Joy

Faith

It’s basically December, so I’ve recently started to listen to Christmas music again. I’ve also started watching Christmas films and actually decorated my Uni flat. While doing all of this, I began to realise something that has changed my life.

 

The past 6 months have been really hard for many reasons, I’ve found myself in the darkest bits of my life and really struggling with loss of confidence, anxiety and sleeplessness. It was hard. Yet all of that time I had a verse and lyric stuck in my head and I could not figure out why. ‘The joy of the Lord is my strength’ Nehemiah 8:10. It was repeating in my mind, day after day, month after month. When I moved to Uni, my Dad drew me a scribe for my wall and the centre of it said, ‘The Joy of the Lord is my Strength’, and so I saw it day after day, month after month. I never understood that verse and I didn’t know why it was stuck in my head. So, then I decided one lunch time to listen to Rend Collective’s Christmas album and ‘Joy to the World’ came on. Something clicked.

 

Joy is not an emotion, joy is not the same as happiness or the same as laughter or having fun, joy is a state of mind or way of life. When the Bible says, ‘the joy of the Lord is my strength’, this is a liberation, a freedom and a promise on which we can live! It is steadfast. The joy that God provides is enough to give us strength to get up and go, to carry on when we can’t. It is the strength to love yourself when you can no longer see your worth, the strength to get up every morning when you don’t see the point, the strength to be confident in God because his love and his joy carries you in the darkness of the night and in the light of day. The joy God promises to give you is life-changing, it is freedom from being alone and weak because you can live in God’s joy and strength. Although, let’s be clear, this is not a promise to never be sad, or never be tired or never have those days, it however, is a promise that joy is readily available through God all of the time. It is not a subjective emotion but an objective state of mind and a way that we can live our lives.

 

This promise, along with changing my darkness into light, actually showed me that when we sing songs at Christmas like ‘Joy to the World’, this is so significant! In Jesus we have a joy that is not affected by anyone or anything. Christmas is a time for celebration for many reasons, but this Christmas I hope and pray that it becomes obvious and significant in your life that because Jesus was born, we have Joy, eternal, objective, truthful and amazing joy that we can live in always!

 

May the joy of the Lord always be your strength,

 

-L

 

There is much more I would love to say – it’s hard to express the significance that this realisation has had on me in writing. I hope this helps someone, I would love to hear from anyone so please message me on Instagram: libbyjaxon or reply below.

Uncomfortable

Faith

The title above literally is the one word to describe my life right now!

What if comfort isn’t the goal?

We live our lives constantly chasing after what is comfortable and we therefore think that these things are ‘good’. Think about it practically, we eat ‘comfort food’ (chocolate for me) when we’ve had a bad day because we want something to make us feel some sort of safety. We don’t take those opportunities to meet different and new people because that might be awkward and not very comfortable at all. We make ourselves have daily routines to feel comfortable in our days. Even down to wearing PJs because they’re loose and we don’t have to ‘suck in’ and therefore they have the upmost comfort.

These are all things that we are prone to do because being uncomfortable is awkward and weird and it’s quite frankly horrible. So then, why does God call us to be uncomfortable?

‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’

Could you imagine how uncomfortable it would be to start preaching the gospel to literally everyone? The backlash would be something incredible and I doubt that I am only speaking for myself when I say that preaching the gospel to the world sounds like something they’d rather someone else do because you don’t want to feel like a weirdo, someone that sticks out, someone that’s different to the mould that society now has created. And why don’t we want to feel this way? Because it’s uncomfortable.

BUT, what if I told you that actually you feeling like this is purely evidence that you belong in heaven with God. If we felt at home in this world, if we felt normal when we told our friends that we spent our Friday night with our youth group or that we spent the Easter holidays on a church holiday, then we would be destined for right here. We feel uncomfortable because we feel weird because we are different, we are called to a different place for a purpose that is much greater than any of our worries about being uncomfortable or weird. If we felt normal telling other people that we believe in a God who is both man and God at the same time, is 3 in one and that he came back to life after being murdered by Romans, then the likelihood is, we are telling people who already know and believe the same thing. But because we are telling people that don’t believe this, we become even more aware of just how weird it all is. Yet, take hope in your uncomfortability because it only means that your purpose is heaven, your home is heaven not the world.

