A Test of Loyalty

Ben Loyal, Sutherland, Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”

Genesis 22 : 1 (NASB)

In my NASB Bible Genesis 22 is subtitled “The Offering of Isaac” which in my opinion does not reflect the true nature of this well known story. Each time I read it I am impressed by Abraham’s response to God’s test of his faith. In it we see God testing Abraham, to find out whether he remained loyal.

Three times Abraham is called, first by God, then by his son and finally by the Angel of The LORD (Genesis 22 : 1, 7 and 11). Each time he responds “Here I am.” In this he is saying that he hears and is willing to answer, and in the respect of God willing to obey His Word. In the circumstances of his test Abraham’s faithfulness is portrayed as an example to all who read this account. He does not question the Almighty but trusts Him to provide.

Dear reader, do you have total faith in God? In times of trial do you hear Him calling you either in His Word, through another person or in song? Our Father God uses circumstances to test us, to see whether we remain loyal to Him. Just as Abraham was rewarded for loyalty so will we be rewarded by our God, as we respond in prayer “Here I am.”

Calling on Him

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 12 : 8 (NASB)

As I was reading the early story of Abram (Abraham) I was struck by the significance of this verse, it is here that Abram recognises and celebrates the provision of God in his life. God had previously spoken to Abram, promising the land of Canaan to him and his descendants. Abram obeyed and, God kept His promise. To mark the occasion Abram seeks a high place to worship God where “he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.” This act of worship proceeds from God’s faithful provision and also preceeds His next Divine act of mercy, saving Abram and his family from a famine.

In Genesis 13 : 3-4 Abraham returns from his time in Egypt during the famine and seeks again to offer thanksgiving to God, where he had previously worshipped. In Genesis 22 : 33 Abraham plants a tree as a memorial of the covenant made at Beersheba between him and the Philistines for the well there, and “called upon the name of the Lord” in thanksgiving for His provision in the agreement. This also preceeds Abraham’s trial by God of sacrificing his only son Isaac, which he would have done if God had not stopped him. What a trial of faith! God rewarded Abraham’s great faith with a promise of many future descendants. As we see in these few verses Abraham was a man of God, worshipping Him in thanksgiving for His divine provision in all circumstances.

Dear reader, let us learn from Abraham and frequently call “upon the name of the Lord” in thanksgiving and worship for His provision for us each day. Even in times of strife and pain He provides for our needs in ways which may not be seen straight away, we must trust Him that He will show us His provision eventually. Like Abraham we can come in faith, presenting thanksgiving to Him in the tabernacle of our heart. He is our loving Father who hears us when we pray; when we call on Him He answers (Romans 10 : 13).

Method In Prayer – A Brief Review

In the last two days I have been blessed by reading “Method in Prayer” by the Reverend W. Graham Scroggie. His name is a blast from the past for me having read his writings several years ago as a young Christian. Thus it was a pleasant surprise to find this book on a reading list of recommended PDF books about prayer here. It is also easily available on Amazon, Abebooks and other retailers.

W. Graham Scroggie (1877-1958) was a Baptist minister, Bible expositor and author. He studied for the ministry at Spurgeon’s College, London and after early pastorates in England, he began his most influential ministry at Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh. He exercised an extensive travelling ministry in the British Isles and North America. His final pastorate was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, London. He wrote many books, mostly expository studies.

This is a relatively short book being only seven chapters and 172 pages, but do not be deceived by this compared to many lengthier volumes written on prayer. The first chapter is a brief introduction to the basic method of prayer, and the following chapters delve deeper into adoration, confession, petition, intercession and, thanksgiving in that order. What I am particularly enjoying in this book is the plain presentation of the subject, it is not pretentious or difficult to read yet it is clear that the Rev. Scroggie had a concise understanding of prayer and its facets. There are many books on the theology of prayer, I find this book to be very practical and instructive.

Dear reader, the writers I usually commend on prayer are Andrew Murray and E.M. Bounds. If you are serious about your prayer life I would sincerely commend “Method In Prayer” by the Reverend W. Graham Scroggie.

