Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine

Jesus Wept

Jesus Wept

I was reminded of this a few days ago when Ata, our tour guide from my first visit to Israel/Palestine in 2000, posted a photograph of the view from the window of the Dominus Flevit church on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. This is the church supposedly built on the site where Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and wept Luke 19:41-21.

As we were queuing up to visit the Dominus Flevit church in 2000, I heard the Polish tourists inside the church singing and I recognised the tune from my Sunday School days as a child, but was unable to remember the words; so had to carry the tune in my head all day until I was able to check with another member of the tour in the evening.

The song was “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine” and some of the words say “this is my story, this is my song” and indeed my BLOG is part of my story and VERY often God speaks to me through song. And, I hope that my BLOG will be part of serving my Saviour all the day long.

I once was lost, but now I am LOST IN HIS LOVE

 

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Give All

Last week one of our Compassion office volunteers came to us with a great monetary donation that she had received from her church’s Mission Sunday event.  Her church is Merland Rise Church and two of the church elders are Gary and Lec Mann, who went to the same school as me some forty-five to fifty years ago.

De Burgh Mug

I mentioned this to Sarah, our office volunteer, and she told me that she herself lives in a property built on the site where my school had been. This served to remind me of my school motto and, because I know that every day of my life has been planned in advance by God, I thought again about that school motto “Give All” and why God might have given me that school motto.

Rebecca and I have been talking recently about what “dying to self” means and it means giving “all” of ourselves to God. Here are a few scriptures that I believe illustrate “Giving All”:-

Galatians 2:20 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Luke 9:23 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

Mark 8:35 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Romans 12:1 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Corinthians 10:31 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10 English Standard Version (ESV) says:

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.”

 

And, a scripture from last Sunday’s church meeting:-

Luke 10:27 New International Version (NIV) says:

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ “

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Clay Jars – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Yesterday, Saturday 15 November 2014, I was at the Premier Radio Woman to Woman Conference at Central Methodist Hall, Westminster.

I was on the Compassion stand with Laura, who is now working in the Engage Team with Rebecca at Compassion UK and who lives in Kingston. She told me that she attends a Methodist Church in Kingston on Sundays. As she described where it was, I was reminded that the building had played an important part in my testimony when I was first born again.

I had not realised that I had not already blogged about this, but I believe the Holy Spirit was reminding me so that I would relate the story.

In 1994 I had stood (completely traumatised by my marriage break up) on a green area in Kingston upon Thames known as The Fairfield and was looking at three buildings. On the left was the GP practice where I was registered, in the centre an ordinary house, and on the right the Methodist Church. I felt God say to me as I was looking at those three buildings “Where will you go for your healing – you can go to the GP and have pills and potions like your mother and sister, or you can go to the Church”.

Kingston Methodist Church

I said “No contest” – having seen the evidence presented by my mother and sister’s care under the NHS – “I choose The Church”. This was symbolic of Jesus working through members of His church in general, rather than being that actual church. And, it was at this time when my life fell apart, that I was born again.

God also told me that the part the GP practice was to play was to diagnose sickness, but the part The Church was to play was to heal people of that sickness. And this is certainly what has happened in my own life. As the Holy Spirit led me to churches that believe that God heals today, I received healing and my mind is now fully functioning again; in fact it is functioning better than it was before I was born again!

I believe God is saying that He doesn’t just want to heal me, but by the same principle He wants everyone to receive healing, by trusting in Him. He created us and He knows exactly how we should function.

In the words of the traditional wedding vows, it feels like God has promised me that He will have and hold me for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish”; but that not even death will part us. WOW. I have gone through and I will go through better and worse, riches and poverty, sickness and health, but He is with me in it all. In the words of

Philippians 4:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

And, back to that Methodist Church on the Fairfield in Kingston upon Thames. Before I was born again, I am reminded I had gone to the church hall there to give blood – and that is about saving our natural lives, however we will all eventually die; but now my Saviour, Jesus Christ, has saved my soul and given me real life -eternal life.

