Wednesday, 6 October 2021

LEAPING FOR JOY

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It seems to be the fashion on Facebook to put up photos of wedding anniversaries. They
are all a delight, but there is one that I cannot erase from my memory. It is of the Bridegroom leaping for joy.

The bride is of a different culture and the wedding in her country, so maybe their customs are different from ours, but to leap like that could only have come from a joy deep within.

But is such joy a one off? My own husband was very reserved and not likely to sing for joy, let alone leap, but I was reassured by the Psalmist’s declaration to know that his joy as a bridegroom was something that gave him strength to run his race. I am sure this was as true for my husband as for this couple, who now have the responsibility of a lively and demanding family, as well as running ministries which necessitate the bearing of heavy burdens as well as causing stress which may affect their health.

So does that mean an end to leaping for joy? I believe God wants us to ask and   still expect joy. Didn’t Jesus say, ‘Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.’? And the promise in Isaiah is that the lame man shall leap as a hart, as well as the tongue of the dumb sing. So we need to pray for those who carry  heavy burdens and have responsibilities that demand more than natural strength, that God will still anoint them with the oil of gladness and that they will know his peace and joy, in it all.

There was a time when an injection given by the dentist affected my heart and for a year I was struggling with ill health. It was during that time that God gave me a promise that I would rejoice, not only spiritually but also physically.

A few years later, I was setting out on trek in the Highlands of New Guinea when, though I knew my strength would be tested as I would have to wade through bogs and climb mountains,  I felt this surge of joy and knew God was fulfilling his promise.

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Today, when some like myself can’t go far without a walker, while others of you may be in training to run a marathon, we can all rejoice in the Lord and joy in the God of our
salvation.

‘For the Lord is our strength and our song.’

Let us remind God of his promise, ‘Then shall the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing.’

 

 

Friday, 17 September 2021

DELIVERANCE FROM FEAR

 Our visiting preacher immediately had our attention as he challenged us concerning some of our fears and yes, phobias.

Spiders? Yes. Heights? Big yes, for me, but for a special reason. These had once been  major fears in my life, but wonderfully God has delivered me.

Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash
Simon continued with his message concerning the disciples, seasoned fishermen, yet caught in a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee. Yes, the storm was terrible, but when they saw Jesus coming toward them, walking on the water, they experienced an even greater terror.

But yes, it was not a ghost, but Jesus, their Jesus. Convinced, how gladly they welcomed him into the boat. Now fears were all allayed. Not only now was the fury of the storm abated, but  they had actually arrived at their destination.

An end to their fears? We would think so, but no. Instead they were overcome with a greater fear, an awe, a reverence, for they realised that they were not just in the presence of a godly man, but of God himself, the one who is the creator and sustainer of the universe, and yet one who they now knew as their friend, sharing their lives and their circumstances.

Their fears had been very real, but they had been conquered by a greater fear, the fear of the Lord which, we are told, is the beginning of wisdom.

I looked back to my deliverances, the fears from which, little by little I had been delivered.

I remember clearly. I was in our prayer meeting, and that weekend I was due to fly out to New Guinea where doubtless there would be spiders and mountains and vine bridges, and all those conditions I had been so sure God would not have expected me to face, and now he had, as well as going alone, leaving everyone I knew and loved.

Photo by Tom Fejér on Unsplash
‘Oh, Lord,’ I whispered, ‘I won’t be able to do it.’

Then God gave me an ultimatum. ‘I am going. You can come with me or you can leave
me.’

To lose my relationship with Jesus? That would be my greatest fear of all. When I got to the airport gates I knew Jesus was going before me, and when I reached that forgotten land he was always there so that, little by little my fears were overcome.

Today we have brothers and sisters facing terrible persecution and in fear of their lives. We pray that they may experience that far greater fear, the awesome presence of the great I Am, the God of might and miracles and who  is our Peace.

 

THE FEAR OF THE LORD (based on Simon’s ministry John 6: 16-21)

No, not a God afar are you

But one who is always near,

A God who’s aware of our deepest needs

As well as each childish fear

And you want us to find you in life’s fiercest storms

-to know you, not just alongside

But entering into each circumstance

As the God who is come to abide.

Jesus, our Saviour and our Lord

Great I AM, God of glory and grace

Only you be our fear. Let us know you are near

As we live in the light of your face.

 

 

Thursday, 12 August 2021

WORDS OF LIFE

 ‘Ten Words’ is how it’s known to the Jews, but it is far more than ten words in our reckoning, for this refers to the Ten Commandments.

