Archive for December, 2011

Suicide: A Worrying Trend in Ireland

December 31, 2011

It was a depressing foggy winter’s evening as I glanced at my watch, wondering why my husband was so late home from work. Some time later I discovered to my dismay that his train had been delayed because of a fatality on the railway line and it appeared that this was no accident. Unfortunately this has not been an isolated incident over the years and now, as the festive season comes to an end and we enter a new year, I have been reflecting on the statistics which will be released for 2011. A recent report has found that men under the age of 35 accounted for 40% of all suicides, 527 people died by suicide in the Republic of Ireland in 2010 and Northern Irish suicides have risen by a staggering 64% in the last decade. But, horrific statistics aside, I feel dismay at the thought of the mental anguish that each individual soul must be suffering to commit such an act.

I have also been thinking on Biblical examples of the Lord’s servants who went though low times in their lives. David clearly reveals this in many of his psalms and Job is a prime example of someone who has gone through so much that he feels despair for a time – but praise God for His goodness to these two men and His love for all mankind today!

Ultimately David and Job triumphed over their respective situations, because their hope was in the Holy One of Israel. In the words of Job: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:” (Job 19v25&26)

Job faced more tragedy in a short space of time than most people could physically face over a lifetime. While most of his ‘comforters’ became his accusers, God loved Job; he was victorious in the end – and today is rejoicing eternally with his Saviour.

Yes, God loved Job, He loved David and He loves you and I – whatever giant despair threatens to overwhelm us. Surely love is the answer? Bereavement, loss, being diagnosed with a serious illness and many other issues can all contribute to an individual’s depressive feelings but when we know that we are truly loved and cared for, it can change our whole perspective on life.

Today, whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever your problems are, you can be certain of this one fact… God loves you! Although you may feel that no one on this earth loves you – you can be sure of God’s love for you. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace give I unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (1John 14v27)

These are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ to all who have repented of their sins and who have put their trust in Him.

Yes, it may be good to talk to a professional counsellor when one is feeling low, but surely the best Counsellor of all is He who loved you enough to give His very life for you? At this moment, if you do not know Him as Saviour, I would urge you to trust in Him for salvation. Your prayer can be a simple one, in your own words… “Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for all sins I have ever committed. Please come into my life and take over my problems – I entrust them all into your care.”

If, however, you do know Jesus as Saviour today and like Job, you are facing some deep waters – ask the Lord to turn this testing time into something positive and wonderful. Whatever happens, be assured of this… “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14) Remember too, if you are a Christian to reach out prayerfully in His love to souls around you, for who knows what turmoil your neighbour or that fellow traveller who stands beside you daily on the railway platform is going through…

“Behold I Come as a Thief…”

December 26, 2011

It is hard to believe that seven years have now passed since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake which occurred on Sunday, December 26, 2004. ‘Tsunami’, a Japanese word, originally meant ‘a large wave in a harbour’, but is now used to describe the most destructive of all waves. Unlike other waves, it is caused by neither the influence of moon or sun – but by a giant disturbance under the sea, which may be either a volcanic eruption or an earthquake (as in this case). As coincidence would have it, my reading was in Revelation when this disaster struck. Earthquakes are mentioned more in this final book of the Bible, than in any other, and are very much associated with the end times. Jesus tells us in Matthew 24v7&8: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. And these are the beginning of sorrows.”

As the months and years of our ageing universe pass, we know from God’s Word that there will be more and more earthquakes in ‘diverse places.’ In the latter times, our earth will suffer the most violent tremors ever experienced in the history of mankind. Those of us in western Europe, to date, have had very little experience of earthquakes, and yet, some day every nation of the world will be affected by that great earthquake mentioned in Rev. 16v18: “And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” In Verse 20 of this chapter we learn that: “…every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.”

