Worry

Finding Peace in Anxious Times (Philippians 4:4–9)

When we were in our late 20s, my friends and I discussed what would help us feel like adults. Some thought marriage would do the trick. Others that parenthood would move us into adulthood. We even wondered if the death of our parents would finally make us feel we had entered the grown-up ranks. But as we got married, had children and mourned parents, we realized that adulthood is marked by something far more universal: worry. It’s not so much that youth is worry-free think back to the anxiety you felt over dating, homework, your future. But back then we found relief in knowing that the buck didn’t stop with us. But there comes a time when there is no one else, nowhere to pass the buck. Responsibility rests squarely at our feet. Once we take on the mantle of worry, it’s almost impossible to set it aside. After all, life never stops throwing curveballs at us: a spouse loses a job, a child is injured, a parent gets sick. The future seems more uncertain every day, leaving us with nagging questions: Are we putting away enough money to retire? How will we pay the mortgage next month? We also worry about the world we live in: What can we do about the suffering we see? Will we ever live in peace with one another? It’s human to grow anxious about what lies ahead. That’s why Paul gave the people of Philippi a message they needed to hear. They lived in a time of frequent disease, war and famine, so their future was tenuous and uncertain. But Paul wanted them to know that their lives were in the hands of a loving God who would give them peace. Notice that Paul didn’t say, “God will make all the bad stuff go away.” Instead, he promised believers that God would calm their fears and ease their spirits. He reminded them that they weren’t in charge, that they could safely place their worries in the hands of someone far bigger than themselves and trust that God would walk with them through whatever troubles came their way. I know a few people who have gone through terrible times, the death of a child, an unexpected divorce, a potentially fatal illness. All of them have said that even in the darkest, most difficult moments, they sensed God’s presence. Their pain and heartache didn’t go away, but they knew God was helping them stand up under it. They never lost the feeling that God was guarding their hearts. Their experiences remind us that we can talk to God about the things that lie heavy on our hearts. We can ask for the peace God offers. We can thank God for caring, for shouldering our burdens, for giving us comfort and rest even in our most difficult times. Indeed, having a God like this transcends our understanding. All we can do is open our hearts and receive him………….. Carla Barnhill………………….Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible

Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27). So for a worry-free life and the promise of peace in your heart come to Jesus…………………………………….Shirley Anne

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Not guilty?

Not Guilty (Leviticus 5:14–19)

Isn’t it painful to harm others intentionally? Premeditated evils can be set right by our finite sense of justice, even if guilt then rests on our own heads. But imagine the fear and frustration of being held accountable for hundreds of violations that you committed without knowing it. Nothing you ever did would be good enough; you would carry around the guilt of wrongs you never intended to commit. Talk about paranoia.

Yet in Old Testament times, you would certainly have been guilty of such unwitting sins, and they would have required blood sacrifice. The Law of God was clear: No one could be good enough, not even those who sinned without awareness, unintentionally. Few of us think of sin in these terms today, but God remains the same. His standard of perfection cannot be attained, even by the best of us on our best days. The sacrifices of the Old Testament foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice: Jesus Christ. When Jesus offered himself on the cross, he paid the debt of sin in full. He declared his followers “not guilty.” The law was fulfilled. We no longer need the sacrifice of a ram to cleanse us from the sins we knowingly commit or the sins we unintentionally commit. No other blood sacrifice will ever be required. Women today are often burdened by guilt. We are inundated with “shoulds” and “oughts.” We feel guilty if we work; guilty if we don’t; guilty for not spending enough time with our husband, kids and friends; and guilty for not taking time for God and ourselves. We have a hard time knowing when we’re really guilty and when we suffer from false guilt. But Jesus’ declaration from the cross that we are not guilty covers all of our sins—even the unintentional ones. Instead of blood sacrifice, we can make offerings of gratitude: repentance, praise and service. We all both unintentionally and intentionally wrong God and others. But Jesus Christ bought our forgiveness on the cross. Offer him the sacrifice of confession, and you’ll be covered for overlooking the things you should have done and the things you ought not to have. Then pour out the sacrifice of praise. Present the sacrifice of service, helping others in God’s name, for “love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Despair has no place here; our advocate perfectly kept even the hidden laws. Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Who is greater?