We were not excited when we heard this was to be our study for the next few weeks. Surely we are in the New Testament now, all these laws behind us?

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I remember reading about a man who became a Christian while in prison. Eventually released, for the first time in his life he went into a church. There, in large letters, were written the Ten Commandments. He heart sank. He had thought he had been set free, but now, how could he keep all those ‘No-no's’? He bowed his head, bringing  his despair to his Saviour and his Friend, the Lord Jesus. When he looked again, they seemed to read in a different way. Not as ‘thou shalt not, but ‘You won’t.’

Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments.’

If we come to Jesus as Lord and Saviour we too will find we are released from condemnation, and released into new life in Christ. He it is who gives us victory over our old sins. So, are we now able to keep these ten commandments?

Although many have done their best to keep them, without being perfect it is impossible. That is why the Jews have a Day of Atonement, and endless sacrifices to atone for their sins, and Paul, in the New Testament, writes that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. That is why God sent his Son to be our Saviour. The name Jesus means Saviour. ‘Call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.’

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Yes, as Christians we have a saviour, Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven because the judgement we deserved was put on him. He died in our place.

So now, as we read again the Ten Commandments, do we get a tick beside each one? No, rather we find that God is searching our hearts.  I know that in many ways I have to cry out, ‘guilty.’ Yes, guilty, but forgiven, and now able to do better.

God has not called us back to Mount Sinai  to condemn us, for there is no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Rather, he wants us to know how great is His love for us, making these laws that we might enjoy our relationship with this our wonderful Creator, Redeemer God.

I am adding my interpretation of the glorious freedom that has been brought to us as, week by week we have found God’s wonderful love expressed to us through these ‘Ten Words’.

 

              *   *   *

1.‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20: 1-3

‘NO OTHER GOD

God has made us in his image

Have we need of aught beside?

Need we any lesser god to satisfy our pride?

 

Should we worship health or wealth?

For this soon will pass away.

God will give us life abundant if we walk his way.

 

For his love is living water

In a dry and thirsty land

Bread each day he gives from heaven, if in trust we’ll stand

 

No need for us to worship beauty,

For God will give us of his own

If we’ll come to seek his face, - worship him alone.

 

Let’s us banish gods of stardom

Or of popularity,  

Fame, we know, is oft times fleeting -  things that others see.

 

You alone are King for ever,

Your love eternal, strong and true

And your word is living water. Yes, we will worship you.


2.‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image.’

 

NO GRAVEN IMAGE

What skills describe the glory of One who made man from the dust of the earth?

By the word of his power called forth moon, stars and sun, each sphere of infinite worth.

Then why should we seek by our skills to describe a God greater than all we desire,

With metal you hid in the bowels of the earth to form a god who comes out of the fire?

 

Know that your Maker may not be defined by  skills that to you he has given

For only through Christ can his glory be known and we enter the Kingdom of heaven

 

Then may we not think of our God as too small or shrink him to what we desire

But with trembling and awe draw near through the Son to find him who’s revealed in the fire.


3. Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.’ Ex.20: 7


NOT IN VAIN

No, not in vain will I speak that name

Name given, not with holy fire

But through lowly birth coming here to earth

And in poverty and shame’

For God sent his Son the Holy One

That he might through love inspire

Us to rise from our shame and through faith in his name

-Come to God,  all  our hearts may desire.

 

4. ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’ Ex.20.8


ONE DAY IN SEVEN.

God took six days to make this world

With sun and moon and stars

The biosphere and atmosphere

Rivers, mountains, moors

Till, making man, he was well pleased

And that we may all enjoy

He did ordain a day of rest

For all in his employ.

 

5. ‘Honour your father and mother.’


LOVE AND HONOUR

 How precious are you, so deeply loved

That God should send his Son

To pay the price that you, forgiven,

Know you by such love were won

 

Yes, dearly, dearly loved are we

As is our neighbour too

So may we show God values them

In all we say and do

 

Yes, and parents too, though sometimes against the grain

Just as Jesus showed the way.

And the elderly still need respect

Even when they’re old and grey

 

Think how Our Lord, taking bowl and towel

Gladly knelt to show the way

Then may we, joyful, bow our knees

To share with others day by day.

 


6. ‘You shall not murder.’


HONOUR LIFE

Each of us shaped in the image of God, known and loved and treasured.

Then why should we  fear another’s rise when we each for ourselves are measured?

