It’s Harvest Time

It is August, the month of harvest in Ireland.  The fields of barley and wheat around our home are ripe. It has been a sunny, dry summer and the farmers can expect a bumper crop. I saw a tractor pulling a trailer full to overflowing with grain. Did the farmer do anything extra this year more than other years to get a bigger harvest? No he is faithful to prepare the fields in the springtime and sow the seeds of wheat. He waits. He has faith.  He expects to get a harvest a few months later.

No amount of worrying will help the seed to grow. No matter what the weather is like if he believes he will get the harvest in. It is because of God’s mercy and goodness we have had good weather this summer in Ireland for everyone to enjoy and especially for the growth of crops and fruit. The earth has brought forth bountifully. When we visited with friends over the summer we enjoyed the strawberries from their garden.

Last year at this time the ground in some parts of Ireland was too wet for heavy machinery to gather in the harvest. In September a dry spell of weather allowed the farmers to clear the ground. It was later than usual but the harvest time did come.
God word promises
““As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭8:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A prophetic word was given by an American prophet back in May. He said,
“For the next season there will be an open heaven over you. There will be a release of God’s revelation and power. You can expect to receive payment for the attacks of the enemy. God is breaking clouds of darkness and bringing people out of the wilderness and God’s light is going to shine.”

Yes the light has been shining naturally all summer. God is showing us his favor. I am like the farmer expecting a harvest from what I have sown naturally and spiritually. I am expecting payment for what the devil has stolen. God is going to move sovereignly on my behalf. I didn’t earn his mercy. I believe in his promises and his prophetic words to me. He is going to keep his promises to me.  I have faith because God has said in his word.

There was a rainbow arch right across the sky in front of my home on Saturday. It is a sign of God’s covenant with me and with all life on the earth. He will never again flood the earth. It is a sign to me that God is there and he sees and encourages me to keep believing him. He told Noah and his family when they came out of the Ark,

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

God has blessed Brendan and I with increase of children. I believe he will continue to increase our family in number and multiply on the earth.  We will get our harvest now.  It is harvest time.

The Brent Geese have Left.

In the last week the Brent Geese have left for Canada. Isn’t it amazing the timing in nature. These birds have been migrating since creation. How marvellous our creator is.

“Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭1:20-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Many centuries ago before man has cultivated the land people living along the shores of Strangford Lough would have welcomed the arrival of the geese.  Perhaps there could have been a source of food. There are many historical Christian settlements along the Lough, Greyabbey, Nendrum and Movilla.
Nowadays the Brent geese are protected.

When the Brent arrive on the Strangford Lough shores in September, they look like ducks. They have flown across the Atlantic from Northern Canada, a journey of two thousand miles. They spend the next eight months in Ireland. They feed on eel grass, which grows on the intertidal shore especially where fresh water meets the salt water of the sea. There are two such areas on the shore near where I live. I am privileged to watch the birds close up.

For the last month groups of geese gather near my home to feed. I can hear their guttural calling when they arrive. They are fattening up for their flight across the ocean. They now look like geese. They waddle from where they are feeding to the shore and float away when they are disturbed. They conserve energy at this stage only flying off when in danger. They can be approached up close to get a picture. When they do take flight they travel very fast just above the level of the water and disappear into the distance.

The name Brent means charcoal in Norse. Their feather colours are dark on the neck and wings. Their wing tips and underbelly are white. When the sun shines the light highlights the white feathers, making the birds look regal with the black and white contrast.

I thought the same geese return in the spring. The Irish Brent Research Group tells me the parents remain with the young for fifteen months before the fledglings are strong to make the long journey to feeding grounds along the shores of Ireland. They stay home with their young. This reminds me that even the birds follow the truth in the scripture,
“He gently leads those who are with young.” Isaiah 40 v 11.

“The migrating geese leaving en mass signify a powerful force in nature.” quote from Naomi Hart, artist. They know when the time is right. Perhaps there is a strong wind blowing that helps their journey north. The desire to leave and return are part of the bird’s life cycle. I am learning from the birds.

