10th September 2017
TAKING THINGS FOR GRANTED
Something happened the other day that made me realise just how often we take things for granted. In short I failed to recognise the great blessing God had provided in one aspect of my Christian life. What an indictment!
So easily we can just accept the good things of life without much thought. C.H. Spurgeon had something very pointed to say about taking the blessings of God for granted - I quote:
'Thousands of blessings come to us without our knowledge. We take them in at the back door, and put them away in the cellar. Now, praise takes note of them, preserves the invoice of favors received and records the goodness of the Lord. O friends, if you do this, you will never be short of reasons for praise! He who notices God’s mercy will never be without a mercy to notice.
The next thing is grateful memory.
Very much that God does for us we bury alive in the grave of oblivion. We receive His mercies as if they were common trash. They are no sooner come than they are gone, and the proverb truthfully says, “Bread eaten is soon forgotten.” Why, my brothers and sisters, the Lord may give you a thousand favors and you will not praise Him. But if He smites you with one little stroke of the whip, you grumble at Him! You write His mercies on the water and your own trials you engrave on granite! These things ought not to be. Maintain the memory of His great goodness. “Forget not all His benefits.” Call to remembrance your song in the night and remember the loving-kindnesses of the Lord.'
May we be swift to acknowledge even the smallest blessing in God's mercy, love and provision for us in daily life. We can be quick to find cause for complaint and slow to bring praise for all the good in our lives.
Those familiar words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4v4-9 can guide us into an attitude of recognising the positive things from God and becoming a people grateful for all the tiny and the bigger blessings that come our way hourly and daily.
"Rejoice in the lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
May you and I be alert to all the good things and blessings in our lives and be a thankful rejoicing people. Let's not join the ranks of the multitude who, too late, realise the great blessings and privileges they have received from God but taken for granted, missing so much positive good and joy in the process.
15th August 2017
NEW EVERY MORNING
Often we're in a routine. We awake in the morning at about the same time; we expect to follow a similar pattern every day or we have some set plans for our day.
Routine can become boring, unsatisfying and keep us from growing into better people. Instead we remain the "same old - same old" every day with little expectations from life in general. How sad!
Sometimes things turn out very diferently to our expectations. We get challenged by unexpected and unplanned events. Hopefully these may be simply doing different things than we had planned. Very rarely, one of life's major crises comes upon us. No one is immune to these unexpected challenges, even the most faithful and earnest Christians.
Paul had more than his fair share of difficulties, problems, oppositions, persecutions, imprisonments, hunger, poverty, and much more. How did that affect his faith and desire to serving God? He faced the challenges, adapted to his new circumstances, and continued to serve God as he was able.
Many older people will say they are thankful for every new morning when they awake. The reason is they still have life and opportunity to make the best of a new day.
Whatever a new morning will bring to our human experience, along with that day will come new mercies from God, new blessings, continuing love, a greater sense of His presence, and of course a realization of His great faithfulness.
We can remind ourselves of these things by reading Lamentations 3v22-24.
Every morning can be a new beginning, filled with new hopes, offering new opportunities and giving a constant reassurance that God is present and as He has promised will never leave us or forsake us - no matter what the new day may bring.
Even dull routine can become enlivened as we realize that every day can be different to any other day if only we seek the Lord as we arise from slumber. Seek His guidance for the day or even just hour by hour. Let us understand that with God, through our salvation in Jesus Christ, we have new life, new hope, new opportunity and greater trust in a loving God Who knows and comprehends all we face; our God who will bring us through by His faithfulness.
New every morning - Great is Thy faithfullness O Lord!
17th July 2017
INVESTING IN OURSELVES
Last week I was visiting a residential care home to spend some time with a member of my former church. At the end of this visit, I chatted with a young male carer who had come to this country from Africa. He was a personable friendly young man who was very ready to engage in conversation.
I wondered what his future held, because his present work had few prospects for advancement although the non-monetary rewards of caring for vulnerable people were great. As we chatted for a few minutes he told me how he was studying at a local university and trying to pay for his studies by working in that home. He didn't want to have a huge debt hindering his career at the end of his studies. He loved the work and loved caring for the people; but his ambition was to return to his home country with qualifications and life experience so that he could bring benefits to his own land.
He was taking time and much work to invest in himself with knowledge and experience to fit him for a career in Africa, where his knowledge and experience would be valuable to himself and others he was planning to serve.
I had great admiration for this young man, who was forsaking worldy pleasures such as discos and night clubs in order to better himself and become valuable to others and to his home country, as well as to help and encourage people in the present here in the UK.
In all our lives there are opportunities to better ourselves; both in God's work and in our ordinary lives, education and skills. We are reminded through many verses in Proverbs that the benefits of wisdom and understanding are great and to be sought earnestly.
Far too many people and Christians reach their later years only to realise the opportunities they had missed or ignored. Introspection brings home the fact that it's almost too late to redeem the time - it's gone never to be relived.
What legacy might we leave behind if we seek such wisdom and understanding, spiritually AND naturally? Will we, in later years mourn over lost opportunities and wasted years, or will we begin to invest in ourselves from this moment onwards?
It's never too late to make a difference; the example of that young man can speak volumes and bring motivation for each one of us. Don't let the coming opportunities slip past - time is limited and the scripture enjoins us to redeem the time NOW.
Eph 5:14-17 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.