Refreshing Company

“I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition”.
1 Corinthians 16:17-18

These bible verses really inspired me today. Oh how blessed we are to have people like a Stephanus, Fortunatus and Achaicus in our lives and in the body of Christ. People who refresh us.

These type of Christian believers are commended by Paul. They must have been a great source of encouragement and Godly wisdom to the early church.

We all need times of refreshing. One of those ways of refreshing is also through other believers, just as Paul and the Corinthians were refreshed by the visit of these 3 men.

As Paul says, such people deserve recognition.

Can I encourage us all to take some time to think about the people who are the refreshing company in our lives. They make us happy when we see them. They give and impart good things. Positive people.

Let’s thank God for them. They are a blessing.

Let’s also make a point of thanking them. It’s good to let such people know that we value them.

Finally, let’s all try to be the “refreshing” company we enjoy so people are happy to see and hear from us. We can be that source of refreshment to others.

Let’s be “Refreshers”.

Have a blessed day friends.

Taking Stock

Today, I attended for the first time a breakfast meeting with Christians from all over our region of the Black Country in the West Midlands organised by “Love Black Country”. For those who may not be familiar with the Black Country it is an area outside of Birmingham which takes in the four boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton & Walsall. I myself live and work in the Dudley borough in the town of Stourbridge.

It is an area with a great industrial heritage, rich in coal, iron and other minerals and many specialisms developed in local industries of glass making, iron & steel works, chain making, leather working etc. A little known fact but the chain for the ship Titanic was made in the Black Country in Netherton and the first steam locomotive to run in America was built right here – it was called the “Stourbridge Lion”.

The area has, like other industrial areas, suffered over the years through various recessions and loss of manufacturing jobs etc. and areas within the boroughs have been and are still classed as deprived. However, as Christians we believe in a God who can bring about transformation. The churches in the boroughs have joined together as a network with a vision for transformation of the area through:

Listening to God. Working Together. Pursuing Transformation.”

Their logo is below and you can access their site here to find out more about them and the vision at https://loveblackcountry.org.uk

The Big Breakfast today was the first opportunity for, what I understand was a smaller than usual group, to meet together since the Covid restrictions were implemented and certainly for me was the largest group of people that I have met with for the last 15 months. It was a great time and I’m glad that my friend encouraged me to go – it was a very early start!! There were Christians from all denominations and sizes of churches represented. A great opportunity to meet other believers – we may have some differences in how we do things but we can still come together in unity with a common purpose to see our borough changed by the love of Jesus.

It was a time to remind ourselves how much has changed for Christian fellowships and believers during this time of Covid. A time to take stock. There has been, because of the enforced changes, great innovations and flexibility in delivering church meetings and fellowship online and the opportunities to use new technologies. We were certainly moved out of our comfort zones big time and for many it was a scary time, unsettling and difficult but there were great things achieved for God’s Kingdom. Today was a chance to hear about the experiences of others and reflect on what has happened during this period and thank God for the good things that the Churches were able to do to show God’s love and help their local communities. When people were looking for help they turned to the churches because there already existed a network of volunteers and programmes in place. Many churches were prepared and could connect with other local organisations to facilitate and provide help where it was needed. On line church services became more accessible to those who would not usually have entered a church building.

It was also a time of reflecting on the sad things which have happened – the losses, deaths, times of grief, isolation and difficulties which people have encountered. The speaker talked about us moving into a season of rebuilding and restoration but just as in the time of Nehemiah, it was important to go out and survey and ascertain the true state of the Church. Take stock of the damage. Nehemiah did exactly this. He went out before he did any rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem to inspect and review their actual condition which had been reported to him but he needed to see it for himself. He also wept over their condition. I thought that was a very wise and thought provoking statement. Before going forward it is important to look and assess our true condition and any damage or hurts sustained in this period which sometimes unless it is obvious to us can only truly be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. The hidden cracks in the foundations. It is good to have a time of reflection and assessment of the true state of where we are in God whether that is in the corporate sense or individually.

