I found this a beautiful, honest story of love.
I hope you enjoy it and read more of the gorgeous Vanessa’s blogs.
I found this a beautiful, honest story of love.
I hope you enjoy it and read more of the gorgeous Vanessa’s blogs.
What are your priorities?
My dear friend, (I speak here to me as much as to you),
I hear you bemoan that there are not enough hours in your day to do all that you want to do, that you don’t have enough strength, ability, enough of this, or that, to do what you (think you) should be doing and want to do – not enough money, time, energy, resources…
You want to achieve, accomplish, be successful, make a difference, be somebody, do something great! Of course you do!
I think of the well known story of Martha fretting and Mary sitting at the feet of her Lord. Jesus said Mary had chosen the better path… yet I chose the name of Martha for my confirmation name!
And I think of Jesus himself frequently going off, often in the middle of the night, to find a quiet place to pray.
And the Lord says –
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
How do we seek Him first?
If we ask Him first (and not ask everyone else, and try every other avenue, and go to God as a last resort)!
If we give Him first place in our time, resources and energy – we give Him the first and best bits, not the scraps left over.
He says (John 15:7)
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
‘Remain in’/ ‘abide in’? –
We (maybe need to get up early and) go to a quiet place and spend time in prayer – we thank Him and pour out all our needs and concerns, and prayer requests, and we listen to His heart and what He wishes (to put on our heart) for us to do… (we remain in Him)
We read His word in Scripture and listen to what He has already told us, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak into our NOW and allowing God to convey to us what is on His heart for today. (His words remain in us).
Then we do/say what He has told us to do/say.
Allow Him to lead, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Not every job that needs doing, needs to be done by you.
Not every need is yours to serve and meet.
His priority is not for you to busy yourself, striving and stressing over things you have taken upon yourself, in your strength, because…
He wants you to give EVERYTHING over to Him and to trust Him to take care of it and to show you what He wants you to do.
I hear your sense of panic as you read this.
You want to serve God, to please Him, and you want to serve and meet the needs of all those around you…
However, you are not to be passive either. We have to turn up, put on HIS armour, face our enemy, use our talents, follow His strategy, and do and say what He gives us to do and say; but the strategy has to be His, the battle His, and then the victory and the outcome are His responsibility and to His glory.
Jesus says: (Matthew 6:25 – 33)
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? …27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
And Jesus says: (Matt 7: 7)
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Paul echoes Jesus’ words in Philippians 4:6-7 –
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Priorities for each day:
Prayer and thanksgiving
Study the Word
Rest (Sabbath and sleep)
You say, “But I don’t have time to do that!”
I hear you, loud and clear, but I humbly suggest that you “don’t have the time” TO NOT do these things.
Make the time to build your relationship with your Saviour!
Is it all about Jesus, or is it all about you and your plans and effort?
Seek Him first, then ALL these things (that you need) WILL be given to you.
Trust Him. Remember: His Yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Father God, I give you my life and my heart and my time – all 24 hours of every day – for you to use however You see fit! I entrust it all to You. All I have is Yours – from You and for You. It is enough. My time is in Your hands. You have eternity for me. Blessed be your name forever. Amen.
A few week s ago I wrote a post about miracles – 3 miracles that had come back to mind from a period of time living in London. But last weekend I witnessed three more miracles!
I called it “answered prayer” though, not miracles. And I’m not quite sure why.
Is there a difference between answered prayer and miracles?
I want to share this to encourage you to continue praying, and also to glorify God for what He does in our everyday lives – because God is indeed so very faithful, so very active and so very good. He calls us to pray for one another, to pray about everything and to pray without ceasing.
God really does care about the little details in our lives and we really can, and should, take every little thing that concerns us, or others, to God in prayer. As we are reminded in Philippians 4 v 6-7,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in EVERY situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.
Our hearts and minds and guarded, because we can completely trust God to make that “situation” fall in line with God’s plans and purposes. We can know peace, because we can trust Him.
