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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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.

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.

Comfort

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In Matthew 5:4 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Jesus promises comfort to all who mourn.

In John 14:15-18 Jesus said  “I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you”

We have a helper – the Holy Spirit is our Comforter and He helps us to pray, even when we have no words to say. The Holy Spirit will never leave us. He will not abandon us in our hour of need.

Some things may happen in life that we can never fully understand this side of eternity, but one day, we will understand. No matter what happens  God is good. He loves you and He promises to help you because He cares about you.

The Holy Spirit comes alongside us in our disappointment and grief and He shares our load. He says, “Come to me, all you who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”

God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Give your burden to God. He can handle your pain, your loss, your grief and He will help you through it.

 

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.

 

Eagles circling Part Two

I usually use my own photos in my blog, but I felt it was important to put a picture so please see the picture below:-

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Since I saw that vision of eagles circling together over a valley God showed me many other things.

Eagles soar without flapping their wings. In order to do this, they have to wait for the wind thermals to come up on them. It does not take any natural effort or strength to fly in the wind thermals. The eagles rely on the wind thermals to carry them.

This is like us as believers. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as the wind: Acts 2:2 (ESV), “And suddenly there came from Heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting ” This was the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:3,4 says, “Then there appeared to them divided tongues of fire, and one sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

In these last days we cannot do anything in our own strength – we must rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength to take us through.

If we do things in our own strength we will wear ourselves out. We need God’s strength.

Just like the eagle has to learn how to fly on the wind thermals – we, as born again Christians, have to learn how to fly on the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

More to follow later.

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!

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.