Stir(red) hearts

Do you experience times when you read something in the bible and it’s like “wow, I never thought much about that before”. I had one of those moments today.

I was reading in the Old Testament about the time the Jewish Exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and their homes after spending 70 years in captivity in Babylon with the purpose of rebuilding God’s temple which was the fulfilment of the prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah.

The bible simply says “He (God) stirred the heart of Cyrus”.

“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

It was God who stirred the heart of the King, Cyrus to bring His Will to pass and for prophecy to be fulfilled. God planted the seed of the idea into Cyrus. Now Cyrus still had a choice when he felt that stirring. He could have deliberately hardened his heart against it. He could have refused to follow through with what God had planted in his heart as Pharaoh had when it was time for the Egyptians to let Gods people go. God had to show through His miraculous demonstrations of power to Pharaoh that His people were leaving and nothing was going to stop it.

God not only stirred Cyrus’ heart but He also stirred the heart of His people, the leaders and the Priests to respond and want to return to their homeland. Perhaps the people also needed God’s stirring to get them moving. Perhaps some of them had grown comfortable where they were now and accepted this was to be their way of life, their place. God had different ideas. He wanted to bring them back to their inheritance. The land He had promised to their fathers.

Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings” Ezra 1:5-6

I believe God is still at work stirring hearts in those in authority over us in these day whether, Kings, Queens, Presidents, government officials, bosses or others. God is also still stirring hearts amongst His people to get us moving and serving and doing in order for His purposes and plans to be fulfilled. He uses His church to show His love, grace and mercy and declare His salvation and power.

As a bird stirs up her nest to get the chicks to leave, I believe God is stirring hearts to move out from the comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory.

Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to lead you into something new. A new journey, a new opportunity or a new mission. Perhaps, you have had prophetic words or a dream from God and God is stirring up other hearts to enable that to come to fulfilment.

Lord stir up our hearts today according to your holy purposes so that your plans may be achieved through us your holy people. Amen 🙏

God’s eyes are looking for you…..

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

These verses from the bible jumped out at me today.

I believe there may be someone who needs to hear and be encouraged by these words – the Lord is on the look out to help those who are his and to show himself strong on your behalf.

Do you need God to show himself strong for you today? If so, then take comfort from those words and pray this promise over your situation.

How strong is the Lord?

He is strong enough to bring you out of captivity and bondage.

By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 13:14

He is strong enough to heal you.

Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases” Psalm 103:3

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” Matthew 9:35

Are you feeling weak?

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” Isaiah 40:29

Do you need direction?

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13

Are you in need of support?

“Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees” Job 4:4

Are you facing opposition?

You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me ” Psalm 18:39

Are you lost?

I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” Ezekiel 34:16

Do you need help to rise above your circumstances?

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” Habakkuk 3:19

The apostle Paul’s prayer is for us today:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. ” Ephesians 1 18-23

And as the Aspostle Paul encourages us:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

I pray that God shows himself strong for you today in whatever circumstances or situation that you find yourself in.

God’s Providence

My good friend Heather sent me this story about experiencing the providence of God in her life.

Collins English dictionary defines Providence as:

“Providence is God, or a force which is believed by some people to arrange the things that happen to us” or another dictionary defines it as a manifestation of divine care or direction”

There is a saying in the book, Streams in the Desert:

“Those who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for “

In other words those who have an expectation of the goodness of God in their lives will see it and recognise His goodness at work.

This is Heather’s story about one of those times when she experienced God’s Providence.

“My husband and I had taken a last minute holiday to Sardinia out of season and we were really looking forward to this break. A 10 day holiday in the sun at a bargain price.

At the airport my husband said he didn’t feel too well. We just thought it was something he’d eaten and so we got on the flight and arrived at the hotel. It was late when we arrived, about midnight. By this time it was becoming apparent that my husband was becoming extremely unwell.

I went down to reception for help but the receptionist spoke only Italian. No other guests were around and I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. I eventually managed to get the receptionist to understand through a mixture of French/English and sign language that my husband was very ill and needed a doctor.

In what seemed like no time at all 3 medics arrived and started to treat my husband. The strange thing was that I couldn’t take my eyes off them…they were so amazing and extremely handsome. They looked like they should have been actors from a film or TV drama. I almost expected there to be a film crew tagging along behind them. They promptly whisked my husband off to hospital but I had to stay behind and so they left me in the hotel.

I realised I was now alone in a strange country, I didn’t speak the language and with no idea where my husband had been taken and then a massive thunderstorm started, I thought “Where are you God”.

In the morning I wanted to go to the hospital and find out what was happening. Fortunately, the day receptionist spoke a little English and ordered a taxi for me. The hospital was a very large hospital in the suburbs and extremely busy. Thankfully, I managed to find one person to help me..he said “oh the English patient..come with me”. As we got to the fifth floor I was just in time to see my husband being taken down to the theatre for surgery to have his appendix removed. His appendix had burst and that was why he had suddenly become so ill.

There was nothing more I could do until later so I left the hospital and just started walking. I didn’t really know where I was going but eventually managed to find my way back to the hotel. I was thinking “Lord what do I do now? I’m here on a quiet part of the island, no-one seems to speak my language and I’m now on my own. My husband was going to be kept in hospital for the next 4/5 days after the operation and there was very limited visiting hours.

I decided that I would set off for the rest of the day expecting the Lord to be with me and to lead me. As I walked I came to a crossroads where the higher road went along the Promenade and the lower one led to the town. I prayed and felt led to take the higher road. I stopped to look out at the sea and then suddenly out of nowhere it seemed to me, a lady approached me and asked me if I spoke English and if I knew where the town was. She was amazed when I replied in English and we were both as relieved as each other.

