Tree

“Whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”

Luke 14. 27

It’s just a tree. Gnarled, twisted, battered by the winds… but still standing.

A bit like you and I have often felt….

We all endure our share of storms in one way or another, we all get conflict and some of us at some point in life will know pain and agony in our mortal bodies, some will fall victim of wrong doers, some will be found guilty of a crime they didn’t commit… do you remember the story of Joseph?

Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers out of envy. Joseph falsely accused by his master’s wife and turn, turn again promoted to high office and power by Pharaoh, Joseph who became the rescuer of those same brothers and his fathers whole family. Joseph who being begged for forgiveness by those same brothers, said simply this:-

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good”

I have been reflecting on the picture because I see Jesus Body borne on the cross in it…. I think I shall go on reflecting on it for a very long time and praying that when troubled, and when assailed by that oft asked question

“Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this?”

That I shall remember these words also:-

“All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8.28

Father,

If you would,

Give me Grace, and fortitude

That blown about in the Gales of Conflict,

To just hang on and take it. Courage,

Lord to withstand Howling Storm – bitterest grief

And pain of every kind.

Grant me the sweet, sweet, love and compassion

Of Joseph, and of other Cross Bearers before me

Most of all, grant that I also may be ‘conformed’

To the image of your most dear son,

That most Beautiful of men,

My Saviour

Thy Son,

Jesus Christ

always Jean

Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods,

So is my beloved among the sons.

I sat down in his shade with great delight,

And His fruit was sweet to my taste.

Song of Solomon 2:3

All scriptures are from NKJV

The Testimony of a Tree

One Life Lived and Given for All

What kind of year have you lived through since this time last year?

What would the label read on the branch if you drew up a Diagram of your life so far?

Lately, because of the slowing down in the pace of life for me, my memory has been throwing up all kinds of shoots, memories of every kind… but in all of them, no exceptions, “there has been that of God”

Some memories have been of people who have crossed over the River, before me. Some have been of places, some of buildings, houses .. some of those changed beyond recognition now. I am a woman who is grateful for the gift of years and thankful for the presence and comfort of God in times when life was rough and tough and downright painful.

This week many throughout the whole world will be seeking in times of quiet and prayer to catch a glimpse of Jesus during His last precious days with us. I have found that Jesus is living out my life with me.

Jesus is the sap. The life-blood of the tree

Without Jesus I would have had no life at all. Without Him there would be no living .. no life.

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you

John 14. 20 KJV

I am not a preacher. I have done and will do what I can. What I am is blessed, all that I have is the life that I have been given, the life that I have been given is Eternal Life, thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


The illustration is a page in one of my oldest bibles (a lot collected through the years) the bible printed in 1954 is a KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible… the page shows the recorded events in the life of Jesus as a Tree.

With all my love and blessings for Eastertide and always

Jean

Once the storm is over

Once the storm is over

What will the world be like, once the present Pandemic is over?

Some are dreading the future. For the very many it will be a case of rebuilding the lives they once had, reclaiming lost livelihoods and overcoming problems of physical and mental health. Doubtless the few may come out if it all in much better shape than many; there is that saying, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good” – there have always been those few that come out of a crisis better than when they went in..

“Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain; when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm is all about. – Haruki Murakami

I don’t believe that I will be the same person who said goodbye to so many aspects of my own personal life last March, I think they are lost in the storm, but not my faith. Indeed my faith and inner convictions have grown stronger – there has always been something about a storm at sea which has grown strength and trust in the sailors.

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny – C.S. Lewis

There is that about starting over and rebuilding which has always been good for the soul.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a futureJeremiah 29: 11 N.I.V.

No. Starting over and rebuilding never easy, but essentially those Israelites who went into the storm and exile in Babylon were not the same persons who came out but their knowledge of the LORD and trust had changed them for the better, the lessons learnt in adversity may bring us tears but “joy surely comes in the morning”

Let’s keep following and walking with the Lord, looking up and not down, keeping eyes fixed on the Throne of God, not allowing them to stray.. that way we can walk on water even in these days and times.

Put your hand in the hand of the man who walked on the water

Lord in whose hands are all our days and our times,

Bring us to know

That your grace is enough for us.

