The Lord’s Day Re-post – Covid and The Golden Ticket

My chosen re-post this Lord’s Day comes from the pen of Andy & Jo Berry, my friend and brother in Christ. This post really touched my heart and lifted my spirits in light of the trials the Berry family have been enduring lately. If you don’t know, Andy and his family are responsible for BerryBunch TV ministry which produces excellent gospel material for Christian families. Their ministry has taken a back seat lately due to Covid in the family, from which they have mostly recovered. But Andy has had complications with his health which have been challenging to say the least, but through it he and the family have remained faithful to and reliant on God. I would encourage you brethren to visit their site, and remember them in your prayers.

Take your mind back, and you might remember seeing the first signs that Covid-19 could well be a real issue, heading our way, like a freight train running along the tracks towards the edge of a cliff! Scroll on a couple of years, and it is still making the lives of tens of millions of people difficult, at best. It has taken many loved ones from their family, way ahead of time, and it has created an abundance of fear.

Covid and The Golden Ticket

Obedience

Red Roof Cottage taken near Sheildaig in Wester Ross. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; and he took food and was strengthened. Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus,

Acts 9:17-19 (NASB)

There are times in life when we have to do things that we would not choose to do, often at the request of others. It could be requested by an employer, supervisor or by a loved one. As children of God our Father will present us with requests either through our devotions or by life events, which we may not have chosen to do ourselves. I can remember such incidents in my life, and I deigned to ask God if He really wanted me to do them. That was the position of Ananias in Acts 9 from where our text comes from today.

Saul had been a witness at the stoning to death of Stephen in Jerusalem, where he held the coats of those carrying out the dreadful deed. He became a fervent persecutor of followers of Christ, requesting warrants from the High Priest in Jerusalem to arrest any believers found in Damascus. His fervour in his mission  became well known throughout the region, thus it was with good reason that Ananias was fearful of what his Lord was asking him to do (Vs.10-14).

As I meditated on the story of Ananias it became apparent to me that it could be listed in six stages;

1) Ananias was in a right relationship with his Lord to have a personal vision from Him.

2) It appears that Ananias was not shocked by the vision, which suggests he was used to having close communion with his Lord.

3) He was willing to hear whatever the Lord had to say to him, which may appear obvious, but there are folk who love the Lord’s presence but would rather not hear His requests.

4) He doubted the Lord’s request, through his fear of the worldly powers. An imperfection that marks all the disciples and us today – little faith.

5) He was reassured by his Lord that it was His will that Saul was chosen, Ananias trusted His Lord.

6) Ananias obeyed! There was no further questions, he fully carried out his Lord’s commands…even addressing Saul as “Brother Saul“! 

Dear reader, can you imagine the joy of that meeting as Saul’s vision was restored and he was anointed by the Holy Spirit? The joy of the forgiven Saul and that of Ananias his messenger from the Lord must have caused quite a stir amongst those present and nearby. How do you compare to Ananias in the six listed points presented here today? Ananias’ obedience was not perfect, it was a bit rough around the edges – yet your Lord was able to use it to great effect. Thus do not wait for perfection in an imperfect vessel, give what you have to your Lord and expect  great things by His power.

My Manual of Life

This NASB Super Giant Print makes reading my “Manual of Life” comfortable on my old eyes.

A Re-scripted Friday re-post from “Devotional Treasures.”

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)

I remember years ago generations of would be mechanics turned to Haynes’s manuals while fixing their car; they were famous for their step by step text and pictures for all jobs big and small. These well thumbed grease marked volumes were the authoritative word that everybody relied on for their make and model of car. My first car when I was at university was a green Nissan Maxima, I spent hours consulting the Haynes (Nissan Maxima) as I cared for my treasured car. I presumed in the 21st century that such books are obsolete, but they are still available at a price.

As children of God our Father has given us “The Manual for Life,” one that never needs to be renewed with an up to date version! It is always accurate and as sharp as any tool you will ever need, in fact it is the original multi-tool able to help in any circumstance! There is no situation that our “Manual for Life” cannot answer if consulted prayerfully; “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Dear Reader, when life throws you a curve ball reach for “The Manual for Life,” the faultless Word of God. It will guide your steps on His Narrow Road every day, strengthening and encouraging you along the way. Study it, pray it and, quote it in all circumstances against the attacks of the evil one. In all things treasure your “Manual of Life!”

The Hatred of This World

Loch Vaa near Aviemore, Cairngorms National Park. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

John 17:14 NASB

Hate is a strong word which we use freely when we are young, but as we age we hopefully use it less frequently. I remember as a boy ‘hating’ the weekend routine of getting ready for school on Sunday nights, bath, nit comb and cod liver oil, but on reflection they weren’t that bad really. Hate of certain people, based on nationality, religion and even football team supported was encouraged, but in time I realised that this was poisonous to my soul. In the 21st Century world hate is very much alive based on race, politics and gender. One hate is growing more widespread today; the hate of Christianity, and those who practice it.

