Reflections on Psalm 52. (Perspective matters)

‘I will hope in your name, for your name is good.’

I have been reading the Psalms over the past week. I wanted to write a small reflection on one of them. I am learning a lot from reading the Psalms this time around, epescially how important perspective is. In many of these Psalms, David is being hotly pursued for his life. While he does not disregard the situation he is in, for in the Psalms we see how he lays it before the Lord. He keeps his eyes fixed on the steadfast love of God and the truth of his promises. It has been something that has challenged me, in my day to day living. Am I more focused on the issues in front of me or I am able to lay them before God and keep my focus on his truth.

Psalm 52 comes from the events which unfold in 1 Samuel 21-22. We see David seeking help from Ahimelek the priest, who gives David and his servants the consecrated bread to eat. Also, the sword of Goliath. Among those servants is Doeg who goes on to betray the whereabouts of David to Saul. Who is in pursuit of David at that time. 22v9 ‘But Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, said, “I saw the son of Jesse come to Ahimelek son of Ahitub at Nob. Ahimelek inquired of the Lord for him; he also gave him provisions and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”‘ Saul gathers the Priest and his family together and inquires of the events, only for Ahimelek to act none the wiser to the whole affair. Which leads to his death and also the death of eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod. All at the hand of Doeg, who was the only one willing to kill the priests of the Lord.

The only one who escapes is Abiathar the son of Ahimelek, who was able to join David. David after hearing of the events responds. V22v23 ‘Then David said to Abiathar, “That day, when Doeg the Edomite was there, I knew he would be sure to tell Saul. I am responsible for the death of your whole family. Stay with me; don’t be afraid. The man who wants to kill you is trying to kill me too. You will be safe with me.”‘

Entering into the Psalm, we see throughout the Psalm how David questions why Doeg puts so much hope in himself. Why he delights in evil and in making others suffer. V1′ Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace to God? For Doeg his success is in his own strength and victory. That is the way that he has meaning and purpose.

For David, he rejoices that it is God who will have the final say over Doeg’s life. While Doeg may think he is succeeding now, his time will come to an end. V6-7 ‘The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others.”‘ David has heard of the malice and hate that pours out of Doeg. Has seen the impact it has had on peoples lives. The lack of mercy that Doeg has. For David to be able to proclaim that his end will come, that all his successes now will come to nothing. Reminds himself and the reader, how mighty God is. It can so hard to see God when terrible things unfold before us. Like David, we need to remember to speak God’s truth and victory over the situation. David’s trust stayed firmly in the Lord through it all. This is what allowed him to have a positive outlook on his own life, even when he was surrounded by danger and turmoil.

V8-9 ‘But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.’ This is what struck me the most in the Psalm. Through all of the turmoil, David’s perspective was on something greater. Allowing his mind to rest on the presence of God, he was able to thrive even in all his adversities. He was able to keep the praise of God in his mouth and to trust in his unfailing love. His hope rested in God, even in his toughest times.

I find this Psalm encouraging because David was able to see the goodness of God even in his greatest sufferings. He kept his hope in him. I know, personally, that when I go through hardships I can find it hard to see God in it. I think being able to learn from David, especially from his perspective. That no matter what circumstance we go through, that God’s love and promises do not fail. That I can put my hope fully in him and trust that in all things, God can still use it for his good. To find rest in his presence, through all my storms.

My blogs have been a little delayed since coming to Amsterdam. I hope you will not mind. I pray that this will encourage you to read the Psalm yourself or to read others.

May you have a blessed week. Remember you are loved and cherished. God bless, Victoria.

Amsterdam Ministry. (The beginning)

This is a new series that I will be doing, while I am in Amsterdam. It will be full of scriptural encouragement, lessons I am learning and life in general. I hope you will enjoy it!

