Hit The Re-Set Button (a soul re-set)

Hit the Re-Set Button!

Lamentations‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

‘But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:”
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My phone crashed recently – disaster!! I tried everything but my poor phone had just had ‘had it’. To cut a long story short, it couldn’t get past the boot up stage. And kept repeatedly rebooting. In the end, it turned out that it needed a new battery and had to be re-set to factory settings. ‘A hard re-set’ they call it. The thing is, when you re-set to factory settings, you lose all your data. So I lost most of what was in my phone, except what was backed up to the cloud, and started again from scratch,

This has got me thinking for a couple of weeks; Like a computer or smartphone that defaults to certain settings, each of us have a ‘despair default’. If I haven’t configured my mind, by filling filling it with Truth (The Word of God. Truths about who God is, his character, his nature and who I am in Him) and then when I face difficulties I’m going to find myself sliding down the slippery slope of discouragement and complaint really fast. There are times in life when we need to re-set ourselves to factory settings. To clear our hearts and minds of all the junk we’ve been telling ourselves.
On a computer, tablet or smartphone, if you download an app that isn’t from the official app site, you’re taking a risk. You could end up with a virus that could damage your gadget. Thankfully there is that factory reset button.
We need to save all those truths ‘to the cloud’ – to store up God’s Word in our hearts: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!” Psalms‬ ‭119:11-12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The prophet Jeremiah had a default setting of “God is faithful.”
He faced some hard times. We read in Jeremiah‬ ‭16:1-5, 8-9‬ ‭that God told him not to marry or have children. Now, we know, reading this today and seeing the whole picture, that God had good reason for this. It saved Jeremiah from even greater heartache down the road. But sometimes, when we read about these Old Testament ‘Greats’ we can forget that they were just people, like us. Jeremiah felt loneliness at times. He felt unloved. He was an unpopular prophet, in his time, with a very unpopular message and the people let him know that. He felt the sting of their rejection. He was just an ordinary guy who loved The Lord.

If Jeremiah had just focused on those negative things that were filling his mind and the circumstances around him that threatened to bring him down; and if he had carried on speaking about them, he was going to discourage himself even more. He starts off in Lamentations 19 – 20. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”Then he breaks this pattern and cycle of despair. He seems to remember to be vigilant about what he allowed himself to think about. He remembers God’s goodness and faithfulness and His unfailing mercy. Jeremiah starts to focus on God’s attributes instead, reminding his heart of the Truths that he already knows but had temporarily forgotten to focus on. In doing that, he ‘hits the re-set button’, instantly changing his outlook.

Jeremiah forces himself to bring truth to the forefront of his mind and these truths sink into his heart and ‘re-set him’. What did Jeremiah ‘call to mind’. What was his ‘re-set button?
It tells us in verses 22-26
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
‭‭(Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-26‬ )

He needed to bring other things to mind to replace the ‘virus’ that had got into his system. He needed to call them up from his ‘hard drive’ and make himself think about what was true instead.
In times of discouragement and despair, it’s so tempting to just let rip with a good old ‘complain fest’.
We need to engage our will, and purposely and deliberately focus on things other than our problems. To force ourselves to remember truth. Recall a verse. Remember a time when God demonstrated His grace and mercy to us.
If I push God’s faithfulness and goodness to the front of my mind, even when I don’t feel like doing it, I feel hope begin to rise and heart re-sets!

So what does Jeremiah actually ‘call to mind’?
1. Verse 22. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.” Why doesn’t God destroy us or consume us? He could if he wanted to. If left alone to our own devices our sins would consume us, if it were not for His lovingkindness and great love.
The word for “love” used here means “loyal love,”. It speaks of a
faithful love that will never let go because isn’t dependent on
emotion but on an act of the will. God’s love is loyal. God loves us
because He promised to love us and nothing, but NOTHING, can
cause Him to break His promise to love us. His covenant keeping
love includes making true the promises that He has made to us
who have entered into a father-child relationship with Him.
2. The second part of Verse 22 “for His compassions never fail.” Notice that the word ‘compassions’ is plural.; unusual in English, but it’s not a typo in the the Bible, it’s there for a reason. God’s compassions are plural because His compassion and his mercy is intense and limitless. The rivers of God’s mercy flow constant and full, and never run dry
The word compassion comes from the Hebrew word
“womb” [reem, in the plural for intensity] and shows us the gentle
feeling of concern and care that God has for us is like a mother has
for her new-born. The word literally means, “to be moved in the
heart out of love for another.” God’s compassion emanates from
deep within Him and flows into our lives. He is moved in His heart
when He thinks about you.

