Archive for the ‘Tracts’ 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)

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.

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)

Reflections on the Hymn Writer: Sir Robert Anderson (1841-1918) who died in the 1918 Pandemic

April 24, 2020

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I had been feeling pretty wretched in the last few days and of course when we display a couple of symptoms of the current virus, we think “I hope not…!” However, thankfully, I do feel much better today. It is important to remember that all the usual flu type “bugs” and other health problems haven’t taken a holiday from potentially plaguing us just because this new nasty specimen is doing the rounds on a global scale. Having summoned a bit of energy to clear up some old books, I wearily opened one to discover these uplifting words. It can be sung to the same tune as that of “Safe in the Arms of Jesus:”

Safe in Jehovah’s keeping,
Led by His glorious arm,
God is Himself my Refuge,
A present help from harm.
Fear may at times distress me,
Griefs may my soul annoy;
God is my strength and portion,
God my exceeding joy.

Safe in Jehovah’s keeping,
Safe in temptation’s hour,
Safe in the midst of perils,
Kept by Almighty power.
Safe when the tempest rages,
Safe though the night be long;
Even when my sky is darkest
God is my strength and song.

Sure is Jehovah’s promise,
Nought can my soul assail;
Here is my soul’s sure anchor,
Entered within the veil.
Blest is His love eternal,
What can I want beside!
Safe through the Blood that cleanseth,
Safe in the Christ that died.

I decided to research the author of these words… and I found his testimony. Born in Mountjoy Square in Dublin in 1841, Robert Anderson, was quite an ambitious young man who later attended Trinity College in the city. When one of his sisters trusted the Lord to save her at a revival meeting, Robert, convicted of his own need, attended a meeting one evening but (like many young students) he had his own ideas about what a person must do to find peace with God. Interestingly, the preacher offered to walk part of the way home with him.
The year was 1860, in early October, and I can imagine the scene as he and the preacher walked together through the streets of Dublin having that discussion after the meeting. On research I read that “John Hall (the preacher) stopped at one point, and faced the young man as they stood upon the pavement, and repeated with great solemnity his message and appeal: I tell you as a minister of Christ, and in His Name that there is Life for you here and now if you accept Him. Will you accept Christ or will you reject Him? After a pause – how long I know not – I exclaimed, in God’s Name I will accept Christ. Not another word passed between us, but after another pause he wrung my hand and left me. And I turned homeward with the peace of God filling my heart.”
Between his studies at Trinity College, Robert went on preaching tours in those revival years, in counties throughout Ireland. He addressed meetings in the west of Ireland, in Mayo and Sligo, in the south in Cork and in towns of the north, including Armagh, Newry, Rostrevor and Banbridge.
On his 22nd birthday Robert Anderson was called to the Irish Bar in 1863 and in time became the Assistant Commissioner of the London Metropolitan police from 1888 to 1901. Wikipedia tells me that he was an intelligence officer with Scotland Yard, a theologian and a writer and that he presided over the investigation into the horrific crimes of “Jack the Ripper,” whose identity has never been exposed. He became “Sir Robert Anderson K.C.B., L.L.D.”
In 1918 the Spanish flu pandemic raged throughout the world, affecting 500 million people (or one third of the world’s population). The number of deaths amounted to at least 50 million worldwide, with about 675,000 of these in the U.S.A. Unlike today’s pandemic, mortality was high in those younger than 5 years old and in otherwise healthy individuals of all ages. As for Sir Robert, I read in the old book that “after an attack of influenza, he in measure recovered, sat working till 10.30 am, retired to rest, and at 11am quietly passed into the presence of his Master whom he loved on November 15th, 1918.”
At the end of the day, despite Sir Robert’s achievements in the things of this world, it is the words of this hymn written over 100 years ago that touched me as I felt weak and weary last night – and it is his own simple testimony to God’s saving grace that gladdens my heart. I pray that multitudes would not die from today’s pandemic without hearing and being deeply touched by those simple words… “Will you accept Christ or will you reject Him?”
There is indeed “Life for you here and now if you accept Him.” It is unthinkable to reach the cliff of eternity without having made Him the Lord and Saviour of our lives and in these uncertain days it is good to be certain of one thing – that we are ready to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, who has said… “him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) and whose last recorded words are… “Surely I come quickly.” (Revelation 22v20)

