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Posted By Nan

Matthew 7:12
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” That is a hard one. Can’t I hit back at that woman who goes out of her way to be rude to me? What about that person who has so horribly wronged me? One thing I have learned in life is that retaliating is never really satisfying. It may feel momentarily good, but when I try to justify it to God, I can’t. I know it was wrong to react the way I did. In truth, retaliation is all about reacting. God does not call us to react, He calls us to act, to respond. To calmly, respectfully and assertively respond to others. It means when that bully in the office is trying to brow beat you into doing what they want you can lovingly and respectfully say no and not lose your temper as she has. It means you can choose to hand your anger and hurt to God and seek to forgive that person who wronged you. It means you can in all good conscience accept that the wrong that person has done is not OK, will not be forgotten, maybe has even led to an end to your friendship with that person but that you will forgive them. It means you can be polite to the jerk down the road because him being a jerk does not stop you being helpful when he needs it. And in all this, we have God, our ever present, constant help and assistance. The one we can always take our irritations and hurts to, who will always listen, always understand and always have the best response for us, if we ask, and who will hold us close when we are hurting and need that comfort.
When looked at from that perspective, doing unto others as I would have them do to me sounds quite doable. Thank you God, my greatest help and constant companion.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 7:7-11
If you need something, ask God for it. It is important to remember that prayer is not some formal thing you do where you follow a set format and have long winded petitions full of big words you barely understand. Prayer is conversation with God. It can be a long conversation, a disjointed conversation carried out while performing daily tasks, driving somewhere or even walking the dog. It can be broken by distractions just as somethings conversations with friends are broken by distractions. It can also be short sentences “Thankyou for helping me”, “Please help me”, “Please give me the attitude you want me to have” and so on. Often, the asking God for help prayers are those quick, short sentences. God is just as likely to answer them as the longer winded one and all three types are necessary.
I had occasion yesterday to ask God for guidance and assistance in sorting a problem to do with my work. I was about to go out when the problem became apparent and I did not have time to sit in prayer so I prayed as I readied myself to leave. God immediately gave me an answer, to talk to a particular person, and on top of that, filled me with peace. When I spoke to that person today they reassured me in so many ways, not just the problem I had approached them about, but in many other ways I had asked God about over many months. I realised God was reassuring me over all the doubts and uncertainties I had shared with Him over these months. As I sent a quick thank you prayer to Him, He responded with words of love and reassurance that He was in control and that I had done well to hand it to Him. My usual style with a problem is to try to fix it myself and then ask God for rubber stamp it, but I am learning that doesn’t work.
I run life skills classes and teach people to turn to others for help and not try to manage on their own. This is what God wants us to do, but He wants our first port of call to be Him. Then He will often direct us to other people because He made us for relationships. We cannot and will not survive in isolation from others. So often the pain of this life causes us to feel safer on our own. We learn that people won’t help so stop asking. But when you ask God and He sends you to ask or just sends someone across your path then you do receive help. I might add that sometimes we sit waiting for that help, and in those times there is obviously a need for us to do that. But He will always send help at the right time. This is something I have learned in this life. I beg for help, thinking I cannot manage, but He waits for His perfect timing for that help to arrive and it always is the perfect time for it to arrive. I wonder how long people prayed for their Messiah to come before Jesus came? There must have been times when it seemed the perfect time for Him to come, and yet He didn’t. But when He came, it was the perfect time.
Here in this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is saying this. God loves us because we love Jesus. Because we love Jesus, we are God’s children. God desires to give us good things, but like a loving parent, He knows that some things we desire are not good for us. God wants us to spend time with Him. Like a loving parent, He desires to have quality time with us, which means we need to spend time in prayer with Him. He also desires us to love His firstborn, Jesus, our Saviour. So God also desires we spend time with Jesus in Prayer. As we spend time with Jesus, we hand over our wilfulness and our desire to have things our own way. We submit to Jesus and to God’s will for our lives. Then Jesus will grow larger in our lives and we will grow smaller. Then we will be well on our path of discipleship.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 7:6
I have had a week of ups and downs. From the morning spent resting in God’s great Love and His message “You are a blessing and I have given you great blessings because I love you”. To the harsh and exhilarating realisation that God is moving me on into new and scary territory. I sit here scared but comforted, knowing that God has a plan and He will make the impossible happen and support me when He chooses me to stumble for a while.
This verse strikes a chord in me. We try to give people those things that are so special, of God, and they are rejected. We try to share our great and wonderful revelation and it is ignored or dismissed. We so want people to know Jesus and they don’t want to. We see friends caught up in the emptiness of ritual in the name of Jesus that does not include Him and feel sad because they do not think they need to listen. There are so many ways we cast pearls before swine and give dogs what is sacred.