Today’s verse shows us this specific hatred has been around since the time of Christ our Lord; the world hated Him and hated those who followed Him, and they still do today. A primary reason for the world’s hatred is that as we follow Christ our lives in contrast shine a light on their dark sinful ways, exposing their evil. The Word of God is our Guidebook of Life, which holds much uncomfortable reading for sinners in the world – they hate that too. This is illustrated as more Christians are targeted in the West for standing up for their faith and the Word of God, and even taken to court.

Dear reader, under Satan’s hand hatred and persecutions are going to increase in coming years. I encourage you to be in much prayer and reading of His Word, to strengthen yourself each day for the trials now and those to come. Do not despair or bend under the hatred that Satan applies, for:

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Leven Beach, Fife at Sunrise.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB)

I was raised in a working class family, we weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either – for that I am thankful. My parents instilled a deep sense of gratitude in my life, knowing that there were others less fortunate than me. I am thankful for the many blessings in my life, especially my wife and family. My health in recent years has been up and down, but I am thankful for the blessings of each day. On Monday as I pulled into the carpark at Leven Beach to see the scene in the picture, my breath was taken from me as I got out the car and stood in awe of the beautiful sunrise. I was thankful to my Father God for the work of His hand painted before me that morning.

As I stood in prayer before the glory of the morning I knew that my thankfulness was not enough; I have so much more to be thankful for, and in greater depth. This single sunrise as beautiful as it was, was just the tip of His magnificent works of His hands in my life. He has lead me from certain death into the promise of life through His Son, my Lord and Saviour. As long as I follow His every step each day triumph is guaranteed in the Father’s timing. My Lord and Saviour is a beautiful Light, beyond that of any sunrise, shining from within me as I cling to Him. May this light shine forth touching those around me with Heaven’s rays of life. As I read the text “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” it reminds me of the fragrance of  my dad’s roses drifting across the garden; you could follow your nose to the source rose. As we waft the sweet aroma of Christ to those around us, it draws folk to us and to our Lord. To serve Him in this manner is a great blessing, the very best thing to be thankful for.

My dear reader, as we enter the season of Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for? The blessings of life may be few or many in this world, for which we thank our nearest and dearest, but what about your Father God? Have you began each day of your life in thanksgiving for His blessings to you, past present and those yet to arrive? Take note my friend, the triumph in your life comes after sharing His sweet aroma with others – who have you shared Him with today, in word or deed?

Our Strong Tower

St. Serf’s Tower, Dysart, Fife.
Photo by Alan Kearns.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Proverbs 18:10 (NASB)

Yesterday I was on the Fife Coast travelling between Leven and Kirkcaldy; in between these two is the harbour town of Dysart, where I took today’s picture of St. Serf’s Tower.

St. Serf lived between 490 and 550 mainly in the East of Scotland. He was said to be a native of Canaan, who travelled to Rome impressing the locals with his holiness of character. From there he travelled through Europe to reach Scotland, where he founded a religious community on an island on Loch Leven. In time he moved East founding another community in Culross (528). Eventually St. Serf retreated to caves near Dyart for prayer and meditation. He died in Dunning and was buried in Culross.

History aside, when I took the photo of the tower the worship song came to mind based on Proverbs 18:10. The world frequently use our Lord’s name as an expletive, which is both insulting and demeaning. It is name full of power, one which demons flee from when it is proclaimed by the Christian who follows Him each day. In the proclamation of His name we run into our Strong Tower (Jesus), where we are “safe.” The Hebrew word for safe being ‘piel’ which means to be safely set on high, exalted above our enemies. It is Him who sets us on high above our enemies, when we proclaim His name. What a powerful name!

Dear reader, in all problems/attacks, big or small, proclaim the name of your Lord and Saviour. Douse the flames of the evil one with the mention of His precious name, He will lift you up above the danger. Take it a step further by verbally proclaiming today’s verse, before praying for the situation. Rejoice brethren, in Him you are a conqueror.

Fishing With The Master

Edinburgh December 2018 https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.

John 21:5-6 (NASB)

How often have you been in distress, and busied yourself with some household job that needs doing? I remember when I worked in a nursing home in North Fife, the laundry room was in the loft with a window that looked over the peaceful River Tay. No one like doing laundry duty, but often it was taken on by those looking for some personal time during the night shift – it was a haven of rest that I used often, it was an effective prayer opportunity. In today’s portion of Scripture Peter and the other disciples needed to do some work to soothe their pain, thus they went fishing.

They fished all night and caught nothing, despite their collective knowledge of fishing on their coast. It is at this time, in the morning that they saw a man on the shoreline (Jesus) who stated the obvious fact  – they did not have any fish. He knew their boat was empty. I see the humour in it, that these experienced fishermen caught nothing, but Jesus tells them to just throw their nets over the side…immediately catching a seriously big haul of fish! They had tried on their own and failed, but with Jesus they were successful.

Dear reader, in whatever you are doing today, make sure you have Jesus involved in it. Whether it be just everyday household duties or work, you need His presence. Especially in Christian service, be it evangelism, preaching, or writing a devotional blog, Jesus is needed – without Him you will not catch many souls for the Kingdom.