3. Verse 23a “They are new every morning.” What if you were to wake up every morning to find your wallet or purse full of money, your car full of petrol, your cupboards full of food, and your youth and vitality fully restored? That’s the way it is with God’s compassions and mercies. They are renewed to us every morning, they never run dry and You can never use them up. The moment we decide to turn our moaning and complaining into praise, our fearful declarations into faith-filled ones, is when we hit that re-set button in our hears and we start to see that change we long for.

If you are His, God is a faithful, covenant keeping God, who will never renege on his promises, will never leave you or forsake you and loves you beyond measure. If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place right now, and feel like venting, try declaring God’s faithfulness and goodness instead. Try saying out loud how much he loves you and cares for you. Keep saying it until your head stops telling your heart otherwise, and your heart starts to believe instead, what you are reminding yourself of.
This isn’t ‘mind over matter’, it’s a Biblical principle.
King David spoke to his own soul, saying “Why so downcast Oh my soul? Put your hope in God!”
He also knew how to press his re-set button.
We can do the same!

Jill McIlreavy 💜

Permanent Residence

Psalm 91
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

The word “dwell” used in this verse means, “to take up permanent residence in.” It’s when consciously, actively choose to draw close to God and seek to make his presence our ‘permanent residence’ as a lifestyle that we’ll rest in the very “shadow of the Almighty.”
‘Dwelling in God’s presence’ sounds very high and lofty, and sort of unattainable, but it really isn’t. God’s presence is always there…ALWAYS.
Psalms‬ ‭139:7-11‬ ‭NLT‬‬ “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me—”
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When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his imminent crucifixion and ascension to Heaven, he promised them this: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.” (*Advocate here is also ‘Comforter, Encourager, Counsellor. ‘One who draws alongside’) John‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

We often pray and ‘invite’ God to come, and I picture him smiling to himself, because he’s already here.
Apart from the daily ‘set aside time’ spent with God, we can draw near to him all day, through the day, by just including him in everything we do. Talking to him, singing songs of worship to him. It sounds very simplistic, but that’s because it is. It’s we humans that complicate our relationship with God with all our religious trappings. He is there, beside us, all day, ever day, and all we need to do is acknowledge his presence.

I love this description of “The Shadow of The Almighty”. Shadows are a place of protection or covering; they provide relief from the direct heat of the sun. If the heat is severe, the shade is the place we long for to escape the intensity of the heat of the sun.

Sometimes the ‘heat’ of life can become so intense. Pressures and stress can seem as stifling and hot as afternoon the blazing sun. God’s says to us; “Walk in my shadow, keep close to my side.”
“TAKE UP PERMANENT RESIDENCE IN MY PRESENCE”

In God’s shadow is the place of confidence, the place of rest, the place of protection, the place of healing, of peace and of calm.
I know where I want to be!

Oh and guess what?

YOUR APPLICATION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE WILL NEVER BE TURNED DOWN!

Your Visa is granted immediately, from the first moment you turn your eyes to him and surrender you heart to him (that’s what we call, in ‘Christian-ese’ getting saved, or becoming a Christian) and from there on, the open invitation to permanent residence. But it has to be a choice. Just because you have a holiday house in a beautiful place doesn’t mean you live there all the time. Some people have holiday homes in beautiful places, have been granted permanent resident, and still only pop over a couple of times a year.
You and I have been granted permanent residence in God’s presence. A place of refuge, safety, comfort, counsel and security.
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‭Jill McIlreavy 😊X

