preacher teacher evangelist author
Word for the Week



New is necessary
20 September 2021

Matthew 4:20
They immediately left their nets and followed him.

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When was the last time you found yourself in a completely new environment? Last week my four-year-old daughter Lilah started school. Having been at a different pre-school since turning age one, this was a huge step for her. Leaving behind familiar faces, surroundings and routines is not easy for anyone, no matter how old you are. However, if she is to grow, mature and learn then stepping through those big new school gates is a must.

Following God’s call on your life will lead you down new roads. That is a fact. You won’t accomplish anything by standing still or holding onto the past. When Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee and saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, fishing, He called out to them, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men”, they immediately left their nets and followed him (Matthew 4:19-20). What an incredible response. They probably had very little idea of what “fishers of men” even meant! They heard the voice of Jesus, left the old behind and went after the new. Would it have been daunting for them? Of course! All they had known was fishing, now they were embarking on an assignment they had no experience or qualifications for. It was all completely new to them, but absolutely necessary in order to fulfil God’s plan for their life.

Perhaps God is stirring your heart to embark on something new; a new job, a new relationship, perhaps moving to a new location. Don’t be troubled. God knows what environment you need to be in to expand. He is in control. Take on the attitude of these disciples. Embrace the idea of something fresh, renew your mind, alter your outlook. Trust that God is in charge of the process. It takes courage to make a change and walk forward when all the details aren't yet in place. New isn't easy nor does it always make sense, but if you want to enlarge your territory and see your opportunities multiply, then it is necessary. 

Prayer:

Dear God,

Please give me fresh perspective to see and then seize the new opportunities that stand before me. Thank you for always being with me as I step out of my comfort zone.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Godly friendships
13 September 2021

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

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As the well-known saying goes, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”. In other words those relationships in your life today will influence what you accomplish tomorrow. If those closest to you constantly tear you down, leave you feeling drained every time you're around them, or pull you away from the things of God, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate those relationships.  

The impact and power of the relationships you have can not be underestimated. True friends should drive you forward to do your best in every area of your life. They should bring encouragement, joy and happiness into your life. Of course, not every friendship you have will be Christ-centred, but it’s important that you do have some close Christian friends. Christ-like friendships build your faith and strengthen your walk with God. They inspire you to draw close to the Father, offering prayer and spiritual support as you follow the plan God has for you. 

Perhaps you recognise the need for more Godly friendships in your life. Maybe you need to be a better friend to those around you. Unsure how you can be a better friend? Tell that person you're praying for them. Send them an encouraging scripture first thing in the morning. Invite them to sit next to you at church. Intentionally investing into your Christian relationships reaps authenticity. It forms a bond that is not easily broken and builds trust where you can be accountable with each other. Such friendships can also guide you when you've gone off track and inspire you to make Godly choices. They keep you focused on Christ when you’re maybe tempted to drift away.

Today, don’t take those special friendships for granted. Reach out to those closest to you and tell them how much you appreciate, love and value them. Godly friends are like treasure. They’re not always easy to find, but when you have them you must guard them and take good care of them, for they will shape and influence you for the rest of your life.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the friends you’ve placed in my life. Help me create more time, show more love and give more attention to those closest to me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




It's a promise
30 August 2021

Joshua 24:15
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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In the book of Joshua, chapters 23 and 24 describe Joshua’s final farewell speech before passing away. He summoned all Israel - their elders, leaders, judges and officers - and urged them all to stay passionately connected to God. He reminded them how God had delivered on everything He had promised over his lifetime and that He would continue to bless them providing they stay obedient to His commands. 

The Bible is packed full of promises concerning your life. Promises for every challenge, endeavour and season. Everything you need to navigate each day has been recorded in God’s Word; scriptures on strength, prayers about peace, lessons in wisdom, the list could go on. It’s all there, but if you’re not completely walking in God’s ways it will be hard to experience the fruit of those promises.

There was no secret to Joshua’s success. He made it very clear: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  He followed God with a deep conviction and the fruit of his obedience was evident for all to see. If you want to fulfil God’s assignment for your life, if you want to see that God-given dream come alive, if you want to fully experience God promises then you must completely surrender every area of your being to the Lord. 

Today, why don’t you follow Joshua’s example? Stop trusting in idols, veering off course and bringing God into the equation only when you need him. Make a decision to serve Him with your whole heart. Be obedient to His commands. Follow Him with everything you’ve got. Living to please God, not man, will ensure you see the the fulfilment of God’s promises over every area of your life, both privately and publicly.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for your incredible promises that are alive and active within the pages of my Bible. Help me have eyes of faith to see them come to pass.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Actions must follow
09 August 2021

James 1:22
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

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When Jesus addresses the Pharisee and experts of the law in Luke 11, he makes it clear to them that hypocrisy has no place in the human heart, especially if you want to live a life that honours God. He points out to them that it’s of no use to ‘talk the talk’ if you cannot ‘walk the walk.’  

It’s all well and good to be vocal with your intentions but do physical actions follow your words? I used to lead a social justice project called Greenlight. It involved a volunteer team of doctors and nurses, going out onto the streets of London to provide medical care to the homeless community. Our mandate was to be the hands and feet of Jesus. One night we met a woman with a heartbreaking story. We told her we would help her and do all we could but she had obviously heard similar unfulfilled promises before. Then one of my female team leaders leaned over to give her a hug. It was the first time she had been touched by another human being for over two years. She burst into tears and the entire dynamic of the conversation shifted. Our words were comforting but it was that one action, one hug, that changed everything. From there we were able to get her the assistance she needed.

We should all read the Bible, memorise scripture and hide God’s Word in our hearts. However, there is more to it than just reading. The Bible's real power comes alive when we put its words into action. Let’s make sure there isn’t a huge chasm between who we say we are and what we want to do, and who we really are and what we really do.

Vocal intentions are a good start, but it’s the physical actions that leave the greatest impressions. Charles Spurgeon once said “It is well to preach as I do, with my lips. But you can all preach with your feet and by your lives, and that is the most effective preaching.”

Today, if you want to honour God by shining a light for Christ in your sphere of influence, then make sure actions follow what you say.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to see others through your eyes. May my actions be sincere and full of compassion.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Don't be a hypocrite
02 August 2021

Luke 11:44  (NKJV)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.”

 

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In Israel’s history, if you walked over a grave you would become ceremonially unclean. In this passage, Jesus was addressing a Pharisee and some experts of the law. He was angry at the way they lived their lives so he said they were like graves. They defiled people they came into contact with through their bad religion, twisted theology and warped doctrine. “Hypocrites!” he exclaimed, for they did not represent the true heart of God.

The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypokrites, which means 'an actor' or 'a stage player'. It literally translates as “an interpreter from underneath” which reflects that ancient Greek actors wore masks and the actor spoke from underneath that mask. Masks are designed to hide your true identity. And that’s what Jesus was accusing these so called experts of the law of doing. They were pretending to live this holy existence on the outside, yet on the inside they were rotten to the core. In fact, their inability to be authentic meant they pushed people away from God, not to Him.

There is something deeply unattractive about being a hypocrite. Whether you’re a Christian or not, no one wants to be around someone who pretends to have virtues, morals or certain beliefs when in reality they don’t. 

Today, ask yourself these questions; Do people see the real you? Are you the same person in private as you display in public? If not, it’s not too late to change. When who you say you are matches who you really are, it brings an inner peace and confidence. It also gives you credibility and trust with other people. However, most importantly an authentic, honest and integral heart pleases God. So get real with God, yourself and others and you will ensure a secure and blessed path ahead.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Please forgive me when I’ve not been sincere. Help me to live an honest life that reflects your heart.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




From the inside out, not the outside in
26 July 2021

Luke 11:39-40
Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?” 

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Several years ago Lisa and I were invited to dinner at our friends house. They are wonderful people that have a love for vegan food. I’m not a vegan but was more than happy to try out their cuisine, especially as it was a three-course meal, cooked from scratch! When they brought the food out it looked and smelled good. However by the time I got home, I was violently sick for the rest of the night. For some reason, the vegan meal just didn’t agree with me. Apologies to my vegan friends, but I don’t think I’ll be abandoning my meat anytime soon! This story came to mind as I considered that appearances can be deceiving.

When Jesus was invited to dinner by this pharisee and teachers of the law, they were hoping they could trick him into saying certain things that they could later use against him. However, the opposite happened. Jesus launched a scathing attack on the way they live their lives. He points out that they take all this time to clean ceremonially, everything on the outside. In this case the cups, dishes and hands but on the inside they are dirty and filthy. In other words, pretending to live this holy life means very little if the core is rotten.

In today’s culture we think more about perception of others than ever before. We want to market ourselves and look as good as we can, especially with the introduction of social media. There’s nothing wrong with that providing our inward character is as genuine as our public persona.

Jesus doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but he does expect your thoughts, words and actions to come out of a pure heart. Today, why don’t you examine the motives of your heart? Don’t be like the Pharisee that focused so much on the external that he forgot to work on his internal. Remember, God looks at the intentions of your heart. If you want to please him, be authentic for that’s what attracts his blessing, favour and provision to your life.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me examine the motives of my heart. May my conversations and actions on the outside align with my true convictions on the inside.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Build on the rock
19 July 2021

Matthew 7:25
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

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In this parable Jesus taught, he shares the difference between a wise builder and a foolish builder. Both of these builders may have had the same tools, the same budget, the same brief, but one thing is for certain - they didn't start in the same place!

You don’t have to be a builder by trade or have any experience in that field to know that when you build a house, you don't start with the roof first, nor do you put in the windows or install your front door. No, you begin with the foundations. Everything rests on the foundations. Foundations are essential to everything else being in order. A shifting foundation means your house is in trouble from the start.

The foolish man went to the sand. His actions represent quick work, cheap work, easy work. If you’ve ever built a sandcastle at the beach, you’ll know you can get as creative as you want with your design. It could be large or very small. It could take you five minutes to build or five hours. It could look magnificent…but I doubt you’d live in it. Why? Because one wave would destroy it. Sand may be great for pitching a tent in but it wouldn't fare well as a permanent abode. Especially when a storm rolls in. Jesus said that with this storm, the rain came down, the streams rose, the wind blew against that house and it fell with a great crash. All because it wasn't built on the right foundations.

It’s no coincidence that one of the metaphors used for Jesus in the Bible is a rock. For a rock is strong, sturdy, stable, immovable, resolute and resilient. Whether you’ve known Christ for a week or you've known him for years, you mustn't neglect building your life on the rock. You can do this by opening up your Bible each day, depending on His Word, hearing His voice, following in His ways, learning to trust Him, living a surrendered life, worshipping Him and being a part of a local church.

