Posts Tagged ‘calvary’

A Strange Thing Happened One Evening…

April 14, 2017

DSCF0027

It’s quite a few years ago now and something I hadn’t really thought about in a long time, but in the last couple of days this incident has been very strongly on my mind. I believe it was an autumn evening and I had been reading our local newspaper – something I rarely do these days. Leafing through the pages, for some reason an advertisement in the “local events” page caught my eye. It looked interesting, that talk on local history which was to take place in a small village some distance from where I live. Wanting to know about the subject, I decided to go along on the evening in question.

Now, I find this difficult to explain but all I can say is that before the evening, the Lord spoke to me in that “still small voice,” asking me to take along with me to this event…. a laminated print-out of Isaiah 53. I couldn’t understand why I had to do this but looking back now, it is truly amazing…

“Isaiah 53? Why in the world should I bring a copy of Isaiah 53 to this secular meeting?” I thought. Most, if not all of the people in attendance would be practising (or at least nominal) Roman Catholics, with myself being the only exception – and anyway there was nothing remotely religious about the meeting. But I knew the Lord wanted me to do this – and that His will must be done.

Well, I drove over in the darkness of the night, parked the car and entered the venue, realising that I was a few minutes late. I sat down at the very back and listened to the chairman introduce the special speaker of the evening. “Well, at least I haven’t missed anything,” I thought. But then I pricked up my ears at his next words… “The advertised speaker for tonight has been unable to come, but fortunately for us Mr _____ who is an author in the Jewish community has kindly come to give us an alternative talk at very short notice….

I took a deep breath. I had read about the speaker who was supposed to come – but this replacement speaker tonight was Jewish. Touching the laminated print out of Isaiah 53, I knew exactly why the Lord had asked me to bring it. Most people would say: “But Jewish people know about Isaiah 53 which is part of their Bible…” However, I knew that the Lord wanted me to give it to this gentleman at the conclusion of the meeting for a reason. Frankly, it took courage to do that. I tried to explain to him what had happened and although he did seem a little irritated by the incident, he nonetheless accepted it.

To this day I have no idea what may have been achieved by this. The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible but for the Christian, Chapter 53 is very prophetic of the Lord Jesus Christ, although I was always aware that Jewish people see this differently. I have no idea what was (or still will be) achieved by what happened after the strange turn of events that evening. All I know is that the Lord is Sovereign and that His Word will not return unto Him void! I can still remember my surprise that night when a different speaker was announced and the dawning knowledge that the Lord had a purpose in what He had asked me to do. I will always love the beautiful words of Isaiah 53, which I pray will continue to speak to souls (whatever their persuasion) while we abide still in this, the glorious Day of Grace…

“Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53)

Advertisements

The Gift of Life – and the Greatest Donation Ever Given

April 6, 2012

Just a few minutes ago I tuned in to hear the closing minutes of a radio phone-in programme, on which the subject of organ donation was discussed. One man was emotional as he related how he felt after wakening up to a new life, all because a much younger man had died in an accident. He was so grateful for this donation, describing how he looked out in the early morning to see the sun shining and to hear the birds singing. This wonderful gift had effectively enabled him to lengthen his life – and to have a better quality of life! He now felt much healthier and all his blood tests were coming up as normal. And yet he admitted that (although he doesn’t know them) he very often thinks sadly of the family of his donor and their great loss when their son had died. Another lady in the discussion reassured him, explaining that the family would look on this as a most positive thing to do under the circumstances.

Yet another man explained how his sister had so lovingly offered him one of her lungs (she was the most suitable donor) so that he would be able to continue to live. I was touched by the selflessness of people in these situations – both live donors and the families of donors who had sadly passed away.

Then, immediately, I thought of Jesus and His great sacrifice for all of mankind. Most live donors would naturally be reluctant to willingly offer a part of their body so that a violent drunkard, or murderer could have a new lease of life; yet the Lord Jesus Christ left the wonders and beauty of Heaven to lay down his life, so that this entire fallen human race could be awakened to new life in Him – and the promise of a Home in Heaven forevermore.

“But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5v8) 

People on waiting lists for organ donations very often never receive their required organ; they wait for months and sometimes years with a poor quality of life and sadly many die.

Now here is a thought – how strange it would be for someone to refuse the gift of new life and improved health!

The Lord Jesus Christ promises us new life in Him, if we acknowledge our sinful state, repent of it – and ask Him to lead us into fullness of life in Him – a life in His glorious Presence for all eternity.

