You must forgive

One of the first things we learn as children, is how to stick up for ourselves, and to defend our toys and self interest at all costs. We learn how to squabble, how to fight, to cling to and demand what we think we should have. Fighting whether it be with tiny fists or screaming tantrums comes quite easily, until hopefully we learn better. Sadly some never learn better.

As Christian brothers and sisters we have all heard at some time that our Lord Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek, to treat others as we would want them to treat us, to be generous and to forgive; and yet …

There are times just lately when I have seemed to find myself in the middle of bickering, squabbling friends; and I must be honest I have added to the din. Once the Lord showed me hens in the yard, the farmer came and began to feed them, very generously, plenty of food to go around, not a single hen was going to go hungry, but almost at once the clucking and furious fussing was switched on … almost every hen preferring that handful over there to the handful purposely thrown to them, it seems someone else’s portion is always better than our own. Feathers fly, clucks get louder, and in my picture, the farmer hurried to pick up his favourite hen, tuck her under his arm, and place her in a pen all by herself, saying: Oh not you my pretty. You just stay by yourself awhile and learn better ways…’ by her clucking, you could tell she reckoned she was being blamed for the commotion and didn’t think much of being separated out from the other hens. Her clucks said ‘It’s not my fault. I didn’t start it.’

Whether we are hens, small children or grown Christians who ought to know better, we all at sometimes need to give thought to how we are behaving and to acknowledge that the Lord does desire us to come to Him and learn better ways.

…. Again the Lord showed me two penguins, having the most furious fight, both determined not to give in, but one was getting better of the other, and the smaller of the pair was, I could see in danger of being overcome and maybe killed. It seemed very clear to me, that the “biggest”of the pair only seemed bigger because he was the angriest. His determination fuelled by rage, he was going to finish this business once and for all.

“Oh Lord. Stop it!” I cried.

“What do you want me to do?”

“Separate them. Please”

And the Lord did.

After a short while I looked and saw a pair of penguins doing a dainty penguin shuffle together, reconciled, quarrel forgotten. Anger is a terrible thing when it grows so big it’s out of control. Even if the angry person, is the one who has been wronged, anger is not the answer, and neither is insistence on our own way,

Love is never rude, and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offence or store up grievances.

“You must always forgive,”

If your brother does something wrong, rebuke him and if he is sorry forgive him. And if he wrongs you

Seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says “I am sorry.” You must forgive him.

( Luke 17. 3-4)

Remember also if we are too angry we can’t hear God speak to us ~ He cannot restrain us, he cannot reach down and remove us from the fight and the injury and harm we may cause, even to those who love us.


“But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘Look! I can see heaven thrown open,’ he said, ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ All the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they made a concerted rush at him, thrust him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.’ And with these words he fell asleep. (Acts 7. 55-60)


Scriptures taken from NJB

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Be Joyous, other brothers and sisters will come…

There are times, and this is one of them, when I wish I had time and the skill to draw and paint some of the things shown to me by the Lord from time to time, please read this very short post: it is truthful and not presented boastfully in any way at all; perhaps it will speak to someone who has been feeling as I have lately, or maybe it will speak to them about something entirely else. Please don’t feel shy about expressing your thoughts via comments.

I hunted for a suitable image, and thought the one above most suitable, the credit says “by anonymous artist” but if anyone has information to the contrary I will be very pleased to give credit…

I have been praying with a deep sense of loneliness, that the Lord will send brothers and sisters to build up Fellowship, Worship and Prayer at my church…. ours is a congregation made of older people without the energy and ability to do many things: this is what I saw.

It was morning and I woke up to find myself in the Craftsman’s workshop, He was busy at an extremely long bench, marking out measurements on a length of wood, he was happily, totally absorbed in his work, and did not see the little child who came in, and stood silently gazing up for sometime, before asking,

“What Father doing? Why wood so long?”

At this point, a gentle voice called to me, “Be joyous, listen and receive what is said.”

The Father turned, looked down on his son and answered,

“Building another room.. other brothers and sisters will come.”

