You have hope and a future

My teenage daughter has a picture on her wall about Jeremiah 29:11,which says

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord  thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope

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I read too regularly about young people who feel they have no hope in this life – so much so that they take their own life. The other day I learnt on BBC News that dark, gloomy messages glorifying self-harm and suicide are easily available on Instagram and once a person has clicked on one it creates an algorithm so the person is bombarded with more of the same messages.

How about we bombard our friends and those on our social media feeds with the powerful Word of God?

You have a hope and a future. Jesus died on the cross and took all His sin upon Himself so you could have a hope and a future – in this life and in Eternity.

You are significant. If you were the only person on the Earth God would still have sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you.

You are created in the image of God and are dearly loved.

No amount of heartache, financial difficulty, loss of friendships, abusive relationships etc. can destroy you if you listen to the One who created you, who has a purpose for you and a plan only you can fulfill.

Jesus experienced rejection – He understands. But He wants to comfort you and help you.

Please, please don’t deprive the world of your presence, your life, your contribution.

You are worth more than that.

 

Shattering the stony heart

In Church two weeks ago and today I felt that God said He was shattering the stony heart. I felt that some people’s hearts are so hard – because of previous hurts, disappointments etc. that there was a layer of concrete around their heart. But God has started chipping away and He is going to shatter it and replace it with a heart of flesh

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Maybe you only have some residual hardness or to the other extreme maybe your heart feels like concrete right now – Jesus wants to transform your heart so it is soft and pliable and responsive to Him.

He will never let you down like people may do. Let Him do that work in your life – you will not regret it.

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Each one is precious

 

The other day I was involved in a school fire drill. The whole school assembled in the yard in lines – over 1000 students. They were grouped into forms of about thirty. The teachers took registers of their forms and accounted for each person in their form. The senior members of staff communicated on walkie talkies – they asked each Head of House to account for each members of their house. We all stood for about 10 minutes while they enquired about each individual and each person with authority gave the answer, “all present and correct”

They enquired about each visitor to the school by name; the boy in isolation and the girl on crutches studying in the library. When they couldn’t locate one boy they asked repeatedly until he was found.

It reminded me of how God cares passionately about each individual. Even if ninety nine  people are gathered and in God’s Kingdom He will seek out the one who has gone astray until He finds them.

LUKE 15:4-8 talks about the Shepherd going after one lost sheep.

God sees the one who is hurting;the one who is running away and the one who has had such a traumatic life, who desperately needs a Saviour and His heart is yearning for them. His Kingdom is not complete until they have come into it.

Jesus is calling repeatedly for the lost, the broken, the depressed, the suicidal and the bitter and He is relentlessly pursuing them until they are “present and correct” in His Kingdom.

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In quietness and confidence shall be your strength

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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

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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

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“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

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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

 

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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

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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

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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.