Pouring out the oil

Morning all, I hope that you are having a blessed day. I had a beautiful and encouraging picture during worship at our church service this morning which I want to share here too, as I believe there are people reading this blog (or people you know) who will be blessed and encouraged by this picture.

In the picture I saw a shepherd who was pouring oil onto and over a sheep’s head. The Shepherd was rubbing the oil into places that were wounded or infected but otherwise the oil was freely flowing down and over the sheep’s head onto its neck and then onto the ground.

File:Pouring Oil.jpg

We know that we are the sheep of God’s pasture and the great Shepherd of the flock is Jesus. Jesus is pouring the oil of His grace and love through the ministry of the Holy Spirit over your head today. It is like the balm of Gilead dripping down over your head.

The Lord Jesus wants to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to those who are currently experiencing attacks on their thoughts – those experiencing anxiety, depression, fear, self doubt, confusion and whose thoughts are being assailed at this time.

Just as the Shepherd pours the oil over the sheep to protect it’s head from disease and to heal its wounds so the Lord is pouring out His grace and love upon you today. Receive His love. Receive His grace.

I pray that every thought and imagination will be taken captive to Christ and we will know and experience the extravagance of His abundant love for us today. That we will know God’s love and grace from the top of our heads – the crowns of our heads – to the soles of our feet.

This oil of grace and love is being poured out upon your head today – receive it and allow yourself to surrender to His loving grace and mercy working in every area of your life but particularly your thoughts today.

Bless you today my friends in the precious name of our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Feeling invisible

Do you sometimes feel invisible? That people just don’t notice you.

A visiting preacher from Turkey once told us that Mission begins with Seeing.

In chapter 2 of the story of Ruth we read in verse 5 – Boaz said “whose young woman is this?”

Ruth who was a foreigner, a stranger, a refugee who is destitute is noticed by Boaz. From that moment on when she is noticed – everything in her life changes.

When we notice someone or when someone notices us – things change.

There were a lot of reasons for Boaz not to notice Ruth or pretend he hadn’t noticed her- she was a woman from another culture. She was poor – not a worker in the field just there to pick up the leftovers – but Boaz noticed her. When he noticed her – he also did something to change her circumstances forever. He showed her favour, gave her advice, his protection and then redeemed her in marriage.

Ruth was a widow from another country who had gone to Bethlehem with her mother in law Naomi, also a widow, to escape a famine in the land. They had heard that there was food in Bethlehem. Ruth was a Moabite and was an outsider from a different culture. The Jews and Moabites were often in conflict. Ruth as a widow had no husband to represent her. She had no voice and no legal rights. She had no-one to protect her. She is living in a desperate situation having fled from a country suffering a severe famine. She has nothing other than her mother in law Naomi. She no doubt felt shame about her destitute circumstances.

Ruth was someone who desperately needed someone to notice her and help her.

Boaz was at the other end of the social scale. He is a wealthy landowner who has power, influence and privilege. He is a Jew. He has a voice. He has a position. Sometimes “having” can stop us seeing how others – the “have nots” are affected and living but Boaz does see Ruth though. He notices her situation and then uses his position to help her. He doesn’t ignore her plight.

This story is set in Bethlehem which is called the “House of Bread”. Hungry people come to the house of bread to be fed. When Ruth and Boaz marry and have children their descendants lead directly to Jesus. Jesus is from their line. Jesus who is and called himself the bread of life. Hungry people need Jesus who is the only one who can truly satisfy their hunger. Do we notice spiritually hungry people and signpost them to the true bread of life. Do we notice those who are actually hungry and feed them.

We are all refugees like Ruth in one sense in that we too as mankind lost our original place with God when sin entered the world through Adam & Eve eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. We all need a Boaz – a saviour to step in and help us. Someone who notices our plight and has the ability to be able to save us from sin – there is only one who can truly do that – His name is Jesus the son of God who through his death and resurrection saved and redeemed us from sin. We are refugees no more as our home is now in heaven with God forever and ever. We are now part of the family of God as Ruth became part of Boaz’s family on marriage.

If you feel invisible, insignificant or overlooked then I want you to know today that God is a God who sees us – God sees you. God notices you. He is just waiting for you to notice Him. He sees you right where you are.

When Hagar fled to the wilderness and hid it was God who saw her – She called him “you are the God Who Sees” because God saw her in her predicament and helped her. Even if those around us don’t notice us, if our families don’t notice us – God does. God always sees us. He loves us.

We are God’s eyes too – who does he want you to notice today so that you can show His love. Who does God want you to see – mission begins with seeing.

Whether you identify with Ruth or Boaz in the story, I pray that you will be encouraged. You will know that God has noticed you – He sees you and loves you. That we will also notice those who God wants us to see and notice who are in need today.

