Love


How well do we know love? When we think about love our thoughts turn to those closest to us, our wives, husbands, children and then the rest of our families, friends, acquaintances and sometimes those we work with. I suspect though that the less connected and those we don’t give much thought are not loved in the same way. That I also suppose is natural and expected but God doesn’t love us in that way, He loves us all no matter who we are for we are His creation. How many of us really know that or indeed accept it or even accept God Himself?
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
That is the measure of real love.

Shirley Anne

Love (1 John 4:8)

To know God is to know love, and to continually experience this love is to have renewed motivations, even for work. As we grasp the depth of God’s love for us, we begin to see every part of our lives being sustained and directed by that love. Over time this perspective affects every part of our lives. And because we spend so much of our lives engaged in it, one of our greatest needs is to have God’s love transform the way we work.

When we begin to experience God and his love, our whole being—heart, mind, soul and strength—is engaged, and this experience cannot help but change the way we approach work. It affects our motivations, our relationships and the very work that we do. We see ourselves working for God out of gratitude for what he has done for us, and our diligence at work reflects that gratitude.

As we consider the transformative power of God’s love, the question we must always ask ourselves is this: “Have we come to know the true living God, or are we more occupied with a projection of God informed by our own intellect, desires or experiences?” Only when we encounter this loving God are we truly changed at the very core of our being.

Connecting

God speaks into our lives, and his voice communicates a profound love that changes us in ways both big and small. His love is not an abstract sentiment, but is specific. He didn’t love humanity in some obscure way. No, he sent his Son to live as a Jewish man, die on a Roman cross and rise again so that we could be saved and know him.

One of the most powerful expressions of God’s love in us is in the words we say to our coworkers. Most of us have opportunities to give feedback. Yet, sometimes we shy away from giving positive feedback, in fear of appearing weak or sappy, or we give it in such a way that tears people down. When the love of God is at work in us to transform the way we see others and the importance of our work, even seemingly insignificant feedback can create the kind of change that brings life and health to an individual as well as an organization.

Taken from NIV Faith & Work Bible

Shirley Anne

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Hiding something?

For the passage listed below first of all you must believe there is a God and there is a Saviour. Why do we need a Saviour? Well without a saviour we cannot be saved. Saved from what? Our sins, whether we believe we sin or not we will be judged by them. Hiding from our sins or denying we sin doesn’t mean they don’t exist. We first of all sin by denying God’s existence, then we sin by denying His Son who is the Saviour of all mankind. Jesus is his name. God the Father has put everything under his feet. If we believe in The Father and in His Son and repent of our sins and confess our sins putting our hope in Jesus Christ for our salvation we WILL be saved. God says so. Don’t hide from God because you can’t!

Shirley Anne

Hidden No More (Proverbs 28:13)

When was the last time you felt like hiding?
If we know God sees everything, why do we try to hide our sin from him?
Have you ever seen a little kid try to hide just by closing her eyes? She thinks if she can’t see anyone, no one can see her. That kind of thinking is cute when it’s a little kid doing it. When it’s someone who should know better, it’s a different story.
Why do we try to hide sin from God by closing our eyes to it and pretending it doesn’t exist? Why do we hide it from other people and assume God can’t see it either? God sees everything. He knows the sin is there, and he knows it’s keeping us away from him.
At every moment of every day, God stands ready to forgive us—no matter what we’ve done. All we have to do is ask him. Trying to hide our sin is a sure way to make a bad situation worse. Confessing our sin and receiving God’s mercy is a sure way to feel a giant sense of relief.
Prayer
Dear God, thank you for the way you treat us when we bring our sins to you. Please help us remember that no matter what we’ve done, we can always receive forgiveness from you. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

Shirley Anne

I am The Lord

Do you know God? Do you realise how much He loves you? Don’t you remember the price He paid in order that you and He could be reconciled? Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for all those who will turn to him in repentance. Are you one who is still unsure that God even exists? I myself understand that completely for I too could not and would not believe and for many years rejected the whole idea. One day around thirty years ago I picked up the family Bible (many had one but never read it!) and began reading it through. By the time I had reached the last page of Revelations I realised I needed to discover more and wanted eagerly to do so. I had begun my journey by reaching out to God. In February 1989 I became a Christian at the age of 43. My Bible has since been read many times and each time God reveals something new to me. Do I regret becoming a Christian? Absolutely not! It was the best thing I ever did or will ever do for I know that God loves me and that Jesus paid the price for my sins, the price I should be paying and would be paying for them had he not saved me. Yes, God loves me and He loves you, whoever you are, just as much.