Cross

I AM (Exodus 3:14)

God provided his people with a name that denotes his uncaused, independent and eternal character. Moses, faced with the unenviable task of asking Pharaoh for the freedom of the Israelites, asked God for his name. He knew that the Israelites would ask for the name of the one who gave Moses these instructions. God told Moses to call him, “I AM.” He is and will always be. He owes nothing and no one for his existence. Rather, he is the supreme, uncreated, sovereign and sole God of the universe. All things owe their being to him.
Jesus used this same name to declare his identity during his earthly ministry. While the people argued about the relationship of Jesus to the promises God made to Abraham, Jesus defied their understanding by declaring that he is not merely one in a long line of those whom God uses. Rather, he is the “I am” (Jn 8:58). The immense nature of this claim caused many to attempt to stone Jesus because they knew the implications of this term. By using this term Jesus announced himself to be God, committing the ultimate sin of blasphemy in the minds of his Jewish audience. They simply could not comprehend that this carpenter from Nazareth could be the very Son of God, in human form, to whom all people owe their allegiance and worship.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Whom do you think Jesus IS? Soon many will be ‘celebrating’ what Jesus accomplished on the cross for all humanity, ONCE AND FOR ALL TIME. He was God in the flesh when He was with us. His name is Emmanuel which means God with us. He gave the ultimate sacrifice enabling us to approach Him forgiven of our sins by His grace through our faith in Him. He is The I AM and there is no other.

Is it time for you to come to Him and receive His gift of life?

Shirley Anne

Believing

With Christmas just around the corner many people will be getting ready for the day and making preparations for parties, visitors and visiting too. Making sure there is plenty of food and drink in stock and ensuring gifts and presents are wrapped. Decorations and the Christmas tree will already be out and on show and everyone will be excited as the day approaches. I used to do all those things until a few years ago when I began to see through it all and the sham it was. That’s not to say it’s the same for everyone as it isn’t. What is more important is focusing on the reason for the celebrations and why we have Christmas in the first place. Christmas is for remembering the birth of a saviour, The Saviour and only Saviour of mankind, Jesus Christ. Sadly Jesus is left out of the celebrations by many people which kind of defeats the object of having them in the first place. God knew His Son would be rejected by many but He gives everyone the opportunity to accept His wonderful gift. If we accept Jesus as our Saviour God sees us in a different light………..

Shirley Anne

How does God see people—the masses of humanity? (Luke 19:1–9)

The beautiful thing about God’s kingdom is that all those who welcome Jesus as their Lord are given the opportunity to accept a new identity through him. This is illustrated poignantly through the story of a crooked tax collector named Zacchaeus. Tax collectors were among the most despised people in Israel because they chose to work for Rome and were making themselves rich by gouging their fellow Jews. But Zaccheaus shows that even the lost can be adopted and made new.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:1-9)
KEY VERSE
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

When we become believers things change for us..

KEY IDEA
I believe I am significant because of my position as a child of God.
KEY APPLICATION: What difference does this make in the way I live?
How would life change if we started to see people as God sees them? How would the world change if you and I truly believed the only way for people to enter heaven is through Christ?
We value all human life.
We see and treat all people the way God sees and treats them.
We are compelled to tell all people about Jesus.

Taken from NIV Believe

Yes, I believe, I accepted Jesus as my Saviour thirty years ago. Will you do the same?

Shirley Anne

Redeemed

When we do wrong things to others we expect to be forgiven if in our hearts we know we shouldn’t have done them. This is usually referred to as our conscience. If we say we don’t have a conscience we fool only ourselves and have no respect even for ourselves. We might consider ourselves to be less evil if our conscience ‘pricks’ us though in reality every evil deed is just as bad as the next and we are no less evil than the most wicked amongst us. As God tells us ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). We may try to be ‘good’ but we will always fail at some point. We are helpless before God but are we? Is there no way out? The good news is yes there is!

Shirley Anne

Redemption (Isaiah 43:1)

To “redeem” means literally “to buy back.” Redemption is one of the key accomplishments of God’s Son, Jesus. As this passage states, God’s people were created and formed by God’s own divine activity, and God himself through Jesus’ sacrificial ministry would buy them back.

But the word “redeemed” itself begs the question: From what are God’s people being bought back? The answer is that we all have willingly sold ourselves in slavery to sin; death is the cost of our disobedience. We are, both by nature and by our consistently sinful choices, rebels against God’s kingdom. The consequence for that rebellion against the righteousness and holiness of God is death, and this price must be paid.

But God, in his mercy, has paid that price himself. He truly has redeemed those who trust in him, having paid the price for our sinful pride and rebellion. God has now the right not only as our Creator, but also as our Redeemer, to say that believers are his and to expect them to live lives that reflect gratitude for his gracious redemption.

Jesus, I know that my future contained nothing but death and darkness, until I heard you call my name and responded. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for giving me another chance. Amen.

Taken from NIV The Jesus Bible

Shirley Anne

Something missing revisited

It is only the title to which I refer. In yesterday’s post I mentioned in a round about way how easy it was to miss something. If you remember I had returned home after a walk but hadn’t noticed the flag wasn’t flying as the rope had severed leaving it on the ground. Is it unusual to miss something even though they are right under our noses so to speak? The saying ‘you only miss something when it is gone’ seems not always to be true because we often take things for granted and don’t expect them to disappear. Quite a few times in the past E has pointed out a problem which I should have noticed myself but didn’t. When all is well we don’t look for problems; nothing is ever going to go wrong is it? Do we ever consider the future and what may happen?

