21 January 2018

The Favour of God

I've been reading a lot over the past two days about 'finding favour' with the Lord.

So, what does that phrase mean? Well, if you favour someone in this world, you start giving them preferential treatment, showing them more kindness that to others. Essentially, they become your favourite.

However, through the many years I've been attending church, I was always told that God never plays favourites. He loves us all equally... (see Romans 2:11)

And yet, some people seem to be entrusted with special tasks. And it is interesting to read how these tasks are described... listen to the way that the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, the future mother of Jesus:

The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
Luke 1:28 (NIVUK)

Highly favoured. And in fact given a phenomenal responsibility - to be the mother of the Son of God! And why? Because she knew God, and trusted Him. However, Mary and Joseph weren't blessed with 'creature comforts'. Joseph continued to worked as a carpenter to earn the family’s daily bread. The trip to Bethlehem during Mary’s pregnancy wouldn't have been easy - and in fact this could have been quite dangerous. And yet, she still enjoyed the favour of God like few in history had.

Here's just a few more quotes to ponder on:

This is what the Lord says:
‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting-place be?
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’
declares the Lord
‘These are the ones I look on with favour: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.
Isaiah 66: 1-2 (NIVUK)

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
For those who find me find life and receive favour from the Lord.
Proverbs 8:34-35 (NIVUK)

15 January 2018

Be Kind

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32 (MSG)


6 January 2018

Pray, Believe, Receive

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24 (NIV)

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”
Mark 11:22-25 (MSG)

1 January 2018

A New Thing

"Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; 
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness 
and streams in the wasteland."
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

Happy New Year!

24 December 2017

One Door Closes...


Happy Christmas, folks. See you in the New Year.

14 December 2017

...and Make Me Listen

Oh, let me hear Thee speaking,
In accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion,
The murmurs of self-will;
Oh, speak to reassure me,
To hasten, or control;
Oh, speak, and make me listen,
Thou Guardian of my soul.
(verse 3 of 'O Jesus I Have Promised', lyrics by John Ernest Bode)

4 December 2017

How Can I Tell If You're Lying?

Would the world be a better place if people always told the truth?

I would assume so, but it would be such a different world. For example, we would be under no illusions as to what people truly thought of us. And that, I'm sure, would be very eye-opening.

So, how can you tell if someone you know is lying to you? Or even exaggerating one aspect of a situation in order to encourage you to think in a particular way? I would call that a 'half-truth' - and these are the things which make it all the more difficult to work out what is fact and what is fiction...

Reading up on the topic lately, I discover that science has presented us with a whole host of ways to tell if someone is being honest with you. A myriad number of verbal and non-verbal cues that are said to be dead giveaways, based on research and practice. Whether they work in all circumstances - or indeed at all - I'll leave up to your own studies...

Apparently, you can tell if someone is telling a lie if:
  • Their story lacks something - a fabricated story will be incomplete or merely strung together - for example, it may have 'too much middle and not enough beginning and end'... liars will also tend to use sentence fragments while speaking, while truth-tellers tend to speak in complete sentences. 
  • They make overuse of eye contact - they used to say that liars won't look you straight in the eye. They say the opposite now. According to psychologists, liars tend to maintain more deliberate eye contact than those telling the truth. They are aware of the old saying, and try to 'bluff it out'. Additionally, a recent piece of research revealed that a liar's eyes will blink more slowly when they’re telling a lie, and then the blinking speed will increase up to eight times faster than normal after the lie has been told. Not sure if that's true - you'll keep a sharp eye out for this!
  • Their body language often gives them away - someone who is lying to you may breathe more heavily as they speak. Their bodily functions are still reacting, and would affect their heart rate and blood flow. You may also need to watch their hands - a speaker may cover certain “vulnerable” body parts when they are lying. Or maybe they are just nervous...
  • You can histen for the excuse - liars tend to rely on negative outside forces as excuses ("I’m late again today because of the traffic"), whereas truth-tellers are less likely to do so. 
  • You hear the 'bells' - Follow your instincts! Have you got a little 'warning bell' going off in your head? Trust it. Often our instincts for determining whether someone is lying or telling the truth are fairly strong. God gives some of us pretty good means of picking up 'non-verbal cues' which can guide us well...
Why have I blogged about this today? I've got a couple of situations in my life at the moment where I'm increasingly convinced that the person or people concerned simply aren't telling me the full story. I'm not comfortable. The warning bells are going off - however I'm not sure if this is total 'spin' or just the embellished truth.

