The Goodness of God

Now I wouldn’t blame you at all if you struggled with the title of this blog. When I was battling endometriosis and extreme fatigue I couldn’t see it either. If your life is in disarray, if you’re facing debilitating pain, or a battle that has you completely overwhelmed, I understand that you can be left wondering where God is in all of it. For most of my life I believed in God but I struggled with my faith particularly as I faced heartbreaking moments such as my miscarriage. As I wrestled with the grief and the pain of losing my child I just couldn’t see how God was good. As I wrestled with extreme pain and scepticism from medical professionals I felt totally imprisoned in hurt and rejection. When I faced months of being trapped in bed due to my illness I was left feeling so distant from God, but when He healed me in September 2016 I discovered the goodness of God. As I journeyed upon deep inner healing and restoration I discovered how God had been at work and I was surprised to realise that He had been there in the moments that I felt utterly abandoned. As I’ve been allowing God to reveal more and more of His goodness to me I was reminded of the story about the prodigal son. I’ve just reread a novel series written by Beverly LaHaye and Terri Blackstock and in the 3rd book, titled Times an Seasons, one of the characters in the book is a 15 year old called Mark, he made a silly choice which left him incarcerated in a youth detention centre. As he wrestles with the consequences of his actions at first he is really angry but as he is supported by family and friends he comes to discover God in a deeply personal way. The story that breaks through his wall of anger and hurt is the story of the prodigal son. I felt a prompting to study the story afresh for myself.

The story is found in Luke 15:11-32 and it is about a father and his two sons. One day the younger son asks for his inheritance and the father lovingly distributes to both of his sons their inheritance. The younger son leaves home to see the world and enters into a life of binging extravagantly and recklessly. Soon he finds that his money has run out and growing hungry he begs a farmer to hire him. It is noted that food is scare because there is a famine in the land and the younger son’s job is to feed the pigs. Now from a cultural point of view caring for pigs would have been a huge challenge for him because Jewish people were forbidden from raising pigs. The younger son find himself doing a job that he would have never ever imagined doing and to add insult to injury he is desperately hungry, he becomes so desperate that he considers eating the pig’s scraps, yuck! In utter desperation and humiliation, the younger son remembers that his father’s servants are well cared for and he wonders if he can go home and beg for a job. The young man decides to make his way home and rehearses his plea: Father, I was wrong. I have sinned against you. I’ll never be worthy to be called your son. Please, Father, just treat me like one of your employees.” (verse 18 The Passion Translation).

As the son nears home his father sees him dressed as a beggar and great compassion swells up in his heart, he races out to meet him where he sweeps his son up into his arms hugging him and kissing him. Rather than displaying his anger and disappointment the father showers his son in tender love. The son starts to stumble out his plea but his father interrupts saying: “Son, you’re home now!”. The father then turns to his servants and orders them to bring his best robe to place on his son’s shoulders; a ring to place upon his finger to represent his sonship; and to organise a huge feast to celebrate his son’s return. His brother feels angry that a big celebration is being held for his wayward brother, but his father urges him to celebrate saying: “I thought that he was dead but he is alive; he was lost but now he is found; let’s celebrate because he is home safe and sound!”.

It’s a beautiful story of reconciliation and forgiveness. As I reflected upon that story afresh I was also reminded of the roles that the trinity have: Father God wants to instil in us value and identity, to be our fierce protector and faithful provider. Jesus desires to be our constant companion and best friend. The Holy Spirit longs to comfort, teach and nurture us. (Based on the tool: Father Ladder used by the Bethel Transformation prayer ministry titled Sozo).

Let’s unpack that some more:

Father God

Wants to instil in us value and identity: Just like the prodigal’s father our heavenly Father longs to be in a loving relationship with us. When we mess up He lovingly runs to pick us up. Through Jesus we enter into a relationship where we become God’s sons and daughters (see Romans 8). As we walk and talk with God by reading His Word (the Bible) we discover who He is and who we are. When I struggle with my identity I always love to read Psalm 139.

Wants to be our fierce protector and faithful provider: As we trust God in every situation we face we discover that He longs to protect and provide. Psalm 91 is a powerful reminder that we are hidden in the strength of God Most High because His massive arms are wrapped around us. His arms of faithfulness are a shield that keeps us from all harm and we do not need to fear a thing! That just sounds way too good to be true right? BUT God’s promises are reliable. God as our faithful provider is a promise that I often cling to when I face difficulties. One particularly rough patch I was reminded that God is Jehovah Jireh – our God who does provide (Genesis 22:14).

