Categories
bible art Bible Fun Christianity faith God Jesus Love Religion

The Art of Saying Grace

When I became a Christian, I often pondered the following question:-

What should my life look like now I have been born again?

Beyond the attending of a Sunday service, I had no idea what a Christian lifestyle looked like!  Trying to figure this out can be a confusing time.  Of course, the Bible holds the answers to this and any other questions that we may have, however, finding these answers can take a considerable amount of time, as many long-term Christians will attest to.  The questions will never stop coming as we journey through our earthly life and we must never stop seeking the answers.  It is likely that the point of our conversion is the time we question most in our Christian lives as we look at our lives and the changes we must make and make them we must.  As Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  Our old self is gone, we are a new creation and this new creation must be different from the old, as Paul explains, Colossians 3:7-10 “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Paul explains to us why it is important that we show our new selves to those around us, 2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” We are ambassadors for Christ!  This is at once a huge blessing and a huge undertaking.  Working for Christ, we must always seek to glorify His name and lead others to His kingdom. 

This may seem daunting but bear in mind that this role is different for everyone, for some, the change is significant and almost instantaneous, we hear of incredibly violent prisoners becoming gentle giants overnight,  of drug dealers immediately turning from a life of crime, however, for others, the change is very small but slow and steady.  What is important is that others see the difference, that others see God through you.  Perhaps month by month you drink a little less alcohol, perhaps week by week you swear less or day by day you become a little more selfless.  So have a look at your life and ponder the changes you could make. 

One of the first things I decided to implement in my life was the act of saying grace before meals.  When I did some research on the internet about this subject, I found that worldwide, people of many religions and none say grace before meals, I have listed some examples below:-

Humanist Benediction – “For the meal we are about to eat, for those that made it possible, and for those with whom we are about to share it, we are thankful.”

Native American Thanksgiving:- “I’m an Indian.  I think about the common things like this pot.  The bubbling water comes from the rain cloud.  It represents the sky.  The fire comes from the sun, Which warms us all, men, animals, trees.  The meat stands for the four-legged creatures, Our animal brothers, Who gave themselves so that we should live.  The steam is living breath.  It was water, now it goes up to the sky, Becomes a cloud again. These things are sacred.  Looking at that pot full of good soup, I am thinking how, in this simple manner, The Great Spirit takes care of me.”

Hindu Blessing:- “May the Lord accept this, our offering, and bless our food that it may bring us strength in our body, vigour in our mind, and selfless devotion in our hearts for His service.”

Buddhist Blessing:- “Wisely reflecting, I use this food not for fun, not for pleasure, not for fattening, not for beautification, but only for the maintenance and nourishment of this body, for keeping it healthy, for helping with the Spiritual Life. Thinking thus, I will allay hunger without overeating, so that I may continue to live blamelessly and at ease.”

Muslim Blessing:- “Bismillah Al-rahman, Al-rahmin,” which means “I begin in the name of God most gracious and ever merciful.”

Isn’t it interesting that throughout the world people of all faiths are giving thanks for the food that they eat!  Saying grace before a meal allows us to humble ourselves before God and realise that all and any blessing we have is from God.  We may have grown the vegetables and prepared the meal but only through God has that been made possible, though we planted the vegetables, God created them, though we may have picked the vegetables from the ground, it was God that provided the rain in order that they would grow and the earth in which they were nourished.  Though we may have slaved in the kitchen for hours, it is only by God’s grace that we have the ability to prepare food and the utensils required to prepare and distribute our meals.  Giving thanks to God for this is only right!

Paul, the apostle, gave thanks to God before feeding all the men on the ship that he was travelling on, Acts 27:35 “After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” 

During one of Jesus’ miracles, in which He feeds over 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, He gave thanks to God before serving them, Matthew 14:15-21  “As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.  Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”

Again, following His resurrection Jesus, gave thanks before breaking bread with two of His followers, Luke 24:28-31 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther.  But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So, he went in to stay with them.  When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” 

Paul and Jesus have led by example in the art of saying grace.  If it is important to Jesus to give thanks to His Father, how much more so for us!

