A prayer for China

I was reading this Isaiah 49:8-26 this morning and I believe that God told me it’s about China and “the land of Sinim” stood out to me. I have never noticed this before. When I’ve looked up the land of Sinim many Bible scholars believe it is China.
I wasn’t praying specifically for China this morning but now I am. What I am praying is for my brothers and sisters (Christians) in China – for God to have mercy on His afflicted and that God would say to the prisoners “Go forth” God has heard their prayers and He will provide for them and guide them and comfort them.

Fed by ravens

1Kings 17:2-16

The background of this story is that Ahab was the King of Israel and he did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. (1Kings 16:30) He set up an altar to Baal and worshipped him and made a wooden image. In 1 Kings 16:33 it says that Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the Kings of Israel who were before him. 

Wickedness was at its peak in Israel. God was not happy with them and He spoke to Elijah that there would be a drought.

God gave Elijah specific instructions about what to do regarding the drought to receive God’s provision He told him to hide by the Brook Cherith. Elijah was to drink from the Brook and God commanded the ravens to feed him – and they did! Every morning and every evening they brought him bread and meat – Divine provision.

A bit of information about ravens – the brains of ravens are amongst the largest of any bird species – they are very intelligent, playful, curious and often scavengers. The raven was the first animal to be released from Noah’s ark.

God is not limited by human resources and He is creative in His provision. He could have sent manna, like He provided for the Israelites in the wilderness, but here He chose to use the ravens.

Can I just say that God knows what His people need. Elijah was alone. God knew he needed companionship of a sort, as well as physical sustenance, so He chose to use the ravens. They would have been a welcome antidote to solitude – coming twice a day. Maybe Elijah started to look forward to their regular visits – a break in monotony; companions; confidants etc.

Saints, God is not just going to feed you and then leave you to go mad with loneliness. God cares about your mental health just as much as He cares about your physical sustenance. He is sending His ravens, so to speak, with encouragement and help.

1 Kings 17:7 “And it happened after a while that the Brook dried up, because there has been no rain in the land.”

It was bound to happen but God had a plan. 

When one source dried up (the Brook) God sent him to another source – a widow in Zarephath.

Verse 8 – God told Elijah to go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon. Sidon is a port city in modern day Lebanon.

From the Cherith Brook to Zarephath it was a long journey – about 80 miles away. Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, was from there and it was an ungodly place. It must have seemed to Elijah that God was leading him into a place of danger.

God could have provided him a widow from the next village to feed him – that would have been much easier – but God is not about making things easy for us. We must respond to His Words with tenacity and faith. God knows where our next provision must come from. He knows what He wants doing and the people that need to be involved.

A little widow in Zarephath preparing her last meal with her son, getting ready to die because food and funds had run out was God’s choice to provide for the prophet and receive miracles.

Please, just read that again and reflect on that.

God has His sources. You think your money might come from a certain place yet God may have other ideas.

Sometimes we can be tempted to think our source will be a wealthy person or a multi-million pound company – yet God may have earmarked a widow on the verge of destitution to help you. He is not limited to the funds of this world. But we must be obedient to God’s voice.

Elijah could have said to God, “Why do I have to go all the way to Zarepath to get food? Aren’t there any widows near my brook that could help me?”

There may have been widows nearer Elijah’s location that could help him… and the widow God chose wasn’t really able to help him – but God chose her… and He had a plan.

To be continued…

 

 

animal avian beak birds

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

I have many people in this city

selective focus photography of manchester city sports bottle

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on Pexels.com

Acts 18:9-10

“Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision,” Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent;for I am with you, and no-one will attack you to hurt you, for I have many people in this city”

And Paul continued there (in Corinth) a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them.

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, became a Christian – a man with a great influence.

Paul “found” a certain Jew named Aquila, who was only in Corinth because Emperor Claudius had commanded all Jews to leave Rome.

Paul then had the chance to earn money as a tent maker with Aquila and Priscilla and was able to reason every Sabbath in the synagogue.

God set up the provision for Paul. It was no coincidence that Paul found Aquila. It was the plan of God.

God will arrange for people from other places to come and help you. Furthermore, God has many people in this city and He will send the people needed to help you accomplish your vision.

You are never alone.

God then send Paul to Justus, who worshipped God and lived NEXT DOOR to the synagogue. This was superb – no transport issues and right at the heart of God’s plan for his life and the city- an opportune place.