It is fear that gives rise to jealousy -Yet we each one are loved and are needed

Why allow Satan to lure us on? For from jealousy murder is speeded.

 

‘Where is your brother?’ Cain was asked, his blood crying out from the ground

Each drop of blood is so precious indeed and an answer must surely be found.

 

Lord, guard our hearts against jealousy. For your purpose we each one are made.

Redeemed by the precious blood of your Son, may we love and not be afraid.

 

7. ‘You shall not commit adultery’


HONOUR MARRIAGE                 

Searching for love and acceptance

Found naked,  abused by men

Facing contempt, indignation

She is dragged out for all to condemn.

 

But they take her to One, who of all men

Is come to seek and to save

It is they, her accusers who are standing condemned

Those who plot to judge now facing shame

 

Lord, you’ve given us laws to protect us

From wand’ring in thought, look or deed

To find our fulfilment in Jesus our joy

And help others enchained by man’s greed

 

For the Saviour did not condemn her

While he sent her accusers away

Gave her strength to drink from a well that is pure

And joy in him every new day

 

8 & 9. ‘You shall not steal.’ –     and ‘Do not bear false witness.’


HONOUR PROPERTY, and HONOUR REPUTATION

          DO NOT STEAL

‘You can get it for free,’ but know, someone must pay

For there’s always a price for what’s given away.

 

We like to buy cheap but is slave labour in sight?

Oh no, we don’t steal, but does that make this right?

 

For we all once were slaves, bound in sin’s darkest night

And ‘twas Christ paid the price that we might live in the light

 

So - no need to steal freebies - piling things we don’t need.

Let’s give away gladly and find riches indeed.

 

And then there’s your neighbour! Would you steal his good name?

We’re all made in God’s image and are worthy the same.

 

To whisper suggestions is stealing indeed.

So let’s love and honour our neighbour and give help in his need.

 

10. You shall not covet.’


HONOUR IN THE HEART

          DO NOT COVET

Only in Christ is contentment,

          Only in him is true gain

Why should I covet the treasures of earth

When  heaven’s wealth alone will remain?

Why spend your labour for blessings

          That wear out at last and decay?

In your Saviour alone is an upspringing joy

          That remains, though all else pass away.

Then may we delight in his favour

          And trust him, though trials will come

For if Christ himself is our treasure

          We have love, joy and peace in the Son

 

 

 

Monday, 2 August 2021

THE CHILDREN GOD HAS GIVEN US

 

I felt I had to share this picture of myself, being loaded with blessings from one of our local schools where I have been teaching ‘Bible’ for so many years, because so many of you have shared in my schools ministry; first of all in praying that the schools might be open to us.( We had  thought this prayer was answered so that a young man just returned from Bible College might go in, but no. By the time a positive answer was given he had moved on.) It had not dawned on me that God might expect me to be the answer our prayers.

Meanwhile God had called me to write. It was my books that became the key to open the door for me to be welcomed in our local primary schools. This led on to taking assemblies. I became a regular feature, but how I needed the support of our praying women sisters who supported me to the hilt.

It wasn’t easy to face a hall full of children, but when sometimes my courage would fail, God would remind me, as he had when I was leaving for the ends of the earth, ‘I am going. You can come with me, or you can leave me.’ When the children were all responding, drinking in the word, I knew without doubt that it was Jesus who was reaching out to them through me.

Then came Bible Explorer. I had read about it and felt it was something I could do, but it was not until my beloved Joel had died that I was free to undertake the training. Now, more than ever I needed my sisters to be praying for me. 

And pray they did, and have given support in many ways over the years. I never forget one sister who was on her knees praying for me for the whole hour of my very first BX lesson.

Another prayed that God would let me see some fruit from this teaching. Would I ever know? But one of the teachers had asked her children to write about what it had meant to them, and I was able to read of several beautiful responses.

On rare occasions I would return home discouraged, feeling I have not done as well as I should or that the children were not responsive, but then I would remind the Lord that he had promised me joy and peace, and without his joy I could not continue. Invariably the next lesson, or assembly would be what I described as a ‘star-dust’ one. I would tell the children, ‘I think the angels must have sprinkled some star dust, for you are so good today.’

I have one precious memory.  A small boy had asked to help me to the car with my loads. It was a very hot afternoon and he in particular had not seemed responsive but now he told me, ‘I love it when you come.’ He repeated it, ‘I love it when you come.’  I knew that small, difficult, lovable little boy had felt the touch of Jesus. That is what it is all about.

