Give thanks to the lord

Monday musings…Give thanks to the Lord!

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”

Psalm 118:1

FOR HE IS GOOD: “God’s goodness, which is His very essence and nature, is reason enough for giving Him thanks; God is always worthy to be praised, not only because He DOES good, but because he IS good.”
FOR HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER: the Psalm begins and ends with this declaration – a statement of fact, that God’s ‘hesed’ – meaning ‘loyal, covenant love – His lovingkindness, will never, ever be taken from His people.
Jill 💜

Extravagant Love

This photo has hung on the wall in my workroom for the past four years. I found it one day in a charity shop (that’s a ‘thrift shop’ for some readers). I hadn’t gone there with any intention of buying anything that day, I was with a friend who enjoys charity shops as much as I do. While she was in the queue at the checkout, my eyes casually scanned the shop. Suddenly the simple, black and white, framed photograph caught my eye.

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit” (Ephesians 3:16 NLT)

The picture was leaning against the wall, half obscured by other frames. But I could see it was something special and felt my heart start to beat a little faster as I cleared the other frames out of the way. I pulled the picture out, leant against the others and stood back to look at it properly. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

Standing there, in the middle of the busy shop, noisy with the sound of chatter and passing traffic, I looked at how the water gushed over the outstretched, cupped hands, filling them and spilling over in an abundant flow. And in those few seconds, I was reminded that this is how God gives! It’s how He provides for His children and how He gives His love: not in a little trickle, but in a mighty, lavish, gushing abundance, that you cannot contain. It saturates, fills your the brim, spills over, and touches those around you.

Often, when I look at this photo as it hangs on my wall, I’m reminded of the scripture below:

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Ephesians 3:18-19


Jill💜

“Those Who Look to Him for help will be radiant with joy!”

Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
Psalm 34:5 (NLT)

My hubby and I were sitting in a coffee shop enjoying our usual Saturday morning pot of tea and watching the world go by.  Just across from where we sat, two young guys stopped and each took something out of their pockets. From where we were sitting I could clearly see that they were lottery scratch-cards. They pressed the cards up against a shop window and started enthusiastically scratching them. The first guy turned back around to face us, and his face said it all; it was the picture of abject misery, disappointment and despair. He truly looked as though he had pinned all his hopes and dreams on the right numbers being on that card.
The second guy was probably disappointed too but perhaps his temperament was more laid back, or maybe he just played his cards closer to his chest and his face was less readable that his friend’s.

Although his friend was talking to him, slapping him on the shoulder, trying to laugh it all off, the first man just couldn’t seem to stop staring at that card. It was as if he thought that if he kept staring at it, the numbers would suddenly change to read what he had hoped they would.

The face of that young man has stayed with me.
I’m so thankful that, as God’s child, I don’t have to live my life according to fate or the ‘luck of the draw’. In times of fear, hardship, despair, uncertainty I can turn to God’s Word with intent, expectation and focus, and I know, with absolute certainty I will always find what I need.

The Bible is not ‘just a book’, it is the living Word of God.

Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

God’s Word is constant, unchanging and life-giving. In the Bible we find comfort, guidance and hope!
We will never, ever come away from an encounter with God with a countenance like that the face of that young man I saw. As Psalm 34:5 tells us, “those who look to him will be radiant with joy”. 

Jill 💜

We Look to You for Help (Lord)

I was going about my normal day today, having spent time reading and praying, I had written today’s blog post, tweaked a couple of things in my online shop, I was doing a bit of housework… all was well in the McIlreavy household… until I got an email notification on my phone. 

It was quite an important email, so I opened it up to read it. 

I’d love to say I responded like a “Bible believing, faith-filled woman of God” to the not-so-good-news in the email but that would be more that stretching the truth! 

My first reaction was “Oh no!, what am I going to do now?” Then I sat down and started to cry. How quickly we can allow ourselves to be robbed of peace sometimes! 

A few minutes later, when I had pulled myself together, I reached for my Bible to look for an answer there.

The very first thing I read was this story in 2 Chronicles, ending with these words
2 Chronicles 20:12,
“…..We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”

(You may want to read it, to understand the context)

Ok, so admittedly I’m not about to be attacked by an army – but I was in a situation where I had just cried out to God “I don’t know what to do”, and here He was giving me an answer:  –  2 Chronicles 20:15,17

Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. ……..you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you”

So, is my peace restored? – Yes!

Have I seen an actual, ‘material’ answer to that prayer yet? – No, but I don’t need to, because it isn’t my problem, God says so! 

A lot of people love that little quote “let go and let God” – well, this passage of scripture is the original let go and let God! 

Oh, and just to add a funny little twist to the end of the story; if you happened to read my earlier blog post this morning, (entitled Isaiah 43, God’s Love Letter to You) you’ll get the significance of this next little bit – in my excitement over finding this beautiful encouragement in the Word of God, I absently lifted the first thing with a straight edge that came to hand to use to underline those verses – one of the many little cards that had fallen out of my Bible. Afterwards I glanced down at what was in my hand- it was a card, given to me by my friend Ruth Reid, a few months ago. 

