Category: <span>thoughts by Terry Stead</span>

Fear is something that we all experience at some time in our lives. Our bodies cope by sending a surge of adrenaline rushing through us as a “flight or fight” mechanism and we feel ‘wired’.  There are so many things of which we are fearful; it may be losing our job, being in a violent relationship, or perhaps the realization of the imminent loss of a loved one.  The fear of what is happening in the world with regards to global warming is frightening to many people.  We are experiencing so many changes in our weather leading to extremes of temperature, devastating cyclones and floods.

When we are gripped by fear we are robbing ourselves of the potential to be all that God intends us to be.   I am not trivializing these fears, but I do want to emphasis one of God’s many promises to us.

For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Some translations read “self-control” instead of “a sound mind” and I relate more to those words.  I know that when I am fearful I cannot think straight, I panic and totally lose my direction. I no longer focus and forget that God has given me the power, love and self-control to overcome any stifling fear.  We need to commit these words of Timothy to our memory so that when we are faced with situations beyond our control, we can rise above our fears and know that we have been given the power and the love to overcome.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be strong and to turn to you when I am fearful.  When I am afraid help me to remember your promise of power, love and a clear mind so that I may always be what you wish me to be, an instrument of Your peace and Your love.   Amen.

By Terry Stead
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Joy

Joy happy fun

Life is so full of joy, dear God, in the laughter of children, the smiles of strangers and the beautiful colors of flowers.  Joy can be found anywhere and yet so often we can only see the darkness of despair.  Sometimes the frowns on our faces seem to be there all day and we don’t want to look around and see the joy that surrounds us.

The Bible talks a lot about joy, particularly when we are following the way of life that Jesus wants us to follow.  We need to transfer the joy that Paul talks about for instance and carry it into our everyday workplaces and homes.  Here is what he says:

Philippians 1:24-26
But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Do we hang in there when things get tough?  Do our bad moods or our despair transfer onto others that we meet each day?  Our promise to ourselves each morning should be that we will take joy with us and so our joy will overflow and touch all we meet.  Now I do not mean to go around with a silly grin pasted to our faces, but just have that inner joy that Paul and others speak of and believe me it will embrace all those around.

Read these passages that mention joy and take on the joy they are speaking about and I’m sure your life, and the lives of those around you, will change.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Prayer: Loving Jesus, when we follow your way and love others we become animated and alive and our joy radiates from us.  We are filled with a wonderful joy and expectation which brings hope, and yet often we spend so much time living a way that is comfortable and safe that we lose our animation.  We do not want to be flat and one dimensional.  Please help us to realize our full potential so that our hearts can dance with joy. Amen.

by Terry Stead

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Devotional on worshipping God

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 2:1-2

How often do we beat ourselves up about some past sin or hurt that we have done in our lives?  Often they even reach as far back as our childhood.  It seems that we like to pick at these sore spots in our souls just like we pick at any damaged part of our skin that we have hurt, or put our tongue in a cavity in our teeth just to get the sensation.

Why do we do this?  John tells us very clearly that Jesus has atoned for all our sins on the cross.  We need to be truly sorry for what we have done and want to repent.  Then we can hand over all our burdens to the Lord and in doing so, they become His burden, not ours, and so our lives and our souls are lighter.  The Lord will never hold a grudge against us and no matter how much we sin or hurt others we can still receive healing for ourselves just as long as we genuinely want forgiveness.  There is no sin too great that will not be forgiven.  All we need to do is offer these burdens and sins to the One who washes away all hurts.  Once we have repented and given up our burdens to the Lord there is no need for us to dwell over and over on our failures.  We have already been forgiven.  Thanks be to God!

Almighty God, thank You that You sent Your dear Son to die on the Cross to plead our case.  We come before You at this time mindful of the sins that burden us, some recent, some from long ago.  We ask that You take these burdens from us and show us how to live the life that You so want us to live, free from guilt and shame.  Thank You and Praise You for our forgiveness. Amen.

By Terry Stead
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Lent is upon us.  A time when we reflect on our own lives as well as the death and the resurrection of Christ.  On that glorious Easter morning our sins were forgiven and we were granted eternal life.  However long we live we can never grasp the true meanings of those words or the sacrifice that was made on Good Friday.

We read the word “forgiven” and yet because we often cannot see through the darkness of our own past we really fail to grasp the full implications of what the word imparts.  We sometimes find it easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves.  Many feelings of guilt through our actions in the past blind our eyes to see the truth – that we are indeed forgiven, and loved, and cherished by a God who gave up his only son so that we would not perish.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel that if other people could look inside and see the real me, I would be found wanting.  We dwell on our mistakes, on the way we behave, or on anything that we see as flaws in our own being.  How often do we only see the ugly and not the beauty that God sees in us?  He delights in us and calls us his sons and daughters.  We need to see this beauty inside each one of us before we can truly see the beauty in others.  It is only as we come to know the true meaning of forgiveness can we show God’s unconditional love to the world.  We hear this text from Matthew during our communion services but how often do we reflect on what it actually means?

