Keeping a Right Balance

Written by Steven Black on 03/11/2016. Posted in Articles

A false balance is abomination to the Lord:
but a just weight is his delight.

PROVERBS 11.1

Napoleon is said to have referred scornfully to the English people as a race of small shopkeepers. In this day of supermarkets and hypermarkets, the small shop is almost a thing of history. Considered as no longer having any commercial value, it has been swept away by the tide of what is called progress. In other days, God considered small shops of such importance that He inspected their affairs!
The Lord has an interest in the business ethics of businesses large and small. Few things are so disliked by God that they are called an abomination. Among those few things are the cheating merchant and his false balances.
The religion of many never reaches their store or their office or wherever they carry on their business. It never affects their dealings with others. It has no impact upon the quality of the service they render others. True religion will always influence us, our affairs, and those we encounter every day. It will make us persons with whom it is safe and pleasant to do business. The businessman or merchant who is converted to Christ will be “under new management”—a management whose policy is one of scrupulous honesty, a management that pays particular attention to the accuracy of the balances, a management that loves its customer as itself.
Such an honest policy pays. It really is true that honesty is the best policy. It will never cost you money or profit to honour God by maintaining His business standards and dealing with others as you would have others deal with you. God delights in a “just weight.” He also delights in those who “deal truly” (Prov. 12:22). Any venture in which God delights will surely prosper. The great Arbitrator of men’s affairs will see to it that “with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again” (Luke 6:38).

—I. F.

Honesty is one business policy that will never have to
be changed to keep up with the times.

Anonymous

THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM TYNDALE PART 2

Written by Steven Black on 23/10/2016. Posted in Articles

By Michael Hobbis,
CW Committee Member

Part 2 (of 3)

When we began to look at the life of Tyndale in Part 1, it was remarked that in terms of the recognition of his undoubted graces and abilities he was – and still is – surprisingly unacknowledged as the one man who possibly played the most

important part in the spiritual life and heritage of the English speaking peoples.

It has been suggested that this repression, even denial, of the importance of his contribution to this nation – and others – was due to his attachment to Martin Luther. Like Luther, Tyndale impresses the reader of his written works with his obvious disregard for the praise and plaudits of men and he fearlessly declared the whole counsel of God to Kings, prelates and the common man alike. He did not

bow to the traditions of the professing Church; but emphasised that Christianity is the freedom and liberty of the individual from the traditions and lordship of prescribed religion in his access to his Redeemer and Creator.

True Christianity has always been perceived as a threat to the political and religious powers – the rulers and Kings of the earth. In his works The Practise of Prelates and The Obedience of the Christian Man, he put Christ and His laws before a desire for fame and honour. In short, like Luther, he would not toe the party line. As with John the Baptist who, 2000 years before, reproved Herod, Tyndale reproved King Henry VIII for his divorces and adulteries and exposed the corruptions of the professing Church.

Whether or not this is a correct assessment of the reasons for the world overlooking Tyndale’s true service for his Lord and Master – two obvious facts are before us. Firstly, that many people today are ignorant of the part he played in the revival and reformation of true faith in England. Moreover, for those who choose to search Google today for the description of Tyndale’s translation work, very often it will be erroneously suggested that the work of translating the New Testament from Greek to English was due in large measure to one George Roye, an associate; a man who – far from being an indispensable help – proved to be something of a burden and hindrance. Not only did Roye plagiarise and corrupt Tyndale’s work, but he did not even understand Greek. He took upon himself, without asking Tyndale, a revision of the translated New Testament and in doing so made many mistakes.

A second undeniable fact is that in the work of translating the King James Bible of 1611, those translators used about ninety per cent of Tyndale’s New Testament. They were undoubtedly Godly and learned men and performed a valuable work. Yet in the long preface of the translators to the reader in all their acknowledgements of their helps and sources, from works such as the Septuagint and other translations, the name of Tyndale is never mentioned; even though they were indebted to him for the major proportion of their work in translation.

These men were in the main Churchmen, seeming to slight the man who under God gave us the words Jehovah; Passover; scapegoat; shewbread; peacemaker; mercy seat and many other now familiar words in our AV Bible. We owe to William Tyndale phrases now firmly fixed in common parlance – e.g.salt of the earth; powers that be; the patience of Job; the scales fell from their eyes – and hundreds more.

What perhaps is even less well known is that we also, by the grace of God, owe to Tyndale much of our English prose style. His gifts of language were such that he brought rhythm, cadence,

suppleness and lucidity into English prose. This has been noted by David Daniell who said of this man – “Such flexibility, directness, nobility and rhythmic beauty showed what language could do.”

This man not only coined new words but gave us a prose style used by Shakespeare and many other succeeding literary ‘greats’; whereas old English, because of strong Latinate influences, was harsh and scholastic. Now Tyndale, in his translation of Greek and Hebrew, brought into English a freshness introducing the influences of the Greek and the Hebrew, the very languages which God chose as the vehicles to convey His infallible inspired truth. He translated the Old Testament into English as far as Chronicles and in doing so stated that he could virtually place word for word in translating the Hebrew since the similarity was so great between these two languages. In Tyndale’s day 6,000,000 people spoke English – now it is about 600,000,000; all these owe to Tyndale those beneficial blessings from his translating work.

