Archive for April, 2011

I Know that my Redeemer Liveth!

April 21, 2011

This evening I took a long walk down the country roads close to where I live and I felt joyful in my spirit. Little rabbits were jumping and skipping in the fields, cattle were peacefully grazing, birds were singing and away to the west I watched in wonder, the blood-red sunset turn to amber through the trees. Yes, I love God’s creation but often I feel that the individuals I come in contact with within the human race are unpredictable and untrustworthy. Yet Jesus died for every one of them – and for me. How amazing!

In this world we can be certain of nothing or wholly depend upon no one, but we can depend on the Lord Jesus Christ and in this day of grace His arms are ever open; ready to embrace those who repent and come to Him in simple faith. Below is a little poem which I wrote a long time ago, expressing the sentiments described in James 4v13 &14… “Go to now, ye that say, Today or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

I may lead my life, unknown to the world and forgotten when the few who love me pass away – but because I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and am walking in the light, as He is in the light, then His victory is mine forever!

Perhaps some day this transient life,

With all its sorrow, joy and strife,

Like a vapour, will vanish away,

This earthly frame beneath the clay,

My name forgotten quietly,

With the death of those who loved me.

But there is One who will remember me –

Surely the King of Immortality?

He, suffering, died that we should live forever,

His blood a cleansing, flowing river,

His rising conquered sin and death forever –

For all mankind: the “whosoever,”

O Lord thy victory is mine forever!                  

© Elizabeth Burke

If You Had Been the Only One… He would still have died for you!

April 19, 2011

Did you know that whoever you are and whatever you’ve done (good or bad), Jesus loved you enough to die for you? (1John 2v2) Before the foundation of the world, He foresaw your birth and mine and then one day (in the knowledge that nothing less than this enormous sacrifice would suffice) He allowed Himself to be taken away by an angry mob and cruelly nailed to a Roman cross.

If Jesus had not died for us and gloriously risen again we would be without hope, both in this life – and the next. By dying for us, Jesus effectively took the weight of our sins and paid the price, so that we might have an assurance of sins forgiven – and a home in heaven. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Peter 2v24) “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5v21)

Remember only Jesus can forgive us our sins, because only He has never sinned, for the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23). In Hebrews 7v26&27 we are told of Jesus… “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”

When Jesus uttered those final lovely words “It is finished,” what a defining moment in the history of mankind! Finished the necessity for animal sacrifices, finished the striving and those rituals which can never take away sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v11&12).  Again we read in Hebrews 10v18… “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

“But there are so many different religions in the world,” one may say. However, in Acts 4v12 we learn that Jesus is the only way: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” We may reject or accept this statement, but Paul tells us in Romans 14v11&12 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

“But what about my kindness, charity work and church going?” some may ask. However in Isaiah 64v6 we learn that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” In Ephesians 2v8&9 we are further assured: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. However good and respectably you have lived your life, repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is still essential for salvation. After this your faith will be evidenced by your works. (James 2v18)

Still others might say: “But my life has been appalling. I have committed terrible sins – I don’t deserve to go to heaven.” Perhaps not, but no one does! Remember, Jesus loves you every bit as much as any ‘pillar of society!’ Whatever your background, addictions, problems, or your sin in this life, it is totally within His will that you repent, trust in His enormous sacrifice for you – and have that assurance in your heart of a home in heaven.

In Matthew 27v38 we read: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.” In a sense the whole world is represented by these two people who hung on either side of Jesus on that day. Jesus died for both of them and both of them were guilty – but we only read that one of them accepted Him as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said to him… “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v43). What wonderful words to the human ear! You, the reader, can also have that assurance of sins forgiven, and a little bit of heaven can be yours upon this earth, for Jesus said “I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10v10).

Are you ready for that day when the Lord shall return again – this time as Judge? “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.” (1Corinthians 15v52) The alternative to heaven, that terrible place hell is unthinkable. In the Bible we read of no other destination in the after life, but heaven or hell. But it was never God’s will that mankind (whom He made in His own image, and sent His only Son to die for) should spend eternity in such a horrific place. The righteous Son of God was born in humble circumstances, died between two criminals, and on the third day rose again so that we would never have to pay the terrifying eternal penalty for our sins. In 1Corinthians 15v55-57 we read those encouraging words for those who have trusted the Saviour… “O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Would you like to be sure of a home in heaven? In 1Corinthians 6v2 we learn that “…now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” Tomorrow may be too late! Jesus warns us that He could return at any time… “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12v40). We must consider, too, that our lives are fragile and transient: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4v14).