Dont Be Afraid

Mark‬ ‭6:48-51‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,”
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This story of the disciples in the boat in a storm has really caught my attention the last couple of days. Here they were, out on the water in a storm. And Jesus – the very one who could calm the storm and quiet the raging waves was walking towards them, on the water. And they didn’t even recognise him, they thought he was a ghost!
I think of how often I get myself into a panic, over everyday ‘storms’, or even possible storms. Once you let that feeling of fear or panic get hold, it seems to be a downward spiral from there, doesn’t it?
Verse 50 says The disciples were terrified. The word used here is tarássō ‘Tarasso’ – meaning literally: ‘to set in motion what must remain still.’
Thayer’s Definition
1. to agitate, trouble (a thing, by the movement of its parts to and fro)
* to cause one inward commotion, take away his calmness of mind, disturb his equanimity
* to disquiet, make restless
* to stir up
* to trouble
1. to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread
* to render anxious or distressed
1. to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread
* to render anxious or distressed
* to perplex the mind of one by suggesting scruples or doubts
Recently there was a post that circulated on social media that said that there are 365 Bible verses saying ‘do not be afraid’, one for each day of the year. I did try counting them, but I only got to 179, so I can’t confirm that. But even 179 times is truly amazing! God says to us, repeatedly throughout history and today, ‘Don’t be afraid. Trust me. I am your provider, your healer, your safe haven in the storms of life’

The disciples were anxious and fearful, terrified! They allowed those emotions to be set in motion and take hold of their hearts.
How much drama could we avoid, if we just trust that Jesus is always, always there ‘walking towards us’ in the midst of the storm. He never leaves or forsakes us. When he spoke to that storm and told it to cease, I believe he spoke to the storm raging inside their hearts too.
That’s what Jesus does. We can trust him with our storms!
Another part of this scripture caught my attention: verse 47
“And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And HE SAW THAT THEY WERE MAKING HEADWAY PAINFULLY, FOR THE WIND WAS AGAINST THEM. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea..”
‭‭I love this. Jesus SAW that the wind was against them. He SAW their struggle. And his heart was moved for them. His heart was touched that they were struggling, and he was on his way to rescue them long before they’d even cried out for him.
That’s who our God is. He is not a far off God, indifferent to your struggles. He sees you and everything you are up against. He is VIGILANT in caring for you.
Do not ever, for one moment, believe that God doesn’t see what you’re facing, or care about your circumstances. He never takes his eyes off you!

Here’s just 3 of those hundreds of ‘do not be afraid’ verses 😊
Genesis 50:21 – ‘So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Deuteronomy 31:8 – ‘The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.’
Joshua 1:9 – ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be afraid’

Jill McIreavy

The Father Heart of God- meaningful connection

My three grown up sons live and work abroad. As a mum, I miss them, every single day. People say things to me like ‘well at least there’s Skype’ or ‘be glad they’re all serving The Lord’. Both of which are absolutely true, and I am glad for those things, but you can’t hug your son over Skype and knowing your son is ‘working for God’ is lovely, but it doesn’t stop you feeling the six thousand miles between you and your son and the need to hear his voice and see his face.

Being guys, they’re also… well let’s just say they aren’t the best communicators. One of my sons in particular (who will remain unnamed😊) sometimes goes for a couple of months without texting or Skyping me. All three of them, when I text, usually send me back a brief reply saying they’re busy and they’ll text me or call me properly later. Quite often ‘later’ never happens. But I know they love me. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m their mum. And it certainly doesn’t change my love for them.
The other day, when I was feeling that familiar pang of missing my boys, a thought suddenly dawned on me. God is my father, and I know that he loves it when I spend quality time with him.
When I don’t spend meaningful time with Him, God’s heart feels the way my heart feels when my boys do that to me.
How often do we say ‘oh I’ll talk to you later Lord, I just need to do this’. Or ‘Sorry Lord, I’ve only got 10 minutes left to talk to you, after my busy day’ (and then fall asleep while talking to him)
If my heart, as a parent, longs for meaningful connection with my children, how much more does my Father God’s heart, with me?
Did you know that God thinks about you, all the time?
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:17-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Your Father God is constantly thinking an uninterrupted stream of loving thoughts toward you as though nobody else in the world exists. How does He do that? How can He be personally involved with billions of individuals at the same time? I don’t know, but I do know that for the Creator of the world it’s no biggie. Maybe the explanation is the speed of His thought. God has created things in nature that pulsate at incredible speed. Apparently the quartz crystal’s molecular structure vibrates at the speed of 9 billion movements per second. That’s only something created. Surely then God, the Creator has the ability to think far faster than that. He could easily think a loving thought towards you at least twice every second without straining His ability to relate to the rest of His children all at the same time. Who knows how He does it. As far as you’re concerned, it’s just you and God. You never have to try to get His attention, you already have it. He’s already listening.

