Posts Tagged ‘sanctification’

Lovely Laois – and some Spiritual Analogies

June 19, 2012

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Laois, that truly beautiful little county in Ireland’s midlands. However, even Laois was looking decidedly miserable under a sullen grey sky and icy cutting wind on Saturday! After a meal in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, my husband and I drove on to Durrow, for the opening of the new Faith Mission centre there in the townland of Knockagrally. Crowds of people gathered into the tent which had been erected for the purpose of this opening and dedication service; the centre has not been entirely completed, as a conference meeting room is yet to be built.

Somehow the final hymn of the service spoke to me… “How Great Thou Art!” Especially those words… “Thy power throughout the universe displayed…” The Irish weather has certainly never been dependable, but these days I find it strangely cold for summer. God sends rain, wind, sun and the more extreme versions of all three phenomenons and others as He sees fit. I believe that adverse weather conditions can be God’s judgement upon a nation, including those who profess to know Him.

We stayed overnight at the hotel and on Sunday morning that elusive sun was shining. I looked out of the window to see crowded coaches leaving the hotel. Someone waved to me, as I stared down at them and waved back… those people, I instinctively knew, were making their way to the final meeting of the Eucharistic Congress  in Croke Park. Hurriedly I made my way down to the car park and was relieved to see one remaining coach. As these Cork people made their way onto it, each one accepted a priest’s testimony tract. I thanked the Lord for their response and even for one lady who gave the tract a knowing look and said: “You’re here to create peace, are you?” I was a little taken aback at this, but answered to the affirmative. Yes, I thought… the “peace that passeth all understanding”… but only my Lord can create lasting peace in hearts.

Surely only He can enable us to be content under all circumstances? Certainly, I came away from my tract distribution with the satisfaction of knowing that His Word “would not return unto Him void.”

Sunday proved to be dry with sunny spells and I was pleased to see some lovely scenes as we made our way slowly home… simple things like fluffy clouds reflected in a little window of the old sexton’s house in Abbeyleix, reminding me of that verse: “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11v4)

The tent was gone from the conference centre, reminding me of the transience of life and that nothing ever remains the same on this earth… nevertheless, though people may change, circumstances may change – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day and for ever.” (Hebrews 13v8)

I saw a plaque commemorating the battle of Barnaglitty in 1599, in which Owny MacRory O’More with his small band of followers defeated the great army of the Earl of Essex, reminding me that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1Samuel 17v47)

The old stone arch railway bridge at the hotel reminded me that there is only one Bridge between God and man – the Risen Saviour; the round tower of Timahoe reminded me that He is my strength and “strong tower from the enemy” (Psalm 61v3); the ancient graveyard in Abbeyleix reminded me that I must work… “for the night cometh when no man can work;” (John 9v4); a sparkling river flowing between green banks reminded me that the “Lord is my Shepherd;” a ruined three storey period house reminded me that this life’s possessions are but for a season and the little stone table and seats that are so common in this part of Laois reminded me that “there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4v9)

My prayer is that the nature of this ‘rest’ would once again be expounded from the pulpits of Ireland… by souls who have truly experienced it in their own hearts.

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Take My Life and Let it be… Ever Only All for Thee

June 7, 2012

At this time of year many primary and secondary school students around Ireland and in other parts of the world are about to sit examinations of one kind or another, while others in third level education have just received, or are about to receive, their degree results.

This week we received the wonderful news of my daughter’s first class honours degree results and also the fact that she came first in a class of nearly 40 students. She was naturally overcome with emotion at the results, as I was too. I remembered, with tears in my eyes all those missed days at school when she suffered from arthritis as a child; the nights of pain and the weary mornings when she could hardly walk and I thank the Lord for her present health and abilities.

