Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

“The Eyes of the Lord are in Every Place, Beholding the Evil and the Good” (Proverbs 15v3)

October 27, 2015

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An elderly friend of my family was on the telephone to me just recently, telling me that someone had tried to burgle her when she was out. Something or someone had interrupted his attempt and thankfully there was no evidence to show that he had ever been in the house. However, her window had been prised opened and police forensic evidence showed tiny fibres from gloves that the would-be thief had been wearing. My friend laughed when she recalled the very apt ‘thought for the day’ that she had been reading on that very morning… “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and dust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal…” (Matthew 6v19)

“That thief would have had no interest in my little sentimental things,” she added, “but of course I’m glad that he never managed to get into the house and it does leave me feeling uneasy…”

A short time later I was driving to my peaceful rural home one night last week, when I noticed numerous oncoming cars flashing at me in the darkness. ‘Was there something wrong with my lights, was there an accident ahead…?’ My mind was filled with all sorts of possibilities as I drove on towards the edge of the village which I had to drive through to get home. Soon I reached a police blockade. An officer put his hand up and proceeded to tell me to find some other route home, as the village had been sealed off. “What’s going on?” I asked anxiously. “I’m sorry madam; we are not at liberty to say right now. There’s a very delicate situation here and no more cars are allowed through this village for the moment.”

I later learned that there had been some sort of ‘stand-off’ and a vague statement had been issued about someone ‘being potentially a danger to himself and others.’

We don’t have to travel very far in this world before we are confronted with all of the sins and spiritual ailments of mankind – our ancient legacy from Eden. There is nothing in this world that the Lord is not aware of. He knows of the unspoken plans of the thief and the murderer; He knows of those who ‘bear false witness’ and He knows of the self-serving schemes of rulers and politicians the world over. He knows when some poor soul takes a nervous break-down and He knows every single anxiety (large and small) of every individual the world over.

And He also knows when good and loving deeds are accomplished to His glory. These may never be known or recognised by anyone else on earth and in fact many of the Lord’s servants may be misunderstood and their good deeds misinterpreted – but that which is done to the glory of God will receive an eternal reward. “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” (Luke 8v17)

Have you ever been accused in the wrong? Are you ostracised from the company of others and have no idea why? His eyes are surely in every place, beholding the evil and the good. All across the world at this moment terrible crimes are being perpetrated, while acts of terror are being planned in the name of a false prophet. Yet, for those who know the Lord, we can rest assured that He is in control. “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62v6)

Whatever your lot today, it is no secret to Him. He knows well your troubles, your worries, your sorrows and perhaps your regrets. He died to lift those burdens that weigh you down with grief and He died for the sins that would seek to enslave you. If you have not already done so, His will is for you to repent and turn to Him today.  His eyes are indeed “in every place.” He understands “every place” in your heart too and He wants to heal that broken heart, filling it with His love. Oh that mankind would turn to the Lord, for our all-seeing, all-knowing God is coming (perhaps very soon) to judge the earth with righteousness and truth. (Psalm 96v13)

Food For Free!

October 3, 2015

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Just recently I returned home one evening to find my daughters in the process of making lovely mixed fruit jam. The aroma from the fruit, in addition to a delicious crumble and homemade scones were most welcoming! What amazed me most, though, was the fact that much of the fruit used was freely available in the hedgerows and fields behind our home. A short walk through the field and over a gate brings us to a quiet laneway, at the end of which lies an old derelict house with a tiny walled garden, while beyond this is a beautiful glen, overlooking the Irish Sea. It is here, in this area that fruit is available in abundance – a paradise for birdlife.

Even now, in October, the hedgerows are still heavy with blackberries, elderberries and rosehips, while an abundance of crab apples are also available. It is said that rosehip syrup reduces the pain of arthritis, while crab apples have traditionally been used to heal wounds. It is also thought that eating the natural produce from your own area is a good idea, given that this fruit etc. has had to deal with the same environmental hazards as us to survive. Much of this type of fruit contains far more vitamin C (and some also contain more of vitamins D, E and iron) than cultivated fruit. Crab apples are full of natural pectin and are therefore good when cooked with other types of fruit to make jam.

