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.

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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.

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.

You are loved

John 3:16 says,  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”

God loves you

If you were the only person in the world God would still have sent Jesus to die for your sins,  so you could be made right with God.

You are important and precious in God’s sight.  You are loved.  Jesus promised to never leave you and never forsake you,  so you are never alone either.

God says, “Your Maker is your husband”  in Isaiah 54, and He says with everlasting kindness He will have mercy on you.

The Lord is your refuge and your fortress. When the troubles of the world get too much,  run to God for help.

Cast all your cares on God,  for He cares for you.  He is never too busy to listen to you.

“As the heavens are high above the earth,  so great is His mercy to those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:11) God is rich in mercy towards us,  His creation.

You can rest in God’s loving arms right now because you are treasured, valued and secure.

A girl healed and a woman restored to life

It was a lovely meeting at Restore, the worship was powerful and I spoke about a girl restored to life and a woman healed from Mark 5.  Some points – The woman with the issue of blood was a hopeless case – the doctors couldn’t heal her. She was also classed as ceremonially unclean and anyone she touched became unclean. She knew when she touched Jesus’ garment she would, according to the Jewish law (Leviticus 15:25-33) make Him unclean, but she was desperate and she touched Jesus anyway. Here’s where grace triumphed over the law – instead of the woman making Jesus unclean, He healed her and made her clean. The law says, “You:re unclean,”. Grace says , “I’ll make you clean.” Also, Jesus was already on His way to pray for a girl who was dying, yet He delayed that to heal this lady. IT IS NO MORE DIFFICULT FOR JESUS TO RAISE A DEAD PERSON THAN IT IS FOR HIM TO HEAL A SICK PERSON! It doesnt matter to God what stage your illness is – He can heal you at any stage! God holds our eternity in His hands, if He says it’s not over IT IS NOT OVER!! JESUS HAS THE LAST WORD ON YOUR LIFE!! Arise and be healed, arise and be set free, arise and be restored.!

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.