Meditate on these things

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The Collins online dictionary says that if you meditate on something, you think about it very carefully and deeply for a long time.

One of the keys to having a successful Christian life is having a sanctified mind. The Bible says in Proverbs, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. What we fix our mind on shapes who we are.

If we are constantly dwelling on thoughts of our failure, the person who did us wrong or ungodly activities we aren’t going to know the peace God has for us.

First, God wants us to think about the things that are true. The enemy may try to whisper words of inadequacy to you, telling you that you’re not good enough ;don’t listen to that.

If you read God’s Word you will find out the truth – that if you are a Christian you are a child of God, you are precious and beautiful in His eyes; you have purpose and you can do all things through God who strengthens you.

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Rosehip tea

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Rosehips are incredibly high in Vitamin C. They are extremely useful to help with immunity to colds and flu. You can use them to make tea, jam, jelly and cordial, amongst other things  I made my tea from rosehips growing in my garden, so it is completely homemade and organic.

To make my tea (for a few cups) I picked 10 rosehips. I put them in a pan, covered them with about five cups of water and brought the mixture to the boil. Then I simmered it for about twenty minutes. Then I drank it! _20180906_213820I like my tea sweetened with honey.

If you live in the UK and would like me to send you some freshly picked rosehips from my garden you can pay £1.50 for 25kg plus postage of £2.95 via PayPal I will gladly send you some. Please click on the button below.

25g freshly picked rosehips

Freshly picked rosehips £1.50 plus £2.95 postage and packing

£4.45

 

 

In quietness and confidence shall be your strength

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Isaiah 30:15 says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Verse 16 is probably our natural human response:”And you said,  No, for we will flee on horses” But the Bible says, “Therefore you shall flee! And,we shall ride on swift horse-Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift”

As humans, many times we don’t like inactivity. We want to feel in control and want to feel that we are doing something about our problems. We might want to run away rather than facing our problems or trusting God with them. But it won’t end well.

The world values natural prowess and people seen as go-getters. But the Bible says about God that, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior.”

Our natural strength and ability is useful – but it can only take us so far

Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord”

When we are tempted to run, God’s telling us to return to Him and rest. Let Him give you strength and victory.

The race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the strong. Gideon’s army was small (Judges 7) and God reduced the size further so only God could receive the glory for the battle.

Judges 7:22 says, “When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah by Tabbah”

The battle belongs to the Lord. Stop striving! There are battles you don’t have to fight. They are God’s battles. Only rest in Him. Be confident – you’re on the winning side.

God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Romans 12:19) God will repay the wrongs done to you.

In Joshua 6 we see how the Lord said (verse 2)”See,I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its King and its fighting men” Joshua had to be obedient to God by circling the city seven times – he had a part to play but ultimately it was God who gave the victory.

 

 

 

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.

 

When God says, “No !” Part 1

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Jesus said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel  “, so it seems crazy that God would forbid Paul and his companions to preach the Gospel somewhere.

But sometimes what is good is not necessarily God’s will or God’s timing. The Spirit did not permit Paul and his companions to preach the Word in Asia at that time   Maybe the people in Asia weren’t ready to hear what Paul had to say and /or maybe their journey would have been unfruitful – meanwhile God had people ready and waiting in Macedonia who were keen to hear the Gospel, like Lydia  the Philippian jailer and the slave girl who had a spirit of divination and needed to be set free. Individuals are important to God and He knows the divine appointments He has set up for you. God’s timing is also significant

Never be disappointed when God says, “No !” If He does, it’s because there’s a greater, “Yes!” further down the line.

Philip the Evangelist left revival to minister to one person who was travelling.

Sometimes the  “No!” may not make sense to you, but God does not waste His children. There’s too much invested in you for God to send you somewhere that’s not helpful to you or that’s not in His good plan for your life.

 

Your sphere of influence

2 Corinthians 10:12, 13 says, “For we dare not class ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves , and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us – a sphere which especially includes you.”