One day many years ago I came to that place of repentance. The date shall forever stand out in my mind… 28th August, 1978. Ultimately I knew that I was in danger while I lived my life outside of God’s grace. I was totally alone in an upstairs room, no one preached to me and no one prayed with me, and I cannot remember my exact words, but I know that on that evening I crossed from darkness into light, and found the Greatest Friend and Confidant that anyone could ever hope for. Perhaps you would like to pray these (or similar) words right now in the quietness of your own heart… “Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying for me. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Assist me, in your strength, to tell others of my experience and to live according to your words, as contained in the Bible. Open my eyes to the great truths within it, and help me to find fellowship with others who have come to know Jesus as their Saviour.”

Thank you for reading this. I sincerely hope and pray that you will find that “abundant life.” Note that it is better to start reading the Bible (preferably the Authorised Version) in the New Testament and after this the Old Testament. If you require further discussion or help regarding the issues discussed in this tract, please feel free to contact me at: readywriterpublications@gmail.com. May you know God’s richest blessings upon your life – now and forever!

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the Sin of the World.” (John1v29)

April 16, 2011

Herein lies the core of the Christian message! Surely no creature is more innocent and harmless than a little lamb, which is why Jesus, the perfect Son of God, is compared to one. I wrote the following lines many years ago when I went for a walk, and then fell asleep under a tree on an April afternoon…

 

The Final Sacrifice

(Hebrews 10)

 I saw a lamb so loveable upon a warm spring day…

How beautiful the innocent when they are at their play!

It jumped and skipped and ran with merry youthful glee,

Then refuge took in mother’s milk, sucking eagerly.

 

I strolled within the meadow green and sat beneath an oak,

Its budding arms drooped over me, my memories awoke.

I thought of all the lambs I’d known, and how with joy they leap,

And then my eyes grew heavy, my memories in sleep.

 

I dreamed I saw ten thousand lambs beneath an eastern sky,

They cried for mother mercy, but they knew that they must die.

Men in flowing robes of old killed them one by one,

Blood upon the doorposts; little ones consumed before the risen sun.

 

Those who sheltered ’neath the blood, escaped God’s wrath that night,

But for those that worshipped Egypt’s gods, how sorry was their plight.

From first-born child and beast, was taken life and breath,

At midnight’s hour so long ago, all Egypt tasted death.

 

And then I heard another Lamb: “It is finished” was His cry,

Because of this, my love for all, no other lambs should die.

I dreamed of this, His sacrifice, the nail prints in His palms,

And how He suffered, died, and rose for we His precious lambs.

 

The whispering wind in the ancient oak stirred me from my sleep,

And I heard again the cry of a lamb, wandering from shepherd’s keep.

Oh come to Him my wounded lamb, now caught in the grove of sin,

Oh come to the fold of the Shepherd of Love and by faith now enter in.

 

You may hear His voice in the city streets – or in a desert place,

He whispers o’er the ocean waves, how wonderful His grace!

He knows your name, He loves your face, the sheep that has gone astray,

And He longs to make your heart His home, before God’s Judgement Day.

 © Elizabeth Burke

 Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Not all the Blood of Beasts” written in 1709, describes it so well. Here are the first two verses…

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

My prayer is that the Jewish people would see that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10v4) and that those who trust in the sacrifice of the mass would see that “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v11&12). And may those who know Him as Saviour reach out as never before to their fellowmen who have yet to find that “new and living way” which is described in Hebrews 10v20.

Link to this hymn:  http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/n/a/nalblood.htm

Memories of “Sleepy Valley Mission Hall” – & Reflections on my Unchanging Saviour

April 9, 2011

After Mr. Ralph Loney, a dear friend of my parents recently passed away, I recalled a little article for a local newspaper, the Ulster Gazette, which I had written around 8 years ago about Sleepy Valley Mission Hall, with which he was associated…

Sleepy Valley“, as it was aptly named in bygone days, can be accessed from the main Armagh/Portadown Road or from the village of Richhill. These days, that once verdant valley, is a favourite location for new housing developments. My early memories of “Sleepy Valley” were not so much of its peaceful green fields, or of the later ‘concrete spread’, the extension of an ever-growing village – but of a little portable hall in the corner of a vast field. As a child I attended Sunday afternoon meetings there, and later, as an adult, Sunday evening meetings and that special “Day of Prayer”, held annually around Christmas and the New Year.

The little hall was not affiliated to any church, which in these days of denominationalism, is a refreshing concept. Mr. Samuel Hewitt, who once lived in Richhill castle, was responsible for the erection of the hall in the field belonging to Mr. Ralph Loney – who was to lead the Sunday evening meetings there for many years, and whose wife Maureen played the organ.  Indeed, the hall had been originally erected for the purpose of one mission. However, it stood throughout the decades in a troubled province, and who knows what encouraging influence, or how many lives were changed for eternity by the words spoken; the ministry in song, and the sincere prayer which arose within its humble walls?

