Category: Prayer

Oh, that I had wings

Oh that I had wings…

“Oh, that I had wings like a dove!

I would fly away and be at rest;

yes, I would wander far away;

I would lodge in the wilderness,

I would hurry to find a shelter

from the raging wind and tempest.”

Psalm 65: 6-8 E.S.V.

From time to time, most of us, have sighed and wished that we too could spread wings and fly away, to find that place of peace; far away from the noise of our enemy; from grudging anger, that we don’t deserve, from, those our friends, who are at loggerheads with one another… and strive with all their might to draw us into their noisy, vindictive quarrels. We just want to …. fly away…

I woke up at 5:15am this morning with just such a thought, and turning over, it seemed to me, I turned into the arms of the Lord.

There is no better, safer place to fly, when troubled, than to the Lord. Like Noah who put out his hand to take in the returning dove with olive twig in its beak – the Lord is always eager to draw us quickly into the Ark of his presence – to his heart.

Now, King David was a man of war, but not I think from choice, we read of the time when he had his enemy in his grasp but did not kill him (1Samuel 26) after all the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time for war, and a time for peace – a time for every matter (E.S.V.) under heaven – and so, I believe it is with most of God’s people. Blessed are the Peacemakers, but their task is not easy, except we have a Lord and God who understands and in whose welcoming arms we find not only consolation but when our mind and heart are stilled, wisdom, guidance: so, having rested awhile, we take flight once again, on eagle’s wings.

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no-one will see the Lord.”

Hebrews 12: 14
It is so easy, Lord,
To lose heart,
And wish to be
The other side of the sea,
Putting oceans, wildernesses, mountains
In between us and them -
Strengthen us Lord,
Weary, troubled,
We look for you
And will find you
When we seek,you with all our heart.

We desire to come
Like Noah’s Dove, bearing our
Twigs plucked from
The Olive tree

Then Good Lord,
With kindly hand bring us
Into your heart
To rest awhile;
Then send us out again
Bearers of Good News,
The Peace of Christ to the world.

Amen

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.

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.

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

Prayer: The Good Way

“Look to the crossroads”

“Stand in the ways and see,

And ask for the old paths,

Where the good way is,

And walk in it:

Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV)

Whether our years are few or many. All of us at some time in life come to a crossroads and often we find the ways are not as clearly marked as we would wish for and there are no guarantees that we shall find what we desire by following this path or that.

Perhaps we may look and choose the “Road Less Travelled By” (Robert Frost) setting off hopefully and Cross Roads left behind, then suddenly we aren’t so sure… How do we know just which is the good way?

Many set off with a strong sense of vocation, and certainty of the road to take. Many more do not.

How do we find certainty

Mark’s Gospel, full of immediately’s, or straightaways, has this little account:-

“Now in the morning, having risen a long time before daylight, he (Jesus) went out and departed to a solitary place and there He prayed.

And Simon and those who were with Him searched for Him.

When they found Him, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.”

But He said to them. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth’

Mark 1. 35-38 (NKJV)

When the Holy Spirit points out to us the good way, of Prayer way we should “immediately” take it. It is a quiet way and a lonely way but it is the way our Master took, His feet never left it not even surrounded by great crowds …. and from that good way…. He gained direction for the coming days.

Lord be with us today in the good way

That we may leave behind yesterday’s town and regret

And see tomorrow’s town, purpose and hope

Amen.

Always Jean

Fortunate and blessed

I am fortunate, I am blessed with a large garden~ My own little wilderness

During the past few few days, I have spent much time out in my wilderness, chopping, pruning, digging, planting and just sitting, looking, listening

Just sitting, I have been visited, by small elusive birds, cheekier and noisier larger ones and the butterflies

Orange-Tip
(Anthocharis cardamines)

Birds, looking for food in their eating place, the little ones careful to avoid the bigger, bossier ones and a squabble, and the spring butterflies searching for nectar amongst the flowers. All at peace. All at rest.

Why can’t the world always be so quiet, so calm at rest?

I am distracted by thoughts of Elijah being fed by the ravens and because it is sunny, and hot my butterfly thoughts flitted back to a visit to Italy, Subiaco and Santo Speco where Saint Benedict lived as a hermit, in a rocky wilderness of his own. Saint Benedict also had help from Ravens. A hard, difficult climb to his cave, here was another man of God … on the run: like Moses from Pharaoh, like Elijah, like David from King Saul. Sometimes harsh, wild places are to be preferred to harsh, wild, angry kings and enemies.

Statue of St Bendict
Entrance to the cave where he lived.

I recalled thinking at that time, what a hard and difficult way to live! Sitting in my chair, with my kitchen door and food and clean water a few feet away; it was not easy to picture, to imagine the rigours of life lived in such unfriendly environments of true wilderness. From the beginning the wild places, wilderness and desert have been not only the hiding places but also the birthing places of God’s people. It was in the wilderness that the people of Israel were shaped, where John the Baptist cried out to make straight the way of the Lord, where Jesus was tested by Satan and prevailed.