One of the saddest effects of the modern Bible versions today is in their seeking to be relevant to the post-modern man. This new mode of thinking, with its contemporary relativism and all that goes with it, jettisons the clarity and softness of Tyndale’s ‘Biblical’ English, replacing it with the harsh grating coarseness of a modern speech, which seeks to run from all ideas of godliness as fast as it can. We only have to consider some modern day expressions to realise that language really does reflect the spiritual state of a nation and men’s souls.
I make no apology for having taken up so much space out of this account of the life of this brother in Christ in order to emphasise the massive debt that we all in this land owe by God’s grace to the life and work of one man; viz, William Tyndale. Some men’s works go before them; other’s follow after.

We last left Tyndale still in England, but having the increasing burden to give the Scriptures to every Englishman, in a translation as faithful and accurate as possible.

He had been advised to approach Bishop Tunstall in London in order to get him to sponsor Tyndale in his translation work. Tunstall had been a friend of Erasmus, so he had reason to hope for a good reception. Taking with him an example of his own Greek translation, he approached this influential Prelate. But Tunstall, probably fearing that the Bible translated might open the gates to he knew not what, rebuffed him with excuses. He was also a politically astute churchman and could foresee dangers from this zealous evangelical. It was while in London that William Tyndale met John Frith and both men were ever after good friends. In truth it was believed that Frith was born into the true faith through the influence of Tyndale – in future days he referred to him as “my son in the faith”. After some preaching in various London churches, he became aware of the dangers on every hand for those who proclaimed the pure truth of the Gospel. Seeing many whose eyes God had opened taking their journey to Europe, he took what books and papers he could and with financial help from Humphrey Monmouth, a merchant, he went to Hamburg, Germany in 1524, never to return to England again.

Because of the need to keep his whereabouts secret, the actual details of his European journeys are vague. At some stage he met with a wandering English friar, William Joye, who had been affected by the preaching of the Gospel. He performed the function of an assistant in Tyndale’s attempts to arrange the printing of his new translation. (This man should not be confused with the previously mentioned George Roye whom Tyndale met at a later stage in his European journeying.) Unfortunately, Joye proved an embarrassment, as he had a penchant for writing rhymes against the Pope, the King, Wolsey and others; this was trouble Tyndale did not need and he eventually parted from him. Meanwhile, they travelled from Hamburg to Wittenburg, where he probably met Luther – and then to Cologne. While there, the translation and printing of the New Testament began. However, one John Cochloeus, who considered himself chosen by God to strongly oppose Luther and the Reformation, set his sights on Tyndale and betrayed him to the authorities. Tyndale and Joye gathered together what printed sheets they could and took flight down the Rhine to Worms. Due to the sphere of Luther’s influence, they were much safer there. We learn all this from the commentary of the enemy, Jon Cochloeus, in his work Acts and Writings of Luther, wherein he writes of this encounter with Tyndale.

In Worms, printers such as Peter Schoeffer were quite willing to print for Tyndale. Whereas previously Tyndale had planned to print 3,000 New Testaments, now he intended 6,000. These were taken by German merchants into England and distributed with the aid of one Thomas Garret, who was later martyred. Henry and Cardinal Wolsey were only too aware of these translations coming in, but mostly were outwitted by the merchants who were also bringing in Luther’s works. Tyndale and Joye were at Worms for some two years and Joye, eventually becoming too troublesome, they parted, with Joye going to Strasburg. The first New Testaments came to England in 1526, towards the end of February. As has been mentioned, it is a matter of some uncertainty as to the exact movements of Tyndale, as his aim was to remain in relative obscurity to avoid any dangers. However, it is recorded on every hand that he met with Luther and seems to have been greatly impressed by him.

About this time, with the planning of a merchant friend of Tyndale, Tunstall began buying the Bibles from the merchants and then burning them. This providentially worked in Tyndale’s favour as now he had the money to print more – and gave himself to further revision and translation. Tunstall expended vast sums of money for a time before he became aware that his money was being used to further and perfect this work of translation. Of all the thousands of copies which found their way into England, the very few which remain today are in museums and libraries.

Tyndale not only worked at translation, but while moving from place to place wrote The Practise of Prelates, which was a scathing rebuke of the abuses in the Churches. He also wrote The Obedience of the Christian Man. These works found their way into the hands of the common man and the King of England and a New Testament also was placed in the hands of another almost equally famous personage, which we shall discuss in the third and final part of the life of this valiant champion of Christ and His Truth.

_______________________________

“As the stars do not make heaven, but only decorate and adorn it, even so works do not merit Heaven, but adorn and decorate the faith which justifieth.” Luther

Rejected Confidences

Written by Steven Black on 15/10/2016. Posted in Articles

The Lord hath rejected thy confidences.

JEREMIAH 2:27

Proud flesh has no place in the work of God. That message is not a popular one nowadays, when even professed ministers of Christ have jumped on the humanistic bandwagon of self-love, self-esteem, self-expression, and self-gratification. However, it is still the message of God, and people desperately need to hear it.
The Lord rejects all confidence in the flesh for salvation. Some people have an easy confidence that it is well with their souls. They rest in carnal security. They fear no judgment, for they have never felt any great burden of sin. They have easy methods of dealing with guilt, ranging from denial, to vain excuses, to blaming someone else, to adopting just enough religion to salve their conscience. Such people may expressly state their dependence on their own good works. Or they may place their confidence in a “decision” that has never yielded a true heart relationship with Christ. In all these cases, unsaved people are confident of their soul’s salvation. To all such, today’s text comes as a thunderbolt: “The Lord hath rejected thy confidences.” If you would be truly confident of your salvation, you must come to the end of yourself and unreservedly cast yourself upon the merits of Christ. Only in and through Him have you access to and acceptance with God.
The Lord also rejects all confidence in the flesh for Christian service. It is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). This condemns so much of what masquerades as Christian service nowadays—the Hollywood entertainment, the preacher personality cult, the man-centred messages. On the other hand, the Lord’s rejection of all such reliance on the flesh is an encouragement to all of us who desire to see a genuine work of the Spirit. We may confidently trust the Lord’s promise that we have access to Him and His power through the blood of Christ (Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19). He rejects all confidence in the flesh, but He rewards all true confidence in Christ.