I want to begin with a Psalm that I was given the night before I jouryned to Amsterdam.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains-Where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you- the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Writing it out in its fullness, has made me realise how much this Psalm was needed for this next step in my life. From the first day I got here there has been a lot going on and a lot to learn. It can be so easy to be overwhelmed but how gracious God has been. In all I have been learning, I have had a incredible sense of peace and have enjoyed the many aspects I have already encountered. To be able to talk freely about Jesus and faith with so many different people has already began to further my faith perspective. Everything we do in the ministry at the shelter is supported by prayer and Scripture. That has enabled me to see how much it is needed. For it is by the strength of God, that such work and care can be accomplished. Although the past few days has been a transition period there is so much truth and love that I have already encountered.

I have been challenged this week by what I was allowing to dominate my mind. If you know Amsterdam, then you know it is famous for many things, especially cycling. Cycling is not something I have done in years so I was overwhelmed when I was required to do it. Let’s just say my first time cycling led to many lampposts and even a door being hit into. At that moment, I decided to allow fear to control me. I was trusting in my own strength and ability and it was not working. My mind quickly became swamped with fear and anxiety over the next time I would have to cycle. Even in my quiet time and prayer life my mind was focused on the insecurity of not being able to cycle well. In a night of worship, when my mind was reeling I heard words that convicted me. ‘You are allowing your fears to become your gods.’ It was true, I was allowing all my thoughts and words to become about this fear. I was losing sight of what was around me because I was letting fear control me. The next day I prayed with someone over it. From that I ended up taking my bike out on my own and cycling from A to B. Was it a perfect ride, nope. Did I find freedom from that fear, yes. There are many valuable lessons I am learning from this lesson. Firstly, sometimes the best action after prayer is to put it into action. Don’t keep dwelling on it but actively trust God and go out and do it. Secondly, keep trying. There is so much more to be gained when we fail and then pick ourselves up and try again. For it is not by our strength but by God’s. Thirdly, have a faithful heart. Don’t allow your focus to come off of God and all that he promises and continues to do. ‘The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forever more.’ Nothing that we do on earth is greater or mightier than who God is. Sometimes, we can not always be good at everything. That does not determine our worth in the eyes of God. Trust in who God says you are, not in what man calls you.

I pray for any of you that are going into new jobs, university or any new places in life. That you would trust in the words of Psalm 121. Allow them to become your prayer as you step into this next area of your life. Wherever we go in life, we are promised that God will never leave us or forsake us. Even in the struggle of the day, may we learn to praise God for that.

May you all have a wonderful week. I pray that you will know that you are loved and cherished. God bless, Victoria. Xx

Lessons I am learning from: God’s grace, healing and restoration.

I write this letter to my 21 year old self as a reminder of all that God has done in my life. My life looked a mess two years ago, I was absolutely broken inside. Slowly and beautifully God removed the broken parts and restored all that I needed to be. I struggled with trusting but God never stopped moving. I thank God for all I am today, for making me in his image and restoring all that was broken. I thank God for restoring my worth and for walking through life with me.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘The heart of man plans his way but the Lord establishes his steps.’

To 21 year old Tori,

You have finished university and your internship has fallen to pieces. You mind is still trying to catch up with the past three years. I know you are continuously questioning yourself and doubting that you have made the right decisions in life. These next two years will feel really useless to you. However, they are the making of you. You will have massive slumps, will make bad decisions and generally struggle. Looking back on these two years, you will see how much of it was about stripping off the old to be made new. Through it all, Jesus is holding you and walking with you. You will find that it is in your faith, that you will be transformed and renewed. That those relationships that look broken, will be restored. Your body changes but you learn to put your value in something greater than your weight. You learn to thrive, to stand up for yourself, to love deeper and to let go of hurt.

