Archive for the ‘Prayer, Reflections & Poetry’ Category

Don’t Be Too Quick To Hurry Back To Some Old Ways

June 30, 2020

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Having heard the following quote just recently, I thought how true! “In the rush to hurry back to ‘normal,’ it’s worth considering which parts of ‘normal’ are worth keeping.” In the last few months most of our lives have changed, some more than others but I use that old saying yet again: “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

This extremely “ill wind” undoubtedly has been (and continues to be) horrific for thousands of people, resulting in often life-changing illnesses and at worst death. For others it has meant financial ruin and for some anything from mild – to mountains of inconvenience… but everybody has been affected in some way.

On the plus side, I would say that less rushing around has meant that some blood pressure measurements have probably come down and we feel more peaceful and relaxed. It is also possible to “make do.” For example we haven’t been able to rush out to buy new gardening gloves; we just darn the old ones. And (believe it or not) you can often make a better job of some DIY project than you realised. Today’s left-overs can contribute to tomorrow’s healthy meal and in the process of “clearing up” I’ve been finding old books and resources for outreach which I had mislaid in the past. It can come as a surprise to discover that there are many things we can live without…

However, as lockdown is gradually eased off, we’ve been witnessing scenes of long queues for miles to get to fast food outlets in towns which have recently re-opened. Queues of people at department stores, with little regard for others have shown how people are so fast to return thoughtlessly to old materialistic ways. While some people have young children who grow out of clothes quickly in a few months, others need to ask themselves is it a necessity that I stand for hours (risking my health and sanity) in a “self-distancing” queue to get something I could really do without?

“Is my journey really necessary?” is a question I have asked myself. Although we live in the countryside, it is in the flight path for many destinations as well as being not so far from the airport, with the result that in the past few months the skies have been clear and quiet which makes a lovely change. No longer did Jeffrey the pheasant flap his wings in despair at low flying aircraft coming in to land. Now, though, I am seeing the start of the return to all of that!

While I’ll admit that I’ve always loved to travel, I have long felt as a Christian that all my journeys should have the Lord’s approval and when the opportunity to travel does present itself, I should use each journey to reach others with His love.

“Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile;” (Mark 6v31) By the time “lockdown” came I had been needing a rest, having gone through a hectic couple of years being in hospitals and later oncology and radiotherapy units with a loved one. For others “lockdown” may have meant a break from some very worrying situation in work, which hopefully with some thought and a clear head could be resolved.

For many of us, perhaps some lessons learned at this time will mean that life will never be quite the same ever again. This may have been a time when people have physically fought each other over the last product on a store shelf, while marriages have sadly broken up and calls to women’s refuge centres went up, but this has also been a time when many have been awakened to a fresh realisation of the foolishness of human behaviour and the brevity of life.

The Lord wants those who know Him to place value on that which cannot be seen and to grow closer to Him and in their love for others and concern for souls. For those who have never trusted Him, He wants them to see the danger of “going it alone” in the brief hazardous journey of life which leads to a lost eternity. In reality, no one knows for sure what the autumn or winter holds for us, in terms of this virus returning with a vengeance; therefore how good it is to be ready spiritually in these uncertain days…

Jesus said:

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

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11v28-30)

Pray For Those Who Have Lost Loved Ones and Those Alone In Hospitals at This Time

June 26, 2020

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I have a friend whose husband has gone Home to be with the Lord in recent days and my heart goes out to her and others who were unable to have all the close support that they greatly needed during these months of government restrictions.

Whether or not deaths during this period have been connected with Covid-19 makes no difference, since loved ones of the deceased are deprived of that traditional time of mourning with a funeral to celebrate the life of the deceased, as well as the support of friends. Although there have been improvements in the last while as regards numbers attending funerals, remaining travel and other restrictions mean that nothing is normal in this regard. Friends who would otherwise have been a support may be prevented from doing so because of circumstances in their own lives and the fact that they are living with someone who has low immunity. You long to give that friend a hug but because of concerns and restrictions, you know that you cannot. But you can pray – and that prayer from the heart is heard by the Lord.

