Hearts First

The love of God is our security, it is a rock beneath our feet. It is a source of joy.

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At the beginning of the year it is tempting to set goals, make plans and dive into the busyness of the new term (not that those are bad things). We tend to hit the ground running after the post-Christmas break as regular meetings start up again and new projects begin. This year as I was praying about our church’s two weeks of prayer which we hold every January I heard God speak two words to me, “Hearts first”.

Before we do anything God wants us to check our hearts. What kind of shape are they in? Are they filled up with the love of God?heartbeat-1892826_640

It is a reminder that first and foremost God, our Father, wants a relationship with us and what we do flows out of that. He created us in the first place for relationship as an expression of the outflow of love between the Trinity . He has always desired to have a people, to adopt us individually as sons and daughters into his family. We are now in Christ and enjoy the same love that the Father has for Jesus because we are “in Him”. It’s amazing! It’s overwhelming! It’s incredible!

In the story of the Prodigal Son the two sons both had a problem with understanding that their father loved them. The younger son felt guilty and unworthy of his father’s love and so he returned home to work as a servant or slave on his father’s estate. blue-1845901_640The older son thought that he earned the father’s love through working hard. Both could not be farther from the truth. The father was looking everyday for the return of the younger son because he loved him even though he had sinned. He was also alongside the older son everyday and all that He had was available to him because he was a dearly loved son.

Even if we’ve worked through these issues before it’s so easy to fall again into guilt and unworthiness, or performance. The new year is a great time for a personal inventory to ask ourselves do we really know that God loves us? or do we still know that God loves us? You see we will never give Him our hearts if we don’t understand this. We love because He first loved us.(1 John 4:19)

The love of God is our security, it is a rock beneath our feet. It is a source of joy in our lives. It motivates us to love and serve others.

Before we launch off into the activity of a new year we need to be saturated with the love of God, to be captivated by him. It’s then that there is an overflow of love to others whether it’s in serving our churches, in evangelism, at work or wherever God has placed us. So before your life gets taken up with “doing” spend some time with your Father, receive His love for you and pour out your love to Him.

He wants our hearts in good condition – filled up with His love.

YOU ARE LOVED!

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Photo Credits
All images: pixabay

 

 

 

State of Emergency

People are dying without God everyday.

I have just returned from a  holiday in France in an idyllic spot enjoying the sunshine. I  enjoyed the lovely cheeses, and wandering through the local market;  I hadn’t a care in the world. We were celebrating my younger son’s graduation with some of his friends and ours. In the garden of the house where we were staying I could hear the birds singing, the river burbling as it passed over the weir, and the bleating of sheep in the neighbour’s pasture. I felt very blessed.

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At the same time however, several hundred miles to the south in Nice, there were families who had been tragically torn apart by the terrible attack on Bastille Day. People were fighting for their lives and some are now  facing a difficult rehabilitation. A National State of Emergency had been declared but you wouldn’t know it in rural Normandy. Or so I thought but a few days ago there was grim news of a killing in Rouen not an hour away from where we were staying.

I wonder what your first thoughts were when you heard about the atrocity in Nice? My thoughts ran from “How could they?” to “those poor families”. I was horrified at the waste of life, the tragedy of lives snatched while people were on holiday and the pain of those who witnessed the death of their loved ones. I was not thinking about whether these people had heard the gospel or not, or whether they were now with God or facing eternity without Him.

You see I think we can be lulled into a kind of false sense of security when all the time there is a State of Emergency.  When an atrocity happens we are roused from our slumber to consider matters of life and death. The fact is, however, that people are dying without God everyday – that is an emergency.

At the weekend I was at a birthday party. I watched as my son told our neighbours about the internship he is doing next year with UCCF  explaining that he would be telling students about Jesus. Most people listened politely but one man was mocking him. Joe just took it on the chin and carried on. I was proud of him but at the same time I felt my own lack of boldness in sharing the gospel. I spend all my time waiting for the right moment to speak but hardly ever do.

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I am not a natural evangelist but I don’t want to use that as an excuse for me not to share the gospel. On the other hand I want to be motivated by the grace of God and not by a sense of guilt.So where does that leave me?

I think that the first step is to be awake to the fact that there is a state of emergency. In the West we lead such comfortable and secure lives that it is easy to be lulled into inaction. I’ll do it later, I’ll do it tomorrow, there’s always time or we fear what people may think of us.

It’s not that I don’t reach out to people.  We have hosted events for our neighbours in our home on many occasions and I do listen to the Holy Spirit and often speak to people in supermarkets, in the street, on the bus etc at His prompting. But I rarely if ever get to the point where I actually talk about Jesus.

For some time I was part of a group led  by Claire, a great friend, who was a tremendous provocation to me. Each week she would recount stories of how she had responded to people’s needs as they talked to her in coffee shops or wherever she was and offered to pray with them. I was really inspired by her and became much more alert to other people around me. I guess time and dealing with cancer intervened and I have sat back.

The Bible encourages us to “always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet.3:15).

That is another good place to start. We can feel very rusty about sharing our faith if we haven’t done it for a long time.It’s good to think about how we might answer some common questions in our own words and to have a short, snappy way of explaining what Jesus has done for us.(You can share yours here in the blog comments or here on the facebook page.)

In earlier times many paintings and stained windows included graphic images of hell. We tend to smile at these as being somewhat primitive but actually they conveyed a message that there is a hell and it is a horrible place. In our rational society we find it hard to think about this let alone talk about it. I am not suggesting that we preach hell and damnation but I do think WE could spend more time thinking about what Hell means for those around us as it will remind us of the urgency of the situation.

I hesitated to write about this because I know that I am not modelling this but I do want to. I long to be sharing the gospel regularly and to see people come to know Jesus. I don’t want to hold back through fear, laziness or complacency. What I realised when I saw the news from Nice was that I considered human tragedy and loss to be the worst thing that can happen. On reflection I know that although this is horrible it is nothing to be compared to spending an eternity without God – that is truly terrible and bleak. Many of my family and friends are heading in this direction but I have the answer and can share it with them.

Sometimes when a car or burglar alarm has been sounding for a long time people just ignore it instead of taking  action. I think I can be like that when it comes to the alarm bell that is sounding for my friends. I pray that God will help me to be one of those who runs towards those in an emergency and not one who runs away from it or ignores it.

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I don’t want to be sitting in my Normandy garden waiting for an opportunity to come my way when all the time there is a state of emergency and people I know have not heard the gospel. I don’t want the verdict on my life to be “she was lulled into a false sense of security”.

How about you?

 

Photo Credits
Normandy Garden is my own photo and may not be used without permission
State of Emergency and Right time images were created with Wordswag