Like all of us, there are many things that I pray about – personal, family, church, national, world-wide – sometimes more general prayers and sometimes more specific. Last week I was stirred to pray in a very visual way over a few issues. I think visually, so it seemed a helpful experience to pray this way too –
Firstly, I had been shown a picture of Person A’s leg, which had become terribly diseased, gangrenous, and they were afraid he would die, but were certain that if he lived he would lose the whole leg. Because I had seen this photograph, whilst praying I visualised God answering the prayer. I prayed for God to restore healthy circulation and to heal the leg completely and I visualised actually helping to massage life back into that solid black log, which is what the leg had appeared like in the photograph…
Person B, that I know, had been taken into hospital with a severe problem last week, and when praying for this one, I felt how frightened and alone she was feeling, so I prayed for healing, but I visualised giving her a very big hug and I asked God to give her a big hug, and to let her know how close He was to her, so she wouldn’t feel alone and would feel joy in this knowledge…
Person C, is a relative with anger issues that have got him into big trouble on a few occasions, and I had a call to say that he had been given a week’s notice from work, suddenly, and was on his way to see the boss. I prayed and visualised him taking deep breaths, calming right down and letting go of all the anger. I prayed that he would turn around and not visit the boss and that the boss would have a change of heart and God would turn this around…
I have prayed for many other people and situations, but I describe these three, because over a period of less than 24 hours at the weekend, I heard news of how God has answered these prayers.
On Saturday night, in a video call with a relative of Person A , I asked how A was and if he now has circulation back in his leg. She told me that he had nearly died, but recovered and has now been sent home and will not have to lose his leg! Praise and thanks and glory to God, for this answer to prayer, for this miracle of mercy and restoration. God is so good. I was so excited and happy and encouraged.
Now I am praying that he will acknowledge that it was God who saved his life and will come to know God as his eternal Saviour.
On Sunday morning, towards the end of church service, a brother shared that he had seen Person B in the hospital and she had been praising God who, she excitedly told him, had come to her in a dream and given her a big hug and a kiss!!!! Well, I was very excited and so thankful for that. Fancy coming to her in a dream. How ingenious God is! That has since encouraged me to pray for many people I would like to receive a revelation of God’s love – and a dream would be a wonderful way to do it!
Later on Sunday afternoon, I phoned to ask how it had gone with Person C. He had gone to see his boss, but had been calm and simply asked him why, had explained himself, and asked him to reconsider. The following day the boss told him he would lower his hourly rate slightly, but he will keep his job. God you are so faithful and so very good. I was so grateful and so excited again.
Honestly, I know that God answers prayer, but I was so encouraged and excited by such clear answers to prayer. In fact I was jumping and dancing with joy and phoned a few people to praise God with me for His care and love and power.
I have been encouraged to continue visualising and being specific in my prayers. I know that I am not twisting God’s arm, or making Him do something that is not on His heart, and I know it is nothing to do with me or even the way I am praying. I also know that others have been praying for these individuals too. And I know that God sees the bigger picture and that sometimes I pray for something and God does not answer it in the way that I had hoped. But I know that He hears me.
What has blessed me mostly, is that because I have been specific, I am able to see the answers to the prayers more clearly. It has taught me to be more intentional in my prayers, to write down specific prayers and to follow up how that person or situation is, so that I can really give thanks and glory to God.
Also it has encouraged me to follow up and to ask after people. Sometimes I pray for people when a request is made, or I see a need, but life takes over and I forget! I forget their need sometimes, if it is not mentioned again, or I forget when all is well again, that we even prayed.
I saw an image of the 10 lepers, all of whom were cleansed of the leprosy, but only one returned to thank Jesus – he was “made whole”.
Let’s remember to thank God continuously for the peace He gives us, knowing that we can bring EVERYTHING to Him in prayer and that we can trust Him with the outcome. And let us remember to thank Him and give Him glory for all the answered prayers, for all His provision and blessings.
This post ministered greatly to my heart and soul.
“You are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31, NIV)
“This is my Father’s world.” I recently heard Holy Spirit whisper to my heart these profound hymn lyrics as I was out and about. As I approached the main square of our city, the sky was extravagant. The Itaya River was up ahead. The beauty of the fading day rested on my senses. Holy Spirit pointed out to me how creation’s loveliness was overwhelmingly greater than the signs of poverty around the city. In spite of the bad things that happen here, this is my Father’s world.
