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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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!

Sunday’s coming!

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It was a very sombre time after that Good Friday. Jesus’ mother and friends were mourning; hopes of the Messiah liberating Israel were dashed; things had not turned out as hoped or expected; Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb tightly sealed with a stone and guarded by a soldier. There was no hope left.

Jesus’ disciples, who had given up their livelihood to follow Jesus, were devastated. They lost their faith. (see Mark 16:11)

Just as Jesus had felt forsaken by God whilst He was on the cross, so did His followers.

What none of them knew at that time was that Sunday was coming! The day between Jesus being crucified and resurrected was a day of transition. From their earthly perspective the disciples’ situation looked grim. They could not imagine the sort of victory that was being wrought. Resurrection from the dead. Victory over sin and death.

My friend, if things look bleak for you at the moment, just wait a while. Sunday is coming! Your victory is on the way! God will not leave you in the midst of despair – you might pass by there for a season, but you won’t stay there. There are brighter days ahead. Trust God and stay at peace.

The Joy of the Redeemed

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One day, all the sorrows and sighing, all the work pressure and the cares of life will flee away. Don’t let the sorrow overwhelm your soul.  It is only temporal.

One day you’ll down tools and your earthly work will be done. You will be overtaken by gladness and joy! Everlasting joy shall crown your head! Oh, I can’t wait for that day!

John 14:1-3 says, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”

The Earth is not our permanent home. Jesus is preparing a place for us in Heaven. We don’t need to let our hearts be troubled. Instead, we can trust our Maker to look after us.

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.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts

DSC_0092.JPGIsaiah 55: 6-9 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God , For He will abundantly pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

There are things in this life that in our humanity, we simply cannot understand. If we were God, perhaps we would do things differently. But God does not see life from our finite perspective – He sees the whole of eternity – stretching out from before we were created to beyond our earthly existence. In Revelation 22:13 Jesus said , “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last”.

Can I just point out , from Isaiah 55 that it talks about the unrighteous man returning to the Lord – not coming to Him for the first time. This was, perhaps, not someone who had never known the Lord. Sometimes in our walk with God, things happen and we can become weary and frustrated and we can step out of fellowship with God. If you are that person, God is asking you today  to return to Him and he will have mercy on you.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. How much distance is there between the heavens and the earth? It’s immeasurable. Our thoughts and God’s thoughts are simply poles apart.

What can we do about this? We have to seek the Lord. We can’t expect God to fit into our narrow way of thinking. We have to align ourselves with God’s way of thinking. God loves us so much and He is willing to be found by us; He is still near; He is available and He is willing to speak to us.

There are many things in life we cannot understand – but we must trust the thoughts and the intentions of God for our lives and those around us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” these are the thoughts of God towards you. He loves you. He wants to give you hope today.

Jeremiah 29: 12 says, ” Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Psalm 61:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

Seek the Lord with all of your heart today. Bring your disappointments, your heartache, your grief and your frustration to your Maker. He will help you.

God’s Protection

primorskaya-metro-stationPsalm 91 talks about the safety of abiding in the Presence of God. It says the person who abides in the secret place of the most High, who expresses trust in God will be protected. It says that person will be delivered from the snare of the fowler and the perilous pestilence; they will not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday; no evil shall befall them and the angels will have charge of them and will keep them in all their ways.

Many different times of the day and night are mentioned, so essentially God’s people are under 24 hour protection. Nothing happens to us unless God has allowed it. In Job we read that he was under a hedge of protection , so the devil could not penetrate this without God’s permission (Job 1:10). God has placed that hedge of protection around those who are walking in fellowship with Him. Nothing happens to us unless God has allowed it.

I want to share a few instances when God has protected me.

As part of my degree in French and Russian I lived for about six months in Saint Petersburg in Russia. I attended a Church there , which was not far from the Primorskaya (Приморская)  Metro station on Vasilievsky Island. I used to travel home from church on Sundays with a Mexican ex-gangster and drug dealer who had become a Christian and was the leader of a men’s home in Saint Petersburg. There was a small group of Russians also and we had some great fellowship on the Metro. I felt quite safe with such a group, to be honest.

At some point on the underground network we would all part company and I would make my way alone to the Aftovo metro station, which was near where I was staying in a hostel with other British students.

One Sunday I came out of the metro station and was surrounded by some drunken, Azerbaijani men. They were all jostling me and speaking unintelligible things and I felt extremely threatened. Around this time one of my fellow students had been carried off by an Azerbaijani man (although she managed to escape). I carried on walking and praying and I met two women. For some inexplicable reason God told me to speak in French to them, and they answered me in perfect French (although they were Russian). I asked them for help but they were unwilling to help me. Anyway, when I looked around the men had disappeared, and I was a few minutes away from my hostel so I ran there. I can’t explain why they disappeared , but perhaps because we were speaking in a different language they thought that these women were my friends. The most important thing is that I escaped danger.

 

When I stayed in Moodymmai, in my husband’s village in North East India, I was walking by myself and encountered a drunken man who had never seen a white-skinned person before. He thought he was seeing a “Puri ” – a  ghost! He was so afraid of me that he was about to throw stones at me, when some children who had been following me told him, “No, this is Bah Airforce’s wife. It’s not a Puri”! So he left me alone.

Once, in the town where I live now, I felt led to read Psalm 91 out loud, which I did. That same day I was driving down a busy road and a crazy driver pulled out from a side road and nearly hit my car! I felt a hand on my head, and I believe it was an angel. Amazingly the car did not hit me.

