Stress and God

Being dyslexic, I find it difficult to type at any reasonable speed. Therefore, I have relied upon text-to-speech software for many years. 

These last few months, I had to purchase a new PC as my old one was over 15 years old and not working well. 

I had text-to-speech recognition installed software on the old computer, which I use for all my writing. But, unfortunately, the software had been lost and could not be reinstalled on my new computer because it was too old for windows 11.

That is when I discovered that windows 11 has software within the package. How delighted I am to write once again with dictation, and now I’ll be able to write more personal and reflective blogs.

Stress that is Destructive

I have always found typing stressful, and text-to-speech eliminates the stress altogether. It is just like sitting down and talking to you as if you were here with me in a normal conversation. The window is 11 Software package speech-to-text, which is very accurate and ended up only taking 5 minutes to adjust to my voice.

 The software only misses some words because of my Australian accent; however, overall it is very good.

Stress is a terrible thing. But, unfortunately, one of the blights of humanity is stress. We get ‘stressed out when we don’t achieve our plans for the day, or what we think we deserve, or when things go wrong. We’re a living contradiction. We are our worst enemy, working at cross purposes against our best interest. We want meaning, purpose, and peace of mind.

 Stress may affect our mind-body-soul connection, which may cause us to be socially withdrawn. When were highly stressed it is far easier not to be in the company of others, and be with oneself with one’s own thoughts. 

This is important to be solitary from time to time; however, to make a lifestyle of it will only guarantee loneliness and despair. Sometimes we live our complete life every minute of every day under great stress that we’re so used to the feeling of struggle that we accept it as normal. 

However, it is not normal, and that is why 1 Peter 5:7 encourages us to cast everything upon him because JESUS cares for us. The as he and other passages in the Bible indicate to us that the lord does not want us to be stressed out simply because it is not typical for any of us, whether we are believers or not, to live a stressful life.    New International Version

  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 

Pleasure Relieves Stress

 Pleasure is a good thing, and we need to have some fun; however, it’s not the be-all, end-all that we imagine it to be, and we become disappointed with our life and can’t put our finger on why. But, again, it’s about expectations; we become stressed when they are unmet.

 For example, when we are having fun, and the pleasure we feel comes to an end, we want to chase after it, trying to create familiar feelings of joy. Sometimes we try to recreate experiences at a considerable cost to ourselves; we try to convert momentary pleasure into something permanent.  

When life goes wrong, we try to fix it by increasing the feel-good factor and striving to make it stay with us, but we can’t do it. So, when we are stressed, we search for ways to make ourselves happy, often unwisely.

 No matter how hard we try, we cannot make what is temporal permanent or make what is imagined real.    

We can’t get back our loved one who is gone, the job that fell through our fingers or even the children who have become adults and their lives absent from us.   

 Also, it’s worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its devastating toll, and we will never get back what we lost.  

Faith and Mindfulness

Several hundred years ago, along with other religions, Christianity began engaging the West in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.    

Although it was not named as such, that is precisely what it is; the aim, objective, and results are the same. In mindfulness practice, if one removes the idea of God, it still works. However, I prefer to still relate to God mindfully because it helps me to focus my mind, body, and spiritual person.

In its purest form, mindfulness is simply trust/faith in God’s ability to help you through whatever it is you are experiencing.   

 Faith is for the Now- Amplified Bible

 Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed) and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].

Mindfulness is also in the NOW.    It is about appreciating what is right in front of you- NOW.

And faith is trusting in God Now- not tomorrow that is hope- faith is NOW

The World Borrows God’s Ways.

Science is Good because God invented it. However, it’s such a shame that today the creator- God is taken out of the equation. The scientific evidence of the success of mindfulness in enhancing human life is overwhelming, and for those interested in their wellness, we cannot ignore it.    

Various professional disciplines and social movements, such as medicine and health care, psychology and brain science, and education at all levels, the law, business, leadership, and much more, enhance their practice by inserting mindfulness into their daily routine.

 Today’s mainstream medicine is developing an ever-growing interest in mindfulness-based intervention, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).    

We can practice mindfulness for peace of mind and to relieve a wide range of chronic medical conditions.   

 It is much like snowmelt flowing inevitably downhill from a high mountain source, flowing around obstacles, finding many pathways under the gentle tug of gravity, and ultimately merging into significant river systems. The gravitational pull promises liberation from suffering and the potential safe harbour. 

The Whole Person

Christians often forget that we are holistic beings of mind, body and spirit, and God ministered to the whole person. Therefore, as humans, we need to prepare for spiritual awakening to embody well-being, greater wisdom, and wise action in our individual lives.

  In other words, mindfulness can become a normal and natural way to live your life, and the feeling of well-being is inevitable. Living a mindful life as Jesus Christ did would not end our frustrations but the beginning of successfully managing them. 

Jesus gave us the answer to our stress and said don’t chase after things that are here today and gone tomorrow, but rather, strive for eternal things. Eternal things are more satisfying, like top-quality peace, joy, and love, that only God can supply. Mindfulness can help us to pursue eternal things naturally and consistently by focusing on the NOW.

Trying to hold onto relationships or things that are gone will leave you stressed and keep you grieving for as long as you hold onto them. All human relationships, albeit long-term, are temporal and subject to the joys and pains of this life; our lives are so fragile and short. 

  The only permanent relationship that is forever is a relationship with God offered to us through Jesus Christ.  

In my work, I aim to empower others with education and motivation to help them make a purposeful and happy life in Jesus’s love.    

In addition, I enjoy helping you to set holistic wellness goals and provide resources, helping you determine which changes would make the most significant impact on your life.

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful.

Please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests.

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

 Paula Rose Parish💕

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 ✔BOOKS BY PAULA available at AMAZON in the UK, USA, Aust; 

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 📚Psalm 23 Unwrapped: Hope in difficult times. 

🖤Want to help support me as an author?

 ✔BOOKS BY PAULA available at AMAZON in the UK, USA, Aust;

📚Nothing Good about Grief: Path to recovery with Psalm 23 after COVID-19 & other losses.

 📚Psalm 23 Unwrapped: Hope in difficult times.

PILGRIMAGE AND A PATTERN OF FAILURE

Exodus 16:2-4 New International Version

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way, I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Photo by Alex Azabache on Pexels.com

I once flew over the Sinai Desert and looking down upon it, conjured up in my mind a picture of miles of sandy desert with rolling sand dunes here and there. However, I came to learn that the reality is very different.  There are miles and miles of red-brown rock, rising into hills and mountains with unexpected plateaux and occasional caves.

The Sinai can be very cold, bleak, inhospitable, and terrifying. Yet in another way, it is beautiful and magnetic. It drew the desert fathers there too fast and pray. It houses St Katharine’s monastery with its wonderful library and its green oasis garden. It attracts coach loads of tourists, driving up the roads made during the Israeli occupation of Egypt after the Nine-Day War. It is also the scene of the wonderful story which forms the basis of the Jewish faith and creed and the rock-like foundation of the Christian salvation history.

John Rogerson, the Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, states in his book ‘The Old Testament World’ that the history of Israel begins with Israel.

That is, it begins with an association of tribes that were occupying the Samaria and Bethel Hills and possibly part of Lower Galilee around 1230 BC. The history of Israel can be reconstructed by scholars based on a variety of evidence.

The narratives about Israel’s history in the Old Testament belong to an ancient category of writing. Although they have an interest in Israel’s past, their main purpose is religious. They are concerned to tell the story of Israel as the people of God and so they show how God brought these people into being and blessed, punished, exiled, and restored them.

So, they did not just describe Israel’s actual history. They describe its full sacred and saving meaning. They choose a story about the tribes of Israel after leaving Egypt and wandering around for some years before they settled.

It is this story of escape, wandering, failures rescued, and forgiveness, set in the bleak Sinai Peninsula, which becomes the core of the salvation history of both Jews and Christians.

 It gives us a basic theme of pilgrimage and a pattern of failure, forgiveness and a new start because of the overwhelming love and forgiveness of a righteous but amazingly loving God.

EXODUS THE BOOK OF FREEDOM

In the book of Exodus, we learn how the people are freed from Egypt but then go wandering through the terrible wilderness moaning and groaning as they went. 

Moses pointed out to them that Your complaining is not against me but against the Lord, but he still intercedes to God for them.    

This is a story of God feeding his people in the wilderness and is picked up by the writer of the fourth Gospel in the reading we had from that book.   Ephesians 4.11-16.

