Sunday, 24 February 2013

Pack the problems!

Recently I was having coffee with a friend and we started talking about problems. We all have 'problems' and they are all different. I don't like to call them problems, but rather challenges. It might be issues relating to the past, challenges relating to current circumstances or a fear about the future, but the one thing that challenges do have in common is that they can cause anxiousness, fear or stress. Often we cannot do anything about the challenges we face. We cannot force a family member to forgive us, we cannot mend a broken friendship from one side or change the mood of a depressed friend or maybe you are trusting for finances, a new job or a new home. Often we find ourselves at the place where our hands are tied, we have done all we could do and there are no more options left.
While I was chatting to my friend I received this awesome picture in my mind. There is a shelf called God and we can pack all our challenges on it, like a row of encyclopaedia from A to Z. I imagined those old heavy books. Then the devil comes and he makes us worry about an issue which is out of our control or he makes us feel guilty about something that we cannot change. "Why aren't you thinking about that? Don't you care about your future? Who will do it if you don't carry the load? How is God going to do His part if you do not put in your time and thoughts? Should you not be pulling your weight? You deserve to get justice, why don't you approach that person?" There are millions of questions that he can throw at us to make us feel guilty and to convince us that we have to carry the books ourselves. We then remove the books from the shelf, tie them around our waist and drag them around wherever we go. We complain to people about them, we dwell on them and we reread the pages of each book over and over in our minds until we are so drained that we don't have energy left for anything else and that is exactly where the devil wants you, tired, discouraged, fearful and drained. The devil knows that when we are in that space, we are of no threat to him, because we have no energy left and our focus is on the problems and not on God.
The Bible says: "Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30
Jesus says, come, bring your books to me, put them on my shelf, I know you cannot carry them. Take instead my yoke which is light and filled with peace, love, joy and freedom and let me carry your burdens.
Each book on the shelf has a time to be opened and a time to be read. God will show you when it is time to read each book and when you have the strength to do so. He will address the issue and instruct you to take the book and act at the right time. Until then, leave your challenges on His shelf and continue living in joy without dragging every burden behind you. Jesus came to remove our problems so that we can have the abundant life.
It does not mean that we don't take responsibility, it does not mean that we won't face challenging times, it only means that there is a time for everything and that when something is not in our control, it needs to be put in God's hands and not dragged behind us. In this way God can help us deal with each challenge at its time and we can be victorious in everything we do. Pack your problems on God’s shelf today and live free from anxiety and fear.
“The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Photo credit: favim

Monday, 18 February 2013

The power of love

What do you think when I tell you: “God loves you”? Maybe you know His love well, maybe you don’t care or will just brush me off by saying: “whatever”. In some way the phrase “God loves you” has become such a cliché and so easily said and I wonder how many people truly know that God loves them incredibly much and experience His love? I was at a wedding this weekend and the person speaking mentioned that the wife is God’s vessel through which He can tangibly show her husband how much He loves him and vice versa. There is no other relationship where love can be demonstrated so intimately, in so many ways and on so many levels than in marriage. A wife lifts up her husband by loving him the way God loves him and the husband lifts up the wife by loving her the way God loves her.
No wonder Jesus calls the church His bride. His people are destined to live in an intimate relationship of love with Him. There is so incredibly much power in the love of God and nothing can stand against it. I love that the Bible says: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” and we have the perfect love inside of us. I wonder how our lives will look when we truly, truly grasp this wonderful truth. We cannot comprehend how much God loves us. It’s not just a little love, it’s a BIG love and everything He does demonstrates His love for you. You get to know Him by His love. It is who He is.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Eph 3:14-19
Paul says that we need to be “rooted and grounded in love” meaning rooted and grounded in God’s love. If we just begin to understand how much God loves us, we will bounce up and down every day with joy, our fears will be extinct and we will overflow with peace. Not to mention the confidence and power we will walk in. No feeling of guilt or condemnation will hold us down and no manipulating thoughts will distract us from Him. We will feel in love and light as a feather 24 hours a day and this IS possible.
As God is teaching me to walk in His love and Spirit, I feel everything around me changing. There are fewer things that try to get me down and their effects don’t last long. I feel more and more unstoppable every day, because He is in me and when He is for me, who can be against me?
We don’t live by what we feel, but by what we know and what you can ask for you can have if you believe. Everything starts with faith, because without faith we cannot please God. We need to believe He loves us whether we feel it or not. We need to believe He listens whether we feel it or not. We need to believe He speaks whether we hear Him or not and then we will start experiencing things. Then our eyes will open and we will see His love, feel His love and hear His voice.
The Bible says:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matt 7:7
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jer 29:13
“Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Psalm 27:7-8
God does not disappoint. Seek and you will find. Seek His love and you will come to know it and it will blow your mind! As it says above “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”, it is not something that we can understand with our minds. It is above our knowledge, it does not make sense, it is a crazy, I-did-not-do- anything- to deserve-this kind of love. It is unstoppable, unbreakable and 100% unconditional. There is nothing we can do to earn His love, all we can do is accept it and be thankful. It’s when we stop trying to earn it, when we realise that we have it all already.
Photo credit: favim

