Stir(red) hearts

Do you experience times when you read something in the bible and it’s like “wow, I never thought much about that before”. I had one of those moments today.

I was reading in the Old Testament about the time the Jewish Exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and their homes after spending 70 years in captivity in Babylon with the purpose of rebuilding God’s temple which was the fulfilment of the prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah.

The bible simply says “He (God) stirred the heart of Cyrus”.

“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

It was God who stirred the heart of the King, Cyrus to bring His Will to pass and for prophecy to be fulfilled. God planted the seed of the idea into Cyrus. Now Cyrus still had a choice when he felt that stirring. He could have deliberately hardened his heart against it. He could have refused to follow through with what God had planted in his heart as Pharaoh had when it was time for the Egyptians to let Gods people go. God had to show through His miraculous demonstrations of power to Pharaoh that His people were leaving and nothing was going to stop it.

God not only stirred Cyrus’ heart but He also stirred the heart of His people, the leaders and the Priests to respond and want to return to their homeland. Perhaps the people also needed God’s stirring to get them moving. Perhaps some of them had grown comfortable where they were now and accepted this was to be their way of life, their place. God had different ideas. He wanted to bring them back to their inheritance. The land He had promised to their fathers.

Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings” Ezra 1:5-6

I believe God is still at work stirring hearts in those in authority over us in these day whether, Kings, Queens, Presidents, government officials, bosses or others. God is also still stirring hearts amongst His people to get us moving and serving and doing in order for His purposes and plans to be fulfilled. He uses His church to show His love, grace and mercy and declare His salvation and power.

As a bird stirs up her nest to get the chicks to leave, I believe God is stirring hearts to move out from the comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory.

Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to lead you into something new. A new journey, a new opportunity or a new mission. Perhaps, you have had prophetic words or a dream from God and God is stirring up other hearts to enable that to come to fulfilment.

Lord stir up our hearts today according to your holy purposes so that your plans may be achieved through us your holy people. Amen 🙏

God’s eyes are looking for you…..

 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

These verses from the bible jumped out at me today.

I believe there may be someone who needs to hear and be encouraged by these words – the Lord is on the look out to help those who are his and to show himself strong on your behalf.

Do you need God to show himself strong for you today? If so, then take comfort from those words and pray this promise over your situation.

How strong is the Lord?

He is strong enough to bring you out of captivity and bondage.

By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 13:14

He is strong enough to heal you.

Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases” Psalm 103:3

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” Matthew 9:35

Are you feeling weak?

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” Isaiah 40:29

Do you need direction?

In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” Exodus 15:13

Are you in need of support?

“Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees” Job 4:4

Are you facing opposition?

You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me ” Psalm 18:39

Are you lost?

I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak” Ezekiel 34:16

Do you need help to rise above your circumstances?

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” Habakkuk 3:19

The apostle Paul’s prayer is for us today:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. ” Ephesians 1 18-23

And as the Aspostle Paul encourages us:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

I pray that God shows himself strong for you today in whatever circumstances or situation that you find yourself in.

God’s Providence

My good friend Heather sent me this story about experiencing the providence of God in her life.

Collins English dictionary defines Providence as:

“Providence is God, or a force which is believed by some people to arrange the things that happen to us” or another dictionary defines it as a manifestation of divine care or direction”

There is a saying in the book, Streams in the Desert:

“Those who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for “

In other words those who have an expectation of the goodness of God in their lives will see it and recognise His goodness at work.

This is Heather’s story about one of those times when she experienced God’s Providence.

“My husband and I had taken a last minute holiday to Sardinia out of season and we were really looking forward to this break. A 10 day holiday in the sun at a bargain price.

At the airport my husband said he didn’t feel too well. We just thought it was something he’d eaten and so we got on the flight and arrived at the hotel. It was late when we arrived, about midnight. By this time it was becoming apparent that my husband was becoming extremely unwell.

I went down to reception for help but the receptionist spoke only Italian. No other guests were around and I couldn’t find anyone who spoke English. I eventually managed to get the receptionist to understand through a mixture of French/English and sign language that my husband was very ill and needed a doctor.