The good news is that there is no waiting list for this offer! In fact His desire is that you, the precious soul for whom He died, would accept His offer now. “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor. 6v2)

Tomorrow may be too late, for soon your own life may pass away – or Jesus may very suddenly return as your Judge, for He has promised: “I will come again.” (John 14v3)

His desire is that you would turn to Him now, in the quietness of your heart, asking Him to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life. Surely the horrific alternative to a life with Him in eternity is unthinkable?  

May the Lord richly bless you as you ponder these truths, so that your spiritual health will be eternally rich, for this Great Donor who gave His life so that we might have life, and have it more abundantly, rose again and is alive today and forevermore.

“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of a cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2v8-11)

The Greatest Gift of All – A True Story

December 24, 2010

My Aunt Frances adored her children. There were five of them altogether – four girls like ‘steps of stairs,’ and finally a boy, all born in the 1940’s and 1950’s. She encouraged them educationally and when it came to the Christmas season, she ensured that each one wakened up on Christmas morning to a beautiful gift. This was quite an achievement, given that post-war times were hard and money was scarce in most households.

In those days she lived in a small town house, and I know (from experience) that under such circumstances it can be difficult to find extra storage space for those gifts we want to surprise our loved ones with on Christmas morning! Anyway, one particular year she bought many lovely gifts for her children, including a little iron and ironing board for one of the girls, but where would she hide them? At the time my parents, siblings and I lived in an old country house (where my aunt had lived previously) and although lacking in many modern conveniences, we had a little bit more space to hide the Christmas gifts and so my parents agreed to keep them for my aunt until Christmas Eve. As a child I loved Christmas, but somehow I recall that Christmas Eve was a busy, often stressful time – especially for women.

That year (as was the tradition for many years) it had previously been agreed that my parents would drive over to my aunt’s house with my cousins’ presents on Christmas Eve. When it came to the evening in question they did go over to visit her, but with all the activities and conversation – they completely forgot the real reason for their visit. They didn’t even think about those toys until they were back at home, preparing to go to bed and heard a knock at the door…

There standing in the cold December night was Aunt Frances with her bicycle, having cycled the entire distance from the town to our country house! In those days most people didn’t have a telephone in their homes (never mind a mobile ‘phone) and so, the only way she could get those essential gifts was to cycle out to us. That night my father packed my aunt’s bicycle into the car boot with the toys and drove her home, and then, in the quietness of the night while the children slept, she carefully laid out the surprises for the morning.

I was touched by this true story of a mother’s love for her children after hearing it from my own mother just recently, for I could also see some spiritual parallels. The miles that she cycled may not seem much nowadays for modern day cyclists who possess high-powered mountain and racing bicycles, but I am certain that my aunt possessed neither. Also, in her youth she had had an accident in which her legs had been badly injured, so that cycling may possibly have caused her some discomfort. What trouble she went to, for the sake of the happiness of her children!  In the Bible, a mother’s love is referred to in Isaiah 49v15, because it is normally one of the most unselfish and self-sacrificing of all the relationships between human beings. “Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Therefore we learn that it is possible for even a mother to be lacking in love, but God’s love for us transcends all loves. In 1John 4v8, we learn that “God is love,” and in Romans 5v8 we are told: “But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” At this time of year gifts (large and small) are on our minds, but surely the Greatest Gift of All is that which God gave to us at Calvary? “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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3v16&17)

If my cousins had refused those beautiful gifts on Christmas morning, how heartbroken my aunt would have been; having gone to so much trouble over them. Jesus, the perfect Son of God having humbled himself to die on a cross has paid the ultimate price for our sins at Calvary. Today He still stands with outstretched arms, offering His gift of salvation to “whosoever will come.” All He desires is that we acknowledge our sin, repent of it and ask Him to come into our lives, so that He can make us “new creatures.” (2Cor. 5v17) Will you trust Him today? It is a decision you will never regret – for I have proved it in my own life! Remember tomorrow may be too late, for no one knows what tomorrow holds, and some day soon He will return to receive “His own.” (Matthew 24v44). Oh that you would be ready for His return and that you would know the joy of His presence in your life today!

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6v23) “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.” (Eph.2v8&9)

A Tale of Two Visits…A True Story

September 29, 2010

It was the very last evening in September and dusk was descending as I knocked on the front door of the little cottage. Although I knocked several times and also on the back door, no one seemed to hear me. I knew that the lady within was very elderly and her hearing had grown dull over the years. Also, she was totally engrossed in a television programme, for I could hear it and I could see the flickering screen through the net curtains. It was a pity because I had so much to give her; apples to eat and cook and I had some encouraging good news. How I wanted her to hear me knocking!

