“the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Covering The Stink
The other day I was in home-ware aisle of one of our local supermarkets, looking for bin liners. On the same shelf I saw something strange, but oddly attractive looking – giant stickers for decorating wheelie bins! There was one in particular that was quite nice, with big bright sunflowers all over it. At first I thought, “a wheelie bin isn’t the nicest looking thing, I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad idea to dress it up a bit.”
Then the thought struck me that our bin really stinks. I mean, really! It’s hard to get rid of that smell. No matter how we were to decorate the outside of it, even if I put pictures of lovely pink roses all over it, nothing is going to change the fact that when we open the lid of our bin, that stink wafts out from the inside!
The only way to really get rid of the smell is to get a power hose, some disinfectant and thoroughly clean the inside of the bin.
God Changes Us From The Inside Out
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
So it is with our lives. If we try to be clean on the inside by changing what’s on the outside, we miss one of the great, wonderful truths of God’s Word!
The change needs to come from the inside. And Jesus is the one who brings about the miraculous change in us – it isn’t about us or our performance.
Paul put it simply: “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” Colossians 1:27
No more Striving to be Good
If you are a Child of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, then He lives in you. He is changing you from the inside out, day by day, moment by moment.
* Do you feel as though you can’t face tomorrow? Jesus can! He holds all your tomorrows in the palm of His hand, and He dwells in you. How incredible is that?!
* Are you struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you badly? You can’t do it. Not in your own strength. But Jesus Christ who lives in you can!
* Do you need self-control? It’s a fruit of His Holy Spirit who lives in you, therefore self control is yours, not in your strength but His.
* Have you been asking God to help you love someone difficult? The capacity to do so is already in you – His name? Jesus!
We don’t need to strive to be good, better, nicer. We need to surrender to Him; trust His leading. He is the one who brings the change, from deep inside, and this then begins to show on the outside.
I’d far rather have a wheelie bin that remains a bit plain on the outside if, when I open the lid, a pleasant, clean aroma wafts out.
In a similar way, I believe God looks at us, His children and says, “Why are you striving to look lovely on the outside, while neglecting the inside?”
Let’s allow the fragrance of Jesus be released from us, when the lid is opened on our lives.
a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. Isaiah 42:3
A couple of days ago, we looked at the first part of this verse in Isaiah, in a post entitled ‘A Bruised Reed’.
This is ‘part 2’.
Scenario: The Lamp
Picture a stormy, dark evening. There has been a power cut that has plunged the whole house into darkness.
Then you remember an old oil lamp that you bought in an antique shop a few months ago; now’s the perfect chance to try it out!
After a few bungled attempts, you manage to light the oil soaked wick and the room is filled with a soft, warm light. The rest of the family filters in, drawn to the room where there’s light, and for a while you enjoy one another’s company without the usual modern-day…
Have you ever seen reeds at the edge of a river? They’re beautiful; standing tall and strong. This is because they’re near their life’s source, the water, which they soak up, through their hollow, drinking straw-like stem.
Drinking continually from the river keeps them strong from the inside out.
Sometimes big clumsy feet come along; perhaps the wading boots of a fisherman or even the hooves of cattle, and they trample carelessly on those reeds.
The reed that, a few moments ago, was standing tall and sturdy is now bent, bowed and bruised.
A Bruised Reed
Are you a bruised reed? Are you in a place in life at the moment where you feel you can’t take much more?
Three Reasons to Be Thankful
“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
I often see “Thankfulness Campaigns” on social media; the idea being that you should list a reason or several reasons over a period of time, for being thankful.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti this idea. In fact I think it’s a great one! Thanksgiving is a Biblical prescription for daily living. But there’s a very subtle shift in focus in some of these social media threads, that if we aren’t careful, can make our thankfulness:
A) conditional: (depending on our circumstances.)
B) ‘all about me’ – I’ll be thankful to God depending on what I perceive Him to have done for me.
Neither of these are not places are somewhere we want to find ourselves!
Psalm 100:4 tells us: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” This is the truth: Our God is worthy of our thanks and praise!
However I know that we all have seasons in life when we allow our feelings to get in the way. You might be experiencing a time in your life right now, where things feel really tough, dry and hard. Sometimes when we’re in a prolonged Winter period we get to a place where we can start to feel “what do I have to be thankful for right now, when nothing’s going right for me?”
The truth is, these hard seasons strengthen and refine our faith, and shape us to be more like like Jesus.
It’s easy to practice thankfulness when life’s going well. To express real thankfulness in hard times is faith-building and displays true character.
What I love about Psalm 100:4 is that it doesn’t just tell us to enter His gates with thanksgiving and stop there, it goes on in the next verse to list some great reasons for thankfulness. None of these actually have anything to do with us or our circumstances. There’s nothing there that looks remotely like “thank you God for my job/house/income/spouse/health. (Although it is good to be thankful for these things!)
