I was very fortunate to be invited to the First day of the Test Match at Edgbaston on Friday to watch India play England. I confess I’m not a huge cricket fan but Test matches are special and there was a great atmosphere in the crowd. People had dressed up in all manner of outfits from minions to Disney characters.
We were seated quite high up on a balcony so had a really good view of the whole cricket pitch. When one of the Indian wickets fell the next player up for India entered the field. As he walked on, he hadn’t reached the wicket when he was suddenly surrounded by men in security vests and we realised that this man wasn’t one of the Indian team. He was an imposter.
He looked the real deal though even down to the cricket helmet, pads and bat. He had boldly strode onto the field (as bold as brass as my mum would say) as though he had ever right to be there. He really looked the part but he was an imposter.
We can all easily be fooled by appearances but I’m sure if that man had actually faced one of the English fast bowlers, he would soon have been exposed as a fraud. Bowled out or more likely knocked out by a cricket ball coming at him at over 80 mph. His team mate I’m sure would also have easily spotted he was a fake and not part of the team.
The bible warns us about people and spirits that are not what they appear…false spirits, false teachers, false apostles, false prophets….Imposters and not the real deal.
We are to test all things and check the fruit. Jesus said:
‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.” Matthew 7:15-20
Yesterday, I went into our guest bedroom to find something. What with Covid and the travel restrictions, it’s not seen a lot of guests in the last year or so and has become rather a dumping ground for all sorts of family mess. However, it seems that one member of the family has been sneaking in there for her day time naps. The rascal.
She wasn’t in there at the time but the evidence of her was clearly visible. She had made herself a little nest on my red tablecloth (I did say all sorts of stuff had been left in that room) and traces of her were very visible on that red tablecloth. White cat hairs everywhere. I definitely knew she had been there. She had left traces….
So for those who know me through my writings, you’ll know that these seemingly random things always get me thinking. Leaving traces was the words that came to me. Do I leave traces of my presence behind? What about you? Would someone know that I’d been there before.
There is a beautiful verse in Acts about Peter and John.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
I pray that people will know that I have been with Jesus too and that I leave traces of Jesus behind me wherever I go. That’s my desire today for me and I hope for you too. May they say about us “ they have been with Jesus”.
Have a blessed day my friends. One more cheeky picture of the cat to make you smile.
I have realised that hope is not as easy to define as I thought and can be easily misunderstood.
My own hope in the past was not always properly formed and I think when I reflect back was either a false hope, misguided optimism or wishful thinking on my part.
So then when things did not turn out as I had hoped, I was disappointed.
When disappointment took hold that led me down a slippery slope of all sorts of other negative emotions and thoughts. It can shake your confidence and faith. It can crush your spirit and make you feel like giving up.
“When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed” Proverbs 13:12
Disappointment can be that doorway for negative thoughts and emotions. Bitterness can start to take root if we are not careful. Jealousy and envy can be quick to follow too.
Guard the door of your heart against disappointment.
Let us encourage each other and build ourselves up on a solid foundation which cannot be shaken.
The cornerstone of our faith and true hope is found in Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on Him.
I have experienced that Hope is formed through tests and trials. It comes through the hard times. It is developed in those times when we travel through the valley and experience the love and faithfulness of God. We trust in Him to know the best outcome for us. Not my will but His perfect will formed in me.
“We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Whatever difficult circumstances you may also be going through I pray that perfect hope will take root in your heart and mind. Guard your heart. If there is disappointment or bitterness, then I pray the Holy Spirit will bring revelation and will lead you to repentance, release and healing and that your joy will be restored.
Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times. Romans 12:12
Yesterday, I received a reminder of my 4 year blogging anniversary…it came as a bit of a surprise as I hadn’t realised. So a big thank you to everyone who has read, liked, commented, followed me and shared my posts over these last four years. Thank you 😊
I have connected with some amazing bloggers from all over the world reading a variety of blogs from people from all walks of life with all different types of blogs.
I have recently been fortunate to connect on a deeper level with some great UK Christian bloggers. We meet every couple of weeks on zoom to share stories and pray for each other – you can find more details about them and their sites here https://www.berrybunch.family/uk-christian-bloggers/
There is a verse in Isaiah which says this:
“‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” Isaiah 54:2
Blogging for me was enlarging my tent and I have lengthened my cords by connecting with other amazing bloggers world wide. The posts I have read have encouraged, inspired, taught and strengthened me. I have felt supported in my writings.
Thank you fellow bloggers for being such a blessed gift and keep up the good work.
If you are new to blogging then persevere. It takes time but start to connect with others and Don’t hold back .
I wrote a post recently called Replenish and since then I have been meditating on scriptures along this theme. I will be posting some more thoughts on this theme soon and would love your feedback on what that word Replenish has inspired for you.
When I was growing up I was fortunate that my Dad taught me about how to manage my finances and honouring God with my finances. He taught me about being generous and supportive of God’s work, helping those in need and giving on biblical principles.
When I received my first pay packet Dad helped me to allocate my wages. God first, then paying for my “keep” to Mum and Dad, saving a bit and spending a bit. I was living at home so didn’t have any other expenses back then. Dad always encouraged a balance of saving and spending. He wasn’t against credit cards but he would always say that you shouldn’t overstretch yourself. If you couldn’t afford something straight away then wait and save for it. If you still wanted it by the time you’d saved for it then great, but otherwise it might have been an impulse buy, you were saved from.
