(March 08, 2023) Norman and Margaret Moss reflect…
We were sitting in our car stuck in the middle of the road at the T junction a few hundred yards from our home in England. The engine had suddenly cut out and I, Norman, have seldom felt more helpless!
Cars passed by in all directions all intent on avoiding collision with ours, but failing to realise our predicament. However, soon people arrived, including two bright eyed youngsters eager to push and a strong man leaning through the window to help turn the steering wheel, since with the power steering gone I was not strong enough to turn it on my own.
Wrong directions Together the group managed to park the car on a double yellow line at the side of the road. We decided to phone the AA. As we waited the night darkened and the cold increased. Then, suddenly very quickly it got pitch dark and I confess that I was afraid the AA vehicle would drive right past us.
At last we saw two blazing headlights coming towards us, shining brightly in the dark. Telling Margaret to sit tight, I eagerly stepped into the road and waved the van down, directing to a point close to us.
Obediently the driver started to turn the van round to head back towards us. Only then did I see the large letters on its side… AMBULANCE! Oh no, I thought, this isn’t an AA van! I’ve misdirected this vehicle which is no doubt rushing to aid someone in trouble!
(January 29, 2023) Maureen McQuillan seeks to comfort a distressed sister…
Dear Pastor Maureen
I’m going through a difficult time. I’ve prayed and prayed but don’t seem to be getting answers, or help. I want to believe that I can trust God but I just feel He hasn’t heard my prayer. My heart is sobbing, I cry myself to sleep. Doesn’t God care? I am a Christian, I have accepted Jesus. Bella.
Oh yes, God does hear our prayers… your prayers, and yes, He does care! I’ll be open, honest with you, won’t mislead you… becoming a Christian doesn’t mean we’ll have a carefree life. Yes, we will have a good life, sins forgiven and an assurance that we’re heaven-bound. But… presently we’re still here and things can go wrong, even for God’s children! Accidents, sicknesses, disappointments, marriage and family troubles, sudden loss of loved ones, even disasters.
But we can keep trusting God, we can bank on His love, provision, protection in that He will help us and bring us through whatever the issue is! Your prayers are heard by God (1John 5:14-15, 1 Peter 3:12). 1 Peter 5:7 is particularly precious: ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.’
1) Convincement John 14:1 is such a well-known scripture, and often preached on. As I’m talking about challenges and changes, some of which I’ve mentioned above and some readers might be concerned (oops, another C!), I’llquote from the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) – ‘Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me.’
Trust is pisteuo… to believe, have faith in, be persuaded, to place trust in. Read the preceding chapter and note that tension was really in the air among the first disciples! Jesus had been indicating challenges and changes that lay ahead – His betrayal, death, the depths of Peter’s commitment, and now He indicating that He will be leaving them. Doubt, distrust and uncertainty had crept in already. No wonder John 13:22 tells that the disciples were staring at one another!
(December 17, 2022) Richard Winter encourages us to make right decisions in 2023.
It’s almost January 2023! A whole year has gone by so quickly and, although good things have happened to many by God’s grace, we still live in dark times and a troubled world! Already people are wondering what really lies ahead for us next year, doors of opportunity-wise.
Christians who seek God’s will regarding their future in any year will always want to know the answer to these five questions:
Is this door open or is this door closed?
Is this God’s will for me?
Or is there something else?
Am I even supposed to go this way?
Or is there some other way?
Is this how you are currently thinking – which way should you go… or not go in 2023? For example, are you considering whether it’s right or wrong to switch jobs?If so, how do you know when it’s the right time to move from one place to another?
(December 17, 2022) Brian Bell encourages leaving the past behind and moving ahead in 2023…
As we come towards the end of 2022, I encourage you with Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13, ‘I am still not all I should be… forgetting the past… and looking forward to what lies ahead.’
The apostle speaks about his past which he wants to forget, his present as he recognises he is a work in progress, and his future based on Christ’s accomplishment and provision.
I believe Paul’s encouragement in this verse is not related to employing techniques to help us forget, but about that good old topic of perspective.