Our thankfulness is about who God is. His character, His Nature. It has little or nothing to do with our circumstances
Have a look: For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5
When we remember who He is – how Big our God is, in comparison to whatever situation or circumstances we might find ourselves in, it changes our entire perspective.
We shift and change constantly; our hearts are fickle. But God is constant and unchanging; Faithful from one generation to the next.
If you’re in a Winter Season right now, finding it difficult to find a place of thankfulness at the moment, these three rich truths about our wonderful and amazing, matchless God listed in Psalm 100:5 – For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. are the perfect starting point for giving thanks! As you read through this verse slowly, thinking on the truths contained in the words, let them catch hold of your heart and mind and let thankfulness start to rise up in you again. “Thank you Lord, that you are good. That your steadfast love endures forever and that yourfaithfulness towards me is unending.”
As a “bonus” here are some more scriptures to back up these three great truths:
He is Good! Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Psalm 31:19
“Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you,” Psalm 145:9
“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 23:6
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,”
His Love Endures Forever!
Nothing can or will ever change the fact that God loves you. Psalm 107:1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 136 is a declaration of thanksgiving to God “for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever” Lamentations 3:22-23 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
He is faithful! 2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he remains faithful “ Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24 “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Deuteronomy 32:4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
This is our God! It’s difficult to read these truths in His Word and not feel a stirring on the inside! He is so faithful, so good, His love endures, and bears us through the hardest Winter.
This post contains Links to products in Amazon. (Below) as an Amazon Affiliate I receive a small commission for purchases through Amazon links on my website.
Imagine if all your country’s national debt was paid, unconditionally- the slate wiped clean….
I was browsing through some online news reports yesterday when a particular photo caught my attention. It was of the US National Debt Clock.
This huge, looming digital clock in Times Square has kept a tally of America’s National debt for almost twenty years. On permanent display is the impossibly reachable amount the country owes and each family’s “share” in this debt.
Does this remind you of anything?
I was instantly reminded of our impossible debt – cancelled out by Jesus!
“by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
PS: Below are clickable links to products in Amazon. As an Amazon Affiliate I receive a small commission for any purchases made through followed links to Amazon on my website.
For some reason this morning, a random memory dropped into my mind of a four-day hike my sister and I once did with a group of friends.
It had seemed like a fun idea before we set out out. For the first few miles we had laughed as we shared funny stories and made up silly songs to keep up morale.
By day two though, it was starting to get a bit much. My whole body ached and frankly, I was bored with the scenery, which at first had looked so beautiful, now stretched on and on, relentless and seemingly unchanging, giving the impression that we weren’t getting anywhere.
All I could think about was reaching our final destination. Sadly, I was so consumed with it that I couldn’t enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery around me or the company of my companions.
The thing is, if I had only grasped the truth that I was going to reach my destination eventually, perhaps I could have enjoyed the journey, instead of pushing myself so hard. Looking back, I think “if only I’d taken time to pick some mountain flowers to press, taken more photos of the stunning scenery, and revelled in the quiet beauty of the place, away from all the rush of life.”
Does Your Christian Walk Currently Feel More Like a Hike?
Jesus came so that we would have abundant life! (John 10:10) Our Christian walk is so much more than being headed for a final destination- it’s about enjoying the journey, in partnership with Jesus. We’re going to reach our destination anyway, it’s a promise, sealed and held in surety for us!
It struck me this morning, that life can sometimes feel a bit like that hike. You may be experiencing a time in your walk with God where it feels more like a hike than a walk, and where the scenery just does not see to be changing; you put your head down and plod on, praying that God will bring the change, only to lift your head again and see what looks like the same scenery. You just don’t seem to be moving ahead.
Perhaps your road seems too rocky and hard to push through?
Like me on that hike, we can become so focused on getting to our final destination that we forget about the importance of the journey – the wonder and awe that I, little old me, am walking in partnership with the King of Kings! How quickly we start to question God’s goodness, when the terrain becomes tough or unchanged (to our liking.)
We can so quickly forget why we’re actually on this walk- that it’s not actually all about us but about reaching others; touching other people’s lives with the truth of the Gospel: Ephesians 5:15-16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time…”
Here are three great truths about our walk with God, that I remind myself of if I’m tempted to start complaining about the “scenery” of my life or circumstances:
You are not walking on your own
God has you firmly by the hand: Psalm 139:10even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 23:1–4He leadsme beside still waters. He leadsmeinpathsofrighteousness for his name’s sake. Even thoughIwalkthroughthevalleyoftheshadow of death, I will fear no evil, for youarewithme; .
God Has a Road Map for Your Life
God isn’t lost. He knows what He’s doing; you can trust Him to do it! Psalm 139:16 – Psalm 139:16You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
He Has Empowered and Equipped You For The Journey God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:19
He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. Psalm 18:33
In both of these scriptures the original language is translated as “he enables me to negotiate the rough terrain.” God has equipped you to walk confidently over the roughest terrain, not in your own strength, but with your hand firmly in His.