"What's In A Name?"

Thursday 22nd November 2012

"Let us exalt His name together" - Psalm 34:3

Names mean a great deal to us. You only have to observe a young couple deliberating over the name of a newborn. The thought (and hopefully the prayer) that goes into such a decision shows the importance of our name. However, though we value our names today, it's nothing in comparison to what names meant in Hebrew culture - particularly in the Old Testament, but also in the New. In those days, enshrined within any name was meaning. When you gave a child a name, it meant something - it could even mean something regarding revelation. We might say it could mean something 'prophetically'. A given name could actually be a blessing upon a child's life or, for that matter, a curse.

We see this frequently within Scripture: names have inherent meaning in the word of God. Many names have positive or affirming meanings. Take the very first man, God called him 'Adam'. In Hebrew, 'Adam' means 'earth', speaking of how he came about, and reminding us all that in the beginning God created. Later, God changed the name of the patriarch 'Abram', which means 'exalted' or 'high father', to 'Abraham' - and that little addition changed the meaning to 'father of many'. The converse is also true: names can have negative connotations. There are several examples we could give, but one that stands out to me is Eli's daughter-in-law who we read of in 1 Samuel 4: 'She named the child Ichabod, saying, 'The glory has departed from Israel!' because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband'. 'Ichabod', meaning 'the glory has departed' - such meaning and revelation in a name, rebuking a nation who were estranged from their covenant God.

However, when it comes to Divine names, this principle of meaning and revelation applies all the more, because the names of God have great instruction for us. Indeed, there is a dual revelation in most of the names of God. First of all, there is a revelation concerning the character of God Himself. When we find a name of God, He is telling us something about His personality and His nature - but that's not where it ends. There is not only a revelation about God Himself, but about His provision for us and His relation toward us in the covenant that we have with Him. So there is something for us to learn in God's name. As the little chorus says: 'Every name that He bears is a blessing He shares'. I want you to remember that as we consider 'The Wonder Of His Name' in our next Bible study series...

[Follow with us through 'The Wonder Of His Name' in coming weeks...]

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"Ministry Update"

Friday 5th October 2012

"Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" - Isaiah 12:3

Praise God, with joy we have continued to draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:3: our text for 2012).

In September our two week Gospel mission at Scrabo Hall, Newtownards, was extended some days into a third week due to the sense of God's Presence and His moving among us: saving, restoring, delivering and transforming. There was even a sense of reinvigoration among the believers as they got excited again about what God does in the power of His Spirit when the Gospel of His grace impacts lives. The church at Scrabo had prepared really well both practically and prayerfully. I had a real sense of 'hitting the ground running' as we began the mission. It was so encouraging some nights to see the building packed full and on some occasions young people must have made up half of the gathering. Praise the Lord for His wonderful works among the children of men!

God is on the move and we are thrilled in anticipation of what the Lord is going to do in the days that lie ahead. We are so very grateful for your continued intercession for us – how we need it! Your prayers are vital as we go forth in this spiritual battle. A couple of people said to me at the Scrabo mission: 'You must find yourself in some real spiritual conflicts during meetings like these'. My answer was, 'Of course, there are often many battles during special meetings', but I added, 'However, often my fiercer fights are during the weeks before and after when there is less overt activity'. Your constant and continuous prayers are a vital, yes, essential element to our ministry - thank you - and do keep 'holding our arms up'!

Prayer makes the darkened cloud withdraw,
Prayer climbs the ladder Jacob saw;
Gives exercise to faith and love,
Brings every blessing from above.

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;
Prayer makes the Christian’s armour bright;
And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.

While Moses stood with arms spread wide,
Success was found on Israel’s side;
But when through weariness they failed,
That moment Amalek prevailed.

Thank God that Moses had his Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12) - and we thank God that we have you!

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"Life As God Intends"

Saturday 1st September 2012

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" - John 17:3

The Biblical expression 'eternal life' is one that has come to be associated with Heaven, and that is not wrong - but it is certainly far from the whole story. 'Eternal life' has been understood down through the years, specifically, as being the very life of God. 'Eternal life', in its essence, is the life that belongs to Deity, the Triune Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is that very life of God imparted to us.

