Posts Tagged ‘good friday’

A Strange Thing Happened One Evening…

April 14, 2017

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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)

On the 1000th Anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf… and Spiritual Warfare

May 9, 2014

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Some weeks ago on a sunny spring day, we had the opportunity to see the re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf in the lovely location of St. Anne’s Park, Raheny in Dublin. Hundreds of ‘soldiers’ had arrived over from many parts of Scandinavia and even Russia for the event, while many of the stall holders were from all over Europe and even some from the U.S.A.

I found it a most fascinating event, showing many of the old arts and crafts, costumes and materials, ways of cooking and way of life in general from one thousand years ago, being demonstrated in the large area devoted to the occasion.

In the Battle of Clontarf, which took place on 23rd April, 1014 in Clontarf on the east coast of Ireland, Brian Boru (High King of Ireland) was fighting against a Viking-Irish alliance which consisted of Sigtrygg Silkbeard, king of Dublin, Mάel Mόrda mac Murchada, king of Leinster, and the Vikings Sigurd of Orkney and Brodir of Mann. That battle lasted from dawn to dusk; between 7000 and 10,000 men were killed and Brian Boru’s forces were victorious but unfortunately he was killed, as was his son and grandson.

As I thought about this significant battle in Irish history just recently, I also thought about the spiritual battle that the children of God face throughout life…

From the moment we take that stand, that first step of faith which declares that ‘we are on the Lord’s side’ we can be sure that we have a most deadly enemy. He knows our vulnerabilities, both physical and emotional and will viciously attack if he suspects that our defences are down. We can never over-estimate the deep hatred and deviousness that the evil one has towards the Lord’s people and how he will create misunderstandings and cause trouble, even between fellow Christians, given the right (or should I say ‘wrong’) conditions.

I believe that it is true to say that we face spiritual warfare every day (like the Battle of Clontarf – from dawn to dusk)… and yet I know that the battle has already been won for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only in His strength that we can overcome – not by using the manmade defences and words of this world.

There are many hymns devoted to this spiritual warfare: “Forward Soldiers,” “Marching On,” “A Call to Arms,” “Am I a Soldier of the Cross?” “We Shall Win!” “Who Would True Valour See,” “Soldiers of Christ,” “Victory for Me,” “Stand up Stand up for Jesus,” “Overcomers,” “Onward Christian Soldiers…”

Day and night we stand accused by the evil one; is he not the accuser of the brethren? (Rev. 12v10)

Yet the words of the Lord to His people in 2Chronicles 20v15 are indeed for His people today: “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord…” (Verse 17)

We are commanded to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6v10-18)

And some wonderful day for those who are victorious in Him “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.” (Rev. 21v4)

Interestingly the Battle of Clontarf was fought on Good Friday (23rd April 1014)… but surely the battle that outshadows all battles in the history of this world was won over a thousand years previously! On this glorious day the victory was won over sin and death and hell for all mankind, ‘the whosoever will,’ by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15v55-57)

Surely, if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8v31)

 

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If You Had Been the Only One… He would still have died for you!

April 19, 2011

Did you know that whoever you are and whatever you’ve done (good or bad), Jesus loved you enough to die for you? (1John 2v2) Before the foundation of the world, He foresaw your birth and mine and then one day (in the knowledge that nothing less than this enormous sacrifice would suffice) He allowed Himself to be taken away by an angry mob and cruelly nailed to a Roman cross.

If Jesus had not died for us and gloriously risen again we would be without hope, both in this life – and the next. By dying for us, Jesus effectively took the weight of our sins and paid the price, so that we might have an assurance of sins forgiven – and a home in heaven. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Peter 2v24) “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Corinthians 5v21)

Remember only Jesus can forgive us our sins, because only He has never sinned, for the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3v23). In Hebrews 7v26&27 we are told of Jesus… “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.”

When Jesus uttered those final lovely words “It is finished,” what a defining moment in the history of mankind! Finished the necessity for animal sacrifices, finished the striving and those rituals which can never take away sin. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v11&12).  Again we read in Hebrews 10v18… “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

“But there are so many different religions in the world,” one may say. However, in Acts 4v12 we learn that Jesus is the only way: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” We may reject or accept this statement, but Paul tells us in Romans 14v11&12 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

“But what about my kindness, charity work and church going?” some may ask. However in Isaiah 64v6 we learn that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” In Ephesians 2v8&9 we are further assured: “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. However good and respectably you have lived your life, repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is still essential for salvation. After this your faith will be evidenced by your works. (James 2v18)

Still others might say: “But my life has been appalling. I have committed terrible sins – I don’t deserve to go to heaven.” Perhaps not, but no one does! Remember, Jesus loves you every bit as much as any ‘pillar of society!’ Whatever your background, addictions, problems, or your sin in this life, it is totally within His will that you repent, trust in His enormous sacrifice for you – and have that assurance in your heart of a home in heaven.

