Archive for the ‘Prayer, Reflections & Poetry’ Category

Remembering the Sacrifice – and the Victory

November 10, 2018

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I discovered a little article in recent times concerning the “Souls family,” which I feel is very relevant on a weekend in which we remember the dead of two World Wars and later conflicts. On this Remembrance Sunday in particular, widespread events will be held to mark the centenary of the First World War.

It is also 100 years since Arthur Souls and Alfred Souls (twins aged 30) both lost their lives in Flanders fields. This was two years after the death of their brothers: Albert, Frederick and Walter Souls who were all killed in action in 1916. Five brothers from the one household… my heart goes out to their mother and father, Annie and William Souls (humble English country folk) who must have endured such grief. The couple had a family of six healthy sons in total and it is heart-breaking to think that five of their boys were killed in this way. Upon research I discovered that Annie Souls never stood again for the anthem “God Save the King” but her terrible grief was further compounded when their youngest surviving son died from meningitis.

The awful reality is, though, that many young people today know little about what certain wars were all about and the enormous sacrifices that were made. War would appear senseless and yet most of us realise that democracies must be protected from certain tyrants who rise up in every era (and in all parts of the world) to threaten those democracies that we take for granted.

It is respectful to remember both the sacrifices that were made in these wars and those who made them… but how much more should we honour the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who made the ultimate sacrifice ever in the history of mankind? “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)

Wars and conflicts through the ages have resulted in heartbreak for mothers and fathers, husbands, wives and children but when the man Christ Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever” he arose in glorious victory, defeating the greatest enemy that mankind has ever had to face – forever. He heals the broken hearted and He comforts the bereaved in their darkest hours, if only they would acknowledge their need of Him, His sacrifice for them – and trust Him to save them.

The greatest enemy we will ever have to face (and the father of all tyrants in this world who arise to distress us) has permanently been defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ and His unspeakable sacrifice. Praise God, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Corintinians 15v54)

The saved can say… “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.” (1 Corinthians 15v55-57)

This King of Kings and Lord of Lords, of whom it is said: “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come,” (Ephesians 1v21) lives to heal the wounded soul and gives us the victory over sin and death and hell.

How can we remember and honour His great sacrifice? For those who don’t know Him…. By acknowledging their sins and trusting in Him to cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1v9) and trusting their future lives into His care. And for those who walk the narrow path, to be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Corinthians 15v58)

Today we have “wars and rumours of war” but it is acknowledged that an outright “Third World War” could be a nuclear war, resulting in the end of life as we know it on the universe today. To all He says…

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24v44)

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation….?” (Hebrews 2v3)

 

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Sunflowers Still Blooming in November!

November 3, 2018

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“Those sunflowers will never grow,” someone told my daughter when she planted them. “They’ve been planted too late and many storms are forecast. It’s just impossible.” But miraculously, not only did they come out in full bloom but they are still standing after several storms; they have survived and we are now into November. Strong trees have fallen but the row of sunflowers have stood resolute throughout fierce gales and dashing rain. Only one fell, which perhaps had not been properly rooted. There is a spiritual lesson there somewhere…

This little encouraging event is synonymous with another much more serious event that has been going on in our lives. If sunflowers can stand through three major storms, then anything is possible. Indeed, as the old Wesleyan hymn goes… “All things are possible to him, that can in Jesus name believe.” If, as this hymn describes, the Lord can so transform our lives, not only in the new birth experience but to the extent where sin shall not have dominion over us, (Romans 6v14), then “all things are possible to me.”

Every new day in our lives is a miracle in itself. As the days draw in and winter lies ahead, inevitably the sunflowers will die – but their seeds are being used for something really good and beneficial. I remember my father saying… “There is no telling what the Lord can do with a life that has been totally consecrated to Him.” In Romans 5v3-5 we are told: “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

I prayed that the sunflowers would grow – because it would have a deeper meaning for me. Not only did they bloom but they grew tall and withstood the storms. Just as I stood, opened-mouthed with wonder at the sight of the sunflowers still in full bloom despite the elements, people are watching those who know the Lord; watching their reactions to the full blown storms of life. “How can they bear it?” they ask themselves. And they look for the answer – and we need to reach them with it.

