The Narrow Gate

So this week, I am blogging “en vacances” as the French say, but from the Peak District and the Derbyshire Dales and not the belle France ….which is where we should be this week coming with the family. Sadly, because of Covid restrictions it was not meant to be. C’est la vie. However, new opportunities beckoned.

It’s been about a 2.5 hour trip from home to get to our new camping ground, so not far, but this is a good opportunity for us to visit some areas we have not considered previously and take our minds off France. Although Covid changed our travel plans, we are blessed in that we live in a tourist destination already. The U.K has beautiful places to visit and although the sun is not guaranteed….as we were always told as kids when sheltering on a windy cold Fife beach, “there is no bad weather wee girl, just bad clothing” 😂

If you have never been to this area of the U.K. then I recommend a visit. The Derbyshire Dales is beautiful and seems much less busy or well known than the Yorkshire Dales, but if you like limestone gorges and beautiful river valleys with babbling brooks then this is for you.

The high Peaks of the Peak District are also great for stretching those legs out, walking to Mam Tor, Kinder Scout. Not that I made it up Kinder Scout (I’m not that energetic) but Mam Tor was just perfect to get my heart pumping. I like a nice river walk me – usually flat but as my husband says, “if you want the views then you got to get up there to the heights”. I tell him “that is why they invented cable cars”.

River walk
Lathkill Gorge
View from Mam Tor

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. Let others through and keep others out.

Photo taken at Youlgreave

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

Jesus the Lamb of God

The shouts of heaven still continue to declare:

All Hail the Lamb; All Hail the Lamb;

He is the darling of heaven;

He is crowned with many crowns;

At His name every knee will bow;

He is all majesty and power;

His eyes are like a flaming torch;

He is TRUTH and LOVE;

On His thigh is written a name only He knows;

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE;

He is HEALER, He Is CLEANSER;

He is Deliverer;

He is the Refining Fire;

Open your eyes today to see Him;

It is time to anoint our eyes with salve so that we can truly see Him;

If you are blinded to the truth then you will not see Jesus for who He truly is;

He is more than a prophet, He is more than a man;

He is the Son of the living God;

He is God;

He is alive;

We live in times when there are many blind leaders of the blind;

Many follow those who are blind along the wrong ways;

Are you blinded to the truth;

Have we become blinded to the truth;

I pray the Holy Spirit will open eyes to the truth today so that we can see Jesus more clearly;

Without Jesus as our saviour we are in sin but He can cleanse us from all sin.

I pray today that you will see and know Jesus in all His glory. Take hold of Him today and His redeeming Love for you in faith.

Amen

Rivers…

I love rivers.

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

We stayed in a little cottage right on the banks of the estuary. We could just sit, relax and enjoy these beautiful views. God’s creation is so beautiful.

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 Gods 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 – https://www.biblegateway.com

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.

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 – https://www.biblegateway.com

There is a scripture that is very precious to me which to me speaks of revival and an outpouring of the Spirit of God many coming to know Jesus. I pray that for these times we live in now. That many will discover Gods love for them and salvation in Christ Jesus.

“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 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage

I pray the dry valleys 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 fresh.

As the disciples 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.

Blessings to you this day.

Gardens…

Meet Me in the garden…Those were the words I heard in my spirit as I was waking one morning. I initially turned over and tried to go back to sleep but I heard them again – “Meet Me in the garden”.    I knew it was the Lord Jesus speaking to me and inviting me to spend time with him – not in my actual garden – but in that secret place where I go to pray and talk to Him.    It was early morning so I got up as quietly as I could, so not to disturb my family, and went downstairs to a place I could be alone and meet with the Lord.

It was a really blessed time in His presence.   I started to think more about why the Lord has said to “Meet Him in the garden” and what is so special about a garden.   

During lockdown because of Coronavirus,  many people have spent more time in their gardens or local parks.   It is a blessing to have a garden – a place which is yours, a sanctuary to enjoy and take pleasure from.    A place to reflect, enjoy the beauty of nature and time to relax.    Gardens draw us in and make us feel better – they are food indeed for the soul.   There is something in our DNA which draws us to a garden – even if we are not green fingered ourselves – we can appreciate the beauty. This is me with my dog peeking through a floral display in the park.

I started to think more about gardens in the bible.

God was the first Gardener – It says in Genesis 2 v 8  that “the Lord God planted a garden”  – the Garden of Eden.    How amazing & beautiful that first garden must have been – planted & designed by God’s own hand.   It says that every tree planted was “pleasant for the sight” and “good for food”.       God made that garden especially for Adam.   He took the time to create a special place for Adam.   A place of nourishment & also a place to meet.    God would walk in the garden in the cool of the day and meet with Adam & Eve – a time of relationship.   There is also a special place for each one of us – a place where we can go and meet with God – a place to be in His presence.

Life was in that very first Garden – it was formed there – God created Eve from Adam’s side and the Tree of Life was in it’s midst.    Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness and I believe that we find life – true life – in our relationship with Him.    When we come and meet with Him we meet Life – Jesus said “I am the way, the truth & the life -No-one comes to the father except through Me”.      We won’t find true life or relationship with God any other way – After Adam & Eve had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good & evil they were put out of the garden in case they ate of the tree of life and lived forever in sin.     Jesus through his death and resurrection has cleansed us from sin, there is a way back into the garden of fellowship with God for us and we are now partakers of eternal life.

