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…

 

 

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I have many people in this city

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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.

God’s view of the unborn baby

Psalm 139:13-16 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they are were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”

Even at the point of conception God sees the unborn baby as a living being. The Bible says that God sees the substance of the baby, even though it is still unformed – when it’s still a mass and there are no discernible parts.

Not only that, but the Bible talks about the baby being fearfully and wonderfully made – he or she has a Creator  who loves him or her. The child has been created with the skill of the Master Creator – the one who made the Heaven and Earth, who painted the zebra and the giraffe, who created sky-topped mountains and sensational sunsets. He’s the one who gives life to every human being.

In His book are written all the days fashioned for each child, even when it’s just a mass of cells, when as yet there are no days – just the time of darkness, growth and development in the womb – a specific plan and purpose for each specific human being .

God creates no child by accident. He has a plan and a purpose and a story for each one. Even when we can’t see a purpose – God sees it all.

When John the Baptist was in the womb of his mother, Elizabeth,(Luke 1:39-45) he leaped for joy when he heard the voice of Mary, who was carrying Jesus in her womb. He was fulfilling his purpose even in the womb – to be a forerunner and a proclaimer of Jesus, the Messiah.

To abort a child is to go against the very heart of God. Only God has the right to give and take away life. This is not a choice we should fight to have. Indeed, this is too great a  responsibility for us. Who are we to say that a child is unwanted – God loves that child immeasurably. Who are we to say that a child is too great a burden – God can give us strength to do all things. Who are we to say we can’t afford to have another child – God will provide all we need, according to His riches in glory.

If we abort a child, we are aborting the purpose of God in our own life, the life of others and the life of another human being.

What if Mary had decided to abort baby Jesus? To continue with the pregnancy meant that she had to face possible rejection by Joseph and the whole of her community. Not only that, she would have aborted God’s plan and purpose for the whole of mankind. We’d all be facing an eternity in Hell without the birth of Jesus into the world.

What if the child you are carrying is the one God plans to become the one who discovers a cure for cancer? What if the one you are carrying is the one who will carry revival to their generation;who will lead a country; who will invent new and wonderful products?

What if you discover that it’s greater to preserve a life than to destroy it? That in that clump of cells there is great purpose and potential.

All His works are marvellous.

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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.

 

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.

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.

 

When God says, “No !” Part 1

15230107596911774419437Acts 16:6-10

Jesus said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel  “, so it seems crazy that God would forbid Paul and his companions to preach the Gospel somewhere.

But sometimes what is good is not necessarily God’s will or God’s timing. The Spirit did not permit Paul and his companions to preach the Word in Asia at that time   Maybe the people in Asia weren’t ready to hear what Paul had to say and /or maybe their journey would have been unfruitful – meanwhile God had people ready and waiting in Macedonia who were keen to hear the Gospel, like Lydia  the Philippian jailer and the slave girl who had a spirit of divination and needed to be set free. Individuals are important to God and He knows the divine appointments He has set up for you. God’s timing is also significant

Never be disappointed when God says, “No !” If He does, it’s because there’s a greater, “Yes!” further down the line.

Philip the Evangelist left revival to minister to one person who was travelling.

Sometimes the  “No!” may not make sense to you, but God does not waste His children. There’s too much invested in you for God to send you somewhere that’s not helpful to you or that’s not in His good plan for your life.