Be strong and of good courage

We are all afraid at times, it is a fact of human experience. But we should not to be ashamed when it occurs, because we all have fears, worries, concerns, which change as we pass through life. Some of our fears are “private”, known only to oneself, and some are evident for all to see.

As children we might fear the dark; being left alone by our parents; not being liked by other children; and a multitude of other small problems which appear as enormous in a child’s mind.

As we grow up there is the typical fear of not succeeding at school, and of having to “stand up and be counted” when we are resolved to stand against the permissiveness and evil of our present world.

Husbands, have particular worries concerning making a success of their work and looking after their children. Wives, might be concerned about family problems, and both partners might well be concerned about their children, their education, their friends, and the influence the present evil age might have upon them.

The older we are, the more we fear increasing ill-health, the pain and suffering, trials and loneliness, or loss of independence, that might come with increasing age.

But God, who knows our weaknesses, gives us reassurance, if we align our lives with His, and seek to do His will, instead of being on our own, He says “… I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews:13v5

Jesus was once asked by his disciples to forecast the events that would lead up to his return to the earth from heaven.

He foretold precisely what has happened in the intervening years since then, wars, famines, earthquakes and illnesses, would increase as things got progressively worse, ultimately Jesus said people would be terrified for the future.

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke:21v25-28

How well those words describe the days in which we now live, giving assurance to Bible Students that Jesus’ return cannot be far away.

But notice also, how these two things are brought together in the passage above:

1. When people in general are distressed by the things that are coming, when they say among themselves “Whatever next?”

2. the believer need have no fear for the future.

Because, the believer who has prepared his or her life for what is coming next – the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth – knows that Christ is coming to redeem and rescue those who are his, and to reward them with righteousness and immortality for faithful service, and an abiding place in God’s Kingdom that Jesus is to establish upon the earth.

No wonder then that Jesus bids them, “Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

So when Jesus tells his faithful servants to, “Be not afraid” he gives them a positive message as well, to be firm and resolute in his service, because  whether they are alive or dead at his return, they are all assured of a reward for faithful service, as the words of 1 Thessalonians tell us, and they were to be comforted and edified by these words.

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words …
For God did not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians4:15-18; 5:9-11.

Quotations from The New King James Bible

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Engaging Children with The Bible

In the Bible we read what God and Jesus say about teaching children.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And these are the words I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up”. Deuteronomy 6 v 5-7

‘Then the little children were brought to Him (Jesus) that he might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. And He laid His hands on them, and departed from there’. Matthew 19 v13-15

The Bible is for everyone no matter what their age, however sometimes it can be difficult as a parent, grandparent or Sunday school teacher to engage children with God’s word. We want them to fall in love with the Bible like we have and want them to learn more about God and His plan for us.

To do this sometimes we have to think a little bit differently, to find a way that it will relate to them and the things they like doing. We all learn in different ways so in order to make the Bible engaging for children we need to find a way that it will really engage them.

From young babies, singing songs and simple Bible stories books especially those with animals is a great way to start teaching them about the Bible.

For children sometimes just reading through passages of scripture doesn’t excite them, so it can be good to pick topics or themes that are of interest to your children. If your child likes super heroes, then look at heroes in the Bible, even looking at the villains in the Bible can be fun providing many lessons for them.

If your child likes acting you could try getting them to put together their own little plays about parts of the Bible you have been reading together.

Bible journaling is also a great way to engage children, especially those who love drawing or painting, it doesn’t need to be fancy it can be as simple, like after reading a passage together, ask them to draw something about what was read. They could even write out and illustrate a favourite verse.

Music is another great way to get them to enjoy God’s word, singing songs or making their own songs relating to something that has been read.

Anything that makes it fun for your children. It doesn’t have to be particularly structured, it may just be making a point of talking about a Bible story or verse as they play, when out for a walk or over a meal. Having biblical songs and hymns playing in your house, may spark your children to ask questions.

If your children are older get them involved by asking them what part of the Bible they would like to read or study. This may help them to take ownership of what you are doing and to be invested in it.

Most importantly make it fun and age appropriate. Let them see how passionate we have for God’s word the Bible and what it teaches us as well as them.

Quotations taken from New King James Bible

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God’s love letter to the world

Consider these five ‘Valentines’ from God’s Word:

“My love for you is faithful.”

“Know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commands.”

Deuteronomy 7v 9

“My love for you is forever.”

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, because He is good;

His mercy endures forever.

Oh give thanks to the God of all gods;

His mercy endures forever.

Oh give thanks to the Lord of all lords;

His mercy endures forever.”

Psalm 136 v 1-3

“Nothing can stop us from loving God.”

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come.

Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ”

Romans 8 v 38-39

“My love for you is greater than you could ever imagine.”

“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.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

John 3 v 16-17

“I want you to share my love with others.”