Praise God…

“All things are possible to God;

To Christ the power of God in me;

Now shed Thy mighty Self abroad,

Let me no longer live, but Thee;

Give me this hour in Thee to prove

The sweet omnipotence of love.”

 

(Charles Wesley)

 

 

The Lord Can Save By Many – Or By Few…

October 21, 2018

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In my current daily Bible readings the Lord has spoken to me three times about a certain serious situation that I am praying about. The first reading was in Judges 7v7 where I read: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Mid-i-a-nites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.” We have here the well know story of how Gideon’s army was whittled down and how they fought against the vast armies of the Mid-i-a-nites and the A-mal-ek-ites, “like grasshoppers for multitude.” But the Lord was with Gideon and his army and so they won the day.

Days later I had moved on to 1Samuel 14v6 where Jonathan says: “it may be that the Lord will work for us; for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.” In this account Jonathan (without telling his father Saul) decides to attack the garrison of the Philistines, with his young armour bearer. In this chapter I am very aware of Jonathan’s courage and faith – and the fact that Saul lacks faith and is harsh with his people, denying them sustenance as they go into battle. But ultimately, because of only the young man Jonathan setting out in faith we learn that “the Lord saved Israel that day.” (1Samuel 14v23) This was a miracle given that in those days “there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.” (1Samuel 13v19&20) Therefore, we see the crazy situation where Israel is depending on the enemy for proper weapons… but the Lord overruled for He was with Jonathan and his young armour bearer.

A short time later I am reading the words of David to Goliath, the giant Philistine in 1Samuel 17v47: “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” We learn that “when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” (1Samuel 17v51) Again, against seemingly impossible odds, a young boy wins the day because the Lord is with him.

Throughout scriptures we see that the Lord will choose the few, the humble, the youngest, the least, the smallest… to triumph in battles and conflicts, for He wants men not to glory in men – but to give God the glory. This can be seen in our personal lives too, in the days in which we live. Imagine a situation where someone who has been diagnosed with something which requires aggressive treatment discovers that he or she is reacting badly to every treatment given… so much so that the medical professionals involved, puzzled, cannot continue with the treatment plan. To believe that the Lord can overrule in this situation – and save by the least or the minimum is easier said than done…. Yet we walk each day by faith in the knowledge that He, our loving Creator, has known it all from the beginning to the end, long before we ever walked this earth.

David the shepherd, warrior, psalmist, musician and king later declared: “the righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Psalm 34v17)

Today we can be assured as we face our own “giants,” that if the Lord of Gideon, Jonathan, Samuel and David is our Lord, then He is with us in our battles. And when He is with us, all things will work together for our good for us.  “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye,” He says. (Psalm 32v8)

“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee,” (Psalm 43v1&2)

Praise God… “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Se-lah.” (Psalm 46v11)

Not a Care in the World!

October 12, 2018

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She sits surveying the last roses of summer, her fur glinting in the warmth of the autumn sunshine… on top of our car! As far as she’s concerned it’s her car, a very warm place to sit; she hasn’t a care in the world. And the surrounding fields are all hers too – she is free to roam where she pleases.

Unlike human beings, animals live in the moment and tomorrow’s worries have no part in their lives. “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.” (Psalm 104v21&22)

Well, our “young lions” are well fed on the best and can rest and sleep anywhere and at any time in our home! Chasing the odd mouse is just a form of gruesome entertainment to them – not a life or death food situation. I look at the complacent cat and I look at the car and I remember recent events…

A while ago, feeling worn out, I had reversed that car into a car park pillar by accident. Oh the sound of that sickening crunch! How could I do such a stupid thing? I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been driving for many years and have never had an accident – and now this sheer stupidity.

“You’ve been very stressed out for a long time with all that’s going on in your life,” someone told me later. “Don’t worry about it. It could happen to anyone under similar circumstances. Just try to put it behind you. Really, in the grand scheme of things it’s not that important…”

She was right of course – but still I can’t help reliving the moment and berating myself. My thoughts also returned to the news I received around the same time that my youngest daughter had been in an accident. Her car was in a bad way- but I thank the Lord so much that she managed to escape uninjured, although she was trapped in the car for a while.

“Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward. I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause.” (Job 5v7&8) Such are the “ups and downs” of life but praise God; although the human race is “born unto trouble” The Lord is the answer to it all… “Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number:” (Verse 9)

He is surely sovereign and He is our great Provider. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6v26)

I love Psalm 104, that beautiful psalm of nature, which gives glory to the Creator and portrays His mighty providence and His provision. Praise God, I can see His mighty hand moving in all the situations of life that I recently find myself in. “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” (Psalm 104v24)

Perhaps I could take a lesson from His marvellous creation… “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.” (Matthew 6v28&29).

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.” (John 14v27) Whatever happens, I will, in His strength, not be burdened by the cares of tomorrow for “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6v34)

As Psalm 104 reveals, the Lord’s glory is eternal. “The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.” (Verse 31) And if He cares for the beasts of the earth and the birds of the air, how much more does He care for we, His creation, made in His own image, for whom He sent His only Son to die?” “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10v31)

Lord I can never thank you enough for all your mighty provisions and for your guiding hand through the big and small trials of life. I praise God that He knew it all before my very existence and that He cared enough to send His only Son to redeem me from death and hell, so that I might rest in His comforting arms, with the peace that “passes all understanding.”

“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.” (Psalm 104v33&34)

To Rise above the Storm… is to Find that Perfect Peace

September 20, 2018

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A few days ago I left someone to the airport, where she was to fly off to Northern Italy to start a new job. Her flight had been changed at the last minute to an earlier day, which was perhaps just as well as the very next day a fierce storm blew up here in Ireland, causing mayhem and cancelled flights. And I have been going through another type of storm in my life, which involved being a support to someone else for long hours in an oncology unit….

On the morning of the storm I looked out to see a fallen tree near the entrance to our home. Traffic on the little country road can be heavy enough sometimes and drivers daunted by the tree in their path, kept reversing into our driveway and turning around to take an alternative route. Just one storm can cost lives, devastation to property, high tides and flooding in coastal and river regions – as well as anxiety in general.

This simple little verse was given to me by the Lord as I thought on storms and seafarers out on our nearby coastline…

The storms of life are vicious,

The tide of life is high,

But Jesus is my Refuge;

My Light beyond the sky.

It is well known that aircraft prefer life in the stratosphere, which means less turbulence. I have previously been on flights which hit severe turbulence and the pilot would announce: “Don’t worry about it people. I’m just going to rise higher above the storm… it’s more peaceful up there.”

In the spiritual realm, I must let my Pilot “ride the storm.” He will carry us higher to realms where we are dependent on nothing but His unfailing love and grace. There is an optimum and cost effective altitude for an aircraft to travel through but always they will “rise above the turbulence.” Lower down (and we see this especially when we drop down to land in Ireland!) we encounter the depressing grey clouds and the worst of the weather that everyone walking below is subject to. Gloomily surveying conditions here below, “we look at the things which are seen” – but 2 Corinthians 4v18 exhorts us to look “at the things which are not seen”… “for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Of course only the pilot can bring us higher and raise us above the battering – we are not in control of that aircraft. And only our Pilot in the heavenly realm can elevate us above the gloomy conditions which would threaten to batter us here below. So let the Pilot ride your storm – He has seen it all before and let Him, by faith, elevate you to ethereal places that the world knows nothing about. To rise above the storm is to find the peace that passes all understanding. Whatever turmoil fills your life, be assured that some bright day all will be well, when the Lord Jesus Christ is the Pilot of your life’s journey.

I rest in God my Saviour and I trust that He is in control, praise His Name….

Thank You Lord, For Saving Me… Forty Years Ago

August 29, 2018

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“For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2v7) Years ago I wrote these words which are in “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year:”

“In days of old His children fled,

Through the Red Sea’s dried-up bed;

The Guide who lit all Israel’s way,

By fire at night, and cloud by day,

Ever lives for all who journey Home,

Where streets of gold, not earthly dust,

Their lovely feet shall roam.”

