GOD HAS FORGOTTEN

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Why is it that most of us find it almost impossible to forgive ourselves and to forget the shame of our pasts and yet, with the same breath, we acknowledge that we believe that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”? (1 John 1:9)
Isn’t that incredibly hypocritical of us? Doesn’t that show a major lack of faith on our behalf? God says He forgives our sins and “will remember our sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12) and yet we say we cannot forgive ourselves. How insincere is it of us then to tell other people about this amazing God when we don’t believe a word of what He says ourselves. What right do we have to call ourselves believers in Christ when we are invalidating the very essence of the Christian gospel message by refusing to forgive ourselves?

God “gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for He forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of His commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away”. (Colossians 2:13-15)

Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? “When I turn to God and by belief accept what God has done, the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ instantly places me into a right relationship with God. And as a result of the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, or because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done” (Oswald Chambers)

If I continually feel guilty about the sins I have committed, ashamed about the things I have done, upset about the hurt I may have caused others even after I have asked God to forgive me and made restitution where possible, what kind of witness am I for God? If I am trapped in the sins of the past how do I explain to someone that once they accept Christ as their Saviour they will be set free from sin, the benefits they will reap leads to holiness and the end result is eternal life.
We need to ask, as the apostles did, Lord “increase our faith” (Luke 17:5) and then start living in God’s grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Ephesians 2:8-9)

Once a woman who thought she was having visions from God went to the bishop for advice. He told her that the next time God appeared to her she was to perform a test by which to know that it really was God. She was to ask God what the personal and private sins of the bishop were. A month later she was back and she told the bishop she had done what he had asked.
God had replied “Go tell the bishop that I’ve forgotten all his sins”. (Anthony de Mello)

RELEASING OUR BURDENS WITH JOY!

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One weekend, our family attended a church camp.  During one of the morning sessions the speaker handed out a sheet of paper to everyone on which we were to write down our burdens.  In the last session of the day, we were to take these sheets of paper and put them into a bowl.  These sheets were later burned in a fire, symbolic of releasing our burdens to Jesus.  In Matthew 11:28 Jesus urges us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  I wrote down my burdens, folded the paper and put it in my notebook, which I then left on a table.  At the end of the last session, people started placing their papers into the bowl.  My notebook was not where I had left it and I frantically searched for ‘my burdens’.

“What are you looking for?” a friend whispered.
“My burdens!”
“I’ll help you look”, she offered.

We scrambled around looking for my lost burdens.  All of a sudden, we started to giggle uncontrollably.  Our laughter was magnified because everyone around us was so solemn and quiet. Here we were, desperately trying to find my lost burdens so I could take them up again only to lay them down again before God.  As our laughter continued, it struck me how gracious our God is.  As I had written my burdens, He had, in that very moment, taken them and they were effectively lost forever.

Also, the laying down of our burdens need not always be serious and solemn.  It can also be joyous and freeing.  Galatians 5:1 explains: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again.”

It also saddened me to realise how often we, as God’s children needlessly scramble around looking for the burdens God is already carrying for us.  As I lay in bed that night, reflecting on the day, I felt the laughter rise up again inside of me and Nehemiah 8:10 took on a whole new meaning:  “For the joy of the lord is your strength”.  Additionally, Proverbs 17:22 says, “A happy heart is like good medicine”.

(From God’s Promise for Families by Noelene Curry)

THE LORD’S PRAYER – WITH A DIFFERENCE!

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Dallas Willard was once asked how he prayed.  He answered that he prayed the Our Father every morning before his feet hit the ground. I can just imagine Satan’s reaction whenever Dallas Willard put his feet on the ground in the morning.  It must have been something like this “Oh hell!  He is getting up – take cover!”

Prayer and faith go together.  You cannot have the one without the other.

In Biblical terms prayer is a personal communication or request addressed to God and faith is a strong or unshakeable belief in God without proof or evidence.

“Prayer is a necessity to man – it is a universal phenomenon; but while not exclusively Christian, it is most real in Christianity because the Christian life is a life of fellowship with God.  In Bilbical religion the relationship between God and man is genuinely interpersonal. Prayer is essentially communion;  God desires man’s fellowship, and man needs the friendship of God.1

What follows is an example of how Dallas Willard prayed the Our Father.  I am writing this from memory and have added a few of my own personal thoughts – this is basically a guideline of  how he prayed.  You can add your own relevant requests, praise, thanks-giving to the basic outline.  You can also spend a lot more time on each section!