Paul further advises us to give thanks for everything in Ephesians 5:20 “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever! Amen”  Everything we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and those that we can’t comprehend are from God and we must be thankful. 

By saying grace, we are giving thanks to our Creator, we humble ourselves before God, we acknowledge that without God, we are nothing and we have nothing.

It can be intimidating beginning to say grace in front of others, and if this is how you are feeling at the prospect begin by saying a simple form of grace in your head before eating.  You can continue in this fashion if this is what you are comfortable with.  It can be difficult to know what to say to begin with so I have given some examples  of Christian grace below but, of course, if you are comfortable, you can construct your own grace prayer:-

Moravian Dinner Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, our guest to be

And bless these gifts

Bestowed by Thee.

And bless our loved ones everywhere,

And keep them in Your loving care.

Amen.

Catholic Grace

Bless us, O Lord, and these
thy gifts which we are about
to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Bénedic, Dómine, nos et haec
tua dona quae de tua largitate sumus sumpturi.
Per Christum  Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Funny Form of Grace

Please Lord, bless this food, and then bless it some more.

We know it needs your blessing because we have eaten here before!”

Author Unknown

Our dear Heavenly Father,

We thank thee for this food.

Feed our souls on the bread of life,

And help us to do our part in kind words and loving deeds.

We ask in Jesus’ name.

Scottish, Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it.
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
bible art Bible Fun Christianity faith God Jesus Love Religion

Creative Christianity

You may remember me writing about a Creative Christianity Summit I attend online this summer!  It was organised by Menekse Stewart who owns Cheerfully Given, an online store which sells Christian jewellery, stationary, homeware and crafting materials.

This summit literally changed my life!!  Were it not for this summit I would not be writing this blog now as I simply would not have had the confidence.  Prior to the course I did not believe I was capable of anything remotely artistic.  I thought creativity was for those who attended art classes or designed graphics for a living.  This course not only removed this false impression from my mind but replaced it with an astounding reality … wait for it!!!:-

Everyone is creative!!!

Yes, absolutely everyone!! I know many of you are shouting at me right now saying “No way, I am absolutely hopeless!”, “Yeah Right, My 2 year old child paints a better picture than I do” or “you want a word with my school art teacher and he will set you straight on that one!”

Bear with me … remember I thought like you too!!  What does Scripture say?  Let us look at the very first page, in fact let us look at the very first words, Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  God is a creative!!  Now let us look a little further on, Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  When we say we are not creative, either we doubt the creativity of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself or we doubt that we are made in the image of God, and thus, doubt Scripture itself!!!  The truth is we are God’s image bearers and God is creative, we can see that all around us!  Therefore, we are all capable of creating!  

If I needed further evidence of the diverse nature of creativity then this was consolidated by those involved in the summit, as many areas of creativity were catered for.  Creativity is not merely painting pictures but is in everything we do!! Our lives are one long string of creativity.   

Before I speak a little about crafting, let me introduce you to just a few of the guests and what I learned from them.

First up we had a daily sermon from Paul Blackham who is a minister in London.  Paul’s creative talent lies in his delivery of the Word of God.  He truly brings the Bible to life.  His love for Jesus is so evident and his enthusiasm is something to be envied.  I learned so much from his sermons but perhaps the most important was that Jesus needs to be everything in your life.  Jesus wants to be your identity and will accept nothing less.  Jesus wants everything or nothing!  We read this in Scripture, but do we live it in our day to day lives!?  Luke 14:25-27 “Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters-yes, even their own life-such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”  Being a Christian means being a Christian first and foremost.  When someone asks “Who are you?”, you answer “I am a follower of Jesus” or “I am a Child of God”, not “I am a Mum”, “I am a student”, “I am a vegan”, “I’m Scottish”, “I’m a Man U Fan”.  These things will all pass away, they can be taken from us at any time!  Christ can never be taken from us, not in life, nor in death.   Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria,  made this point abundantly clear “The only system of thought into which Jesus Christ will fit is the one in which He is the starting point.”  Jesus comes first! Everything must fit in with Jesus, we cannot try and manipulate Jesus to fit in with everything else in our lives!  