The other three Gospels set the story of the institution of Holy Communion within their account of the last supper. This meal may or may not have been a Passover meal, but it was certainly eaten at Passover time and its significance is undergirded by the story of the escape from Egypt when the angel of death passed over the houses on which the blood was smeared, and the Hebrews were allowed to leave by the grief-stricken Pharaoh whose son had died.

As death passed over the Hebrews, so the followers of Jesus would escape from punishment and the fear of death because of his own death by which he conquered death.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

THE BREAD OF LIFE

Its deep meaning could only be understood in the light of the new covenant of his blood and his followers must share in the bread and wine, the body and blood, to gain strength and courage for their own pilgrimage through life.

 In his sequence of events, Jesus died on the cross as the Passover lamb was being slain and the emphasis is on love, service, sacrifice, death, and salvation. The gospel of John’s reading gives us the teaching about Jesus being the bread of our lives.

Jesus had fed the five thousand and then sent his small band of disciples in a boat across the lake while he prayed.

Later he terrified them by walking on the water towards them.  Once they had crossed the lake they were again met by crowds, whom Jesus fed once more with loaves.

Jesus called upon his followers to work for the food that lasted by believing that God sent him. They asked for a sign as their ancestors had received manna in the wilderness. Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He promised that Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.

This saying I am the bread of life is one of John’s presentations of the I am sayings of Jesus.   Other examples are I am the good shepherd, I am the true vine, etc.

These sayings may not be original, but they are the means by which the Gospel writer here draws out the deep meaning and significance for Christians of what Jesus did and spoke. In his own way, he is teaching the followers of Jesus that the source and sustenance for their whole life pilgrimage lie- in Jesus.

Christians can live their whole lives in the presence of God by believing in Jesus Christ, following his teaching, praying, reading, meditating on his words, and feeding on his body and blood in Holy Communion.

This teaching of John was not just for Christians two thousand years ago. It is for everybody now- for you and for me.

Our lives here are nothing less than a pilgrimage of growing into God’s image, modelling ourselves on Jesus in whom the fullness of God’s image dwells. We are to grow up into Christ.

Just as the Israelites wandered through the Sinai wilderness while they learnt their lessons as a community, we are called upon to do this as members of a community – the Christian community into which all are called.

DO THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY

The letters to the Ephesians are addressed to the community of Christians in Ephesus- the body of Christ in that place. It is as members of that community, sharing their gifts, learning from each other, speaking the truth to one another, assessing, commenting, and supporting each other to live out their lives and grow into the body of Christ. To do the work of the ministry, to Speak the truth in love, we must grow up in every way unto him.

This is your call and mine. As members of the body of Christ where you live and beyond. Wherever we are set, we have this wonderful call to work together and grow to be more like Christ.

But of course, we do this not for ourselves but for God and God’s world.

For the salvation of souls, we are to be a living example and be open and ready to welcome everybody and draw them into the community of God’s love.

What a calling!

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful.

If it was, please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests.

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

 Paula Rose Parish💕

🖤Want to help support me as an author?

 ✔BOOKS BY PAULA available at AMAZON in the UK, USA, Aust;

📚Nothing Good about Grief: Path to recovery with Psalm 23 after COVID-19 & other losses.

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Christ is King!

Luke 23: 3-43

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

  1. Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

IS CHRIST KING?

In preparing for this service, I thought it would be interesting to see what other preachers in other churches have to say about Christ the |King. So, I read some sermons on the internet and quickly found a general sense of awkwardness about the idea of Christ as a King, which seems to have two sources. One is political, the other anti-monarchical.   

Many Christians seem to be naturally on the left politically. As we have seen in recent months, this country has become increasingly republican and anti-monarchical. 

The past leader of the Labour Party UK, Jeremy Corbyn, refused to sing the National Anthem or to kneel before the sovereign. There are plenty of people in the Church who share these views. 

I used to work with a URC  minister who was very anti-Royalty. In a sermon, he admitted that he disliked royalty so much he would leave the country to avoid a coronation. He also thought we should celebrate ‘Christ as a democratically-elected President’ rather than ‘Christ the King’, and attested that Jesus was a pure communist.

Whatever view we hold, whatever happens on this wordy plane, monarchy or not, our Jeremiah reading looks forward to the day when Christ is King of heaven and earth, and justice will reign forever.

Jeremiah 23: 3-6

“I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will raise up for David (who was a King)  a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely, and do what is just and right in the land.


In his days Judah will be saved
    and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Saviour

JESUS’ KINGLINESS WAS ALWAYS EVIDENT

In the gospels, the life of Jesus is framed by kingship. At his Nativity, three kings are seeing the newborn King of the Jews. And at the Crucifixion, the notice hammered onto the top of his cross ironically echoes the same unfulfilled promise – ‘This is Jesus, King of the Jews.’ 

What kind of King begins his earthly life in a stable and ends it as the victim of a cruel public execution? His reaction to whether he was a king is, at least to Pilate, elusive. ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ demands Pilate in John’s Gospel. ‘My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight so I should not be delivered to the Jews“.

Here is Jesus the friend of the poor, the non-political figure who proclaimed that every human being is equal in God’s sight. 

Jesus, the rebel who defied authority and overthrew the money changers’ tables in the temple. 

Jesus, born in a stable, entered Jerusalem on a donkey and died the death of a common criminal for our salvation.

This Jesus, who promised the thief hanging next to him that he would be in paradise with him.

But Christ has not always been thought of as a king. In the first century, you wouldn’t find any representations of Christ in physical form at all, but only in signs – groups of letters. Or the sign of the fish. Other early representations are of Christ as the lamb, the true vine, and the Good Shepherd – but not a King.

To the early Christians, the King was the Emperor of Rome, a figure of worldly power who persecuted them, martyred them, and forced them to worship false gods. So, it would have been strange for them to think of Jesus as resembling a Roman Emperor – a King. 

So instead, they imagined Jesus as more like themselves: the suffering servant who was obedient even till death and surrounded themselves with images of the lamb, the dove, the vine, the fish, and the shepherd.

WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED

It was in the 4th century when Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity and the image of Jesus as King.

The head (Pontiff) of the Church, Jesus Christ, and the Emperor shared majesty in a typical ‘maiestas‘. The figure of worldly power, the emperor, and the figure of Christ the King were merged into one.

Now, this is a very interesting moment in the history of the Christian Church. But, first, Jesus clarified that he wasn’t a king and never sought worldly authority.

 But in the 4th century, Emperor Constantine, the most potent King on earth, not only legalised Christianity but became himself a Christian. The spread of Christianity between the time of Constantine and 600 AD is astonishing and the map of the Christian world began to resemble an empire.  

Though Christ Himself refused to be a King, the earthly kings protected and spread his gospel by acting on His behalf. The religion of the powerless became the religion of the powerful.

CHRIST THE KING

The important thing to remember is that Christ the King was not introduced by the early Church to promote or support worldly authority but to challenge it, where it is unjust, divided, and discriminatory. It was hoped that the kings of the earth would live by the example of Christ.

The image of Christ in majesty is an image of authority, but the authority of the dove, shepherd, lamb, and vine denotes love and peace and justice. 

The image of Christ as King stands as universal, inclusive, merciful, reconciling, and more loving than any earthly Kingship can ever be.

COLOSSIANS 1:15-20

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

 16 For in him all things were created. Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities have been created through him and for him. 

17 He is before all things; in him, all things hold together.

 18 And he is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that he might have supremacy in everything. 

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 

20 and through him, he reconciles to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

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Comfort and Hope Come Through Grace.

Luke 20:27-38 https://www.bible.com/bible/1/LUK.20.27-38.KJV8

2 Thess 2:13-17 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Thessalonians%202%3A13-17&version=NIV

                     “And no one dared to ask him any more questions.”

That must have come as a great relief to Jesus in that he had lately been pummelled with one tricky query after the next. 

If ever there was a group of people who were invested in the so-called “Gotcha” kind of question, the religious authorities of Jesus’ day were it. 

FIRSTLY, The point that is made here is with just 2 brothers marrying the same woman, but just for effect, the Sadducees crank up the scenario to seven grooms for one woman, which alludes to an OT story. 

This scenario is almost childish.  It’s the kind of thing my kids would have done when they were about 9 years old, exaggerating the point just to get your attention.  

The purpose of the Sadducee’s question was to mock Jesus.

 If you think that someone has silly ideas or a stupid stance on a given issue, then one way to reveal your opinion is to construct an absurd scenario and try to force the other person to enter it while trying to answer your question.  It’s a sinful thing to do, and it’s unfair.  