Our Father

My God, my Dad, my Lord, my Pappa, my Father

whom art in Heaven

You are high above the earth. You are all seeing. You are omniscient.  You know all about me and yet you still love me

hallowed be Thy name

You are majestic and wonderful. I praise your Holy name. Your name is powerful and mighty.

your kingdom come

Lord, please fill me with your Holy Spirit. May I be your hands and your feet here on earth.  May people see your Kingdom in me.

your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven

I pray Lord that I, together with all other Believers, will be able to love others in a way that will ensureYour will being done here on earth through us.

Give us this day our daily bread

Thank you Lord for the abundance that you shower upon me.  For the home I live in – let me not take it for granted.  Let me share my abundance with others. Make me aware of the needs of those around me.

and forgive us our trespasses

Lord, please forgive me for not living a life of love.  For wanting my own way.  For judging others.  For repeatedly doing what I know is wrong in your sight.

as we forgive those who trespass against us

I need your help to forgive those who have hurt me.  Who have made me feel that I am not worthy.  Who judge and criticize me.  Help me Lord, to be able to forgive myself for the wrong I have done.

Lead us not into temptation

Please help me to be satisfied with what I have.  To be thankful for all I have.

but deliver us from evil

Lord, please break the chains that bind me.  Break the habit of me feeling worthless, angry, inferior, proud, judgmental.  Deliver me from addictions – be it alcohol, drugs, pornography, eating disorders. 

For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever

Thank you Lord that nothing can ever befall me that you are not aware of.  That no matter what happens you have already prepared a way out – help me to trust, grant me more faith to know that you are all powerful.  I glorify your mighty name.  I praise you.

Amen

So be it.  I go into this day with my hope and my faith firmly placed in You, my God, my Lord, my Saviour.

May each one of us be the kind of person that when our feet touch the ground in the morning, Satan says “Oh hell, they are up.  Take cover!”

1.  The  Handy Bible Dictionary & Concordance

Photograph courtesy of the internet.

SOMETIMES OUR CHILDREN LIVE ON A DIFFERENT PLANET!!

Saw this board whilst walking down the street yesterday.  It triggered a memory of an incident that occurred a few years ago with one of my children.  I need to set the scene for you first though!

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Ever since our oldest child started pre-school I have prayed, together with other mothers, at their respective schools.  We have also always taught our children that lying and stealing is wrong and are, in fact, even mentioned in the ten commandments!

“You shall not steal”

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20) – which basically means don’t lie.

Now about the incident.

I was just walking into a  prayer meeting at the Junior school, feeling quite ‘holy’ when I checked my phone messages. Please note that subsequent to this, I no longer check any messages before going into a meeting.

There was a message there from my child in Senior school.  What follows is a record of messages stemming from that one:

Child:  “ Hey, mom.  Is it ok if I forge your signature on my History test? If it’s not signed I get detention”

Me:  “What planet have you been living on for the past fifteen years?? (now you can see why the message on the board above triggered this memory!” From the time you were born your dad and I have taught you that lying and stealing is wrong.  By forging a signature you are effectively doing both!!!!”

Child: “I thought it would be ok cos you have already seen the paper and thought my mark was pretty good”.

I walked into the prayer meeting and told the ladies present “you will not believe what my daughter has just asked me!” and proceeded to tell them with great indignation.

One of the moms present responded “I think it is amazing that she asked you whether she could forge your signature and didn’t just sign it”.

This stopped me in my tracks and I messaged the child back:

“Meet me in the reception area at your school at first break and I will sign the test for you”.

When I arrived at the school I told the receptionist (who also happens to be a good friend of mine) why I was there.  I was still feeling a bit indignant.

She replied “Noel, you should be so thankful that your child asked you.  A large majority of the students here would just have forged the signature and not thought twice about it”.

That evening I was recounting the story to my oldest daughter via skype as she was overseas at the time.

Her response was “That is so silly.  Why would she even ask you something like that?”

I was just starting to pat myself on the back and think ‘well, at least I have got it right with one child’ when she stated “I would have just signed the test if you had already seen it!”

When you have children you just can’t win.

There is a lovely Irish saying “Shame the devil and tell the truth”

“The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22)

I have sometimes, in the past, told a ‘little white lie’ mainly when I have wanted to spare someone else’s feelings when the truth would have hurt them but a ‘little white lie’ is still a lie.

