Archive for September, 2016

A Red Sky at Night… is a Shepherd’s Delight

September 25, 2016

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I had a peaceful walk yesterday evening at dusk in the little lane which runs behind our home. Glancing towards one of the fields, I noticed the last of the large bales of straw awaiting collection… hopefully before more rain! Looking up at the sky, I also noticed a lovely sunset towards the west… hopefully the promise of pleasant weather on the way. We are always ‘hoping’ for good weather in Ireland, sitting as we do on the edge of Europe, the most westerly outpost before America where rain batters its way in from the Atlantic.

As we strolled home we met our neighbour, a farmer, who was walking with his dog. I remarked on the lovely sunset and he said… “A red sky at night is a shepherd’s delight…” With a smile I finished the quotation… “And a red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning.” Later at home I thought on this old saying and remembered the words of Jesus: ”When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16v2&3)

We live in days when “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2Timothy 3v13) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2Timothy 3v1) How well those terrible traits are described in 2Timothy 3! I later recalled a video which I had watched of a man who “had reverted to Islam,” which I found most disheartening. Islam says “reverted,” not “converted,” because it states that every baby who is born into this world is born a Muslim. They maintain that later in life those children become Jews, Christians etc. because their parents teach them to be so, or because of other influences. They also maintain that there is no such thing as original sin… but what does the Bible say?

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51v5) In John 3v3 Jesus says: “Verily verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” However, I do believe that babies and the very young who have no understanding of spiritual matters are not held accountable in the way in which adults would be… “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4v17)

Another verse which upholds the doctrine of original sin is Romans 5v12: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Other cults including Mormonism and the Bahia’s also deny this doctrine of Christian faith.

I believe that we live in an age of great deception and confusion, like never before and that “evil men and seducers” are truly “waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are active with their little literature tables in our towns and cities and people, while earnestly searching for something more in the spiritual realm, are sadly embracing error. How confusion abounds in our world with so many cults and wrongful systems of belief!

Jesus said: “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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7v13&14)

“Few there be that find it…” And yet it is the Lord’s will that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth – (1Timothy 2v4) “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5v19) The Lord Jesus Christ having “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10v12)

Denial of the doctrine of original sin is only one of many terrible heresies in these evil days. It is the sin condition that must be dealt with but sadly antinomianism is also prevalent amongst so called “Christian” churches and spiritually speaking that “red sky in the morning” is very evident. Joel 2v31&32 tell us that “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.”

His invitation to look unto Him and be saved still stands in this the day of grace, to all who will hear it. Oh that all would avail of it, before, spiritually speaking, this ominous red sky (the signs of the times) are replaced by a moon of blood and a sun turned into darkness, “before the great and terrible day of the Lord.”

 

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Reflections on World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10, 2016

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This is a very sensitive subject which I have touched on before, because of its prevalence in Irish society. Statistics show that some countries are more affected by it than others… but then reliable statistics are not always available in certain regimes, where admission would be deemed a failure of their “perfect society.” Today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, the World Health Organisation has reported that 800,000 people die by suicide each year, which has been calculated to be approximately one person every 40 seconds. This staggering statistic would fill most people with dismay…

Sadly, most of us know at least one person who has been affected by the death in this way, of someone they love. For the Christian it is a reminder to use opportunities to reach out to those around us. Sometimes we pass someone on the street and the face we meet may not always portray what that individual is going through. Often, perhaps daily, we meet and work with people who are harbouring despairing thoughts that we nothing about.

I read a true story some time ago, and although I cannot find that story right now for research purposes, I feel that I should quote what I remember of it here. A Christian evangelist and his wife were wearily going from door to door on a wet evening and eventually the husband said that perhaps they “should call it a night” and go home. Suddenly his wife felt compelled to visit just one more door in the drab block of flats. So they turned and rang that doorbell but there was no reply; again they rang and there was still no reply… and then a third time. At last a weary soul dragged herself to that door – a soul who had been at the very point of taking her own life. To cut a long story short that lady was shown love, compassion and understanding by the couple who were overjoyed when she came to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. From loneliness and despair, she came to know a new life and a community of believers who genuinely cared for her.

We live in a world where an elderly person may lie dead for weeks on end, without their neighbours even investigating their whereabouts. But the Lord Jesus Christ “seeth every precious thing.” (Job 28v10) He looks down upon this earth with the same compassion for souls that He had when He walked upon it over 2000 years ago. There are souls in physical and mental pain today; souls who would be happy for the friendly touch of someone who deeply cares for them. It is true that even when we know the Lord we can sometimes feel despondent too and yes, those feelings can be complex – but for those who know and follow Him, we have access to a joy which cannot be found in the things of this world, none of which can lift the clouds of despair. “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.” (John 14v27)

It is surely His will that we share these good things sensitively with those for whom Jesus died to save. “Freely ye have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10v28) He will lead and guide us by His Spirit, just as He guided the evangelist couple to try just one more door – the most fruitful door of the night.