Words to encourage
Regularly throughout these times of isolation and social distancing, Marilyn and Tracy will share some thoughts to bring comfort and hope. We pray they are a blessing to you.
- July 6th: How are you all on this 3rd day since the easing of the restrictions? Have you been out for a drink? Had your hair cut? Been shopping for clothes?I must confess that Marilyn and I haven't done anything like that yet but are hoping to soon, especially to get a haircut!
Many of us now have had the joy of being reunited with our friends and families after long months of being apart. I am hoping I will be able to see my mum soon; the first time for 4 months.
Yesterday when I was busy working at the computer Goldie suddenly came up to me and gave me a little nudge on the knee with his nose. This is his way of telling me about a sound that I haven't heard. He nudges me when the doorbell goes or when my mobile gives a text alert or when Marilyn wants me.There are several other sounds he tells me too, so when he nudged me yesterday I thought it was for a sound alert and asked him, as I do, 'what is it?'. I waited for him to take me to the sound but he just nudged me again. I was puzzled but then I realised: he wasn't telling me about a sound, he was reminding me that he was there!
He wanted me to notice him;
To spend a bit of time with Him;
To pay him some attention and give him a cuddleAnd suddenly the thought came clearly into my heart:
'I am here too!'
I was quite shocked - 'Lord of course you are here! I know you're here!'
'But I'd love you to notice me!'
I stopped in my tracks. My dog was nudging me because he wanted some actual time with me. Not just for me to assent to the fact that he was somewhere in the house but to actually 'be with him'.
If a dog cares about actual time 'being with me' how much more does God?
In Jer 31:3 it says: 'The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving devotion.'
He is there with you today longing for you to know how much you are in the centre of His attention. He notices you because He is devoted to you. He never stops thinking about you and wants to show you amazing things that will build you up and help you grow in His love and worship Him.
But He also longs that we notice Him; that we give conscious time to being with Him, loving Him, paying Him attention/
So He nudges us!
'I am here, look at me,' He is saying.
With Goldie its a physical nudge on my knee with His nose. With God it may be a bit different!
Maybe a scripture text or a line from a hymn will suddenly be in your mind?
Maybe a friend will call you, or text you, or smile at you and you feel warmed and happy?
Maybe your eye is drawn to a majestic tree? raindrops? a single flower pushing through the cracks in the pavement? a little bird soaring in the air currents?
Could these things be a nudge from God?
Wanting time with you?
For Him to love you
And you to love Him?
Just you and Him together?Why not open your heart to His nudges today?As Marilyn sings in her song 'Whispers of God''When I hear the birds singing in the trees
When I hear the gentle murmuring of the breeze
Then it seems that I'm hearing the whispers of God.' (c) Marilyn Baker.Be blessed today as you spend time noticing your God.
- July 2nd: Sometimes life can be a bit manic and disorientating. Earlier today when I put my computer on, Facebook came up with an option to change to its new DARK view. Inadvertently I clicked to agree and suddenly everything changed. Instead of a light, bright background that I could easily see, it was dark and strange. All the options were still in their usual places but I couldn't seem to navigate my way around easily. I felt disorientatedMaybe you too are feeling disorientated in life at present? The world is gradually opening up again and soon we'll be able to have our hair cut! But joking aside it is a disorientating phase to be in, in some ways even more so than when lockdown first began. Then the way of life we had to embrace was so different it was crystal clear what we needed to do; not easy but clear. But now it is confusing and maybe what seemed bright and obvious before, now seems dark and uncertain?
But God wants to give us joy in our hearts that He is at work even when things seem disorientating. He is saying 'put your hand in mine, listen for my voice of peace and certainty. My wisdom is true, my ways are higher. Listen to me, beloved one and I will make the rough places smooth as you walk the path with me. I will guide you and uphold you and keep you in my peace. I will bring you through and then use you to help bring others through who are floundering. '
This is a beautiful word of encouragement to each of us and I was thinking about that passage in Rev 3 that we looked at on Tuesday. The next phrase in that passage says: 'Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.' (Rev 3:12) That word 'overcomes' can seem a bit scary. We can think, 'I crumble so easily I can never be an overcomer.' We might think of people who take big steps or do amazing things as overcomers but not us? But the Lord looks upon us differently. He sees the person in constant pain, yet still holding on to hope; He sees the one who has so little yet gives everything to ensure her children are happy; He sees the one paralysed by depression yet somehow clinging on to faith. . . He sees each tiny step, each smile through the tears; each gift to bless someone else; each act of love out of the sacrifice of weariness or fear. . . He sees and as He sees He works something amazing inside of us, the power and anointing to be a pillar - someone who can lift up and support others even as they are lifted up and supported themselves. You are that pillar in the temple of your God, standing not alone but with all the other 'overcoming pillars alongside you. You are surrounded. You are supported. You are supporting others and raising the platform of God's living presence.Maybe take some time over the next two days to think about these words and how God wants to bless you through them?As Marilyn sings in 'Nothing More Important:
'I speak to you child because I love you,
You are very dear to me.
I long to talk to you so much
And let you feel my touch
On each part of you life and on all you do. . .' (c) Marilyn Baker
- June 30th: On Sunday evening Marilyn and I led a church service via zoom and read out some verses from the letter to the Philadelphian Church in Rev 3: 5 - 15 The following verses from this amazing letter really spoke to me as God's word for us all in these times we are in now.'I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one will take away your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God . . . and my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'John taught us: 'Hold on to what you have.' This ties in with my thought a couple of weeks ago when I nearly dropped my 'JOY' mug and God told me to 'hold tightly to my joy. Holding on to what we have is so important, not just for our own selves but for the release of God's power and love into our world to be truly effective. What do we have in Him? Sometimes it can be really helpful to make a list of all the things God has given us and does for us, or to have symbols that remind us if we are not 'lists' people! Some of the things I can immediately think of that I have in Him are full forgiveness; the gift and promise of eternal life; a new identity as His beloved daughter and a new purpose as co heir with Christ. Other things that come into those gifts are that in HIm I am pure, wholly accepted; beautiful; powerful and the friend in whom He loves to share His heart.
These are just some of the truths, I am sure you can think of many more. But the key is that He wants us to hold tight onto them so that no one, ie the enemy, can steal our crown. The crown is symbolic of many things, but one of those things is to do with the fact that the crown sits on our heads and so represents our thinking. It's in the area of our thoughts that the devil most loves to rob us because if our thoughts are full of negatives about ourselves we become immobilised and even stand and walk with our heads down which would make any crown fall off!
The heart of this is that God longs for us 'to live and move and have our being' in the truth of what He has made us, given to us and says about us. I so easily get discouraged and feel a failure and these feelings really do immobilise me. I need to take hold of what God says about me, that in Him I am all beautiful without any flaw! (Song of Solomon)
On Wed we will look at what it means to be the pillar in this passage, but today be encouraged to know who you are in Him. Take time to list or have some way of seeing all the beautiful things He has done for you or says about you. Stand up straight, both literally and symbolically so that your crown will not fall off or be stolen from you. God so wants to bless you with His love so that every part of your life and mine is radiating the truth of what He has given us.
As Marilyn sings:
'He called my name and made me His own.
To Him I am precious, a jewel in His crown.
His blood has cleansed me, by Him I'm loved and known.
And He says that I'll be with Him on His throne.' (c) Marilyn Baker.
- June 27th: Step by step we are beginning to move out of lockdown although the way seems confusing and quite fraught. This morning a picture came to me of a young child being carried by their father. The child was snuggling into Father's chest, head tucked under his chin. It was a picture of security and rest as described in Deuteronomy 33:12 'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him for He shields Him all day long and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.'Isn't that a wonderful promise that the Lord shields us all day long? Some of you may have been shielded these last 4 months because of the threat of Covid - 19. As you start to come out of your shielded place He is reassuring you that you are His beloved and you belong in that place of rest, relaxing in His love, snuggled into His chest.
I also sense that some of you are struggling with shock because of hearing some unexpected bad news. Sometimes bad news hits us like a thunderclap and we feel helpless and overwhelmed. Yesterday Marilyn and I were getting on with some household things and suddenly in the space of a few seconds, a freak gust of wind like a mini tornado surged through open windows and back door, swirled around the house the house, slammed the kitchen door and smashed its glass. We just heard an almighty bang and didn't discover the glass all over the floor for quite a while as it just hadn't occurred to me that anything had broken. when we found it and realised that Goldie had been walking around I felt really shocked. How could this happen on a hot summers day? It took quite a while to get all the glass up and I felt kind of shaken and disbelieving, upset with God, but He was there with us. He had protected Goldie from any injury. He had protected us. He was with us to give peace and strength and we needed to come to Him and consciously 'snuggle' into Him. Ps 46:1 'God is our refuge and strength an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. ' When there are dramatic physical manifestations like this the shock is colossal but equally when we hear news of things like a diagnosis, a loved one who is struggling or who has passed away, a notice of redundancy or loss of money, a rift in a dear relationship.....All these things and many others have the power to surge through our lives and smash all we were secure in. Our mountains that we thought would last forever have gone in a flash. we are staggering and lost....
Is that you today?
God your Father is saying 'It's ok. I am with you and I am your refuge and strength. Yes the very foundations of your life may shake and change, but I AM a refuge that will never ever change. and I am there with you right now to help you and give you strength. Come into that place of being snuggled under my chin and feel my heartbeat of love ever sounding.'
Praying you will know the peace and strength of His wonderful presence with you today whatever else is going on in your life.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'All I Ever Do Is Love You'
'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Word goes on forever, my word lives on forever. All I ever do is love you. . .'
- June 24th: Our thoughts today are focusing on the tenderness of God and his responsiveness to our prayers. It says in Isaiah 63:9 - In all their distresses he was distressed, and in Hebrews 4:15 that he is not untouched by the feelings of our infirmities. He promises to be a very present help in trouble, Psalm 46:1.A pastor was visiting a town where he was due to do some ministry, and found that the hotel where he was staying was near to a red light area. He went out in the evening to get a sandwich and a pimp accosted him, pointing out a girl to him. She looked so young and vulnerable. The pastor felt anger rising in his heart as he saw her. He thought, this beautiful person was created to know God's love, not to be used and devalued like this. He prayed quickly and then went up to her. He told her his name and that he was a pastor and said that he knew God had a special plan for her life, that he cared so much about her, and wanted her to know and experience him. She just looked disinterested. But he pressed on suggesting that they prayed. "Can we ask God together what that plan might be for you?" She'd never heard of such a thing and looked extremely doubtful, but in the end she agreed. He said, I'll pray first and you repeat it after me. She did this dutifully, and then he said, "just be still now, and listen, because God will speak something inside your heart." They were silent for a few moments, Then in amazement she looked up. I think I've heard something she said." "What's that?" "Well, the idea came that I could be a cook!" "Do you like cooking?" He asked smiling, "yes, I think I do," she said.
"Well,” this is just the beginning. If you're really going to do this, you need to know the next step to take. So let's pray again and asked Father what that is." This time she seemed more enthusiastic. Sure enough, after waiting quietly again, she looked up and said, "I think he's told me to ring my uncle, but I have not spoken to him for years because my parents had a disagreement with him so we were never in touch." The pastor asked her to promise to do it nevertheless, and gave her his number so she could let him know what happened. The outcome was wonderful. It turned out that her uncle and his wife were Christians and owned a diner. they invited her to come and live with them and she found she did indeed have a flare for cooking. Ultimately she made a fantastic difference to their business with all the fresh ideas she was bringing.
There are some real lessons to be learnt here. God reached into her heart with such care, making Himself known to her in a very real and practical way.
The pastor utterly believed God would do this, knowing His deep and passionate commitment to rescue her. The pastor also understood fully the meaning of the verses in Jeremiah 29 11 that God had a plan for this dear girl, wanting to give her hope and a future.
The challenge for me is that the pastor knew God and trusted him so implicitly that he reached out to her, knowing that God would pull out all the stops for her even though she had no expectation at all. His faith enabled him to do this. I'm not sure I know Jesus in such an intimate way myself, but I really long to.
Are we able to help people have encounters like that? It may not happen in just the same way, but do we have a simple expectation that as we pray God is hearing and responding to the needs of those around us? He is passionate to reach out to all whose hearts are broken or who need his peace. He longs to bring people into his family where they can find new meaning and purpose.
Do you want to be his instrument today? Open your heart afresh and ask him to fill you so that the aroma of Christ, His very presence will touch those around you bringing joy instead of mourning and beauty instead of ashes.
Make me your instrument of love today Lord.As my song ‘All That I Am’ expresses
‘All that I need comes from you Lord
And all I ever hope to be.
The anointing you give me
Prepares and equips me
Making me effective for you.’
- June 22nd: As a friend said earlier, Welcome to summer! Summer is here and seems to have been here for quite a while with some of the lovely weather we've had already. I believe today that God wants us to have that sense of 'welcome' in our hearts. Welcome not just of a new season but welcome of all that He wants to bring about in our lives, in our families, churches communities, nation and world. Are we expectant? Are we hopeful? We have been through very difficult and painful times and are not out of the woods yet. Some of us may still feel totally stuck in the middle of those woods, paralysed by all that's happened and unable to see any hope. But In the last post with my friend Hellen, I shared her lovely poem/revelation of the Lord being constantly with us, always loving and never changing. All who are struggling and feeling deep anxiety about the future, He is with you in all His love and understanding, longing to take the weight of your struggle and give you His peace.
But as well as peace I believe today that Father wants to put a holy anticipation in our hearts of the good things He is beginning to unfold. When Jesus was just starting in His ministry He was walking one day by the sea of Galilee and saw some fishermen mending their nets. He called over to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.' It says they left everything and followed Him. There must have been something so enticing and warm, even exciting emanating from Him. They had to leave behind not just their nets, but everything that made their lives normal. And as Hellen shared yesterday, stepping into a new normal can be very confusing! We know from the gospel accounts that Jesus disciples did mess up and get things wrong and were frequently overwhelmed, yet they still pressed forward into this new way of being.
