An Encouraging Testimony!

Castle Stalker on Loch Linnhe at sunset near Portnacroish. Photography courtesy of Neil McDade, https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 3:14-17 (NASB)

Today I bring to you something very different. It is a slightly edited version of an email that was recently received by our church, the Mustard Seed Fellowship, in Woodside, Glenrothes, Fife. It was received with much excitement as it gave us further information regarding the history of our wee church. it is a very exciting story showing God at work across the years. The red text is the body of the email from Fran Corby, and the blue text is the testimony of her husband’s grandfather.

I will first introduce myself, I am Fran(ces) Corby and my husband is John. We live in Colorado, USA. We recently retired after working for 46 years with The Christian and Missionary Alliance We served for 34 years as missionaries; in Gabon Africa (16 years), France (6 years), and the rest of it spent overseeing 170 missionaries in Europe and the Middle East. My husband was born in Gabon to missionary parents: Bert and Betty (Elizabeth Mason) Corby. Betty was born in Congo to missionary parents: David and Elma Mason.

It is my husband John’s grandfather David whose testimony we want to share with you today. On his fifteenth birthday his mother gave him a Bible, after which he went into an apprenticeship, sailed the world and fell away from the Lord. By God’s grace he came back to his faith and served God the rest of his life. Here is his testimony in his own words:

“I was born (1883) in Fifeshire, Scotland, living in a small town (Markinch) situated on the mainline of the railway which ran along the east coast connecting London and as far north as Aberdeen. This location caused the town to be a center for smaller villages in the surrounding area. My parents (John 1846-1939 and Elizabeth 1852-1946) were godly consecrated people and were deeply interested in the salvation of men and women. My father was a working man and our home was a humble one, but a happy one, for God was honoured there. There is no question that the godly upbringing I had was the greatest influence in my life.

My parents were members of the Free Church of Scotland in Markinch, there also being two other Presbyterian churches in town. My parents were much concerned about the older people living in the smaller villages in the surrounding area who were unable to walk the few miles to attend a service. There was no public transportation to be had in those days. The distance was also an excuse for those who were able but did not desire to attend. The churches made no effort to serve those people in any spiritual way. this caused my parents to begin open-air meetings in a small small village about three miles from our house, by the name of Woodside. as there was a definite response to these meetings, an elderly lady donated a house to the village to be used exclusively for religious services and named my father along with another Christian man who was a resident. I may say that my father never missed a service in this place for forty years, A bad accident ended that record. The meeting place was named “The Mustard Seed,” and was the only church I attended in my boyhood days.

Another organisation named “The Faith Mission,” founded by a gentleman by the name of J.G. Govan, had begun to train men and women as missionaries to work in rural areas, and the workers were called Pilgrims. I believe the work was begun with headquarters in the city of Edinburgh. The surrounding areas to the city were named the Lothians and word began to spread that a real revival was in the making. The Pilgrims also came north to Fife and the same results followed, in spite of opposition in some mining communities and also from the established clergy.

It just seemed natural that my parents and others of like mind began to support the work, and since converts from the evangelistic efforts were not welcomed in the local churches – many of them from two to seven miles away began to attend the services held in the Mustard Seed. The services there usually began at 11 a.m. and continued until at least 2 .p.m. The Faith Mission extended its work. Prayer unions were founded and gospel services were held in various places on sunday evenings by those who had been converted. I can recall marching to open-air services held at the railway station, where many people gathered to get the only train coming to town on Sundays. The old Sankey hymns were sung as we marched. Many of the visiting Pilgrims and others engaged in the evangelistic ministries were entertained in our home, thus my sister and I were both well versed in the work involved in evangelism as we listened to discussions held in our home.”

While serving in France we and our children took a trip to Scotland and visited the grave of John and Elizabeth Mason in Markinch. On the headstone was written the words “For them to live was Christ, to die was gain.” what a blessing it was to stand there and rejoice in the heritage we and our children can hold dear. It seems to me that your story (Mustard Seed Fellowship) and our story go hand in hand, with just a variation of perspective. Share this as you wish with whom ever may be interested. In the meantime we all continue to servethe One who gave Himself for us. And we rejoice with tears that we share the same riches as “co-heirs” in different places of this world, until He calls us home.