Alan Cairns

A Light for Dark Days

Written by Steven Black on 26/09/2016. Posted in Articles

Who is among you that feareth the Lord, … that walketh in darkness?… Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. ISAIAH 55:10

Somehow the notion has spread abroad that true Christians should never endure periods of darkness, trial, or trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trials will come to every Christian. Satan will attack every Christian. When these things occur, we can become very confused and distressed. It appears that the Lord has forsaken us. Is that your experience today? Are you an heir of heaven walking in darkness? Today’s text has a word for you.

Dark days are not necessarily a judgment on sin. Isaiah addresses those who fear the Lord. They obey the voice of His servant. This is a description of a believer walking according to the Word of God. Yet he walks in darkness. He is fighting a spiritual battle that depresses his soul. He reads his Bible but receives no light. He prays but obtains no relief. The devil tells him that all this is God’s judgment on him and that He has forsaken him. Our text brands that as a lie. Faithful Christians face dark days. So what is the answer? Will the Lord leave a believer in such a condition indefinitely? No, but He may allow the darkness to continue until the necessary lesson of faith has been learned. What is that lesson? It is that we are not to base our assurance on good feelings or prosperous circumstances, but on the character and Word of our God. If you are compassed about by doubt or darkness, stay, or lean, upon the Lord. Trust Him. He will not fail you or forsake you. Stand upon His promises, and light will arise in the darkness.

Alan Cairns

THE LIFE AND WORK
OF WILLIAM TYNDALE

Written by Steven Black on 06/09/2016. Posted in Articles

By Michael Hobbis,
CW Committee Member

Part 1 (of 3)

image001The enemy is at the gates
As I write, a Roman Catholic Cardinal has, after almost five centuries and with full permission of Her Majesty the Queen of England, engaged in a vespers service in the very chapel at Hampton Court where Henry VIII worshipped. The same Henry who, in the wonderful providence of God, dismissed Cardinal Wolsey from office as his advisor and confidant and repudiated the Pope of Rome and all his ways. Some would say that this was merely in a fit of pique because he desired a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, however, as we study the life of our subject, William Tyndale, we shall see that he had more than a little influence in this breach with Papal authority, by the grace of Him who turneth the heart of Kings; whithersoever He will (see Proverbs 21:1).

This then is surely a fitting time to remind ourselves of the goodness of God in raising up such a one as William Tyndale, now that we appear to have come to a period in our contemporary history when, once more, the darkness of ignorance, superstition and false religion threatens to envelop us again.

That the Authorised Version of the Bible, referred to by some as the King James Bible, has been that great work which has had more influence upon the religious life of this nation than any other translation of the Word of God, is surely a matter beyond dispute. This nation owes much to the work of this one man who, in his service for Christ and in the strength of His grace, brought back to this nation the pure Word of God and so laid the foundation for the prosperity of its people all over the British Empire.

It is also a generally accepted fact that 80 % (some would claim 90%) of the King James Bible rests on the original translating work of William Tyndale from 1525 – 1535.

A poor wise man raised up
What is truly amazing – and this probably says much about the self-effacing character of Tyndale – is that until the Annals of the English Bible written by Anderson in 1845 – and apart from the Acts and Monuments of John Foxe – little was known or written about him. “The poor wise man” of the little city in Ecclesiastes chapter nine delivered the city by his wisdom and no man remembered him. In comparison with the mighty effects of the grace of God through him, how little is this 16th century English poor man William Tyndale regarded either. Yet possibly no man had a greater effect for good in the spiritual life of this nation than Tyndale.
When we study his life we can trace the finger of God in providentially using his Godly servant to give to the people of this nation – and we may say the English speaking world – the Words of life and salvation in their common tongue. By means of the diligent work of mainly one man, this country in the 16th century was brought into the light by the Holy Spirit of God spreading the truth of Holy Scripture throughout the land and bringing soul- refreshing views of Jesus and His Word to the hearts of thousands, dispelling the darkness of a fetid and soul-destroying religion and also bringing the Reformation of the Christian religion in Europe to these islands.

To build up again “the waste places
As this blessed and green and pleasant land is again turning back into pre-Reformation darkness, let us in the same spirit as Tyndale seek to do what we can to remind our fellow citizens of that great Christian heritage, which came about through the mercy of God in turning back a floodtide of impiety and spiritual falsehood and bringing that Word of light and life, the Bible, to the common man. Tyndale was “a repairer of the breach, a restorer of paths to dwell in”; so by the power and grace of God may we too seek to “raise up the foundations of many generations”. Perhaps this account of Tyndale’s life of self-sacrificing service for Jesus may be an encouragement to us to go and do likewise. To fight in the might of Christ against all the powers of darkness, alone as far as human agency is concerned: but always with Jesus who said: “I am with you alway”. Isaiah 58: 12; Matthew 28: 20
Let us then examine the life of this Christian martyr for Christ and His Word: who though “being dead yet speaketh.”