Building on the rock means you’ve decided to build your life on the truth of God’s Word - an eternal foundation that cannot be destroyed. This is your sure foundation - the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to make time with you a daily discipline, so that when the storms of life come I can be secure in you, my rock.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Put His word into practice
12 July 2021

Matthew 7:24
‘…everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.’

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It’s not enough to just hear things. My young daughter Lilah is good at hearing me tell her to tidy up her toys. She acknowledges my request. She understands what I’m asking of her. She knows where everything is supposed to go. However she seems to fall a little short at the ‘putting those words into practice’ part.

We all hear things, all the time; advice, feedback, instructions - but what do you do once you’ve heard them? Take Sunday for example. You come to church and hear a good sermon. In the moment it puts a smile on your face or perhaps challenges you to make changes in your life. However by Monday morning, you’ve forgotten what was said. Now I would suggest the main reason it slipped your mind is because you didn't action what was said. Actions help you remember. Doing something practical assists your ability to learn.

Jesus shared this parable about the wise and foolish builder. The foolish builder was called foolish because he failed to put into practice what Jesus had taught him. The bible is God’s Word. It is full of wisdom, guidance and help to ensure you live a life that is pleasing to God. God wants you to flourish whilst you live out your existence on the earth. Remember, He is a loving Father that hand made you. But to accomplish His plan for your life, you will need to put into practice daily the principles and values He clearly communicates through the bible.

God has an answer for your greatest need and it is found in the study of His Word. Read it, learn it and apply it. Don’t let these valuable truths go in one ear and straight out of the other. Hear what God is telling you to do today and put those words into practice. You won’t be disappointed with the outcome. In fact, God promises that wisdom will follow such obedience and there is nothing more life changing than that!

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for your guidance and instruction. Help me to hear your words and put them into practice so that I may be wise.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The danger of a divided heart
28 June 2021

Genesis 19: 26
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

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In Genesis 19 we read about Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed by God. These cities had become so full of sin that they were detestable in the eyes of the Lord. However, God in His great mercy sent two angels to rescue Lot (Abraham’s nephew) and his family. The angels warned them that as they left the city, they were not to turn around and watch its destruction. They were to focus forwards. Unfortunately Lot’s wife disobeyed this command. She looked back and became a pillar of salt.

Having been surrounded by sin for a while, Lot’s wife found it too difficult to drag herself away from it. The pull of the world and all its desires proved too strong for her. Despite God encouraging her to look forward and providing her with a way out, the temptation got the better of her. Her heart was divided and it ended disastrously.

The dangers of a divided heart are very real. Without surrendering your whole heart to Jesus it can be easy to slip into bad habits, allow negative thoughts to rule your thinking and do things you later regret. Of course, surrendering your all to God is a lot easier said than done. What does it actually mean? True surrender means making a deliberate, wilful decision to relinquish control of your life. That includes every area and all that concerns you. The enemy will try to convince you that if you surrender, you will lose everything, but that’s not true. In fact, the opposite will happen. Being completely surrendered to God and His way means a life of infinite blessing. You may not see the results straight away, but breakthrough, guidance and provision will come.

Today, stop playing tug-of-war with God in your heart. Let go of that sin, the past, the need to control, and surrender yourself fully to God. It won’t be a one-time event. It’s something you will need to do daily. God has a great plan for your life, but for you to discover it means avoiding the dangers of a divided heart. Let go, focus forward and don’t look back!

Prayer:

Dear God,

I find it so hard to let go sometimes. Help me make the right decisions each day by inviting you to take complete control of my thoughts, actions and words. May I live a fully surrendered life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Listen to the advice
22 June 2021

Proverbs 12:15 ESV
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice

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Whilst learning to drive a car, I remember my instructor teaching me about ‘blind spots’. Before pulling off from a stationary position or joining a merging road she would teach me to look left and right to check for oncoming traffic. But then I was to make one final look over my right shoulder - to check for any last minute hazards. She called them blind spots. The areas my mirrors could not see. Failing to check your blind spots could result in an accident.

Everyone has blind spots - things about yourself that you can’t see or notice. But just because you can’t see them doesn't mean they are not there. This is why it is important to have people around you who can let you know. People who can highlight areas you can improve in. It could be feedback to make you more skilled in your job, more effective in your mission, perhaps even make you a better person.

Saying you're open to advice and applying what you’ve been told are two different things, especially if the advice you've been given is more like constructive criticism. Very few people like being told they could get better or do better. It can sting or even hurt - but how you receive constructive criticism will ensure continued growth. It will also play a part in you discovering your full potential.

If you want to develop, grow and learn, be ready to receive feedback with a gracious heart. Take what has been said and use it as fuel to catapult you forward. Demonstrate your maturity by remaining teachable. You don't know it all, and that’s ok. No-one is born perfect or with all the answers. Everyone has blind spots and limitations but a wise person listens and actions the advice they've been given. Today, stay calm, see what has been said to you with fresh eyes, a new perspective. Listening to someone else’s words could prevent you from harm whilst opening up a new world of opportunities.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the wise voices you have placed around me. Help me to listen and take onboard sound advice so that I may grow and develop into the person you've created me to be.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




God's plan, not yours
17 June 2021

Genesis 17:1-2
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

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When Abram was 75 years old, God promised him a son. However, as the years rolled by it was starting to look like it wouldn't happen. Desperate to become a mother, Sarai, Abram's wife, suggested that her maidservant Hagar sleep with her husband to conceive and bring this God promise into fruition. It worked, and Hagar conceived, giving birth to a son called Ishmael, but it wasn’t the way God had planned. Abram and Sarai would then have to wait another 13 years before the real promise came to pass through the birth of Isaac. Meaning Abram was 100 years old!

It can be very difficult waiting on a God promise to come to pass. You thought you’d be married by now, healed by now, living your dream by now. When the clock is ticking and the days are slipping by, it is very tempting to take matters into your own hands. You may strive to do things in your strength in an attempt to speed up those God promises over your life. It could mean using a short cut, compromising on your beliefs, engaging in practices that are not credible or honest.

It can be challenging to know when you need to act versus waiting on God to come through with the answer. Sometimes God does expect us to play our part and step out in faith. But often He puts us in situations that only He can resolve, that seem too difficult. He does this to develop our trust and bring glory to Himself. You can learn to manage that tension by being in constant communication with God: by listening to His voice, reading His Word, attending church and praying for wisdom and guidance. 

Perhaps you can identify with Sarai, the waiting has got the better of you and you’ve done things you now regret. Whatever your situation is, nothing is too hard for God to turn it around. Abram and Sarai may have messed up and delayed God’s plan for their life, but God didn't give up on them, even when they were so advanced in years. He made a way and His plan was accomplished. God loves you and has a plan for your life. He spent too much time designing you and filling you with gifts and talents to just give up on you. You may not be where you ought to be but It’s not over, God hasn't finished with you yet. Say sorry to God and get on board with His plan for your life. It won’t all be easy, however one day you’ll look back and discover that every promise He ever made to you did come to pass. 

Prayer:

Dear God,

I’m sorry for taking matters into my own hands and rushing your plan. Please give me discernment in knowing when to wait and when to step out in faith to fulfil your plans for my life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




You can pray about anything
07 June 2021

Ephesians 6:18
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…”

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I remember having a conversation with a man who was relatively new to faith in Christ. He had his own successful business, however it had hit a difficult patch and he was in need of some new clients. I asked him if he’d prayed about it, but he said something along the lines of “no, I didn't realise I could.” I went on to encourage him that the God we know is a loving Father and you can talk to him about anything. That includes asking him for wisdom and help when it comes to building your business. 

In Ephesians 6:18, after Paul has instructed us to put on the full armour of God, he concludes by saying that we are to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”. What a glorious command this is. Jesus said in Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Without doubt God wants you to thrive in life and He delights in helping make that happen.

You may question why you have to ask God for something, why doesn't He just give you everything you need? Well, that would require no faith on your part whatsoever. You need to reach out to Him. Going to Him in prayer demonstrates your love and trust in Him, that He is the Lord of your life and that you value His voice and guidance. An answered prayer also glorifies God. It shows you that He heard your prayer and is with you. This alone strengthens your relationship with Him.

Your prayers are extremely important to God. Whether it be about needing courage to start a new job, patience to make new friends or wisdom to help raise your children - God wants to hear them. There is no prayer, small or large that slips His attention. If it matters to you, it matters to God. Today, invite God to take control over every area of your life. Remember, He is your Heavenly Father, who wants to pour out His blessing and favour over you, but it starts with a prayer.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you that all of my cares and concerns are heard and understood by you. Help me commit to praying more throughout my day and to give thanks for answered prayer.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The sword of the spirit
31 May 2021

Ephesians 6:17
‘… and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.’

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Growing up I lived about an hours drive away from my Nan. We would visit her as often as we could. Knowing on arrival I would be given multiple bags of sweets and chocolate, there was also another reason why I enjoyed going to her house: I would get to hold a sword! Technically it wasn’t real, although you could've easily been fooled. I loved this sword. Every time I held it, I felt powerful and strong. It was as if I became some sort of super hero or warrior the moment I touched it. 

A sword is both an offensive and defensive weapon of a soldier. It consists of a long sharp blade with a point at the end and can be incredibly effective when taking down your opposition. The Apostle Paul was well aware of the function and effectiveness of a sword, hence his comparing it to the Word of God. Your bible is the Word of God. It possesses a power unrivalled on this earth. Packed full of truth, everything written in it is to guide you through life. Like a compass, the bible will navigate you through various seasons. It will be a source of strength when you're feeling weak, comfort when experiencing pain and hope when all seems lost. It also has the authority to tear down and destroy strongholds that attempt to sabotage your peace. Most importantly it reveals to you the love of your Heavenly Father, that you’re a child of God in whom He is well pleased.

As soldiers need training in how to handle a sword, we too as Christians need to know how to handle God’s Word. Recognising and applying scripture properly will enable you to withstand any attack the devil may throw at you. So don’t underestimate the value of reading it consistently. It’s a weapon that gives you the ability to stand up and fight the good fight of faith. It cannot be ignored or neglected. The Author of Hebrews puts it like this…‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12)  Take a hold of the Sword of the Spirit, it’s the key to winning your battles.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you that I have access to your precious Word. As I take ahold of your promises, like a sword may they pierce and destroy every stronghold that stands in my way.

