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Mary: Blessed Among Women (Part Two)

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Mary, mother of Jesus, instantly, humbly and joyfully submitted to God’s will without doubt or question.  She could hardly have had a more godly response to the announcement of Jesus’ birth.  Mary’s response to the angel’s unexpected news revealed  her true character.  It demonstrated that she was a young woman of mature faith and one who was a worshipper of the true God.

In the second part of this blog on Mary, I’m going to focus on her song that is often called ‘The Magnificat’, the first word in the Latin translation of this passage.  Mary’s song has often been used as the basis for choral music and hymns.  Like Hannah , the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 2:1-10), Mary glorified God in song for what he was going to do for the world through her.  In both songs, God is pictured as a champion of the poor, the oppressed, and the despised.

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Mary understood that Christ’s birth fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22:16-18).  She was not surprised when her special son announced that he was the Messiah.  She had known Jesus’ mission before his birth.

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To put the song in context, after receiving this news from the angel, Mary filled with joy and bubbling over with praise, went to visit Elizabeth.  There is nothing in God’s word to suggest that Mary was fleeing the shame of her premature pregnancy.  Perhaps Elizabeth was a kindred spirit with whom Mary could share her heart.  The angel had informed Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy.  We might assume then, that it completely natural for her to visit a close relative who was both a strong believer and also expecting her first son by a miraculous birth, also announced by an angel (Luke 1: 13-19).  Both women had been blessed by God in a supernatural way.  I can imagine the excitement as these two women gathered together to share their news and rejoice together in God’s goodness to them both! Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

Apparently the Holy Spirit told Elizabeth that Mary’s child was the Messiah because Elizabeth called Mary “the mother of my Lord” as she greeted her.  I’m sure that during Mary’s journey to Elizabeth she must have been wondering if the events of the last few days were real.  Elizabeth’s greeting must have strengthened her faith as she confirmed what the angel had told her.  Mary’s pregnancy may have seemed impossible, but her wise relative believe in the Lord’s faithfulness and rejoiced with Mary in her blessed condition.

41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

Luke 1: 41 – 45

Mary responds to this prophetic message with one of her own.  ‘Magnificat’  is Latin for the first word of Mary’s outpouring of praise. Her song expresses unspeakable joy and it reminds me of the Psalms.  It is a song filled with hope of the Messiah to come.  Mary’s song not only echoes two of Hannah’s prayers but also shows a knowledge of the law, psalms and the prophets.

I believe that we can learn a lot from the example of Mary.  God is the only one that she magnified.  She praises the glory and majesty of God whilst acknowledging her own lowliness.  She took no credit for anything good on her self.  When Mary said “From now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48) she was not being proud but rather recognising and accepting the gift that God had given her. She praised the Lord for his attributes, naming some of the chief ones specifically, including His power,  his mercy, and his holiness.  She confesses God as the one who has done great things for her.  Her song is all about God’s greatness.  Mary worshipped God from her heart.  She was in awe of God’s grace towards her.  She seems overwhelmed that God would do this for her.  It was customary in Jewish prayers to recite God’s past faithfulness to His people.  Mary followed that convention in her song in an abbreviated form.  This can be seen in how she recalls how God had helped Israel, in fulfillment of all His promises. How amazing it must have felt that her child would be a living fulfillment of God’s promises. No wonder her heart overflowed with such praise!!

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  • Mary was willing to be available to God
  • She knew and applied Old Testament scriptures and this poured out in her worship of God
  • She gave God all the praise and glory  for all that He had done for her and acknowledged her own lowliness as a humble servant
  • At the risk of going off on a slight tangent, thinking about Mary being young in age but yet spiritually mature in her relationship  with God got me thinking about:
    • Where are we on the path of our journey with God?  Are we still taking baby steps or are we growing in maturity in our relationship with God?  To a certain extent our age is irrelevant in this regard.  Are we getting a good diet of God’s word in our day to day lives?  Are we committing scripture to memory so that we are equipped to deal with life, especially the challenges!  God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.  We can also use it to build others up and to encourage.
    • How do we as a church, the body of Christ, respond to our young people?  Do we just see them as immature Christians?  This might not be the case.  Do we see them as having something to offer or teach the church?  Are we encouraging them to be fully involved in the body of Christ or do we still separate them from church life much of the time? Let’s be passionate about developing positive relationships with our youth and encouraging them to play an active role in the body.There is a difference between being young in age and young in faith.  Look at Mary’s example …… she may have been young in age but she demonstrated spiritually maturity and look at how God used her!
  • Like Mary, let’s remember God for all that He is, for his goodness to us and his grace poured out through Jesus’ death on the cross.  Let’s be people who pour out our hearts in worship for all that God has done, is doing and will do in the future!
  • Let’s be willing and available to be used by God and let’s remember where our good gifts come from and use them for His glory!