The early years
Much of Tyndale’s early life is shrouded in the mists of time. However, we do know from Foxe and other researchers that he was born in Gloucester around 1490 – 1495 and there is documentary evidence that he lived at one time in the village of Slymbridge with his brother Edward, who was fined by the Star Chamber in 1530 for assisting William in the circulation of the translated New Testament with two other brothers.
Tyndale was born at a time when the priests were entrenched in their hypocritical forms of religion e.g. relics, masses, the kissing of St Thomas’s shoe, pilgrimages, worshipping the image of “Our Lady of Walsingham” and other abominations.
However, at this time of Tyndale’s early life, all forms of the pretence of reverence and faith had gone and now these evil clergy openly mocked both themselves and the credulous people for the empty rites they knew them to be. It is said that in this age when the Scriptures were virtually unknown that Gloucester was chief in England for this sham religion of deliberate hypocrisy.
From his early days Tyndale showed a remarkable gift for learning languages and it is said that he could think and converse in seven languages as if they were his mother tongue. He was also held in much esteem for his good character, even among his enemies. Sir Thomas More, no friend of his, said of Tyndale before he finally left England: Tyndale was well known for a man of right good living, studious and well learned in the Scripture. Like Daniel many years before him, men could find nothing against him – unless it be concerning his God.
We know that Tyndale went up to Oxford where he came under the influence of one John Colet, a man who, as friend of Erasmus, had travelled around Europe studying Greek and preaching the Gospel. Now imbued with the Reformers zeal, he began to teach the Epistles of Paul at the university.
By the time Tyndale attended Oxford in 1510, Colet had already left – in 1505; nonetheless his influence remained and had an effect upon the young Tyndale. What made Tyndale different from Reformers such as Latimer, Cranmer and others was his total understanding of the Gospel of grace. His spiritual perception of its truths were clear and undimmed, unlike many who came into the dawn of the Reformation with less clarity of thought – seeing “men as trees walking”. Others were cautious and conservative, whereas Tyndale was bold and valiant for the truth – and, while not careless, he was fearless. He was, it seems, greatly impressed by Erasmus and, just as this world famous scholar was, he began to have the burden on his heart that the Scripture of Truth must be given to the common man in his own understandable tongue.
It seems scandalous to us now that even the priests could not understand the Latin they intoned. And so it was too to Tyndale, who later wrote himself that many of these blind guides could not translate one line of the Lord’s prayer from the Latin. Such was the miserable darkness and captivity of mind that the ordinary man laboured under. If his teachers could not read or understand the Scripture, what hope for the common man!
Tyndale began to preach and promote the Gospel while at Oxford, instructing his fellow students in its truths. He then left Oxford for Cambridge at – it seems – the right time, for Foxe wrote that he went – spying his time. (It was quite dangerous at that time to engage in the promotion of the Gospel). At any event, arriving in Cambridge, he again came under the influence of Erasmus and Colet who had been there before him. He also made the acquaintance of Bilney who, as we know from his letters to Bishop Tunstall, was soundly converted. Both seemed to have a mutual love for the Word.
When he left Cambridge is unclear, but, it is believed to have been around 1521 and he took up the position of tutor/chaplain in the household of Sir John Walsh in Little Sodbury – not far from his own birthplace. Sir John was a comparatively wealthy man of some influence with court and in the nation. Consequently, many Abbots – and other men of renown – were visitors to the house. Tyndale, it seems, being under the wing of this powerful man, was fairly secure from his enemies – men were still being cruelly put to death for what was termed “heresy”. He lived almost as a family member and came into frequent contact with these men, often disputing with them and confounding their superstitious opinions and corruption of the truth from the Scriptures.
At this time – and as a defence of his own position – he translated the work of Erasmus – Enchiridion Militis Christiani – Manual of a Christian Soldier. Written by Erasmus in 1501, it ridiculed the ritual and superstitious observances current in religion and had become famous all over Europe.
This was the first of Tyndale’s translating efforts whereby he used his pen as his sword to bring to men an even sharper sword. He gave the book to his master John Walsh and his wife who, after reading it, closed their doors to all the monks and prelates who had been such frequent visitors and discouraged them from attending.
It appears that his master and mistress were won over by this means to Christ and true religion. He preached in and around the local villages the pure Gospel of Christ, as he had opportunity. However, his main desire to take the written Word to the populace in their own common tongue was becoming uppermost in his heart. This involved his self-imposed exile to Europe and his eventual martyrdom which we shall discuss in our next issues.

Statue of
Tyndale in Victoria Embankment Gardens, London

 

 

THE LIFE AND WORK
OF WILLIAM TYNDALE

THE BIBLE STANDS

Written by Steven Black on 29/08/2016. Posted in Articles

Every word of God is pure.

                                                                                                                                                                          PROVERBS 30:5

It cannot be otherwise. The Holy Scriptures are holy because their Author is holy. They are the “oracles of God.” An oracle is something that is spoken. Every word from the mouth of Him who cannot lie must be absolutely pure. The God of Truth has spoken. How unthinkable that His Word be tinged with falsehood! God has graciously revealed Himself. How dreadful the consequences if that divine revelation was marred with inaccuracies! J. C. Ryle put it succinctly: “Once admit the principle that the writers of the Bible could make mistakes and were not in all things guided by the Spirit, then I know not where I am. I see nothing certain, nothing solid, nothing trustworthy in the foundations of my faith. A fog has descended on the Book of God, and enveloped every chapter in uncertainty!”