People alone in hospitals need prayer too; I think of all those who have been missing visits from friends and loved ones. Hospitals can be lonely and scary places at the best of times but it is good to know that there is “a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18v24). My thoughts are with the elderly, too, who reside in nursing homes, many of whom have been unable to see loved ones for a long time.

There are others who have been so lonely and fearful during all these months, especially in the isolated rural communities that exist here in Ireland. In many a country home at the end of a winding lane, a solitary elderly person longs to hear another human voice, other than on their radio or television. This has been a period when, legally speaking, we cannot reach out except by telephone, letter, email or social media but many elderly people here have no internet access.

I pray for souls everywhere, that the Lord will reach into bereaved hearts, lonely homes and hospitals and touch souls. May those who know Him feel an even greater sense of His Presence – and may He speak to those who do not with “that still small voice” of conviction. My prayer, as restrictions are gradually eased, is that we would know revival in these times and that something wonderful in the spiritual realm would emerge from the ashes of a time which has been heart-breaking for many.

The Human Race needs Salvation

June 18, 2020

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I write yet another tract connected with the continuing pandemic which is still escalating in some parts of the world. Historically significant in the future, I feel that the Lord will speak to people through recorded events.

I am sure that we have all been aware of some graphic scenes and situations happening in the last few months because of the whole Covid-19 situation. In fact at times it has felt scary (and still does) to witness how people behave under certain circumstances. Some shoppers have literally been tearing the hair out of each other for the last packet of something on the supermarket shelf. And I have read more than one news report of how people infected with the disease have spit in people’s faces, including medics who had been trying to help them….

Horrific images have emerged of elderly people’s homes abandoned and eerily deserted in some countries, with people lying dead and other helpless living souls left unattended, soiled and unfed… who would have thought that such nightmarish things could happen in 2020?

People in some areas have had total disregard for the vulnerable, with their brawling street parties and drunken ways; civil disobedience and robberies have been rampant, while others who would profess to be Christians refuse to comply with advice to stop the spread of the disease. I have been really very shocked by the attitudes of people whom I thought would have known better.

We ask ourselves has civilisation gone backwards; are we on the cusp of barbarism?

And then I see the good images… an elderly man (100) does laps around his garden on his walking frame to raise large amounts of money for the health service, while many in health services the world over, work tirelessly for the good of others and their communities.

I am so  relieved and glad to see those good images and yet I know that, spiritually speaking, only a life begun in faith can produce the good works which are acceptable in the Lord’s eyes because without faith “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64v6) before Him and “without faith it is impossible to please Him…” Hebrews 11v6)

A life begun (and continuing in) faith produces the fruit of good works that are acceptable in His sight. We do not earn salvation by working for it, for the Great Price has been paid by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. But a life begun in faith must produce good works for “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2v26)

As the Lord looks down upon this earth He sees all sorts of scenarios and all sorts of characters but broadly speaking they can be divided into two: the righteous and the unrighteous.

My daily reading is presently in Ezekiel. Some days ago I was reading in Ezekiel 18, a chapter where we see the equity of God’s judgement. Here we learn that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18v20) In this world we have those who have trusted the Lord in the past but are now dangerously backslidden and there are those who have turned from their sins and “lived,” spiritually speaking. We learn in this chapter that a righteous man who turns from his righteousness and is unrepentant, shall not “live” spiritually speaking, while someone in the depths of sin who repents of his ways shall “live.” (Ezekiel 18v21&22)

“Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?” (Ezekiel 18v25)

Who are we? Were we once Christians who then grew cold in our first love for the Lord… and as a result for souls for whom He died? Are we law-abiding, even church attending people, yet seeking to get into heaven by our own means and by our own good works, without having coming humbly and repentant to the foot of the cross? Are we people who have our own agenda, looking after ourselves materially, but not caring for the things of God and eternity and perhaps don’t even believe in it? Or have we truly been born again of the Spirit of God and seek to follow Him day by day?