I remember that at the time of being born again the Holy Spirit spoke to me of how God had hidden great treasure in me, but that until I was broken I did not realise what treasure was hidden in this “jar of clay”.  Several years later I did actually enter the Methodist Church in Kingston and was amazed to see a banner with a picture of a Jar of Clay on it relating to the scripture at the head of this blog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In the intervening years I had been to the Methodist Church in Leatherhead a few times for prayer meetings and saw the same scripture being played out in thinking of the building as representing a jar of clay and the chairs in all their different colours representing treasure.

And, how interesting and encouraging that after Laura and I had our little chat about the Methodist Church in Kingston upon Thames we went into the Auditorium at Central Methodist Hall, Storeys Gate,  Westminster at the Woman to Woman Conference  to hear  Danielle Strickland speak of how we are warriors in a battle, but how we are carrying God’s glory and the light of the gospel in our clay jars.

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A trip down memory lane with God

I had been looking on E-bay for a week or two, wanting to purchase an Ikea Poäng chair and footstool for the bedroom where I was staying in Guildford. I had seen that they were going for around £20 and that seemed reasonable, but I had not been able to “win” any.  On 19 August I put in a sneaky bid of £15.50 for a chair and footstool in Crawley, as I had seen someone “win” a set for £15.00. The bidding was due to end over the bank holiday weekend and I was back home in Derbyshire at that time, with no internet access. When I returned to Guildford on the Monday I found that I had “won” for £13.50. I definitely felt it was God’s provision and I drove to Crawley after work at Compassion on the following day, Tuesday 26 August (the date I think of as my “born again” day as it was on this date in 1994 that I awoke after a suicide attempt, using a load of my sister’s psychiatric pills that should have killed me).

As I drove to Crawley from Weybridge, I passed through Reigate past the buildings where my sister and my father had worked and then past the crematorium where my mother’s body had been cremated and then I drove past the area where my close school friend, Heather, had lived when she was first married. I had met her at my primary school and she had taken me to her Sunday School when they were doing a recruitment drive when I was around 7 and we had then attended the same senior school and I had lived with her and her husband and children for a month or two at the end of 1994/beginning of 1995, after I was made homeless when my estranged husband and I sold our home in Kingston upon Thames.

Finally, I turned onto Turners Hill Road, as the chair and footstool were in a house in Worth, just off Turners Hill Road. God reminded me of how I had been sent to visit Pauline and Paul and their five daughters in Turners Hill in 1985 and again in 1994. They were born again Christians who were related to my college friend, Susan, and they were God’s provision for me as I began to learn about Him in 1985 and gave my life to Him and was born again in 1994.

Ikea Chair and Footstool

The seller of the chair and footstool was a lovely lady and she helped me get the chair and footstool into my car. I then drove back through Reigate on my way back to Guildford, but not past the places my father and sister had worked; then my route took me through Dorking, the town where my sister is living. Finally, I arrived in Guildford and there was no one in to help me to get the furniture out of the car and into the house. However, again God had provided as a man and his daughter “just happened” to be walking past and offered to help me (I had not asked, he simply offered). WOW, God is so good to me. This wasn’t just a trip to get some furniture, this was a trip to remind me of how God had been with me throughout significant times in my life, even though I hadn’t known at the time that He was.

 

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RHODES and THE GREAT COMMISSION

On 9 February I went to hear Jonathan Conrathe speak in a church that I had attended from time to time in 1995 when I first left the South of England, at the time I was a newly born again Christian.

Going back to the church reminded me of how I felt at that time 19 years ago when I was broken hearted by my marriage breakdown and first gave my life to Jesus and was born again. I was reminded of how far I have come since that time.

Many of the people I remembered from 1995 were still attending the church and there was a sense of safety because of the familiar, but also a sense of the excitement of God doing a new thing.

As always with God, there were things that were expected, but also a particular surprise. I had originally only intended to go to the morning meeting and then to have lunch out with my friend and her friend, but “I decided” to go to the evening meeting too. I say “I decided”, because there is a sense that God wanted to show me something and that I wouldn’t have seen it if I had just had lunch and come home.

As there was a time period between finishing lunch and going to the evening meeting, my friend (Lynne) and I went to her friend (Sue)’s home. I didn’t previously know where Sue lived but, she has the same name as my sister and she lives at 21 Rhodes Avenue.

I was reminded that in September 1983 I had moved to Kingston upon Thames and the former owners of my home were Dr and Mrs Rhodes and my telephone number ended “0885”. And, I was to find out later that the lady in the house next door to my home was a born again Christian.

As not many people know, but of course God does because He knows everything, I first came to know God in 1985 after having a breakdown caused by attempting to persuade a psychiatrist not to give my sister, Sue, a course of Electro-Convulsive Therapy. At the time my life was one of “work hard, play hard” and I didn’t have the emotional energy needed to argue with the psychiatrist. As a result I was exhausted and booked a last minute holiday with “Small World” to Rhodes where, far from having a holiday, I became even more stressed by the events that happened there and became broken and ended up on a psychiatric ward for a weekend on my return to England.

At the time I was away in Rhodes (08.85), my sister had her 21st birthday. So, when I visited my new friend Sue’s home on 9 February 2014, I was reminded that God was with me in Rhodes on 10 August 1985 (and that He is with my sister, Sue, who is still stuck in the psychiatric system and I believe He has a plan to rescue her, just as He rescued me).

Noah's Ark The Commission

My new friend, Sue, was in the middle of doing a jigsaw puzzle called “The Commission” – the first one of a series of very large jigsaws of Noah’s Ark by Tom Dubois. I have now been told that there is a new film coming to our local cinemas called Noah. I don’t know what exactly God is saying through this, but I do remember that there is a rainbow and a dove at the end of the Noah’s Ark story and those two things bring encouragement just by seeing them.

And, of course, “The Great Commission” that Jesus gave us as Christians was Matthew 28:19-20 (New King James Version (NKJV)) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

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Remembrance Sunday – 10 November 2013

I had spotted the Everyday Church in Kingston one Saturday a few weeks previously and was reminded of it during the week leading up to 10 November by Judith at Compassion UK, who is part of an Everyday Church where she lives. Rebecca then asked me where I was going to church on Sunday and we ended up going to the Everyday Church in Kingston together.

Remembrance Sunday 2013 was the anniversary of my father’s death in 1977, so it was a day of “remembrance” for me in that sense. Rebecca and I parked in Portland Road in Kingston (where I lived from 1983 to 1994) – more “remembrance”. Rebecca pointed out some letting agency signs across the road from where we parked that said “Cocoon”.

Cocoon is a word that reminds me of the fact that I am now (as the Bible says) a New Creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”). My life was once like that of a caterpillar, but whilst I was living in Portland Road in Kingston in 1994 an amazing thing happened, I went through the process (the cocoon stage) of being born again and my life then became like that of a butterfly – seeing life from a very different perspective. I love how Creator God speaks through His creation.

On the way through the Shopping Centre on the way to the Everyday Church I asked Rebecca what the time was. She told me it was 10:39. Later I looked at Matthew 10:39, which says “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

War Memorial Valentine's Day 2009As we approached the Everyday Church I saw a number of people congregated next to the Church and realised that they were congregated for the Remembrance Day Parade, but it wasn’t until I was inside the church that I remembered that the war memorial was next to the Everyday Church. I also remembered doing a Treasure Hunt with members of Shofar Church around Kingston on Valentine’s Day 2009 (we were the Matchmakers team) and having a photograph taken at the war memorial.

Treasure Hunt reminds me that when I first met with God in 1985 I was ministered to by the Hunt family and I had a whimsical thought that it would be nice to be adopted by them and to change my name to Treasure. They never knew that, but some years later their daughter released her first album and it was called “Treasure”.

The first song that we sang on Remembrance Sunday morning at Everyday Church was “Christ In Me” – a song written by her and her husband.

