a job-interview where I was asked: “What motivates you to get out of bed each day?”

I wouldn’t always have been able to answer a question like that, but I said: “Knowing God has a good plan for my life, and that I can do something useful for Him.” How do I know that? Because it says so in the Bible. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). That’s a good plan. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). That’s one of the reasons we’re here on earth.

Everything we can know about God, we’ll find in His Word. Nothing Godly will ever contradict it, so when we’re told to test everything, that’s what we test it against – for our benefit. I’ll give you an example. “All you who are thirsty, come and drink. … Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). In other words, God’s offer to nourish us is unconditional, so if someone asks you for money in order to receive something from God, alarm bells should start ringing. Jesus was so passionate about everyone having access to God’s kingdom. Listen to what He said against the religious teachers: “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). Jesus doesn’t want any barrier to stand in the way of us getting to know God. He wouldn’t want people taking advantage of us.

If I keep on about the Bible, it’s because I’ve found it so helpful in the decisions I’ve made. When my attitudes have been wrong, God’s Word has put me right. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). Who became flesh and came to live among us? Jesus. God’s Word is Jesus. When we read the Bible, it points us to Him.

Before I was a Christian, I didn’t have the privilege of being God’s and not my own; I didn’t know what I know now – that my life is His, not mine. As we’ve seen earlier in this series, I may sometimes be homesick for heaven, but I do have someone to live for – a God who takes great delight in you and me.

If you’ve taken anything away from these 31 Days of Positive Spin, I hope it’s that God cares about you and all the difficult things you’ll ever have to go through in your life. I’ll finish with the chorus of a song I wrote:
Jesus, what You did for me –
The pain You had to bear –
It shows me that whatever I go through,
You’ve already been there,
And so I ask the question:
Why should I complain
?

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31 Jesus-Benefits: Green Pastures

Day 7 of Write31Days and I’ve recently been reminded how much I appreciate:

His care.

I’d had quite a bump to the head, so the regular headaches I was suffering concerned me. As I lay in bed feeling anxious, I felt God say: “I am your King and your God”, so I got to thinking about kings. What did they have? First I thought of a crown – precious jewels, and my song of that name which says:
“And so I tell you, do not be afraid,
But know that He is with you all the way;
And if you will hear His voice, respond to His call,
You’ll feel His love for you so great.”

Then I thought of the authority that kings have. If something needs doing, they’ve got the power to get it done. I was comforted to realise God had that kind of authority over my life and would make sure I got the care I needed.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).

31 Jesus-Benefits: Companionship

“I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

Day 6 of Write31Days and as a single person who lives by myself, I’m particularly grateful for:

His presence – for having Jesus to do life with.

There are times when I’m down or perhaps having a bad night’s sleep, and I just want to snuggle with someone. Although Jesus doesn’t give me a physical hug, He’s there to comfort me. He’s there as I wash the dishes, watch a YouTube video, read a book or talk to a friend on the phone.

And when life’s difficulties loom large, it’s good to know I can access God’s throne-room through prayer and He’ll sustain me. Jesus has these words for the one who puts their faith in Him and enters the kingdom of God:

“The person who enters through Me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

One of Your Family

I was reading Mark 9:33-37 this morning and just love the picture it paints.  It says that after Jesus and His disciples settled in a house, He confronted the argument they were having earlier about who was the greatest.  Then Jesus put a little child among them, embraced the child, and told how welcoming a child also welcomed Him.

 

Now, when I thought before about Jesus calling a child and having this conversation, I imagined it outside somewhere, and the child being called out from a huge crowd … but Mark says they were in a house.  The child was probably one of the family they were staying with, whom Jesus brought in from the next room.  Sounds so ordinary and so homely to me.

 

Have you ever imagined Jesus as one of your family, taking your child in His arms and using them to get His message across?  That’s what Jesus wants to be:  Part of our everyday life, and He can use children to teach us things about Him that we might otherwise miss in all the busyness.

 

A friend once told me about when she took her little boy to the bakery.  As she chose her shopping, the boy said:  “Mummy?”  He waited and tried again.  “Mummy, God’s trying to talk to you.”

 

“Oh?  What’s He trying to say?”

 

“That He loves you.”

 

It brought a smile and a “Bless!” from the woman behind the counter, and I think a reminder to all of us to stay on the lookout for God’s love and care … even when we’re choosing cakes at the bakery.

“Atlas Girl” Book-Review: Travel and Family

This fast-moving book is much more than the travelogue I was expecting.  Yvonne hardly gets a mention in the synopsis, but the mother-daughter relationship is an important facet of Emily’s story.  If you struggle with flashbacks, the constant time-shifting (1998, 1981, 2002) could be a problem, but each chapter-title includes the month and year.

 

Perhaps along-with others who haven’t travelled extensively, I looked forward to getting a flavour of so many different countries, but I also loved the personal aspect – how Emily wrote so honestly about her marriage, how God showed His care for her again and again.  I was sent a free copy of “Atlas Girl” by Revell for reviewing purposes, but it’s a book I might well have bought, and I wouldn’t have been disappointed.

Build and Prepare

“Wisdom has built her house …  ‘Come and eat my food and drink the wine I have prepared’” (Proverbs 9:1, 5).

 

Proverbs 9 compares wisdom to foolishness.  The main difference I saw was the planning and preparation on Wisdom’s part.  There’s no mention of the fool building her house; only sitting at the door, and no mention of wine either.  I’m not an expert in winemaking, but I do know the grapes should be left to ferment and it’s a lengthy process.  The fool would have none of that, but chose to steal somebody else’s water instead.

 

Likening foolishness to a loud woman is less about the volume of her voice and more about her spiritual condition.  If what’s precious to God is a gentle and quiet spirit, surely a loud and impulsive spirit is just the opposite.  Wise people are careful planners, counting the cost, working diligently with the end in mind.  Impulsive people grab what’s in their reach and only think later about the consequences.

 

It’s good to have ideas and dreams, but if those dreams are going to come to any good, they need to be built on a solid foundation.  That foundation is prayer – giving it all to God and persevering, knowing that as we follow Him, He’ll make us successful (Proverbs 3:6).

For Better for Worse, for Richer for Poorer

I was reading Psalm 22 just now, and these verses stood out to me:

“For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.  He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help” (verse 24).

 

“The poor will eat and be satisfied.  All who seek the Lord will praise him.  Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy” (verse 26).

 

“Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.  Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust” (verse 29).

God cares for us – in good times and bad, and His kingdom is open to us all – rich and poor.