In this chapter we learn not only of the equity of God’s judgement – but also of His mercy, in its conclusion. “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18v31)

“For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.” (Ezekiel 18v32)

It is not the Lord’s will that any perish (2Peter 3v9), His atonement is unlimited (1John 2v2) and He loves you today, whatever your life has consisted of in the past, or is today. Therefore, today, before it is too late, call upon Him and turn to Him with a repentant heart and He will abundantly pardon. In these frightening and often shocking days, there is only one safe place to be – and that is right with God.

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55v6&7)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10v13)

In the Uncertainty of Life… We can have Glorious Certainty

June 9, 2020

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If there is one thing that I can be sure of in the last few years, it’s that I can be sure of nothing – at least as regards anything tangible on this earth! What I have discovered in recent times is that we can never be certain how people will react in any given circumstances. I have been especially surprised at some attitudes to the recommended government guidelines regarding this current pandemic; guidelines which have merely been introduced for the safety of the population as a whole. It has been eye-opening and produced feelings of shock and uncertainty.
As the lockdown situation gradually eases we would like to think that this virus would be blotted out and that we would never ever see it again but again we cannot be certain. The World Health Organisation is pessimistic about it, telling us that this virus could possibly mutate and return in a worse form in the winter months. Again… uncertainty. During this time people have developed (and already have) other health problems but hospitals have been inundated to the extent that they are uncertain about when they will be able to give patients that much needed appointment.
Is that health issue which has troubled us for some time of benign origin or not? Again, we are uncertain. We think about employment prospects, our business, the future… how uncertain we are of the financial implications this pandemic is going to have for us as individuals and our society as a whole.
The future is an unknown dimension and we may feel vulnerable and uncertain as we emerge into a “post pandemic” world. In truth, we can be certain of nothing, least of all our weak human flesh.
But this you can be certain of… you have a soul and the Lord Jesus Christ loved that soul so much, that He suffered and died for it, in order that you would be certain of life eternal in His Presence for evermore. This old world, this body, will someday pass away and we are uncertain when this will come to pass because God’s Word tells us that we “know not the day or the hour.” But are you also uncertain about the destination of your soul in that next life?
The dear Lord Jesus Christ who loves you and wants you to live a life of overcoming until that time when He will call you Home, also wants you to be certain about your soul’s destination. He simply wants you to repent and put your trust in Him alone for the salvation of your soul. He will forgive the past and give you a future of hope and certainty which will transform your life now – because you will place that great burden of uncertainties upon Him. Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)
God’s promise to Jacob… “Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest…” (Genesis 28v15) is yours when you trust Him as Saviour. The “places whither you go” may apply to situations you find yourself in, in this life, such as illness, bereavement, family or financial problems or that “place” may be a hospital – or even a prison.
When we know Him as Saviour, He gives us that certainty that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8v28) To those who know Him, the following verse is also a certain comfort… “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8v18)
Praise God, in the midst of a world of sin, violence, wars and rumours of war, famine, disease and uncertainty, those who know and love Him can have this glorious certainty: the very certainty that conquers death; that assurance of sins forgiven. “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.” (1Corinthians 15v55-57)
Uncertainties about life, health, family, future, finances… but certain in my hope in Jesus Christ my Lord, the One Mediator between God and men and Anchor of the soul, who has paid the price that I could have certainty in that which really matters… the eternal destination of my soul. My prayer is that this would be your portion and prayer today.
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” (1Thessalonians 5v9&10)

I Went to Pay With a Counterfeit Banknote Once!