Always Jean

To Wait is to Hope For, To Expect

The Other Side

“Carrying His own cross, He went out to the place of the skull, (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha”

John 19.17

To wait is to hope for, expect Colonel Cook’s handwriting told me… not sure what it was I did hope for in those days, but am sure that I did expect that my prayers would be heard and answered. In fact I was convinced that they would be. There was a solid reality behind those words of Jesus concerning asking, seeking and knocking.

Yet, I asked myself what did Jesus, Himself hope for,expect?

Well, he did not expect that life for him would be easy, comfortable and without its sorrows. He accepted whatever it pleased his Father in heaven to send or give. As a young woman he impressed upon me that I should do the same following Jesus meant accepting a share in difficulties, uncomfortable and sorrowful experiences.

Young people these days do hope for, and expect so much more than I did, in the worldly, material sense; I get the impression that it is common to believe that following Jesus, today is to be able to “have it all” in the worldly sense and still be a “celebrity” in the discipleship game.

We can’t.

First principles still apply.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it”

Mark 10. 38 (N.I.V,”

Not the kind of thing which people wish to hear anymore, and even less popular the Bible Teaching on Holiness. The Teaching of the Beatitudes has sadly become simply “beautiful words” to read but not to practice. I think that is a deep sorrow for many Christians who find themselves labelled with all kinds of hurtful and discriminatory words, yes in this modern age of our where all kinds of discrimination are legislated against it is still possible, and highly likely that the faithful, devout, meek, gentle, kind sincere soul will be spoken against, called names and persecuted because they have committed the crime of following Jesus.

Gracious Saviour

You did teach us to expect our share of troubles in the world

You did tell us that in you we would find peace:

Give to us courage, endurance in the waiting and always your gentleness, love and forgiveness in times of opposition and persecution.

For love of us, your tears flowed in Gethsemane’s Garden:

For love of us, you accepted the Cup your Father placed into your hands.

Help us to do the same.

Amen

Always, Jean

To wait is to be alert

Waiting For the Bridegroom

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five of them were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones however took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

Matthew 25: 1-5 N.I.V.

As a small girl Tuesdays and Thursday evening at 5 o’clock precisely I would be told ok to walk up the short lane to the bus stop at the top of the hill and arrive there at the same time as the big red bus. My favourite uncle would step down and we would walk back down the lane hand in hand together.

Sadly, life as a grown up and as a Christian has not always gone according to the same plan and pattern. There have been times of waiting and disappointment. Waiting, keeping awake and being prepared these are all things which the Lord Jesus speaks about. They are things which we barely hear; as human beings we tend to be drowsy and fall asleep a lot.

I cannot, remember now, the word which was preached that night but turning the bookmark over I can still read Col Cook’s precious note to me, concerned with the small verb ‘to wait’ and the first point he makes is ‘be alert’

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquetl

“Because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Luke 12. 35: 40

There is no clock to tell me when my Master, the Bridegroom will arrive no one to slip my arms into my coat. I must be on the watch for myself and make sure that what I need against His coming is at hand.

Lord who calls me,

Whose love draws me on,

Let me attend to Your Word and wisdom,

Keeping awake, alert and ready for I would

Not miss Thee for all the world and all the worlds,

My beloved, come.

Always, Jean❤️

Fellowship and Wisdom’s Fruit

Father, may they be one in us. John 17.21 JB

Jesus prayed for all of us

“May they all be one,

Father, may they be one in us,

As you are in me and I am in you,

So that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

John 17.21 JB

I have a long history of worshiping the Lord in Church and of being part of God’s family. It has not always been in the same family home with the same branch of the family; but it has always been in God and He in me. He has carried me along, sheltered and warmed me as we journeyed and I have known only warmth and welcome amongst brothers and sisters … whatever the name on the church sign board.

These recent days, I have been remembering different ones from those fellowships and spending a little time reflecting on their generous sharing of fellowship, time and wisdom.

Col. Cook and his wife had been Missionaries in the days when China did not warmly welcome Missionaries; and I knew somewhere, I still had a precious bookmark carefully tucked away, but where? So began a careful search of bibles, and books, I have many. It took 3 days of searching; in between other tasks but finally I found it.

Wisdom’s Fruit

My fruit is better than fine gold:

What I yield surpasses choice silver

Proverbs 8:19 N.I.V.