“Look at the birds of the air, for they don’t sow, neither do thy reap.”  Matthew 6 v 26.    I have learnt so much by looking at the birds.

When I travel to Toronto, Canada the flight from Dublin is seven hours. The journey home is only five hours. Why? There was a strong tail wind behind the plane helping it along. Similarly I believe the strong winds help the birds migrate.

Perhaps by looking at the birds St Brendan was inspired to make a boat to travel north into the Atlantic on a path of discovery. Swans and Geese head north into the horizon where the human naked eye can see no land. “But there must be some place out there for the birds to land,” he may have thought?

Brendan and I often go to far off nations around May and September.  Like the birds we know when it is time to fly.

A Walk in The Woods

The final days of winter have passed.  The time for the singing of birds has come. Often our lives feel as if it is winter all the time. In Narnia, the writer C S Lewis gives the image of all creation living under the spell of  the wicked witch. Every life form was frozen. But Aslan the lion, who is a symbol of Christ, comes and breaks the spell of the winter of a hundred years and all life begins to warm up and live again.

Just as in CS Lewis’ book Narnia we can be trapped by forces over which we have no control, being under the spell of darkness and coldness, or things not working out in our lives. We have free will to make choices and live as we wish. But sometimes life does not work out the way we had planned.

If anyone feels like this Jesus gives us his promise. “I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” John 14 v 18. This is a wonderful promise. He will not leave us in the winter of our lives, which happens to us because of circumstances which are beyond our control. There is an evil power that casts a spell on our lives. It is the devil. He has been ruling over the world since Adam and Eve were put out of the garden. But Christ appeared to destroy the works of the devil.

While Jesus was on earth he went about healing the sick and casting out demons that kept the people bound. One woman believed that if she touched the hem of his garment she would be healed.
“And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: Matthew 9 v 20
A man crippled from birth was healed and took up his mat on which he was sleeping and walked. “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.” John 5 v 5.
Another man who was blind from birth was healed so God was glorified. John 9 v 1.
In these three situations mentioned, the individuals had their condition for a long time, one twelve years, one thirty eight years and the other from birth. Jesus healed them all.

If one is in a situation for a long time when there seems no change, I assure you Jesus will come to you and set you free. There is hope. Spring will come in your life. The singing of birds will come as The Song of Solomon says.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; Song of Solomon 2 v 11.

Brendan and I went for a walk in the woods near our home two weeks ago. The morning sunlight streamed though the trees. Ferns were opening their arms in the warm rays of light. Streams of blue bells flowed down the banks. Doves cooed in the branches. A single bumble bee busyed himself visiting the open blossoms. He had so much work to do, flitting from flower to flower collecting pollen. Three different kinds of butterfly were enjoying the still, warm air. Bird song rejoiced. We were walking in a garden the Lord tended.

The season has changed. The sun is shining. Life is returning to the forest after the final days of winter.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/final/

The First Flowers of Spring.

My daughter, husband and four children came to visit yesterday. They have to make a three hour journey from the south of Ireland.  This was their Christmas visit as life was too busy for us all to see each other then.  The children have past the baby and play school stage. No buggies or car seats to contend with. Now the grandchildren are approaching the teenage years. Long legs and reaching arms need room.  They are blooming like the flowers Shann reached me.  Mark’s people carrier Jeep has served the family well.

They all poured out of the vehicle, glad of the stretch. We shared hugs, so glad to see each other. Bags of presents weren’t forgotten in the back seat. I didn’t notice their visiting student from Spain at first. She is staying with them for six weeks to improve her English. A student exchange has been working between Ireland and Spain for many years. The Spanish like the tone of the English the Irish use.

I remembered back to when we would take our children on trips in our van to the beach, the playground or a forest. They poured out of the van and ran in every direction like calves released from the stall. Brendan would whistle and they would come back when it was time for home.

We gathered in the kitchen for lunch. The children were excited to be back at Granda’s house.

“I’m sorry they’re a bit battered and bruised,” Shann said. I wasn’t paying attention as I reached a bowl from the cupboard. There was clattering of delph and cutlery as the girls set the table.
“Did Mark have to stop and deal with the children?” I said thinking it was the children Shann was talking about.  I looked up.  She was referring to the bunch of flowers she had given me.
We all had a good laugh. I love this first bunch of spring flowers.