How does Jesus want me and you to step forward today? As we start to create our own 'new normal' are there dreams in your heart of things you'd love to do or to see happen? My pastor Pete Smart shared in our church prayer group this morning that he felt God had shown him that 'someone is contemplating making a prophetic knitted item including some crochet within the knitting. I believe He wants to encourage you to "go for it" as it will bring healing.' I asked Pete if I could share that word on here as I felt an excitement within me that God is so delighting in us connecting with our dreams and longings and wants to help us start to 'realise' them. What are you dreaming of or longing to step into? Now is the season when new things can start to happen, new ways of reaching out, of using our gifts, of being creative, of lifting up those who are struggling. After Pete shared that word one of the group remembered that they'd seen some knitted birds and rainbows that someone had put in trees in our high street. How amazing and lovely God our wonderful encourager, says today, 'Go for it.'I long myself to step out in new ways of bringing encouragement to those who are struggling and maybe to do more dances. What about you?
As Marilyn sings:
God has called you, He has chosen you
He really loves you,
He's always there beside you
And as you lean on Him
He will give you the resources of Heaven.'
'Resources of Heaven' (c) Marilyn Baker.
May you know joy and anticipation in your heart as you consider 'Going for it' with Him today.
- June 20th: Marilyn and I were chatting and realised we had similar feelings, that while we were happy that the rate of infection is changing and restrictions are easing, this doesn't mean that returning to 'life' is plain sailing. It can make us feel nervous to take up certain responsibilities again and there's so much confusion about what we can and can't do with the rules constantly changing. We all have routines that help us to feel safe and 'at home' in our world, so what happens when those routines are taken away, then start to be restored yet in a different way? I went into town for the first time in 4 months this week and it felt very strange; the same high street yet so many shops and businesses closed; distancing tape everywhere; arrows pointing which way I should walk, a guilt if I turn off the correct direction because I've already seen the item I need at the front, trying to ascertain if people are speaking through their face masks. . .It's tempting to hide away but even as I contemplate that, I know its not the answer. Our answer is looking to our loving Heavenly Father who as James says: 'Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.' Our world will not always have this virus but it WILL always be in a state of flux, full of uncertainty and unrest. Yet we ourselves CAN be at peace and active channels of that peace to those around us. God is calling us not to hide away but to hide in Him, to lift our fear and anxiety into His hands and choose to rest in His love; to know He is always there for us and in that knowledge we can be at peace and give that peace away.
Our friend Hellen Frost whose poem we shared at the beginning of lockdown has written another poem that beautifully captures these rather rambly thoughts. I share it here with Hellen's permission.Coming out of lockdownIt’s all unknown again
I got used to lockdown
The “new normal”
It was hard at the start
But then I developed a new routine
I felt safe
I found new ways of talking,
Being with othersBut now things are changing
It’s all different
A new new normal
It’s not like it was before lockdown
It changes almost daily
What can I do?
What can’t I do?
Who with?But then I suddenly feel a calmness
A voice gently reassuring me
I’m still here
I haven’t changed
I am your constant
It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world
I’m by your side always
Let’s work through this together
Do not worry
Give me your fears and anxieties
Receive my peace in return
And rest in me.(c) Hellen Frost.May you know His calmness and peace stilling your heart today.
- June 15th: With many of the restrictions easing there is a sense that we are now in a season of moving forward and starting to make contact with our loved ones again and take new steps. It is a time to be encouraged. However, this morning I felt discouraged because of a rather cutting remark from someone in a text. I felt small and embarrassed and I was hearing all kinds of negative thoughts. I knew I had a choice to make.I was at a junction and could either follow a path that would take me into negativity and discouragement or listen to God's words of truth and allow my heart to be lifted up. As I reflected, this little verse from S of S: 4:7 came to me. God says to us through the words of Solomon to his beloved: 'all beautiful you are, my darling, there is no flaw in you.' In my discouragement God wanted to lift me up and to say that to Him I am beautiful and flawless. He sees me so differently to how I see myself and I and all of us need to come under the banner of His love and life changing truth. God is saying I am alongside you today wanting to encourage you. God is with you to fill you with new strength and inner joy. We get discouraged when we give ourselves to a project or a relationship but it goes wrong. Or when we pray and our prayers seem to hit the ceiling or when we keep promising ourselves that we will improve in an area of weakness only to find we've fallen on our faces yet again.But just as Paul exhorted people to 'never give up' So God says to you and me today 'Don't give up.' When Elijah ran away from Jezebel's furious threats he was burnt out after his mammoth victory against the prophets of Baal and the might of Ahab. He wanted to die but the angel of the Lord came alongside him and gave him food and told him to rest!Encouragement comes as we allow ourselves to be looked after at times. When Peter was giving up, overcome with guilt about disowning Jesus, the resurrected Jesus picked him out to draw alongside and to give him a new sense of purpose. When the woman who suffered chronic hemorrhaging reached out for healing, Jesus not only made her well but drew her out before the crowd so he could take away her heart weariness at being constantly treated as invisible and unclean. There are so many examples of how God loves to build us up and renew us in His love.
We can feel full of flaws but God says that with His Spirit within us our very flaws become channels of His beauty. However low you may feel today, God's encouragement sets our hearts free to soar because we know we are loved.
''Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.' Psalm 34:5As Marilyn sings:Relaxing in the presence of Jesus,
Resting in the shelter of His love
Basking in acceptance and forgiveness
Joined to our Father,
Citizens of Heaven above. . .May you know the joy of His encouragement today
- June 12th: We've had the enormous privilege these last 2 days of leading some Listening to God workshops via Zoom and they were very precious times. Thank you those of you who signed in and came, it was so lovely to see you and chat with you. If any of you are interested in attending a future Zoom event please let us know . It may be listening to God again or a different theme but it seems a real opportunity to experience God's love together.One thing that came over in quite a deep way from the various things people shared as they listened to His heart, was His desire to hold us in His peace. One lady was looking at a picture of a girl holding her father's hand as they both gazed out to sea. The picture communicated a sense of safety, that the father was in control for the future; the lady remembered how when she was a child her dad had held her hand on walks and sometimes she would squeeze his hand as a way of saying 'I love you dad' and he would squeeze hers back as a way of saying 'I love you too.' This tender memory really spoke to me and I felt today God is wanting to gently squeeze your hand as you go through your day and say, 'I love you, I am with you, I'm in control and I give you my peace.'
In Mark 4:35 - 41 we read the story of Jesus calming the storm with the famous words 'peace be still' When he spoke those words the waves were crashing down onto the boat because of a furious squall that had blown up. It says their boat was nearly swamped and must have been tossing around violently in the turbulent water. These were seasoned fishermen. They knew the lake and its tempestuous character yet it says they were 'terrified.' They could hardly hold their balance on the slippery deck as the waters roared and plunged.
Sometimes life can feel like that too and we may be taken by surprise at our reactions of fear and inability to cope, because after all, are we not seasoned Christians? But God made us and made our emotions too and knows how we can suddenly become overwhelmed. But He wants to empower us to enter into the same rest that He had in that moment. The rest that knew however big and powerful those waves were, He was safe in His Father's love and had His Father's authority to rebuke that storm and bring it into submission to the Father's peace.
Today He speaks those same words of loving authority to any storm that you or I are feeling overwhelmed by : 'Peace be Still.'
One lady in our Zoom meeting who experienced God's touch shared these lovely words from her calendar which she noticed after the meeting. She has given me permission to share them here; the calendar is by Sarah Young and these words are taken from her book, Jesus Calling - Enjoing Peace in His Presence. The Scriptures are 1 Thess 5:17 and Psalm 62:5 Be encouraged by these words today
'Rest in me, my child. Give your mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen. Pray continually asking my Spirit to take charge of the details of this day Remember that you are on a journey with Me. When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility you ignore your constant Companion who sustains you moment by moment. As you gaze anxiously into the distance you don't even feel the strong grip of my hand holding yours. My child, remembrance of me is a daily discipline. Never lose sight of my presence with you. This will keep you resting in me all day, every day.' (c) Sarah Young.As Marilyn sings 'Rest in my love, relax in my care. . .'Praying you will know His wonderful peace and rest today and His calm in any storm you are experiencing.
- June 10th: Today there have been many things battling for my attention including my irritation at my overly long hair; a personal sense of disappointment about something; the effort of trying to make technical things work well for our zoom meetings this week; sadness for loved ones who are struggling and for the country as we try to recover and hope as the rate of infection goes down. . .In the midst of all our conflicting thoughts and feelings God wants to speak into our hearts with His whisper of love.
In 1 Kings 18:11 - 13 we read how Elijah experienced that whisper when he was in a season of great emotional trauma and physical and mental exhaustion:
'. . .the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire But the Lord was not in the fire and after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, what are you doing here, Elijah?'
Do you feel deep down that when God speaks or acts it will be to turn your life upside down, blow through all the things you hold dear or leave you dried out and empty? God was showing Elijah that He came full of desire to enter into a conversation. He wanted to hear what mattered to Elijah. He wanted him to express his grief, loneliness and disillusionment. He knows how when we feel overwhelmed or exhausted we lose our God centred perspective and start thinking wrongly. Elijah was thinking wrongly that he was alone in his faith for God still had many who were trusting in Him and walking with Him. When God asked Elijah what he was doing there it was as if a shaft of light began to come into that dark wounded area of his heart. God kept whispering, giving Elijah more illumination with every word and with each thought that came to him from God's heart, he was strengthened as his perspective changed.
God wants to whisper to you and me today with words that will enter into the earthquakes of our confusion, fear, disillusionment and exhaustion and bring peace. It may be the simplest of thoughts dropping into your consciousness; it may be something you are looking at like a wildflower or a bird but with that thought He will still your heart and empower you to grow in the truth. I remember once I felt so upset that once again I'd missed an important deadline. I was saying in my heart, 'you are useless, you're just a failure.' The clear thought came back to me, 'You may have failed to organise your time well but you are not A Failure. You are my most precious daughter.' With that gentle whisper my perspective changed and deeper healing came.How does He want to whisper to you today?As Marilyn sings in Nothing More Important
I speak to you child, because I love you
You are very dear to me.
I want to talk to you so much
And let you feel my touch
On each part of your life and on all you do...' (c) Marilyn BakerBe blessed today as you hear His voice of love
- June 8th: We hope you had a good weekend? Like so many I have been feeling very disturbed and sad over the tragic murder of George Floyd and empathise with the deep pain through generations of injustice that has led to the global protests and demonstrations. Yes black lives matter. They matter 100%, for every single person, whatever the colour of their skin was made in God's image and was planned in love even before this world began.And it was with that thought that a fresh understanding came to me, 'Every Life Matters.'
When we look at stories like David being chosen by God to be the new King despite his own parents not counting him as one of their sons; Jesus affirming people like Zaccheus or the woman caught in adultery, or the Spirit sending Philip to witness to the Ethiopian eunuch or the angel of the Lord rescuing Hagar when she fell victim to Sarai's injustice. . .we see how tenderly God loves each individual, you, me and that person over there. We are all the apple of His eye and He works tirelessly on behalf of the oppressed as He is a God of justice and compassion
But the thing that challenges me is how easily do I get caught up with the rightness and passion of a movement like Black Lives Matter, yet forget to examine my own heart and reactions to those around me? How often do I say 'it's terrible how the old, homeless weak, are being ignored or treated unjustly,' yet fail myself to go and spend time with someone I feel uncomfortable with or presume someone will act in a certain negative way just because I feel intimidated by them?
Its easy to get sucked into the crowd but that was something Jesus never did. When the group mentality was to reject and judge, Jesus accepted and loved. When the crowd sought to sweep him into kingship there and then he took refuge in his Father's heart.
It's vital for us to be a people of justice and passion, to release the oppressed and silence the mocking tongue, to stand up for what is right and hate what is evil. But the most vital thing of all is to let God's heart of love reign in our own hearts so that in our small everyday thoughts, words and actions we can love the one in front of us however different to us in culture, form or lifestyle they may be.
Every Life Matters
As Marilyn's song words express in her beautiful song based on 1 Corinthians 13:4 - 7 Let''s make it our prayer that we will be filled to overflowing with the love of God that sees every single person as precious and significant.Lord let there be, true love in me
Love that's never dim
Love that speaks of Him
Love that never falters
Love that never dies
Love that bears the burden
Love that's always wise.
Love that cares for all men
Love to banish fear
Love that will remember
God is always near
Love that's always helpful
Love that's always kind
Love that's always tender
Bringing peace of mind.
This is what the Spirit
Tells me that I need,
For the love of Jesus
To fill my life indeed.Amen, Lord Jesus
- June 5th: You'll notice a difference in style today because Tracy usually writes our encouragements, but I, Marilyn, am having a shot at it this time. There's a well-known passage in Ephesians 3 16-20. It's all about God wanting to bring us revelation deep into our hearts of the knowledge of him. This word knowledge means not just knowing something in our heads, but an inner intimate knowing. This is how God wants us to know him. We can't do this on our own. He has to reveal himself to us through scriptures and by his Holy Spirit speaking to us and making the Bible real. But it's his deepest desire to do that. Sometimes we get so busy, we don't sit down and just wait in his presence so we can tune in. Yet we know that in order for human friendships to flourish, we need to take time to listen to each other and to hear about each others interests and concerns. So it is with our Father God. He has things He wants to impart to our hearts, but he needs time to tell us, and we need time and space to digest it.
So let's see what this lovely passage says; Pauls prayer in Eph 3:16
And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.
Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!
There is so much here, but I will just mention a couple of things.
Verse 16: that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power.
The riches of his glory and magnificence of his resources are meant to be filling us. They are limitless and as we trust him to give us all we need for every occasion, he promises that his mighty strength will literally flood our innermost beings. He loves to enable us, and he will never withhold what we need. He is for usand his strength is made perfect in our weakness!
Verse 17: Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.
The life of Christ is released in us as we constantly use our faith. This means expecting him to give us all the resources we need. It's believing he is really able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine in any situation, our focus is not so much on the problem but on what he can do. I love to think of him as a really close friend. Take Trace for instance; if she is able to do something about a situation I'm struggling with, she will. If I lose something (which I frequently do), I know she will try to help because she cares and will do all she can. I put active faith in her because being willing and helpful is part of her character. This is what we need to do with the Lord, putting our trust in him, bringing him into everything and expecting that he will do something beautiful as we pray. As we lean on him, he will keep pouring his strength into our hearts. As my song, Resources of Heaven says:God has called you,
He has chosen you,
He really loves you,
He's always there beside you,
and as you lean on him,
he will give you the resources of heaven.Father, help us to trust you more and more so that our lives overflow with peace and hope as we lean on you each day. Thank you dear Lord, amen.