Matthew 26:27-29
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying

Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Personal Prayer:
Beloved Christ, I come before you now carrying so many burdens of guilt and shame, things that I dwell on that stops me from becoming the person that you wish me to be.  Open my eyes to see that I am forgiven and loved.  “Just as I am, I come.”  Amen

by Terry Stead
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woman cryinig worried upset

I  don’t know about you, but the things that stress me out the most are often the little things. Things that, if you put them in the context of things you need to worry about, would be at the bottom of the list.  Small problems like burning the toast, the hot water service breaking down or the mess of leaves on the front path.  It is often the case that these little things build up in importance and we seem to be forever worrying about something.

Other times it is work that causes the most stress and we carry that worry through to our families and friends, thus causing tension.  In some cases our families are often the cause of stress and all our time seems to be taken up worrying about their lives and our eyes are taken off God and focused on others’ problems.

In our minds we know that worrying is not going to help matters, but we do it anyway. I read a story on the internet the other day where a lady was talking to her therapist and said to him, “worrying works for me as ninety-nine per cent of the things I worry about never happen”.  Another internet story on worrying is about a man who went to the dentist and left his car in a no parking zone just so he could worry about not getting a ticket, which took his mind off worrying about the dental visit.

Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew give us assurance and hope whenever we are faced with situations where we feel the need to worry.

Matthew 6:25-27
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Wonderful and understanding God, we turn to you in times of crisis and ask for strength and calm, but often not for the everyday problems that we worry about.  Help us to trust in you and in your promises and take these words of Jesus to heart.  Praise and thank you for your continued grace and your unconditional love. Amen.

By Terry Stead


Do you want to stop worrying and start trusting Jesus?  You can start a relationship with our loving and trusting God through a simple prayer that expresses your trust and belief in him.  If you believe these words, then say this sample prayer and HE WILL come into your life.

Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.  Be the healer of my soul.”

This is just the beginning.  We encourage to read the links below and get connected with a good church.  Also, consider an online mentor which we can connect you to.


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I love God’s sense of humor.  The number of times it is a beautiful day outside and out I go for a walk, but within 10 minutes of leaving home it is pouring with rain and I don’t have an umbrella.  Other times I am sitting under a tree and a gumnut drops right on my head.  It could have dropped anywhere around me, but no, it lands square on my head.  Whenever these sorts of things happen to me I always smile to myself and imagine God is laughing along with me.

To laugh is so good for us.  It changes our mood and allows us to see the world through new eyes.  We also need to laugh at ourselves as we tend to take ourselves too seriously at times.  We should allow the laughter to bubble up from our depths and so infect others with this incredible ‘medicine’.  I always thank God that we have been given this gift of laughter.

I also think the Creator must have laughed a lot when I came into being as I have done, and will do, so many silly things throughout my life.   Now I am not advocating that we go around making fun of every situation and laughing at inappropriate times. There are so many times when we are overwhelmed with what each day offers or perhaps the sadness in the world weighs heavily on our shoulders and we find ourselves bereft of even a smile.  It is at those times that we need the strength, the compassion and the incredible unconditional love that only the Lord can give us to help us through, but there are also times if we can smile or laugh the situation will be so much clearer to see.

I have always loved this verse from Genesis after Sarah had born a son, Isaac.

Genesis 21:5-6  (NIV)
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of laughter.  Show us times when we can make someone else smile and so make them feel special, just as you make us feel special.  Help us to laugh at ourselves and that in so doing we may infect others with this release of stress and pain.  Thank you, also, for your infinite patience with us.  Amen

By Terry Stead

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by Terry Stead

Isn’t our memory an amazing thing?  I am at an age now where I am finding it very hard to remember people’s names, or words to poems, in fact I forget most things.  But one of the things I do remember is a line a poem by Dorothy Frances Gurney “You’re closer to God’s heart in the garden than any place else on earth.”  It is a poem that my mother used to recite to me over and over as she showed me the beauty and intricacies of a beautiful rose or delphinium or other flower, which she loved.

Although we don’t have to be in a garden to feel close to God, it is a marvellous place to praise our Creator.  We can marvel at the beautiful colours of the flowers, of the leaves of each plant, and yes, even the weeds that grow so abundantly.  We can thank God that we are surrounded by so many beautiful things upon which to gaze and also thank him for the perfumes that waft to us through the air.  All these things should make our hearts sing in praise.

Sometimes, though, I think that we are all so busy focusing our eyes on where we are going or what we are doing that we sometimes miss all this beauty.  Take some time out over the next few weeks to really see what is around you and give thanks and praise to our wonderful Creator.  You may wish to use a simple one sentence prayer like this.

Prayer:

We marvel at your creation, Lord, and ask that you accept our praise and our thanks.

John 1:3
Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him.”

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by Terry Stead

One of the things I have always loved to do is kick off my shoes and sit in the grass – to actually lie on the grass is even better.  You can feel the coolness of the green blades and also feel the earth beneath you.  To me it seems as if I am actually attached to God.  Now I know that God is always part of me and I give thanks for that every day, but when I am there on the grass I feel that I am physically connected to the Living One.