 

Indeed I have known His love, His guidance and His comforting Shepherd’s arms around me since the night I trusted Him to save me, on Monday 28th August, 1978. Like the children of Israel on their forty year journey through the wilderness, I have been provided with manna on my journey through this wilderness of life. As J. Montgomery, the poet and hymn writer who lived for a short time in Northern Ireland wrote…

“For ever with the Lord!

Amen, so let it be;

Life from the dead is in that word,

‘Tis immortality.

Here in body pent,

Absent from Him I roam,

Yet nightly pitch my moving tent,

A day’s march nearer Home.”

 

My Lord and my Saviour has comforted me when loved ones died, healed my sicknesses, been my Mighty Counsellor in life’s major decisions, given me strength to overcome when the evil one placed trials on my path and given me joy in my walk with Him and inspiration through this Word. I have found water in the dry places and honey in the Rock and as my days “so shall my strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33v25)

Perhaps one of the hardest years I have ever had to live is this one – so far; although I am sure that many others are going through the same things – and much worse! I am wearily trekking hospital corridors and sitting in hospital waiting rooms. Helplessly I have watched suffering in someone I love, sometimes feeling numb with fear and filled with anguish. And there have been other trials – too numerous to mention here. Yet through it all, He has “whispered peace to my soul.” Frances Crosby’s hymn aptly describes it…

“I must have the Saviour with me,

For I dare not go alone,

I must feel His Presence near me,

And His arm around me thrown.”

 

Then my soul shall fear no ill;

Let Him lead me where He will,

I will go without a murmur,

And His footsteps follow still.

 

I must have the Saviour with me,

And His eye the way must guide,

Till I reach the vale of Jordan,

Till I gain the other side.”

 

But there is joy in that walk with Him – and He is working His perfect will through all that comes to pass. Through the rain we see the rainbow. I have no doubt about that, as G. Matheson’s hymn describes it…

 

“O Joy, that sleekest me thro’ pain,

I cannot close my heart to Thee;

I trace the rainbow thro’ the rain,

And feel the promise is not vain

That morn shall tearless be.”

 

Praise God, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1v21) As the final three verses of H. G. Spafford’s hymn describes it…

 

“My sin – oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin – not in part, but the whole

Is nailed to His cross; and I bear it no more:

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

For me be it Christ, be it Christ, hence to live!

If Jordan above me shall roll,

No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,

Thou wilt whisper thy peace to my soul.

 

But Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope! Blessed rest of my soul!”

 

Come Out Of Her My People!

August 24, 2018

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“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18v4&5) Many attribute the words in this chapter to the Church of Rome and certainly, in the spiritual sense the Roman Catholic system would appear to “fit the bill” as today’s Babylon.

I have recently heard that the representatives of mainline Protestant churches in Northern Ireland have been invited to this weekend’s reception for Pope Francis in the Republic of Ireland – and I have also heard that they hope to be there. I feel, sadly, that all the world is running after Rome…

The Presbyterian moderator is quoted as saying: “As a church we recognised that this Papal visit would bring great joy to our Roman Catholic neighbours and friends, and it was something we wanted to welcome. I am pleased that our church has been able to accept the invitation to the reception and I am looking forward to it. Should there be an opportunity to meet Pope Francis I would very much welcome that in the context of building good relations.”

There are numerous people out there, however, who were baptised into this Roman Catholic system and those people will not welcome his visit because of the abuse that they or their loved ones were subjected to by paedophile priests or nuns who used women as slaves and often trafficked babies illegally out of the country. These people are still hurt, angry and traumatised by events which may have occurred long ago in their lives –but these events were to impact their formative years and as a result, affect those lives and relationships into adulthood.

And how can you “build good relations” with a system of belief that is idolatrous in essence? This system of belief fabricates doctrines such as the perpetual virginity of the Virgin Mary, the assumption of the Virgin Mary, the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, Purgatory, praying for the dead, transubstantiation etc etc., none of which can be verified by scripture.