In recent days for some reason the tune of the hymn “Take my Life” by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879) has been going through my head and I began to read some of the background information on this lady. Perhaps I have been thinking about Frances because of her educational abilities as a child: she could read at two, read the Bible at four and started to write poetry at seven. By the age of twenty she had memorised the four Gospels, all the Epistles, Revelation, the Psalms and the Book of Isaiah. But most importantly, Frances gave her heart to the Lord just after her fourteenth birthday. In her own words… “I did trust the Lord Jesus.”

Then in 1873, a year of great spiritual blessing in her life, Frances consecrated that life to the Lord. In her own words… “I was shown that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin… it was made plain to me that He who had cleansed me had power to keep me clean; so I just utterly yielded myself to Him and entirely trusted Him to keep me.”

A good education or a special talent in the sphere of music or the arts is something to be thankful for – but all the education and talents in the world without the guiding force of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives is worse than useless, because education in itself can produce proud people who are full of their own philosophies, making it more difficult for them to hear the Lord’s convicting voice.

Today Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymns live on to inspire and convict thousands of souls across the world, all because she gave every aspect of her life to be used for the glory of her Risen Saviour, in the knowledge that He could keep her clean.

June 3rd last saw the anniversary of Frances Ridley Havergal’s death. In her own words she took…

“The one grand step, beyond the stars to God

Into the splendour, shadowless and broad,

Into the everlasting joy and light.”

 

My prayer is that young people everywhere, whatever their abilities, would find Frances’ loving Saviour who desires to use their lives for His glory, that their moments and their days… would “flow in ceaseless praise!”

Take my life, and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;

Take my moments and my days,

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

 

Take my hands, and let them move

At the impulse of thy love;

Take my feet, and let them be

Swift and beautiful for Thee.

 

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King;

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.

 

Take my silver and my gold –

Not a mite would I withhold;

Take my intellect and use

Ev’ry power as thou shalt choose.

 

Take my will, and make it Thine –

It shall be no longer mine:

Take my heart – it is Thine own;

It shall be Thy royal throne.

 

Take my love; my Lord, I pour

At thy feet its treasure-store;

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only ALL for Thee.

(Frances Ridley Havergal 4th February, 1874)

 

Man Dies on His 107th Birthday! On Longevity and the Christian Life

March 17, 2011

When I heard that Jacob Marshall, an elderly man I knew who lived close to my old homeplace in Northern Ireland died recently on his 107th birthday, I started to think about the fact that longevity is very often synonymous with leading a Christian life.

Of course this is not always the case but I have noticed that those who have truly committed their lives to the Lord and follow in His paths very often do live longer. There are many reasons why this may be so – not least the fact that committed Christians live healthier lives. They regard their bodies as the “Temple of the Holy Ghost” (1Cor. 3v16) which means that they don’t drink themselves to oblivion, they don’t do drugs and they don’t smoke. With regard to food intake, this verse is practised in their daily lives… “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor. 10v31). 

They are also not as likely to suffer from depression; a factor which is said to actually shorten an individual’s lifespan – even if they don’t resort to suicide. They have a reason to live – and an assurance in death; they have that unspeakable joy which only their Saviour can impart and they are generally happier and healthier in their minds too, for they “are persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able” to separate them “from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v38&39)

When we live as peacefully as we can with our fellowmen (Romans 12v18); bearing no grudges, in the knowledge that God is the Final Judge Who some day will see to it that justice is done, it is surely better for our own well-being in the long run. Jesus’ example to us of “rendering not evil for evil” (1Thess. 5v15) is a healthy one for our physical and emotional well-being.

Of course Christians can (and do) sometimes die when they are quite young and Jesus was a prime example of this. All across the world at this moment are those followers of the Lord Jesus who are being persecuted for their faith, flung into prison, starved and tortured; such treatment very often leads to early death. And of course, Christians too live in a world which is polluted by disease of one sort or another and nuclear fall-out which results in cancer, while accidents of all types are universal.

Still, God is sovereign and when we repent, committing our lives to Him, we can rest assured that He will give us the grace to live our lives out to His glory whether they are short and sweet – or exceptionally long, like Jacob Marshall’s – or Methuselah’s!