A Life Coach named Breeny Lee reaffirmed to me the need to do everything for the glory of God.  That one cannot be one person in one situation and another somewhere else.  As a representative of Jesus, we must bring honour to Him in the way that we behave, and this should not be affected on where we are or who we are with!

Thea Muir described how she manages her negative thoughts by removing the negative cassette tape from her mind, placing this at the cross and replacing it with a Godly thought cassette tape.  I find this imagery helpful in my ongoing battle with negativity!  Thea began doodling as a way of tuning in to the positive affirmations of Scripture and there are many for us to find, all helpful tools to developing a positive mindset.

Kathryn Hitchings spoke about the flow zone which is fabulous for people struggling with mental health problems.  This is a place of creativity when you are not really thinking about anything, just being, living in the moment.  Another inspiring message was that untaught naïve art can be the most beautiful!

Martha Shrimpton of Nimbus Collective emphasised the importance of a relationship with God.  I think we can often get too bogged down with the religious side of our faith, studying the Word, praying religious prayers but not ever just being with God.  It is important for us to be still with God, write with Him, journal with Him, create pictures in worship to Him, have a coffee and chat with Him.

Jonathan Self made me look at everything differently.  He makes photography look simple!  I had never thought of cooking tea as creating before, yet Jonathan made a simple kitchen image of utensils etc look beautiful! This inspires me to take a closer look around me, to look at God’s creation with wonder instead of complacency. 

I love this quote by Josie Gambel that says, “if a dream doesn’t scare you then it’s not big enough!”  This is because we are not dreaming, really, we are just imagining what we could realistically achieve!  When we dream of doing something that terrifies us then we are admitting we are not capable … but we are with Christ … Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

We are all unique and therefore there cannot be a one size fits all rulebook to Christianity.  Not all of us are capable of sitting for 5 hours a day reading Scripture or 4 hours a day deep in prayer.  With creative Christianity, there is something for everyone!  For those with active minds, Bible journaling or doodling is a fantastic way to explore Scripture whilst relaxing our minds.  Young children may get a deeper understanding of the Bible through painting!    

It was at this summit where I first heard of Sermon Notes!  This is a fantastic idea for those who have wandering thoughts in church!  As the preacher is speaking draw the main idea of the sermon in the middle of your page and work out from there.  Add verses, words or drawings, anything that consolidates the sermon for you.  Put lines or patterns around the words and thoughts so they do not get jumbled.  You can also use an iPad and procreate for this.  You can draw this in pencil at church and colour when you get home.  This is a great way of remembering the teaching and being able to look back at it in the future.  One lady uses paints at her church!

Another way of doing this is at home using a passage of the Bible.  I love doing this as it helps me memorize my Scripture and keeps me focussed on the verse.  Begin by measuring out the paper carefully with a ruler so that your lettering is evenly spaced out.  Write the verse out initially in pencil and when you are happy that everything is in place, go over with a brush pen.  You can decorate a frame around the outside of your lettering with flowers for example.  

For Sermon Notes and Simple Hand Lettering you may need:-

Pens or crayons  

Pencil

Felt Tip Brush Pens

Ruler

Pointy paintbrushes

Water colour palette

Water

Kitchen roll

Paper or Notebook

Esther Thorpe of Origami Est demonstrated how to make an Origami diamond.  For a complete novice this was very manageable.  You will find origami videos on You Tube if this is something that interests you:-

For Origami you may need:-

Paper Square – You will require some of the same size

Glue

Coloured Paper

Scrapbooking Paper

Wrapping Paper

Bible Journaling is extremely popular and a great way of consolidating your Scripture.  You read a passage of your Bible and then make a relevant design either at the side of the writing (if there is a blank section for this) or you can colour the whole page with water colours.   The most important aspect to this is spending time in God’s presence and learning the Word of God.  You will get lots of great ideas online for this.      

For Bible Journaling you may need:-

Journaling Bible – some people find the thought of drawing over their Scripture too much to bear so in this case, you can use a notebook or paper.

Paints

Watercolour

Pencils, pens, crayons  

Glue

Scissors

Brush Pens

Magazine cut outs

Clear gesso to prepare Bible pages

Watered down poster paint

Ephemera

Washi Strips

Stickers

Stamps

Shakers – You make these by placing some sequence and a small card with a verse or aspirational saying on it inside transparent cellophane (I keep these when I get items delivered inside them) and secure it together and secure it to the page with Washi Strips.