In what seemed like no time at all 3 medics arrived and started to treat my husband. The strange thing was that I couldn’t take my eyes off them…they were so amazing and extremely handsome. They looked like they should have been actors from a film or TV drama. I almost expected there to be a film crew tagging along behind them. They promptly whisked my husband off to hospital but I had to stay behind and so they left me in the hotel.

I realised I was now alone in a strange country, I didn’t speak the language and with no idea where my husband had been taken and then a massive thunderstorm started, I thought “Where are you God”.

In the morning I wanted to go to the hospital and find out what was happening. Fortunately, the day receptionist spoke a little English and ordered a taxi for me. The hospital was a very large hospital in the suburbs and extremely busy. Thankfully, I managed to find one person to help me..he said “oh the English patient..come with me”. As we got to the fifth floor I was just in time to see my husband being taken down to the theatre for surgery to have his appendix removed. His appendix had burst and that was why he had suddenly become so ill.

There was nothing more I could do until later so I left the hospital and just started walking. I didn’t really know where I was going but eventually managed to find my way back to the hotel. I was thinking “Lord what do I do now? I’m here on a quiet part of the island, no-one seems to speak my language and I’m now on my own. My husband was going to be kept in hospital for the next 4/5 days after the operation and there was very limited visiting hours.

I decided that I would set off for the rest of the day expecting the Lord to be with me and to lead me. As I walked I came to a crossroads where the higher road went along the Promenade and the lower one led to the town. I prayed and felt led to take the higher road. I stopped to look out at the sea and then suddenly out of nowhere it seemed to me, a lady approached me and asked me if I spoke English and if I knew where the town was. She was amazed when I replied in English and we were both as relieved as each other.

I explained my story. This lady said that she had arrived the night before too on an organised trip. That morning she had missed the day trip out and so was left all alone at her hotel. She had decided to go for a walk and then got lost.

We walked to town together and decided to go for coffee. As we talked, we discovered to our amazement that we both came from Portsmouth in England. She was living there and I had been brought up there although was now living in the Midlands. Even more amazing though as I talked about my children, she asked if I had a daughter called “Amy” who worked for one of the TV channels. I did and it turned out that her son Toby worked with my daughter. They were friends in London. We both knew so many places and people in common and it was comforting and reassuring to chat. It felt like we had known each other for years.

I accompanied her back to her hotel and the Holiday Rep for the the tour was relieved to find her ok. My new friend explained my story and the Rep arranged for us both to have dinner at the hotel and for me to stay over. The next day they also arranged a private tour for us all around the island with lunch and dinner all paid for by the tour company.

I spent the remaining days of their tour with her and the tour company also arranged a car to take me to the hospital when I needed to visit my husband. What a blessing.

During our days out my new friend wanted to visit some of the churches on the island. I was able to share my faith in Jesus with her. She left the island the next day to continue her tour and my husband John came out of hospital and we continued our holiday. I never did see that lady again.

God provided me with a companion when I was lonely and blessed me with such favour from the tour company. His providence was certainly at work in my situation. I pray that you also will expect and experience Gods providence and trust Him in your life too.

Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it”.

That dear lady may not have been an actual angel but she certainly was an angel to me sent by God at just the right time to help and comfort me.

“Those who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for “

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

Jesus – He who protects and sustains us

The Lord has impressed upon me recently that He is the one who we can put our trust in 100%. He is able to keep us and help us in all circumstances of life especially those unexpected changes and difficulties. What is unexpected to us is not to Him who knows all things. He has already gone before us and prepared the way. He is preparing us, his body of believers, for more difficult and challenging times ahead so that we can persevere in faith and be overcomers in Him. Holding fast to the confession of our faith in Jesus.

As I was praying I wrote the following which the Lord spoke to my heart about His church, the bride. His unfailing love for us.

My beloveds, I am calling My bride to Me. It is time. I have come to search her out and gather her to me as a hen would gather her chicks. I am come to cover her and protect her in the times ahead. I put my arms around her and hide her under My wings – My arms of protection are all around her.

