5th January 2018
MY LIGHT BULB MOMENTS
Epiphany is known as a time of revelation. At the beginning of a new year I wonder what God will reveal to me in the coming days, weeks and months. What might He reveal to you? The possibilities are endless!
As I look back over the past years, I'm amazed at the number of times something has burst into my consciousness and caused me to think or re-think part of my life or a pending decision delayed by uncertainty. Yes, those "light bulb moments", they have great power and illumination if we only hold onto them, let them develop in our minds and not just shrug them off as some fleeting transient thought.
As Christians we can experience such moments reading the Bible or hearing a preacher's message, or during a prayer time. When we are still and our minds relaxed, God can 'speak' right into our consciousness - it can sometimes be a life changing moment!
Even in everyday life, an idea can suddenly drop into our minds. Sometimes it stops us in our tracks - maybe a light bulb moment. How many such important moments have I experienced and let them drift away in the river of lost memories? How few have I recognized as important and locked them into my mind for reflection and action? What about your experiences?
I remember one experience many years ago when something said in a church service, hit me like a bolt of lightning. I could not escape the simple message that directly addressed my search for God's direction in an important matter. It was a moment that changed my whole future for the better.
Many of us may not have such a shattering moment in our lives but we will have many less obvious light bulb moments, scattered through our days and months of this new year.
So my thought today is not to make more resolutions which are likely to be forgotten or not continued for very long. Instead, be open to God's light bulb moments in our lives. They can come at unexpected times. Like Mary when the shepherds told of all they had seen, the multitude of heaven's angels, the news of the Saviour in the manger, Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart - Luke 2v19.
These personal moments of illumination or even revelation, new opportunities suddenly coming before us, are to be treasured and pondered and allowed to develop into actions. So this new year, don't miss those light bulb moments which will certainly thrust themselves into your life more often that you might imagine. Value them, mark them as important signposts, guides, turning points, or whatever light they give you. Ponder them, pray them through, let them develop, and then act upon them.
May God bless you richly and illumine your life pathway throughout 2018
20th December 2017
JOY TO THE WORLD
A familiar Christmas carol proclaiming God's love and the joy it should bring to us, not only at Christmas time but each and every day of our lives.
It's not the transient joy of parties, presents, family gatherings, too much good food, or any other earthly sources that bring us moments of happiness and laughter. It's not just the joy of being in church and singing all the familiar carols and enjoying the nativity story acted out by young people.
The joy this carol speaks about is a joy that wells up from our deepest innermost being, our soul or our heart, whatever you might call that deep inner place that is the real you.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! The babe in that manger, the Son of God, sent to bring peace with God. A wonderful gift that is given from heaven to everyone who will receive him into their hearts. An unconditional gift which is offered to all, from the homeless, the addict, the unemployed, the ordinary person, the chief executive, the company director, presidents and royalty. Truly a gift without prejudice or distinction.
Let earth receive their King! Yes - a babe in a manger who is not only King of all kings, Lord of all, but God Himself in human form come to open a way for peace, reconciliation, and eternal life, for everyone who will receive him as their personal Lord and Saviour. Yet we are eager to receive the joy and the presents from human sources, but what about this great gift from God Himself?
Let every heart prepare Him room! When we receive gifts, some are quickly used up, eaten, worn out, or simply lose their attraction, only to be disposed of. Other gifts are more valued and we find space in our homes and time in our days to make use of them. What about God's gift from heaven? Can we make room in our hearts for such a priceless gift which lasts a lifetime and beyond? Is there still room in your life and your innermost self for God's everlasting gift?
And heaven and nature sing! There's no greater joy than to receive the gift of salvation, especially at Christmas. There's no greater joy than drawing closer to God in worship, prayer and service. There's no greater joy than realising all our imperfections, mistakes, and selfishness (these are all called sin!) can be forgiven by God Himself because of the birth of Jesus Christ into this world and through His willing sacrifice of His life on the cross at Calvary.
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns! So Christmas comes with joy for many. But of course for others it comes with sadness or loneliness. Many people enjoy Christmas while others struggle to survive Christmas. Our earthly joy can soon depart, our deep sorrows and hurts can fade if not actually disappear. But the deep joy of knowing the Saviour lasts a lifetime and beyond. It will carry us through all the highs and lows of life.
But that joy will only be ours through allowing the Lord to reign in our lives
Could you in deep sincerity reach out to receive that gift? Praying from your heart "Lord, take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to Thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise."
If you can do this you can receive that gift of salvation or if you already have that gift, you can draw even closer to God finding greater hope and purpose in your life as you follow in His ways of peace and love.
May God bless you richly this Christmas and every day of your life.
14th November 2017
There have been many times in my life when I've had to move out of my comfort zone; when I've felt I was not able to do what I was called on to do. I'm sure we've all been there and will continue to experience such feelings.
I remember the first time I had to give a talk to a group of about 30 technicians about a project I was working on. I was extremely nervous. I wanted to do well but I'd never had to give a presentation before. Would I make mistakes? Would they be bored? What would they think of me and the work I was to describe? I even wondered if I would run out of the meeting half way through!
Yes I prepared, even word for word; tried to memorise as much as possible; rehearsed it all to myself; --- until any little confidence I had totally disappeared.
The moment came to stand up and begin. My legs were shaking, my voice had almost dried up. Did I project any degree of confidence - not at all. But the group listened, they made allowance for my nervousness, they took in what I was describing. Then at the end, a few people asked questions. To my surprise I found myself able to give answers, informally and conversationally without being nervous. Afterwards one or two people told me it was an interesting talk and made no mention of my inexperienced presentation or my obvious nervousness.
Like me, many of them had been in the same kind of situation; gone through the inner turmoil and lack of confidence; gone through and come out with added experience and confidence. None of us had run away from the (in retrospect) small challenge, but had grown through the challenge and discomfort. Being pushed out of our comfort zone had, in fact, been a means of personal growth.
Over the years I've grown from being afraid of a tiny audience to being completely relaxed in front of a very large gathering and able to speak, not just for a few minutes, but for an hour or more when necessary.
We can take this common experience into the spiritual realm. When we feel weak, it's then that the strength from the Lord can invigorate us and take us through the difficult places and the hard challenges of life.
I'm reminded of the words Paul wrote to the Ephesians (6v10):
Build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of His mighty power. (Good News Bible)
Basilea Schlink commented on this passage:-
You need no longer be afraid whenever you feel weak and powerless, for you can enjoy the fulness of strength in your weakness. Live in close communion with Jesus, and God's strength will flow into you - just as the invigorating sap of the vine flows into its branches. So take care today to keep intact this union with the Lord, who is the source of your strength.