Later, I was sitting in my rocking chair in our back yard, praying. He whispered it again. Gazing up at the soft clouds floating by, I took in His bounty. The green leaves greeted me brightly with their gentle rustling, and I received His generosity. The songbirds regaled me…
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Have you ever had one of those Holy Spirit revelations that sends you laughing and crying simultaneously and almost uncontrollably? I had one of those this morning, and it’s not a common occurrence, so I think it’s worth sharing.
The conclusion was – “Dawn, you don’t need to defend yourself!!!”
The revelation of truth is that I’m not good and have never been good and I don’t need to pretend to be.
God doesn’t love me because of something I’ve done, He loves me because He made me and I am His.
It is by grace I have been saved, through faith, and this is not from myself, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no-one can boast.(Eph 2:8-9)
Although I know this in my head, I am one of those people who has such poor self-esteem from a childhood of negative labels and emotional abuse, that I became both always internally critically harsh with myself, whilst also terribly sensitive to external criticism. My own internal critic is loud and unforgiving, but if someone else criticises me, I crumble and cry. I also acknowledge today that I defend myself and can take offence at criticism.I pray for a teachable spirit, but I still don’t seem to take correction well.
A few weeks ago, a good friend told me she thinks I ‘did my best’ (in a certain sensitive area of my life), but that I was ‘not good enough’. Those words pierced my heart and I felt they were deliberately cutting. I brought it all to God in tears and pain and defended myself against the colluding internal critic, by blaming all the external factors that had conspired against me to make my task impossible to do well. I blamed her, my past, all those others and myself. I was hurt. Very hurt. And the “poor me” syndrome raised its head and I thought of all those who had made my life difficult and not helped etc… A slippery slope, to be sure. In AA, they say “Poor me! Pour me another one!” I “forgave” my friend, but she was not happy with that, so I proceeded to get off my chest a couple of other things she had done which had really hurt me too. It was helpful for me to let go of these things, but she was very angry. I had defended myself and attacked her in retaliation. I hurt her in return. I repent of this.
This is not God’s way.
But I mess up.
Yes, I get it wrong, and sometimes I hurt and get impatient and fearful and spiteful and defensive… and all the things I don’t want to be.
I don’t want you to know that.
I want you to see me as a good Christian; as one who always forgives, always loves, always reaches out with kindness and Godly wisdom…
But, you know – I mess up. I am a broken pot. I am a sinner. That’s why I need a Saviour! I fall short every day! I was not good enough and I am not good enough, but by His Grace, His power is made perfect despite and in my weakness.
He loves me.
It is His grace, His righteousness.
I don’t need to pretend!
I don’t need to wear the “goody-two-shoes” mask any more.
I’m not good. He is!
I went into fits of laughter and tears as I saw, and then let God demolish, the defensive walls I have built up in my attempt to look good in my own eyes and to be what I believed other people wanted me to be.
I experienced such an amazing sense of release as I took off the mask (we all now know how uncomfortable masks are!)
I realised today that I have been using the wrong armour! I built up my own armour – it is not the Lord’s armour, but my own! I have a mask of what a good Christian should look like and a shield of defensiveness (to hide behind, or if anyone questions my motives or actions) and a sword of blame and offence against criticism.
Oh my Lord. Oh the peace, the rest that You give. “My burden is easy”, You say.
A friend of mine just sent me a text with “Jeremiah 31:3” quite out of the blue, as I came to the end of my time of reflection with my God, so I looked it up – “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness”, but I had a quick glance at the verse before, which confirmed His message to me – “The people who survive the sword will find favour in the desert. I will come to give rest to Israel.” I have survived the sword, a great many swords and now, in this desert, I have laid down my own sword. Now I take up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and I take up the Shield of Faith, with which I will defend against the fiery darts from the evil one.
I don’t need to fear Satan, the “Accuser” either. Because I am a sinner, saved by grace – that is all. That is the good news. It is not my work or my failure, but God’s love and grace alone that enables me to stand.
But I can relax and accept that I am not good. I will need reminding of course. Un-learning takes a long time.
I don’t need to strive and pretend to be good for Him to love me, or to use me for His glory.
Oh what peace, rest and joy in that revelation for this soul.
Praise be to God, my Saviour!
Relax kid! He sees you just as you are and He loves you with an everlasting love!!
Before the Cross, what were Jesus and His followers preaching?
