Category Archives: Pursuing holiness

Focus and discipline

On my way home from work earlier in the week I felt really thirsty and I remembered an illustration I heard once in my youth: we were in church and our Sunday School teacher was talking about this boy who would always get angry in school and get into trouble, although he was a very able and intelligent boy. He was always getting distracted and getting in with the wrong crowd. One day he was sent to the headteacher’s office and was fully expecting severe sanctions to be put in place for the 100th time. In fact he was probably expecting to be expelled. The Headteacher calmly walked towards a cupboard on the side got a glass out and filled it with water, then handed it to the boy, who at this point was quite surprised. The headteacher said: “I want you to hold this glass all the time, everywhere you go today in school. In and out of the classroom, during lunch, break, inside and outside without dropping any of it”. “That is impossible said the boy!” The Headteacher looked him in the eye, smiled and said “Off you go! I will see you here at the end of the school day with your glass of water”.

Bear with me. I do have a point – I promise!

The boy in the story walked around all day very carefully and very slowly carrying his glass of water. At the end of the day he was summoned to the Headteacher’s office and he had his glass of water still full. The Headteacher said to him: “Did you notice all the confusion going on in the corridors while you were walking?”, “No, sir”. “Did you hear all the swearing, all the fighting, all the music?”, “No, sir”. “Did you hear all the people calling you names and inviting you to join them in their mischief?” “No, sir”. “Why?” “I had to keep my eyes focused on the glass, sir”.

I don’t know if this was a real story or maybe just an illustration my Sunday School teacher heard but the point of the story is so important and so relevant to our lives. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We must seek to live our lives to please Him and to be transformed into His likeness.

In the book of Colossians chapter 3 we find the apostle Paul challenging us:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

The Colossians had lost focus, were distracted by other things. There were problems with false teaching in their midst and Paul reminds them of who they are in Christ. They are now His, they belong to Him. They must set their hearts on things above not on things on earthly things.

There is so much to learn from the book of Colossians that it would be impossible to summarise in a post (if you haven’t read it or haven’t gone back to it for a while, I challenge you to read it – so many riches and so much guidance to live a life to please our Saviour), but as I remembered the illustration above I heard so many years ago these words popped into my mind. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” The idea of walking around carrying a glass full of water all day, all the time without spilling any of it seems to require a lot of focus and discipline.

Setting our hearts on things above requires focus and discipline too. Thankfully we have been given all we need in order to accomplish that. We have God’s word to teach and guide us. Paul encourages Timothy to stay firm and remember all he had learned. depicted in 1 Timothy 3:14-17

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

It is so important that we read, study and memorise God’s word in order to know God better and the ways we can live with our eyes focused on Him. That is our discipline. There will be days when we will feel discouraged because we get distracted and feel like we are loosing the battle against sin, but we must remember that God did not leave us alone to complete the task of living a life to glorify Him. He gave us His Holy Spirit. In the illustration above the Headteacher leaves the boy to walk on his own and figure it our by himself (ok, maybe he made the point he wanted to do). God is with us through His Spirit. Jesus promised his disciples in John 14:12-18 that he would send the Spirit of truth:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 

Be encouraged when it seems the glass is going to slip from your hand (to use our illustration). You are not alone! Jesus continued in verses 25-27:

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit comes from God to us and will teach us all things and remind us of what Jesus has taught us! What a promise and great truth for us to hold on to. When we feel distracted, tired, discouraged, finding it impossible to keep our eyes focused on things from above let us remember that we are not alone! We have a comforter and teacher to help us with our discipline of being transformed into Jesus’s likeness. May God continue to guide us through his Spirit.

The Lord looks at the heart

I have found it very difficult to sit down this week to write a post. I have been very busy and very tired with all the work I have to do. No. That is not the problem. I still found time to browse my social media and I have watched my favourite TV programs. No. I am not that busy and tired that I can’t sit down to think about what God has been challenging me with this week.

The hardest thing I find in my Christian walk is to stop and actually look into things in my own heart. Maybe you understand what I mean. It is so much easier to look at other people’s flaws and failings than my own. My heart has been aching this week. I have been challenged again, again by a very well known story in the New Testament in the book of Luke.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I have read this story so many times and if I am honest I always thank God I am not like the Pharisee in this story, or am I? God has been challenging me to seek Him closely and to pursue holiness. God wants that for every believer. When I read this passage this week my first question was, am I confident in my own righteousness? Do I look down on other people? Have I lost sight of the cross of Jesus?