God bless,

Ali x

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Woman, who art thou? The First Lady

Hi everyone!

“Woman, who art thou?” is a series of blogs I’m writing about women in the Bible.

You may remember that I hinted at this in my very first blog   I have also previously written a blog about Rahab.  Part of the inspiration for this theme was discovering a book written by John MacArthur called ‘Twelve Extraordinary Women.  The underlying theme looks at twelve women in the Bible to see how God shaped them and what we might learn  from them today.  Discovering the book was timely because i found it at a time in my life when I was struggling a bit with my own identity after going through some big life changes.

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ORIGINS.

Learning about our ancestors often helps us to understand ourselves.  One of my uncles has recently spent some time researching the ‘Mackenzie’ family tree (that’s my maiden name by the way) through www.ancestry.co.uk. It brings to mind TV programmes, like ‘Who do you think you are?’, where past secrets are uncovered when celebrities trace their ancestry. I think that many of us have a innate need or desire to know where we’ve come from and to know our roots.

EVE.

So….I thought that it made sense to start with Eve, seeing as she was the earth’s ‘First Lady’as it were, being the first woman to walk the earth.  She, along with Adam, was the highlight of God’s creation. Genesis 2:21-22 tells us that Eve’s creation was unique.  He could have made her from the dust of the ground just like Adam.  But He didn’t.  God chose to make her from man’s flesh and bones.   A Puritan, Matthew Henry, in his classic commentary on the Bible says “The woman was made of the rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to beloved.” This symbolism fits well  with what Scripture teaches about the proper relationship between husband and wives.  It reminds us of how Scripture exalts women. Adam had gained another human being with whom he could fellowship.  They had an equal share in God’s image.   Eve was Adam’s ideal companion and mate.  They were created perfect for each other.  Their’s was a complete, innocent, and open oneness, without a hint of shame. Together they were greater than either could have been alone. This is one of the potential ‘greats’ of marriage today  I believe – that’s how I feel about Dan & I’s marriage anyway ❤ 

Genesis 2: 23 says “The man said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man”.

Until the creation of Eve, Adam had been the only human being on the planet and had been given  the task of naming all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. No suitable companion had been found amongst them.  I’ve tried to imagine that moment when Adam set eyes on Eve for the first time.  Can you imagine it? I wonder whether Adam exclaimed “WOWZERS!!” when he set eyes on her ( maybe a bit like good old Tom cat below ha ha).  I’m sure she epitomised pure beauty standing before him.  1 Corinthians 11:7 says “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man” – Adam  represented the supreme species (a race of creatures made in the image of God) then Eve was the living embodiment of humanity’s glory.

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THE SERPENT.

Disguised as a serpent, Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, we read in Genesis chapter 3.  He questioned her contentment with what God had given her and Adam.  Eve accepted Satan’s perspective on things without even checking with God or even discussing it with Adam.  She became focused on the fruit on the tree of knowledge of good and evil.   It was that “I’ve got to have it!” feeling.  Her desires took over …“When the woman saw the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it”.  We might say she was impulsive. I think we can perhaps see ourselves in this scripture and repeat the same mistakes.   Our own desires, like Eve’s, can be quite easily easily manipulated. They should not be the basis for our actions.  We need to keep involving God in our decision-making process always.

SERPENT IN THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE

Satan made Eve doubt God’s goodness.  He implied that God was strict, stingy, and selfish for not wanting Eve to share his knowledge of good and evil.  Never mind the consequences! She quickly forgot all the God had given her and just focused on what was forbidden.  We can fall into the same trap too.  We can dwell on what God says we must not do rather than count the blessings and promises that He has given us.  If we stop feeling sorry for ourselves and thinking about what we don’t have and instead consider all we do have and thank God, then doubt won’t lead to sin, giving up on God’s ability to provide or change your situation.

“Give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Satan used a sincere motive to tempt Eve – “you will be like God”. It wasn’t wrong for Eve to want to be like God.  That’s humanity’s higher goal isn’t it?  – To be more like God? But Satan misled Eve concerning the right way to go about it.  He told her that she could become more like God by basically defying His authority, by taking God’s place and deciding for herself what was best for her life.  In effect, he told her to become her own God.

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

To become like God is not the same as trying to become God.  Instead, it is trying to reflect the qualities or characteristics of God and to recognise His authority over your life. We can be the same, like Eve, sometimes, we can have a worthy goal but try to achieve it in the wrong way. Self-exaltation leads to rebellion against God. As soon as we leave God out of our plans, we are placing ourselves above Him.  I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve done this in the past – thinking I know best.  Foolish woman!

Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans”

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”

We can trust God with our plans, we do not need to go it alone.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

Satan tried to make Eve think that sin is good.  Knowledge of both good and evil seems harmless to her.  People often choose wrong things because they have become convinced that they are good, at least for themselves.  Sins do not always appear ugly to us and the pleasant sins are the hardest to resist! When we face temptation, however, there is always a way out.  God has promised us that in His word. Use His word and His people to stand against it! Don’t suffer alone, talk to someone that you can confide in.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Sin spreads.  

“….She took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Genesis 3:6-7

After Eve sinned, she involved Adam in her wrongdoing.  Often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else.  Sin can spread like wildfire or like toxic waste spilt in a river.  They were also so quick to place the blame at someone else’s feet instead of recognising and confessing their sin to God.  Adam blamed Eve (and God for giving the woman to him in the first place), Eve in turn blamed the serpent. Neither of them had given a thought to the long-term consequences of their sin.  In Genesis 3, we cannot tell whether or not Adam and Eve had any sort of discussion about whether or not they should eat the fruit.  We know from Genesis 2 that God had certainly told Adam not to eat it and we know that Eve was also aware of the rule because she mentions it to the Serpent when they talked in the Garden of Eden. Satan had deflected her thinking away from the consequences and instead convinced Eve that God was almost holding something back from her by not letting her eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman (Genesis 3:4).  Despite Satan’s role in this original sin, Eve (and Adam)  were responsible for their own actions and had given in to desire.  Satan did not force her to do it.

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It’s rather amusing that Adam and Eve, once they become aware of their nakedness, cover themselves with fig-leaves and attempt to hide from God – surely they were already aware that God was omnipresent and omniscient?They couldn’t hide from God and neither can we.  I’m reminded of these scriptures from the Old Testament.

“There is no deep shadow, no utter darkness, where evil doers can hide.” Job 34:22

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7′

“Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:24

HIDING-BEHIND-A-TREE, hiding

Feeling guilty, like Adam and Eve did, makes us aware of our sin so we can ask for God’s forgiveness and then correct what was wrong.  Make a U-turn….that’s repentance.  Honesty will strengthen our relationship with God. God’s commands are for our own good and we may not always understand the reasoning behind them (a bit like Eve).

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13

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Eve had chosen her course of action.  Then God chose his.

Like any good parent, God had to act in a consistent manner – consistent with his perfect moral nature.  Their sin could not go unchecked. The punishment had to be given. Maybe we think that the consequences are extreme? However, let’s not forget that their actions set into motion the world’s tendency towards disobeying God – original sin. We inherited their sinful natures which is why we need Jesus. Their fall from God’s grace had consequences for rest of humanity and all of creation.

Genesis 3:14 – 24 says:

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 

15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 

16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” 

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 

22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 

23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 

24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Thank God that’s not the end of the story!

Thank God that He wants to have a relationship with us even though we have a sinful nature!

Thank God that He provided a way back to Him through Jesus Christ and that through Him we can have victory over sin and temptation!

Mother Of All Living

So …. until Adam and Eve were cast out from the Garden of Eden (which had probably seemed like heaven – every thing being perfect) Eve was called ‘woman’ because she was formed out of man. Adam gave her the name ‘Eve’ because she would become the ‘mother of all living’, starting with Cain and Abel.

First wife and mother.

From her the human race began.

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A Year Gone By….

Time flies doesn’t it? I cannot believe that a year has passed since I joined WordPress in a rather timid and uncertain fashion. Time spent working out how the technological side of things worked. Deliberating over whether to “take the plunge” and share what I had written.

Initially I only put pen to paper as a form of ‘therapy’ in order to offload and make sense of my thoughts during a time of challenge. Writing was a way for me to express how I was feeling at the time. I also intentionally used it as a way to dive deeper into God’s word and come closer to Him. I am surprised that I have written as much as I have but also wish I had written so much more. Life in the early part of the year prevented any writing at all, much to my frustration!

As I now move into a new year full of possibilities with WordPress and a new chapter of my life with work, I can finally put finger to keyboard more regularly. There is so much more I want to write and so many ideas I want to explore.

I’m so glad I committed to writing my ‘Woman, who art thou series?’ as an act of obedience and I hope that it has been enjoyed by those who’ve read it and that it has been a blessing. A few more blogs to go before it is finished and I have a few ideas to develop it too.