Let us hold fast to the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible. No other book has been so tried and tested. “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). The divine volume has been cast into the furnace of the fiercest criticism. It has passed through the hottest of fires; yet it has come forth without even the smell of burning upon it. “Come,” C. H. Spurgeon challenged, “search, ye critics, and find a flaw; examine it from its Genesis to its Revelation and find an error. This is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz or any earthy substance. This is a star without a speck; a sun without a blot; a light without darkness; a moon without paleness; a glory without a dimness.” Rejoice, Christian. The foundation of God standeth sure!

The Rev. Michael Patrick,
Port Lincoln, South Australia

The Word of God is perfect; it is precious
and pure; it is Truth itself.

MARTIN LUTHER

THE BIBLE STANDS

URGENT PRAYER NEEDED FOR OUR NATION

Written by Steven Black on 10/08/2016. Posted in Articles, Prayer

GUIDANCE NOTES FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Please circulate and share with others

      ♦ What is my own personal standing before the Lord? For Almighty God to hear my prayer for the Nation, I myself need to be in a right relationship with Him. We come before God’s Throne of grace trusting not in our own righteousness but His Mercy.

      ♦ Psalm107:34 “A fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.” Proverbs14:34 “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”

      ♦ Pray most especially for the repentance of the nation and that people may come to truly know the Lord and follow Him. May there be heartfelt repentance at the neglect of His Church and His Laws.

      ♦ We have driven the Lord Jesus Christ out of our culture, out of our Government and out of the education of our children. In the void, we have replaced Him with idols, greed, carnality, materialism and immorality. We have polluted the land with pornography, profaned the sacred and sanctified the profane. No nation that does this can expect God’s blessing of protection to remain.

      ♦ Many people are increasingly frightened by events around them. This world and this country is in turmoil. Nationally, we are in a mess socially, morally, politically, economically and spiritually. Pray that people may humbly seek God’s guidance and help regarding these issues.

      ♦ Pray for the protection of the nation from acts of terrorism and that God may show mercy rather than judgement upon a nation that has rejected His Laws and Commandments. We urgently need His blessing of protection from the threats around us and within.

      ♦ A nation or society will reap what it sows. Ask that God may open the hearts and minds of the spiritually blind in order that they may see that the way of salvation, peace and safety lies in following Him.

      ♦ Pray that the Lord may raise up Godly people to take on positions of responsibility and influence. The Church is a battleship – and not a passenger liner – which means that every devout “able-bodied” Christian has a role to play in some way. Pray that Christians may recognise their responsibility to be a strong Christian witness wherever they are. Every Christian is a missionary and every unbeliever a mission field.

      ♦ Pray for the Queen, Royal family and political leaders. Pray that God will raise up more Christians to guide and direct the thoughts of the nation. The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. For example, pray that the Lord may call more Christians to be Pastors and clergy, politicians and journalists, Judges, Magistrates and law makers, teachers, Councillors, School Governors, nurses and doctors etc, in order that a Christian influence may extend throughout every strata of society.

      ♦ Pray for greater support for Christian-run charities, missionary societies and organisations both at home and overseas.

      ♦ Pray that, while being bold in our Christian witness, we remain gracious, kind and loving towards those with whom we disagree.

      ♦ Pray for those Christians who have lost their jobs or livelihood because of their faithfulness to Christ.

      ♦ Pray that the issues arising out of the EU referendum will drive us toward, rather than away, from God. Pray that God in His Providence will over-rule the events of these troubled times to advance His Kingdom.

In conclusion, as Christians, we seek God’s mercy, forgiveness, healing, restoration, protection and revival upon our nation. A true spirit of repentance will result in such blessings. Let us be encouraged by the moving promise in II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Take heart and be of good courage. The Lord can save by many or by few – see II Chronicles 14:11. Also remember the story of Gideon and his 300 (Judges ch.7) and the re-assurance given to weary and distressed Elijah when the entire nation seemed all but lost. (I Kings 19:11-18).

Suggested Bible readings: Joel 2 v 12 onwards; Isaiah 58; Isaiah 59 v 1-8; Jonah 3; Psalm 130; Daniel 9 v 4-19

“O God, Who has graciously preserved our nation through two World Wars, and hast led us in wondrous ways; we confess that as a nation we have turned far from Thee and have neglected our national responsibilities before the world; we have misused the liberty for which men and women gave their lives; we have pursued pleasure and not the living God; we acknowledge that Thou will not bless or deliver our nation from the future enemy until we have returned to Thee. Therefore we entreat Thy Divine Majesty to turn the hearts of the people of this nation to true repentance. Purge out the sins that dishonour Thee. Give us true religion; crown our faith with righteousness, and lift us up, a holy people, to Thy praise and honour, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

Please do share these prayer topics, readings and the above information with other Christians so that they, too, can use them and be encouraged in spirit.

Rev. J. Willans,
Vicar of Christ Church, Brockham, Surrey.

URGENT PRAYER NEEDED FOR OUR NATION

Caught in the Storm

Written by Steven Black on 05/08/2016. Posted in Articles

‘But the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea.’

JONAH 1:4

In Mark chapter 4 we see Christ stilling the storm that had terrified the apostles. Here we find Him sending a great wind into the sea. It is strange to see the Lord on the one hand stilling a fierce storm and on the other sending one. But as the hymn writer has noted, the wind and waves obey Him.