As C.S Lewis puts it ‘If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.’

You see recently I have realised that being uncomfortable means that you are doing something right. I began to realise that we only have one life, and these decisions that we make don’t only effect us but they effect generations to come. I know that I want my life to reflect that I believe that Jesus came and died for me to have life and life in all its fullness (John 10:10) and I want my life to be for his life in order for more to know this love that I am so wrapped up in. I sound like a lunatic right? I am aware of this and that’s why I feel awkward and uncomfortable half the time but this is all I want for my life and so my decisions even down to the way I talk must reflect that. My passion cannot and will not be held back purely because I feel uncomfortable because what is uncomfort in the face of God? Absolutely nothing.

So, with all this said, it brings me back to a quote by Paul David Tripp ‘The goal of the Gospel isn’t human comfort but human transformation.’ Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say that comfort is the goal, so why do we strive for it?

Please leave a comment or message me directly through my Instagram ‘libbyjaxon’ with any questions or thoughts, I’d love to hear them!

Also, if you have any prayer requests feel free to send them through.

-L

This is my Prayer in the Fire

Faith

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so that I could save the lives of many people.”

Genesis 50:20 [NLT]

You might be familiar with this phrase of a God who can change a situation of defeat into an incredible victory but you may not know the context of this verse. This verse comes from the story of Joseph a little while after he is reunited with his brothers. Now Joseph had been thrown into his situational ‘fire’ by his brothers. They had betrayed him, they disliked him so much that they almost left him to die in a pit, however, they changed their minds and decided to sell him as a slave to some Egyptians that were passing by. Although Joseph did go through many trials in Egypt, to cut the story short he gets the pretty important job of being in charge of Egypt, which later sets him up to be in exactly the right position to help his family when their land faces a famine.

Though his brothers had planned to get rid of him, even to the extent of pretending he was dead to their own father, God kept and protected him. All those years of uncertainty must have been a struggle, but look at his attitude. Joseph used that time alone to grow both in his faith and in the wisdom God had put inside of him, which led to him to become a respected leader in Pharoah’s eyes.

One thing we can take from this is that no matter what our ‘fire’ is, we can step back and look to God to lift us up. This doesn’t mean sitting back and doing absolutely nothing but intentionally taking the time to sit and listen to what God might be saying to you in this season. This may be through picking up the habit of reading your Bible, or over a coffee with a mentor/leader or by just investing more in your quiet time with God. All of these things will remind you of the promises that God gives us throughout his word (see affirmations) and help you find direction.

I’ve learnt this year that though illness, exam results, self-doubt (and so much more) may come and seem too difficult to face but we have this incredible hope in God. We have the confidence that our God is greater than anything and more than willing to give us peace when we feel overwhelmed. He really does have a plan for you and it’s far greater than anything we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).

So, keep praying. Keep praising. God’s got you.

-A

If you’re struggling right now, our prayer page is open! Drop us a message and let us know how we can be praying for you☺️

What does Easter really mean for us?

Faith, Uncategorized

I found it was really well explained in the book of Romans. It’s found in the New Testament, written by Paul probably around the year 57AD, it has 16 chapters and 9,447 words. I think it’s so important to really read into Romans 8:37-39, which states, ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ 

So, let’s take it in steps and see what it really means.

Let’s take the first sentence, ‘No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.‘In all these things’, is referring to different situations in life, which he later explains but the emphasis here on ‘all’ is incredible. In that Paul is stating that from his understanding of Jesus (which is probably more than we will understand in our lifetime!) that the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus is so that in every single situation we could possibly face in life, we are ‘more than conquerors through him who loved us.’ Meaning that through Jesus, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, you are a conqueror to everything that can face your way.