There is also another understanding of 'eternal life' that is given right throughout the Scriptures from the book of Daniel through to the Synoptic Gospels (which are the first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke), right into the major Pauline epistles, the pastoral epistles, the pastoral letters, and finally the little epistle of Jude - here 'eternal life' is spoken of as a future life, something that is all wrapped up in the concept of resurrection, when Jesus Christ returns again and we who believe in Him are raised from the grave, given new bodies, and go to live with Him forever in an eternal state. That's the understanding in most of the New Testament about 'eternal life': it is the idea of the quantity of this life - it is everlasting. Once we are raised from the dead we will live forever with the Lord Jesus in this eternal bliss. This understanding of 'eternal life' focuses on the quantity, it is eternal in a temporal sense, in the concept of time.

But, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle John gives us a far deeper understanding of 'eternal life'. John brings an added dimension to it. His emphasis is not so much on the quantity, but the quality of this life. He shows us that it is different from our old existence. Before we are regenerated, before we're converted and born-again, life is filled with hate and sin, pain and death - it's not life as God intended for any of humanity, let alone His people. But this life that God imparts now, by grace, brings a total transformation to what we have known as 'life'. John's 'eternal life' does not begin in the future when Jesus returns and when we are raised from the grave, but, as we read through his Gospel, we see that this 'eternal life' is already the present personal possession of anyone who believes in Jesus. Those who have entered into fellowship with Christ through faith now have life as God intended for His people.

[Join with us as we study this 'Life As God Intends For His People' in coming weeks...]

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"Ministry Update"

Sunday 1st July 2012

"Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" - Isaiah 12:3

Isaiah 12:3 was given to us by the Lord at the beginning of the year after a time of seeking God's face and, praise God, Who is ever faithful to His word, this text has been our blessed experience over the last number of months. We have rejoiced as we have witnessed the hand of God saving precious souls, restoring the backslidden and renewing His saints. What a privilege has been ours to preach everywhere, the Lord working with us, and confirming the word with signs following (Mark 16:20).

Thank you for your prayers for the Gospel Missions in Lurgan Baptist (April), The Meeting House, Randalstown (May-June) and Portadown Elim (June). The Lord was pleased to bless especially in The Meeting House (where we continued into a third week of mission) and Portadown Elim where there was a mighty move of God in only a week of mission. It was amazing to witness in these missions the supernatural leading of God: in messages preached, in the orchestration of the Spirit directing people to the meetings in remarkable ways, in the deliverance of those bound captive by Satan and in the healing of the broken hearted. It is wonderful when God so obviously puts His stamp on occasions such as these. We praise His Holy, All-Victorious Name! Of course such triumphs in the spiritual realm are not without their battles and we would covet your prayers for continued covering and protection in the fight.

The Faith Mission Easter Convention at Bangor was a very special time. It is hard to put into words what God did and it is impossible to assess what impact the meetings have had. All we can say is that, the Lord came very near, especially in the final meeting, which I still feel reluctant to talk about, it was so sacred as God's heavy Presence seemed to descend upon the congregation. The theme the Lord gave for the meetings was 'Solemn Assembly'. It is my hope that, in the Lord’s time, Solemn Assemblies will take place in our land (if they have not already).

Please pray especially for the up-coming Gospel Mission at Scrabo Hall, Newtownards in September. Thank you for all your continued and faithful prayers.

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"An Object Lesson In Security"

Friday 11th May 2012

"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands... rose from supper and took a towel... after that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet" - John 13:3-5

Think of this: Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into His hand, He knew who He was, He knew where He came from, He knew where He was going - and so He enters into this act of washing the disciples' feet as the Master of His own destiny. He was in sovereign control of this hour. I believe this knowledge that Jesus had relates directly to the object lesson of washing His disciples' feet. When we look at this incident, we often think: 'Wow! Look at who He was, the Son of God in flesh', and we marvel at what He did in washing the dirty feet of the disciples. From such a height He stooped so low for this deed! Of course that’s true, but there is a great danger of missing something very important when we focus on that. There is no doubt that this passage teaches us the importance of 'Aiming High By Stooping Low', but have you ever considered that here we have One who was stooping so low because of how high He was? Let me repeat that: He was able to stoop so low because of how high He was. Jesus knew that the Father had given all things to Him. He knew what His destiny was - and if you have all things in your hand, you'll have no problem picking up a towel!

