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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Trust

In this unusual time I just want to remind you that Heaven is not in lockdown and God is still on the throne.

God has no limitations and His provision does not depend upon the systems on Earth. He can and does use them but He often bypasses them. Elijah was fed by ravens in the wilderness, and when the time was right He used a widow to feed him.

In His Word God says, “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.”

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.