Tip-ins – You make these with a piece of card (could be an old greeting card) and you fasten this to your page with Washi Strips.  This provides additional space for more creating!!

For Creative Photography – All you need is:-

A camera or phone

Your imagination

Many men reading this may think this creativity talk is for girls but that is certainly not the case.  There are plenty of other creative pursuits for men if nothing above appeals.  You could try sketching, creating furniture, learning to play an instrument, gardening or decorating.  There is no limit to creativity.

Craft Materials can be expensive so it is important to upcycle what you can, collect a stash in your home which can become your go to box of tricks when you are feeling crafty.  I collect cellophane, greeting cards, glass jars, cardboard, wrapping paper (you never know when it will come in useful!).  You will find a great supply of craft materials on Amazon, Hobbycraft, Cheerfully Given and Etsy. 

You Tube has many how to videos for lots of different creative pursuits.  The most important thing to remember is that you can do it.  It is not about whether your painting will hang in the Louvre, it is about whether your Father in Heaven likes what he sees and whether it brings Him glory.  The importance is in the time spent with Jesus and the peace and enjoyment that you get from switching off from the busines of life and relaxing! 

Just give it a go today! I am sure you will surprise yourself!

Always Remember, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Happy Crafting!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Categories
bible art Bible Fun Bible Quiz Christianity faith God Jesus Love Quiz racism Religion

CHILDREN’S QUIZ

Over in the Resource Page you will now find a Children’s Quiz. There will be more coming very soon!! For ease I have copied it below and attached the pdf. For the answers head over the Resources.

Happy Quizzing and Good Luck Kids!

Love and Blessings

Louise x

Bible Quiz 1 – Children’s Questions

Old Testament

  1. What was the name of the man that God made from the dust?
  2. What did Eve eat that she was told by God not to?
  3. What was the name of the baby that was found in a basket on the River Nile?
  4. What did God tell Noah to build?
  5. How many sons did Jacob have?
  6. What was the name of Jacob’s son who wore a colourful robe?
  7. How many commandments did God give Moses?
  8. What was the name of the man who never had his haircut?
  9. Samuel heard someone speaking to him and thought it was Eli, the Priest, but who did he later find out it was?
  10. What did David kill Goliath with?
  11. Who did God ask to build a temple?
  12. With which wild animal did Daniel share a den with?
  13. Who was swallowed up by a whale?
  14. How did the Israelites win the battle for Jericho?
  15. What was it that spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden?
  16. How many days did it take God to create the world and everything in it?
  17. What was the name of the Tower that people built to reach up to heaven?
  18. What heavy object did Elisha make float in the water?
  19. What was the name of Abraham’s wife?
  20. What did God write the commandments on?
Categories
bible art Bible Fun christian music Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

BRAND NEW!!

I would like to introduce you to my new page, Audio. Here you will find Audio Recordings of Scripture. To start off I have recorded The Parable Of The Good Samaritan.

For ease I have copied the page here but in future, head over to Audio to listen to my recordings.

Happy Listening!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx

Have you two or three minutes to spare? Why not grab a cuppa, have a sit down and listen to some Scripture.

To begin with I am going to read various Parables of Jesus as an introduction into the Word of God. The Parables that Jesus told are stories from everyday life to get across a point that Jesus was trying to make. Have a listen and meditate on these verses. What do you think they are telling you? Can you think of any ways that you could practically live out these teachings in your day to day life?

Parable Of The Good Samaritan – Luke 10:25-37
Categories
bible art Bible Fun Bible Quiz Christianity faith God Jesus Love Quiz Religion

QUIZ TIME!