Don’t disregard the next two years, they may look dull in perspective to the lives around you. Reagradless, every step forward is progress. Unfortunately, you will allow your emotions to guide you. They will tear you apart because they are not truth. Your spirit will feel crushed, due to what you dreamed of crashing down in less than a month. I can assure you, if you had gone into any sort of ministry your heart nor your mind would have been ready. Be thankful, that in the next two years you will devour God’s word. You will read many books on how to live out God’s word and how to serve. You will have many opportunities to learn and grow in ministry. At the moment, you are not ready . You have a lot of healing to go through. Even at 23, you still have a lot to learn but you are in a far better place than you are right now. Lean in and trust God, his way is not easy but it is far better than trying to do it on your own. Do not be discouraged, even when you mess up do not believe God has turned his back on you. Turn your face back to him and recieve the grace that he gives. It is overflowing. Jesus’ blood covers you, none of your mistakes are beyond God’s redemption. Don’t let the past hold you and destroy all that is good in front of you.

As you heal and grow, your life will be used to minister to those around you. In greater ways than you could ever know. Even in retail work, by being yourself, you love and serve people well. Never feel like an opportunity is wasted, place it into God’s hands and he can turn it round for his good.

You will struggle with doing retail but it will only make you stronger. It is being used as preparation for your next step in life. You learn to serve people with all different manners; you will find that the ‘rude’ customers are some of the nicest people you will ever know. You will be glad to get out of retail but your time there was worthwhile, keep working hard. You will meet amazing people along the way. Choose to see the situation in a better light, it will help you on some of your hardest days.

Coming back home does not mean you have failed. Your parents will love and support you as you get back on your feet. They will help you not to make decisions based on your emotions. You make amazing memories with your youngest sister. Going to some incredible concerts and amusements. You look after each other and laugh too much even on the hardest days. You make stronger relationships with all your siblings. With age comes wisdom and healing. You see friends you have not seen in years, you help and support each other. Even though you do not love your town, you allow yourself to favour coffee shops and food places. A little warning, you spend too much time and money in Waterstones. You grow and you thrive. Your church family care and support you through these years. They speak truth over you to allow you to grow in areas of ministry. God uses these wonderful people to speak truth over your life.

Throughout the two years you will apply for various other jobs, none of them will be successful. I would admit starting an email to a candle shop stating ‘I love candles’ is neither professional or smart. (Thankfully your sister read through that email.) Honestly, you will be just about to give up when God opens the next door for you. Restoring your dream of going into ministry work, to care for and love people. God’s timing is perfect. You are thankful none of those other job opportunities were successful, for you would not be able to do what you are doing now. Even though this move is to a new country, you know that the Good Shepherd is guiding you all the way through.

From your 23 year old self, I cannot assure you anymore by saying. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.’ (Proverbs 3v5-6).

I pray that this reflection over my life will reassure, encourage and help you. There will be many people who want to guide us; I found my life when I trusted God with it.

You are loved and cherished. Have a blessed week. God bless, Victoria.

Lessons I’m learning from: not losing sight of what is important!

‘Do not lose sight of what is important’ is a reminder that I have propped on my bookshelf, which came from a quiet time this weekend where I had been blinded with fear. The past weekend I spent in a fearful state because I believed a situation had happened that would have severe consequences. It did not matter that people had told me not to worry about it. Even when I spent time in prayer and I was being given incredible peace over the situation, I chose to remain in a fearful state. I wanted to believe that I had done wrong and that I was going to have to face repercussions for it. The truth was, the situation I was fearful about was not even real. I had made it real within my life. This reminder became a warning, that I had spent so much time trying to face a situation in my own strength I had lost sight of where my truth and worth comes from. Even in all my fear, I was being reminded that even if this situation had happened that God would not leave me or forsake me through it. That he still had authority over the situation, I could still trust in him no matter what was going to happen.

