Posts Tagged ‘jesus Christ’

I Know that my Redeemer Liveth!

April 21, 2011

This evening I took a long walk down the country roads close to where I live and I felt joyful in my spirit. Little rabbits were jumping and skipping in the fields, cattle were peacefully grazing, birds were singing and away to the west I watched in wonder, the blood-red sunset turn to amber through the trees. Yes, I love God’s creation but often I feel that the individuals I come in contact with within the human race are unpredictable and untrustworthy. Yet Jesus died for every one of them – and for me. How amazing!

In this world we can be certain of nothing or wholly depend upon no one, but we can depend on the Lord Jesus Christ and in this day of grace His arms are ever open; ready to embrace those who repent and come to Him in simple faith. Below is a little poem which I wrote a long time ago, expressing the sentiments described in James 4v13 &14… “Go to now, ye that say, Today or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain: 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.”

I may lead my life, unknown to the world and forgotten when the few who love me pass away – but because I have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and am walking in the light, as He is in the light, then His victory is mine forever!

Perhaps some day this transient life,

With all its sorrow, joy and strife,

Like a vapour, will vanish away,

This earthly frame beneath the clay,

My name forgotten quietly,

With the death of those who loved me.

But there is One who will remember me –

Surely the King of Immortality?

He, suffering, died that we should live forever,

His blood a cleansing, flowing river,

His rising conquered sin and death forever –

For all mankind: the “whosoever,”

O Lord thy victory is mine forever!                  

© Elizabeth Burke

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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!

Primroses, New Life – and Showers of Blessing!

March 23, 2011

My favourite wild flower of spring is the primrose. Its delicate fragrance and colour is a joy to experience, tastefully decorating the ditches and hedgerows in this part of Europe. I love those verses in Song of Solomon 2v11&12… “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” These lovely words fill me with optimism, although it must be said that Solomon had never experienced an Irish winter, which often lasts longer than we would wish!

When we entrust our lives into the Creator of all life, we inherit something special – a deep appreciation of the beauty of His creation. Although tainted by man, we can still experience something of its wonder and beauty when we visit some unspoilt countryside. How glorious is spring; that newness of life, which is not just a renewal, but new vibrant and budding life – a victory over death!  Just as spring emerges from the pessimistic gloom of winter, our lives can emerge from a spiritual death, as cold as winter itself – when we repent of our sin, asking Jesus to forgive us and take control. I once wrote the following, a simple acrostic verse that children may appreciate, which expresses my love of the flower and my joy in God’s creation and in the knowledge of sins forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Primroses in the Gloaming

(2Cor. 5v17)

Perfume so fragrant at the dawn of spring

Rose to meet me one twilight evening.

I hummed a tune as I strode along,

My heart as content as a bird in song.

Red was the sunset through clouds of the west,

Over the trees flapped the last crow to nest,

Silently, gently, I picked one pale flower…

Enraptured my soul after the shower!

 

Elizabeth Burke

 

My Love for the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible (1611-2011)

February 2, 2011

I have always had respect for the Bible and when I was very young, my father ensured that we learned to recite many passages; one of these being Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” Today I can still recite that Psalm by heart, but it wasn’t until I became a Christian that I felt the words of the Bible come alive and especially relevant for me. “Read the King James Bible,” my old English teacher had advised, “for its great literary content.” Then, in the autumn of 1977 I asked my mother for a simple gift for the following Christmas – a copy of the King James Bible. Indeed I still have that old Bible but it is now carefully stored in a little box to keep the pages together, since over the ensuing years I was to search those pages for inspiration, for answers, for hope. I started to systematically read it through and I came to love every word, but I also came to question the nature of my life and to be convicted by words like… “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.” (Isaiah 53v6) Despite the fact that I was a ‘law abiding citizen’ I came to see that, like every other soul born into this world, I needed a Saviour because of words like: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3v23)  Then one late evening in August 1978, just eight months after receiving my first Bible, in the quietness of my heart I repented of all that previous life lived outside His grace and asked the Lord Jesus to come into my heart and to be my Saviour.

From that moment on my life was never to be the same again, for it was to be guided by the Word of God; a book which even some atheists will admit is extraordinary in content. Its words brought revelation, guidance, comfort and joy throughout the years ahead. When my children were ill or in hospital I would seek the Author of this book in prayer and then He would comfort me with loving words from its pages; words which were amazingly apt for every situation I would find myself in.

The beauty of its language is second to none and despite the fact that there are numerous other English translations of the Bible, I feel that there is no better translation than this one for the English speaking world today.