I explained my story. This lady said that she had arrived the night before too on an organised trip. That morning she had missed the day trip out and so was left all alone at her hotel. She had decided to go for a walk and then got lost.

We walked to town together and decided to go for coffee. As we talked, we discovered to our amazement that we both came from Portsmouth in England. She was living there and I had been brought up there although was now living in the Midlands. Even more amazing though as I talked about my children, she asked if I had a daughter called “Amy” who worked for one of the TV channels. I did and it turned out that her son Toby worked with my daughter. They were friends in London. We both knew so many places and people in common and it was comforting and reassuring to chat. It felt like we had known each other for years.

I accompanied her back to her hotel and the Holiday Rep for the the tour was relieved to find her ok. My new friend explained my story and the Rep arranged for us both to have dinner at the hotel and for me to stay over. The next day they also arranged a private tour for us all around the island with lunch and dinner all paid for by the tour company.

I spent the remaining days of their tour with her and the tour company also arranged a car to take me to the hospital when I needed to visit my husband. What a blessing.

During our days out my new friend wanted to visit some of the churches on the island. I was able to share my faith in Jesus with her. She left the island the next day to continue her tour and my husband John came out of hospital and we continued our holiday. I never did see that lady again.

God provided me with a companion when I was lonely and blessed me with such favour from the tour company. His providence was certainly at work in my situation. I pray that you also will expect and experience Gods providence and trust Him in your life too.

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it”.

That dear lady may not have been an actual angel but she certainly was an angel to me sent by God at just the right time to help and comfort me.

“Those who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for “

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

God Appointments

I was encouraged to write this post by dear brother Alan Kearns’ recent post Evidence for prayer and his prompting to ask for God appointments in our day. I just wanted to cheer when I read it and say…..Yes, Amen. It really does work. I have found it opens the way for God to use me in all types of situations and even in my weaknesses and messes to bless others. God loves people. He really, really does and longs to show His care and compassion.

If you’re reading this thinking I can’t do that. It’s for those Super Spiritual, amazing Christians and that sounds way too scary for me, I won’t know what to say or do…then join the club. I was just like that too but then I realised that there aren’t many of those “super spiritual walking on water Christians” around and anyway this was not about me, it’s all about God wanting to show His love and care to His children and God’s just looking for someone to say “I’m here…little old me, nothing special but I’m available for an appointment God, so please use me and do your work through me”..that was it, my prayer and God brought those appointments along.

God showed me that we can be the answer to someone else’s need by sometimes doing something so simple…..like just holding someone’s hand. This is what happened to me in one of those God Appointments.

I was in our local cafe one afternoon with 2 friends. It was a regular meet up as once a month we would meet for a coffee, chat and prayer. The manager of the cafe was a Christian from another local church and knew us. I went up to order my coffee and he asked if he could introduce me to someone. It was an elderly lady who was a regular customer at the cafe. She had recently been widowed and was lonely. I asked her if she would like to join us at our table and she did.

We chatted for some time and had a lovely time with her. We listened as she talked about her husband and their times together. Towards the end of our chat, I explained that we were Christians and asked her if we could pray for her before we left, She agreed and as we prayed, I felt prompted to take her hand. I asked her if it was ok if I held her hand and she said yes and then started to cry. She explained that the one thing she missed more than anything was holding her husband’s hand. Every time they walked anywhere together they held hands. She told us that as she had walked to town that day, she really missed her husband and had wanted someone to just hold hands with again. That had been the desire of her heart. That just blew me away and we all started crying. God had known exactly what she needed to comfort her and so He set up that appointment for her.

That dear lady wasn’t a Christian when we met but from that first meeting and then subsequent chats around the coffee table, she started to go to her local church and got confirmed. Praise God. From little seeds that are planted it’s amazing what God can do.

Have a blessed day and I hope you feel encouraged to ask God for an appointment for Him today. I’m looking forward to hearing and sharing more testimonies of God at work through these divine appointments.

A simple touch of love

The blessing of freedom

I haven’t posted for a little while as I’ve been away on my holidays….it doesn’t sound like much in the way of exciting news and in the usual course of events, I would agree, but I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it was to go away after being restricted and lockdown for all these months. A change of scene and routine did us the power of good as a family.

It was only 4 nights self catering in a little cottage on a cider farm in Herefordshire. The location was so peaceful, the apple trees were in full blossom and there was a field of sheep just outside the back door.

Our neighbours
Walking in the fields

We had time to enjoy a slower pace of life, no ⏰ this week, no rushing anywhere, time for family meals, card games, long walks in the fields and woods, fun times. Times to treasure with my mum who is 82. Times to just enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Times to count My blessings and be grateful for them.

The view from Symonds Yat rock over Wye Valley
View towards the rocks

The ability to go away made me realise how I take my freedom of choice and movement for granted. I have grown up with so much freedom and never thought it would be curtailed. How Covid has changed things. It has brought home the reality of how blessed I am to have lived and to live the life I do, when there are people suffering true hardship and are being forced to flee their homes. This week we have read again about the refugee crises as Morocco opened up the border and 8000 refugees rushed to cross into the Spanish enclave. I can’t even contemplate or truly empathise with their suffering but I know someone, Jesus, who does.

photo from yesterday’s paper of refugee being comforted

Father God, I thank you for the freedom we have and we lift up those to you who are refugees with no homes and those imprisoned unjustly or suffering persecution. Protect them, provide for them, support them and give them renewed hope we ask. Show us how we can be a help to those in need. Let us be like the Good Samaritan and show your love and share your goodness. In Jesus name we ask. Amen.