Also available in our area are wild mushrooms, while in spring, nettles full of iron can be used in “nettle champ.” I was recently thinking of how good the Lord is to provide us with such an abundance of natural (and free) food full of vitamins. It is thought that when there is an enormous crop of blackberries, this could mean that a cold winter lies ahead – and indeed this could well be true. The natural vitamin D that we receive from being in the sun has also been available to us recently – perhaps more so than in our mediocre summer. A couple of days ago I noticed a little ladybird crawling on a leaf and I truly wondered were the seasons getting all mixed up, given that I also spotted some primroses coming out one late autumn in the aforementioned quiet laneway!

And yet we are told that: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8v22)

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 41v13)

His Word endures forever too and like the fruit which is freely available for us, it is packed full of good things for us to absorb and enjoy. What an abundance of food for the soul is freely available for all who draw near and drink from that “Well which never runs dry!”

Spiritually speaking, ‘the winter’ of this world lies ahead; already we see some terrifying signs of the end times. We have no idea what this harsh ‘winter’ may be hold for us as individuals and so we must draw ever closer to our Lord and Saviour, “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5v16)

Just as the season for the earthly fruit (which is now so plentifully available to us) will soon draw to a close, this Day of Grace and opportunity to receive the spiritual fruit of plenty will someday be no longer on offer to those who have yet not accepted it. The harsh winter of judgment will have come. It will be too late to avail of all that He once wanted to offer. But right now… it is still not too late! “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” (Ephesians 5v14)

There is a great wealth of goodness available naturally in the fruits of the hedgerows for the transient nature of these bodies of ours – but how much more is available in the spiritual sense to all who acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour – and are cleansed and used of Him to gather fruit “unto life eternal?” (John 4v36) “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

A Famine for the Words of the Lord

September 7, 2015

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On our recent visit to the village of Timahoe in County Laois, I saw an unusually large old pot used as a container for some lovely flowers. “That’s a famine pot,” a local lady informed us. Apparently there are famine pots throughout the island of Ireland, a reminder of the terrible potato famine which resulted in the deaths of approximately one million people in many parts of the country between 1844 and 1852. These pots were left in a village square or green and filled with food by those who could afford to do so – in order to meet the needs of the starving. Famine… it is difficult to imagine those terrible hunger pangs in our western society, where we have an assortment of food and plenty of it – even freely available when necessary, at certain outlets for those who are not so well off.

Somehow, though, these thoughts on famine led me to think of famine from a spiritual point of view and reminded me of the words of Jesus: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4v4)

“It is written…” Jesus always used these words before every statement He made to the devil, during that time when He was tempted in the wilderness. Could it be that many who claim to know the Lord today are being tempted and entertained by the devil, but they cannot say “it is written…” because perhaps they have no knowledge of what is actually written.

We are living in days of spiritual blindness and in an era when people have never had so many versions of the Bible available to them – clearly not a good thing, for we see a departing from God’s Word; not only in secular society but in supposedly Christian circles too. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the words of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8v11&12)

How wonderful to have access to God’s Word in all its truth and purity! It is there for us to read and appreciate; it is there to guide us, to comfort us and to show us how to live – but it must be applied to our everyday lives. Lack of discernment and spiritual blindness are surely a result of not spending time with the Lord, listening to what He has to say to us through His precious Word and being willing to put Him first in our lives.

God forbid that these words would apply to Christians today: “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long…” (Psalm 74v9)

To seek the Lord in prayer and ask for His intervention in the things that trouble us is so necessary – but not any less so than studying the Lord’s great letter to us, as contained in the Bible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Timothy 3v16&17)

One thing that I have learned just recently for myself is that the longest Psalm (119) talks about God’s Word in nearly every verse. It is referred to amongst other terms as: thy precepts, thy law, thy testimonies, thy way, thy statutes, thy judgements, thy commandments, thine ordinances, thy word…

And these should be the words of every servant of the Lord… “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119v127&28)

Surely when His servants esteem the Lord’s commandments above gold and when we delight in His law above all else, our hunger for His Word will be satisfied when we accept what He says to us, without trying to make it fit in with the ideas of this world? “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119v165)

There is no doubt that many changes have occurred in places of worship in the days in which we live. Many old hymns have been discarded for no valid reason; the mode of worship has completely changed in some quarters – often not for the better; while the Word of God has been twisted, often in sinister ways, to give credence to wrongful behaviour in today’s society.