In Philippians 4 we read Paul’s letter thanking the Philippians for their faithful support. His letter of thanks becomes a prayer as He asks God to bring them “abundant reward” for the generosity that they have bestowed upon him. He goes on the explain that He truly believes that God can fully satisfy every need they have for Paul has experienced God’s abundant riches of glory which were revealed to him through Jesus Christ! If that is true for the Philippians I believe that it can be true for us. I truly believe that as we give what God calls us to give that He will meet every need that we have. Warning though that this isn’t a meeting of our wish lists or what we think we need but rather what God knows we really need. God can meet our every spiritual and physical need because He is a good Father who faithfully provides.

Jesus

Jesus desires to be our constant companion and best friend. The thing that I absolutely love about Jesus is that He has walked this earth. He has faced some of the very same difficulties that we have faced.  He laid down His life so that we could be His companion so when we ask for His support and companionship He will provide it. We’re promised that He will never fail us or abandon us because we will never be without His support and help (Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Hebrews 13:5).

Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit longs to comfort, teach and nurture us. We read in Acts 9:31 that the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, explaining that there was an end to persecution. Christians enjoyed a time where they were spiritually built up in wisdom, virtue and faith as they lived their lives in the fear of the Lord because they were comforted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit. They also enjoyed a season of growing in numbers. This description of the people being comforted by the Holy Spirit reminds me of the promises in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that God is the God of all comfort who comes alongside us to comfort and encourage us in our moments of trouble and suffering; then we are able to comfort and encourage others as they face a painful trial.

We also see how the Holy Spirit is teaching the early church because it is documented that they grew in wisdom, virtue and faith. Jesus promised that this would happen, in John 14:26, because the Holy spirit would be sent to teach us all things and help us to remember every word that Jesus taught. 1 John 2:27 even explains that the Holy Spirit will lead us into discovering the Truth.

I encourage you to Read “Acts 9:31 – The Comfort of the Holy Spirit” for more great teaching around this. Also www.bible.knowing-jesus.com has a collation of Bible verse around the Holy Spirit being out teacher.

My prayer:

Father God I invite You to instil in me my true value and identity which comes from knowing You. Thank You that I can be called a daughter of God (Romans 8).

I ask to walk closely with You Lord and as I read Your Word help me to discover who You are and therefore who I am.

Thank You for being my fierce protector and faithful provider. I long to trust You Father God in every situation I face. Thank You for the promises in Psalm 91, that I’m hidden in the strength of God Most High because His massive arms are wrapped around me. His arms of faithfulness are a shield that keep me from all harm and I do not need to fear a thing!

Thank You for being Jehovah Jireh – my God who provides (Genesis 22:14).

Lord I ask for provision along with wisdom and discernment to faithfully support Kingdom work. Let me be generous trusting that You can fully satisfy every need I have. Let me continually experience God’s abundant riches of glory which are revealed through Jesus Christ! I believe that You can meet every spiritual and physical need I have because You’re a good Father who faithfully provides.

Thank You Lord Jesus for laying down Your life for me. I want You to be my constant companion and best friend. Thank You for the promise that You will never fail me or abandon me because I’ll never be without Your support and help (Deuteronomy 31:6,8 and Hebrews 13:5).

Holy Spirit I invite You to comfort, teach and nurture me. Grow me in wisdom, virtue and faith as I live my life in the fear of the Lord because I’m comforted and encouraged by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

Thank You God for being the God of all comfort who comes alongside me to comfort and encourage me in my moments of trouble and suffering; then I’m able to comfort and encourage others as they face a painful trial (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Holy Spirit come and teach me all things and help me to remember every word that Jesus taught, lead me to discover the Truth (1 John 2:27) more and more each and every day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

I pray that this has encouraged and inspired you to discover God’s goodness. Many blessings, Keona

Image from Pixabay

‘Living In the Overflow’ – People & Songs – YouTube video

The privilege of voting

As the local election campaigns roll out there is a real urge in me to complain, to moan and whine. I think about the annoyance of all the posters, flyers and ads. I find that I’m very quick to complain about the political climate of my state but not so quick to take the time to pray and make a positive impact.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 is titled “Pray for All People” or an “Instruction on Prayer” going on to urge us to present our supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for all people and specifically notes kings and all who are in high positions (ESV). The Passion Translation version urges us to pray for every political leader and representative explaining that when we do we can “live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts.” Going on to state that “it is pleasing to our Savior-God to pray for them.”

This has spurred on my passion to pray for my leaders but also the following research has reminded me about the privilege of voting:

According to the AEC Tasmanian women aged over 21 and who were British Subjects were eligible to vote in 1903.