June 5, 2020

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This week I have been thinking about how little I have used cash in the last while because of “lockdown,” since, like many people these days, we pay for delivered groceries and other products online by credit card. When I went recently to pay for petrol with some cash, I was reminded of the following true story and how easy it is to be totally unaware that you may have a counterfeit bank note in your possession, as some of these counterfeits are very like the real thing. And this is also true in the spiritual realm…
The following incident happened to me many years ago when my children were very young. I wrote about it in my first book “A Biblical Journey through the Irish Year….” This is a shortened account…
Replacing the cap on the petrol inlet, I hurried across the greasy damp forecourt and into the well-stocked little shop to pay for my €10 worth of petrol. The lady took the €10 note and held it under a light. Looking up at me wearily that early morning, she yawned, “I’m sorry. I can’t accept this. It’s counterfeit.”
“Really?” I exclaimed. “But it looks perfectly o.k. to me!” She looked at me suspiciously. “I don’t think so. This is the second one I’ve encountered this week, and I’ve seen plenty more before that, but why don’t you check it out with the bank? Their equipment will tell you for certain.”
Next day I was in a large chain store, where I noticed that the assistant was using a marker-type implement to check the incoming notes. “I’ve been told that this is counterfeit. Could you check it with your equipment?” I asked her, in the faint hope that perhaps it was genuine after all. “Well, it seems o.k. to me,” the assistant assured me, after testing it. “However, you would still need to take it to the bank – perhaps our equipment isn’t quite as good.”
A short time later I was to be found standing in a bank, where my worst suspicions were confirmed. Yes, it felt and looked authentic, but when held up to the light of the bank’s excellent equipment, it failed miserably. “Let me show you,” explained the helpful cashier – “Look firstly at this real note.” I was amazed. A kaleidoscope of intricate shapes and colours as beautiful as the rainbow came to life under the bright light. “It’s beautiful,” I whispered, my thoughts drifting to a spiritual parallel… Then she took my dubious €10 note. “Nothing,” I murmured flatly – “It’s just like dull lifeless paper.”
“I’m sorry about that,” sympathised the cashier, “Unfortunately this is a common occurrence these days – even with smaller amounts. They look like the real thing, but when held up to the scrutiny of the best equipment, you can easily see that they are counterfeit.” Thanking her, I hurried out unto the street, still clutching my ‘piece of paper,’ but now I was smiling in the sunshine. I felt emotional as I drove home, thinking of that beautiful and fascinating array of colours that I had had the privilege to see. It didn’t matter that I had lost €10 – the Lord was teaching me something through this. I thanked Him, too, for giving me an abhorrence of dishonesty in this area. Should I have passed it on, some innocent party would have suffered loss in the long run. In every situation it is good to ask ourselves: “would Jesus do this?” I remembered a story from years ago, when a famous painting by one of the great masters was stolen and replaced by a counterfeit. For many years professionals had admired its beauty, and no one had noticed that the painting was a fraud. Only an expert at the top of his field had eventually exposed it!
Sadly, ‘the counterfeit’ in these days is an increasing and very dangerous phenomenon in the spiritual realm. There are many that differ greatly from those individuals who make no profession of faith at all, for deceiving themselves; they deceive others and thereby inhibit the work of the gospel. Confusion abounds, because very often the standard amongst Christians is low. Many nominal Christians use the same terminology as Evangelical Christians, but they have never humbled themselves at the cross, recognising that “all have sinned…” (Romans 5v12). It is good to be aware of how an individual stands spiritually, so that we can pray intelligently and fervently for that person. As Christians, let us ask God for discernment and wisdom, for it is easy to be deceived in these days, passing our ‘assumptions’ on to others.
Jesus said in Matthew 24v24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Unfortunately many deceivers even stand behind the pulpit and their words certainly appear to contain much truth. Just as counterfeit money has been developed to look more and more authentic, so it is in the spiritual realm. Note that even the large chain store’s equipment was not able to tell the difference. But at the bank (which is the highest discerning authority on such matters) that great light revealed all! So it is, when we bring our doubts on such matters to the Lord (who neither wishes us to deceive or to be deceived) that He will show us all things, when we sincerely ask for His guidance.
I believe that there is a two-fold lesson to be learned from this simple episode. Firstly we must make our calling and election sure (2Pet. 1v10). There is only one way to get to heaven, and that is the humble way, when we come to the foot of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledging our sin, and asking for His forgiveness. Whatever our standing in the community, we must experience that humility of admitting to all acquaintances that our previous life has been lived outside of God’s grace. Alternatively, we may have had an experience of salvation, but strayed from our ‘first love.’ Whatever our spiritual standing, there is One whom we cannot deceive, and ultimately we must stand before Him, our Judge – not some earthly congregation. In James 2v19 we read… “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble.” There are so many church-going individuals who believe – but that belief must be accompanied by the act of contrition, and the giving of everything held dear to us into His hands. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” (James 2v21). Just now, He wants above all, that we do not continue to deceive others, or ourselves – for “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He loves us, and wants nothing in return but our undivided love and obedience. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9).
Ultimately every soul must choose between God and mammon, for we read in Matthew 6v24… “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” This verse leads me to a second thought on the incident of the counterfeit money.
There is a day coming upon this earth, when those that truly know the Lord will not be permitted to either buy or sell. We read of this day in Revelation 13v16-18… “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” These times may occur in my lifetime or yours, but how shall we cope under such circumstances? Surely we can only trust, as always, in our Friend and loving Saviour to carry us though, for if we are faithful to the end, we shall shortly hear those blessed words… “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” (Matt. 25v21).
Although we presently conduct our business with it, there is no room for the love of money in the life of the Christian. In those last days that are recorded in Revelation, we shall be in absolutely no doubt about those who choose to follow God – and those whose choice is to follow mammon. That old deceiver, the devil, is an expert in the art of counterfeiting – but let us not be deceived by him. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Matt. 7v15). “Verily, verily, I say unto you He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” (John 10v1-5).
Just as we bring a dubious note to the great light of the bank, so also we must yield, and expose ourselves to that great Light which judges the thoughts and intents of mankind… “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3v20&21). May this Good Shepherd be your Good Shepherd, and if you have not already done so, may you come into His fold today. “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10v16).

