Self-Consciousness

Have you heard about the woman who’d been bleeding for twelve years, who touched Jesus’ clothes and was instantly healed? Jesus felt power go out from Him and asked who touched Him. Jesus was a Jew, and she would have known that according to Jewish law, her bleeding made her unclean. She probably didn’t want to draw attention to herself, but there was no alternative: She had to own up and face the consequences. I’m not surprised she was shaking. Self-consciousness is rooted in fear, but the humiliation never came. Instead, Jesus reassured her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

I wonder if sometimes my worship of Jesus is stunted because I’m too preoccupied with what others might think. Jesus’ words to the woman set her free, and I’m sure He’d want that same freedom for us too. I can’t promise you’ll never come up against negativity. When Jesus was worshipped extravagantly and perfume poured on Him (Mark 14:3-11; John 12:1-11), people protested that the perfume could have been sold for more than a year’s wages. Judas Iscariot was so incensed, he decided to betray Jesus, but Jesus (who deeply loved Mary) said: “She has done a beautiful thing to Me. … Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

As Hebrews 12:28 says, let us worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

Playing with People’s Lives

Can anyone who voted remain tell me, with any certainty, what the EU’s going to be like in 2059? 43 years from now? They say: “Perhaps is not good enough when you’re playing with people’s lives,” but they don’t seem to see that staying in is just as much of a risk. Look how the EU has altered in the last 43 years, and think double the number of changes in the next 43. When I voted leave, I voted for freedom.

We expected some financial instability to begin with, but leaving the EU is about more than money; it’s about not being weighed down by every law they might want to impose on us. Let’s ride the storm and once we’ve come through it, I think we’ll be relieved we got out.

Communion

No longer the slaughter, the fear, the hurry,

No longer the punishing God in His fury;

No more the spattered blood on the doorposts –

We’re covered, protected forever.

 

Thank You, my Lord, for dying for me;

There really is nothing like knowing Your peace –

Like knowing the veil‘s been taken away

As You opened the gate for us.

 

Forgiveness and healing flow from Your throne;

I recognise You and I give You my all –

The blessing of gathering here at Your feet,

Surrounded completely by love.

Why I Don’t Take Antidepressants

I’ve not been feeling myself for a while, and really there’s no reason for it.  A close friend is in hospital; a friend’s dad is also in hospital having had several heart attacks; another friend is schizophrenic, but those are their problems.  I shouldn’t be finding it difficult to cope with life.  One of my friends sometimes calls me ‘Chuckles’.  It’s my favourite nickname anyone’s ever given me.  I’ve not lived up to it lately, but I’d like to.

 

I was thinking seriously yesterday that if something didn’t change, I would go to the doctor for antidepressants, for the first time in over 13 years.  You see, I haven’t taken them since being a Christian.  In April 2000, I had the thought:  “Shall I go back on antidepressants?” but I decided that would make me no different to a non-Christian, and I had the Lord to help me through now.  He’s never let me down, but yesterday I was just so tired of feeling rubbish, and the thought kept going through my head all day.  Then last night, as I sat on the sofa thinking about it yet again, a Bible-verse came to me – the one about how God has given us everything we need for life and Godliness (2 Peter 1:3).  I realised going back on antidepressants would be like telling God I didn’t believe He’d given me everything I needed after all, and throwing all that He’d done for me these last 13 years back in His face.

 

I’d like to say everything changed from that point and I felt wonderfully peaceful, but I didn’t.  I went to bed thinking I’m not drinking enough, the house is a mess, I’m good for no one, and I can’t find the toothpaste.

 

This morning I woke up still feeling low.  Then something that Jarrod Cooper said on the radio came into my head.  “How is God going to fix you?  By His Word”, and that reminded me of one of my favourite verses:  “He sent forth His Word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20), so that got me out of bed.  On Bible Gateway, part of today’s ‘Verse of the day’ said:  “You should serve and honour God by the way you live” (2 Peter 3:11), so I thought what’s the first thing I can do to honour God today?  Probably tidy the house, so I started in the kitchen.  As I washed the dishes, another verse came into my head about how I’d been set free “from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18).

 

Do you see what God is doing?  Fixing my mind in a way that antidepressants never could.  That’s why He’s so keen for us to read the Bible, and read it often.

 

So the house is less of a mess; I’m drinking properly today; I’m good for something, … and I found the toothpaste!

 

I know this post has been about me, but really I’m writing it to let you know that God’s love is there for you whatever stage you’re at, and His Word is there to fix you if you’ll let Him.

Let Go, Hold On

Do you ever read articles and listen to sermons, and one person says one thing, one person says another and you end up totally confused?  Or is it just me?

 

I listened today to someone saying God is an abundant God – a King with finance, healing and so on under His authority.  Then I read about someone else, who gave away 15 boxes of clothes, including a pair of heeled shoes she found it hard to part with, because she felt God was convicting her to have less.  So which is He:  A God of abundance or a God of necessity?

 

Another example:  I heard someone say he looked at people living their ordinary lives and feeling small, and he saw a cage around them and wanted to grab hold of the bars and set them free.  Then I read about how sometimes there’s a reason God doesn’t move us out of situations.  So what does He want:  For us to let go and move on, or persevere and hold on?

 

I think the first question’s easier to answer than the second.  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” – 1 Timothy 6:17-18.  Be generous, but don’t forget God loves you and wants to be generous to you, too.  He is ok with you enjoying things, as long as things aren’t your priority.

 

Now to the tricky one:  If you see the situation you’re in as a cage, do you ask to be freed from it, or to stay as you are in hope that the way you live will speak to someone’s heart?  If you’re unsure, can I give you my answer?  Take … one … day … at … a … time – something God told me a few years ago and reminded me of again today.  It’s a great piece of advice.  Sometimes we can get so worked-up about what we think we should be asking for, it can rob us of our joy in the present.  Didn’t Jesus tell us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34)?  Just like parents don’t tell children everything when they’re too young to understand, maybe we’re not ready and God needs us to wait … but let’s enjoy the waiting.

At the Counter

“God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of His Son, whom He loves. His Son paid the price to free us” – Colossians 1:13-14 (God’s Word Translation)

 

I like this translation of the Bible.  It was published in 1995 and I’ve only recently come across it.  Sometimes reading a more modern translation than I’m used to helps me take it in, and makes it feel fresher.  I enjoyed reading the chapter today, and especially these 2 verses.  I love how they explain the word ‘Redemption’:  “His Son paid the price to free us”.  Will you use your imagination for a minute?  Come and stand with me at the counter.

 

Jesus said everyone who sins is a slave to sin (John 8:34), so let’s think of our wrongdoing as a slave-master, who’s bought us as his slave and has power over us.  The only way we can get free is if somebody buys us back, but no one can break his power unless they’ve done nothing wrong.  There is only One who’s lived a perfect life and is able to break that power.  When Jesus rose from the dead, death had no power over Him, and because He was free, He could buy our freedom too.  It’s as if, when He came out of the tomb, Jesus was given vouchers with all our names on.  When someone puts their trust in Him, Jesus can go to the counter, hand their voucher to the slave-master and say:  “I’d like to redeem that person”, and the slave-master gives them to Jesus – the One who bought them on the cross.

 

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” – Romans 6:23.  We deserve only death for the things we’ve done wrong, but Jesus offers us the opposite – totally undeserved, totally motivated by love.  Thanks to Jesus, death need have no power over us.  Aren’t you glad?