Monday, 13 September 2010

At Midnight, in the Prison...

This past week has certainly been a challenging one, there were times when I did honestly feel like throwing the towel in, yet God reminded me of His goodness and that He is in control.

I'd like you to read Acts 16:23-30

And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So many people have been going on about Paul & Silas praying in the prison this past week. I've heard it on UCB radio as well. It's like God is trying to tell me something but I thought it must go deeper that just singing and praying through my circumstances, and it does.

The Jailer put Paul & Silas in the inner prison and bound their feet with stocks. Have you ever felt like your situation has become like a prison, with walls so high and an iron gate keeping you locked in? Not to mention those stocks which have bound your feet keeping you stuck in that situation! I have felt that sometimes about my dad's illness and the battle we are all facing with it. It hurts me to see my dad suffer and going through what he has this past 5 years, it almost feels like a prison. And although it it not down to me to change this situation, I have often allowed doubt to keep my feet bound in the stocks. I know that I am guilty of looking around my "prison cell" and thinking this is it, this is my situation and i'm locked in and it's impossible to get out. I am stuck". Have you ever felt like that? I'm sure you have!

But Paul and Silas teach us a very valuable lesson here. At midnight, they were praying and singing. Midnight is dark. Yet in the midst of darkness they sand and praised God! And the other prisoners who too were in darkness, listened to the praises to God our King. I think it's saying that when we are at our darkest times we still need to acknowledge who God is and praise Him for all He has done for us. Often when we are in our prison, in the darkness, we are so busy trying to find out way around that we forget that Jesus is Light and by refocusing on Him, He opens our eyes and the door to our prisons. Jesus provides hope.

"Suddenly there was a great earthquake..." WOW! Gosh, sometimes we just need a little faith hey! When God sends an earthquake/rumble in the darkness He means business!! The prison foundations were shaken and the doors flew open! Woohoo!!! how excited are we when the doors fly open and we can get the hell out of there. But STOP!!!!!! Paul and Silas did not run. That was not God's plan for them. If Paul & Silas had run from their prison cell they would still be prisoners, but prisoners on the run. And once the law had caught up with them, back to the prison they would go. Often times we want to run as soon as we see the door open, but that is when we need to stop and think and ask God for His guidance. Paul and Silas stayed in that prison and God brought so much good out of it. Firstly the prison guard was prevented from taking his life, then his family got saved, and then Paul & Silas were officially released from prison. They were not longer prisoners. They trusted God that bit longer and pushed on that bit deeper and God rewarded them greatly. They were no longer tied to that place that once held them in the stocks, but were free and free indeed!

I think what I'm trying to say is that God uses the situation we are in to do immeasurably more than we can imagine, and if we run as soon at the door cracks open we can miss out on God's amazing blessings. God wants every good thing for His children, but as children we need to learn obedience to God and trust in His timing. You may feel you are in that prison right now, but I want to give you a few points to follow so that you can see your way out, God's way.
1. In the darkness, praise God. Acknowledge Him in your situation. Take your eyes off the prison and put them fixed upon God.
2. Thank Him for what He has already done in your life
3. Don't moan about your situation to others, instead let those you talk to be like the other prisoners hearing you praise and worship God's name despite your situation. That includes serving and getting on with things.
4. When the door cracks open, don't make a run for it. Ask God where he wants you to be, thank him that he has opened the door and removed your shackles, but seek Him and find out if there is anymore He wants to bring out of the situation.
5. Ask God to open your spiritual eyes to see in the darkness. The jailor had to fetch a light to see the prisoners still sitiing there,  we just need to ask God to be our Light so that we can see the goings on around us.
6. Keep praising. Even when the tears are flowing and your heart is breaking, God is able. Praise Him for that.

Now I will share a little of what has happened in my situation in the past week. My dad was taken into hospital last week, as fluid had collected in his abdomen and he needed ti drained off. To cut a loooong story short, they accidentally punctured his small intestines and he was told if the hole didn't seal itself he would be dead within days due to infection. This really stole my peace, and I could see it stole the peace of those in my family. This is not the way its meant to happen! If God does choose to take my father I couldn't imagine Him allowing him to die at the hands of medicine, over someone's mistake. So we prayed! We texted hundreds of people and people were praying through the night. They lifted us up when our faith was battered and they held up our arms over the battle. And we saw God move!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amen!!! God healed that hole right up and my dad has no signs of infection! Praise the Lord! Not only that, but my dad had the opportunity to release the poor doctor responsible from his burden by forgiving him openly and God has brought good out of this situation. My dad will come home today!