As the terrible story of the Tsunami unfolded, so too did many stories of heroism and fortitude. I read a newspaper report of one young girl, a tourist in the region, who saw and recognised the signs of the Tsunami before it struck. Being a student of geography, she was well read in this particular phenomenon, and knew the tell-tale signs of approaching catastrophe. The result was that she raised the alarm within the little area where she happened to be at the time, and was able to save the lives of at least one hundred people. Surely, we too, as Christians, need to be well read in God’s Word? His will for us is that we should know the warning signs that accompany the times we live in, and be prepared to warn those souls around us to “flee from the wrath to come.” (Matt. 3v7;Rom.5v9). I am sure that it took courage for this young girl to shout the warnings to the formidable adults around her. It takes much courage for us also, to visit our neighbours, and warn them of the things that we have gleaned from God’s Word. But proclaim it we must, going in His strength, for Jesus tells us: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 10v32&33). And in Mark 8v38 we learn that… “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Just as God told Noah to be prepared for the coming flood, we are exhorted to be prepared for “that day and hour” which no man knows. (Matt. 24v36). “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would have not have suffered his house to be broken up.” (Matt. 24v42&43).

The Tsunami ‘came as a thief.’ People were not expecting this sudden dreadful devastation which overtook them. Those masses of people who checked in at airports during the pre-Christmas rush would have made excellent preparation for their holidays. Perhaps weeks, even months of meticulous planning and anticipation filled their lives. How much more should we anticipate and be prepared for “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord!” (Mal. 4v5). “Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16v15).

Some day that curse upon our earth shall be removed, and terrible events like Tsunamis shall be no more, for we read: “And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rev. 22v3-5). And so, this life is but for a season, but the years of eternity are indeed “for ever and ever.” Without the Lord, those ages of eternity are too awful to contemplate, for we read: “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20v15).

To those who know Him, He says: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3v11). So long as we are followers of Jesus, and “Walk in the Spirit,” (Gal.5v16) this day and all our tomorrows belong to Him.

To those who do not know Him, He says: “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.” (Rev.3v20).

“I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22v16&17). “He which testifieth of these things saith, ‘Surely I come quickly,’ Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22v20). May God bless His precious words to the hearts of all who read, and may “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22v21)

Lay Up Treasure In Heaven!

December 13, 2011

As coincidence would have it, I came across the term ‘mortgaged’ (Nehemiah 5v3) in my daily reading this morning – something which I found to be so relevant after listening to angry bank customers here in Ireland recently. After a week of speculation on Ireland’s budget/austerity measures; the initial reluctance of some banks to pass on lowered interest rates to mortgage holders – and a weakening Euro, it is so easy to become pre-occupied with how all of this could affect us as individuals. Then I turned to the simple and very beautiful words of Jesus in Matthew 6v28… “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

I also think of His words earlier in the chapter: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6v19-21)

Recently I learned from an elderly friend that many of her acquaintances were worried about the whole financial situation here in Ireland- so much so that they had taken their entire life-savings out of the banks and hidden it below the floorboards of their homes! I can only imagine all of the things that could happen to those bank notes; mice love to gnaw on paper for one thing and as for thieves – almost every house in my own neighbourhood has been broken into at some time or other.

My thoughts then turned to Paul’s words to Timothy in 1Timothy 6v17-19: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”

How uncertain are riches indeed – and how deceitful! (Matthew 13v22) We live in an era when global greed and dishonesty continues to threaten the livelihoods of millions of people but if we know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we should understand the depths of these words: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1Tim. 6v6-8) Yes, there is much to be learned from the lilies of the field and the birds of the air!

At the same time Christians, if they are asked for an opinion, must declare their opposition to the corruption that exists in their countries. I think again on those words which made Nehemiah angry… “We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.” (Nehemiah 5v3) How I admire the faith and determination of Nehemiah who looked to his Lord for provision and for guidance in all that he undertook; in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, and how marvellous that this practice of usury was reformed, under the Lord’s direction!

Yes, those who love the Lord currently live in an uncertain and corrupt world where honesty and integrity are rare; yet in this awful darkness we must let our lights shine out brightly. In the words of Paul to the Philippians: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights of the world;” (Philippians 2v15)

Some day (perhaps sooner than we think) our material possessions will fade away and only those unseen attributes of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5v22&23) which the Lord bestows upon those who trust Him will remain.

In the words of Jesus: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6v24)

My prayer is that souls in our spiritually dark world would be touched and turn to the Lord because of the riches of love, joy, peace and uprightness that they witness in the lives of those who are His followers.