Most of this can obviously be answered from accounts in scripture itself, but I am hoping that this can become a bit of a collaborative discussion so that you can give your ideas and help me to understand this better.
For several weeks I have been pondering on these questions, which took a deep urgency in my spirit. I felt the need to know what I should be preaching and what was the original message…
Today the message of the church is that of salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the disciples were ignorant of this message. Jesus was not preaching this either. It suddenly struck me that they weren’t preaching the message of the cross and resurrection from the dead, or the shedding of His blood to take away our sins… The cross and resurrection is what I equate with the Good News – The Story of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday! So what was the good news that the followers of Jesus preached?
My questions are: –
What did Jesus preach?
What did the 12 and the 72 preach, when Jesus sent them out?
What should I be preaching?
1 – John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Matt 3:1 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ”
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
2 – (Matt 4) Jesus Begins to Preach
Matt 4:12 – When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee…
17From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him…
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Jesus healed, loved, taught the people to love God and to apply love in their lives.. He called for repentance, forgave their sins and He called people to “Follow me!”
“For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”(Matt 9:13)
Matt 9:35 – Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. .. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
4 – Matthew 10- Jesus Sends Out the Twelve
“1Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness…
5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give…
… 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
The 12 disciples were some of the first believers in the gospel of the kingdom. They were among the faithful of Israel who trusted that Jesus was the Son of God and promised Messiah. They were sent only to the lost sheep of Israel – to those who knew the law of God and the prophets, those who were to expect and long for the coming of the Messiah… they followed the message of John the Baptist, who had prepared the way with the call to repentance…
What did it mean to preach “The Kingdom of God is near”? We know that they healed the sick and cast out demons in His name – which was a compelling evidence for the claim that the Kingdom of Heaven is near! But what else would it have meant? To the people of Israel, the message to repent and to turn back to God, would have been both familiar and very rich and meaningful. The people of Israel knew God’s laws, to which they must return.
When Jesus sent out the 72, it seems the message was slightly different and the instruction was not only to Israel, but to every town and place where He was to go.
Luke 10:1 – After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go…
9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town…
In Matthew and Luke’s accounts, the preaching seems to be –
“Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near”
In Mark’s account –
“The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15
The Purpose of John’s Gospel
31But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 3:36 – “The one who believes in the Son has eternal life; but the one who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
John 6: 29 – Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:40 – For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
The Great Commission to all followers of Jesus
Matt 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you …”
The Acts of the Apostles
Peter and the other disciples, continued to proclaim this message –
Acts 2:36“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
… 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 10:34 – Then Peter began to speak: [to Gentiles] “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him…
… 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.
John the Baptist and Jesus preached to CONFESS and REPENT of SINS, to TURN (back) TO GOD, BELIEVE in ‘JESUS – the MESSIAH and SON of GOD’, and believe THE GOOD NEWS that THE KINGDOM of HEAVEN – (the RULE AND REIGN OF GOD) – is NEAR at HAND.
TODAY IS THE DAY FOR SALVATION. Believe, be baptised and turn to God with all your heart, mind, strength… Everyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him is forgiven and saved from the wrath of God, for eternal life.
Salvation happens in a moment, but sanctification is a process that takes the rest of our lives, which is why He exhorts us also to “make disciples… baptising… and teaching…”
The Holy Spirit helps us in this mission too.
I love the assurance that He sends us to every town and place where He himself intends to go…
This is the message I need to preach, I believe.
But I also ask myself, How significant is the change in the message of Salvation after the death and resurrection of Jesus?
How different is the gospel as it needed to be presented to Gentiles and now, to people of today?
Please add your thoughts in the comments about what we need to preach today.
Oh that The Holy Spirit would still validate the preaching of the word with signs and wonders, that the lost may see and believe and be saved, and God may be seen and glorified. Amen.
This morning I had some memories of miracles that happened, when I lived in London, which to me were dramatic evidence of God’s supernatural protection. It is good for me to remember, to praise God and to encourage others with these testimonies.
I know that God protects us in so many ways, that we are often even unaware of, just as He answers our prayers continuously, but sometimes He does it in such a way as to really get our attention. These are three such jewels.