Have you ever considered that our pride actually comes from insecurity? You might think that sounds contradictory, because we would expect pride to come from an overt sense of security, self-security. Yet I believe the desire to exalt oneself comes essentially from a dissatisfaction with oneself - meaning that you have to overcompensate, so to speak. The tragedy of pride is that security can never be found outside of God. You cannot find security in self, and so you become insecure. But when you find your security in Christ, and you realise who you are in Christ, and what you have in Christ - you've nothing to prove any more, because you're not secure in yourself or your achievements, but in who Christ is and what He has done! You're satisfied in Him, so you don't need to find satisfaction in yourself or your own achievements. You know that you have been born of God, you know that you are in Christ, you know that you have all things, you know that you are going to God - so whatever you do, whether it's something grand and God uses you in a mighty way, or whether it's something menial or humble, it doesn't affect your worth because you do not derive your worth from what you do but from who you are in Christ!

I know that it is marvellous and awe-inspiring to consider the heights from which Christ stooped to do what He did in washing the disciples' feet - but I want you to consider that it was actually those heights of security that enabled Him, with confidence and security in God, to take such a low step. The irony is: in God's economy it is through humility that we show our security; while to resist humility and to be proud and assert oneself shows that we are insecure in our relation to God.

So when we give in to pride and a competitive spirit we show that we are insecure in our relationship with God. If you have to prove something, you're insecure - but if you have nothing to prove, you can wash someone's feet. It's an object lesson in security.

Read or listen to more on the washing of the disciples' feet in 'Aiming High By Stooping Low'...

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"Ministry Update"

Friday 6th April 2012

"I sent you to reap that for which you have not laboured; others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours" - John 4:38
"And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen" - Mark 16:20

These two verses reflect what we have been experiencing in small measure recently and also express our desire for the future: the reaping of a precious soul-harvest to God's glory and the Lord’s present power as we minister in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Gospel Mission at Woodford Gospel Assembly, Armagh in February was a time of blessing. The first week was a real struggle for me as I caught some sort of gastric 'bug', which meant I had to miss the Monday and Tuesday nights. The Lord allowed this, and there were some vital lessons learned. Even from my sick-bed I had the privilege of pointing a man from Liverpool to Christ over the phone, who had been listening online at preachtheword.com! The Lord reminded me that "salvation is of the Lord" and that, if He wills, I don't even have to get out of bed for Him to save souls!

I certainly didn't recover quickly from my sickness during the fortnight, but the Lord undertook – thank you those of you who prayed specifically for this. We rejoice over those who sought the Lord at Woodford.

The one week Gospel Mission at Armagh Elim in March was also encouraging. Much prayer had been invested in this effort by the congregation and it was obvious that there was a burden for the community around them. Again, we praise God for people who professed faith in the Lord Jesus and lives that were touched by the power of God.

We covet your prayers for the up-coming Gospel Missions: Lurgan Baptist (April), The Meeting House, Randalstown (May), Portadown Elim (June) and Scrabo Hall, Newtownards (September). May Isaiah 12:3 be fulfilled to us in these outreaches: "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation".

Another responsibility I am heavily burdened about is the very great privilege of preaching at the Faith Mission Easter Convention at Bangor. God quite supernaturally has laid messages upon my heart – do pray with me that "God's will be done and His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven". Oh, how we need "times of refreshing from the Presence of the Lord"! Thank you all for your continued intercession.

An update from the Webmaster of Preach The Word:

"You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" - Acts 1:8

Visit Preach The Word - preachtheword.comBrownlow North, the famous evangelist of the 1859 revival, once wrote a Gospel tract in which he said: "I am writing this paper in the hope that it will be broadcast over the whole country, and especially that it will fall into the hands of the careless and thoughtless. I write it in the expectation that it will be circulated at railway stations and in railway carriages, given away in steamboats and buses, sent by Christians in letters to their unconverted correspondents, distributed amongst convicts; that it might find its way into prisons and brothels, reach the felon in his fetters, even the murderer in his condemned cell. I should only be too delighted if every man on earth got a copy of it".

How privileged we are to live in an age when the desire of Brownlow North's heart is almost a reality. We can place a sermon on the internet, and instantly someone on the other side of the globe can read or listen to it on a device in the palm of their hand. The advent of the internet-enabled smartphone (such as the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone) and tablet computers (such as the iPad) means that it is now possible to access the internet from most populated areas of the globe, whether or not you own a computer. In the last 3 years there has been a 4000% increase in internet usage by mobile phone in the U.K. alone, and last year smartphones outsold computers for the first time. It's predicted that in the next 2 years, mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most popular way to access the web.

