Do Not Worry, Little Flock

It’s a scary world! There are so many things that can make us afraid. Anxious thoughts can destroy our sleeping hours. I’ve worked out that when I wake up each morning there is at least one big worry in my life to cause me anxiety, as well as many small little niggles. To watch television, read the paper or go on social media only makes things worse. I was worried about world conditions as well as my own personal concerns which needed urgent action.

I don’t remember this level of worry when I was younger. Maybe I was less aware of situations. I certainly had more strength and health to cope. It’s probably more true to say that life had been more difficult since covid because the world’s financial and political scene is now more precarious.

I won’t waste paper listing the current problems. Instead I will tell you the answer ‘Christ is the answer to my every need’, says the old hymn. How can we possibly know the answer to life’s problems, we’ve only been around say sixty, seventy or eighty years and sometimes our mental capacities fade. But God has been around for ever, in fact since before the foundation of the world. Plus He is God, omni-present, omniscient, omnipotent and every ‘omni’ you can think of. Why, oh why don’t we give our problems to Him? Why should worry when God is in control?

Limp Hands

It might be theologically wrong but I think the Bible was written 100% by God and 100% by man. The 100% by God would explain the power of the Word, its infallibility and that the words of the book itself are proven by the book itself. The fact that God deigned to use man to pen the words is a wonderful example of God’s partnership with man, for the 100% man-written The language of the day when it was translated gives us some wonderful phrases, as in Zephaniah 3:16, ‘Do not fear, Zion, do not let your hands hang limp.’ Wonderful!

From the content it seems the hands hang limp through fear. Nothing was being done because of overwhelming anxiety. But there are other reasons for limp hands and my thoughts immediately flew to the idea of limp hands through leprosy. The hands are one of the first parts of the body to be affected by this disease, causing the hands to become claw-like and useless. Medical science has made great advances with reconstruction but often the hands are too damaged to become useful.

Another reason can be laziness and idleness. My mother used to tell me ‘Those who don’t work can’t eat.’ With my large appetite, the phrase ensured I was never lazy. Hands can be kind or cruel but the best example of kind hands belong to Jesus, ‘Jesu’s hands were kind hands.’ the chorus tells us. Lord, we pray, keep us from limp hands for whatever reason..

God Has the Final Word

It is a lovely time in Acts 12 when Peter is freed from goal, but it was what we read afterwards which I found equally interesting. Herod was furious that Peter had escaped and ordered the guards to be executed. That was unfortunate, but I suppose it was a hazard of the job! Herod then settled down, moved on to Caesarea and made a few peace treaties, though all was not well in his life with disagreements with Tyre and Sidon.

We read that on the appointed day Herod put on his best robes to look the part and addressed the people with full pomp and circumstance, sitting on his magnificent throne. ‘It is the voice of a god, not of man,’ the people cried. Then because Herod didn’t give the praise to God, he was struck down and died in a terrible way.

When we dispair that wicked people are ‘getting away with it.’, we need to remember that God always has the final word. I love the last sentence of this story, ‘But the word of the Lord continued to spread and flourish.’

Answered Prayer

‘Whoever has ears, let him hear.’ Matthew 11:15

Do we miss the answers to our prayers because we do not listen? Do we miss God’s miracles because our requests are met in an unexpected way and we don’t recognise them? We know that God answers prayer in His own unique way but we sometime out-guess God and work out our own answers in the way we think they should go.

I can imagine the early church praying all night for Peter’s release from prison. Some of us will have been involved in such all-night prayer. But are we like Rhoda, missing the miracle when it happens? We could judge Rhoda and wonder why she was surprised when, that was what she had been praying for all night. But have we acted any differently? Rhoda must have had a busy night, looking after everyone’s needs and snatching a prayer when she could. Then someone knocks on the door in the middle of the night. She could have done without that. I can imagine Peter standing at the closed door, cold, tired, dirty just wanting his nightmare to be over.

Do we look for answers to our prayers in the wrong place. We should never be surprised. We know God is a prayer-answering God. He is also the God of the unexpected. His ways are not our ways.

His Authority

When I read the stories in the Bible I often imagine I’m right there in the middle of the action – crossing the Red Sea with the children of Israel, with Elijah at Mount Carmel or listening to the teaching of Jesus. But my imagination can flounder as my Biblical knowledge is limited. Thinking about the crowds with Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000 , I don’t know enough about their foods, their clothes or habits. Also as a woman I might well have been working in the home and not out listening to Jesus anyway.

Then another thought occurs, would I have been a skeptic or a follower of Jesus. In His day there were those who hung on His every word. His life transformed theirs as they tried to obey His commands. Then there were those who vocally and viciously condemned Him on every score.

It is no different today. There is a remnant who listen to His word, who believe that He the Son of God and have the authority that He gives While others deny and are opposed to the power of God. When I think of what my response would be have been I take heart. The Holy Spirit has crept into my stubborn heart now. By His power I am a follower, His word is written in my heart. Therefore I believe that if I’d lived in Palestine in the days of Jesus, I too would have been a believer, again by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For Ever and Ever

‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ Luke 23:43

The words of Jesus on the cross to the guilty criminal have been repeated as words of encouragement throughout the ages. They have been said to sinners seeking salvation, they have been uttered to those who feel they have no hope. We know that as Christians when we die these words will be true for us as well.