In being reminded to not lose sight, I needed to strengthen my faith further. To not allow this trial to overwhelm me; to stand against it with the truth and strength of God. I was talking to someone about the situation, they referred to it as a spiritual attack that was being used to bring anxiety and fear. There is significant purpose on being reminded to put on the armour of God, for even everyday situations can be used to attack us and deter us away from God. I know a fault of mine is that when I become too familiar with scripture then I miss the truth that is being spoken through it. For myself and for you reading this, may we remind ourselves what the armour of God is and its purpose. Ephesians 6v13-17 ‘Therefore put on the FULL armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.’ This is a person who is able to face any trial that comes their way. I love the reminder that there is no armour for our back, because with God we face our enemies straight on with the authority and the strength he gives us. It was how I needed to be suited up but instead I allowed myself to be overwhelmed with the situation. I was fleeing and had my back as an open target for everyone. I was not standing firm, being prepared to face the situation. I was losing sight of my worth and power that God gives me.

A further reminder was that these spiritual attacks come when our lives are moving in a deeper pursuit of God. When we are being asked to step out in a greater step of faith. If you go through the Bible, there are many examples of these spiritual attacks that come from various places or people. They are being used so that we question our faith and who we are. We need to stand boldly and to fight courageously against what is trying to destroy who we are. We don’t have our faith in Jesus because it is something fun to do, we put our entire trust in him and surrender all who we are. That is not an easy way to chose but we pursue it. We know that in each and every step we take, Jesus leads and guides us. Even when it is hard to see where our path is leading, we always have hope and love surrounding us. The things that we face in this world, no matter how hard or upsetting will never be the end of us.

A journal entry that I wrote over the weekend, spoke this this truth over my life. ‘Allow Jesus to be lifted higher than all your circumstances. Jesus is and always will be the good shepherd; who will guide you through all circumstances of your life. You are not rejected and alone. When you stray, call on the name of Jesus and he will bring you right back to him. John 10v14-15 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father- and I lay down my life for my sheep.’ Jesus has been through all the trails and temptations we have been through, he understands. No season is too tough when you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.’

I was reminded that we are not complete yet, therefore, we are not perfect. To stop demanding that for ourselves and from others. That each day we need to allow God to mould us, to remove and to prune what is necessary. Within our own life’s we  have received unconditional grace and love and each day we can bless other people with that. We are all a purposeful part of God’s creation, may we never allow the enemy to tell us anything that would dim that truth. That we need to allow God’s truth to speak louder than any lie of the enemy. To always remember, that God loves and cherishes us beyond our comprehension. That no matter what we face in life, it cannot separate us from his love. Isaiah 49v16 ‘See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.’

May we not lose sight, of how powerful and loving our God is. We never face anything he has not prepared us enough to face, we can trust him in that. Life is not always easy but with the full armour of God and with his power, we can face each trail straight on.

May you all have a blessed week. May we support one another, we will all struggle but may we be people who speak purpose and hope over each situation. Remember you are loved and cherished. Love Victoria. xx

Lessons I’m learning from: an anxious heart.

‘Your name is life, your name is hope inside me… hope inside me. Your name is love, a love that always finds me… Always finds me. Be lifted up, be lifted higher.’ Praises (Be lifted up), Bethel.

Truthfully, I started writing this blog with an anxious heart and it did not mean that I had stopped being faithful or that I was not trusting God. My chest felt super tight and I was praying through it. Knowing that God does not fail to meet me in those moments and walk with me through it. Before I started writing this, I was praying and being reminded of the truths of who God is and who he calls me to be. May we never believe that our anxious thoughts means that we are not trusting God but may we bring our anxious thoughts to God. Lift our perspective to a God who is mightier and far more powerful than anything we will ever face. Allow God to hold it and to speak through those moments. I am wrapping up this blog as I type this, the anxiousness that I felt has been lifted and I pray that this blog will be a blessing to you as it was to me, if you are struggling at the moment. For some of you reading this I know that anxiety is not something that can be easily removed. I pray that you will find some encouragement through this blog and wherever you may be, you will find people to help you cope and support you through your journey.