I have an idea that no one truly chooses to live in the wilderness but that our Father chooses them and then the wilderness to prepare them until ready, equipped, character formed, strengthened and empowered they are ready for the next stage of their life, and Life in Christ is never going to be easy.

Right now, there are millions of God’s children who with no regular public worship, feel kind of lost, in some kind of wilderness of our own. We are not lost. The Shepherd knows where each lamb is. In His time, the Lord will bring us out, a people ready.

Father, through all our wandering be our guide. Teach us that the safest place to be, is that place where You are. You are, and You alone our Rock, our Strength. It is You who provides our Daily Bread and water from Living Fountains. Neither fierce heat by day, frosty cold by night, plague, storm, the enemy without or the enemy within can overcome your children and You make us more than conquerors through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Come, and sit awhile

My church, part of the Church of England, and our sister churches have now paused Public Worship Services, following the guidance from the U.K. Government. Strangely this has meant a week of frantic busyness for one or two of us. Our church is an older church most are over 70 years old, and we do have a large proportion of those at risk, yet for many, no church service is a great disappointment

I have hope, and it is I feel it is more than hope that out of and through the present circumstances, the Lord will draw His church as the master sword smith, tempers the finest blade, by drawing it from the flame and then by plunging it in water.

‘Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted amongst the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46.10)

As my tasks diminish, I know, that it is time for me, personally to ‘Come, sit awhile’ in the Presence of the One who cares for me, and for you.

I shall be praying for all my loved ones, and for you – Coronavirus has called us to battle – but the virus will not have the victory – the battle is the Lord’s

“Don’t Fast From Me“

Lent Day 3

The world is a Messy Place. We all have a hand in its mess. One afternoon last week, I came home after a midweek Morning Service in church, I had so much to do, but didn’t. I could only sit and weep, inwardly. Someone I had spoken to that morning had been so hurt (not by me, I am glad to say) that he a grown man, about my age had exploded in anger, anger with tears in his eyes.

The person who had caused the hurt had no idea, that a thought she had for good reasons, would have caused such hurt. She is herself caring for a close relative, a relative who is terminally ill. So offence taken and deep hurt felt … over what in actual fact was, a good thought and decision made for the good of many, by another hurting soul. The many included the man himself. I cried for his hurt, I understood totally the friend who had made a good decision and the reasons for that decision.

I cried because life can be so messy, painful, for misunderstood motives for the hidden things of the heart.

Hearts are unreadable. Even our own hearts can deceive ourselves. Satan our enemy can take the best of our thoughts and twist and bend them to suit his own purposes, hurt and bad feelings in the Body of Our Lord Jesus.

Yes Christ loves us, cherishes us as His very own self. Yes we know we should love one another. Yes, a big positive yes from me here, we do in all truth love one another… but our enemy, the chief Mess Maker takes our good intentions, our best thoughts and turns them, bends, twists and throws them in our paths as stumbling blocks of the first magnitude.

Part of Lenten Discipline is fasting. Many things are fasted from these days, one friend has given up her beloved Facebook; she reckons that , for her, is more difficult than to give up food.

What we should not give up is Prayer

Neither should we give up watching our own hearts. We should be careful and guard against such sneaky things as envy, because you know, envy can be the catalyst for anger, it can be the self-held knife that we use to produce the cuts to our pride that produces our hurt. Our hurt can in turn produce more hurt, more sin, more mess

I saw, a vision of paint, thick oily paint, daubed everywhere around town, the doors, the window sills, the walls, the people, and to be honest the most skilled of artists would have had an impossible job in discerning the pigments that those colours were mixed from! And once mixed they cannot be unmixed… they must simply wait to be erased, removed… it took the Wisdom, Love and Grace of Almighty God to clear up Humanities mess, in the Coming, Sacrifice and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Why the title of this post?

In a time of stillness and calm, when I could hear clearly and not miss His Word … this was the Lord’s Whisper to me.

“Don’t fast from Me. Do not refuse my food, the Bread I offer to you!

Jesus is the Bread of Life, the unleavened Bread of Truth; stillness, quietness are the room, unlocked with the key of prayer where once admitted, He can through the Holy Spirit begin to cleanse our heart, order our thinking and use us, as clean instruments in cleaning up what remains of the World’s big mess, yes God has left some mess here, just for us, so that in teaching us how to tackle it, He can bring the work He started in us when we said Yes to Him, in the person of the Lord Jesus to perfection in the Day When the secrets of all hearts are made known and the Victory of the Cross plainly revealed.

May all the blessings of a Holy Lent be ours.

And all the Glory and Praise to God alone. Through our Lord Jesus Amen

Image: Bread baked baked by Brother Amos SSF