The wind shivered through the dry leaves as I stood alone, waiting. Tomorrow would be October, reminding me of those words in Jeremiah 8v20… “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Maybe if I waited for a while or for a very long time someone would hear me and open the door, for I knew that there was someone else there – probably her son. On the other hand it could be too late, for darkness descends quickly in autumn and it was quite possible that although they heard me now, they would not answer a stranger’s knock at this time. I felt as though I had been standing for a very long time indeed and yet I did not want to give up. Inside the cottage, the muffled voices and flickering screen were unremitting, even though my knocking had grown louder and louder.

To force my way in would be unthinkable, contrary to every law and although I prayed that they would open the door, there was no response. Maybe tomorrow – but tomorrow they could be gone. As the night drew on, I knew that I must leave for I could not stand all night, persistently knocking, since the people within either did not hear me, or did not want my presence. Even if they heard me and switched off what was pre-occupying their minds – would they answer the knock?  “How dare someone call at this time,” they would say. “It’s too late. Let’s close down the blinds, draw the curtains and go to sleep for darkness is descending – they’ll go away eventually.”  Total darkness did descend upon that dwelling and then, after knocking for the last time, I sadly made my way back to the car. Just then I remembered the faces of a family that I had known some years ago, and who had been on my mind recently. “I’ll call with them instead,” I whispered to myself.

Meandering narrow lonely lanes eventually brought me to their door. Their home was unusual; a converted old mill overlooking a beautiful valley where otters and foxes run by a river. ‘No street lights here,’ I thought, and glancing up at the night sky, I could clearly see ‘the plough.’ No sooner had I rang the bell, than I could hear footsteps running down the wooden staircase to the entrance. I was instantly welcomed up to the living quarters, where a warm fire glowed in the corner.  I was beckoned to sit down, make myself at home, and soon a pot of tea was before us, and we sipped as we recalled old times. How the children had grown since I last saw them! It was good to be in touch with old acquaintances.

Coming away from that home, I at once could see the spiritual parallel of the night’s proceedings. Jesus stands knocking at the door of each heart, for He wants to fill all our hearts with His presence and He has such good things to give us! “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.” (Rev. 3v20) Jesus, who died for your sins and for mine desperately wants to gain entrance into every life in this world, but often individuals are so pre-occupied with the things of the world that they cannot hear that spiritual knock at their heart’s door. Although He may continue to knock for a very long time indeed, the time will come when that knocking will cease if there is no response. “My spirit shall not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6v3) Furthermore, tomorrow (or today) our lives as individuals could end, or Jesus may return before this. Are you ready to face Him as Judge? To miss out on His offer of salvation would be disastrous, resulting in an eternity more awful than anything we could ever imagine. But praise God, there is no need for this to happen, for if you are reading this right now and want to get right with Him – He has opened the way.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Pet. 3v9) Are you concerned about your eternal welfare? Do you still hear that knocking at your heart’s door? If so, switch off from the world’s distractions just now, and listen to what He wants you to know… “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10v10/11) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14v6) “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8v12)

I have described my visit to two homes – one door was closed, and those within were (I am sure) unaware of my presence, but having visited that second home, I knew that I must put these thoughts into words. Whatever your problems, heartaches or spiritual standing in life He knows it all. There is no one too sinful to come to the Saviour…. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I shall in no wise cast out.” (John 6v37) And there is no one so “good” that they don’t need salvation… “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23) Only He can forgive us, because only He has never sinned. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1v8&9) He can wash away that sin, that guilt – and He can keep us clean. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1John 1v7)

Why not trust Him today, right now, wherever you are? You may have reached an age where you feel that you cannot change – but remember that eternity lies before you and “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14v12). I was alone when I trusted Him, and my prayer was a simple one, asking that He forgive me, and carry me from darkness into His light. You too may pray in your own sincere words of repentance, or something along the following lines…

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 in to 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.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 24&25)

© Elizabeth Burke 2007

Just as I am – Without One Plea

June 27, 2010

Sitting on the promenade wall I watched the ebb and flow of the tide washing in over the sand. High up in the summer sky the seagulls cried as they floated on the drift of the wind, while in the distance the beautiful Mountains of Mourne stood timelessly and quietly against the horizon. I had always taken comfort in mountains; they were like permanent, solid and reliable old friends in a world that was changing too quickly. Tomorrow, perhaps, I would climb to their rushing waterfalls and we would picnic close to those cascading waters. The day was beautiful and I was young and healthy, but something was disturbing me. Was it that small group of Christians who were having an open-air meeting by the promenade? How many times in my young life had I been convicted by a little group of people like this? Over the years I had watched them, the faithful ones, singing and preaching in villages or cities and distributing tracts. Even the sound of their voices made me feel uncomfortable, but no, I would not commit myself to the life they were singing and speaking about. Perhaps some day…