I cannot find a version of the Bible which uses the word gifts rather than fruit (other than the NLT. which was not in print in 1970s) – perhaps one of my readers can throw some light on that. Certainly this dear man and his wife blessed me with the fruit of wisdom harvested in their long years of serving the Lord in a difficult place. They never preached down at me, simply gave the gift of friendship and understanding.

Now I have reached their age, and I hope and intend to offer friendship, warmth an open heart and listening ear to any young person seeking to learn and know Jesus better.

Lord, you are the one who nurtures and cares for us

Lord, you are the one who carried us, and carries us

All the days of our life;

Giving us Wisdom’s fruit, ripened through the years,

Now grant us Grace,

That each heart may be

A welcoming place –

For you,

And that we may be truly one.

Always, Jean

I bless the Lord for the Gift of Years.

A Portrait of the Master

Image from Stained Glass Window

All my life, so it seems to me, and I have been talking to the Lord more years than I can recall, I have wished to own a picture of Jesus, the Real Jesus. A picture I could keep safely treasured away, and take out from time to time just to – well – I leave you to finish this sentence. Because chances are if you are taking time to read this article your desire has been my desire.

The Lord reminded me this morning that I have in fact been gazing on His face a very long time with these words,

“Who sees the face but sees in part,

Who reads the Spirit which it hides, sees all,

And needs no more.

Thy life in my life, Lord,

Give thou to me;

And then in truth,

I may forever see

My Master’s face.”

William Hurd Hillyer.

Everyone who loves and prays has an imprint of Christ on their heart it cannot be otherwise for God will never fail to notice and to pour out His Spirit on those who truly seek His Face. True, it is a matter of sitting still and allowing God the artist to work ~ but God has the time and is patient and will persevere with us to make His work within us perfect, complete… while I was musing, the Spirit bought me back in time, “Don’t you remember?”

I was a young woman with a lot to learn, and with little time to sit still and come to the Lord … so the Lord came to me. I looked, as the scripture stories say, and Jesus sat on the chair by my bedside. In my vision Jesus wore a long brown coat, not white and that puzzled me and has been pondered over much down the years. He said nothing, Not a word. His face spoke all… gentle, full of concern, concern and care. Now I know, that concern was for what the future held for me. He sat very upright, dignified… a little sadness I saw, sadness as a Teacher might be sad for all the hardness of the world His students would have to face… do you remember these words from John’s Gospel, chapter 15.18-19

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you

If you were of the world, the world would love its own, yet. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”

N.K.J.V.

I have pondered, over and over again why the Lord said not a word. But could I have borne words from my Lord then? Would I have known what to do about an instruction? Could I have carried an instruction out? But nevertheless without audible words He was speaking… “who reads the Spirit which it hides, sees all”

To be spiritually minded is life and peace …(Rom, 8:6)

Lord as I sit, still, attentive quiet,

So I look on you and you in me;

Help me, then to be content to gaze on you,

Even as you gaze on me.

Jean

p.s. No, the Jesus I saw in my vision did not have blonde hair. He was in fact, very dark.

The Counsel of a Friend

The Counsel of a Friend

In recent weeks I have lost a friend, a true Christian friend, generous in every respect, but most of all wise in counsel. The little notebook was a last gift; she passed into the Lord’s nearer presence on the 14th December. I feel absolutely certain that Mary is one of those who will hear these words from the Lord Jesus. “Well done, good and faithful servant”

Besides the notebook I received from Mary over the years many small texts and messages. “Felt sure this was for you” she would say; often I would look at the Bible verse (Mary loved her Bible) and puzzle over it, not so sure that it was … but I kept them all … and often find that tucked away safely in within the pages of a Bible or some other book, coming upon them months and years afterwards that they were just the words of support, encouragement and counsel I needed right then.

Do friends make our life better just by being in it?

Yes they do!

Especially that Most Excellent Friend of all, our Saviour and God. You know Jesus said “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” How special is that! I cannot think of any greater joy. For me there is no greater joy than to receive the wise counsel of such a Friend, a Friend who told us He did not speak on His own, but the words, the commandments He gave the works which He did, were from His Father and our Father… here are more words of wise counsel….

Ho! Everyone who thirsts,

Come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you- the sure mercies of David.

Isaiah 55. 1-4

Our God does not choose us for our wealth. Position , or rank are not important to the One who chose David for his heart and raised him up from keeping sheep to protect and keep Israel pouring into David’s heart the songs and humble petitions to Himself that we use in worship today. David inclined his ear and listened. My friend inclined her ear and listened. I will incline my ear and listen.

