Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: beach

Grow

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to follow Him.
Let your roots grow down into Him,
and let your lives be built on Him.
Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught
and you will overflow with thankfulness.

When we feed something, it grows.

When I eat food, especially now I’m in middle age, my tummy grows. Sad but true! But when I exercise, my fitness level increases so that I can do more exercise. Hopefully, if I keep running, my muscles will develop and my tummy will stop growing. Hopefully….

It’s the same with my spiritual life. These verses urge me to keep following Jesus.

How do I do that?

I need to put down roots in Jesus. That means learning more-and-more to rely on Him, to be settled in Him. I want to get to know Him well and the only way to do that is by spending time with Him like I would any friend. My Bible is full of Jesus: His character, what He does, what He likes and doesn’t like. When I read it and pray, my roots are growing .

Building my life on Jesus is being secure in Him and in who He says I am. He gives me the freedom to be the person He made me to be.

And then I find that my faith grows as I get to know the truth. Jesus said that the truth sets free, and it really, truly does. When I think of how much Jesus has done for me it brings a huge smile to my face. I do overflow with thankfulness.

YEEE HAAAAH! YAY JESUS!! WHOOP!

Let me finish with a story.

When I was thirteen, my parents and I went on holiday to the Norfolk coast. It was a last minute booking because my dad had just come out of hospital. Amazingly we found a chalet near the beach that was available.

Hmm. It had been closed up all winter and we were the first people in. It hadn’t been cleaned. And it was full of spiders. Big, small and every size in-between. There was a monster under the kitchen table that even my dad wouldn’t tackle. They were literally everywhere.

Somehow we stayed in that horrible chalet for a week.

But I came home with a fear of spiders. It got so bad that I wouldn’t enter a room without quickly checking out floor, ceiling and walls first. I almost crashed the car when I spotted a tiny money-spider on the rearview mirror.

I had secular counselling which helped a little.

But the fear was still there. I never even prayed about it because I was scared of not being afraid. And if I’m honest, I didn’t think God could handle it anyway. Not even He could do the impossible, could He?

Three years ago, God stepped in. I was going through prayer counselling and He set me free from fear.

The result is that last Monday, my mum had a biggish spider in her kitchen that I was calmly able to deal with. No hyperventilation, no screams, no shaking.

This is truth: God’s perfect love casts out fear. My roots are in Jesus and I’m building my life on Him. My faith in Him is growing. The truth is setting me free and I’m so grateful.

Glory

What if Jesus were to take you for a walk along the beach and make you an offer?  ‘Give Me your heart, and you will gain Me.’

What would you do?

Last summer, that happened to me. I was in Hunstanton with my dear friend Elizabeth and we’d been enjoying soaking in God’s presence. Then He invited me for a walk along the beach. I’d never heard God speak so clearly to my heart before. First the Father, then Jesus, then the Holy Spirit put their case.

‘Give Us your heart, and you will gain Us.’

There was no manipulation, no blackmail, simply the most amazing and important offer I will ever get.

At the end of that incredible hour-long walk, I responded: ‘Yes.’ How could I say otherwise? I wasn’t sure what giving my whole heart to God would look or feel like, giving up my rights, doing what pleases Him simply because I love Him, but I want to gain Him – to know Him better, deeper, more intimately, for Him to trust me with His heart – than anything else.

I’ve had an increased longing to see God’s glory since that memorable walk. Three years ago the Spirit broke in on our church meetings with unusual power, bringing joy and freedom. I would love for that to happen again and then some.

There is a weightiness to God’s glory and presence. In the days of the Old Testament, there were occasions when the priests couldn’t even get in the place of worship because God’s glory filled it, making it impossible for them to stand or do their duties.

It’s awesome to think that that same God now lives in me and has made me a carrier of His presence. Wherever I go, I’m a representative of the Kingdom of God.

When Jesus started His ministry, He introduced the Kingdom of God – and God’s glory was seen clearly. The coming of the Kingdom meant supernatural things happening in everyday life – sick people were healed, dead people were brought back to life, violent storms immediately stopped. Just before Jesus brought His friend Lazarus back to life He said, ‘Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’

20150721_050820Jesus really wants us to see His glory; He prayed about this to His Father a few hours before He was arrested and executed.

In those early days after Jesus had come back to life, the Spirit-filled disciples took to heart His instructions to proclaim the good news and ‘heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers/skin diseases, cast out demons’. You’d think that people would have been happy and excited to see that happening. And some were, especially the ones who experienced these life-changing miracles. But not everyone was pleased and the disciples ran into trouble. Yet their reaction was to ask God for more, and His reply was to literally shake their meeting place and fill them to overflowing.

And so my word for 2016 is GLORY (if you haven’t already guessed!). My prayer for this year is for God to be my magnificent obsession and for nothing to keep me from pursuing Him until I, too, overflow with the power of the Spirit and we see God’s glory.

 

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