I will close with a verse of a poem which my maternal grandfather often recited to my mother when she was a child…

“Be good sweet maid, and let who will be clever;

Do noble deeds, not dream them all day long,

And so make life, death, and that vast Forever

One grand sweet song.”

 

The above is one of the many variations of a verse from Charles Kingsley’s poem, “A Farewell.” Surely this is God’s will for the remainder of my life, whatever it consists of… that I will allow Him to work in and through me, to sanctify me to the end that my life, death, and ‘that vast Forever’ are ‘one grand sweet song?’

Who Will Reach the Nations? The Great Commission Needs Clean Vessels!

August 6, 2010

Leaving the green fields of Ireland, we headed out over the Irish Sea, eventually landing in London Gatwick. The air was warm as I clambered down the steps to the runway; London had been having a heat wave in recent weeks but it wouldn’t be as hot as our destination all the same. I thought of all the places that I was to visit in the time ahead; a world of cultures lay before me and dozens of opportunities to share the gospel with others, but I needed courage and wisdom.

From the men in the typical English pubs to the Greeks who sat outside the tavernas swinging their ‘worry’ beads; from the smooth streets and roads of the British Isles to the unsurfaced roads of Albania, I would gain many impressions; yet most of all I was to be burdened by the fresh realisation that millions of souls needed to be saved.

Christian… awake! Life is but a short breath when compared with eternity. There is no time to waste on the negative issues which vie for our attention upon this earth. The Saviour needs our every breath and gift to be used for His service. Believe me, I feel convicted by my own words when I say this. As every second brings us a little closer to the end of our own lives, time is at a premium and so we must work while it is day for “the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9v4)

The taxi drivers, the guesthouse owner, the coach driver, the cleaners, that waitress in the restaurant, the person sitting beside me on the plane, the woman or man who gives us directions on the street… the  list is endless. We must reach out to those we meet daily, with the resources that the Lord gives us, whether in spoken or written words, or in deeds of love and kindness. My very manner must portray that I am “not my own” and that “I have been bought with a price.” (1Cor. 6v19&20)

Christian – we are “the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5v13-16)

The world hurtles on down the broad road towards the terrible cliff of eternity. Will you not say a word for the Saviour today? Souls on the broad road that leads to destruction are spiritually hungry and dying. And the activities of the ‘broad road’ must have no part in the lives of those who claim to be Christians. We must love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds and we must love our neighbours as ourselves. (Matthew 22v37-40)

Remember the words of Jesus: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12v30) Are you and I ‘gatherers’ or ‘scatterers’ today?  We cannot be both. Either we are active in the Lord’s service and living in accordance with His Word – or we are in serious danger.

When Jesus said: “Be ye ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not,” (Luke 12v40) He was speaking to His followers.

Christian – awake to danger today. Remember the parable of the talents in Matthew 25v14-30. Some would try to tell us that ‘we are all unprofitable servants,’ but the Bible draws a clear distinction between the two. It is true that some may be more profitable than others but the fact remains that the unprofitable servant is cast into outer darkness. (Verse 30)

Last week as we flew over many countries of Europe, I thought about both this eternal outer darkness and about the mansions of Heaven, far away in time and space. Looking down I saw at times vast tracts of land, ships far out to sea, sparkling rivers, or great roads winding like snakes, mountains, villages, towns and cities. Tiny dwelling places belonging to souls for whom my Lord has died, lay faintly visible through the great clouds. But who will reach the nations?

Christian – you are unique and the Lord has specific work for you to do today. He needs you – but He can only use clean vessels! It is only by faith that we can walk the narrow road and let the Lord accomplish His will in our lives. Today, if you have not already done so – consecrate your life to Him. Give Him your all and trust Him to sanctify you for His service.

Finally, “let us not be weary in well doing;” for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Gal. 6v9); never forgetting the reward of the profitable servant… “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12v3)