I pray you had a very happy and blessed Christmas and New Year.
Our family was very blessed to spend Christmas in Canada this year where it was very cold and snowy. I want to encourage you at the start of this new year with a little story from our trip.
We were at a ski resort in Canada, where the temperatures, even by Canadian standards, were unusually cold. Day time temperatures were averaging around (minus) -20 degrees Celsius (-4F).
We found it very difficult to ski in temperatures so cold and would have to stop after 1-2 hours of skiing to come inside, have a hot chocolate, some food, warm up and then go again.
There was one day that we were skiing and we only had an hour or so left before we had to pick up our youngest son from ski school. My husband and older son had been skiing on the far side of the mountain where I had not been and suggested that we had enough time to have a quick ski over there before we had to be back.
The only problem was that as we headed off, as so quickly happens in the mountains, the weather started to turn. Dark, angry clouds came over, it became windy and the visibility became very poor.
This past month or so has been a very busy and emotional time for our family. Our eldest son recently sat his final high school exams, which as many will know, is a busy and emotional time for the whole family as you go through the ups and downs of their exam experiences, and as a parent come to terms with a child leaving school and becoming an independent adult.
During this time, my father-in-law became unwell and sadly passed away. We are thankful that he lived to the ripe old age of 95 and that he loved the Lord Jesus with all his heart.
After having a great first half of this year, I have found this latter half to have been much tougher. I have heard quite a few friends express a similar sentiment. Maybe your year has been a bit more difficult than expected too, or you have been, or are going through a difficult season, I just want to encourage you this Christmas season to “find yourself in the shadow of the almighty”.
Psalm 91 was my father-in-law’s favourite psalm and I have found much peace, comfort and strength in meditating on it these past few weeks.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge
and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart”
During busy and tough seasons sometimes things are happening so fast that we don’t have time to properly process them and I find an accumulation of things begin to build up in your heart – not necessarily bad things but just the “stuff” of life.
One of the beautiful things about meditation is that it allows you the opportunity to process the things that are happening in your life on a daily basis. We can give our “stuff” to God and He helps us to understand, process, forgive, let go and heal. But when we are very busy, worn-out, or going through a particularly difficult time we may not be able to process these things as fast as they are happening and an accumulation begins to grow in our heart.
And we find that we are longing for a good, long, one-on-one time with God to clear it all out.
I sat down in my meditation room one morning recently to do just that – have a good, long, one-one-one time with God and I thought about how we often talk about the Holy Spirit coming like a flood or “flooding our soul”. That’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted the Holy Spirit to flood my soul and wash away all the harsh things of life that had been so painful for my soul.
But the thought occurred to me; in the natural a flood leaves disaster, devastation and mess – especially if you are not prepared for it.
I would definitely NOT say the Holy Spirit leaves devastation and disaster but I would say that having a powerful encounter with Him often results in our having to clean up and get rid of some mess from our life. This is a good thing – the clean-up; getting rid of mess.
I realised the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about cleaning out the clutter that had accumulated in my heart and life. Not necessarily sin (although when I sort through I might find some of it is sin and I need to deal with that too) but just the mess that accumulates in busy-ness. I’m talking about heart issues – things that we haven’t had time to deal with or process; things like hurt, pain from things not working out the way we had hoped, sadness, disappointment, stress, anger etc.
When you’re busy and tired and don’t have time to deal with, and process heart issues they accumulate and at some point we all need to take time to sit with God and clear it all out.
There is nothing more soul restoring than just sitting and resting with God in His presence allowing Him to help you clear out the clutter and mess that has accumulated. And once you take the time to stop, be still, breathe and rest in the shadow of the almighty, He will go to work on your heart… healing and restoring your soul.
You will come out of your meditation time feeling much lighter, free, peaceful and calm. Our world becomes “right” again when we re-centre ourselves on Him.
I pray that this Christmas season, especially if you have had or are having a difficult year, that you would find yourself in the shadow of the almighty (Psalm 91); find a moment, maybe even today, just to sit, breathe and be still in His presence… because there is healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2).
God bless and praying a very happy and blessed Christmas for you and all your loved ones,
Today I wanted to share a quick reminder and a quick encouragement with you about what to do when we get in the situation where we are anxious about a problem because there doesn’t seem to be a solution and your mind gets stuck on trying to work it out. And no matter how long you think about it your mind just seems to keep going round and round in circles with the same ideas that don’t work.