Lord, shine into my heart today,
Thy beaming light, that heavenly ray.
May each secret corner be illumed…
And every dark intent consumed.

People the World Over Are Hearing the Gospel Message

May 29, 2020

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At this time of lockdown I have noted with interest the numerous services which are broadcast online. Of course all sorts of denominations and even cults “have come out of the woodwork” and we are seeing very strange sights these days. A Roman Catholic priest loads his water pistol and squirts “holy” water from afar, by way of social distancing, while another priest sets up his home-made confessional in a Dublin car park, despite the previous statement by their leader that people should confess their sins directly to God. Indeed the Bible says that it should never be otherwise! (“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” 1Timothy 2v5)
Some of the hierarchy in churches here in Ireland claim that “open churches are an essential service.” While it is good to have fellowship with those who worship “in spirit and in truth,” the fact is that the churches that clamour for re-opening are very often not an essential service. Buildings may be closed, organisations may be disrupted but the Church (the real Church) lives on because the real Church is that body of believers throughout this world, whose Head and One Foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ. Buildings may even be destroyed and organisations and denominations come to nothing but the real Church stands resolute until the end.
Sometimes I wonder whether what people are really missing is their round of social activities connected with their “church” or organisation; perhaps it is not the genuine fellowship that exists between believers that they are missing at all, because their church is a nominal Christian one and they, too, are nominal Christians.
While it is true that we have access to all sorts of dubious teaching and preaching these days, it is encouraging to know that there are now more genuine gospel messages going out around the world than ever before. It is good to hear encouraging, convicting and challenging sermons being preached during this period. People are hearing now and although the cults have gone online too, the truth speaks volumes and those who preach it should be encouraged to know that the little congregation they normally reach on a Sunday morning has increased to include souls the world over.
This has (and continues to be) a horribly tragic time for many because it is not all about Coronavirus; I have an elderly aunt (90) in hospital with another issue and no one can visit her which is terrible for everyone concerned. Mankind is collectively responsible for the situation we find ourselves in but still the Lord is using circumstances for the extension of His Kingdom this old world over. May He be glorified and souls come to know Him through it all. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matthew 24v14)