Shirley Anne

English: Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deu...
Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15, illustration from a Bible card published 1907 by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I AM THE Lord (Exodus 6:1–8)

The patriarchs had known God Almighty, but they had never heard the unique name of God. God revealed himself to Moses with intimate clarity, connecting his personal name with the wonders that he had done for the people up to this point in their story. He is the one who called Abraham, initiated a covenant with him and inaugurated a great nation through a child promised to him and his then-barren wife (Ge 12; 15). He is the God who used what man intended for evil to promote Joseph to second-in-command in Egypt (Ge 50:20). He is the one who led his people to seek refuge in the land of Egypt to escape a dire famine. And he is the one who promised to deliver the people from slavery through Moses’ leadership. The people were urged to avoid worry—the God who promised to act on their behalf is the God who had always come through on the behalf of his people.
This personal revelation is distinct to Christians. The God of the Bible is not some disengaged deity, unconcerned with the plight of his people. Rather, he is the God who is both omnipotent and sovereign in charge of all things and the God who is intimately concerned and engaged with the affairs of his children.
This personal care is best demonstrated in the way Jesus humbled himself, leaving the right hand of the Father and taking the place of a servant on the cross (Php 2:5–11). Paul wrote that God was intent on redeeming his people, so Jesus laid aside equality with God and humbled himself to take on human flesh. While, in the age to come, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, the early ministry of Jesus demonstrated how far God would stoop to show his personal love for his children. Jesus is the perfect Son of God, yet one who loved his enemies and called them his friends (Ro 5:10). He is the radiance of the glory of God, yet willing to love those who show even a childlike faith (Lk 18:16). God is the King of the universe, yet one who allows frail humans to approach him as their father (Ro 8:15). He is Yahweh, the Lord God Almighty.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for tearing down the curtain that separated me from my Father. Thank you for making it possible for me to have a personal, intimate relationship with the almighty God of the universe. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

Special

When you look into the mirror do you see yourself as special or do you see flaws? Have you a desire to become better in some way than you already are? You may consider yourself to be beautiful, handsome, clever, upright, truthful, honest, forgiving, friendly or sadly none of these things. Most of us will agree if we are honest with ourselves that we do have one or two shortcomings though we would rather keep that private. The truth is, the real truth is this, we aren’t as perfect as we would have others believe and we hide it. There isn’t one person on this planet who is perfect and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We are however very special and each one of us is unique…… we are loved just as we are…….

Shirley Anne

Special People (album)
Special People (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God Loves You as You Are (Exodus 34:5–6)

The Lord does not cherish us as we deserve (if that were the case, we would be desolate) but as he must, unable to do otherwise. He is love. Hard as it is for us to believe—because we neither give nor receive love among ourselves in this way—we yet believe, because of the life-death-resurrection of the Carpenter-Messiah, that his Father is more loving, more forgiving, more cherishing than Abraham, Isaac or Jacob could have dreamed.

What this says simply is that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is gracious. His love is gratuitous in a way that defies our imagination.

It is for this reason that we can proclaim with theological certainty in the power of the Word: God loves you as you are and not as you should be! Do you believe this? That God loves you beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity, that he loves you in the morning sun and the evening rain, that he loves you without caution, regret, boundary, limit or breaking point?

