Welcome to July! I share a message that has been placed on my heart as we go into this new month. I pray it will bless your life as much as it has blessed mine.
Let us not deny this season has been tough. There has been huge struggles and heartaches. Fears over jobs, finances, family, and friends. Uncertainty for our country and for the world. Amongst and through all this, we have managed to get here today. The process may have not been pretty, a process that has been filled with a range of emotions. Here we all stand or sit, a testament of how faithful our God has been. Through all our despair, the Lord continues to bring his light and hope. May we take time today, to be encouraged that we can have a heart of gratitude through all our highs and lows.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4v6-7)
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29v11-13)
The same God who made these promises found in scripture is the same God who is with us right now. The character of God does not change throughout our seasons, the good and the bad. There may be certain characteristics of God which are highlighted through a specific season within our life, but his character never changes. God’s promises never fail. We can full trust in him, surrender to him, and rely on him. In trusting in the character of God, we can learn to have a heart of gratitude through all seasons. Let’s take some time to look at some of the characteristics of God and how God has been present with us every moment.
We serve a God who is patient with us. Even when we choose to be unfaithful, God always remains faithful. We serve a God who is for us and not against us; he loves us and cares for us beyond any comparison. When we struggle to be faithful, God will continuously show up and guide us.
One of my favourite accounts in the gospels, is when Peter asks Jesus if he can walk on the water. Peter was not unfaithful, he was a man like many of us who was figuring out what it meant to live a life of faith. Sometimes he asked for things and wanted to do things he was not quite prepared to for. When Peter was walking on the water, he was already doing a miraculous act, he chose to take his focus off of Jesus and place it on his surroundings. He saw the wind and instead of trusting in what he was already doing, he chose to panic which led him to begin to drown. Jesus did not leave him in his panic, Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him “You of little faith”, he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14v15).
Many of us easily get thrown off or we become quickly overwhelmed when we choose to focus on our surroundings. We see what is against us and become engulfed in it all. However, just like Peter knew the heart of Peter; he knew the man he would become. Therefore, Jesus was patient with Peter; willing to forgive, to teach and have mercy on him. The same Jesus who cared over Peter’s life is the same Jesus who cares over our lives. May we fully embrace that God is for us and not against us. God always has time for us and will be with us. God is patient with our mistakes. We may not be where we want to be but we definitely not where we used to be.
We serve a God, who heals the big and the small. When we are going through tough season, it is hard to see how God is working when we are not seeing the miraculous changes we prayed for. It results in us becoming blinded to what God is doing in our life.
God can bring healing through a restored relationship. This time of isolation has been a testament of this truth. Being separated from people makes us realise how much we need people. God’s healing comes in the renewed strength we have to face each day. Even in the face of many disappointments to keep getting up and seeing the hope in the day; shows the presence of the Lord with us. Through all our fear and worrying, the Lord is able to restore our hearts to a place of peace and our minds to a place of understanding. When we meet our tough situations we are able to meet them being led by wisdom and discernment instead of fear and anxiety.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1v6)
The Lord is with us every step of the way, establishing his plans in us and through us. Healing comes through being pruned. We do not always notice the benefit of being pruned at the time. Sometimes what the Lord asks us to surrender or the Lord takes away is painful and hard. However, there is such a purposeful difference in the long run, it is for God’s glory and it allows us to be set free.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15v2)
May we learn to be grateful that through every season, God does not neglect us. That He nurtures and cares for us so that we become the people we were meant to be.
We serve a God, who is the God of the valley and the mountain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle of the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psalm 139v7v10)
Many of us may be like Job and wonder why God is allowing things to happen in our lives? For all the questions Job had for the Lord, the clarity that he wanted to understand why he was being allowed to suffer. He ultimately ended up saying, I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge? Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42v2-3)
May we never become so fixated on why something was allowed to happen in our lives that we allow it to crush us so we never move forwards. We all have a lot more fight in us than we would ever believe. I pray that if you are feeling so crushed by something that has happened in your life that you do not give up. That you would allow yourself to stand and to surround yourself with people who love you and who will support and care for you. As a brothers and sisters, I pray that none of us would be like Job’s friends who were so quick to condemn and to burden but we would be people who seek to walk with and support our brothers and sisters.
God is with us wherever we are in life, no matter how far we run God is with us. Let us stop putting human expectations on God. People will disappoint us and we will disappoint people. God will never disappoint us. We are loved and held by a God who is bigger than anything we will face on earth. There will be death, hardship and wars; we should never sugar-coat the pain people go through. We see a God who continues to work miracles, who provides and who cares. Now more then ever, we have come to realise how much we need each other and how willing we need to be to serve one another. There are people God knows will meet us in the valley and will journey with us all the way to the mountain. There are people who we will do that journey with. Thank you God for the wonderful people we have around us.
We serve a God, who breaks down barriers. Through months of being isolated, we are being brought together to fight racial oppression and injustice that has become so ingrained within our society and system that it has been easy to turn a blind eye. We are reminded that we serve a God who continuously fights for the oppressed and who hears the cries of injustice. We as his children are being called to stand up and fight against all forms of injustice and oppression.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6v8)
We stand with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters and say enough is enough. We keep fighting for one another not against one another, for that is what the enemy rejoices in. The greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (22v37-39). We are not loving our neighbours very well, if we think it is okay for people to be oppressed. It is no longer okay to simply be ignorant but to look evil in the face and speak the name of Jesus over it. In the name of Jesus there will be freedom and justice.
We all need to stand together and do our part just like at the wall of Jericho, everyone played their part and by the hand of God there was victory. Let us keep lifting each other up so we can all reach our full potential; the world is a better place when we all work together. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10v23-25). Thank you, God, that you bring us back into unity and you enable us the strength and courage to fight the injustice within this world. In the name of Jesus, may change come and may freedom be established in everyone’s life.
I hope we will be encouraged to have a heart of gratitude, that the spirit of the Lord is moving continuously in all our lives. We are not forsaken, the battle may be long, but we will not be overcome. I hope you trust that the Lord is always for you and your life is a powerful testimony of his faithfulness to you. Whether you are on the mountain or the valley, your journey is a powerful because the Lord is with you. Step out knowing that whatever may come your way, the God you serve is with you and no problem is to big for our God. There is freedom in the name of Jesus, may we seek to know that freedom for each other. We are so blessed, even when the storm surrounds us may we keep our eyes on Jesus.
May you have a blessed week. Keep your eyes upon Jesus. God bless, Victoria. xx