1 – First, I remembered the day that I got called out of class for a phone call from Maria (my au-pair girl) – she was beside herself with panic and distress as my two-year old Conor had fallen off the table and was lying on the floor, crying in pain and unable to move his neck or spine. Maria sobbed and gabbled that she had prayed like never before, panicked, tried to phone for an ambulance, but decided instead to phone me. I listened and had such a supernatural peace (and assurance of a miracle), that I was able to reassure her and tell her I was on my way… I collected Josh from his class and together we drove home (I so rarely had the car at school, so that was another blessing). I calmly explained to Josh, that Conor had had an accident, but was going to be fine and that Maria was terribly upset. When I arrived home, Conor was still immobile and moaning (he had been in the same position already for over 2 hours at this point), so I prayed over him and called the paramedics… Maria had candles out and was praying and promising God that, if He healed Conor, she would believe and attend Mass every week! The paramedics were wonderful, but they were afraid to move him, so after a careful examination they went to fetch a neck support and stretcher… I continued praising God and praying, declaring that he was going to be fine… When the paramedics approached Conor to put the neck support on him, he stopped crying, looked startled and jumped up and ran away!!! The paramedics went away laughing and I praised God.
2 – A few months later, a very distressed Maria shared her worry about a growth that had reappeared on her neck (she had had an identical one before and had had it surgically removed, as it was cancerous)… She let me pray for healing, in the name of Jesus, and by the morning, the growth had completely disappeared! All glory to God.
God is so good, but these two relatively dramatic events, witnessed first-hand by Maria, somehow still did not convince Maria… Yet! As far as I know, she still doesn’t go to church, but only God knows if she prays or believes. She knows what happened though! It reminds me of Jesus saying, “’If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16:31)
I am also aware that I witnessed God’s healing power in these events and yet I too often doubt, am fearful and do not always trust God’s providence or willingness to do the miraculous today. We are slow to learn and quick to forget the Lord.
3 – The other act of God’s obvious and dramatic protection at that time, was the day me and the boys were going to meet a crowd of friends at Hyde Park, for the “Party in the Park” event. We had worked out which bus we would need to get, to coordinate our rendezvous in the busy park entrance, but the boys faffed about and we missed our bus! I was annoyed and stressed about being late, but when we were finally on the next bus, heading into town, we passed the bus that we were supposed to be on –it had crashed into an overhanging tree, and the exact place where we always sat (the top, left-hand, front of the bus) was completely smashed in and full of tree. We had been protected from being badly injured in that crash. We all knew it and were so awestruck and grateful.
This incident has continued to remind me to trust and praise God in all circumstances, especially when circumstances don’t seem to be going to my plan and seem to be going “wrong”, according to my own limited understanding.
Of course, no miracle is greater than the miracle of God’s love for sinners like me and the miracle of Salvation in Jesus.
But I hope these testimonies from my own life encourage you, as they do me. Maybe you have your own testimonies that you need to remind yourself of and maybe even share to encourage others? All glory and praise to God.
Ever had an ‘ear-worm’?
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul…”
This has been mine all week and has thoroughly moved me and encouraged me.
How much we need His peace today, amidst all the change and uncertainty in the world.
As often happens, I was almost unaware of the triggers. However, after sharing Natasha’s post yesterday – “Peace like the Prince” (https://dawnfanshawe.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/peace-like-the-prince/) I began to sing it again and I then made the connection. I realised I was partly so attracted to her beautiful poem, because the song and assurance of PEACE, from the Prince of Peace, had been with me through the lyrics in this ear-worm…
“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul…”
The song had become my ear-worm, after listening to an amazing video of Stuart Neale at his worship altar, recorded on YouTube. Stuart reminded me of the man behind the song, who, despite suffering tremendous loss, was still able to find the peace to compose these incredible lyrics. (I detail the story and the lyrics below)
I would like to share the work of Stuart Croxford Neale, who is a wonderfully trained and experienced musician, whose heart is to express worship to the Lord. I was introduced to his music in a celebration webinar and an evening of “soaking” prayer. Later I found videos of his recordings which he does live, Saturdays at 11am (GMT) for the weekly celebration of Shabbat.
I hope his music encourages you, as it does me.
Stuart accompanied and toured with the singer Helen Shapiro, supporting her touring and recording activities. The late 90’s saw Stuart begin a deeper journey into worship music. Of special interest to Stuart is Davidic worship.
