Be Still and Know….

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Psalms 46:10

Be still = ‘cease working,’ ‘stop striving’, ‘relax’, ‘be calm’.

When the stresses and strains of life happen, we often are either immobilised by panic or we go into fix-it mode as we try to sort out our problems by ourselves.

Where many other Psalms begin with a graphic description of the Psalmist’s crisis, Psalm 46 starts with God’s great provision.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

Psalm 46:1-2

As I read this, it reminds me that even though worst may happen – we might be hit by an earthquake and the very mountains might crumble to nothing and collapse into the sea – let them! How can I say that?

Because we, God’s people have something so precious; We have a God who is “a very present help.” He isn’t far off somewhere – he is close by, ready to help. All we need to do is to simply ‘be still’ and trust him.

The next verse says:

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.”

Psalm 46:4,5

This is significant because there wasn’t actually a physical river in Jerusalem, although there were streams. The Psalmist is writing prophetically, concerning a vast spiritual river – an abundant flow of provision, peace, joy and refreshing through the heart of city of God. See also Ezekiel 47:1-12, Revelation 22:1.

We can know a calm confidence in our God.

We don’t need to devise and strategise to fix our problems. They may be very big, but our God is bigger! The peace and strength God brings to us, and the place of refuge he is to us, in the very midst of our troubles is all we need – and we will not be overwhelmed. We only need to rest in him, to drink deeply from that river of living water, to be still, and to know that he is indeed GOD.

Jill 💜

The Father Heart of God

My three grownup sons live and work abroad. As a mum, I miss them, every single day. People say things to me like “at least you can ‘FaceTime’ or ‘WhatsApp’ them.” True, and I am glad for those useful tools, but you can’t hug your son over WhatsApp, and the thousands of miles between us seem to multiply with each life event I miss – the birth of a grandchild, a graduation, a change of career, a house move.

One day recently, I was feeling that familiar pang of missing my sons and started thinking about the Father heart of God. I had been reading through Psalm 139 that week and I began to wonder to myself how God feels when I start to let the busyness of my life interrupt my quality time with him.

God is our Father. As a Father, how it must delight his heart when his children set aside all our striving to spend quality time with him. How often we become ‘too busy’ and distracted by life, filling our days with worries and cares, work and fun, even doing things that we convince ourselves are ‘for God,’ until there’s barely a moment left over to spend time with him.

If our hearts as parents long for meaningful connection with our children, how much more does the Father heart of God long for connection with us, his children?

God is always with you.

“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

Psalm 139:7-12

There is one attribute of God that not even the best parent in the world could ever hope to replicate; his ability to be with you all the time.

This is something that has always boggled my mind. Our Father God is constantly with me, every second of every day. He is also with you – constantly, every second of every day. From Heaven’s throne to my humble human heart flows an uninterrupted stream of love, as though nobody else in the world existed.
And the same goes for you.

How is that possible? How can God be personally involved with billions upon billions of individuals all at the same time? I’ll be honest, I don’t know, but I do know that for the Creator of the world it’s no big deal. He is Almighty God. He is omnipresent- a concept most of us have a hard time getting our heads around.

Perhaps the explanation is the sheer speed of his thoughts. God has created things in nature that pulsate at incredible speed. For example, let’s look briefly at the quartz crystal’s whose molecular structure reportedly vibrates at the speed of 9 billion movements per second. And that’s only something created. Surely then the abilities of God, the Creator, must far surpass this.

Bearing this in mind, God could easily think a loving thought towards you at least twice every second without straining his ability to relate to the rest of his children at the same time. It is quite staggering really, isn’t it?

As far as you’re concerned, it’s just you and God. You never have to try to get his attention, you already have his full attention. He’s already listening.

(Jill McIlreavy)

Your Father knows you

“O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.”

Psalm 139:1-4

Our Father God is never too preoccupied with his own activities to show a real interest in the small events of our lives. He knows and cares about the tiniest detail. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. (See Luke 12:7)

The Bible doesn’t tell us this just to let us know that God is concerned with data, but to lead us to understand how God knows us and takes care of us.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:31-32‬ ‭

He is the Perfect Father

God is the perfect Father. He is faithful, generous, kind, gentle and loving. He longs to spend time with, and have meaningful connection with his children. He wants you know that you are a special and unique person to Him, unconditionally loved.

Jill 💜

The Burden Bearer

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.

Psalm 68:19

In this wonderful Psalm David gives specific reasons for rejoicing in God: The sheer might of Yahweh, his victory and triumph over all the earth, and yet in all his power and splendour, his enduring love and faithfulness to his people. Verses 5 and 6 describes him as “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.

What burdens weigh you down today? Worries over the future security of your job? Your health, or the health of a loved one? The rising cost of living? These and many other issues are valid worries that plague us in every ‘corner’ of the world.