Tract: How To Have “The Peace That Passes All Understanding” During Lockdown

April 15, 2020

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God is our Refuge
“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;” (Psalm 46v1&2)
In a time of great anxiety to whom can we turn? This terrible disease (Coronavirus) is spreading to many countries throughout the whole world. While we may take the advice of those in authority, we can put our trust in no man upon this earth, whatever position he holds. Psalm 47v7 tells us that “God is the King of all the earth…” He created us and this world. He knows each one of us individually. In Luke 12v7 we are told that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” He loves you and cares about you, so why not turn to Him today and tell Him about your cares and worries? He truly wants to shoulder your burdens and to be your Friend.
No Greater Love than this
I read the story of an elderly man who died after offering his ventilator to a younger person. Indeed this was a loving thing to do. But then I read another story about the Creator of all. John 1v10&11 tells us that “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own and his own received him not.” We must also consider that whatever good we do, cannot in itself get us to heaven. The Bible tells us: “For 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) Only a life begun in faith can produce the good works which are acceptable in His sight.
Also, those on this earth who give their lives may be revered, but Jesus was mocked and humiliated. In Romans 5v6-8 we read: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God gave His only Son, Jesus, for us that we may be assured of a Home in heaven. Nothing can compare with the sacrifice that the Lord Jesus Christ made when He left the splendour and glories of heaven to take on human flesh and to die for a world of lost sinners.
No Respecter of Persons
This horrible virus is no respecter of persons. It affects people of all positions and all walks of life; rich and poor, priests and clergymen, criminals, those high in political positions, royalty, paupers, the famous and the unknown. So it is with sin… every man, woman and child ever born into this world was born in sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3v23) 1John 1v8 tells us that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Confession of Sin
To whom should we confess our sins? I have heard a person in authority over many churches in this world say that since we cannot confess our sins to a priest during this time of “lockdown,” we should then go directly to God to confess them. This surely should always be the case, lockdown or not. We are told in 1Timothy 2v5&6 that “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.” No man on this earth has the power to forgive us our sins. We must go directly to God, in the name of Jesus, to confess our sins and to be forgiven of them… “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v9)
His welcoming arms are ever open for all
In some countries you will get no treatment unless you are in possession of health insurance but unfortunately there are people in those countries who just cannot afford this. And so we have an unfair system, where the rich can survive and the poor die because they have no access to the necessary funds. In contrast, the loving arms of Jesus are open to all: rich and poor, great and small, because the Bible tells us that His sacrifice avails for all of mankind – not just some of them. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)

To Delay in Taking Precautions against the Spread of a Pandemic is to Dice with Death
…And to delay in accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour leaves us in grave spiritual danger. The Bible tells us: “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
We Hear a Lot About “Isolation” These Days.
Spiritually speaking, we must isolate from what is evil – we must repent and trust the Lord to protect us. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3v19)
If we make Him the Captain of our lives, though evil and distressing times may come, we will be victorious in the end, for some day we must leave this scene of time and whatever happens us, we can be assured of a Home in Heaven. The Bible tells us of Heaven… “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Corinthians 2v9) Jesus indeed left the splendours of heaven, so that you and I could join Him there when we leave this scene of time. Are you full of care today because of the terrible things that are happening globally and perhaps also in your own life? Remember the words of 1 Peter 5v7… “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” He loves you and wants to carry you through the rest of your life, whatever it holds for you. The Bible tells us that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8v1)
This world is full of turmoil at the present time
But 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)
My prayer is that you would accept Him as Lord and Saviour of your life and follow Him day by day. May the Lord direct your steps and may you experience His love and richest blessings upon your life, from this time forth and forevermore.
© Elizabeth Burke 2020

Panic Buying – and the Coronavirus

March 7, 2020

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We are living in very strange times there is no doubt. It may seem like a cliché by now, but for any true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, the evidence is there that we are living in the last days, when spiritually speaking there is that “great falling away.” Before our very eyes we see such decadence and “spiritual wickedness in high places” but bizarre events are happening in nature too, with strange weather patterns and new diseases spreading rapidly throughout the world. Anyone who knows the Lord as Saviour can “feel in their bones” a certain foreboding, that all is not well. The future is uncertain to say the least, even if this virus never reaches crises point.
This week when we went to book our usual delivery slot with the supermarket, it was unusually booked out – well ahead. Panic buying has set in with people stockpiling basic food items which last; all the face masks are sold out in some places and hand sanitizers have reached a colossal price. Living in the countryside as we do has its advantages I’m sure, from the point of view of isolating yourself from crowds of people and growing your own vegetables – but no matter where we live, we are not immune to the decadence of this old world and the threat of the events recorded in Revelation, which may well take place in our lifetime.
There is something scary and apocalyptic looking about a street full of people wearing face masks – and although I’ve seen a few, we haven’t quite reached that stage here in Ireland yet, even though the small numbers affected are increasing rapidly. There is no doubt that this is a very serious matter because surgeries and procedures in hospitals are now being cancelled, while vulnerable elderly people and others on cancer treatment are especially at risk.
Those who know Him must look to the Lord through it all. I’ve been praying about certain situations and strangely it is as if the present spread of the Coronavirus is perhaps preventing something worse in the lives of people who would otherwise be flitting around the globe for no good reason. Personally speaking, while concerned, I have a peace because I know that the Lord is in control – and when He is in control of our lives we have nothing to fear. The Book of Revelation shows that many plagues will ultimately fall upon mankind in the last days but even worse than these, will be the eternity that people will have to face if they have not repented of their sins and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Do you know Him as Saviour today? He loved you and gave His very life for you, that you could rest assured that whatever befalls you here below, the Lord will someday bring you Home, where all tears shall be wiped away and all sighing and suffering shall cease. “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21v4)
If you have not already done so, I pray that you will repent of your sin and trust in Him for salvation this day, for you have nothing to lose but an eternity in horrific circumstances – and everything to gain: an assurance of sins forgiven, the peace that passes all understanding in this life and an eternity in the Presence of Jesus who loved you and gave Himself for you in the next. It must be remembered that our good works cannot get us into heaven, “for 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) Those good works are evidence of our faith after we have trusted Him.
He said: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3v20&21)
In the face of global uncertainty, may you truly have an assurance of that real peace in your heart today, for Jesus has said: “I will come again.” (John 14v3) Oh that you would be ready to meet Him, either when He returns or when you depart this life, that you would be with those who will have this experience… “And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22v5)