Mustard Seed Fellowship, Glenrothes, Fife Website.

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Psalm Sunday Recap – He (119:33-40)

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.
Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.
Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Psalm 119:33-40 (NASB)

119:33

119:34

119:35

119:36

119:37

119:38

119:39

119:40

Psalm Sunday (119:40)

Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Psalm 119:40 (NASB)

“Here, David professes the ardent affection he had to the word of God.” Matthew Henry.

Have you heard of the BBC radio show “Desert Island Discs” where famous people are interviewed regarding their life? They are asked to provide a list of music that they could not survive without on an imaginery island. Automatically they are given a choice of either Shakespeare’s Complete Works or The Bible for spiritual guidance; famously some have refused the Bible with a rambling defense of their decision. In today’s verse from Psalm 119 we reflect on the great love of KIng David for the Word of God. Within God’s Word David finds all the spiritual food he needs, and particularly guidance to the Righteousness of God.

“A longing after the precepts marks the character of the child of God: and may be considered as the pulse of the soul. It forms our fitness and ripeness for heaven.” Charles Bridges.

There is no more important love than that of Almighty God, and His Holy Word. It is a relationship that develops through time; I personally would say that my need for the Word has grown as I grow older – it really is the power source in my walk with God. It is a Guide book of His Way, a Manual of Life, the Record of His Righteousness, the Bread of Eternal Life.

“Where our longings are, there are we in the sight of God. He who has given us the desire will also grant us the ability to obtain it.” C.H. Spurgeon.

Dear Reader, praise God He doesn’t give us His Book without a guide to show us the way – His Holy Spirit. By His guiding what we read has Divine purpose in our life. Surely such a gift must excite your heart brethren? Is your spirit ablaze with ardent affection for your Bible today?

Lost Sheep

Buchan Ness Lighthouse at Boddam,
photography courtesy of Ben Bremner, https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

“What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?”

Matthew 18:12 (NASB)

One of the common occurances in my childhood was seeing livestock wandering where they should not be. Most of the time it was when I would be out for a walk in the fields and woods that surrounded our village, and returning the wanderer back to the herd was relatively easy. I remember looking out the window one wet morning and cattle were roaming the gardens; they were soon herded by the farmer who someone had phoned. At least they left something that was handy for folks roses. I think it is the rural illustrations in the Bible that help me to understand what God is saying, like today’s verse.

We often hear this verse used in reference to church congregations; the flock of the Lord in the care of His chosen shepherd – the Pastor. Sadly sheep are prone to wander off for any number of reasons, and sadder still they may go unnoticed for some time. I am of the opinion the care of vulnerable sheep in our fellowship is not just the duty of the Pastor or Deacons; it is the duty of the whole fellowship to care for each other. The Biblical proof of this communal duty is seen in the “One Another” statements in God’s Word; read them and put them into practice brethren!

Dear Reader, have you missed someone at church recently? Have you enquired after them whether they are ill, and have you prayed for them? This does not only apply to church; we should look out for our elderly neighbours too; a wee chat over the doorstep is as good an example of care as anything else. What about your e-friend whose blog you haven’t seen for a wee while; a short message by email/messenger is a good way to remind them that you care, and that you are praying for them. So brethren, who is missing in your life lately?

Stumbling Blocks

First snow in the Highlands,
photography courtesy of Donna Bremner, https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!

Matthew 18:7 (NASB)

As I was reading today’s verse I found myself recounting my various “stumbling blocks” over the years, and there have been many. Some have been quite serious, while others have just been downright annoying. There have been times I lost my peace over some of these, but as I have aged I am glad to report that I have become more relaxed. Sometimes God has taken my stumbling block and turned it into a foundation stone for a work to His glory.

Call me crazy, but I like looking up words or phrases…even when they seem obvious like today’s one. The KJV Bible uses “offence” rather than “stumbling block,” which makes sense to me – some stumbling blocks are downright offensive. The New Testament Greek for this is skandalon; scandal in English. Interestingly the meaning of this can be “a trap” or “snare,” which says a lot about the spiritual purpose of stumbling blocks/offences. Every painting has an artist somewhere, and stumbling blocks are created by someone who seeks to trip God’s children.

