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DAVID’S SIXTH SYMPHONY

(January 27, 2023) Brian Bell reminds us that in anxious times the Christian’s confidence is in our God…

I am taking a little poetic licence here in describing Psalm six by using this musical term, but it is also one of those psalms in which David mentions the name of stringed instruments to which the psalm should be accompanied.

Movement #1 (v1-5)
What often encourages me as I read the psalms is their honesty – I remind myself the words are spoken/written not in private prayer but for public worship in their context as songs, so they make honest references –

  • To weakness, pain (agony), sickness, helplessness (verses 2 and 3).
  • To help… ‘rescue me, save me’ (verse 4NLT).

Movement #2 (v 6-7)
David says, ‘I am worn out by sobbing, every night tears drench my bed, my pillow is wet from weeping….’

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NEHEMIAH – GOD’S CALL TO BUILD THE WALL (9)

(January 16, 2023) Hope Flinchbaugh, concludes her reflections on Nehemiah’s commission from God

I’ve been sharing how Nehemiah, although an exile in Babylon, was cupbearer to Artaxerxes the king of Persia.

On learning the plight of his troubled people back home in Jerusalem and the city’s broken-down wall, he had wept and prayed to God for guidance and help (Nehemiah 1).

The outcome was that he obtained permission, and letters of authority, from the king to return home (Nehemiah 2).

In effect Nehemiah responded to God’s call to build that wall… and I’ve been encouraging you, dear reader, to respond to whatever God’s calling on your life may be.

God our amazing helper
Nehemiah 6:15-16NASB declares that, despite opposition, ‘… the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they realised that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.’

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KINDNESS – HOW THE WORLD NEEDS TO SEE IT!

(January 11, 2023) Mama Lava sharing about something that is greatly needed around the world…

Hi! How are you all?

How have you spent your first couple of weeks of 2023?

Personally, I’ve been digging into my Handle Verse. The big idea is kindness… I’m asking God what His kindness is, and how the world needs to see it.

The world needs Jesus. Paul wrote:  ‘Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and restraint and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?’(Romans 2:4).

My aim is to demonstrate God’s kindness in a way that draws people to Him. And I’ve been asking Him to show me what this kindness looks like practically, and how to disperse it.

God has impressed on me that it will overflow from a heart yielded to Him. And He’s given me some specifics. For example…

  • God’s kindness is not joining in gossip.
  • Nor covering up for someone dishonestly.
  • Nor constituting participation in sin, no matter how supportive or helpful it might make me feel!

Guideline for kindness
God has impressed on me to be personally steadfast. He gave me Psalm 15 as a guideline. It contains many real-world examples of Christian kindness –

‘Lord, who can dwell in Your tent?
Who can live on Your holy mountain?
The one who lives honestly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend
or discredit his neighbour,
who despises the one rejected by the Lord
but honours those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his money at interest
or take a bribe against the innocent—
the one who does these things will never be moved.’

What kindness is
From this passage, I understand kindness to be a deep respect for everyone based on submission to the truth.

Well, that is respect everyone except for the one rejected by the Lord. And who is that? I only know of one being who has been unequivocally rejected by the Lord. That is Satan himself. I am to despise him.

Dictionaries tell us that despise is a verb – an action word – to feel contempt or a deep repugnance for.

Kindness is trendy
Kindness is trendy right now.

It’s a slogan found on t-shirts and mugs, even in secular stores. Random acts of kindness are hashtag worthy. Everyone recognises the need for more kindness in the world.

But all kindness is not created equal. God isn’t asking me to be kind for the sake of being kind. It’s not so I will be a better person or make someone else’s day better. It goes deeper…

Kindness is a characteristic of God
I am supposed to act out God’s kindness. The kind of kindness that draws people to God. The type that leads to repentance and salvation.

‘At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy’ (Titus 3:3-4).

The only way to exude God’s kindness is to be filled with His Spirit. If He is the source, I must be plugged in! Anything I muster on my own is missing the mark.

Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit
Turns out this call to kindness in 2023 is a call for me to walk more closely with Jesus. To submit to Him more deeply than ever before. To stay connected and tuned in so I am naturally covered in, and giving off, His kindness.

Paul confirmed this in Colossians 3:12, ‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ Message Bible reads: ‘… dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you.’

What would you say kindness is? How do you think the world needs to see it? Do you agree it’s time to lay aside the platitudes and trendy knockoffs of Christian character? Are we willing to authentically pray, ‘Less of me and more of Thee in 2023’?

Incidentally, the verse God gave my husband, Michael, for this year is John 3:30, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’

At first glance, our focuses were different. But, as God does, He puts us in perfect sync. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out. What about you?

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Mama Lava believes in making the big world a bit smaller through connection. Believing that everybody deserves to be wrapped in maternal love when they need it, she regularly shares encouragements… telling life experiences from an unapologetically Christian viewpoint the way she sees it, just as a mother does. Link:
Mama Lava’s Back Porch (A Dose of Maternal Love).
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LESSONS LEARNED FROM A GINGERBREAD HOUSE

 (January 08, 2023) Carol Round reflects …

It took four tries before my four-year-old granddaughter and I could get the walls of our gingerbread house to remain standing. It should have been an easy task but the instructions were lacking in detail. And I’m no carpenter – even with sugar frosting.

Finally, on the fourth try, and with lots of extra icing, we were able to accomplish what seemed to be an impossible task. The gingerbread house took four hands and we could have used two more – but we exhaled a sigh of relief when the structure remained standing.

I purchased the kit two days after Christmas when it was marked down to USD$2. It was a bargain because it also included everything needed to construct the little cottage: gingerbread cookies in the shape of walls and a roof, a package of frosting, candy decorations, and some gingerbread men.

Lessons learned
Even though our final product didn’t closely resemble the picture on the front of the box, the lessons I learned as we worked and laughed together were more valuable.

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WHAT’S IT WORTH?

(January 07, 2023) Richard Winter challenges…

Many have said to me that all they want to do is get to heaven, that ‘Life is tough and I’ve had enough.’

As a pastor, I want everyone to go to heaven. Indeed every Christian should want this, remembering Jesus’ Matthew 28:18-20 great commission!

Two issues here…
a) Heaven!

All that heaven is and means is a sermon in itself!

When you know  about the incredible place ‘heaven’ is going to be, what our loving heavenly Father has planned for all who believe in Jesus, the alternative is not even a consideration! One can but think, ‘Who would want to go to hell?’

b) ‘Life is tough…’ 
This makes me think… have they had another bad year and merely ‘want out’? If so I understand, because we’ve all bad memories and are believing for a greater year in 2023!

But then I query if those ‘wanting out’ understand that every Christian will be going to the heaven with its perfection and peace – but only in the Father’s timing! Being a Christian doesn’t guarantee us an ‘automatic opt-out of life’! I can’t see that anywhere in scripture and I feel that many such ‘drop-out Christians’ are defining their lack of maturity!

Let me take that further…

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2023 – IS THAT DOOR OPEN OR CLOSED?

(December 17, 2022) Richard Winter encourages us to make right decisions in 2023.

It’s almost January 2023! A whole year has gone by so quickly and, although good things have happened to many by God’s grace, we still live in dark times and a troubled world! Already people are wondering what really lies ahead for us next year, doors of opportunity-wise.

Christians who seek God’s will regarding their future in any year will always want to know the answer to these five questions:

  • Is this door open or is this door closed?
  • Is this God’s will for me?
  • Or is there something else?
  • Am I even supposed to go this way?
  • Or is there some other way?

Is this how you are currently thinking – which way should you go… or not go in 2023? For example, are you considering whether it’s right or wrong to switch jobs?If so, how do you know when it’s the right time to move from one place to another?