- June 3rd: While we struggle to know how to move forward out of the dark valley out of this health crisis, terrible loss and forced isolation, God wants to fill our hearts with His amazing gift of laughter and joy.As Marilyn and I have travelled around we've sometimes found ourselves in churches that are so seriously reverent that if you smile you feel like you've committed the unforgivable sin! Being reverent is vital, for God is the only true God, almighty and awesome, yet I've come to see more and more that He is also the God of joy and laughter and He loves to share that joy and laughter with us. In Luke 10:21 It says about Jesus: 'At that time, Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit. . .' The disciples could obviously see that joy bubbling up in Jesus, maybe he was laughing? hugging them? dancing around? We know from His stories that He had an incongruous sense of humour. He loved to imagine impossibilities like camels jumping through the eye of a needle; or making his friends jump by suddenly turning the lake into a footpath. He relished the disciples bewilderment then giggling amazement as He multiplied the few small loaves of bread they held into enough food to feed over 5000 people. We see in both the Old and New Testaments how He loved transforming weak people into those who could accomplish amazingly incongruous feats like David killing the giant warrior Goliath with a stone or the Israelites defeating the mighty city of Jericho by marching round it blowing trumpets!
What about in our own lives? When we feel weak and overwhelmed Jesus is there with us, wanting to bring us joy and laughter as we see not only what He does, but what He enables us to do. Take this last week for Marilyn and I. As you know we haven't been able to travel to do events and don't know when that will change. So we've been trying to set things up here so that Marilyn can join in Zoom services with good sound or so we can take videos that people can actually hear and see well. The complicating thing is that Marilyn can't see at all and I can't hear or see well. Marilyn had got a new keyboard to replace one in her lounge that had broken, but needed to learn how it worked. She didn't know what the keyboard screen was doing, I couldn't see it without a magnifier and didn't know what to look for, not being techy! Did God want us to give up? No He wanted us to know joy and laughter. So our sound engineer friend Roy helped us via Zoom: Marilyn held the Ipad through which Roy was looking, upside down over the keyboard so he could hopefully see what I needed to press or tap on the screen; then with my speech app on my phone I 'heard' what he was wanting me to do and with my magnifier tried to find the right knob or virtual button! Amazingly it worked and even more amazingly we managed to frame the video with me placing the webcam on a tripod in front of Marilyn and then with Roy's help through Zoom shifting it from left to right, up and down until she was in the centre, as I couldn't see the screen of Marilyn's desktop while standing by the camera! Add to that trying to get the mics and cables fixed in such a way that a good audio cold be achieved. . The incongruity of a blind and deaf /partially sighted pair doing these things was right up God's street! We felt overwhelmed but He was with us giving us victory in a most joy giving way. Amazingly an organisation that needed a video said yesterday that they were delighted with its quality, wow! God is good!Do you feel overwhelmed today? May you know the wonder of the God of joy and laughter with you today turning your weakness into something amazing.As Marilyn sings:
'He gives joy to the hopeless. . .' (c) Marilyn Baker.
- June 1st: Happy Pentecost one day on! As I was thinking about the Holy Spirit these thoughts came to my heart which I thought I'd like to share today. May they bless you:We love to celebrate Christmas
Gifts and turkey abound
Easter is full of chocolate and spring
But what about the forgotten, invisible gift of Pentecost?
The gift of the life transforming presence of God
Poured out on you, on me, on all mankind?
The highest of all promises together with God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life, fulfilled, fulfilled; Given in all fullness with no holding back.
To you and to me.
What is this gift? The gift of the Holy Spirit, making our lives His home.
Invisible, yet giving us vision; unknowable, yet releasing revelation; All powerful, yet comes as our loving counsellor and comforter. How awesome and wonderful He is, the very person of God given to us all. Our convictor, showing us tenderly when we act out of our unhealed hearts, yet never with any trace of condemnation. He hovers over the broken, undeveloped areas of our lives just like He hovered over creation; working in harmony with the Father and the Son to bring beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:1-4)
Our empowerer and enabler, our guide and wisdom giver; the One who beholds our weaknesses and frailties and transforms them into kingdom resources; who gives us gifts from Heaven and teaches us how to use them. Who takes our fears and gives us strength; who accepts our feeble commitment and frees us to worship and live like Jesus.
The Holy Spirit, our awesome gift from Father God and Jesus the Son.
How might we receive Him? Have we received Him today? He is not just given for one day but every day, every moment.
The disciples waited in expectation, yet not really knowing what they were waiting for. They’d seen Jesus’ joy and overflowing compassion; they’d witnessed His awesome authority over the forces of darkness and even over the natural balance of the unverse. They were hungry, longing for what Jesus had; the union with His Father; his freedom from worldly contraints; His peace in the midst of storms; his ability to endure unto death for the love of us; His miracles; His insights; His incredible love.
They were hungry and they waited,
And the gift was given.
They couldn’t see Him
But they saw the fire
They felt the wind
They heard the roar
And their lives were opened to something beyond imagining.Today tell God your hunger and your longing
Wait in expectation
Open your life to Him
And He will come.As Marilyn sings
‘So let the Spirit of God come in,
He will heal your pain and sadness
He’ll speak God’s words of love to you
Fill your heart with joy and gladness.’
© Spirit of God Marilyn Baker
- May 29th: It's a new day and coming up to Pentecost Sunday. I sensed the Lord's real joy in you and me today, as if He is dancing with us and celebrating us being His beloved ones. I find that as I realise afresh how much He loves me despite the many times I let Him down, joy and love for Him fill my heart and I long to live my life for Him in every way I can.In my last post I shared how when I dropped my 'Joy' mug the Lord spoke in my heart saying 'Hold tightly onto your joy for "the joy of the Lord is your strength.."
The joy of the Lord is our strength. What is strength?
Different things come to mind : our strength of character; strength of body; strength of mind, of feelings; of commitment' of conviction and belief . . .
It's to do with passion, with zeal, with enthusiasm and purpose; with wholeheartedness and determination and perseverance; with diligence and endurance.
But as well as all these characteristics of strength, Jesus is saying that true strength comes out of the wellspring of our joy.
Hebrews 12:2 says 'For the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross.'
That word endure is a strength word, it takes great emotional, physical, mental and spiritual strength to endure some things that life throws at us. Maybe you are in that place of enduring right now? We've all been enduing this time of lockdown, fear, illness,and loss and maybe for many of us that's been a real torment. Maybe you are enduring physical pain or mental fragility? Maybe its to d with coping with hostile relationships or work situations? Whatever the cause of us needing to endure Jesus is saying He wants to give you joy so that your endurance can spring out of that joy and be focussed by it. He endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. What was that joy? It was the joy of a) being reunited with His Father and b) being joined together forever with you and me.
We too have been given that joy. Jesus death and resurrection joined us back with the Father as His beloved children and we're now joined together forever with Jesus in an amazing eternal friendship. We all know this but maybe like me you have become used to the jargon and sometimes feel that you are just plodding through your rituals of being a Christian? Let Jesus dance with you today and open your heart to the fact that right now He is rejoicing in you, celebrating that you belong to Him; loving your company to talk and share His heart with you. I pray that as you experience His love in this way that you will know His joy bringing strength to birth in your mind, emotions, expressiveness, worship, conviction and endurance. Remember one important thing. It's your own strength that He wants to see rise up in you. Yours not someone else's for He knows like no one else knows all that is happening in your life and that's what makes Him rejoice so much when you offer Him all YOUR strength.As Marilyn sings
'The people that know their God
Shall be STRONG and do great things . . . (c) Marilyn Baker
- May 27th: How are you this morning? I'm afraid I got up in quite a crotchety mood today. Feeling tired and a bit emotional; worried about loved ones; fed up with all the political wrangling and struggling with some issues in my own life. I went to make myself a cuppa and as I picked up my mug 'Joy' it slipped out of my hand and fell onto the work surface below. My heart stopped as I prepared to see 'Joy' smashed into tiny pieces but I was amazed when 'she' remained intact and when I picked 'her' up there wasn't even a tiny crack! I said 'Oh thank you Lord that you kept 'Joy' safe!' He said: 'Hold tightly onto your joy because "the joy of the Lord is your strength."' Neh 8:10
As I thought about this, I realised that in all my mizzy feelings I'd lost my joy because I'd been focusing on me, my reactions, my sadness and worries. It is natural and right that we have such feelings but its what we do with them then that makes the difference. The Lord told me to 'hold tight onto my joy' and this is actually another aspect of what Jesus called the Greatest Commandment, to 'love the Lord with all your soul.' Our soul contains our emotional life but is also the part of us that makes us who we are. My soul is the inner part of me, Tracy and the inner part of you, Jane, Liz, Andrew ... It is the part that controls our uniqueness and our expressiveness. Our gifts and talents are all birthed in that deep inner part of who we are. Our temperaments, our tendencies to fun, laughter, melancholy, love, anger, joy and fear are all birthed in our soul. Our souls were imprisoned because of the fall, but redeemed by Jesus death on the cross. So He is calling us to love Him out of the fullness of who we are and our deep inner life and reactions. Sometimes that loving may be in the form of singing powerful songs in worship times like 'Bless the Lord O my soul', expressing thanks and wonder to Him. But we also need to recognise day by day, even moment by moment, how loving He is towards us, to thank Him for all He is doing in our lives, to choose to 'hold tightly onto our joy' in His love, care, provision, strength, transforming help and friendship that He constantly gives us. As David shares in Psalm 23: 'The Lord is my shepherd, to feed, guide and to shield me. I shall not want. He lets me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still and quiet waters. He refreshes and restores my soul, my life.' (Amp) In the loneliness and isolation of his work as a shepherd David is choosing to worship the Lord by recognising that all he does for his sheep are pictures of all that God does for him. His emotions and thoughts lift up to affirm and worship his wonderful friend, the Lord his Shepherd.
The Lord spoke to me through my mug and spoke to David through his job enabling us both to love Him with 'all our souls'
What might the Lord want to speak to you through today?
Do you think you may need, like me, to hold more tightly onto your joy?
Praying He blesses you today as you love Him with all your soul.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'Lord I love you'
'Lord I love you, really love you.
Lord I give myself, without compromise to you.
Lord I love you, yes I love you.
Make my love a fire, burning in my heart for you. (c) Marilyn Baker
- May 25th: God wants an adventure with you today! For you to welcome Him into the centre of your thoughts and your mind's activity and see what riches of joy and peace He brings you. On Friday we looked at how we are constantly at the forefront of His thoughts. I hope over this weekend you began to experience hearing His voice of affirming love? Now we need to look at our own focus! How much do we love Him with our minds? What does that even mean? Isaiah 26:3 says : 'You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!' God wants our day to be filled with peace. His gift of peace doesn't depend on all our circumstances being right as circumstances can change in a moment but on His loving presence constantly with us. So keeping our thoughts fixed on Him. . . Does God want us to be thinking holy, spiritual, theological thoughts all the time? No!How would that even be possible because we all have to live and to work and to make our lives meaningful? We are thinking, planning, making decisions and choices, being creative, dreaming and imagining things from the moment we wake up and all of these are ways we use our minds. God wants to be at the centre of all these mental processes, not in a narrow restrictive way but I believe through us taking the time in our thought life to enjoy His amazing friendship. Taking moments to reflect on the ways He is present in our lives and the blessings He is giving us; when we are working to invite Him into the decisions we have to make, the presentations we need to prepare, the best way of caring for our dependents, the right solutions to problems we don't know how to resolve. . .
I remember when I was approaching the deadline to write my book 'Flying Free with God' I had no idea what to write about! How could I write a book that I had no theme for? I felt so worried. I took the dog out and as I walked round the field words from an old 70’s pop song kept going through my mind. 'There are times when all the world's asleep, the questions run so deep for such a simple man. . .please tell me who I am ' (c) The Logical Song, Supertramp.) I didn't know it well but it was so much in the forefront of my thoughts that I started thinking about the meaning of the words and realised they were about our quest for authentic identity. I felt inspired and started writing and Flying Free with God was born! I felt amazed at how God had guided me through a pop song but that is what friends do. I felt full of joy at how He had been involved in my thought processes and knew just the right way to help me. It inspired me to let Him in much more to my everyday thinking and expect Him to speak to me as a friend.
God wants to have an adventure with you today, to be involved in all you need to think about; to give you fresh revelation of His goodness and faithfulness as you read His Word; to inspire you in your dreams and imaginings; to guide you in your choices and help you with the situations that seems unresolvable. Worship Him with all your mind by inviting Him into that secret place that no human can enter but which God can. Let Him be your friend and counsellor.
As Marilyn sings in her song: ‘Give me Yourself’
Give me yourself
Give me your heart
Let me be Lord over every part
Give me your first thoughts, your time and all you have
And I’ll fill your life with joy
Yes I’ll fill your life with joy. © Marilyn BakerFather thank you that you love us and are involved in the whole of our lives, not just what we consider the ‘spiritual ‘ parts.
Thank you that you are our friend and love to speak to us, to give us joy, to guide and counsel us and give us peace.
We choose today to invite you into every part of our mind’s activity and thank you for the adventures we will have together.
We choose to love you dear Father, with all our mind just as you love us.
In Jesus name,
Amen. May He bless you and keep you in perfect peace today.