Paul continues, ‘For I am convinced’, convinced is defined in the dictionary to be ‘completely certain about something’, which has great significance within this passage as Paul describes what the death and resurrection of Jesus actually means, pragmatically, to us, he is certain of it! Absolutely sure, it’s like fact for him. We should be so encouraged by this, Paul knows that this is what Jesus has done for all of us and so we should all take confidence in it too.

‘Neither death nor life’ – People find death a scary thing, it seems permanent. Death isn’t right, but Paul is certain that even death, cannot and will not separate you from God’s love. So, even in the most permanent thing humans can comprehend, can’t separate us from the love of God! So, of course, it goes, that nothing in life can either. No illness, no fallout, no crime, no sin, no relationship, no grade, no job, no human can literally ever take us away from God’s love. There is freedom in God’s love.

‘Neither angels nor demons’ – Effectively meaning that anything in any realm can’t separate us from God’s love.

‘Neither the present nor the future’ – Many people are fearful of the future and what it might bring, whether you’ll get the grade, marry ‘the one’, whether your kids will graduate, whether your money will make it that long and so on. Yet here, Paul is promising us that in any concern whether it be now or in the future, the one thing that is constant and will never change is God’s love for you. No decision, no position or choice could possibly take this away from you.

Nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything in all creation’ – Here, Paul is eliminating anything you could possibly think of. But this has a massive importance because he is stressing to us that literally nothing can separate us from the love of God. All these things were defeated, when Jesus was on the cross and died for you and I.

This is Easter. This is the love that takes shame away, and sets you completely free, because what have you to fear? NOTHING! You are, and you will be loved for all of the days, through all of the situations you go through, in every decision and even in death, you are connected to the love that sets souls free. So be happy, rejoice and live in this freedom because that is the reason for the cross, that is the reason for resurrection. You are so loved.

-L

Be Content

Faith

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:35

Reads easily enough, but the Bible becomes real and relevant when you see how it might fit with your life. So, the first question would be:

What do you have?

This question, I find, we state all the material things we have. A car, a house, the newest phone, food and water and so the list continues. All of these are great things to have and those who have them are, of course, fortunate and we should be massively thankful. Yet, these are the easy things to think of, what about the people in your life? Your family, whether biological, adopted, however dysfunctional you think they are, the people who get you through, day by day. Your friends, your actual friends, the ones that get you, that see value in you, the ones that build you up, they are people to be thankful for. Some of you may have a SO (significant other), be thankful for them, they help you get through day by day.

However, the things we hardly ever think about are the things we might take for granted, but they play a crucial part in who we are, how we were made, and what gets us through days, months and years. Interest and passions, these shape us, give up energy to go out and do what we do. They create culture, create differences and create something for us to learn about and get involved in. Human Rights, we should never forget how lucky we are to have these. Joy and humour, literally makes us feel better, it is known that when we laugh, we actually release endorphins (the same hormone that is released during exercise that makes us feel good) meaning that laughing, caused by joy and humour makes us feel good. Freedom of speech, without which I couldn’t be doing this, no movements would have been caused, no change would have been made and well, we would be silenced.

So, when God calls us to be content with what we have and not get obsessed with what money can get us, we can see that we have a lot. Without which we would not be who we are. Be content in this, content in your joy, content in your humour, content in your peace, content in your rights, content in your interests, content in your passions and content in any health that you have.

Does this mean money is evil?

It’s crucial to notice that within the verse it states ‘love of money’, not ‘money’. Some people are blessed with money, some work hard for money, and some don’t have any money, this verse is not about slamming those with money, but about stopping those who are in love with money. Those who are obsessed with money, do everything to get it, think about it time and time again, and end up revolving around it. If this is you, and you’re struggling, I feel urged to point out that you cannot be alone in this, this was an issue in 65 AD when Hebrews was written. Further, I believe that the Bible is words inspired by God, so God understands you in your struggle with this too. All will be well.

