God’s love always looks like something

As an NHS phone responder I regularly get to speak to people over the phone. The other day I called a lady and it turned out to be very timely as she said she had been feeling particularly lonely.

Whilst chatting to Janet (not her real name) she bravely told me how she’d had a serious problem with hoarding for several years. Even though it was mostly now in the past (she’d received help through a TV programme about hoarding) I could see how she had been searching for comfort after experiencing grief and loss in her life and how it had led to her addiction.

Hearing Janet say how out of loneliness she would go to the shops everyday to buy something just to have someone talk to, made me want to cry. It also provoked me to keep speaking to people I meet because we never know the difference we could make to someone’s day

I went on to talk to Janet about Jesus and how I had come to know Him as the only one who can meet the longing we all have in our hearts. She listened and then asked me, “Why did people kill Jesus?” Her question was like an open door and I shared the gospel with her telling her why Jesus came for us and his words of forgiveness to us as he was dying on the cross.

During the conversation Janet also mentioned she had a painful hip and let me pray for her. After praying it seemed the pain had all gone but when I called back today she said it was still there and so I prayed again for her and talked more with her about God’s love.

Even though Janet is not yet wanting to pursue a relationship with God or to read the Bible I saw today how impacted she’d been by me ringing her back. She said how unusual it was and kept thanking me and said how it had made her feel different

I came away thinking about how we often hope to see immediate results when we share the gospel with someone…I know I do. I long to see people healed and to give their life to Jesus; simply because I know how good He is!

But today, I was reminded again that when we show people unconditional love, this IS the gospel.

However we do good to someone, we are demonstrating His Kingdom. As we give generously, show acceptance without judgement and display kindness and mercy we show people who the Father is and what he is like.

God’s love always looks like something.

Jesus is near to the broken hearted

I heard God say even in this time of restrictions know that I am unrestricted…

I’m sure you’d agree we’re living in a time where many people are feeling vulnerable and are looking for hope and for answers.

As an NHS phone responder almost daily I get the opportunity to call someone who is vulnerable or having to isolate during this time. Recently I’ve been struck by the number of people who say that they pray at night before they go to sleep or occasionally read the Bible and others who remember as a child going to church or to Sunday school. As people have opened up about their fears and lack of hope I’ve had many opportunities to talk about Jesus and to pray with them.

Just last week I spoke on the phone to a lady who was in pain and had been for many years as a result of a car accident but who stoically said that she would just have to grin and bear it. I shared with her about Jesus and how I had seen him heal people’s backs and asked if she would like me to pray for hers and she was very thankful. I love seeing what Jesus will do because I know He is always eager to show people who he is. After praying a couple of times for Elsie she told me that she felt a warmth on her back and that it now felt so much easier. When Jesus touches people it is such a tangible display of his kindness and compassion just like we see in the gospels; everyone who came to Him he healed and many followed him. Jesus both proclaimed and demonstrated the Kingdom.

There is no script or formula for any of this but instead a beautiful invitation everyday for us to partner with the Holy Spirit. I often ask Him to point people out to me when I’m out on a walk. It takes courage to approach someone we don’t know and usually I have to push through some lies and fear before I step out to speak to them but I know this is why Jesus has sent me. As we share the gospel, heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom we are demonstrating his love. Let me tell you another story; it’s been quite an exciting week! The other day I went for a walk in my local park and on the way I asked the Holy Spirit to lead me to anyone he wanted me to meet. Shortly after I saw a lady with a stick who was struggling to walk and who stopped to rest. Feeling drawn to this lady, I said Hi, and asked how she was doing and if she was in any pain. The lady nodded, we exchanged names and Sophia, who spoke very little English, showed me that that she had a painful foot. It was quite difficult to hold much of a conversation but we managed using some sign language and I offered to pray for it. Sophia thanked me and was about to move on, thinking I’d pray for her later but I indicated I meant now and seeing her smiling and nodding in agreement I bent down and prayed a short prayer asking Jesus to come as I commanded all the pain to leave her foot. What happened next was so amazing! As I stood up, Sophia was beaming and saying better, better! I said really?…No pain? She said, no pain!! She was so happy and excited that without thinking she threw her arms around me and I had to remember to quickly turn my head away. What was beautiful was in her heart Sophia was so thankful she had to express it.

