Sunday 25 April 2021

The Shepherd

Isaiah 40:11 encourages us that He feeds His flock (us) like a shepherd, He will carry his lambs (us) in His arms, and He holds us close to His heart 

Source: PInterest
I was recently sitting in my favourite chair, in the beautiful morning sunshine reading my daily reading, from a lovely little book that blesses me so much, when one of the verses the book highlighted both blessed me. It took me back to a little incident that happened at the weekend that the Lord used to reveal His Wonderful Character and care for me. The verse was Isaiah 40:11 ‘He will feed his flock like a shepherd, He will carry the lambs in his arms holding them close to his heart.  He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young’. I was immediately overwhelmed with the image of Jesus as the shepherd of our lives and all of the different ways that affects us.   

At the weekend we had gone up to a friend’s (John) local farm with our children and we took my daughter in law into the barn where the baby lambs and new moms were being looked after.  It was obvious these sheep were being well cared for and each section of the barn was divided into sections to cater for the needs and development of these little families. There was one section where there were only lambs and I wondered why there were no ewes with them and why they ran to us bleating when they saw us. Next there was a little section where there were two ewes and six lambs between them. One little lamb looked so pathetic, his little knees were pointed in together and he appeared to be all hunched in on himself and slightly shivering. We were both concerned for him and frankly I wondered if he was unwell. However later when we spoke to John and described what we had seen, he explained that the lambs on their own were ones who's mothers had not been able to feed them and they were being hand reared so obviously had learned to trust humans and ran to them. Then even from my faltering description, John knew exactly which lamb I was talking about and assured me that he had been checked and watched, and that he was doing ok.  John is obviously a good shepherd and knows his sheep well. And although, frankly he doesn’t expect to have them with him for eternity, he still puts in so much care tending, birthing and making sure each lamb thrives if it possibly can. Imagine how much the Lord wants to care for you as He is preparing you for eternity with Him.

So why am I saying all this. Well, it struck me this morning that if John does that for his lambs how much more does our Shepherd Jesus know and care for us.  Isaiah 40:11 encourages us that He feeds His flock (us) like a shepherd, He will carry His lambs (us) in His arms, and He holds us close to His heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. This verse has been a comfort to me over so many years.

He feeds His flock

Source: G21
Are you hungry today, are you seeking the Lord, are you desiring to be fed and filled by him? Well, the good news is that as your Shepherd He has promised to feed you. He will turn up to where you are and give to you the food you need. Jesus says in John 6:35 ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again’.  His delight is to fill you with Himself, to feed you from the finest of wheat, to make sure you are well fed and thriving by giving you Himself. When we allow him to feed us with His Word and His Spirit, we really do have everything we need. We are equipped for the long journey of life; we really have more than enough to sustain us. Psalm 145:15 ‘The eyes of all look to you in hope, you give them their food as they need it’.  It is only when we are hungry that we are in a good place to eat a full meal.  Jesus wants us to be full but, if you are hungry that’s great Jesus wants to fill you. If you are not feeling in that hungry place in the Lord at the moment don’t worry, just ask the Lord to stir up your hunger, and you will be amazed at the things He can bring that will make you hungry for him and put you in just the right place to eat a full and sustaining meal from His hand.  

He will carry the lambs in His arms and carry them close to His heart

Oh, this image is the most amazingly comforting picture of the Lord’s love and care for us, He carries us!  Some days I really need a good carry. Just like when I was a little girl and my legs got tired, I would reach up and say, ‘carry please daddy’. Dad would pick me up and carry me till I felt stronger and could walk a bit further by myself again. The Lord carries us; It's ok to be carried by the Lord at times. Its not an admission of failure, it's just feeling a bit tired and weary. If you need reassurance that its ok to need rest in the Lord, put down everything else, give Him all the cares and worries and let Him carry you, just look at where Isaiah says he carries us; ‘Close to His heart’!  Not on His back where He cannot see us and we cannot see Him, not under His arm where we can’t see His face, no, it`s close to His heart where we can experience the comfort of His heartbeat and He can respond to us, up close and personal!

He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young  

For those who still have little children to look after will know how distracting that can be. We sit in church services or try to read and pray with little hands clutching at us and little voices vying for our attention. It's hard to be as focussed on the Lord as we would want with such relevant distractions, but He promises to still gently lead. He will speak to you amidst the distraction if we learn to hear His voice above the rest. Ask the Spirit to hone your ability to hear His voice above everything else.  He is still speaking.  

