Child of God

He's got the whole world in His hands!

“For from within, out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts” (Mark 7:21)

An evil action begins with a thought, allowing our minds to dwell on lust, envy, hatred or revenge, which will lead to sin.

I'm going to be brave and try to tackle a heavy subject this week. There are some really terrible things that happen in the world and so people think, “If there is a God, why are all these horrible things happening?” People frequently ask why a God of love would allow suffering in this world. He actually created a perfect world but, being fallible humans, we rather messed this up! God didn’t create robotic people, who are just lifeless machines. He created free agents who can make real choices, just like He can. But by giving them true freedom, He risks the possibility that they might choose to reject Him.

The major cause of human suffering is the misuse of human freedom. One of the most precious attributes we have is our freedom. God cannot and will not take away our freedom when we use it against Him. He will not intervene to stop train accidents when someone has forgotten to change the points, or to stop the plane being blown up when airport security has allowed a suicide bomber on board. The hunger in the world is not due to the lack of food, as there is plenty of food for everybody, if only it was fairly distributed. No, it is due to selfishness, corruption and inefficiency in governments. At present, there are more than 30,000 children who die every day from preventable diseases because the rich countries simply do not care enough to help.

These things cannot be laid at God’s door – it is our fault as human beings.

“We know that we are from God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19)

Christians commit sins, of course, but they ask God to forgive them, and then they continue serving Him. God has freed believers from their slavery to Satan, and He keeps them safe from Satan’s continued attacks. The rest of the world does not have the Christian’s freedom to obey God. Unless they come to Christ in faith, they have no choice but to obey Satan. There is no middle ground; people either belong to God and obey Him, or they live under Satan’s command.

“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Did the devil have the power to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world? Didn’t God, the creator of the world, have control over these kingdoms? The devil based his offer on his temporary control and free rein over the earth because of humanity’s sinfulness. God has given the world over to Satan to rule it until the time that Jesus returns to earth to take His rightful place as the ruler of this world. As the time for Christ’s return to earth draws nearer, Satan’s efforts to lure as many people as possible away from God increase. We only have to take a look at the state of today’s world to see how very effective and successful he is being in these efforts!

Jesus’s temptation was to take the world as a political ruler might, without carrying out His plan to save the world from sin. How thankful we can be that Jesus did not take Satan up on his offer! There would have been no crucifixion, no resurrection, and consequently no redemption for you and me.

The Arches, Newton-le-Willows

“Consider it joy, my brother, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2)

The point is not to pretend to be happy when we face pain, but to have a positive outlook because of what trials can produce in our lives. James, who was believed to be the half-brother of Jesus, tells us to turn our hardships into times of learning. Tough times can teach us perseverance.

Although God does not send suffering, He can and does use it. In human character, qualities such as courage, self-sacrifice and endurance can only come about in the face of trials and tribulations. I make no secret of the fact that if I hadn’t suffered the worst year of my life during a nervous breakdown, with consequent loss of the job I loved, I would never have come to know Christ. If I had the chance to go back, I would definitely choose to go through this painful experience again, rather than not know God.

But what about natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis? When we look at our world, we have to ask the question: manufacturing fault or misuse by the owner? We have already seen that the world God made was good. The Bible explains that all the things that have gone so catastrophically wrong are because of humanity’s rebellion against God.

God doesn’t always offer us answers. In this life, we may never really understand why some things have happened. But God offers us Himself. He offers us friendship. He longs for us to turn to Him and bring our problems and worries to Him. Whatever you face, you can choose to go through it without God or with Him.

“And he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17)

God can certainly identify with us in our suffering, as He sacrificed His only son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. He allowed Him to be subjected to a slow and agonising death, in order that our sins would be forgiven, and we could enjoy a relationship with the true, living God.

When Jesus returns to earth, He promises that all sins will be forgiven. There will be no more tears, all suffering will be over and all believers will finally be with Christ in His kingdom.

I, for one, am so looking forward to it!

Ann ❤

No Christ, no hope - know Christ, know hope!

After our flight

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” (Psalm 18:30)

Hello again. I hope you’re all enjoying the summer, especially as we have a bit more freedom this year.

We had a helicopter flight on Sunday! I had bought this as one of Kev’s Christmas gifts, as he previously had a flight and loved it. I had turned down his generous invitation to accompany him on the last one but thought I should be brave and bite the bullet this time. I was quite nervous beforehand, giving me the excuse to indulge in a couple of glasses of wine but we had a delay of 45 minutes and, by the time we actually boarded, the anaesthetising effect of the alcohol had worn off!