This week I’ve heard of other stories like these and I’ve been so moved by God’s kindness, how he cares for us and sees us when we are in pain and how very near he is. His kindness is all around us and He is near to the broken hearted.

So whether it’s over the phone, on Zoom or FaceTime or just out on a walk, I’d love to encourage you this week to ask the Holy Spirit who he has for you to meet and share the love of Jesus with. And if someone has a physical need to then take a step of courage and offer to pray for them. As carriers of hope and the good news of Jesus we can all expect to see the impossible when we pray because we are partnering with the God of the impossible. This is the life he has called us to where He leads and we follow and it’s such a fun adventure!

Called to be fruitful

In John 15:7-8, we read Jesus saying to the disciples, ‘If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”.

Over the last twelve years, God has taken me on the most exciting and unexpected journey. In 2007 when I was fifty-two, and starting to think about slowing down, (I know, fifty-two really isn’t that old!) God began to speak about a new season in my life that I was about to step into. How in this season I would know a new sense of authority and power in the Spirit, an increase in a gift of evangelism and healing and how as I simply asked God for things and prayed simple prayers for the sick, I would see people healed and set free! When I received these prophetic words I couldn’t even imagine them coming to pass. My view of God was big, or so I thought, but my view of how God wanted to move through me was very small, something I have since needed to repent of.

I am so thankful for God speaking through prophets and for prophetic words, aren’t you? Like trumpets that awaken us, they call out what will be, even when we’re sleeping. In fact, part of the prophetic word was that God was unlocking in me a sense of being in a cave, and of being hidden and he was pulling me out. It reminds me of the story of Gideon who was hiding in the wine press fearing his enemies and seeing himself as inadequate and insignificant. Then God speaks!! Calling him out of his cave, he says to him, ‘Gideon O mighty man of valour!’ I imagine Gideon saying, Who me?… and we know how the story continues.

When God looks at us he sees who we truly are. Remember when Andrew introduced Simon to Jesus? Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas, meaning Peter.” Jesus knew where Simon had come from; he was John’s son, but he also knew who he was called to be. Wrapped up in his new name were his identity and destiny and it’s the same for us too. We’ve all come from somewhere but what we’re born for and who God says we are is a far greater reality.

It is now 2020 and is certainly proving to be a fruitful time in my life. As with all fruit-bearing seasons though there has to first be a period of pruning. As I headed off in 2011 to spend nine months at a ministry training school, a young leader in the church said to me, “Claire you are fruitful but God wants to make you even more fruitful.” In John 15:2, Jesus says these very words, ‘every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit’.

Since that time of training and equipping God has been doing a deeper work in my heart, showing me more of his incredible love and setting me free from things that were holding me back; lies mostly about my identity. When God is at work in us even though he reveals stuff it is always with destiny and purpose in mind. Jesus who is the founder and perfecter of our faith is pulling us forward. It’s like he is saying, ‘look, don’t be slowed down by these things, they will stop you running the race I’ve called you to run with me.’

The wonderful thing is I’m seeing that many of the promises I received back then are now starting to come to pass. Through God’s grace, I am growing in authority, stepping into new levels of faith, and taking others on the journey with me. I have seen miracles of healing and freedom as I’ve prayed simple prayers for the sick and I’ve even written a book! As someone who most of my life has battled with feelings of shame and of not being enough, this truly is a miracle!

If you are living with prophetic words why not remind yourself of them today. In this season where it can feel like everything is on pause thank God for where he has brought you from and ask Him to give you faith for where he is taking you and for what is yet to come. He has called you to be very fruitful.

Would love to hear from you if this has impacted you in any way.

Claire x