Through helping (#3 of 3)

Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35; NLT). 

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Through helping others, Lord,
We help ourselves.

Forgiving others,
We forgive ourselves.

So, we beg you,
Heal and bless

Our selfish hearts
With kindliness,

Till, loving all,
We learn to love ourselves.

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 1027; NLT).

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32; NLT). 

A message 19.6.22.

The Almighty …blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb.
(Genesis 49:25; NIV).

✝️ Greetings and blessings to everyone who visits and follows here. I pray for you all each day.

This extra message is to let you know that from tomorrow onwards, I will be using inclusive language for my blogs wherever possible. When this goes beyond my writing ability, I will try to post two versions, one using the traditional male pronoun for God, and one using more inclusive language.

I’m well aware that whilst some people will welcome this change, others would find it a big challenge if I moved suddenly to expressing a wider understanding of God. I’ve  been pondering about how best to begin this transition for some time, but today God showed me this simple way forward, to my great joy.

Later the same day:

As I look back over my recent writing, it’s proving hard to find a piece that doesn’t already use inclusive language, so you may well not notice much difference. However, I still want to be upfront that this change is on its way.

I hope very much that those who find the change difficult will not reject these prayers out of hand. To begin with, when there are two versions of the day’s blog, I will always put the traditional version at the top of the page, so you need not look any further if that is more helpful for you. This is why I have arranged the photos illustrating this message with a more traditional choice above, and a more inclusive version at the end.

I pray that, in time, embracing a fuller and deeper understanding of God will become a huge blessing for us all. Please be patient whilst I learn to adapt the way I write. I’m sure there will be times when inclusivity will present me with a steep learning curve!

✝️ With love from Ruth xxxxx

As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother.
(Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).

After the Eucharist (for J.K.)

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you cannot have eternal life within you
(John 6:53; NLT).

Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,
and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me
(John 15:4; NLT). 

1. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my hands,
Then, all I touch will be blessed.
Stay on my tongue, Lord,
Remain in my thoughts,
Then I will pass every test.

2. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my heart,
Then, I’ll serve others with care.
Stay in my blood,
And remain in my bones,
Then, I’ll help others, through prayer.

3. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my life,
Till this long exile is done.
Stay in my spirit;
Remain in my soul –
Then, we will always be one.

You …are complete through your union with Christ
(Colossians 2:10; NLT).


References 

1. When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16; NLT).

We …touched him with our own hands (1 John 1:1; NLT). 

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:4; NIV).

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV).

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

2. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11; NLT). 

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35; NIV).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT).

3. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

Just pray

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people.
Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf,
and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT). 

When someone comes into your mind:
Just pray for them –
It won’t take long.

When seeing people in the street:
Just bless them all –
You can’t go wrong.

When others seem to need a hand:
Just offer help –
Don’t be afraid. 

When someone hurts you, don’t be weak:
Just pause –
Then turn the other cheek.

If someone slaps you on the right cheek,
offer the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39; NLT).

God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right
and patiently endure unfair treatment (1 Peter 2:19; NLT). 

Entrusted with suffering

1. Introduction

We come into this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing. Along the way, we experience many joys, trials and sorrows. God gives us everything we have, but he also takes things away from us. Thus, he tests us to see how we freely respond.  This process reveals whether or not we love him with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.

No one is exempt from being tested by suffering, including Christ. This is why he is able to suffer with us, whilst helping us to find and follow his way of love through every experience. Jesus’ life and death clearly demonstrate that God brings good out of even the most terrible suffering, and the same can also be true for us.

2. Suffering 

When others suffer, we pray that they will be strengthened, helped, and healed. Additionally, we can ask God to bring good from what they are undergoing, both for the sufferer, and for others.

However, when we ourselves must suffer, Jesus invites us to shoulder our cross and follow him. This means we have a choice about how to respond to our situation.

3. Responses to suffering 

A. We may respond to suffering with resentment, anger, bitterness or despair, blaming God for the troubles he has sent us. If suffering makes it impossible for us to maintain our previous understanding of God, we are likely to become disillusioned, rejecting him, and perhaps even losing our faith altogether. Yet such inner struggles can be healed, because God endlessly waits for us to turn to him, longing to help us reach a deeper understanding of him, and of our suffering.

B. Alternatively, we can respond to suffering by learning to face, accept and even welcome it, seeing it as a way of sharing in the redemptive suffering of Christ. By adopting this approach, we can focus on asking God to help us embrace what we must undergo, for it is useless to fight against his will. As above, we can also pray that God will bring good from our suffering, especially for others. Such an attitude might take many years to develop, but we have our whole lifetime to work on it, until our last breath.

