31 Jesus-Benefits: Familiarity

“From within the womb He called me by name” (Isaiah 49:1).

Almost at the end of this Write31Days series, and there’s one blogger whose posts I’ve found so interesting. Jessie’s an agent, so her 31 Ways to Snag a Literary Agent is a series that (in my opinion) any writer should at least look at. One of her posts is about endorsements, and it reminded me God had called me by name.

I’m known by God and others.

Earlier in this series, we reflected on Jesus – our ally in suffering and how He prays for us. Not only does this happen with Jesus, but with others too. In August, on the morning I was due to have a procedure in hospital, I checked my phone and there was a text message from Chris. She’s one of the best friends I could ask for. I was so touched that she remembered, then went the extra mile and contacted me on the day to tell me I was being prayed-for. Makes me want to follow her example and be that kind of friend to others.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Ephesians 6:18).

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31 Jesus-Benefits: Sympathy

Day 19, and how amazing is Jesus? He had everything up in heaven; a close relationship with His Father for a start. Depending on the translation you read, John 1:18 calls Jesus ‘Near to the Father’s heart’, or ‘In the bosom of the Father’. Can you imagine Jesus on the Father’s lap in a giant hug? But He left all of that behind to become one of us – Immanuel, God-with-us, and it’s because Jesus has experienced life in this world that Hebrews says:

He sympathises with our weaknesses.

It’s awesome that having perfection at His feet, Jesus would give that all up to come into our world of suffering and pain, just so He could identify with us.

“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

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Known or Admired?

My friend Becky just celebrated her 4-year blogging anniversary by sharing an update on Facebook, and mentioning in the comments some of the writers whose words had impacted her. Having blogged for about the same amount of time (for me it’ll be 4 years in June), I wondered if I’d be one of them. As it happened, I did get a mention. My comment said: “Thank you for the friendship we’ve developed. Thank you for supporting me so well and for truly loving my family.” She’s not wrong; I’ve kept a few of the videos she’s shared (like the one where the baby girl says her brother’s name for the first time), but that comment meant so much to me. Though I’d like it if people were inspired by some of the posts on here, I’d far rather be known as a friend who loves people.

Do you know God’s like that too? Yes, He does prepare good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10), but first and most importantly, He wants to know us. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends” (John 15:15).

When was the last time you came to God … not with any prayer-request or money or good work well done, but just with yourself?

Not for Just Anyone

“And may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, a graceful deer – may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” (Proverbs 5:18-19).  I see that verse 19 as a good measure to use when it comes to physical intimacy.

 

When I was at school, I’m sure teenagers knew that underage sex wasn’t the way to go, but I still remember the comments:  “He had his hand up my top” or “He asked her to go topless.”  It’s our responsibility to think what we’re asking of another person, and how much we’ll share with them.  According to this verse, your wife’s breasts should satisfy you, so it’s not just sex that should be saved until marriage.

 

What I really want you to take away from this is that you’re special, and the parts of your body aren’t for just anyone.

Born to be With You

In answer to today’s Daily Post, yes I have a best friend. He has so many good qualities. Let’s start with creativity: The day I was born, my friend saw the commotion. He heard the clatter of trolley wheels down hospital corridors. As people peeped through the window at us and dreamed of the future, my friend knew only one of us would make it, and looked for a way to communicate with me. He knows everything – every twist and turn in life, every struggle inside my fickle heart. Do I really love my friend … or only me, and will I always put my friend first above myself?

 

As I grow and learn, as I cry over big and small things, I know my friend suffered more than my biggest let-down – felt more vulnerable than me at my most afraid. And as I laugh with the friends I’ve been given, as I marvel at things I’ve done that I thought I could never do, I know it’s nothing compared to the joy where my friend is.

 

His name is Jesus, and He’s in heaven, where He’s gone to fix up a place for you and me. He saw and heard the day you were born, too. When you hurt, you can think of Him: People tried to stone Him; His family thought He was off His trolley; before He went to the cross He was blindfolded, slapped in the face and asked who hit Him – vulnerability, and we can’t imagine His pain on the cross as His shoulders were yanked backwards, and hands nailed behind Him so He was almost on all-fours. He went through all that to identify with you in your suffering, and any contentment you’ve felt in this world is just a taste of what’s to come in eternity.

 

I know lots of people have heard about Jesus, but if reading this does something in your heart – if there’s a connection you haven’t felt before, I’d really encourage you to talk to God about it. There’s so much more to Him than stories on a page. Jesus rose from the dead; He’s alive in heaven, and He wants to be your best friend.

Our Cocooning

Every time I really think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, the familiar of the Christmas story is replaced with wonder for me.  When the angel left her, she hurried to visit Elizabeth and was bubbling over with quotes from what we now know as the Old Testament.  Her song in Luke 1:46-55 is full of its promises.  She must have really known her Bible.

 

And God chose an ordinary girl like Mary to carry His Son.  Luke 1:35 talks about the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary and the power of God covering, or enveloping, or overshadowing her.  Can you imagine being covered, from head to toe and all around you, with God?  Set apart from everything on the outside and just feeling Him near you?  Feeling His peace?  Feeling so awestruck you can barely speak?

 

As a caterpillar comes out of its cocoon a butterfly, Mary came out of her experience changed forever, and so can we.  For Mary, it was a pregnancy and the knowledge that her life would never be the same again; for us it will be different, but times of intimacy with God are as available now as they were then.  There have been times in church-meetings, or in my lounge at home, when I’ve really met with God – felt close to and in awe of Him.  If you’ve never experienced that, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and please don’t think He’s not interested.  In a way, there was nothing special about Mary.  Young girls didn’t have the education that men had in those days, but God still chose her, and He’s got good things in mind for you too.  Will you let Him change your life?

A-Z: X-Ray Vision

Who has X-ray vision?  Well, God does.  “His understanding no one can fathom” – Isaiah 40:28.

 

Our pastor asked one day what we thought a mediator was and somebody said:  “An enabler of dialog.”  He liked that and so did I.  Jesus has opened the Way for conversation between us and God.  He went on to say that if you were choosing a mediator, you’d want someone who ‘Really got you’/really understood where you were coming from, so they could put your case to the other party.  Jesus understands us.  He knows us intimately, and what’s more, we can know God.

 

I heard a story this week that I really wanted to share on the blog, so I’m glad it fits in here.  An actor was once the guest of honour at a gathering, where he was asked to recite extracts from different literature.  An old preacher who was there asked him to recite the 23rd Psalm (the LORD is my Shepherd).  He said he would, on one condition – that the preacher also recited it.  The actor’s recitation was beautiful.  He put the emphasis in all the right places, and as you’d expect, there were applause.  The preacher’s voice was rough from years of preaching; his rendition anything but polished, but when he finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  When asked what made the difference, the actor said:  “I know the Psalm; he knows the Shepherd.”