Thank You Lord

May 25, 2020

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This evening, for the first time since 11th March, no new deaths from Coronavirus have been recorded in Ireland. Now, I am aware that things could change with tomorrow’s statistics but this evening I felt emotional on reading this news, despite the fact that 59 more people have been diagnosed. You see, people are more than statistics; they possess immortal souls and each soul has an eternal destiny waiting for them beyond this scene of time. I continue to write on the theme of current events because we are presently living through very significant world history and I wish to record attitudes that I have discovered, which can perhaps be of interest in the future. “What future?” you might ask and you may have a point but the reality is that none of us know how long this old world will continue to exist.
Meanwhile, the Lord wants His people to serve Him and to be loving witnesses to those who are lost. I have found it heart-breaking to hear of so many deaths per head of the population in a small country such as Ireland (both north and south). Even more heart-breaking is the lack of knowledge of the simple gospel; that souls have gone out into eternity without knowing the Lord who loved them, died for them and rose again that they might live forever in His Presence. Generations of their ancestors, too, have gone out into eternity, many believing that they can be prayed for after death. Salvation, they believe, can be purchased for them by giving money to the church. “They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever:)” (Psalm 49v6-8)
Those who name the Name of Jesus have a fearful responsibility in these times to reach out to neighbours, loved ones, friends and acquaintances in these days in which we live, but unfortunately we encounter instead much unhelpful preoccupation with conspiracy theories and debates on political issues, while revering certain political leaders. These things ought not to be in the lives of Christians. The Lord’s Kingdom was not of this world – and neither should ours be.
Encouraging letters with enclosed tracts and gifts, caring text messages, emails and phone calls can all be used positively to reach out in these times to those who need the Lord – and fellow Christians who are finding life difficult. Jesus said: “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4)
“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5v15&16)
It is distressing to hear of how many deaths have occurred throughout the world at this awful time. When I heard that a Christian I knew had died of Coronavirus I felt sad for his loved ones, that they could not be with their father at this time but I rejoice in the knowledge that he has gone to be with Jesus “which is far better.” But it is truly horrifying to know that many souls have died without an assurance of salvation. I have been reading recently some stories of the amazing 1859 Revival on this island. Surely prayer was never more needed in these days – and sincere prayer for a worldwide revival when souls would cry out upon the Name of the Lord for salvation, as they did during that great spiritual movement of over 160 years ago.

Thoughts on “Lockdown on the Ark”