Last, but my no means least, I must say ‘Thank you’ to my followers (126 so far) who have regularly read and commented on my blogs, those of you who have encouraged and challenged me. Thank you !! I find it so interesting to see where in the world my readers live. It’s wonderful to know that readers live across the world in far away places – so exciting!

My pledge this year, now that I have more time is to commit to reading more of your blogs and to engage more via comments and encouragement.

Here’s to another year! Can’t wait!

Blessings!

Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx

Woman, who art thou? Mary: Blessed Among Women (Part One)

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Welcome to the sixth blog in my series called “Woman, who art thou?” which explores key women in the Bible and how their examples are relevant to us today.  In this blog, I’m going to be exploring the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and in particular, her visit from the Angel Gabriel and her response.  I write with a little reticence but only because I want to make sure that I do her justice, being that she is the mother of our  Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The blog will be in three parts.  The second blog will focus more on the Magnificat – Mary’s response of worship.  The third blog will focus on Mary’s relationship with her son.

So, who was Mary?  Mary was a first century  BC Galilean Jewish woman of Nazareth. She was young – probably a teenager, poor and female.  It was quite normal for girls of that culture to be promised in marriage while they were still as young as thirteen years of age.  Marriages were ordinarily arranged by the bridegroom or his parents through the girl’s father.  To be honest, she had all the characteristics that, to the people of her day, would make her unusable by God for any major task.  But yet God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone.  Centuries earlier, God had promised David that David’s kingdom would last forever (2 Samuel 7:16).  This promise was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, a direct descendent of David, whose kingdom will never end.

Motherhood is a privilege, a painful one, but a privilege nonetheless.  Mary, at a young age, had the unique privilege of being mother to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  This is why she is seen as being blessed among women. She had found favour with God.  Mary herself, in the ‘Magnificat’, testified that all generations would regard her as profoundly blessed by God.

“….for he has been mindful of the humble servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name”

Luke 1: 48-49

Was she being proud? No, she was recognizing and accepting the gift God had given her. Mary was showing complete humility and glorifying God in song for what God was going to do for the world through her.

Until the visitation of the Angel Gabriel, Mary’s life was quite ordinary.  She had recently become engaged to a carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life.  She had no clue that her life was about to change in such a dramatic way.  This was not the first time that the angel had appeared. Gabriel had visited Zechariah, as well as Mary and even the prophet Daniel, some 500 years earlier.  Each time, he brought important messages from God.

I would imagine that, once Mary had got over the shock of being in the presence of an angel (if that is even possible!), when Gabriel greeted her she might have been puzzled as to what was coming next (Luke 1:29).  What did this heavenly being want with her?! Maybe she felt like she had won the grand prize in a contest that she had not even entered.  It’s no wonder she was puzzled and frightened.  What came next was the news that almost every women in Israel hoped to hear – that her child would be the Messiah.  God’s promised Saviour and the fulfillment of scripture.  God’s announcement of a child to be born, throughout scripture, was met with various responses:

  • Abraham’s wife laughed (Genesis 18:9-15)
  • Zechariah doubted (Luke 1:18)
  • By contrast, Mary submitted, she believed the angels words and agreed to bare the child, even under humanly impossible circumstances.
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Mind Blowing!!

What really stands out to me about Mary is that she does not doubt what the angel tells her, not even for a second!  She does not refuse to believe it or laugh it off as an impossible task.  Rather she asked how pregnancy would be possible because she was still a virgin.  Gabriel told her that her baby would be God’s son.

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his Kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1: 31-33

“…The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” Luke 1: 35

His blessing on Mary, the honour of being the mother of the Messiah, would cause her much pain and come at a high cost to her personally: with her story about being made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, she risked being considered crazy; her peers would ridicule her; her fiance would come close to leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as the young girl who ‘found favour with God’.  Mary’s submission was part of God’s plan to bring about our salvation. I’m quite in awe of her willing obedience to God, something I can only aspire to!

“I am the Lord’s servant….May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38)

When Mary said that, she didn’t know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed.

