Jeremiah 29:11

NEHEMIAH – GOD’S CALL TO BUILD THE WALL (Part 4)

(June 22, 2022) Hope Flinchbaugh shares some more thoughts about Nehemiah’s wall building journey, challenging us to know that God has a plan for us…’

It’s hard to leave our comfort zone! And that was the initial challenge Nehemiah faced in moving on from his comfort zone to fulfilling God’s plan for his life.

Being cupbearer to the king – a  noted position – meant Nehemiah was in and out of the king’s presence several times a day. He had money, a position that clothed him well and gave him personal honour, a position where he enjoyed a small realm of trust and influence before the king.

When he learned that the exiled survivors of Israel were living in appalling conditions, that the walls of Jerusalem were rubble and the gates of the city were in cinders and ashes, Nehemiah was deeply touched. He immediately fasted, prayed, wept, and was willing to move…  but what was the next step?

Waiting patiently
That must have felt so anticlimactic!

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ST PATRICK – RADICAL DISCIPLE AND MISSIONARY

(March 17, 2022), Alan Higgins brings a timely challenge…

It’s St Patrick’s Day today and I recall what our patron saint did with discipleship and mission.

The main scriptures – familiar to many – that I have chosen are Jeremiah 29:11 and Matthew 28:16-20 … scriptures, I believe, that must have been on Patrick’s heart.

What can we learn from them… and what do they tell us about Saint Patrick, the Irish legend?

1. Patrick’s life exemplifies Jesus’ command to reach the lost     
The gospels give us the following messages from the heartbeat of Jesus, not just Patrick, on the importance of fulfilling the great commission.

Matthew 28:16-20 is what Patrick set out to do in Ireland – to make disciples in this nation. His life and ministry teach us to be open to the call of God in our lives.

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MR BEAN – AND GOD’S MYSTERIOUS WAYS

Robert and Maureen McQuillan remind us that we don’t know everything … but that God does! 

Experienced those moments when we want to ask God, ‘Why?’ or ‘What’s going on?’ or ‘How come You answered my prayer as You did, not how I had prayed and expected?’ 

Did you get an answer to certain prayers? Or did you conclude that it’s better to appreciate and enjoy the benefits than to query God about His ways? 

We forget that God is God! 
The reality is that often we get so caught up with asking (in faith and trust which is good and necessary, of course!) and expecting God to bring about the answer exactly how we asked. And we forget that He is God who sees everything outside the box and knows what the best course of action should be! 

Yes… He is God – almighty God! God full stop! As such He doesn’t have to explain anything – we’re merely His creation. 

But, hallelujah … He’s also the heavenly Father who loves us so much that He does sometimes kindly  explain things – as in (Genesis 18:17NLT, ‘”Should I hide my plan from Abraham?” the Lord asked’). 

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STILL MUCH TO DO!

(January 25, 2022) Maureen McQuillan encourages all who feel unsure about the future… 

A lot of good folks at this time of worldwide troubles have been experiencing disappointments… not being able to do certain things, go places, catch up with family and old friends, getting hit unexpectedly with covid-19 (but, praise God, had been vaccinated and are getting through), job losses, short of ready finance, suicides, troubled minds… and so on.

And so it’s a joy when one hears good news stories, especially of God answering prayer and blessing in various ways. Mark Ellis GodReports regularly shares such testimonies, eg… Muslim Woman Dreams About Man in White With Bleeding Feet. And we ran missionary to Romania David McGuire’s excellent report Grateful for 2021 Successful Outreaching but Moving Ahead Into 2022 With Vision.

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However, one also hears of Christians who have had bad life experiences and my ‘heart goes out to them.’Some are so troubled that as they hear negative news reports from around the world, wonder what’s next, or think ‘the end is near: Is Christ coming back very soon?’

Encouragements from God’s word
To troubled saints, I would say this: Be encouraged! Be blessed by scriptures such as the following…

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STRUGGLING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT?

(October 14, 2021) Mama Lava shares great hope…

This post is going to write itself because I write it with tears running down my cheeks!

I had awakened with happy expectation. This was the day I had been looking forward to for quite a while because it had been entirely set aside for the enjoyment of a long-awaited opportunity. It had been circled on the calendar of my heart and anticipated with a child-like giddiness.

But… it quickly became apparent that the day wasn’t going to happen according to plan. Disappointment surged in, uninvited and unruly.

God could also change the circumstance… but I didn’t want to be further disappointed if he chose not to. I wanted him to change my attitude. Quite frankly, that day was simply the most recent in a string of struggles with disappointment. I wanted God to show me the lesson I had been needing to learn so that these kinds of situations would not hinder me anymore.

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GOD WILL DIRECT YOUR STEPS

(June 14, 2021) Carol Round shares some good advice…

Proverbs 16:9 (AMP) gives wise advice… ‘A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.’

