In my bible reading, I was in John's Gospel this past week, and came across these verses in John 13:
John 13:12-15 NIV
 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them.  "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Now, as we know, the context of this is that Jesus washes his disciples feet...which would've been quite the mucky job in those days compared to modern day western civilization where people regularly wear shoes and socks. Not only would it have been a mucky job, but one that a teacher wouldn't have done for his students...and Jesus did it joyfully. But, what struck me in my reading came from verses 13 and 14 where Jesus says:  "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
It challenged me because I realized that I have no problem acknowledging Jesus as my Teacher, nor do I have a problem acknowledging Him as my Lord. But, would I allow Jesus to wash my feet? Would I allow the King of glory to take a position of serving me, not because of anything that I have done, but solely because he loves me. Would I allow Jesus to serve and minister to me?
Jesus came as the 'suffering servant' not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).
I wonder what your theology is of Jesus? If you're anything like me, you have no problem calling him 'Teacher' and 'Lord'. But, would you allow Him to serve you? The point of Jesus doing so is, two-fold, of course. Firstly, Jesus does so because He loves you so. There's no ulterior motive. He simply loves you. And secondly, Jesus does so, so that you too, can do unto others as He's done for you.
My encouragement to you this afternoon would be to take time to allow Jesus to minister to you. Life has a way of attaching rubbish to our lives, a lot like mud on dirty feet that can get crusty and all together mucky...And the wonderful news is, is that Jesus wants to remove those blemishes from our lives. But, the key is, in order for Jesus to minister to you, you have to allow him to do so.
Jesus doesn't need superheroes. Praise the Lord! Because my striving for perfection is futile! Jesus is the ultimate superhero! He just needs people who call Him 'Teacher' and 'Lord' and, allow Him to serve them, by ministering to them.
Known in the womb
We have had a good week this past week because, on Tuesday this past week, we went up to the JR as it was our 36 week scan for baby #2! Exciting!
So, we arrive for the appointment and they eventually take us back to the sonographer to check on how the baby is developing - which is all fine, praise the Lord! But, we were so struck looking at these images of our baby on the screen - whilst the sonographer is saying things like 'here's the brain, the heart, hands, etc' (which, to be honest, we just nodded our heads in agreement because we had no idea what she was showing us!). But, there was one point during the scan where we could see clearly the head of our baby, and as we were looking, we could see very clearly that she was sucking her thumb whilst in the womb. And to that, my wife said 'Ah! It definitely is our baby!' Because, it seems to be that the our children have a tendency to suck their thumbs - which is now a trait that our second child now carries! Even now, our eldest will walk around sucking her thumb - which I'm sure that you may see at some point on a Sunday at church if you haven't yet.
But, if left me amazed at how God nit our baby (and indeed, every baby), in their mother's womb. I was reminded of this wonderful verse in Jeremiah 1:5a
"5) Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,"
Now, of course, God is speaking to Jeremiah here. But, God demonstrates that long before Jeremiah was born, God knew him and the take away from this verse is that God is sovereign. And we, all of humanity, are fearfully and wonderfully made - being nit together by Him in our mother's wombs.
My prayer for you this week, is that you all would know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! Because, being fearfully and wonderfully made doesn't just stop once you're born! Even as we age, we are still fearfully and wonderfully made and loved by a God who knew us long before we were born.
How wonderful a thought!
Yesterday, I started reading Revelation. It's probably one of my favorite books in the Bible that I keep coming back to and I was struck by John's encounter with Jesus in chapter 1. Particularly, these verses:
Revelation 1:9-18 ESV
 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet  saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,  and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,  his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.  When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
I like watching American Football. In times gone by, after church, I would come home and watch the football. In American football terms, pundits would use a term like 'that man is on an island' to describe an offensive player not able to contribute to his team because the defense is playing so well against him. And 'being on an island' is meant to describe feelings of loneliness and powerlessness.
Now, imagine a man exiled to an actual island - where he is all alone, for his faith. This is the Apostle John and the Bible tells us that on a Sunday, he was in the Spirit worshipping the Lord. He no doubt would've felt lonely and powerless. And as he was worshipping he has a vision of a man. As the Apostle John looks at him, he falls face down to the ground at the sight of this man - who is the Lord Jesus. But, this is what really touched my heart yesterday morning, the Lord Jesus touched him and after he touched him the first words he spoke to him were 'fear not'.
I love that. Comforting words and encouraging words from the King of Glory spoken to a man who would've felt lonely and discouraged.
I don't know how you are feeling this morning. Hopefully you don't feel like you're 'on an island'. But, I would like to suggest to you that the same man who touched the Apostle John and spoke encouraging words of 'fear not' is the same Lord who speaks and does the same to you in season's of feeling overwhelmed, lonely and powerless. As such, how do we engage with the Lord of glory? As verse 10 tells us, get in the Spirit and worship the Lord.
He is Risen!
Good morning to you! I pray that you've had a wonderful week this past week!
I woke up this morning with this hymn in my mind:
'He is Lord! He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead and He is Lord!
Ev'ry knee shall bow, ev'ry tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord.'
In the baptist church I grew up in, we used to sing hymns all the time - much to my displeasure at the time! However, there are truths in these hymns that saturate and nourish our spirits. This song, to me, is one of them.
Regardless of the craziness that ensues globally or the chaos in our own lives, Jesus is Lord.
My prayer for us today is that we would continue to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, completely surrendered to Him. The one who is Lord over all, the one who is our Lord - is the same Lord who is for you and calls you 'brother/sister' and 'friend'. What a thought!
He is Lord, indeed!
Set your hope
I've been reading 1 Peter this week in my daily devotional time. I was struck by this verse in Chapter 1 the other day:
'12) Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.'