All we can do is live our lives in all the joy and glory that God has for us. We can delight in Jesus and spend time in the ultimate mindfulness. Not the mindfulness of the pretender that has become so popular, but the mindfulness of our great God and the contemplation of all He is and has created and all Jesus means to us. In the meantime, do not beat yourself up over the people who do not accept Jesus, despite your sincere prayers and loving witness. Maybe they are just not ready, or may never be ready, to receive Jesus.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 7:1-5
One day a week, I volunteer to see people who cannot afford a counsellor. Lately, the person who asked me to provide this service has been telling me who I can see and at what frequency. Instead of dealing with it, I tried to get on with things, thinking that I would deal with it later. In the meantime, she decided, without consultation, I could give her work placement student some experience by having her help me run of a monthly workshop I also provide free. Again I did not deal with this. So I felt resentful and told the student that I was not there to babysit her. Not a nice thing to say. She promptly went and told the woman, who told me I was expected to do what she wanted. The student ignored me all day. I think her behaviour is childish, but so was mine. I have spent a lot of time today in prayer and God has told me it is time to move on from this volunteer position, a very scary thing for me as I have come to treat this position as a safety blanket. I have sought His guidance on what to do with this student. I am angry with her behaviour, although I am angrier with the woman. I have asked how I am to deal with this woman. The answer? Humility – lose the pride. Forgiveness – forgive the student for her part in a wrong situation and the woman. Move forward - and do not allow the student to assist me in the workshop. What? Surely I should forgive her and allow her to work with me? God’s answer was to remind me of the cardinal rule of running a group with two facilitators. They must get on, any tension between them will harm the group. I can be humble and admit I acted like a jerk. I can forgive her for her part in a bad situation. But there is still tension in the relationship and that must be dealt with and not ignored in the interests of keeping peace. This rambling paragraph leads into the issue of judging and finding fault with others. For me, today was about me judging and finding fault. Okay, I accept that I had a massive beam in my eye, but we so often don’t, and I think I only admitted that after I had made the comment I should never had made and failed to attend to something that I should have attended to. To me, this is all about judging and failing to have the courage to act. (it is also about God using the situation to give me a message about where He wants me to be – but that is another blog).
We are not to judge others. We are not to judge situations. We are not to pass judgement on another person. We are not to interpret a person’s actions and give an opinion of them. We are not to delight in spreading malicious gossip as that involves destroying another person’s good name and judging that person. We are not to become so caught up in our own virtuousness that we fall into the habit of looking down on others and not noticing our own sin. We are not to judge the homosexual, the prostitute, the drug taker, the adulterer or anyone else as though their sin is worse than ours. It isn’t. We have all sinned and Jesus does not consider one sin worse than another. We are not to sit back in our fat complacency and feel very satisfied at how good we are and how sinful others are and that we are way better than that because we go to church every Sunday or read our Bibles, or listen to Christian music, or say grace before meals or pray daily or occasionally. We are to be humble and remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and that we are justified freely by Jesus redeeming act of dying on the cross (Romans 3:24). We are to remember that every sin we see another person doing, we have also sinned and Jesus does not give us the right to judge. Rather He asks us to remember that He died on the cross to pay for all our sin. We are to approach His throne only to ask for forgiveness for our own sins and allow others to approach the throne to seek their own forgiveness.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 6:25-34
I am coming up to the end of a university semester and I am overwhelmed with assignments. 2000 word critique here, 3000 word case study there, presentation somewhere else. Added to that I have a workshop to write. And I am so full of the need to drop it all and chill, but know I have to do the work first! Many prayers are being said to aid this. And that is the truth that hit me as I prepared to write this. God always answers my prayers. Not necessarily as I would like Him to, but as He knows they need answering. I successfully passed my way through my bachelor degree on prayer power and God was so gracious there. I have already completed a major assignment and He got me through it too in all His magnificent blessings. Part of me trusts Him and part of me is freaking out. Actually, the freaking out is coming more from my self imposed timetable. So why don’t I learn His? Why worry about tomorrow, about food, clothing? Indeed these verses are so apt for the place I am at right now. Before commencing this blog I read several other blogs, all covering the same theme “God will never forsake, or abandon, us (Joshua 1:5). And He won’t. We are engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:15-16). So what is the problem? Why the lack of trust?
In writing this blog, I revisit my previous blog on the Sermon on the Mount. Often I write something completely new, because the message God is giving me covers a different aspect of the verse, but today He wanted me to post the same message. Obviously one we all need to remember and I particularly need at this point in my life. So here it is.
This section summarised what Jesus has been saying in the previous verses of His sermon. We are to seek the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness first and trust that our life, what we will eat and drink, what we will wear, where we will live will be supplied to us. That is easier said than done! I find it extremely hard when things are really bad and someone is treating me badly to see why God would want to help me. When I was an abused child, when I was bullied and tormented at school, He never intervened to stop the horrible abuse so why should I trust Him? If He didn’t look after me then, why would He look after me now? Intellectually I know that I do not always see Him at work in my life, that a life of faith is not necessarily going to be easy, but my emotions say why should it be incessantly awful? I don’t have an answer for this, other than it is these times that I must cling to the Rock, to Jesus and I must lean one hundred per cent on my faith in God and God’s promises that say He will never allow me to face anything His grace cannot help me survive, that He will never allow things to happen to me that are not for my good. I would like to say that I can happily accept all bad things and praise God in all circumstances, but I can’t. I can choose to give praise to God, hoping that someday I will feel that praise and I can cry in despair wondering when I will see the good in an awful situation. I can also feel extremely humble at what Jesus faced on the cross. At what he faced alone because when He took on my sin, He was separated from God. I can be humbled at the thought that Jesus is with me, even when it doesn’t feel that way. And I can come broken to the throne and throw myself at Jesus’ feet and rest there, secure in His love and the love of my Father, God. And when I am rested, I can take tentative steps out into that horrible world, holding His hand like a little child, gazing up into his wonderful eyes, and know He is with me and He loves me and He is my defender.



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