The Lord never sends a storm without a very good reason. In Jonah’s case it was because he was going in the direction opposite to where the Lord had sent him. He had to learn that he could not deliberately disobey God with impunity. To teach him that lesson, the Lord sent out such a storm into the Mediterranean Sea that no effort made by the most experienced sailors could avail in the unequal struggle between the waves and the helpless vessel being tossed about as a plaything.

Perhaps you are passing through stormy waters at this period of your life. You are not in the midst of the Mediterranean, but there is such a storm raging in your heart that you feel you cannot go on any longer. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, once passed through a fierce conflict. He knew the Lord wanted him to go to the interior of China, but he was afraid to lead workers there lest the venture should fail utterly. His inner conflict was so intense that he thought he was going to lose his reason. At last Taylor was brought to a full surrender to God, and the subsequent work led to the salvation of multitudes of Chinese people.

Has the storm in your life been caused by your refusal to surrender to the Lord and obey His voice? “Go through with God.”
Rev. Gordon Ferguson,
Kilkeel, N.I.

There is no art that can elude or baffle the messengers
of Him who is the Judge of the quick and the dead.
HUGH MARTIN

(From: Eagles’ Wings Daily Devotional
Edited by: Alan Cairns)

ASCRIBE YE GREATNESS UNTO OUR GOD

Written by Steven Black on 14/07/2016. Posted in Articles

Deuteronomy 32: 1-4

By: Michael Hobbis
CW Committee Member

These Scripture verses are part of the song of Moses. It is said that this song of Moses will be sung in Heaven and are the directly inspired words given to him by the Holy Ghost; that is from the very lips of Jehovah. As David also said: “The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and His word was in my tongue.”

These opening verses give us a sense of the awe with which we should approach this Scripture. Words which are meant to bring the very fear of God into our hearts and minds. Words which speak of God’s majesty and power. These words are spoken by THE WORD – even Christ the great I AM.

Give ear, O ye Heaven, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of My mouth. Who is to listen? All the inhabitants of Heaven and earth which He created; “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.” Psalm 33: 8.

These words of instruction, for that is what they are, will have differing effects (see 2 Timothy 3: 16). The manifestations of God’s communication to men are often compared to rain in its many forms. The Hebrew here, it seems, implies the gentle rain of the still small voice of God; to the sweeping rain of tempestuous gales. From the almost imperceptible dew of the applied doctrine, the Holy Ghost silently works in the hearts of men; sometimes sealing their instruction even as they sleep: to the drops of the angry voice of God’s wrath, heavy storm drops multiplied beyond calculation. Such is the living and powerful Word spoken by God; dividing asunder the very soul and spirit of man. Hebrews 4: 12.

Christ our Rock
In the following song, the word ‘Rock’ is mentioned many times. Who is that Rock but Christ? – “For who is God, save Jehovah? and who is a rock save our God?” 2 Samuel 22: 32. That same Rock is the One who followed the children of Israel as they journeyed. The following words of the song of Moses, the man of God, speak of the goodness of God to His people in His leading, protecting and feeding them and their sinful returns to Him by their turning aside and ingratitude. The ‘rock’ of the heathen is compared to their Rock, the True God. Finally, as an epilogue to this song, and in demonstration that the very best of men are but men after all, Moses is told to ascend mount Nebo, where he is to behold the land with his eyes, but tragically will never set foot upon it because of his transgression at Meribah.

Giving to God the Glory
All this sad, but awesome and glorious song, accentuates the holiness, mercy and justice of God, set against the blackness of man’s rebellious course. Now we are commanded here in verse 3 to “ascribe greatness to God”; we must ask what this truly means. To ascribe is to attribute or assign something to a person. Firstly, in spiritual terms, it is to give unto God the glory due to His name. Moses says here: Because I will publish the name of Jehovah: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.

This act of ascribing greatness unto Jehovah God is to be undertaken here on earth and it will be the theme of Heaven – we might say it will be the very atmosphere of Heaven. Revelation 7: 9-12. Natural man would never be happy in Heaven, having no capacity to see God as reconciled to him: but rather as a consuming fire. Having no delight in his Creator he will not, let’s say cannot, delight in glorifying God.

We know of men, men of earthly power and renown, who have been destroyed for not ascribing greatness to God. Herod, who after making a vain oration to the people, was destroyed by Divine visitation; because when those same people attributed divinity to him, he did not return the glory to God Who gave him breath. In a like manner was Nebuchadnezzar humbled for a season for his pride – and yet finally and happily ascribed to Jehovah the glory due to His name. Acts 12: 20-23; Daniel 4:34.

It was Belshazzar before whom God’s hand wrote out his doom upon the wall in the midst of his sacrilege and idolatry; although he had known of the humbling of his father Nebuchadnezzar for his pride. Daniel interpreted God’s message to Belshazzar telling him – “and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” This same Belshazzar was deposed and killed, according to the writing, in the same night. Daniel 5:30. Each time you and I display pride and self–sufficiency, we are in effect stealing the glory which alone belongs to God. “I am Jehovah: that is My Name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” Isaiah 42: 8.

Our Joy in Earth and Heaven
Since our eternal delight in Heavenly places will be to attribute to God greatness, power and glory, then we should surely be much engaged in that pleasurable work now; remembering that all things in Heaven and earth were created for His holy pleasure, and we especially, as the Redeemed, are saved to the praise of His glory and grace for all His love, mercy and kindness to us.

