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.

Prayer: Don’t Give Up

So what has God qualified you or myself for?

There are I suppose many answers to that one question. Perhaps the initial thoughts of many reading it are going to be about their gifts and the talents they believe God has given them, and the role or service they have within the life of the church to which they belong.

Eternal Life however, how are we qualified for that?

I can hear one answer to that one being offered up even as I ask it, by many brothers and sisters around the world, offered as a joyful shout….

“Through the Blood of the Lamb”

Only through the Blood of Jesus. Amen

However, If we think of earthly callings, in order to get on we need to have at least some kind of educational qualifications to even get a foot on the ladder to success. Some kind of Degree is always to be preferred… I am going to suggest that our heavenly calling also calls for enrolment in a school, or college. A school or college which is open to all students who apply, Christ having paid the fees up front.

The School of Prayer

With such a gentle, patient Teacher as Christ, every enrolled student should do well here and at the end of the life-long lesson produce ample proof that they have paid excellent attention by the fruit of the Spirit grown in them as they go on…..

There is only one thing which could possibly work against any student/disciple in this school, and that is we disqualify ourselves by GIVING UP!


Each day should be seen like a fresh start.

This life is a short preparation for the Reality (life in heaven) ahead.

Do not lose heart! Glory is waiting to be revealed in us.

Look for the signs:

Discretion, justice, courage, and understanding, love, faith in Christ, concern for the poor, hospitality and freedom from anger.

St Antony of Egypt (c AD 300) advice given to others determined to live as close to Jesus as they possibly could

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 21.22 “if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” … after coming across a fig-tree with no fruit to offer him for breakfast …. if we are discouraged and feel we have nothing to offer Jesus except our daily failings.. Antony says, “Don’t give up. Treat each day as a fresh beginning, don’t lose heart… the Glorious fruit of the Spirit is just waiting to show itself … you must persevere in prayer… never doubting that the One who forgives us all for Christ’s sake will with Him freely give us that Spiritual fruit, that abundant life that is Eternal Life.

I remain confident of this:

I will see the goodness of the LORD

In the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;

Be strong and take heart

And wait for the LORD

Psalm 27. 13-14 NIV
Trust, believe have faith. You will receive the answer to your prayer

Lord, the giver of all good gifts, and the True Gardener,

You know that in the world, we have troubles, difficulties and

We confess we often cannot do what is right

And often we are tempted to give in

To walk away from the fight

To let the enemy of our soul win,

To stay down when we fall

Keep us strong Lord, keep us praying

Teach us to know that Jesus is with us in all our trials and that He

Will bring us out stronger, grown taller and closer to Heaven,

The fruits that are hard won through prayer are those,

the Gardener is patiently waiting for,

For it is you, Lord God who works in us to will and to act

To fulfil your good purpose.

Always Jean

Light and Warmth and Covenant of Grace

Anemone De Caen

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from His glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the Saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1: 11-14 NRSV

October, and the rainy, dark days are here. And if that were not enough to plunge us into gloom this year we have a Pandemic as well.

My older friend sent a message “Been thinking of you she said. Wear something bright with lots of colour… work with some colour… if you have some spare time.”

Many years ago I discovered for myself the therapeutic power of my watercolour paint box and my waterproof coat is bright red. The last of the red roses sing out to me in the garden, and my red breasted friend the Robin is there every morning waiting for his breakfast to appear through the kitchen door.

I chose the red Anemone de Caen which are planted out from September to November in the U.K. to flower around March to April (around Eastertide) for this post simply because when I look at it I think of the Lord who has rescued us from the power of darkness and bought us into the kingdom of light.

Now that makes my heart sing out for joy however dark the day! I hope yours also. Moreover I find that the warmth and light of Adonai are not just on the outside but inside also. The Lord of all grace is not waiting for some future date to transfer His sons and daughters into the kingdom of His beloved Son, it is done now …. the red blood of Jesus has bought for us Eternal Redemption.

Oh dearest Lord,

In the shelter of Your wing,

You cause our heart to sing

Out with joy.