Beyond Cruel – The Evil World of the Illegal Drugs Trade in Ireland

January 23, 2020

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As this is currently a very serious issue in Ireland, I am also giving the following out in tract form…
Recent times have exposed the extent to which people will go to perpetuate this evil in our society. Young people (and older people too) have been tortured and murdered and it would appear that these evil dealers control entire swaths of Irish society. Those who try to throw light on the situation or organise meetings with advice on how to keep their children from drugs, are violently threatened and targeted. Drug dealers want teenagers and very young children dependant on this vile but very lucrative source of income.
The homeless and the vulnerable in society are easy targets for these people and the awful reality is that often drug dealers can never be reimbursed. An individual may indeed want to “go clean,” settle the debt with the dealer who is chasing them and make a new life for themselves, by gaining experience in some field and working in this area where their talents lie – but drug dealers will pursue, constantly looking for more and more money over and beyond what he is “entitled” to.
Even rural areas are targeted; it has been said that this evil trade is plied at every crossroads in Ireland. In one large town I know well, random shootings and arson attacks can occur at any time of the day or night and innocent people going about their business have unfortunately fallen foul of this and become victims too. Rival gangs who vie for trade have shot each other fatally and this “gang warfare” has spilled out into Spanish resorts in recent years, with rich dealers living in luxurious places beyond Ireland. “Unexplained wealth” is certainly a phenomenon in our society.
Sadly this disease is not confined solely to those from a “disadvantaged background,” as some professional people have been said to have (or have had) a “drug problem.” Week after week we hear of it all, so what can be done about this deadly evil that has spread throughout our society?
How horrific it is to make your money out of the misery of others – and what a hard task master the devil is! You, the reader, may be involved in some way in all of this – or indeed, thankfully, you may not. But whatever your standing in society, the Bible tells us that there is one thing you can be certain of: “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12)
One of the most beautiful feelings in the world is to waken up in the morning with a clear conscience and in the glorious knowledge that you are not “hooked on” anything. Praise God… He can give us a clear conscience! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8v36)
The Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We may in no way be associated with the drugs trade but whoever we are in this world, we need a Saviour and only the blood of Jesus, the precious Son of God, who gave Himself a ransom for all, is able to atone for sin when, by faith, we confess our sins to Him, asking Him to forgive us and to come into our lives to make us “new creatures.” “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2Corinthians 5v17)
With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19v26) Sin, like many deadly physical diseases, comes in many guises, not all of which are readily recognisable as being dangerous. As a police officer once told me: “there is no such thing as a harmless drug.” While law enforcement are often successful with regard to drug seizures – they have no control over the hearts and minds of either the pusher or the addict. But praise God, there are those who truly know Him and have committed their lives to Him; who pray fervently that this evil may be eradicated and that souls would live out their lives in healthy freedom, to the glory of their Creator and Saviour. Yes, these things are possible and many can testify to having been delivered!
Whoever you are, whether a “pillar of society,” a very worried parent, a seemingly hopeless addict or someone steeped in deepest sin as a dealer – you need to trust the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul. “For 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)
Remember, He loves you personally and cared enough for you to give His very life for you, that you may have abundant life now – and eternal life in His Presence forevermore. Yes, we live in dark days when evil abounds and the most horrific deeds are being perpetrated but praise God there is a way out… through faith in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for all. (“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John2v2)
Perhaps you would like to pray these (or similar) words right now in the quietness of your own heart… “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to die for me. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that I need your forgiveness. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Assist me, in your strength, to tell others of my experience and to live according to your words, as contained in the Bible. Open my eyes to the great truths within it, and help me to find fellowship with others who share this experience.”
My prayer is that you will find the peace that passes all understanding in these days of increasing spiritual darkness, for the Lord has promised that He will return to take those who know Him, Home to be with Him, while those who have not trusted Him will face a lost eternity. In the serious knowledge that this could be at any time, I pray that you will trust Him to save you now, if you have not already done so, for “behold now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
Jesus promises those who trust Him: “My 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)