In the paraphrased words of Psalm 92: Sweet is the work my God and King, To praise Thy Name give thanks and sing… We sing Psalms and hymns to His glory; we perhaps are apt to forget that the Psalms which we love so well and by the operation of the Holy Spirit give us so much guidance and comfort, are, if they are anything, essentially songs which sound out the glory and greatness of God

What is it to Ascribe Greatness to God?
As Moses says in our Scripture here, it is to publish the Name of The LORD/JEHOVAH, THE GREAT I AM, the Living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (see also Exodus 3:13-15; and 34:6-7)

To ascribe greatness to God and publish His Name, is to willingly and joyfully show what and who God is, and what He has done, and what He is doing now. His Name is in all His works and ways and His attributes seen in them – His Perfection of Mercy, Goodness, Truth, Holiness, Power, Justice, Love and Everlasting kindness. Some of those are mentioned here in verse 4. It is never possible to engage in hyperbole when speaking of the greatness of our God. We may exaggerate the qualities of mere men; but never God Himself. It is not possible to exaggerate the infinite; it cannot be done; we may never fear outdoing our praise and worship of our Triune God. As Charles Wesley’s hymn sweetly says:

Through all eternity, to thee
A grateful song I’ll raise;
But O eternity’s too short
To utter all Thy praise!

The Works of the LORD are Great – Psalm 111
All the world may see, if their eyes were opened, the eternal power and Godhead of their Creator in the works of creation and providence. As David by the Holy Ghost exclaimed in Psalm 8: “When I consider the Heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained: What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” It was Job, overcome by the majesty and power of God in His works, who laid his hand upon his mouth and exclaimed: “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

It is chiefly by Christ as Jehovah the Creator that God’s wonderful works are seen. In truth, in Revelation 5: 13, it is to God the Father on the throne – and the Lamb of God Jehovah Jesus at His right hand – that greatness, power and glory are ascribed.

Jesus said that in His work on earth He came to declare the Father and this is a part of Jesus’ glory that God is seen in Jesus Christ, the very image of the Father. As our Saviour said to the disciples: “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father”, and that all men should give equal glory to the Son, to the Holy Ghost and to the Father; all three persons of the Godhead being, as the shorter catechism Q. 6 declares: the same in substance, and equal in power and glory. The redeeming and the declaring work of God in Christ Jesus is surely the central aspect in which the wonderful attributes of God are seen and supply the major motivation for the praises and worship of the glorified saints – John 15.
In the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is seen who God is. Here He is described as The Rock and the pleasurable work of the saints on earth is to praise and glorify God through and by that same Jesus. Yet not all Christ’s redeemed are possessed of the same strength of faith as others; as faith and experience grow, so does praise. Again, the Psalmist says: “But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.” It is the knowledge and sense of His favour which opens our mouths in worship and adoration. The more we know God in Christ Jesus; so the more will we love Him and ascribe greatness to the King of Glory. Psalm 71:14.

The Testimony of our Fathers
We may also consider God’s works of old and what our fathers have told us. Whether it be the deluge of Noah’s age; the parting of the seas and rivers for the children of Israel with the destruction of Pharaoh and all their enemies; or, closer to our time, the power of Jehovah in the conversion of thousands in the Early Church; and, more recently still, the wonderful revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In our text in verse 4, Moses ascribes to God the greatness of His work of Judgment, Truth, Holiness – the perfection of all His ways and works. It was the Holy Spirit who also spoke by Paul, too, when he said in Romans 11: 33; O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!

The Ways of God
By the ways of God is meant His providential dealings in the world. God’s works of providence are His controlling and ordering all events in the world; past, present and future. It is said by some that a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can have an influence upon the weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere; but whatever the truth of this theory, it is our God Who controls even the movement of the butterfly’s wings: such is the Omnipotent power of our Lord and Saviour. We may well lay our hands upon our mouths in amazement as we consider the providential dealings of Jehovah God in this world. The Book of Esther displays but a small part of the wonderful ways of God in providence and the greatness of Christ our God who upholds all things by the Word of His power. What wonders we have seen in our own nation’s deliverances from the Armada, Gunpowder Plot and two World Wars! Some today still among us have seen it with their own eyes. We have our own Purim to celebrate in praise of our God.

But, surely, when we see in the cross of Christ Jesus and by the determinate counsel of God, mercy and truth meeting together; and righteousness and peace kissing each other in our eternal salvation; and with no diminution of God’s holiness, justice and truth, but rather in the greater and clearer display of them, then in the words of Sheba the Queen of the South – there is no more breath in us!

In our ascribing greatness to God, we are in effect saying that nothing is impossible to Him and none can stay His hand. The same God who turns the heart of Kings whithersoever He will and says of Cyrus: “He is my shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure…”

If this be so, then is it not irrational, and even sinful, to be uncertain, afraid, or timid, in the service of such a Captain? And yet how sadly we seem to deny the power of our LORD to defend and keep us. We praise and worship our God for His omnipotent power, His controlling all events: yet become very concerned when we are suddenly visited with losses and afflictions.

His Truth is inviolable, yet we often fail to believe Him. How grievous a thing is this!

It is to our shame that our unbelief detracts from our praises, but even in this we see the need for the greatness of Divine mercy and grace to forgive, restore and strengthen us. And we worship God for His faithfulness.