As our Father, he is never too preoccupied with his own activities to show a real interest in the small events of our lives. He cares. He is a God of detail. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. The Bible doesn’t tell us this to let us know that God is concerned with data, He’s trying to tell us in what detail He knows us and cares about our lives. I love the way Psalm 139 puts it: “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:1-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬
No one knows you, or loves you the way your heavenly Papa does. No one.
There is one attribute of God that not even the best parent can ever hope to imitate; his ability to be with you all the time.
“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:7-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

He Disciplines with Love
“for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
People brought up by an austere or maybe even abusive father, might read this and it might bring back painful memories of the wrong sort of ‘discipline’. Our Father God ‘reproves’, corrects, and chides. He doesn’t beat us with a big stick. Or whip us into submission when we step out of line.

God is the perfect Father. He is faithful, generous, kind, and loving. He longs to spend time with and have meaningful connection with his children. He wants you know that you are a special and unique person to Him, unconditionally loved.

Jill McIlreavy

Tuned in to God’s Voice

My hubby is at home today because it’s a bank holiday. He likes listening to the radio. When he’s not in the house, it would never even occur to me to turn the radio on, I like quiet. This morning this thought occurred to me:

Thousands of radio broadcasts go out all over the world, 24 hours a day. Billions of people are listening to the radio right now and for 24/7 there are always billions of people somewhere in the world, listening to the radio. But I very seldom hear a radio broadcast. Why? Because even though we have 3 radios in our house, I seldom turn one on!
If I don’t turn the radio on, I’m not going to hear it. In the same way, God is speaking, ALL the time. 24/7.
We might have half a dozen bibles in our house. We might go to church once or twice a week. But unless we position ourselves to hear him and keep our ears tuned to him, we won’t hear him.
In Matthew‬ ‭11:15‬ ‭(NLT) Jesus said “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”
‭‭‬‬Also in Mark‬ ‭4:9 “Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
In Revelation that phrase is used several times.
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬
You sort of get the feeling The Lord is trying to tell us something, don’t you! 😀
So what is he saying to the churches?
Revelation‬ ‭3:17-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬
“You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.”
These are solemn words of counsel and love the Laodicean church that was content with itself, and couldn’t even see how poor they actually were, spiritually.

Yesterday, I was reading the account in Mark’s gospel about how Jesus walked on water. And the end of that story caught my attention: “Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.” Mark‬ ‭6:51-52‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Not long before this incident in the boat, the disciples had witnessed Jesus performing the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 from one little boy’s packed lunch. And now here they were, gobsmacked that the same Jesus who had done that, was able to walk in water. When I read that line ‘their hearts were too hard to take it in’, at first I thought to myself, how amazing, that they had spent all that time in close proximity with Jesus, they’d seen him perform miracles, heard him speak to crowds and each of them knew him personally. You’d wonder how their hearts could be ‘hardened’. What did Jesus mean? But then I thought, they really weren’t that different to me or you, today were they? We can all, if we aren’t careful, harden our hearts.
How does a person become hardened of heart?
It usually happens so gradually that you don’t even realise that it has happened. The disciples had seen a lot, they had heard a lot. But that doesn’t mean they had personally applied everything they’d seen and heard.
Access (to Jesus) without application will not equal transformation.
I can go to church and listen to countless sermons and come away thinking ‘what a great sermon that was’. I can even take notes to read later and ‘amen’ every point made, but if I don’t apply it to my life, I won’t be changed. And that’s when my heart will start to become a little bit hardened.
Our hearts will start to become hardened if we are exposed to a teaching that we know in our heart if hearts we need to implement, but we don’t make any changes. Eventually, if we carry on like that, our hearts end up like the proverbial ‘water off a duck’s back’, where we just can’t hear or see God, because of the hard layers we’ve coated our hearts with.
James‬ ‭1:22-25‬ ‭Says:
‭‭“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”
This Laodicean had become like that. They were proud of their wealth and accomplishments. Self sufficient. And as a result they had ended up spiritually poor, ‘wretched, miserable, poor and naked’.

