It’s so easy to grumble!

‘But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses.” Exodus 17.3

Time and time again, we read of the Israelites wandering in the desert grumbling about their lot and comparing it with some idealised memory of the past, in which they conveniently forgot the harder parts.

If we are honest, we can probably identify with their grumbling as this is something we can be prone to many times a day. Grumbling often begins when we start to look at what we do not have. Rather than dwelling on what we have in abundance, we tend to focus on what we lack, which can easily lead on to apportioning blame for this and judging others.  This is exactly what the Israelites did; they took their eyes off their freedom, their vision of God and his divine provision given to them on a daily basis, and instead recalled a rosy past that conveniently overlooked the slavery, beatings and helplessness of their previous situation.

We may not be slaves or wandering in a desert, but what we do have in common with the Israelites is our propensity to grumble, to take our eyes off what we have and fix them on what we think we lack. Take a moment to pause and thank God for something you do have as you touch each finger of both hands – keep going if you want to, even after your fingers have run out! God always wants us to come to him with our needs, but by beginning to give thanks our awareness of his goodness to us will increase.

#grumble #thankfulness #healingmission #encounterprayer #abundance

What’s the catch?

“. . . and my burden is light.” Matthew 11.30

This is quite a statement! It actually stands as a measuring line for the nature of our Christian lives. Is our faith a joy or a burden?

It is so easy to slip into the legalistic nature of religion – we ought to pray for a certain length of time each day, read so much of the Bible, give a proportion of our money and so on. Worse is when we do not meet the expectations that we or others have put upon ourselves, and then we feel guilty and discover that the faith that was meant to bring us freedom is actually a heavy burden that is a struggle for us.

Yet Jesus said it was never meant to be like this. His yoke should be easy and his burden is meant to be light. What is going wrong?

Legalism usually steps in to fill a void left by the lack of relationship. A good question to ask yourself when you are feeling burdened by your faith is this, “Why am I doing it?” If you ask yourself why you read your Bible and the honest answer is because you are trying to get through a Bible plan, it is likely that legalism has crept in over your relationship with God. Similarly, if your prayers are more about simply saying words than speaking to God, you may want to rethink your motives.

The good news is that change can be immediate! If legalism has crept into your faith, begin to speak the name, “Jesus”, recognising that he is right there with you. Lay aside the ritual of religion and find the wonder of your relationship with him again.

#burden #heavy #goodnews #faith #legalism #guilty #freedom #healingmission #encounterprayer

There must be more

‘…be filled with the Spirit’ Ephesians 5.18

Pentecost Sunday is an amazing celebration of when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the disciples.  What does it mean for us today?

One thing it teaches us is that there is always more of God for us.  Those first disciples met Jesus and were called by him so that they might learn from him and be with him – but there was more for them.

  • They accompanied Jesus throughout his ministry, watching him do amazing things – but there was more for them.
  • They were sent out themselves to do miraculous works – but there was more for them.
  • They sat with Jesus through the dark days of the Passion – but there was more for them.
  • They met with the risen Jesus, spoke to him and shared fellowship with him – but there was more for them.
  • They watched him ascend to glory – but there was more for them.
  • They were filled with the Holy Spirit on that first day of Pentecost, seeing tongues of fire and speaking in unfamiliar languages – but there was still more for them.
  • They had more experiences of the Holy Spirit, which illustrated Paul’s command that we should go on being filled with the Spirit.

If that was true back then, it’s certainly true for us – there is so much more of God for us.  So let’s be open to him, willing to receive all he has for us, and keen to know him more and more.  That’s what he wanted for those first disciples and that’s what he wants for us.

#theremustbemore #morethanthis #thereismore #encounterprayer #healingmission #spiritofgod #presenceofjesus

The gentleness of Jesus | 7

“. . . for I am gentle . . . ” Matthew 11.29

These simple words form the basis of our trust in coming to Jesus. When we approach him we will not be turned away, nor will he ridicule our needs. Rather, he will treat us with the gentleness that our hearts long for because he can do no other, since his nature is to be gentle. This means that when we come to him, we come before the personification of gentleness.