- May 22nd: As I woke this morning the thought was in my mind, 'do you know how much I am thinking of you? You are never out of my thoughts. As soon as you wake up you are in the centre of my thoughts because I have been watching over you throughout the night. I never stop thinking about you because you are the apple of my eye.''The apple of my eye' originally referring to the pupil. God is saying to us,you are the centre of my attention; the one I love and who brings me the greatest joy. As humans we can only keep a very limited number of loved ones in the centre of our attention. How then can God say we are ALL the centre of His? But as David reflects in Psalm 139: 17 'How precious to me are your thoughts O God, How vast is the sum of them. Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake I am still with you!' It's mind boggling to think how far reaching and constant God's thoughts towards us are. I believe someone today feels very lonely and believe you don't matter much to anyone. This period of lockdown has exacerbated those feelings and you are beginning to see yourself as a 'nothing person.' But God sees you as the 'apple of His eye. His concept of you is totally different to your own. I was struggling with similar feelings as a new Christian. I'd experienced a lot of hurt and felt like a nothing person. I was living in a hostel and one evening I heard a whisper in my heart 'Go outside and look at the sky;' I'd hardly heard God's voice before this and it seemed a very strange thing for Him to say. I really hoped no one could see me as I made my way outside and stood in the cold dark gardens. The whisper came again. 'Look at the sky.' I looked up and all I could see was darkness, a huge nothingness and that was how I felt inside. But then I saw a tiny twinkling light, a star. It shone out so beautifully and its brightness and beauty pushed back the darkness. I realised that what I'd thought was a colossal nothingness was full of the beauty of these heavenly lights. God said, 'you see yourself as a nothing, but I have made you to be a star shining with my light and beauty with the power to push back and transform the darkness around you.' I later found a verse in Philippians 2 that also describes us as stars shining in the universe. How amazing. Our thoughts towards ourselves can be so negative, but God's thoughts towards us are awesome and full of His wonderful love and truth which as we listen and drink in brings deep change and transformation.
What is God thinking when He holds you in the centre of His eye? On Monday we will be looking at how we can love Him 'with all our mind' but over this weekend why not ask Him to show you some of His thoughts towards you? We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19) His thoughts towards you are full of joy in the secret things that make you, you. When no one seems to notice, he notices every detail. He loves to affirm and build you up. If you see a flower or a bird as Jesus disciples did, how may he want to speak to you through such ordinary things? He told them they were 'far more valuable.' Maybe He will draw you to a scripture or a line from a song will touch your heart. Let Him speak to you and fill you with His love for you are the apple of His eye.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'Where can I go?'
O tell me where can I go from your Spirit?
Or where can I go from your heart of love?
Even if I sink to the lowest depths
I know you'll still be my guide
Always by my side,
You will never let go of my hand.' (c) Marilyn Baker
Be blessed as you drink in His amazing love for you today.
- May 19th: How has your day been? I am sure that like me you have experienced ups and downs and maybe today has been very hard for you? But God wants to touch our hearts with the joy of knowing His closeness leading us deeper into worship. Yesterday we started looking at what Jesus said is the 'greatest commandment' - to love the Lord our God. We saw how He focussed first on who God is; that He is One - wholly pure and loving....So it's vital that we give time to reflecting on God's character, the immensity of His love and goodness. . Without such reflection we will be worshipping in a vacuum.
Who is God to you? Do you know Him? Do you love Him?
After the 'Who' Jesus moved on to the 'How' - 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart. . '
Jesus is talking here about our emotional love, our passions, our longings, our feelings and our expression of those feelings to God.
Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart
Love the Lord YOUR God with all YOUR heart.
I am emphasising the different parts of this phrase because it's YOUR heart and YOUR expression of your uniqueness that counts, not trying to fit a mould of what real worship looks like. It's true He wants the passion of wholehearted love from us all but He has made us all unique in how we express that love. I grew up repressing my emotions because of fear. My joys, excitements, sorrows, fears, loves and passions were all safely hidden. How could I love Him with ALL my heart when I couldn't access my feelings? I felt so inferior to those who seemed free to love Him uninhibitedly; but what Jesus wants from me is all MY ability to give Him heart love, not someone else's but mine. He knows me. He loves me. He made me. He knows the happenings of my life and where I still need His healing touch.
That is true for you too. I believe for someone you often feel that you don't match up to others in your worship but in reality He is absolutely rejoicing over what YOU bring Him. The crow can never sing like a lark. It's a crow and its song is a rather harsh caw. But it can still caw with passion!
God is asking us to love Him with OUR OWN ability to feel and express. For me, sometimes that means me really expressing love to Him by singing in the bath or thanking Him when something beautiful touches my soul like a dramatic sky scape or a baby's first smile; or if someone is kind to me, allowing my heart to be melted by this sign of God's loving kindness through a person. I can even worship Him by inviting Him to enter into those closed off fearful areas of my emotional life and welcoming His freeing healing work. It is my heart and your heart that He wants not carbon copies of each other. Today He is rejoicing over you, delighting in you and exulting in every way you can open your heart to love Him, for true worship is a meeting place between God's love for you and yours for Him; God's love for me and mine for Him.As Marilyn sings in her song 'Overflow of Worship'
'Lord I want to tell you, how much I love you,
Your tenderness and mercy have overwhelmed my heart.
Let my whole life be an overflow of worship
All I have and all I am I give back Lord to you.' (c) Marilyn Baker.
May you know the joy of worshipping Him with YOUR heart today.
- May 18th: I woke this morning to a strange question, 'Why would you worship me?' For a moment I wondered if it was coming out of unresolved disappointments? After all, many might say, 'why would we indeed?' For if God is truly all powerful and all loving then how can something like this dreadful virus have happened and all the suffering everywhere? Why would we worship Him?But I realised the question wasn't my own thoughts but God. He wanted me to think more deeply about my worship, my relationship with Him. He wanted me to go deeper..
In this time when church as we've always known it has ceased and we've been forced to find other ways to worship than the traditional being part of a group singing, praying and doping church together, it's important to think this question through. Many believe that God is using this time to do a 'reset' in our lives. Could it be that part of that 'reset' is to draw us back to our 'first love' as it says in Revelation 3?
Why would I worship Him?
Because I love Him.
Why would you worship Him?
Because you love Him
Why do we love Him?
Because of who He is and because of what He does.
When Jesus was asked by the teacher of the law what the greatest commandment was (Mark 12:28-31) Jesus replied:
'Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength..'
The Lord your God, the Lord is one - Jesus is expressing who God is and why we can worship Him. It is because He is one - not split and fragmented as we are, but One, wholly Himself in all His loveliness, love and truth. He is unique, pure, holy, absolutely committed, full of compassion; supremely powerful and true to all His promises.
Why would I worship you?
Because of who you are Lord. You are One.
But as I write this I sense God's heart for those who have been betrayed by someone. You loved them and believed them when they said they loved you. But they betrayed your love and you feel you can never truly trust again, either humans or God, you have been too hurt.
But Jesus says to you 'I know your hurt as I experienced the greatest betrayal and rejection on your behalf. I care deeply. I feel your pain. But I can lift you out of that pit of broken trust if you are willing to let it go, because I can never be a God who says one thing and does another. I am the Living Word which means that all I do and all I say springs out of all I am. Nothing can ever separate you from my love. (Romans 8: 38)
I pray that will comfort you, but it may be that your sense of betrayal and disappointment is springing out out of your relationship with God Himself? Have you prayed something but your prayers are still unanswered? Have you believed on a promise and its not been fulfilled?
God wants to 'RESET' our heart confidence in Him, our ability to rest in who we know He is in order for true worship to flow from our hearts, not just in the songs we sing but in what we think about, what we give time to, what we do . . .
So it's important today to give time to expressing that deep hurt or disappointment to God, to be real, just as the Psalmists cry, shout and express their confusions to God and then come through to a place of peace. Jesus Himself cried out on the cross echoing the words of Psalm 22: 'My God, my God why have you forsaken me?' If Jesus needed to express that raw pain, how much more do we at times? I remember how as a new Christian, (yet one who was already falling into the trap of doing things like worship and prayer in a ritualistic way,) I blew up one day when a mildly negative remark lit the fuse of years of buried hurts and my disappointment that nothing seemed to have changed even though I was now a Christian. I shouted at God and cried and stormed at Him but when I collapsed exhausted I heard this little whisper in my heart 'I love you and want to be a Father to you.' He didn't want me praying or singing because I was a Christian but because I knew He loved me. It was a paradigm shift in my heart and one that I often need to return to but when I do return, He brings true worship and love to birth again.As Marilyn sings from 'All I ever do is love you'
'When you're feeling lonely, when your heart is aching
When something happens that makes you doubt my love;
Then my child come close to me
Just be still and listen
I long to comfort you and renew you in my love
(c) Marilyn BakerPraying you will know that power within today to let go into your Father's hands all things that are stopping you knowing and loving Him as the Lord your God who is One. Your Father, Your Friend. May His healing comfort embrace you at the deepest place.
- May 15th: How are you all today. There is some good news that in London the rate of infection seems to be getting much less. Lets keep praying that God will send His warring angels to push back the tide of Covid-19 across all parts of Great Britain and the world. He is Lord and we are more than conquerors through HimBut I am very aware too that often we feel that we can't even rise up, let alone be more than a conqueror. For some of you it may feel so hard that you just want to give up?God seems to be highlighting this today because that sense of despair and defeat in someone's heart was very strong when I was praying this morning. God your loving Father is with you to hold and sustain you, to comfort and shield you. Yesterday we thought how God always hears our faintest sigh because of His great love for us. He hears you today and is there to give you strength and help. Recently when I was feeling despairing about completing my new book He spoke so simply into my heart, saying 'you can do it.' Similarly when I was trying to record the dance a few days ago and felt overwhelmed because of not being able to hear the song: he spoke to me and said 'you can do it, do it with me.'
As I was thinking about this I came across this encouragement by Surprise Sithole of Iris Ministries. I have quoted it here for you and I pray it will be a real encouragement."Good morning to you all, I just want to encourage someone who is at the peak of giving up. Or at the point of breakdown; or that one who feels betrayed and isolated by the circumstances of life. I have one strong messageis running in my veins this morning: I just want to remind you that you are the most loved son or daughter of God. Yoou are the very reason Jesus was sacrificed on that cross. You are the ultimate reason why Jesus Christ had to be rejected so that you can be accepted; hated so that you can be loved; killed so that you can live; resurrected so that you can live forever with Him. Guard these facts with passion because in this world we are living in every force works against these 'truths' in order to crush your identity as the beloved 'child' of Almighty Father. Speak to your situation and remind it that you are the most beloved son or daughter of the creator. Tell your situation that it's over in Jesus name. " (c) Surprise Sithole, Iris Ministries.As Marilyn sings in 'God has a plan for you'God has a plan for you, something only you can do,
You are so valuable to HIm
You are beyond compare
A priceless jewel so very rare,
He gave just everything to make you His own.May you be blessed with His peace and strength today.
- May 14th: Throughout this morning I've kept sensing the Lord wanting to say to us all: I hear your every whisper; all your thoughts matter to me. I am close by you when you sigh and come running at your cry.' He says through Isaiah: 'Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.(Isaiah 65:24)He really wants to encourage us to day that He knows our hearts and our griefs, happiness and fears. He listens for our prayers with delight and great attention to what is happening in our hearts as well as in our words. He listens in a different way to how we listen as humans. Have you ever had that feeling that no one is really listening to you? that you are trying to share but their response indicates that although they may be listening outwardly they are not taking in what you are saying? This can feel crushing as if we don't matter enough to the other person for them to really try to understand. I remember once when I was fairly new to my church at the time and some deep emotional wounds came to the surface. I asked for prayer and tried to express some of my pain and the prayer minister said 'a lot of deaf people are miserable.'!
They'd been trying to work out the best way to communicate with me so I guess my deafness was uppermost in their minds but they couldn't seem to 'hear' what I was trying to tell them. So I've had lots of prayer for my hearing that I'd never actually asked for, but we can all do this and make judgements on the basis of what we see, rather than on what the person may really need. In 1 Samuel 1 we see how when Hannah was in deep distress because of not being able to have a baby and suffering the mockery of her husbands second wife, she came to a point when she just couldn't carry on in her emotional anguish any longer and began to really pray from her heart. The priest saw her lips moving and immediately made a judgement that she was drunk! How terrible that this high spiritual leader would be so crushing in his responses, but Hannah replied with great dignity and told him the truth in a calm and assertive way. By refusing to give way to bitterness she turned the tide of judgement and Eli blessed her. Following that encounter we see how God heard her prayer for she gave birth to Samuel who was to have such a dynamic effect on the nation and long term into our lives today.
So the heart of this thought is that God always hears and always wants to bless and bring beautiful things to pass for us, often things that will be more far reaching than we can ever imagine. He wants to encourage us to be real in our prayers, to pray from our hearts and express our longings, griefs and confusions just like Hannah did. He hears, He does not judge because He always loves. And if we have experienced the hurt of being judged by those around us or our leaders, let it go into God's hands. Ask Him to help you forgive and be at peace and He will bless you so much.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'He Gives Joy':
'Did you know there's someone who can hear your faintest sigh?
Someone who can hear your heart's deepest cry?
. . .He gives joy to the hopeless
Peace to the weary
And He binds up the broken hearted.' (c) Marilyn BakerMay you know the peace and joy of being heard by God today.
- May 12th: Last night I felt tense and upset at the ongoing situation and the confusing nature of the Government guidelines. I am sure many others will be struggling too and we feel so much for all who are in intolerable situations and can't see the way forward. But this morning as I woke I felt deeply a knowing from the Lord that He is with us giving His gift of peace even in the midst of turmoil. Later this morning I had a silly little accident which demonstrated to me how quickly we can panic when we feel trapped in a situation that we don't know how to get out of. I stood on an armchair to hang a picture and suddenly my right foot went down the side right to the chair's base. It was very painful because the springs were gripping my ankle and every time I moved they cut in harder. I tried to pull it free and Marilyn tried too but no go. Panic set in and all I could think of was that it hurt and how would I ever get free!
I feel some of you reading this are in that panicky place too? You are hurting and flailing around in your thoughts. All you can feel is the pain of fear and confusion.
But just as there was an answer for me, God wants to say to you today, 'be at peace I am with you.' In my situation Marilyn kept saying 'Calm down' and standing with me to help me relax. My pastor and his wife came and brought love. The paramedics came and with some effort got me free. Where it had seemed impossible to move, God was there and gave me peace then freedom. He is with you too and knows just what you need at this time to give you peace and set you free. We had a laugh in the end with the paramedics as it was such an unusual call out and a great stress buster for them after all the Covid-19 emergencies.
Be at peace. Jesus said in John 14:22, 'Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'
I remember when we were in Canada visiting the Niagra Falls in the 90's we went in a little boat almost behind the surging water. It thundered down so close and powerfully it was overwhelming. We could almost reach out and touch it. The waters surged and roared but where we were just feet away was an oasis of calm with rainbows all around us.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'I Take Time' :
'The Earth may shake, the mountains may crumble
This world we know may pass away,
But Jesus is the everlasting Rock
And you can find Him today'
Praying you will find the Lord with you so close today.