For us older sheep who now have more time and ability to sit and listen in an undisturbed way, well we know we still have the distraction of our lambs (be that our own children or other people who we might be concerned about), only now we worry from a distance. However, the concern and the distraction is just as real and just as invasive.  Jesus is still our shepherd and still wants to lead us, He is just as aware that we need to hear His voice of love, care direction as much as we ever have.  Ask the Holy Spirit to amplify that voice to us again, fill us again, and direct us again, He is still our guiding and caring Shepherd.

And I suppose finally, if today you find that you have responsibility for shepherding others, whoever that may be; lots of people or just one, the responsibility is just the same.  I could ask John, our farmer friend, about the sleep he has missed, or the days off he would love, but his shepherd heart drives him on.  God has put us all in a family to care for each other and even in this we need our personal Shepherd to help us as we care for others, so that we will know how to love and care for them as He would, how to hang in through their difficult times and how we are to keep connected to the Lord so we can be a true friend to them.  It’s a gift given us by the Lord to care for others and as we are an extension to His hands and feet He again will provide and equip us with all we need to fulfil that amazing privilege to care for others.     

May the Lord lead you and guide you today as you rest in the blessing of being one of His treasured flock. 

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 18 April 2021

Me, Myself and I

I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because as someone once said ‘There is no room for God in those who are full of themselves’. There can be no filling if there is no emptying. If I want to have room for the spirit, I need to empty myself of self.

Source: Etsy
America Preacher David Wilson once said; ‘To mature into Christianity is to mature into self-denial to an extent that society will be unable to understand your actions’. Wow, what a challenge!! I have been focusing lately on my own motives for doing things and asking myself if I am doing them for the glory of ‘me, myself and I’ or for the Glory of God? In Corinthians 10:31 Paul says, ‘Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God’. Yes, it says 'whatever' you do. How many of us can honestly say that we do everything for the Glory of God?

In today’s society ‘self’ has perhaps become even more important than ever before. This is the age of the selfie, a word that entered the dictionary for the first time in 2013. It has become totally normal to take pictures of ourselves to show others where we are, how great we look or what we are doing at any given moment of the day. There are many characteristics that give an indication of ‘selfishness’ or putting oneself first:


Maybe I think I am generally patient, but how often have I found myself being impatient in a traffic queue or a supermarket queue, even when I am not in a hurry? I have found myself wondering why the person in front of me needs to chat with the cashier, or why the waiter is taking such a long time bringing my order. Or maybe I cannot wait for someone to finish their sentence to put my point of view across. Impatience is often a sign of thinking our time is so much more important than someone else’s. We are told in Galatians 5:22 that patience is meant to be a fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness’.


One of the greatest threats to our walk with God is materialism. We live in a ‘must have’ and ‘must have now’ society, where we can often have what we want, when we want it. I was shocked with myself the other day when ordering some cushion inserts online. I was actually tempted to go for the ones that I would receive the next day even though I could get the same ones 5 days later for half the price. I did not give in on this occasion, but I was surprised how tempted I was!! I need to make sure I am not being drawn away from God by using my money for my own desires. God does not stop us enjoying His blessings but too much wealth spent on ourselves can take up so much time and energy that we no longer glorify God. Affluence is a mixed blessing. If used correctly it can be used to glorify God but if used incorrectly it can take our focus off the Lord and what He wants us to do. 

God warned the Israelites that they would be tempted to forget Him when they experienced financial prosperity. Deuteronomy 8:10-11 tells us: ‘When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day’ and Deuteronomy 8:17-18 continues; ‘You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’. But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today’.

Source: PInterest
We are told in Luke 6:38 that if we give generously, we will receive an even bigger blessing, Jesus says: ‘Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you’. We are also told in 1 John 3:17 that if we see a need and do not meet it, even though we are able, then we cannot have the love of God in us; ‘If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?’ I read somewhere that most of what God gives us is not for ourselves but for the blessing of others, including our time, our talents, our spiritual gifts, our money are all things that God wants us to use generously to bless others.


It is no wonder that self-importance is a problem in our society today. We are constantly being told by the media or adverts that ‘we matter’ or ‘we are worth it’ or ‘we deserve it’. We are encouraged to do a certain thing or possess a certain thing and then we will be special. The bible however has a different message. It tells us to humble ourselves and to put others first. Luke 14:7-11 ‘When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, he told them this parable: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited.  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted’.  If I am not full of self-importance or selfish ambition I will look to the needs of others and want what is best for them. If I imitate Christ, I will put aside my own desires, as He did and I will do what it says in Matthew 7:12 ‘So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets’. Of course, I want to be treated with love, respect, forgiveness, so I need to treat others that way too.