“May Your unfailing love come to me, O Lord, Your salvation according to Your promise.” (Psalm 119:41)

One of the reasons I was nervous is that I know that helicopters are not the safest mode of transport. I was also under the impression that it would be an open vehicle – probably from seeing them on television. The one we travelled in was nice and secure – all the windows closed up. During the pre-flight safety talk, we were advised that – unlike airplanes – there was nothing to prevent the doors being opened! We were urged not to touch the door handles and consequently my perverse nature wanted to touch the handle “just in case”! Needless to say, I resisted…😀

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

I had paid extra for Kev to sit in the front with the pilot so couldn’t even enjoy the comfort of holding his hand. Instead, I was in with two strangers and facing an empty seat. I quickly asked Jesus to occupy that seat, facing me. Obviously, I couldn’t see Him but felt confident He was there, and this soothed my nerves.

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.” (Psalm 119:114)

In the event, I really enjoyed the experience. I felt quite safe and took great delight in peering out at the sheep and cows in the fields, which looked just like toys. It was quite similar to being on a plane but we obviously didn’t fly as high. I was actually quite disappointed when we turned back towards the airfield and would have liked a longer flight but that would have cost more. Maybe next time..

“For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light.” (Proverbs 6:23)

So, that’s two things I’ve done recently, which are new to me. I had a speed boat ride last month in Bridlington, and now the helicopter ride. I wonder what’s next?

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:31)

In Jesus’s day, the world seemed concrete, dependable and permanent. These days, many people fear its destruction by nuclear war. Jesus tells us, however, that even if the earth passes away, the truth of His words will never be changed or abolished. God and His word provide the only stability in an unstable world. How short-sighted it is to spend time learning about this temporary world and accumulating its possessions, while neglecting the Bible and its eternal truths!

“Blessed, rather, are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28)

I had previously been rather anxious about the helicopter but went along for Kev’s sake. He frequently puts himself out for me so it has to work both ways. But, as a Christian, Jesus really is with you, wherever you go. In the past, I have said to Him so many times, “Come with me – don’t leave me.” I truly believe He won’t ever desert me.

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

I hope you stay safe and well. I wish you a blessed and peaceful weekend.

Love, Ann ❤

No Christ, no hope –Know Christ, know hope!

 

Kev in the cockpit!

Peasholm Park, Scarborough

“The heavens are Yours, and Yours also the earth; You founded the world and all that is in it.” (Psalm 89:11)

Hello again. I’m including some more pictures from our holiday. There are so many I want to share with you. Going on holiday and seeing new places really makes me appreciate God’s beautiful creation. The picture above was taken in Peasholm Park in Scarborough, which is stunningly beautiful. It has been voted the sixth best park in the UK and has recently received a Green Flag Award. The design is Japanese-themed, based on the Willow pattern crockery. We fell in love with the place and it was a warm and sunny day, too.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

This verse popped up on the Christian Quotes Facebook page. I really felt that I should include it, as it’s very appropriate in these times. Fear of people can hamper everything you try to do. In extreme cases, it can even make you afraid to leave your home. By contrast, fear of God – respect, reverence and trust – is liberating. Why fear people who can do no eternal harm to you? Instead, fear God, who can turn the harm intended by others into good for those who trust Him. Easy enough to say in these politically-correct times – it’s a brave person who will cling to the word of God on social media, in the face of so much opposition. I certainly don’t have the strength to do this on my own – I have to look to God for courage.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

This verse is on the July church calendar page but, again, I had the urge to include it in my blog. In this passage, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. His words affirm the reality of the Trinity. Theologians are sometimes accused of making up the concept of the Trinity and reading it into scripture. As we can see from this verse, however, the concept comes directly from Jesus Himself. He didn’t say, “Baptise them in the names, but in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word ‘Trinity’ does not occur in the Bible but the three-in-one nature of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is clearly indicated.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be 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.” (Romans 12:2)

Christians are called to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world”, with its behaviour and customs that are usually selfish and often corrupting. Many Christians wisely decide that much worldly behaviour is off limits for them.

As anyone who knows me well will testify, I am rather fond of an alcoholic drink. Before becoming a Christian, I really did over-indulge to the detriment of my health and safety. Since coming to Christ, I am aware that drunkenness is a sin and I do try to keep my drinking within sensible limits; however, as a deeply flawed human, I sometimes lose the battle! It does help to have a husband who is a take-it-or-leave it drinker, and his influence certainly helps me to keep on track most of the time.

It is possible to avoid most worldly customs and still be proud, covetous, selfish, stubborn and arrogant. Only when the Holy Spirit renews our minds are we truly transformed. I feel as though I let the Lord down most days with my thoughts, words and deeds, so am constantly apologising to Him! But I am confident that the Holy Spirit is working within me and that I am a work in progress.