As servants we can say with the psalmist… “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.” (Psalm 119v125) How true these words are for today! The blight which caused the potato famine could be likened to a spiritual blight which may result in the famine spoken of in Amos. As Christians we must take a stand on the issues of our day and on the evil laws passed by governments throughout the world, for in the words of the Psalmist: “It is time for thee, Lord to work: for they have made void thy law.”(Psalm 119v126)

Surely the Lord’s will for all men and women (for whom He loved and died) is not that they would be tormented by a spiritual famine but rather that they would repent and that these words would be their portion: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v103 -105)

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” (St. Luke 11v35)

August 27, 2015

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Having recently attended the annual Faith Mission Conference near Durrow in County Laois, I was reflecting today on all the different types of people that we’d met – both at the conference and around that locality. Somehow we found ourselves seated beside someone who had never attended the conference before. He had travelled a distance – out of curiosity. The fact that this person had sat beside us, I felt, was no accident because of the conversation which ensued after the meeting. How good it is to be able to witness to those we come in contact with in this way; I felt a great sense of the Lord’s Presence while we were conversing with this man and also a sense that he was genuinely seeking something more in his life.

There are others who may attend a meeting where the gospel is preached for many years but for some reason it never touches their hearts. Often I pray quietly within my own heart while a sermon is being preached, in the knowledge that there may be someone present who needs to be awakened to see his own need.

Others, still, perhaps young people, have just gone along to please someone – or even under duress. They are ‘anti’ everything that is said and bored with it all… and they show it!

There may also be deceivers; they mingle with Christians and they use the same terminology as Christians, but they have never been truly born again of the Spirit of God; I believe that the Lord gives discernment in this regard too.

Deceivers populate much of the ‘religious’ world. Not only do they deceive – but they are deceived. Very often of deceivers who are deceived it may be said that they are… “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Timothy 3v7)

We stayed on after the conference, to visit the round tower and the relatively new heritage centre in the picturesque village of Timahoe. Situated in an old Church of Ireland, we discovered much of historical interest in this heritage centre, where we were kindly shown around by a lady who lives in the area.

Models of several austere looking monks caught my eye – but especially one who sat at a writing desk. On viewing the photograph later, somehow that “ever learning” verse came to mind.

Surely “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.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6)

He gave Himself a ransom for all: seeking souls shall find Him if they seek for Him with all their hearts; the scorner will be forgiven and the backslider restored if they truly repent – and even the deceiver can break through, when he allows the Lord to show him that the light that he thought he had is but darkness.

Ultimately we can only serve one Master, whose will is that our eye is “single.” Friendship with the world is surely enmity with God. (James 4v4) It is totally His will that our eyes are focussed on Him alone and on the eternal values that count.

In the lovely words of Jesus: “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” (Luke 11v34-36)

At Times Like This I Wish I Had Learned Greek!

August 10, 2015

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After the conference was over we were free to explore the island of Zakynthos with its many fascinating villages – some of them quite remote. I enjoyed meeting local people who readily accepted my little ‘John 3v16’ bookmarks but sometimes it so frustrating when we sincerely want to communicate in words that amount to much more than ‘yes, no, please, thank you, good morning, good afternoon or goodnight!’ Many Greeks speak perfect English but unfortunately some older people like those we met have no English at all.

Above are two lovely people that I encountered in the heat of the day, in one of those little villages with their narrow streets – and they have both accepted a little bookmark from me. When I asked them, they were also happy to have their photographs taken. Somehow I had a sense of some ‘unfinished business’ on this island; a sense that we definitely will return to the region…

How strange it must have been in those days when “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (Genesis 11v1) I often wonder what the “Tower of Babel” looked like… After the Lord sees the need to “confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Verse7), He also “scatters them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” (Verse 9) And so we have the generations of Shem, Ham and Japeth to this day, scattered upon the face of the earth. Today there are roughly 6500 spoken languages in the world! However, about 2000 of these languages have fewer than a thousand speakers. There are also many languages which are only spoken – and have never been written. It is said that the top ten most spoken languages in the world are: Chinese (Mandarin), English, Hindustani, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesian and French.