Christ and Our Salvation from Sin
It is the motive for our love, praise and service now that the greatness of God is displayed in our complete and perfect salvation from sin, death and destruction; and as we trace the wonderful workings of God in our lives, in bringing about our reconciliation to Him with the gift of life eternal, we are quite overcome at times, and we are like them that dream when we see that our captivity has been so turned again. Every attribute of God is displayed in our redemption.
But, however wonderful the sight by faith, O the open view in glory of all that belongs to our salvation. It will be the new song in Heaven that we are the redeemed Church saved from all our sins. That the Lord Jesus Christ against Whom we committed innumerable crimes and rejected and despised for a time, loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. These are things which we often reflect on, yet know so little now of the full extent of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. There, when we shall know, even as we are known, and when the full light of the knowledge of the glory of God shines in our sanctified hearts then – as Murray McCheyne so aptly says:

“When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ on high,
Looking o’er life’s history;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.”

– and so praise shall be perfected in ascribing to God greatness and power and glory for ever and ever.

______________________

GOD ALL-SUFFICIENT

Written by Steven Black on 13/07/2016. Posted in Articles

By Dr. D.A. Doudney

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by
Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

What a rich and exceedingly full promise is this! Just like the Almighty God, and so suitable to the creature; for who could supply all our need, both for body and soul, but He to whom all things belong, whose also is the power, the riches, and the glory? Should not the children of God take encouragement from such a sweet word as this, and believe that all their real need will be supplied? Yes, sure we ought; and no doubt this promise has been precious to many, while others, perhaps, fear to claim it as theirs, or as spoken to them, because of its greatness, or because they think their need to be so different from others. But that which is impossible with men is possible with God, for the need of all nations cannot exceed the fullness there is in Christ.

But what is our need – our present pressing trial? Is it the want of strength, bodily strength, to fill our position in life? Then the Lord graciously says, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be” (Deut 33:25). Looking to Him each morning for the help and strength needed through the day, we shall realise that He will supply this need; though, perhaps, like our dear Master, we may only have strength enough, and none to spare. Is it guidance we need? Are we perplexed, and know not which way to take? Let us then wait upon the Lord in prayer, and watch His hand towards us. He has said, “I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go.” (Psalm 32:8); and if, like Gideon, we are fearful of taking a wrong step, He will in mercy condescend to our low estate, and confirm us in the right way, in answer to prayer; although it is more God-glorifying, perhaps, if we can, when first assured of the Lord’s will, go forward, relying on His word, as Peter did (Acts 10:20).

Some time ago, I noticed a little girl playing at her garden gate, when all of a sudden she opened it and ran out, afterwards returning with her father. The words came into my mind, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him;”
(Psa103:13) and I longed thus to run and meet my heavenly Father, at the sound of His voice or footstep. “Draw me; we will run after Thee”(Song 1:4). But how far superior is the one to the other! “That little girl,” I thought, “may lose her father by death, and perhaps very suddenly; but not so the child of God. He is the Everlasting Father, Husband, Brother, Friend, and death will be the very means of bringing us more fully to know and love Him.”

Or, perhaps, our pressing trial may be straitened circumstances, for many of the Lord’s people, who are not really poor, may feel this; but the Lord says He will supply all our need. Will He take care of the sparrows, and neglect His own dear children, when He says the very hairs of your head are all numbered? Never! Never! He loves them too well. He may try them, but never forget them. And oh, with what gratitude do they partake of a meal which seems to have come direct from heaven, and in answer to prayer! We may safely conclude their asking a blessing at such a time is no form, though, perhaps –

“Their lips will only tremble
With the thanks they cannot speak.”

Thus the Lord gets glory to His dear Name by the gratitude of His tried people.
Is it wisdom we want? The Lord can supply this need, as He says in James 1:5, He will deign to listen to us if we ask His gracious Majesty about the most trifling things. As the poet says –

“Our life’s minutest circumstance
Is subject to His eye.”

His exalted state in glory does not make Him less willing to aid His people than when He was on earth.

Is it sorrow that presses us down – perhaps heavy family trials? The Lord says, “I know their sorrows” (Exod. 3:7); and, if He knows them, He also feels them, and will deliver, as He did in the case of Israel of old, though perhaps not so quickly as we should like. But we may pour out our hearts before Him, and sometimes even the very act of doing this brings relief.

Or, it may be, we are misunderstood. David knew this (2 Sam.10), and also David’s Lord; therefore He can sympathise with His dear people. How exceedingly painful this must have been to our dear Lord the three-and-thirty years He was on earth; for not only was He misunderstood by the world, but it seems also by His disciples (Matt. 16: 21 – 23); and if sometimes we tread the same path, may we prove it is in sympathy with our once suffering Head; and, if this trial should quicken us in prayer, bringing us more often to the throne of grace, it will be amongst the “all things” that are working for our good.

If we feel to need a broken heart, or tender conscience, or meekness, love, gratitude, and humility, the Lord can supply us with these things. “Ask, and ye shall receive.” He gives a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26); and oh, how blessed are those who have the Holy Spirit within, the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is a holy-making Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23).

And, if the Lord supplies all our need in body and soul, through life, we must surely believe He will be with us at death, for that must be included in the “all”. Oh, yes, the Lord will help His dear children then, and give strength when it is needed: “The thing of a day in his day, as the matter shall require” (1 Kings 8:59, margin). Now we require grace to live with; at death we shall require grace to die with, and the Lord has promised both. The Apostle says, “But my God shall supply all your need,” not according to what I may wish for you, or you may wish for yourselves, for the Lord often gives exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, but “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”(Phil 4:19), and His riches are “unsearchable” (Eph. 3:8).

GOD ALL-SUFFICIENT