These are only a few of the areas of selfishness that can enter our lives without us even noticing if we are not careful. So, what can I do to keep ‘me, myself and I’ at bay? 

Well firstly, I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because as someone once said ‘There is no room for God in those who are full of themselves’. There can be no filling if there is no emptying. If I want to have room for the spirit, I need to empty myself of self. The Apostle Paul was a perfect example of this throughout his life after Jesus had appeared to him. In Galatians 2:20 he says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’.

The Bible tells us to not just read His Word but to remain in His Word, Psalm 119:36 ‘Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Let me be focused on your word and your will; not on my will’ and Hebrews 4:12 ‘For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart’.

Being a servant of Christ instead of self means doing everything for the glory of God, dying to self, loving others, coming out of my comfort zone, being willing to help someone when I don’t feel like it, going to places I have never been before, confronting people with the truth…….and so much more!! But for the glory of God, it will all be worth it!!!

Author: Thelma Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 11 April 2021

Let the Light of the Lord Shine

The Lord turns His eyes towards us, not to destroy us but to purify us so that we to shine with His light.

Source: The Baptist Union
I have been struck and blessed by the Apostle John’s vision of the Lord Jesus in Revelation 1.  He was in prison on the island of Patmos because of the Gospel, knowing that the churches he loved and cared for were increasingly being persecuted.  He was in his mid-eighties, in Patmos because the Roman government maintained rock quarries there to which criminals and troublemakers were sent. Earlier on, the Emperor Nero was feeding Christians to the lions. 

Peter and Paul were crucified during that period, but under Emperor Domitian things got even worse. He was a very insecure man who demanded that all his subjects throughout the Empire worshipped him as Lord and God; ‘go to the temple, take a pinch of incense, cast it on the altar and say, Caesar is Lord’, he instructed them.  This was impossible for John, for him, there was only one Lord, only one Person who could demand total allegiance, and for this he was considered to be a threat to Rome. While in Patmos Domitian’s reign, terror intensified for the churches.  John knew that believers were confused, discouraged and afraid, with the pressure to conform to the Emperor’s edict.  Many Christians were harassed by soldiers, losing their businesses and homes with many being murdered. Heresy and immorality were also gaining footholds in a number of congregations.

Throughout this turmoil John remained in the Spirit and God’s response was to give him a powerful vision of the Lord Jesus. This wasn’t an inner mystical experience, John ‘heard’ a voice as clear and resounding as a trumpet, he ‘saw’ the Lord, and the Lord ‘laid’ His right hand on John.  John knew the Lord; he had lived with Him some years before. John sees the Lord walking among the churches he was concerned about and as the Lord delivers the messages, John hears seven times the words, ‘I know…’. The risen and living Jesus knew what was happening among them, their hard work, struggles, fears, pain and emptiness.  In exactly the same way, the Lord is moving amongst us right now. He isn’t distant or withdrawn since His ascension, He is present amongst every congregation. 

Source: PInterest
The whole description is rich in meaning but I would like to draw your attention to the fact that in Revelation 1:16 ‘the Lord’s face was ‘like the sun shining in all its brilliance’, and it was shining on John!  In the Old Testament that is the greatest blessing imaginable. (Numbers 6:25; Psalm 4:6 and Psalm 67:1). The Lord turns His eyes towards us, not to destroy us but to purify us so that we too shine with His light. John says that when he saw the Lord, he fell down at His feet, as good as dead. Do we ever felt like falling down at the feet of Jesus?

The Lord laid His right hand on John, He isn’t distant, He is near.  He said in Revelation 1:17-18 ‘….Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last.  I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!  And I hold the keys of death and Hades’. The Lord faced the greatest enemy there is.  On the cross He allowed all the powers that threaten to overcome us have their unrestrained way with Him. He allowed death to take him captive and then came out of the prison carrying away the keys.  

So, in these uncertain times let’s remember who holds the keys, to health, to provision of every kind, to death, to the unseen world and let us to turn our eyes on Jesus.

