Hello. As promised, here are my last three devotionals, as broadcast on Hope FM Bournemouth last week.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man”. (Proverbs 24:33-34)
I thought I would go off kilter today, with this passage! I really enjoy Proverbs, find it interesting and quirky, as well as relevant to the present times. There are seven deadly sins and one of them is sloth. I have to admit to the sin of sloth; this would have to be my favourite sin! I am admittedly very lazy and extremely fond of my bed. Since retiring from my job two months ago, I have indulged myself with lie-ins, once my husband has gone to work. Oh, I do my duty as a good wife and get up with him, make sure he has his breakfast, doesn’t forget his lunch or his phone. We also have prayer time together every morning. But once that door closes behind him, I frequently give in to going back to bed for “just another hour” which, I’m afraid, usually stretches into two or more..
So this Bible verse always makes me smile when I read it. If I do sleep too much, I feel so guilty for being idle. I know I’ve worked all my life and am entitled to a rest but I am aware that there is so much I could be doing during these wasted hours. I am not, and never have been a morning person, unlike my husband. When he wakes up, he is instantly fresh, alert and ready for the day. It takes me so much longer to come round and feel human.
I regularly apologise to the Lord for this sin and hope and believe He forgives me. When I do eventually join the land of the living, I am willing to serve Him and do what I believe He wants me to do. As I stated recently, I firmly believe it is the duty of all God’s children to share His word with as many people as possible. There are so many ways to do this and of course nobody can do everything but everyone can do something.
One of the ways I do this is to write this blog, which I started back in April, after I had been furloughed from my job. I have always loved writing from being a child and, when I became a Christian, I began a journal of my walk with Christ. My sister suggested that I could share this journal somehow but it just never happened until lockdown, when I realised that I no longer had any excuse not to do it. So my blog was born. I love sharing my testimony and I love remembering what God has done for me.
Another way that I share the gospel is by buying testaments from the Pocket Testament League UK each month and distributing them wherever I get the chance. So far, my husband and I have left them on park benches, on shop shelves, in supermarket trollies, in cafes and pubs, on trains, and even posted them through red post boxes. We live in a block of flats and once bought enough for everyone to have one and simply posted them all into the letterboxes of 30 flats. We don’t know if any lives have been touched by these – for all we know, the testaments could be lying in bins somewhere – but we’re doing this as an act of faith. We’re trusting God to direct these to the people He wants to read them.
One way of serving God is by helping in your church but, at the moment, this isn’t really feasible for a lot of people. Most churches are still not being allowed to open but I’m fortunate, in that mine is now open. As I said earlier, it only has a very small congregation, so it’s relatively easy to social distance. Like every other church, ours always needs people to volunteer for such jobs as cleaning and maintaining the building. In normal times, we have regular members’ meetings, and I usually volunteer to take the minutes. My husband is a very practical man and does a lot of maintenance.
Everyone has different talents and abilities and these are all gifts from God. He gave us the means to carry out His work in all sorts of ways. We also have gifts of the Holy Spirit. Romans 12 mentions such gifts as: prophesying, serving, teaching, encouragement, leadership and mercy. During my time in Poland, as a Christian missionary teacher of English, a lovely American missionary lady told me that my spiritual gift was encouragement, and I was delighted with this statement.
We are such a diverse mix of personalities, skills, abilities and talents. We are all so different but we are all God’s children. Let’s keep working together to add to God’s family.
Dear loving heavenly father Thank you for all the skills and abilities you have gifted us with. Help us to use them to your glory and for your honour. Please keep reminding us that you are the focus and you are what matters in this broken world. Amen
And Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6: 35)
People eat bread to satisfy physical hunger and to sustain physical life. We can satisfy spiritual hunger and sustain spiritual life only by a right relationship with Jesus Christ. This is why He called Himself the bread of life.
Jesus was renowned for feeding the hungry, and many examples of this have been documented in the Bible. Of course, there was the famous five loaves and two fishes story, where 5000 people were fed from this modest amount of food. When Jesus multiplied the bread to feed the crowd, bread became a sign of sharing. It also symbolised the word of God which nourished the crowds. Bread is a gift from God. Moses fed his people in the desert with food which fell from heaven, called manna. During the last supper, bread became the body of Christ, and this is celebrated in Holy Communion in churches on a regular basis. Jesus had a great compassion for the hungry, the under-privileged and the forgotten, and we should be willing to follow his example.
I’ve always been very interested in food and cooking. My first cookery lesson was in my third year at secondary school, when I learned how to make apple crumble. My hapless family were fed this same pudding week after week - until the time I got over-confident and forgot to add the sugar! Enthusiasm waned after that.