- May 11th: I hope you've had a good weekend and were able to enjoy VE day and reflecting on the heroic acts of so many past and present? I left the last post up without a change over the weekend because I felt it important that we really take time both to remember and to forget. If you didn't see that post then do scroll down to it as all the posts are still here in the Page.One of the verses I quoted in that last post was from Isaiah where God says 'behold I am doing a new thing. . .' We really do believe God is doing a new thing in our nation and across the world and is calling us to embrace that work and partner with Him in it. However as wonderful as newness is, the actual process of stepping into new things can make us feel very vulnerable. These last few weeks have hit us in the face with vulnerability as we've had to cope with so many new ways of living that have seemed to gone on for an age. Now life is changing again and we face the uncertainties of how we will live, work, do church and engage with our loved ones in the coming days.
This weekend I have experienced that sense of vulnerability in quite a deep way because of something I was trying to step into doing. Those of you who have been to our concerts and conferences know that I often do simple dances/mimes to Marilyn's older songs. I use her older ones because I used to hear better than I do now and so had more of an idea of their tunes and rhythms.
Last Thursday I was included in an invitation to be part of an online dance. I was going to say no as I didn't know the song at all so it seemed an impossible task However a little voice inside my heart that I believe was God's, wouldn't let me ignore the invite. Instead I felt He was saying to dare to step into something that felt fearful and trust Him to bless it and to use me in it. It became a huge thing as I just couldn't 'get' how the song went, not just with the words but with its speed and timing. I was nearly in tears and felt so aware of my deafness and lack of coordination as opposed to the probable professionalism of the other dancers. But every time I threw the video remote down ready to give up, I felt God whispering to me to keep going, that in my weakness, He is my strength, that He is with each one of us, cheering us on when we feel vulnerable and weak, sustaining and enabling us. The video (my Ipad) kept going into slow mode and of course because of the lockdown, I had to do the videoing myself as no one could come to help. Marilyn worked so hard singing the song over and over trying to get the rhythm into my head and in the end we did get a kind of video together and submitted it. I don't know whether it will be used or not but that is in His hands. The key for me is that He wanted me to step through my vulnerability and fixed idea of what I thought was possible, and trust in His ever present willingness to help me.
I have written this because I feel someone feels very small and afraid like a mouse. You feel you dare not step forward in any way because you will inevitably be crushed. But the Lord says to you as He did to Gideon, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.' (Judges 6) He is with you because He loves you. He has made you and delights in you. In Him you are strong even when you are weak.
As Marilyn sings in her song 'To God you are so Important'
'To God you are so important,
He loves you beyond all measure.
You bring so much joy to Him
You are His greatest treasure...' (c) Marilyn Baker
We pray you will know His love strengthening and helping you as you take steps out of your fear today.
- May 8th: Last night Marilyn and I felt really sad. We missed the clap for the NHS at 8pm and suddenly realised at 8.30 that the time had passed. Although we'd planned as usual to join in we'd got busy and the moment had slipped past.We felt so sad as we wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful work they are doing to save lives and help those in need. A local doctor has died of Covid-19 and we wanted to thank him for his amazing sacrifice. In the end we clapped by ourselves in our lounge.
it was late but still heartfelt. It still mattered.
Today its VE day 75th anniversary and we've just had a two minute silence to remember those who sacrificed so much to bring our world freedom.
'Lest we forget' the veterans say.
It is so easy to forget, not just peoples names and why we've opened the fridge, but these incredible acts of human love and heroism and the greatest sacrifice of all, Jesus. And the blessings of God's love that He gives us day by day, moment by moment.
Remembering God's acts on our behalf is a powerful help to us growing in our relationship with God. He asked the Israelites to find creative ways of remembering how he'd freed them from Egypt and led them to the promised land. Sometimes they collected stones; Sometimes they made altars; they told stories; they wrote poems; they journalled their experiences; they listened to public readings to hear afresh what He had done; they told their young children simple stories to help them grasp God's care; they grew their hair a certain way; they wrote things on their doorposts; they cooked certain foods....
How can we learn to remember in creative ways too?We see this continued in the New Testament with Mary 'treasuring these things in her heart' as she experienced the amazing events of Jesus birth. Jesus of course took remembering to a new level when with the simple elements of bread and wine He told His disciples to 'do this in remembrance of me.'
Right remembering is the pathway to growthBut there are negative things that we find it so much easier to remember and harder to forget!
I hear a negative remark - I mull it over and over and worry its true; I start to think of other similar remarks I've heard before and get depressed. For that one negative remark I forfeit all the blessings God has given me that day: a loving smile, a text or email from a friend; a kind comment on FB; sunshine; a nice meal; precious moments with God; an affirming scripture . . .The list is endless when I choose to notice, to remember and to thank the friend and God
But I so easily forget.
God says to us in Isaiah 43:18 'Forget the former things (negatives) do not dwell on the past (disappointments and hurts): See (reflect upon and remember) I am doing a new thing. . .'
As we start to press forward into the uncertain days ahead what will we choose to carry with us as our memories of this season? Only the anguish, fear, struggle, loneliness and loss? Or all these things tempered by the evidences of God's care and grace all around us? The love of friends and strangers? The kindness of neighbours? The ways our churches have sought to still meet and share? the gifts of technology? The wonderful love and comfort of our God?What will we remember?
What will we forget?As Marilyn sings in her song Whispers of GodWhen I hear the birds singing in the trees
When I hear the gentle whispering of the breeze
then it seems that I'm hearing the whispers of God... (c) Marilyn Baker.May you be blessed in your remembering today.
- May 7th: As I woke today the words 'How I love you, my beautiful child' were in my heart. God wants us to take in today that we are made to be His beloved. We are beautiful to Him. Nothing about us is a mistake.Yesterday we looked at our need to come out of our hiding places and realise it is God's greatest desire to be real with us and for us to be real with Him.
Maybe you are beginning to take baby steps out of your hiding places right now?
For me one of the biggest hiding places in my life is that of inferiority. I was told so often as a child that I was rubbish that I came to hate myself.
Over my 36 years of being a Christian God has brought amazing healing into those deep hurts, but still I catch myself thinking, 'I sound a real fool', ''my way of worshipping is pathetic compared to the more 'spiritual' people around me; 'I will never be as good as ...'
Do you get refrains like that going through your head?
They are very destructive and the problem is the more we listen to them the more we hide our real selves away from other people and from God. But that breaks God's heart for as He says in Ephesians 2:10 'We are God's workmanship', or in the NLT, God's 'masterpiece' or in another translation, 'God's poem'
God's masterpiece. what an amazing thought. I like writing, but I would never describe my writing as a masterpiece, it has too many flaws in it! But God describes you and me as masterpieces! David writes on the same theme when he says in Psalm 139:13-14 'For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful. I know that full well.'
David was rejected by his family and knew untold trauma and pain, yet somehow he received this amazing revelation of his uniqueness and God's joy in creating and knowing him.
His inmost being, all the parts that made him David, his thought life, his emotions, his way of being God's son, his joy and sorrow, his sense of humour and melancholy; his gifts and unique way of living them out; 'Knitting together in my mother's womb' talks about his outward form too, his gender, hair colour, skin and eye colour, height.... all created by God's loving hand so that David would be 'His masterpiece.'
If that was true for David it's true for you and me too for God has no favourites. The giraffe could never be a frog living in a pond. The elephant could never go down a mousehole. They are unique, extraordinary, masterpieces and so are you and me.
In this time of crisis there's an unprecedented hunger for God. People are desperate to know how to pray, to know if God is real and if he loves them. Our witness to them will come most effectively out of our joy in being His children. Lets ask Him to help us accept and even cherish what He's made us to be.As you reflect and talk to Him today maybe these words that Marilyn sings in her prophetic song 'The Father's Song of Love' will touch your heart with His love.All I want to do is to bless you
All I want to do is pour out my love
To show you how dear you are to me
For me there is no other
To me you are the pearl of great priceHow I love to be with you
Sharing the hopes and thoughts of my heart
To work with you always close by my side
In harmony together
I cherish you as the apple of my eye.I made you to be int he image of me
The height of all my creation
Love and beauty are real; pain and sadness you feel
You can know the thoughts of my heart
We're not meant to live apartOne day you'll know me completely
Tears and confusion will all melt away
The closeness we;ll share is beyond compare
The richness of being together
The joy and peace of everlasting love. (c) Marilyn Baker.
- May 5th: Throughout today I've had a deep sense of our need for heart connection. I mentioned yesterday how the speaker on Sunday referred to this time as a RESET to restore us back to intimacy with God. There's a strange irony that God may be using this season of disconnect to draw us deeper into a deeper relationship with Him!What does that look like to you and me?
Thinking again about Naomi and Ruth (having been inspired by Tony Horsfall's posts) It describes in Ruth 2 how after they'd arrived back in Bethlehem Ruth offers to go out and glean for leftover grain behind the harvesters. She does this and it's obvious that she's alone and cut off from all the other 'official' harvesters. When Boaz arrives and makes enquiries about her, the foreman tells him that Ruth has been there all day, following the others, working hard but working alone. She is there but disconnected from everyone else. A bit like how we are now.
Maybe you feel like that too, not just now but generally? With people, yet not with them? Working hard, yet unseen and unacknowledged? Surviving, yet disconnected? In my heart today I could sense someone's deep pain through disconnection and feeling invisible, not just because of the lockdown circumstances but because of how you feel inside and how life may have made you feel.
But this story, as well as being a true story about real people, also offers us a glimpse into the reality of how God constantly watches over us, cares for us, provides for us and longs to connect with us heart to heart.
As a deaf person and someone who has known a lot of hurt I can easily act out connecting with others and just pretending to be part of a group. Sometimes I do that with God too, but where people may be fooled, God never is. Boaz drew Ruth aside and talked with her. He affirmed her by telling her that he knew what she'd done for Naomi; he gave her wise counsel and showed her she was important. So important that she became his wife. He shared with her and wanted her to share with him.
His love brought her out of isolation and into relation.
God does the same for you and me and calls us today to step out of our hiding places into a place of being loved and being real.
When Jesus faced the agony of the cross the thing he most wanted was His friends.
He knows more than anyone else the feelings of being alone, afraid and carrying a huge burden.
He is with you and unlike his friends,He never falls asleep.
Today may the Father draw you deeper into His love and help you understand His heart for you. May you be able to come out of any emotional hiding place you may be in and realise like Ruth did, that you are not alone, but in the centre of His heart.Take in the words of Marilyn's song O My Child, based on Song of Songs:2:14
O my child, let me see your face
O my child let me hear your voice
For your voice is so sweet unto me
And your countenance so lovely,
Yes your voice is so sweet unto me
And your countenance so lovely. (c) Marilyn Baker.
- May 4th: We hope you had a good weekend and despite the ongoing struggle with the pandemic and its effects have been aware of the Lord's closeness to you and experienced his help and peace. Now we are approaching a different phase in the lockdown where we might begin to move into an easing of the restrictions, I'm aware of an ambiguous feeling that maybe some of you have felt too? Part of me feels full of hope for our nations to be restored, for the tide to be turned, for those who are ill to be made well, for the virus to lose its power...I am praying along those lines and for that river of life that I shared about a few days ago to be flowing with revival life and joy into all our homes and hearts...But part of me feel anxious too, fearful at the uncertainty of how these things will happen, and dare I say it, fearful of what coming out of the lockdown will look like for me? Do I have the courage to return to normal life and what will 'normal' be now anyway? Last night in our Zoomed church service a speaker shared how this period is a time of RESET for Christians. God is drawing us back to our first love, using this worldwide 'pause' to free us from the hurly burly of life as it was and giving us time to find ourselves in God's love all over again.
I love that and long for it and yet there is this insecurity in my heart too, almost a desire to stay hidden and I wonder if unborn babies as their time of birth approaches, also feel that they want to stay cocooned in the womb?
My friend Tony Horsfall who with his wife is facing very hard times at present, shared a post yesterday about the uncertainty Naomi and Ruth must have felt as they trudged back to Bethlehem after losing both their husbands. We read the book of Ruth knowing that after they reach Bethlehem, Ruth will soon meet Boaz and their story will completely change to one of joy and wonder; but Tony points out that though we know that, Naomi and Ruth certainly didn't. All they knew was that they were going back. They didn't know if they'd be accepted, if they'd have anywhere to live, if they'd manage to get food....there were so many scary uncertainties, just like there are now. They like us were passing through a foggy field and couldn't see clearly the way ahead. And yet, the sun did shine on them, as God says in His Word. He did provide and intervene. He did bring beauty out of the ashes. He pressed that RESET button, and Naomi who had renamed herself 'Bitter and Empty' was made full again.
What always strikes me about that story is not just the amazing love commitment that Ruth showed to Naomi, but also her courage. She had the option of staying safely with her own family and traditions. It was a sensible option but Ruth listened to a different voice, the voice of courage, the voice of love. She didn't know the way ahead or what would happen but she knew that the God she'd embraced was with her. So she took courage, she stepped out. She left the safety and stepped into the unknown. And God blessed her, richly and abundantly as He will us.If you've felt like me, hopeful, yet fearful too, be encouraged by this story and these thoughts. .
Let's pray. 'Father we thank you that unlike us you know the end from the beginning. You know us and the ambiguous feelings we have as we approach an easing of lockdown. Please press that RESET button in our hearts to enable us to draw closer to you, to hear you voice and know your amazing love. We choose to take courage, just as Ruth took courage, and to step into our unknown knowing that you are already there waiting to bless us. We trust you and walk forward with you dear Lord. In Jesus name, amen.Marilyn sings: 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my Word goes on forever; My Word lives on for ever. All I ever do is love you, yes you are always in my thoughts, you're always in my care, my arms of love are all you need; so learn to trust in me completely for I will not forsake or let you down.'
(All I ever do is love you' (c) Marilyn Baker.)
- May 2nd: This morning when I woke the words A New Thing were filling my mind immediately making me think of Isaiah 43:18 'Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing; now it springs up do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. . .'
Over these last 7 weeks we've had to adjust to many 'new things', Social distancing; isolating or if working, very aware of the risk we are facing every day; uncertainty and anxiety, illness and loss.. Now the hope that the peak is over and lockdown will gradually ease. Is that the 'New Thing?'