I have been reflecting on this for a few days, it was a happy, contented scene, and I can see, two Fathers one Joseph, Earthly Father of Jesus and the other His Heavenly one. Joseph preparing for the enlargement of his family and God our Heavenly Father preparing for the enlargement of His family also:

We are well aware that God works with those who love Him, those who have been called in accordance with His purpose, and turns everything to their good. He decided beforehand who were destined to be moulded to the pattern of His Son, so that He should be the eldest of many brothers; it was those so destined that He called; those that He called, He justified, and those that He has justified He has brought into glory.’

Truly, I do believe that God has a purpose and a plan.. we just don’t have access to His calendar and schedule, or blueprint!

Whatever we pray for we can be confident He hears, what we need to do is watch like Jesus in Joseph’s workshop, like Jesus at the Father’s side and listen. Heaven still speaks, and look!

Outside, posted to the door of the Craftsman Shop a sign:

THIS FAMILY BUSINESS IS EXPANDING AND TAKING ON LABOURERS, PLEASE APPLY. TRAINING GIVEN.

Scriptures from NJB

Shine Jesus, shine

This year Hanukkah and Advent Sunday shared the same 1st day, 2nd December.

My church always remembers children who need help by holding a Christingle Service and collecting gifts for the Children’s Society (Church of England,)on Advent Sunday some of our Christingles are pictured.

The orange represents the world, the red ribbon the Blood of Jesus, the four cocktail sticks with sweets and nuts, the fruits of the earth and four seasons, the candle the light of the world ~ Jesus.

New toys were also bought to the same Service and blessed before they are distributed to local children in families in need. True, good faith works, does, acts, as well as believes. And, who knowing how much our Heavenly Father loves us can ignore the needs of others ~ not enough is it, to wish someone a happy Christmas without contributing to their happiness? No we have to help our Father and gift wrap His love.

Advent Sunday marks the start of a new Liturgical Year when the cycle of church lessons and readings begins again, as we read again from the Old Testament the witness God made beforehand through the prophets of the coming of Jesus into the world, to be the Glory of His people Israel and to be a light to the gentiles, so it seems to me that in His Light we truly see light and desire the light, joy and peace of His Presence to pierce the darkness of the world which ‘knows Him not’ and those who are impoverished, hurting or sorrowful, remembering that sometimes the one who growls like a bear, and is always angry or has a sour disposition is like that, because they have suffered or are suffering at the hands of others.

Advent is our wake-up call, it shouts, rather than whispers that we should wake-up now, and take stock of the oil we have in our jars for our lamps, in order to be ready when the bridegroom comes, and about our Christian duties as His servants when Christ returns.

Hanukkah (Chanukah) remembers the purification of the Temple and its rededication in 165BC (you can read about it in the books of Maccabees included in the Apocrypha), The temple had been defiled by Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes who sacrificed a pig on the altar and poured its blood on the Scripture Scrolls. The Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks was a miracle of God’s deliverance, but Hanukkah also known as the Festival of Lights remembers another miracle the provision of oil for the eternal light in the Temple. After its cleansing, it was found that there was only one days supply of oil to relight the eternal flame, the symbol of God’s presence .. but the Lord gave another miracle and the flame burned for the eight days necessary to purify new oil.

Then as now, the Lord our God provides and will send His Holy Spirit to those who ask, His Son and Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world in order to light the lamps and candles of all who would serve God with a true heart, just as the shammash (servant candle of the nine branched hanukkiyah) is used to light the other eight each night of Hanukkah… only Jesus lights us for eternity.

Shine, Jesus, shine,

Fill this land with the Father’s glory;

Blaze, Spirit, blaze,

Set our heart’s on fire,

Flow, river, flow,

Flood the nations with grace and metcy;

Send forth your Word, Lord,

And let there be light,

(Graham Kendrick (b. 1930)

May Jesus the Glory of His people Israel the Light of the Nations (Gentiles) fill us all with the Father’s glory.

