Forget the former things…

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

How many times do we pray for change? I know I do it a lot, the amazing thing about having a relationship with God is that you can talk to him about anything, ask anything of him – nothing is too big, small, possible or impossible for him. You are his child and he loves you. He wants good things for you, he designed you to be in relationship with him and with others. 

I think sometimes we forget that when we ask things of God, we also have to brace for change. It’s tempting to live in our comfortable little bubble of things not changing, with each day being as predictable as the next. We can fill our lives to bursting with all of the things we want to do, the ways we want to serve and the relationships we want to grow but end up having our hands so full of things that we have no room for God. 

As tempting as it is to live in the comfort of what we know and understand, when we make room for God, when we invite him into our lives and talk to him about the things we’d love to do – we have to expect change. 

Isaiah knew it! He says: ‘Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past.’ meaning we can learn from the past but we don’t get to ‘dwell’ there, we don’t get to hunker down, stockpile all our belongings and never move again. Unlike bears hibernation is not a part of our yearly cycle, as much as sometimes we wish it was. 

A lot of us perhaps wish that we could have pressed pause on our lives and gone into hibernation for all of 2020 – or at least until it was safe to hug and see our relatives again. 

At the beginning of this year as I put my new year’s goals and vision into God’s hands I had a real sense of expectancy. ‘This was going to be my year.’ And boy wasn’t it a year for us all?!

I am reminded at the end of the year that God knew at the beginning what this year would hold, and he planted us at this point in history for a purpose. So while this year has been wildly out of our comfort zone, and for some has been the toughest of their life – hold onto the fact that God is still with us. Isaiah uses the word ‘Immanuel’ when he prophesied the coming of Jesus, it’s a word for God that we only ever really use at Christmas time but I’d encourage you to remember it day to day. The word Immanuel means – God with us! And we need him just as much now heading into the new year as we ever have done!

Don’t be afraid of what’s to come, brace for change, see what new things God will do as a result of what we have travelled through together. He will provide for you, Isaiah says: ‘I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’

So however your year has looked, don’t give up on him, even when you can’t see it God still has the plan and is fighting and providing for your every need, even if you feel like right now you’re in the wilderness, streams of love and blessing are coming.

Thinking of you all with much love and praying blessing, favour and change in the new year for you, that you hold on to God in the highs and the lows and that you will recognise his voice as you follow his footsteps!

Claire x

Day 21

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. To him be the glory!

Take a minute to think about that word – immeasurable. It reminds me of stargazing as a kid. Laying in a field with friends just looking up and becoming completely lost in it all, feeling so small in the world and wondering what was beyond all that sky. 

No wonder scientists will spend generations asking how galaxies are formed, delving into space to discover new planets and just generally being in awe. Because all this around us – it’s just a tiny piece of what our God is capable of creating. Ephesians says that the same power that created the universe, the power of our God, is at work in us! In you and me! 

That same power that he poured into this beautiful creation – He pours into you! Let’s give him glory today and everyday in everything we do

Ps. Remember, nothing that you take to him is too big for him to deal with, and the next time you see the stars take a minute to check out the light display! When you’re feeling the weight of the day bringing you down – look up! How amazing is our God! 

Day 20

1 Corinthians 13 – 1:3 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Without love, what’s the point? In short that’s what I think this verse says. Without love our lives don’t make sense, without love our life becomes bleak, noisy, and destructive.

Now hold up, as a girl who’s all about that single life in this particular season, I need to just define this love I’m talking about. 

1 Corinthians is massively used at weddings and we can fall into the trap of thinking that love is all about finding ‘the one’ when in fact it’s all about THE ONE – Jesus Christ our God.

Head on back to that verse and each time you read love replace it with Jesus. 

You see, whatever we do in life, if we do it without Jesus being the centre, without a heart that is in pursuit of the things of God – what are we doing them for?

So let’s speak into people’s lives with love, let’s serve with love and let’s love others the way Jesus loves us. 

Day 19

Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his feathers,

 and under his wings you will find refuge;

 his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91 is such a beautiful prayer of protection, a letter of love and promise from the Father to his children. It’s a psalm that proclaims that we can have a boldness in God that whatever the world throws at us, God is with us, will protect us and go before us always. 

It’s amazing to think that our mighty God is gentle enough to love us, keep us safe and protect us – but he is and he does! 

PS As you head out into your world today remember who goes before you, remember who protects you and fights for you, be bold in your workplace and do everything for his glory. 

Day 18

Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord and do good;

   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Take delight in the Lord,

   and he will give you the desires of your heart

What’s your heart’s desire? What is that dream that you’ve held onto since you were a kid? What were the things you resolved to do before you hit a landmark birthday? 

God wants to give you the desires of your heart. But do you know something? When we become a follower of Jesus our hearts desire changes, because when you let God in, you’re allowing him into your heart to save you, and nourish you, heart and soul so you can flourish. When you let God in, your motivation changes, instead of looking at what we can get out of life, we start looking at how can we serve God in life to the best of our ability, with his strength and guidance. 