But no, I don't think so although of course it is a major part of it. But in these verses God says 'Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.' I believe He is saying, 'yes I will restore and I am in control of the economy and Lord over the virus but it won't just be a going back to the old for I will be doing 'a new thing' which I want you to be looking out for and praying into being.'
What strikes me is that it seems 'the new thing' is hidden. God wants us to perceive it. Perceive means seeing something that isn't obvious. You may be called perceptive when you discern that a friend is hiding sadness behind their bright smile. In the same way - using the streams in the desert image from this passage - there has been a hidden work going in in the desert terrain long before the streams appear and shoots start to grow. Channels have already been forming in the deep earth and it will be these channels that 'host' the streams. Seemingly dead roots and plant debris that have gone down into the earth will be at work in the dry darkness waiting for that moment to burst into life and transform the terrain into fertile ground.
What kind of new thing is God wanting us to watch, pray for and draw hope from? We've seen the beginning of many lovely 'new things' over these weeks of lockdown, kindness, compassion, heroism, sacrifice, innovation, resilience to name just a few. Come Lord and bring more and more of these into being that instead of the desert of cynicism and disillusionment there will be streams of love and hope..
But I feel in an even deeper way, God want to bring to birth 'new things' in our own hearts, in our own areas of desert. Through the Spring Harvest at Home Teaching I've realised that I have a desert area of my life in the form of fear of failure. This comes out as procrastination which anyone who knows me will recognise in me! I feel God wants to work in the depth and bring new streams of life and peace into my personhood. So I want to 'forget the old' of my fear of failure and 'perceive' the new of His work in my heart. I want the deep earth of my hidden life to start to form channels that will 'host' the new streams of joy, peace and trust that with Him I can do my best even if that best is weak in the world's eyes at times. I am looking forward to seeing this new work burst into life in me.
What new things may He want to bring to birth in you?
Shall we make Marilyn's song, Jesus you are changing me, our own prayer?
Jesus you are changing me
By your Spirit you're making me like you
Jesus, you're transforming me,
That your loveliness may be seen in all I do.
You are the potter and I am the clay
Help me to be willing to let you have your way.
Jesus, you are changing me
As I let you reign supreme within my heart. (c) Marilyn Baker
- April 30th: It was wonderful to hear that Captain Tom Moore has been made a Colonel on his 100th birthday, great to take part in my church zoom prayer meeting, lovely to be reading an exciting thriller with Marilyn, to hear news of a local doctor recovering from Covid; to join in the applause for the NHS and to hear that we are getting over the peak and the Gov't will start bringing in measures to ease the lockdown soon.Wonderful news! And yet, I'm sure none of you do this, but I almost instinctively think 'but what if...?' What if death rates start rising again? What if the economy can't recover? What if my loved ones become ill or things never return to 'normal?' What if?...
That little voice of doubt. Do you ever hear it in your head? It's that voice that robs us of peace, trust in God's goodness and a sustaining sense of purpose.
What if? and suddenly we are paralysed.
But Jesus shows in the Gospels that He understands our doubts and answers our what if's with love. In John 20;24 -29 we see Thomas who was so full of doubts he couldn't enter at all into the disciples joy at Jesus' resurrection. 'He said to them: 'Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my fingers where the nails were and put my hands into his side, I will not believe it.''I love Thomas as he is so real. In so many ways, Thomas could be my name.
But I also love what happens next:-'A week later ...Jesus came ...and said 'Peace be with you' Then He said to Thomas:'Put your finger here, see my hands...Stop doubting and believe.'
Thomas said to him, 'My Lord and my God.''(Precis'd)A really important thing when we feel full of doubt and the fear of trusting in good news, is to know that we've been heard and understood. If someone just says 'pull yourself together', 'have faith,' it just makes us feel worse!
Jesus showed that he'd 'heard' Thomas in all his fear and confusion. He'd been there, even though not seen. He offered His peace. He allowed Thomas to be and then answered verbatim all the questions that had paralysed him. As we see, Thomas' doubts were overthrown and he stepped into worship.
Are you feeling like Thomas? desiring to hope and trust in good news but feeling full of paralysing doubt?
Jesus is with you.
He loves you
He offers you His peace.
He hears your heart and answers you with direct comfort and reassurance.
He frees you to know and worship Him. 'My Lord and My God.'As David prays in Psalm 61 we too can pray:
'Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer, from the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.'May you be led to that Rock today and be at peace knowing He is with you and He hears your heart and He answers.
- April 29th: God wants to open our eyes to the good news that is all around us, 'the treasures out of darkness' as Isaiah puts it. In my last post Pam Maunders commented quoting a lovely verse from Amos 5:24 'Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream.' I love this verse and as I read Pam's comment I saw a picture of a mighty river flowing across the globe. It was the river of God's love and power. It's water was full of dancing lights, the river was deep and pure and along the banks were beautiful trees with healing fruit and leaves (Ezekiel 47:12) Then it was as if like on Google Maps when you Zoom in and see a street and individual houses, I saw the river flowing into the streets and houses of this land and other nations. Unlike the winter's floods which brought devastation, this river brought transforming life wherever it flowed. Humanly this virus seems to be unstoppable but it isn't all powerful, only our God is all powerful and I feel excited to envisage that river flowing with healing and might, to turn around this tragedy and to bring an outpouring of restoration, goodness, hunger for the Lord, peace, comfort, and the presence of God. Another lady, Chloe Acacia , also shared in a comment that God spoke into her heart: " let God fight this battle so you don't have to"...I thought that was beautiful and ties in with the river vision. We pray today that you will be uplifted in your hearts and able to sense God with you and know the river of His love and power lifting you up, cleansing, healing and restoring you and may you be empowered in your prayer to see that river flowing into the homes or situations that need His transforming touch.
As Marilyn sings:
'The Spirit of God comes like a stream flowing over the parched dry land,
bringing life and hope into every part
making the desert a fertile land.' (c) Marilyn Baker: Spirit of God
- April 28th: When I woke this morning I had this strong feeling that the Lord was lifting someone up like a mum or dad might lift their child and cuddle them if they are sad. He said 'I want to help you soar up on wings like eagles. To rise up into a new place where you can see from a new perspective.'There is no safer place than in his embrace. He is there for you if you have ongoing struggles. He is there for you if you are normally strong and able in all situations but at present are finding yourself flattened. He cares and wants to lift you up so you can soar in his embrace. Take in these lovely verses from Isaiah 40: 28 He never grows weak or weary; no one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths become weak and tired and young men fall in exhaustion, but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength; they will soar high on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.Only the Lord can give such strength. Praying you will know His loving arms around you today and feel the peace of his depths of understanding. My he lift you up so you can soar and be upheld in his love as you trust in him.Here are some words from Marilyn's song Come.'Anyone who is thirsty within, come and drink be satisfied.
To all who believe, my Spirit of love, like streams of water
Will flow out from deep inside.
- April 26th: I love the beauty of the sunshine, the Spring flowers, the birds singing and the evidence of God's love all around.And yet in the midst of joy there is grief. Last night as I saw from the news that the total of those dying in hospitals alone was well on its way to 24,000, I felt such a grief for all those who have lost loved ones or are facing that loss even now whether from Covid-19 or other illnesses. Losing someone we love is heartbreaking and my heart also aches for those struggling with intolerable loneliness or emotional pain during this lockdown.
It's important we let ourselves cry. The Bible shows that weeping, mourning and expressing our deep feelings of loss and confusion are a vital part of living. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:15 'Jesus wept.' He wept in the pain of loss, the heartbreak of shared grief. He wept knowing that in minutes he would raise his friend from the dead. There would be joy but in this moment he needed to weep.
That is true for us too.
Here is some deep personal sharing from our friend Tony whose beloved wife is terminally ill: Tony kindly gave me permission to use some of his thoughts here. May they comfort you and help you, if you need to, to weep and mourn knowing that God weeps with you:MY TEARS HAVE BEEN MY FOODI’ve cried a lot over the past few weeks. At one point anything could set me off - a memory, a disappointment, a fear about the future, an act of kindness . . . For a while it felt like there was a huge sponge of emotion inside me, and if it was touched in any way water in the form of tears would flow out.
This could happen at anytime and was beyond my control - during a phone call, when speaking to the doctor, whenever I prayed with E.
I am not ashamed of my tears. Tears are healing. Tears are releasing. Tears are a natural expression of love, compassion and caring; a healthy response to grief, loss and sadness. They are not a sign of weakness or of an inability to cope, but of our humanity and being real.
Jesus wept (John 11:35). He cried when his friend died, he wept over Jerusalem, he wept in the Garden. He understands tears, he is not embarrassed by our crying. He knows, he cares,he understands.
These are difficult days for many. Don’t be surprised if some days you are emotionally fragile. Let the tears flow and don’t suppress them. Everyone feels better for a good cry.
Thank you Tony.
May you know God's gentle presence with you today and if you weep may you know Him weeping with you. In the words of Marilyn's song:
'He knows your sorrows
He holds them in His heart
He cares,He feels, He carries every part.' He knows Your Sorrows (c)
- April 24th: I've been finding that tensions and worries keep coming to the surface as this lock down continues, But God is with us in our weariness and fear for the future. As I prayed I had a picture of someone trying to sleep but your bed was covered with boxes of all shapes and sizes, some very heavy indeed. You were trying to find a place under them but how could you sleep like that? I sensed He was saying the boxes represented all the burdens and fears you are carrying at this time. In the picture I saw Him reaching down to lift you into His embrace. He held you safe far above all those boxes. However big they were they could not reach you. He is your shelter and your peace. Think of these lovely verses:When I remember you on my bed, I meditate and thoughtfully focus on you in the night watches. For you have been my help; And in the shadow of your wings where I am always protected I sing for joy. My soul, my life, my very self clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63: 6 - 8Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12.
- April 22nd: Many of you shared your excitement about my last post with the picture of the Lord. It was a wonderful, faith inspiring true story and it made me think how encouraging it is when we hear stories of how God has answered prayer. God wants to encourage us to pray with expectancy and trust in His amazing power, constant presence and great love. I am not being glib. Things are so hard at present and the answers to our prayers can look different to what we wanted, but God is always good and awesome in His power. Let's be praying for Him to bring healing, provision, wisdom to our leaders, comfort to those struggling under the lock down. In Acts 12 we see how the angel of the Lord came to Peter when he was imprisoned and released him. The church had been praying for him fervently but when Peter knocked on the house door, the disciples told the servant girl she was 'out of her mind' when she told them it was Peter. They'd been praying but obviously hadn't expected their prayers to be answered!
Remember its important that we expect and anticipate the answer to our prayers. Lets really encourage each other with our stories of how God has answered prayer We had one yesterday, Marilyn had lost her signet ring that was a family gift that she has always worn. We couldn't find it anywhere so we prayed that God would reveal where it was. Later I was getting lunch and Marilyn suddenly walked into the utility room, put her hand on top of the freezer and there was her ring! A sudden thought had come to her that it might be there as she had been sorting things out on top of the freezer earlier. We were amazed as it could so easily have got knocked off or lost.
- April 21st: I am feeling sad for those I know who have lost loved ones or going through great difficulties in this time. The Lord feels our grief and carries us when we struggle. When I woke this morning the theme of hope was still in my mind. I felt Jesus was saying 'See in hope.' Yesterday we thought about 'Live in hope' and 'seeing in hope' is part of that. God is calling us to look deeper, to see with our spiritual eyes as well as with out natural eyes. To see with hope into what he is doing in and through this crisis, to know that he alone is God full of majesty and power.Yesterday Marilyn and I found this amazing picture that Marilyn has had for about 40 years. The picture was painted in oils in a tactile way for Marilyn to feel. It was taken from a photograph which I have seen so I know the picture is true to the original. The story behind the photo gives us great hope. A lady called Isabel who was in Christian ministry, was flying to another country. It was a long flight but about half way the plane ran into serious trouble. It was night time and stormy and the engines were failing. People were screaming and it looked very serious. Isabel was terrified herself but prayed instinctively, 'Lord please help us! Please hold the plane safe.' As she prayed she glanced out the window and to her amazement she saw what she thought was a vision of a fiery angelic being, or even the Lord himself, in a robe with arms outstretched. There was glory all around him. Without thinking she grabbed her camera and took a photo then continued praying. Amazingly the plane landed safely with no lives lost. On her return home she took the film to be developed. It had all the pictures from her ministry tour but she was astonished to find that her pictures of the 'vision' had come out. It had been real, not a vision at all. She cried as she realised how awesome the presence of God is and his response to our prayers. He had come and held them safe and protected them when death seemed certain. The man in the photo shop was also overwhelmed and gave his life to the Lord after she told him what had happened.
God is amazing. Psalm 18: 2, 9, 16, 19 says 'The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer. My God is my rock in whom I take refuge.....He parted the heavens and came down, dark clouds were under his feet....He reached down from on high and took hold of me...He rescued me because he delighted in me
.'When we saw that picture yesterday new hope filled our hearts for this time we are in. God is bigger and more powerful than all that is happening. He will turn the tide of this crisis and work in wonderful ways to turn peoples hearts to him. We pray you will be empowered to 'see in hope' today in a new way.
We'll leave you with the words of Marilyn's song: Who is like you?
'Who is like you glorious in holiness?
None like you, so awesome in your glory.
Lord our God, only you are doing wonders
And so we come and worship before you.'
(c) Marilyn Baker.
- April 20th: Welcome to the new week. I hope that despite the circumstances you had a good weekend and experienced God's love in some real way. As I woke this morning the phrase 'Live in hope' was in my mind. Think of these lovely verses from 1 Peter 1:3 'In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope. ,' This is exciting as it means that hope is alive. It is all around us and within us. It is Jesus who is our Living Hope and he is constantly within us. Hope is his gift to us not something we have to work up.