“Did you come across on the ferry?” I asked Mark. “Yes” he said. “The attendant informed me there was a special offer on this Sunday. If you buy a return ticket we can deal with any children who have misbehaved. We throw them overboard.” We burst out laughing again. This is Irish humour. I hope the Spanish girl didn’t mind.

On the sunny afternoon all the girls headed down to the shore. Hannah arranged a competition to see who could pick the most sea glass for granny.  That was good idea because it motivated them to search all over the place. They had the extra blessing of seeing different birds, a heron, gulls, oystercatchers, Brent geese and redshanks.

Back at the house the treasure was displayed and counted. Ten points for each blue glass, five for green and three for white. The winner was announced, cheered and rewarded. They had good fun. I have the added benefit of all that sea glass to work with.

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Meanwhile Mark, with some helpers loaded up bicycles, table and chairs he had stored with us since they moved house. He secured it to the top of the jeep. No worries with Mark. Too soon it was time to go. Mark sped off with a bigger load. I hope they got across on the ferry with no one or nothing going overboard.  A great day.

Subdue The Land

Adam and Eve lived in a garden.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  Genesis 1

When God delivered the people of Israel from Egypt he wanted them to go into the Promised Land.  He told them to subdue it.

He said to them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites, every man armed for battle, cross over the Jordan with you before the Lord, then when the land is subdued before you, you must give them the land of Gilead as their possession.  Numbers 32 v 29

One of the meanings of “subdue” is “bring under control.”
God intends that we subdue that for which we have responsibility, whether it be work, family, property or land.  We will have the strength to do it.  God is pleased when we obey him.

I decided today I would subdue my garden after reading this scripture.

Despite our recent cold spell, when we had snow and wind, seed time is here.  I had been reluctant to work in the garden due to the bad weather.

Genesis 8 v 22. “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”

The days have more light and the earth is warming up.  Plants, whose leaves died back over the winter are putting forth shoots.  Leaves are breaking out of their wrappings on the branches.  The cycle of nature takes its course despite the windy cold blasts that would make one stay inside warm.  The daffodils broke forth a month ago giving us beauty.  Their yellow trumpets swayed in the winds and remained till their time of glory passed.

I saw some tomato plants for sale at a bargain price in a local shop.  The garden centres would charge much more.  They tempted me to start some gardening even though it felt too chilly to do any outdoor work.  I planted them out in the safety of the greenhouse.  Last years tomato plants didn’t need much attention and produced fruit well into autumn.  Just plant them and wait for the harvest.  That doesn’t seem like hard work.

There is a plot of land beside my house.  In former years the land would have been a farmer wife’s garden.  It has been neglected for years, no longer lovingly tended.  Last year it produced of itself nettles and curling weeds that stood strong and tall all summer.   I did not have the courage to invade their territory.  Thankfully the winter defeated them and the shoots withered.

I planned this year to get out early and cut back any new growth.  My son strimmed that area a few weeks ago.  The grass, nettles and weeds made a come back.  Today I determined to go to war against the weeds.  I was not put off by the cool wind.  These weeds will sprout overnight!  I used my lawn mower as my weapon of war.  I powered my way over the rough ground and all before the mower was mulched.  I subdued my land!

I will plant potatoes that will flourish in the fertile soil.  It has been left fallow for years.  Wherever nettles grow, one can be sure the soil is good.  No back breaking work for me digging up the soil.  No, I will drop each potato in a small overturned sod and let nature take its course.  I have the added benefit of having a ready supply of fertiliser for my garden.  I live beside the sea.  I have gathered seaweed that was washed up from storms in the winter time.

I will be sure of having a harvest of potatoes and tomatoes at least in the autumn and all without much effort. The garden will once more be lovingly tended and enjoyed for the food it will produce.  I will wait to see what other seedlings the local shop will offer for my garden.  For now the potatoes are busy sending out roots unseen underground.  The tomato plants are enjoying my green house.