The Sadducees thought the idea of resurrection to be foolish.

Since Jesus was a prominent teacher, they thought it would be fun and instructive to publicly humiliate him and so they invented their over-the-top scenario that exploited the old Israelite practice of marriage.

Jesus, of course, wriggles out of the question by challenging its entire premise.  

The Sadducees wanted to make resurrection look senseless by showing the impracticality of what to do with people who had been married more than once in this life.  

Jesus simply challenges them that marriage as we now know it has nothing to do with life in the kingdom of God.

 Essentially Jesus said, “Whoever told you marriage would be part of life in a post-resurrection existence?”  That left the Sadducees with egg on their faces.

SECONDLY, In preaching on this text, there is a temptation to make it some kind of textbook on sexuality and marriage in the kingdom of God.  It seems likely, however, that if we make too much of Jesus’ words here on marriage in the kingdom, we will be guilty of the error of the Sadducees all over again.  

That is, we will believe things that are not explicitly taught.  We are probably better off saying no more than what Jesus teaches here, which is that we should not assume that life in the kingdom of God will be just like life here.  

Yes, there is good biblical evidence for the idea that the kingdom will include a new earth and so we should not always envision heaven (as we tend to do) as some ghostly, non-physical domain that will be devoid of mountains, rivers, clouds, and songbirds.

But even so, we need to remember that the mysteries are yet to be revealed. We need to understand exactly what our bodies and being will be like in the life to come, which is not clear.

 What we need to be content with, is the line in Luke 20:36 where Jesus reminds us that we will be “God’s children” in that life to come.  And if that is not enough for us, I don’t know what would be!

                                       “And no one dared ask him any more questions.”

It probably was a relief for Jesus to get to that point. 

Thirdly,         2 Thess 2:13-17 This is where God grounds us.

Paul reminds us that God loves us. God has given us eternal comfort and good hope through grace. Paul prays for “eternal comfort” and “good hope”. This comfort is unbreakable, and from eternity past to forever more. What will be in the future- will be and we can’t alter it.

But here and now- Our hope is in God’s promise to save and glorify us in the resurrection with Christ. God is good on his promises. This hope is certain, sure and it is true. We can rest on it. This comfort and hope come through grace.

We rest on God’s grace towards undeserving sinners. We have comfort even in the attack of chaos because God’s grace is behind our salvation.

We have a sure hope of God completing his salvation because God’s grace is behind it.

LASTLY,

If you wondered how you are going to stand firm all the way, remember that it is by God’s grace, we have no hope in ourselves….. HC…….

We will hold fast. The resurrection is by God’s grace… Paul is most concerned with our hearts. He prays for us to be divinely comforted and established in good works. We too can pray this way today, that our hearts are comforted by God, and we be used for every good work and word by God to the glory of Christ.

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful.

If it was, please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests.

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

 Paula Rose Parish💕

🖤Want to help support me as an author?

 ✔BOOKS BY PAULA available at AMAZON in the UK, USA, Aust;

📚Nothing Good about Grief: Path to recovery with Psalm 23 after COVID-19 & other losses.

 📚Psalm 23 Unwrapped: Hope in difficult times.

Sowing Seeds of Hope, Love, and Faith.

Christ calls us to take the Gospel to everyone––even to sinners such as the woman at the well––and to witness to Christ as the woman did after her encounter with Jesus. Jesus demonstrates His care for all, regardless of their social standing. We can also be inspired by the Samaritan woman’s excitement in sharing the good news of Jesus

SCRIPTURE:  John 4:5-42   

Having moved into my own home, I used my holidays to decorate and sort the small courtyard behind my house. I love trees. In the suburb where I grew up in Australia, the streets in my suburb were utterly tree-less; however, many were planted in people’s back gardens. I think there are not many trees because of the scarcity of water, and trees need lots of water. Local councils didn’t want the residents to waste their water, particularly during times of drought, for those who did, were issued heavy fines. So, when I came to Wales Uk to live, I was so pleased to see the trees everywhere!

I bought a house in Wales, where I am surrounded by beautiful Parks, a river, mountains lined with trees, and a sandy beach.

I love trees and enjoy looking at them, so I bought two big pots and a lot of potting soil, bought a cherry tree and an apple tree, and planted them. New buds form within a few days, and fruit appeared after 3 years. I am looking forward to them producing some fruit for me in years to come. I chose cherry because cherries are expensive to buy in the shops, and I really enjoy cherries, and they’ve got very high antioxidant properties being a dark fruit. Usually, apples are easy to grow, and I can do all sorts of things with apples like apple pie, sauce, and much more an added bonus, apples are very high in vitamin C. Then I got thinking about apples and cherries because they have seeds.    

SEEDS AND NEW LIFE   

A traditional gift for a teacher from the student is an apple. Think about a good teacher that you may have had. A good teacher plant seeds of ideas in our thinking and helps us explore those ideas, and they explain things to us in an exciting way. A good teacher is a teacher because they love to teach and want to help the student be all they can be and pursue a successful future.

Most teachers never know what the results of their teaching will be. It takes many years for the student to mature and become an adult. During that time, they will discover their interests and talents and decide how to use them. A good teacher plants a seed, in their student’s mind, and years later, others will see the results of that teacher’s work, and the teacher may never know the outcome of their student’s life. 

WE ALL HAVE A PURPOSE IN THIS LIFE – John 4:5-42

Jesus talks about this idea in (4:37)- He says, “One sow and another reaps” – one person plants the seed, and another person may harvest the fruit. So, when we say something helpful to another person or do something kind, it is planting a seed of God’s love. 

We may never know the result; we may never know the outcome of that planted seed. However, we can be sure that there will be a good result when we work with God’s love. This is what we are focusing on in this text today: Sowing Seeds of hope, love, and faith.

JESUS AND THE OUTSIDERS

Briefly looking at the context, we find that Jews had little to do with Samaritans. Ever felt like an outsider? I have many times. Jews considered Samaritans as outsiders who hold little worth.

Samaritans were hated so much by the Jews that they tended to avoid even travelling through Samaria. But Jesus didn’t share this hatred towards Samaritans. He travelled from Judea to Galilee to go through Samaria rather than bypassing it. He was not trying to save time, but Jesus continually sought out the outcasts, the outsider of society––the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers, all those who were considered to have little worth. Jesus loves all people regardless of how others may devalue a certain section of society, Jesus accepts them.

THE WOMAN AT THE WELL

Travelling left Jesus exhausted, and hot and he needed a rest and a drink of water. So, when Jesus came to a little town in Samaria he stopped at the local well for a drink. As Jesus approached the well, he discovered a lone woman drawing water.

Usually, women came to the well in the mornings and evenings, but this woman came at noon. It was very hot at noon, but she was alone at the well and free to draw water without ridicule. But today, a strange man approached. It was not suitable for men to converse with women in this culture. The rule was,

 “Let no man talk with a woman in the street, no, not even with his wife.”

Jesus spoke and ministered to the woman and in doing so, he was getting rid of old Jewish prejudices and rivalries that were held against the Samaritan people.  Jesus addressed the discrimination of women, particularly toward women who were regarded as sinners. God is spirit, so our worship cannot be confined to a particular place or a particular people. God is everywhere, so He can be worshipped everywhere by all people. True worship is an affair of the heart.

WOMAN MATTER

After the conversation with Jesus, the Samaritan woman left her water jar at the well and excitedly ran into the city to tell the people there of her conversation with Jesus. “Come, see a man who told me everything I did. Can this be the Christ?” (v. 29).  Many people “believed in Jesus BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF THE WOMAN” (v. 39). How amazing! In that time and place, people didn’t take a woman’s word very seriously. 

Until Jesus came along, this woman was practically invisible; no one would have sent her into town as their spokeswoman. But her contact with Jesus transformed her life and status in the community. The people heard her and said, “You are right. This is the saviour of the world” (the meaning of v. 42).

SOULS MATTER

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said: ‘Go for souls and go for the worst’.

 That’s what Jesus did when he turned this so-called outcast into a well-received evangelist. 

Jesus planted seeds of hope, love, and faith in her heart, and she received them, and she let those seeds grow to where she acted and shared her story.

 Jesus does that. He changes people’s lives, and we do that too, we are seed planters, and if God wishes, we help to grow those seeds by protecting and nurturing them – and we may or may not see the final result.

Jesus especially loves to help outcasts because they most need help, and so should we.

 The late Billy Graham said:

“Jesus stopped dying on the cross long enough to answer the prayer of a thief. 