I have been collecting cookbooks for many years and have spent lots of happy hours perusing recipes. I am an enthusiastic, but strictly average cook, but that doesn’t stop me. Now I’m retired, I have more time to try out new recipes and they don’t always work out how I imagine they should, but my poor, long-suffering husband never complains. He must sometimes wonder what on earth he will be coming home to, and may well be tempted to call at the chip shop en-route home. But when they do work out – oh, what pleasure and satisfaction it gives me. My favourite thing to cook is definitely soups and I usually make at least one a week. I have my old favourites but love to try different variations but, again, some results are better than others.
It’s good to have so many different ingredients readily available at the shops, and so much fresh produce. We love a trip to local markets to stock up on the best fruit and vegetables, and to buy some organic meat or fresh fish for a treat. But we never forget to thank the Lord for His generosity and we always appreciate everything we have, as a lot of people – even in this country – simply do not have the means to buy a basic meal and feed their children.
That’s where food banks come in and worrying statistics from the Trussell Trust state that as many as one in five of the population live below the poverty line. This project works to tackle food poverty and hunger in local communities and across the UK, and is a lifeline to many people who would otherwise go hungry. Donations of food or essential non-food items can easily be made by placing these things into the designated trolleys at the entrance of all major supermarkets. Cash donations can be made direct to the food banks, or you can volunteer. God wants us to share our resources with the less fortunate, whether it’s money, time or energy. I reckon this is a good way of doing it.
It says in Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered “It is written: man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”
In this case, Jesus had been fasting in the desert and had just been encouraged by Satan to turn stones into bread, to relieve His hunger. In this verse, Jesus rejects that idea and replies that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. He is clearly stating that His physical needs come secondary to His spiritual ones and that God should come first. One interpretation of this is that people need more than material things to truly live. Physical nourishment is not sufficient for a healthy life, as man also has spiritual needs.
Of course, it is easy to quote these verses when your stomach is full. Not everyone is granted that privilege and we are urged to share what we have with people who need our help. But Jesus is also very interested in spiritual food too, and that’s where we, as Christians come in. Once we accept Christ into our lives, we are duty-bound to share the good news with others. We cannot just accept the free gift of salvation and carry on with our lives without trying to include others in the wonderful promises of our loving saviour.
Dear loving heavenly Father Thank you for our daily bread – physical and spiritual. Thank you for providing for our needs and please help us to remember to share with others less fortunate. Please prompt us to share our testimonies with others, so that more people can come into your glorious kingdom. Amen
"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will live with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4
Have you ever wondered what eternity will be like? The New Jerusalem is described as the place where God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. This means there will be no more death, pain, illness or grief. This is a wonderful promise to hang onto, no matter what you are currently going through. These times are not the last word. God has written the final chapter, which is about eternal joy for those who love Him. We may not know as much as we would like, but we do believe that eternity with God will be more wonderful than we could ever imagine.
It’s good to keep this in mind, as the worldwide situation gets worse and seemingly more hopeless. Every day seems to bring an increase in cases of Covid-19, many resulting in death.
Christmas is on the horizon and many people are probably wondering what sort of celebration it will be this year. Gloomy headlines forecast that most areas will be escalated to Tier 3 by then, with bans on mixing households in most areas. Family get-togethers, works nights out, carol services, even shopping trips – all have been dramatically impacted. Is Christmas, as we know it, cancelled?
The resounding answer to this of course is that Christmas is by no means cancelled. We may not be allowed to celebrate it in our old traditional ways but we need to remember that Christmas is essentially about celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, who came to earth in human form to redeem us for our sins, so we can have a loving relationship with God the Father.
I am sure there will still be carol services but these will be online. We can still enjoy these traditional favourites in the comfort of our own homes. Live streaming church services is now a way of life and one of the best things to come out of this crisis. Hopefully, many more people will have the opportunity to hear the real Christmas story, and accept Jesus into their lives.
Christmas has always been about giving. I have already started my Christmas shopping and enjoy anticipating the pleasure my gifts will give to those I care about. But as well as giving gifts to our family and friends, we should not forget those who do not even have the basics. As I mentioned previously, the food banks really need our donations, particularly now. Charities need our money. Let’s ensure we follow Jesus’ example of sharing and caring.
We should always remember that the greatest gift we have received is the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ. But Jesus is not just for Christmas – He’s for life.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8:38-39
I am now going to share a few lines from a prayer on the Christian Aid website.
"For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones
For those who were already very anxious
For those immune-suppressed or compromised
For those vulnerable because of underlying conditions
For those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories
For those watching their entire income stream dry up
For those who have no choice but to go out to work
For those who are afraid to be at home For those who are more lonely than they’ve ever been
For those who are bereaved and grieving God be their healer, comfort and protection.
Be their strength, shield and provision. Be their security, safety and close companion And raise up your church to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet to respond with love in action, even from a safe distance. God in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Stay safe, keep well, and remember God's wonderful promises.