Into the wilderness

At the weekend we had Forum SW where Bish went through a series about the love of God and he shared with us this verse:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.”
(Hosea 2:14 ESV)

In an earlier post I wrote about how God is our Husband and here we see how the Lord treats his bride. Now what really struck me was this question:

“When you think about God speaking to you, what does He sound like?”

Often we think when God speaks it would be with harsh words or something very frightening. But when you read this verse in Hosea it says something totally different, the Lord speaks to her tenderly. He speaks with tender comforting words and the amazing thing is that she is in the wilderness when this happens. The Lord allures her out of where she is, which is in prostituting herself to idols and he allures her, bids her with a higher bidding to bring her into a wilderness, he brings her out of slavery and he speaks words of comfort to her.

This is a beautiful example of the Gospel and the heart of our Lord. Here we are, committing adultery with worthless idols and Christ doesn’t speak to us with harsh, wrathful words instead he allures us, he wins and woos us out of the slavery of idols and sin and he brings us into a place where he can speak wonderful words of comfort and tenderness to us.

Don’t we need to hear those words of comfort? Don’t we need to be allured and won away from the snares of broken fountains that never quench our thirst? Jesus says “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden”. Come to Him, gaze on Him, shelter in Him and he will win your heart and speak tenderly to you.

But more than this, doesn’t it change the way we do evangelism? How do we share the Gospel – with harsh words? condemning people’s sin through the law? Or do we show them Christ and let him speak tenderly to them, let him allure them? Do we win people to see the love of Christ?

We all need to hear the tender words of Christ and when we do, may they warm our dead, cold hearts.

The Joy of the Lord

“It is the consciousness of the threefold joy of the Lord, His joy in ransoming us, His joy in dwelling within us as our Saviour and Power for fruitbearing and His joy in possessing us, as His Bride and His delight; it is the consciousness of this joy which is our real strength. Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change.”Hudson Taylor

Have you ever tried to concentrate so hard to have joy in the Lord that you thought you would explode? Maybe you gave up. Days where you feel like you cant put any more effort into trying to muster up feelings of joy. Remember that verse – The joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh 8). And you think – HOW DOES THAT WORK!? How do I get that joy?? How do I get that strength? I dont feel joy and I dont feel strength.

Maybe we are working this from the wrong place. We always think this is talking about us but what if it wasn’t about your joy in Him? Or the effort you put into doing things for him?

What if its about the Father’s joy in us through Christ? What if it’s about what Christ has done and not what you are doing or have done? I dont know about you, but its a relief to know that its all about Jesus and not me and the Father gets Joy from his son and from all all those that are in His son. I think Hudson Taylor is right – Our joy in Him is fluctuating and unsteady, but his joy in us doesnt change and doesn’t that give us strength? When my joy dips to a low I have no need to muster up energy to find joy, but I can rest in Christ whom places great joy in me.

So the Joy that Christ has in me is my strength. Rather then the Joy I have in Christ is my strength. The joy of the LORD is my strength. Not the Joy I have in the LORD is my strength.

It changes things. This isnt dependant on me but the Lords Joy in me… and all those that are in Christ, the Father says to them:

“This is my son, whom I am well pleased” Mark 1:11.

On Rest and Mixed Messages

Today is Saturday and I always look forward to the weekends. I know we shouldnt live for the weekends, but I do look forward to them as they are times where I can spend time with my husband, spend time reading books that aren’t work related, go out for the day and not have to get up for 7:30.

I often wonder what it means to rest well or even to rest. As Christians we have so many mixed messages about how we should use our time and we also try to have the sabbath but to be honest there are so many different opinions about the sabbath that I don’t think anyone knows what to do with it or even if we should have it! There are so many demands on our time or even for our attention but perhaps not ourselves. Twitter and Facebook demand our attention but cares less about our minds and souls, it envelopes you in until you have finished clicking all the “likes, retweets, photos, messages etc” and then spits you back out into reality feeling slightly disoriented. Do these things aid or hinder my rest? Then people say that we spend too much time on these social networking things and we should get out in the real world, except the real world is also in front of their screens pressing the “like” button…

Ok, so what about TV? I like watching TV, sometimes this does cause me to rest especially watching films. I love watching films and a box set series. But then is that rest? People say that we watch too much TV and we shouldnt and we should get off our sofas and get out there in the wind and rain and kick a bag of air around. And when you watch that TV don’t you sometimes feel that nagging of  “does God think this is a good use of my time…?”

Perhaps your rest time should be a Sunday Sabbath where you go to church morning and evening… but then sometimes church doesn’t feel like rest.

Maybe your rest should be just reading your bible… but sometimes that doesn’t feel like a rest either. I love reading my bible but sometimes I need to read something else.

Its funny isn’t it? People say all sorts of different things and then you have the silent rules of christianity (I mean, it is about Grace but of course there are those silent noonespeaksabout rules that you must keep…). Have you ever found that?

Well, this is what I like to do when I need to rest:

I like to stay in bed till mid morning. I like to read a sci-fi/fantasy book. I like to watch films. Sometimes I like to chat with a friend or see a friend – sometimes I don’t. I like bake and cook and I like to cross stitch. I also like to play my guitar and also take pictures and pretend I am a photographer. I like to write. I also like to play on the Wii fit so that I feel like I am doing exercise but not in the rain. I like to have friends over for dinner. I also like to do all of these things with my husband.

None of these seem spiritual or holy. Maybe you disapprove. Maybe God is Lord of everything and delights that his children enjoy such things that arent prayer meetings or anything stamped with “Christian” on the front?

What do you like to do when you are resting?