 He stopped in a big crowd one day because a WOMAN touched the hem of His garment,

 and He’ll stop to touch your life, change you, and forgive you – that’s Good News”!

CHURCH MATTERS

As the church, we are Christ’s hands for service in this world, and he uses you and me to do his work, to change people’s lives: How?

   • We plant the seeds of Christ each time we CARE;

   • We plant the seeds of Christ each time we LISTEN;

   • We plant the seeds of Christ each time we REACH OUT;

   • We plant the seeds of Christ each time we TOUCH EACH OTHER IN LOVE.

A quote from John Wesley “The Church has nothing else to do but to save souls; therefore, be devoted to this work. It is your business to bring as many sinners as possible to repentance”.

This week let us resolve to allow God to plant seeds of hope, faith, and love to fill us with His Spirit so we might plant the same seeds in the life of others.

Let us pray that we will touch lives with seeds of hope, love, and faith this week and see the transforming love of Christ in action!

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful.

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 Paula Rose Parish💕

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The importance of Remembering in November

Welcome to November, which seems to be the month for remembering. We observe All Saints Day, Remembrance Sunday, The Sunday of Christ the King, and the First Sunday of Advent this month.

For all of us, November is a chance to remember with thankfulness those whom we have influenced our lives towards faith in Christ, in all saints. Lets us remember Christ as King of the universe, and over our lives, also the first advent when God came to live among us in Jesus Christ.

And, of course, there is also our national act of Remembrance-on-Remembrance Sunday. 

As the mother of two sons who served in the Royal Marines and two tours in the Iraqi war, I never fail to be moved as I see poppies displayed in Churches and on cenotaphs, which brings me great pride in my son’s courage and commitment to their country. However, it also brought feelings of dread in me, and an uncertain future for them.

Remembrance is more poignant in our own day as the reality of war and its human cost is again apparent. There will be services at war memorials and churches across the UK. Let’s remember those who died fighting to protect us and bring peace and justice to our world, and we pray for those serving in our Armed Forces today.

Memories and remembering are central parts of our personalities and character and, in many ways, makeup part of who we are. So being remembered is very important to us, and the thought that we might be forgotten can be heart-breaking.

 I often read these verses from Isaiah to people who are feeling lost and abandoned for any reason or who are grieving the passing of years, which means that all those whom they knew and loved and who held the memories of them as younger people have died:

God says, “‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16a)

For believers and followers of Jesus Christ, the most significant act of remembering is when we come together to remember in bread and wine the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

Jesus was willing to sacrifice himself on the cross to conquer the power of sin, which is eternal death – on our behalf. For Christian believers, the ultimate expression of self-giving love at the heart of God is when Christ’s hands were marked by the nails of the cross for our freedom.

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Thank you for visiting me hereI hope this post was helpful. 

If it was, please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests. 

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post! 

 Paula Rose Parish💕 

The Inexhaustible Love of Jesus Christ

 

Luke 19: 1-10   

When you were a child, did you sing this song in Sunday school? I never went to Sunday school regularly so I didn’t know this song at all.

It’s a catchy tune, and children seem to love it.

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, A wee little man was he, 

He climbed up in a sycamore tree For the Lord he wanted to see. 

And as the Saviour passed that way, He looked up in the tree, 

And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down, For I’m going to your house today, For I’m going to your house today.” 

Folk tells me they loved that song and found the thought of a wee little man amusing. 

We loved it, in part, because the wee little man–small like us–was the hero of the story. 

They sang about the “wee little man,” we held our thumb and forefinger about an inch apart to show how small he was. 

it is an amusing, happy story:

  • Amusing, because it involves a short but rich man climbing a tree to see Jesus. 
  • Happy, because it shows Jesus welcoming this man whom nobody else liked.  It says that Jesus saved him–brought salvation to his house–restored him to be a son of Abraham. 
  • And it is also a happy story because of the last verse.  In the last verse of the story, Jesus talks about you and me.  Listen to what he says: 

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (v. 10). 

That’s you.  That’s me.  We were lost.  Jesus came to save us. 

Of course, in this story, Jesus was referring to Zacchaeus, who was lost.  Zacchaeus was a tax collector and was probably dishonest.  People hated him.

If we needed reasons to hate Zacchaeus, we could surely find them.  Zacchaeus had probably gotten rich by overcharging poor people. 

But God didn’t want to damn Zacchaeus to hell.  God wanted to SAVE him!  That is the happiest part of this story.  Zacchaeus didn’t deserve to be saved, but God WANTED to save him.  We know that because of something that Jesus said.  When Jesus spotted Zacchaeus up in the sycamore tree, he said: 

“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (v. 5). 

For Jesus to single out Zacchaeus conferred great honour on Zacchaeus.  Jesus was popular.  People loved him.  People wanted to hear him–to touch him–to get near enough to him so that even his shadow would touch them. 

Jesus was a great celebrity.  For him to go to Zacchaeus’ home was like having the King come to lunch.  It was hard to imagine such an honour.  It would have been especially hard for Zacchaeus to imagine that Jesus would come to his house because everyone knew that Zacchaeus was a sinner. 

 If Jesus were going to honour someone with a visit, surely, he would honour a saint!  But no!  Jesus decided to honour this sinner!  Amazing! 

 Jesus Fulfils His Ministry

Jesus explained his visit this way.  He said, “Zacchaeus…, today I MUST stay at your house.” 

This little word, “must,” is important.  In the original Greek, the word is dei (pronounced day-ee).  Dei suggests a Godly duty.  When Jesus says that he MUST stay at Zacchaeus’ house today, he means that God has called him to do this. 

It was God’s providence when that Jesus spotted Zacchaeus sitting up in the sycamore tree. Just as Zacchaeus was trying to see Jesus, Jesus was trying to see Zacchaeus.  Jesus was looking for Zacchaeus, because he had a God-given duty to seek him and to save him. 

The crowd didn’t get it.  They grumbled, “He has gone into stay with a man who is a sinner” (v. 7).

But Zacchaeus got it!  When he realized what Jesus was doing for him, he welcomed Jesus with JOY! 

The Greek translation says that Lazarus welcomed Jesus with JOY!  Zacchaeus could hardly imagine that Jesus would honour him by visiting his house, and his heart was full of JOY! 

And then Zacchaeus, in his great JOY, said: 

“Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.” (v. 8). 

We are in chapter 19 of Luke.  In chapter 18, Luke talked about Jesus’ encounter with another rich man–a rich man who refused Jesus–a rich man who loved his money more than he loved Jesus–a rich man who went away sad when Jesus told him to give his money to the poor. 

Now Luke tells us this story about Zacchaeus, another rich man–but one who loves Jesus–a man who in his JOY at meeting Jesus decides to do something that Jesus has not even asked. 

  • He VOLUNTEERS to give half of his money to the poor, because he loves Jesus more than he loves money. 
  • He loves Jesus because of the JOY that Jesus has given him by singling him out–because of the JOY that Jesus has given him by coming to his house–because of the JOY that Jesus has given him by loving him. 

Then Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house” (v. 9).  TODAY!  Not tomorrow!  Not next week!  Not in the eternal hereafter!  But TODAY!  It has already happened.  Zacchaeus has been saved–restored as a son of Abraham–restored as a child of God. 

Today salvation has come

And it isn’t just Zacchaeus who was saved.  Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house.”  He means that Zacchaeus’ family has been saved too. 

Jesus even lays the groundwork for the salvation of the community.  They will see that Zacchaeus means business.  They will see him give money to the poor.  They will see him make restitution.  They will see him begin to treat them fairly.  They will begin to trust him.  This rich and powerful man will become an honoured, beloved member of the community. 

Who knows what wonderful things he will do!  That is part of what Jesus means when he says, “Today salvation has come to this house.” 

And then, in the last verse, Jesus explains.  He says, “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”  That’s Jesus’ job!  That’s Jesus’ calling! 

  • The Lord started seeking to save us before the creation of the world (See John 1:1-18) 
  • the Lord has been seeking us since BEFORE the day that he separated the waters from the dry land–since BEFORE the day that he set the sun in the sky. 
  • The Lord has been seeking us since BEFORE the beginning of time. 
  • He has been seeking to move us from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of JOY! 

And Jesus has been seeking you!

  The Lord needs to seek out to save the lost–and you were lost–so he is seeking you.  He is seeking to move you from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of JOY! So, respond to him with joy.