Tonight I lift my first Bible in my hands with nostalgia. Inside its cover I read words which were written nearly 34 years ago by my mother:

Christmas 1977 from Mum and Dad. (Isaiah 41v10)

Then I go to Isaiah 41v10 and read: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

How often those beautiful words would speak to me over the years and how comforting they are on this night as I pray for my father who is very ill in hospital. I love the poetic beauty of those books from Job to Song of Solomon, the history, the genealogy… yet everything contained in the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation ultimately points to the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for all mankind, making it possible for every soul on this universe to be born again, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Peter 1v23)

Years later my husband gave me another Bible; still the beautiful King James translation but in bigger print this time because I was growing older! Every time I read the Bible through, I record the date of that reading and leave a comment like “Praise the Lord!” Today its words breathe life to me and as the years go by they are more precious than ever. The full colour gift books which the Lord has led me to write, quote extensively and exclusively from the Authorised Version and in this, the 400th Anniversary of its launch, I hope, in the Lord’s strength to promote it all the more.

This is the Bible which inspired the great spiritual revivals in history throughout Britain, Ireland and the U.S.A. My prayer is that its words will once again, in this 21st Century, live on to pierce the hearts of men, women and children with its truth and that souls would search its pages and turn to its Divine Author in repentance before “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4v5)

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22v18&19)

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)

So Many Things To Do Before You Die …?

October 8, 2010

One evening I read the following in a National Newspaper… “In a tragic twist of fate, the energetic, globe trotting author of “100 Things to do Before You Die” has died at the age of 47.”

Sadly, Dave Freeman, the co-author of this best seller had died after falling and hitting his head in his own home – having completed only around half of the exciting things to do in his book. I felt dejected but thoughtful as I put the newspaper down. Here was a comparatively young man taken from this scene of time, very swiftly and very tragically. Given some of the dangerous escapades that he had recommended in his book, how ironic it was that he had died under such mundane circumstances.

After watching the second plane crash into the south tower on September 11th 2001, Dave Freeman was philosophical about the future. “Life is a short journey,” he told his readers, whilst urging them to explore before “you pack your bags for the very last time.”  The theme of the book, according to his father, was… “you should live every day like it would be your last.”

‘Life is a short journey,’ I thought. ‘It seems like only yesterday that my children were starting school… How the time flies!’ Yes, and how the circumstances of our lives vary; there are those who spend their lives in remote regions of the world, overcome by poverty and sorrow, while at the other end of the scale there are those who live in palatial circumstances, with all that money can buy.

Yet, whether you spend most of your days doing mundane things like ironing or unloading the dishwasher – or exciting things like surfing on the crest of the waves, one thing is for sure: some day will be your last day. Life most certainly is so short and in the light eternity it hardly signifies at all; yet there is a decision which we must make in this life which will determine where we spend those endless years of eternity.  

Any decision we make which will affect our lives in this life is certainly very important – but just think how much more important it is to make a decision which will affect both our lives here – and throughout eternity. Most religions in the world would agree on one thing – that our behaviour in this life will determine the circumstances of our future in eternity. However, how many of them can give their followers that assurance in their hearts, that they have a certain home in Heaven? Even the leaders of all the major world religions would admit that they cannot be sure of their own eternal welfare. So, is there anyone in history who was both certain of his own eternal destiny and those of his followers?

Jesus said to the thief who hung beside Him on the cross: “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23v43)  Here was a leader, who was not only sure of His own eternal destiny – but He was reassuring a dying mortal at His side, who had reached out to Him in faith. Somehow, I believe that the dying thief knew that Jesus was much more than just an innocent man who had been put to death unjustly. Yes, He was an innocent man – but He was also the perfect, sinless Son of God. Every person born into this world, every major religious leader and every cleric under the sun surely falls short of this description – for “all have sinned.” (Rom. 3v23) Therefore, we must conclude that the only Person in whom we can safely put our trust is the Person of the Risen Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ.

As lives go, the Lord Jesus Christ had a very short life on this earth – but that short life was full to the brim with goodness. He healed the sick and cast out demons; He raised the dead and calmed the waves of the sea; and in John 21v25 we read: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”  (John 21v25) 

Then, after all the good, loving and miraculous things that Jesus had done, He was unjustly tried and nailed to a Roman cross. But this death was no ordinary death – for He suffered and died for your sins and for mine, so that some day, like the thief on the cross, we could reach out to Him in faith and live in His strength – and to His glory.  “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.”  (1Pet. 2v24)

Life is not only a short journey but it is an unpredictable one, and really none of us know (regardless of our age or health) what today holds for us, never mind tomorrow. Have you that assurance in your heart that you are ready to meet God as Judge? What does He see when He looks at your life as it is? But it must also be remembered that even a life full of good works alone cannot get us to Heaven.  Isaiah 64v6 describes such a life: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” We are also reminded in Eph. 2v8&9: “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.”

The thief on the cross had no opportunity or time to start doing good works for his salvation. No, he reached out; firstly admitting his fear of God and the fact that he was sinful and deserving of punishment to the other criminal who hung with him and secondly he acknowledges Jesus as Lord, while trusting in Him for salvation.  “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  (Luke 23v42)

What simple words of faith! Today that soul is rejoicing in Heaven, all because he put his trust in the only Person who was able to save him. Unlike the thief on the cross you may have many years of life ahead – but who knows? Today Jesus sits with His Father in Heaven as our Advocate. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  (1Tim 2v5)  Oh that you, the reader, would put your trust in the only Advocate between God and mankind. “But what about my own religion/church?” you may ask.  In Acts 4v12 we read… “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Knowing Jesus and being His follower is not about joining a church or being part of an organisation. It is about repentance, having my sins dealt with, a way of life, a relationship, a daily walk with Him and having that peace and assurance in my heart that some day (whether my life is long or short, exciting or mundane) I will go to be with Him. 

Yes, it is good and essential to have Christian fellowship with like-minded Christians – and once we take that step of trusting Him to save us, He will guide us into all truth and that includes the matter of fellowship. I have travelled in my life to many far-away places and how marvellous it is to meet those of all nationalities who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation! Romans 10v12&13 informs us: “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Today, in this the Day of Grace, the Lord Jesus Christ still reaches out to you, the reader, whoever you are and whatever circumstances you live under. He wants to save you from sin, to a life of good works which have faith for their foundation (James 2v14-26). He wants what remains of your life to be lived to His glory and He wants to assure you of a home in Heaven. Yet, because of His great love for all of mankind and His desire to see them saved, Jesus spoke much more about Hell than about Heaven.

You may never visit this earth’s most exotic destinations – but your life lived in His service will have a joy that is not satisfied by the things of this world. And some day you are promised… “But as it is written, 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.” (1Cor. 2v9)

If you do not have this peace in your heart, His desire is that you would pray wherever you are today… “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Saviour of my sins. Please forgive me for all the sins that I have committed and come into my life – so that the rest of my life will be lived for you and that I can have that assurance in my heart of a home in heaven.”

May the Lord bless you and lead you into all truth – for the joy that is to be found when we simply repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour is beyond anything that may be experienced in this world!

© Elizabeth Burke

Today is My Birthday!

August 28, 2010

Today is my birthday; not my ‘earthly’ birthday, but the anniversary of the day on which I asked the Lord Jesus Christ to come into my life. I rejoice in this knowledge and yet this morning I felt convicted that I had initially forgotten that on this day thirty-two years ago, I made a decision which was to change the direction of my life forever. “Would I forget my ‘earthly’ birthday?” I asked myself, although I knew the answer to that question was “most probably not.” As coincidence would have it, this morning my daily reading was in Philippians 3. When I reached verse 19, the words “who mind earthly things” gave me food for thought. I am probably not the best judge on the issue of how my spiritual growth has been for the last thirty-two years and yet I know for sure, that my Lord and Saviour has been my constant companion throughout the ups and downs of life. I love Him with all my heart and my desire is to serve my risen Saviour for all the rest of my life, in the knowledge that whatever happens to me, “I must have the Saviour with me, for I dare not go alone, I must feel His presence near me, and His arm around me thrown.” These words comprise the first verse of Fanny Crosby’s hymn… “I must have the Saviour with Me” and for some reason I have been unable to get the tune out of my head all week!

Throughout the changing seasons of life; through all that I must face, I can lean on Him, my Lord, my Saviour, my Confidant, my Teacher and my Comforter. This morning I also read… “I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.” (Verses 14&15) Therefore I ask Him to reveal to me those things in my life that are displeasing to Him – and I ask Him to assist me, by faith, to put matters right.

Unfortunately my mind on this morning had been pre-occupied with the cares of this life… concerns about my daughter going to college in a different country; concerns about a loved one’s health; other concerns… I was so burdened about so many things – and then He reminded me! “Did you not trust me to be your Guide all those years ago? Was I not with you through it all?” And so…“I must have the Saviour with me, in the onward march of life, thro’ the tempest and the sunshine, thro’ the battle and the strife…” No, I dare not walk alone through this wilderness of life, weighed down with a great backpack of troubles; I must always have His Presence to comfort and sustain.

Perhaps the Christian life can be best summed up in a verse which I read earlier in the week: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1v21) Yes, He has given me yet another gift on my “birthday” – the joy of knowing for certain that I can trust Him to lead me in the right paths, for He has only my best interests at heart. “Then my soul shall fear no ill, Let Him lead me where He will, I will go without a murmur, and His footsteps follow still.”