ADULT BIBLE QUIZ 1

Old Testament

  1. What was hovering over the waters “in the beginning”?
  2. From where did God first appear to Moses?
  3. Which tribe was set apart for the Priesthood?
  4. Who was Moses to commission to lead the people into the Promised Land?
  5. What was the name of the prostitute who sheltered the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho?
  6. Whose head was never to be touched by a razor?
  7. What was the name of Ruth’s mother in law?
  8. What did Eli accuse Hannah of when he saw her praying?
  9. How long was David’s reign as king?
  10. How was Elijah taken up to heaven?
  11. What were the names of Noah’s three sons?
  12. What did Solomon ask God for?
  13. What was the name of the King of Persia that God used to help the exiles return to Jerusalem?
  14. To whom did God tell not to law a finger on Job?
  15. How many Psalms are there?
  16. Who wrote the book of Proverbs?
  17. Fill in the blank.  Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a                  for every activity under the heavens;”
  18. To what does “he” compare his darling’s hair to in Song of Songs Chapter 4?
  19.  What did Isaiah hear Seraphim call to one another?
  20. What does Jeremiah cite as a problem when God appoints him prophet?

Whenever my husband and I are eating out, having a drink on holiday or sitting relaxing of an evening, we really enjoy bible quizzing!! We have collected many Bible Quiz books and are quickly working our way though them! We find it a fantastic way to learn Scripture and have fun together. Sometimes we cringe when we get the wrong answer to something that we most definitely should have known and other times we impress each other by getting the correct answer to a very random question!!

I plan to compose both adult and children’s quizzes which you will find in the Resource section of this website. There you will find them in PDF Format so that you can print these off and take them anywhere!!

Have a go at the questions above and then head to Resources to find the answers!

Happy Quizzing!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx

Categories
Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

Church and Faith: Dead or Alive

I understand only too well what faith looks like both dead and alive as I have experienced both.  I have experienced a complete lack of trust in God, I have experienced anger with God, I have ignored God completely and rested on my own strength and I have doubted the very existence of God.  I have fooled myself by believing I was alive in faith when, in reality, my faith was dead.

Recently, thanks be to God, I have discovered what faith looks like when it is alive!!  Lockdown has literally saved my husband and I.  While, before our faith was dead, we are now truly alive in Christ!  We live for Jesus.  Previously, my husband, like many others, whiled away his days staring at his phone, now, he wakes at 5am for prayer and study before work at 9am.  He had intended to sleep until 7 or 8 at the weekend but he has been unable to, he is too excited to spend time with God!  He is reading an impossible number of books in order that he can write a book for new Christians exploring who Jesus is!  I have spent lockdown making lots of new Christian friends, I have undertaken various studies and summits which have inspired me greatly, without them I would not be writing this blog! Our plans are no longer our own and we are happier than we have ever been!  I woke this morning after a very disturbed night’s sleep and I thought I will just have a relaxing day, finish the book I am reading entitled “God’s Smuggler”, catch up on some housework and do some craft.  God had other ideas!  As I began to get ready and look forward to my lazy day, my mind became inundated with thoughts.  This has happened a lot since I became “alive” especially since I started writing my blog!  This told me that God had other plans for my day!  So here I am trying to assemble my racing thoughts into coherent English once again.  You may ask, how do you know this is of God?  The answer is simple, because despite my idea of a relaxing day being turned on its head and my plans being totally disrupted, I am happy, I am excited, I am eager.  At the drop of a hat, my plans changed, and I delighted in it.  I delight in it because I know that this is God’s will, that by writing this I please God and that by writing this I may help even one person who is struggling with their faith. 

Coming to faith or indeed recognizing your faith is dead can be torturous, it can be mentally exhausting, you can be confused about who you are!  For years I was at war with myself, I was a soldier in a silent battle between God’s will and my own.  When I was defeated and accepted God’s victory, I then became swamped with questions, far more than I could find answers to!  By my own selfishness I had kept Jesus at arm’s length and, inevitably, this is why my personal journey was so difficult.  I did not want to let go of “my life”.  I liked my life just the way it was, or at least I thought I did.  It took far too long but, finally, I realised that the very things I thought made me happy were having the opposite effect.  Life will never go the way we want it to all the time and therefore, focussing on oneself is unlikely to lead to happiness.  This is a difficult concept to understand as it contradicts our modern thinking which advises “Be who you want to be!”, “Do what makes you happy!”” etc. etc.  This may work when you are employed, healthy, in love etc.  What happens when you are sick, you lose your job, your partner leaves, how do we just make ourselves happy then?  The reality is true happiness and contentment is found only in Jesus.  The peace and happiness that rests in your heart when you finally ditch your sense of self and accept God’s will in your life is unlike anything else one can experience. 