His gentleness with us should inspire our honesty as we need not try to hide anything from Jesus, nor be fearful that he will view us harshly. The reality is that he knows everything about us and is longing for us to bring all of ourselves to him. Nothing we share with him can shock him or change his attitude towards us.

Jesus’ gentleness should also inspire us to emulate him. We are disciples of the one who said that he was gentle, and this is what should define our dealings with others. How wonderful if we were known for our gentleness by those we come into contact with. Ask Jesus now to let his gentleness flow though you today.

#gentleness #presenceofjesus #honesty #gentleness #healingmission #encounterprayer

It’s all about Jesus | 6

“. . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11.28

We have looked at Jesus’ promise of rest and the continuing availability of his rest for us. He is the source of it but so often we seek a variety of other means to find the rest that only comes from him.

One of the loveliest aspects of this truth is that Jesus will be there for each of us. This is not an invitation to a specific group of holy people who have perfected the ability to leave their problems behind! It is precisely to all who find themselves weary and burdened that Jesus promises his active presence.

There may well be ways in which we can help ourselves find his presence, but the fact that Jesus doesn’t give any specific instructions means that it can’t be too difficult. The first thing we need to remember is that he is there to help. When we are preoccupied and struggling, the promise is that he is present with help for us. Perhaps all it takes is to recognise our need, acknowledge his presence and simply speak his name, “Jesus”, to invite him into our situation.

Who you are does not matter, nor does it matter how good you have been. What matters is that you call on Jesus and wait to see what happens.

Why not listen to John’s meditation on the wonder of the God who is with you:

#allaboutjesus #rest #peace #presenceofjesus #helpme #weary #burdened #healingmission #encounterprayer

The river of rest | 5

“. . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11.28

Yesterday we looked at Jesus’ promise to give us rest and how this is based on what he has already done for us. Let’s look a little more at the nature of his gift to us.

The gift of rest to the weary and burdened is not a one-off experience, a single voucher that can only be used once. Rather it is a constant source of his working in our lives. Although many people can look back to singular experiences of the wonder of God’s love, times when they felt his presence in a special way or a touch of his grace and love, God’s rest and peace are not meant to be one-off experiences that we can record in our diaries. Instead, they flow from God in a constant stream to us and Jesus would be delighted if we sought his rest every single hour of every day.

God may have blessed you in the past, but will you go back to him today? God may have assured you of his love for you in days gone by but what if he is seeking to do it again now?

Take a moment to let him give you a fresh sense of his love and touch today. He is waiting, and all you have to do is come to him and ask.

#riverofrest #healingmission #blessedbygod #encounterprayer #godiswaiting #presenceofjesus #goddelightsinyou #rest #peace

The promise of rest | 4

“. . . and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11.28

After Jesus’ invitation that the weary and burdened should come to him, he promised them rest. Can we trust his promise? Could it be that Jesus may decide after all not to give us rest on this particular occasion? Jesus confidently makes this promise, not just as a promise to be there, looking out for us, but also because of what he went on to do – die for us.

The rest that Jesus promises could be summed up by another phrase in the Gospels, living life ‘to the full’ (John 10.10). Jesus said that he came so that we would experience this. It is interesting to read that in the very next verse Jesus spoke of himself as the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. In other words, the promise of abundant life is linked to Jesus laying down his life for us.

This is why we can be confident about Jesus’ promise of rest, not because it is a promise of what he will do but because it is a declaration of what he has already done. By dying for us, Jesus has opened up the way for us to enter into the presence of God, and our rest flows from being with him.

So it isn’t a matter of Jesus continuing to ponder about whether or not to give us rest, since he took that decision when he died for us. Rest is ours, if only we will come to him. Take a moment to consider the implications of this truth: Jesus laid down his life to give you abundant life.

Being in need is a good qualification to come to Jesus – listen to John’s one minute talk:

#promiseofrest #abundantlife #giveyourest #weary #burdened #presenceofjesus #healingmission #encounterprayer