Money was often tight in our house growing up and we certainly weren’t well off but we weren’t poor either. We always had food on the table. We lived with my Nan for a while when we didn’t have a house but we still had a roof over our heads. Quite often I couldn’t go on school trips because we didn’t have the money for luxuries. I didn’t go to University when the opportunity came because I needed to get a job at 18. My dad worked shifts in a factory and if there was no overtime then money was very tight but Dad was always generous with what little there was. He believed that God would always provide and God certainly did provide for our needs.
When the time came for me to have my own home and be responsible for a household budget then Dad’s financial advice was something I relied on. I remember that as I advanced in my career as a lawyer (God blessed me indeed to be able to qualify as a lawyer which is a testimony for another day) and my salary increased, there was a temptation to cut back on my giving. Ridiculous really as I was better off than I had ever been but the temptation was there. In having more than I had ever dreamed possible there was a subtle trap of wanting to give less out of my increase…..the very increase God had blessed me with.
I remember a specific time when the Lord taught me to trust Him with our finances. I had qualified as a lawyer and then a year later became pregnant with our first child. Maternity pay was not as generous then as it is now and we were concerned how we would manage to pay our mortgage, bills etc, without my salary. We were arranging overdraft facilities and loans to see us through this time. It was then that I felt prompted by the Lord to give 3 amounts of money to 3 different Christian ministries. It was a large amount and more than I had ever given before but I felt this conviction in my heart that this was what the Lord wanted.
I prayed and asked the Lord that if I was right then my husband would agree straight away. My husband wasn’t a Christian so this was going to be a big ask. I can recall so clearly being really nervous asking my husband. I plucked up courage and asked and he said yes, straight away. I thought he hadn’t heard me so asked him again and again, he said yes. I was amazed and so thankful because I believe the Lord had prepared his heart.
So, I gave the gifts and it was only months later that I realised that we were not using our overdraft facility. I cannot explain it or how it happened but it did. We didn’t receive a large unexpected financial gift or anything like that but during this time we were able to manage our finances so much better than before. Our money seemed to be going a lot further than before. God was blessing us indeed and His provision was sustaining us. We went through my whole period of maternity leave without using our overdraft or going into debt. God was faithful.
We are familiar with these verses I am sure from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians but it is good to remind ourselves again of these encouraging words from God’s Word.
“Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’ Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
This is an entry in Grandad David’s book written in November 1905 on the subject of friends.
Be cautious in your choice of friends. It is of no small importance in life to be cautious what company we keep, and with whom we enter into friendships; for though we are ever so well disposed ourselves, and happen to be ever so free from vice, yet if those with whom we frequently converse are engaged in a wicked course, it will be almost impossible for us to escape being drawn in with them.In all our transactions with mankind even in the most private and humble life, we should have a special regard how and with whom we trust ourselves. If bad company had nothing else to make us avoid it, this might be sufficient, that it infects and taints a man’s reputation to as great a degree as if he were thoroughly versed in the wickedness of the whole gang.
The bible teaches us:
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ 1 Corinthians 15:33
Some days are better than others aren’t they. We encounter set backs and discouragement sets in. We feel like not a lot has been achieved or we don’t see growth as fast as we want. It takes time though for green shoots and fruit to appear or re-appear especially in some seasons of our life. If you can identify with that then I hope to encourage you with this post from 2020. It was inspired by a message from our pastor at church who encouraged us to run the race of Faith set before us with these words:
You can run a lap of faith;
One Step at a time – Mark 1
Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:17-18
One Command at a time – Deuteronomy 11
Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Deuteronomy 11:1,8
One Day at a time– Colossians 1
In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:6
One Seed at a time – Matthew 13
But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.’ Matthew 13:18-23
One Test at a time -James 1
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Whatever lap of your race you are on. Keep going..you will cross the finishing line and win the prize.
This was my daily reading today and it made me feel so blessed I wanted to share it.
How wonderful to be alive and able to give an offering of praise and thanks to God today. Some might not have the ability to offer more than that but how sweet a sound in God’s ear such praise will be.
We are away in the Derbyshire Dales at the moment and the countryside is beautiful. We visited last year and I was inspired by their narrow gates to write this post.
So, to get to the inspiration for this post..the narrow gate. On our first evening here, we ventured for a walk and discovered the “narrow gate”. Here it is..it was the first of many we encountered on our walks in these parts but our first experience of such a gate. As you can see the gate is made of two massive stones, positioned to enable walkers to enter the next field but not the livestock.
I seriously struggled to get through it. I literally had to squeeze myself through. I know I’m carrying a few extra Covid pounds but this was ridiculous. My husband thought it was hilarious as I was trying this way and that way and eventually sideways to get through. I don’t know what was going wrong because I should have easily got through the gap. It is very narrow at the bottom and then widens out (a bit) but I seemed to approach it all wrong.
And there lies the rub…with finding and entering through the narrow gate which Jesus talks about. The gate that leads to God and eternal life.
We have to approach and enter through the gate (Jesus) in the right way. We can’t take any of our selfish ambitions, pride or get through the gate by belief in our own goodness or good works. My own righteousness and good works are just filthy rags and will not do. They just get in the way and count for nothing.
The good news is that you can enter through the gate by simple faith in Jesus alone. Simple childlike faith. The gate is available to be found by everyone from every nation to find and walk through. There is an entrance fee but Jesus has already paid it for us. He died and paid the penalty for sin so the price is paid in full.
Have you found the narrow gate dear reader and entered through? Or are you approaching the gate in the wrong way and making it too difficult for yourself. Don’t let the things of this world get in the way of walking through that gate. Divest yourself of them and simply come as you are. Believe in Jesus and follow Him.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13-14
“so he (Jesus) explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:7-18