Times of Refreshing

Inspiring hearts to worship


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Take a moral holiday!

Flip Flops in the water    When life gets hectic it is nice to be able to forget about housework, bills, school runs and work and just do nothing! Over the Easter break we were fortunate enough to go on a much needed family holiday. It was so nice getting away for a week from the daily grind of everyday life and instead take leisurely walks through the woodlands, chill out by the pool side and, most importantly of all, spend my quiet time with the Lord enjoying the morning sunshine, surrounded by the local wildlife.

It was during my quiet time with the Lord one morning, that I happen to read these insightful words in ‘My utmost for His highest’ by Oswald Chambers: ‘You cannot have a moral holiday and remain moral, nor can you have a spiritual holiday and remain spiritual…’ (15 April). While we can take a break from our fast-paced everyday existence – and it is good to do so – one thing we cannot or should not take a break from is our spiritual life.

Physical holidays can refresh us, but taking a spiritual holiday will cause us harm.  Spiritual growth takes daily maintenance. Just like plants need water and light to keep its growth, our spiritual life needs to be maintained every day. There is no room for a ‘day off’ or ‘spiritual holiday’. When we do so our spiritual life diminishes. Every day we are required to check our spiritual and moral thermometer to make sure they are hot for God.

If you opt to take a spiritual holiday, you are choosing to do yourself a great dis-service. So keep your moral antenna up and moral compass on track, and be mindful of your spiritual growth by keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus who remains the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Father, when we disconnect from your Spirit, then we disconnect from the life-source that maintains our spiritual growth. Your Holy Spirit is our moral thermometer. Father, may I remain sensitive to Your Holy Spirit within me, so that I may maintain daily spiritual growth.

 In Jesus’ name.

 Amen

[Picture credit: holiday]

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Hope in God?

lilies

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Psalm 42:11 (NIV)

In moments of great turmoil it is so easy to lose confidence in what our Heavenly Father can do for us. Someone that knew this all too well was Sarah. She had lost hope in ever having a child. She was old, dried up and stopped believing that it could ever happen for her.

When the angel told Abraham they would have a child, she laughed (Gen 18:12). Not a laugh of joy, but one that expressed: Yeah right!  She scoffed. In that moment all her pain and disappointment was expressed in that laugh. In that laugh she showed that all hope of ever having a child was gone.

Do you question God’s ability to come through for you when you are faced with what seems an impossible situation? If He can be so concerned about nature (St Matt 6:26, 28-30) then surely what matters to you as His child, matters to Him! What have you been trusting God for that you no longer believe is possible? When faced with the impossible, it is very easy to doubt that what you are asking for, or waiting on will ever come to pass. That is exactly what Sarah experienced. It is one thing to believe in God, it is totally different to have faith (trust, reliance) in Him to come through for you.

Faith is more than just ‘trying harder’ to believe. Rather, faith develops as you deepen you relationship with God. A deepening relationship with your Heavenly Father can only develop as you get to ‘know’ Him through His Word, a snapshot of who He is.

Do you dare to throw caution to the wind and speak to your heart and say ‘Hope in God’. Let me assure you, when all else fails, God will not fail! In your darkest moment, God is a Father that you can trust. He is the one that you can turn to in moments of darkness and uncertainty, because when nothing appears hopeful, in God you can have hope. So yes, you can ‘Hope in God’.


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ROMANCING THE WORD

love god's word

Oh, How I love your law! I meditate on it all day long

(Psalm 119:97)

God wants you to encounter Him and experience a divine romance with Him that can only be experienced by drawing near to and pursuing Him. James says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). How can you draw near to God? By studying, His love letter to you: the Bible.

When you open the pages of the Bible, and begin to read what He has to say, you are engaging in the divine romance God has purposed for each one of us to experience.  It is through His Word that God reveals His heart to you, and it is there in His Word that you are able to hear His voice speaking directly to you. When you open the Bible and begin to read, God is there with you, speaking to your heart, waiting for you to respond to what He has said. God’s Word is a love letter straight from His heart to yours!

Why should you love God’s Word, the Bible?

As your love for His Word grows, your relationship with Him flourishes as you get to know and understand the heart of the Father. This is something the Psalmist knew, understood and valued, that is why he was able to declare his love for God’s word so explicitly: ‘Oh how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long’ (Psalm 119:97).

So ask yourself: how much do I love the Bible?

Do you love the Bible enough to open it every day and encounter the Father?

When you engage in reading God’s Word regularly you will discover that He speaks words that encourages you, (Josh 1:5 NIV); comforts you (Psalm 119:50); directs and guides you (Psalm119:105) and so much more.

God’s Word is a romance waiting to be encountered. Are you ready to fall in love with God’s Word today?

 

[Image credit: love God’s Word]

 


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DE-CLUTTERING YOUR MIND

Meditate on the word1

Recently a colleague introduced me to a book on simplifying your life by finding ways to de-clutter your environment and live a minimalist life. This got me to thinking about an old saying: ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’. Many quote this as being a verse from the Bible. In fact, it is not in the Bible at all! However I believe there is actually a strong biblical truth connected with those words. You see, I don’t know about you but when my home is clean and most of all clutter-free, I feel a real sense of peace, calm, and mental freedom. There is something about mess and clutter that makes you feel clogged and lethargic. This is why having a right mind-set is so important.

