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DO YOU LISTEN WITH YOUR HEART?

(November 3, 2020) Carol Round shares an important biblical-based discipline…

‘Make your ear attentive to wisdom. Incline your heart to understanding’ Proverbs 2:2 (NASB) and a recent devotional in The Upper Room about listening with the heart led me to meditate on the writer’s words.

Her husband had retired early because of Parkinson’s disease. Because his voice had become soft and monotone, his wife often had trouble understanding his speech. However, she said, ‘Our adult son always understands what his dad is saying.’

One day she asked her husband the difference between their son’s approach and hers. Her husband replied, ‘Our son listens with his heart.’

The writer realised her preoccupation with household duties meant she wasn’t listening intently enough to hear and understand her husband. She said, ‘His words fell on rocky ground. Our son listened intently with a joyful heart and was able to understand his father.’

Listening for God’s message
The writer began to wonder if she approached scripture in the same way as she did her husband. She wrote. ‘Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I become so preoccupied with my to-do list I don’t listen for God’s message.’ (more…)

IS YOUR TREASURE IN HEAVEN?

(October 10, 2020) Carol Round shares…

‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.’

Have you ever wondered where this idiom originated? According to the English Language and Usage website, the earliest example is found in Hector Urquhart’s introduction to 1860’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands.

 The intro reads: ‘Practical men may despise the tales, earnest men condemn them as lies, some even consider them wicked; one refused to write any more for a whole estate; my best friend says they are all ‘blethers.’ But one man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure, and what is the standard of value in such a pursuit as this?

Scriptures, more than 100, address the pursuit of worldly possessions. While God doesn’t disapprove of his children owning earthly goods, he doesn’t approve when earthly possessions have us. Heaven is our home. However, we’re often tempted, and forget to resist the temptation to hoard those things that will fade away. Colossians 3:22 reminds us to set our ‘minds on things above, not on earthly things.’

Resisting buyer’s remorse
Who doesn’t love a bargain? There’s nothing like saving money on a purchase, especially when it’s a good deal. But have you ever been tempted to buy something just because it’s a bargain? I have and it’s not because I really needed the item in question. Later, I’ve had buyer’s remorse. (more…)

GOD’S ‘REPAIR’ SHOP

(October 10, 2020) Brian Bell shares…

Recently I’ve been in hospital undergoing surgical procedure. In these days of Covid-19 when we’ve been thankful for nursing/medical staff it gave me a ‘ringside’ seat as I received such excellent care. I believe the skill and knowledge these folk display is a gift from God.

Reflections
My need for a surgical ‘repair’ caused me to reflect on a local BBC television programme titled The Repair Shop. People bring what very often are precious yet old, broken, well-worn deteriorated items for repair – the most recent catching my attention was a RAF chaplain’s WW2 travelling communion set.

A team of master craftsmen and women lovingly, carefully, and painstakingly use their skills to repair and restore these items. In some cases, the repair work is of such high-quality that the owners are brought to tears at the results.

My own recent days of ‘restoration’ had me reflecting on Ezekiel 34: 16, ‘I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away and will bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick.’

(more…)

JESUS: FINDER OF GOGGLES LOST IN THE SEA

(September 10, 2020) Mark Ellis shares an encouraging testimony that reminds that Jesus even cares for ‘lost things’…

In scripture, Jesus tells parables about finding a lost coin, lost sheep, and a lost son.

My wife Sally has found it helpful to pray when somewhat mundane items like car keys or phones have been misplaced, and it seems the Holy Spirit always directs her to their location.

Faith challenged
But her faith was severely challenged recently on a family vacation in San Diego when she lost a pair of swim goggles about 25 yards off shore.

She came in and scanned the Pacific Ocean with a forlorn expression. ‘Why don’t you go out and look for them?’ her daughter-in-law, Rebecca asked.

