There are times in our lives when we experience loss. We lose someone we love, a relationship ends or, in one way or another, things don’t work out. It feels awful.
I remember when I was in the process of grieving the end of a close friendship, God spoke to my heart and said, “Trust me. I’m doing a new thing.”
I found this so comforting. When I felt angry or upset, I would remind myself that He was doing something new in my life.
Naturally, the stubborn part of me objected and wailed: “I don’t want the new thing- I want the old thing!!”
But the hard truth was that the old thing was gone.
It was through the experience of this loss that I discovered that one of the ways God helps us when we’re grieving is by doing a new thing in our lives.
In Genesis, we read about Leah, who was in pain because her husband, Jacob, didn’t love her as much as he loved his other wife, Rachel. God saw this and had compassion on her, blessing her with more sons than she could keep track of. He did a new thing in her life! In those days, it was shameful for women to be without children, whilst a woman with many sons was in a highly-coveted position. By blessing her with seven sons, it’s like God compensated her for her hurt.
I think this is similar to what God does with us.
God doesn’t go back and put all the broken bits of our past back together again; he gives us new gifts, new blessings and new life.
God is often described as a restorer, but I believe He is also a compensator. Actually, I think that compensating us is one of His ways of restoring us. After all, new things help us to move forward so that we don’t get stuck in the past.
Just to clarify… I’m not saying that we can live in a way that doesn’t please God, create a big mess and expect Him to bless us. What I am saying is that when we get ourselves right with God and start again with Him, it brings Him pleasure to do a new thing.
It would definitely be a mistake to devalue or reject the new thing that God is giving us, the very thing that can help to restore us after we’ve been hurt. Let’s be thankful for all the blessings God gives us and believe that, in this new year, God can do a new thing!
Dani Taylor 14/01/21
What do you associate with joy? Happy memories of sunny days at the beach or winter warmth around a fire with family? Long lost memories in these days, it would perhaps seem.
In the Bible, Joy is not just something that Christians have when times are good. In fact, Paul says ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!’ (Philippians 4:4) But why? What do we have to rejoice about?
Looking back, I find it incredible how God has worked for good in the lowest points of life. Take, for example, the day when I fell off my bike at uni and broke my front teeth. Describing it to anyone, they must think it was the worst day, because I had to go off to A&E, emergency dentist appointments etc. by myself. However, I look back on that day as one that really reaffirms my faith. I felt God so close to me and I look back with joy at how he got me through. I’d go as far as to say it was a great day! But I don’t know how I would have done it without him.
Sometimes, when we are at our weakest, God is working at his strongest, and the times when we have to rely on him most are the times when we realise how faithful he is and how much we have to thank him for.
The first Christmas is always painted as a very cute, cosy, joyful scene. I very much doubt that it was really as clean and cosy as the picture books make out, but if you look in the bible, despite the mess of a pre-marriage pregnancy, a birth in a smelly stable in an unknown town and some strangers coming to visit, it surely was a joyful occasion. Why? What did the worn-out parents, stranger shepherds and wise men have to be so joyful about? Of course, it was the birth of Jesus – a very special baby who was also called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’.
Let me encourage you that, despite the awful hardship this year has brought, God is still with us, and this, as Christians, is the reason we can still rejoice in every situation. If you are looking back at 2020, struggling to find something to be joyful for, why not pray that God would let you see how he has been with you and helped you through the challenges and difficult times, thank him for it, and rejoice that he will never leave you in the years to come.
3rd Sunday of Advent. Joanna Hodgson, 29/11/2020
Things we hope for in life can often be wishful thinking – things we’d like to happen, though we’re not convinced they will. But what about hope in the Bible? Hope that is based on God’s Word is different – it is solid and secure, because God is always faithful and true.
Before Jesus’ birth, the people of Israel had great hope for a Saviour who had been promised to them by God through scripture. God fulfilled this hope when Jesus Christ was born as a baby on Earth. He was called Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’.
Now, through Jesus, we have an even greater hope of life eternally with God, and this hope is steadfast and secure for all who trust in him:
‘In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.’