So how can you achieve this?  Well, for me, it was learning to trust God, to completely trust that everything that is happening in my life right now is God’s will and that it is for the good.  I may not see the good in this lifetime, but I trust at some point, I will!  It is surrounding yourself with faithful believers.  Lockdown has provided so many opportunities for me to join in different church services, bible studies, summits, conferences etc. that I otherwise would have been unable to attend.  This has literally changed my life, from the Cheerfully Given Creative Christianity Summit which turned me from an adamant uncreative whose biggest artistic achievement would be the sun, grass, bird, house picture of a four year old child to a buzzing creative with her own craft trolley, who is so full of ideas that she carries a notebook around with her at all times so that her head does not explode! The Aberdeen Christian Fellowship Big Church Weekend which brought my husband and I into the community of believers in Christ who welcomed us warmly.  The Alpha Course where we met fabulous new friends who we keep in touch with regularly, we chat, we laugh, we pray for each other and, God willing, we will soon meet each other face to face for a time of fellowship.  Watching Angus Buchan’s Mighty Men’s Conferences which due to Covid are broadcast online!  Seeing the faithful heart of Angus Buchan inspires us so much to follow in his footsteps, to live our lives for Christ.  Watching an African Church Service where praise is paramount, little is spoken without “Amen” or “Halleluiah”.  This is the faith I strive for, the faith to praise Jesus without fear or embarrassment.  A “Get Out Of Your Head Bible Study” where as a group of women we come together to discuss our struggles and our faith, we pray for each other and we learn from each other and I see Jesus in each and every one of these woman.  Scripture tells us how important it is to fellowship with one another, Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I fully understand the fears that you may have as new Christians reaching out to believers.  It can be difficult; I understand that churches can be cliquey, and some church goers may not be approachable.  I want to say to you that this is your time!!  Coronavirus may have been meant for bad, but God is using it for good.  I would not have had the confidence to attend the above in person and though I was still apprehensive, sitting in my own house, in my chilling clothes made things much easier!  I did not have to worry about my appearance, I did not have to worry about whether I could escape if I were uncomfortable and anxious because all I needed to do was press the Leave Meeting button!  Luckily, I have never felt the need to do this!  So, I urge you, give it a go!  Sign up for Alpha, watch a church service, sign up to Bible Studies or small groups.  Just have a peek and see!!    

For the church, this is the time to rise to the challenge.  Statistics show a huge rise in church attendance during this pandemic, people are interested, people want to know more, people need Jesus.  Acts 2:46-47 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Like Martin Luther King Jr I too have a dream and mine is this … that we will see the Church of God come alive.  That the church will unite throughout the world focussing on union and not division.  That this church will exist for the glory of God and that the living Word of God will be preached with joy and love and without errancy.  That this church will welcome each and every soul as their brother or sister, that they will be welcomed with open arms and encouraged each step of their journey and that those who arrive as strangers, leave as family.  I dream that this church will heal the sick and save the lost.  That testimonies will be shared with joy and fervour.  That the praise will be resounding and powerful that those outside of the building may know that God is alive.  That the walls of this church will tremble from the vociferous preaching held in its midst and that this good news will flow to the ends of the earth and not be silenced.  That no brother or sister is left in any need, but is provided for financially, practically, and emotionally and that this church stands together, shoulder to shoulder with each other living out the graceful love of God.

Ephesians 2:19-20 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” 

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

1 Corinthians 12:13 “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”

Let this season of tragedy emerge a season of triumph!  Let the people come!!

Love and Blessings

Louise xx

Categories
Christianity faith God Jesus Love racism Religion

What Is Love?