Lord Jesus, this is my simple prayer to you. I know that I am a sinner and that I often fall short of the glory of God. No longer will I close the door when I hear You knocking. By faith, I gratefully receive Your gift of salvation. I’m ready to trust You as my Lord and Savior. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming to Earth. I believe You are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank You for Your forgiveness of sins and for giving me the gift of eternal life. I invite Jesus to come into my heart and be my Savior. In the name of Jesus, Amen. 

Sinner’s prayer for salvation

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Paula Rose Parish💕 

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Combat Spiritual Dryness -How to be joy-full

When you go out for a meal, you order the main thing. Then you may order ‘something on the side’, and other extras may take your fancy. Unfortunately, restaurants offer so many optional extras that it is often hard to choose.

Sometimes as believers, we think that joy is an optional extra. You may accept salvation by grace but think that the ‘Fruits of the Spirit and joy, being one of them, are extra and will come later.

 This view is a distorted view of what salvation does for you. The fruit of joy, like all the five fruits (Galatians 5), is a by-product of your inner change and not an ‘extra option thing.

Not an Optional Extra

Joy is not an optional extra but is evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life. 

Joy is not a side order but an essential ingredient of the main Course.

During our most painful losses and sufferings, we discover how deep the supply of Christian joy is. Such joy is not thin, frivolous, and empty but thick, substantive, and complete.

The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

1 Peter 1: 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

The joy of the Lord may be peculiar to those who don’t have it. But, for the believer in Christ, the joy of the Lord comes as naturally as grapes on a vine. 

As we abide in Christ, the True Vine is full of His strength and vitality, and the fruit we produce, including joy, is His doing John 15:5.

Keep Joy Alive in You

Philippians 4:4-7

Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll repeat it: Be joyful! Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. Never worry about anything. But in every situation, let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.

You have inexpressible joy as a result of salvation- so allow it to grow, and nurture it to keep it alive.

Acts 8: 34-39

In this passage, the Ethiopian Eunuch heard, understood and believed the gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ, so he wanted to be baptised and asked Philip to baptise him. However, when they came out of the water, the Holy Spirit caught Philip away, and he disappeared; even so, the Eunuch went on his way rejoicing. (39). This is the Joy of Salvation.

The Joy Of Salvation: What Is It?

Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is an experience that brings deliverance, restoration and preservation, and as a result, you are filled with joy.

Salvation is deliverance from the grip of Satan, a restoration and a U-turn from the pit of hell. 

Salvation and the joy of salvation are closely connected though separable. Joy is the natural fruit of salvation, which you open yourself up to so you experience it.

Joy is a foretaste of heaven (1 Pet. 1:8). Unfortunately, not many people have this joy, including those who attend Church services regularly; this is because they don’t nurture and allow it to dry up.

Spiritual dryness is one of the worst things to happen to a believer. Joy is the water that will bring your life. Joy is the result of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, who is the Living water Revelation 21.

Thank you for visiting me here; I hope this post was helpful. Come back here soon because, In my next post, I will share more about joy and how you can maintain it in your life.

 Please follow this blog. You’ll find a button on the bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests.

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post!

 Paula Rose Parish💕

How to Trust God in the Dark times and in the worst of circumstances.

Psalm 66:1-7 Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. 5 Among the dead, no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?

A white dog walks into a butcher shop, and in his mouth, he is carrying a purse. He puts the purse down and sits in front of the meat counter.
“What is it, boy?” the butcher jokingly asks. “Want to buy some meat?” “Woof!” barks the dog. “Hmm,” says the butcher. “What kind? Liver, bacon, steak …” “Woof!” interrupts the dog. “And how much steak? Half a pound, one pound …” “Woof!” The amazed butcher wraps up the meat and finds the money in the dog’s purse.

As the dog leaves, the butcher decides to follow. The dog enters an apartment house, climbs to the third floor, and begins scratching at a door. The door swings open, and an angry man starts shouting at the dog. “Stop!” yells the butcher. “He’s the most intelligent animal I’ve ever seen!” “Intelligent?” says the man. “This is the third time he’s forgotten his key this week.” He was not thankful.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Contrast that to the story of Jed who worked in London. Every morning, he encountered a bedraggled, middle‑aged woman asking for spare change in front of a shop. She greeted everyone with a smile and a pleasant “Good morning.” Jed always gave her a little something.

After a while, the woman disappeared, and Jed wondered what had happened to her. Then, one rainy day, the woman was in front of the shop again, still looking the same. As Jed reached into his wallet for the regular donation, the woman refused the money and said “Thank you for helping me all those days,” she said. “You won’t see me again because I’ve got a job.” Then she slowly reached into a bag and handed Jed a wrapped package. She had been standing at her old spot waiting, not for a handout, but for all the people she recognized so that she could give each of them a wrapped brownie she had made. She was thankful.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

Jeremiah 29:1-7

Letter to those exiles (taken as slaves to a Foreign Land) in awful circumstances
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have children; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so they too may have children. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city where I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

The lesson for us here is to be thankful even in difficult circumstances. This kind of thankfulness is faith.

Luke 17:11-19

I think the story of the Ten lepers is crucial for us, and if we read the story too quickly, we miss vital truths. So slow it down, and picture it with me.

We start with ten men who have the worst disease of their day. The physical ramifications are horrendous. Leprosy attacks the body, leaving sores, missing fingers, missing toes, and damaged limbs.

In many cases, the initial pain of leprosy gives way to something more terrible than that – a loss of sensation in nerve endings, leading to more damage to more body parts. The disease can take 30 years to run its course; in that period, entire limbs can simply fall off. It is, assuredly, a most horrible disease. It is impossible to understand what it was like 2,000 years ago when medical treatment as we know it today was almost non-existent.
In her book Jesus the One and Only,

It’s hard to imagine the emotional pain of a leper. I should imagine it must have been even worse than the physical pain. As a result, the leper was removed from their family and community – everyone!

It must be heart-wrenching when there could be no contact whatsoever with any non-leperous person.

The leper is wholly removed from family and society for fear that they, too, would become afflicted.

Lepers tended to roam together, looking for food and begging for assistance with a loud voice from a great distance. It must have been horrible for them.

And yet, in this account, ten men encounter Jesus and hear him say the most unusual thing. “We want to be well!” they scream at Jesus. And the great teacher responds, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.”

The local priest had duties other than leading worship on each Sabbath. He was also a health official, and if a person was miraculously healed of leprosy, it was the priest’s job to inspect the body, test for complete removal of the disease, and announce the person healed.

If the person were pronounced clean, they were cleansed, and after, it would be fine for the leper to see his wife again, hold his daughter again, and look for work again. If the priest gave him the OK, he would be considered healed!

Jesus says to these lepers, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”
They look down at their bodies. The hands of one man are still mangled. Another man looks at his leg, which ends with a filthy rag at the knee. Another looks at his skin and finds it as repulsive as ever.

In other words, all these men were no better off than they had been ten minutes earlier when they had first spotted the famous teacher.

And yet, they headed off in search of the priests. And on their way, they were healed. So we can imagine that as they were On their way to the priests, a hand emerged from a stump and tingled with life. A crutch suddenly falls to the ground, and the leg was back, healthy, whole, and complete.

The skin cleared, and the tiny hairs on their forearm turned from snow-white to brown. One looked at the other, another looked at the rest, and the screaming started. Then, the smiles broke into tears of joy – the nightmare was finally over.

But for the miracle to happen, these men had to start walking in faith before their circumstances changed one tiny bit.

Is there a more powerful lesson for us here?

  1. You cannot wait to start walking in faith until your problems are over.
  2. You cannot put conditions on the holy God. You cannot say, “Lord, as soon as there’s enough money, I follow your instructions.”
    You cannot pray, “Lord, if you’ll just solve this issue in my family, I’ll start to church.” You cannot put conditions on God!

Instead, God places a demand for faith on us before anything at all has changed.

God might say, “Love me despite the disease. Obey me despite the lack of talent or the lack of resources. Follow me now, despite the depression and pain. Say no to the temptation while it still is difficult. Instead, praise me in the darkest of nights and in the worst of circumstances.”

This is the nature of God, who loves you so much; he will want you to be thankful when nothing about your circumstances gives you that motivation.

My friends, that are the very definition of faith. If you praise God only on the good days and in the best of circumstances, it would not be faith. That would be more like a business arrangement!

Some of you are in horrible circumstances right now. Will you be thankful despite the difficult circumstances? If so, you will be living by faith.

This week, be sure to acknowledge God for his goodness.

Be sure to be thankful.