Cease Striving

Greyfriar’s Bobby, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

[a]Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the [b]nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalms 46 : 10 (NASB)

I was blessed this morning by my good friend Ruth’s blog post “Be Still”. The focus of her devotional poem is our verse but from the NIV Bible which is the most widely known version: “Be still, and know that I am God…” This verse encourages my heart as I enter day three of pain from a strained back. I responded with the comment, “Be still and know that I am God” is the battle cry of my soul in the strife and pain of life, it focusses my attention on eternal rather than fleeting matters.”

I like the NIV version but I was further encouraged by the NASB, which takes us deeper into meaning of the scripture. If like me you are tenacious in the face of difficulty you will always strive to better your circumstances, but God calls us to “let go and relax” (a). To use a well known phrase, “to let go and let God!”

Dear reader, your discomfort or pain like life is a temporary state of affairs. Father God uses these events in life to further our relationship with Him and Eternal welfare in His Kingdom. Such hope encourages us as believers in the grip of various trials, knowing that God will build us up through our pain.

Prayer Warriors Still Needed

The Lone Tree at Milarrochy, Loch Lomond, Scotland at sunset. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. EXODUS 17: 8-13.

This is a rewrite of an old post named “PRAYER WARRIORS REQUIRED” which was posted in June 2020. The original post went on to be my top viewed post of all my writing on WordPress. Having read it recently I felt it needed some changes and updating.

I was reminded of this story recently in my devotions, it is one where we encounter Moses as a Mighty Man of God. Before this battle the Israelites had seen Moses stretch out his staff in prayer, and God parted the sea saving them from their Egyptian pursuers. They soon forgot that deliverance and grumbled about hunger for bread and meat, God provided quails and manna. They grumbled again about being thirsty, Moses prayed and struck a rock and out gushed water. In their endless whinging the Israelites learned one thing, that when Moses prayed God answered.

The Amaleks were the first aggressors against Israel after the Egyptian army. It is here we first encounter Joshua, who will eventually replace Moses as leader. When the young man hears Moses’ plan to defeat the Amaleks he didn’t question it, he simply obeyed. Bible historians assume that the Israelites were armed thanks to the debris on the sea shore after the demise of the Egyptian Army earlier. Moses, Aaron (his brother) and Hur climbed to the top of the hill so that all the troops in the valley could see him.

As the battle began Moses lifted the rod of God and his hands to God in prayer. The Israelite army was encouraged, not by the rod or even by Moses, but by the knowledge that God listened to Moses. They knew God would answer Moses’s intercession as He had done in the past. But when Moses tired and his hands dropped so did the confidence of the Israelite army. This was an intense battle requiring hours of intercession by Moses; so it is often in our trials – much prayer is needed. It is Little wonder that Moses grew physically weak after a while. Aaron and Hur were there for this reason, to encourage and physically lift Moses when he flagged. They kept his hands and rod aloft for all to see, and importantly for God to see. The final result was a complete victory over the Amalek aggressors for the glory of God, and further evidence to the Israelites of their prayer answering God.

We can learn much from this story. The obedience of Joshua to Moses the man of God is not just commendable but a great example of faith in action. The encouragement that a praying Moses bestowed on the people is awesome. Moses sets a high standard in prayer that we can learn much from. There are many men and women who were fervent prayer warriors, just like Moses. An example was the Evangelist Evan Roberts whose prayer life reapt a huge harvest . Evan prayed for long hours into the early morning hours, beseeching God for a big harvest of souls across his whole country. Almighty God answered Evan Roberts with the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and at least 100,000 souls saved for the Kingdom! Do we believe as Moses did that God will answer prayer? How much of our personal time do we give to prayer? Take note from our scripture today that people of prayer require support. Do we know our church prayer warriors? Is there any way we can support them? Maybe you should join them!

Dear reader, there is a myth that goes around, that prayer is work for women and old people – this scripture story busts that myth for sure. There is nothing more manly than going to battle on your knees for God, it is the frontline of battle against Satan. Every soldier of Christ can step up to the battle line, irrespective of age, gender or physical ability. In these perilous days the church needs all the prayer warriors we can recruit, as we march into the End Times. Finally, my dear brethren answer His call – let us pray together!

Almighty God – My Father

Sunrise at Salen, Isle of Mull, Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 (NASB)

Today I am going to share something that has been on my heart to share for sometime, but I was waiting for His right time. God has shown me in my devotions that today is that time.