Paul wasn’t saying he had discovered a way to eradicate past memories (in his case the many believers he had persecuted prior to his conversion). It was not that Paul could or had actually forgotten, but that he would not allow those memories to hold him back. So, I suggest that is the context for Paul then saying he was ‘… looking forward…’
(December 13, 2022) Robert and Maureen McQuillan share…
Unfortunately, some Christians worry instead of trusting Almighty God!
Yes, we should certainly be concerned about troubling matters that arise from time to time… but there is a huge difference between being concerned (taking responsibility to correct matters) and worrying!
Paul gave good advice in Philippians 4:6 – ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
1. Don’t worry – Message Bible is very direct: ‘Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.’ Complete Jewish Bible charges: ‘Don’t worry about anything.’
It’s almost Christmas when we celebrate the amazing coming to planet Earth of Jesus in physical form – the incarnational birth of the one who would become our Saviour.
(November 18, 2022) S. Sam Selva Raj encourages troubled hearts…
During times of adversity, when we ask friends or doctors for counsel, they may console us by saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything will be all right.’ Comforting words… but we can receive even greater comfort from God!
But, when we experience times of sorrow, pain and affliction, and our problems multiply, we can lose hope.
We shouldn’t… but it can happen.
If we’re not clear about God’s leading in our lives, we can worry much.
Contemplating some sorrowful event, we could wrongly think, ‘Has this happened without God’s knowledge?’
We must remember that nothing happens in our lives without God knowing!If we trust Him, our present sorrow will surely be turned into joy!
So don’t be afraid! Jesus spoke about sorrow and weeping in John 16, adding in verse 20, ‘… your sorrow will be turned into joy.’ He also promised in Matthew 5:4, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.’
We might think that blessed people are those who enjoy all sorts of material comforts. But the Lord says that even those who mourn are blessed! He who knows everything, knows that He can turn our mourning into joy!
Sorrows may arise due to unemployment, sickness, lack of money, problems at work or in the family, worries about the future, and so on. Whatever our sorrow, the Lord says that all of us who pass through such difficult times are blessed and that we shall be comforted, difficult situations being turn into joyful ones.
Although promised this a long time ago, this is still relevant today! Henceforth be happy and rejoice. ‘Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time’ declares 1 Peter 5:6.
Nehemiah was called by God to rebuild and restore Jerusalem. He had the king’s permission and visas to pass through all the territories on the way. He even had a letter from the king that gave him permission to order a supply of the best lumber for the rebuilding – (all paid in full!).
On his way to Jerusalem, two men tried to stop Nehemiah.
Resistance In Nehemiah 2:9-10NKJV we read, ‘Then I went to the governors in the region beyond the River, and gave them the king’s letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard of it, they were deeply disturbed that a man had come to seek the well-being of the children of Israel.’
Verse eleven says that Nehemiah made it to Jerusalem despite the resistance of Sanballat and Tobiah and he stayed three days.
Interestingly, he didn’t tell anyone in Jerusalem why he was there. Imagine being this important in the kingdom and embarking on this amazing prophetic journey and yet not letting everyone know the importance of your mission when you arrive!
Nehemiah was definitely working for heaven, not seeking permission from people. His responses to opposition?
Response 1 –Trusting God Verse 12NASB tells that ‘… I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding.’
Nehemiah didn’t blow a trumpet – he wielded a flashlight.
He only took a few trusted men with him – and scouted out the land.
He went out at night without fanfare – but with the presence of God.
We might wonder why he so casually points out that there was no other animals along with them. Think about it. Sanballat and Tobiah, his opposers, couldn’t have been that far away. Nehemiah was keeping things as quiet as possible that night, avoiding any unwanted noise, until he had seen for himself the damage of the Jerusalem walls, what he was up against.
Well, that’s like you or I writing, ‘I went out to check out an old, abandoned building in the ghettoes of Los Angeles in the middle of the night, but I didn’t bring the police, my wallet, or my cell phone! I don’t have an escape route planned, I just need to get out there and see what God says to me.’