~ 1 Peter 1:3-4
As begin this Advent season, let us rejoice in the hope we have in Jesus.
1st Sunday of Advent. Joanna Hodgson, 29/11/2020
When I moved to Yeovil from Essex two months ago, there was something I immediately noticed as being very different from home… hills!
Walking to work, I found myself amazed at how far I could see. There were views that I’d normally only get when we went on holiday, and I marvelled at them. I took photos and praised God for how wonderful his creation was!
Over time, I got used to the hilly landscape. Seeing the fields in the distance or far-off streetlights at night didn’t surprise me anymore. I went back to my habit of dawdling along, staring at the ground, which I’m sure my mum always used to tell me off for!
But recently, with the autumn leaves falling to the ground in their spectacular display of fiery colours, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of nature, even when looking at the ground! It made me look up again and remember just how incredible God’s world is.
I think a similar thing can happen with faith sometimes.
It’s easy to get used to the idea that God loves us, isn’t it? Some of us have been taught ‘Jesus loves you’, and have been reciting John 3:16, from such a young age that we can forget what it even means, or just how true it is. We can get used to the beauty of God, and what he has done for us, just like I got used to the beauty of nature.
It’s great to remind ourselves of how indescribably good God is and how much he loves us. Let’s not miss out on the blessings he has for us just because we are not looking for them.
Joanna Hodgson, 19/11/2020
Hi, my name is Steph. I’m a first year intern at Oddments.
For 3 years, I studied musical theatre in a very competitive environment, where I was also being bred into what I like to call “Comparison Culture”. This became the catalyst to a decline in my self-esteem. Being the only Christian in college was a very lonely experience because I had no one else who understood my way of thinking or whom I could relate to.
A combination of being weighed every week, social media, being in a toxic relationship and falling away from my faith in God led me to having a very low opinion of myself. This affected my view of the way I looked more than anything else; but also created a lot of self-doubt about my capabilities in all aspects of life.
However, in recent months, I have been massively drawn to this bible verse in particular because I feel it perfectly depicts God’s love for us, and it helps to remind me that God carefully created me with a lot of thought, making no mistake with how I was formed. If we can appreciate nature in all its beauty, which is also God’s creation, then why can’t we appreciate ourselves??
There’s a quote that also sums it up perfectly:
“You are imperfect, permanently & inevitably flawed. You are beautiful.”
– Amy Bloom
So, what can we do?
- Lift your cares and worries to God.
- Read this verse.
- Speak this verse over yourself.
- Praise God for making you the way you are- God’s perfect creation.
Steph Wolfe, 30/10/20
I like what Rick Warren says in his book The Purpose Driven Life:
“The greatest hindrance to God’s blessing in your life is not others, it is yourself – your self-will, stubborn pride, and personal ambition. You cannot fulfil God’s purpose for your life while focusing on your own plans.”
Being a follower of Christ means a real change in mindset:
To live for Christ, you have to die to self
To lead, you have to be a follower
To be first, you have to be last
To be full, you need to be empty
To be strong, you need to acknowledge your weaknesses
To be brave, you need to have the fear of God
To be wise, you need wisdom from many advisors
Taking up the mantle of Christ and being his follower challenges our core values. We soon find out that within us there is a lot of self-resistance. We stumble over a roadblock called ‘self-determination.’ Our arms ache from the placard we grip that reads ‘I want to be in control’. We will be a follower of Christ, but we want to write some of the terms and conditions. And if life isn’t quite going as planned, it is not long before the bratty child in us surfaces. Then, the voice of blaming others emerges. Dissatisfaction with others, work, the church, the spouse, the relationship, the system, and the team become a constant moan.
Without realising it, we become our own barrier that prevents God working in us. We have become a self-perpetuating prophecy of doom that ends up being played out in front of others. We become the hindrance to God’s blessing in our own lives and the lives of others.
That is why this verse is so important:
“Keep watch over yourself.”
Barry Boyton, 20/10/2020