Please feel free to comment and get involved,

-L

Overwhelmed But Not Overcome

Faith

Do you ever have one of those days where everything just seems to happen at once? First, you wake up late, then you forget to take money for lunch, you forget to bring in the one piece of homework you’ve actually done and then get about 5 hours of homework for the next day? Me too.

It’s a little-known fact that I did not handle stress well during A-levels, I was always super chill in public only to then go home and cry about everything I had to do. Productive, I know. But the great news is, God hasn’t called us to live a life like this, he’s called us into a life where we know where to put our fears. Now, take note I didn’t say that we’re to live a life without problems, Jesus himself says:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NLT)

So, if Jesus tells us that we are going to struggle in life, why should we bother becoming a Christian? The above passage comes in the context of Jesus telling his disciples that he will soon be leaving them, he says that “you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me… you will grieve but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” Jesus is explaining that there is a purpose for the pain that he will go through on the cross, even though in the moment they will not understand why such a thing should happen, the pain Jesus endures is only a pathway for incredible love to be uncovered. And though forgetting your lunch money may not be that big of a deal, you can read and apply John 16:33 to the bigger storms in your life.

Look at the underlined portion of that verse, the phrase ‘take heart’ is another way for Jesus to say, ‘remind your heart of this’. The word of God is not something that we should look at once, highlight and then move on from. We should constantly go back to it and remind ourselves of the promises that God has made over us. Promises such as “…you are fearfully and wonderfully made // The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still” or even “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.Reading these verses weekly/daily/hourly remind us how great God is and how much he cares for us in little but incredible details of our lives!

He says that he has ‘overcome’ the world, which means that it doesn’t matter if our battle is with anxiety, stress, insecurity, anger or illness; the truth is that, in the end, we win because God has already won. Winning doesn’t mean an easy road and it certainly doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle (I know I do), but it means that we can struggle hopefully, pray confidently, and work practically to move forward.

-A.

 

Featured Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

Responding to God

Faith

Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the LORD, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally, Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! So they asked the LORD, “Where is he?” And the LORD replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.
1 Samuel 10:21-23 NLT

A bit of background, a couple of chapters ago Saul had been chosen to be king and as amazing as that opportunity was, he had to wait a few years before he actually became king of Israel. No doubt within those years he would have had to go through some training and have someone to advise him about the massive role he would take on.

I have a confession to make, I’m not so great at sticking to things. I love painting but the style that I admire requires years of practice. I love music but chord learning is all I have the patience for on the keyboard. I like quick and easy solutions to my problems and sometimes I’ll even quit something because I feel like I’m just fine knowing the basics. Saul was a little like me in a way, in 1 Samuel chapter 9 when Saul meets Samuel (the one who God tells to anoint Saul as king) for the first time he quickly replies with:

“…But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

1 Samuel 9:21 NLT

That word, only, we’ve all thought it before if we’ve been asked to do a certain job, maybe someone asked you to speak in assembly or your team to play against the current top of the league teams. It seems like Saul was quite happy at the level he was at, where no one knew him and he could live quietly.

It’s a normal response to go into hiding just like Saul did in the first passage, remember when Moses tried to wriggle out of approaching Pharaoh because he thought God couldn’t have possibly been talking to him? This tells us that, all those biblical heroes were human too, they got scared, they didn’t believe in themselves but God used their weaknesses and strengthened them. They didn’t have to have themselves together before he used them, just a bit of faith.

Most of the time when God calls us to do something, it’s uncomfortable, and you feel a bit like Saul standing out in the open; head and shoulders above everyone else. Remember that he’s not asking for your perfect self – he’s calling your ‘only’ and your ‘but’s’ and saying “hey, I’m here. Let’s give it a go together.”

So let us paint, play, dance, sing, write poems, write blogs, encourage others and love to the best of our abilities.

You are not too messy, your opinion is important, you will never be ‘ready’. If God has put these things on your heart then the only thing for you to do is respond.

-A.