I was born and raised in a mining village to older parents than my peers. My mother was a daughter of God fearing parents of the Brethren, my father was the last in the Catholic line of his family who had been Irish imigrants. I never wanted for anything in the way of food or clothing, but it was obvious our family was different from my peers families. The main reason for this came from my father, he loved my mum but to me he was an abusive bully. My young life was filled with verbal, psychological and sometimes physical abuse. To me a Father was not someone who loved, yet I loved him and admired him greatly. But as I grew older my love became hatred and cynicism. When my dad died in 1986 rather than grief I had relief, followed by guilt. The years following this became a desperate strategy of personal survival, trying to rebuild my life from what I had.

I had heard the Gospel and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour in 1984, and tried desperately to lead a good life but my foundation was rotten. My past blocked me from understanding God my Heavenly Father, I did not really want another dad after my first experience. It took seven years of self preservation before a change happened, a miraculous one orchestrated by my Heavenly Father.

In 1993 through circumstances I found myself in Stockton-On-Tees in England, attending Lightfoot Grove Baptist Church. The pastor there was Rev. Tom Richters, a Godly man with a warm gentle heart. Meeting Christian men like Tom was part of my healing process, God was showing me there were good men who could be trusted. That year I was invited to join the fellowship in attending a Bible Camp in Malvern, Worcestershire. I was adopted for the event by the Evans family, Mark , Ali and their three kids.

The Malvern Hills, Worcestershire. (Photo from https://www.herefordtimes.com)

The Good News Crusade camp was in the shadow of the great Malvern Hills, in the Three Counties Showground. The fields filled up quickly with tents and caravans of Christians from all over the UK. The main speaker that year was Derek Prince. It was here that God was to do a mighty work in three days within my broken life. The first stage came in the prayer tent one early morning, as we finished an older gentleman approached me and gave me the verse “…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” telling me that God wanted me to know all was going to be well. I shared this tentatively with Mark and Ali with whom I had become close friends. The second stage came as I opened up to Mark and Ali about my past, and why it made it hard to receive the word of knowledge. They agreed to pray for me that day in their caravan whilst the kids were out playing, I remember that experience to this day. The Spirit descended on us as we prayed, I cried copiously as I surrendered my past to God. Then I was reminded of the word delivered to me in the prayer tent, at that moment I felt free for the first time in my life and began to laugh, praising God. That small caravan rocked as the three of us praised God that day, I was free!

The final stage in my transition from broken vessel to remoulded vessel came the next evening in the main service where to my surprise Derek Prince had quoted Nehemiah 8:10! At the appeal given by Derek Prince I felt that he was talking directly to me, I was aware that I was being called by God to dedicate my new healed life to Him. This was the first time I had surrendered all my life to God publicly, including my abuse and fears. That night as we praised God in the pavillion singing “All to Jesus I Surrender” my new life in Him was sealed by the Spirit and ready to begin.

Dear reader, I give my story not for my glory but for the Glory of Almighty God, my Father. His love is Holy and pure, covering all our pain and suffering. He wants us all to know Him as Father, one who truly loves His children and gives them good things. Through Him I have been blessed and shown how to be a father (and grandfather) myself. His hope is for each of His children to know these blessings through Him, despite the failings of birth parents. Finally, it is my sincere prayer that God will guide this story to those who need it, that He might heal them and bless them in His Love for them.

Gospel Seeds

Loch Rusky near Callander, Trossachs National Park, Scotland.      https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
James 4:14 (NASB)

“Man, who is born of woman,
Is short-lived and full of turmoil.
“Like a flower he comes forth and withers.
He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.
Job 14:1-2 (NASB)

Photo by Jason Long on Unsplash

In the early 1970s I was just a wee lad and my entire world was the streets and countryside around Dundonald, a Fife mining village. Coal was still king, as often seen by the many tendrils of smoke twisting their way heavenward each morning and evening. A few doors away was a football ground which had  banks around the pitch for spectators made of coal shingle from the pit. This black aggregate was warm in the summer months and sprouted many wild flowers, amongst which was hundreds of Dandelions. I remember the gentle pleasure of blowing the flower heads and watching the seed heads drifting into the blue sky, and being chastised by the groundsman if he caught me spreading their seeds. It was this distant past that I remembered as I was reading our verse from Job 14 : 1-2 this morning.