The Lord’s Day Re-post – Rivers Of Living Water

This post from Chris Hendrix was a lovely blessing the first time I read it, and even inspired a post of my own (Spiritual Filters). I highly recommend Chris’s Devotional blog to you.

When I was 18, I was blessed with a camping trip to the Canadian Rockies with my brother and some friends. We stopped along the way to see the sights. One of them was the Continental Divide. There was a river that broke into two parts. For the first time in our lives, we saw […]

Rivers Of Living Water

Repentance by J.C. Ryle Review

Repentance (eBook)

Dear reader, I recommend this short but important book to you today. You can find this freely available as a PDF at many sources online, two of which are listed above for your reference. It is an easily read book in plain language by this great man of God.

J. C. Ryle was recommended by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli to be Bishop of Liverpool in 1880 where he then worked to build churches and mission halls to reach the whole city. He retired in 1900 at the age of 83 and died later that year. His successor described him as “a man of granite with a heart of a child.” (page 46).

The book is in four chapters, three of which are questions;

1. What is repentance?

2. Why is repentance necessary?

3. What is there to lead a person to repent? and finally

4. Conclusion. The Aneko version has a short biography of the author added to it.

The subject of repentance is one that has been on my heart lately, even as a believer in Christ of many years. We first hear of repentance when we first surrender to our Lord, and many think that is repentance completed. Indeed Satan lies to us often with this thought. Repentance is never completed on this side of heaven! “Sir,” said a young man to Philip Henry, “how long should a person go on repenting?” What did old Philip Henry reply? “Sir, I hope to carry my repentance to the very gates of heaven. Every day I find I am a sinner, and every day I need to repent. I intend to carry my repentance, by God’s help, up to the very gates of heaven.” (page 40).

Brethren, Satan does not want you to repent or even think of it. Arm yourself with a good understanding of repentance by reading this excellent book by J.C. Ryle – it will draw you closer to your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Repentance

Dunrobin Castle & Gardens, Golspie, Sutherland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Acts 3:19 (NASB)

Today I write about a subject that has been on my mind lately, one that we all need but often delay – repentance. The Hebrew word for repentance in the Old Testament is subh, and the Greek in the New Testament being metanoia. It can be described as turning away from sin to face God, with a wholeheart and soul. As believers our Christian walk truly begins with our repentance of sin in our life. Yet as humans we are always prone to temptation and the possibility of sin, thus repentance is clearly a regular part of life in our faulty humanity. We are not alone in this, the Apostle Paul speaks of his “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me⁠—to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul through his struggle with sin and repentance that he needed to be fully dependent on the grace of His Lord, which is also the case for us today. From this we learn that we need not fear the need for repentance, Almighty God shows us how to repent in the Old Testament.

In our reading of Old Testament history we find occasions where God changed His attitude to a people because of a change within the people. God as sovereign does not change but His relationship with people changes if they change towards Him. His relationship to them could go from negative to positive or from positive to negative, between blessing and judgement. (Exodus 32:14 , 1 Samuel 15:11, Jonah 3:9-10, 4:2). In contrast the change of attitude by men towards God is governed by their attitude to sin, be it in rebellion against God or repentance for sinning against God (2 Kings 17:13,Isaiah 19:22, Jeremiah 3:12, 14, 22, Jonah 3:10).

In the New Testament repentance and faith are two sides of the one coin, being the response to Divine Grace in Salvation through Jesus Christ. The response to Salvation must be a repentance that is more than a mere change of mind; but must be a transformation of the mind, attitude and outlook – a change in direction from sinful ways to follow Christ daily. It is clear within the gospels that the message of repentance is an important one, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17) was preached by both John the Baptist and Christ our Lord. Also He made it a priority to His disciples in their service of Him (Luke 24:7, Acts 2:38, 17:30).

An integral part of repentance is sorrow; but what type of sorrow determines whether what we have is real repentance. Worldy sorrow (remorse) is regret about the sin committed, which leads to nothing other than sorrow and eventually death (Matthew 27:3-5,2 Corinthians 7:10, Hebrews 12:17). On the contrary Godly sorrow in an individual leads to repentance, forgiveness and salvation as in the case of Peter denying Christ (Psalm 51:1-17, Luke 22:62). The good news for all believers is that our Father God is ready and willing to hear our cries of repentance:

“and if My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14

Dear reader, in this post I seek to encourage you not to fear or dread repentance. The presence of sin in your life does not mean you are not saved; you are a child of God living in an imperfect body in a sinful world. It is part of your daily life, as was the case for the Apostle Paul. Your enemy Satan will try to dissuade you lying to you that you won’t be forgiven, anything to keep you away from God your Father and Jesus your Lord. Lessen the recurrence of sin in your walk with God by remaining close to Him, filling your life with prayer and His Word – they are your most effective partners against sin and helping you repent when you stumble.

References

* The International Dictionary of the Bible,J.D. Douglas & Merrill C. Tenney, page 853.

* The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas et. al., pages 1083-1084.