The Conversation article on Women’s Votes let me know that Saudi Arabia granted women the ability to vote in 2015. It also advised me that although Pakistani women were given the ability to vote in 1956 the turn out is as little as 3% of voters due to community and religious leaders discouraging women from voting.

Grazia declares that in 2015 50 women in Zanzibar were told by their husband to not vote and because they voted they were divorced by their husbands. Also that women in Papa New Guinea are discouraged from voting; only 7 women have been elected since 1975; and the “lack of female representation only deepens the problems of violence against women and poor employment opportunities, further perpetuating the cycle of political inactivity.”

Martha Knight comments on quora.com that she is unable to vote “because I am legally blind, a non-driver, and not close to a place where I can get an acceptable voter ID with my photo, and my state legislature passed a voter ID law.”

ABC News states that it wasn’t until 1962 that Indigenous people had the ability to vote in federal elections.

Global Citizen observes that in Russia voters are so disheartened with the electoral process that only 47.8% of the population voted.

I’m know that there is so much more that I could research but the main point is that people have fought hard to give everyone the right and ability to vote. I am so blessed to live in country where I can vote without the worry of my husband telling me not to; I am so blessed to have church and community leaders who encourage everyone to vote; I am blessed to have the choice, freedom and ability to vote.

Local elections are taking place right now and I urge you to take the time to research and make an informed choice.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture from Pixabay

 

My Father’s Eyes

During High School I faced a really tough couple of years where I was constantly bullied. I would come home from school every day in tears with my heart in absolute turmoil. I had been given one of Amy Grant’s cd’s and I would shut myself in my room to sing and cry. As I reflect upon that time I’m truly amazed at how God used Amy’s songs to sustain me. In particular one of the songs I loved was “Father’s Eyes” where Amy sings:

“I pray:
When people look inside my life, I want to hear them say:

‘She’s got her Father’s eyes, her Father’s eyes;
eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around;
eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found;
eyes full of compassion, seeing every pain;
knowing what you’re going through and feeling it the same.’
Just like my Father’s eyes…”

That song became my prayer. I desperately wanted God to help me to see the good in people, to look past the hurtful words they hurled at me. I desperately longed to be taught how to be kind when all I received was cruelty. A desire was implanted within my heart to be Jesus’ example to others. I wanted to become compassionate, merciful, gracious and kind.

Decades later I was reminded of that prayer when a dear friend said to me: “when I look into your eyes I see Jesus”. I have to tell you that in that moment tears came to my eyes and as I write this I’m crying. My prayer was answered when my dear friend took the time to speak to my heart and confirm a prayer that I had almost forgotten I’d prayed.

Recently I was challenged to think about what I want to be remembered for. As I reflected upon that question I was reminded about my desire and my long ago prayer. It is my desire: “that when you’re called to stand and tell just what you saw in me, more than anything I know, I want your words to be: ‘She had her Father’s eyes’..”.

My prayer:

Lord I want to have eyes that find the good in things, when good is not around. Help me to see Your goodness at work in each and every situation I face because You are good and do good (Psalm 119:68).

 Lord I want to have eyes that find the source of help, when help just can’t be found. Because Almighty God You promise to be my faithful source of help in my times of need; You’re my refuge and strength; and a very present help in moments of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

Lord I want to have eyes full of compassion that see every pain, knowing what people are going through and feeling it the same. Jesus I ask for You to impart to me Your compassion for others (Mark 1:41, Mark 6:34).

Holy Spirit I ask for Your great comfort and encouragement so that I can comfort and encourage others with the comfort and encourage that You alone can bestow (2 Corinthians 1:4).

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Note: “Father’s Eyes” was released by Amy in 1979, songwriter: Gary Winthur Chapman.

Many blessings, Keona

‘Father’s Eyes’ – Amy Grant – YouTube lyrics video

Picture cred – Pixabay

What is Prayer?

God has been taking me on an exciting journey of discovering and I’ve been asking: just what is prayer? In my studies I discover the Hebrew word for prayer: tefillah (tey-fill-ah), the definitions given are:

  • to “self evaluate” going on to explain that the Jews would compare their actions, behaviour and attitude against God’s holiness. Dave Adamson
  • the root is: ‘to think, entreat, judge, intercede’, and the reflexive: ‘to judge oneself’, and ‘to pray’.  Encyclopedia.com
  • “a labor of awakening the hidden love within the heart until a state of intimate union with the divine is achieved.” Going on to explain that it’s “communion, a joining together of mind and spirit.” Tzvi Freeman

The self evaluate definition is confirmed in 2 Corinthians 13:5, 9 we’re urged to test and evaluate ourselves, this means to look closely at our faith and the way that we are living our lives. We are to examine ourselves on a regular basis to ensure that we are living as Jesus Christ wants us to. We are to be genuine examples of Christ not counterfeit. But it also assures us that we don’t need to fear, fret or worry if we find ourselves weak because we can ask for God’s power to freely flow through us and make us complete – fully restored and mature in godly character and spirit!