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Busy, busy, busy!

Today I was thinking of everything that I need to do tonight. I was thinking of maybe making a list and then also deciding how much work I should do tonight. This keeps my mind super busy. I keep thinking of this and that, this and that and which task is more important etc. I think I feel tired of just thinking of all the things I need to do!
While I was driving I reminded myself that I actually don't NEED to do all the things, I actually just WANT to do all the things. In the process of thinking, I get drained even before I start and then I feel less motivated to start everything which I didn't need to do, but wanted to do in the first place! Ha ha it's actually quite funny how easily we can overload ourselves in our minds without even doing a single thing!
Also while I was driving I spoke to God about all the things I "need" to do and asked Him to help me. Then I realised that I haven't even asked Him what HE wants me to do tonight? In actual fact I'm just placing pressure on myself. So blind! :) So during the rest of my journey home I decided to chat with Him about what He wants me to do and I immediately felt less pressured and more motivated to do the things He highlighted.
I guess when the Bible says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.", it doesn't mean that I should do everything I want to do (and more) and then expect Him to tag along and give me strength while I burn myself out. :)
So yes, tonight has been quite relaxing actually, although I've been quite productive with Him. Being relaxed and at peace is a state of mind and is not dependent on the circumstances around you, even if you are super busy. Rather be busy with the things God wants you to do and His peace will be in your hearts and you will be relaxed. He knows which responsibilities you have with regards to work, family, friends etc. and He will lead you to finish all you need to do in His perfect timing. People often don't understand when I say that I'm relaxed at work (because my job is very demanding), but being in a relaxed and peaceful state with God keeps me focussed, friendly and calm through all the stressful situations. 
I have often heard people say that BUSY is short for Being Under Satan’s Yoke. Satan tries to keep us so busy that we burnout and lose all our peace and joy. He convinces us in our minds that everything is critical and that everything needs to be done NOW! I know that sometimes something needs to be treated as urgent and I have spent many nights at work working on deadlines, but in each one of those times God was with me and I did it with joy. I was even able to motivate and inspire others working with me. God has a plan all day and every day and He can even make a late night at work a blessed time. Be aware of Satan’s schemes, your time with God is the first thing which he wants to destroy. Ask that God will show you clearly which tasks to do first and ask Him to show you how to do everything to His glory with peace, love and joy.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Dealing with disappointment