Inside were written some words from Isaiah 43:4

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“You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you”

See, how God looks for ways to show us, every day in big ways and small, how very much He loves us!!! 

Jill 💜

God’s Love Letter

Isaiah 43
When was the last time you received a love letter? In this digital age we don’t really write letters anymore, do we? It’s all been replaced by text. I don’t know what it’s like in other cultures but in our culture here in Northern Ireland we aren’t exactly known as the most Romantic. I remember one Valentines Day a couple of years ago, our local news ran a fun report; a roving reporter went out into the streets and asked dozens of men how they celebrated Valentines Day with their wives and girlfriends. Admittedly there were a few (very few) who were quite romantic. A lot admitted that they struggled to know what to write in a card so out of embarrassment they just didn’t bother. Some were just plain hilarious – confessing that they went on the morning of Valentines Day to buy flowers because they were half price.

Did you know that God wrote a love letter? It’s addressed to you! It’s not a soppy, romantic love letter. It’s the love letter of a father to a beloved child. Of a redeemer, for the one He has rescued. It’s the kind of love that lays down one’s own life in exchange for the one that is loved. It’s the kind of love that can’t be bought or won because it’s given freely.

Isaiah 43 is one of my favourite chapters in the Bible. There are other books and chapters in the Bible that speak of God’s great love for us, but what captivates my heart in this chapter is the way God speaks in the first person through Isaiah, declaring His deep, undying love for you and for me.

If you are feeling a little discouraged, disconnected, lonely, afraid or sad this morning, try this exercise. Read through Isaiah 43 slowly, meditatively, focussing carefully on each verse. In the verses where it says “Israel”, put your own name in. Read it as God’s Love letter to you.

But now, O (your name), listen to the Lord who created you.(Your Name), the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you”. Isaiah 43:1-4

Jill  💜

Loneliness

Free Listening
This morning I saw video on social media, posted by a woman who had recognised a deep social lack in our world today – meaningful conversation. So she got together a team of likeminded people who went out onto the street and set out some chairs in twos. Then they put up big signs saying  “NEED TO CHAT? FREE LISTENING HERE”
What a lovely idea! Many people struggle with loneliness and long for someone to just take a little bit of time to listen. 

Everyone seems to be so busy; we spend more time looking at our smart screens than we do at our loved ones’ faces. It’s little wonder then, that loneliness has become the modern epidemic that it has, and that people are resorting to setting up “Listening Stations” on the street. 

But do you know what? If you are a Christian you have something far greater than this!

Loneliness Vs. Alone
It isn’t only people who live alone who are lonely and in turn, not everyone who is alone is lonely- the two are not the same thing. 

Loneliness is a pervading feeling of sadness, often (but not always) as a result of abandonment or desertion, or a sense of having been abandoned/forsaken.

Alone, on the other hand simply means: “having no other persons present” 

You can in a room full of people and still feel lonely. 
Even if you don’t suffer from chronic (ongoing) loneliness nearly everyone experiences occasional little “stabs” of loneliness. 

If you are struggling with loneliness today I want to remind you of two important things:

1) Jesus fully understands loneliness because he personally experienced everything you and I do and more, when he came to spend 33 years on this earth;
Fully God, yet fully man, He was despised, rejected, spat on, scoffed at, brutally beaten and crucified. 

Isaiah 53:3 AMP tells us; “He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.”

Jesus was tempted, just as we are, but He didn’t demand his rights, give in to despair or grumble and complain like I do when I feel ignored.
He knew that His Father was always close. He knew how vital it was to draw near God the Father. There are lots of accounts throughout the gospels, of Jesus going off alone to pray. In Luke’s gospel is the account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, perhaps his “darkest” hour, humanly speaking. He poured out His heart to His Father, and God in His love and mercy sent an angel to minister to Jesus and strengthen Him.  Luke 22:41-44

2) God is Always Close By
Of course human friendships are important – Jesus had friends too – but no human being can physically be with you 24/7 and neither would it be reasonable or healthy to expect that. 

But The Lord can, and does stay close by us, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There’s not one second that goes by that He is not with you. Isn’t that an incredible truth? 

I love the way the Amplified Version translates Hebrews 13:5
“I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake  or  let you down  or  relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”

And also  Proverbs 18:24 “The man of too many friends [chosen indiscriminately] will be broken in pieces and come to ruin, But there is a [true, loving] friend who [is reliable and] sticks closer than a brother.”

Nothing will induce your Heavenly Father to take His eye off you, even for a split second. He always has time for you. You are completely known and completely loved by your Father God.

His love has the ability to penetrate deep into your heart, dispelling loneliness.

Jill 💜

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