Taken from NIV Ragamuffin Bible 

Shirley Anne

 

Doubting generation

Many a time I have been told by people not believing in God that The Bible is a fairy story, a book filled with nonsensical thoughts and ideals, a man-made text. God they say was made up, invented by men to keep people under control, someone they could be fearful of if they didn’t tow the line. Well naturally they would say that from their standpoint of unbelief and their uneducated minds. Who can possibly make comment on something they know little about or refuse to look into? The evidence for God is all around us, there isn’t a real excuse for not believing. Many approach the subject with closed minds or preconceived ideas and simply stubbornly refuse that the idea they are wrong is possible. Maybe they have experienced troubles in their lives, hardships and poor health. There are many reasons for them not to put their faith in God, in their minds that is. What they don’t know or are willing to accept is that God, apart from Him being real, loves them dearly. ‘If God loves me so then why do I suffer? Why is there such hatred in the world? Why doesn’t He step in and change things? Why does He withhold nice things for me?’ is often asked. Well the truth is this, if  God didn’t love you He would give in to your requests. Sounds a stupid answer at first glance but if God didn’t allow suffering how would we benefit in understanding what suffering was? When we understand that God doesn’t always answer in the way we expect then we understand just how much He loves us. We learn from suffering, we learn from being refused, we learn from discipline. What father doesn’t teach us in the same way? He loves us this way so that we know that when we receive from Him it will only be for our good. Why did He allow Jesus Christ to suffer for our sins? He did it to show just how much He really loves us. In this life we are here to learn and to love our Creator. He died that we may be set free. He left us not alone but gave us His Spirit to guide and teach us, to help and support us and He gave us His Story in the written word, The Bible. Everything we need to know about life and how to live it is in there. Everything we need to know about our Creator is in there, Father, Son and Holy Spirit…..

Shirley Anne

A bible from 1859.
A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How Do We Know the Bible Is True? (Hebrews 4:12)

According to the Bible, all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). Peter confirmed this when he said that those who wrote the Bible were not speaking on their own but spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). Many parts of Scripture are directly attributed to God through use of phrases like This is what the Lord says (e.g., Ex 4:22). Finally, Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament and affirmed it as being God’s Word.
Prophecies that were later fulfilled are corroboration of the accuracy of the Bible’s claim to be God’s Word. For example, the vision recorded in Daniel 7 correctly predicted the rise of the Medo¬Persian Empire, the Greek Empire under Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire.
Archaeological discoveries are also important evidence of the Bible’s accuracy. For example, for many years King David was believed by some to be a fictional character. But recently a composition from a king of Syria referring to the “house of David” was discovered at Tel Dan. This writing provides tangible evidence that ancient rulers indeed recognized the dynasty of David in Judah.
Another reason for confidence in the Bible’s authenticity is its internal consistency. The Bible is actually a compilation of 66 books written over a period of 2,000 years by more than 40 different authors, and yet there is a unified message and a striking theological coherence—something that clearly speaks of God’s guidance throughout the process of writing, transmit¬ting and assembling the Biblical texts.
It is important to remember that the original Biblical documents no longer exist. We are dependent on copies, and copyists can make mistakes. However, scholars have carefully tracked the accuracy of ancient manuscripts from different centuries, and their consistency gives us good reason to be confident in the Bibles we read today. Furthermore, rigorous standards were applied to determine the canon—both by the Jews, who determined the collection of books that make up the Old Testament Scriptures, and by the early church, which decided the books to be included in the New Testament.
Taken from NIV Quest Study Bible

Shirley Anne

With all my heart

I’ve a wonderful love
That’s so deep in my heart
Came into my life
Gave me a new start
Through all of my sorrows
My troubles and pain
Whenever I fell
I was lifted again.
The joy of this love
Gives to each one a share
With no special favours
To black, brown or fair.
Take hold of this love
There for each one of us
The love of my Saviour
My sweet Lord Jesus.

Copyright Shirley Anne 31 March 2003

Dear Lord my God, my Heavenly Father I give you praise

You are worthy to receive honour and glory and praise

For You are the I AM, you are the Creator of all things

You created all things through your Son my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

He is my Redeemer my Saviour God

Today the world celebrates your birth, the day you came down from heaven to live amongst us

Immanuel! We cry out Immanuel – God with us

You take away the sins of the people that we may be presented pure and holy before The Father

For all those who believe on your name there is Salvation.

