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.

 

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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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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.

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.

 

The Word of God discovers our condition

Hebrews 4:11-13

 

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The Word of God is powerful. When you read it, your life will be changed. It is not just an old, dusty book that has no relevance. As you read it, asking the Holy Spirit for revelation, He will speak to you through His Word. He will convict you about your sin and will give you direction about your life.

Joints and Marrow

The three parts of the inside of the bone are the marrow, surrounded by the actual bone cells (which is where the blood cells are) and the outside membrane.

This membrane is a very hard substance and is called the periosteum.

It would be very difficult to slice between the three parts because the three parts are fused together to form the bone. It could be done, but only with the very sharpest knife or tool.

In this passage, the Word of God (ie.the Bible ) is being compared to this, the sharpest of knives with precision cutting abilities.

God knows what He wants to accomplish in our lives and as we meditate on the Word of God He operates on us (spiritually)  with the precision of a surgeon.

Let His Word transform your inner being!

Take a Gospill!

God knows our frailties and our weaknesses and He wants to do a work in our life.

 

 

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.

 

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.

Our God of Justice

Isaiah 30:18 says, ” Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him. ”

The definition of justice , according to the Oxford online dictionary, is, ” to do, treat or represent  someone or something with due fairness or appreciation.”

God is a just God. He is impartial and fair.

There are many times in the world where justice does not appear to have been done in earthly courts. People may be wrongly convicted and many years later, they are set free. Sometimes a person is guilty but no charge can be brought due to a lack of evidence. This NEVER happens with God. God sees the full picture. He knows the truth about each person, and sooner or later that person will have to give account of what they have done.

2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Sometimes on this earth someone may do us wrong, but God tells us not to take revenge.

Romans 12:19 says, ” Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” The Bible says we should not repay people evil for evil but let God avenge us. If we decide to avenge ourselves God may leave us to it. But God knows the wrongs done to us. When we leave things in His hands He will move on our behalf.

The other half of this verse says, ” Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” If we learn to trust God with our troubles we will be blessed. God knows how to look after us.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” If you trust in God, you’ll be blessed and happy. Let Him sort out your problems with injustice.

 

Blow the cobwebs away!

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To blow the cobwebs away is an idiomatic expression in English, which means “to do something which makes you feel less tired or bored.” it usually involves fresh air or exercise. Cobwebs are made by spiders and are usually found in rooms or places that no one uses very much.

Today at Church I felt like God was saying He wants to blow away the cobwebs in people’s lives.

In other words, people have been given spiritual gifts but in some cases they have not been used very much. Or, people used to move in the spiritual gifts, but for some reason they no longer do. Maybe their zeal for God has waned.

Now is the time to stir up those gifts. 2 Timothy 1:6 says, “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

I feel like there’s someone who used to pray for people in his youth and he saw them healed. Now he is not using that gift. But it’s still there. God is calling you to pick it up again and start praying for people again. People’s lives are hanging in the balance – they need you to be operating in your gift.