But now I won’t be continuing in the schools. Retirement shouldn’t be part of a Christian’s vocabulary, should it? Having reached the great age of ninety, my mobility and energy has been decreasing and I feel through the Covid Lockdown that God himself has come and gently closed this door for me,  so that now I am able to give myself to full time writing, and of course to praying.

I hope you will feel included in this lovely ‘thank you’ that I have received and will continue to pray with me and for the children of this generation; ‘The children that God has given me/us.’

 

Thursday, 8 July 2021

TEN COMMANDMENTS

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
For many years I  was  privileged to teach Bible Explorer in our local schools.  No preaching, just telling the wonderful stories of the Bible. I had been wondering how long I could continue because of my gradually decreasing mobility , but I was saved from having to make the decision to retire, for Christians don’t retire, do they? Through Covid I feel God himself has gently closed the door for me into the schools and chapels, while I continue to share his word in other ways.

We have been having wonderful ministry on the Ten Commandments, basing our study on Jen Wilkins' book, ‘Ten Words To Live By’.

I used to enjoy teaching this lesson. I would tell the children that there was a special one for them, and that because Jesus knows it is hard for them to always obey their parents, just as it was for him when he had wanted to stay in the temple in Jerusalem, he has given them a special promise, that if they would respect their parents, that it would be well with them and they would live a long time on the earth.. As a ninety year old I think I am having a share in this promise.

I would also tell them about the commandment that is very special to me, the last one – ‘Do not covet.’ I told them how miserable I was as a little girl because I was jealous of my clever and pretty big sister, until Jesus showed me that jealousy was sin and that he had died that we might be forgiven. What a joy to be able to tell the children that we are each one loved and special and that we don’t ever have to be jealous of anyone.

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash
I have learned so much through teaching the children. I used to tell them that it is hard to learn all the commandments, and we know the Jews added on lots more, but when Jesus was asked which was the most important he simplified it to two. Here I would hold up a heart-shaped card. On one half was ‘Love God,’ and on the other ‘Love your neighbour,’ and so we learn that it is all about love.

But now my work in the schools is finished it is my turn to be taught as one of God’s children. I know I wasn’t the only one to think that some of these commandments  had no application to my life, but I find that the Holy Spirit is doing some searching, convicting and convincing me too of how great is God’s love for his children, longing for us to be in a closer, deeper relationship with our Saviour.

He wants us to learn that every one of his commandments are about love and every one of them need to be applied to each of our lives, that we might always be found rejoicing in that wonderful relationship of love with our God.

I know it is not good enough to blame all our troubles on Adam and Eve, or should I say Eve, who first tasted of the forbidden fruit and then Adam, but we can look back to that sad story and the reason why God has given us these guide lines which are his fence to save us from throwing ourselves over the cliff of destruction.

            PARADISE

Oh the glory of that morning

Walking naked, unashamed

God’s own glory as our covering

Joyful, sharing, unafraid

 

Clothed  in skins of his dear creatures

Shame now excludes us from that bower

Lost our joy in glad communion

Pain and sorrow follow now

 

Lost the glory of that garden

‘Gainst  thorns and briars must we toil

Bringing children forth in labour

Relationships by sin now spoiled.

 

Had we but trusted Him who made us

For his pleasure and his joy

Why did we listen to Satan’s whispers

And taste the fruit that must destroy?

 

Yet Christ is come to vanquish Satan

Joy of Paradise restore

Come now, taste the fruit he offers,

Joy and peace for evermore.

 

Thursday, 20 May 2021

REPAIR OR RENEW

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash
 For many of us, the Repair Shop is a very favourite programme. These skilled crafts-
men and women are called upon from all over the country to repair  precious possessions that have been held on to for many years, often because they reminded them of loved ones long gone. Not only are these wonderful crafts people highly skilled, but they are also compassionate, full of understanding and love. Tears and hugs are an important part of the show.

As these people receive with such joy these precious possessions, now so beautifully restored, very often someone will affirm that their loved one is looking down, and even very near. Is it that somehow, by having these possessions restored, they are seeking to hold onto their dear ones?

But is this the highest we wish for those we have loved? Are we seeking in some way to repair them and to bring them back to us, or are we willing to let them go to that better life that Jesus has promised to those who trust in him?

The older we get, the more our bodies are in need of repair, and we are grateful to accept our new hips or knees or cataract operations, or even replacement organs. And while we thank God for walking frames and wonderful friends who help to give us a quality of life, still we know that ‘our outward man is perishing – but’

Oh, we thank God for the ‘but’ for it goes on, ‘but our inward man is being renewed day by day.’ Yes, not just repair, but renewal.