We were never promised a trouble-free life, but we do have a Father who knows what we need (Matthew 6:8) and who, as Psalm 68:19 says, “daily bears us up.

Daily. Bears us up.

Daily — every single day of our lives Jesus bears the weight of our burdens (if we are willing to let go of our grip on on them). Bears us up — the Lord not only takes the heavy weight of our burdens, his mighty arms go around and under us —daily— and carry us as well. There’s only one thing we need to do from our side: daily hand it all over to him. Jesus himself invites us to do so:

Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

Give Jesus all your burdens today and let him carry them, and you. I know I’m going to!

Jill 💜

More Than Conquerors!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37

In a way it would be wonderful enough, when facing a particularly difficult struggle to read that through Christ you are a conqueror; but Romans 8:37 tells us that we are more than conquerors!

Whatever comes against you today, isn’t it good to know that you can rest in this knowledge?

Christ-Confidence, not Self Confidence!

The phrase “more than conquerors” in this verse comes from the Greek words nikao, meaning ‘to overcome’, or ‘to conquer’, and huper, meaning ‘beyond,’ ‘over and above,’ or ‘to prevail completely over’.

In joining these two words huper and nikao together, Paul makes an incredible power-statement about us, as followers of Jesus.

Jesus triumphed over sin, death, sickness and hell; leaving not one enemy unsubdued or undefeated. It’s only because of his absolute victory that we, as his disciples “prevail completely.” The fight has already been won! Romans 8:37 is not about self-confidence. Paul reminds us that we are ‘Christ -confident.’

To put it another way: Through Jesus Christ, together with Him, you are a paramount victor, a phenomenal overcomer and a conquering force to be reckoned with!

(Mustard Seed Blog)

And because you are Christ-Confident, you can rest assured that if and when some or all of the things listed in Romans 8:35,38,39 may happen in your life, there’s absolutely nothing that can separate you from God’s great love; not angels, not demons, not your fears for today or your worries about tomorrow. You are more than a conqueror.

Jill 💜

What is God’s Will For My Life. (Part 1)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

This is such an encouraging Proverb. And, with good reason, probably the most frequently quoted and preached-from. There are several lessons for life contained in its 35 verses. This morning I was meditating on verses 5-6.

Trust in the LORD

King Solomon knew from personal experience that God is truly worthy to be trusted, and here, he advises his son to live a life of trust in God.

It is our nature to put our trust in something or someone. Some people have had their trust betrayed or let downs so many times that they have privately vowed to trust no one but themselves. Some self-help advocates advise us to ‘trust yourself.’ ‘Find the bigger you deep within,’ they tell you, and other such clichés.

There is no ‘bigger you’ within: The truth is, there is no bigger you within. Contrary to the popular catchphrase we are not ‘enough.’ If we were, why did Jesus need to die?

Solomon’s admonishment to his son, and ultimately to us all, is to consciously put our trust in the LORD, the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

In fact, that word ‘trust’ means ‘to lie helpless, facedown.’

Although we in and by ourselves are weak, the very good news is that when we surrender our self-trust, and all our striving to ‘be better’ or ‘be stronger’, and we acknowledge that it’s only in Christ that our strength is found – it is quite literally his strength in us – then we become strong. A divine exchange.

With all your heart

If I’m to trust God, must be complete; wholehearted. More often than not we put half trust our in God and the other half in ourselves or something else.

The following analogy really stuck a chord with me:

“He that stands with one foot on a rock, and another foot upon a quicksand, will sink and perish as certainly as he that stands with both feet on a quicksand.”

(Trapp)

With “all your heart” could sound like a tall order to some; demanding perfection. As imperfect people it is impossible for us to trust in the LORD perfectly. But really, Proverbs 3:5-6 describes a heart that is willing to trust with a childlike, unwavering confidence in our perfect Father’s well-proven trustworthiness, wisdom, mercy, faithfulness and love. It isn’t about perfection, it’s about willingness — surrender.

Lean not on your own understanding

Trusting God with our whole heart is an ongoing process. It is making the decision to put away our own understanding, however wise we might think ourselves to be in any given circumstance, and choosing instead to trust that God’s understanding is far superior.

In all your ways acknowledge Him

Trusting God with all our heart means to honour and acknowledge him in everything we do. It is the conscious choice to invite God into our everyday life and conduct. It is to practice the presence of God in the regular, sometimes mundane things that happen every day.

He will make your paths straight

One of the most commonly asked questions is, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” In principle, Solomon answers this question in Proverbs 3. The whole Proverb is a great chapter to meditate on.

God’s response towards those who choose to trust him with all our heart, not to lean on our own understanding, and to acknowledge him in all our ways, is to direct them in the fulfilment of his will, into what is right and pleasing to him.

We can be confident, not in ourselves but in him, to take the next step, then the next in the peace of God, believing that through his word, the Holy Spirit’s leading, the counsel of others, and through godly common sense, God will lead us.