Death was also in that Garden – When Adam & Eve ate of the tree of knowledge death came.   God made tunics of skin to cover them – an animal had to die to provide clothing for Adam & Eve.  Death had entered into creation.   Death was also drawing near in the Garden of Gethsemane.    Jesus met with his Father in prayer in the Garden on that night.    It says in the gospels that Jesus often went with his disciples there and that is why Judas knew where to find him.    On that night – it was a place of betrayal, pain & suffering for Jesus.   He was in great sorrow and in deep distress.   He had been betrayed, let down by His disciples and was facing death & torture.     The garden is a place that God wants us to come when we are in such times of sorrow – times of anxiety & fear.  Times when we feel overwhelmed and think that we can’t continue – when it all seems too much.    Times when people close to us have betrayed us or let us down.God will draw us to Him, will comfort us & strengthen us in such times so that we can continue.

Beware of the enemy in the Garden. Satan entered the garden of Eden and deceived Eve. Watch out for the lies of the enemy. Don’t let him lead you astray. The garden can provoke others to jealousy. Jezebel schemed and plotted to have Naboth killed because her husband Ahab desired the vineyard garden that belonged to Naboth. The king wanted it for a vegetable garden but Naboth refused to sell. It was his inheritance and not for sale. The enemy always wants to steal your inheritance in Christ. The enemy is jealous of your position in Christ and he will do what he can to steal from you. Guard yourself and trust in God. The enemy will try and stop you enjoying relationship with God. He will tell you that you are not good enough and all sorts of lies to interfere in your relationship with God.

New Life & hope was in the Garden – When Jesus conquered the grave and rose from the dead and appeared to Mary ,she thought at first that he was a Gardener.   I had never really thought about that before but my friend mentioned it to me the other day.     Why would Mary have mistaken Jesus for a Gardener unless he was in a garden and it was a reasonable assumption to make.   From a place of sorrow and grief the garden became one of hope for Mary. There is hope in the garden – Jesus was dead but now He is alive.   It is a place of hope. It’s a place of victory. It’s a place of new beginnings.

Nourishment in the Garden – The plants which were in the Garden of Eden were good for food and there was a river which flowed from there to water the garden.    We all need food & water to survive and flourish.   Jesus said “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst”  – “Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”.  There is spiritual nourishment in spending time with God in His presence and hearing what He has to say to us in those quiet times and as we spend time in His word – the bible.   Jesus is the true bread of life and out of Him spring rivers of living water.     I am becoming more aware of my need to spend more time in His presence, in His word than doing things for God.  I am blessed by the giftings which God has given me but being in relationship with Him is the most important thing – Reminding me of my first love.

Love is in the Garden – unconditional love waits in the garden. God loves us no matter what we have done or what we do.

You will hear God’s voice in the garden. As He spoke to Adam you will hear His still small voice speak to you saying I love you.

God is love. If you seek Him you will find Him. If you are looking for love you will find it in God the father and Jesus the son. Blessings to you.

 

Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is there..Do you know how to find God

“and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”
Ezekiel 48:35 or “The Lord is PRESENT”.

These are the very last words in the book of Ezekiel. It’s an encouragement that there is hope & restoration following God’s judgments on the sins of his people and the surrounding nations which have been prophesied by Ezekiel. God is merciful.

Ezekiel describes a future day when the temple is rebuilt and where God’s glory comes to dwell with them and which will remain forever. This time the glory of the Lord will not depart as it had in the past.

John also describes such a place in the last book in the bible, Revelation.

After God’s final judgments on Satan, the nations and sin, we have this beautiful picture of the holy city and that we will be with God forever…just as God always wanted it to be.

Complete restoration of Gods plan for mankind. Eternal Fellowship with Him. Eternity in His presence.

“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.

God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;

there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.

There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 21:1-4

These verses speak of a future day & time which we look forward to but these words for me also sum up the ultimate desire of every Christian’s heart and I hope the desire of your heart. To be where God is present.

That is my goal, my vision..to be where He is. To be in His presence. There is no better place to be. There is no more loving & secure place. Not going ahead of Him, not behind but perfectly aligned with Him.

The good news that we declare and are witnesses of is that Jesus has made not only this future possible but also a present reality. The truth is that you can be where God is. You can have the confidence to know that you will be part of that glorious city. To be forever with God.

But the good news is also that you don’t just have to wait for that future day in eternity. You can also enjoy relationship with God right now in the present.

God can be present in your present.

You can enjoy a relationship now with God through Jesus his son. We can come boldly to Gods throne in prayer for help every day. You don’t have to be alone and without help. God can be your refuge and help in times of trouble. He will be your comforter.

“Seeing then we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

The reason Jesus came and died is so that we can be in right relationship with God. So we can be where God is present. There is no other way to get to the place where the Lord is. Jesus made the way.

We can’t get to God by our own efforts and good works alone because sin is the barrier to a holy God. We can only come through the cross by acknowledging our sins and receiving Gods forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus paid the price of sin by his death and took our sins on himself.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6 –

God wants you to find Him while there is still time.

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”
Isaiah 55:6-7

In Revelation we are warned not to leave it too late. We read of those who won’t be allowed into this glorious place where God is forever present.

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Revelation 21:8 –

“ Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” Revelation 21:25-27

“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
Revelation 22:14-15

Is your name in the Lamb’s book of life?

Jesus is inviting you today to believe in Him and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour. To follow Him. To add your name to the millions that are already written there. God wants to write your name too.

What does the bible warn about those whose name is not in the Book of Life:

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened.

And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:11-15

That means going to a place where God is not present. A place where we do not want to be.

It is not Gods will that you go there. He does not want you to perish.

“ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

John 3:16-18

Please respond to the invitation to find God through Jesus His son before it is too late.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:16-17