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  • Mary may have been young in age but I have a feeling  that she is mature in her faith and relationship with God.  Initially, when the angel appeared to her, she may have been afraid BUT she listens to what he has to say from God and accepts it
  • At no point does Mary doubt that what the angel has told her will come to pass – “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38).  If anything she is curious as to HOW it will happen but she does not doubt that it WILL happen
  • Mary willingly submits to the will of God and is obedient despite the potential risks to her personally, socially, culturally etc.  She doesn’t ask “Why me?” or say “I cannot do this!”.  She basically says “Okay God, let it be, let’s do this!”
  • Mary, being young, poor and a woman, may have appeared insignificant to others in society but she definitely was not insignificant to God.  God chose her for a task that would require an extreme amount of obedience.  Don’t ever feel that your ability, experience, or education makes you an unlikely candidate for God’s service.  Mary’s story shows us that this isn’t the case where God is concerned.
  • Don’t limit God’s choices.  He can use you if you trust Him!
  • If sorrow or sadness weighs you down and dims your hope, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out His plan.
  • “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1: 38) – When Mary said this, she didn’t really know about the tremendous opportunity she would have.  She only knew that God was asking her to serve Him and she willingly obeyed.  Don’t wait to see the bottom line before offering your life to God.  Let’s offer ourselves willingly, even when the outcome seems disastrous.  God has a plan for our lives and knows the bigger picture – we just have to trust in Him 🙂  I’m sure God waits to hear a similar response from us.
  • God’s best servants  are often ordinary people who make themselves available to him
  • God’s plans involve extraordinary events in ordinary people’s lives
  • A person’s character is revealed by his or her response to the unexpected

Be blessed!

Ali x

Facebook Community

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Hi everyone,

Long time, no blog! Life has been busy.  I’ll fill you in soon!

BUT….

At last, I can get back to writing!

NEWS FLASH….

  • th (18)Keep an eye out for my “Woman, who art thou?” Series. My next blog will be the sixth in the series and this time I will be looking at Mary, the mother of Jesus.
  • I now have a Facebook page for ‘Humble-Mumblings’ which is linked to a closed group community. The closed group is a space where people who live for Christ can share, encourage and pray. Why not take a look 🙂

 

Ali xx

via Facebook Community

Mindset (Part Two)

Welcome back if you’ve taken the time to read Part One!

In Part One, I briefly outlined the ideas of the ‘growth’ mindset and the ‘fixed’ mindset, a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck after decades of research on achievement and success.  I explained in Part One that I’m not convinced that the two mindsets are mutually exclusive.  I believe that we can exhibit signs of being in both mindsets at different stages of our lives or in different  situations.  As Christians, I believe it is more important to develop a ‘heavenly’ mindset than to fit into a box defined by psychologists.

I posed the question:  What sort of mindset should we have as Christians?  I decided to split the blog into two parts because I felt there were two key ideas to explore in answer to this question:

  1.  We should fix our mindset on God, Jesus Christ and his word;
  2. We should work towards having a mindset like that of Jesus Christ.

It is the second of these two ideas that I will explore in today’s blog.  When I say that I believe that we should work towards having a mindset like that of Jesus Christ, I mean it rather like the ‘W.W.J.D’ idea.  ‘W.W.J.D’ being the abbreviation of “What would Jesus do?”.  This phrase became popular in the US especially, but elsewhere as well, in the 1990’s as a personal motto for Christians who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through their actions. So, in a similar way, when considering what our mindset should be as Christians perhaps we should use the abbreviation “W.W.J.T” (What Would Jesus Think), we should work towards thinking like Christ, having a mindset like that of Christ in all areas of our lives.  This is probably the only time I’d say we should have ‘our head in the clouds’ so the saying goes and adopting a heavenly mindset like that of Jesus.

Colossians 3:2 says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things“. Verse one of the same chapter also mentions our hearts – “set our hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God“.  This means striving to put heaven’s priorities into daily practice.  Setting our minds on things above means concentrating on the eternal rather than the temporal.  This is priceless advice.  This verse really helps us to shift the focus of our thinking.  When we focus on the eternal, the temporal becomes less important.  This has been invaluable to me over recent months and really helped me to keep things in perspective.  If we are able to think like this, I believe that our mindset takes on a different focus and we can start to deal with the issues more like Jesus.

When we give our lives to Christ wholeheartedly, our mindset has to change along with the new life we live in Jesus.  Ephesians 4:17 says “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking“.  As human beings we have a natural tendency to think our way away from God.  Intellectual pride, rationalizations, and excuses can all keep people from God.  Paul goes on to say ” You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by it’s deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4: 22-24.  People should be able to see a difference between Christians and non-Christians because of the way Christians live.  Paul told Christians to leave behind the old life of sin and I believe that includes the way we think about things too, since they were followers of Christ.  Living the Christian life is a process.  Although we have a new nature, we don’t automatically think all good thoughts and express all right attitudes when we become new people in Christ.  However, if we continue to listen to God, we will be changing all the time.  Change may sometimes be slow but it will come as you trust God to change you.  Our old life is completely in the past.  We should put it behind us like old clothes to be thrown away.  Deciding to accept Christ is a once-and-for-all decision when we accept His salvation but it is also a daily conscious commitment.  We are not to be driven desire and impulse.  We must put on the new role and head in the new direction, and have the new way of thinking that the Holy Spirit gives.

