Archive for March, 2016

“The Ultimate Sacrifice”

March 27, 2016

DSCF7163

During the past week I was immediately struck by the above headline of an article in my local newspaper. The first paragraph of this article read: “This coming Easter Sunday will see people joining together to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice that can be made by any one person or group of people, dying for a cause.” However, of course the article was about the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, prior to the formation of the Irish Free State and later the Republic of Ireland – but I could not help noticing the spiritual parallel!

The online ‘Urban Dictionary’ informs me that ‘the ultimate sacrifice’ is ‘to give everything you have to save someone or something that you hold most dear.’

In the midst of all the celebrations to mark this occasion, I wonder how many are thinking of the greatest ultimate sacrifice that this world has ever known… or will ever know? We are indeed ‘most dear;’ our souls most precious to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the extent that He left the riches of Glory, to descend into this world of sinners, to be held in derision and contempt, to be mocked – and then to suffer the most agonising death at the hands of ignorant people who hated Him “without a cause.”

“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) What a noble sacrifice! This sacrifice has indeed given a life changing and an eternity changing opportunity to every single member of the human race; the opportunity to be free from sin, spiritual death – and ultimately the unthinkable horrors of hell.

In return for this ultimate sacrifice, the Lord Jesus wants nothing – but our repentant hearts, our love and our obedience. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2v3) “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2v9)

Many will celebrate a ‘rising’ in the political sense this Easter… but how many will celebrate the greatest and most victorious rising that ever was or will be? “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said, Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28v6)

Oh that you, the reader, would taste and see… the love that Jesus hath for thee! Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16v33)

“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)

“And as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28) My prayer is that all who read would truly be found ‘looking for Him’ upon the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Reflections on World Book Day – and the Book that Counts

March 3, 2016

IMG_0185

“World Book Day,” despite the title of the event, is primarily associated with encouraging children to read. I was somehow not surprised by a comment on the site today: “Many children do not have access to books in their homes…” These days technological influences have brought about a situation where books, certainly in their traditional form, are becoming a thing of the past in some homes.

Most modern homes have a massive television and in the evening family members have either their eyes ‘glued’ to its overpowering cinema-like screen or are similarly transfixed to their smart phones etc.

My childhood, lived in a much earlier era, is full of memories of being curled up beside a flickering log fire in our old farmhouse, engrossed in some mystery or adventure book that I may well have purchased in a second-hand book store. Some of my earliest memories revolve around family visits to “Smithfield Markets,” an area of Belfast where old cobble-stone covered walkways were lined with numerous second hand bookstores. Sadly, that area of Belfast was destroyed in Northern Ireland’s recent ‘troubles,’ in the early seventies.

In those early days we would all arrive home with a car boot full of books of every description and I would dive into my armful of books, carrying them straight up to my bedroom, where they would be voraciously ‘devoured’ in the days ahead. In fact I was so fond of reading in those dreamy childhood days that I would actually look forward to having the ‘flu’ and then ‘prolong my recovery’ in order to spend time with my books!

These days, despite the introduction of electronic book-readers like Kindle and others, I have not succumbed to this new technology… even though my bookshelves are bursting! How life has changed since those early days of old books and shared stories around that flickering log fire… The art of good conversation, storytelling and even caring have become rare in this modern age. Certainly, some old stories from local history have a truly moral basis, with a spiritual significance and should never be forgotten. Good and true stories from long ago, like “ancient landmarks” (Proverbs 22v28) should not be removed and discarded.

Try as I might, it is difficult to imagine a world without books… but imagine a world without God’s Word, that massive and magnificent work, the Holy Bible. Above all the books that I have ever read in my life (and there are many) this is one Book which means much more to me than any other possession. I have some antiquarian and rare books… but none of these compare with my precious Bible. Here is a book containing many books: books of historical accounts, books of poetry, adventure, wisdom, the history of our very existence – and prophetic books about future certain happenings on our planet.  Above all it contains a love story; the story of the Lord Jesus Christ who, even if I had been the only one, He still would have died for me.

Many adventures, miracles and wonders that Jesus wrought can be read in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and yet, even these do not tell it all, for in John 21v25 we read: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

Oh that today’s children and adults would search within and prayerfully read this most victorious of all books, which contains the answer to life’s dilemmas, comfort in life’s heartaches, the cure for sin in this life – and the key to a life of eternal joy!