Be sure to gather everyone up for a prayer of Thanksgiving that is a real prayer of thankfulness.

Do not miss the opportunity to serve and worship God this week.

Photo by George Dolgikh on Pexels.com

Let’s Pray

Great was your sacrifice to go before us and bring forgiveness and hope.

By your stripes, we ask for healing. Standing within your reign and rule, we ask for restoration.

My life and wellness grow in fullness until it overflows.

Amen. Silence

Thank you for visiting me hereI hope this post was helpful. 

If it was, please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests. 

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post! 

Paula Rose Parish💕 

🖤Want to help support me as an author? 

 ✔BOOKS BY PAULA available at AMAZON in the UK, USA, Aust;  

📚Nothing Good about Grief: Path to recovery with Psalm 23 after COVID-19 & other losses. 

 📚Psalm 23 Unwrapped: Hope in difficult times.  

What is Christian Renewal All About?

Different leaders reflect different diversities of gifts and spiritual life and minister to us, so we might be renewed.

What is renewal all about? We pray for renewal but do we really know what renewal involves?

Renewal is not getting the unsaved saved. It is all about renewing the body of Christ so we may reach the world with the saving love of God. One thing is for sure, we must be receptive to God’s grace in how God move upon people’s hearts.

It is God who gives spiritual growth. Spiritually minded people know their dependence on the grace of God and will work with Him and not against Him.

If we are receptive to God’s grace, then God can accomplish something new in us and empower us to imagine new ways of living out the love of Christ.

God is love- and those who dwell in God dwell in love.
God wants us to live obedient and steadfast lives so God’s Spirit may bring freshness to our thoughts & loving actions.

When we are renewed, we dream of new possibilities instead of just living to live- we live for the One whose love and grace are beyond what we could ask or even think of.

When we experience renewal, we can better discern the challenges before us and dare to take risks as we journey with God.

In our Old Testament text of – Isaiah 5.1-7

This reading is about renewal and is actually a song, and its subject is the unfruitful vineyard.

Although the song ends sadly, it is a precursor to the time when Israel may sing a new song. The singer begins by dedicating the song to her beloved, who owns a vineyard. He carefully tills the land and plants choice vines, but instead of the excellent crop that he expects, his vines yield sour grapes. Quickly the subject changes in verse 3 from the abstract farmer to the real people of Jerusalem and Judah, who, at this point, are the listeners to the song.

The tone changes from a pretty song to a harsh detailing of what will be done to the vineyard that yields bad fruit. It will be devoured and trampled down. It will be wasted, and no rain will fall on it.

No rain means no sustenance, no possibility for growth. The song ends with verse seven and clarifies the intent of the song.

The vineyard belongs to none other than the Lord, and the vineyard is Jerusalem and Judah. God gives growth. These un-Spiritual people did not know their dependence on the grace of God and worked against God.

 These people let God down. Therefore they were not dwelling in love and therefore were not dwelling in God; they behaved badly and acted unjustly. We see the anger of God manifested through this song, and the future for Israel appears doomed, with the song ending with a cry!

In our New Testament of 1 Corinthians 3.1-9

Unlike Jerusalem and Judah in our Isaiah reading, The Corinthians benefit from the Holy Spirit directly to their inner being to empower them for living. However, in their divisions over leadership, they are not acting very spiritually.

Their jealous quarrels reflect a childish immaturity and a dependence upon merely human values rather than those of the God to whom they belong (3.1-4) and whose nature they should reflect.

The Christians of Corinth are making so much fuss that they have forgotten the one God who brought the Church to life and gave them growth.

Paul and Apollos are nothing more than gardeners in God’s vineyard, builders, of God’s temple, working together for a common purpose and answering to the one they serve.

The lesson here is that we should esteem no other human being to the point that one would prefer one leader over another and call themselves disciples of that leader. Paul is pointing out that we should be disciples of Christ- and of one else.

Paul also emphasises that he and Apollos are just human, just like them, with needs, with sins, and with joys and sorrows. And their job as leaders is to point the way to salvation through Christ and disciple people to Jesus Christ and not to themselves. 

Your Kingdom Come

To tend the Kingdom as a gardener is about ploughing, planting, watering, weeding and tending the Kingdom ready for growth. But it is God who makes it grow; none of us can do that.

 Or, like a builder of God’s temple- as a mere employee of God – if you will- to do His bidding.

It is God the Father who we must esteem. Therefore, we need to stop arguing over which leader is better than another. The reality is that all of us bring different things according to God’s grace and timing.

The apostle Paul said he planted seeds in hearts, and then Apollos came along and watered that seed.

So, here are two different ministries, two different personalities, and two different callings, yet both are gardeners in God’s Vineyard or builders of God’s temple.

Different leaders reflect each of our own different diversities and spiritual life and minister to them.

For example, what would happen to the seed if Paul came along and sowed seeds and no one watered?

What would happen if Apollos came along and watered, but there was no seed to water?

There would be no garden- no kingdom.

What would happen if Paul made the concrete for the stones to be laid in the temple and Apollos was not there to lay the stones- What would happen? There would be no temple – no kingdom.

Something to Think About

What other lessons can we learn from these texts?

Perhaps it realises that we need “solid food” to learn together how to leave behind worldly ways of thinking in our calling as a church and, in doing so, become genuinely renewed as spiritual people.

Paul tried to fire the imagination of the Corinthians; he tried to inspire them to “have the mind of Christ”.

Paul tells them, “you are God’s Field”. Here, Paul shows the importance of his Jewish heritage by drawing from the images in Isaiah 5 1-7, which our OT is reading today.

In Isaiah, it is God who plants the vineyard, and it is God who sends the rain to give new life.

 Paul’s own work of founding the Church in Corinth and the subsequent work of Apollos, who immensely helped people to become believers (acts 18:27), was no less the work of the one God who alone gives the growth and who alone is worshipped and adored.

God gives us growth. It is Father God who empowers us to grow. 

So, let us be like those who really know their dependence on the grace of God, thus be renewed in the process.

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Paula Rose Parish💕 

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Is Regular Bible Study Important to Your Spirituality?

 Appreciate the Importance of Study

I have been a believer in Christ since 1976 and a Minister of Word and Sacrament since 1980. Over the past 30 years or so, I have lived and ministered in different countries and cultures. Christians cross-culturally share many things in common, one of which is the struggle to adhere to regular Bible study.

In this post, I share a study I wrote many years ago for a small group that met each week. These folk were hungry to learn more of the Bible; however, those attending this Bible study comprised 1% of the congregation.

As I talk to my Minister/Clery colleagues, this is a common problem. So the question remains and can not be answered quickly: How do we motivate people to engage in serious, regular Bible study?

I hope this short article may hold a few answers for you.

People must be motivated before they will study a subject. Christians have all the reasons they could possibly need to study the Bible. Consider a few. As you do, note the emphasis on regular, frequent study.

#1: Study so you can obey God and grow in His service.

Joshua 1:8 – Success in pleasing God requires obedience. To obey, we must meditate on God’s word day and night. Frequent, regular study is required.

1 Peter 2:2 – Can a baby grow without nourishment? No, and neither can Christians grow without Bible study. Do we long for the word like a baby longs for milk if we neglect to attend assemblies or study at home?

(See also 2 Tim. 2:15; Rom. 10:17; Matt. 4:4; John 6:44,45; 2 Peter 1:12-15.)

#2: Study so you can avoid error and false teaching.

Hosea 4:6 – God’s people were destroyed for lack of knowledge. Many Christians and congregations have been led astray by error and false teaching. To avoid this we must put teachers to the test (1 John 4:1,6). How do we do this unless we know God’s word (Gal. 1:8,9)?

Acts 17:11 – The Bereans distinguished truth from error because they studied the word. To imitate their example, we must study “daily.”

(See also Matt. 22:29; 15:14; Prov. 2:1-20; Rom. 10:1-3.)

#3: Study so you can teach others.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – Parents should teach their children diligently through the day. This requires us to first have God’s word in our own hearts. How can we teach what we do not know?

Hebrews 5:12 – The time comes when we ought to be teachers, but these had not studied so they needed others to teach them! There is no excuse for Christians who do not study. Teachers know they need to study. If you are not a teacher, you must study to prepare yourself to become a teacher!

(See also 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 1:7; 1 Peter 3:15; Col. 3:16; Rom. 15:14.)

#4: Study to express love for God and His word. Psalm 1:2; 119:47,48,97-99 – One who delights in God’s word will meditate on it day and night. The time we spend thinking about God’s word indicates how much we love Him. Those who truly love Him will not complain about “having to go” to worship services or prepare for Bible classes. (See Psalm 19:7-11.)