Thank you for the greatest gift we could ever receive

Thank you Jesus for loving me.

Today as in every day my soul rejoices in the knowledge of your love

I pray for those who don’t know you, for those who reject you

Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing forgive them in Jesus’ name I ask

Give them O God another opportunity today to get to know you.

Thank you Jesus

Amen

 

Shirley Anne

Ishmael

Ishmael (Genesis 24:14–20)

Second Best

Ishmael’s birth could be called a mistake. It came about because Sarah and Abraham doubted God’s promise to provide them a child in their old age. The two conspired to “help God out” by using an Egyptian servant, Hagar, as a substitute wife for Abraham. Then, when God fulfilled his promise and Sarah bore a son of her own, she cruelly drove the servant and her son out into the desert. Ishmael, the innocent victim of this scheming, suffered the consequences.

Yet God also blessed Ishmael. He “heard the boy crying” when Ishmael was dying of thirst in the desert (21:17). God promised that Ishmael’s descendants would comprise a great nation. The Bible records that Ishmael had 12 sons and that the Ishmaelites were Israel’s neighbors for centuries. In fact, Arabs today traditionally trace their lineage back to Ishmael.

Ishmael apparently kept in contact with his original family; he attended Abraham’s funeral, and his daughter would marry Abraham’s grandson Esau. Yet his place in Abraham’s covenant with God was lost. In a similar way, Ishmael’s son-in-law Esau would enjoy the earthly blessings of success, even though God’s greatest blessing was reserved for Esau’s brother Jacob. In the Bible’s accounting, God’s covenant blessing always mattered more than earthly success.

Taken from NIV Student Bible

Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, painting ...
Hagar and Ishmael in the Wilderness, painting by Karel Dujardin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How things have changed since Ishmael was born! He kept in contact but now his descendants only wish to wage war on his original family’s descendants. What went wrong? God kept His promise that Ishmael’s descendants would become a great nation too. They have no reason to complain that God didn’t love them or doesn’t love them, they, like everyone else, have simply to accept God’s love for He loves all of His creation.

Shirley Anne

I knew…………

A few weeks ago my doctor called me in to see her. I have to attend surgery every six months for routine blood pressure checks because of the medication (hormones) I have to take each day. On my last visit I was told to make an appointment with the nurse who take blood samples and send them off for analysis. That was done and I then had to see the doctor again for the results. That happened on Friday (10). My readers will know that I am a Christian believer and place my trust in God knowing that He loves me. I don’t like visits to the doctor to be truthful and though I appear at ease by my demeanour I am usually tensed inside. I arrived at the surgery and parked my van but before going in I prayed to The Lord that all would be well with my results and there would be no necessity for any further action. I went into the surgery and waited to be called. I was with the doctor for less than a minute……..there was nothing wrong with my blood pressure nor the resultant blood tests. I praised The Lord. I knew in my heart the results would be normal, He had given me that assurance.

Take Jesus’ hand
I have learnt over the years to have more faith in God and to trust in His love. I know He loves me and will take care of me. He proved His love on the cross. Jesus Christ died for me and that act demonstrated pure love. He paid my debt and set me free from the bondage of sin. All I had to do was believe in Him and accept His gift of life. No ,matter what God's plans are for me I know I can trust Him. I just know...

Shirley Anne

One last chance?

Recently I had the opportunity to view again a movie I chanced upon and watched a few years ago. I enjoyed it then as I did the second time around. The movie had a message in it which made me think it was produced by a Christian or Christians aiming to use it as a witness to the unbeliever who may be watching it. The movie was called ‘Left behind‘ and the leading actor was Nicolas Cage. Perhaps you have seen it too dear reader? I wondered whilst watching it just how many unbelieving hearts were touched by its message enough for them to reconsider their view. The basic theme of the movie centred around these Bible verses:-

Matthew 24:40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.
Matthew 24:41 Two women will be grinding with a hand-mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Luke 17:34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.
Luke 17:35 Two women will be grinding corn together; one will be taken and the other left.’