And yet it is also a choice. We can choose to let ourselves be flooded by the awfulness of the situation or we can live in hope. What does that mean? I was inspired today by my Hearing Dog Goldie. He lives in hope. He only has to see us sit down for a meal and his ears prick expecting a treat. As an assistance dog he doesn't get treats all the time but he does expect them! He may be asleep in the lounge and I will rustle a bag in the kitchen or start chopping veg and he is out there expecting something nice. So hope is expectation of something good. Are we expecting God to bring something good out of this crisis? We can't have faith without hope, because as Hebrews 11:1 says: 'Faith is being certain of what we hope for.' If we are not hoping then we can't have faith! So as well as expectancy, hope is all to do with anticipation. Anticipation is what happens when we start imagining something. Goldie expects to be given a treat because he knows I love him (and because he is greedy!) He also anticipates having that treat in his mouth, the joy of eating something tasty...Anticipating is exciting and life giving. We may for example Hope that the sun will shine on our birthday; When we listen to the forecast, we may then Expect that it will indeed be sunny. We then begin to Anticipate the fun of having a barbecue! We will then exhibit Faith by buying our burgers and coals....
Today in this uncertain situation we are facing, let's choose to access our gift of hope through Jesus. As we focus on his goodness, what is he putting on our hearts to Expect? A turn around in the virus? Someone you know who is ill, getting better? The strength to cope in your isolation? New resources of PPE being distributed? Revival and hearts set on fire for him?
Catch hold of your Hopeful Expectation and start to Anticipate what that will look like and feel like...my neighbours asking us questions about our faith? my friend returning home from hospital?...Anticipating is all to do with what we imagine, what we fill our thoughts and emotions with, what we dream about....As Anticipation rises in your heart ask Jesus how he wants you to action it in Faith?
Goldie positions himself by my chair and waits....how about you? Is it to pray into being what you are anticipating? Or to reach out in some way to your neighbour? To start a prayer chain for your sick friend?
As Marilyn sings:
'O we must trust in the Lord with all our hearts
And not rely on our own understanding
Every promise of God is true,
We patiently believe in his Word
And he'll work it out for you.' Abraham (c) Marilyn Baker.May you be blessed as you 'live in hope' today.
- April 18th: Today a writing acquaintance Dawn James commented about the Bible reading notes I'd written for this January on Genesis 1 - 11; saying how one particular note - a story from Noah's wife's perspective, seemed so fitting for these times we are in now. It's a while since I wrote the series so I re read it and decided to share it here as although a completely different situation, I could see what Dawn meant. I hope you enjoy it and maybe find it helpful. I've added a few comments at the end to 'bring it into today.' and a song from Marilyn and a prayer at the end.' In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month – on that day, all the springs of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth for forty days and forty nights.' (Genesis 7:1-24 NIV) Living through the flood, by Noah’s wife.
'I worried that Noah was going mad as he worked with such manic urgency. What was all this talk of God’s judgement? One day, through deep sobs he told me of his encounter with God and how we would all be destroyed unless we shut ourselves inside the ark for a long time. I dismissed it of course, but then the animals started arriving - elephants, bears, lions...all heading straight towards Noah as if a hand was guiding them. I screamed but they just filed peacefully onto the ark. How was that possible, these were wild creatures? Day after day more and more came. What was going on? Surely we wouldn’t really have to go in there too? Surely Noah had got it wrong?It was terrible when the waters came. The sky turned black, the air shivered and the very ground started moaning, a chilling scary sound. Before our eyes cracks appeared, spewing fountains of black water over our feet. People screamed, frantic to escape, hands clutching, faces gargoyles of terror. Where we’d all been reluctant to enter the ark, there was now a panic to get in and shut the door. The wind roared and torrential rain flung itself to earth but suddenly a miraculous force slammed the door shut. We were imprisoned in the ark. We huddled together, terrified as the ark twisted and groaned as it was struck repeatedly by large objects. I thought it would break apart but incredibly it stayed upright. Endless days went by as we tried to shut our ears to the cacophony of screeches from the animals and the thunder of rain.
But one day when I felt overwhelmed with the noise, darkness and stench of fear, I heard God’s voice, deep in my heart, clear, beautiful. ‘Peace, I am with you.’ My turmoil drained away. Noah was right. God was with us. With him we would survive.
((c) Tracy Williamson Day by Day with God, January 2020)
Just as Noah's wife heard that beautiful whisper from God and was able to move from turmoil to peace even in the midst of terrifying uncertainty, so God is with you right in this moment, wanting to whisper His security deep into your heart. As Marilyn sings: 'I am the One to hold you secure; give you love, that is certain and sure. Be your friend forevermore. Hear what I say, I am the way.' ((c) Marilyn Baker. I Am The Way) He is the way - not just to salvation, but to peace, joy, hope and trust in the midst of this present terrible storm. Rest in Him. He is the way, the truth and the life.Prayer Thank you Lord that even in times of darkness and terror, when my world collapses and I am overwhelmed, you are with me. May my heart be open to your voice of peace today.
- April 17th: In yesterday's post I shared how the Lord put the thought 'take courage' into my heart.Today as I woke up, it was with the words 'you are Courageous' filling my mind. I believe He is lovingly saying this to someone who feels very afraid and anxious, so much so that you haven't been able to do anything because your fear is paralysing you.
I have known that fear in my own life, but He doesn't see or describe you or me as someone full of fear but as someone who is Courageous. He sees the real you and all you have already overcome in your life. He knows every step you've taken, sometimes against overwhelming odds and He is so proud of you and the way you've kept going, kept holding on to Him and kept pushing through all the mountains of negativity. We've been applauding those on the front line in this battle against Coronavirus and that is so right and good. But God is also applauding the courage that you and many others are showing in staying in isolation, in dealing with kids stuck at home, in facing the loss of jobs and income, in loving and reaching out to others, in choosing to live hope-fully each day despite life's present uncertainty, fear and heartbreak. Just as the Lord chose to draw alongside Gideon and affirm him as a mighty warrior when Gideon was fearfully 'threshing wheat in a wine press to keep it from the Midianites.' (Judges 6: 11 - 16) so God loves to affirm you with words of truth and life. He can see what you cannot see in yourself and He calls you 'Courageous.' He sees all you are having to lean into just to keep going, and He says 'I am so proud of you.' He sees your desire to help others in need and He rejoices over you. He sees how when you run away that you always come back again. He calls you Courageous. He is proud of you and promises to give you all the strength and help you need. Psalm 27:1 says'The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?' Put your hand in His and let Him be your stronghold today and you will find that courage rising up in your heart. As Marilyn sings His words over you: 'I have called you, I have chosen you, I really love you, I'm always there beside you. And as you lean on me, I will give you the resources of Heaven.' (Resources of Heaven (c) Marilyn Baker.
- April 16th: I've been experiencing a multitude of emotions from deep sadness because of those dying from Covid-19, weariness at the ongoing struggle we are all enduring, fear as I worry about my loved ones, joy as patients are clapped out of ICU, awe as I watched the amazing achievement of nearly 100 year old Captain Tom, delight in celebrating our amazing NHS and caregivers...So many emotions but His whisper to me today was, 'Take courage.'
As Joshua said to the Israelites as they were about to go in to take the land: 'Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.' (Joshua 1:9)
Just like the Israelites in that scary, uncertain moment of taking first steps into the land they'd been trying to enter for 40 years, we don't know exactly how the future will pan out. It's scary to look ahead and wonder if we will survive this crisis and time of isolation. Courage isn't being fear free, but choosing to trust and step forward through our fears. When I did my sky dive to raise money for our trip to India, I didn't realise until I was at the plane hatch 13,000 feet above ground, that I would be in front, not the instructor! A friend had typed the instructions for me, but somehow I hadn't cottoned on to that important fact. I was terrified! I didn't want to go ahead with the dive but I was literally sitting in the hatch and was the first in line. The instructor was rocking me forward, pushing me so that I'd (gently) fall from the plane. The fear was very real just like it's globally real now. I wanted out! But I was restricted and confined tied to my instructor, trapped in front of the queue of divers in a tiny plane 13,000 feet above the ground Maybe you feel like that now? But God was with me, just as He was with the Israelites. He wanted me to know the exhilaration and wonder of seeing earth from a heavenly perspective; of flying; of passing through fear into joy, of achieving something that seemed impossible.
God wants you to discover that joy too; the wonder of partnering with Him to bring amazing things about out of this lockdown; the joy of seeing from a heavenly perspective, of flying free with God. .
Take courage today. He knows your fears but promises to be with you. There will always be fear in life, especially in times like now, but take courage, focus on HIm, hear His whisper and step through your fears into strength and joy.May He bless you with His courage today.
- April 15th: On the one hand I'm hearing the news, feeling the fear, thinking of my loved ones and the heartbreak of loss for so many. . .On the other hand I'm being inspired by what I'm hearing from Spring Harvest, talk of hope, of courage, of God trusting us to carry His presence. . .
And inspired too by the amazing courage of those around me, those on the front line in caring for others, but also those of us who are alone and facing our own demons of loneliness, fear, isolation emptiness, financial struggle or overwhelming family situations yet are still holding onto the Lord, to joy and trust, daring to adapt to new, difficult situations and reaching out with the desire to help others. God is bringing so much beauty out of this pandemic. It's incredible.
One thing that really inspired and blessed Marilyn and I was this very real and beautiful poem that our friend Hellen Frost sent me just now. I asked if I could share it here as I believe it will speak to us all and encourage us to see the amazing things God is doing and so have hope afresh in Him. Be blessed.So I’m distanced
More alone than ever before
Yet somehow I feel more togetherness
To something bigger than just me.I do feel fear
Fear of change
Fearful for the health of those dear to me
Yet there’s also a calmness
A belief that strengthens every day
In a God who is bigger than all of this
A God who knows all the answers to my uncertainties
A God who brings peace, love and hopeHe holds me in the palm of His hand
A hand that’s big enough
Yet gentle enough
To hold each and every one of us
Safe, sure and secure
Wrapped in His everlasting loveThis is real church
Church in each and every home
A church that needs no special building
Needs no one else
Except Jesus, you and I
We are His Church
We live in, through and because of His love
We shine a beacon of hope to all those in darkness
So that they too can belong to this amazing, eternal family
So that they too can have hope when worse is maybe yet to comeI’m still afraid
But I don’t live in fear
I’m still isolated
But I’m not alone
I’m in church with you all
connected by my hand, to Jesus’s hand, to your hand, no matter how near or far.
(c) Hellen Frost April 2020
- April 14th: I have been really lifted up and inspired by joining in Spring Harvest Home which is open and free to all. Do join in if you can. Search for Spring Harvest Home and click on the YouTube links to find either Live Stream or pre-recorded seminars from a wealth of amazing speakers. Its a wonderful resource at this time when we all need all the inspiration we can get. Tonight's celebration will start at 7.30. The overall theme is 'Unleashed' focussing on the powerful, uninhibited work of the Holy Spirit through God's people, as shown in the book of Acts.There are amazing parallels with our present situation because after Jesus resurrection and ascension there was a real sense of restriction and fear among the disciples. They were in serious danger of persecution and death so they met secretly to pray and worship together, a little bit like how we are doing now through our Zoom or Live Stream services.
In themselves they had no power or ability to change their situation or advance God's kingdom yet when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost everything was transformed. Peter was instantly changed from being the weak and fearful denier of Jesus into a man who could stand and preach from his heart and soul and through his words see 3000 added instantly to the number of believers! Peter was unleashed as the Spirit filled him with God's love, power and passion. I long to be unleashed too and be filled to the depths with the Spirit so that I might exude boldness, wisdom, love, compassion and passion to share the good news with my loved ones and community in whatever way God calls me. If that motley crew of disciples could be so radically changed by the Holy Spirit, so will we be. Jesus said we just need to ask like little children and God our Father will joyfully give the Holy Spirit to us Father, I feel dry and restricted, fearful and ineffective yet I so long to be filled with you and for your wonderful Holy Spirit to be unleashed in and through my life. Please do that Lord. I ask with all my heart. Send your Spirit's fire to fill each one of us that your gift of life will be unleashed in our world that is so afraid of death at this time. Thank you Father, I receive you now, amen.
- April 8th: How are you all today? God is so close to each one of us and wants to draw us into His love and fill us with joy. Yes even in these circumstances we can know the joy of His presence with us, the wonder of His forgiveness, the strength of His care. I sensed this morning that someone is struggling with feelings of condemnation. You are judging yourself and feeling you are not matching up to others. But God says: 'I love you. I never condemn you. My Son died that you might know the joy of my forgiveness and unconditional love. I am for you and rejoice over you with singing.' As I prayed I saw a picture of a fountain, the water pouring down with power and beauty. He was welcoming us all to come into that fountain. To drink in His love and be filled with His streams of living water. As it says in Psalm 36:9 - 10 (TPT). 'To know you is to experience a flowing fountain, drinking in your life, springing up to satisfy. In your light we receive the light of revelation. Lord, keep pouring out your unfailing love on those who are near you.'
In the light of His revelation we will see our lives and even this current situation with new eyes which will birth new hope and power to pray and act in our hearts. Be encouraged today. He is with you in all the outpouring of His love and strength.
- April 7th: With the news last night that Boris Johnson was in intensive care and more people affected by the Coronavirus, it's important we make time to come into God's presence and know He is holding us and cares so deeply for all that is going on. There is so much sadness around and fear and the feeling of helplessness to know how to stop this crisis and how best to help those struggling in isolation and weary with the whole situation. Part of me feels I would love to be doing something, to be nursing and therefore active in helping others get well... But I am not a nurse and nor am I a driver so cannot help deliver things to those in need. But although there are many things I can't do I Am A Child of God and as such I can worship and lift up the name of Jesus which is so much higher than the name of Coronavirus! I can listen to Him and pray what He puts on my heart and my prayers will reach across the world and into the homes of those in isolation. I cannot physically nurse anyone but my prayers for people are powerful and life giving. I may not be able to visit my friends and family but I can make contact in other ways to love, encourage and lift them up. Please remember today that whatever is happening , You Are A Child of God and as His precious child He wants to lift you up, to strengthen you, to speak comfort into your sadness and peace into your fears. As He says to us in Isaiah 40:31
'Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.'
Praying you'll know His special closeness today, His comfort for all sadness, His peace for all fear. And as you nestle in His love may He renew your hope and enable you to soar, to worship, to love and to pray.
- April 6th: Yesterday was Palm Sunday . Did you miss being able to celebrate in your churches with the children giving out palm crosses that we might all share the joy of Jesus entering Jerusalem as King?But we may actually have felt very far from celebrating and it may have seemed impossible to connect to the idea of Jesus as Lord and King in the current situation?