In Jesus' name,

Amen

 




The helmet of salvation
24 May 2021

Ephesians 6:17
‘Take the helmet of salvation…’

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When I was around nine or ten years of age, I witnessed a boy a couple of years older than me get knocked off his bicycle by a car. As the boy cycled across a junction, the driver of the car inexplicably misjudged the situation, clipping the rear tyre of the bike and sending the boy over the handle bars. He landed on his head and back. Without doubt, the helmet saved his life. I remember seeing the state of the helmet a little after the accident - there were too many cracks to count.

Paul’s description of the helmet of salvation is extremely short. It requires little explanation in terms of its value. When a soldier suits up for battle, the helmet is often the last piece of armour to be put in place. Without protection of the head, a soldier on a battlefield would be extremely vulnerable. One blow to the head could prove fatal.

Inside your head is the mind. The place where you do all your thinking, learning and reasoning. Living in a fallen world, your mind is exposed to the evil, moral chaos and heartache that surrounds us, that’s why it’s imperative to protect it.

As a Christian, the gift of salvation is knowing and accepting that Jesus Christ died for your sins. His death on a cross and resurrection from the grave ensured that sin and death can have no hold  over you. Today, by dwelling on that truth you’re putting on the helmet of salvation. It protects us spiritually from a blow from the devil. It’s a crucial piece of armour, which gives you the confidence to fight off those negative thoughts and sinful actions that attempt to bring you down and stop you moving forward.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the protection of the helmet. How incredible that you created my mind and know all of my thoughts. Help me to saturate my mind in your truth, being fully assured of my salvation and my position as a child of the most high God. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The shield of faith
17 May 2021

Ephesians 6:16
'In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.'

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When riot police are called in to confront and diffuse an unruly crowd, the officers on the very front line will be carrying riot shields. At around one metre in length, the primary use of these shields is to protect the officers from incoming projectiles. During the unrest, perpetrators might launch anything from rocks to petrol bombs. It’s then the job of the riot shield to deflect these objects out of harms way.

As a Christian, you have the shield of faith. In the same way a riot shield safeguards a police officer, the shield of faith can guard you from trials, shelter you from fear and cover you from sin. It can also be used as an offensive weapon to tear down any opposition that stands in your way.

The bible warns us that there is an enemy that prowls around seeking whom he may devour; looking to tempt us, distract us and cause us harm. However, the bible clearly states that no weapon formed against us shall prosper. So no matter what the enemy tries to throw at us, we have what we need to correct, deflect and protect us from any situation that confronts us.  

Today, strap on your shield of faith. It is an essential weapon in your armoury. Put your trust in Jesus Christ and watch every flaming arrow that comes your way be extinguished by, and through, His mighty name.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Cover me with your grace, love and mercy. Let my faith rise up as a shield to protect me from the enemy’s schemes.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Walking in peace
10 May 2021

Ephesians 6:15
‘… and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.’

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Have you ever thought about the significance of your feet? The health and functionality of your feet play a vital role in the way you go about your day. They allow you to stand upright and perform various activities like walking, running and jumping.  Most of us probably take them for granted, until we have an injury or a problem. But the reality is, if your feet aren't working properly then your mobility will be affected in one way or another.

When Paul instructs the Christians in Ephesus to put on the armour of God, he highlights the importance of correct footwear. He knows that you cannot win any battle or take new ground if you can’t physically move forward. Fit your feet with the readiness of peace, he declares. In other words, the foundations of all you do must be built on understanding and experiencing the peace of God. If you have no peace, calm or composure, your perspective is limited and you’re unlikely to make wise choices.

There is nothing worse than wearing shoes that weren't designed for your feet. Too small and the pain of blisters will soon be upon you. Too big and you’ll be tripping over the smallest of obstacles. Today, put on a new pair of shoes. Shoes that were designed and made available especially for you. The shoes of peace. Walking in peace will not only give you a tremendous amount of comfort and confidence, but it will allow you to run through every chapter of your life victoriously.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to walk in your peace. May I remain calm and composed with every challenge that comes my way.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The breastplate of righteousness
05 May 2021

Ephesians 6:14
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place

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In life, we need to protect ourselves from sin and the enemy’s schemes. To do this, we must put on the full armour of God. After buckling up the belt of truth we must then make sure the breastplate of righteousness is secured in place. A breastplate is a piece of armour worn over the torso. It covers vital organs, including the heart. Spiritually speaking, it guards our heart and soul.

Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Jesus said in Matthew 12:34 “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”, so clearly what is in your heart is extremely significant. It is valuable. An unhealthy heart threatens to impact everything connected to you: family, friends, career, and so on. A vulnerable heart can lead to poor choices, disobedience and even unbelief. A wounded heart could have disastrous consequences, that is why you must guard it!

No matter how good or wise you are, your own righteousness isn’t enough to protect you from the devil, so Christ gave you a breastplate with His name stamped on it. However, you’re instructed to put it on, which requires a decision on your part. What good is armour if it stays on a shelf? It must be put on every day. Apply the breastplate of righteousness and don’t let it slip. Do your best to obey God’s commands and live in a way which is honourable to Him. Being in right standing with God ensures protection from any attack on your heart that comes your way.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Reveal to me the areas where my heart is most vulnerable. Help me to stand on guard with your covering of righteousness.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The belt of truth
19 April 2021

Ephesians 6:14
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist
 

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In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul warns us that we’re in a fight with the devil. A fight that we cannot win alone. So we need to take all the help we can get and use the weapons of spiritual warfare that God has given us. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, victory has well and truly been secured. However, we must not remain passive, we must apply what we’ve been given and fight to the finish.

“Put on the FULL armour” Paul declares, starting with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Without truth we are lost. Jesus declared in John 14:6 that …”I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” As a Christian, knowing that truth and walking in it daily will serve as an anchor. It guides us each day. Like a compass, truth allows us to stay on the path God wants us to walk. It also gives us something to cling onto no matter what comes your way in life.  

You could be going through the most difficult season in your life right now. Trials, tribulations and tragedy could be wreaking havoc. Remind yourself of God’s truth. Every morning when you get out of bed, buckle that belt around your waist. That belt is part of your protection. It also holds your sword and other spiritual weapons needed to advance and be victorious throughout your day.

The enemy will try to feed you lies, but when truth is fastened to your core, there will be nothing that can bring you down. Get that belt on, don’t leave your house vulnerable. It’s more than an accessory, it’s a crucial piece of armour for the success of todays battle.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to recognise when the enemy whispers his lies and deception. Teach me your truth and how I can apply it in every area of my life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen

 




It's ok to be broken
12 April 2021

Psalm 71:20
You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth, you will again bring me up.

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One morning, my daughter came to me and said, “Dad, I don’t want to play with this toy anymore, it’s broken.” She was right, it was broken, but it could still do what it was designed to do. However, for her it was no longer top of her list. It didn't look the same, therefore she now didn't want to play with it.  

When you break something, the appreciation and value of that item tends to decrease. It’s not in its original format so it’s worth less. Although this may be true with some things, it’s not true for all things, especially when it comes to people.  

The Bible teaches us right back in Genesis that due to the fallen nature of man we are all broken people. Not one of us is perfect and has it all together. We have flaws, habits, a past that we are not proud of. We’ve made mistakes, said things we shouldn't have said, done things we shouldn't have done. Perhaps we’ve been treated unfairly, hurt deeply, had things happen to us that caused us to walk down a path we never wanted to walk down. No one is completely whole in every area of their lives. We are all broken.

However, despite this brokenness God doesn’t stop loving you. Even if your brokenness is self-inflicted, God still loves you. It’s difficult to comprehend but there is nothing you can do that will separate you from the love of God. You may feel worthless today, but that is not what God thinks about you. He sees you as precious, useful and extremely valuable. So don’t be disheartened; take courage from the Word of God. Just like the psalmist declares; He will restore you from the depths and bring you up again. You can count on Him for healing, daily help, strength and renewed hope for the future.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you that you see me in my brokenness and yet you love me unconditionally. I trust that you will bring full restoration to my life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The triumphal entry
29 March 2021

Matthew 21: 10
And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying “Who is this?”

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What a sight this must have been. With huge crowds gathering and excitement in the air, here comes Jesus on a donkey. But this was far from an ordinary day. The multitudes were chanting, singing, throwing down their jackets and palm leaves across the road - the sense of expectancy entwined with pure jubilation must have created an atmosphere never seen before. For the majority, it looked like a hero was retuning home from war. In reality, it was Jesus walking into his last few days here on Earth and he knew it, even if others didn’t.

It is a tremendous comfort to know that Jesus ran towards trouble, not from it. Knowing death is imminent, very few people would move towards it with such assurance. In fact, most would look for a way out. Not Jesus. He ran towards His death, knowing that His death would bring life to all humanity. He had an assignment to complete and the finish was now on the horizon.

So today, think about the fearlessness of Jesus. There is nothing in this world that phases him. He is above it all, even death. He is the almighty, all knowing, all conquering God, and He is on your side. You may be frightened, nervous, unsure of how you will get the victory in your current situation, but the truth is that there is no obstacle, person or trial that can get the better of you. No matter what your battle is, Jesus will walk with you, carry you and lead you through it. His triumphal entry wasn’t just a ‘goosebump’ day in history; it was a statement, a reminder, a promise to those who love Jesus, that you will always be on the winning side.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for your sacrifice. Help me to focus on your courage and love when I find myself in the hardest of battles.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




What's in your hands?
23 March 2021

1 Samuel 17:50
‘…So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone.’

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When we read the story of David and Goliath, it appears to the natural eye that Goliath had it all. He was over 9 feet tall, he had a bronze helmet, and wore a coat of scaled armour weighing over 5,000 shekels. Bronze greaves covered his legs. He had a sword, spear, and javelin. He even had a shield bearer.

David had a sling shot, a staff and some stones. He didn't have much in comparison to who he was up against. Yet he never tried to imitate Goliath. Saul tried to put his armour on David, but that wasn't who he was and would’ve have hindered him, restricting his movement and speed. In fact what good is armour when there is no warrior on the inside? David couldn’t be someone who he wasn’t.

As Christians it’s important that we don't fall into the trap of focusing on what we don't have. It can be easy to look around and see that someone else’s business is more successful than yours, that they have a bigger house, a smarter car, a more esteemed social group. We can be drawn into comparison so quickly. We have to be careful with this sort of thinking. Comparing your successes and failures to other people’s will always lead you down a path of emptiness and frustration.

Be inspired by David. He had every excuse to compare his artillery to that of Goliath but he didn't because he knew that what he possessed was something far more powerful than anything a man could ever produce.