As people travel more and more in the age in which we live, I believe that there are many opportunities for the Lord’s people to reach out with the simple gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I also believe that where our words and attempts to explain have been inadequate, the Lord Himself will take over and speak to hearts through His Holy Spirit.

Sometimes, though, He can lay it upon our hearts to make the effort to learn a language so that we may effectively communicate with the souls we meet. What I felt when I met these elderly people was a great warmth and love in my heart for them and I do pray that this simple little verse in their own language will speak to their hearts.

Meanwhile I have been scanning the evening class language subjects for Modern Greek – but unfortunately don’t see it listed at all. I will continue to do so – and also to pray for those people I came in contact with – whether it was a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, a shop keeper, the owner of our apartment – or an elderly man or woman watching strange tourists who insist on walking around in the 40 degree heat of their hot summer’s day!

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”

August 4, 2015

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I admire the Greeks for their resilience in the face of a serious economic crisis. Having returned just recently from the island of Zakynthos, I noted that people on this island have helped each other in many ways, where sometimes a barter system operated. Nobody seemed to be panicking about the fact that the banks were closed for a while and on the whole everyone was good-humoured, smiling and gracious to tourists. In the heat of the day we stopped at a remote little mountain village called Agalás for lunch, intending to afterwards visit Damianόs cave and the Andronios Venetian wells. Only two elderly men sat in the old café and on seeing us sit down at one of the tables one of them departed to bring back a lady who had been in her own home just across the road! She immediately made us lovely toasted sandwiches along with ice-cold drinks (very reasonably priced) and as we were taking our leave, she kindly also gave us a free bag of her own home-grown lovely ripe plums.

This generosity was to be experienced throughout our trip, when after a meal out in a restaurant (usually less than half the price that it is at home) we would be offered a free desert, tea, coffee or some watermelon afterwards.

It is said that one of the ‘must see’ sites in Zakynthos is “Shipwreck Bay,” which is also known as “smugglers cove.” I took a photograph of it from a great high cliff (which was thankfully surrounded by a barrier) but it cannot be reached, except by boat. Apparently a ship (built in Scotland) ran aground here as recently as 1980; it had been smuggling cigarettes from Turkey and subsequently chased by the Greek navy. And so the rusty wreck on this lonely little stretch of beach has become a famous scene on postcards and travel books – and a rendezvous for tourists.

I find it interesting that the islanders can make something as simple as a (comparatively recent) wreck into a tourist attraction – with the result that many tourists pay to sail there every day. I heard someone say: “Honestly, those Greeks can use just about anything to make a living!”

Somehow I see an analogy here for those who serve the Lord. Each of us is a unique human being and each of our lives has followed an interestingly different path. He has given each one of us gifts, resources and very different opportunities to reach others but often it is the miserably negative experiences that we have and the times of brokenness in life which have the potential to amass the rich capital that matters – our growth in the Lord and the salvation of souls. An abandoned rusty old ship has been turned into a positive tourist attraction – and a life that has been suddenly hit by illness or bereavement can be turned into a positive opportunity to reach souls. It is only when we experience the low times for ourselves that we can reach out with real understanding and His love for others who need to know Him.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Corinthians 1v3&4)

How safe is Your Holiday or Business Destination this Summer?

June 29, 2015

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As recent terror attacks in three continents continue to send shock waves around the world, many people are now wondering whether to cancel their summer holiday – particularly if it happens to be in Tunisia. Horrific scenes have emerged in the last few days; of tourists, including young children running for their lives on a Tunisian beach; of rising casualties in a Shia mosque in Kuwait and of an explosion in a chemical plant near Lyon where a man beheaded his boss…

Elsewhere many areas of the world are in complete turmoil. Refugees and migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution are floating in the open seas in rubber dinghies and little wooden boats which were never meant to hold the number of people that have been packed unto them. We see images of men, women and children being washed ashore on Greek islands – where the locals are barely able to provide for the needs of their own families.

On a personal level, my husband is to participate in a conference in the Greek island of Zakynthos next month but Greece, we fear, is on the brink of a humanitarian crises. School teachers in Athens have complained that young children are under-nourished and some are even fainting because they have not eaten in a couple of days. In the countryside at least, people it appears are able to grow fruit and vegetables, keep hens for eggs and goats to milk and make goat’s cheese from. However, I have to admit that I am a little apprehensive about our proposed trip to this lovely green island which the Venetians once named “the flower of the east.”