While our site has always been accessible on such devices, we recently took the step of developing an additional mobile and touch-screen friendly version specifically designed for easier use on the smaller screens of mobile phones and tablet computers. It is our prayer that people will take advantage of this new facility to avail themselves of the resources at Preach The Word whenever and wherever they want. You can visit the new mobile version of our site by following the 'Mobile Site' link at preachtheword.com, or by pointing your web browser to m.preachtheword.com - you may like to add an icon to your home screen for easy access.

We appreciate your feedback and suggestions, and would welcome your efforts in letting others know about our ministry, with 'the expectation that it will be circulated' and 'the hope that it will be broadcast over the whole country'! - Andrew Watkins, Webmaster, preachtheword.com

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"Managing The Morning Watch"

Thursday 15th March 2012

"My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee" - Psalm 5:3

R. Kent Hughes writes that "Some years ago a young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. 'That depends', replied the foreman, 'Let's see you fell this tree'. The young man stepped forward and skilfully felled a great tree. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, 'Start Monday!'. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by, and on Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, 'You can pick up your pay check on the way out today'. Startled, he replied, 'I thought you paid on Friday'. 'Normally we do', answered the foreman, 'but we're letting you go today because you've fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you've dropped from first place on Monday to last on Wednesday'. 'But I'm a hard worker', the young man objected, 'I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!'. The foreman, sensing the boy's integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, 'Have you been sharpening your axe?'. The young man replied, 'I've been working too hard to take the time'".

Some years ago I spoke on the necessity of 'The Morning Watch', meeting with God in the morning to sharpen our spiritual lives. It is the most Biblical of practices and the most beneficial of practices, but it is something we all struggle with, myself included - especially when it comes to practicing it on a regular basis. It is important not to make a Law out of this and come into bondage and condemnation, but there is incredible blessing when this can be practised. Practically how do you do it? How do we maintain a regular early morning time with God? Here are some helps that I have gleaned over the years:

Watchman Nee offers these helpful guidelines:

  1. To rise early, one needs to go to sleep early. Don't burn the candle on both ends.
  2. Do not set too high a standard for rising early. Take a moderate course. To set too high a standard will produce a bad conscience and we need to maintain a conscience without offence. We do not advocate extremes.
  3. It is inevitable that one will meet some difficulty in the first few days of early rising. He will love his bed and find it hard to climb out. It takes some time to establish a habit. In the beginning one has to force oneself to rise, but after a while he can get up early without effort. Human nerves are like the tree on the hilltop that bends in the direction of the wind. If it is blown always in one direction, it develops the habit of leaning in that direction. Suppose you have the habit of rising late. It is like having your nerve bent northward. But after you try to rise up early many times, your nerve will begin to turn its direction southward. Then, instead of it being difficult to get up early, you will find it hard to get up late, for you cannot sleep any longer! Until that habit is formed, though, ask God for grace... and try it many times; do it again and again. Daily learn to desert your bed and get up early until you have formed the habit of rising early to enjoy the grace of morning communion with God.

Here is an experiment suggested by Gordon MacDonald in his helpful book 'Ordering Your Private World':

"After reading an article by a specialist on the subject of sleep, I began to experiment to find out how much sleep I needed. The writer suggested that one can determine his sleep requirements by setting his alarm for a certain hour and rising at that hour for three mornings in a row. Then the alarm should be set ten minutes earlier for the next three days. By so continuing in three-day increments, setting the alarm back ten minutes in each period, one will finally come to a natural fatigue point, where throughout the following day he does not feel properly rested. I tried it, found I could rise much earlier than I had thought, and it added almost two full hours - valuable hours - onto my day".

Why not try it and see how much of your best hours; your morning hours, you can give to the Lord?

Read or listen to the original message on 'The Morning Watch', (see also 'A Day In The Life Of The Servant').

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"Never Forget What God Remembers"

Sunday 1st January 2012

"For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust" - Psalm 103:14

Our God remembers what we so often forget. He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust. Sometimes we forget that God wants us to remember these important truths - and because we forget them we often get ourselves into all sorts of trouble!

