New From Old

that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

Ephesians 4:22-24 (NASB)

Yesterday I was reminded of a simpler time, when I was a boy in our village. The pride of every lad was his wheels, his bicycle whether it was new or old. We all knew and respected one elderly man known as “Spadgie,” a big strong ex-miner who walked with a stick. What endeared this man to the village lads was his expertise with bikes; he could fix any problem needing attention. But he particularly specialised in building bikes at a low cost from recycled parts. Spadgie worked out of his garden shed a few doors away from me, I remember visiting him in his wee workshop. His shed was an Aladdin’s Cave of old bike parts of every make, colour and shape, most of which he was given by villagers. Many times in my childhood wheels or brakes were renewed on my bike by Spadgie at little or no cost. Not long after reminiscing of this old gentleman I found myself reading todays verse, I saw a connection between my memory of Spadgie and the Scripture.

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour we are “born again” and renewed in God’s family. We give up our old life and sinful ways, putting on our new self as one puts on a new coat. Our old corrupt self is like an old rusty bike with dodgy brakes and bald tyres; through His Son God takes us into His Workshop to refurbish us. We come out afterwards fit for the road ahead of us. Our newly refurbished man/woman is superior to the old one in every way; we bear the hallmarks of our Maker in our new life of holiness and righteousness. As villagers in Dundonald recognised Spadgie’s bikes by his work, the world recognises those saved by faith in Jesus – they bear the unmistakable traits of a child of God.

Dear reader, have you swapped your old self for a renewed self through Jesus Christ? Is your life a constant witness to your Father God’s love for you; do you bear His hallmarks each day shining as a light in a dark world?

New Morning Blessings

Poppy field on a misty morning, Holy Island, Northumberland, England.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NASB)

Yesterday I payed a visit to the local hardware store for a garden broom attachment, which connects the handle to the broom head. The green one is old and split. It reminded me of the famous sketch on “Only Fools and Horses” where Trigger receives an award for saving Peckham Council money, by having the same broom for twenty years. He proudly brags it has only had fourteen new handles and seventeen new heads, to his friends bemusement. This favourite sketch reminded me of todays chosen verses.

Old and New

As each day ends we thank our Father God for keeping us safe until bedtime, and the sun rises the next morning on a new day filled with His new blessings. The world may proclaim new this and new that, but the only thing that truly is new is God’s presence in our life. He sees, hears and feels all our aches and pains – covering them in His endless compassion. In His Fatherly care we see the perfect example of faithfulness in action, that we can follow in our faith walk.

Dear reader, in your walk with God focus on His many blessings – “They are new every morning.” Yesterday is past and it is a new day, you are still covered in His Compassion. Nothing is new in this world (Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NASB), but God’s blessings are new everyday.

Rejoicing At All Times

“Joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5.

And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.                                         Acts 13:52

In this morning’s reading I read about Paul and Barnabas who had travelled north from Cyprus into Pamphylia Region, they were now in Pisidian Antioch. They were well received having been invited to address the synagogue on the Sabbath. Paul preached the Good News beginning with the Old Testament; Egypt to Canaan, King Saul to King David and his descendant Jesus Christ. It was a powerful message which left the listeners wanting more. The effect on the city and surrounding region was profound, causing much jealousy from the Jewish leaders. These individuals raised a furore and drove the disciples out of town. The disciples didn’t leave grumbling though… they went rejoicing, full of the Holy Spirit.

They had seen great results from sharing the Good News of Christ, experienced opposition and been driven out of town. Yet they did not let mere circumstances dictate how they felt, their confidence came from God the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of this reassured them, filling them with joy. Paul later in his letter to the church at Philippi says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philppians 4:4-7).

Rejoicing is not always easy, often the trials of life drag us down. Be it personal, financial, social, health or even persecution, they all can cause real pain. The key to conquering in these circumstances is found in keeping close contact with God in prayer, seeking the Holy Spirit. Through this He will give us peace and reassurance, blowing away the dark clouds. Seeking Him brings joy in all circumstances, like a serene sunrise after the storm.

Heavenly Protection

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
— Psalm 27:1

From my youth I have always found great comfort and reassurance in the book of Psalms, the above psalm is one of my favourites. Indeed it was a favourite of my grandmother who sowed the early seeds of faith by quoting scripture and singing gospel hymns, an example for us all to follow. It is no surprise then that psalm 27 became one of my favourites, but only after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Saviour did it have more meaning to me.

After my christian birth I became very aware of the salvation and protection I had in God’s family. The above psalm gave me courage to lean on God for my daily protection. I had been bullied much as a child, therefore I knew the value of protection in a very real way.

In 1984 I had joined the Salvation Army after accepting Jesus. My first Sunday service in my full uniform was an important day, but Satan intended to ruin it. On my way to the bus stop I was accosted by a well known village bully older and bigger than myself, I was in fear of what might happen. But somehow I stayed calm under the circumstances. Suddenly a tall stranger crossed the street and came to my rescue. He was a friend of my father who had respect for the Salvation Army. He restrained the bully and sent me on my way for my bus. I made it to the service on time, thanks I am sure to the intervention of God in my moment of need.

In such moments of fear we can be reassured by the psalmist; The Lord is the defense of my life…” Our Father God cares for us and provides our needs in every circumstance. We need to have faith that He will sustain us at all times.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Dear Father God, in times of strife and stress I find it hard not to worry. Help me to take a breath, and remember that you care and provide for me in all circumstances. Imprint your scripture in my memory to encourage me in difficult times. Thank you Father. Amen

Spiritual Assurance During Coronavirus

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You. Psalm 16:1 (NASB)

Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. Psalm 16:1 (KJV)

These are uncertain days for all of us as the world is under siege from Coronavirus. Our communities have changed beyond recognition in a very short time, as we do our best to protect ourselves and families from the virus. And we cannot forget the importance of not just protecting ourselves but also our precious key workers in healthcare and the elderly.

As I and my family have been staying home I will admit to being quite anxious about the threat level. After all we have seen how indiscriminately the virus is claiming victims, regardless of status. As I turned to God and His holy Word I found myself praying Psalm 16:1 . It is very simple guidance, but very often the simplest advice is the best. When I read the verse I was reminded of the following:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

One of my favourite verses of scripture which always reassures me that God cares for us and will always provide for us – praise God! This makes following Psalm 16:1 easy, knowing that where I am seeking safety is with a God who cares for me.

Both quoted versions begin with “Preserve me, O God…” We turn to none other than God Almighty to guard us against harm and save us from danger, no one else can do it for us. The KJV encourages us to put our “trust” in God which literally translates to ” flee to, take refuge in” which is in the NASB. There is no other source of comfort and refuge for us other than God. We don’t just take refuge in our homes, but in God Almighty, who provides and cares for us.

After reading and praying over this verse I felt a calm assurance. I can turn to God and that He will preserve my family no matter what life throws at us. In these uncertain times I would encourage you to rely on the certainty of Gods’ provision.

Dear Father God, in these uncertain days I confess to being a bit afraid. I turn my fear over to you and trust you. I take refuge in you and in your holy Word. Amen