As human beings, we have our limitations and we are easily overwhelmed with situations that we feel are out of our control.  I was reminded of the passage in (2 Corinthians 12) where Paul has, what is referred to as his thorn and pleads to the Lord three times to take it away.  (v9) ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‘. When my heart becomes anxious, I need to remind myself that my limitations do not limit God. There are incredible verses found in Isaiah that reminds us all of who God is, compared to who we are. (Isaiah 55v8-9) ‘“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, , so are my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.‘ These verses remind me to keep trusting God. Where I see limitation and failure; I believe God sees hope and potential. I also know that the Lord does not disregard my anxious thoughts as not important, for he knows our anxious heart. This truth is proclaimed wonderfully through Amanda Cook’s song ‘The Clearing.’

‘You waited through the night. Stayed here by my side. Not anxious of the time it takes. You whisper to my soul, just three steps left to go . Patiently you show the way.’

In the Lord meeting us in those moments, he does not leave us there. Even in the anxious thoughts I was having, the truth that I was being prompted with was allowing all that was clouding my mind to be removed. I did not need to find my identity in my insecurities, for my insecurities were being used to bring my closer to the Lord. I love the next verse of this song because it shows the transformation that happens within our life, with the Lord’s guidance. It is never an easy journey but with God we arrive at a place that is far better than what we left.

‘I could make my bed, so many places I have been. But you said I was meant for more. So I’ll never settle now, for less than holy ground. What a life we’ve found here.’

The verse that has been a constant reminder throughout the past weeks is (2 Timothy 1v7) ‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’ When my anxious thoughts, my doubts and fears become too much I am reminded that they are not my over-comers. That I have been given a spirit that is not fearful or timid but is powerful, self-disciplined and full of love. That I can have the faith that no matter the mountain I come across, that the Lord is with me and I can be courageous enough to face it. That applies to anything I come across in life, it may never be easy and the outcome may be disappointing but it does not have the final say. God does! That is where my faith will be found, resting in who God is and not restricting my perspective to my limitations.

I am learning the need to stop being disappointed in who I am and having this fixed mindset, that my mistakes stop me from moving forwards. For that is not truth, there is always growth and renewed hope that is planted into our life. We are restored by God’s love and grace. Jesus did not die for us all so that we would burden ourselves with our mistakes and limitations. He did not conquer death so that would remain in that stale and broken place . We are given new life and new hope. We are given salvation as a gift, that is an incredible gift to receive and we did nothing to deserve it. That is a blessing that we can encounter today. We need to trust that our anxiousness is not God leaving us or forsaking us, he promised he would never do that. Anyone or anything that would whisper he would, is not speaking truth. Nothing we face in this life is beyond God’s power, he is the creator and he is the restorer. He knows our life from beginning to end. nothing happens that is shocking God.  (Psalm 139v16) ‘ Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Let us not lose sight of who God is and who we were created to be. The world is a messy place but God is still working. We need to trust! We can read all the books and listen to all the podcasts but until  we come into that place of trusting and surrendering to God then it is all just knowledge. The world will tell us many ‘truths’ that we need to believe. The ‘truths’ that we are told are ever changing, it is not surprising we are anxious daily, fearful of what is to come. Everything we do on earth is fleeting, we cannot put faith in it. We cannot put our worth in it either. It is not everlasting. We can be faithful in the places we are put and in the work we do. We should not put our faith in it.

From an anxious heart to another. Our anxiousness is not our worth, may we speak God’s truth over it. May we deafen it’s mighty roar with the wisdom and love that God speaks over us. We are incredibly loved by a God who is love, we are his children. May we delight that God has authority over all things. May we remember that our spirit is not that of fear but one of POWER, LOVE AND SELF-DISCIPLINE.

‘We cannot grow when insecurities keep us from the life-giving oxygen of transformational truth. God beckons or invites me to change my mind-set from focusing on my insecurities and limitations to his security and limitless potential.’ Lysa Terkeurst ‘The best yes’

Remember you are loved and cherished. May you have a blessed week. God bless, Victoria. xx