When you find yourself in this situation, don’t forget to let the Holy Spirit have His say. Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to solve the problem and so stressed about not being able to find the answer that we completely forget to stop and see what God has to say.We are all guilty of this, myself included. Our minds race from one thought to another about how we could fix this and nothing seems to work and the more we are unable to solve the problem the more stressed, anxious and focussed on the problem we become.Sometimes it helps to be reminded that God has an answer and it just takes for us to stop and be still and make some space to hear Him.
This happened to me recently. I got so caught up trying to solve a problem that I kept going over the same two possible options over and over but neither seemed to work and I was driving myself crazy going round and round in circles.
That’s when I realised that a “God-answer” won’t come to me when I’m anxious and distracted because when you’re anxious your mind is not open to creative ideas coming to you, or in other words, the Holy Spirit speaking to you.
And just a side note – one of the ways the devil tries to keep us from peace and from our meditation time with God is by distracting us with issues that we feel the need to think and worry about.
I have learned that when we get into a situation like this, the best thing to do is let go of all of our own ideas about how we could fix it, let go of anxiety, breathe… and wait on God. A creative idea will come to you when you are relaxed and open and you will hear the Holy Spirit when you are not striving to find a solution.
When you relax and let the problem go to God your mind becomes open to ideas you have not thought about before. It’s like my dentist said to me once when I was clenching my teeth – he can’t get in and do the work properly if I’m tense.
Ideas and thoughts from God can’t get into our heart and mind when we’re tense and anxious.
So here are three things that I have learnt help me to stay in peace and hear from God when I am feeling stressed and anxious about solving a problem.
Deal with fear
Usually when we are anxious about something it is because we are fearful about what is going to happen if we don’t find a solution. I had allowed fear to get into my heart when I became anxious about the problem and it is almost impossible to hear God’s answer when we have fear in our heart. We need to get rid of fear by giving the problem to God and trusting that He has an answer for us.In my case I realised I also needed to ask God to forgive me for not allowing Him to lead me in the first place. I had got myself in the predicament I was in because I had acted out of fear instead of waiting and listening quietly for His leading until I had peace in my heart. When we make decisions and act out of fear it always makes things worse.It was a great lesson for the future to not act of fear but to listen for God and wait until I had peace in my heart before acting on something.
And the second thing that we need to do in a situation like this is to “stay present”. If you’re so busy and distracted by the problem that you are not “present” then you’re not in a good place, especially for making decisions.Being present is powerful. I have a saying about meditation – and that is “Be still, be present, and be aware of God’s presence”. It is not just a quaint little saying – being present is a very powerful thing that protects us against distraction, which causes fear and anxiety.Don’t be tempted to become distracted by the problem. It will only lead to fear and anxiety.Being present keeps you in peace and stops you from wandering (or running) into distraction. When I was trying to find my own solutions I was not present. I was caught up trying to find the solution. I was researching all the ways I could try and solve this problem but it only made me more anxious. Being present brings you back from that. It is powerful to practice being present in all our everyday moments of life and not just in meditation.
Empty yourself of your own ideas, thoughts, plans and solutions
And lastly, we need to be completely empty of our own ideas, thoughts, plans and solutions and we need to be completely still to hear God’s voice. It’s not just about a solution, it’s about hearing Him.His solution might be the complete opposite of what I was expecting but I won’t hear it if I’m fixated on the only ideas that I can come up with.Come to God in your meditation time and present your cares to Him, having no preconceived ideas about the outcome and allow God to have His say. Just like Philippians 4:16 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.Then wait on Him for His answer. Come to Him and be still, not anxious and striving and wait patiently for Him. The answer will come.
Psalm 40:1 – “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry”
So if you have been striving to work out a solution to a problem this week, I encourage you to let it go, be at peace, spend some time just waiting on God in stillness and He will bring a fresh idea, the perfect plan or thought to you that you would not have otherwise thought about. Let the Holy Spirit have His say. His ideas, plans and solutions will always be so much better than ours.
And if the answer doesn’t come immediately don’t become anxious about it, His timing will be perfect if we stay in peace. Just keep waiting and trusting and He will bring the answer to you.
I’m praying that this helps you this week. I will leave you with a couple more scriptures to meditate on. I encourage you to use these in your meditation time to help settle your mind if you find yourself striving over a problem.