For some years previously, I had received a number of words and encouragements when praying about being in a season where God was wanting us to move out of our comfort zones.  I know that this resonated with a number of people that I regularly pray and fellowship with. There was a sense that as Christians we had become too comfortable whether that was in our fellowships, in our buildings, in our traditions and programmes. God wanted to shake us out of our comfort zones.  Like the mother bird stirring up her nest and pushing her young out – she does it for their own good – they have to learn to fly and leave the nest. As Christians, God is encouraging us to leave our comfort zones – move out of nests- the place we may have made our security and put our trust Him. He truly knows what is best for us and what will enable us to grow and develop in Him and to reach those who need to encounter Him. Covid has brought about an enforced period of change and this is an opportunity which many people have taken hold of to do just that – they have tried new things, new experiences and taken new risks. They have moved and I believe God wants you to keep moving forward, trying new things in Him and not going back to the familiar ways of doing things. It is certainly a time of change which isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Change will bring about transformation.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Perhaps a day to take stock and reflect.

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

Power in the Presence

This is a beautiful inspiring poem written by a lovely lady called Bee from our church fellowship. She has allowed me the privilege of sharing it on my blog. It really touched my heart and I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you too x

They prayed & laid on hands in love
But the one who held the key
Was the one who came in silence
And sat and cried with me.

He didn’t seek for understanding
He didn’t offer prayer
He just came down into my valley
And waited with me there

No aid was offered nor accepted
To relieve me of my pain
But there was power in his presence
With no judgement, fear or shame.

You say ‘he must have been an angel,
Or even Christ the Lord!’ Believe me –
He was just a man.
Human. Christian. Flawed.

But when he sat beside me
I knew the presence of the Son
For the Spirit dwelt within him
And he let God’s glory come.

I didn’t leave the valley
When he left me for the light
But my faith and hope
Did flicker in the darkness of my night.

I ask God to pull me from the valley
But so far, he has said no.
So I need friends to walk with me
To go where I must go

One day the King will come
Glorious light to end all pain
But still there’s power in the presence
Of the ones who love His Name

B.H.
Jan 2021
Mark 9:24

A Covering of Love

When Adam and Eve sinned and stepped outside of God’s glory, God made a covering of animal skins for them because their nakedness made them vulnerable to their changed environment. They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves but God knew that fig leaves alone would not give them enough covering for warmth and protection.

The ground itself was now cursed because of their sin and disobedience and would bring forth thorns. God gave them a covering to protect them when they left the Garden of Eden and went into that new hostile environment. God knew that Adam and Eve would still need His continued protection. He covered them with His love.

God does the same for us. He covers us with His love. He covers our shame and our sins are covered and washed away forever by the blood of Jesus. An animal had to first die to provide the skins to cover Adam and Eve. Jesus also had to die on the cross as a sacrifice for us to cover our sins. He was the lamb of God who was sacrificed for us. His blood covers us.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”John 1:29

“For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” Isaiah 53:12

Through prayer & love in action we too can also be a covering of love and support for each other. In the body of believers, our pastors and shepherds are a covering for us. We are so blessed to have good shepherds over us. They are responsible for teaching, discipling, supporting and leading us and accountable to God for us. What a responsibility they have. Let us pray for God’s protection, strength, wisdom and grace to cover them.

Families also cover each other. A husband covers his wife. He is to cover her with the same love which Christ has for His church. This is why God’s heart is for widows who have no husband’s covering and He becomes their covering instead. He becomes a husband to them.

For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name— the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5

Parents cover their children with love until it is time for them to step out from under that covering and mature and grow. This is why Gods heart is also for orphans who have no one to parent them. He calls to others to adopt them into their families as God has adopted us as sons and daughters into His family. His love is over them.

We can consider who we are covering today and who is covering us. We cover in love those who God has given and entrusted to us. We cover our brothers and sisters in Christ. When one part of the body suffers the rest suffers with it. We should not expose or cause pain to anyone but love one another in accordance with Gods teaching. We must not be triumphant over those who have erred or wandered from the truth but in a spirit of gentleness seek to restore them. Pull them back from the fire. Let us cover each other with love. Not a love that excuses or hides bad behaviour or sin but a love that also disciplines and corrects. We do not cover sin but we rather expose the works of darkness in the right and Godly way. Speaking the truth in love.

Jesus took our shame and nailed it to His cross. We are all saved by His grace lest any of us should boast. Our hope and assurance is in Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith. Praise God. Let us be holy in all our conduct as He is Holy.

Blessing to you this day in Jesus precious name.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” Genesis 3:7

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. Genesis 3:21

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Romans 4:7-8

My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover over my sin.
Job 14:17

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8