“The mind governed by flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace” Romans 8:6

In Romans, Paul distinguishes between two types of people: those governed by their sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Let’s be honest about it, we’d all still be in the first category if it wasn’t for Jesus!  Jesus offered us a way out.  If we have accepted Jesus as Saviour we want to follow him, because his way is one of life and peace.  We must consciously choose to centre our lives on him daily.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you”.

We know that we cannot avoid troubles in this world, but with God we can know perfect peace even in the turmoil.  When we devote ourselves to him, our whole attitude is steady and stable.  We find support in God’s unchanging love and mighty power, we are not shaken by the chaos around us.  If we need peace in our lives then we need to keep our thoughts on God and trust Him.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

You know, when I read this Bible verse, I had visions of Wonder Woman and her golden glowing lasso striking out and capturing thoughts!

In Corinthians, Paul is using military terminology to describe his warfare against sin and Satan.  God has to be the commander in chief – even of our thoughts, so our mindset, must be submitted under his control as we live for him.  Believers, because they are spirit-empowered believers must capture every thought and yield it to Christ.  When we are exposed to ideas or opportunities that might lead us to do the wrong thing, we have a choice.  We can recognise the danger and turn away from it or we can allow the thoughts to take us captive.  We can capture our fantasies and desires when we honestly admit them to the Lord and ask him to redirect our mindset.  We can ask God to give us the spirit of discernment to keep our thoughts focused on his truth.

God has good, pleasing, and perfect plans for us.  He wants us to be transformed people with renewed minds, living to honour and obey him as ‘living sacrifices’.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then  you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will”. This verse does not just focus on how we should not conform to the ways of the world, in terms of our behaviour, but it goes further than that and suggests that it must be planted firmly in our minds.  It is only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates, and redirects our minds that we are truly transformed.

Final Thoughts

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, what ever is noble, what ever is right, whatever is pure, what ever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”  Philippians 4:8

“We reap what we sow”……..”We are what we eat”……”I think, therefore I am”…….you’ve heard these sayings before right?  Philippians 4:8 is pretty much saying “You are what you think”.  What we put into our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions.  Paul is telling us to program our minds with things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  It’s worth really thinking about what we are feeding our minds with…. what we read, what we watch etc.  Above all, read God’s word and pray.  Ask God to help you focus your mind on the right things.  Reading God’s word should lead to obedience.  We sometimes need to practice the art of obedience as we can be naturally selfish.

Below is a link to an article in which Joyce Meyer gives some advice on how to think like Jesus:

“3 Ways To Think Like Jesus” by Joyce Meyer (Charisma Magazine

May God Bless You,

Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx

Mindset (Part One)

Signpost

What sort of ‘mindset’ do you have?

‘Mindset’ is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success.  There is the ‘fixed’ mindset and the ‘growth’ mindset.  The illustration below expresses the essential ideas of both mindsets:

growth-mindset-body

In a ‘fixed’ mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.  They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them.  They also believe that talent alone creates success – without effort.  Can this be right??  Whereas, in a ‘growth’ mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.  Virtually all great people have had these qualities. Such a mindset can create motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports.  It enhances relationships.

I’m not a psychologist but I can see how having a growth mindset would lead to success, however you might define ‘success’ of course.  Looking back over my life so far, I would probably say that I generally have a growth mindset but I have probably, at various stages, dipped in and out of the fixed mindset too.  I’m not convinced that the two mindsets can be mutually exclusive.  I think that sometimes we have to experience a fixed mindset in order attain living in the growth mindset.  It’s an essential part of the journey, perhaps,  in our personal growth? People cannot always be neatly fitted into a box.  We are all unique and whilst we share many things in common as human beings, we are all also so very different even down to our unique finger prints.

What sort of ‘mindset’ we should develop as followers of Christ?

I’ve had to consider this question myself in recent weeks after facing a challenging few months on the job front and in having a sense of direction as to where God is leading me at the moment.  There have been days when I have felt very much as though I am sinking into a fixed mindset (feeling like giving up, like a failure, why should I bother?) and then days when I feel very much entrenched in a growth mindset (this will take time and hard work, keep trying and don’t give up).  The issue has been more that I haven’t remained in one or the other for very long but more switched between the two on almost a daily basis! (Much to the frustration of my husband, Dan, I’m sure!) Which is not good for anyone!  But of course, If I admit defeat and give up, where will that get me?  Therefore, I have to agree to keep going.