Whenever we speak of dust, what do we think of? We think of something that is common, something that is ordinary - it's something that we find lying on the ground. I imagine, if I walked through a few of your houses just now, I would find dust on the mantelpiece, on the dining room table, in all sorts of places. It speaks of something common, something ordinary - but what God is communicating to us through His word is: dust speaks of our weakness and our frailty. When God says 'He knows our frame, He remembers we are dust', He means He knows what we're really made of!

Dust also speaks of the tremendous potential that we have, even as humans in our weakness. When God, in the beginning, made us from the dust, He was illustrating that, while we are weak in and of ourselves, we are strong in Him. He wants us to remember that He took the common, ordinary dust of the ground and He made man in His image. So from something common, something ordinary, with His breath in it He can do great things. There is great potential in dust and clay. You see, when you're in God's hands, who is the Potter, He can mould you and make you after His will.

So God remembers that we came from dust originally, He remembers that we are dust and will become dust ultimately, but it also says in verse 14: 'He knows our frame'. I want to apply that personally: do you know that God knows your frame? Let me remind you of Psalm 139:13, which expresses how God knows us personally: 'For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them'. Some translations put it this way: 'You knew my frame in my mother's womb'. At conception, God knew your frame, and He has known it and remembered it every day since - isn't that remarkable?

If ever there was a reason why we should accept ourselves the way God has made us, it is this: He knows our frame, and He has known everything about us from our conception. Of course, we ought to grow as human beings and as believers in Christ - but what I am saying is this: some of us should stop trying to be someone or something that we are not!

Is that a message from God for some soul reading this? Do you need to hear that God made you you? He made you the way you are, and it is the wonder of God's spectrum of creation that there is such a myriad of variety. You can't get two snowflakes the same, equally you will never get two human souls, two human beings the same. You are unique! Think about that for a moment. The wonder of the New Testament Gospel, and all the truth of the Spirit-filled life, is that if you really surrender yourself, your personality and your body, and give it all over as a living sacrifice wholly to God, and He fills and possesses you, He will make a mark with your life that He cannot nor will not ever do with anyone else! There'll never be another C.H. Spurgeon, so there's no sense you trying to be him, or John Wesley, or whomever else you admire or would seek to emulate. God made you you for a purpose, for a reason. He knows you, and He understands you.

For further meditation on this verse, read, watch or listen to the sermon 'Never Forget What God Remembers'...

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"He Is Altogether Lovely"

Monday 12th December 2011

"He is Altogether Lovely!" - Songs 5:16

"What a glorious fact it is that there is one life that can be held up before the eyes of humanity as a perfect pattern! There were lips that never spoke unkindness, that never uttered an untruth; there were eyes that never looked aught but love and purity and bliss; there were arms that never closed against wretchedness or penitence; there was a bosom which never throbbed with sin, nor ever was excited by unholy impulse; there was a man free from all undue selfishness, and whose life was spent in going about doing good.

There was One who loved all mankind, and who loved them more than Himself, and who gave Himself to die that they might live; there was One who went into the gates of death, that the gates of death might never hold us in; there was One who lay in the grave, with its dampness, its coldness, its chill, and its horror, and taught humanity how it might ascend above the grave; there was One who, though He walked on earth, had His conversation in heaven, who took away the curtain that hid immortality from view, and presented to us the Father God in all His glory and in all His love.

Such an One is the standard held up in the Church of Christ. The Church rallies round the Cross and gathers around Jesus; and it is because He is so attractive, and lovely, and glorious, that they are coming from the ends of the earth to see the salvation of God" - by Matthew Simpson, taken from Mrs Cowman's Devotions

It is our goal whether in missions or ministry; through means of personal communication or the wonder of preachtheword.com, simply to glorify 'the Altogether Lovely One'. We seek to introduce Him to people and when they truly see Him for the first time, or fall deeper in love with Him, all the glory and praise must go to Him alone, because, as Matthew Simpson puts it, "He is so attractive, and lovely, and glorious, that they are coming from the ends of the earth to see the salvation of God".

We give glory to God for the fruit of recent months. Some souls sought the Lord at the Olivet Hall mission, Belfast in October and at other meetings recently. The week of Bible teaching at Leaney Mission Hall, Ballymoney in November was very profitable as we considered 'Life As God Intends For His People'. The response was extremely encouraging - please pray that the Lord will mightily use this teaching.

Please do remember us in prayer for the very busy schedule ahead in the New Year - especially for the Gospel Missions - that there will be a harvest of souls for the glory of our Blessed Saviour.