In Matthew 27v38 we read: “Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.” In a sense the whole world is represented by these two people who hung on either side of Jesus on that day. Jesus died for both of them and both of them were guilty – but we only read that one of them accepted Him as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said to him… “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v43). What wonderful words to the human ear! You, the reader, can also have that assurance of sins forgiven, and a little bit of heaven can be yours upon this earth, for Jesus said “I am come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10v10).

Are you ready for that day when the Lord shall return again – this time as Judge? “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed.” (1Corinthians 15v52) The alternative to heaven, that terrible place hell is unthinkable. In the Bible we read of no other destination in the after life, but heaven or hell. But it was never God’s will that mankind (whom He made in His own image, and sent His only Son to die for) should spend eternity in such a horrific place. The righteous Son of God was born in humble circumstances, died between two criminals, and on the third day rose again so that we would never have to pay the terrifying eternal penalty for our sins. In 1Corinthians 15v55-57 we read those encouraging words for those who have trusted the Saviour… “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.”

Would you like to be sure of a home in heaven? In 1Corinthians 6v2 we learn that “…now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.” Tomorrow may be too late! Jesus warns us that He could return at any time… “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12v40). We must consider, too, that our lives are fragile and transient: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4v14).

One day many years ago I came to that place of repentance. The date shall forever stand out in my mind… 28th August, 1978. Ultimately I knew that I was in danger while I lived my life outside of God’s grace. I was totally alone in an upstairs room, no one preached to me and no one prayed with me, and I cannot remember my exact words, but I know that on that evening I crossed from darkness into light, and found the Greatest Friend and Confidant that anyone could ever hope for. Perhaps you would like to pray these (or similar) words right now in the quietness of your own heart… “Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying 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 have come to know Jesus as their Saviour.”

Thank you for reading this. I sincerely hope and pray that you will find that “abundant life.” Note that it is better to start reading the Bible (preferably the Authorised Version) in the New Testament and after this the Old Testament. If you require further discussion or help regarding the issues discussed in this tract, please feel free to contact me at: readywriterpublications@gmail.com. May you know God’s richest blessings upon your life – now and forever!

“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the Sin of the World.” (John1v29)

April 16, 2011

Herein lies the core of the Christian message! Surely no creature is more innocent and harmless than a little lamb, which is why Jesus, the perfect Son of God, is compared to one. I wrote the following lines many years ago when I went for a walk, and then fell asleep under a tree on an April afternoon…

 

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(Hebrews 10)

 I saw a lamb so loveable upon a warm spring day…

How beautiful the innocent when they are at their play!

It jumped and skipped and ran with merry youthful glee,

Then refuge took in mother’s milk, sucking eagerly.

 

I strolled within the meadow green and sat beneath an oak,

Its budding arms drooped over me, my memories awoke.

I thought of all the lambs I’d known, and how with joy they leap,

And then my eyes grew heavy, my memories in sleep.

 

I dreamed I saw ten thousand lambs beneath an eastern sky,

They cried for mother mercy, but they knew that they must die.

Men in flowing robes of old killed them one by one,

Blood upon the doorposts; little ones consumed before the risen sun.

 

Those who sheltered ’neath the blood, escaped God’s wrath that night,

But for those that worshipped Egypt’s gods, how sorry was their plight.

From first-born child and beast, was taken life and breath,

At midnight’s hour so long ago, all Egypt tasted death.

 

And then I heard another Lamb: “It is finished” was His cry,

Because of this, my love for all, no other lambs should die.

I dreamed of this, His sacrifice, the nail prints in His palms,

And how He suffered, died, and rose for we His precious lambs.

 

The whispering wind in the ancient oak stirred me from my sleep,

And I heard again the cry of a lamb, wandering from shepherd’s keep.

Oh come to Him my wounded lamb, now caught in the grove of sin,

Oh come to the fold of the Shepherd of Love and by faith now enter in.

 

You may hear His voice in the city streets – or in a desert place,

He whispers o’er the ocean waves, how wonderful His grace!

He knows your name, He loves your face, the sheep that has gone astray,

And He longs to make your heart His home, before God’s Judgement Day.

 © Elizabeth Burke

 Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Not all the Blood of Beasts” written in 1709, describes it so well. Here are the first two verses…

Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain
Could give the guilty conscience peace
Or wash away the stain.

But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.

My prayer is that the Jewish people would see that “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10v4) and that those who trust in the sacrifice of the mass would see that “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God;” (Hebrews 10v11&12). And may those who know Him as Saviour reach out as never before to their fellowmen who have yet to find that “new and living way” which is described in Hebrews 10v20.

Link to this hymn:  http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/n/a/nalblood.htm