In Green Pastures

I was searching on my bookcase yesterday for a book by C S Lewis. I know I have it but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I have probably either lent it to someone or put it elsewhere. I easily lose track of my books and am also a bit of a magpie. I did find several books lent to me though which I’ve yet to return. Whoops and apologies to those who thought they’d lost them.

My searching wasn’t fruitless though because I came across this tiny little book called “In Green Pastures” by J R Miller. He is not an author I had heard of before but he is credited in this book as being the author of another book called “ Come ye apart”. That sounds like a book worth reading doesn’t it..Come ye apart.

The title of the book had caught my eye as we have recently studied Psalm 23 in church and I thought the book was on that theme. However, it’s actually a Daily Devotional. It’s been clearly written in another generation, which you can tell from the language used, but there is no date of publication inside.

A quick search on Amazon though revealed it was first published in 1904 and you can still buy this book. That’s longevity. Dr. James Russell Miller was born in 1840 in Frankfort Springs Pennsylvania and died on 2 July 1912. He wrote quite a number of Christian books which are available still. He may be more familiar to my fellow American blogging friends? I’d be interested to hear.

The book was given to my late mother in law, Clare, by a friend who had written these words on the first page:

To Clare, in remembrance of many happy days, with love and all good wishes…”Hold fast that which thou hast”. Revelation 3:11

What a lovely inscription. I am sure each time our dear Clare picked up this little book, she thought of her friend and those words encouraged her. I love the exhortation to hold fast that which you have. Our faith and trust in Jesus is so precious. The most precious thing we have and not to be taken lightly or for granted. Let us be encouraged today to hold fast what we have been given through the grace and mercy of God.

Clare must have valued this little book because she had kept it all her life. We found it amongst her possessions when she died. It was precious to her so we didn’t want to part with it either. It has sat on the bookshelf though unread. Who knows what little treasures I will now find within.

Anyway, I am digressing, but if you are looking for another daily devotional then perhaps you could consider this little book. Even though it is written over a hundred years ago, God’s truths are constant. Culture may change around us, blown by winds of change, but God’s Word stands firm like a beacon in the darkness. I thought I would share today’s devotional on the Sin of Thoughtlessness below:

Lord please forgive me my thoughtlessness and for causing hurt to others even unintentionally. Help me through your Holy Spirit to be kind, gentle, loving, thoughtful and considerate particularly today and in the weeks ahead. I pray for a gentle heart. Amen 🙏

A Financial Storm

We are living in a time when people are worried and anxious about rising inflation, energy costs and the economy, not just in the U.K, but in other nations. The Lord has brought to my remembrance this morning a post from November 2020 and so I am re-posting today for weighing, testing and prayer. Our God is faithful and He is a good, good God in all times and at all times. He never leaves us or forsakes us.

At the beginning of November I had a picture whilst praying to the Lord.

I was seated with the Lord in a quiet place when suddenly a great wind blew up which started howling all around us and the walls and the ground started shaking. I was terrified as the wind was so strong and the walls around us started to collapse, but the Lord drew me close and put me in the crook of his arm. Even though I could still hear the wind roaring I felt safe and secure.

After that picture, as I prayed I felt the Lord say that we are going into days ahead of great darkness. There is a storm coming – a financial storm.

I believe the Lord is warning us that there is going to be a shaking again of the financial institutions of the world.

They have been shaken before but this time there is to be a mighty shaking which will cause many of them to collapse.

Great fear and panic will seize people as they realise that their assets and funds have been exploited by these institutions.

I felt the Lord was also warning us to be watchful to see who will come to the aid of people when all seems lost.

Beware of those who are the vultures just intent on picking over the carcasses of what has happened.

Those who intend to prey on the vulnerable and exploit their misery even more.

At this time the Lord says that He will arise amongst His people to bring ships to the rescue of those who are suffering.

This is the time for those nations to come forward and do good. This will be their opportunity to feed and look after and help those in need.

These ships will arise out of countries who will come to the aid of those from whom they have received aid in the past.

Woe to those nations who choose to turn a blind eye at this time. For they will have to answer to the Lord.

The Lord says that these days will be dark but He will provide for His people.

Turn to Him and call on His name for He will miraculously provide what is needed. He will care for His children.

Let our light shine before men who will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

The Lord will not let His faithful be put to shame. He will crown them with glory at this time.