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all know that you are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

John 13 v 34-35

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day with those you love, let us take time to reflect on God’s enduring love for all, and ask ourselves how we might give God’s love to others in return.

All quotations from New King James Bible.

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God’s Amazing Gift to You and Me

As we head into the festive season this year things feels a little different than usual. We all have had a very strange year and even now so close to the Christmas holidays everything still feels very unsure.

Nevertheless, our families and friends, are a special part of our celebrations at this time of year. We look forward to gathering together to catch up with those we don’t see often (now more than ever). We enjoy our time together and look forward to giving and receiving gifts.

It’s a time when we can all get caught up in the excitement of the season and lose ourselves in the festivity of it all. Our supermarkets tempt us with cut price offers of boxes of sweets, biscuits and chocolates. Christmas puddings, cakes and mince pies, which make their appearance by early October!

I wonder how many people in our increasingly materialistic world will think about the birth of Jesus Christ?  Almighty God, in His love for mankind, sent us all a marvellous gift – the gift of His Only Son, the pathway to salvation for those who trust in Jesus and in God, his Father.

The story is simple. God chose Mary, a virgin, to be the mother of His beloved Son. The angel Gabriel was sent to tell Mary.

“Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end. … The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:30-33, 35)

So Jesus was born in a stable Bethlehem, the city of his ancestor King David.

“…it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caeser Augustus that all the world should be registered.…Joseph also went up from Galilee…… to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…..with Mary……she brought forth her firstborn Son…. laid Him in a manger, because there was no room in the Inn” (Luke 2:1-7)

This had been foretold many years before by the prophet Micah. 

“….. O Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel.” (Micah 5:2)

This humble birth sends an amazing message to us all. The All Powerful God chose to give us the gift of His Only Beloved Son Jesus, our Saviour and King, born as one of us, to reveal God’s character and His plan of salvation.

 Jesus told his disciple Philip

“… He who has seen Me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9)

Jesus born in Bethlehem lived a perfect sinless life. Jesus is our Saviour and High Priest who, by his death, is the perfect sacrifice for the sins of all who would try to follow his example.

 The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

So, as we look forward to Christmas, we must always remember why Jesus was born and give our grateful thanks to God for His Gift, Jesus the Saviour, who is described by the apostle Paul as,

“……. God’s indescribable gift.” (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Quotations from New King James Bible

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Exercise Your Faith

It has been said that faith is like a muscle. The positive and negative sides of the similarity are both true: it’s possible for faith to become stronger when regularly used and weaker over time if it’s neglected. 

So, how do you hold onto your faith in lockdown?

We all have days where our faith is weak, it doesn’t mean we don’t believe, we are just finding the way a little hard, as with exercise we don’t give up just because things get tough. It is in those moments that we persevere in order to improve. 

In Luke 22 when Simon Peter one of Jesus’ disciples was approaching his weakest moment (although Peter didn’t know it) Christ had already prayed for him.

Jesus foretold in verse 34 that Peter would deny him. Although before that Jesus had said to Simon Peter in verse 32 “I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

That is the wonderful thing about being a follower of Christ, before we even realise we need help, Jesus has already helped us. 

Furthermore, once Simon Peter had come through his own trial of faith (and emerged stronger for it) he was able to strengthen his fellow believers as Jesus had instructed him to do. He used his own experience to build up their faith.

That is not to say that because we are believers of Christ that the things which lie ahead will be easy, but if we flex our muscles of faith in prayer, exercise our minds and take comfort from the reading of our Bibles, also turning to those around us for support and encouragement, things will get easier.

“For I the LORD your God, will hold your right hand and saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’.” Isaiah 41:13 

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Learning from Sunflowers

We all love sunflowers. Their flower reminds us of the sun and late summer days. We encourage our children to grow them to compete with each other to see who can grow the tallest! Adults are known to compete too! They make us smile!

Do you know that Sunflowers turn to follow the sun as it moves across the sky?  The French name for sunflower is “tournesol, that means “turn to the sun”. They turn their faces to the light.
Have you ever wondered what they do on cloudy or rainy days when the sun is completely covered?  Do the sunflowers droop, turning their heads towards the ground. No!  This is what happens.  They turn towards each other to share their energy! God’s creation is amazing. 

Now let’s think how we can apply this lesson to our own lives. Many people we meet may be in trouble, sad, low-spirited, lonely or depressed. If we follow Jesus’ teaching and example, we should realise that we must share our energy with those we meet. The words of a verse in one of my favourite hymns come to mind…

“Wherever in the world I am, in whatsoe’r estate,
I have a fellowship with hearts to keep and cultivate
A work of lowly love to do for Him on whom I wait.”  (Love Maria Willis 1824-1908)

Jesus was compassionate. We know that he healed the sick and provided food for the crowds who gathered round him. He listened to problems and offered advice.