In the movie many people and all of the children suddenly disappeared. Clothes were just left where they had stood. Those who were left couldn’t understand what had happened though some began to realise it was a fulfillment of Scripture….the beginning of the end. Nicolas Cage was the pilot of a plane whose co-pilot, some of the crew and passengers suddenly disappeared whilst in flight. Even a pastor of a church had been left behind and we learned why, although he could quote Scripture he admitted to not believing in what he was preaching. I know a few people just like him. One evening while at a ‘Four square gospel‘ businessmen’s dinner one such pastor of a church gave us his testimony explaining how he became a Christian years after he became ordained. For so many years he too had preached The Gospel but had no real belief until one day it dawned upon him. At that point he invited Jesus into his heart and became ‘saved’. The movie didn’t explain what happened to all those who had been left behind but someone realised that the preceding ‘rapture’ marked the beginning of  the tribulation and the suffering of all who were left.

So now will you believe? Now will you take notice? Now will you come to Christ and be saved? The choice is yours. The rapture may indeed come tonight, only God knows.

Shirley Anne

Matthew 13:24–30
In this short story, Jesus tells why God allows evil to continue in the world. According to Jesus, if God uprooted all the evil people (the weeds) now, others (the wheat) might be uprooted along with them.
For now, God’s allowing evil doesn’t mean he condones it. Rather, God is waiting for people to turn to him and accept his leadership in their lives. After all, if tonight at midnight God wiped out all the people who hadn’t yet trusted in him, where would you be in the morning?
Verse 30 gives us an image of the final separation that God will initiate at the end of time. On that day, God wants to gather you, as one of his people, into his heaven. Won’t you accept that gracious offer?
Taken from NIV The NIV Journey Bible

Shirley Anne

The future……………your future!

 

What is going to happen in the future? (1 Corinthians 15:51–58)
What happens when we die? The New Testament indicates that people experience an “intermediate state,” which refers to a person’s existence between their time of death and the promised resurrection of their new body. Their earthly body goes into the grave; their spirit lives on in one of two places—in God’s presence where they enjoy a time of peace until they receive their resurrected bodies or in a place of torment where they await final judgment. Jesus talked about this vividly in the story about a rich man and Lazarus (not the Lazarus Jesus raised from the dead). Jesus depicted the place of blessedness for the righteous as Abraham’s side and the place of torment for the wicked as Hades. (See Luke 16:19-31.)
The grand promise of God and the ultimate hope for all Christians is the resurrection. Just as Christ was raised from the dead and received an imperishable body, so will all those who believe in Christ. Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, details this major truth.(See 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.)
The event that will trigger this promised resurrection is the Second coming of Christ. Often the Bible refers to the return of Christ as the “day of the Lord.” Paul explains that on the great day of Christ’s return God will resurrect those who have died and then all believers will be brought together and will be with the Lord Jesus forever.
After Jesus returns and we are resurrected into our imperishable bodies, there will be a final judgment by God of every nation. John saw and recorded a vision from God about what will happen at this time of judgment. John wrote down the final movement in God’s grand story—the restoration of what was lost in the beginning. What we read in the opening creation story of Genesis we see again in Revelation—a re-creation—but on a grander scale to accommodate all the people over the centuries who have embraced Christ and received eternal life. (See Revelation 20:11-22:21.)

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1–2)

I believe (Christians) there is a heaven and a hell and that Jesus will return to judge all people and to establish his eternal kingdom.
What difference does this make in the way I live?
I ask you to prayerfully take a moment to do an inventory of your relationships. How many non-Christians are currently in your circle of influence? And of these non-Christians in your cir­cle, how many are you actively sharing God’s love with?
Taken from NIV Believe

For my non-believing readers: Although you may not believe in God it doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist. For many years I resisted the possibility that there was a God and no matter what people told me I just refused to take it seriously. What did I want with a God? How was it possible for God to be omnipotent and omnipresent? Thinking as a human being who was proud and unyielding and could only see things my way kept me from my Creator. All this time He waited patiently until one day……….I reached out to Him and was welcomed with open arms.

Shirley Anne