I guess the question is, how do we adopt the right mindset to keep going when we feel like we are failing or getting nowhere?  How can we accept where we are and be positive enough to keep going?  How can faith in Jesus Christ help us with our mindset?  How can God’s word help us? So, in today’s blog I am going to explore what the Bible has to say about our mindset – our way of thinking and our opinions. I think that I would distinguish between two key thoughts regarding our mindset.  Firstly, we need to focus our thoughts on God, his son Jesus Christ and His Word. Secondly, we need to have a mindset like that of Christ rather like the ‘W.W.J.D’ idea.  For this reason I have decided to split this blog into two parts to explore them adequately.

Fixing our thoughts on God, Jesus Christ and His Word

“Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God?” Psalm 42:5

Depression is one of the most common mental/emotional illnesses.  One antidote for depression is to meditate on the record of God’s goodness to his people.  It can take our minds off of the present situation and give hope that it will improve.  When we read God’s word we see how he delivered his people from all kinds of awful situations.  Surely God will do it for us too?  It can focus our thoughts on God’s ability to help us rather than on our inability to help ourselves.  When we feel depressed, we can take advantage of this Psalm’s anti-depressant.  We can read the Bible’s accounts of God’s goodness, and meditate on them.

“There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”  Romans 8:24-27

Paul presents the idea that salvation is past, present and future.  It is past because we were saved the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as saviour; our new life (eternal life) begins at that moment.  It is present because we are being saved; this is the process of sanctification.  But at the same time, we have not fully received all the benefits and blessings of salvation that will be ours when Christ’s new kingdom is completely established.  That’s our future salvation.  While we can be confident of our salvation, we still look ahead with hope and trust toward that complete change of body and personality that lies beyond this life, when we will be like Christ.  As believers, we are not left to our own devices to cope with our problems.  Even when we don’t know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with us and for us, and God answers.  Trust that he will always do what is best.

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken”.  Psalm 62:5

I love that David was honest with God!  He poured out his heart, his true feelings, to God, and then reaffirmed his faith.  Prayer can release our tensions in times of emotional stress.  Trusting God to be our rock, our salvation and our fortress can change our entire outlook on life.  No longer do we need to be held captive by resentment towards others when they hurt us.  When we are resting in God’s strength, nothing can shake us!

“May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word”.  Psalm 119:74

God’s word makes us wise – wiser than our enemies and wiser than any teachers who ignore it.  True wisdom goes beyond amassing knowledge, it is applying the knowledge in a life-changing way.  Wisdom comes from allowing what God teaches us to guide us.  The Bible is a light in our darkness, showing us the way ahead so we won’t stumble as we walk.  It helps us to see a way clear and steer us on the right path.  It reminds us of God’s promises to us.  It reminds us of who we are in Christ, sons and daughters of the most high God!  When we feel battered by life and feel like we are nothing, with self-esteem that is in the gutter, God reminds us how special we are, that He loves us with an ever-lasting love and that we have purpose for us to fulfill.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”.  Isaiah 40:31

Hoping in the Lord is expecting that his promises of strength will help us to rise above life’s distractions and difficulties.  Do we believe God loves and wants the best for us?  Can we relax, confident that his purposes are right?  Are we convinced that he has the power to control all of life – and our lives as well?  Though our faith may be struggling or weak, accept his provisions and care for us.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.  For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”.  Psalm 36: 7-9

Quite often, speaking from my own experiences only, when we do not have our mind fixed on God, we can easily feel defeated and battered by some of the situations we face in life.  My life in recent months has been challenging but I know that there are others around me who I know are going through far worse.  When I have felt defeated, I am reminded of the suffering and struggles of others, and I make a conscious effort to count my blessings, to focus on the good things in my life: a wonderful loving husband who is my best friend ever, three beautiful children who make me laugh on a daily basis, a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in the cupboard, some wonderful friends and family.  However, sometimes finding the good in bad situations can be hard can’t it?

Victorious

God’s word coaches us in how to live victoriously. Victory comes from renewing our relationship with God. In Samuel 4:5-8 it says:

“When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god hascome into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

The Philistines were afraid were afraid because they remembered stories about God’s intervention for Israel when they left Egypt.  But Israel had turned away from God and was clinging to only a form of godliness, a symbol of former victories.  People (and churches) can often try to live on the memories of God’s blessings.  The Israelites wrongly assumed that because God had given them victory in the past, he would do it again, even though they had strayed far from him. Today, as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. We don’t need to live off the past.  We need to keep our relationship with God new and fresh.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God”. 