You may not think that you have much, but look again. When you learn to thank God for what He has placed in your hands, He will multiply it and make a way. Don’t spend another second comparing yourself with others or complaining to God about what He didn't give you. Be you, see what’s in your hands with eyes of faith. Like David, when you maximise what you have and let God take care of the rest, you will conquer those giants and take new ground, because you have more than enough!

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the gifts and talents you have placed on the inside of me. Forgive me Lord when I compare myself to others. My eyes are on you, help me maximise everything you have placed in my hands. I want to be the warrior you've called me to be.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




A taste of humble pie
15 March 2021

Luke 18:14
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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No one likes being humbled. When I was in my first year at bible college in Australia, things were going well. I was making friends, getting decent results and had favour with the teachers. In fact on a few occasions I’d been given the opportunity to share some brief encouraging words in the chapel services. Something that only a handful of students got to do. I remember thinking, “I’m doing well here.” Not wanting to get ahead of myself, I recall praying one Tuesday evening that God would keep my feet on the ground and humble me.

The very next day at a chapel service, where between 700 and 800 students and staff would be in attendance, the Principal of Bible College was delivering a sermon. As he got down from the stage to drill home his point, he asked a simple question to everyone…and then put the microphone in my hand to answer it! However this wasn't another moment to shine. For some reason my mind had wandered off just before he came to me and I hadn't heard the question. I could see everyone in my peripheral vision with their hands up desperate to give the obvious answer. With nowhere to turn I stuttered and fumbled over my words, and to my embarrassment had to concede I didn't know the answer. If ever I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me it was then!

Straight after the service I went to the Principal and apologised for my lack of concentration before sprinting home, slamming my bedroom door shut and asking God why he would let that happen to me. It was then that I remembered the prayer I prayed the night before. It was a character building lesson that I’ve never forgotten. It’s also a prayer I hope I never have to pray again!

In the parable Jesus tells in Luke 18, he makes it abundantly clear that those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Arrogance, over-confidence and a display of self-importance is detestable in the sight of the Lord. It acts as a repellent to His presence. Instead He asks you to conduct yourself in the opposite manner: to be humble. Not in a way that is self-deprecating or excessively modest. Humble in your honest need of him, that you can’t live your life without him. When humility is at the very core of who you are, then God’s grace and mercy will be evident in all you do.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to be humble in every area of my life. May my motives always be to love you and serve others with a pure heart.

In Jesus' name,

Amen

 




Humility wins
08 March 2021

Luke 18:13
But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

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In Luke 18, Jesus tells us a simple yet powerful parable about a Pharisee and a tax collector. 

Addressing the Pharisees, who were confident of their own self-righteousness, he instead gave a clear picture of how we gain favour in the eyes the Lord: when we approach him with humility!

Whilst the Pharisee prayed about himself and how good he’d been compared to others, it was the tax collector that walked away from his encounter with God forgiven, justified and redeemed. Knowing he was far from perfect, he stood at a distance and couldn't even look up; a sign he felt unworthy to be in the presence of God. He then acknowledged his sin, which Jesus dealt with, leaving him to go home free from the troubles he’d been carrying.

When you pray, you don't need to be eloquent in speech, hide behind a facade or pretend to be a better version of yourself. God’s not looking for perfection, he’s looking for humility. Someone that doesn't have it all together and can admit their need of him. A humble heart pleases God. So take your burdens, guilt and worries to the Lord. Nothing shocks him, so don’t be scared or shy when it comes to confessing your sins. Remember, God sees all you do. He sees the good, the bad and the ugly, yet he loves you anyway. 

Arrogance, pride and shame will keep you away from God. Honesty and humility draws you closer to God. Today, don’t be like this Pharisee when it comes to prayer, instead follow the lead of the tax collector. Be sincere and tell him confidently about your mistakes. You will soon see the favour and fruit that follows a humble heart.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Humbly I come to you. Please forgive me for my mistakes and lift this weight that is upon my shoulders. I acknowledge my need of you.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Gracious in defeat
01 March 2021

2 Corinthians 4:8-9
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

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“You can’t win them all son”, is a phrase I recall my father telling me on numerous occasions as a boy. Growing up I played a lot of competitive sport, in particular football (soccer to my American friends). I remember winning my first medal at the age of seven and that feeling of satisfaction never left me. Every time I crossed that white line and ran onto the pitch I wanted to win. I couldn't see the point of playing for fun when the opportunity to win was up for grabs. Having a hunger and desire to win is advantageous in life but it can also be detrimental when you don't hit the heights you expect. If I lost a game of football on a Saturday, my mood for the rest of the weekend would be ruined. I would like to say I don’t have moments like that anymore, but even though I don't participate in competitive sport nowadays, when the football team I support (Watford FC) lose, it can still have an adverse effect on me.

It’s impossible to win or be the best at absolutely everything. Defeats, loss, setbacks are inevitable in life. How you handle these events and moments is extremely important. If you dwell on your defeats too long, it will rob you of your confidence, joy and time. You can’t change what happened so you mustn't allow those negative feelings to define and shape the rest of your day. 

Being gracious in defeat means handling your losses well. Perhaps that contract you were dreaming of went to someone else or maybe you failed that exam you desperately needed to pass. That’s OK, it’s not the end of the world! Thank that company for their time and help. Show them your professionalism. Study harder and re-sit that exam at the next possible opportunity. There is nothing more unappealing than a sore loser or someone that quits when the outcome didn't go their way. 

Losing is never pleasant but often you learn more through these experiences than tasting victory. Don’t forget about God in your story either. It could be that God is re-routing your journey for reasons you are unaware of right now. Of course He wants you to succeed, every loving Father wants that for their child. But they would also want to ensure that you learn valuable lessons along the way so that when greater days come, not only are you humble in victory but you can manage the glory that comes with it. 

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to have an attitude of humility and grace through every trial. May this small defeat be the catalyst to my biggest victory.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The power of your thoughts
22 February 2021

Proverbs 16:3 (NKJV)
‘Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.’

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Your thought life is of incredible importance. Your thoughts can be positive or negative. They can be uplifting or destructive. They can be optimistic or pessimistic. They can be faith-filled or fearful. What you think about will determine your mood, self-esteem and ultimately the direction of your life.  

Thoughts have the power to shape your existence, that is why you must choose to dwell on the right ones, but quickly remove the not-so-good ones. There is nothing worse than having the same old negative thoughts running riot in your mind 24/7, robbing you of your peace, filling your stomach with that sick feeling, giving you sleepless nights. Carrying such thoughts brings so much unnecessary damage, hurt and pain. 

In the New King James Version, Proverbs 16:3 instructs us to ‘commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.’ To commit means to deliver and entrust. In other words, if you want to flourish and be at complete inner peace each day then you are to take the thoughts you have on your battles, struggles and workload to the Lord, daily! No matter how big or small they may be, give them over to God and trust Him with the outcome.

Negative thoughts don’t have to torment your thinking any longer, they don't have to have the last laugh. You can break that cycle by obeying the Word of the Lord. Take everything that comes into your mind to Him in prayer. Tell Him what you’re thinking. God promises that when you do, your thoughts will be brought back into order, peace will reign and your plans will succeed.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I submit my negative thoughts to you. They will not hold me captive any longer. Thank you that my mind will be at peace as your plans for my life move forward.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




You must get up
15 February 2021

Proverbs 24:16
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again

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One snowy morning recently, my daughter Lilah and I were playing in the garden. Suddenly there was a loud bang on our fence. Unsure of who or what it was, I leapt into action, climbing up the fence to see what had hit it. To my surprise there was an elderly gentleman lying face down on the path behind our house, covered in snow. He was conscious, but very shocked and clearly embarrassed. Immediately I reassured him that I would come and help him up. As I jumped over my fence I then noticed he had a rather large dog, similar to an Irish Wolfhound, sitting next to him. The dog was clearly alarmed, especially when I attempted to pick this man up. In fact to let me know that he was there he gave me a small bite on my bottom! Slipping on the ice, I did all I could to get this man to his feet. He told me that he’d had both his knees replaced and wasn't sure if he would ever be able to get up. My response was - “I’m not leaving until we get you up!” After a few minutes he was back on his feet walking, although evidently embarrassed at the whole event.

No one goes through life without slipping up, falling down or making a mistake. It happens to us all. Sometimes we find ourselves in uncomfortable positions that are outside of our control, other times we have put ourselves there by making a poor choice or not heeding the advice of others. Falling can be embarrassing, humiliating and even degrading. It can knock the wind out of our sails, shake our confidence and question the way forward. However, with God watching over us, no matter how far we’ve drifted there is always a second chance, a path to recovery and a way to get back up.

Today perhaps you’re feeling down, embarrassed about your situation, you’ve got no strength left to fight another battle. You may have given up on a better future but God hasn't given up on you! He saw your fall, your frustration, your pain and is sending help your way. Whether you find the strength from within or if it comes via the support of others, you can win this battle. You must get up as God hasn’t finished with you yet. He loves you, He has forgiven you, His grace and mercies are new every day. Breakthrough awaits, freedom awaits, victory awaits but you’ll never experience it if you stay down. It’s time to get up and go again!

Prayer:

Dear God,

I’m sorry for all the mistakes I’ve made. Thank you for your everlasting love, abundant grace and supernatural strength. I will get up knowing that you are with me and for me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Make the most of it
08 February 2021

James 4:14
Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

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However you look at it, life passes quickly. Some seasons can feel longer than others. Especially when going through a difficult situation or facing hardship. The days drag as you wait in hope for better news or a particular breakthrough that you desire. Whatever life throws your way, it’s important to make the most of your time, as time spent can never be used again.

Recently I had a conversation with an elderly gentlemen who had just been told the most devastating news. With tears in his eyes, he shared with me his latest doctor’s report. Unfortunately, cancer had been found in his body. It had spread and he now had only months to live. Shocked at what I heard, I attempted to comfort him. As I reflected on his heartbreaking situation I was reminded about the brevity of life.

James 4:14 tells us, 'For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.' In other words, you’re not on this planet for long, so make the most of it. Don’t waste time dwelling on the things you can’t change or complaining that life is unfair. There will be someone, somewhere wishing they had your health, your friendships, your time left. Of course, no one has it all together and there will be situations or circumstances that you’d probably like to change in your own life. However, try to look at the positives, focus on the good things you do have access to. Give your very best to each day. Make the most of your precious time, you will never get to live it again.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for the gift of life. Help me lay aside the concerns that take away the enjoyment of today. I want to maximise every breath you have given me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




He will come to save!
25 January 2021

Isaiah 35:4
… say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

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When you receive bad news it can be difficult not to think of all the worst case scenarios. As your thoughts go into overdrive, worry takes hold of the mind as you weigh up all the negative possibilities. If it’s a bad medical report, you’re concerned with how the quality of your future is going to look. If the business has taken a turn for worst, apprehension and anxiety move in as you fret over how you’re going to pay your bills. If you work with someone that causes you a great deal of stress, its easy to find yourself up all night dreading what the next day is going to look like. No matter how good your life appears to everyone on the outside, fear is a very real feeling to us all.