The cry to self-examine is something that can make me feel very uncomfortable and it’s not an easy thing to do. As I’ve been reflecting upon it I’ve been reminded of a story my husband told me. He witnessed a road accident between a car and a motor bike. The motorcyclist tried to get up almost immediately after the accident had sent him crashing to the road and he was trying to walk upon a broken leg in an attempt to get his bike off the road. My husband kept urging the cyclist to sit down as his leg didn’t look too good (it was twisted the wrong way) but the guy kept trying and trying and kept falling down getting more and more frustrated and angry. Eventually the emergency services arrived and the guy was calmed down and taken to hospital. As I pondered on that story I realised that I can be like that motorcyclist, I have a big issue to deal with but I’m too focused on the smaller issue. God patiently and lovingly asks me time after time to sit down and listen, to deal with the bigger issue assuring me that the smaller issue will be dealt with also.

But I’m encouraged by the truth that examination will lead to me prayer and thus transformation!

“Through prayer we move from where we are to where we ought to be ….. because in prayer (the speech of the devoted heart), the soul climbs higher and higher: ascending step by step, from its present level to the very peak of all levels, drawn upwards by its passion for God, until it becomes fully absorbed in the radiance of the Infinite, blessed be He.”J.Immanuel Schochet

As I lay my big and small issue before the One I love He gently and kindly deals with them. As I trust God to be my Jehovah Rapha (the God who heals see Exodus 15:26) I know that daily He can heal, cure, restore and make me whole.

I can declare that my sins have been taken away from me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103) and can live my life in freedom!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

With my whole heart, my whole life and with my innermost being I bow in wonder before the One I love. I urge my soul to bless and affectionately praise the Lord. I desire for all that is within me to give praise, glory and honour to my Saviour Jesus. I invite the Holy Spirit to come and do a great work in my life.

I urge my mind to remember ALL of my Lord’s wonderful and life-giving benefits! I call to mind the miracles of kindness that I’ve witnessed in my life: my heart has been kissed and healed with forgiveness, for He has forgiven ALL of my sins and wrong doings. I have received healing from all sickness and diseases. My life has been redeemed from the pit of death and destruction. I’m lavishly crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercy. The Lord satisfies my life with good things and my life is reinvigorated, I feel as if I am an eagle soaring great heights.

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

Abba makes things right because He executes righteousness and grants justice to the defenceless. Just as He did for the children of Israel He makes know His ways to us, revealing what He alone can do.

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

God is so kind and tender-hearted; He is merciful and gracious; slow to anger; abounding in compassion and lovingkindness. He is always patient with people who fail Him because His love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.

The Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins and we are not punished according to our wickedness. The Almighty is not holding a grudge against us or disciplining us because of our sins.

NO! Rather as high as the heavens are above the earth is how far our wickedness has been removed from us! As far as the east is from the west is how far our sins have been removed from us!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

Our Heavenly Father is a loving father who has tender and compassionate feelings towards us. How He smiles when we come into His presence with awe-filled respect and deep reverence.

Our Lord knows all about us, inside and out, and is mindful that we’re made from mere dust.

Our days are momentary moments that swiftly fade away, what is left behind for others to remember us by?

In contrast the Lord God Almighty has endless lovingkindness that stretches from everlasting to everlasting; His love is unbroken and unrelenting toward those who fear Him. The Lord’s unfailing faithfulness passes from parents to children, to grandchildren, and beyond. So what legacy can we leave? The love of the Lord which has been imprinted upon our hearts as a rich inheritance for the generations to follow!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

God’s heavenly throne is established in the heavens, it is eternal, secure, and strong! His sovereignty rules over the entire universe.

Therefore, bless and praise the Lord you messengers of power, you His angels, who do His commandments and obey the voice of His word!

Bless the Lord all you mighty warriors who serve Him, do His will and fulfil His desires.

Let all of God’s works throughout the earth, wherever His dominion stretches, praise the Lord!

As for me, I will bless and affectionately praise the Lord with my whole heart for ALL of my days!