I was struck by the phrase 'set your hope'. When I think of setting something somewhere, I think of placing something in a certain location and it not moving from that spot. One of the ways in which I 'tidy' is by placing things in certain piles around the house. Whether that's papers, books, hoodies, they tend to go into certain areas for which of course has a specific purpose - where I can distinctly remember where I've historically left those things. Kate, on the other hand, sees these things rather differently than I do. She see these piles as objects in which have a home and need to find their home. So, when she moves one of these piles to a foreign location, it always brings about a panic in myself, internally because when I go looking for what I placed I can no longer find it! I must say that there is of course, a method in my madness.
But going a bit further, it's like, if I went to the shops, I would drive to Tesco or Lidl and park in the parking bays then get out of my car and go into the shops. Only to get back into my car once I've got what I needed. Now, one hopes that the car wouldn't move or at least, it shouldn't!! But, I know where I've left it.
You see, what I'm getting at is that 'setting' or 'placing' your hope, is a proactive thing that is purposeful and intentional. It basically says, I am going to park all that I am, all that I want, all that I need, and all that I could ever hope for now and forevermore in Jesus Christ, His goodness, His faithfulness and never leave from that spot. Because, if we don't take purposeful and proactive steps in 'setting our hope on the grace which is to be brought to us through Christ', we become prone to panic, fear, anger stress, anxiety and the list goes on and on. The good news is that God so desires to bring freedom to us and true freedom can be found by proactively placing our hope in Jesus.
My heart to you this afternoon is to encourage you to continue trusting and loving Jesus. He's worth it and relationship with him gets better and better. Because in Him, we can truly find rest and peace for our souls - no matter what comes!
God is faithful
Well, if you turned on the news at any point this past week it would seem that things are very unstable in our country and even the world these days! Parties, possibilities of wars and so forth. Interesting days, indeed. The thing about instability (generally speaking) is that it tends to make people feel uncomfortable, uneasy and uncertain. However, I want to encourage us that God is indeed faithful. He is with us and for us. He is the great shepherd who looks after his people and because His days are unending, because He is the highest authority, because of His infinite love for us and his infinite power at work in and through us, we can truly know stability. My prayer for all of us, in times of trouble and in the good times, we would know God more and more.
Psalm 23 (NIV)
'1) The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2) He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3) he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake. 4) Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6) Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
So, this is a bit of a different 'newsletter message' than before only because I've been stirred by the Lord over the past few days.
I don't know if there are specific bible passages and verses that God has spoken over you in years past which have brought encouragement, strength and direction. Most of the time, these bible passages which feel like they jump off the page whilst we're reading come from spending time with Him. And these moments are like key moments or promises from God, from the text, if you will. This past week I was reminded (again) that it's always a good thing to revisit those promises and pray into them because prayer helps to build faith!
This past week, I received a prophetic word from an individual who used a passage that God spoke to me many years ago - unbeknownst to them! On a side note, this is one of the many reasons why I love how God uses the prophetic to speak to us! So, this specific individual who was praying for Kate and I sent us this bible passage from Joshua 1 and said 'I think God wants to speak something to you through these verses'. Immediately, they had my attention because God spoke to me so clearly years ago through this passage and every now and then, someone will bring us a word through Joshua 1. So my response to him was that all of this sounds very familiar and I then proceeded to tell this couple what God had said to me so many years ago through that passage. All to say, they were very encouraged and so were Kate and I! But that word brought the promises of God back to the very forefront of my mind this past week.
God gives promises to his children to build faith but also to help us understand our heavenly assignment.
In this new year, I want to really encourage you to take time to develop the good spiritual habit of writing out on paper or sticky note all the promises of God that he has given you and then pray into them. Not just general prayer but specific, focused prayer. This will help us to 'keep it fresh' and not just think 'ah, that was a nice word that went nowhere'. Prayer plays a significant role in the promises of God and I trust that all of these promises from God will come from scripture. My encouragement is to write down these promises that He has given you and place them around your house which will lead you to stop and pray when you see them. Do it for yourself, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren and so forth.
Knowing the promises of God over your lives helps us to stand firm in the midst of spiritual battle/warfare. But also, knowing the promises of God builds faith and shapes our assignments which He has given us!
So, Joshua 1. It's at the forefront of my mind and one that I am praying into!! What are you praying into?
Advent, 14 days to go!
We are officially 14 days away from Christmas! Who's excited? It's funny because this season always fills me with anticipation of what's ultimately to come (Christmas Day). I suspect that feeling of anticipation, to some degree, is in all of us. But it leads me to wonder, how those wise men must've felt when traveling to see the 'King of the Jews' who had been recently born.
In Matthew's Gospel in chapter 2, the Bible tells us that the star they had followed was at rest over the place where Jesus lay. And when the wise men saw the star over the place where Jesus lay, we are told that: '...they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.'
I didn't know it was possible to rejoice at something with only little joy....but they rejoiced with GREAT joy. In other words, they were really, really, really, really happy at what they were now seeing. You see, they set off from a foreign and distant land, looking for the King of the Jews. They set off with great anticipation to find something truly remarkable and their journey finished with great delight because they found someone truly remarkable. They had found what they were looking for. The true King.
The Bible tells us that God is not far from any one of us (Acts 17). If we want to find him, we only need to look for him. I would suggest to us all, that we too, like those wise men, could make our own spiritual journey in pursuit of the true King. And here's the good news: we too, can find him, like those wise men but not as a baby in a manger, but as a man who is King over heaven and earth. Who came, who lived, who died for us all, and who indeed lives forevermore.
In this season that fills us with great anticipation, let us remember that Christ came and one day, he shall come again for his bride, that is the church - and may that truth fill us all with great anticipation!