1 John 3:8-9

We all have areas in our lives where temptation can be strong and some habits are hard to conquer.  These weaknesses give the devil a foothold, so we need to deal with our areas of vulnerability.  If we are struggling with a particular sin, however, I do not think these verses are aimed at us, even if for the time we seem to keep on sinning.  John is not talking about people whose victories are still incomplete; he is talking about people who make a practice of sinning and look for ways to justify it.  Here are three steps necessary to find victory over prevailing sin:

  1.  Seek the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s word;
  2. Stay away from tempting situations;
  3. Seek the help of the body of Christ – be open to their willingness to hold you accountable and to pray for you.

“No one who is born to God will continue to sin” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning, nor do they become indifferent to God’s moral law.  All believers still sin but they are working to gain victory over sin.  “God’s seed remains in them” means that true believers do not make a practice of sinning because God’s new life has been born into them.

“Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.” 2 Chronicles 14:11

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. ”  Romans 8: 1-2

We cannot win the victory on our own or in our own strength.  If we are facing battles we feel we can’t win, don’t give up.  In the face of hordes of enemy soldiers, Asa prayed for God’s help, recognising his powerlessness against such a mighty army.  The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and then to trust God to save.  His power works best through those who recognise their limitations (2 Corinthians 12:9).  It is those who think they can do it all on their own who are in the greatest danger.

“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

God has won victory over Satan. In Psalm 68:18, God is pictured as a conqueror marching to the gates and taking tributes from the fallen city.  Paul uses that picture to teach that Christ, in his crucifixion and resurrection, was victorious over Satan.  When Christ ascended to heaven, he gave gifts to the church, some of which Paul discusses in 4:11-13.

“This is why it says: “When he is ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” Ephesians 4:8

“And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword;whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection”.  Hebrews 11:32-35

Hebrews 11 summarises the lives of other great men and women of faith.  Some experienced outstanding victories, even over the threat of death.  Others, however, were severely mistreated, tortured and even killed.  Having a steadfast faith in God does not guarantee a happy, carefree life.  For many of us, it can mean the opposite in fact.  Our faith almost guarantees us some form of abuse from the world.  While we are on earth, we may never see the purpose for our suffering.  But we can know that God will keep his promise to us.  Do we believe this?  I’ll be honest, during those times where my mindset has not been, has been negative and defeated, I have sometimes doubted whether God will keep his promise to me.  That says more about me being weak in my human nature than it does about God. Many think that pain is the exception in the Christian life.  When we suffer, we say “Why me?”.  We feel as though God has deserted us, or we accuse him of not being as dependable as we thought.  In reality, we live in an evil world filled with suffering, even for believers.  But God is still in control.  He allows some Christians to become martyrs for the faith, he allows others to survive the persecution.  Rather than asking “Why me?” it is much more helpful to ask “Why not me?”.

Let’s be honest about this…. our faith and the values of the world are on a collision course, if we expect pain and suffering to come then we will not be shocked when it happens.  But we can also find some comfort in knowing that Jesus also suffered.  Jesus understands our fears, our weaknesses, our disappointments.  He promised to never leave us, and he intercedes on our behalf.  In times of pain, suffering and persecution we should rest confidently in Christ.  Victory, therefore, comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”.  Hebrews 2:16-18

4″Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.  Hebrews 4:14-16

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Matthew 28:18-20

“…but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.25 Therefore he is able to save completely[a] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  Hebrews 7: 24, 25

“When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Isaiah 43:2

Part One – Final Thoughts

 “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7

Two trees had been in the Garden of Eden – the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eating from the tree of life brought eternal life with God; eating from the tree of knowledge brought a realization of good and evil.  When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, they disobeyed God’s command.  So they were excluded from Eden and barred from eating from the tree of life.  Eventually. evil will be destroyed and believers will be brought into a restored paradise.  In the new earth, everyone will eat from the tree of life and will live forever.  Hope for the future!

God bless for reading and following!

Ali @ Humble Mumblings xx

Seasons

nature_colorful_seasons

Are you in a season of waiting?

If so, I hope this song will bless and encourage you.

It has been for me.

The harvest is worth our patience.

God is not done yet.

Love this song! ❤

‘Seasons’ by Hillsong (Click to listen)

Seasons

Words and Music by Chris Davenport, Benjamin Hastings & Ben Tan

VERSE 1
Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

PRE-CHORUS
I know

CHORUS
Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

VERSE 2
Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
As I gaze I am blinded
In the light of Your brightness
Like a fire to the snow
I’m renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

BRIDGE
I can see the promise
I can see the future
You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done working
God I’m not done waiting
You can see my promise
Even in the winter
Cause You’re the God of greatness
Even in a manger
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child

TAG
And when I finally see my tree
Still I believe there’s a season to come

VERSE 3
Like a seed You were sown
For the sake of us all
From Bethlehem’s soil
Grew Calvary’s sequoia