It was here, on this third largest of the Ionian Islands that dozens of terrified Afghan and Iraqi Kurdish refugees washed in to shore just recently, because they were unable to make it to the coasts of Italy. So what awaits any traveller this summer, having reached their destination – financial chaos, refugees on the beach – or worse still… a gunman on the beach?

Yes, it appears that even Greece is on the map of “tourist area hotspots with terror threat level” issued by the foreign office. On the red alert “high threat” list are France, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Turkey – and now Tunisia of course. Italy, Greece and Morocco are classified under “general threat,” while Portugal, Croatia and Bulgaria are listed under “underlying threat”.

“Oh, just stay at home,” some sigh… “Let’s face it, the world is just not safe out there anymore!”

‘But is it even safe at home?’ I ask myself. If someone had asked an 82 year-old British grandmother ‘did she think she would ever be beheaded in her own back garden?’ I’m sure that she would never have dreamt of such a horror – but this happened not so very long ago.

In an uncertain world, we brace ourselves for tomorrow’s news… but there is a happy band of people in this world who can claim these lovely words and apply them to any situation that they find ourselves in… “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Se-lah.” (Psalm 46v1-3)

Can you claim to feel a genuine peace when you hear these words? Whether it is financial unrest, wars, rumours of war, persecution; violence in the forces of nature, sickness or even death – if the Lord has control of all of your life, you have nothing to fear – either here or in the world to come. Of course pain, bereavement, anguish, or having to face up to our own death is horrendously hard to bear but thank God for the Lord Jesus Christ who loves us and wants to be our Burden-Bearer. He said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)

But He also said: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10v28)

And so, in an uncertain world, it is essential to be certain of this one thing – that the Lord Jesus Christ reigns supreme in your life.

If it is that you fear an uncertain eternity, it is not His will that you continue to live in this unhappy state. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5v8)

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died for your sins because he loved you and wants you to have an assurance of sins forgiven in this life – and a deep peace in your heart that you will spend eternity in heaven with Him. All He asks is that you repent and put your trust in Him today. Remember – tomorrow may be too late… for all our tomorrows on this earth are becoming increasingly uncertain. There is nothing comparable to the joy of feeling His Presence with you as you face into each new day. Oh that you would be one of that happy band who can honestly say…“For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)

May the Lord bless these words to whoever reads them.

Discouragement, Our Great Enemy – But His Grace is Greater

June 25, 2015

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Imagine a situation where the Lord has laid it upon your heart to arrange something for local people, along the lines of a study of Psalm 23 from personal experiences that affect many today. You have gone to much trouble to advertise, to send out invitations to individuals and to provide light refreshments but more than this – you have much to offer in the form of good things in the spiritual sense. There is the best news mankind has ever heard on offer as well as encouragement, excellent leaflets, books and booklets freely available. You are open to discussion and questioning hearts; the door is wide open too, the surroundings are bright and comfortable, the event is free and the welcome is warm – but no one comes in. A cute little girl with curly hair runs over and smiles in at you but her mother immediately drags her away by the arm. Moments earlier a little boy did exactly the same thing but was also hastily taken away. It is, after all, a community centre… a place where sports of all types are catered for and a variety of entertainment is on the timetable.

‘No harm in sports,’ you might say and of course you are right – but how many people take a serious look at their spiritual needs? They look after their physical and leisurely requirements and they attend to their business, which is important too – but they neglect the most important part of their very existence, that part which will never die – their souls. As the old hymn goes: “room for pleasure, room for business…”

Now, I could have been really discouraged by what happened – or even reacted in the wrong spirit, but in the Lord’s strength this did not happen, thankfully. I’m a little disappointed of course but somehow strangely not surprised at all. After a long while, when I knew that no one would turn up I talked with the friendly attendants at the centre, gave them a tract each (which they gratefully accepted) and took my leave. The Lord had some purpose in me being there (even if it was to teach me something) and He has promised that His word will not return unto Him void.