Yet Jesus is indeed King and its so important for us to rise up in our hearts this week to celebrate Him as the King who doesn't just reign but who acts in the immensity of His love and who feels and carries our every struggle and sadness.
After Jesus entered Jerusalem with all the children shouting 'Hosanna to the Son of David' and waving their palm branches, His first action was to go to the temple where in holy anger He drove out all who were buying and selling. He was filled with grief that His 'house of prayer' was being made into a 'den of robbers'. If Jesus felt such grief for the temple, how much more does He feel for the lives of those He loves and gave His life for being so devastated by this virus? He sees the true enemy, Satan, and the way he is trying to use this terrible disease to gain power, devastate lives and steal our faith. Will Jesus let him? NO! As surely as Jesus rose up in anger against those desecrating the temple, He is rising up in Holy anger against all that Satan is trying to do now across the world. We too can stand together with Jesus and let His holy anger fill our own hearts and prayers, that we will not let Satan get his way in this day. He didn't get it at the cross when he thought he had defeated Jesus and he won't get it now either. Let's choose to celebrate Jesus as King this week and rise up in our faith our hearts and prayers. As Marilyn's song, Jesus is Lord of all, expresses: 'Jesus is Lord of all, Satan is under His feet, Jesus is reigning on high , And all power is given to Him in Heaven and Earth. We are joined to Him, Satan is under our feet. We are seated on high; And all authority is given to us through Him.....'
Thank you Jesus.
We worship you as our Lord and King and stand with you against all the works of Satan especially at this present time. We lift up your name and declare that you are holy and nothing can stand before you. We pray for your power and glory to be made known across the world at this time and for many, many to put their faith in you. We pray you will raise your hand against the advance of this sickness and bring it and all of Satan's strategies to a complete end but that there will be an ongoing hunger released in this world to know you and your amazing love. .
Hosanna in the highest. You are Lord and we love and worship you.
Amen. God bless you today,
- April 4th: How has this day been for you? The last time I posted was just after the clap for our front liners on Thursday night. I found that beautiful but last night I didn't feel strong enough to post anything. Today the sun came out and it seemed surreal as if everything in creation is speaking of new life, new growth and new hope and joy in the sunshine and warmth. Sitting there in the garden it seemed hard to believe that such a terrible war is going on and yet I only had to look out the window at the deserted street or switch on the TV for the news and the stark reality would hit me once again. For all of us in different ways that stark reality is so close to home as we battle with the extremely difficult and heartbreaking situations this crisis is creating. But I believe God is showing me that the underlying message of hope that we feel when the sun comes out and the spring flowers burst into bloom, is even more true and more powerful than the crisis. It's really important that we allow our hearts to be filled with that hope and for our focus to be on the beauty of new life and joy that God is bringing out of the ashes. As the Song of Solomon 2:10 says: 'Arise my darling, my beautiful one and come with me. See the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come....' He is calling us to arise, to stand up together with Him and choose to know that we are loved and that He is with us. He asks us to 'come with me.' This is His call for us to see and hear from His perspective not just that of the situation. Yes we may be in the winter now of struggle and even death. But He is bringing about a Spring that He has written the signs of in creation to encourage us but which goes beyond the mere changing of the season. At this , the start of Holy Week let's arise to 'come with Him' and know in our hearts that the Spring of Hope will surely bloom and even now is coming.
- April 2nd: How has your day been today? Once again tonight at 8pm we felt so uplifted and inspired to take part in the celebratory applause of our amazing NHS and all those working on the frontline. Marilyn shouted and cheered from the front step and I did from the open lounge window. When we can't get physically near to each other it's such a joy to realise that all our neighbours have the same goal, to honour, celebrate and affirm the wonderful work going on all around us. God wants to open our eyes to the good and there is so much good going on. The kindness of so many reaching out to help those in need is incredible. I was watching on the news how Michelin starred chefs are using their cooking talents to prepare hundreds of beautiful ready meals for those serving on the frontlines or self isolating and unable to get food. Breweries are using their distilleries to create hand sanitisers, churches are offering their space as food banks and places of safety for the homeless.....Everywhere people who have lost jobs and ability to function in the normal way are using their gifts in new ways to help others. It's a most beautiful thing and one that God rejoices in so much. A friend Jen, shared today how she woke up feeling useless but then realised how she could help in the most powerful way of all, by praying. There were so many needs that she could feel overwhelmed by but she asked God to show her 5 that she could focus on today and then prayed for those 5. I love that idea! Its partnering with God and He will show us who to pray for, who to reach out to, who to affirm , who to call or maybe how to use our gifts in a new way. When we're partnering with Him, none of us need feel useless. Let's look to Him to show us the good news. Let's clap and celebrate all that people are doing and know that we too are playing our part as we affirm, honour those around us and pray.
Thank you for all you are doing.
- April 1st: As we come to the end of this day I feel a sense of helplessness. How can anyone stop the spread of this virus and halt this destroying enemy? I feel the heartbreak of those who have lost loved ones or are so anxious on their behalf. The struggle of those coping alone, the economic fallout, the need to blame and tear down.
I felt paralysed between wanting to know and be up to date in what was happening and not wanting to hear another word!
But when it all seemed too much I knew that God was whispering in my heart, 'lift your eyes to me, lift your heart to me. I am bigger than all this. You don't have to understand, just come to me like a little child and rest in my love. Let your trust rise up knowing that you don't have to work out the answers. Be still and know that I am God and before me there is no other. Seek my heart, Trust in me, Rest in me and Pray what I give you.
Seek, Trust, Rest and Pray - we can do those things. We don't need the answers. We don't need to be all victorious. We come in our weakness and simply be, there before Him, with Him, resting and trusting for He is the only one we can trust! And then out of that place of being, praying what He gives us.
Yes Lord. Here I am.
- March 31st: Marilyn and I are gradually beginning to feel much better from our mild symptoms of the virus. It does create a real lethargy though so small tasks can seem like mountains. Maybe some of you are also feeling that you are climbing Mt Everest? If you are coping on your own or worried about loved ones or finances or getting food. . . things can feel very scary and overwhelming. But remember, when Nehemiah spoke to all the people when they were grieving, he said, 'This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.' (Neh 8:10) They were grieving because the public reading of Scripture had made them realise the repercussions of their sin. But Nehemiah wanted them to know joy in the Lord not grief. He said that joy would strengthen them and enable them to overcome the mammoth difficulties they faced. We too need to be strengthened by the joy of the Lord. He is so amazing and bringing about such beautiful things even in the midst of this crisis. May you feel His strength rising within you right now as you focus on His love, not just for you but for all who are struggling, sick and overwhelmed. As Marilyn's song, He Gives Joy, expresses: 'Did you know there's someone who can hear your faintest sigh? Someone who can hear your heart's deepest cry?. . .He gives joy to the hopeless, peace to the weary, and He binds up the broken hearted.
Praying you will know His joy deep inside you whatever your circumstances and His strength rising up from your toes to your hair ends!
- March 30th: As this day draws to an end I've felt while praying that so many of us are struggling, feeling weighed down with anxiety and loneliness in this situation. A picture came to my mind of a swan carrying its young safely in its feathers. God is saying to you and me, 'Don't be afraid, I have hold of you. I am carrying you, you are safe with me.' As Psalm 91:1 says 'He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.'Marilyn and I need to rest in that place of safety and shelter as much as all of us and in order to truly experience that rest its important we express to Him what's on our hearts, trusting all the weight of it to Him and listening for His word of peace in response. My friend Chris Pitts sent me this Psalm she'd written and kindly gave her permission for me to post it here as I felt it would be such a source of encouragement to us and will maybe help us to share our own hearts with Him and know He is responding so lovingly.A Psalm for Today reflecting our hearts laments during the Coronavirus Pandemic by Chris Pitts:O Lord my God, please listen when I cry out to you, the light has gone and darkness engulfs me.“Look to me, I am the light of the world, and there is no darkness in me at all!"My enemies prowl all around the world like roaring lions longing to devour everyone, and fear overwhelms me.“Do not fear, cast all your anxiety on me because I care for you”.Listen, Lord, as I cry out to you with my heavy burdens; weariness and exhaustion have overtaken me.“I never grow weary or tired, so come to me and I will give you rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. I will lead you to green pastures beside quiet waters where you can relax as I bring you healing and restore your soul”.Loneliness and isolation fill my heart, my friends have all gone, there is no one to talk to, no one to share things with.“Come to me, you can always talk with me at any time for you are not alone, I am with you always and will never leave you, even to the very end of time”.How will I feed my family? food is running short, supermarket shelves are empty, people are panic buying.“I am the bread of life so do not worry about what you will eat, for life is more than food. Consider the ravens who do not sow or reap, I feed them, and you are far more valuable to me than they are!”Lord, I cry out to you with my praise and thanks. I thank you that you are always with me and so I have no need to fear for you are the way, the truth and the life. Because you love me you have adopted me into your family. I am your child and nothing can separate me from your love. You never change, you are the same yesterday, today and forever. You reign over all things and have the final victory. My help comes from you, O Lord, you are the maker of heaven and earth, you watch over me and keep me from harm. I will sing a new joyful song to you, I will join with all your angels to worship and praise you for everMay He bless you with His wraparound love and peace.
- March 29th: My friend sent me a photo that she took of her neighbour's cat, Jasper, who she found sleeping on her doorstep with no worries about social distancing! If you are like me, you will be getting weary of the present situation and the feeling that it's going to carry on and on and on....? But God in His great love wants to open our eyes to the things around us that bring us joy and make us smile. As Paul said in Philippians 4:9 ‘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...and the God of peace will be with you.’
What have you seen or thought of that has made you smile today?
May the God of peace be with you all,
- March 28th: We hope and pray you have stayed well and at peace today. As you know I (Tracy) am deaf so generally I cannot hear music or tell what specific sounds are. Like most of us though I've felt quite overwhelmed by the constant noise of media reports and bad news. But this morning something lovely happened, I was lying on my bed with the window slightly ajar when I suddenly heard the pure note of a bird singing. Like a diamond cutting through the dross, this beautiful song cut through all the hubbub and lifted my heart to know afresh that, as the hymn expresses: 'Jesus is Lord, creations voice proclaims it!'
God created birds with the ability to sing so that we would always have a beautiful reminder to lift up our hearts and our voices in worship and love. The song of the birds is true. Our God alone is King. Let's listen for their song with expectation and joy and add our own voice of worship to that of creation. As Marilyn's 'Whispers of God' expresses: 'When I hear the birds singing in the trees; when I hear the gentle murmuring of the breeze, then it seems that I'm hearing the whispers of God.' God bless you and keep you in His love,
- March 27th: As we move into this new weekend and hear all the forecasts of the devastating progress of COVID-19, God is calling us to focus upon His everlasting covenant of love and commitment to you and me. He says with great compassion and power: 'Listen to me, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived and carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.' (Isaiah 46:3
Praying you will know the comfort of His presence and being lifted up and shielded in His mighty arms of love. May you hear His voice of peace and know that you are utterly safe in His care. As Marilyn's song, All I ever do is love you, expresses: 'Just take my hand, don't be afraid, for I will never ever fail you, I'll never forsake or let you down. All I ever do is love you, yes you are always in my thoughts, you're always in my care, my arms of love, are all you need, so learn to trust in me completely for I will not forsake or let you down.. . .'
- March 26th: I wonder if you took part in the 8pm celebrating our NHS and carers with clapping and applause? Marilyn and I did, Marilyn from upstairs cheering the NHS from her bedroom window and me from the lounge ringing bells and clapping with the rest of the street and country! It made me cry and I felt so full of joy that we were celebrating our heroes in this way. Remember we've been thinking how God is with us and in our stress and anxiety as we face these very challenging times, He wants to lift our hearts upward and outward. He sees and rejoices over every act of kindness, every duty of work that's undertaken in an attitude of compassion; every sacrificial giving of ourselves to encourage one another. As He tells us in Hebrews 3:13: 'Encourage one another daily, so long as it is called Today. . .' there's something about choosing to notice, affirm, encourage and applaud the amazing actions of those around us that really causes His light to shine at this dark time, and amazingly also transforms that heaviness of fear, stress and isolation into joy, honour and the togetherness of love.
Remember His heart is always to build us up and rejoice over us. As Marilyn's new song, Joy of my Heart, expresses: 'And He's singing to you, "You're the joy of my heart!".
Be encouraged and blessed in His love as you seek to encourage those around you.
- March 25th: We are all facing so many huge changes and stresses that we can become overwhelmed and Marilyn and I feel this as much as anyone as we try to deal with self isolation and living a new MBM lifestyle. Yet if we think of this promise from the Lord, 'I will always be with you,' it's important to know He truly is with us in a very real, caring and powerful way. How might we experience His presence, especially if feeling overwhelmed? For me today I sensed Him in so many ways; a lovely neighbour walking Goldie for me; another neighbour buying Marilyn and I some groceries and not taking any payment; the beautiful sunshine and clear blue skies, the thousands of volunteers selflessly giving their time to help the NHS; the NHS themselves and their incredible sacrificial care of those who are ill; the spring flowers bursting into bloom everywhere, an eternal sign of hope. As this day ends let's drink in the promise of God's loving care once again through the words of one of Marilyn's first songs, 'My Love Will Never Fail You'.
'My love will never fail you; my peace will be your guide. My grace will always keep you. Yes I am close by your side. My strength is here to help you, and my arms are open wide. Let me show you how I love you. Yes I am close by your side. '
- March 24th: At this time of isolation many of us are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with this unprecedented situation. Maybe some of you are struggling with COVID-19 symptoms? Or the fear of developing them? All of us most certainly will be struggling with the extreme changes in our life style and freedom. Those of you who are on your own must feel especially isolated. In MBM we want to bring regular encouragement to you to know we are praying for you. Today I (Tracy) felt He wanted us to take hold of His promise to always be with us Matt 28:20. ‘And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.’ He is with you, He is with me, we may not be able to get together but He is there for you always and nothing can ever alter that, even Coronavirus. As Marilyn’s song says, ‘Rest in my love, relax in my care and know that my presence will always be there. You are my child, and I care for you, there’s nothing my love and my power cannot do.’