One time I was late setting off from home and I was taking my children to their breakfast club a bit later than usual. My eldest daughter was giving me a hard time as she was upset that we our arrival had been delayed. That same day I learnt that there had been some armed robbers at the local shop, and if we had been on time we would have been right in their path!

There are probably many more instances where God has protected me that I don’t even know about. I believe sometimes God has arranged timings so I have avoided certain incidents. If you are a Christian and in fellowship with God, I believe you are protected too. Part of that protection is being obedient – if you hear God saying, “Don’t go there” , then be obedient – He may be wanting to protect you from something. If you feel uneasy in your spirit about doing something, then heed that feeling. It may be a warning.

There are , of course, things that we simply cannot understand. For example, I cannot explain why God allows some people to die at a young age and , we would say, before their time. We often hear about young people passing away tragically from cancer, meningitis and car accidents or Christians dying because of their faith in God. This is something that God will have to explain to me in Eternity. All I can say is that God sees things from a Heavenly perspective, not from our Earthly perspective. He knows the end from the beginning. Psalm 48:14 says, “For this is God. Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.”

God is our guide. If you are a Christian, then God is guiding you even right up to the day of your death on Earth. God is in control. Until it is your time to die, you are protected on this Earth. The Bible says in Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”

Death is an appointment we all must keep, at one time or another. But, the death of a saint of God (i.e. a Christian) is viewed by God as something special. It is a time of rejoicing as they leave this world of sin and go to Heaven to be with Him. When your loved one has been on a long journey and you feel happy that they have  returned safely home to their loving family, friends and their warm bed – that’s how God sees it when one of His children finally reaches their Heavenly Home – safe, secure and at peace.

Persecution

Hebrews 12:3 and 4 says, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

Jesus suffered infinitely more than any of His followers are asked to suffer. This is a great encouragement when we are feeling weary.

Hebrews 4:15- Jesus does not expect us to go through anything that He hasn’t already been through.

2 Thessalonians 3:12 and 13 says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Pesecution in some form is inevitable for the believer.

Hebrews 10:33,34- Though they had suffered persecution and loss of possessions, they had not yet had to die for the faith. They’ve not yet had to resist with the pouring out of their blood. Some people WILL have to have their blood poured out for the gospel. Praise the Lord if that hasn’t happened to you,  but some of the “cloud of witnesses” were stoned, sawn in two and put to death by the sword. They are our inspiration. Consider the outcome of Jesus’ life and what He achieved in spite of the opposition. You reap what you sow. And Jesus reaped a marvellous reward . Ecclesiastes 7:8 says, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning”. Consider the end of the matter. Consider the result and reward in Heaven of a godly life. Consider the eternal destiny of your opponents if they don’t repent.

Trust whilst in transit

I’m on the train to London today. I have checked where I am right now (near Milton Keynes )  and I know exactly how long it will take me to reach my destination. That’s the sort of person I am. When our family travelled to India on the airplane I was following our progress on the flight tracker. Watching the plane icon travelling over the different countries was comforting to me.

I think it is human nature to want to know where we are at in our journey.

However, in our journey of life we do not know how far along we are. We do not know when we will reach our destination of Heaven. That’s where trust comes in. We are commanded to pray to God for our daily bread and advised to not worry even about tomorrow.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding:in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

God knows when we will reach our final destination.  God orders our steps, and our stops and we can only entrust our journey of life to Him.

A New Name

Names are very important. In Old Testament times a name expressed the essence or identity of a person. Isaac’s name means “he laughs”, describing the response of his mother Sarah when God told her she would give birth in her old age; Moses’ name is from the Hebrew meaning “to draw out” after he was pulled out from the River Nile; Jesus (meaning saviour)  was so-named because He would save the people from their sins.

My name means “a song of joy”.

There are many instances in the Word of God where God changed a person’s name to reflect a new status. For example, Jacob became Israel; Saul became Paul; Abram became Abraham.

Revelation 2:17 says, ” To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it”

Isaiah 62:2 says ,”You will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will bestow.”

We will all receive a new name in glory, a token of what the Lord sees in us.

To some of us, our present name might be horrendous or we may have had nicknames linked to our name which made us feel bad. You may have had a label put on you by other people or had things spoken over you. You might even have thought these things about yourself. For example:

“You’ll never make it”

“Too old”

“A foreigner”

“Stupid”

“Ugly”

“Swot”

“A failure”

“Rejected”

“Fat”

“No mates”

We cannot internalise these names.

The only label you have to live up to is the label that God has put on you:-

“Child of God!”

“Victor!”

“Redeemed!”

“Not forsaken”

“My delight is in you!”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”

“Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”

“Beautiful”

“My child”

“Brave”

“Honourable”

“Noble”

I believe our new name in Heaven will be a constant delight to us and it will be a token of our acceptance with the Father. It will be known only between us and Him. Perhaps it will reflect some very personal and deep things that God has done in our life. It will reveal our character.

In Hannah Hurnard’s book, “Mountains of Spices” Pride and Superiority became Meekness and Lowliness-of-Heart; Much Afraid became Grace and Glory; Umbrage became Bearing-with-Love or Forgiveness; Tit-for-Tat became Acceptance with Joy; Spiteful became Compassionate and Craven Fear became Fearless Witness.

Often God takes our biggest weakness and makes that a glorious strength in our lives.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness”