Posts Tagged ‘israel’

A Time to Pray

September 26, 2020

On this sunny autumn day, I took a walk down to an old familiar sycamore tree that I’ve always loved. Over the years I have often sat alone under this tree in this quiet place to pray. Today I prayed for my children and loved ones – both at home in Ireland and others far away. I prayed for one presently living and working in Israel who messaged me this week to say that she was unwell from the virus. Apart from serious health diagnoses in our own lives and in the lives of those who are close to us, this has been one of the most challenging times some of us have ever had to face….

I don’t leave it for a long time before looking once again at the Worldometer live statistics regarding the spread of Coronavirus. In some countries it would be appearing to be gathering worrying momentum, while in others it is a slight but steady rise – but few have eradicated it. The reason for not leaving it for a long time, from a personal point of view, is so that the shock won’t be too great. Also, as Christians we need to be aware and to take stock of situations in order to pray about them effectively. The Lord has allowed this situation to come about; mankind is the cause of its own downfall and unfortunately whether it is rain or plagues, they fall “on the just and the unjust.” I hear complaints about masks and lockdown but I hear no one talking about the judgement of God. And I hear of no organised prayer meetings (with the permitted number of people, adhering to present legislation) being held in respect of this serious worldwide situation.

In days gone by I remember whole days of prayer being held on specific serious issues but these days Christians are strangely not even speaking about it. Why is there so little prayer about a situation where people are not only dying from this virus – but because of it? The reality is that people are dying on waiting lists for other health issues concerning heart problems and cancer etc…. and the terrible reality is that many are not ready to meet the Lord.

To preach (as I’ve heard some do) that government legislation to curb the spread of this disease is “persecution” is ridiculous. Sadly, many who profess to be Christians have shown a very poor example at this time and indeed I believe that because of rebellion and unacceptance of the reality of a horrific situation which is affecting millions of souls, friction and disagreement have been stirred up by those who should know better. Surely they realise that some good things have happened because of lockdowns…. Less socialising in those places which displease the Lord, less access to drugs and less promiscuity.

Has the Lord put it in your heart to reach others by some means? This is a time to stay close to Him, to be aware and to seek His direction for the future when things will open up again. We need to work with situations and not fly in the face of something which has been allowed by God.

It has been said that “Coronavirus has not gone away because we have got tired of it.” There is a work for every child of God in even seemingly impossible situations – to write, to communicate, to encourage and to pray. How our loved ones, neighbours and acquaintances need our prayers! Life is precious and every moment the Lord gives us needs to be lived to His glory.

This is also a time to show example by complying with the advice given by health authorities. Just because something has not been made mandatory – doesn’t mean that we should disregard guidelines. I have never worn a mask because I am afraid of the virus, although who wants to get a virus? I wear a mask in situations where it is possible that I may unknowingly pass this on to a vulnerable person who may not survive it. How can I call myself a Christian and not care about the physical or spiritual welfare of my contacts? No one is immune from this virus or from spreading it. Those who name the Name of Christ should care about their fellow travellers in this life, whatever their profession of faith, which is why I don’t understand the reluctance of many to wear a mask to prevent spread of the disease. If you think that this is tantamount to “faith over fear,” then why bother with the flu vaccine and other health precautions?

Some day Coronavirus will be no more. Will we look back on this period of history (if the world continues for much longer) as a time when the shameful perpetuating of conspiracy theories has eaten up professing Christians – or will it be viewed as a time when something pure and new is born in the hearts of those whose desire is to be consecrated to the Lord, to be ever closer to Him and to reach others? “…the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11v32)

This is a time to lift our hearts to the Lord and pray. Potentially there is much to be anxious about, when we think of what is going on in the lives of loved ones but the Bible tells us to “be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4v6)

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3)

On Anniversaries, Broken Ceasefires – and an Unfailing Promise

August 31, 2014

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In the last few days I have been reflecting on an assorted selection of anniversaries.  This week will mark twenty years since the IRA declared a ceasefire on the first day of September 1994. Especially significant this year is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War; a global war that began on 28th July 1914 and lasted until 11th September 1918. This terrible war sadly took the lives of 9 million combatants and 7 million civilians.

On a personal level, I have been thinking about anniversaries too. This month marked our 29th wedding anniversary – and next year, Lord willing, we will celebrate our 30th. How those years have flown!

Just some days ago, on 28th August, I remember writing up my diary and thinking just for an instant… ‘Now this date is very significant in my life, but why?’ And then I remembered straight away… that date during the week marked the 36th anniversary of my coming to know the Lord as Saviour, back on the bank holiday evening of Monday 28th August, 1978.

Many people, having taken this life-changing step of faith, have never noted the date or the time but they remember for sure the moment that it happened; they remember how and where it happened and most importantly they remember the events, especially the conviction leading up to this most important moment in their lives.

Sadly many testimonies today lack that element of conviction of sin and all too sadly ‘easy believism’ has become the order of the day, leading to a shallow experience – if indeed it is an experience.

I remember a line of an old hymn: “Oh Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end…” A decision to follow the Lord is serious, life-changing and should be eternity changing. I remember once someone telling me that it was going to be a certain special anniversary in her marriage shortly – but that marriage had sadly ended when she had left her husband some years previously, so she added distantly… “I suppose our anniversary no longer counts.”

How many other promises are broken in the secular world too; we have only to look at broken promises and ceasefire violations in the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict and indeed in our own country when it emerged that new weapons were being developed after that declared ceasefire.

Surely only the Lord can change a man or a woman or a nation of individuals to be those steadfast people of substance and honesty that He would have them to be?

“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)

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1Corinthians 6v19&20)

His desire is that every soul’s experience in Him would be genuine – and He wants each new anniversary in our walk with Him to be more precious as the years unfold with all their unknown challenges.

Only the Lord Jesus can make wars and man’s inhumanity to man to cease upon the earth and He has promised those who faithfully follow Him that… “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15v7). Surely… “the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4v18)

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Thoughts on Hippocrates – and the Greatest Physician Ever

October 17, 2012

A recent comment (which shocked me) about a young person who was given sleeping tablets after just one consultation stirred my memories of Kos and the day that I stood by the statue of Hippocrates in a park in Kos town. (By a strange coincidence on that day I also found two Israeli coins lying in that park close to the statue!) Often referred to as ‘the father of modern medicine,’ Hippocrates was born on the island of Kos somewhere between 430 and 370 BC. and made his living as a travelling physician. Today Hippocrates is mostly known for the ‘Hippocratic Oath,’ various versions of which are still taken by modern-day doctors all over the world.

Confidentiality and care of the patient were said to be most important to Hippocrates and it is also said that his medical care was gentle on his patients. Hippocrates was the first to argue that disease was not ‘a punishment from the gods,’ but rather caused by the environment, diet or living habits of his patients and today it is recognised that he made several major contributions to modern medicine.

But a few hundred years later and a few hundred of miles from the island of Kos, the Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world – the Greatest Physician and Counsellor that any individual could ever have the joy to meet! He cared deeply for His creation – and He still does; He cares for me – and He cares for you… “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1Peter 5v7)

Yet, even if we love Him and belong to Him, we are not immune to the prevailing conditions in this tainted world. I have heard it said that doctors nowadays seem to turn to their computers, the minute that their patient walks into the surgery! You may be just another face to them in their long day of listening to a catalogue of ailments – but rest assured that there is One who truly cares about your pain and for your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Your tears are important to Him and your health is important to Him, whoever you are and whatever your situation.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4v23)

This sickness, we learn, was not confined to those who disobeyed God, or as a consequence of personal sin, or worse still – the sins of their parents. The disciples questioned Jesus: “who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered with these words: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9v2&3)

Today we have “health, wealth and prosperity” cults telling us that we must have all three attributes. I wonder what they think of Timothy’s “oft infirmities?” (1 Timothy 5v23)… Or the fact that Jesus Himself “had not where to lay His head?” (Luke 9v58)

Today I praise Him and look to Him for the riches that count… those spiritual riches of contentment under all circumstances, for surely He is “the God of all comfort?” (2Cor. 1v3)

If you are suffering today, Jesus knows all about it: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4v15)

Praise God that when we as Christians suffer, we can have much more of a rapport with our fellowmen and women who have perhaps had the same health diagnosis as we have had…

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2Cor. 1v3&4)

However, if you have never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, my prayer is that today you will do so, for when sickness comes your way (as it does for everyone, whatever their spiritual status) that Great Physician and Father of mercies will comfort you and carry you through to journey’s end, where you will be able to say with all who love Him: “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.” (1Cor. 15v55-57