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"Ministry Update"

Saturday 1st October 2011

A very busy season of ministry has begun. We are excited with the anticipation of what the Lord will do in the coming weeks and months. We are so grateful to you all for your prayerful support and partnership in the work of God. "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you... for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3,5). We know the blessing of God's gracious answers to your prayers on our behalf and we praise the Lord for you!

We had a great week of ministry at the Christian Police Association's Summer Bible Week in August at Portrush Presbyterian Church. It was a privilege to share the ministry with Noel Darragh of the Faith Mission who brought the morning Bible Readings on Isaiah. In the evenings there were very good sized congregations and, as was the case in the morning Bible Readings, we knew the blessing of the Lord's help and Presence. The theme for the evenings was the book of Amos: the God of Justice. The Lord was gracious and we believe lives were touched and the voice of God was heard by some.

God willing, we look forward to two Evangelistic Missions in the near future. The first at Olivet Hall, Belfast from 2nd – 14th October 2011 and then Woodford Hall, Armagh from 19th February – 4th March 2012. Please pray that lives and eternal destinies will be changed by the gracious power of God.

We are also excited about a week of ministry entitled "Life As God Intends For His People" taking place at Leaney Mission Hall, Ballymoney from 6th – 13th November 2011. This week of Bible teaching will focus on developing and maturing the Christian's walk with the Lord. Please pray for a reviving and renewal among God's children.

Please do continue to remember the usual ministry in various places on the Lord's Day and during the week.

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"The Way Back"

Thursday 1st September 2011

"A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times'. And when he thought about it, he wept" - Mark 14:72

This is an occurrence that all four gospel writers record. We learn from Matthew and Luke that Peter wept bitterly. Mark says he wept when he remembered the word of the Lord, but Luke tells us that it wasn't just the memory of Jesus' word that caused these tears. We read in Luke 22:61 that as Peter was at the fire, as he has just finished denying the Lord with oaths and curses, Jesus is brought out and He passes by and looks toward Peter - and it stabs him to his very soul! Then he went out and he wept bitterly! Can you imagine what that look of Christ must have been like?

How often do we deny the Lord? I'll be honest, I've denied Him - perhaps not with my words, but with my actions, with my behaviour; with omission, things that I leave undone; and commission, things I do that I ought not to do. I believe this look from the Lord Jesus that broke Peter was not a look of condemnation, nor a look of disappointment or disdain, I believe it was a look of love. In John 13 we see that the Lord tells the disciples what's going to happen before He goes to Gethsemane. He tells Peter that he's going to deny Him, and the next thing that Jesus says to Peter is found in John 14:1 - He's speaking to all of the disciples, but this is what Peter would have heard after being told he would deny Jesus: 'Let not your heart be troubled' (remember that the chapter divisions have been put in by men). You remember that Jesus also told him: 'Simon Peter, Satan has desired to sift you, he wants to have you and sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you'. Oh, that has brought me so much encouragement many times in my life! I know my own weakness, I know my propensity to let the Lord down and deny Him and disown Him - but what it is to know, even though I might be in the darkest temptation and trial of life, that Jesus is praying for me!

If you're reading this and you have denied Him, you have let Him down, you need to see this look of love. If you could only see Him in His love toward you, even in your backslidden state, even in the sins that you're dabbling with - you're so far away, maybe as far away as Peter, cursing and swearing against Christ! It's hard to imagine a person could be saved and be doing that, isn't it? But if you could only see His look of love, I believe it would melt you.

Warren Weirsbe says: 'Before we judge Peter too severely, we need to examine our own lives. How many times have we denied the Lord, and lost opportunities to share the Gospel with others? Do we, like Peter, talk when we should listen? Do we argue when we should obey? Do we sleep when we should pray? Do we fight when we should submit?'. We're all on trial in relation to Christ, every one of us. Unsaved people are on trial in relation to their Christ rejection, but we as believers are on trial in relation to our Christ denial.

Peter appears to fail, doesn't he? But notice: Peter's failure was not final - there's a way back! Wherever you've been, whatever you've done - and I don't care what it is - there is a way back! This Saviour still looks upon you in love. In fact, after he was forgiven and converted and restored by grace, Peter was brought to an even greater place - that's marvellous! God's grace is like that: greater than all our sin.

Read or listen to more on Peter's denial of Christ in "Trial And Denial".

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