Tag Archives: Cliff Richard

Closer to God

When he [Barnabas] arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
Acts 11:23, NLT*

Many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, and the two men urged them to continue to rely on the grace of God.
Acts 13:43, NLT*

Both of these encouragements are to ongoing, persistent behavioural patterns. How do we stay true to the Lord and continue to rely on His grace?

  • prayer and praying Scripture
  • practicing His presence
  • reading – and thinking about – Scripture
  • talking, praying, studying with other believers
  • serving where He leads
  • relying on His strength in service and in all areas of our daily lives
  • getting to know His character through life and His Word
  • noticing and keeping a record of where we see God at work in our lives
  • telling our stories of faith, and listening to others

Feel free to add other points in the comments. I think what it comes down to is that we need to let God more into our lives.

God our Sustainer and our Source of life and hope, we echo John the Baptist’s awareness of the need to decrease so that You can increase. Thank You for giving us the Holy Spirit to indwell us. Please help us to give Him full access to our hearts, so that You can grow us in our faith. Help us stay true to You and rely on Your grace every day.

I’ve always taken Cliff Richard’s “Discovering” as a song from God to us. From that perspective, listen to what He might say in invitation.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Ignoring the Gift

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.
2 Corinthians 6:1, NLT*

The gift Paul’s speaking of is a new life in Christ, reconciled to God and freed from the penalty of sin and death. (2 Corinthians 5:18) In the same verse Paul asks the Corinthian believers to reach out and be agents of reconciliation, bringing others to know this gift of life.

I’m sure that’s what he means by begging them not to ignore the gift. He wants them to fully live – to demonstrate this gift, vibrantly, contagiously, so others will want in, too. The gift is for everyone who’ll receive it.

There’s another aspect of ignoring the gift, though: literally ignoring it. Not letting it change us at all. We’ve escaped a Christ-less eternity, but here and now, life goes on with no appreciable difference.

I believed in God from childhood, gradually moving from a superstitious type of faith into the real thing as I learned more about Him. I knew the dos and don’ts and tried to obey, because that’s what He expected.

But it wasn’t until university that a Bible study weekend showed me Jesus doesn’t just want to be our Saviour, He wants to be our Lord. Not distant, issuing rules, but personal. Close. He wants our obedience, but also our loyalty. Our hearts.

He wants our hearts more than He wants our outward obedience.

How can Jesus have our hearts if we don’t spend time with Him? In quiet, in prayer, reading His Word and even studying it.

Without His having our hearts, of course we won’t change. Others won’t see His goodness. We won’t see it, either.

What if we took a few minutes, just 5 or 10, every day? Even twice a day? A little break for quiet with the Lord, to spend time in His presence. To reorient ourselves under His Lordship. To know Him more.

Father God, You’ve done all that needed doing to rescue and redeem us. You invite everyone to come, to be forgiven and made new. Forgive us for the times we ignore Your gift. Draw us back to Yourself. Forgive those who’ve ignored it long enough that they don’t even think of you now. Like the Roman soldiers, they don’t know what they’ve done. In Your mercy, draw their hearts back to Yourself. Remind them of the gift, and help them to embrace it.

I don’t know if this song was intended to be about a romance, but to me it’s always sounded like a lament/invitation from the Lord. Here’s Cliff Richard with “Discovering.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Receiving Like a Child

I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.
Luke 18:17, NLT*

Have you watched a child receive a gift lately?

If this is an emotionally healthy child, raised with love and care, there’s no doubting, no hanging back. (How many of us as adults stop and ask, “Are you sure?” or say “You shouldn’t have.”)

The child’s eyes light up. If she’s young enough, she likely squeals or bounces up and down. Older, learning the restraint that snares most of us, she’ll still give some subtle hint of excitement.

Hands reach for the gift. Test its weight. Shake it a little, listening for clues. Tear open the paper or pull the tissue from the top of the bag.

If it’s something she likes, the child radiates pleasure. (God is not giving us dental floss or socks – this is the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus is talking about in today’s verse.)

Something the child really likes? She’ll probably take it everywhere, even sleep with it. Tell her friends, show them… maybe share it if it’s not breakable.

The only gift that would go back in the package, shoved in a corner of the closet, would be something she didn’t care about.

But even a child’s favourite gift today would eventually be replaced by a future novelty. Not so the Kingdom of Heaven.

Gracious and loving God, You offer us the Kingdom of Heaven – the best gift of all. The more we explore it, the more we’ll appreciate it. Help us to truly believe it’s for us, to embrace and cherish it. Help us spend the rest of our lives growing in relationship with You and not holding back because we’re afraid to receive.

Here’s an older song from Sheila Walsh: “Growin’ Up to Be A Child” (The video isn’t great, but it’s the only version I could find.) If you listen closely toward the end of the song, you may be surprised to recognize Cliff Richard‘s backing vocals.

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Our Source of Strength

May [the God of peace] equip you with all you need
for doing his will.
May he produce in you,
through the power of Jesus Christ,
every good thing that is pleasing to him.
All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
Hebrews 13:21, NLT*

The Christian life is about learning what it means to walk by faith, to let the Holy Spirit’s power in us be our source of strength.

This has become my quest in the past few weeks. I’ve realized part of the reason there’s been an invisible cloud over my head is that I’ve felt overwhelmed by the “stuff” of life. I’ve been trying to handle it on my own again.

The more I commit each day to God’s leading, including what goes or doesn’t go on the agenda, the more I pray “Lord, You direct me, strengthen and keep me focused,” the better it is.

I’ve been praying daily for protection from fearful and negative thoughts, and reminding myself in Whom I put my confidence.

Check out the credentials ascribed to God in the verse before our focus verse:

Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— Hebrews 13:20, NLT*

This God, we can trust.

I don’t need to be anxious or to overcompensate. If there’s potential for something to go wrong, either God will help me do it right, or He’ll work within the fallout. If someone else is angry with me about it, God will still be with me.

And I don’t need to think ahead and try to hold everything together. My times are in His hands.

I’ve seen a few changes to my default reactions—all good! And my spirit, lined up with His Spirit, has more peace.

God of peace, You are so good to us. You rescue us when we can’t help ourselves, You prepare good works for us to do and give us people to love… and You provide the power to do it because on our own we can’t do much of value. Forgive us for the times we try life in our own strength, and help us learn to rely on Yours. Because of Jesus, Amen.

Here’s one of my favourite Cliff Richard songs, a worship song I remember singing many years ago to help me focus: “Be in My Heart.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.