As real as fear is, it doesn't need to be the master of your life. In Isaiah 35:4 we are promised that “God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” What an encouraging statement that is. Words like vengeance and retribution make it clear that whoever or whatever attempts to disrupt and destroy your life, they shall get their comeuppance. That’s fighting talk and should fill your mind with peace. To know and be assured that Almighty God is on your side, already preparing a way for your victory, is one of the greatest promises you must hold onto.

So today, do not fear. Instead of thinking about your sickness, know that God is a healer and will provide the treatment available to help make you better. Instead of dwelling on your struggling business, know that God is a provider, and will bring in all the resource you need. Instead of dwelling on that person who has made your life hell, trust God that His plan is bigger than yours and that divine retribution is on the way. As a child of God, you are loved dearly. His peace, provision and protection are yours, you have nothing to fear.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I acknowledge that you are fully aware of all that concerns and frightens me. Thank you for your words of comfort and assurance that you will rescue and restore. Help me to release the situation into your hands as I wait for you to act on my behalf. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




A new year, a new you
11 January 2021

Romans 12:2
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

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The beginning of a new year is often a good reason for people to look at what changes need to be made in their life. We call them new years resolutions. These changes could be in order to achieve a particular goal, to make a lifestyle adjustment to increase your level of happiness or maybe to shift your way of thinking to improve the trajectory of your life. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make changes at the start of the year, but the real challenge is making sure you stay consistent with those adjustments beyond the month of January!

A new years resolution is a nice idea, but it will only come to fruition if you have a new mind. You can’t go into a new year with the same mind, yet expecting to see different results. For example; a new jacket doesn't make you a new person, a new car doesn't make you a new driver, a new phone doesn't mean you now have new people to talk to. You can surround yourself with new things but if your mindset stays the same then nothing much changes.

The mind needs to be renewed every day. It requires fresh and consistent feeding, not a quick diet that is unsustainable. Gradual and realistic adjustments need to be made to produce those changes you desire. Starting and finishing each day with the Word of God is the best way to renew the mind. To renew means to replace, rejuvenate or replenish something that is broken or worn out. Your mind may not be broken but it might be exhausted from never being able to fully follow through with the objectives you've tried to implement. Life gets busy, we forget and fail - all are valid reasons for halting our progress. However, a daily dose of God’s Word can be the difference between a new mind and a frustrated one. So make that change today! Let the reading of the Bible be a non-negotiable in your day. You will soon discover it’s the antidote for everything you need.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I don’t want to go into a new year with an old, tired and frustrated mind. Help me prioritise the reading and studying of your word. May it freshen, rejuvenate and heal my mind.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




I have good news
21 December 2020

Luke 1:32-33
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

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No one enjoys receiving bad news. For the past 12 months negative news seems to have been on repeat as heartbreak and sadness filled our airwaves, and possibly your home. For many it’s been a tiresome and hopeless year, with very little to look forward to on the horizon.

Despite everything you feel or have experienced, Christmas gives you the opportunity to take your eyes off  yourself and onto the greatest gift God ever gave mankind, the birth of His son, Jesus Christ. When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Mary, she was told that Jesus would be the saviour of the world and that his kingdom will reign forever. The wise men, bringing their gifts on that day confirmed that. Giving Mary and Joseph gold, to affirm Jesus’ kingship and sovereignty over the Earth; frankincense, as a symbol of his deity and divinity; and myrrh as a reminder of death, that one day He would suffer for the sins of the world. 

Jesus was God’s redemption plan to a broken humanity. He was the fulfilment of prophecy - given by Isaiah some 740 years before it actually came to pass. The Son of God lived, died on a cross and rose again so that humanity could be forgiven from our sins, overcome our adversities and live with the assurance of victory no matter what comes against us.

This Christmas, try not to be distracted by all the negativity that surrounds you, instead focus your thinking towards the reason for the birth of Jesus. Times may be tough, but don’t forget that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He is above it all. Nothing is too hard for him. So let your mind be at rest, look to Jesus. He is the Good news, the only remedy to our bad news.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for sending Jesus into this world to save me. That is the good news I chose to dwell on in the face of difficult times. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Doubt-driven or faith-filled
07 December 2020

Luke 1:37
“For nothing with God will be impossible.”

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In the book of Luke, chapter one, we read about an Angel of the Lord visiting two people. The first visit was to Zechariah, a righteous man who served God as a priest. One day, while carrying out his priestly duties the Angel appeared to him, informing him that his prayers had been heard and that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son - John. Shocked by what he heard, he replied - “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 

The second person to receive a visit from the Angel of the Lord was Mary. Again, Mary was shocked by this visitation and what she was hearing. The Angel told her that “You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Unsure how this could be possible as she was a virgin, she boldly replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Two similar stories, with two different responses. Zechariah’s response was doubt-driven, which caused the Angel to keep his mouth silent until the birth of his son. Mary’s response was a faith-filled response, allowing her to rejoice and enjoy every moment of her pregnancy despite the promise being beyond human comprehension.

When God speaks to you, it doesn't always look to the natural eye that it can happen. That’s where faith plays a huge role. Faith is wholeheartedly believing first, without seeing any of the physical evidence that it can or will happen. Zechariah thought He was too old to be used by God. In other words there was a disbelief that God could still perform a miracle through him in this situation. Mary though, was full of faith. She acknowledged that what God said looked unimaginable, but with Him nothing is impossible.

Today, what will your response be to what God is calling you to? Will it be one of doubt, one which causes you to stop praying because you’ve given up hope that God will answer your prayers? Or will it be one of faith, hope and conviction? Because even though you know there is no logical way to make it happen, you serve a God to whom all things are possible.

Prayer:

Dear God,

May my response to your voice always be faith-filled. You are a miracle working God, nothing is too hard for you. I believe your word will be fulfilled in your time, not mine.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Surviving a sudden storm
23 November 2020

Matthew 8:24
Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

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Knowing a storm is coming is one thing, but to be caught up in a sudden storm is quite the other. When you know a storm is on the horizon, you can at least prepare for it. You can bring in the supplies, batten down the hatches, you can evacuate the premises. However, when one sweeps in unannounced you instantly find yourself on the back foot, fighting to find a way forward.

Although we talk about storms in terms of the weather, many us find ourselves facing storms in life. It could be a financial storm; the business is in trouble, the contract didn't come through, the pay cut was bigger than anticipated. Maybe it’s a relational storm; the marriage is on the rocks, a family member has opened up a deep wound, there’s been a betrayal by someone close to you. It could be a physical storm; battling with sickness, always tired, drained from living in pain. Storms come in different forms. Some show up in public, whereas others cause damage in secret. Some attack in broad daylight, others tear through at night - hidden under the cover of darkness. Everyone faces storms, but there will be some that cause you to ask the question…where is God in this storm?

In April 2015, my wife and I experienced one of the most horrific sudden storms you could encounter. The stillborn birth of our first child, a baby girl we’d named Elle. Nine months of development, discussions and dreams, GONE in a moment. No time to adjust, no time to gather our thoughts or compose ourselves. The storm swept in and now we were desperately trying to find a way to survive, gasping and grasping for some sort of normality. It felt like Jesus was fast asleep right when we needed him.

When a sudden storm knocks you off guard, there is only One that you can cling to in such a place of desperation. It lies in a person the Bible describes as the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. He died on a cross and rose from the dead so that you could experience his unfathomable peace. A peace that surpasses all human logic. A peace that’s wholly and fully available to you today.

It may seem like Jesus is sleeping in your greatest moment of need, but as the disciples discovered on that stormy night, He is still in complete control. So do not worry, let your heart be still.

Prayer:

Dear God,

This storm has turned up in my life and I’m unable to see a way forward. I need your peace to dwell in my heart. May my soul be still as I trust in you.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




It's overwhelming
16 November 2020

Psalm 142:3
‘When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn…’ (NLT)

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Are you feeling overwhelmed? Is there so much swirling inside your head that you wake up tired? Are you thinking of how to complete the to-do-list, what emails need to be sent, conference calls to be made, deadlines to meet, which child is going to that school activity, when to squeeze in the food shop? Like a waterfall, all these thoughts can come crashing down with no rest or pause. Being overwhelmed can feel like you’re drowning, coming up briefly for some air before being dragged back down. It can be a terrifying experience. 

As impossible as it may sound, there is a way to conquer overwhelmingness. It doesn't have to get the better of you. When the Psalmist David’s spirit was feeling faint within, he reminded himself that it is the Lord who will watch over his ways. Not his own intellect, power or wisdom. By shifting his focus onto God, his inner man was strengthened, allowing his mind the freedom to trust that all would be well.

It’s not God’s desire to see your mind racing to the point where you feel out of control. He doesn't want you buried beneath your burden. You need to take your thoughts to Jesus. Whether you’re overwhelmed for good or bad reasons, you must stop for a moment and look to Him. Start your day the right way by opening your Bible before opening your phone. Look to His Word. Consciously gaze at his beauty. Declare out loud His promises over you. Allow yourself to rest in the knowledge that His perfect love drives out all fear.

Today, if you’re going to allow yourself to be overwhelmed, let it be by of the goodness of God. May your mind be at peace as his sweet and perfect promises cascade upon you, wave after wave after wave.  

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you that you are not overwhelmed by my circumstances. Give me peace as I surrender my thoughts to you. Help me to be productive in this special day that you have made.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Walking with Jesus
09 November 2020

Luke 5:10
"Don't be afraid; from now on you will fish for people."

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When the disciples first encountered Jesus, the course of their lives changed. In a moment their eyes were opened to a life they had no idea existed. Dropping their nets, Jesus told them they would no longer be fishermen, but fishers of men. They would preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. A message of salvation, redemption and restoration.

However, as good as that sounds, there would be a cost. “Follow me”, Jesus commanded. There would be no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’. You’re either all in or you’re not in at all. It wouldn't be an easy journey, but if they walked close to Jesus then they would have nothing to be afraid of. Actually, they would be spending their time living for a cause far greater than themselves. A cause that would change peoples’ eternal destiny.

When you surrender your life to Christ, you are agreeing to follow him wholeheartedly. This means every area of your life must come under His Lordship. He doesn't say you need to have it all together, know the Bible inside out or be the smartest person around. But you do need to follow his commands, by living in obedience to His word and being led by the Holy Spirit. We also have the great privilege of telling people about Him along the way.