It is amazing that each spring the plants begin to emerge out of the soil.  Isaiah 61 v 11 explains,
“The soil makes the young plant come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
Abundant life comes forth!  I rejoice to see what the scriptures describe, happen before my eyes in my garden.  I will praise Him.

Living the Faith like St Patrick

The sun shone warmly on Ireland this St Patrick’s Day.  The Parade, Festivities and the Christian Walk and Talk in The Cathedral in Downpatrick were a great success.  I opted for a  bus tour of Christian sites.  Other years when our children were young we would have watched the St Patrick Day parade.  Today was different.

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Our tour guide told us stories about St Patrick, we visited ruined churchs and holy wells.  I live in the middle of all this history.  St Patrick’s Day is the second most celebrated day after Christmas in the world.  Cities throughout the world light up in green.  People drink green beer.  If you are Irish you are celebrated and welcomed.

Which of the stories about St Patrick is true?  Tourists come to Ireland to visit these ancient ruins and read what the history books tell them.  I hope they are inspired to look to the God of St Patrick, Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life for everyone today.

The people who lived all those years ago among these walls are now dead.  Looking at the broken down stone walls made me fell a little depressed.  I thought of the story in Scripture when the women went to the tomb in which Jesus was buried.  An angel said He is not here, for he is risen.

I consoled myself with the truth that the God St Patrick believed in, I believe in today in 2016.  I can pray to the same God.  He is the same God, yesterday, today and tomorrow.  He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He is the God who healed me from Cancer.  It is said St Patrick worked miracles.  God worked a miracle for me in 2010, fifteen hundred years later.  I celebrate six years Cancer free this Easter Monday.

It is said St Patrick cast snakes out of Ireland.  I believe the snakes are symbolic of demons.  Jesus said I give you authority to cast out devils.  Luke 9 v 1.  The believer in Jesus today is given the same authority.  Mark 16 v 17.  And these signs will follow those who believe, in my name they will drive out demons.

I no longer want to look at ruins.  I want to be a living stone, that the scripture speaks of in 1 Peter 2v5, You are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.  I want to use the authority Jesus gives me to drive out demons and heal the sick.  He delivered me from demons and healed me.  What God has done for me he can do for others today.

Are You in the Wilderness?

Jesus, the son of God came on earth as a baby boy to his mother Mary.  He stayed at home till he was thirty.  Perhaps Joseph died during that time. The scriptures do not tell us.  He would have looked after and helped his mother and his siblings.  He honoured his mother and cared for her.

The time came when Jesus determined in his heart to accomplish the work he left heaven to do on the earth.  He came to forgive mankind their sins, heal their diseases and destroy the works of the devil, who had ruled the earth since Adam and Eve sinned.

His ministry began when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by John.  The heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove and a voice came from heaven , “You are my beloved Son,  with you I am well pleased.”  Those around heard the voice of God.  God was honouring his son before the people and also encouraging Jesus to go forward in his work.

Very often a son or daughter needs that encouragement and reassurance from a parent.

The Holy Spirit led Jesus in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing.  The devil came to divert Jesus from his mission.  He knew Jesus was a threat to his dominion over the whole earth.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ” (‭Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭5-8‬ NIV)

The devil states that the kingdoms of the world have been given to him.  Jesus came to take away the devil’s authority over the kingdoms of this world.

The devil even knew the scriptures.
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully;
Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (‭Luke‬ ‭4‬:‭9-10, 12‬ NIV)

It is good to pray.  It is even better to fast and pray.  The devil does not like you fasting.  When one fast one becomes weaker and vulnerable and knows one’s need of help.  The Holy Spirit and angels ministered to Jesus when he was fasting.  In the wilderness he was removed from people, family and friends and all worldly distractions.  After Jesus time of fasting he began his ministry.

Do you feel as if you are in a wilderness in your life?  You may be surrounded by people or work, but you have that dissatisfied feeling deep down.  Has your life not turned out the way you wanted?  Do you feel abandoned or neglected by God?  Are you sick? Are you thirsty? Do you want your life to count?  Do not despair.

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