This is my first post in quite awhile. No, I haven’t been ill with Covid. I have been busy and so tired, it has been so difficult to put one foot in front of the other. I am so grateful to the Lord for his patience and being so close at hand through it all.
I have learnt first hand the truth of those words of Paul the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 12.9… the power (strength) of the Lord Jesus is made perfect in weakness.
We can still grow …. in grace, in courage, in faith.
We can still learn …. first hand, that the Lord never leaves us or forsakes us.
We can make progress forward … even if we cannot take a step from the house.
Little by little will get us there.
Oh most, wonderful,
Most patient and loving God,
Your love refreshing as rain on sad, dusty roses,
Restores, refreshes and fills us with new purpose…
In our weaknesses…
It is your arm which holds and supports.
Thank you for holding us up when our own strength will not,
Truly, your compassion and mercies will never fail us,
“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 thosewho love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
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,
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”
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.
p.s. No, the Jesus I saw in my vision did not have blonde hair. He was in fact, very dark.
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?
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.
Jean Harcourt — for Mary G. a friend and sower if the Word.
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
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
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.
September will soon slip quietly through the door to let October in. This has been a strange year; an upside down year with no season or month appearing ‘normal’ For many it has been a year of great loneliness, despair and at times a fearful one. A year of sorrows and loss and as I write, with the days shortening and nights lengthening, so many of us will be looking at the approach of Autumn and Winter with trembling and fearfulness.
The opening words of Psalm 89 tell us that the Psalmist (Ethan the Ezrahite] intends to sing out about the Lord’s great love forever. He sings of the Lord’s great faithfulness …. he sings of God’s eternal covenant with David (the Messiah] whom God will appoint to be His firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth. (Verse 27). God declares (verse 37) that His covenant with David will be “established for ever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky”
I look up at the Moon in Autumn skies and have a little whispered conversation with her Creator, often very conscious of the Good Shepherds presence, I am comforted. I pray that any who might read these words will be too, and very aware of the nearness of the One who has promised, never to leave or forsake us.
I see the moon, the moon sees me.
O thou lantern great of grace,
O white moon of time and space,
Who gave light and shape to thee,
Life and death He did decree,
Who created thee is He
Who likewise created me.
God bless the moon, and God bless me.
Anonymous.. Scots Gaelic. Trans by G R D Maclean Celtic Spiritual Verse: Poems of the Western Highlanders from the Gaelic (SPCK London 2002)
May the Lord who made heaven and earth, placing the Sun to rule over the day, and the Moon over the night, that they might be for signs, seasons, days and years watch over you, whoever and wherever you may be and bless you with His great peace.
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
These ruins are an 11th century building on the foundations of St Hilds original double monastery, which was most likely several much smaller buildings of timber, wattle and straw. St Hild, known nowadays as St Hilda was a great niece of King Edwin of Northumbria and a key player in the history of the Church in England. She hosted the Great Synod of Whitby in 664 AD which meant the adoption of the Tradition of the Church of Rome and a movement away from Celtic Christianity as bought to our shores from Ireland. Hild herself, leaned more to the teaching of St Aidan than St Augustine.. but that is how the Synod went.
Today, when we think of monasteries, Monks and Nuns we possibly have very fixed views about them. But truth is, the lamp for our feet-the message of the Gospel was held carefully and bravely in their hands for many, many centuries they were the Evangelists and Missionaries of those centuries, they guarded the light, kept it burning through dark times, and were themselves on fire for the salvation of men, women and children
So what do I see when I look at the lamp in the photo.
I see in my Spirit, the faithfulness of Christ the Light of the world, the Everlasting Light, Hilds Abbey has long since gone, and the 11th Century Ruins are just that. But the same Sun still rises, still sets, and will go on doing that, long after you and I have folded up our mortal tent. Yet one day, science tells us that the Sun will be gone as well.
But not Christ our Sun and Lamp, He was the same yesterday, inspiring Aidan, Hild, Augustine, Martin Luther, Charles and John Wesley, Billy Graham and before all these, Peter, James, John… He went before Israel in the Wilderness, met with Abraham and Sarah. He is the same today, pouring out His Light and Spirit on me, on you and
He is the same tomorrow, when
“The city has no need for the Sun or the Moon to shine on it, because God’s Sh’khinah gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Father who wakens us, calling us
And bringing us safely through darkest night
To fairest, brightest day,
Grant that we may be pure and holy, clean
And clear as crystal-glass letting your glory shine through,
We do not ask that we might be known, simply
That we may be the vessels your light shines through