Living for Jesus means you won’t always have all the details you want. The disciples proved that on their first day of the job when they realised their existence wouldn't involve spending every waking moment out on the open seas looking for fish! You do have an assurance though that Jesus will be with you every moment of the day and night.  

Walking with Jesus doesn't mean there won’t be hardship, troubles and persecution but it does mean that through it all you will be sustained, strengthened and set apart to do incredible things. So today, draw close to your master. Drop your agenda, like the disciples did their nets, and pursue Jesus with a whole and pure heart. The more you follow him, the more you will experience his provision, protection and guidance for your life. Don’t be afraid of being all-in for Jesus. His plan for your life is greater than you could ever imagine and will impact the lives of others for His Kingdom.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I desire to live my life in complete surrender to you. Help me to trust you with every detail, even in the midst of uncertainty, and to follow you with my whole heart. Please use me to bring glory to your Name and draw others towards You. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Heal me whole
03 November 2020

Luke 6:10
‘…He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he did so, and his hand was restored as whole as the other.’

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If you had all the money, power and wisdom in the world, would you give someone a broken gift? Something that has been glued together, even though you had all the resources available to give that someone the very best? Probably not, so why do we think God withholds His goodness from us?

I love this story from the book of Luke about Jesus healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (day of rest). The man was sitting in a synagogue, minding his own business when Jesus walked into his day. Unsure of what was going on, he found himself following the commands of Jesus and before he knew it, his right withered hand was made whole. In other words, it was healed entirely, complete in functionality and made perfect in appearance.

God doesn't heal in halves. What He starts He finishes. Sometimes the answer may not come right away, or His way of answering may be different to what you’d been expecting. The very fact that Jesus healed on the sabbath, a day in which no one should have been engaging in any type of ‘work’ shows how Jesus likes to break the rules. He does things His way on His schedule. But just because your answer may differ to someone else’s, His heart towards you stays the same; to see you made whole in every area of your life.

God sent Jesus, the perfect gift to humanity. His body was broken when crucified on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His broken body was laid in a tomb, a tomb which could not hold him for more than three days. For on the third day, He rose again, healed, restored and made whole. His brokenness opened up a way so that we may find wholeness. So that we could be made complete in Him. 

Today, be encouraged that God has heard your prayers and that complete healing is on the way. Your body, heart and mind will be restored. God will make you whole again and your pain will become a fading memory.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I stretch out my sickness towards you and ask that you make me whole. Heal me, cleanse me, restore me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




You are my champion defender
27 October 2020

Psalm 62:2 (Passion Translation)
For he is my champion defender; there’s no risk of failure with God. So why would I let worry paralyse me, even when troubles multiply around me?

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Imagine being a part of a professional sports team that wins every single competitive match it comes up against. Whether the opposition is big or small, unknown or carries a big reputation, they never lose. To have such a guarantee would make that team a very attractive proposition to support. However, the chances of this happening day in and day out, year in and year out are close to impossible. There is only one that can give you such a confident assurance of consistent victories and that is God almighty himself.

We all face battles. It could be physical, mental or spiritual. Some battles seem so large that overcoming it seems beyond the realms of possibility. Battles are difficult, draining and disheartening but there is nothing you face that you can’t have victory over. Psalm 62 declares that God is your ‘champion defender’. A champion is someone who has defeated their opponents and holds first place. You may have lost battles or experienced failures but you can have confidence that the God who loves you has never lost a battle. Did you hear that? From the beginning of time, He has never lost a battle! God is unbeaten, undefeated, He has conquered it all! And he promises to be our defender from any threats we may face. When we feel weak, have no fight and are under attack, God promises to defends us. We can rest in His strength. 

So like David, the writer of this Psalm, we can confess, “why should I let worry paralyse me?” Trust Him to fight your battles today and let His peace guard and protect your heart and mind.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for being my champion defender. I surrender my worries and anxieties to you today and confidently wait on You. I have no doubt that victory is mine!

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Trust God and let go
19 October 2020

Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this

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When I was younger I remember taking part in an activity designed to build trust. One person would stand on the edge of a table, while the rest of the group would stand next to it. The person on the table would then lean back, falling into the arms of those poised and ready to catch them. The person falling backwards had to let go of any fear and put their complete trust in those catching them in order to successfully pass the exercise.

Letting go of the familiar to experience the unknown is always daunting. When we know our surroundings it’s so tempting to want to stay there. Like a baby bird nestled in its mother’s nest, it’s hard to leave that place of security. Even if we’re uncomfortable, the thought of change seems more terrifying. That’s why so many people just accept what they have, remaining unsatisfied and unhappy.

Now is the time to let go of that ‘thing’ which is holding you back. Perhaps it’s a previous relationship that you can’t seem to move on from, maybe it’s a bad decision that constantly haunts you or a past hurt that leaves you numb inside. The longer you hold onto that disappointment, fear or regret the slower your progress will be. 

The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every single day. We mustn't dwell on the past. He supplies us with sufficient grace to face our troubles and move forward from them. The key though is to let it go and trust God. At first it may be difficult and frightening as you explore a new way of living, but God will hold you. So take courage, lean back and sink into the arms of God. He will never let the righteous fall.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I desire to let go of the pain, negativity and fear that is holding me back. I trust you to guide me in a new way of living, free from the burdens that have held me back. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Facing the impossible
12 October 2020

Matthew 19:26
‘…With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'

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When you are faced with the impossible, what do you do? How do you advance when that adversity takes the wind out of your sails? When the medical report gets worse? When there is no way forward?

Life isn’t easy. Sometimes it looks like others have an easier journey, but in reality many of us face situations that seem impossible to get through. This is where faith plays a huge role in our daily walk.

God wants us to live by faith and not by sight. Faith means seeing first in your heart before seeing it with your eyes. You need to see what you’re believing for in the spirit realm before you witness it in the physical realm.

Faith is critical when facing the impossible. You can release your faith in at least three ways - prayer, confession and action.

Praying means communicating with God. Sharing with him your concerns, requests and thoughts. When you convene with God it releases faith. Prayer builds your relationship with God. It acknowledges your need of Him, that you trust Him to take control and deliver your desired outcome.

Confession means matching your words with your prayers. There is no point telling God that you believe He can heal you but when you speak to your friends you say the opposite — “I’m not sure God can heal me”, “I think I’ll have to live with this pain forever.” There is power in a positive confession. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn't share your true feelings with others when you’re having doubts — that is important too. I’m saying being negative in your speech should not be your regular stance. When you exercise a hope-filled vocabulary you release faith.

Action is important. Once you’ve prayed and confessed boldly that God is going to show up, you still need to play your part. All things are possible but you can’t just sit back and do nothing. You are in partnership with God. You have to do your part, then He will do what you can’t do. Actions release faith.

Today you may be facing the impossible, but don't worry. Release your faith through prayers, confessions and your actions, and you will see God do something beyond the bounds of possibility.

Prayer:

Dear God,

It has been a challenging year. Thank you for reminding me that with you all things are possible. I release my faith and trust you to do the unimaginable in my situation.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




It takes patience to be successful
05 October 2020

Proverbs 14:29
‘Whoever is patient has great understanding…’

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Have you ever completed a jigsaw puzzle? You will notice that depending on the size of the pieces and how big the picture is, there is a process involved. My daughter always starts piecing a jigsaw puzzle together so enthusiastically, but often after a few minutes frustration sets in and she walks off. Not being able to see the bigger picture soon enough is what causes her to get distracted instead of sticking with it to the end. Her lack of patience means missing out on the satisfaction of seeing the reward.

How true this also is for so many of us in our own lives. We believe that God has a big plan for our existence. However, when it doesn't fall into place quickly enough we get frustrated, upset and for some, walk away far too soon. We want a quick fix, something that brings instant satisfaction. We want to accomplish our dream now, anything less and we start questioning ourself and the process.

It takes patience to be successful. Rarely does it happen overnight. Just because you are being delayed right now doesn’t mean that you are being denied. True lasting success is built from the ground up. Piece by piece, day by day. If you could accomplish your dreams or fulfil that vision in less than a week I would suggest that what you’re pursuing isn’t big enough.  

Face today with a new perspective. Recognise that a willingness to endure is crucial to your level of achievement. Give your best to the pieces you hold in your hands right now and stop looking for shortcuts. Where you are isn't the complete picture, but it is an important part of it. Patience isn't an enemy. It is there to ensure you develop, learn and mature all the necessary traits and virtues you need to not only be successful, but remain successful in all that you do.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Please help me with my patience. Give me the grace to trust your timing. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Remember who you are
28 September 2020

1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

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There is a scene in the movie The Lion King that always arrests my attention and brings a tear to my eye. Simba has now grown up and realised that he has to return home, face his past and take his rightful place as king. Looking into the water, at first he only sees his own reflection, but as he takes another look, he sees his father in him. In that very moment he hears his father’s voice.

“Simba, you have forgotten me.” “No, how could I?” Simba replies. “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me, look inside yourself Simba, you are more than what you have become…remember who you are…you are my son…remember who you are.”

Although this is just a movie, the words this father speaks to his child are powerful. When Jesus becomes the Lord and Saviour of your life, the bible tells us that we become an heir to His kingdom. Our bloodline changes. You take on a new identity. A son, a daughter of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. You are now royalty in the eyes of God.

You can’t ignore that royalty comes with responsibility, but it also comes with great power. As a born again believer the Holy Spirit comes and lives in you. You have direct access to the great comforter, teacher and guide. How incredible this truth is.

With all that is going on in your life, don’t forget whose you are. You are God’s special possession. He loves you, is for you and has great plans for you. You are favoured, forgiven and free. So don’t give up. Don’t run away from from that calling, obstacle or person. There is no mountain too great for God to move, no sea too deep for God to part. No situation too broken for God to fix.

With God all things are possible because He lives in you. Today, remember who you are.

Prayer:

Dear God,

How wonderful it is to know that you live in me. You watch over everything I do. Thank you for reminding me that I have nothing or no one to fear, that I am yours.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




He is a healer
21 September 2020

Exodus 15:26
"…for I am the LORD, who heals you."

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No one enjoys receiving bad news. Whether it barges into your life suddenly or you are half expecting it, bad news is bad news. Often shock is the first experience you feel as your mind tries to process what it’s just heard. As the cogs in your head begin to turn, various scenarios play out. The worst outcomes tend to dominate your thinking, leaving you with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. Such a reaction is normal but what you do next is important. Dwelling on it won’t help.