This showed me so much that God is still in control. Even when faced with prison, the shackles binding my feet, and all i could do was see darkness, God is able. And He met our need and brought good out of it. Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!

It has renewed my faith that God can heal my dad fully because He is able. I believe this was just an example God gave us to know that He is in control, that He is able and that He is Sovereign. God willnot let  my dad die prematurely, and I know now when it is his time, be it soon or many many years down the line, God ordained it.

But let us now pray and fast and trust the Lord that He can do immeasurably more than we can think of in our situations. I am praying my dad will not die right now, but live and have a new body restored to Him. He is a child of God, and God wants every good thing for His children!


Friday, 3 September 2010

The Fiery Furnace

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my new blog. I started this by request of my father, as he has found my faith ramblings an encouragement in the last couple of months. Some of you also commented you were blessed by them so here we go. I've included in order the last few I wrote during a time of group prayer and fasting. I hope they encourage you. I cannot take credit for the words, as they were truly God-inspired.

The title for this blog "I'd recommend a cuppa...and a biscuit or to" comes from a something my brother wrote while he was alive. He used to write regular verse of the day type devotionals for his housegroup, and one of them kindly bound them into a book for his wife Emma. I have a copy of the book and I can honestly say, my brother surprised me with his faith. What a man of God!

Ok so this is titled "The Fiery Furnace" because over the last few days a couple of special people have reminded me of the story in the book of Daniel, chapter 3,  of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These men were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down before a gold image and worship the gods of King Nebuchanezzar. Before they were thrown in there, they said (verse 17-18)
"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

WOW!!!! What faith!  It really spoke to me about the situation myself and my family are facing at this moment in time. My dad has been told by his doctors that he has weeks to live. Yet we still believe that God can perform a miracle and save him from this disease. But it is so hard thinking about what would happen if God chooses to take him home and promote him to heaven. But it's true, even if God doesn't do this He is still God. He is still able, He is still Sovereign, He is still mighty, He is my God and I will still worship Him in the face of all may or may not happen.

But the cruncher here blew me away. I hadn't read this story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego for some years and I had forgotten the key part!
Verse 24-25 "Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?" They replied, "Certainly, O king." He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
Oh my goodness! How could I have forgotten this part!! WOW!!!! Not only were these poor men thrown into a furnace that was heated 7 times hotter than ever before, which sparks killed the men who threw them into the furnace, but these 3 men of God were walking around in the furnace with God! I don't know if these men could see God in the fire, but I believe God's presence would have been enough for them to know that God is with them and He's protecting them in the fire. But the king saw the 4 men, he saw God in there with them and it changed his heart. I don't know my family have been through the flames constantly for the last 5 years, but I do know that God has been and is with us. I often forget it, but God uses history like this to remind me that even when in the hottest furnace, the most impossible situation to be saved from, He is there through it all and he rescues. He does the impossible time and time again. My God can save my dad from this cancer, I know He can, but even if He does not, He is still my God and He is with me and my family always.

I do not know the plans of the Lord, and I have learnt that it is not my place to question Him who knows all, yet I do know now that in the face of adversity, of trial, of sadnessm of sorrow, of darkness, my God is Mighty to save. My God is able, and He is still God...even if He chooses not to do this.

Yesterday, I felt challenged by God to really worship him and humble myself before Him. I got on my knees on the floor (I was grateful I had just hoovered!) and I began to worship Him and cry my heart out. I sobbed and cried and told God my heart, even though He already knows it. After a while of this, I felt God tell me to get up off my knees and dance a victory dance. So in obedience, and feeling a little silly, I wiped my tears and danced to some awesome worship music. I was amazed at the release I found in dancing before Jesus, released of my fears, knowing my God who loves me and my family so dearly was with me and would not let me go through this alone. He reminded me that the battle is won. Amen!