This will be a time of great suffering and perseverance and endurance will be needed within the body of Christ. Let faith and hope arise.

Clothe ourselves with love and grace and put on mercy and tender kindness.

The King is coming. He is not slow in His coming as some would think but He will arrive at the appointed time with great glory and triumph over all His enemies.

Arise and keep your eyes fixed on Him for He is the author and finisher of our faith.

He will sustain us through these times ahead and will not let us stumble or fall. Call on Him and you will be saved. Amen 🙏

#Testimony Tuesday-Pam’s story

It’s my mum Pam’s birthday this week and so I wanted to re-post this testimony of her healing. She will be 84 and still loves sharing her faith in Jesus with others. She is doing well physically although her mobility is not as good as it was but she is coming to church using her wheelchair and loves it. I hope her story blesses you today.

So yesterday I posted about my belief in a God that heals in God’s Healing Power and promised to share my Mum, Pam’s testimony of her recovery from Meningitis.

My mum married my Dad, Bill when she was young. He was a reservist in the army and was posted to Somerset in England for his basic training. Dad was Scottish and a long way from home. He decided to visit the local Pentecostal church which my Mum attended. It was love at first sight according to Mum and I don’t think she wanted to let him out of her sight from that time onwards. They married but then my Dad was posted overseas because of the Suez crisis. Mum stayed behind with my brother, Ian who was just a young baby.

Mum was still young herself, only 18 years old, a young mother when she was taken ill suddenly with Meningitis. She had been out for the day on a Church outing. On the way home on the coach she got a bad headache which she put down to tiredness . It got worse and worse though and eventually she became so ill that they took her to the hospital.

She was diagnosed with suspected Meningitis and put into the isolation hospital. All she can really remember of that time is having the lumber-punctures to drain the fluid from her spine which she said were terribly painful. She dreaded them. The Doctors told her family that it was not looking good and that my Dad needed to be sent for immediately from abroad as she was not likely to pull through.

My grandad contacted the army and Dad was brought home as quickly as they could from Cyprus. It still took him some time to get home though. It was the 1950s so communication wasn’t easy. Even travel on army planes took some time. The army wouldn’t tell him either what was wrong with his wife and he was naturally extremely worried and expecting the worst. Dad kept the newspaper cuttings from the time which we still have. They are a bit brown but you can still read them.

My mum’s parents were not churchgoers but her Aunt Mabel was and it was my Aunt who had taken my mum to church. Mum had become a Christian and been baptised. The church committed to praying for mum and they decided to have an all-night prayer vigil for her when they heard the news that she was not expected to survive the night. They sent prayer cloths in for her to the hospital and were faithful in praying for her recovery and healing. She made it through the night and the worst was over. There was a breakthrough. There is power in prayer and in corporate prayer when believers come together.

From that time on, Mum started to get better and better and the Doctors were amazed at her recovery. They told her though that in their opinion she would still not be able to walk again. Mum was convinced though that she had been healed and was determined to show the Doctors that she would walk. She recovered her strength and was soon up and about. The Doctors were so pleased that she was able to walk that they agreed that she could leave the hospital and continue her recovery at home. Mum is convinced that God healed her in answer to prayer. Without prayer she is sure that she would not have survived that night. I’m grateful for those faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who committed to pray through the night for her. I’m especially grateful that God answered prayer and she made it because otherwise I wouldn’t be here today. Thank the Lord for His mercies. If you need God to move in your situation then I hope this encourages you to pray to God and trust and believe that He will hear and answer your prayers.

She’s doing well for 82 😀

The encouraging thing is that because Mum had experienced God’s healing touch, she had faith in God to heal. She always encouraged us to pray in all situations. I remember one occasion when Mum had broken her ankle. She had been playing on my daughters scooter (she’d forgotten her age) and fallen. She was in plaster but still insisted on going to church. That night there was a visiting preacher, Martin Scott who had a prophetic ministry. He picked Mum out of the crowd and said that he could tell she was a woman of strong faith. He believed God was going to heal her ankle. It was incredible because Mum felt a heat in her leg and her ankle soon recovered.

It’s good to share testimonies of God’s grace to us and the good things He does. God is with us in all times of life, the good but also the trials and times of difficulty. As a family we have also had those times too. I’ll share more about those times and how God has sustained us in times of sickness and tragedy in other posts. Have a blessed day.