As far as I know the Pharisees were religious men that kept the law and some were pretty good at it too. They prayed, they went to the synagogue and I am sure they studied and memorized the Scriptures too. These things in themselves are not the problem. The problem is that their hearts were full of pride. They thought they were better than others because of their religiosity. “I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get”.

We tend to approach this story and think it does not apply to ourselves, after all we follow Jesus. We understand He died on the cross to forgive our sins and make us right with God. We understand that we are justified in Him for our salvation. We dismiss it and think it only applies to other people. As I read it again I ask myself: Am I a Pharisee when it comes to pride in my heart? Do I boast in the fact that I have learnt so many precious truths about God from many godly man and women? Do I boast in the fact I have read the right Christian books? Do I boast in the fact that I only listen to Christian music in my car (and how dare my kids ask to listen to the pop songs in the radio)? Do I feel incredibly satisfied with myself because I have not missed one service on a Sunday for many years? (I can visualise the tick in the box) Do I give myself a big pat on the back when I acknowledge that for the first time in a very long time I have done my Bible reading every day for an entire year? Has the pride in my heart turned me into this character I learnt to dislike from the very first time I read this story? Has this pride hindered my witness? Has it stopped me encouraging other Christian women around me?

The problem is not so much in the things I did or do, but what motivated me to do them and how I feel about them. Oh how easy it is for those of us who have been blessed to have met Jesus in our youth to feel proud about our journey of faith?

Maybe like me, the Pharisees forgot that in 1 Samuel 16:7 God said to Samuel:

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The Lord looks at the heart! That is so clear in the story when we read the how the tax collect behaved in contrast to the Pharisee. I can almost see how much his heart ached as he could not even lift his eyes to heaven. He really understood there was nothing he could do or offer but he knew He needed God to pour His mercies on Him. We like him this man, don’t we? He is the kind of Christian we want to be identified with. And it would be right for us to want to be like him because Jesus said he went home justified. Oh how I need to learn to be more like this tax collector in this story!

I know that I have allowed pride to fill my heart. I know that I need to let God’s word speak, break, mould, change and transform me. There is no place for guilt because Jesus took it all away when He died on the cross to forgive me. His sacrifice is perfect and God accepted it. His sacrifice took away my sins and shame and all the guilt. There is a need for repentance and confession. I just remembered the words of a beautiful song called Forgiven:

“Lord, forgive us for our pride When our faith becomes a show Dressed in righteous deeds to hide All the stains below We have judged Your sons and daughters For the sin that is our own May we now forgive each other And lay down our stones

CHORUS Forgiven, forgiven Through the blood of Christ We are forgiven”

My heart aches but at the same time it is filled with the hope that comes with the certainty of forgiveness. I AM FORGIVEN! There is place for God’s grace to shine brighter in my heart. How much I need it. Each day. Only by His grace and his mercy can I ever bow down before His throne empty of myself ready to be filled with all that God wants for me. Only by His grace and love can I fix my eyes on Jesus and not on myself. His blessings upon my life do not depend on my performance as a Christian.

May God help me to remember each day that He looks at the heart. May His Holy Spirit help me to be humble like the tax collector and may I continue to desire each day to be transformed into His likeness. May my life be used to help others to see Jesus and grow closer to Him. All glory be to Him.

“If God wills”

It has only been 5 days (at the time I am writing this) since we were all wishing one another a Happy New Year and yet it feels like a long time ago. Every New Year everyone around me seems to be making new resolutions. Some want to lose weight (which is always a good one), some would like to eat healthier (I would like to do that too), some might want to exercise more and get fit (I won’t even go there!). Some people try to change their attitude: they want to be kinder, nicer, happier, less grouchy, more open to other people’s opinions, more respectful. Others will try to change habits: give up smoking, drink less alcohol, watch less football, play less computer games, help more at home. Some people decide to support a charity, others decide to dedicate one of their holidays to work overseas helping to build a school somewhere in a 3rd World Country. People proudly announce their plans and are full of confidence as they start their new year!

That is great, isn’t it? That people resolve to change their ways! New Year resolutions are good and when a year ends it seems the right time to try again, doesn’t it? After all it is a “New” year. What can go wrong?