Psalm 37:7 – “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him”
Psalm 27:14 – “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD”
Psalm 62:5-6 – “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
Remind yourself of this verse every time you feel fear start to rise – I will not be shaken!
Praying you have a peace-filled and God-blessed week.
In the last blog post called “Peace. Be Still” I talked about finding peace through coming to God and letting go of our worries and cares and focusing on Him.
I want to talk about that a little bit further today. I want to share something I have learned about letting go. It’s not necessarily easy but brings incredible peace, release and freedom to our hearts and minds.
I had a situation recently where I had become quite anxious about something. I knew I had to let it go and leave it with God.
I shared last week how in times like this we need to go into our meditation time and focus on God and stay there until peace comes and fear goes.
But what about when it’s something that we really want to work out a particular way. Something we have our hearts set on; something we really need or want to happen. But maybe it’s not in our control. Maybe it’s in the hands of another person. Maybe we are anxious about getting a new job, or something we really have our hopes set on. Maybe we just need someone to make a decision that will go in our favour.
And we have no peace about it. We’re anxious and we’re hoping and we’re praying. This week I want to talk about how do we let go of that and keep peace in our heart?
This was the situation I was in recently. I was finding it very difficult to concentrate in my meditation time because I was anxious about a decision that I very much wanted to go in my favour but was in the hands of another person.
Well God is so good. He teaches us hard lessons in the most soft and gentle way. And what He taught me through this trying time was about surrender.
Surrender is the pathway to freedom and peace.
Sometimes I get so worked up and anxious about trying to work things out and I realise the lack of peace is not because of the problem it is because of my inner striving to work things out.
That’s when the Holy Spirit taught me to come into my meditation time and pray “Lord, not my will but yours be done. I surrender to the process. I surrender to the growing and maturing that you are doing in me. I surrender to what you want to teach me through this journey. And most of all I surrender to the outcome”.
Jesus taught us this so beautifully when He prayed about the situation He was in “Father if you are willing remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42) and then in perfect surrender followed it up with “yet not my will, yours be done”.
I call it sweet surrender because it’s hard at first but when I give up my will for His, sweet beautiful peace replaces the striving and anxiety in my soul.
This is what I learnt letting go really means – this is what will bring true and lasting peace. We have to let go until we reach a point that we are no longer fixed on having a particular outcome.
Trusting God is letting go of having your heart set on a particular outcome. It is being prepared to go wherever He leads even if it’s not the way we thought it should be.
If we are anxious about something working out a particular way then we will never have peace unless that things happens. But if we can reach a point in our meditation time of being able to say “God I leave it with you. I surrender to the outcome because I know you work things together for good for me, your plans for me are good, you never leave me or forsake me, I trust that no matter what happens, you are good”.
True trusting God is not trusting that He will work things out the way we want them. True trusting God is being prepared to go with the process and letting go of our desired outcomes.
Peace and freedom come when we surrender the outcome; when we reach a place where we can say the outcome does not matter. It does not matter if it goes this way or that way because I know that no matter the outcome, God is with me, God is for me and God works all things out for my good. He does not always work things out the way I want them but He always works things out for my good.
You might be thinking but it absolutely has to work out this particular way as any other way would be a disaster – there are no other options. That’s where faith and trust come in. That’s where we need to learn to say even if the worst happens God will still work it out for good. When we let go of the fear we hold in our heart, release the controls to Him (because let’s face it we can’t do as good a job as God anyway) and when we hand that thing over and say “yes God you can have it. I trust you” that’s when peace comes.
And when we can stay in that place of being able to say “you know what, the outcome doesn’t matter to me” that is when it no longer has a hold of you.
Are you inwardly striving and in turmoil about something? Do you need to surrender to His plan, His will or His timing? Surrender the outcome. It will bring you so much peace if you do.
Praying this helps you this week. God bless, and look forward to seeing you next time.
Sometimes people ask me what is the difference between prayer and meditation. I usually answer that prayer is about us talking to God and meditation is about stillness and about making space to be with God and God speaking to us.
This is true but there is also a difference in our mindset. There are many types of prayer but often prayer simply becomes about getting something from God, whereas meditation is simply about being with God.