Matthew 10:11-15

Aquila and Priscilla were worthy

Justus was worthy.

God knows where you live! David was busy looking after the sheep but he had an anointing to be King.

God has many people in this city. It’s never just about the one person. He will provide and He will send the right people along to help you.

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength

black and white people bar men

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Verse 16 is probably our natural human response:”And you said,  No, for we will flee on horses” But the Bible says, “Therefore you shall flee! And,we shall ride on swift horse-Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift”

As humans, many times we don’t like inactivity. We want to feel in control and want to feel that we are doing something about our problems. We might want to run away rather than facing our problems or trusting God with them. But it won’t end well.

The world values natural prowess and people seen as go-getters. But the Bible says about God that, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior.”

Our natural strength and ability is useful – but it can only take us so far

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord”

When we are tempted to run, God’s telling us to return to Him and rest. Let Him give you strength and victory.

The race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong. Gideon’s army was small (Judges 7) and God reduced the size further so only God could receive the glory for the battle.

Judges 7:22 says, “When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah by Tabbah”

The battle belongs to the Lord. Stop striving! There are battles you don’t have to fight. They are God’s battles. Only rest in Him. Be confident – you’re on the winning side.

God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19) God will repay the wrongs done to you.

In Joshua 6 we see how the Lord said (verse 2)”See,I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its King and its fighting men” Joshua had to be obedient to God by circling the city seven times – he had a part to play but ultimately it was God who gave the victory.

 

 

 

Forget Me Not

DSC_0322

These beautiful flowers called Forget Me Nots are growing in my garden. Forget Me Not flowers symbolize remembrance.To me, they remind me of how God has promised never to forget us.

We are always on God’s mind.

Psalm 139:17-18 says “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I am awake, I am still with you.” God’s thoughts towards us are too many to be counted.

Isaiah 49:15 says,  Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you”

I nursed all four of my children. For a large proportion of their early life I nursed them, sustained them and met their every need. It was impossible for me to forget about a tiny, hungry, needy baby. Such is a mother’s instinct and love. Yet God is saying surely some mothers may forget their children (unlikely but possible) but God will never forget about us. Yes, sometimes we’re loud and needy but God will never turn us away. He is compassionate. God’s divine remembrance to us is even more tender than a mother’s love and He is ever mindful of us.

Sometimes when we are going through things, we are tempted to think that God has forgotten about us. That is not the case at all.

Isaiah 49:16 says “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands”

Your hands are always in your view. We wear rings on our fingers, often as a symbol of affection, promise etc and the right hand  in the Bible, is a symbol of strength.

God is saying how often He thinks about us.

Furthermore, in John 20:20 the risen Jesus showed the disciples His hands  which had been pierced by the nails of the cross-showing the sacrifice He made for us.

2 Timothy 2:13 says “if we are faithless, He remains faithful ;He cannot deny Himself.”

It is not in God’s nature to be faithless. He is a faithful God. And He will not forget you.

Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston

I’ve been reading this book by Brian Houston and am finding it really inspirational

https://amzn.to/2vR4AtP

“Whether you are searching for your calling or wholeheartedly pursuing your life’s purpose, Brian Houston’s transformative approach will help you navigate a faith path that is all your own and discover unique gifts tailored perfectly for your journey.”

Brian Houston is the Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church. Thirty-five years ago , when he set out to pioneer a Church with thirty people in a school hall, he had no idea that over time his Church would grow into the worldwide Hillsong ministry.

In this book, Brian Houston shares his own life-tested experiences and the powerful Biblical truths he’s learned that will enable you to live fully, love completely, and live boldly – the hallmarks of Jesus’ time on Earth.

Clicking on the link will take you to Amazon’s website. I may get a small commission for you doing this. (I’m in the experimental phase about this!)

Scriptures for Students sitting Exams

Exam season is fast approaching, so I thought I would share a few Scriptures to help calm those nerves

pen-writing-notes-studying.jpg

It’s a very anxious time, students can feel overwhelmed, but can I just let you know that God is still in control and here are some Scriptures to help you.

1 Peter 5:7 “…casting all your care on Him, for He cares about you”

God cares about your wellbeing. You can entrust all your concerns and worries to Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the thoughts I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Your future is in the hands of God, not in the hands of any exam board!

God’s plan for you encompasses all aspects of your life. His plan for your future is not going to be hijacked because you couldn’t answer one question on an exam paper. God’s thoughts toward you are only good.