‘Do you think they are looking down on us?’ my neighbour had asked me. Her father had died shortly before my husband. I believe God gave me the words with which I answered her.

‘I know that Joel is totally taken up with Jesus.’

Photo by Nick Scheerbart on Unsplash
Yes, it is painful, oh, so painful to lose our loved ones, but we know it is only for a little
while and we, together with all the redeemed, will be totally taken up with Jesus. No more need of repair. New bodies, a new song, no more sorrow or tears – no more death.

There are some old treasures that have been stored away in our attics and have proved to have become of great value in later years, but not many. More often they have turned to dust and crumbled away. Even those that make their way to the Repair Shop are suffering from the moth and rust of which Jesus speaks.

How much better to give away our unwanted items while they are still of some use to others, and do as Jesus asks us, and lay up treasure in heaven.

May the word of this beautiful poem challenge us yet again.


                                                          My heart is there!

Where, on eternal hills, my loved one dwells

Among the lilies and the asphodels;

Clad in the brightness of the Great White Throne,

Glad in the smile of Him who sits thereon,

The glory gilding all His wealth of hair

And making His immortal face more fair –

THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.

 

                        My heart is there!

With Him who made all earthly life so sweet,

So fit to live, and yet to die so meet;

So mild, so grand, so gentle and so brave,

So ready to forgive, so strong to save.

His fair, pure Spirit makes the heavens more fair,

And thither rises all my longing prayer –

THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.

 

                                   

 

 

 

Monday, 10 May 2021

TREASURE IN HEAVEN

I am told that moving house is included among some of the most stressful experiences in life. And here was I, once again moving house.

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Once my husband retired we thought we had settled into our ‘forever’ home. ‘My next move will be up,’ I had declared.


Since leaving my parents’ home as a young woman to go abroad as a missionary, I had rarely lived anywhere for more than two years, if that. But now, no more flat pack furniture for us. We were able to buy the best, and we added lots more ‘clutter’  as the years passed.


Even with my husband preceding me to heaven I had had no thought of moving, but with old age creeping on and declining health I was advised to consider sheltered living. God gave me confirmation that this was his best for me and I was preparing to move into my ‘Eagle’s Nest’ as I was to name my penthouse flat in Stoneleigh Court. I had chosen a two bedroom apartment as I needed a room for my writing as well as all my teaching aids, but even so, there would not be room for some of our larger furniture.


‘You are laying up treasure in heaven,’ was whispered into my heart as I arranged for it to go.

Others in this complex have spoken of the pain of parting with their precious possessions, while others, unable to make the sacrifice, struggle with being over loaded. But how blessed are we who know we have a home prepared for us in heaven and especially to know that we are allowed to send up treasure in advance.


I suppose I have been laying up treasure in heaven ever since I first answered God’s call to go as a missionary. Leaving for New Guinea, they told me I would not be able to return to UK for nine years so I knew it was no use hoarding some of my possessions. My lovely Morris Minor, my first ever car, had to go, together with many precious possessions, as well as renouncing my financial security. And from then on I had not stayed in one place for more than two years. Believe me, I learned not to hoard.


Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash
But now, once again, I am having a big clear out. Teaching the Bible in our local schools for many years, I have accumulated so many visual aids. Coming up to my ninetieth birthday, I had been wondering how long I could continue this ministry, but with Covid 19 and the Lockdown which has followed, I feel that God himself has gently closed the door for me and so, - no good hanging on to all
this ‘stuff’. That which was so valuable, because it was of use, is now ‘clutter’. It must go. Once again I have to remind myself that I am laying up treasure in heaven.


Jesus said, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’   

I am sharing with you now one of my very favourite poems.

 

MY HEART IS THERE


                      My heart is there!

Where, on eternal hills, my loved one dwells

Among the lilies and the asphodels;

Clad in the brightness of the Great White Throne,

Glad in the smile of Him who sits thereon,

The glory gilding all His wealth of hair

And making His immortal face more fair –

THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.

 

                        My heart is there!

With Him who made all earthly life so sweet,

So fit to live, and yet to die so meet;

So mild, so grand, so gentle and so brave,

So ready to forgive, so strong to save.

His fair, pure Spirit makes the heavens more fair,

And thither rises all my longing prayer –

THERE IS MY TREASURE and my heart is there.

 

                                    ( A favourite poem of Mrs. Charles Cowman  I believe)