This is the age-old question….  What is true love?  Many of us believe we are in love when we start to miss a person when they are not around, perhaps we have an experience and think “I wish this person was here to share this.”  Maybe when we put their needs above our own i.e. you watch a movie of their choice rather than the one you have been desperately waiting to see.  Godly love surpasses what we, as man are capable of, yet as Christians it must be our goal.  We may believe that we are experiencing godly love when we feel we would lay down our life for another person, John 15:13  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.  Yet, how many of us would lay down our lives for a stranger, or still yet, an enemy, Jesus did, Romans 5:8 “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Love forms the basis of the two most important commandments which are present in all four Gospels, Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28 and John 13:34.

So, what does Godly love look like?

  • Godly love shows honour, Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”  More than this it humbles us to the point that we care more for the one we love than we do our own selves.  We put the needs of others above the needs of ourselves, we will go hungry in order that another can be fed.   
  • Godly love is everything, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing”.  1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love”.  Paul explains to us in these passages that love is everything, nothing compares with love, without love, one has nothing.  It is the essence of God and without this essence we are dead.   
  • Godly love involves action, 1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  Love is not something that we merely say to each other but something visible, love is alive, love is action in our day to day lives.  
  • Godly love is familial, Hebrews 13:1-2 “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.”  Love is not casual.  It is not a complacent “Love Ya” that is so common on today’s society but the type of love that one has for his own flesh and blood, for we are all made in the image of God and within the church we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are an eternal family. 
  • Godly love covers sin, 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”  We see this in our day to day lives, how often have our children misbehaved and treated us badly but we smile and forgive them because we love them.  We argue with our spouses then laugh it off because we love one another, were this an argument with a stranger we would surely not be so quick to forgive.
  • Godly love provides for others, 1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”  John is not just suggesting that we help each other out but insisting that if we do not do this and we do not have empathy for others that we do not have God within us at all!  Paul also calls us to help each other, Galatians 6:2, Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
  • Godly love rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6 “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Lies have no place in Godly love.  Lies are not of God.  Whenever we lie, we lie to God Himself, Acts, 5:1-4 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
  • Godly love is our goal and our aim as Christians, Paul, in praying for the Thessalonians, asks for an increase in love, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”
  • Godly love is part of the fruit of the spirit Galatians 5:22,23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,  kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,  self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  The fruit of the spirit is all goodness.  There is no law against these because in these there can be no evil.
  • Godly love is patient and kind, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”  Because we are so egocentric being patient can be exceedingly difficult for us, but we must strive for this virtue as this is part of Godly love.   
  • Godly love glorifies God, John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.”  When we radiate love, we radiate Jesus.  Others can see Jesus in us.  If, while we claim to be Christians, we mistreat others, are self-centred, angry, etc etc. others will not see Jesus in a good light, they will not think that this is a God they want to follow.  However, when they see kindness in the face of hostility, love in the face of hate, forgiveness in the face of bitterness, then they see our God for who He is, our loving God.
  • Godly love even loves enemies, Lev 19:34 “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”  Matt 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”  Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.  We see in the Old Testament as well as the New this commandment to love one’s enemies.  This is important in order to separate God’s people from the rest of the nations.  When we think of the most evil people that we can imagine in history, these people still loved their families very much, therefore, it is having the capacity to love those who would harm you that shows the power and glory of God, our Father.  Jesus taught us this beautiful in the Parable of the Good Samaritan:-   

Luke 10:25-37  “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”  He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself”.  “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”  But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”  In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”  Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

  • Godly love is the Law and the Prophets, Matt 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”.  Gal 5:14, “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Romans 13:8-10 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law”.  When one is truly filled with Godly love, it is physically impossible to break the Law, if one has the love of God, one cannot steal from another, or murder, or blaspheme, the evil is not present because the love is too great!

God has demonstrated this love for us, 1 John 4:9 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.”  God bore the pain of parting with His Son for us, the very people, who turned away from God, who would rise up against Him…  God, our mighty Father humbled Himself, taking the form of man for us, for those who would blaspheme against Him. 

God, in His very being is love.  He does not just love as an emotion.  His very person is love itself.  1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We cannot be separated from this love, Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I hope to come back to this again and cover this in more detail especially looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 so please check back soon!

Meantime, please meditate on the many Bible verses I have shared with you, pray about them and let us all try and live them out more and more in our day to day lives for God’s Glory and the advancement of His Kingdom.

Love and Blessings

Louise x