One of my other roles is that of GCSE examiner. I mark French examinations, so I know from personal experience that the examiners are not trying to catch you out – they are looking for what you know and what you can do. You have learned a lot over your years of study. You have retained more than you think.

God has said in His Word: ” I will never leave you nor forsake you, so we may boldly say “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”” (Hebrews 13:5,6)

What’s the worst that could happen? You might fail? You can retake the exam if necessary. Furthermore, you might not fail, you might do better than expected! What can man do to you? You aren’t going to be put to death for failing an exam.

If you think you can’t do this, the Bible says , ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13″ Ask God to help you.

You are not defined by the grades you get, you are defined by who God says you are.

You are His creation.

You are loved by God.

You are a person with a purpose.

You are not forsaken.

You are not alone.

Proverbs 14:23 says ” All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

If you have worked hard, God will grant you success.

If you haven’t worked hard, you still have a bit of time left to do some more revision. Use your time wisely!

But, having done all you can, the only thing left is to trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

God will perfect that which concerns you.

The Word of God discovers our condition

Hebrews 4:11-13

 

15238057217171582483113

The Word of God is powerful. When you read it, your life will be changed. It is not just an old, dusty book that has no relevance. As you read it, asking the Holy Spirit for revelation, He will speak to you through His Word. He will convict you about your sin and will give you direction about your life.

Joints and Marrow

The three parts of the inside of the bone are the marrow, surrounded by the actual bone cells (which is where the blood cells are) and the outside membrane.

This membrane is a very hard substance and is called the periosteum.

It would be very difficult to slice between the three parts because the three parts are fused together to form the bone. It could be done, but only with the very sharpest knife or tool.

In this passage, the Word of God (ie.the Bible ) is being compared to this, the sharpest of knives with precision cutting abilities.

God knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives and as we meditate on the Word of God He operates on us (spiritually)  with the precision of a surgeon.

Let His Word transform your inner being!

Take a Gospill!

God knows our frailties and our weaknesses and He wants to do a work in our life.

 

 

When God says “No!” Part 3-Yes to Lydia

Acts 16:11-15

1523350583024387856389.jpg

The title of “When God says No!” is perhaps not a very catchy or appealing title  but actually when God is saying, “No” to one thing, He’s saying, “Yes” to something else. God’s  “No” to Bithynia at this time became a  “Yes” to Lydia and Philippi.

Timing is crucial.If Paul had tarried in Bithynia he may have missed the meeting with Lydia in Philippi. This meeting was a divine appointment. The Bible says that Lydia was a worshipper of God. God had been preparing her heart to receive Paul’s message.

God prepares us for a people and a people for us. We just need to trust His direction.

Lydia was a seller of purple. She was a well to do agent of a purple dye company from Thyatira. Purple cloth was extremely expensive – it was a symbol of status and wealth. The dye for purple was made from a juice found in minute quantities in shellfish. It took thousands of crustaceans to make a yard or two of purple cloth. So, to sell this cloth Lydia will have been mixing with very rich and influential people.

Lydia is believed to be the first European convert and the Orthodox churches have given her the title of, “Equal to the Apostles”  which signifies her importance and level of holiness.

The Lord opened Lydia’s heart and her and her household got baptized. Then she invited Paul to stay at her house. Later, when Paul had gone to jail and been released (Acts 16:30) he, along with Silas,  headed straight for Lydia’s house.

So after the  “No!” he received from God, Paul met this wonderful lady, Lydia, whose heart was responsive and open to the gospel  who became a big part of the Church at Philippi – a Church that was a constant source of supply for Paul – financially and spiritually. This connection was extremely significant

God’s  “No!” to Bithynia became a “Yes” to Philippi!

This happened because Paul listened to and obeyed the Holy Spirit

God has a plan for you. Don’t be discouraged if you sense a roadblock. God has a greater purpose.

God has good plans for you – to give you a future and a hope.

 

When God says “No!” Part 2

15230107596911774419437

Compare 1 Peter 1:1 “To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatians, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.”

So, there was a Church there at some point in time.

Sometimes God’s “No” isn’t a “Never”. It might just be a “Not Now”.

Sometimes in our own understanding we might think, “It can’t do any harm to go there and encourage these people   but the Bible says in Proverbs 3:5,”Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

God directs our steps and our stops.