We often talk about having a sphere of influence or activity. I believe God is saying that we each have our own sphere of influence in the world. We have relationships and people around us who form part of our sphere of influence. We coexist with them . They see how we react to situations and they listen to our words.

Paul was saying in this letter that the Corinthian believers were included in his sphere of influence. They were part of his spiritual responsibility. We are not responsible directly for everyone in the world, but those people who God has put in our path are our responsibility.

I am a supply teacher at the moment and I go into many schools taking classes when the permanent teacher is absent. Recently, I had a dream that I was standing on a stage in front of hundreds and thousands of young people. I have never actually stood on a stage in front of that many young people, however from day to day I meet hundreds of different young people from all backgrounds and all corners of the globe – England, Pakistan, the Ukraine, Hungary, Yemen, for example. At the moment, this is my sphere of influence and although I don’t spend a lot of my time in classrooms preaching (that would be unprofessional) I do pray in my own time for pupils God has laid on my heart and I bring the Presence of God within me into every classroom I am in. St. Francis of Assisi famously said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” At the moment, this is my ministry. It is hard work at times. But I cannot look around and compare what I am doing with someone else’s ministry. I have to be content with what God has appointed me to do at this moment in time.

Each person in the Church is a part of the Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about the futility of the foot saying because it’s not a hand, that it’s not part of the Body. The Bible says there are many members but one Body. The eye can’t say to the hand, “I have no need of you” Similarly if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body” is it not still part of the Body? God needs every part of His Body (the Church) playing their part. A Body made up of only ears would be a monstrosity. Each part needs to play their own part so that the whole Body works properly. We need diversity in the Body of Christ.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ – don’t look around and compare yourself with others. Pray and ask God to show you what your sphere of influence is and what your purpose is. It may not be the same as those you are looking at. But be prepared to be the best you can be in the place where God has put you. You may be the only Christian your friends will meet.

Trust whilst in transit

I’m on the train to London today. I have checked where I am right now (near Milton Keynes )  and I know exactly how long it will take me to reach my destination. That’s the sort of person I am. When our family travelled to India on the airplane I was following our progress on the flight tracker. Watching the plane icon travelling over the different countries was comforting to me.

I think it is human nature to want to know where we are at in our journey.

However, in our journey of life we do not know how far along we are. We do not know when we will reach our destination of Heaven. That’s where trust comes in. We are commanded to pray to God for our daily bread and advised to not worry even about tomorrow.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, ” Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding:in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

God knows when we will reach our final destination.  God orders our steps, and our stops and we can only entrust our journey of life to Him.

Work hard!

Proverbs 14:4 says, ” Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox”

Oxen are messy and smelly. It is hard work to look after them. But, in Bible times, oxen were extremely useful. They were used for ploughing, treading out the corn, for draught purposes (when they were yoked in pairs)and as beasts of burden. By using the oxen in this way, a man could become very wealthy.

However, in order for this to happen, the owner had to take care of the oxen – feed them, groom them and keep them clean. A lot of work was involved.

This Proverb is telling us that with profit comes trouble and hard work. Yes, it’s easier to sit at home and complain that you don’t have any money. But, if you really want to make money, you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and start working!

The Bible doesn’t offer a “Get rich quick” scheme. Yes, I do believe that God wants to prosper His children, but I also believe that we have a responsibility to take whatever is in our hand and put it to work.

David was a King of Israel. But before he was a King, He spent years as a shepherd boy, taking care of the sheep, killing the lions and bears when they came to attack the flock and practising throwing stones in a sling. Even after he had been anointed by the prophet, he still went back to his sheep until God required him for something else.

The time David spent as a shepherd was not wasted. God never wastes any of the experiences we have. He spent time practising throwing stones in a sling. He did not realise at that time that he was training to kill Goliath. But God knew that.

Brothers and sisters, be prepared to work hard in whatever you have been called to do right now. Then God will grant you success.

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.