The Illustrated Bible

cropped-img_0424.jpgI stood behind the Scripture Gift Stall, which looked a little different to the other stalls at the Church Christmas Fayre; no elves, no Santa Claus, no glitter balls, cuddly toys, bags, shawls, scarves – just Bibles, book marks, books, journals, pens, all kinds of everything but all with a scripture verse, or Christian Message. I just didn’t want the Nativity Story, or the true meaning of Christmas to be forgotten – is Christmas really about Father Christmas in his Grotto, the Elves packing Christmas Gifts; or shouldn’t there be a child in swaddling clothes somewhere.

Lots of people came and went, and I am happy to say took with them a little gift for someone who couldn’t be here, this afternoon.

Then as I was absorbed in a child’s picture bible, my first Advent Blessing arrived; in the form of a tall young man, dressed in leather jacket and warm woolly jumper;  he stopped to buy ‘Footprints’ bookmarks and noticing the colourful picture books, took out a mobile phone,

“Look,” he said and showed me a photo of Christ wearing the crown of thorns, and another of the Virgin Mary.

“I have this one tattooed on my back,” He said with twinkle in his eye, “And Mary on my front” – he somehow managed to lift jacket and jumper high enough for me to take a look, then very quickly covered up again.

“Oh,” I said, “You are an illustrated bible!”

He just grinned, “Don’t tell everybody” and walked briskly away.

Well, I have thought about it, like this.

Jesus and the Crown on thorns on his back – because Jesus, wearing that crown, carried us all on His back as he carried that cross to Calvary, our redemption to win,

and because the infant Jesus needed a little help to arrive into this world, in order to do that, Mary who said yes on his heart.

Somehow it all made perfect sense – we are all called to carry our cross following closely our Saviour up front, but first we all have to agree with our Father and say our yes as Mary did hers.

With every blessing this Advent Season, from the Illustrated Bible and me!

Don’t judge a book… or church mouse

People like things are not always what they seem; I learnt not to judge a book by its cover a long time ago. The most wonderful, wise and beautiful things may be hiding within battered, frail covers of an old book, the one with the broken spine thrown on to the charity shop book shelf.. may be the one containing the priceless word treasures to restore your broken heart or spirit.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover or believe you can tell the man or woman beloved by God by their appearance, education or by what they boast. I learnt that lesson long ago as well.

Once upon a time, there was a small Christian, very quiet but always happy to lend a hand when a hand was needed. Her friend was outgoing, bubbly and super confident, as often happens with friends, they both found themselves choosing new, different paths in following Jesus; and as the Lord often arranges it, they came together, for a time, many years later. When the quiet one, answering a call from heaven to watch over a newly born Christian accompanied her to the church where the bubbly, confident one had become a “founding member”

The night before the first visit, the quiet one was wakened from sleep by the sound of dripping water, drip, drip, drip,… was there a leak, raining in, bathroom tap left running? Quietly, the quiet one switched on lights and investigated.

Nothing! No rain drops under the eaves, no leaky pipes or taps. The quiet one snuggled down under the covers. Drip, drip, drip…

“Oh I get it. Is that you Lord?”

“…. do something for Me. Be a mother to my children”

Never overconfident, she replied doubtfully, “Oh Lord Jesús, I don’t think I can ever be a mother to your children… ooohhh”

He was showing her a young girl, from her childhood, carefully tying her headscarf in a tidy bow under her chin. “At least be a big sister.”

“I will try. Where are the children?”

“Everywhere you will ever go.”


So, first steps into a new church, reunion with an old friend, who hugged and announced to all present that here was “the church mouse” … the quiet one did not deny this but with customary quietness took a seat. It took just about 5 minutes for her to realise that this church was charismatic, red hot, on fire for God another 5 and someone was calling out “the children are here.”

Another 5 and she knew this lovely, vibrant, enthusiastic family had a problem that would finally result in its scattering … the Holy Spirit was plainly saying there was a thief in the midst.