Yesterday I witnessed a man giving out tracts on the street of a different town to the one where I held this morning’s ‘non event.’ I watched as he approached another man in a business suit who was walking towards him. The latter uttered a resoundingly rude “no thanks!!” and hurried on his way. Again, this was not at all surprising… but the tract distributor was clearly angered by this and shouted something after him which did take me by surprise… I could see clearly a look of weariness and terrible discouragement on his face as I approached him and shook hands with him. But it was good to have that warm conversation with him, before I had to go to my appointment.

Unfortunately we live in a world where most people’s interests often do not extend beyond the material things of this life but as Christians, we must be led of the Lord and love all souls, patiently praying that somehow the Lord will break through their indifference and hardness.

Yesterday, before the arranged event I had this sinking feeling that I ‘was going to be wasting my time’ and I felt strongly that I should cancel it. As I was having these thoughts, I was walking past the window sill where my little “Bread of Life” verses were sitting. Prayerfully picking one out, I knew for sure that this was the Lord’s message to me for the day: “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6v9)

And how weary I had felt! I was in pain – a dislocated floating rib the doctor had said. To be honest I just felt like not going ahead with this event but I knew that this would be wrong.

The Lord Jesus Christ left the riches of glory to come down to indifference – and even violent opposition. He took on the form of human flesh with all the disadvantages that this entails – and then gave His all, His very life; suffering that souls would be saved from a horrific eternity. Surely the least I can do is to obey His commands as long as He gives me strength to do so?

I feel that there are two messages in these incidents. First of all, it is better not to give out tracts (or do any other form of Christian evangelism) if it is felt that we are doing it in the wrong spirit. It is essential, by far, to quietly draw close to the Lord again and ask Him to put a right spirit within us and a love for souls – something which is a pre-requisite for reaching others. This is His encouraging message for Christians who seek to reach others with His love for them: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Cor. 15v58) We should obey His commands in a right spirit, in the knowledge that we have no personal control over the reactions of others.  

The second message (on the issue of indifference on the part of the general population) is held in that old hymn, the second verse of which keeps going through my head today: “Have you any room for Jesus?”

The link to this hymn is here: http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/h/y/o/hyouanyr.htm

Remember, too, those words in Genesis 6v3: “My spirit shall not always strive with man…”

Have you any Room for Jesus?

Have you any room for Jesus,

He who bore your load of sin?

As He knocks and asks permission,

Sinners, will you let Him in?

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Room for Jesus, King of Glory!

Hasten now His Word obey;

Swing the heart’s door widely open,

Bid Him enter while you may.

Room for pleasure, room for business,

But for Christ the Crucified,

Not a place that He can enter,

In the heart for which He died?

 

Have you any room for Jesus,

As in grace He calls again?

O today is time accepted,

Tomorrow you may call in vain.

Room and time now give to Jesus,

Soon will pass God’s Day of Grace;

Soon thy heart left cold and silent,

And thy Saviour’s pleading cease.

Daniel W. Whittle (1840-1901)

On Slavery, Islam, the Sack of Baltimore – and “a Thief in the Night”

June 20, 2015

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Today, 20th June 2015, marks the 384th anniversary of “the sack of Baltimore.” On the night of 20th June 1631 Muslims from North Africa’s Algeria made a surprise raid on the village of Baltimore which lies on the coast of west Cork in Ireland. Thomas Osborne Davis (1814-1845) the Irish poet and politician describes the dreadful scene in his poem which is quoted in Des Ekin’s book “The Stolen Village.”

Most of those villagers (men, women and children) were carried far away to a life of slavery in North Africa; apparently only two of them ever saw Ireland again. I wonder what terrible stories they would have to tell us if they were alive today?

The Sack of Baltimore is said to have been “the most devastating invasion ever mounted by Islamist forces on Ireland or England.” Some of the prisoners would spend the rest of their lives chained to oars as galley slaves, while others may have been prisoners in harems. I can only imagine their horror as they tried to grow accustomed to the stifling heat of a new climate, while the peaceful seaside village that they once knew became a mere part of their dreams.