Being a team member (Part 1)

You may recall me mentioning recently that I learnt a lot from my time as a volunteer team member at the Commonwealth Games in The Final Whistle. In particular, it was these bible verses (repeated below from Corinthians 12) about being members of the body of Christ that really came alive to me and taught me much especially about how our natural person(s) or our flesh wants to strive for recognition – its a worldly mindset-and how easily we fall into the trap of categorising jobs and roles (the important/not important) and then likewise judge the people who do them.

I met some of the most beautiful people who were fun, hard working, generous, helpful and humble but I also met people who came over as being lazy, full of their own importance, know it alls, bossy and difficult to work with. Mmmmmmm….which one was I? I experienced good team leaders and those who were not so good. There was so much variety of human life demonstrated in that short period of time that it was almost overwhelming but what a blessing it was to me. Over the next few posts I’ll share the background to this journey, the stories (names will be changed) and what I learnt about myself and my role as a member of the Body of Christ and an ambassador for Jesus.

The Background – All the volunteers were called the “Commonwealth Collective” and there were many different teams with a variety of functions ranging from administration tasks, logistics, hospitality, welcome, medical, family services etc. Some were front of house roles which they called being on the “field of play” and highly visible to the public and some were behind the scenes roles – hidden but vital for the other roles to function e.g accreditation. I soon learnt that there were “serial volunteers” who really knew the inside track from having volunteered at many sporting events worldwide. Me, I was a complete novice at this.

We were all strangers from different parts of the UK and some people from overseas who were brought together with our different personalities and skills to carry out a specific function assigned to us. Those roles had been assigned based on our application forms and interviews. The application process had opened about 18 months prior to the start of the Games with interviews carried out over a period of months. There were about 24,000 interviews carried out for 13,000 roles. I was selected to be part of the interviewing panel which I really enjoyed. In my family, my husband, daughter and myself all volunteered and we were all given different roles in different places. Each of us had a very different games’ experience.

The key though was that whatever role we had been assigned and wherever we were deployed, as there were many locations and venues…we were all part of the Commonwealth Collective and identifiable to each other by the uniform we wore and our accreditation badge. There were about 13,000 volunteers who were all members of the Collective. I didn’t meet the vast majority of these people but for that time, I was a team member with them and they were also team members with me. It didn’t matter that we didn’t meet, know each other..we were still part of the same team with a common objective.

How I carried out my role and what I did or failed to do would impact on the other volunteers, some more so than others depending on our proximity and reliance on each other, and vice versa. I didn’t want to let them down. There was specific training given for our assigned roles so that we all knew what was required of us. We were expected to learn and engage with that process. If you didn’t turn up for the training then you couldn’t take part. Training was a compulsory requirement.

There was also a code of conduct for volunteers setting out the standards of behaviour expected of a volunteer. It set out what was expected and what behaviours would not be tolerated. The key requirement was to treat each other with respect. One of the elements that was stressed was to LISTEN. Good volunteers listened and so listening skills were emphasised.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.

For we were all baptised by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

And so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?

But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.

But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

To be continued…..

Let the Games begin…

Morning all, for those who read my recent blog Look the Part…Play your Part you will know that the Commonwealth Games are taking part in Birmingham England (my home city) this week. Sports people from many different parts of the world (72 nations) have come together to take part in about 19 different sporting events from cricket, athletics, rugby, swimming, gymnastics, netball, racket sports…a huge range over 10 days.

It’s a massive thing for the city of Birmingham because although Birmingham is the second largest city in the United Kingdom, it is generally still regarded as a poor place. It’s reputation has not been great. Birmingham has together with the region where I live (called the Black Country) a long industrial past so a lot of the city centre was made up of factories around the Jewellery Quarter and then there were the coal/tin mines in the Black Country with the glass, chain, steel and other industries. In the other areas of Longbridge and Solihull were the large car manufacturing plants and not forgetting the famous Cadbury Chocolate factories and village for the workers in Bournville.

When the industries, manufacturing and mining declined, and some disappeared altogether, those buildings and areas fell into disrepair and neglect and there was a lot of poverty but over the years the city and its areas have started to be regenerated. One of the beautiful things of the games is that people get to see the “new” and “regenerated” Birmingham. The regeneration is not complete by any means but these games have brought with them the ability to push that regeneration along. The past images of Birmingham are being renewed and people can see what a great city Birmingham is.