May 22, 2020

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We have made quite a few animal friends in recent times, particularly “Jeffrey” the pheasant who now eats out of my daughter’s hand. Although confined to a 5km limit for exercise, at least we are able to take a walk outside our own back door and around the countryside that lies behind us, without meeting a soul. I really do appreciate this liberty when I think of others who live in cities; in high rise flats and confined living spaces, with perhaps not even a tiny balcony.
My thoughts recently turned to Noah and his family in the confined space of the ark. We are told that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6v8) As for the world in general… “all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6v11) We learn of Noah’s obedience in building the ark and how rain (something previously unheard of) flooded the earth. Noah, we are told, “was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.”
He entered the ark with his wife, his three sons and their wives – and an awful lot of animals! Compared with that great ship “the Titanic,” it is said that the ark was considerably smaller. Many Biblical scholars say that the length of time they spent on the ark was at least one year – but however long it was, the situation must have demanded much patience and faith for the couples to get along with each other. I recently heard of an individual, who on being stopped by the police, said that he had driven hundreds of miles “to clear his head.” The individuals on the ark could not just decide to slam the door and head out for a walk to “clear their heads.”
For many people, being in a confined space with in-laws would take a toll on their mental health and in fact perhaps they would feel that it would be easier to get along with the animals… However, this extended family patiently and faithfully looked out for various changes until eventually Noah sent out that dove for the final time. We learn that it “returned not again unto him any more.” (Genesis 8v12)
The amazing miracle of how God preserved life to emerge from the ark after the flood struck me yet again as I read it. And if He can work this miracle upon the earth, to replenish it once more, He can work miracles in our own personal lives too.
Noah was promised 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)
Yes, this will be the case “while the earth remaineth,” but He also later promised that: “as it was in the days of No-e, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that No-e entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26&27)
Historically, the flood was the greatest judgement ever upon this earth, with its entire population destroyed apart from eight people and an assortment of two or seven of every kind of animal. And there may be future pandemics – but nothing will compare with the Final Judgement when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
As we emerge from the different stages of exiting lockdown, and this time of testing and of learning lessons about the things that really matter, I pray that spiritually speaking the dove of peace would go forth on lives; that souls who know the Lord would have grown in grace and patience and that others would earnestly seek the Living God who sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of the world.
The “ark of salvation” is still ajar and the words of Jesus still resound to weary, sin-sick souls today… “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) Oh, that they would have the faith of Noah, who “being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Hebrews 11v7)

The Danger of Spreading Wildfire

May 18, 2020

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In the last few months here in Ireland the weather has been unusually dry. Certainly here on the east coast there has been relatively little rain, although thankfully our fields are as green as ever. I had the unfortunate opportunity to see how “wildfire” can spread so quickly under these conditions in recent times, from just one match applied to a tiny piece of paper. The whole experience was pretty nerve-wrecking to say the least, but thankfully the fire was extinguished… or so we thought. “There is no smoke without fire,” it is said and sure enough I could see wisps of smoke rising from the location again. We had to deal with that fire once and for all by extinguishing the last glowing ember and thankfully this time it was put out once and for all!
Strangely, later I was struck by the coincidence of hearing someone in government talking about coronavirus as being “a fire in retreat.” This person went on to say: “We must quench its every spark and stamp out its every ember.” I started to think about this in relation to gossip and “hearsay.” As lockdown continues, unlike previous generations in the middle of pandemics, today’s generation has access to many means of communication and social media. I began to think… what spreads like wildfire more than gossip? I remember at school (years ago and before the internet) the teacher placing us in a circle of chairs. The first person whispered a phrase to the next and so on until it reached the last person and that phrase was unrecognisable by the time it had been passed on to the last person. I think they called the game “Chinese Whispers.”
Well, gossip is like that in many ways. It has been said that “the devil finds work for idle hands to do.” Unfortunately we have seen the results here of “idle hands,” as certain young people not in school and out on the street have smashed windows and set fire to old cars in scrap yards – but there is also the other element: those who, confined to their homes (and these include some older people) take to social media to spread news, which may not always be the truth. Sometimes this can result in serious bullying which can cause young people to take their own lives.
I have heard, in years past, many eyebrow-raising things said about many people but whether we feel that they have an element of truth or not, this should never be passed on. Often, when discernment is used, we know in our hearts when something is true and the Lord guides those who know Him in their prayerful response to certain situations.
Gossip in itself can be malicious and “spread like wildfire,” leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, destroying often the very lives of its victims. I hear innumerable people complaining that they are “bored” during the present crises. But the Christian life is never a boring one; there is always so much good to do in every situation and the Lord can use every situation we find ourselves in to His glory. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…” (Ecclesiastes 9v10)
A good motto for the Christian in these days is “be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12v21). Proverbs 16v28 tells us that “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.” And “a talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.” (Proverbs 11v13)
There are different ways to put out fires but certainly when starved of further fuel they will most certainly stop.
“There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12v18&19)
These are days when we must “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1Peter 5v8)
But above all these are days for those who know the Lord to shine as lights, “that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2v15)