Today most people view slavery in terms of European slave traders whisking African prisoners away to a life of forced labour, something which was abhorrent to William Wilberforce, the Christian who headed the parliamentary campaign for the Abolition of Slavery. William Wilberforce (1759-1833) is said to have trusted the Saviour in 1785 and went on to campaign for many other worthy causes, including the Society for the Prevention of Vice, the foundation of the Church Missionary Society and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The words slave/slaves are only mentioned twice in the Bible (Authorised Version), given as an account, as it was part of the culture during certain periods of history. However, I believe that the Lord never intended that any man, woman or child should ever be a slave; even though, despite their slavery many souls triumphed in adversity and became followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed!” (John 8v36)

As opposed to this, the Koran, on the other hand allows slavery and there is evidence to suggest that slaves still exist in many parts of the Islamic world, particularly in Saudi Arabia, even though Saudi Arabia and Yemen are said to have abolished slavery in 1962. However, there are countries which presently claim that slavery has the sanction of Islam and within these countries slavery is said to be a current practice; these include Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and Sudan.

Today we are facing the threat of invasive change on a global scale… but the invaders are much more subtle in their approach, pointing to ‘political correctness’ to further their aims and rapidly gaining positions of power in the political world. Nevertheless, for those who know Jesus as Saviour – “here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13v14)

I cannot even begin to imagine the trauma for those villagers in Baltimore all those years ago, when men, women and children were literally stolen away. The Algerian Muslims descended upon their peace “like a thief in the night.”

In 2Peter 3v10 we also read of a thief in the night: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

The villagers of Baltimore never for one moment expected such a terrible thing to happen to the peaceful security of their lives in that village in the southwest tip of Ireland. They had no warning at all.

On the other hand, there is a warning to those who live in the world today of that ‘Day of the Lord’ which is to come. We are warned of this many many times in God’s Word and for those who are His servants it is our duty to warn others of His coming again – this time to judge the world.

“Behold I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16v15)

As the signs of the times show us that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5v8) may those who have never trusted Him, turn to the Lord in repentance and may those who know the Him as Saviour, be faithful to loved ones, neighbours, friends, acquaintances – yes, and even the very stranger they meet in day to day life…

The Agnostic and the Oranges – a True Story

May 31, 2015

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In recent days my daughter has been planting many different types of fruit: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, tayberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants… the list is quite long – and she hopes to plant apples in the autumn. Of course, for the most part, it will be next year before we see these fruit emerge – Lord willing! Many types of other fruit, though, would have a difficult (if not impossible) time growing in our Irish climate… oranges for example. I was thinking of all these different types of lovely fruit (and oranges in particular) when I remembered a true story I had read just recently in one of William A. Weir’s booklets: “Peace Perfect Peace.” (Dr. F.B. Meyer was a famous preacher at the time.) The following true story relates an elderly lady’s faith, an answer to prayer – and an astonished agnostic…

Dr. F. B. Meyer was once crossing the Atlantic. The captain asked him to preach in the saloon on Sunday morning. He spoke on “answered prayer” and gave a number of illustrations. An agnostic was present and someone said to him, “What do you think of Meyer’s sermon?”

“Oh,” he said, “I don’t believe a word of it.”

Dr. Meyer was speaking that afternoon to the passengers in the steerage (second-class) end of the ship. The agnostic picked up two oranges, put them in his pocket and walked over to the meeting.

As he threaded his way in and out amongst the steerage folk, he came across an old lady with silvery hair, her eyes closed in sleep, her head back and her hands open on her lap. He took the two oranges out of his pocket and placed them in her hands, and went on to the meeting. When he came back the old lady was eating one of the oranges. He said to her: “You seem to be enjoying your orange!”

“Yes,” she said, “my Father is very good.”

“Your what? Your father cannot be living.”

“Oh,” she said, “He is very much alive.” He asked what she meant.

“Well,” she replied, “I have been seasick for five days. This morning I longed for an orange. I knew there were some in the saloon, but I wondered how we could get them in the steerage. As I sat here I asked the Lord to send me an orange. I suppose I must have fallen off to sleep, and would you believe it, sir, when I opened my eyes, He had not only sent me one, but He sent me two!”

“Why,” he said, “is that true?”

“Absolutely true,” she said.

The bottom fell out of his agnosticism on the spot. The whole circumstances passed human explanation. God does answer prayer, and He sometimes uses infidels to carry the answer…