As I read the story again this morning, I was struck by a new thought. That dying thief has been in paradise ever since. If he returned to our world today he wouldn’t recognise it. In 2,000 years, in every country there have been unbelievable changes. Cases of crucifixion are very rare today, we now fly through the air like birds and hear our friends through our ear even when we can’t see them.

Yet that thief has no less time in heaven than when he first went there, he has no less time or more time. The word ‘time’ will be obsolete, it will lose it’s meaning. As I write this I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve looked at the time notification on my desk top. In heaven the phrase ‘at the end of the day’ will not exist. we’ve got for ever and ever there. I can’t comprehend it.

Do Not Worry

just imagine the scene, a sudden squall arising on the lake with darkening skies and increasing winds. Impetuous Peter had plunged into the water to meet his Master. Then things began to look dangerous, he wasn’t walking on the water, he was drowning in it. Then Jesus stretched out His hand and gripped hold of Peter’s. As skin touched skin Peter was held tight; he was safe.

For us to have the same experience we don’t need to plunge into freezing water, life throws up enough problems of it’s own. I sometimes think that human beings are programmed to worry, because there are even times when we worry because we have nothing to worry about.

As I was waiting for medical tests and then for the results, I worried. Was it a big problem or was it nothing at all? In my head I thought about every ensuing scenario. The answer to my worry was in the Bible. Someone has researched out how many times we are told in the Bible not to worry. God knows that there are times in our lives which will be hard. He knows we will need these encouragements. As our hand is grasped in the hand of God, may we remember ‘Do not fear, for I am with you.’

Washed Clean

Some of us are very respectable Christians; by that I mean we put on a holy veneer. When I ask fellow Christians, ‘How are you.’ The reply I often get is, ‘I’m fine.’ Yet I know that they’re not actually fine. I realise that like myself they have problems. Some of their troubles I might know about and others i don’t. I wonder why we Christians have this veneer of respectability.’ Even as Christians we can’t always cope.

We can’t treat God in that way. He knows all about the ‘un-fine’ parts of our lives. He knows things about us that we could never share with anyone. It’s not possible to hide anything from Him. He even knows what we’re going to say ‘before a word is on our lips.’ How much more knowing is it possible to be? There is no point in being respectable with God.

Then comes the wonderful part. He knows all the bad parts about us and yet still loves us unconditionally. Although we weren’t with the disciples in Biblical times Jesus still washes our feet today. Metaphorically speaking , our feet are dirty and scarred, having trudged through the filth, deceit and lies of this world. There is nothing to commend us to God, yet His love for us is infinite. We have all walked places we should not have been. None of this lessens His love. So like Peter, we can say,’ Not only my feet but my whole body.’


My Christian writing group was meeting at my new home for the first time. None of the members had been to mine before so I tried to make the travelling directions as easy as possible. Whether they were coming by bus or car I sent them a little map I’d drawn myself. I also suggested that people used their SatNav or downloaded Google Earth. At the last moment I found some bunting I had and draped it on my bushes. I wanted people to feel welcome.

I’m pleased to say everyone found my home easily and we had a pleasant afternoon. But it made me think about the welcome we will receive into heaven. The time is coming for all of us when we will be standing at the gates of heaven. Having left this earth we will be battered and bruised, worn and weary. Like my visitors we won’t have been there before. It is a moment we have reflected on and waited for. Will there be bunting out in our honour?

Having read the story of the Prodigal Son, we can imagine the welcome that our Heavenly Father will have for us. Our time on earth will have seemed long as we wait, but it is only a blink in the Father’s eye. The last steps to the heavenly gate might have been extra difficult. But as we arrive the angels will be rejoicing and the welcome will be ‘out of this world’! By His grace alone we will have countered all the schemes of the devil. The welcome will be far more than a strip of bunting!

Who Is It?

“After days of turmoil and anguish we went back to what we did best. Returning to the boat and fishing together gave us a sense of stability.The breeze on our faces and the smell of the salt in the air was a feeling of normality. Not that we were being very successful, labouring all night with very little to show for it. As dawn was breaking a man was walking along the shore-line and as often happened gave us some advice.

‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some,’ he cried. We had nothing to lose, so we tried and suddenly we were hauling in over a hundred fish. In spite of working flat out John managed to look back to the shore and excitedly called out, ‘It is the Lord.’ As we looked ourselves we realised it indeed was Jesus. There He was on the beach making a fire to cook our fish on.

Peter, impulsive as ever, threw himself into the sea and waded to the shore. It was left to the rest of us to do the hard work and pull the bulging nets onto the beach. No fish ever taster better or conversation sweeter. The birds sang chirpier and the rising sun was brighter that morning. Our Lord was back with us.”