Robin Hood's Bay

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” (Ephesians 1:13)

The Holy Spirit is God’s seal that we belong to Him, and His deposit guaranteeing that He will do what He has promised. The presence of the Holy Spirit in us demonstrates the genuineness of our faith, proves we are God’s children and secures eternal life for us. His power works in us to transform us now, and what we experience now is a taste of the total change we will experience in eternity.

Salvation is a gift that’s available to everyone. You cannot be too bad to receive it. No matter how big and unforgiveable you think your sins are, God will forgive you. No sin is too bad to forgive, if you are genuinely sorry and tell the Lord this.

On the other hand, no matter how good you are, you still need salvation. We all fall short of God’s standards and need to accept the gift of salvation. We can’t do anything to earn this gift; it’s free! All you have to do is accept that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for sinners, and ask Jesus to come into your life.

Once you accept Christ into your heart and your life, your future is secure. It is sealed in the life, death, and the resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus. All believers have a certain hope of spending eternity with the Lord.

Whitby Abbey

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” (2 Timothy 4:17)

God always gives us the strength to do what He has asked us to do. This strength may not be evident, however, until we step out in faith and actually begin doing the task. This sometimes takes a lot of courage and faith but they are there for the asking.

I couldn't resist this quirky display in Goathland!

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)

Some people think that worldliness is limited to external behaviours – the people we associate with, places we go to, activities we enjoy. Worldliness is also internal because it begins in the heart and results in preoccupation with physical desires, craving and accumulating things (the god of materialism) and an obsession with status and importance.

I have to confess to my own area of greed, which is cook books! My book shelves are groaning with all the editions I just couldn’t resist on my visits to charity shops. It’s my ‘thing’ and I can’t seem to stop buying them, including kindle cook books. I love perusing them but have to say that a lot of them have never been used. I tend to get a lot of my recipes from Readly, the online magazine app, which I love. I am aware of this weakness, though, and consequently have bagged up a load to take to the charity shop on Saturday. That leaves more space but I suppose I could fill that with Christian books, which I also enjoy.

Goathland Station

Dear Lord Jesus

Thank you for being born into this world. Thank you for your life and ministry, teaching us how to live for you. Thank you for putting yourself through a horrible death. Thank you for fulfilling your promise of rising from the dead, proving once and for all that you have conquered death and sin – all for the love of us. Please help us to live for you.

Amen

Whitby Harbour

Thornton-le-Dale, North Yorkshire

“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (1 Chronicles 16:8)

Hello again. I hope you’re all enjoying this decent spell of weather we’re having. There was no blog last week because I was on holiday in North Yorkshire, a beautiful area of the country, which Kev and I love. We rented a cottage in a small village called Weaverthorpe – a very peaceful place. We managed to see lots of places – some new, some old – and came back home feeling quite refreshed.

Thornton-le-Dale

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 92:1)

When things are going well, we focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But we should really thank Him every day. Thanksgiving should be a part of our everyday life. Easy to say, I know!

Bempton Cliffs

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

When we feel down, we may find it difficult to give thanks. We should remember, though, that God works for our good in all things, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). We obviously don’t thank God for our problems but for the strength He is building in us through the difficulties of our lives. We can be sure that God’s perfect love will see us through the bad times, as well as the good.

Bridlington

Scarborough

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We’re not expected to thank God for everything that happens to us, but in everything. Evil does not come from God, so we shouldn’t thank Him for it. But when evil strikes, we can still be thankful for God’s presence and for the good that He will accomplish through our bad times.

Staithes

Filey

Flamborough Head

“I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise.” (Psalm 138:1)

I was browsing my Bible, looking for verses for this week’s blog. I was at a bit of a loss, as I sometimes lack inspiration and wonder what I can talk about. This doesn’t happen much but I always look to the Lord for ideas and I believe He put the theme of thankfulness into my head. We certainly have much to be thankful for – each other, our health, our home, Kev’s job – not to mention our greatest gift, Jesus Christ!

We had been looking forward to visiting Flamborough Head during our holiday and we managed to do this on the Sunday. We had researched the area and Kev used a walking app he has on his phone. All was going well until his phone died and we were unable to access the directions! I did panic at first – I’m never at ease when I’m lost – but we eventually had to retrace our steps, as we had no idea of which way to go to get back to the car park. We walked over ten miles that day – a bit of a marathon for me! But the weather was beautiful and it was a fantastic experience. Highly recommended.

I really hope you have the chance to get away soon. We have written off trips abroad for the foreseeable future, as we think it would just be too much hassle. The UK has some beautiful places to see and we have a very long wish list! We would have to live to a ripe old age to be able to visit all the places on our list. Whatever your plans, I wish you a peaceful, healthy and safe week.

Love, Ann ❤

No Christ, no hope - know Christ, know hope!

Flamborough Lighthouse