If a Christian was asked to meet the Pope, he or she could only do so with the purpose of being a witness to him. The Lord would give them the necessary courage to tell him that he was a lost sinner in need of salvation. Anyone who gives credence to the notion that the pope is a fellow Christian, is, I am afraid, as lost as he is.

“And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (Revelation 18v24) The hierarchy of Roman Catholicism authorised the slaughter of the Waldensians, the cruel Spanish Inquisition; the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of French Huguenots in 1572, the burning at the stake of Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer and the martyrdom of multitudes of other men, women and even children all across the world. This system of belief has made little of the Word of God, turning instead to someone who claims infallibility in regard to his every decree.

Men and women died for the truth of these precious scriptures which I hold in my hands. Article 31 of the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of Ireland and the Anglican Church states: “The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.”

Why, then, do the clergy of these churches join with a man (blasphemously referred to as “the Holy Father”) to celebrate the mass? While millions upon millions are spent on security for his visit, it has been said that homeless people and beggars (who are seen as an embarrassment on Dublin’s streets) will be moved if necessary. Meanwhile the Pope with all his entourage of security will enter with pomp and ceremony. What a far cry that is from the entrance of the beloved Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem on a humble donkey and what love He had in His heart for the “common” people!

They cried: “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12v13) Praise God for “David’s Son and David’s Lord!” …”And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9v6)

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4v12)

While men revere another man, honouring this man of sin, they turn their backs on the “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19v16) “Come out of her, my people…” But sadly many, although they occupy places in pulpits are not His people, yet still He stands with open arms to receive all who come to Him the humble way, repenting and trusting in Him alone for salvation.

I fear for others, on the fringes: professing Christians who are slowly being deceived into inviting people to preach in their churches; these people identify with dubious and sinister organisations, which in turn identify themselves with Roman Catholicism. Spiritually speaking, white is morphing into light grey – which will slowly morph into black. We are living in evil and deceptive days.

This is a difficult time for true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; we are told that the conflict will be greater in the end days but we must stand firm upon the Rock of Ages, whatever befalls us. As the days draw closer to His return, when the dead shall stand before God to be judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20v12), I pray for a revival in our land and I pray that somehow the events of this weekend would have the effect of turning people to the true Holy Father, who with love gave His only Son for the sins of the whole world ONCE FOR ALL… something that no other person or repeated sacrificial offering upon this earth could ever do.

 

I Have Just Rescued Two Ladybirds!

August 7, 2018

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As I cleaned the windows, I noted that our recent very dry sunny weather has brought with it an abundance of ladybirds – or “ladybugs” as they are referred to in North America and some other countries. However, we also have a great variety of spiders of all shapes and sizes and as a result… cobwebs just about everywhere! Since I was a child I have always loathed seeing a struggling little creature trapped in a cobweb but yesterday I saw a ladybird which was no longer struggling. In fact it was so still that I was convinced that it must be dead. It lay there, wrapped around by the web waiting to be devoured by the nearby giant spider. ‘Well,’ I thought, ‘it may be trapped and dead – but that spider is not going to make a meal of such a beautiful creature with its shiny red coat and black dots!’ Dead or not I was determined to set it free and gently releasing the bits of web, I pushed it onto my finger.

It was at that point that I noticed the tiny movement and was delighted to note that it was certainly not dead! Perhaps it had originally resigned itself to its fate and that was why it lay so still and sad in the web but now it crawled slowly up my finger and was so delighted to be there that it didn’t want to leave me! I took it far from places where webs are built, into the garden where the grass, the shrubs and the flowers would be its new surroundings – truly a wondrous paradise, after the situation it had found itself in.

After this I found yet another ladybird in another cobweb in another window, which was in exactly the same predicament. Again, I was sure that this smaller, younger looking species must be dead and again when I rescued it, was delighted to see the movement and satisfied to see it transferred into surroundings where it could recover and have a new life.

Ladybirds have been known to fly great distances and at great altitudes but these two had obviously flown off into dangerous territory when they had found themselves trapped in that awful situation.