4. Entrusted with suffering

Suffering is not imposed on us without purpose. Rather we are entrusted with a level of suffering that is commensurate to the strength of our faith. Like Jesus, our task is to face it in such as way as to be an example, an encouragement and an inspiration to others. This is how God brings good from it, often in very unexpected ways.

5. Suffering as an opportunity 

Suffering can therefore be understood as an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth, a form of service, a privilege, a blessing, an honour and a glory. Such an approach gives rise to a much more positive attitude than seeing it as a random or unfair event, a judgement, or a punishment. We can thank God for it, doing our very best to endure and manage our suffering with patience and love. This approach brings peace of mind, for we can be confident that our approach to suffering will help others, and even ourselves. In this way, suffering is transformed and made meaningful, becoming easier live with, and to bear.

6. Conclusion

Whatever trials and sorrows we face, we can turn to God and ask for his help. Summoning all our courage, we can choose to trust in him, whilst being as joyful, prayerful, thankful and loving as possible. When we have faith that God will support and teach us through all we experience, we can be assured that our suffering will, in time, bear fruit.

God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering (Genesis 41:52; NIV).

References

1. Introduction

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free (James 2:12; NLT). 

He did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all (Romans 8:32; NLT). 

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested (Hebrews 2:18; NLT).

I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood (Hebrews 13:12; NLT).

In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).

2. Suffering 

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT). 

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me (Matthew 16:24; NLT).

3. Responses to suffering

A. My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? (Psalm 22:1; NLT).

The Lord longs to be gracious to you (Isaiah 30:18; NIV).

The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

B. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? (Job 2:10; NIV).

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

It is useless for you to fight against my will (Acts 26:14; NLT).

You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14; NET). 

It’s foolish to fight against me! (Acts 26:14; CEV). 

If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT).

Submit to God and be at peace with him (Job 22:21; NIV).

God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes (Job 36:15; GNT). 

Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last (Luke 23:46; NLT).

4. Entrusted with suffering

From the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48; NIV). 

Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps his promise, and he will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, he will give you the strength to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13; GNT).

God chose you to suffer as you follow in the footsteps of Christ, who set an example by suffering for you (1 Peter 2:21; CEV).

5. Suffering as an opportunity 

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation (James 1:12; NLT).

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10; NIV). 

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more (John 15:2; NLT). 

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4; NIV).

6. Conclusion 

Trust in God (John 14;1; NLT).

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ (Ephesians 5:2; NLT).


 

Good Friday

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
(Luke 6:27-8; NIV).

Beyond all torment, come what may,
Is Christ,
Who tells us how to pray.

Beyond all darkness and distress
Is Christ,
Who teaches us to bless.

Beyond all anguish, hate, and blood
Is Christ,
Who shows us how to love.

Beyond all hunger, thirst, and pain
Is Christ,
Who died, and rose again.

Beyond all terror, grief, and war
Is Christ,
Who lives for evermore.

I died, and behold I am alive for evermore.
(Revelation 1:18; RSV).


Turn to God

Each of you must repent and turn to God, and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; NLT).

Turn to God,
And start afresh:
Repent of all your sin.
Accept forgiveness,
Bless your foes,
And welcome Christ within.

Turn to God,
And start again:
Be Spirit-filled, and pray.
Take up your cross,
Put others first,
And follow Christ each day.

Turn to God,
And start anew:
Accepting all he sends.
Through good and bad
Love everyone,
Until your journey ends.

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6; NIV).


Even when…

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you…

Even when we don’t trust others,
Father, may we offer peace.

Even when they hate and curse us,
May we serve them, doing good.

Even when we fear them deeply,
May we help and bless them all,

And even when they treat us badly,
May we pray for them, with love. 

…pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27-8; NIV).

Save us!

Lord, save us! (Matthew 8:25; NLT). 

1. Jesus,
Save us from ourselves,
For we are ignorant and weak.
The last thing we remember, Lord, is:
Blessed are the meek.

2. Jesus,
Save us from ourselves,
For we are always wanting more.
The last thing we consider, Lord, is:
Blessed are the poor.

3. Jesus,
Save us from ourselves,
For we pursue what makes us glad.
The last thing we acknowledge, Lord, is:
Blessed are the sad.

4. Jesus,
Save us from ourselves,
For we are blind, and immature.
The last thing we reflect on, Lord, is:
Blessed are the pure. 

🖤

You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.”
But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
(Revelation 3:17; NIV).

I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.
(Matthew 18:3; NLT). 

 


References

1. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5; NKJV).

2. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3; NKJV). 

3. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4; NKJV).

4. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8; NKJV).