Author: Betty Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

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Sunday 4 April 2021

Angels unawares

I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of an encounter with an Angel because I fail to take note of strangers, however, I think the greatest challenge is that I don’t want to miss out on `being an Angel`

Source: Faithful in Christ
You never know what a day will bring.  This week I found myself sitting in a car in a hospital car park waiting for my Husband to return from having an X-Ray and trying to read a chapter of a book I`m currently enjoying. My Husband was so quick that I didn’t even finish the chapter, but we realised that we were under 30 minutes so would not have to pay for parking. I quickly started the car up; well actually I didn`t as it just clicked and did nothing.  A Flat battery!!  We went from less than 30 mins to looking at potentially a much longer wait for the recovery people to come and get us going.  Suddenly out of a car that had just pulled in next to us, a guy jumps out and says, ‘No Problem! I`ve got a set of jump leads’. He quickly connected us up and in seconds we were all fired up and ready to go.  We thanked him profusely and I said I would pray that the appointment he was going to would go well.  He went on his way and we went on ours (by the way we still made it out in under 30 mins so no parking fee! However, after thanking the Lord profusely for His provision, it got me thinking of that verse in Hebrews 13:2 ‘Don`t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it’

I must admit my guy didn’t look much like an angel; black woolly hat, dark scruffy clothes and a bit of a rough accent, not at all like the guy who helped my sister when she had a blow out tyre while travelling on her own down a deserted section of the Bristol Road in Birmingham at 2.00am on a Saturday night. She sat petrified and praying in her car as headlights pulled up behind her and a man got out and came round to the car.  She wound a little bit of the window down and he announced he could change her tyre for her.  She was delighted and a bit concerned but opened the boot and watched as he set to work changing her tyre.  She ended up a bit concerned for him though because he was wearing a nice pair of white trousers and a white shirt. Anyway, job done he returned to his car and she got into hers. It was then she remembered she hadn’t thanked him so went to get out to go and thank him and there was no car there.  An Angel?  A fast driver? Who knows but the Bible tell us that God sends his ministering Angels to help in time of need!

This got thinking of how we should treat strangers. How our attitude should be and how prepared we should be to ‘entertain’ them when we meet them. I was looking at the Parable of the friend at midnight recently in Luke 11:5-10. It struck me that Jesus recognised that if a person was comfortably in bed, he would not take took kindly to being woken and asked to get up and provide bread for a guy knocking on his door.  Eventually because the man was his friend he got up and gave him a loaf of bread. Jesus used this to illustrate how the Lord provides good gifts to us and how we are to be persistent in prayer, but I also think it shows us that we might respond positively to a friend knocking the door at midnight but what if that person was a stranger?

Source: PInterest
I have been challenged by this. Firstly, I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of an encounter with an Angel because I fail to take note of strangers, however, I think the greatest challenge is that I don’t want to miss out on `being an Angel` so to speak, to any stranger I may meet, who God gives me an opportunity either to speak to or to directly help.  We are God ambassadors and His hands and feet, and He has called us to share His love and Salvation with whoever He may put in our path.  Suddenly I realise I am unprepared.  I could offer to pray for this man and the Lord gave me enough boldness to say that to him, but what else did I have to give in the very short time I had with him? God reminded me that some time ago my Husband and I thought about getting some Christian literature to hand out to people we might get chatting to on walks etc. Sadly, we never did get that sorted and He again reminded me of this since the car park incident.  

We know a lovely couple, and the wife always carries a little booklet with her when she goes out, even when she goes on holiday!  So, we were so thrilled and surprised when in the Caribbean she got chatting to the taxi driver we had hired.  He was a lapsed church goer and after she had talked to him about Jesus and the need to re-dedicate his life to the Lord, she whipped out of her handbag the `why Jesus` pamphlet and gave him a copy which he gratefully received.  She was prepared in all situations with the means to pass on the Gospel.

Now I`m not saying we should carry a library of literature around with us, but I have been challenged to `get prepared` both in my willingness to talk to `strangers` if the Lord brings them my way, to pray and make an effort to dwell in the Spirit, so I can be in the right place to channel whatever the Lord might want to say, and maybe to have something to give them (I`ve placed an order for some literature). After all I can`t keep ignoring the Lord’s promptings or He might stop sending me `Angels` to fix my car!

Ephesians 6:15 tell us we should have our `feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace` and Isaiah 52:7 `How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation`.

In this time of Covid and social distancing we don’t often get a lot of time to speak to people, but people are open and willing to talk because of the current circumstances.  As we come out of this pandemic, we have a message of God’s Love, God’s Salvation and that He is calling the world to get right with Him - and I want to be prepared!

Author: Jan Pearson

May God bless and enrich your life

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