Perhaps sickness is what you're dealing with right now. The diagnosis is not good, you're in pain, perhaps fearful of what may lay ahead. Maybe it’s a family member or close friend thats just had a terrible medical report. What do you do? How do you pray?

First you need to focus on God and His promises. In Exodus 15, God says “I am the Lord that heals you.” God is a healer. He desires to see you well, not sick. You need to believe that. You can’t allow doubt about God wanting you well to take up prominence in your thinking. There’s no doubt about it. No good father wants their child unwell.

So today, meditate on this scripture. It’s a promise from God that can not be shaken. God doesn’t break a promise, He never has and He never will. If you’re confronted with sickness right now you need to draw upon what He declares in his Word. Confess the scriptures with your mouth and get in agreement with Him. 

Wherever you are right now, God is with you. Close your eyes, slow your breath and focus on God’s love. Meditate on His incredible power and willingness to help you. Remember his faithfulness to you. And no matter how distant you've been, turn to him again. He desires your company. God is good and He IS the Lord that heals you!

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for your promises. Please remove this affinity from my body. I believe that you can heal me. I place my faith firmly in you for my good report.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Lord make a way
14 September 2020

Exodus 14:22
‘… and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.’

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Have you ever found yourself in a place where there seems to be no way forward? You have a desire to advance in life but every door that stands before you either doesn't open or is just too far out of reach.

Recently I was watching a film with my three year old daughter, Lilah. It was entitled ‘The Prince of Egypt’. Those familiar with the movie will know it is based on the life story of Moses up until the crossing of the Red Sea. Of course, there is some artistic license used in the script but the majority of the story runs parallel to the account we read in the book of Exodus.  

Moses’ story is remarkable. From his birth to his death he lived an extraordinary life, but I want to draw your attention to that history defining moment when he leads the Israelites through a wall of water in the sea. Can you imagine it? His people are being pursued by the Egyptian army, right up to the Red Sea. They are distressed, frightened and angry as there is literally no way forward. They have followed God’s lead but it appears to have brought them to a dead end. 

Moses didn't panic. In fact, he did the opposite. He stayed calm and composed. He projected a confidence and trust in God. With an outstretched arm, he lifted his staff over the sea and the waters receded and divided - making a way for an entire nation to walk into their freedom.

When you’ve come to a dead end, don’t panic. God has not forgotten about your escape route. This moment in time isn't about how good your own ability is to get you out. It’s about trusting in God with everything you’ve got. The crossing of the Red Sea is astounding, but it took a tremendous amount of faith and courage to walk through it. God has a spectacular plan and purpose for your life, but for you to fully discover it, it’s going to take faith and courage. It’s going to mean depending on your Father in heaven in ways you've not yet experienced.

Today, learn from Moses. Don't let fear and frustration be the barometer for your decision making when you find yourself in a dead end. Instead, stay calm, keep your peace and trust in God. If He brought you this far, then the Lord will make a way, even when there seems to be no way.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for opening supernatural doors in my life. Give me the faith and courage needed to trust in you and take the necessary steps, even when what I’m confronted with makes no sense.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Shout a little louder
07 September 2020

Matthew 20:31
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

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In this passage we are introduced to two men who were blind and desperate for a miracle. I cannot even begin to imagine what a life without sight would be like. But if I were in these men’s shoes I can totally understand why they would shout all the louder until they got the attention of Jesus. However, those present didn't share their enthusiasm. Amazingly, the crowd that surrounded them told them to be quiet.

It’s easy for people to tell you to be quiet when they have no idea what you’re going through. Not everyone knows your story. They don’t fully understand why you think a certain way or live a certain way. They can’t grasp that the tears you cry come from a place of deep pain which doesn't just disappear overnight. Perhaps people laugh at your persistence or question your motives. Sadly not everyone will appreciate you or your calling, but you can’t let the opinions of others determine how you live your life.

Take on the attitude of these blind men. Shrug off the negativity and rise above it. Choose boldness over fear. They couldn’t see Jesus immediately but once they called out to him, a transformation in their situation was inevitable.

Today, don’t allow the multitude to drown out your dreams or their lack of faith to hinder your ambitions. Instead let their ignorance serve to fuel your fire, spurring you on to pursue the breakthrough you desperately need. You can remain silent because of the intimidation of others or you can open your mouth and shout a little louder. Remember, when you call out to God, He hears you and He answers.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for hearing my requests. I will not allow the voices of others to deter me from my miracle. Help me rise above any obstacles that stand in my way.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




There's a fourth man in the fire
03 August 2020

Daniel 3:25
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

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In the book of Daniel we read about three Hebrew boys named Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. When the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar created a 90-foot-high golden image and demanded the entire nation bow down and worship this statue, these three men of God had other ideas. They refused to obey such orders. As a result of their unwillingness to compromise on their beliefs they were thrown into a fiery furnace. However as they stood in the fire, a fourth man appeared next to them. The King described this fourth man as “like the Son of God.” When they came out of the fire not a hair on their heads had been singed, nor were their garments affected. 

Lots of encouragement can be taken from this incredible story. However, I want to draw your attention to the ‘fourth man.’  Although being in the fire was daunting, it must have been a tremendous comfort to these boys to know that even in the middle of their situation, God was very present. They were not alone, God was with them through it all, even though the outcome was uncertain. They trusted in God’s power but did not presume to understand God’s will. 

Today, you may be facing something that is leaving you completely overwhelmed. You feel like you've tried your best and made the right decisions but you still find yourself trapped in the fire with no way out. The weight of apprehension is suffocating, the fear of the future tangible and any sense of living a normal life seems way outside of your control. With your current predicament making no sense at all there has been a temptation to doubt God. Well listen up - this word is for you. 

You’re not alone. God is right by your side. He has not abandoned you, even if it’s difficult to feel His presence. He was with you before the fire, during the fire and will be with you long after you come through the fire. He is ready to protect, guide and restore you. He has the power to set you free. So dry those tears, take another look through the smoke and uncertainty that surrounds you. There’s another one in the fire and He's standing next to you.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you that you are standing with me. Help me to develop the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and trust you completely. It reassures me to know that I’m never alone, no matter what fires I find myself in today.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




What steals your peace?
28 July 2020

Song of Solomon 2:15
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.

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There are certain things in life that will steal your peace. Some are very obvious, whereas others are more subtle. Of course it’s difficult when a major problem, bad report or circumstance outside of your control barges into your life. But often it’s the little daily things that trouble us the most.

I have to confess that last week I found myself in this exact situation. As someone who loves sport and in particular football, I can often find myself too engrossed with what is happening on the pitch. Unfortunately my team Watford FC, didn't have a great season and were relegated from the top tier of English professional football on Sunday. In the build-up to that game I actually found myself worrying about the football club. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but one night I remained awake all through the night thinking about our predicament. Now, you may laugh as it’s only football, but I’m sure we can all identify the little things in our own life that rob us of our peace. Things that really shouldn’t. Perhaps it’s getting stuck behind a slow car when you’re in a hurry to be somewhere. It could be someone else parking right next to you in the supermarket carpark when they had 50 other spaces to chose from. Or maybe your child forgot their PE kit again and now you have to drive back to the school. There are so many ‘little’ things that can arise in your day that if you fail to manage in the moment, can have a very negative effect.

In Song of Solomon we are reminded that it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines. In other words, it’s the minor inconveniences in life that can cause the most destruction. No one is perfect and everybody can be guilty of overreacting in some situations. However, the more we make something bigger than it actually is, the worse it makes us feel. It builds unnecessary tension within, stealing our peace and joy in the process. How we handle the little things will determine how we live.

As my parents would often tell me growing up, “don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” The more you focus on something the bigger it becomes. If you can’t change it, go with it. It’s not worth getting upset about it. Today there will be challenges, interruptions and setbacks. Everything may not go to your plan, but ask God to give you a good attitude as you pass through them. Decide that you’re not going to lose your peace no matter what shows up in your day. Remember, God is still in control, His hand is on your life and you have nothing to worry about. Keep things in perspective, get the balance right and you’ll enjoy life a lot more.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me to let go of the small things early, especially when it’s outside of my control. I will not let someone or something steal my peace or rob me of my joy when things don't go to plan. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Trust in the Lord
20 July 2020

Jeremiah 17: 7-8 NIV

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’

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Are you struggling this year to trust in the Lord? Do you find yourself constantly battling worrying thoughts or anxiety? Trust can be defined as ‘assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something’. It means placing complete confidence in someone. The words ‘trust’ and ‘confidence’ share the same Hebrew word ‘Batach' , and are often used interchangeably in scripture. But placing our confidence in God isn’t always easy, especially when we constantly find ourselves in situations where our trust is tested.

I love this portion of scripture where God provides us with a powerful visual image of a tree planted by a stream. I imagine the deep roots from this tree extending to the stream, drawing nourishment from the constant supply of water. To develop confidence and trust in God, we must choose to plant ourselves by His stream. Every day we need to extend our roots into His word, and draw close to Him in prayer. As we develop intimacy with Him, our confidence in Him grows. As the stream constantly flows, God never fails to bring renewed refreshment to our souls. 

And just like the tree, we don’t need to be concerned about external circumstances. When the heat comes, we will not fear! When the drought comes, we will not worry! In fact, not only does this tree survive the harsh conditions, it flourishes and never fails to bear fruit. What an incredible truth to hold onto.

God is doing something amazing in your life during this season, both for your benefit and for His glory. Then you will bear fruit that will bless others and have eternal significance. 

Prayer:

Dear God,

I choose to plant myself in you and your unfailing word. May I take nourishment and encouragement from this promise. Even though times are tough, I know your goodness will show up in every area of my life.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Refuse to worry
13 July 2020

Matthew 6:34 (TPT)
Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

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Imagine a life free from worry. What would that feel like? It’s an incredible thought, which seems too good to be true. And yet, God repeatedly commands us not to worry. 

This passage of scripture not only reassures us of God’s love and provision for us, but it also gives us practical advice in dealing with worrying thoughts. 

Whether our worries are large or small, over present circumstances or for the future; these thoughts ruminate in our minds, keeping us awake at night and consuming unnecessary energy. However, some studies show that over 90% of what we worry about never happens! Hopefully that statistic alone is reassuring and gives us a determined approach to release our worries to God. 

The word worry comes from a Greek word meaning ‘to divide the mind’. The dictionary describes worry as ‘tormenting oneself with disturbing thoughts.’ Neither definitions are positive, yet so many of us allow worry to take up such a place of prominence in our thinking. We can be so consumed with what may happen tomorrow that we forget about the grace God has supplied us with today.