I did not have a New Year resolution, but I can tell you that had I decided to stop eating unhealthy food, I would have failed tremendously by now – no excuse. I guess if most people are like me, they are probably feeling defeated already. They had really hoped that this time they would be able to do it! Well, I guess it is only the 5th, they might be thinking. Perhaps it doesn’t count: “let’s try it again”! They tell themselves. Does it sound familiar? I stopped having a “New Year resolution” a long time ago. I failed every time, every single time and do you know why? Because I focused on my own strength. Who was I kidding, right? There is nothing wrong with wanting to lose weight, get, fit, eat healthy food, be kind, be helpful or go overseas to help build a school. The problem lies with the focus we put on our own strength, or lack of.

A wise friend once told me that he and his family would be able to raise enough money to travel abroad to help build a school during their summer holidays. He told me how he and his wife were praying for guidance in how they could best use their resources each month in order to save some more money. I thought it was such a lovely idea and I was absolutely sure they would do it. I tried to encourage them with my enthusiasm and to that they smiled and said “If God wills”. “If God wills”? What a strange saying, we might think. People don’t say those things anymore. But they should.

The Bible tells us in the book of James 4 verses 13-15:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 

There are important truths we need to learn or remind ourselves of in these verses. The first thing is that only God knows and controls our tomorrows. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. In fact, we do not know what will happen in the next second of our lives. Our God is eternal, outside time. He sees the beginning and the end and every little bit in between all at the same time!

The second truth is that our lives are momentary. I am not sure about you, but I love walking early in the morning when it is misty. Most of all I love watching it disappear quickly as the sun warms the earth. Our lives are that brief compared to God’s eternity. Why would we want to put our trust in our strength to carry out our plans if we know we are here now but might not be in the next minute? When I think about it like that it seems quite a foolish thing to do.

Third truth, we are called to put our trust in God. “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  The Lord, our God, is sovereign and He reigns since forever. He is the one who created all things and therefore, all things belong to Him. Because all things are His, there is nothing wrong with the saying in this verse. In fact, it shows our dependence on Him. It shows that the Christian knows our lives belong to Him and in His grace, mercy and love He will do as He pleases.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore but I do make plans and I try to challenge myself to change in areas I need to (physically and spiritually). These verses are not saying we cannot make plans, rather they are telling us to trust God. To bring before Him our plans and resolution and simply trust that if it is His will it will come to pass. The big plans and the small ones too. God knows all things and reigns over all things. Not only that, He loves us too. His love is so great that He sent His Son to die for us and redeem us.

I am thankful that one day my friend told me that simple phrase “If God wills” and I am even more thankful to know it is not just a saying. It is from God’s word. What a lovely reminder to commit our plans to God. Perhaps we should say it more in our conversations as we encourage one another to continue to grow in our faith. May this be our new resolution (day after day) and may God help us through His Holy Spirit to trust in Him completely.

God bless.

Lost and Found!

Have you ever felt panic and helplessness? Once when I went shopping for food I lost my daughter for what seemed to be an eternity. It was only about one minute. She was normally very good at staying by my side holding on to the trolley or my leg. That particular day the store was packed with shoppers and she wondered off. I lost site of her and never felt such panic. My heart was thumping and I couldn’t think straight. I ran to the end of the isle and looked both ways and could not see her. I started calling her name and tried to hear in the midst of the confusion. Music was playing, people were talking and I could not hear my daughter at all. I ran up and down frantically trying to see her. I think at that point tears were running down my face and I was sweating. I turned back and ran the opposite way and I spotted her. She was calmly looking at some boxes on the shelf. I think they might have been cereal boxes. When she saw me she smiled. I grabbed her in an embrace and tried to calm myself down. If you are a mother, an aunty, a big sister, a grandma, a teacher, a nanny that once lost site of a precious child you will know the feeling.

The Bible tells us that once Jesus’s earthly parents went through the same thing. Not in a supermarket but when they had gone to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. I imagine it must have been a very busy time for the people living in Jerusalem, in fact for the entire nation as they sought to follow their customs established many years before (Deuteronomy 16:1-8). After they had done all they needed to do, they started their journey home only to realise Jesus wasn’t among the family and friends travelling with them, mind you, it took them a day to realise that!