This sounds like a minor difference but is actually massively different. In one we come to God anxious and with all our requests, desperately hoping God will do or change or fix something for us. In the other, we come to God (not necessarily peace-filled to begin with) but our focus is on Him until the point where we are no longer anxious and we are able to say “God, I let all other things go, because I know you will work it out and I simply want to enjoy being in your presence”.
This is what meditating on God is about.
In Mark chapter 4 verse 39, the Bible tells the story of when Jesus was in the boat with His disciples in the middle of a storm. Jesus stood up and said “Peace! Be still!”
It is generally understood that Jesus was speaking to the storm, which is true, but I can’t help thinking that He was also speaking to those on board the boat.
Their hearts had become panicked and fearful. With authority Jesus commanded the storm to be still and with love, compassion and comfort He spoke to their fearful hearts.
The Pulpit commentary on this verse likens it to the storms of the soul.
If you are feeling panicked and fearful about something at the moment, I know Jesus is saying to you “Peace, Be still”.
But how do you really do that in the midst of the storms in your life and the storms in your soul?
That’s where meditating on God comes in.
If you have been following my blog for a while you will have heard me say that sometimes our prayers simply become a case of us blabbing all our fears to God. And this is not good because God is not activated by fear. God is activated by faith.
That is when it is better to come aside with God in peace and stillness and instead of focussing on the worries and troubles that you have, set them aside for a while to focus on God. My favourite scripture for doing this is Colossians 3:1-3.
I come into my meditation time and still myself internally and externally and remind myself of this scripture.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God”
Instead of focussing on my worries and problems, I spend my time in meditation focussing on Jesus. I set my eyes, heart and mind on Him.
And I stay there until peace comes and fear goes.
Alicia Chole (a well-known Christian author) calls this “Periphery Prayer”. She says that if we hold our worries and fears behind us it is denial, if we hold them in front of us then we are hyper-focussed on them. But if we put them to the side and look up to Jesus, then we are not denying they are still there but our eyes are on the One who can give us peace and bring peace to the situation.
Before Jesus spoke those famous words “Peace, Be still!” His disciples were in a state of fear and panic. They said to Jesus “Teacher don’t you care that we are going to die?” because it seemed like Jesus was not doing anything about the storm but I have found that it is only when our hearts are in a state of peace that Jesus then speaks to the storm around us and says “Peace! Be Still!”
It is only when we come into His presence and set aside our fears and worries and focus on Him; it’s when we say “I’m going to set those things aside that are worrying me and I am going to focus on God” that not only does peace come into our heart but answers are released too. This is because it takes faith to set aside our worries and trust that God will take care of things for us – and faith is what activates God. That’s when Jesus can stand up in the midst of our situation and speak to the storm and say “Peace, Be Still”.
Praying this helps you this week. Look forward to seeing you again next time.
Welcome to the God Centred Meditation blog. I’m Leah Bulfin. Thank you so much for joining us this week.
This week I want to share with you from Matthew chapter 4 verses 1-11. It’s the story in the Bible after Jesus had been baptised and He went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray. The Bible tells us that during this time the devil tempted Jesus in three particular ways. I was reading this recently and doing a study on it and I came across this fantastic message from one of the famous Bible commentators, Matthew Henry.
I thought I would share this with you today because I found this very helpful. Matthew Henry says –
“Directly after Jesus was declared to be the son of God and saviour of the world, He was tempted. The devil tempted Him to despair of His Fathers goodness and to distrust His Fathers care concerning Him”
When I read that it immediately put into perspective for me that when we’re worried and when we’re anxious about things, really it is just the devil’s way of tempting us to despair of the Fathers goodness toward us.
And as soon as I read that I felt like I could put aside my worries and my cares because I was reminded that my God is so much bigger and so faithful; He has never let me down and He will never let me down and I never need to despair of His goodness.
I find it really helpful to remind myself of this – that when I’m feeling stressed or worried or anxious, not to despair of God’s goodness toward me.
Matthew Henry finishes this passage off by saying –
“Let us learn not to take any wrong courses for our supply when our wants are ever so pressing in some way or other. The Lord will provide”
I pray this helps you too. If you’re feeling stressed or worried or anxious about something and you come to your meditation time with God and you have that sense in your spirit of not being at peace, I pray this word will remind you to not despair of God’s goodness. He IS with you. He WILL help you and He will provide for you.
God bless you! I’m praying that you have a wonderful week.