Jill 💜

Practicing Intentional Rest (Step 4) Meditating on Scripture.

Our hearts, are a little bit like campfires. We all have times when we burn furiously and brightly, then, left untended our hearts begin to cool; ‘dampen’ I think is the correct term, until we become ashy and needy for God’s Spirit to breathe on us again.

One of the ways — actually the primary way— God does this, is through his Word.

What is Scripture Meditation?

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”

(Psalm 1:1-3 )

The meditation spoken of here is not the kind that might immediately spring to mind when you hear the word ‘meditation’. It is the same as yoga or other forms of meditation, where a person might be encouraged to posture oneself quietly and ‘empty your mind,’ while concentrating on the inhaling and exhaling of your breath.

Biblical meditation is actually the opposite. It requires engaging the mind, not emptying it. It calls for deep thought and reflection. And most importantly, our own breathing features very little, but instead we focus our thoughts on God’s breathed out words on the pages of the Bible, and as we do, the embers of our hearts begin to glow and burn bright again.

How to Meditate on Scripture.

Meditating on scripture isn’t as mysterious and mystical as it sounds. It is simply choosing a portion of Scripture that is meaningful to you, and thinking about it, reading it to yourself out loud, pondering it, allowing it to run through your mind until your heart grasps hold of the reality of it.

In Psalm 1:2, we can clearly see this is the lifestyle of the Psalmist. “Day and night” he thinks on, ponders and focusses his energy towards understanding God’s Word. He leans in, presses God’s revealed truth into his very soul, knowing that the “Law of the Lord” is the sap that runs through every part of his being, causing him to thrive like a tree, planted by a riverbank.

Here are some very simple steps towards Scripture meditation. In your ‘designated quiet place’, (See Step 1) choose the passage of Scripture you want to meditate on.

I must digress slightly here and say that Scripture meditation and Bible reading or study are not the same thing, although both are very important.

For me personally, meditation often begins when I’m reading a passage of scripture and am suddenly arrested by a little nugget within that portion; I pause to ponder over it — the sheer glory of it. Often, if I’m pleasantly ‘distracted’ in this way in my Bible reading, I sometimes go with the detour. Other times I make a little note, finish what I was reading, and then return to that specific little portion that so captured my attention, in order to examine more deeply, observe, search and understand.

As an example, I’ll use Psalm 23:1, because Psalm 23 is one of my favourite Psalms, and within that Psalm, verse 1 is possibly my favourite verse. My mind frequently goes to this Scripture and I say it to myself in exactly the manner described below.

1. Read it out loud, a few times, just as it is written: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” And for the duration of your “intentional rest” time, whether ten minutes or thirty minutes, ponder this verse, allow it to sink deep in.

2. For the rest of the day, as you go about your usual routine, let your mind return frequently to the verse, thinking over each word. Say it out loud to yourself.

3. Change the emphasis of the words. This is such an effective way of deeply ingraining Scripture into the heart and mind: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Say this to yourself, over and over again, with the emphasis on “Lord”, linger over the word “Lord,” until your heart remembers who your Shepherd is; it’s not yourself, or any other person you might look to in times of need. It’s the Lord and him only.

4. Then affirm it to yourself: “The Lord IS my shepherd.” He is! No matter how I might feel today. Whatever anyone or any circumstance might say to the contrary. God IS my Shepherd, and he cares for me.

5. Then, in the same way try: “The Lord is MY shepherd.”

6. “The Lord is my SHEPHERD.”

Wherever possible, read or quote the scripture you are meditating on out loud. This might feel a bit strange at first if you aren’t used to doing it, but it’s an important part of meditation because it helps to combat distraction. Have you ever noticed how you can be meditating on God’s love one moment, and the next moment you realise that for the past few moments you have been thinking about what to make for dinner, or the parcel that needs to be posted later?

Speaking and reading God’s Word out loud to ourselves can help to focus our attention. The word for ‘meditate’ in Scripture often carries within it the idea of speech; for example, notice how God says to Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night.” Joshua 1:8

Ask God To Teach You.

If you struggle with concentration and focus, or you battle to understand concepts in the Bible, don’t be afraid to ask God to help you, as the Psalmist did. He was determined to “meditate on [God’s] precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.” (Psalm 119:15).

A good ambition to aim for. But, read a little further in this Psalm, just a few verses down in fact, and you’ll find that although the Psalmist is genuine in his desire to fix and focus his eyes on God, he also acknowledges his desperate need of God’s help in this lofty ambition.

He prays, asking God to: “Open my eyes,” “teach me,” “make me understand”strengthen me according to your word,” “put false ways far from me,” again he prays: “teach me.” He entreats, “enlarge my heart,” “give me understanding,” “lead me,” “incline my heart,” “turn my eyes.”

Psalm 119:18, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 34, 35-37

God will always answer these kind of prayers. Always.

Jill 💜

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