The Shade of God

Isaiah 25:4 says, “For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat.”

When the sun is overpowering, oppressive and beating down it’s nice to be in the shade – it’s cool, refreshing and protective. It’s the safest place to be in the heat of the day.

“I am shading you”, says the Lord. “You won’t be overwhelmed, I have caused my shade to spring up.”

Let’s look at the story of Jonah. Jonah had just finished reluctantly preaching to the great city of Ninevah. First he had run away from the calling of God, ended up being swallowed by a great fish (a whale) and then was spat out onto dry land. Eventually he decided to follow God’s command and the people of Ninevah, having never had a preacher like this at all before and no doubt astonished by someone probably bleached white in appearance by the gastric juices of the whale, all repented.

Amazing! Yet Jonah was not very happy. He knew this would happen! He was obviously the most reluctant preacher ever. Most preachers would be happy that the whole town repented – not Jonah! He went into a massive sulk! (Another example of how God uses even the weakest of us to accomplish His purposes) So Jonah went out of the city and he made himself a shelter so he could sit and wait and see what would become of the city.

God, in His mercy, provided Jonah with a plant that would provide a shade for Jonah. Jonah was very grateful for this plant.Even in his impetuousness and anger God was there to provide for His needs. How good God is! How kind of Him to look after us even on days when we are not all we should be. He is a faithful God. Jonah was a fallible human, very prone to change and very moody, but God still used him and took care of him.

In 1 Kings 19:4-18 Elijah had had a mighty victory , having executed all of the prophets of Baal. Now he was running for his life and was extremely depressed and discouraged. He wanted God to take his life. But God hadn’t finished with him yet! An angel provided some food for him. The angel said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you”. Then, in the strength of that food he was able to travel forty days and forty nights.

God knows what we need and when we need it.

Maybe you have got so fed up of the things that have happened to you that you have asked God to take your life. Yet God has not done that. Instead He has prepared a shelter for you, a little comfort and encouragement. It might be all you’ll get for another forty days, but in the strength of God’s Word take heart that He has not finished with you yet. If He was, He would take your life. We don’t get to tell God when our purpose on earth is finished. Maybe you feel you have really messed up (and maybe you have) but God is merciful. He can turn a mess into a message. He can turn a trial into a testimony.

God sees your trial and He has prepared a shade for you. You are not facing an onslaught by yourself – you are shaded from the heat by Almighty God. If God is on your side, who can be against you.

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”

 

 

 

Jesus wants to heal you

In Matthew 8:1-4 a leper came and worshipped Jesus.  He said,  “Lord,  if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

What’s interesting is that the leper did not doubt Jesus’ ability to heal him,  but he wasn’t sure whether Jesus was willing.

Isn’t that just like us!  We believe Jesus can heal the sick.  We know He is able.  The thing we often struggle with is whether Jesus is willing to heal us.

Jesus said to the leper, “I am willing ;be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Please receive this message today that Jesus is willing to heal YOU! The devil comes  to kill,  steal and destroy but Jesus came so you can have life in all its fullness.

Jesus is saying to you, “I am willing,  be cleansed”

“I am willing, be healed”

“I am willing,  be delivered”

Receive this today and be blessed.

Stir up your spiritual gifts

Tonight I watched my daughters play their instruments at their school music concert. I saw a variety of instruments being played by players at different levels of ability. Instruments included the keyboard, cornet, tenor horn, guitar, flute, viola, saxophone and cello. There was a young boy who could just play a simple tune and some more experienced players. Together, in the diversity of their music, they made a superb concert.

But they all had a go. Some made mistakes, but nobody minded and parents waited with bated breath when a child struggled with the notes and applauded loudly when they managed to finish!

I think this is the attitude we should have when exercising spiritual gifts. God has distributed spiritual gifts to all believers in the church – In 1 Corinthians 12 it says, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit , to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the workings of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things , distributing to each one individually as He wills”

Sometimes, people hold back from exercising their spiritual gift because they’re afraid of making a mistake. I have done this myself. I really think God, like those proud parents, just wants us to step out in faith and try. It doesn’t matter if we make a mistake. Everyone, when they first start out learning an instrument, makes mistakes. That is no reason not to learn or to give up. They need to keep practising and develop their musical gift. Similarly, as we keep using the gifts of the Spirit, we will develop those gifts and they will grow and we will get more confidence.

It might mean praying for a sick person to be healed. You might think, “What if they don’t get healed?” Well, what if they do? Let God handle the results of your prayer. It’s not your responsibility to heal someone (and you can’t). That part is up to God. But it’s your responsibility to pray and present someone to God.

It might mean speaking out a word that God has given you. Just speak it out, You might only get a sentence. That doesn’t matter, It could still make a difference to someone’s life.

