Wednesday 3rd December 2008
"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." - Psalms 40:5
God, truly, has been moving in mighty ways in the past number of weeks, and, we cannot thank and praise Him enough for His "lovingkindness" that "endureth for ever." In the last while we have experienced far too many blessings to number. We can say only that, in an abundance of ways the Lord has answered prayer and blessed us, even in doing things for us that "we looked not for" (Isaiah 64:3).
However, the greatest blessing of them all has been to know the Lord Jesus Himself drawing near and going with us. Glory be to God, we have known an increased sense of the Lord's gracious presence, personally, and in ministry, and we praise Him without ceasing that His power and presence have been felt so evidently in our midst. We especially sensed the Lord near at the Revival Meetings both in Moy and Greenock (Scotland) and we have a desire and an appetite to know more of His gracious presence! (Isaiah 64:1-3).
Whatever blessings we can all count and praise God for, let us above all else exclaim with Paul: "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). God is so good and so faithful, indeed, we must acknowledge that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). But as we are taken up with our great gifts from His gracious hand, let us not make the mistake of many this Christmas time, who will fix their eyes on their gifts at the expense of the Giver.
May we be able to say with A.B. Simpson:
Once it was the blessing,
Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling,
Now it is His Word;
Once His gifts I wanted,
Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing,
Now Himself alone.
All in all for ever,
Jesus will I sing;
Everything in Jesus,
And Jesus everything!
May the LORD JESUS CHRIST be everything to you this Christmas and New Year and forevermore!
Monday 6th October 2008
Thank you so much for your continued prayers. We are enjoying the Lord's faithfulness as He answers your supplications for us. The Lord's provision has been mighty and constant - as He promised, and in recent days we have known fruit for our labours in the salvation of souls, the restoration of backsliders and the encouragement of God's saints.
"The Haven" Youth Mission in Killyman was a time of tremendous blessing when we sensed the Lord's presence with us very definitely. We thank Him that He was pleased to move among those who needed Him. Do pray continually for the pastor of the Independent Methodist Church in Dungannon, Robert Maxwell, who suffered serious spinal injuries and a fractured skull as a result of a fall off a roof.
We are looking forward in the Lord's will to a busy Autumn/Winter as you can see from this page. Do pray that on each occasion we will be "in the Spirit" bringing the messages that the Lord of the Churches would have us preach.
Do pray especially for the evangelistic opportunities coming up, especially the Poyntzpass Mission, that the Lord Jesus would be glorified as souls are drawn to Him.
Our house situation has not changed as yet but we KNOW we are in HIS hands. It is wonderful to know that whatever the reasons are for God's delay in this area, it is for our good and has got nothing to do with the current property crisis. What a blessing to have invested in "the Bank that will never go bust - Heaven!" and to have as Our Father in Heaven the One who "owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the wealth in every mine!" Nothing is impossible for Him! We simply must learn to wait for His time.
Monday 25th August 2008
Psalm 107:7, "And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation."
Thank you all for your prayers for us over the last number of months since leaving the Iron Hall. We really sense that we are being carried along by the providential hand of God and we believe His hand is often moving in answer to His people's prayers.
We have enjoyed a good rest over the summer, however, as you will see soon, the diary is getting busier and we are excited about the opportunities to serve Him in the days ahead. Do pray for safety as we travel and for unction as the Word of God is preached. We long to see people saved and the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ built up and revived.
Please pray especially for our house situation. In July we put our house up for sale and there has been some interest since but nothing definite as yet. We believe the Lord has told us to move, and indeed where to move to - so please pray with us that He will soon "bring it to pass."
I came across this hymn about guidance the other day when I was praying about the way ahead for us - I was encouraged. I hope this hymn will be an encouragement to some of you who are "wrestling on towards heaven, 'gainst storm and wind and tide."
Far off I see the goal -
O Saviour, guide me;
I feel my strength is small -
Be Thou beside me;
With vision ever clear,
With love that conquers fear,
And grace to persevere,
O Lord, provide me.
When'er Thy way seems strange,
Go Thou before me;
And, lest my heart should change,
O Lord, watch o'er me;
But, should my faith prove frail,
And I through blindness fail,
O let Thy grace prevail,
And still restore me.