What sort of person would I be today, had I not trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour thirty-two years ago? Really, I don’t want to think about that but I feel that, had I not, I would be a more materialistic person than I am today. I am surrounded by many who have great possessions in this life, but I thank God that He can give us a heart to count the material things of this world “as dung” that we may win Christ. (Phil. 3v7&8)

My sister gave me a gift when we moved to this home, many years ago now. It was a little wooden plaque inscribed with these words: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4v19) To those who trust Him, all our needs will be provided – physically but most of all… spiritually. Surely “our sufficiency is of God.” (2Cor. 3v5) So, whatever the rest of my life holds for me in terms of “tempest or sunshine,”… “I must have the Saviour with me, and His eye the way must guide, till I reach the vale of Jordan, till I cross the rolling tide.” Praise God for the depths of His mercy and love in sending the gift of His Son, my Lord Jesus Christ – and thank you Lord for saving my soul!

Link to this hymn: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/a/v/saviorwm.htm

Reflections on the Life of Thomas Kelly – “Ireland’s Most Prolific Hymn Writer” (Born July 13th 1769 – Died May 14th 1855)

July 10, 2010

 

As we read through the gospels which are dedicated to the wonderful life of Jesus here on earth, it is interesting to note that “the common people heard him gladly.” (Mark 12v37) On the other hand the scribes and Pharisees were constantly “laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.” (Luke 11v54) When He healed on the Sabbath day, or when He taught in the synagogue, immediately they were His accusers. “By what authority doest thou these things? Or who is he that gave thee this authority?” they asked. (Luke 20v2) In Mark 15v1 we read that it was the chief priests and scribes who “bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.”

Today, as then, we have our scribes, Pharisees and lawyers – and today, as then, they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats at synagogues (or churches) And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” (Matthew 23v6&7) Jesus said: “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are as graves which appear not and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.” (Luke 11v44)

Of course it was the same in Thomas Kelly’s day. Thomas Kelly was the only son of a judge, Thomas Kelly of Kellyville, Co. Laois – which was then known as ‘Queen’s County.’ His father wanted Thomas to follow in his footsteps, which he did for a time, for he graduated from Trinity College Dublin and moved to London to further his career. It was there that he came under conviction of sin and subsequently put his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

After this life-changing experience he left his original choice of career to return to Ireland, where he was ordained a minister in the established church. However, because his heart was in the right place, Thomas could not but preach the truth in all its fullness, which in turn made him unpopular with the hierarchy of the church. In those days he suffered immense persecution from his superiors in the church but it was perhaps the opposition from his own family which hurt him the most.

Eventually, having been cast out from the church and barred from all ‘consecrated buildings,’ he found his place amongst the ordinary people, relentless in his preaching of the gospel to hungry souls. Those were days of both spiritual and physical hunger, with the result that Thomas was greatly loved by the poor of Ireland, especially during the potato famine of the 1840’s.

And so, we can see that just as many of the common people heard Jesus gladly, very often they will hear His followers gladly. Those who come to know the Saviour may find that their greatest enemies are those of their own households, while the hierarchy that they once held in esteem within the established churches are not so sympathetic to the simple message of the gospel either.

But Jesus loved those scribes and Pharisees! Although He could see their faults and hypocrisies, He loved them enough to die for them and some of them were even won by Him. Nicodemus, a man of the Pharisees, (St. John 3) could see clearly that “no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.” (Verse2) And Nicodemus came to love Jesus, for we read how he came to take care of His body after the crucifixion, along with Joseph of Arimathaea. (John 19v39) Therefore if we are followers of Christ, let us in the words of 1John 3v18… “not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”

In Hebrews 11v24-26, we read: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Moses could have chosen to remain in the Egyptian royal family – but what of his eternal welfare? If Thomas Kelly had remained within the established church, diluting his sermons to please the hierarchy and if he had put his family before God, surely we would have been denied the rich legacy of his hymns today? Such lovely compositions clearly stemmed from Thomas’s own personal sufferings. Above all, if Jesus had called on the angels to deliver Him from the cross, what hope would there be for humanity today?

In Romans 8v18 we read: “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.” Today, I believe that Thomas Kelly is rejoicing in glory with many brothers and sisters in Christ who “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt…” If you have never fully trusted the Saviour for salvation, remember that the pleasures of sin are indeed but “for a season.” Just as Moses “by faith forsook Egypt,” you can by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, forsake sin. John the Baptist said: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of world.” (John 1v29) He came, not to give us a licence to sin, but to take away our sin. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1John 3v7) Whatever our spiritual standing – He knows us better than we know ourselves. Why not come to Him today, just as you are, and in the quietness of your heart trust Him to meet you at the point of your need?

Remember the words of Mark 8v36&37: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1Pet.1v7)  Praise His Name.

Link to Thomas Kelly’s hymns: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/s/t/stricken.htm

© Elizabeth Burke 2007