In my meditation I saw myself as a Dandelion sprouting on the warm ground, growing and reaching heavenward. My life flowers for a short season on earth compared to the vast Eternity before me. When my summer days are done like the Dandelion I will surrender myself to the winds of time, trusting that the my written seeds of His Gospel will find rest in another soul. Who really knows how far the seeds of the Gospel will fly and,  how many Heavenly flowers will flourish from them?

Dear reader, our life on this world is but a fleeting moment, a vapor on the waters of time. If you know and love Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, you are going to Heaven someday. In the time you have before that glorious day share your Good News, spread your Gospel Seeds on the wind. But if you are not a believer in Jesus yet, and want to go to Heaven I recommend this video message for you today. Finally be encouraged and act now, time is short.

A Walk and a Few Prayers

The afternoon sun looks inviting
Here we go …uphill

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
— Ephesians 6:18 (NASB)

Well I bit the bullet as the saying goes, and went out on this sunny but very cold afternoon for a wee walk. It turned out to not be my brightest idea with much of the woodland paths covered in sheer ice. The result being that a walk that would normally take 40 minutes took double that time as I baby-stepped my way most of the way.

What have I done!!?😲 Baby steps here!

I always refer to walking as a perfect time for prayer, on this occasion it was mostly desperate petitions for preservation from hitting the deck. Yet it was beautiful with the winter sunshine and winter flocks of mixed passerines flitting from tree to tree twittering as they went. I even had a sighting of the white tail of a Roe deer prancing up the woodland edge next to the stubble field.

This beautiful memorial bench was a good place to stop for some reflection and prayer.

Even under these treacherous icy conditions I had plenty opportunity to commune with our Father. Particularly at the bench pictured here, to the memory of a father and grandfather. I think such memorials are appropiate and very touching, I find myself praying for the individual and their family who obviously miss them dearly. As well as imagining the individual walking these same woodland paths I am reminded of our mortality, and the glorious future that awaits me some day in Glory Land.

Thank you for reading my afternoon ramblings, now excuse me while I go hug my mug of coffee and paracetomols!

Parental Prayers

The Three Sisters of Glencoe pictured from the River Coe, Scotland. https://www.facebook.com/SpectacularScotland

When the days of feasting had completed their cycle, Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

JOB 1 : 5 (NASB)

As a father and grandfather I appreciated this verse in Job yesterday. It shows a concern for the spiritual welfare of his children who had been partying celebrating their birthdays. As parents we are naturally anxious when our kids tell us they are going to a party, it is not that we don’t trust them but our years of experience tell us that temptations are never far away at parties. This is exactly what went through Job’s mind hundreds of years ago, the delights of parenting haven’t changed much!

As Godly parents we do do better than wringing our hands in worry, we have a living God who loves us and our family. The practice of Job was to consecrate his children through a morning service of cleansing and sacrifices to God in atonement for any known or unkown sins committed. By the benefits of the New Covenant through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ we can draw near to God each morning too, in prayer for our children. We can offer all our anxieties and cares to God, asking Him to guide and/or intervene in our children’s lives. Job was consistent and persistent in intercession for his children, so should we be for our children.

Our children may know and love God, which is a reason to be jubilant and thankful to God. But if they do not follow God it can be a heavy burden on the heart, I know this personally. Our prayers seem to go unanswered but we must cover them in patience and faith, He will answer in His perfect time whenever that may be (2 Peter 3 : 8). As children of God we have the assurance that He loves us and provides for us, answering our prayers as our loving Father (Matthew 7 : 7 – 11).

Dear reader, persist in your petitions for your loved ones to Almighty God. He hears our prayers, indeed He stores them until the time is right to answer them.

A Lifestyle of Worship

Earlier today I read David Kitz’s post Break Out In Song which spoke about the importance of music in worship, it is an encouraging read. Then I read this post by StopandPrayTV which is also about worship, and the importance of witnessing for our God. This post really thrilled my heart, I hope you like it too dear reader!

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:2 As I waited in the breakfast buffet line at a Christian conference center, a group of women entered the dining hall. I smiled, saying hello to a woman who stepped into the line behind me. Returning my greeting, she said, “I know you.” […]

A Lifestyle of Worship