And in the long run our ‘little white lies’ add up and can be quite detrimental towards others.

If we are to teach our children honesty, we need to be honest in all things.

DO LIBERTY AND GOD GO TOGETHER?

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Liberty is the “state of being free”.

In Isaiah 30:18 we are advised that “the Lord longs to be gracious to you”. The biblical definitions of grace are “the attitude of God toward men” and “the liberty that God gives men”.

If we bear in mind that liberty is the state of being free it stands to reason then, that if we accept God’s grace in our lives, that grace causes us to be free from the chains that have us bound – alcoholism, addiction to pornography or drugs, jealousy, anger, self-pity, pride, eating disorders, poor self-image. The list is endless. Graciousness is defined as being “courteous, kind, and pleasant”

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6)

“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate…..” (Nehemiah 9:17)

What an amazing thought: God longs to be kind, generous and courteous to us.

I pray as the psalmist prayed: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us….” (Psalm 67:1)

(photo courtesy of the internet)

IF ANYONE IS LOOKING FOR ME, I AM ON THE UPPER ROAD!

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I’m going by the upper road, for that still holds the sun

I’m climbing through night’s pastures where the starry rivers run;

If you should think to seek me in my old dark abode,

You’ll find this writing on the door,

“She’s on the Upper Road.” (selected)

We sit and weep in vain, while the voice of the Almighty tells us to never stop moving upward and onward. (Streams in the Desert)”

God is in Heaven and all is well with my world. I am walking on the Upper Road and before I turn to the right or the left I will stop and listen for God’s voice, saying “This is the way; walk in it”. (Isaiah 30:21)

Tomorrow I will continue my journey upward in the knowledge that it is through the trials, the hardships, the pain, the disappointments, the joy, the happiness, the blessings – that it is through all these things I am growing into a woman God can be proud of and rejoice over.

It is because of my past – the good past and the not so good past – that I have searched my soul and assessed my character and realized that I needed to change. I have more empathy towards others and judge far less. I am able to forgive easier (especially myself), I am able to write about His faithfulness. I am able to love deeper because the hurt and pain have somehow shaped me into a more caring person.

I have witnessed that He is a God who still performs miracles, that He is a God with the most wonderful sense of humor. I am able to be more open and honest with others. AND it is because of this past that I am able to look forward to the future with joy and hope and courage because my future is encompassed by Him.

Today, I just want to thank God for me and for you!

STRUGGLING TO BE A BUTTERFLY!

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I often think that my life and my walk with God is very similar to a caterpillar’s life!

A butterfly will lay its’ eggs on the leaf of a plant.  The egg will hatch and a caterpillar will crawl out. I have often had to ‘crawl’ out of certain circumstances in my life that have not been good for me! The caterpillar is very small so it starts to eat and eat.  It immediately starts to grow and expand.  (When I accepted Jesus as my Saviour I ‘devoured’ the Bible and grew spiritually.) Once the caterpillar is fully grown it forms a cocoon.  Inside this cocoon the caterpillar is undergoing a transformation known as metamorphosis.  Metamorphosis means to change your form and your character.

In Ephesians 4:23 it states that as believers we are to “…put off your old self …. be made new in the attitude of your minds, and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness “

Just as the caterpillar changes inside the cocoon we also need to change and become more Christ like.

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Once the change is complete a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon.  The butterfly then gets to fly and glorify God in its beauty.

I’m sort of still stuck in the ‘struggling to get out of the cocoon’ stage but every now and again I see glimpses of the creative, loving person God created me to be and it gives me hope that one day I will fly free in His love without any guilt, fear, doubts, failure or pain.

When the butterfly emerges from the cocoon it has to struggle to push its way out of the cocoon.  As it struggles the fluid is pushed out of its body and into its wings.  Without the struggle, the butterfly’s wings would not develop enough to enable it to fly.  It needs this struggle to strengthen its wings in order to fly and live free.

If I had not struggled with depression, marriage, raising children, addictions and a long list of other things I would not be the person I am today.  It is in the struggles that I have grown the most, have learnt more about who I am and what I am capable of and have developed empathy for others who struggle as I do.  It is also during my times of struggling that I have been closest to God because it is during these times that I actively seek His face and His comfort and His guidance.

My prayer  is, that as we struggle, we will develop stronger wings ……

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“Do not conform any longer 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 12:2