Context: A few days ago, I suddenly saw that the souls of the living and the souls of the dead are exactly the same. As always, I looked for further information about this in the Scriptures, and here is the result:
The souls of all the living, and the souls of all the dead are just the same, because to God all are alive:
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive (Luke 20:38; NIV).
Our souls come from God, remain part of God during our exile here, then return to God:
The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Genesis 2:7; KJV).
Behold, all souls are mine (Ezekiel 18:4; HNV).
The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).
Every soul belongs to God:
Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).
The purpose of our lives is to become more and more like God:
Learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; NLT).
Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24; NLT).
Context: Today’s blog grew from a single moment a couple of days ago, when I saw that inner peace comes through voluntarily choosing to embrace God’s will for us, rather than fighting against it, or pursuing our own personal desires.
We say Christ’s familiar words so often, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10; RSV), but do we really mean them? Do we truly embrace God’s will, giving thanks in all circumstances, no matter what he sends? (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
Perhaps we greet only things we think of as good, or desirable, as coming from God’s hand, whilst seeing everything we judge to be bad, unpleasant, or unwanted, as having nothing to do with him at all? (Job 2:10; NLT).
In fact, God sends all we experience: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7; NIV). As the Book of Ecclesiastes advises: “Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life” (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).
Trials and sorrows
Trials and sorrows are a normal, inevitable part of every human life (John 16:33; NLT). Our suffering is only increased when we deny or resist them, for it is useless to fight against God’s will (Acts 26:14; NLT).
Thus, the way to experience inner peace is by yielding to God. We can do this by actively choosing his will rather than our own, time after time: “Now yield and submit yourself to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace” (Job 22:21; AMP; my emphasis).
So, as we remember that, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away,” let’s praise and thank God for everything, no matter what we must face and endure (Job 1:21; CSB).
Why embrace God’s will?
Some people may ask why embracing God’s will is more important than longing for, or pursuing, our own desires. There are several answers to this question:
God shares our suffering (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).
God speaks to us through every kind of suffering and pain (Job 33:19; TIB; Job 36:15; NIV).
No matter how hard our lives are, God will be there to teach us (Isaiah 30:20; GNT).
God causes everything to work together for the good of thosewholove him and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).
Yielding to God
Paul specifically advises us to “…yield ourselves to God” (Romans 6:13; RSV), and a moment’s reflection will remind us of the huge consequences which can flow each time we do this. Think, for example, how differently events might have turned out:
If Mary had not said; “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” during the Annunciation (Luke 1:38; KJV).
Or if Jesus had not prayed, “I want your will to be done, not mine” in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42; NLT).
Inner peace comes through accepting God’s will wholeheartedly
So let’s ask God to help us endure our suffering patiently, whilst continuing to serve him as best we can (Hebrews 10:36; NLT). As Paul writes: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7; NLT).
Incredibly, God’s peace can help us through even the most extreme suffering: “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me” (Psalm 23:4; NLT).
The way to find inner peace is to embrace God’s will for us voluntarily, thanking him for everything he sends, both “good” and “bad”, with joyful hearts: “Submit to God, and you will have peace” (Job 22:21; NLT).
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).
Thrillingly, I received my last few rosary-making necessities yesterday, especially some 1mm waxed polyester thread and larger beads. This enabled me to make my very first complete rosary. It is admittedly very simple, but hopefully usable, and is already bringing me joy.
Context: Last Saturday was a rare, blessed, unpressured day with no hospital appointments, and no building work taking place at home. I had breakfast in bed, followed by the luxury of a whole morning to write this prayer, which arrived soon after I woke up:
Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NLT).
God: in stillness, silence, darkness;
Here, in yearning –
God: in worship, wonder, rapture;
Here, in bliss –
Our stepping stone.
God: in nature, labour, service;
Here, in love –
Our source, our home.
God: in weakness, envy, anger;
Here, in sin –
God: in conflict, terror, trauma;
Here, in carnage –
God: in sickness, sorrow, anguish;
Here, in pain –
Our flesh, our bone.
God: in striving, yielding, dying;
Here, in all –
Our Lord, alone.
The LORD is our God, the LORD alone (Deuteronomy 6:4; NLT).
Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD (Zephaniah 1:7; NLT).
God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).
By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made (Genesis 3:19; NLT).
The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; NLT).
I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).
Yield yourselves to God (Romans 6:13; RSV).
Now yield and submit yourself to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace (Job 22:21; AMP).
Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit (Matthew 27:50; NKJV).
The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).
There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).