Praise the Lord all of my soul!

(Inspired by Psalm 103 Amplified and The Passion Translation)

‘You Came to My Rescue’ – Christy Nockels – YouTube lyrics video

Image – Pixabay

Sweet Amazing Grace

Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer dead for I’ve been made alive
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer lost for I am found
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer blind for now I see
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer deaf for now I hear
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer defeated for I’ve found my Champion
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer bound in fear for I’m set free
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer entangled in sickness for I’m made whole
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer bound in shame for I’m transformed by love and mercy
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer hopeless for I’m assured of His faithfulness
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
No longer doubting for I’m living with great confidence
Oh such sweet amazing grace has found me
Inspired by ‘Amazing Grace’

Amazing Grace (first 5 verses) – Chelsea Robinson – YouTube link with lyrics

Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) – Chris Tomlin – YouTube link with lyrics

Image – Pixabay

Death Is

Death is confusing, our prayers were not answered how we hoped and believed they would be

we held onto the promise of healing but now our hearts are left bruised and confused

Death is confronting, when we suddenly and unexpectantly lose a loved one

the future we had planned is smashed and we are left in shock and disbelief

But what if death is just a reminder

We are confronted by our humanity but also reminded of the great promise of Hope eternal

What comfort we find to know that the pieces of our shattered hearts are being carried by the One who understands what it is to grieve

What balm to our souls to know that the tiny fragments of love will be held within the fierce grip of Love

We can find hope knowing that one day the pieces will be made whole

What a wonder it is to know that our living God holds us tight

What comfort comes to our broken, brushed and crushed souls

It will take some time, but we are promised that the heaviness we experience now will be replaced with firstly comfort; then hope; and eventually joy

We can look past this intense moment of deep pain and grasp hold of a brighter tomorrow

We’re allow to cry and sob and pour out our anguish for it is only natural and a part of the process

We can cry with the knowledge that God catches each tear and treasures it for each one is lovingly captured and recorded in His book

We can know that the tears of our loved one have ended

Those who have entered into heaven are victorious!

Clothed in white forevermore they dance and rejoice in the streets made of gold

They sit at the banquet table devouring a great feast of joy

They look expectantly at the gate awaiting the day of our arrival

So today we cry

We mourn and we cling to the memory of the love we shared

After our suffering God of all loving grace will powerfully restore us and make us stronger than ever

We have been called to share in God’s eternal glory through Christ so we can call upon the Holy Spirit to come and personally help us

We can cling to the promise that God will make us into what we ought to be, He will establish us in His ways by building us up

Death is a reminder of how precious life truly is

We store up in our hearts the love that has burned so bright in our lives

We are changed forever by their presence in our lives

We can go forth braver and stronger because we had the privilege of knowing them

“All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.” Revelation 3:5 NLT

After we have suffered a little while the God of all grace and kindness will impart to us His blessing and favour; He will personally and powerfully restore us; and make us stronger than ever! He will place us upon a firm foundation and build us up. 1 Peter 5:10 AMP, NLT & TPT paraphrased

This song has also helped me so much – Braver Still – JJ Heller – lyrics YouTube video

I shared some of these words with 2 friends who had experienced the loss of a loved one and they were greatly comforted. I pray that you’re also comforted.

Many blessings, Keona

Picture link – Pixabay

The Mirror Said

The mirror said: “you’re not pretty enough” and I believed the lie

The mirror said: “you’re not skinny enough” and I believed the lie

The mirror said: “no one likes you” and I believed the lie

The mirror said: “the world would be better off without you” and I believed the lie

For many years I thought myself never pretty enough

For many years I thought myself too fat and flabby to be truly adored

For many years I thought myself not worthy of true love

For many years I thought my life didn’t really matter

I placed no value upon myself and considered my life of no great consequence

Who would truly miss me if I no longer existed?

But how wrong those lies now seem how silly the deception

For a man once saw me as a priceless treasure

He said my life was worth all that He could give and so that’s just what He did

He died upon a lonely cross to show me His great love

He rose again and lives today to prove how much He cares

Each and every day He calls to me and says: ‘beloved come near’

How wrong it was for me to look into a piece of glass

How distorted the image returned to me twisted without love

For a mirror can never truly tell me of my great worth

For my worth is found deep inside a hidden treasure chest

My Saviour alone holds the key

He unlocks the chest

And when I trust Him fully He unpacks each part

He teaches me how my value lies within

for true beauty is found within a heart that’s pure

What the mirror says no longer matters!

 

Mirror – Barlow Girl – YouTube lyrics clip

Picture cred – Pixabay