Here is just one example of his compassion. Jesus Raises a Widow’s Son Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Luke 7:11‐15

Jesus tells his followers “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15: 12-14.

Jesus showed his love and compassion towards all humankind when he, the only perfect man, the only begotten Son of his Father, the Almighty God, gave his life willingly to save all who put their trust in God. Jesus has opened for us the path to salvation. All who truly believe in him and in his Heavenly Father and try to follow his example will be granted, by God’s grace, salvation and everlasting life in the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns. 


Quotes English Standard Version Bible.

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Who are our Neighbours?

We live in a small village.  Before the advent of the Coronavirus and in this age of the internet and social media we were rarely in touch with our neighbours except to say, ‘Hello’. Many of them were working. We knew, in theory, that we could ask them for help but, thankfully, we had no reason to ask.

We are the oldies in our group of houses. I hadn’t realised this until now but our neighbours had. As soon as we were told we must stay at home we have got to know our neighbours so much better. They are falling over themselves in their eagerness to help us! We have no worries about whether we’ll have enough food. They ask us what we need every time they go shopping.  We have all started to chat and share our news, keeping a safe distance away, of course! We can help our younger neighbours by accepting their help and by showing interest in their news and listening to their concerns.

I am reminded of the story Jesus told when he was asked “Who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:25:37)

The parable of the good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

26 ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

27 He answered, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind”; and, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

 (NOTE: The  man who asked Jesus was a lawyer. As a Jew, he had been taught all about the Law that God gave to Moses many years before. Most of us know about the 10 Commandments in the Old Testament (Exodus 20:1-17)This man had realised that they could be summarised in 2 commands, 1. to love God with all our being and 2. To love our neighbour as much as we love ourselves.)

But, he asks, “Who is my neighbour?”.  So Jesus tells the parable. The meaning is very clear. We must all be willing to help anyone, no matter who they are. ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’

30 In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. “Look after him,” he said, “and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

36 ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’

37 The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise’

(NOTE: To understand this parable it is important to know that the Jews and the Samaritans had nothing in common and nothing to do with each other. Jesus was teaching the lawyer and all who were listening that they should help anyone in need. We must also learn the lesson of compassion. If we see anyone in need and distress our hearts should be moved to do as much as we can to help. We shouldn’t make distinctions because of race, belief or because we don’t like them. The Samaritan didn’t pass by on the other side. He attended to the man’s wounds and cared for him. He paid the innkeeper to look after him.)

The meaning is very clear. We must all be willing to help anyone, no matter who they are. It is a lesson for the times we live in. Jesus and his Father ask us to be kind and to help everyone when and wherever we can. If everyone followed this simple law our world would be a wonderful place. The Bible tells us that day will come. Jesus will return to set up his Father’s Kingdom on earth.

Quotes NIV

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Please Wash your Hands!

The threat of catching Coronavirus has made us all aware of the importance of washing our hands. Every time we listen to the news or read a newspaper we are reminded of the importance of making sure we wash them thoroughly.

The washing of hands is not a new idea. In the last century one in four pregnant mothers who entered hospital died from some form of infection. Philip Ignaz Semmelweis , an obstetrician, had a death rate of only eight women in a thousand. That was less than 1% !! What was the secret ? It was very simple. Dr Semmelweis washed his hands! In the 19th century doctors often went from the mortuary or from the dissecting room straight back to their rounds of the hospital wards. They hardly stopped to wipe their hands on their already soiled aprons. Dr Semmelweis had realised that doctors were spreading the disease from the infected patients to the healthy ones.

But the washing of hands and personal hygiene was stressed 3,500 years previously in the Law given by God to Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Here are just two examples.

Preventing the Spread of Infection.

A man or woman who had a bodily discharge was considered unclean until investigation by the Priest.

Their bed and anyone who touched the bed or touched them were considered unclean . Moses writes: “Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening”

Leviticus 15:2-11

This is just one illustration of many cases of treating infection.

Isolation and Quarantine.

People are being advised to stay at home if there is likelihood that they may have been in contact with anyone who may be able to pass on Coronavirus The Law of Moses states “ When anyone has …. an infectious skin disease , he must be brought to… a priest…. the priest is to put the infected person in isolation for seven days. On the seventh day the priest is to examine him, and if…. unchanged…… he is to keep him in isolation another seven days”

Leviticus 13:2-8, 46

Once pronounced clean the man had to “wash his clothes, shave off his hair and bathe in water..

Leviticus 14:8-9

How did the people of Israel know about these vital matters? Because God told them and Moses reminded them to obey what God had commanded them. (Deuteronomy 4:5-9).

Do keep washing your hands to help to combat this new virus! Meanwhile we must remember that the God of the Bible knows about the problems we all face. When Jesus returns to establish his Father’s Kingdom those who have made God’s Laws rule in their hearts will be invited by him to share in the perfect and everlasting health of his reign.

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