I’m longing for the arrival of some 1mm cord from the UK. This should hopefully thread through the wooden beads I’ve already bought. At present, I only have 1.5mm cord, which is too thick to go through them. Until the thinner cord arrives, I’m limited to making necklaces and bracelets, practicing barrel knots and threading a few beads by chewing the thread. Still, today I made my first ever equal-length sliding knots.
Context: Last Saturday I had breakfast in bed to celebrate a whole day ahead with no planned medical appointments. Whilst saying the morning Office I took my meds slowly, one at a time, in order to keep my concentration as high as I possible. After the Office, I found myself whispering this brutally honest little prayer:
You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).
I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NIV).
I love you, Lord;
I love you,
But I don’t expect your love, Lord,
Because I don’t expect this, Lord,
I love you, Lord,
And I believe
That you accept
That’s all I ask, Lord God,
For it’s enough.
We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19; TIB).
Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough (2 Corinthians 8:15; NLT).
Context: This poem arrived a few days ago, just as I was settling down to sleep. The next morning I had to get up early for yet more hospital tests, then crept home to rest afterwards, feeling very much as if I’d been to the vet. During the quiet afternoon that followed, there was plenty of time to alternate between sleeping and getting this blog ready.
When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home. Jesus knew that his mission was now finished (John 19:26-8; NLT).
You’re my mother now.
May I say, “Yes” to God, Like you,
And thank the Lord For all He sends:
Each pain, joy, fear, And sorrow, too.
Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also (Luke 2:35; KJV).
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word (Luke 1:38; KJV).
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB).
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! (Luke 1:47; NLT).
Context: This little prayer came to me on 28.10.22, well before I consciously registered that All Souls’ Day was fast approaching. I had to smile at God’s advance planning! It forms a pair with yesterday’s blog (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cIe).
The Messiah also died once for the sake of our sins, the Righteous One in the place of sinners, to bring you to God, and he died in body and lived in his Spirit. And he preached to those souls who were held in Sheol, those who from the first were not convinced (1 Peter 3; 18-19; PHBT).
Heal the souls
Of all the dead –
Don’t punish them:
Forgive, I beg.
They have cried
Enough? Your arms
Are open wide,
For you, alone,
Are love and grace:
Please welcome all
With your embrace.
I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.” So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him (Luke 15:18-20; NLT).
The Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10; NLT).
God wants everyone to be saved and to know the whole truth (1 Timothy 2:4; CEV).
Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “Yahweh, I beg you, deliver my soul” (Psalm 116:4; WEB).
God is love (1 John 4:16; NLT).
By God’sgrace, Jesus tasted death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9; NLT).
First reading: Psalm 16:7-11; NLT
I will bless the LORD who guides me;
Even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
You will show me the way of life,
Granting me the joy of your presence
And the pleasures of living with you forever.
Second reading: Psalm 103:1-4; NLT
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
With my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
May I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death,
Context: I like to pray on behalf of those who cannot pray, and those who do not pray. There is a clear precedent for this in the Old Testament, when God says: “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf” (Job 42:8; NLT).
Furthermore, Jesus himself intercedes on behalf of us: “Because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf” (Hebrews 7:24-5; NLT).
So, praying on behalf of others is the theme of today’s blog, which arrived a few days ago, just before my hospital trip to London:
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).
Thank you for making us all.
We belong to you,
And we are part of you.
Help us to love you,
And one another,
So we can share your oneness,
And your joy.
I ask this In your dear Son’s name.
Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy (Philippians 2:16-17; NLT).
Reading: John 17:21-3; NLT
I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.
Context: At present, I’m having a lot of challenging and alarming dreams. Yesterday morning, as I surfaced from a particularly long, disturbing one, I started to pray, and immediately received today’s poem. Later in the day I printed it out, and put a copy beside my pillow. The plan is to say it every night just before settling down to sleep, straight after the beautiful Song of Simeon (see below).
Update: I did this last night, and had no horrible dreams at all, for which I thank God!
God speaks in dreams, those visions of the night when deep sleep covers the land and all are slumbering in their beds. At these times God speaks in our ears and terrifies us with admonitions, to turn us away from wickedness and to keep us humble (Job 33:15-17; TIB).
Stay with me in my dreams,
To help and comfort me, I pray,
Then, be with me when I wake, To guide and strengthen me each day.
May I hearten others, too, With help and comfort, when I can,
And walk the extra mile with them,
And share their load, like you, God’s Lamb.
If one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles (Matthew 5:41; GNT).
As Jesus walked by, John looked at him and declared, “Look! There is the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36; NLT).
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2; NLT).
Reading: the Song of Simeon
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel (Luke 2:29-32; KJV).