Do not be afraid…

If you’re familiar with either The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Dad’s Army, you’ll know that the most famous quote from both is, “Don’t panic!!” But what happens to you when something alarming and unexpected happens? Do your stress levels rise as your mind works overtime exploring all the possible (and worst) scenarios? Do you have that horrible feeling of tightness in your gut that makes you feel sick and anxious and desperate? And, if you do, what can you do about it?

I remember when I was a new Christian, our cell group leader’s teenage son had not yet come home from an after-school sports event. Our group was arriving at their house and it was 8pm – they were becoming concerned! My first reaction was let’s go look for him. His parents’ reaction was let’s pray together and put the situation in God’s hands, THEN go look for him. I was concerned about wasting time and eager to go, but their experience told them that God is faithful and they could trust him to keep their son safe and guide us, since David could be anywhere between school and home, a distance of about 4 miles, or somewhere else entirely! No cell phones in those days!

So we prayed, then set off, all taking different routes to the school. His mum and I drove together, scanning pavements and side roads and, as we approached the school gates, suddenly we saw him standing at the bus stop outside! He’d been waiting for over two hours but the bus never arrived! When we said, “It’s getting dark, weren’t you scared?” he said, “No, because I knew you’d come.” That was a big lesson to me, both in the power of prayer and faith!

Do we know with certainty that someone will come and rescue us when we’re alone and the darkness is closing round us? David had complete faith in his parents, but they had put their faith in God, rather than their own strength, to keep their firstborn safe from harm. The Lord never leaves us nor forsakes us. There is no “might or maybe” about it – He WILL be with us! Always.

Do you recall a time when you were overwhelmed by fear? Sudden bad news, a loss, a poor diagnosis, a financial disaster, a crisis in your marriage or family…? Are you facing something now?

Do you know that the Lord is your strength, your shield, you defender, your strong tower, your fortress and refuge in times of trouble? He stands with us and for us.

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you. Deut 3:22
Do not be afraid of them because the Lord your God…will be with you. Deut 20:1
Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. Deut 20:3
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut 31:6
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deut 31:8
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Josh 1:9

These are just a very few of the encouragements that God gives in his Word. Even as he was talking then to Moses or Joshua, in the old testament, his Word speaks to US today because he is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Do not be afraid, put your trust in the God who delivers you.

Are you lost at sea?

Picture this…

You are floudering in the ocean. You have no boat, no point of reference. You have no idea how you ended up there or how deep the water is, but you’re way out of your depth, overwhelmed by fear, and you’re drowning.

Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of someone – a rescuer! You try to grab hold but he’s just out of reach. You start to panic and thrash about, but instead of coming to get you, he waits. Your strength is all but gone… you cry out! Then, as the water is about to close over your head and you are lost forever, strong arms take hold of you and a voice whispers in your ear, “Be still. I will save you.”

In your exhaustion, all you can do is let go and stop struggling. You tried everything, but you couldn’t save yourself.

And now you’re moving through the water, but you can’t see where you’re headed. All you can do is be at rest and feel the arms supporting you and know that as long as you remain still and trust your rescuer, he will take you through this “sea of troubles” to safety. He said he would. It’s what he does…

How many times do we try to save ourselves from all sorts of situations and feel overwhelmed with fear, as if we are about to drown..? Jesus is the only one who can save us, who never lets us sink, who moves at just the right time when we’ve exhausted our own efforts and finally look at him. He is right there, so close, waiting for us to let him BE our Saviour. It’s not just what he does – it’s who he is…

The Light of the World v. the light IN the world…

Does anyone else find the LED headlights of some newer cars absolutely blinding and downright offensive?!! The other night I was driving on a country lane and literally had to stop and put my hands over my eyes as I was so dazzled! I’d flashed my headlights briefly, in case their main beam was on accidentally, but no – the blinding searchlight continued to approach. Just as well there was nothing behind me but, nonetheless, that’s a dangerous situation to be in.

As I drove home, I reflected on how God’s Word (Jesus) is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. He walks beside us and illuminates our way, keeping us safe on the narrow path. The world wants to stop us in our tracks, dazzle us so we can’t see where we’re going and then leave us lost in the darkness!

All you need is love…

I like getting bargains in our local charity shop and had a look round recently as they had put a lot of Christmas stuff out. One of the items I bought was a little bag containing four wooden letters which stand up individually to spell the word LOVE. Or so I thought!

At home, I got the letters out and put up the L and the O. As I looked at the two remaining letters, I couldn’t work out why I had N and E left and no V! I thought, how silly, did they not realise it had the wrong letter in it? I can’t put these letters up spelling “LONE”!! It must have taken me a full minute to realise they were supposed to spell NOEL!

I did have a chuckle at myself but it got me thinking. I had made an assumption about what was in the bag. I then assumed it was someone else’s fault that my expectations were not met. But however you look at it, it was all in MY mind and nothing to do with anyone else!

We often think we know what’s going on, what people are thinking, why they behave a certain way or say what they do and that nothing is ever our fault or responsibility. But it’s our PRIDE that puts us and our feelings at the top of all other considerations and makes us assume we must always be right. We need to change our way of thinking – then we might be more often patient, kind and loving and less often cross, upset or disappointed!

Romans 12:2-3 NIV
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The Meaning of Christmas

Santa’s grotto, party popping,
Fairy lights and Christmas shopping,
Sadly we have gone away
From the true meaning of the day.

Christmas reminds us about the birth
Of God’s son Jesus, who came to earth.
Now it’s been hijacked by man, I fear,
And such a commercial time of year.

The children want more games and toys,
Computers, TVs, tech and noise!
Not wanting their Christmas to be marred
Dad puts it on his credit card.

As Christmas day arrives at last,
The oldies remember Christmas past
When families gathered to celebrate
And logs burned in the open grate.

When everyone met on Christmas morn
At church, to worship the babe new born.
Then came home to turkey and simple gifts,
And put aside their family rifts.

These days the kids are torn in two –
“Half their time with me and half with you.”
They play one off against the other
Unhappy Dad, unhappy Mother.

And so the meaning of Christmas is lost
Amidst financial and emotional cost.
Thank God, despite man’s bad behaviour,
That Jesus IS our Lord and Saviour!