‘Buy from me gold, refined in the fire‘ Jesus is in effect saying here, ‘you have no concept of what being truly rich is’.
True riches are found by seeking first the Kingdom of God. And when I make the decision to store up treasure in heaven, investing in the eternal Kingdom of God. True wealth is found when I spend time sitting at Jesus’ feet. And true riches come when I live a life of obedience to God, flowing from a deep love for Him. ‘Refined in the fire’ implies faith tested by fiery trials.
Job 23:10-12
“But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food.”
Revelation‬ ‭3:18‬b

White garments, that you may be clothed: The merchants of Laodicea were famous for a glossy black wool they used to make beautiful garments. Jesus is saying to them” I know the beautiful black that the world can clothe you in, but I have stunningly beautiful white garments, for my bride’. When we surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus, he gives us ‘new clothes’ to wear.
“to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah‬ ‭61:10‬
How often do we throw off that beautiful robe of Righteousness he has clothed us in and pick up again the garments of our past? Shame, Rejection, Unforgiveness.

and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”
The church was so blind to their impoverished state that they just couldn’t see. They needed Jesus to anoint their eyes (the eyes of their hearts)
There’s a song we sing- “open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see you”. May we see him. And not become hard of heart. May we see the areas that we have become hardened of heart. And may our eyes be anointed with his eye salve to see beyond ourselves. To see prophetically, what God sees. May he anoint our eyes to have vision that stretches far beyond our own needs and ambitions too see the needs of others.
May we be tuned in to his voice and listening! Ready!

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Take My Yoke Upon You..

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’ve always loved this verse.
I often hear people quote this, or a little part of it, and then talk about casting their burden down at Jesus feet. I’ve done that myself. But although Jesus is the ‘taker of burdens, that’s only part of what he’s saying here. Really his invitation here is to ‘take up’. It’s an invitation to partner with him. To become his ‘yoke-fellow’. And to learn from him.

‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me’
Jesus gives the the imagery of oxen, yoked together in partnership to pull a plough. Jesus used allegories that were relevant to the people’s own experience and daily lives to explain or clarify the concepts that He was teaching. I love this image he uses of the yoke.
As I’m sure you know, a yoke is a bar or frame by which two working animals are joined for working together. When yoked together, the two oxen have to go in the same direction and be united in their work.

Jesus invites us to yoke ourselves to him, and learn from him. We have a clear invitation from Jesus to ‘take up’ his yoke and partner with him.
Often the loads were very heavy and the animals exerted all their strength to pull the loads. The yokes would have chafed against their shoulders, often producing sores. Jesus’ yoke, though, is easy, and His burden is light.
When we partner with Jesus, he shoulders the burden and we simply follow his lead. We don’t need to struggle to ‘do our bit’. I know I’m so often one of those people who feels ‘I must do this. I’d better do that’ Jesus never did or said anything unless The Father told him to.
He says ‘learn from me’.
Very often, to train younger oxen, the farmer would have put a younger animal into the yoke with a more experienced one. The older, more experienced ox would take the lead and the young one would learn by example.
We can ask Him to teach us and he will:

Psalms‬ ‭86:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”

Psalms‬ ‭25:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

John‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
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May we‭‭ learn to lay down our own yokes (I need to learn to stop picking mine back up again!) and just keep in step with Jesus. Our will yoke-fellow. Our gracious, loving Teacher, who doesn’t beat and whip, but gently chides when we get out of step and leads by example. His burden is light and his yoke is easy.

Extravagant Love..The God of Abundance

On Tuesday of this week I was in a charity shop (I think that’s a ‘thrift shop’ for American readers) when the above photograph caught my eye. It was leaning against the wall, half obscured by other frames. But I could see it was something special and felt my heart start to beat a bit faster as I cleared the other frames out of the way. I stood the picture up on its own and just stood there, looking at it. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Right there in the middle of the busy, noisy shop, I could hear that still, small voice of God, speaking right into my heart. I looked at how the water gushed over the outstretched hands and splashed outwardly, spilling over onto the ground. And God said to me. ‘That’s how I give. And it’s how I give my love to you. I don’t give in a little trickle. I gush, I lavish upon. I Am Abundance personified. I pour out and pour out and pour out until you can’t contain it and it spills over and touches those around you.’Im reminded of that song ‘Pieces’ by Steffany Gretzinger; one of the lines goes ‘you don’t give your heart in pieces’.

Nobody, but NOBODY loves as he does. He is Love.

Thats my Jesus.

Jill McIlreavy