Should earthly pleasures wane,
And joy forsake me,
And lonely hours of pain
At length o'ertake me, -
My hand in Thine hold fast
Till sorrow be o'er-past,
And gentle death at last
For heaven awake me.
There, with the ransomed throng
Who praise for ever
The love that made them strong
To serve for ever,
I, too, would see Thy face,
Thy finished work re-trace,
And magnify Thy grace,
Redeemed for ever.
Robert Rowland Roberts 1865-1945
Monday 14th July 2008
Preach The Word says: David's preaching schedule for August and September has been added to the blog page on the left hand side. Where possible, we have included links to the websites of the places he is going to speak at. If you're in the area, you would be most welcome to attend any of these meetings - directions can usually be found by visiting the relevant website, or using Google Maps or the AA Route Planner. Please use the information provided here to pray for the gatherings, and for David as he prepares for the pulpit ministry. Thank you!
Monday 23rd June 2008
All of us must admit that the practice of daily devotion is perhaps one of greatest struggles in our Christian experience. Most confess that they find praying the hardest thing of all. The question for many is how do we discipline ourselves to pray? Reading a book recently I came across the story of how, Dr. J. Sidlow Baxter once helpfully shared a leaf from his own pastoral diary with a group of pastors who asked just this question. I give you the full quotation courtesy of R. Kent Hughes.
"He began by telling how in 1928 he entered the ministry determined that he would be the "most Methodist-Baptist" of pastors, a real man of prayer. However, it was not long until his increasing pastoral responsibilities, administrative duties, and the subtle subterfuges of pastoral life began to crowd prayer out. He began to get used to it, making excuses for himself. Then one morning came a crisis, as he stood over his work-strewn desk and looked at his watch. The voice of the Spirit was calling him to pray, but at the same time another velvety little voice told him to be practical and get his letters answered, that he ought to face up to the fact that he wasn't of the spiritual sort, that only a few people could be like that. That did it! "That last remark," said Baxter, "hurt like a dagger blade. I could not bear to think it was true." He was horrified by his ability to rationalize away the very ground of his ministerial vitality and power.
That morning Sidlow Baxter took a good look into his heart, and he found that there was a part of him that did not want to pray and yet a part that did. The part that didn't was his emotions, and the part that did was his intellect and will. This analysis paved the way to victory. In Dr. Baxter's own inimitable words:
'As never before, my will and I stood face to face. I asked my will the straight question, "Will, are you ready for an hour of prayer?" Will answered, "Here I am, and I'm quite ready, if you are." So Will and I linked arms and turned to go for our time of prayer. At once all the emotions began pulling the other way and protesting, "We're not coming." I saw Will stagger just a bit, so I asked, "Can you stick it out. Will?" and Will replied, "Yes, if you can." So Will went, and we got down to prayer, dragging those wriggling, obstreperous emotions with us. It was a struggle all the way through. At one point, when Will and I were in the middle of an earnest intercession, I suddenly found one of those traitorous emotions had snared my imagination and had run off to the golf course; and it was all I could do to drag the wicked rascal back. A bit later I found another of the emotions had sneaked away with some off-guard thoughts and was in the pulpit, two days ahead of schedule, preaching a sermon that I had not yet finished preparing!
At the end of that hour, if you had asked me, "Have you had a 'good time'?" I would have had to reply, "No, it has been a wearying wrestle with contrary emotions and a truant imagination from beginning to end." What is more, that battle with the emotions continued for between two and three weeks, and if you had asked me at the end of that period, "Have you had a 'good time' in your daily praying?" I would have had to confess, "No, at times it has seemed as though the heavens were brass, and God too distant to hear, and the Lord Jesus strangely aloof, and prayer accomplishing nothing."
Yet something was happening. For one thing. Will and I really taught the emotions that we were completely independent of them. Also, one morning, about two weeks after the contest began, just when Will and I were going for another time of prayer, I overheard one of the emotions whisper to the other, "Come on, you guys, it's no use wasting any more time resisting: they'll go just the same." That morning, for the first time, even though the emotions were still suddenly uncooperative, they were at least quiescent, which allowed Will and me to get on with prayer undistractedly.