“Sacrifice the Weak…”

May 8, 2020

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I recently noticed this shocking statement emblazoned on a placard carried by someone who appeared to be protesting against lockdown. It was shocking in that it proclaimed the view that the “weak” are dispensable. Whether the person carrying it really held this view or whether he was trying to be cynical, I don’t know but I do feel that this is a view is held by some.
Another aspect to all of this is that “the weak” are often not who we assume them to be. For example, I viewed the photograph of a smiling little old lady of 103 who was sitting up in a chair after recovery from coronavirus, while at the same time I read the shocking news that a fit muscular young soldier in his thirties (with no underlying health conditions) had died from the virus. “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9v11)
The Lord is Sovereign, there is no doubt and there are just some things we will never understand this side of eternity. I have been shocked during this time by the level of ignorance, impatience and selfishness – even from those who would profess to be Christians. I have heard it preached that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2Timothy 1v7) How true! However, as a Christian this whole issue is not all about me and my personal fears; this is about obeying the law of the land I live in and about caring and consideration for others, in the knowledge that I could well be a carrier of the virus and pass it on to others who are not ready to meet the Lord. I have no wish to contribute to the spread of this disease. Surely this is a time for professing Christians to be an example to the world?
Yet another aspect is the financial one. Churches (including the Roman Catholic Church here in Ireland) feel that they are going to take a financial hit because no one will be putting money into the usual weekly church collection and fewer may bother with “online giving.” It has been suggested that they propose to approach the government to help them in this area – even though, in the case of the R.C. church they are already in debt to the victims of abuse over the years and the government is expected to take responsibility for this also. As for those who are true servants of the Lord, they should trust Him to provide under all circumstances.
There are others within the professing Christian community who crazily believe that coronavirus is “a hoax.” Well, at this point I have personally known people who have suffered from the virus and recovery took a long time for them. To declare something to be a “hoax “is also a grave insult to those who are feverishly working in frontline health services, for they see the suffering on a daily basis and many of them too have become seriously ill and even died of the virus.
There are still others who believe that the virus could never affect them. In the fallen world we live in, anyone can be afflicted with any disease at any time and indeed die of it. However, again the Lord is Sovereign and the lives of those who know Him are in His hands… “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5v45)
I doubt, somehow, that Job’s comforters would have had the same amount of patience that Job had, if they had been similarly afflicted. The Lord referred to righteous Job as “my servant Job.” It is a terrible thing in today’s society (even after the example of Job) that some professing Christians believe that fellow Christians who suffer affliction “must have done something to deserve” what has befallen them.
These days of “lockdown” have been eye-opening to say the least. I believe that there have been many revelations in the lives of many people, both about themselves and those they reside with.
On a personal note, because I have not been going anywhere, the Lord has shown me (as I take stock) the resources that I have been neglecting to share with others. When the time is right, He will open the way and direct my steps.
“Sacrifice the weak…” Well, the Lord has much to say about “the weak” – and oh how He needs them! We may feel physically weak because youth is a thing of the past, or because we have been unwell or weary, or because we feel ill-equipped as His servants, but the Lord needs “the weak” and the humble. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12v9&10)

Was it not two elderly ladies (84 & 82), one of them blind, who prayed together in a humble cottage and brought revival to the Hebrides?

Because the “battle is the Lord’s” in the lives of servants who feel weak, He inevitably gets the glory because “the weak” are totally leaning on Him, dwelling in the shadow of His glory. Oh how the Lord needs the weak and the humble who desire to do His will!

For He hath chosen the weak,
And that which men despise,
To bring to naught the mighty,
To confound the great and wise!
© E. Burke

(Exodus 14v14; 1Sam. 17v47; 2Kings 18v24; 2Chron. 20v15;
Psalm 20v7; Isaiah 54v17; 1Cor. 1v27-3)