Lord, please give me discernment.

22 November 2017

Context Is Everything

Do you ever wonder why, sometimes, you simply don't quite 'get it'? Yep, that's been me quite a bit recently. I haven't really been feeling 100% lately, a whole host of things have happened that have knocked me back a bit. I know I have had quite a lot on my mind. I've been trying to work through the various problems however that hasn't helped how I have felt; it just left me overwhelmed and overtired and, quite frankly, 'zonked'. It's obvious to some people that I wasn't quite right, they could tell by the way I reacted. I didn't quite get the joke; I didn't seem to react to the usual 'cues', or suddenly 'over-reacted' spectacularly when something unpleasant happens.

Had a day off today - therefore I had a moment or two to take stock. I began to realise that I seem to have lost the context to my life.

I watched an episode of QI recently which neatly illustrated an aspect of this. It depicted a shark, swimming towards the camera, with the music from Jaws playing menacingly in the background, What was the scariest part of the whole clip? The close up on the shark's teeth? The anticipation of the approach of the creature? Nope, it was the music. They played the same clip with different music, and it wasn't the same...

And that's been me. The music hasn't been right. Do you know, I used to wish that I could say my life sounded like this at the moment. But it doesn't.  (and I'm not sure I could take too much of that sort of soundtrack either!)

I have been yearning and yearning to make some drastic changes in my life.

However, I now know that's not in fact what I want. What I need is to get my life back into context.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

I've tried to lean too much on my own knowledge and understanding to deal with the issues in my life. And it didn't work. I need God's wisdom in my life. However, I also need to get God's discernment in my life, so I can tell the difference between the wisdom of God and the whispers of the enemy. Both are evident in my life at the moment. I need to tell them apart! It's so hard... I can't tell if people are trying to help me or to lead me astray...

I wrote a little while ago about Rhema, and the little light that suddenly came on in my life. To be honest, it's that little light that is the only thing keeping me going at the moment. That was God's voice, I know that for sure. Everything else is in doubt.

Dear Lord, times are really hard right now.  I really need to hear Your voice. Give me the discernment so I can hear Your voice and Your voice alone. I need Your wisdom. Speak to me in the way You know I will hear You best. Your Will be done, Lord. 

In Jesus Name, I pray. 
Amen.


20 November 2017

A Light Switched On

I read something today that really changed my outlook on my week. And I'm glad it did.

It's not been a great week for me, to be honest with you. Challenge after challenge, one problem after another. I've carried on regardless, but eventually this rubbish week took its toll on me. I've ended up feeling frustrated, and even bitter about what had happened (and I thought I had dealt with you, Bitterness, my old adversary). I was about as low as I could get. I wasn't exactly thrust into darkness, but life was pretty gloomy...

I sought refuge in prayer, desperately holding one to at least one aspect of my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

And today, it was like a light had switched on.

I was reading a passage about how prayer works, which explained that God speaks to His people in many ways (of course - He's God, and infinitely creative - He can use any of a hundred thousand ways to speak to His people).

Through the Bible, God speaks generally — the Word of God to everyone — and that is what scholars call logos.

He also speaks personally to individuals through His Word, and that’s rhema. God can choose to illuminate certain passages, to show how it can apply to us, or to teach us something new. Point us in the right direction.

And that's when the light switched on. (Click)

Suddenly, all the things I had been listening to today in church started to fit into place, started to make sense to me. I began to come alive again. The light level in the room went up three notches.

Thanks, Lord!

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth."
John 16:13a (NIVUK)


14 November 2017

Take It Slow

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don't make any sudden moves
You don't know the half of the abuse...

...

Why'd you come? You knew you should have stayed
I tried to warn you just to stay away
And now they're outside ready to bust
It looks like you might be one of us...


(from "Heathens" by Twenty One Pilots - written by Tyler Joseph)