Since my 30-year teaching career ended in 2005, I’ve discovered this truth: We can make plans, but God directs our steps. I love telling others, who are retired or nearing retirement, ‘You won’t find those words in the Bible. Retirement is a manmade concept.’

My post-career plans included expanding my professional photography business and writing news stories for area publications. The first one was not part of God’s plans for my life. At the time, I lived in a small lake community. Who wouldn’t want to spend their autumn and winter years near the lake?

But God had a better plan for me. Nine months after he planted the seed, I obeyed, and he directed my steps to a community with a larger population.

When we let God direct our steps, you never know where it will lead. Look at the disciples. I’m sure their plans didn’t include dropping their fishing nets or leaving other jobs behind to follow Jesus.

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RECOVER YOUR LIFE WITH JESUS’ HELP

(February 04, 2021) Carol Round, having experienced an exhausting moving home time, encourages us to relax in Jesus…

Packing! Moving! Unpacking! I questioned, once again, Why did I have so much stuff?’

It’s not the first time I’ve moved in almost 20 years, it’s the sixth! I know others who have moved more times than I have, and I don’t envy them. I’m still trying to recover from my latest move.

I’ll confess! If I’d had my way, I’d still be in the first place I moved to four years before retiring from my 30-year teaching career in 2001. My post-teaching career plans included freelance writing for area newspapers and continuing my 20-year photography business that exploded when I went digital.

But Jesus had a greater plan for me. That’s the reason behind my many moves. Although it took him nine months to convince me to move the first time, I’ve learned to say, ‘I want your will, not mine.’

Obedience means surrendering
Each time I’ve moved, it’s been in obedience to his calling on my life.

I don’t take it lightly. For someone like me, who was used to being in charge, and thought she was in control of her life, it meant surrendering. Even though I still struggle sometimes, I’ve learned his way is the only way to live freely and lightly. (more…)

IT CAME TO PASS!

(December 19, 2020) Brian Bell challenges our moving into 2021…

A nearby retailer’s Christmas catalogue included interviews with several local personalities and one of the questions asked was to reflect on 2020 and what they had learned ie ‘The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was…’ Interestingly one young woman’s reply was ‘This too shall pass…’

Now whether she was aware or not, those words have a scriptural basis. There are times in scripture we read ‘and it came to pass…’ and while the context such as in Luke 2:1 (KJV, Darby) relates to fulfilment of an event, I have heard believers use them in the sense that ‘difficult’ or ‘bad’ times will pass.

Hope for 2021
I’m sure for many, the fact that 2020 is going brings some relief and the hope for something better in 2021. Its true 2020 proved an exceedingly difficult year, as we remember those who lost their lives to the virus; grieving families; for the organisations which collapsed for financial reasons; the loss of jobs and the impact on livelihoods; loneliness for many who live alone. We applauded, of course, frontline health and other workers. (more…)

GOD’S PLANS STAND FIRM AS A SYCAMORE TREE

(September 5, 2020) Carol Round reminds us that God is the master planner…

An anonymous quote on social media recently grabbed my attention. It said, ‘Long before Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, the tree was planted to meet his need.’

Not only do I love this quote, I had to share it. Reflecting on the words, I began to think about God’s plans for my life. Until my rebirth, I never considered how God had already prepared a way for me, just as he did for Zacchaeus.

According to Luke 19:4, the tree Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus is a ficus sycomorus (its scientific name). That type tree can take from 20 to 50 years to grow to full maturity.  So, it’s possible that before Zacchaeus was born, the tree he climbed was planted.

Plans that God set in motion before our birth
Before we were ever born, God had plans for us!

He knew the span of our life before we were formed in our mothers’ womb and the number of hairs on our head! God doesn’t leave such attention to detail to chance. He has plans for each of his children, and they are good.

Before we even realise we’re going to need something, God has already planned for that need. Even before we ask him for it, his plans are already in motion. Just ask Zacchaeus. (more…)

THE KEY STONE

(July 23, 2017) Maureen McQuillan encourages any who feel discarded …

An impossible task!

That’s what the project that I had set myself suddenly seemed as I looked down at the pile of rocks – or to be technical – large pieces of cut or sawn stones.

I had been working on the back garden we had some years ago and, being creative, had envisioned an attractive dry stone wall. And I had decided that I could build that wall by myself and save costs.

The various shaped stones arrived, several quite heavy. But I wasn’t desponded, even though I had never built a dry stone wall before and had neither instruction manual nor helper – Robert was away ministering.

Well, here goes, I thought (plus ‘Help, Holy Spirit’ and similar prayers!). In my mind I planned it all out and then began to build so creatively. And all went well until a certain point …

I just couldn’t find the right piece of stone for the next joint. Nothing would fit the breech in the design. I searched and searched to no avail. There just wasn’t a beautiful shapely stone that would fit in. (more…)