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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

Resurrection!

 

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Did you know that at that moment when Jesus died on the cross and the veil of the temple was torn in two that graves opened and other saints who had already passed away came alive and went into the town?

It tells us about this in Matthew 27

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This is amazing! Can you imagine your relative – Aunt or Grandfather, brother or sister who you have mourned and buried suddenly turning up on your doorstep? This is what happened!

You see, when Jesus made that ultimate sacrifice, something significant was put in motion. Resurrection power!

Even at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross a hardened criminal died and went to Heaven and people were resurrected from their graves. Grace, mercy and the miraculous was released over the Earth.

The fact that other people experienced resurrection shows us that this victory over death is also for us. If you are a Christian and have accepted Jesus into your life the power that raised Jesus from the dead abides in you. We have victory over death because of what Jesus did. We can say to death, “Where is your victory? Where is your sting?”

Furthermore, Jesus Himself rose from the dead on the third day and appeared to Mary, the disciples and around 500 people.

Praise be to God and thank you Jesus for this indescribable gift!

Good Friday

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Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all mankind. Traditionally the punishment of dying on a cross was reserved for the worst of criminals.

Yet Jesus willingly gave Himself up for this cruel death because of His love of mankind and His desire for their reconciliation with God.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

In Isaiah 53 it says that, “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. ”

Because of Jesus’ wounds and His death on the cross we can be forgiven, healed, reconciled to God and have peace in our lives. Thanks be to God!

Sow the seed and be encouraged

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Today a former pupil recognised me and came up to me in a supermarket and greeted me. He was with his parents, grandfather and sister and I know  they are Muslims. I asked how he was doing, introduced my family and spoke to his parents.

I taught him 6 years ago.

What I found really significant was that this young man remembered me as an RE Teacher (and he said that twice) but I had never taught RE at that school, and I told him, I was a languages teacher.

When I thought about this, I realised how often at that Church of England High School I had shared my faith with the pupils. I shared my testimony with my form and lived my Christian life in front of them.

And six years on this young man remembered that more than any foreign language I taught him.

You see, I had sowed a seed of the Gospel in his life. He was so pleased to see me, his former teacher, and God spoke to me that tonight He is going to speak to this young man. God did not forget about that seed. He WILL make it grow.

How many seeds of the Gospel have we sown in people’s lives? I have sown many over the years. I can’t remember how many I have sown, how many times I have shared my faith or simply spoken one word. But God remembers each one and He is carefully watching over them. He is watching over His Word to perform it.

Psalm 126:5,6 says, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping , bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

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I am so expectant that God is going to bring a harvest of souls! Those seeds that have been sown are going to start growing this year. Some have been lying dormant. NOW is the time when God is going to breathe life into them. Be encouraged, brothers and sisters and keep sowing the seed of the Gospel.

Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

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This woman was in dire need. Her husband had died and a creditor was coming to take her two sons away to be slaves. This woman’s husband had been the son of a prophet; he was a man who feared the Lord and Elisha had known him. So, the woman appealed to Elisha to help her. She was not in a good situation and she sought the man of God.

Elisha was willing to help her and asked what she had in her house. This woman did not have a house full of belongings. All she had was a jar of oil.

A quick question – what do you have that God can work with? If she only had that jar of oil, that is what God was going to use.

Elisha told her to borrow empty vessels from all of her neighbours, which she did. She shut the door behind her and started pouring out the small jar of oil into ALL of the vessels. Amazingly, the oil just kept on flowing until ALL of the vessels were full.

This was a miracle! This miracle was dependant on the woman’s faith. Elisha told her, “Do not gather just a few.” She was told to make room for God to do the miraculous. I say to you today, “Do not gather just a few.” Expect God to move mightily on your situation. If this woman had gathered just a few vessels she might not have had enough money to repay the debt and live off the rest. Please, brothers and sisters, do not limit God in your actions, in your thinking, in anything …

You do realize , of course, that God did not need the small jar of olive oil to perform the miracle. But He wants us to commit ourselves fully and take a step of faith. He requires us to lay the foundations for a miracle to take place.

This woman was a spiritual woman and she did not hesitate to respond to the instructions of the Lord’s prophet in faith and obedience, even if it seemed crazy to her. Will we do that?  Naaman was asked to bathe in the River Jordan in order to be healed from his leprosy. He went away in a rage when he first heard this, because he thought this idea was ridiculous. But, eventually he did bathe in the River and was healed of his leprosy.

The things God asks us to do may not always make sense but we must trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

God is our loving Heavenly Father and He wants to provide for us, His children, when we are in need. Psalm 34:10 says, “…those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.” God provided enough oil for the lady to pay the debt and enough for her whole family to live off. God is not only a generous provider ,but He  has unlimited resources.

Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it”. Our Father in Heaven owns everything that is in the world – the animals and the crops etc. He sends the rain and makes the sun shine – He brings the perfect conditions for harvest. He is a rich Heavenly Father who delights in giving us all things.

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things.”

More about the feeding of the Five Thousand

John 6:1-15

The disciples wanted to send the crowds away so they could fend for themselves. But Jesus said in John 6:35 , “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and will never thirst.” He also said in John 6:37, “Whoever comes to Me I will never drive away.”

Jesus will never turn away someone who is earnestly seeking Him. That is not His heart at all. He will never turn you away.

Why didn’t the people have some lunch with them like the young boy? Possible this was because they were desperate . As soon as the crowd heard where he was they rushed to follow Him. They didn’t want to risk missing Him by stopping for food. They were hungry and expectant for a miracle from Jesus.

Are you hungry today for a miracle from Jesus? Are you desperate enough to run to him with your problems?

In Matthew 14:16, Jesus said, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

In other words, Jesus was saying, “I have everything they need. They don’t need to look elsewhere, not even for food.”

Jesus is the source of every blessing. We may feel that we have little resources and little ability, but God can take our small contribution of whatever it is and multiply it to meet every need. All God needs is a willing heart. The boy willingly gave up his lunch and Jesus blessed and multiplied it.

Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat” (John 6:5). This was to test him. Philip only saw the impossibility: “even 8 months wages will not be enough to give each person even one bite of bread.”

Are we like Philip? Do we only see the impossibility of the situation? For example, “The cancer has spread, there’s no hope of a cure”, “We just don’t have enough money for that”, “I’m too old for a new job” etc.

NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD!

Andrew had more faith than Philip. He brought the young boy with five small loaves of barley bread and two small fish – not enough to solve the problem in the natural, but enough for Jesus to work with.

Grace

You could define grace as

GOD’S

RICHES

AT

CHRIST’S

EXPENSE

Grace is completely undeserved. It is a free gift from God. We can not earn grace.

Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

We can not earn our way to Heaven. We are not saved by doing good works. Good works will follow a person’s salvation, but we are not saved because of them. We are saved because Jesus died on the cross for our sins and the sins of mankind.

In Luke 23:40 a man who had spent his whole life committing crime gave his life to Jesus and received the assurance of eternal life with Christ in Paradise. It was only that simple prayer of faith that saved him, not any good deeds (for he had none) This is the grace and mercy of God in action.

No matter what you have done, you too can receive this grace of God. Tbere is no sin too great that Jesus can’t forgive. Bring your sins to God and with a repentant heart allow Him to wash you clean and give you too the assurance of eternal life in Heaven.