I will keep her safe and I will protect her. Come to Me in these times ahead which will be very distressing and troubling. There will be great upheaval. There will be a mighty shaking. I will support, protect and look after My bride in these days. She is my beloved. The apple of My eye. My father has entrusted her into My hands and I will present her radiant before My father’s throne.

Hold fast My bride to the confession of your faith. Keep rooted in Me. Keep your eyes fixed on Me. You can rest assured that I will sustain you in the times ahead for all things are in the power of My hand to give to My beloved. Ask of Me and I will provide for you. I will sustain you and protect you. Keep close to Me and I will not let you down. You can trust in My unfailing love for you. A love which will sustain you through all things. Blessed are My children. Blessed are those who put their hope in Me for I will not disappoint them.

I am looking after My children in the times ahead. I will keep them and preserve them from the evil one, for I alone hold the keys of death and hell. They are mine now and I will keep them forever. No-one who belongs to Me will see the second death for I have written their names into the Lamb’s book of life and they are safe in My hands. Whatever may lie ahead of you My beloveds, take heart for I have already walked the path and I will sustain you as you go. Be still and know that I am God. Be at peace in Me. Amen.

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. Romans 12:12

Jesus is our rock and sure foundation. We shall not be moved.

Remembering..

So this weekend I am in Somerset, visiting my old home and it’s such a beautiful place that I wanted to share some photos with you. I was fortunate to grow up here. We visited Old Cleeve, where my ancestors on my Mum’s side lived in the 1700s. There is a beautiful church here, St Andrew’s, which has an ancient churchyard with views over the sea.

The Church is having some repairs carried out

The church itself dates from the 15th century and there has been a church on this site since at least 1066. There is a tomb in the church that dates back to 1420 of a knight who was believed to be in service to Richard 11. That’s a lot of history. The church is a reminder to me of my past but also that we are blessed to have such a longstanding Christian heritage in this nation of ours.

The font where babies were baptised dates back to the 15th century. My great great great grandad William Langdon born in 1787 was baptised in that font. I stood in that same church today where my ancestors stood and baptised him as a baby. How awesome is that.

The interior of St Andrew’s

This post may seem at odds with my last post on church but buildings themselves should not be the focus of or define our worship or faith in God. They were built for the glory of God and point us to Him but we in our humanity can make idols of them so easily. The church, the monument, can become our focus rather than the source. The community this church served has changed dramatically since it was founded. Over time families, mine included, moved away to the larger towns and cities looking for work and the village populations decreased dramatically. Times changed. It’s good and right to remember our history as the Bible encourages us to do but we must not get stuck in the past. God wants us to advance His Kingdom in this generation and those to come.

The view from the church over the coast

We do need to be reminded though of God’s faithfulness, His ways and the wonderful things He has done for us so that we can tell our children and the generations that follow us. We can so easily forget otherwise. Just as I have retraced my ancestors today to the place they worshipped. Psalm 37 includes this exhortation:

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.
Psalm 78:4-8

Each generation is to set its hope anew on God. I pray that will be the case. Let hope arise in the hearts of the younger generation in these days that they will discover a hope that will never let them down in Jesus Christ, God’s own son who died that we may live.

It’s so quintessentially English around here in this part of Somerset. If you had to picture a typical English village then this village of East Quantoxhead would be it. Thatched cottages, cream teas and there is even a village duck pond with its own house for the ducks.

The floating duck house
Thatched cottages

This lovely village also has a beautiful ancient church with views over the adjoining fields.

Ancient memorial stone

It is good for the soul to get out into the countryside again after Lockdown restrictions and enjoy nature and these lovely ancient places which put us in remembrance of our great and glorious God who has created all things. He is the ancient of days. Blessed be His glorious name forever and ever.

The coast at Kilve

I do like to take a rest from walking too though…..

he’s thinking “come on get up, I’m raring to go”

Have a blessed day my friends and I hope that we remember the good that God has done for us.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”
Psalm 103:1-5