In Matthew 6, Jesus instructs us to deal with each challenge one day at a time, trusting that He will take care of our tomorrow. But how do you stop worrying? You can consider this three-step approach:

1) Turn your worries into a prayer list and bring them before the Lord. 

2) Identify the areas you can influence. With the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, you have the ability, strength and wisdom to take action against those anxieties that arise in your day. 

3) For the things you can’t control, trust that the God who made you will sustain you. Believe that your life is in His hands and that He will work all things together for good.

So today obey the words of Jesus and refuse to worry. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command which when embraced allows you to experience a peace that goes beyond understanding.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I refuse to worry! I give all my anxieties, concerns and doubts to you. Help me enjoy today and leave my troubles for tomorrow in Your mighty hands. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Don't let doubt win
06 July 2020

Matthew 14:31
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

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It’s one of the most well-known stories in the gospels. The night Jesus walks on water in the middle of a storm. Shaking in fear, the disciples can’t believe what they are witnessing. Peter calls out to Jesus and Jesus commands him to get off the boat and come to him. Despite how crazy that call appears to be, Peter obeys. However, he soon takes his eyes off Jesus and focuses on the wind and waves. He allows doubt to consume his mind, causing him to sink.

Jesus reminds Peter that his fear is a symptom of his doubt. He didn’t believe that Jesus would keep him safe so he began to sink. How true this is in our lives. Often our fear and anxiety is rooted in doubt. Although we can believe God for some things, we struggle to fully trust him in other areas of our lives. But how do we overcome these feelings? Like Peter, how do we trust in a God that we can’t physically see, when the reality of our circumstances can feel so powerful and overwhelming? 

God doesn't expect us to ignore our fears or pretend that everything is OK. However, we have to learn to focus on the Lord in the face of these fears and rejoice in His goodness. I do this by reminding myself of His presence, His promises and His faithfulness to me in the past. God assures us of His presence whether we feel it or not. He has also given us countless promises in His word to strengthen and protect us. And we all have experiences in life where we can recognise the hand of God. Shifting your attention to God when you’re feeling afraid and reminding yourself of these truths will allow you to experience the peace and strength you need in order to walk in victory.

Satan wants to sabotage what God is trying to accomplish through your life, thats why he puts seeds of doubt in your mind. Doubt is the opposite of trust. So today, if you don’t want doubt to win, put your confidence in the Almighty God by choosing an attitude of trust.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I recognise there are areas in my life where I feel afraid and doubt your goodness. Help me to develop complete trust in you. I want to experience your peace, whatever my circumstances. 

In Jesus' name,

Amen




The divine diversion
29 June 2020

Acts 27:39
When it was day, they did not recognise the land…

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When you’re on a journey, the last thing you want to be confronted with is a diversion. Recently my family and I had planned a day at the beach. Knowing it was a popular destination, we got up relatively early, made the sandwiches, loaded up the car and off we went. Unfortunately for us, one hour into the journey it became apparent that everyone else had the same idea. Stuck in traffic for what seemed like an eternity, our hopes of making the beach were looking slim. Unfamiliar with the area, I saw a woman and a child cycling towards us. I wound down my window and asked her what was going on. She informed us the authorities were closing the beach but if I turned around and travelled two miles in a westerly direction, I would find an empty beach. She wasn't wrong! With the tide out we found a small haven. If it wasn't for that diversion, we would have missed out on what turned into a God-breathed special day.

Diversions can be daunting, frustrating and time consuming. However, they are often necessary. Diversions are in place to allow you to keep moving. Personally, I hate being stuck. Stuck in traffic, stuck in a queue and certainly being stuck in life. When I’m on a mission I want to succeed and, hopefully in the quickest time frame available. I’d much rather go on a diversion than stand still, going nowhere.

Reading through the book of Acts, it’s very clear that the diversions the Apostle Paul encountered were ‘divine diversions’. God’s hand was on his every move. After appealing to Ceasar when the leaders of the Sanhedrin were plotting to kill him, Paul embarks quite literally on one of the most miraculous journeys, which includes being shipwrecked on the shores of Malta. Although Malta wasn't in Paul’s plan, it was in God’s. While there, Paul performed many miracles and the name of Jesus was made known across that entire nation. It was a divine diversion.

This year may not have gone as you had planned, but God’s plan for your life hasn't been derailed.

Maybe your company has let you go. Maybe you thought you would’ve been married by now. Perhaps that dream still hasn't come to pass. Trust God! Focus on him and his promises. You may have taken a diversion, but it’s a divine diversion! Keep walking, let faith drive you forward, there is treasure to be found on this track that would’ve been missed if you had stuck to your original plan. So open your eyes, embrace a new attitude, God is up to something way bigger than you can see right now. You may not recognise the season you’re in, but this divine diversion is the beginning of greater days to come.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for guiding my every step. Even though I don’t understand why this has happened, I put my trust firmly in you. I will enjoy the journey as I know you are right by my side.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Listen up
22 June 2020

James 1:19
'My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.'

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Several years ago, my boss at the time was going away for a week with his wife on a business trip. They asked me to house sit for them, but more importantly to look after their two cats and one dog. The dog’s name was Millie. She was relatively small and not particularly young. One of my duties was to walk Millie, three times a day for 45 minutes. With that in mind I restructured my whole week to ensure I gave Millie everything she needed. At the start of the week she was very enthusiastic about her walk, but by the end of that week I was observing some clear resistance from her. When my boss returned from his trip and asked me how everything went I explained that Millie had started to lose her motivation to go for a walk. He asked “how long have you been walking her for?” I replied, “three times a day, 45 minutes each time, just as you’d asked”. He responded “45 minutes?! I said four to five minutes!”

Most people can hear, but can they listen? Listening is a skill, an art. It’s something you do intentionally. In today’s world so many people want to be heard. They are quick to speak, share their side of the argument and force their opinion on others. But when it comes to listening to what someone else has to say about it, they don’t want to know. I truly believe that if people listened more than they talked, the world would be a better place. It’s no coincidence that you have two ears and one mouth.

Generally your ability to speak comes when imitating the sounds you listen to. The process is called mimicry. I’ve watched my 3-year-old daughter engage in this very process these past couple of years. She listens to the sounds, tones and words and then attempts to mimic them. It is something we practice over and over until she formulates exactly what she hears.

I lost a lot of time in the week I walked Millie, three times a day, 45 minutes each outing, all because I didn't listen properly. No matter what circumstances you find yourself in, you will save yourself a lot of energy, pain and time if you chose to listen. Opening your ears before opening your mouth will open more doors of favour and opportunity in your life. If you want to make fewer mistakes, if you want to help others, if your want your wisdom to be heard - learn the art of listening and your existence on this planet will have a far greater impact.

Prayer:

Dear God,

Help me turn down my own voice and tune up my skill and ability to listen. May I be alert and intentional when it comes to hearing the voices of others so that when I speak, my words have power.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Cast your cares
15 June 2020

Psalm 55:22
'Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.'

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When something seems like more than you can handle, what do you do? In Psalm 55, King David reminds us to "cast our cares on the Lord and He will sustain you." David knew hardship. King Saul tried to kill him many times. David’s own son, Absalom rebelled against him too. He also experienced the death of his baby boy just days after the birth. His time on Earth was full of trials and troubles. Some were of his own doing, but many were not. However, he never turned his back on God. In fact, he penned many Psalms, including this one, to encourage us through challenging times.

We can all carry things internally that we were not designed to; anxiety about not getting enough sleep; fearful about tomorrow; stressed about what’s happening at work. Such burdens become a heavy weight that pulls us down, robbing us of our joy, leaving us feeling completely crushed in the process. The longer you carry such turmoil, the more overwhelming it becomes as it pushes the victory you crave further away.

Psalm 55 tells us that we should ‘cast’ these cares onto the Lord, but what does that mean? My dad’s favourite hobby is to go fishing and as a young boy I would sometimes go with him. After setting up the rod and attaching the bait to the line, the next thing he taught me was how to cast. Casting means to ‘throw off’ or ‘hurl’. In other words you are to launch your bait out on the water as far as possible. 

This scripture commands us to throw anything and everything that is getting you down at God. Whatever you’re going through, God is able to sustain you. His power is greater than your weakness. His grace is greater than your need. His purposes are greater than what you can see right now. He is at work in your life, even when you can't see it. No matter how bad your circumstances are, God promises to hold you up, support and nourish you. So release that burden today, fling it with force in the direction of your Heavenly Father and you will receive the breakthrough, deliverance and peace you desperately desire.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I cast my cares upon you. I can’t carry this burden anymore. Take it from me and sustain me. Release me so that I may walk in complete freedom.

In Jesus' name,

Amen




Fix your eyes on Jesus
08 June 2020

Hebrews 12:2
‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

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For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered with travel sickness. Whether it’s the back seat of a car, a bus or a boat, all tend to leave me feeling rather delicate. As someone who grew up playing a lot of football, travelling to play in matches was unavoidable. The only way I could make it to a game without experiencing a level of nausea was to sit at the front of the coach next to the driver. As you can imagine, this often put a smile on my teammates faces. The reason I did this, and I still do it to this day, is that I need to see the horizon. I need to fix my eyes on something that is unmoving. 

The bible tells us that we live in a fallen world because we, mankind, have turned our backs on God and have determined to run our lives without Him. This is what the Bible means by sin, choosing our way instead of God’s way. The evidence of this is all around us. Turn on the TV, scroll through social media, take a good look around and you will see a broken, hurting and sick world. So God made a way to restore this separation between Him and humanity. He sent His son Jesus, the only perfect man to walk the Earth, to pay the penalty for our sins, by dying on a cross and rising from the dead. His resurrection broke the chains of sin and bonds of death, opening up a way for everyone to be forgiven, loved and set free from the punishment of sin.

Hebrews 12:2 commands us to FIX our eyes on Jesus. To lock your gaze upon Him. To intentionally focus on His love, His forgiveness, His sovereignty, His promises. It can be so easy with everything going on, to allow your gaze to be drawn away from our Master. To aim your attention, efforts and energy on things that leave you feeling worse. Things that agitate and distract you. I know that whenever I travel and my eyes divert from the horizon, it won’t be long until I find myself in trouble.

Today, make Jesus your focal point. Allow His presence to invade your heart. Let His glory fill you up. Do not look to the left or to the right, instead look up and ahead. Fix your eyes on Jesus. There you will find all the answers, comfort and strength you need.

Prayer:

Dear God,

I need more of you and less of me. I fix my eyes upon you. Heal my heart, give me the wisdom and help I need to get through each day, so that I may experience sure freedom and walk in victory.

In Jesus' name,

Amen