Whatever you are facing at this moment, know that Jesus is with you through the Holy Spirit and have the faith to know that God will never leave you nor forsake you in your times of trial. Even when the flames are so big you can't see Him, find His presence in the midst of it. He will save you. He is able.

On a prayer points note, my dad Younus got out of hospital today after a traumatic few days. He has been in so much pain since an operation he had, please pray for his pain to stop, his energy to be restored and him to enjoy life back at home.

God bless you all

Shahlaa xx

p.s. Please follow this blog, you can click the follow button on the top right hand side of the blog. :)

Some sad news

Dear friends,

I will keep this short as my heart is heavy.

Yesterday my dad got his latest scan results and it is not good. The cancer has spread throughout his liver and into his abdomen. He is jaundiced and in pain. The doctor said there is nothing more they can do to treat him. His consultant said our dad probably has a few weeks to live.

We are devastated. Dad is really doing well considering and he seems at peace with whatever God wants to do. He is very tired and can't carry on living the way he is. He needs God to either heal him completely or take him home.

I typed the word impossible into my online bible search box this morning and the first verse that came up was from Matthew 17 verses 20-21 (amplified) and it challenged me.

He said to them, Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust]. For truly I say to you, if you have faith [that is living] like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, Move from here to yonder place, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.
21 But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.

Right now I can honestly say my faith is as small as a mustard seed, I am struggling but there still is some hope inside of me that God can and will do this.

Over the next few weeks please take one day to prayer and fast for the impossible to happen. Everything in this situation says it is impossible, but God's Word is true and if He says we need to pray and fast to see a mountain move then that is what I will do. I ask you to join me, because in unity and in coming together of the saints we can see God move.

Thank you all.

Shahlaa xx


Dear All,

Thank you so very much for coming on this journey with us over the last 5 days. I have been blessed beyond I could have imagined with the encouraging words and messages I've been getting. I believe the Lord will and is rewarding us for our faithfulness and perseverance.You have no idea how special each one of you is, who has participated in this, to my family. The fact that many of you do not even know much dad at all blesses us so much. The family of God is amazing, we can even not know someone but we will pray because they are our brother or sister in Christ!

Yesterday a friend of mine reminded me of the amazing scripture in Phillipians 4. I read the new king james version because i love the way it is written so these verses are in that format.
Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

That piece of God's word is amazing, for me it is my favourite bit of the bible. For me, summed up it says, "give thanks, be happy, don't worry, give it to God and He'll give you peace". Awesomeness!! Well I have read this section uncountable times and today I was really drawn to the word supplication. The dictionary says to supplicate means to "ask humbly or earnestly, as by praying" or "to make a humble entreaty to, beseech". How cool is that! So it's saying we need to humble ourselves and ask earnestly. You'll notice verse 6 says prayer and supplication, that means the two go hand in hand but are separate. it would seem you can pray without supplicating, but i would think in this context you couldn't supplicate without praying. Supplication goes deeper than just praying. we all shoot up "help me" prayers to God during our day, I know I do it loads each day, but supplication means we need to humble ourselves, realise that we are undeserving, unworthy to be in His presence, but can come to the throne of God by grace and ask God with all ferver and depth for our requests and needs.

The concordance bit of my bible says about supplicaton: "supplication is more than petitioning, but suggests an intensity of earnestness in extended prayer-not to gain merit by many words, but to transfer fully the burden of one's soul into God's hands." WHOA!!!! that is deep!! Ephesians 6:18 says: "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—". It talks about the link with the Spirit and supplication. To me that means praying in the words that the Holy Spirit has given you, so that it is not our words that transfer our soul's into God's hands but by the groanings and tongues of the Spirit that we become united with God.

So in context, when you are seeking God today, supplicate to Him. Pray your prayers but go one step deeper and lean into Him and with the help of the Holy Spirit extend your prayer into the depth that is only found in supplication. How challenging for our everyday prayer lives. The way to really connect with God, not to have to worry or fret, is to pray with an open heart earnestly seeking God's face in our situations and knowing that by doing so we will experience peace. I am so grateful that we can push through life with that promise hanging over us. With all that my family has been through this particular bit of Philippians has kept me perservering. Almost child-like in faith, i just say well if God says I can just leave it there and take His peace in return, then that is exactly what I'm going to do. Amen. Let's all have a little child-like faith today and believe God's amazing Word and know that we can leave things at His throne and walk away with His peace that surpasses all understanding.