Have a blessed day.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

Memory Lane

Sometimes it’s good to reminisce. This week I’ve been having a look back through the family photo albums, prompted in part by our eldest having just graduated from university and returning home.

This has prompted many “do you remember when” conversations and laughter. It turns out the youngest then declaring she can’t remember some of these memories and even some of our holidays!!! A fortnight in Spain she hardly recalls-baffling.

Anyhow, I took a look back at the albums to remind her she had visited these places. It’s undisputed evidence that these shared experiences actually happened even though she has forgotten. Pre-Covid travel – will we ever get such unrestricted freedom again.

I enjoyed reminiscing and thought I’d share a selection of my favourite photos in the hope you’ll enjoy them too and it might prompt you to have a reminisce of your own.

God also loves it when we reminisce and remember His loving kindness and faithfulness to us. Psalm 103 is one of my favourite Psalms…Forget not all His benefits…

Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5”

Today, there may be someone you know who is struggling and we can be that voice of encouragement to remind them of God’s loving faithfulness and to encourage them to keep going because God will bring them through. Sharing stories and testimonies of God’s love.

I literally took these photos with my phone from the album so the quality may be a bit ropey 😀 I still love the vibrant colours on show though and also the beauty of God’s creation in nature. You may recognise some of these places. Have a blessed day.

Bill’s story – Lessons from my Father

I don’t usually do two posts in a day, so this is a new experience for me. I earlier shared my Mum, Pam’s story of her experience with Meningitis in Pam’s story. As it is Father’s Day then I want to honour my Dad, William or Bill as he was usually called, and tell you about him.

Dad’s experience of God’s healing power in his life was very different to Mum’s. We are all unique and no-one’s story is exactly the same. Every story has value and we all have something to share. This is why I believe in the power of testimony. Your story with its uniqueness of relationship with God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit will speak to someone.

I believe that God truly knows what is best for each one of us and learning to surrender to him and trusting God when things don’t go according to our plans is a valuable life lesson. Dad’s experiences helped me to understand and see that God’s grace is sufficient for us and how God gives us the grace and strength we need to hold on and persevere in times of testing and suffering.

My Dad, Bill was quite a character. He was a passionate Christian who loved to share the gospel with everyone he met. He was full of energy, never still and very engaging..a cheeky chappie as they say and loved to talk. He could have made a living by talking…He was a big supporter of many Christian ministries and particularly loved T L Osborn, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham. Luis Palau and Reinhard Bonnke.

Dad worked hard. He worked the night shift in a factory and sometimes I would hardly see him. I’d be going out to school and he’d be coming in from work. He had big plans though for when he eventually retired. He was going to take Mum travelling in one of those big Winnebagos. This prompted much laughter in our family as Dad was well known for getting lost and being quite incapable of reading a map. Mum wasn’t much better either so I had quickly learnt to become chief navigator on our family holidays from a young age.

However, sadly those plans were not meant to be. Dad retired at 60 but then almost immediately suffered a massive stroke which rendered him paralysed down one side of his body. He was confined to a wheelchair. We would have loved him to have been miraculously healed but those prayers were not answered. We were grateful though to have him still with us. Dad could still laugh and joke and he still continued to share the gospel. In hospital he had a poster by his bed of Jesus standing beside the empty tomb. I don’t know what happened to him when he was so ill in hospital and unconscious but when he recovered, he could not talk about Jesus without being moved to tears and tell people how much he loved Jesus. It was very humbling to see.

Further tragedy was to strike not long after though when Dad suffered another major stroke. This time it was on the other side of his brain and took his speech. He could no longer talk as he did. It was very hard to see him struggle to express himself. He could utter sounds which we started to learn to interpret and we could still understand some words, especially when he was saying “Jesus”.

During this time, Dad could have become embittered and angry at his lot and how his life had turned out but he didn’t. He faithfully attended church and loved watching and listening to great preachers. He was still grateful to God and he knew that there were also many people who were worse off and suffering much more than him. He was always a big supporter of the Barnabus Fund and taught us that it was important to support fellow believers who were being persecuted and suffering greatly for their faith in other nations.

Dad had lost his independence and all ability to look after himself and was totally reliant on my Mum, my brother and his carers to do everything for him, getting him up, washing, dressing and even feeding. He had limited movement in his right arm but was very weak. He sometimes got frustrated when we couldn’t understand him but he maintained his cheerfulness and was able to cope with what had happened to him. It was only through God’s grace operating in his life that I believe enabled him to be like that. He was a testimony to me and others of God’s grace and peace in action.

Although, Dad was never fully physically healed, he did experience times of God’s healing in his body. One time, I recall was when he was taken extremely ill with pneumonia and was in the hospital. We were called to his bedside because the doctors did not think he would survive the Pneumonia. The chief registrar and doctor stood at the bottom of his bed and it was the first time that I had heard what is called the “death rattle”. It’s the most horrible sound of someone struggling to breathe and effectively taking their lasts breaths. It is a rattling sound from deep within the chest.