Until just last year it had been in use for a Tuesday evening Bible Study and Prayer Meeting for a handful of stalwarts, including the Woodhouse family, Mr. Jack Hutchinson and Mr. Harold Irwin.  I had the privilege of being present at one of the last few meetings. Then, on Tuesday, 11th March 2003, the prayer meeting was held in Sleepy Valley for what was to be the very last time. The following week the hall could not be accessed, for that vast green field was to be the site for another new housing development.

On a recent visit to my native environs, I noticed that the little hall had gone, and the houses had been built. Consequently, I felt that I should write about Sleepy Valley Hall at this time, paying tribute to what it stood for, and never forgetting all those who ever crossed its threshold over the years – many of whom have “gone home”. In a changing world, shattered by terrorism and cankered by materialism, prayer is as vital as ever, and I have no doubt that it continues in the hearts of the afore-mentioned, as they join with others in that wonderful little cottage, belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Irwin.

Nowadays, in another time, another place, my memories often return to the pictures which lined either side of Sleepy Valley hall, and which made a strong and lasting impression on my young life. I recall one of Jesus knocking on a door … It is surely fitting that I should close with His precious words: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3v20,21).

Just today, as I thought on Sleepy Valley and all the familiar faces of those who sat in it over the years, my thoughts also dwelt on the words of Hebrews 13v8… “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Old familiar faces have left this scene of time; places of sincere worship and prayer are on the decrease… but my Saviour never changes! In this the Day of Grace, He still stands knocking on the doors of the hearts of mankind.

My prayer is that all who read would open the doors of their hearts to this loving Saviour, who is an unchanging Rock and Fortress throughout the changing scenes of time and who says to them: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” (Matthew 7v13) May those who know Him declare with the hymnist Henry Francis Lyte …

 “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day:

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away,

Change and decay in all around I see:

O thou who changest not, abide with me!”

Link to the hymn “Abide with me:” http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/a/b/abidewme.htm

Praise God – I’m Rich!

April 1, 2011

Something happened to me one evening just recently; something which I find difficult to put into words, expect to say that I was suddenly overwhelmed by the Lord’s Presence and I came to see how rich I was in Him. Of course when most people see the word ‘rich’ in print, the spiritual never crosses their minds; they visualise property, gold, money or possessions. Yet this is what the Lord showed me that evening… the depths of the spiritual riches that are mine in Him!

Sometimes we are troubled on every side by those who can talk of nothing but the material, while at the same time numerous bills are being shoved through our letterboxes or our bank accounts are dwindling with one direct-debit after another. As a consequence, we may start to worry, growing irritable and pre-occupied – but this is not the Lord’s will for His children!

As we walk by faith each day, we must keep our eyes on the Lord and not on the stormy waves of this world’s monetary problems which threaten to overwhelm us.

In the early days of our marriage, when my husband was still a student and we managed to live on very little, someone gave me a little wooden plaque with these words… “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4v19) I believe that these needs apply to both the spiritual and the material, but at the same time I don’t agree with those whose philosophy supports the notion that ‘health, wealth and prosperity’ go ‘hand in hand’ with the Christian life.

In Philippians 4v19, we learn of those “whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things…”

All around me I see people who are so rich in the things of this world. Sadly they are totally taken up with material things and probably never give a thought to the serious matter of eternity. If my possessions consisted of nothing but the material – how poor I would be! Jesus warns us in Luke 12v15… “Take heed; and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Just recently I was becoming quite concerned about people with whom I was in touch talking about money (or their lack of it) all the time. At the same time I could see that in reality these same people had much to be thankful for in the material sense – but sadly they were poverty stricken in the spiritual sense. In truth this life with all its material possessions will very soon pass away for each one of us. My prayer is that those of us who know the Lord would learn to “count our blessings” – both in the material and spiritual sense, while those who are still outside of grace would read the parable of the rich man in Luke 12v16-21 – and trust the Lord to save them, so that they would not lay up treasure for themselves – but be rich towards God. (Luke 12v21)

Getting back to my experience that evening – I felt so close to Lord after this; somehow He had given me a revelation of just how rich I am and I believe that there are even more riches to be possessed in Him. He has given me His wonderful Word to read; He is constantly there for me as my Guide in the onward march of life, He is my Confidant, my All – and most of all, He has given me the unspeakable riches of glory and everlasting life, which are mine through the gift of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! 1Peter 1v3&4 describes it so well: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” How can I not rejoice in such riches – and how can I not pray for them to be bestowed on every living soul with whom I come in contact?

Link to the hymn “Count your Blessings:” http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/c/o/u/countyou.htm