PS. You may think the desire of your heart hasn’t ever changed, think again. When you trust God, do good and dwell in him he takes your hearts desires and transforms them into more than you could ever imagine for yourself… because suddenly the plans you have aren’t just yours anymore, they’re for his glory.

Day 17

Proverbs 3:5-6

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

How hard is it to trust? and how much harder is it when someone breaks our trust to have confidence in them again? Trusting in someone or something is to have complete reliance in them. In a world where many relationships are broken or where we’ve been hurt – completely relying on anyone can be hard. 

Every day we trust in all kinds of situations – we trust a bus to deliver us to our destination, a supermarket to have the food we want, a hospital to have a doctor, diagnosis and a cure. But God calls us to trust him above everything, above situation, above how we feel and above what we see in front of us.

When you’ve been hurt by the world, in whatever form, it can be hard to trust. It can be scary to trust, to open up and feel vulnerable, but God calls us to trust him above everything. Because he is all-powerful, all-knowing and loves you so much he will never let you down. He wants the very best for you. So trust him with your whole heart, with everything you have, even when the way ahead looks confusing, put your plans in his hands and he’ll work everything for good. 

Day 16

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

This verse comes directly from the mouth of Jesus and when we believe in his word as true and living, and relevant for today we can stand on this promise and see it come true for ourselves. Can’t we?

As humans we seem to be automatically programmed to try and make plans work for ourselves – It can be difficult to hand over not just the big decisions, but every decision to God. We worry that people may think that we’re crazy, we’re fearful that we actually are crazy! But if we’re willing not to get in the way of ourselves, not to make excuses and to place everything in God’s hands the outcome will be incredible.

PS. That impossible dream that you’ve been holding onto, that thing you’ve always wanted to do and never dared because it seemed too big? Take your mustard seed of faith and plant it in God’s hands, he’ll move the mountains, just have faith!

Day 15

Psalm 92:12-13 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,

   they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

 planted in the house of the Lord,

  they will flourish in the courts of our God.

For any plant to grow there are a few key things it needs. Good soil, to gather all those juicy nutrients, water to help with growth and sunlight to help the plant with photosynthesis (making food – thanks GCSE bio!). 

I love plants, but I’m not so good at keeping them alive, especially if they’re in a pot on a windowsill. While I have good intentions at the start,  keeping harold the houseplant alive nearly always ends in disaster I will eventually forget to water him and he’ll begin to wilt and die. My only success with a plant was in uni when I had this spider plant that miraculously refused to die despite my shocking lack of care. To truly flourish, plants need a balance of sunlight, water and good soil to grow up strong, healthy and ultimately produce a flower or fruit. 

You are just like a plant. You may not be green, have a love of eating soil or particularly enjoy standing in a pot all day but you require certain things to help you flourish. 

Your living water is Jesus! Keeping you alive, helping you to grow and covering you in amazing Grace! Soak up the goodness!

The sunlight is the light of his living word, guiding you through life, showing you the love of Jesus and how to share it with others!

And your soil, is the place you can be fed, get all those lovely nutrients, and the guidance and encouragement you need to keep on keeping on. The soil is the place you’re planted – the body of the church.

To flourish we need to get stuck into the word, talk to God and make sure we’re planted in a place of love and encouragement so we can grow healthily, get to know God and share his loving heart with others.

It’s then we can bear fruit.

Day 14

Mark 9:23  

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

The day before we were due to travel half-way around the world I get a panicked phone call from the hospital. Mum had hurt her back and was currently laid up on a stretcher unable to move. Literally hours before we were due to fly to Sao Paulo. 

While this would be disappointing for me I knew mum would be absolutely gutted. I’d been to Sao Paulo working with a church the previous year and as soon as I’d returned she wanted to sign up and go herself. She’d even literally counted down each of the 365 days until we’d be going. The situation seemed hopeless.

But Jesus says everything is possible for the one who believes. 

I got on the phone and called friends asking them to pray and began praying for her healing too. We’d been planning this trip for months, it was mum’s first and she had been so excited to go. In as shorter time as it took me to call round and pray I got another phone call saying she was on her way home and felt fine. How quickly our God can turn a situation on it’s head! 

When you know Jesus you can see that instances like this are more than just coincidence, luck or medical genius – they’re His love poured out for us!

P.s. He loves you. Trust him to take the impossible and make it possible.

Day 13

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Being generous is not about how much we give, it’s the heart in which it’s given. Jesus doesn’t define an amount to give in this verse, he just says give. In 1 Kings 17 Elijah is living in an area of drought and God tells him to go to the house of a widow so that he can get some food. When he arrives, the woman is preparing a last meal for her and her son as they have just enough to make one last piece of bread. She even tells Elijah that she’s preparing a last meal before they starve to death. 

She could have told Elijah to jog on, but she doesn’t. She makes the bread and shares it with him. God does something incredible for the widow and her son. The jar of oil and pot of flour in their home becomes like a nando’s bottomless drink refill – endless. As much as they use the flour it doesn’t run out and the oil carries on flowing. The woman was generous with the last that she had and God blessed her in abundance. 

When we are generous with our time, our love, our resources we’ll never want for anything.                  

PS. What could you be generous with? Try and be purposely generous today!