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. Luke 2:41-45

Judging by how I felt when I lost my daughter for the longest minute in my life, it must have been a very stressful and worrying journey back to Jerusalem for Mary and Joseph. They found Jesus! I found my daughter looking at some boxes a couple of isles back from where we were originally. They found Jesus back in the temple.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. Luke 2:46-47

What I find interesting about these verses is that all the people who were listening to Jesus, even at the age of 12, were amazed at his understanding and his answers. It must have been incredible to be in the presence of Jesus, the pre-teenager, who was fully man and fully God answering the questions. It must have been special for those people. Guess what? We have something they didn’t have: we have the Bible. We can hear Jesus speaking at any time. Are we listening? Are we amazed? Are we even spending any time in His Word?

Another reason I think this passage is great is because we have a glimpse of the humanity of Jesus in a different level. Here Mary is telling Jesus off for putting them in that horrible situation.

48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Luke 2:48

I guess at this point in time Mary didn’t really grasp who Jesus was. You would have thought that at that moment she would have remembered what the Angel told her when he appeared to her to announce God had chosen her to be the mother of his Son.

30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:30-33

We also see Jesus’s humanity in the fact that He didn’t even think to tell his parents he was staying behind in the temple. Children do that, don’t they? Most of the time is quite innocent. They just can’t think of how their parents will feel and how much they will worry. Jesus’s answer to Mary’s question is interesting as well. You might think that he should have at least apologised to his parents, but no. Mary and Joseph didn’t understand who Jesus was but Jesus had not forgotten. His humanity had not distracted him from who He was and from His mission.

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Luke 2:49-50

When I found my daughter in the supermarket I was very glad she was ok and it took me a while to recover. When we were home I spoke to her about not wondering off and making sure she was with mummy all the time. I tried to make her understand the danger of wondering off. It worked. She didn’t do it again. Sometimes she would ask if she could go see something and as long as I could see her and she could see me we were ok. This has been our rule to this day. She is a teenager now, but she still makes sure she can see me when we go places and she makes sure I can see her too.

We are not told what things Jesus and his parents talked about on their way home but we are told that He was obedient to his parents. That is correct. Jesus, the king of the Universe, was obedient to His earthly parents as much as He was obedient to God His Father. Again, this gives us a glimpse of his humanity. Whatever rules Mary and Joseph had, Jesus followed and obeyed. We are told he grew in wisdom and stature and he found favour with God and with man.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51-52

I am grateful I re-read this passage this week. It is wonderful to see how Jesus set an example for us of obedience. I also find it amazing that God inspired Luke to record this experience in the life of our Saviour. As my daughter was lost to me and Jesus to his parents, we were all lost. In fact we were all walking away from God, but He came to find us and rescue us through His Son. I pray we keep reading on and that God will open our eyes to see more truths about His Son.

God bless.

Christmas Cactus

If you know me well, you will know that I love plants and flowers, but I am terrible with them. Most plants I buy end up dead within a few months, sometimes weeks. I still love plants though. Flowers and their intricate design remind me of how wonderful God is to us that He would share such beauty!

I bought a Christmas Cactus 3 years ago to decorate our window sill in the kitchen. It looked lovely. It was full of life, there were lots of buds and the most beautiful pale pink flowers popping here and there. I apologised to it as I placed it in its prime location.

I did not know Christmas Cacti should not be placed in a very hot room and in a place with direct sunlight all day long. I also didn’t know the soil needed to be moist all the time whilst it was flowering. I thought, cacti grow in the desert, therefore, it will be ok without watering. Well, I guess you might know what happened to my Christmas Cactus: its flowers dropped quickly, and it got very sad and I thought it was going to die. I moved it to our sitting room and placed it on the fireplace and didn’t pay much attention to it for a very long time.  

A few months ago, I was moving a few things around our conservatory and I decided to move my almost lifeless Christmas Cactus to the window sill there. As I looked at it I felt so sad I had not put more effort into looking after it. I spent some time reading about how to care for it and made a conscious effort to water it and I even moved it a couple of times. About two weeks ago I saw a few buds and my Christmas Cactus is now flowering! You can imagine my surprise! My plant has survived and gained strength and is now looking more like it should.  I am always amazed how God uses the simplest things in life to draw our attention and teach us if we are willing to be taught by Him.

I know this post is not really about the Christmas story which we are celebrating this month, but it is part of my story during this season.  

As I reflect on what happened to my plant these past 3 years and the process of being first happy and in bloom, full of life to being neglected on my fireplace and my stepping up to look after it in an attempt to save it, I think about my Christian walk – my day to day walking in faith and living to please God. God wants each believer to be like his Son Jesus. He has given us all the tools we need in order to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. However, living in a way to please God requires us to work our faith each day. It requires our obedience. God’s word challenges us to walk in holiness because we have been made holy by the blood of Jesus.