John 14:15 – If we love God, we keep His commands (cf. 1 John 5:3). But obedience requires knowledge. So one who loves God must study His word.

Look at it this way, suppose a young lady is separated from her boyfriend. He writes every day, so she prominently displays his letters on the coffee table. But they sit there for days before she opens and reads them. Does she really love him? No, we want to hear from those we love. The Bible is your only way to hear from God. How much do you love Him? If we studied all subjects as negligently as some people study the Bible, we would surely be ignorant people. On the other hand, if we would study the Bible as diligently as some people study sports, hobbies, etc., we would all be excellent Bible students. How much more important is it to understand the Bible than to understand secular subjects?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Paula Rose Parish💕 

Hello, I’m Back!!!

I have not posted anything, updated this site, or made a video for a long time. There are many reasons, but I hope that I can be consistent in bringing encouragement to you in Hope, faith and love in Christ.


Although I have not posted for a while, many of you are reading my older articles, and I want to thank you for reading my posts. Folk are reading my posts and visiting the Hope, Faith, Love, Community daily.

My Word Press dashboard does not show ‘who’ is reading the posts. However, the dashboard does show what posts are read, how many times a day and from what country. Judging by the statistics, it is well worth me to keep producing content for you.

I have started a new ministry post in six churches, working with a colleague. A few weeks in now, it’s been super busy in the week and preaching 2 -3 times on a Sunday. I would appreciate your prayers, as I am not as young as I used to be and in dire need of the strength of the Lord- Thank you.

Going forward, I will post some studies, sermons, and reflections. I hope you enjoy them and glean something from them to encourage you spiritually in some small way.

Thank you for visiting me here, please subscribe using the banner as you come onto the site. Also, please follow this blog, and you’ll find a button on the lower bottom right and leave a comment with any questions or prayer requests. 

Virtual hugs, I look forward to your visit to my next blog post! 

Paula Rose Parish💕 

Farewell to my Churches

A CHANGE IN MINISTRY

I am pleased to share with you that I have received a call to be the URC minister in the Bridgend United Area. The six churches in this group consist of both URC and Methodist Churches. The Churches issued the call, and I have accepted. I am looking forward to commencing the new post this October 2022. I will be working with a Methodist colleague, and I am looking forward to it very much. 

On this website, I will soon add a tag on the menu bar to the preaching schedule in case you are in the area and wish to attend a worship service. I appreciate your prayers as I lead the Churches forward in their mission, worship and share the love of Jesus Christ.

GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS

This new post answers my prayers for my Ministry’s continuation. Upon the age of 68 URC minister must retire. I reach that age soon and found it difficult to accept that my long pastoral Ministry must end. I asked the Lord to allow me to continue to minister to God’s people according to his will, and my heavenly Father heard me. Otherwise, I’ll have to retire due to URC rules. 

THE CALL OF GOD DEMANDS OUR ALL

I have led churches in Australia, the United States of America, England and now in Wales, UK. The hardest part in moving on to take up a new post is saying goodbye to family and friends. The call to Ministry means many sacrifices; for some Ministers, the sacrifice is small, yet for others, it is overwhelming. However, any form of sacrifice is certainly not easy to accept, but one response is for the love of God and his will for our lives.

I have been asked after 40 years of Ministry, “you must be used to making those sacrifices for now”. The answer is I don’t want to get used to it, people are precious, and the sense of loss I feel when I move on is genuine and heartfelt. If I get hardened in the process, I will get hardened toward the people- and I don’t want that. 

It’s impossible to remain in contact with so many people, but their faces often pop into my mind, and when it does, I bow my head to pray for them.

BITTER-SWEET

As I write, leaving to serve a new pastorate is a happy and sad time for me. The Church folk and the broader community, whom I have served for many years, has been most important to my life.

But at the same time, I am very excited about the new post and what it offers in the future. At least I will spend less time travelling as most of the six churches I will serve are only a short distance from my home.

THE UNKNOWABLE FUTURE

 I will leave my post at Dan Y Graig LEP, Tabernacle URC, and NPLW Methodist circuit on the 30th of September.

The unknowable future can be frightening and downright scary. But that’s when our faith in God’s sovereignty gives us comfort, support, and strength. All new opportunities involve challenges and new experiences that shape and change us. Change also help us to grow spirituality if we approach this transition time positively.

THANK YOU

I announced in August to my Churches that I am leaving the area. I want to thank them for being a generous, wonderful, supportive Church family over these many years.

 Any minister will tell you that one feels that one has never done enough. One lives with the continual frustration of wanting to do more than one can do. I hope my time with you have been constructive and helped you spiritually in some way.  

GOD IS CALLING YOU

 I pray for the very of God’s best for you as an individual and as a Church family. As I leave, I want you to remember that God calls you. Sometimes he can call us to a specific individual task which can also be quite challenging, taking us completely out of our comfort zone. One thing that we are all called to do, however, is to share the good news with all we meet. We must give people hope and the light in Jesus Christ. 

Luke 5:1-11 talks about the calling of the first disciples. They had no idea what would happen when Jesus first called them, but they put themselves out there. They took a risk, a chance. They left everything behind to follow him. 

They weren’t the people you would have expected Jesus to pick to help him in his mission. It’s a bit like you and me. We are ordinary people with no special abilities but are called in God’s ability to be extraordinary in our witness for Christ. 

The disciples, as ordinary as they were, were the people that would change the world. Jesus extraordinarily equipped them to carry out the tasks he had called them to, just as he equips us all, enabling us to change the world where we live.

You may be thinking, what can I do? He won’t call me. I can’t do this, or I can’t do that. But, take it from me; I suppose you might be wrong. 

God calls and equips every one of us because he knows what we can and can’t do and enables us to fulfil his calling upon our lives in his strength. So, we need to listen and trust, then go out and do what he asks us to do, knowing that he goes with us by the Holy Spirit and will never leave us. 

Whenever I think of this daunting task ahead of me, I hear God’s words in my heart ‘Yes, you can do it.’ So, I choose not to think of what I can’t do but what God is asking me to do. No matter what lies ahead, I know he will equip and support me to carry it out, for nothing is impossible with God. 

I want you to think about what you ‘can’ do and go for it because God is calling you, an ordinary person, to be extraordinary for his kingdom’s sake.  So, what is God calling you to do? Will you answer that call? If not, then why not? I encourage you to trust in Jesus Christ, continue to follow him, and answer his call, knowing that he is with you every step of the way. 

God calls each of us to change the world in some small way. So, let us do just that. Let’s change the world by being salt, bringing hope, and light to all we meet. 

As believers, we also are blessed with the grace that equips us for divine service.‘ John MacArthur Jr. 

I will continue to post blogs here at Hope.Faith.Love, and the occasional video, which I hope will continue to be an encouragement to your faith in Christ.

PRAYER 

Loving Father, you call us daily to serve you, so equip us for the tasks you call us. Please help us to fulfil our calling and bring about your kingdom. You know the challenges that every one of us has, and we ask that you guide us through times of transition and challenges. 

As we move through challenges into change, we go knowing that you are with us every stage of the way. So, we ask these and all our prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

FAREWELL DEAR FRIENDS

I came into the Newport area from Lincolnshire in 2011. Since then, I have worked with Stowpark Church Center, Trinity Pontywaun, DanYGraig, St David’s Tysign, Tabernacle Llanvaches, and as a Presbyter within the NPLW circuit and Presbyterian Church. 

Over this time, I’ve worked with community groups which helped to provide a link to the Church. As a result, I’ve been in this area the longest at one stretch than ever in my 40-year Ministry, which has enabled me to form solid friendships – may God bless you.

I am not sure where the following quote comes from. However, I came across it in my files, and I hope it will encourage you in some way.

Do not pray for easy lives;  pray to be stronger people. 

Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers;  pray for powers equal to your tasks. 

Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, 

           but you shall be a miracle.

May the Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you – Numbers 6:24-25. 

Until the next blog post, Live Life on Purpose, in Hope, Faith and Love

Paula Rose Parish

Suffering and God

In the whirlwind of global suffering, we face pressing questions- Why are we suffering? How can we deal with suffering? What does suffering mean?

As our world deals with pandemics, natural disasters, political unrest, and war -to name a few- Christians have an opportunity to share one of our faith’s most distinctive truths: suffering. Suffering is disturbing; however, it’s meaningful. Suffering is perceived quite differently within each religion, and it’s helpful to us to know the difference of opinion since every religion has its unique worldview, which explains how the world works.

