Amsterdam Ministry: What do you have to offer?

Mark 12v42 ‘But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.’

The widow’s offering is a story that is familiar, one that I often glaze over. Commending the woman but not thinking about any applications for my own life. Other than I should probably learn to give more.

As I read it this time, I began to reflect on the woman herself and how it must have felt to be her. She gave everything to God. She offered all she had at that moment and her faith was noticed. Not by the people around her but by the most important person in that room, Jesus. V43-44 ‘Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on”‘

I began to think, how sometimes in our lives we can be like the widow with what we have to offer. We wake up feeling broken or unworthy or we have very little to give. When we think about even having any sort of quiet time or prayer that day, we feel that we can barely lift anything before God.

I was taught something valuable through the widow’s story; give to God all that you have, even on your hardest day to surrender the little that you have. To be able to come before God and to surrender even the emotions that have been overwhelming you that day, allows you to begin to know some release and hope. Knowing that those emotions do not have to overwhelm you. Small offerings include reading your bible even when you feel that nothing makes sense. Praying when life feels so jumbled and messy. Praising God, even when you feel so far away. Surrendering some of your time, even when you feel you have no hours left in the day.

It matters where our heart is when we come before God. It does not matter how big the offering. For everything already belongs to God. It matters more where our trust is placed. I have been learning even on the days where eveything feels so distant and bad. That God is still God, he is still good. To simply lay my life before him, saying, “Today Lord, this is all I have but I offer it to you.”

I am learning to be thankful that God takes me as I am. That when I give him my day, he has a wonderful way of working it for his good. Even if I do not see it at the time. I have seen how God has used the time that I have offered to him, to go on and bless people. Not by my own will but by his. In seeing how God shows up in incredible ways, reminds me to be at peace. That I do not have to do big and extravagant acts for God. For eveything is already under his control. It is about learning to come before him and walk faithfully with him throughout the day. I am not left alone to figure out everything. God has an incredible way of working, that enables me to see him in the people I interact with or even in the creative activities I do. I am truly learning to see how awesome God is. That it is not about me! That my life finds it fulfilment when I surrender all to him. Sometimes that offering of surrender may feel so small but he is a gracious God who knows where my heart is. It is not about comparing my life to those around me! I need to learn to be honest before God, to surrender and find my hope in him.

Hebrews 4v16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Let us offer up what we have with hearts of thankfulness. Not worrying about the quantity but the quality, especially where our heart is in the offering. The woman with the two small coins is an account that shows a beautiful act of faith and surrender.

We cannot be ignorant of the other people in the account, the ones who gave out of their wealth. They gave a portion but knew that they still had security in their money. V41′ Many rich people threw in large amounts. ‘ What they were doing was not necessarily wrong but it mattered more where their heart was. Sometimes we may need to reflect on our own lives. I know I fall short of this. That I give a lot of my time to serve people and do acts for God. Sometimes, my heart can be far from him. Instead of giving my all for God, I work out of my own strength and security. I want to trust in myself just in case. It is such a reckless way to live. God is so much greater than even my greatest successes and my life should be used to give him glory and honour. I need to learn to surrender all that I have to God, it is in him that I find fullness of life. Nothing or no one else can give me that security. That is something I need to learn to live out each day.

It is possible we can identify with both sides or one of the sides. God is gracious towards us, he will lead us and guide us in the way we should go. Let us come to him with a thankful heart and begin there. No matter how big or small, God will lead us forward.

Psalm 100v4-5 “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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

Amsterdam Ministry: The faithfulness of God.

Amsterdam has been an incredible journey, so far. It has been a real place of growth, not only for me as a person but most importantly for my faith. It has been hard but encouraging to learn what it means to put my trust fully in the Lord. To have to learn that I cannot do it in my own strength because I easily become drained and pessimistic. It has been about me learning that God is still faithful in the hard times even when I do not feel it and have no idea how to move forward. That God’s character and his promises remain steadfast. It is just me, that is being so easily swayed by circumstances.

Hebrews 6v18 ‘So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.

I have had to learn the importance of laying the day before God. I have mentioned in previous blogs how each shift at the shelter begins with prayer, for which I am always thankful. Especially in the ministry with our cleaners which is something I have stepped into over the past month. It is this wonderful opportunity to work alongside the cleaning team and to share the gospel with them in morning devotions.

It is a wonderful ministry but it is something that is challenging too. There were quite a few days where I would be planning out the work and would see there was not enough cleaners for all the work to be done. Normally, my first instinct is to panic but I have been learning that peace meets me within those situations. It enables me to have a calmer mind and to pray over the day. Learning to trust God, that even in our limits he still has a wonderful way of providing. Countless times, God has shown up in incredible ways. Whether it being the motivaton and determination to be able to get the work done, providing people, or the work not being as bad as first perceived. It has been wonderful to see how in God showing up, it encourages my faith and enables me to share God’s goodness and faithfulness with the cleaning team.

Sharing devotions has been a way to see how faithful God has been. The way that God speaks through the devotions, even when I feel like my words have failed me. I am thankful that in faith we do nothing on our own. We actively step out but the Lord is leading the way.

Proverbs 16v9 ‘In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.’