What delightful childhood memories I have of trips to the seaside with my father, mother, brother and two sisters! In those days we did not fly off to exotic locations, but those trips to Warrenpoint or Sunday school excursions to Newcastle, Bangor or Portrush engendered just as much excitement. In the intervening years I have travelled to many distant places but to this day, perhaps one of my favourite spots in the whole world is “where the Mountains of Mourne roll down to the sea.” My aunt once had a caravan parked at the very edge of the beach in an area known as ‘Cranfield.’ I recall many days of sunshine there when we would splash in the sea or take long walks along the blue flag beach to the castle at Greencastle. At night the old lighthouse would throw out circling beams of light across the dark rippling waves. Even bad weather was enjoyable, creating its own special atmosphere. How I loved the sound of that foghorn, as the rain pelted against the windows and the tide surged in only yards from where we slept!

Of course, as the cliché goes ‘all good things come to an end,’ and whether it had been a day trip or a week-long holiday we knew that we must return home. Regrettably the ‘holiday’ had perhaps not been so idyllic for my mother as she had a great deal more work to do; in bygone days holiday cottages and caravans did not have the modern conveniences that they do today! As for those ‘return journeys,’ they are filled with special memories for me, for I recall that my parents very often would “sing on the journey home,” and always these songs would relate to their Christian experience. In those days their songs did not appeal to me – in fact I often felt irritated and convicted by them. Admittedly, my parents’ voices blended beautifully as they sang choruses and hymns on the journey home. Yet, underlying my feelings of conviction, I experienced a certain reassurance and inner peace in the knowledge that my parents loved each other and their Saviour, who was glorified in the words they sang.

So it came to be that as the years passed, I was to be convicted many times by the singing of God’s servants. There is something about joyful singing to the Lord that speaks to the heart – and even brings a tear to the eye! Then, one August Sunday morning in the year 1978, I was walking alone in a narrow cobbled street in Ostend, Belgium, when I heard joyful singing coming from somewhere on high. These were I believed, Christians who were singing hymns in the Flemish language but where were they? I looked up at the windows of tall narrow houses and I searched doorways for access but I could not find those singers, no matter how much I searched for them. Sadly I returned to the hotel where I was staying, feeling very empty spiritually. On the return journey I was terrified that the ship would sink or the train would crash for I knew that I was not ready to meet God.

After my return home, that deep conviction continued in my heart with intensity. Just hours later, on the bank holiday evening of Monday 28th August, 1978, a fierce spiritual battle ensued while I was alone in my bedroom. I have never felt anything like it in my life, either before or since. One power was telling me that I was ‘not that bad,’ and that I had my whole life in front of me; another was telling me to ask the Lord into my heart now for tomorrow may be too late. After much turmoil and struggle, I can only describe what happened next as ‘repenting of my sin and crossing that great divide from darkness into light.’ I felt a peace in my heart that only the Lord can put there – my journey to my real Home had only just begun! The years ahead were to be the happiest ones of my life for He had “put a new song in my mouth.” (Psalm 40v3). All my old ‘haunts’ began to lose their attraction and soon God’s Word and the joyful singing of His servants brought me more joy than anything in this world ever could. Now I had put my trust in the “Rock of Ages,” who is even more dependable than solid mountains, for even they shall some day be removed! And now with my mother and father I could sing the words of many lovely hymns, because they were so relevant to my new life begun in faith.

There is a hymn which always filled me with conviction in those days of my early childhood and youth. This hymn was often sung after appeals were made in missions or other meetings and I grew to dread the singing of it, because it made me feel so uncomfortable.  “Just as I am” describes accurately the experience I went through on that evening when I trusted the Saviour. Charlotte Elliott, the writer of this lovely hymn had a similar experience when she came to the Lord, for she was “tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt… fightings and fears, within, without…” I thank God that this lady was able to give words to her experience – words which have touched many a soul since the year it was written, in 1834. For me, the second last line of this hymn, “Here for a season, then above,” seriously highlights the brevity of my earthly life against the awesomeness of eternity.

Today I love that hymn because the Saviour did rid my soul of that “one dark blot.” I thank Him for His cleansing power in that instant when I trusted in His shed blood at Calvary. My prayer is that He will continue to work in my life and in the lives of other fellow Christians who have trusted Him to “cleanse each spot,” with the desire to be “His, and His alone.” Now I can claim this wonderful promise which was given by Paul to his fellow saints, as my own…  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1v6)

(See also: My Testimony page) https://readywriterpublications.wordpress.com/my-testimony/

http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/j/u/justasam.htm