In the spiritual realm, as we go through life we often witness people who are seemingly so dead in “trespasses and sin,” that it would appear that they are beyond rescuing. But as Christians, we must never, ever think this way, for after all, it is the Lord who does the rescuing – not us. But he wants to use His people in the rescue operation. The term “beyond redemption” should never cross the Christian’s mind as he looks at a soul caught up in even the greatest web of evil.

With God all things are possible (Matthew 19v26) and no soul is beyond rescuing from the web of the deepest sins known to mankind. “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24v12)) Some may look at the unbelievable state of mankind today, shake their heads in a self-righteous manner and decide that some people are just so spiritually dead that there’s nothing more can be done for them; some would say it is their own fault for literally flying into a danger zone.

Loving a little creature enough to take the time to gently break that horrible web is not a pleasant operation – and it is time consuming. Webs are unpleasant things to the touch but the joy at seeing just one ladybird alive and well after having been entangled is so rewarding!

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations and in places where we see souls struggling and indeed some no longer struggling, as they have resigned themselves to addictions, to all sorts of evil and sin in their lives. The devil is not too far away – waiting to devour their very souls.

But the Lord needs His people as they walk past the souls caught in webs… that drunken man lying in the street, that homeless teenager who shares needles and sleeps with other drug addicts in shop doorways… Look upon them with love; the deep love that only He can confer upon us. Love can break through, untangle and give hope for a bright and happy future, living as the Lord meant His creation to live. Love with the love that only the Lord can bestow upon us for souls for whom He loved and died – even before they ever existed; surely He will guide us how to pray and what to do. We must never assume that they are “dead” and beyond rescue because they lie so still in the web of sin…

As I meditate on these things, Flora Kirkland’s lovely old hymn comes to mind…

Out in the darkness,

Shadow’d by sin

Souls are in bondage,

Souls we would win.

How can we win them?

How show the way?

Love never faileth,

Love is the way.

 

Think how the Master

Came from above,

Suffer’d on Calv’ry,

Breathing out love;

Think how He loves us,

E’en when we stray?

We must love others,

Love is His way.

 

See, they are waiting,

Looking at you,

Furtively watching

All that you do:

Seeming so careless,

Harden’d and lost,

Love never faileth,

Count not the cost.

 

Love never faileth,

Love is pure gold;

Love is what Jesus

Came to unfold,

Make us more loving,

Master, we pray

Help us remember

Love is Thy way.

 

“Life is a Journey…. Destination Unknown”

July 29, 2018

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These words, in block capitals and emblazoned on a man’s t-shirt, hit me between the eyes as I emerged from revolving hospital doors into the bright sunshine. People in dressing gowns puffed desperately on cigarette butts as they leaned wearily against poles on my route to the car park. A man sitting on a wheelchair with amputated legs stared through me, his eyes empty and sorrowful, as if this life had left him in a state of permanent shock, which perhaps indeed it had….

Earlier inside, a lady with a tumour on the side of her head sat waiting for the countdown… soon her number would be called to have a blood test. Tired pale patients sat on endless rows of chairs, staring at the floor or reading newspapers, or with their eyes glued to their iPhones; such is everyday life in a public hospital in Ireland. I had seen many come out of consultant’s rooms, tears filling their eyes. In other parts of the hospital revealing scans were taking place, suffering bodies lay in pain and sometimes a priest could be seen hurrying along down a corridor….

As I started up the car, I whispered… “Why, why do I find myself in this terrible place?” This place where the police are called to frequently, especially to the A & E Department, when someone addicted to something loses their cool. Hospitals are not pleasant places – but this one less so than most.

Then I feel regret for having such a thought as this and I thank the Lord from the bottom of my heart for all He has done for me and for loved ones.

I thank Him for the health and strength that He has given me, despite the fact that I am “not getting any younger” as the saying goes. I thank Him that He left the realms of glory to come down to this suffering sinful world. I thank Him for His love for all and how He wants nothing more than that ill, burdened and heartbroken souls repent, trust and rest in Him for all their tomorrows.