We all experience disappointment some time or another. Maybe you are having a worse day than anticipated, maybe someone didn't meet your expectations, maybe a friend let you down or a promise was broken, it might be a huge disappointment or a small disappointment, but it still tries to steal our joy and cramp our style. Your heart feels like it's bleeding and you don't understand why people are so thoughtless, careless or selfish. You feel bad, because you are not sure if you are just overreacting or if it really is something that needs to be addressed. Point is, you just feel hurt and discouraged.
When we live in the Spirit, we can always be in a place of peace and joy. Once in my disappointment God gave me the following picture: my heart is made of clay and as disappointment comes it leaves imprints like footprints on my heart. Holes where it has trampled. At that moment we have a choice, we can allow the holes to harden and dry by harbouring the disappointment or we can choose to let the Spirit work through us, give it to Him and let the disappointment go before it even leaves an imprint on our day. God fills and moulds our hearts until there is no trace of disappointment left.
It's a fight, but it's a choice. We choose what gets us down and what drains us. We have the Spirit in us and if we choose to submit every situation to Him, He will restore our hearts. If we seek revenge, complain, scold or attack the other party, we only react on the impulses of the flesh and that can never bring healing to our hearts or give us the ability to forgive. I'm not saying that it's easy, it takes practice, but choosing to submit the situation to God and allow the Spirit to work through us, will always lead us into a place of peace and joy and enable us to respond in love.
God can never disappoint us. He is with us every moment and He catches us every time that we slip or fall. Choose Him and call on Him in every situation and do not allow the imprint to leave a mark on your heart. Allow your heart act like a sponge, every time when life squeezes the water out of you, allow the Spirit to immediately replenish you.
May our days never look the same again. May we live with open hearts, undisturbed by the challenges in our daily lives, untouched by the darts of the enemy. May we be fountains of peace, love and joy! 
"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 ESV)
Picture credit: weheartit

Sunday, 3 February 2013

God said what?!

So one day you find yourself happily doing your thing and God speaks. You think: “did I just hear correctly? You want me to do what?! You are giving me what?! Did He just say that?! Uhm.. well.. I didn’t ask for this, but it’s quite exciting..”
Maybe you are in that situation where God has told you a secret about yourself or about your future. You were super excited to hear His voice and excited because of what He said. Then you start sharing it with people and they start looking at you funny and questioning whether God could really tell you such a thing. Suddenly doubt creeps in and you become discouraged. “Can this really be? Was this really God or was it my imagination?”
I have spoken to a few people lately who seem to be facing this issue. God is a speaking God and He loves telling us things about ourselves and the amazing plans which He has for us. But more often than not, He only gives you one piece of the entire puzzle and you wonder: “how on earth is this going to fit into my life or how will this work out?” Just because He spoke to you today, doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen tomorrow. I have heard things spoken to me by God 5 years ago which still has not happened, but I know it’s in my future and I don’t have to doubt them.
So how do you deal with this word that you received from God? Maybe you are not even sure if it was God? My best advice would be to not share it with many people. Mention it to your closest friends and guard it in your heart. If God spoke this word then He will make it come to pass and He will walk this journey with you and lead you all the way. Ask Him to give you scripture to accompany His word.
“so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
God will always finish everything which He starts. You do not need to act on this word, unless He tells you to. Just relax and wait for His guidance. It might be months before He mentions anything again relating to the word. Put your focus on Jesus and follow Him. Don’t let the word distract you from what He has put in your hands at this moment. He will tell you the next step when the time is right.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
Now you see only a part of the journey, but in the future you will see it fully. The worst thing that we can do is try to make something happen in our own strength before the time is right. This will only discourage us and be a struggle. Breaking the door down or slamming against it with your fists will not make the journey easier, rather wait until God opens the door for you and tells you to walk through it.
The journey that we are on is such an incredibly exciting one and Jesus is taking us from glory to glory in Him. Be ready to learn everything which He wants to teach you in the meantime to prepare you for the calling that He has for you. Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). He is putting you in this situation to teach you, therefore open your heart and trust Him completely. He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2) and I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6) No one can walk this road for you, it's between you and God. He is for us and not against us. He delights in us and His plans are marvellous!
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt 6:33
Photo credit: Mandy Lynne