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HYPNOTIC WAYS OUR FOCUS IS MANIPULATED REGARDING CHRISTMAS

(December 15, 2022) Mama Lava straight-shoots a challenge from her heart…

This is nothing new. Should we even be concerned? Is there anything we can do? Consider these hypnotic ways below that our focus is being manipulated this Christmas and let me know!

Manipulation #1: Replacing Christ in the word ‘Christmas’
Do you remember the struggle, which occurred several years ago, over the words ‘Merry Christmas’? There was a move to replace them with the more politically correct greeting, ‘Happy Holidays.’

I personally don’t have a problem with ‘Happy Holidays,’ because it allows me to honestly well-wish people for the complete season of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and whatever else they are celebrating during that time.

However, I say ‘Merry Christmas’ in specific reference to the celebration of Jesus’ birth! I know many of you do too. So, I have been put off, this season, by overt messages where I’ve seen the word ‘Christ’ replaced in the word ‘Christmas.’

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MARY – WHAT AN INCREDIBLE LADY!

(December 10, 2022) Geri  B challenges us not just to believe the gospel message but to live it!

When Christmas comes around we naturally think of Jesus, born of a virgin, born in a manger, born to die on a cross for the sins of the world. That’s as it should be! There is no greater message to be proclaimed, nor any other focus that should be given.

But I would add that one of the greatest messengers of this truth is the mother of Jesus, Mary herself. Mary doesn’t preach this message, she lives it!

When we take time to go through the gospels and study this woman of God we find a very humble woman…

  • Great in faith
  • Persistent in prayer
  • Steadfast in her trust in God
  • Specific in believing that what He said about her son, Jesus, would come to pass
  • Willing to be willing!

Mary was willing to –

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JOSEPH – THE UNSUNG HERO OF CHRISTMAS

(December 10, 2022) Richard Winter shares some Christmas highlights…

There’s a list that we hear much about at Christmas – the Virgin Mary, angels, shepherds … an unknown number of wise men (who were possibly kings of foreign lands).

Heroes of the Christmas story, they played an important part in the birth of our Saviour and the message that God was with us!

However we often tend to forget to list one more hero… a true servant of God and to me the unsung hero of Christmas.

His name was Joseph who is identified by his personal characterists – which we should also embrace: Spiritual, sensitive, and submissive to God’s great plan to bring to earth our Saviour.

1) Spiritual
Let’s just imagine the scene with Joseph and Mary…
– ‘So… you’re tell me you’re pregnant, Mary – and to whom?
– ‘What! You’re blaming God! Ha!
– ‘So, God did this – you want me to believe that?’
– ‘Okay then… what’s else has God been doing to you?’

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WHEN LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS

(December 6, 2022) Carol Round reflects on Christmastime…

Paul gave us all good advice in 1 Corinthians 16:14 – ‘Do everything in love.’

One of the things I love about this time of the year is the music, including the hymns and the contemporary versions of those songs. It’s interesting to read the stories of the songwriters and what inspired the lyrics they wrote.

Love Came Down at Christmas is one of my favourite hymns. Written by Christina Georgina Rossetti in 1885, the lyrics capture the essence of Christmas in one word – love.

One of the most well-known scriptures on love is John 3:16 ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

The essence of Christmas
In his book titled Christmas Gifts That Won’t Break, author James W. Moore, writes, ‘Well, of course, the essence of Christmas is love. God’s incredible love for us, expressed when He sent His only Son into the world to save us. “Love Came Down at Christmas”– that’s how the hymn writer puts it. That’s the answer to our question. Whenever and wherever we receive God’s sacrificial love, whenever and wherever God’s love is accepted and shared, Christmas comes once again.’

Moore explains it this way. ‘When we, like the shepherds, fall down in awe, wonder and commitment before the manger of God’s love, there is Christmas! When, like the three wise men, give our best to the Master, there is Christmas! When we, like Mary and Joseph, trust and obey God and try our best to do God’s will, there is Christmas.’

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