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.

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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.

 

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.

Perseverance


Hebrews 12:1,2  says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great  cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”

The Greek word “martus” translated ” witnesses” is the origin of the English word “martyr” and means “testifies, witnesses”.

Here, Christianity is compared to a long distance race and we need perseverance to finish it.

This letter was written to Jewish converts who were familiar with the Old Testament and were being tempted to revert to Judaism or to Judaise the gospel.

The witnesses are the heroes of the faith who were mentioned in Hebrews 11 and they are our inspiring examples. Examples of some of these heroes are Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph , Moses, Gideon etc. They and others through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, were tortured, had trial of mockings and scourges, chains and imprisonment, were stoned, sawn in two, were tempted and slain with the sword. Their work on earth has been done. Now the baton has been passed on – to you and I.

To run this race successfully we need to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.

We can take comfort in the fact that this race has been marked out for us. The Lord directs our steps and our stops. If He has brought us to it, He will bring us through it. God says, “This is the way, walk in it.”

The definition of “perseverance” is “the steadfast pursuit of an objective” or “the constant persistence , for example in a belief ”

Throwing off everything that hinders is like someone in a hot air balloon throwing out everything that’s heavy so the balloon can rise. Everything that gets in the way of serving God needs to go.

The Christian life is not a short sprint – it is a long distance race and we will need perseverance. There will be peaks and troughs. Despite all that, we need to keep going. Just as a runner concentrates on the finishing line we need to concentrate (fix our eyes on ) Jesus.

It will be worth it in the end!

Hebrews 10:36 says “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”