God is a God of restoration and these beautiful verses in Isaiah remind us of this:

You will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.“ Isaiah 62:3-5

The opening ceremony showed the story of Birmingham and its pioneering achievements but didn’t shy away from some of its difficult history…especially the cruel story of the women who were the “chain makers” of the area. These women worked day and night making chains for industry in terrible conditions and essentially being exploited in their labour. These brave women eventually stood up and said enough. They fought to have better pay and treatment.

There was a powerful scene in the opening ceremony when this huge (and I mean huge) mechanical bull was brought into the arena by these women in their chains. The women then were set free from their chains and released. This representation reminded me so much of Jesus who by His death and resurrection has set us, the captives free, and we are no longer enslaved to sin. We are free in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Hallelujah

There are many people praying for us whilst these Games are on that the light of Jesus will break over our city. Please pray that Jesus will be exalted in these days and the love of God made known. Join with us as we pray.

I started my first volunteer shift yesterday and for the next week will be carrying out various duties in my role and meeting lots of different people. I’ll post some (hopefully) fun stories of my experiences and what happens at the Games. Let the Games begin..

The Imposter…

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.

Security in bottom corner leading him away

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

The Narrow Gate

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.

Photo taken at Youlgrave

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

I hope you have found the narrow gate.

It’s a tight squeeze

Joseph Hero of the Faith (7)

We’ve been looking at Joseph’s character over the last series of posts, which had so much to encourage and teach us about Godly character as disciples of Jesus, but today’s question is Why Egypt? Why was it necessary for the action to take place in Egypt.

Jacobs’ family lived in Canaan. They were shepherds with livestock who moved their flocks around in search of pasture. Their environment and pastures were suitable for that but not for large scale agriculture. The famine that was coming was going to be devastating on an unprecedented scale and preparation was key.

It was not uncommon to have famines in those times. We read in the bible that there had been several famines already. In Abraham & Isaac’s time they had been forced to travel to foreign lands to buy food. This famine was going to be different though. 7 years was a long period of famine. It was going to affect a large number of people.

Where was a fertile place that could produce enough food to sustain the people and surrounding nations over seven long years with planning and preparation. Egypt was the answer. It was a natural resource.

The river Nile regularly flooded and the delta region around the Nile with its mud flats was rich in minerals and natural fertiliser. It was an extremely fertile region and capable of producing great harvests. A land of abundance.

Joseph was found and placed in the place where the resources were. God put those resources in his hands to be a blessing to many.

Has God given you a vision or mission field but at the moment you just don’t see how it’s going to be possible because you don’t have the resources currently. If God has given you the vision then He will provide. He is Jehovah Jireh. The Lord who provides. God knows where the resources are and can make them available to you for His glory and His purposes. God will provide according to His riches in glory.

God can provide not only the resources to make the vision come to pass but can also direct your paths to the place that is ready to receive. Your mission field. The place of harvest. God can take you to a place which is fertile and ready to receive God’s Word. You might already be right in that fertile place. A place where the soil of men’s hearts, through the work of the Spirit of God, been turned from stone into flesh, softened and ready to receive the Good News of Jesus.

Prepared in prayer with tears of intercession for men’s souls. Brother Alan posted recently the passionate plea of John Knox “ Give me Scotland, or I die”. What passion in prayer for the lost. You can read that post here John Knox

The Nile valley was so fertile that any seed which was sown didn’t need to be ploughed into the ground. The ground was so softened by the regular floods it was ready to receive the seed and the seed could immediately take root and grow.

The fields by my home ploughed ready for the seed

The Lord will show us those people whose hearts are prepared ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus. They are out there desperate and thirsty for the gospel. Jesus told His followers that the harvest was great. There are people who are open and desperate to hear the Good News of Jesus.

Then He (Jesus) said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2

One of the greatest lies the enemy would have us believe is that people are not interested in what Christians have to say. They are interested. People are hungry for the Truth and are looking for it in all sorts of places. Be encouraged and bold that the Lord will direct your steps to share with those who are open and ready to receive.

If the ground is hard and not ready to receive then the seed is going to wither and die. Have you seen what happens when a heavy rain storm falls on hard ground. The water can’t penetrate the ground quickly enough and there is flash flooding. The ground was not prepared ready to receive the rain let alone the seed. It doesn’t penetrate the soil but runs off.

We don’t want run off.