Life is a Journey… but the destination is not unknown for those who give their lives to Him and put their trust in Him for whatever life brings their way. I drive home from the polluted city to my humble home in the lovely countryside where our sleeping cats purr happily beside bright flowers in the garden and the wind blows softly through the leafy trees. Thank you Lord for leaving your Home, your beautiful and glorious Home in glory to come to such a world as this – and not only to come, but to die for all that they might find that peace that passes all understanding – that peace and tranquillity that transcends life’s darkest moments, in the knowledge that someday they might live in that beautiful Home with You, free from the sorrow and pain of this life.

If life was smooth, carefree and I never had to look on, or experience, suffering, I would be of little use in this old world.  As I gaze at the flowers, the second verse of Isaac Watt’s hymn “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” comes to mind as I think on these things…

“Must I be carried to the skies

On flow’ry beds of ease,

While others fought to win the prize,

And sailed through bloody seas?”

 

Yes Lord, if you have a purpose in my visits to places of suffering and if you want me to speak to some soul or souls, I will go in Thy strength. Thank you Lord for contacts already made and someone still in contact.

And thank you, Lord, for the heritage of beautiful hymns left to us by souls who walked closely with you down through the centuries. One such soul was Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who gave his heart to the Lord at the tender age of fifteen. This forerunner of English hymn-writers left a truly wonderful legacy of over six hundred hymns, many of which still encourage heavy hearts today… “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; Alas, and did my Saviour Bleed?; Jesus shall reign, wher’er the sun; Not all the Blood of Beasts on Jewish Altars Slain; Our God, our help in ages past…” I quote the last verse and the chorus of “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” which speaks to my heart at this time in my life…

 

“Since I must fight if I would reign,

Increase my courage Lord!

I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain

Supported by Thy Word.

 

In the Name, the precious Name

Of Him who died for me,

Thro’ grace I’ll win the promised crown,

Whate’er my cross may be.”

 

Some Trust in Chariots, and Some in Horses…

July 11, 2018

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On a recent visit to the historical site at Oldbridge of the Battle of the Boyne (July 1690), I was thinking very much about the spiritual analogy of a distressing situation we find ourselves in at the present time. When the Christian or one of his loved ones is faced with a serious health diagnosis, they will naturally get in touch with as many people as possible to pray about this situation. Very often, however, we find that in reality the people we feel that we can trust to pray for us are relatively few in number.

I am a slow learner but the Lord is teaching me much about human nature as I go through the deeply disturbing traumas that life can bring. Here are a couple of the reactions I’ve encountered as I’ve asked people to pray for a number of situations (not just the current one) over the years…

“Oh well, you’ve got to die sometime, haven’t you?”

“Oh dear… imagine that now. I wonder why God gave this person this disease…” (There must have been sin in his life).

“I’ll pray… but if it’s God’s will for them to go, you’ll just have to accept that.” (This person proceeded to make it clear that they were in a big hurry and had to go right at that moment. I smiled about this later and I understood that they were under pressure but really felt that their words could have been a little more sensitive…)

Indeed I am fully prepared to accept God’s will in any matter, for I know that He will carry me through all sorts of situations before someday I go to be with Him. However, if anyone approaches us with a request for prayer on something that is troubling them deeply, first of all we should leave this person in no doubt that we love them and really care about them and will pray sincerely about every aspect of whatever has been troubling them.

Unfortunately, even amongst professing Christians there are the “Job’s comforters.” I have found that those who have the greatest compassion of all are very often souls who have suffered much in their own lives. They listen, they are quiet, they are kind – and they care. And you know that they will pray fervently for you because they have matured in the Lord and they walk closely with 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)

Ultimately it is to Him, that His followers must turn in their distress. We pray for surgeons to have skill and for doctors and oncologists to have the knowledge and expertise to use the best and most appropriate treatments but we do not put our trust in them – or indeed in medicine. We follow along with prescribed treatments as the Lord leads but we can never, never put our trust in men. Yes, we can ask understanding souls who walk closely with the Lord for prayer but above all He must be our primary source of comfort and counsel in all our tribulation, in the knowledge that all good things come from Him.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright. Save, Lord: let the King hear us when we call.” (Psalm 20v7-9)