It puzzled the quiet one, that the children were being taught, insistently that the Holy Spirit never reveals anything which might cause the children to feel ashamed. It puzzled her further that a picture received, was counted as “a word from God” that a meaning could be attributed in a matter of moments. That these pictures were always promises of good gifts and financial blessing for the church … when plainly….

To cut a long story short, less than two years after this new church had formed its Pastor and teacher went to prison for theft.


I posted this true story, because there are still “children” out there who are being conned, duped, deceived by people who look “alright on the outside” … they boast of many gifts, but deny the Spirit of Truth when He witnesses against them.

Many of those “children” lost faith and broke faith with the Lord when finally the truth came out … the bubbly confident one lost a lot of sparkle…

The quiet one carried on being a “big sister” and says wherever she goes “the children are always there”

My dear friends, not every Spirit is to be trusted, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets are at large in the world.”

1 John 4.1 (N.J.B)

Salt is still required

When I was young, potato crisps only came in the one flavour, and each bag contained a separate blue paper packet, ~ the salt. It was up to you how much salt you added to the crisps in the bag. You decided how salty you wanted your crisps. Nowadays there is no choice .. the crisps (chips) are salted before they are bagged.

Also nowadays, salt is not such a desirable food additive, and the labels on packets and tins on the supermarket shelves are scanned for percentage of the recommended daily intake. Too much salt, we are told is not good for our health.

Times change. A favourite uncle used to grow wonderful vegetables, producing Runner Beans in abundance, despite generous gifts to family, friends and neighbours there were always plenty to pick and preserve in salt, for wintry days. I guess that is not done much in these days of quick freezing.

You are,” the Lord Jesus said, “salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good, for nothing, and can only be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”

I think of salt as Holiness. Holiness without which ‘no one may see the Lord’ ~ holiness is the savour, the taste which the Lord looks for in our worship and our lives. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus adds,

Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another”

Like salt on the table, holiness is often missing in life today, relationships are conducted just as they come, and often we hear “it doesn’t hurt anyone else” We also spend far too much time in petty squabbles with each other within our church fellowships in comparison to little time spent in praying and studying together.

~ I would say, that is often quite untrue our bad behaviour doesn’t hurt anyone else, quite plainly it often does hurt someone else, often, it is the very young, innocent and vulnerable, it betrays sin in the hidden man or woman of our heart, it is simply overlooked, people are in the dark, so to speak,

“You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.”

Scandalous behaviour amongst priests and church leaders seems to be coming more and more prevalent amongst church people – this should not be. Immediately following these words in Matthew chapter 5, our Lord taught us not to imagine He has come to abolish either the Law or the Prophets but to complete them (written on our hearts and minds by the spirit, they show us our faults and failings in order that our hearts may take on a new perfection in love and holiness)

I have thought of the Law, the Ten Commandments and the Prophets as being the fence, or wall around the vineyard and sheepfold.. these instructions were given by God in order to protect the innocent (think of all those who harmed by abuse, whether physically, or mentally, think of all victims of theft, violence, crime, all who are corrupted by the behaviour and injustice of others – we are told that we should not judge (pass sentence, and condemn unjustly) but the Lord who is our Judge, always gives justice and administers judgement to protect the innocent). When Jesus speaks of the Sheepfold in chapter 10, John’s Gospel, He tells us that He completes the wall or fence by laying Himself down at the open entrance as the Door. As Christians, members of His Body … we need to be very careful that we do not lose the Holiness, God has called us to … “not one dot, not one little stroke, is to disappear from the Law until all its purpose is achieved” The Righteous Judge stands watch at the door.

I cannot think, that the whole world is yet subject to the Lord Jesus, we who love the Lord need to continue to be both Salt and Light. Good works and Holy people. Both are still very needful.

Scriptures from Matthew Chapter 5 (N.J.B.)

Peace

I did not know what to talk about in the Ladies Group. “Speak to them about Micah” “Oh Lord,” I said, “They won’t understand words from Micah” But I took my bible in hand, turned over the pages, and my mind went back to the … Continue reading Peace