Outside a trumpet was played to denote the beginning of the 2 minutes silence and it was played again at the end of the 2 minutes silence. I was reminded again of the story of the butterfly. The first trumpet sound signifying the death of the caterpillar, the 2 minutes silence the ‘dead’ cocoon stage and the second trumpet sound signifying the beginning of the life of the butterfly.

The trumpet also reminded me of the shofar (a trumpet-like instrument) that is traditionally blown at Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) where words like repentance and sacrifice are mentioned.

The pastor at Everyday Church pointed out that between the Old and New Testament was a space of 400 years (another dead/silent/cocoon stage if you like). But for the Jews who don’t know Jesus as Messiah as we Christians do, the silence has been 2,400 years.

I looked at the “last words” of the Old Testament and found Malachi 4:5-6 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”.

In the New Testament these words are used to speak of John the Baptist (Luke 1:17 “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous–to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”) and I remembered that when I gave my life to God in 1994 He spoke to me of there being a “John the Baptist anointing” on the church in the present day, to prepare people for Jesus’ return.

We sang a Matt Redman “You alone can rescue” and I was reminded of my husband, who had “Red” hair. The words were so poignant, because I had wanted to be rescued from a single life and God sent my husband, John, to do that in 1987, but it wasn’t until John left in 1994 that the real rescuer “Jesus” came into my life. He promises that He will never leave me and we are together forever and ever and ever – that’s Eternity. WOW.

It is a lovely song and tells the story of my life. I once was dead in my sins and the thief (the devil) came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He stole my husband and attempted to kill me using my own hands, but then Jesus came into my life and gave me new life to the full.

The last song I remember singing at Everyday Church on Sunday was “Great is the Lord and most worthy of Praise”. The whole song is great, but I particularly remember it has a line in it that says “Lord we want to Thank You For the works You’ve done in our lives” and as I sang that on Sunday I could look back over my life and know it was truth.

Finally, on Monday morning I was thinking about the Futility of War. On Sunday I (who had English parents) was sat with Rebecca (whose mother is German) and there were Rembrance services going on outside and inside Everyday Church. I know there is no co-incidence that God has placed His Everyday church next to the War memorial. Outside, around the War memorial people were remembering what men had done to try to secure our freedom. Inside we were taking Holy Communion, as Jesus asked us to do in remembrance of Him, and we were remembering what God did to secure our freedom (1 Timothy 2:5-6 – “For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.”

The bible tells us that our fight is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12 “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”) and only belief in Jesus can secure the Victory for All People, for All Time

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French Connection – September 2013

As the lady I was living with in Surrey was away in Paris for the week, I invited two of the girls from Compassion UK Finance team to come for any evening during that week.
Rebecca chose for them to come the evening of Tuesday 10 September. I then realised that she had chosen my 25th wedding anniversary and that the other girl who was coming, Dooshima, was born on my chief bridesmaid’s birthday. I then found out that the Frenchman who works at Compassion UK (and whom I was seated next to at the office) had his birthday on 10 September and also his wedding anniversary (he is married to a Parisian). I was also reminded that the last time my husband took me on holiday it was to Paris at Easter (a very significant time in the Christian calendar that I now appreciate).
As I was writing an email about the “God-incidences” I noticed that the advert that popped up alongside that email said “French Connection”! It was an advert for a “Water Flower” drape top and the price was £65. I immediately thought Psalm 65, but also the name of the top reminds me of when God spoke to me about being a forget-me-not planted by a waterfall. And, ’65 is the year I went on a school trip to France and we visited Versailles – a place that was on my landlady’s list to visit on the Wednesday of her week away.
I used to visit Paris quite a bit in the 1970’s, as my friend Diane was married to a Parisian called Jacky and they were living in Paris. Her birthday is 24 September – the same day and year as my friend Libby and my cousin Alison. My cousin Alison was married to a man from the French Alps called Christian (who wasn’t). She is now married to Ian (that is what is left from “Christian” after “Christ” has been removed). The Frenchman at Compassion UK who shares my wedding anniversary is also from the Alps.
And finally my name, Jacqueline, is French.
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