A valuable lesson I have been learning is not to speak death into every new and good thing in my life. When I am offered a new opportunity the first thing that goes through my mind is all the reasons that I cannot do what has been offered me. When I focus on all the negatives, I see how that does not glorify God. Instead, I am abiding in my weaknesses and disregarding the goodness that God can pour into that situation. Even the Bible highlights how perfection is not attainable. However, in our weaknesses that God is still working. 1 Corinthians 12v9 ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ Honestly, it is refreshing to reflect back on a day and see how much God showed up. Whether it is in people, conversation or simply in a few minutes of peace offered throughout the day. To be able to thank God and praise him, for being the faithful and gracious God he is. Even when my mind wants to do doubt it, his truth continously prevails. In learning not to speak death and negativity into every new thing; has taught me to surrender it to God through prayer. To recognise my weakness but to know that he is God. What God has led me to, God has an incredible way of leading me through. I can speak hope and life into new things. To see the joy in it and be thankful to God, who keeps me moving forward.

My prayer for you reading this is that you will be encouraged. A lot of the time we can allow our feelings to lead our faith. What happens when we don’t feel anything? Then we quickly become dismayed and we lose our hope. Instead we need to learn and to trust in the character and promises of God, not based on our feelings but because they are truth. They are unchanging and they stand the test of time. Like myself, you may be easily controlled by the situations you are in. However, God does not change. He is still as faithful to us in the bad times as he was in the good. We need to learn to trust, to step out and to abide in his presence. To learn to be thankful even in the mess of things; because God’s grace has a wonderful way of turning that mess into a something beautiful for his glory.

I finish with saying how thankful I am that God continues to show up so faithfully. Each day my faith is being challenged in some sort of way. However, God shows me how his mercies are new every morning. How he never stops being God and how he has eveything under control. Even when I struggle to see it.

I pray that you will have a blessed week. That you remember you are loved and cherished. Lastly, God never stops being God. God bless and with love, Victoria. Xx

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: What am I allowing my life to be filled with?

This is something I have been challenged on over the past few months. To truly think about what I am filling myself with and what I need to surrender to God.

As I was reading through Matthew 12, there was the use of the imagery of a tree. A tree which can only bear good fruit or it can only bear bad fruit. It cannot do both. 12v33 Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit. The fruit that we produce truly comes down to what we fill ourselves with. This is similar to a post I did about what my heart was pursuing, earlier on in the year. I hope in this one to go a little deeper and to share what I have learned over the past few months.

What I am choosing to fill up on, is something that has been challenging me in all areas of my life. My emotions, my thoughts and my actions have all been impacted with what I am choosing to fill up on. I feel blessed to be in the place that God has put me in at the moment. I live in a Christian community and work at a Christian shelter; it is essential that the words and actions I pour out are in accordance with principles and morals of my faith and that of the shelter. In being pushed to share my faith with people, it has allowed me time to reflect and pursue Jesus more. I want to know more and more about him so that I can share the gospel message in its fullness. In spending more time in God’s word it has also led to healing over my life. Especially over past hurts and spiritual wounds. Once they are surrendered to God it has made room to be filled with God’s truth and love.

In surrendering, it has led me to think about all the things that I was consuming. Especially the media, books and what other things I was spending my free time doing. I have taken some time to fast a lot of the media I was consuming. Especially on Netflix where I would spend hours watching and rewatching things. I was using it as a way to relax but then it began to take over a lot of my time. Having given it up for the time I am in Amsterdam, has allowed me more time to explore and spend with people. It bought me out of a comfort zone I had placed my dependence on. It has gave me more time to read too, especially books on faith. Which has not only enabled my faith to grow, it has been an encouragement to people I have shared it with. In filling myself up with God’s truth and love, it has enabled me to serve and understand people better.

There has been such beauty from allowing my mind to focus on something different. This is what Paul teaches in Romans 12v2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but he transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. To learn to find freedom from the things we put out trust in, is not easy but there is real blessing. Being able to enjoy the activities we enjoy, is not a bad thing. When they are the only way we find or fulfilment, we will always fall short. We will never be enough or what they are offering will never be enough. We will always want more. What occupies our mind is what will pour out of us. It will either be that of truth and love or that of darkness and death. Our words are the true fruit that show where our roots are, what we have filled our life with. Our fruit will either be that which bring refreshment or poison to those around us.

These verses in Colossians have impacted the way that I want to use my life. 4v5-6 ‘Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation, be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ To live out these verses, means making a conscience choice on what I am pursuing and filling my life with. To make the choice each day to deny myself and glorify God with the life he has given me. To serve people well and to allow God to love through me. That means surrender, it means trust. In pursuing God, it allows me to pour out more of his love and truth to his people. I would rather be pouring out that, than trying to pour out the worldly wisdom that I have been doing.

Sometimes we need to take time to check out hearts. To allow ourselves to see what it is full of. To make the choice whether we would like to surrender our will for his will or to continue on our way. I have learned, that in pursuing our way we will always want more and will never be filled. When we pursue God, we find much more purpose and life to pour out. For Jesus teaches that it is only through him that true fulfilment is found. Everything else, will not satisfy.

John 4v14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

I am still learning. Each day I am making choices, some days I still make the wrongs one. I never forget that God’s grace never fails to meet us in the place where we are. That it is by his guidance and strength that we find freedom. Keep pursuing God and filling up on the things that only he can provide.

May you all have a blessed week. You are truly loved and cherished. Always feel free to leave a message, question or even just say hi. God bless, Victoria. Xx