A Quiz and Thoughts for the Season Tract

December 18, 2019

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The following may seem a little simplistic to those who know their Bibles but I have discovered that in my own society very few people read the Bible – or have ever read it. I feel led to use the occasion in outreach, with little thought-provoking tracts like the following. I have also been distributing scenic scripture calendars in our local area and beyond, in the knowledge that people blindly follow what is taught from the pulpit of whatever church they go to on seasonal occasions, never opening their own Bibles. Praise God for the liberty to read His Word; I pray that many would look beyond the traditions of man and would seek for the truth and turn to Him in these days.

1. Where was Jesus born: Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Nazareth?
2. On which of these dates was He born: 6th January, 25th December, 12th April? Or do we know at all?
3. Was Mary immaculately conceived? Yes/No
4. How many wise men were there: 3, 7/ we don’t know.
5. How many shepherds were there: 5, 7, 12/ we don’t know.
6. Did Jesus have brothers and sisters: Yes/No.
7. After the birth of Jesus, Herod later killed all the young children of two years and under that were in the region of Bethlehem. True/False
8. Which country was Joseph warned in a dream to flee to after the birth of Jesus: Greece, Italy or Egypt?

I have been thinking recently about seasonal assumptions and how, sadly, very few people ever read the Bible for themselves. Jesus told us that it was essential to read this most important of all books for ourselves.
He said… “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5v39)
The Bible speaks of the people of Berea who are described in Acts 17v11 as being “more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Berean people wisely checked whether what they were being told was true. They didn’t readily accept the word of man, no matter how seemingly learned, or even spiritual, without checking it against God’s word to see “whether those things were so.”
Really understanding and knowing God’s Word has little to do with education, but rather in a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of our lives. When we truly know Him as Saviour, then the Bible becomes alive and wonderful; His letter to us throughout life, instructing, guiding, convicting and comforting us through life’s most difficult hours. When we know Him and believe His Word, we can say with the Psalmist… “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” (Psalm 48v14)
But how do we find this relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said… “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3v3)
This “new birth” does not occur when we are baptised as babies – or even adults, or when we join a church. We must firstly recognise that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) We must also realise that we cannot save ourselves by our good works… “For 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)
In Hebrews we learn that no man on this earth can take away or forgive sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” (Hebrews 10v11)
But of Jesus the Bible tells us… “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v12)
“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2v2)
If you have not already done so, turn this day to the only Person who can save you – the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life for you, that you might have fulfilling life in Him – both now and forever in His Presence.
You may pray simple words of acceptance… “Heavenly Father, I come to you now, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His precious blood for me at Calvary. Please come into my heart today, forgiving me for all the wrong I have ever done. Cleanse me, and help me to live victoriously each future day in your presence. Open to me the great truths contained in your Word, the Bible, and help me to find fellowship with those who share my experience.”
When I trusted in Jesus as my Saviour many years ago, the Bible truly came alive for me and as the years go by it has been my companion and Guide throughout life’s journey, while the Lord’s comforting Presence is ever with me in all situations I have to face. Personally, I found it better to start in the New Testament, in Matthew’s Gospel.
I discovered that we are not saved by good works – but unto good works. Now you will be “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2v10)
My prayer is that you too will experience this wonderful assurance of sins forgiven and a Home in Heaven forevermore, before it is too late.
“… behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Corinthians 6v2)
May the Lord bless you, as you search His Word and trust Him to reveal His great truths to your heart.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3v16)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11v28)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37)
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9v27&28)
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3v20)

Answers to quiz:
1. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2v1)
2. The birth date of Jesus is not recorded in the Bible.
3. It is not recorded anywhere in the Bible that Mary was immaculately conceived. Jesus was born of a virgin (Mary) (Matthew 1v18-25) and He is the only Person ever to be born and live without sin. (2Corinthians 5v21; Hebrews 4v15; 1Peter 1v19; 1Peter 2v22; 1John 3v5)
4. We are not told how many wise men there were. It is assumed there were three because they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2v11) but we don’t know for sure.
5. The account of the shepherds is recorded in Luke 2v8-20 but we are not told how many there were.
6. Yes… We may read of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in Mark 6v3 and Matthew 13v55&56. Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus (Matthew 1v23) but Matthew 1v25 indicates that this did not continue to be the case after the birth of Jesus.
7. True… This account may be read in Matthew 2v16-18.
8. Egypt. (Matthew 2v13-15)