In your light we see light.

And we are warmed in your love;

Wrapped around in Your embrace,

And Your covenant of Grace.

Always Jean

Golden Glory/Autumn Rain

Autumn in the City (Birmingham U.K)

I love Autumn it’s colours, it’s smells, the air. The carpets of leaves under my feet which sometimes crunch as Corn Flakes do, I love Autumn’s Promise, “Look, I am just touching everything with sleep for a little while…. “Get ready for Spring and waking up”

I have always trusted God to keep His promises, especially the one that as long as Earth remains Springtime and Harvest won’t fail to show up on time. But that doesn’t mean to say, that I should be careless and disrespectful to Mother Earth, she is the home that God gave me … full of wonders that I will never see, full of creatures, great and small, bright, beautiful and trees that can count hundreds, some thousands even, of candles on their birthday cakes. No. I cannot be disrespectful to Mother Earth.

I have watched a cheeky little family of dunnocks splashing water over one another in the giant flower pot saucer I fill with clean water every day. I think to myself, “now they’re good baptists” I watch tiny squirrel kittens learning from their parents the art of nut storing and the frantic antics to find them again! I wonder at the smallness and fragility of the little nest I found amongst the Ash Branches, I wonder and I marvel…

This year, I have picked an old habit up again … every Autumn I would plant some new bulbs…. an act of faith, trust in the Lord that come Spring the little bulbs will poke their little heads from under their winter duvet, daffodils will begin work on their Easter Bonnets…

I cannot disrespect Mother Earth nor any of the things, times and seasons which God has ordained even rainy days bring with them news from heaven.


Today has been a day of rain. Not just a little rain. It’s ok for me I can just look out of the window and watch the rain and the people go by, although it is true not many walk nowadays, but some still do especially schooldays; when moms push buggies and prams with older children at their side or dawdling behind, then the pavement is empty again until the great turn around time, and back home walk.

Autumn rain

Look around
Look around, look around
Is there something I'm missing here?
Is there something I should know?

And just listen to the sound
All around there's people living their lives
People passing by
As I catch their eye

It doesn't matter where you're from
'Cause wherever you are from
You got a long walk home
You got a long walk on

And I've walked for many years
And I've never shed a tear
For a place called home
'Cause in this place I roam...

Everyone's the same
When you're walking in the autumn rain
Walking in the autumn rain

When you're walking from your past
You can never walk too fast
Think you got away at last
Think you got away at last

And we all have to live with our mistakes
But what would it take
To make things right
To feel good inside?

It doesn't matter what you've done
'Cause whatever you've done
Life has to go on
Life has to go on, yeah

And my conscience is always clear every time I am here
Because there is no blame
When you're walking
In the autumn rain
In the autumn rain

I don’t know if you know that song?

Do you remember walking to and from school.

I do. All of my life my feet and legs have been my way of getting there from child to adult and my experience of rain is sometimes it’s been a delight and others ~ cold, wet and miserable. Another thought is how we feel when walking in rain is not really governed by the feel of the cold rain on our skin; but how we are feeling on the inside. I can remember walking with others and sometimes yet feeling alone: sometimes walking alone but yet feeling carried along in a crowd.

One day, sooner than they think, the little children, their moms and dads might be asking themselves what it would take to make things right and to feel good inside, as I draw the curtains on rainy, dark evenings I say a prayer that sometime in the walk of life someone will take the time to share with them the trust and faith which we were taught as little children, tell them Jesus is just a prayer away and that our Father is holding out His hand with a longing to make things right and let them feel good on the inside. We don’t remain as children forever; there is nothing so sad, so forlorn as a grown up with a hurting, empty heart which doesn’t know the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit of God.

Lord, let the Autumn Rain bring your blessing

Let the Autumn Rain fall warm and with tenderness

Fill the heart of young ones, that they may never,

Walk alone in the Autumn Rain,

Nor miss the loveliness of Golden Glory

Amen

Always, Jean

Autumn Rain, lyrics by MATTHEW HARDWIDGE, PHELIM BYRNE [Universal Music Publishing Group