I read a story on Facebook recently about a woman who was praying for a friend with cancer. She asked God to send  words of wisdom for her. What God spoke to her was, “Let there be light.” She did not understand this and it seemed strange but she shared it with her friend and her friend prayed into it. Her friend kept praying, “Let there be light”.  Later, when she went for an appointment her doctor told her that , “What we’re looking for are flashes of light because that’s where your antibodies are defeating the cancer.” The woman didn’t know that, but God knew that. So, maybe God will give you a word to share that doesn’t make any sense to you, but if you’ll just have faith to speak it out, it will bless someone.

 

 

Love

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a says,  “Love suffers long and is kind;love does not envy; love does not parade itself,  is not puffed up;does not behave rudely,  does not seek its own,  is not provoked,  thinks no evil;does not rejoice in iniquity,  but rejoices in the truth;bears all things,  believes all things,  hopes all things,  endures all things Love never fails ”

Could you put your own name there instead of the word” love”? This is the sort of love we should be aiming to have.

Daughter

Jesus called the woman He healed in Mark 5 “daughter”. This woman had been excluded from normal family life and had become an outcast in society.  So Jesus,  by calling her daughter was reaffirming her,  bringing her into that close relationship.  The woman with the issue of blood was restored physically,  emotionally and spiritually. She had suffered rejection because of her condition,  but Jesus accepted her as his child.

Jesus commended her faith in Him and said to her “Go in peace and be healed of your affliction” The Greek word for peace here is “eirene”,  which means peace,  prosperity,  rest,  set at one again.  This lady had been set to rights again.

This is the way, walk in it.

Today I drove out on the country lanes to get to the school I’ve been working in this week.  Every time I get to a particular intersection something unusual happens – the voice of my satnav says,  “Take a sharp left” but the map indicates to turn right.  It’s very confusing.  The first time I followed the voice and got completely lost; the second time I followed the map and reached my destination.

Often in life we hear  conflicting messages and we don’t know who to believe. We don’t know where  to turn next. The good thing is that God can guide us.

Isaiah 30:21 says,  “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ” This is the way, walk in it, ” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left”

If we ask God,  He will guide us always.  There may be a clamour of voices,  but the still,  small voice of the Holy Spirit is all we need to hear.

God is still on the throne

There are a lot of changes afield in education. Examinations are changing – many which had a large component of coursework are now 100% exam, also the way schools are run are changing.

In particular, my child’s secondary school is becoming part of a multi-academy trust, and a new Church school is being created in our town.

Change can be a good thing, similarly it can be a bad thing. People often become unsettled when thinking about change.

However, when thinking about this I am reminded that God holds the destiny and purpose of my children in His hands. He is not on the throne panicking because things have changed in education. God knows the end from the beginning. He knew about all of these things when my daughter started attending secondary school, in fact even before she was born, and His purpose is not going to be thwarted because of these changes.

God knows the plan He has for my children , and nothing will stop Him from accomplishing that purpose in their lives.

Relax! You can trust Him. He is still on the throne and His purpose will not change.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

 

Rest for the weary

I have had a really busy day today. I left the house at 7.30am; dropped my children off at breakfast club; drove for 55 minutes to work; spent all day at work with about 100 young people ; then drove 55 minutes to the children’s music parents evening;  collected three of my children from the after school club; as soon as I got home I cooked dinner; as soon as we’d eaten I dropped off my eldest daughter at her band rehearsal; I returned home at 7.30pm and could finally relax with a cup of tea. My husband returned home from work at about 8pm. Some of my days are busier, and some are quieter, but this is typical of my life at the moment with four children and bills to pay.

So now I am feeling weary and soon I am going to sleep.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Life is busy and, if we’re not careful, it can weigh us down. We can be tempted to carry our burdens ourselves. We were not designed to carry heavy loads. Jesus says, in His Word, unburden yourself. Give Him your burdens and He will give you rest. It’s a good deal.

New Experiences

There are new experiences waiting for you in 2017.

In Acts 3 when the lame man was healed he experienced things he never thought he would experience: –

  1. He walked – which he had NEVER done in all of the 40 years of his life
  2. He went into the temple instead of being an outsider ,as he had been for all of his life
  3. He was touched by Peter, hence he touched and experienced the anointing of God through the Holy Spirit (one of the first recorded in the New Testament)

The Bible is full of stories about people having new experiences

Elizabeth , who was barren and very old, experienced the joy of childbirth; blind people became able to see; people were healed and raised from the dead; Joseph experienced prison and then promotion. Many things happened that they couldn’t plan and were not prepared for. They could never have imagined these things happening to them.

You cannot say that you are old now and there’s no time left for new experiences

Moses was in his eighties when he saw the Burning Bush; lead the Israelites out of Egypt; witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and wrote the Ten Commandments.

Serving God is exciting, there are always new things around every corner – for all of us.

But, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 2:9, ” Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (NKJV)