Posts Tagged ‘timahoe’

A Famine for the Words of the Lord

September 7, 2015

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On our recent visit to the village of Timahoe in County Laois, I saw an unusually large old pot used as a container for some lovely flowers. “That’s a famine pot,” a local lady informed us. Apparently there are famine pots throughout the island of Ireland, a reminder of the terrible potato famine which resulted in the deaths of approximately one million people in many parts of the country between 1844 and 1852. These pots were left in a village square or green and filled with food by those who could afford to do so – in order to meet the needs of the starving. Famine… it is difficult to imagine those terrible hunger pangs in our western society, where we have an assortment of food and plenty of it – even freely available when necessary, at certain outlets for those who are not so well off.

Somehow, though, these thoughts on famine led me to think of famine from a spiritual point of view and reminded me of the words of Jesus: “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4v4)

“It is written…” Jesus always used these words before every statement He made to the devil, during that time when He was tempted in the wilderness. Could it be that many who claim to know the Lord today are being tempted and entertained by the devil, but they cannot say “it is written…” because perhaps they have no knowledge of what is actually written.

We are living in days of spiritual blindness and in an era when people have never had so many versions of the Bible available to them – clearly not a good thing, for we see a departing from God’s Word; not only in secular society but in supposedly Christian circles too. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the words of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8v11&12)

How wonderful to have access to God’s Word in all its truth and purity! It is there for us to read and appreciate; it is there to guide us, to comfort us and to show us how to live – but it must be applied to our everyday lives. Lack of discernment and spiritual blindness are surely a result of not spending time with the Lord, listening to what He has to say to us through His precious Word and being willing to put Him first in our lives.

God forbid that these words would apply to Christians today: “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long…” (Psalm 74v9)

To seek the Lord in prayer and ask for His intervention in the things that trouble us is so necessary – but not any less so than studying the Lord’s great letter to us, as contained in the Bible. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Timothy 3v16&17)

One thing that I have learned just recently for myself is that the longest Psalm (119) talks about God’s Word in nearly every verse. It is referred to amongst other terms as: thy precepts, thy law, thy testimonies, thy way, thy statutes, thy judgements, thy commandments, thine ordinances, thy word…

And these should be the words of every servant of the Lord… “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119v127&28)

Surely when His servants esteem the Lord’s commandments above gold and when we delight in His law above all else, our hunger for His Word will be satisfied when we accept what He says to us, without trying to make it fit in with the ideas of this world? “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119v165)

There is no doubt that many changes have occurred in places of worship in the days in which we live. Many old hymns have been discarded for no valid reason; the mode of worship has completely changed in some quarters – often not for the better; while the Word of God has been twisted, often in sinister ways, to give credence to wrongful behaviour in today’s society.

As servants we can say with the psalmist… “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.” (Psalm 119v125) How true these words are for today! The blight which caused the potato famine could be likened to a spiritual blight which may result in the famine spoken of in Amos. As Christians we must take a stand on the issues of our day and on the evil laws passed by governments throughout the world, for in the words of the Psalmist: “It is time for thee, Lord to work: for they have made void thy law.”(Psalm 119v126)

Surely the Lord’s will for all men and women (for whom He loved and died) is not that they would be tormented by a spiritual famine but rather that they would repent and that these words would be their portion: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119v103 -105)

“Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” (St. Luke 11v35)

August 27, 2015

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Having recently attended the annual Faith Mission Conference near Durrow in County Laois, I was reflecting today on all the different types of people that we’d met – both at the conference and around that locality. Somehow we found ourselves seated beside someone who had never attended the conference before. He had travelled a distance – out of curiosity. The fact that this person had sat beside us, I felt, was no accident because of the conversation which ensued after the meeting. How good it is to be able to witness to those we come in contact with in this way; I felt a great sense of the Lord’s Presence while we were conversing with this man and also a sense that he was genuinely seeking something more in his life.

There are others who may attend a meeting where the gospel is preached for many years but for some reason it never touches their hearts. Often I pray quietly within my own heart while a sermon is being preached, in the knowledge that there may be someone present who needs to be awakened to see his own need.

Others, still, perhaps young people, have just gone along to please someone – or even under duress. They are ‘anti’ everything that is said and bored with it all… and they show it!

There may also be deceivers; they mingle with Christians and they use the same terminology as Christians, but they have never been truly born again of the Spirit of God; I believe that the Lord gives discernment in this regard too.

Deceivers populate much of the ‘religious’ world. Not only do they deceive – but they are deceived. Very often of deceivers who are deceived it may be said that they are… “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Timothy 3v7)

We stayed on after the conference, to visit the round tower and the relatively new heritage centre in the picturesque village of Timahoe. Situated in an old Church of Ireland, we discovered much of historical interest in this heritage centre, where we were kindly shown around by a lady who lives in the area.

Models of several austere looking monks caught my eye – but especially one who sat at a writing desk. On viewing the photograph later, somehow that “ever learning” verse came to mind.

Surely “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.” (Ephesians 2v8&9)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.” (1Timothy 2v5&6)

He gave Himself a ransom for all: seeking souls shall find Him if they seek for Him with all their hearts; the scorner will be forgiven and the backslider restored if they truly repent – and even the deceiver can break through, when he allows the Lord to show him that the light that he thought he had is but darkness.

Ultimately we can only serve one Master, whose will is that our eye is “single.” Friendship with the world is surely enmity with God. (James 4v4) It is totally His will that our eyes are focussed on Him alone and on the eternal values that count.

In the lovely words of Jesus: “The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.” (Luke 11v34-36)