Dear Reader, our enemy Satan delights in setting stumbling blocks for believers. He delights even more when the stumbling block is another believer…then he gets two for the price of one. Brethren, let us examine ourselves and how we treat one another. Let not our hearts be filled with selfish motives, that we forget to practice the love of Christ with one another every day.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11

Going Where He Leads

Over the bridge into the magical forest,
photography courtesy of Donna Bremner, https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will close your eyes.”

Genesis 46: 1-4 (NASB)

I must confess, as much as I love the story of Israel (Jacob) and his family, I become sad as we near the end of it. It is such a beautiful story of God caring for His chosen children. Today’s verses stood out for me as a wise lesson from Israel for his family, and to us today. He has heard the amazing news that Joseph his dearest son is alive and well in Egypt, and bids his father to come to him. Before he sets out on the journey to Egypt Israel chooses first to seek counsel from Almighty God at Beersheba, as did his father and grandfather before him.

It certainly is worth noting that Israel followed the prayerful habits of his father and grandfather, in the same sanctified place as they did. He comes before God reverently bringing sacrifices. There would be no journey with out first consulting the Almighty, and certainly no journey if He said no. These are prayers that God delights in answering; and He does in Israel’s case.

Dear Reader, not only did God hear Israel’s prayer but He went with Him, promising to keep His covenant with Israel’s family. May we learn from Israel in our walk with God today; that before any decisions or journeys that we too will seek God in prayer. Seek Him reverently as Israel did, and He will go with you where His Spirit leads you.

Holy Spirit Glasses

Another one of frosty Loch Morlich,
photography courtesy of Ben Bremner,
https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Genesis 45:4-5 (NASB)

In recent days I am again in the story of Joseph in Egypt; it is one of my favourite Bible stories. What an exciting story of God at work through one man. Through each step of his journey from the pastures of Canaan to Pharoah’s palace in Egypt we see God guiding Joseph, that through him God may keep His promise to preserve and provide for Abraham’s descendents.

Today’s verses are at the pinacle of the story, where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers who had sold him into slavery. What a shock that was for them! Matthew Henry suggests in his commentary that they did not recognise him initially, until he said he was their brother. I am of the opinion that they were suddenly presented with the awful question, “What are we going to tell dad?” But what impresses me the most is Joseph’s words to his brothers about how they treated him, and the Godly purpose it served – what wisdom and grace!

Dear Reader, we can learn from Joseph’s words. We experience trials in our lives; although maybe not as severe as being sold into slavery by our family. People may mistreat or persecute us over a prolonged time, either because of race or religion. Life may deal us a bad hand in health, living conditions or employment. It is right that we should pray about such things; but what is our attitude regarding them? Can we withold our human disdain and instead practice the grace of God’s Holy Spirit working through us, just as He did in Joseph? Brethren let us not look on our situation with worldly glasses and be disheartened; let us instead see how blessed we are through Holy Spirit glasses!

Jehovah Raah/Rohi – The Lord Is My Shepherd

Loch Morlich near Aviemore,
photography courtesy of Ben Bremner, https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

But He led forth His own people like sheep
And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
He led them safely, so that they did not fear;
But the sea engulfed their enemies.

So He brought them to His holy land,
To this hill country which His right hand had gained.
He also drove out the nations before them
And apportioned them for an inheritance by measurement,
And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.

Psalm 78:52-55 (NASB)

In this instalment on the names of God we come to one of the best known, due largely to the popularity of the Shepherd Psalm – Psalm 23. Strangely enough many people quote “the Lord is my Shepherd” but wouldn’t be able to give the Hebrew name to it; Jehovah Raah or Rohi. incidentally, Raah and Rohi mean te same thing coming from a Hebrew root word meaning “to feed.” You may be wondering why my main reference does not come from David’s most famous psalm; the answer being that the Spirit brought me to Psalm 78 today, and I trust His guidance. I have completed a series on Psalm 23 a couple of years ago, which can be found HERE.

Our text today refers to the people of Israel, rescued from slavery in Egypt and led them through the wilderness to God’s chosen land for them. It also refers to the wider family of all God’s children of past, present and future generations. If you remember God went before the people in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, rather than showing them the way – He went first! It is the same with us; Jehovah Shamma is there before us. He leads us.