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:14-16

God is challenging me, moving me to think about the important things I once learned about Him all those years ago when I first gave my life to Him. If I am honest, I could say that through the years I got distracted with the busyness of life. I have faithfully attended church and got involved with ministries, but I neglected my learning and my searching the Scriptures for more of Him. I neglected my personal pursuit of holiness. Perhaps I thought that because I am a Christian, I don’t need to do much now, it is all done for me. It is true: Jesus did the work on the cross and that is finished. Amen! He paid the price and now my relationship with God is restored, but I need to do my part in my growing personally.  I am so thankful God has been pointing me more and more to His Word – to rediscover the precious truths about His character and His amazing plan to redeem us. I am enjoying studying the Bible and praying that God will change more each day, until the day He comes again.

How is God challenging you these days?

True faith can no more be without holiness than true fire without heat. John Owen

The amazing gift!

December is finally here. I like the month of December – mainly because I can decorate my house and have lots of fairy lights all over and get away with it. I like lights. It always amazes me how we are drawn to it when we find ourselves in the dark.

I also love the sunsets and sunrises in England this time of the year! So beautiful! The light projected in the sky in such beautiful colours – our amazing God is such an artist! The intricacy of each painting – the display of His mercies and love – even if just as a hint!

There is a chapter in the Bible, in the book of John, that is one of my favourites: John 1:1-14. There is so much in these verses that focus on our Lord Jesus. As we are preparing ourselves for the celebration of his birth we tend to focus on the Baby in a manger. Don’t get me wrong, the manger is as important as any part of the story and the details of that night when the angels appeared to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Saviour are fulfilling what had been written about this promised Child. However, the story we tell at Christmas is just a piece of the picture.

When we turn our eyes to the very well known verses of John chapter 1, the focus is in eternity past, when Jesus – the same Jesus who was born that night and was placed on a manger for a bed – was there when all things were created. In fact, all things were created through Him and without Him could not have been made. Here we see Jesus, the creator, the one who has all the power and authority to create all things.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

We need to remind ourselves of that truth in order to really appreciate Jesus coming to dwell amongst us to, be our Immanuel (which means God with us). Jesus left his throne in Heaven to come to Earth as a baby. He could have just come to Earth as a grown man, after all, with all his power He could have just appeared and performed all the signs and miracles and convinced people He was who he said he was. But he didn’t. He experienced our humanity to the full. He went through the process of growing inside his mother’s womb, he was fully dependent on his parents as a baby/toddler and he had to learn to walk, run, speak and appreciate food. He felt the cold and the heat and all sorts of emotions as a human being. Jesus was fully human. I don’t know about you but if I were God with the power and authority to create the Universe and all the things in it, I don’t think I would want to go through that at all. Would you? Jesus did.

Jesus was God and life was in Him as we already saw. He created all things and that life was the light of all mankind!

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 

The interesting thing about light is that it does two things: it attracts people to it and it exposes things (make them visible). When we are in the dark and we feel scared and disorientated and we see a light we walk towards it and it gives us comfort. It shows the way and helps us see more clearly. When we want to hide something we are not very proud of (sin) we appreciate the dark. It hides all the dirt and filth away. We don’t like when the light exposes those corners of our hearts and some people even rebel and turn away from the light or try to ignore it. Even when Jesus walked this Earth people rejected Him.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 

A bit joyless you might be thinking. Here we are in December, celebrating Advent and supposed to be preparing our hearts for the big day and we are talking about rejecting the Light of the World? Please don’t give up – stay with me for a little longer. Remember a few paragraphs past I mentioned that Jesus was there in eternity past creating everything in perfect harmony with the Father and Spirit? Here is another verse for us to look at: Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (emphasis added)

Jesus has all the power and authority to create the world and when he was amongst us he became the son of a man so we could become sons and daughters of God. Back in John chapter 1 we see that some rejected Jesus but some didn’t. To those who believed in Him he gave them a new identity, a new family, a new heritage. He gave them the right to become children of God!