I sit or lie there and my mind goes back to the wonderful story of creation in the first book of Genesis and what an incredibly exciting, wondrous story it is.  Everyone has read and also listened to many sermons where this story has been shared.  We believe God created our universe and yet I think we need to sometimes become immersed once again in just how exciting and wondrous the world around us is.

So… back to lying on the grass, relaxed, and if I keep still and listen I can hear birds singing out to each other and maybe male crickets rubbing their wings together cheerfully.  The warm breeze catches the leaves of the plants around me and out of the corner of my eye I see a flower blazing yellow against the bright green of its leaves and perhaps a red and black lady bug is walking very busily among the petals.  To me, all these things are every day miracles and I can revel in creation and know that we are made in God’s image and likeness.

If you have time this month read again the 1st Chapter of the book of Genesis and relate it to all that is around you.

Prayer:
Creator God, how wondrous is your creation.  We marvel at how everything has its place and season.  Help each of us to become more aware of what is happening around us so that we can appreciate the everyday miracles which are before us.  Amen

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by Terry Stead

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, at this time of year we so often get caught up in the mad frenzy of buying presents, writing cards and catching up with friends and family that we forget the true meaning of this Advent Season.  Help us to stop and reflect on the gift of your birth to all of us.  Teach us how to slow down and see the wonder and the glory of this time.  Amen

Bible Readings:

Week 1 –   Matthew 4:18-22
Week 2 –   Revelations 21:1-7
Week 3 –    Luke 1:5-25
Week 4:     Isaiah 49:13-26

Prayer Points:

–  Reflect and rejoice in the miracle of Christ’s birth
–  For those whom Christmas is a sad reminder of days past
–  Volunteers who help share their Christmas meal with others
–  For all who are lonely
–  Your own personal prayer points

Closing Prayer:

Dear One, during this Christmas month when my life seems to be permanently set on the spin cycle, please show me the miracles that surround me every day, so that I may become filled with joy and reflect on how enormous was the gift of your life on that first Christmas morning. Amen.

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by Terry Stead

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
(1 Corinthians. 6:19-20)

Christian DevotionalHow many of us take these words into our hearts and live by them? I know I certainly don’t.  Oh, I try, but I fall far short of honoring my body.  These verses tell us that our bodies are temples filled with the Holy Spirit.  If we look at just the physical and mental side of our bodies – how often do we over-indulge in our eating, stress over the smallest of problems, worry about things that we cannot change, or when we do look after our bodies do we sometimes exercise to excess?  We need to treat each part of our body as a sacred dwelling place that has been bought at a price.

But it is not only the physical and mental side of our bodies we should examine.  We need to take a hard look at ourselves and answer truthfully: “Are we living a spirit-filled life every day?”  I don’t think very many of us can answer that with a resounding “yes”.  If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, then to me, it means being very much a part of this world, of our everyday living, sharing God’s unconditional love and showing people how the Grace of God can work in, and change, people’s lives.  So many people today live in a hopeless world, are we able to offer them hope?  Can we say to them from our spirit filled bodies that God really makes a difference?

Prayer:
Help us, Dear One, to see our bodies as you see them.  A temple filled with the Holy Spirit and made in your image.  Show us how to rest when our bodies become weary, how to replenish them with healthy food, and also how to exercise so that our bodies reflect your love and your glory.  Also remind us that it is not our outward appearances which are so important, but what lies within.  Amen

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https://thoughts-about-god.com/blog/2011/06/14/ts_temples-of-the-holy-spirit/
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by Terry Stead

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,“ The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Matthew 3:3

The wonderful time of Advent is upon us. A time when we eagerly anticipate and await the birth of Jesus.  Unfortunately, it is also a time of busyness when we rush around madly trying to find just the right present for a family member or friend.   We get impatient when we have to stand in queues to pay for our purchases and often become terse with shop assistants.  Smiles don’t seem to be as prevalent and there doesn’t seem to be enough time to stop and talk.  Each year the list for presents seems to grow as our children marry and grandchildren come along and so we worry about how much money we are spending and what will happen when we have to pay the credit card bill.  And so the meaning behind “waiting” fades into the background.

We should be waiting with expectation; watching with eagerness and a focus on just what this birth will bring – a fulfilling of God’s promise in Jesus Christ.  We should be reading God’s word and exploring what this tiny baby means to us, now and will mean to us in the future.  We need to be preparing the way for Jesus in our hearts.  His birth brings with it salvation and forgiveness of sins to all who confess their wrongdoings.  He brings eternal life and a place in God’s Kingdom for each one of us when we finally leave this earth.

So — rejoice as you anticipate, prepare and await this glorious birth.

Prayer:
Loving and Gracious God, we come before you this day full of excitement and anticipation awaiting the birth of your dear Son.  It is so hard to imagine that we mean so much that You would give us this most precious gift.  Help us at this time to slow down and dwell on the meaning of this wonderful event so that we can truly give thanks and worship You with our whole hearts.  Help us, also, to separate the secular meaning of Christmas (Xmas) from the real meaning and so make it CHRISTmas in our hearts as we wait.  Amen

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