When we worry or preoccupy our mind with stressful thoughts, our vision or outlook on life becomes cluttered, and we become overwhelmed by those thoughts. Allowing God’s Word to soak through our spirits by mediating on it will enable us to live mentally clutter-free.

Once you have taken the bold step of de-cluttering your environment, real success comes in maintaining it. Scanning your environment to ensure it stays clutter-free has to be a regular activity. Otherwise before you know it your environment will return to its original cluttered state or worse.

To ensure your mind remains clutter-free, you must meditate on God’s Word often, of which the Bible puts it so well in these verses: ‘How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word’ Psalm 119:9

meditate on the word

So purpose today to make it a daily habit to de-clutter your mind, by daily furnishing it with the Word of God.

[Image credits: meditate 1;  Meditate2]


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THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

christmas 2014

For many Christmas is a time that is filled with excitement and celebration as preparations are made for the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Trees and homes are adorned with sparkling decorations. Distant friends are remembered with Christmas cards sent in the post. And not forgetting the joy of seeing the ecstatic smiles on the faces of young ones as they rip through yearlong-awaited gifts.  But while we enjoy all the pleasure and delight that Christmas brings, let’s not forget the real reason for the season.

With Christmas comes the ultimate time for us to totally surrender our hearts to our Saviour in worship. After all isn’t that what they did on the ‘first’ Christmas? With the birth of the Saviour, in Luke 2:13-14 as the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds declaring the good news, we find a host of angels joined together praising and worshipping God: “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased'” (NLT).

When we allow Jesus to be the main focus of our celebrations, and we allow worship to fill our hearts, then we will be focussing on what Christmas is truly about—the amazing gift of a Saviour.  By choosing to make room for the Saviour and surrendering yourself to a heart of worship. And by choosing to give space and time to the One we should all be honouring during this Christmas season, we will be keeping Christ at the centre of our Christmas. So  don’t forget the reason for this wonderful season, and keep Christ at the centre of your Christmas celebrations this year.

Dear Father, help me not to forget the real reason for this season of celebration. As I enter into your wonderful presence let me not forget the wonderful present you gave in the gift of your Son Christ Jesus. Thank you Father for this precious gift!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

[Picture credit: christmas 2014]


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Run well

run well

In some schools, in recent years, when it comes to competing there has been a popular saying: ‘it is not about winning, but it is all about taking part that counts’. But come on let’s face it can you imagine the Olympic and World Champion Usain Bolt declaring, ‘It’s taking part that really matters to me!’ I think not.

We all know when an athlete trains he does so to be the best. His intention when he gets on the field is to win. Thankfully in the race of life we can all anticipate being winners. For as we journey on this race of life, it is not about being first but rather it is all about running well in order to obtain the prize. And as Hebrews 12:1 encourages us we can only do this when we drop off every weight that could hinder our success.

Hebrews 12:1 also goes on to encourage us that in running a good race the most important quality to have is endurance: ‘let us run with endurance the race God has set before us’ (Hebrews 12:1). That’s because it is one thing to start a race, but maintaining stamina to complete it is a totally different thing.  Yet, as this scripture continues, there is only one thing we need to do in order to complete a successful race – simply by ‘keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith’.

If we do this we too will be able to join Paul in saying ‘I have finished the race…. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return’. (2 Tim 4:7-8, NLT)

So run a good race. Run with the intent to win the prize in order to hear: you ran a good race my faithful servant.

Picture credit: [run well]


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Soar Like an Eagle

soar like an eagle

How many times have you come to the Lord in prayer with a need that you so desperately require an answer for – where the sense of being swamped under by the weight of that situation, over which you feel you have no control, seems to totally overwhelm you?

I cannot count the number of times I have come to the Lord burdened with the weight of my problems, feeling at a loss as to how I am going to make it through. Yet in every one of those situations that I have faced, my God has proven faithful and I want you to know He will remain faithful to you.

You see when we come to the Lord, He has three responses to our prayers: yes, no and wait.  It’s great when the answer is yes; it might be disappointing when the response is no, but at least we know where we stand with that one. But what about those times when we don’t appear to get an answer at all? Well that is God’s way of telling us to wait. And we all know how frustrating waiting can be: waiting for a bus; waiting at the checkout to pay for our groceries; waiting for the ping of the microwave so we can eat our ‘instant’ meal.

But believe it or not there is a beauty in waiting, because as Isaiah 40:31 shows us, with it comes strength: ‘But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles …’ What this tells us is that if we allow ourselves to wait on God, in Him we will find the strength to face our circumstance. More importantly than that, we will soar in victory when the answer comes.

Do you feel as though you are drowning in your problem and are about to go under? Don’t fear! As you call on the Lord in prayer and wait on Him patiently for an answer, in your waiting strength will come that will lift you up into a realm of victory, that can only come from waiting on Him.

[image credits:  eagle]