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God

What an amazing gift Jesus pours on those who believe in Him! We all know how the story goes, Jesus lived his perfect life in obedience and he died our death so we could be forgiven – made right with God. Let this truth fill you with wonder and awe! We can only really appreciate the manger and the life of the son of God and the significance of his death on the cross when we see beyond the nativity scene and understand that this baby is the God who made all things. May this produce in each one of us the only response we should have every time we walk past the nativity set in our living rooms: a deep desire to Know Jesus more and live to please Him. That the king should love me so much that He would go through with His amazing plan to save me.

Waiting for the coming of the King!

Advent is here! A season to rejoice, reflect and celebrate the first coming of Christ Jesus. How are we preparing for it? Are we running around, busying ourselves with lists of jobs to finish before school breaks for Christmas? Are we writing endless lists of presents to order online? Are we worrying about the food we are going to have to prepare? Are we worrying about the Tier 2 imposed to most of the country by our government and the restrictions that mean we can’t enjoy this season as we have done in the past with our loved ones? Are we so saddened by the state of our world that we have not yet stopped to think about the meaning of the season?

Can I encourage you (this is for myself first) to stop and take some time to marvel at the unmeasurable love our God has poured out on us when He gave His Son, His only Son, to come to live with us and be our Immanuel? Jesus came as a servant and He live a perfect life in obedience to His Father in order to secure our salvation and make us right with God. Jesus has risen from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand in heaven. Do we get moved by the fact that the King of the Universe would leave His throne in heaven and would come as a helpless baby, would grow up and ultimately suffer in our place on that cruel cross? Sometimes the familiarity with this most amazing story numbs our hearts and the entire season comes and goes and we have not reflected on the meaning of it all. My friends, let us bow the knee before our King and ask that our hearts be filled again with thankfulness and a burning desire to celebrate God’s love for us. As we read the famous passage from Luke 2, let us picture the details, what might have happened between the pen strokes. Let us ponder over and over, until our eyes can see afresh this wonder of God’s love.

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.11”

Once we have re-focused our hearts and minds, we must consider that Advent is also a time for every Christians to remember we are still waiting for the second coming of our King! This time is an opportunity to reflect on how we are preparing for the time when we Jesus will return in glory! Are we longing for that day? Have we spent time seeking to live in a way that is pleasing to our King? We should come to Him and confess the many times we are so preoccupied with the things of this world and we are so comfortable that we have forgotten to get ready for His arrival. The “house” is untidy, the rooms are filled with all sorts of distractions and we are lounging around without any care to how much or how little we are anticipating King Jesus’s coming. Jesus has secured for us eternal life with Him through His death on the cross for us, but He still desires for us to be transformed into His likeness each day! So, let us encourage one another to do that – why not send a card, a text, a message, or phone a friend to encourage her to get ready for His arrival! Remember the Bible tells us that no one knows the hour, but we know He is coming!

Another very important aspect of Advent for us to consider is the message of the Gospel that we were entrusted to share – the good news that it is for all mankind. Have we forgotten how important and how urgent this matter is? Have we been praying for opportunities to share Jesus with our neighbours, our family members, our work colleagues, our children during this season? This year has been particularly challenging for so many and people are looking for hope and we have the Hope they need. May the Lord give us boldness to share His amazing love with those who are without a shepherd.

May God bless and help us as we prepare our hearts for the season.


To say 2020 has been a whirlwind year is an understatement. Nobody could have imagined that we would have our lives changed so completely because of a virus. Everything changed so rapidly and affected rich and poor, black and white communities, children and adults, elderly, healthy and frail people. For the first time in my lifetime everyone was facing the same situation: not knowing what tomorrow might bring and the constant flow of information telling us all was changing and we were all doomed.

At this point you might be tempted to close this post and move on to something else. Please bear with me. A few months ago in our church, we studied the attributes of God with a group of ladies and there is one in particular that I have been thinking about during these uncertain times: God’s immutability or the fact He is unchangeable.

The Bible tells us our God is unchangeable – He is the same today, yesterday and forever. What a comfort that is for those who know Him and put their trust in Him. When all around us seem to be crumbling down we need to look to the Bible and be reminded of this great truth that our God is unchangeable. His love is the same, His promises are the same, His plan is the same and His character is the same. Here are some verses that have encouraged me through this time:

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end. Psalm 102:25-25

No matter what is happening around us, how we feel, what the government is saying, or how our circumstances have changed: God remains the same. That means I can come to Him how I am: broken, shaken, unsure, scared, happy or confident. I can come to the throne of Grace knowing my God is unchangeable. He loves me and has promised to be with me each day. I can be confident that all He has promised in His Word, the Bible, is true.

Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. Psalm 119:89-91

I know that even as I write this post I do not know what will happen tomorrow. I can’t predict how the changes which humans are putting in place will impact my life and my family but I can know for sure that God’s purposes will endure forever.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:10-11

Even though I still have to remind myself every day that God loves me and He is in control of all of the Universe, I want to encourage you to look to His Word to find comfort and hope. I pray that I can say with confidence:

I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he. Deuteronomy 32:3-5

Have a wonderful week.

God bless.

No Pick ‘n’ Mix!

pick n mix

I am amazed of how many pick ‘n’ mix offers are about when you are out shopping. In a lot of ways I am grateful for it. When we take the kids to the cinema, for example, we can have one bag of sweets with all sorts, so everyone is happy! Some suppermarkets have something similar to the original pick ‘n’ mix idea: it is the “any 3 for 10” or “any 2 for 5”, etc. That is also helpful if you want a pack of mince, some diced beef and some chicken and you can get it all for £10! There is a negative side to this culture of being able to choose, though. You might eat more sweets than you should/would, if you had one small bag of a type of sweets. You might be tricked to think you wouldn’t save money if you bought your meat and poultry separately.

Unfortunately this culture of “Pick ‘n’ Mix” is entering the church as well. People pick and mix what they want, as long as they are happy that is fine. They pick the nice bits about the Bible, the ones that make them feel warm and loved, but they refuse the parts of the Bible that are designed to instruct and rebuke in love. People want God’s blessings and gifts but they don’t want a relationship with Him – they don’t want the commitment. They pick the bits of Christian life that suits them and they mix it with the things the world offers them and they feel they have done enough.

The Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

It says “All Scripture”, it does not say: “some parts of it” or “The Old Testament”, or “The New Testament”, or “the letters Paul wrote”. NO. It says: “All Scripture”! There is no room for a pick ‘n’ mix culture when it comes to the Bible. You cannot choose what you like and leave what you don’t like.

As for mixing what the Bible teaches, with the views the world tempts us with, the Bible tells us:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

Note verse 2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world”. It is an order as the verb is in the imperative form. We are not to be living like the world. We are not to mix the truths of the Bible with ideals of this world and pretend they fit together. That is not pleasing to God.

Most of the time when we buy sweets at the pick ‘n’ mix in the cinema, we find ourselves complaining of a tummy ache or we feel slighly uncomfortable. So, what first looked like a good idea, was in fact bad for us. Sometimes when I get home after bying a “2 for 5” offer I realise I could have saved money because it was cheaper to buy them separately. The offer appeared so attactive that I did not even read the label with the prices before I picked the items up. False economy!

When we find ourselves trying to pick ‘n’ mix what the Bible teaches us, we should stop right there and then. No matter what the world says to us: we should not have a pick ‘n’ mix faith.

May our God help us to walk closer to Him and trust Him more!

God bless!

A little surprise in a messy pile!

As I was picking up what looked like a mountain of clothes and toys from the floor in my 7 years old son, I found a cross he decorated at Easter time at school. He carefully coloured it in yellow and put lots of gold glitter around it. Normally it is on his wardrobe door so he can see it.  I must confess my mind was full of things I wanted to tell Master C about the mess in his room and I wasn’t impressed with the fact he hadn’t even made his bed before he left to school. Do you know the feeling? I was muttering to myself and then God surprised me with a wonderful reminder of His love for us.

Immediately I remembered the verses in Hebrews we studied yesterday morning at our mum’s Bible group and my heart was filled with a sense of awe. These are the verses:

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Hebrews 5:7-9

Jesus was fully God and fully human and He experienced extreme agony when He prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane (verse 7 refers to that). Jesus knew how much He was going to suffer for us and, although he asked God to take this cup away, He chose to be obedient and follow through with the great rescue plan!  Jesus didn’t have to learn obedience – He was never disobedient, but He learnt the full cost of obedience when He gave Himself to be our Saviour. He became a perfect sacrifice, without sin, to make atonement for our sins. Mission accomplished and He IS the source of salvation for all who obey Him. What an amazing Saviour we have! What love is this?

All of a sudden the mess in my son’s room didn’t matter anymore! I continued tidying up with songs of praise in my mind!

Thank you Jesus for your immense, inexplicable love!

God bless!