Then, another couple of weeks later, what do you think happened? During one of our prayer times, when Will and I were no more thinking of the emotions than of the man in the moon, one of the most vigorous of the emotions unexpectedly sprang up and shouted, "Hallelujah!" at which all the other emotions exclaimed, "Amen!". And for the first time the whole of my being - intellect, will, and emotions - was united in one coordinated prayer-operation. All at once, God was real, heaven was open, the Lord Jesus was luminously present, the Holy Spirit was indeed moving through my longings, and prayer was surprisingly vital. Moreover, in that instant there came a sudden realization that heaven had been watching and listening all the way through those days of struggle against chilling moods and mutinous emotions; also that I had been undergoing necessary tutoring by my heavenly Teacher.'"
Baxter's experience will be ours if we allow the Lord to enrol us in His school of prayer.
Monday 12th May 2008
In an address to Wisconsin State Agriculture Society in 1859, Abraham Lincoln told of an Eastern monarch who gave his counsellors an assignment to come up with a truth that would apply to all times and situations. After careful consideration, they returned with this sentence: "And this too shall pass away". Said Lincoln, "How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the hour of affliction."
Spring is a time when the old passes away and things become new. The change at spring-time can even have an effect on our personal temperament and mood. The darkness and dullness is gone and the cold and frost of winter's night has been melted by the soft warm rays of the summer's dawn.
What an object lesson we have here from nature. As Lincoln says, those of us who are taken up with selfish desires and proud optimism need to realise that we "know not what a day may bring forth". We live in an environment of change, therefore, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow". As we see time change and nature change we need to change too realising that we ought to boast alone in Christ and His cross. In the shifting sands of earth's seasons are we living for the Saviour or for self? As one has immortally said, "Only one life, t'will soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last!"
We learn also that the darkness of our personal winters will pass too. "And this too shall pass away". This is, indeed, in the words of Lincoln, "Consoling in the hour of affliction"; to know that for the believer God promises better things ahead. What a consolation this is, to know that those of us who, in life's winter, suffered sickness, pain and sorrow can know that one day it "will come to pass" in the warmth of a heaven sent summer.
Centuries before Lincoln, John the Apostle made a very similar point in 1 John 2:17 "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever." Even the nature around will pass away but the man or women who does the will of God, will abide forever.
Tuesday 8th April 2008
Since announcing our intention to depart from the Iron Hall this May and the intended faith basis of our future ministry, many have understandably remarked: "It's A Big Decision! A Huge Step!", and in many respects it is. However I have been continually reminded of the little chorus:
Bigger than all my problems, Bigger than all my fears,
God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see.
Bigger than all my questions, Bigger than anything!
God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see.
However big our decisions may seem, God is GREATER! Indeed our faith is very weak, and yet we are assured that the Lord Jesus will honour even a mustard seed size faith and do great things with it:
And Jesus said unto them...verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matthew 17:20)
As I shared at our recent church Annual General Meeting, our decision is one that we feel the Lord has directed us to over a period of years. Over the last 6 months to a year this has grown to a compelling level that we could no longer in all good conscience ignore. As Paul said to the Ephesian elders, "I go bound in the spirit..." Paul's future was unknown to him, as ours is to us - "not knowing the things that shall befall me there" (Acts 20:22). We only know that we are to take this first step of faith and the Lord will reveal the rest to us step by step. We only know that we believe that the Lord is calling us to an itinerant ministry of Bible Teaching and Evangelism. We do not know where we will worship, witness or even live and as a family we would value prayer for guidance regarding these issues.
I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the fact that there are no problems causing me to leave the Iron Hall. We have enjoyed our last 9 years in ministry with the fellowship there and wish to thank them all for their support and prayers. We have been overwhelmed by the expressions of kindness and encouragement since announcing our departure. We assure the congregation at the Iron Hall that they will all always have a special place in our hearts and we love them dearly in our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray the Lord of the Churches will continue to lead, guide and mightily bless the future days of the Iron Hall Assembly.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
Monday 7th April 2008
Welcome to this new page at preachtheword.com, a 'blog' or 'weblog' which I hope to use to keep you up-to-date about my ministry, and to make comments from time to time to challenge, encourage and bless you. Please check back regularly, and use the information here and in the preaching schedule on the left to help you pray more informatively.
This May we will embark on a new phase of our ministry, leaving the Iron Hall Assembly and stepping out in faith in a ministry of Bible Teaching and Evangelism. As a family we deeply appreciate your prayers for the future, and for the many decisions that must be made.