We don’t want our words to run off like that water but we want them to penetrate and water the soil of men’s hearts. Ploughed soil is ready to receive. Ground that is broken up is ready to receive the rain. Little raindrops from heaven. Little words sent in due season.

If the soil is not ready to receive then it needs to be prepared. If those around you currently are hard hearted to the gospel message then we can intercede in prayer for them before God’s throne for the Holy Spirit to minister to their minds and hearts. For those hearts of stone to be turned to hearts of flesh. We can cry out for them to God. May our cries reach the ears of our Father in Heaven who sent His son to seek and save that which was lost.

If you are like me then I’m sure you have experienced rejection by people who were just not ready to receive you. It can be discouraging and cause us to hold back in future. I am learning that I need to recognise the conditions and discern when to sow and when to reap. To be led by the Holy Spirit and move on if the conditions are not ready yet.

Jesus told those that He sent out to minister that if there was no Peace in the house i.e the place was not ready to receive them – then their peace would return to them. If the disciples were not received then they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Matthew 10:14

Even though those disciples must have encountered some of the rejection that Jesus warned them about, they still returned with joy to tell Jesus the things they had accomplished in His name.

We will do likewise. We will rejoice over those who receive Christ and come into the Kingdom of God.

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

The seed sprouting in the fields

Rivers…

I love rivers.

These are photos I took of the river Mawddach as it flows into the sea at Barmouth, Wales. It is such a beautiful place. Serene, peaceful yet full of life. It flows.

The river as it flows to the sea
The view from above on the hill..

The bible speaks of a beautiful river. The river of life which flows from God’s throne.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever”. Revelation 22:1-5

I long to see that heavenly river but the good news is that we don’t have to wait to experience spiritual life in all its fullness until heaven. We can drink of that living water right now and the river of life – the Holy Spirit can fill us and also flow through us to help those around us.

Jesus says that He is the living water. If we drink of Him, we will never thirst again. Not only that but we will be assured of Eternal life. We will live forever with God.

To have that assurance of eternal life, the bible teaches us that it is necessary to repent and confess our sins, accept Jesus as our saviour who has taken our sins on himself and be baptised and follow Jesus.

John the Baptist came with the message of repentance in preparing the way for Jesus. People were convicted of their sins and went to him to be baptised in the River Jordan. Even Jesus who knew no sin went to be baptised by John.

A believer being baptised

What an amazing experience it is to be baptised. I still remember being baptised at my local church back in 1977 in the baptismal tank just like in this photo. My brother was fortunate to go to Israel and get baptised in the River Jordan…how wonderful that was.

Healing – The river Jordan was also a place of healing for Naaman the leper – we read the story in 2 Kings 5. The prophet Elisha told Naaman to go and wash in the River Jordan which Naaman was not happy about at all.

His ego was hurt because Elisha the prophet did not come out to see him personally and would not take any gifts from him. Naaman thought the River Jordan was dirty and nothing compared to the rivers of Damascus. It wasn’t the river itself in the story that healed Naaman but his obedience to the word of God. God healed him according to the prophet’s word.

My friends, don’t let ego or pride stop you receiving what God has for you whether that is salvation or healing.

I pray that you too will discover the river of life in Christ Jesus and drink of that living water if you have not done so yet.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” John 7:37-39

There is a scripture that is very precious to me which to me speaks of revival and an outpouring of the Spirit of God with many coming to know Jesus. The Lord has brought these verses back to our fellowship very recently. I pray these verses for these times we live in now. That many will discover God’s love for them and salvation in Christ Jesus. That they will discover the true river of life.

The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me round the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in – a river that no one could cross.

He asked me, ‘Son of man, do you see this?’

Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds – like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea.

But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.’ Ezekiel 47:1-12

I pray the dry valleys in our lives, fellowships, communities and nations will be filled with the river of God and we will allow the river of life to flow through us. That the water in us won’t become stagnant like the salt marshes but will be always be fresh.

As the disciples of Jesus became fishers of men I pray that this is a time for many fishermen to arise and proclaim the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is eternal life, a river of living water and it is found in Jesus Christ.

Blessings to you this day.

#Live Lent

The Church of England is again publishing daily inspirations and challenges for Lent which can be downloaded at the link below. They are also in audio format. I recommend them. The theme this year is Embracing Justice.

www.chpublishing.co.uk/apps/live-lent