I had called my friends from the hospital to pray and I had asked God to take Dad if it was his time but if not, then to restore him to us. It was all I could think to ask God for at that time. We had the comfort as a Christian family to know that Dad would go to be with his Lord Jesus, but truthfully I didn’t want to let him go. He was my Dad and a big influence in my life. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet.

As we all waited by his bed, Dad suddenly stirred and pointed to the corner of the room. We couldn’t see anything but I believe that he could see something in the spiritual realm. They say the veil into the spiritual realm is thin at such times. I felt prompted to tell Dad that it wasn’t his time to go. He should tell whoever was there that he wasn’t ready to go with them. I can’t explain what happened next but Dad seemed to relax and continued on breathing but his breathing started to change. It became quieter and more regular. His face changed and was more relaxed.

After a while of this the Registrar stated that he didn’t think Dad was going to die after all that day and they would come back later!! Praise God, Dad recovered and lived for many more years after that day.

Our appointed times are truly in God’s hands. God as our Heavenly Father loves us much more than we can understand. I thank God that my earthly father is now safe in Father God’s care. Dad went to be with the Lord in 2006. I’m sure Bill will have lots to tell me one day when we meet again which we surely will.

Dad always said he was looking forward to getting to heaven. One thing he wanted to do was meet the Apostle Paul. He had lots of questions for him…it makes me smile to think of my Dad chewing the ear off the Apostle Paul..one of his great bible heroes. Bless him.

Dad’s favourite scripture was Psalm 84: It was the reading at his funeral. His favourite verse was:

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
Psalm 84:10

Dad’s enjoying eternity in God’s courts now and I’m sure he has never been happier.

Dad as a young man

God’s Healing Power

Sometimes, it’s important to be clear about what you believe. I felt convicted of that this morning. I am not ashamed to say that I believe in God’s power to heal us from sickness and disease, not just in days of past but also for today. I worship and believe in a God that heals yesterday, today and tomorrow. God boldly declares it about himself, it’s part of God’s character. He is a healer. He calls himself Jehovah Rapha..the God who heals. That’s a bold statement.

God doesn’t just say empty words about himself. He demonstrates that what He says about himself is true and reliable. We can have faith in Him that His words are true. There is a continued thread throughout the bible of God demonstrating His healing power in the Old Testament and continued by Jesus in the New Testament and then by the Apostles and other believers. There are many stories of healing and witnesses who testified about God healing them.

Healing was a major part of Jesus’ ministry when He was here on earth. He had such compassion on people that He did many healings and miracles which the gospels tell us about. I believe those accounts.

“They had come to hear him (Jesus) and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.”
Luke 6:18-19

The bible teaches us that God’s healing powers did not stop when Jesus returned to heaven because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to continue His work through His believers. The Apostles and other believers filled with the Holy Spirit also healed in Jesus name.

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’

“What should we do with these men?” they (the leaders) asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot.

For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.

After their release the disciples prayed:

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:8-11,16,21-22,29-30

Healing didn’t stop there either as the bible teaches us through the Apostle Paul that the Holy Spirit continues to give the gift of healing through believers:

The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing.” 1 Corinthians 12:9

We are encouraged to pray for those who are sick:

Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
James 5:14-16

Does everyone that we pray for get healed immediately or physically healed. The answer to that from my own experience is No. I don’t operate in a gift of healing continually. I can testify however that I have experienced people being healed immediately and I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit go through me by the laying on of hands. Yet on other times not.

Do I get discouraged sometimes when people I pray for or we pray for as a fellowship are not healed. Yes, I do. Do I understand why some prayers for healing are answered and some not. No I don’t. It doesn’t stop me though from stirring up my faith, refusing to give in to disappointment and praying again. I persevere because I know and believe that I serve a loving, faithful God who can and does heal. It is His Will which is to be done and He knows what is best in every circumstance. God wants people to be saved and spend eternity with Him through faith in His son Jesus.

I know there are other bloggers on WordPress who have also been healed and have shared their testimonies online. I have met people who have experienced God’s healing touch through faith in Jesus Christ and been encouraged by their testimonies. I have shared my own story of experiencing healing. God healed me once in a very different way than I expected. You can read about what happened here Healing – My story.

I’ll share my Mum’s story tomorrow. Pam was healed from Meningitis before I was born. The doctors had told my Dad that there was little hope of recovery but the Church held an all night prayer meeting and God moved powerfully on her behalf. I believe her testimony will encourage someone who need to hear that there is a God who heals and His healing power is available today.

I pray God’s blessing on you all today.