‘No, that’s a big ocean out there. There’s no way. It’s a needle-in-a-haystack. If you lose something out there it’s gone,’ Sally said. She admitted later she had no faith whatsoever to find the goggles. All she saw was a giant ocean. Even worse, the goggles were dark-coloured and blended with the water and Sally didn’t know if the goggles could float.

An hour later, her son Sam was surfing in a completely different area from the one where his mother lost the goggles. He yelled at his brother, Nate: ‘Hey, Mom lost her goggles. See if you see them.’

Prayer for help
‘They could be at the bottom of the ocean,’ Sam thought to himself. ‘If they do float, maybe I’ll see them. But I would have to be real close, be right on top of them.’ He threw up a prayer to God, ‘Jesus, help me find them.’ (more…)

GOD’S PLANS STAND FIRM AS A SYCAMORE TREE

(September 5, 2020) Carol Round reminds us that God is the master planner…

An anonymous quote on social media recently grabbed my attention. It said, ‘Long before Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, the tree was planted to meet his need.’

Not only do I love this quote, I had to share it. Reflecting on the words, I began to think about God’s plans for my life. Until my rebirth, I never considered how God had already prepared a way for me, just as he did for Zacchaeus.

According to Luke 19:4, the tree Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus is a ficus sycomorus (its scientific name). That type tree can take from 20 to 50 years to grow to full maturity.  So, it’s possible that before Zacchaeus was born, the tree he climbed was planted.

Plans that God set in motion before our birth
Before we were ever born, God had plans for us!

He knew the span of our life before we were formed in our mothers’ womb and the number of hairs on our head! God doesn’t leave such attention to detail to chance. He has plans for each of his children, and they are good.

Before we even realise we’re going to need something, God has already planned for that need. Even before we ask him for it, his plans are already in motion. Just ask Zacchaeus. (more…)

‘SOMEHOW WE’VE GOT TO FIND A HELPING HAND’

(August 14, 2020) Brian Bell shares…

How often have the words of a song been used to speak to our hearts and or our experience?

In this short meditation I feel led to share some personal reflections sparked by the memory of a song with the above line, reflections that take me back over the years. I’ll come to the song a little later but let me begin by sharing something of my life…

A historical reflection
From I was a young boy I enjoyed reading – and one of my favourite topics was history. When I was growing up, the series Ladybird Books were readily available: written simply and concisely they gave young minds a sufficient background – or maybe appetite – for a topic.                                                          

It was these little books that introduced me to the growth of the Roman Empire including how it spread to England and of course, central to that is the construction of what we call Hadrian’s Wall, built to provide security from invasion from what we now know as Scotland. The need for the wall no longer exists but although it is now mostly in disrepair, the wall continues to be a popular tourist attraction.

A musical reflection
In my early teens I gave my life to the Lord. At that time I was already interested in music and sang in the church choir… but now I entered a new experience. With some other young men, we formed a ‘gospel group’ (as they were called then), playing guitar and drums as musical instruments and singing gospel songs. (more…)

CHASING THE WIND IS FOOLISHNESS

(August 11, 2020) Carol Round challenges us to pursue right things…

One of my favourite contemporary Christian songs is titled Just Give Me Jesus. It reminds me of the saying, often credited to Billy Graham, ‘My home is in heaven. I’m just passing through this world.’

Often called on to ease the nation’s fears during stressful times, Dr Graham’s wisdom provided calm no matter the situation. He reassured us that Earth is just a stopping place, a way station, before our final home.

Hebrews 13:14 puts it this way, ‘For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven.

Is life on earth meaningless?
Many avoid reading this Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes because they feel overwhelmed by the view of life it offers. Like the book of Job, it doesn’t avoid the tough questions of life… but does it offer any answers to life’s meaning? Let’s see…

Chapter one seems to set the tone – and it’s depressing.