Prayer points for the final day of prayer and fasting:
1. Healing. This is why we have come together in this. Let us pray and supplicate for my dad's FULL healing!!

2. Again for my dad's appetite to increase and that he would put on weight and continue to feel hungry.

3. For peace. Sometimes in the thick of it, it is easy to take our eyes of God and put it on to the situation. Please pray that we keep God-focused and have His almighty peace deep in our hearts.

4. Kind of a selfish one- I have my medical school finals starting tomorrow for 2 weeks. I could really use God's favour with each exam I take. My exams are on mon, tues, and thurs mornings this week, and weds and fri the following.

Thank you all so much again! This is the last of my daily ramblings, I hope you've enjoyed them!

God bless

Shahlaa xx


Dear All,

Thank you again for your prayers and time spent fasting over the last few days, I believe we are really seeing God move. I have heard good things from a few of you who have been seeking the Lord and it is so encouraging!

This morning I wanted to talk about restoration. I looked up the definition of restore in the dictionary and it has a few meanings. One is to reestablish, to bring back in to existence or use, another meaning to bring back to an original condition, and another, to put someone back in a former position. How wonderful that these meanings can sum up what God can do. He is our restorer. He carefully puts the pieces back together to create who he has planned for us to be. Things often get in the way of us finding our purpose in Him, including sickness, and we get a bit messed up. But Jesus, a truely talented artist, restores each of us with the careful detail he had when he created us.

A beautiful verse in Isaiah 49 v 8 starts with the title :"Restoration of Israel 8 This is what the LORD says: "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land."

How awesome that we have a God that chooses to restore us. I love that this verse talks about the "time of His [my] favour". It is all about God's timing! I have often asked myself why God hasn't chosen to heal my dad straight away, why has he had to go through nearly 5 years of treatment and quite frankly suffering, but then I remember that God's timing is perfect. My dad 5 years ago was not the man he is today. I know that he knows that as well. He truly has God's favour on his life, and he is humble and gracious like he once never was. You see God can use our situations to change us from the heart outwards. I believe that God has touched my dad's heart so greatly, and now this is my dad's time of physical restoration, although I believe the spiritual restoration is an ongoing process for us all! How true is this for us?? How many times do we go through stuff and think Lord just change my situation, restore my health, restore my finances, my job etc etc. But you see guys, we forget that God has work to do on the inside of us first. There is no point restoring a beautiful chapel on the outside but leaving the inside a mess and pretty grim. It would seem beautiful to look at from a distance but the old issues on the inside would eventually cause it to tumble down. Sometimes God needs to repair the foundations before He works on the things we think are most important.

Wow ok, that is my ramblings for the day done! I hope you are encouraged! Please do share any words from God with us so that we too may be encouraged.

Prayer poinrts
1. Restoration: physical healing and restoration of our family (cancer hits us all)
2. perserverance: to keep on keeping on. There are times when things are more difficult than others, please pray we keep focused on God and what He has in store for us.

God bless you all and have an amazing weekend!

Shahlaa x

Know it all?

Dear All,

Many thanks for your prayers and fasting the last 2 days, I know that we are fighting a winning battle because we have the Almighty God on ourside!

This morning I felt in my heart to read some of Job. I relate very much to the story of Job having seen what my dad has gone through in the last 5 years. Now I'm not saying my dad was blameles to start with, who is?, but there have been times when it's been absolutely heartbreaking to watch my dad, Younus, go through his treatment and seeing him struggle to even lift his head but he has stayed strong in the Lord. Last summer my brother Khalid was taken from us in what we can only describe as a tragic post operative complication. The loss of him shook us to the ground and it hit all of us, but I could see how much my dad's heart broke. But through it all he did not deny God. Yes he questioned Him, yes he was angry, but my dad still acknowleged God in all he did.