Nehemiah was determined not only to be unobserved, but that he would do some observing! And, in seeing what lay ahead of him… hear from heaven regarding his challenge and commission!
‘The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing to the Jews or the priests or nobles or officials or any others who would be doing the work’ (Nehemiah 2:16).
Response 2 – Choosing the right moment! We don’t know if Nehemiah reported his mission to the men who were with him that very night or if he waited until morning. But while inspecting the walls that night, he knew what they didn’t know – the king had given him permission to rebuild.
Imagine holding that secret! But there are times we must hold such a secret until the moment that God releases us to explain our purpose and bid others to join us. Finally, that moment came.
Nehemiah records: ‘Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work’ (Nehemiah 2:17-18NASB).
Response 3 –Refusing to cower And so Nehemiah dives in! He and his friends are making mortar, finding new stones and recovering old ones, some of them burned and not usable. Even then, his enemies immediately reproach him!
‘But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard of it, they laughed at us and despised us, and said, “What is this thing that you are doing? Will you rebel against the king?” So I answered them, and said to them, “The God of heaven Himself will prosper us; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no heritage or right or memorial in Jerusalem’ (Nehemiah 2:19-20).
When faced with opposition, Nehemiah did not cower. He did not explain that he carried visas, he had the king’s lumber, and he definitely had the king’s favour.
Response 4 – Knowing your authority In fact, Nehemiah didn’t even mention King Artaxerxes! The first statement he made was that he was there under the authority of God Himself! Boldly he declared, ‘The God of heaven Himself will prosper us, therefore we His servants will arise and build.’
Can you sense the confident tone of his voice here? You too can be confident in building your ‘Jerusalem wall’ if you really know that God Himself is your covering, your source, your authority!
My friend, whatever God has called you to do, go fearlessly and do it under the authority of God. You may have permission from a committee or from a king, and you will have opposition – but ultimatelyyour authority comes from heaven. Hallelujah!
Hope Flinchbaugh, editor-in-chief of Hope Editors, a special team helping publishers and authors, has written three historical fiction novels and two nonfiction books. Hope’s love for children is evident in her delightful Baby Babbles series… available from Amazon Author Page or International Orders Here.
(September 4, 2022) Dr Jim McClure, noted theologian, concludes his timely challenge on overcoming ‘mountains’ of various kinds…
Last month I shared reflections on Zerubbabel, how God helped this faithful prophet fulfill the challenge He’d been given him. I had mentioned two aspects regarding our accepting of God’s challenges to us, in brief –
1. Inflexible commitment to God’s will… God requires followers like Zerubbabel who are truly committed to Him, Christians whose integrity and commitment will be unshakable, no matter what ‘mountains’ we might encounter!
2. Intimidating pressure of discouragement… God also requires such dedicatedfollowers to bravely face and overcome pressure that comes when we commit to accepting His assignments. Such as the mountains of discouragement that not only come from Satan and outside the church, but sadly from within!
I now reflect on two other aspects, highlighting thatour all-powerful God who has all things already planned goes before us (Isaiah 45:2)!
(August 29, 2022) Robert McQuillan encourages caring for others, Christain or not…
Dear Dr Robert
This isn’t a question but a thanks to God! I’ve learned that my article – Lost at Sea – has blessed readers, including a pastor friend who had a similar experience and has emailed the following: ‘I really related to and enjoyed reading your article realising you had a good outcome like I did back in the early 90’s. God certainly has watched over our lives and we still get to experience His goodness every day.’
So, I thought I’d let you know… and also add the following that I didn’t know about at the time— On the same night (A hundred kms down the coast) sadly another man was not as fortunate as I was and didn’t return to his family but got lost and caught in the severe storm that came through at 1am.https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-07-27/missing-search-fisherman-ian-gray-suspended-wa-police/101275878. You only realise the true danger when actually faced with it. I am so blessed to be alive. This unfortunate man’s family needs our prayers. Andrew.