  • ‘In my opinion, nothing is worthwhile; everything is futile. For what does a man get for all his hard work?’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2TLB)
  •  ‘There is nothing new under the sun that is capable of giving meaning to life.’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
  • Then, in Ecclesiastes 4:4 (TLB) the author observes ‘… the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind.’

(more…)

THE ‘GIFT’ IN THIS VIRUS

(August 1, 2020) Charles Schwab challenges Christians to consider a different aspect to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected so many lives worldwide …

The ‘Gift’ in This Virus – isn’t that an utterly crazy and irresponsible use of words?

How can the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed multiplied thousands throughout the world, disabled economies leading to job losses along with stress and strain, forced countries and regions into lockdown, thrust normal living into a mess… horrendous for many, decimated tourism and freedom of travel… causing such pain and pandemonium be considered a ‘gift’ from God?

Sounds crazy
How in the world could this idea of ‘gift’ possibly be true from a biblical perspective? Sounds like heresy, the babblings of a religious zealot, the sign of a demented mind, the ramblings of a soul in a theological desert and, at face value, devoid of any biblical warrant.

What madness is this ‘gift’ notion?  Or… could it be a surprising reality for good in the midst of horror? The phrase, ‘the gift of this virus’, came unexpectedly to mind as I emerged from sleep well before dawn… and I knew within to what this strange phrase referred.

The use of ‘gift’ in association with ‘virus’ does not appear in scripture… but I suggest that the idea and its potential are biblical. While illness, fear, death and economic disaster are widespread and accompany this awful Covid-19 virus, God is giving us – Christians and churches – the ‘gift’ of opportunity.

The real ‘gift’
This ‘gift’ of opportunity is one to carefully and prayerfully…

  • Reconsider some things
  • Keep some things
  • Axe some things
  • Discover some new things or new ways that will be effective now and into the future.

(more…)

LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE FOR ALL TO SEE

(July 17, 2020) Carol Round challenges us to shine for Jesus…

In Matthew 5:15-16, Jesus challenged ‘Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father’ (NLT version).

Have you found it difficult to let your light actually shine lately? I have. It’s not just the continued increase in Covid-19 cases, either. The pandemic has divided us a nation.

Those who wear a mask to hopefully prevent the spread also follow social distancing guidelines. Then, there is the opposing side, the ones who don’t wear a mask in public or observe social distancing guidelines. I fall into the former group. However, I’m not going to take sides. It does no good because most of us have our mind made up.

This division has led to ugly confrontations. A recent video recorded a woman who was asked to leave a shoe store because she wasn’t wearing a mask. Angry at the employee who confronted her, the shopper threw several shoe boxes at her before exiting the store.

Can we let go of the anger?
I’m angry!

  • Angry at the division in our country (and other nations!).
  • Angry at the way people on both sides have expressed their views.
  • Angry at friends on social media who continue to encourage strife with their divisive posts… I’ve ‘unfollowed’ them!

Allowing the negativity to affect me, I’ve struggled to write my weekly blog posts. I’ve prayed, asking God for help so I can continue to use my gifts for his glory. Sometimes, the words won’t flow. Other times, his Holy Spirit takes over and my fingers fly across the keyboard! (more…)

TROUBLE WILL COME… BUT TAKE HEART

(June 24, 2020) Carol Round shares hope for all troubled by what’s happening around us…

My heart is heavy.

History is repeating itself. I lived through the turmoil of the 60s during the Civil Rights movement. I saw the injustice. Segregated schools and restaurants. Separate water fountains and restrooms left an imprint on my impressionable mind.

What is happening in my own country today didn’t begin with the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement. It isn’t the first time hatred has led to an uncalled-for death. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Trouble is all around the world these days! Protesters are calling for change. But change can only happen when each one of us takes responsibility for our own words and actions.

Nothing Will Change Unless We Do
Nothing will change until we, as Christians, quit placing our hope in government to save our country. We must embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ, and not just give lip service to our faith. If we are sold out to Jesus, we should not be conformed to this world. (more…)