This morning when I was reading some of the chapters in Job I was drawn to the Lord's response to Job in Chapter 38 v 1-5 "And now, finally, God answered Job from the eye of a violent storm. He said: 2-11 "Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you're talking about? Pull yourself together, Job! Up on your feet! Stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that!(The message)"

You might think wow, after all Job has been through it's a bit harsh that God would pull him up like that. But what God spoke to me through these verses this morning is that, not matter what we are going through, He is Sovereign. He knows far more than we can ever know. Our God, who knew who we were even before we were created, should not be questioned. He knows what is best for us, He has planned it all to a T. But that doesn't mean we should just sit and accept what lands on our plate! No we should stir ourselves up to call upon the name of our Lord, who loves us so much and wants to turn all things around for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to His righteousness (rom 8:28)! But when all is said and done, we should accept that God is Sovereign, that He knows best. He knows the good He can bring out of situations, He knows the amazing power of prayer and how much His power is released when we get on our knees. I think sometimes we put God in a box and forget the wonders of His creation and who He is. God is amazing! He literally created every cell in our bodies, every sodium transporter, every blood cell. He knew before you were created how long each cell of yours would live before He replaced it with a new one, He created every grain of dirt on the ground, every puff of cloud in the expansive sky. I challenge you to read the last few chapters of Job, it is absolutely astounding and almost too awesome to get your head around but I think it will give you insight in to the greatness of our God.

Ok so prayer points for today:
1. Endurance to keep perservering. there are times that are harder than others, and when dad is feeling rough or is faced with the enormity of it all, he can feel like giving up. Please pray that he keeps his eyes fixed upon the Lord and the purpose God has for him.
2. Healing! This is what all this is about, isn't it! Let's see God move!!! My dad has his progress scans and results at the end of August. These scans will tell us if the tumours in his body have grown any more. Please pray for the miracle of reversal of these tumours. That they will shrink and die! and we will see proof of it in the scans.

Have a great Friday!!

God bless

Shahlaa xx

A Risk of Faith

Morning All!

Hope those who prayed/fasted yesterday it went well for. I must say I really did find it hard, but then testing and challenging our faith is never easy.

Today I wanted to encourage you about taking a "risk of faith". This morning I was reading the Word about the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34

I re-read for the hundredth or so time about the faith she had in reaching out and touching the hem of Jesus' garment. This woman had been haemorrhaging blood (probably a gynae problem) for 12 years. Thats a long time, she has trusted doctors and man to help her, but they all let her down. But that's kind of right, because actually Jesus is the Great Physician, the Father created us so intricately that surely He who made us knows how to fix the problem? Finally with all the faith she had left she went to Jesus and touched his garment, and through her faith she was healed. I was reading the message version of this section and it blew me away. Verse 34 says: Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague."

A risk of faith!!! Now when was the last time you took a risk of faith? that means going beyond what you normally do, it means pushing the boundaries, challenging your own self in what you believe. All of you who signed up to this prayer and fasting time, I challenge you: did you sign up because it's a nice thing to do or do you really believe my dad Younus can be healed? I was challenged my dad today and today I can truly say I DO believe he WILL be healed. Now please pray in faith for my dad and reach out to God and touch His garment and take that risk of faith. But do it for your own personal situations as well. I often think we get comfortable in our sickness sometimes. Sometimes it's actually easier to live with our condition because we have something to grumble about than taking that step of faith and risking it all in believing Jesus, our Healer, can actually do it.

A very special lady who is close to me has been suffering arthritis for over 20 years, she is in pain constantly. She was told by someone she knew to try having a positive mental attitude and that would get her better, to which she replied, it's arthritis and a positive mental attitude can't really change that. And she is right! But you know what Jesus can! The Author and Finisher of our faith is challenging us all today to take that RISK OF FAITH and say yes Lord medicine has failed me and I'm unwell but I acknowledge what Jesus did on the cross and today I take that step of faith to touch your garment and believe for my healing! Believe it and you will see miracles!!

Right now onto the prayer points:
1. Again today for my dad's appetite to grow and that he will start putting on weight. He did eat well yesterday which was great to see. He really can't afford to lose weight.

2. He is still constantly tired during the day and is also having back and stomach pains pretty constantly, so please pray that all these will stop.

3. For the cancer in in body to shrink, shrivel and die and be no more. I believe God will heal my dad FULLY! Amen!

Praise the Lord! Be encouraged! Please do let me know if you get a word from God or you want to share anything with us.

God bless you all,

Shahlaa x