God led Israel in safety; He saved them from the Egyptian pursuers as the mighty waters of the Red Sea closed behind them over their enemies. They had nothing to fear. A good shepherd leads his flock away from danger, on a good path, and into good pasture. Our Father God does the same for us today; He leads us safely.

The Almighty led Israel to the land that He had promised; through the wilderness into a fruitful land for His children to prosper. He does the same for us; He leads us to His chosen place for us.

God does not lead His children to defeat; He leads them to victory over their enemies. He clears the way before them as a shepherd inspects the pasture before his flock is brought onto it. Each day we begin a new adventure as children of God; He leads us clearing the way for us.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
John 10:11

Dear Reader, the best news of all on this topic is that God sent His beloved Son to save and tend His flock. In Him we are saved from the penalties of sin; a poisonous pasture indeed. Let us follow Him each day as He leads us Homeward to the Father.

Forgotten Seeds

A wee cottage where Ben imagined a roaring fire to get a heat! Photography courtesy of Ben Bremner, https://www.facebook.com/ben.bremner3

Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream, and behold, he was standing by the Nile… Now in the morning his spirit was troubled, so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh. Then the chief cupbearer spoke to Pharaoh, saying, “I would make mention today of my own offenses. Pharaoh was furious with his servants, and he put me in confinement in the house of the captain of the bodyguard, both me and the chief baker. We had a dream on the same night, he and I; each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now a Hebrew youth was with us there, a servant of the captain of the bodyguard, and we related them to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us. To each one he interpreted according to his own dream. And just as he interpreted for us, so it happened; he restored me in my office, but he hanged him.”  Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:1, 8 – 14 (NASB)

This story of Pharoah’s dream, the cup bearer and Joseph that I read yesterday afternoon reminded me of what happened in church that morning. A gentleman (I think he was the speaker’s brother?) came up to me as everyone was filing out the church, he said that he recognised me. This confused me a bit, but he was referring to a video message I had made some months ago for the fellowship based on a brother’s sermon that had not been recorded that Sunday. This meeting of someone who came from the other end of Fife was an encouragement, especially after recovering from a nasty cold.

It reminded me of how we can affect others without even knowing about it. Not for the purpose of puffing up our own self-importance, but as a reminder to be careful in what we say. If we speak Godly words to others these seeds settle and someday will bear fruit; but if we speak error or worse evil it bears bad fruit. The thing about living your life for God’s Kingdom is as you get older you forget what you said and to whom you said it. Thus it is a blessing when God sends you a lovely reminder from your past; that was the case for Joseph in today’s Bible story. How surprised Joseph must have been to have a summons to appear before Pharaoh.

Dear Reader, take heart this morning – all you do for your Father God and His kingdom are not forgotten. You may have had an effect upon someone’s Christian walk that you are not aware of, but someday you will be shown it whether it be in life or in the glory of Heaven.

Psalm Sunday (119:39)

Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.

Psalm 119:39 (NASB)

In this Lord’s Day verse from this great psalm David raises the feared subject of reproach of others; that being their disapproval, rebuke or scolding. But David isn’t fearful for himself, but for the reproach that he may bring on his God. David knew the pain of his personal failure diverting him into sinful ways, and the shame that it brought. Yet in this there is eventually the beauty of a repentant sinner coming before his God, and receiving forgiveness. Almighty God does forgive but sinful men do not, they stir the pot and throw the muck around hoping that it will stick.

David knew that he didn’t necessarily have to sin to cause men to attack him, and ultimately attack his God. Sinful men will slander believers aiming at God through them, their motives being hatred for the light of righteousness that shines on their darkness. I can speak about this from personal experience; there are those in my family who slandered me trying to discredit me and my God. All glory to God they failed in all their attempts, and all ties were severed permanently. They are my family on earth; but Almighty God is my Eternal Father – I choose my heavenly family.

Dear Reader, as David was attacked so were countless other men of the Bible, most notably our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ attacked by the Pharisees. We are no different. it can be said that if evil men attack you, clearly you are doing good for God. We have a choice whether to stay silent or to stand up for Him who gave His all for us at Calvary. God does not leave us unarmed against our assailants; He has given us the battle manual of His Holy Word. Prayer, the presence of His Spirit, and the Word of God are all we need to stand for Him today, and everyday. God is no man’s debtor; He repays the faithful bravery of His children against evil every time.