“It Is Well With My Soul” was penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss. This hymn was written after traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first two were the death of his four-year-old son and the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which ruined him financially. His business interests were further hit by the economic downturn of 1873, at which time he had planned to travel to England with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, to help with D. L. Moody’s upcoming evangelistic campaigns. In a late change of plan, he sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business. While crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the ship sank rapidly after a collision, and all four of Spafford’s daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone …”. Shortly afterwards, as Spafford travelled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!
Amen, Amen and Amen!!!
As my son would say – “Mum, that’s a Banger!”
I have to share this beautiful piece of writing. Thank you, Natasha and brother. 😀 Bless you both.
It has become blatantly apparent
That JESUS is the Prince of Peace
When boats were shaking and hearts were desperate
Desperate for help
Desperate for saving
He was right there with them
In the very situation were fear and panic existed, there he was with peace
There was a Prince
There was the Prince of Peace
When he was in a sticky situation with hungry people
And the people who walked with him and experienced his power doubted and fretted
He was at ease
He was peaceful
There was the Prince of peace
To think this is someone I have been forfeiting
I tried to maneuver around all the ways to find peace like a maze
But it has always been one track
I didn’t actively forfeit him though but I didn’t choose him either
To forfeit the very definition of “peace is not…
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Obedience – How that word still heckles me!
It is not a popular word today. But it’s the word that came to mind today, as a source of peace and grace.
Let me briefly take you on a little journey… with 2 ‘icon’ style images – one is of Gethsemane (an authentic Greek icon) – the other is a photograph I took and stuck onto a block. This is a photograph of a painting I did and this is the story of the painting:-
In 2009, I was reading Revelation (1:12-20) and I felt the command to “paint what you see”. This was unusual for me; I didn’t enjoy painting and to paint something so prescriptive was just not my cup of tea. But the thought persisted, so 2 months later, I began to research various styles of menorah (golden lampstands) and to design some of my own and sketch out a composition… Then I bought a large canvas and began to paint the “one like a son of man” and the menorah and all the various symbols, till each one was in place. I didn’t like the painting; technically it was very weak and style-wise – just not my thing. But I was stuck. I didn’t know how to finish the painting. I hadn’t depicted the alpha and the omega nor what I kept calling “the glory”. I was in a bad place emotionally (and therefore also spiritually) in my life and kept crying to God that I no longer knew what “the glory” was! So I covered the canvas with a sheet and it sat in a corner gathering dust. In 2019, visiting my family in Orkney, I suddenly remembered the painting and knew I had to finish it. I heard the same patient command. No annoyance; no condemnation; no mocking; just a repeat… so I came home and added the ‘alpha and the omega’ and ‘the glory’. This time I knew what to do. I finished the painting, amazed that it took 10 years to complete! Amazed that God still cared for me to finish it. The painting is technically still not great, nor is it still ‘my style’, but now I love it. The painting hangs in my bedroom above the keyboard on which I plink-plonk the praise songs I’m learning… It reminds me that He will come again in Glory; it reminds me that He loves all His different churches and that His Glory shines on them all as they gather around Him. It reminds me that He’s so patient and is not finished with me yet, but the work He has begun in me, He will bring to completion.
Also, very briefly, the garden of Gethsemane icon – it spoke to me over and over for a year, saying,
“Can you not watch with me for one hour?.. Watch and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation. The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak .” (Matt 26:40-41)
Eventually I obeyed Him, and that hour is my daily life source and blessing. He was so patient.
He does not condemn. He knows what we need and desires us to receive, but He doesn’t force us. When we obey, we (and often others) receive the blessing. If we do not obey, He waits until we allow Him to bless us. We can never out-give God. Whatever we give Him, He multiplies beyond measure.
I saw today the other image of Him in Gethsemane – praying,
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done.”
Even Jesus did not always want to obey, but He chose to do so. He understands our weakness and temptations, but He overcome and He gives us a way out, in His strength. Take heart. Be strong and courageous, for He has overcome the world. He did it for the joy set before Him and now He intercedes for you and me in the Father’s throne room. Amen.
‘I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”’
Revelation 1:12-20 (NIV)