Perhaps most will say ‘yes but not the distant future, we will wait until then to see what will happen’. The thing is that future can be upon us sooner than we think and then it is too late to respond if things go wrong. Living for today is fine but we should plan ahead and this brings me to the real subject of this post, your future in eternity. We live and then we die and that is the end of the matter is what many say. Why worry about something that isn’t going to happen? How do you know that, is it instinct, a gut feeling, you’ve first-hand knowledge or has someone convinced you that there isn’t a future after death? How could you find out about such things? Innocence is definitely not bliss but it will be too late for those who think that way when after dying they discover the truth. Why does your spirit think otherwise? Think about that for a moment. Why do you not accept that you have a future after you have died? Do you think you will return in another body? Why? Where did that idea come from? Discovering the truth after you’ve passed on is like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, it is just too late. What have you to lose by opening your heart to an everlasting life after death as Jesus promises for all who believe in him and in the Father who sent him? I tell you the truth, no-one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Jesus said so himself. Trouble is you have to open your heart and accept him in but you resist for something you think is better will happen. I tell you it won’t so don’t trust in gut feelings, sayings of others, weird religions and faiths, trust only in The Lord Jesus. Think on these things then go find this truth yourself…it is written in Scripture, The Bible and I pray that you will. Don’t miss out on Gods free gift of life because of a stubborn heart or a misguided thought.

Shirley Anne

A fresh start

A Fresh Start (Isaiah 53:4–12 see below)

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . . Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, conclude a poem titled “The New Colossus” composed by Emma Lazarus. With torch in her hand, Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of freedom and a welcoming beacon for emigrants coming to America in search of success, happiness and a fresh start.

Do you feel tired or poor? Do you long for freedom? Do you feel tossed by life’s storms? Most of us experience these conditions at some point. Isaiah describes Someone who understands exactly how we feel. Even his own people rejected this “man of suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Many hated him. Nothing about his mere physical appearance attracted people. In short, most of us wouldn’t have given this person the time of day.

Yet this passage describes the most compelling individual in the history of the world. Somehow we can’t resist him. Perhaps it’s what he offers: himself as one like us—one who knows sorrow and yet who offers peace and relief. He offers himself as the sacrifice for our sins. He is the Messiah. And Isaiah makes it clear that Jesus identifies with all the difficulties we could ever face. He knows what it’s like to be crushed, despised, rejected and in deep emotional pain. He knows the quiet desperation we endure when faced with mounting bills, job loss, marital discord, parenting challenges and all the other stuff of life that—if we’re wise—sends us to our knees.

Take a few moments to reread the passage for today (below) and let the words sink into your consciousness. This Jesus, the very Son of God, came to Earth for the very purpose of becoming one of us, albeit temporarily. So when we kneel before Jesus, we kneel before one who can relate to our struggles and hardships. He kneels alongside us to revitalize our energy, provide relief from our stress, set us free from sin and enable us to endure life’s storms. Then, through his powerful Holy Spirit, he offers us a fresh start.

Taken from NIV Men’s Devotional Bible

Isaiah 53:4-12 (New International Version – UK )

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Remember……..for those who still do not believe…….Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before Christ was born on Earth…………How did he know? It was the inspired word of God. He was a prophet through whom God spoke and still speaks today for those who have an ear……

Shirley Anne

You are a person of faith!

Did you know that you’re a person of great faith? (Hebrews 11:1–2)

It’s true—you are, and so is everyone else. Not a day passes without each of us exercising considerable faith. For example, you did it when you showered this morning. You trusted that the soap manufacturer didn’t put some caustic substance in the soap that would burn your skin. When you drove to work, you trusted that the drivers of the oncoming cars wouldn’t suddenly pull in front of you. When you got to work and flipped on the light switch, you believed that the light would come on.

The author of Hebrews tells us that faith is like that. It’s being sure of things you hope for without having them yet; it’s being certain that unseen things are real.

Notice that faith is not just positive thinking. And it’s more than mere intuition. Faith is only as good as its object; it must have a worthy focus or it’s just a blind hunch. When God asks you to trust him, he isn’t asking you to take a blind leap. Faith in God is built on the evidence he has supplied, which includes fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness reports, historical and archaeological confirmations of the Bible’s trustworthiness, God’s divine insight into human nature as seen in the pages of Scripture, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (which confirmed his supernatural credentials) and the changed lives of believers down through history—to name just a few examples.

Since you already live by faith in many areas of your life, depending daily on less reliable things, why not put your full confidence in God, who is reliable and is offering you forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

Taken from NIV The NIV Journey Bible

Well how about it? How long are you going to resist God? How long will you live? Seek God whilst you still have the chance. You have faith in other things which will ultimately pass away now have the faith that God exists for as sure as you might be that He doesn’t……..He does.

Shirley Anne

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

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