Will you? Do you?

Lord,

Teach me to be still, to incline my ear and listen.

You do not require anything else, no treasure, great or small

Can buy from you that gift of Wise Counsel,

Your Blessed Word who when the right time was come,

Came into the world, a humble sower of seed, not requiring any

Other thing than to do Your Will.

May the blesser and the multiplier of the loaves and fishes,

Bless and multiply His Words of Wise Counsel in us, and amongst us,

And ourselves abide in His Grace, Your Love, O God, and Fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Jean Harcourt — for Mary G. a friend and sower if the Word.

Follow, and Keep Following The Star

Follow and Keep On Following

Wishing all my friends a Happy and Bright New Year. Continue to look up and keep on following the Star that led us all thus far… Covid19 cannot prevail in the end the Star that is Jesus the Bright and Morning Star will overcome all darkness and bring us through to both peace and light.

Do I really believe this?

Yes I do, those wise men of old, without name themselves and from unknown lands, did not have ease in their journeys and from the day when you and I, brother, sister first began to put one foot in front of the other in our following of the Lord Jesus; we have all, if truth be told known times of difficulty as well as ease, times of sadness as well as joy ~ times of loss as well as gain, times of mourning and bless the Lord times of consolation.

We have known those times of being completely drained and emptied; only to be filled with amazing love, peace and joy beyond all human telling. Such was the finding of the wise men as they gazed on the infant Christ…. they looked on a child wrapped humbly whom they found living in humble circumstances. The Divine Son from all eternity wrapped in the same mortal skin as ours born in such a time as this..

So at the beginning of 2021 let’s look up and follow the Bright and morning Star.

Lord of all hope,

Bright and Morning Star

Keep us ever faithful in our journey.

Guide us and keep us by the light of your presence,

Until we come into that Bright and Eternal Kingdom

There, sorrows forgotten like those of a mother safely

Delivered of a newborn child, may we kneel in perfect worship

At the throne of Love, Peace and Joy.

Amen

Jean Harcourt (3rd January 2021
Artist unknown

A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place

…A lamp shining in a dark place (2 Peter 1.19)

The mornings are dark, wet and cold.

I wake in the dark and wait for the first silver-grey signs that Dawn is on the way. Often scriptures wake up within me, as I am sure they must do for many reading this. We are now 7 full days into Advent and nearly at the end of 2020 which has surely earned more than one page in the World History in a day and age where there are no shortages of either chroniclers or media in which to record the events as they unfold. Do you recall this word from Ecclesiastes who complained,

“All things are wearisome” (chapter 1.v8)

“There is no remembrance of earlier things;

And also of the later things which will occur,

There will be for them no remembrance

Among those who come later still.”

Ecclesiastes chapter 1. 8, 11.

Sounds a dismal fellow, doesn’t he this Preacher who grew very wise because he was so thoughtful and took care to remember. He says about that (v 13) that it is a grievous task which God has given the sons of men to be afflicted with, and I think as time goes on that when those personal memoirs appear on bookshelves and in media archives there are many who will give a little shudder and pass them over .. for something brighter, cheerful less solemn, and leave it to the scientists and statistics people to make sure it never happens again.

This is the way of the world. The world forgets easily those things which are wearisome and doesn’t take easily to grievous tasks

The world can be forgetful.

I say that with sorrow. The world is full of people who need comfort at this time, it needs comfortable words. And yet, those who live in comfort and are comfortable ought not to forget those who have no such comforts as food, clothing, shelter or medicine, or those trying to find a refuge from poverty, or war. This is one of the messages of Advent which is not so popular, but rather grievous and wearisome to bear. Such unpopular, grievous, wearisome messages have been delivered by God’s faithful messengers down through millennia. Are they being unheard today?

May the Lord bless those who He finds faithfully hearing, remembering and acting on His word, when He comes.

‘So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1.19

Lord, when you come,

As you will come,

Silently, and in the night,

May I be found

Watchful, wakeful and trusting.

May I be found as one with a loaf of bread to spare

For a traveller in need, a coat to give away,

Straw for a Manger bed;

A lamp to hang up high

That no feet slip in the dark, cobbled alley of

Forgetful Street.

Jean

All scriptures taken from N.A.S.B.