#Freedom Day

Well today 19th July has been labelled “Freedom Day” here at home in England now that more Covid lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Given current circumstances though it’s not really a “Freedom Day” -we’re not all truly free as there are still restrictions in place and also a lot of people who can’t enjoy the full benefits for various reasons. Its not full freedom by any means.

I find it significant and interesting that our own Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak can’t participate fully in #Freedom Day as they have to follow the rules and self isolate having come into close contact with the Health Secretary who has Covid – although they did try some creative thinking or was it rule bending 🤔 to try and get the rule dis-applied to them. Thankfully they wisely did a U-turn and agreed to comply with current rules like responsible citizens.

You can’t write about #Freedom Day without thinking of true freedom and what that means. It will mean different things to different people dependent on their experiences and circumstances. As Christians we can truly celebrate a #Freedom Day that is available to everyone to participate in through simple faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the one who has set us free from the effects of sin and death so that we can live in true freedom and have ever lasting life. He took our punishment through His sacrifice and death on the cross. He was punished for us and we have obtained freedom through God’s grace and mercy.

My own personal #Freedom Day was 26th June 1976 when I asked God to forgive me for the wrong things in my life and accepted Jesus as my Saviour. I gave my life to Him and went on to be baptised in water as a sign of repentance and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Praise God that I’m truly free and I hope dear reader that you also have your own #Freedom Day to celebrate or if not, that you discover Jesus and become truly free.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8

Although we may live under permanent or temporary physical restrictions, in Jesus we are truly free spiritually. Amen and thanks to our Father in heaven, Christ Jesus and Holy Spirit.

True freedom
Photo from 2015 trip to Robben Island. Freedom cannot be manacled

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

Curve Balls..

Life has curve balls. For me, For you. For our families. For our friends. Even for Christians. Things happen, shocking news comes that we weren’t expecting to receive. Times of pain, hurt, disappointment, unsettling times of trouble. It shakes us, throws us off track and then we remember that we serve a God who knows all things, is our Rock, our Fortress and an ever present help in times of need.

In such times, the Lord draws us to Him with love and reminds us of His faithfulness and goodness. That He is a good, good God and we can trust in Him.

Recently, the Lord gave these promises from His Word to sustain us in the difficult and painful times ahead. I hope that if you are experiencing such times yourself that you will also find hope and comfort in these verses. I have meditated and spoken them aloud especially at the start of the day. They have uplifted my soul.

Psalm 91:2. “ I will say of the Lord:He is my refuge and my fortress, My God in Him I will trust”

Nahum 1:7. “ The Lord is good; A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”

Psalm 25:5. “ Lead me in your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation on you I wait all the day.”

Psalm 96 1-3. “ Oh sing to the Lord a new song, Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name, Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.”

John 3:16. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Lamentations 3: 22-23. “Through the Lords mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning:Great is your faithfulness”.

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever He is the rock eternal

My friend also gave this wise advice.

I believe the Lord wants us to stop fretting and to rest in his love and goodness for this season and also to look and see His beauty in nature all around us.

Have a blessed day.

One of my favourite places in Wales
La belle France
The amazing rock formations in southern France

Pam’s story

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.

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.