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.
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
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.
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”.
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.
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
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.
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