A fundamental premise of Buddhism, for example, is that life is suffering. Yet, as creatures of desire, we attach ourselves and cling to things like prosperity, attractiveness, youthfulness, love, and even life itself. Thus, in Buddhism, we are only delivered from suffering by ridding ourselves of the ego and material attachments. This worldview is non- dualities which deny any real distinction between good and evil. Buddhism sees health and sickness, love and hate, or even life and death. It so denies that which Christianity affirms – the sinful nature of human beings. St. Paul put it this way-God set free from corruption.

While many seekers of truth, including many Christians, I might add, play around with a quasi-Buddhism, the secular view of suffering is far more common in our western world. The secular view of suffering is based on the individual’s lived experience. Therefore, it lacks a worldview foundation to make sense of it. Suffering interrupts our pleasure and happiness, but in a world without purpose or design, we can’t say that it’s wrong or bad or shouldn’t be.

We believe, as those with the most resources in human history to avoid sickness and disaster and inevitable sufferings, that we somehow have a right not to suffer or, for that matter, to feel dissatisfaction or distress of any kind. But why would that be if the world is, as Richard Dawkins once stated that the world is a place of “blind, pitiless indifference” and we are, as he also put it, merely “dancing to our DNA? Dawkins presents, in my opinion, a worldview void of meaning or hope for any of us.

Further, Dawkins points out that suffering is utterly meaningless for a confirmed atheist. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just there- it’s part of the human condition.

God and Suffering

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

What about Christianity? Christianity is honest in that it doesn’t deny the genuine goodness of the world, or the actual nature of our suffering, and the actual potential of restoration. In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul named death the last enemy, which will be annihilated at Christ’s return.

The author of Hebrews called the fear of death how Satan enslaves humankind. Quite different to the secular view a Buddhist view, Jesus appeared to identify with human suffering as something he felt in his being. We see this in the Gospels where Jesus entered the suffering of others, such as the mourning sisters of Lazarus in John 11, and He prayed to avoid suffering Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Bible is clear, as is the example of Jesus that suffering is not good and avoiding it isn’t possible, even though suffering is not seen as meaningless. On both the personal and universal levels, suffering points to higher truths and more excellent good; however, we need to understand that suffering is not our ultimate destiny.

The Christ drank from the same cup of suffering and death as all of us – so we don’t have to. The author of Hebrews says that Jesus tasted death for everyone, yet, rising from the grave three days later, Christ Jesus shows us that while suffering and death are real, they do not have the last word or are our destiny.

No human person has solved the problem of suffering, but we can endure and make sense of it if we love and trust the God who has suffered for us.

 Christianity teaches neither resignation to suffer nor detachment from the world. Christianity neither denies the realities of suffering nor gives it credence. On the contrary, because of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection, Christianity alone offers a basis for meaning and hope in this world and in the one to come.

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you have, please like it and consider subscribing- Thank you. Xx

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FACING UP to the DANGEROUS REALITY of ABUSE in the CHURCH

PART ONE of the ESSEX HALL LECTURE 1999 POWER FOR GOD’S SAKE by REV DR PAUL BEASLEY-MURRAY Lecture 7.

Churches can be cockpits of conflict; deeply neurotic places where people play power games and deny the reality of their own circumstances. I have witnessed these things and been part of the strange collusion that allows churches to be extremely dishonest places.

 The moment I read these words of Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh, bells began to ring. Yes, I said to myself, how, right you are. Power is not only a reality in the world outside, it is also a reality within the church. Indeed, power may well be more of a dangerous reality within the church, precisely because it is for the most part unowned and unrecognised.

Spiritual Blindness

There is, it seems to me, a large degree of naivety, if not self-inflicted blindness, on the part of Christian people. We know that power games are a reality in the world of politics and in the world of business, but we do not want to accept that they are also a reality in the church. And yet why should the church in this respect be any different from the world? If all the other sins of the ‘flesh’ are to be found in the church, then why not this one? Any intelligent reading of the New Testament would reveal that there were power struggles right from the beginning of the life of the early church. Not only James and John come to mind, with their desire to sit on the right and left hand of Jesus in his glory, but the Judaizers who wanted to impose their way of doing church on the Gentile converts, the bickering factions at Corinth. It is almost no exaggeration to say that within every strand of the New Testament we can find evidence of power struggles affecting the life of God’s people. Yet time and again we seem to close our eyes to this underlying reality, and many of us seem to prefer to live with an ‘ideal’ picture of the church.

I say ‘us’ because if I am honest there was a stage toward the beginning of my ministry when I too was blinkered and as a result, operated with this romantic picture of a church where power struggles never took place. Strangely, even before my taking pastoral charge of a local church, I had experienced power struggles, both on a small scale within the life of a Christian student organisation of which I was a member and also on a larger scale within the life of the denomination to which I belonged. And yet somehow these experiences had failed to register as an ongoing fact of church life. I would maintain that the theological college at which I was trained was all part of that strange conspiracy of silence.

Silence of Gods Lambs

At no stage do I remember anybody ever talking about power in the church as being an issue. Certainly, no training was given to me and to my fellow students as to how we might handle power struggles of one kind or another. Instead, we were taught how to preach! Although a revolution has taken place in theological education and ministerial formation since I first trained for Christian ministry, I am not convinced that ordinands, in this respect at least, are in most colleges trained any better. By and large, ministers must learn on the job when it then becomes a matter of either sinking or swimming. Sadly, for many, it is the former.

The Sin of Hypocrisy

Power in the raw of course there is overt and organised power struggles in churches, which hit the national headlines, and which are therefore recognised by all and sundry. In the North American scene, one such public power struggle took place in the early 1990s at First Baptist Church Dallas, described by some as the most influential church in America. Too Great A Temptation: The Seductive Power of America’s Super Church is the title of the book Joel Gregory wrote after his losing the battle with W.A. Criswell. It is a searingly honest and painful account, revealing the power, the politics and the hypocrisy which not only plagued that church but which plague many others too. The book’s concluding six pages should be compulsory reading for all church leaders, both ordained and unordained. From his own bitter experience, Gregory came to see that the church is an institution divine in its original foundation but tethered to this celestial ball by every frailty to which humans are subject. Covetousness, littleness, jealousy, lust for power, ego, sacrilege, and a hundred other demons all lurk within the hallways.

Lessons from Jesus

The church on earth at its best is a crippled institution that God may elect to use for His purposes. The divinization of the church in an egotistic triumphalism denigrates the very purpose for which it is founded. After all, its founder died on the cross between two criminals. Out of his weakness came strength and out of His death came life. Humanity does not consider Jesus Christ its centrepiece because he behaved like the CEO of a gigantic ecclesiastical corporation. He washed the feet of others; He did not trample them under His own in the name of God.

It Hit the Headlines!

 In Britain probably the most well-known recent ecclesiastical power struggle was the fight between the Dean, Brandon Jackson, and the Canons of Lincoln Cathedral. Time and again this battle hit the national headlines. The power struggle appeared to concern a loss-making exhibition of the cathedral’s copy of the Magna Carta in Australia in 1988: However, what fascinated me was to discover that this long-running conflict, marked by “the presence of fear and rage within the group and of a sense of intolerable pain”, actually had its roots in the distant past.

 The official report of Brim Thorne and Kathleen Baker, who were brought in by the Bishop of Lincoln to act as mediators between the protagonists, speaks of historic myths and “powerful unconscious forces at work”. It goes on to say: “These basic assumptions have probably permeated the Lincoln environment for centuries and they operate in complete opposition to the spirit of the cathedral statutes, which require collegiality and cooperation based on an atmosphere of trust.”

 Here we have a salutary reminder that unless major power struggles are properly dealt with, the seeds of their destructiveness may spill over from one generation to another. To put it in different terms, institutional ‘viruses’, as it were, can develop, with the result that although the players may change, the struggle does not. Hence the phenomenon, seen in certain local churches, whereby one minister after another leaves that church in unhappy circumstances. There is an abusive corporate mindset (heart-set?) which desperately needs attention.

I hope you enjoyed and found Part One of this lecture helpful.  Be sure to like and subscribe to receive Part 2 in your inbox in a few days’ time.

If you are or have been affected by power abuse / spiritual abuse, I am here to help. Watch my video on the Home page of my Blog to know what to do next. May God bless and heal you in His love.

Remember, to live life on purpose in Hope, Faith and Love,

Paula Rose Parish

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