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When preparing to care for patients with Covid-19 we are taught that first you need to protect yourself. It is unusual for one who works in health care to have to wear such gear in order to protect themselves rather than its primary use being to protect the vulnerable patients under our care. Even as others who work in many different areas of employment and even in leisure activities we need to wear suitable protective clothing to carry out whatever tasks we are engaged in. We ‘don’ or put on such protective gear in order to help or to serve to others, to carry out a necessary task, or even for many a dangerous tasks. Much care and attention needs to be taken as we prepare. Within the hospital we are encouraged to have a ‘buddy’ to check us over to ensure that we are adequately protected, protected in this case from an unseen enemy; a virus. This led my thoughts to much more dangerous unseen enemies that we all battle against, ones with eternal consequences (the world, The flesh, and the devil). Ephesians 6:12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. These are very real and dangerous enemies that we all need to protect ourselves from, and God has given us our PPE (personal protective equipment). The passage continues to describe the protective clothing we are to don, and even the weapons we are to wield, Ephesians 6:13, Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Even while we are wisely encouraged in these days to ‘socially isolate’ ourselves for the good of others, we are never isolated from these spiritual enemies. Personally we must remain careful and vigilant, but we must also be looking out for one another as ‘buddies’ to encourage each other to stay safe and strong in the fight against the common enemies we all face. While I encourage you to read the whole passage, the one item I seek to highlight is the Word of God. When tempted, when tested, and tried this was the defense our Lord used. In all the uncertainty of life, we possess a book that is stronger than the very foundations of the world we stand upon. What a personal source of strength, comfort, wisdom and protection we miss when we neglect His word. We thank God for the encouragement and challenges we receive from His Word every day and we long for the time when we can meet again as a fellowship, with joy, around His Word, in common fellowship, worshiping together, and witnessing to God’s grace and mercy to us in every circumstance of life. We must not let this isolation break our common fellowship together or with God, a fellowship which was purchased by blood. So while we all endeavor to continue serving God, each other, and to reach the lost, we need to remember to make sure we are fully dressed and protected in the armour of God, fully trained in the use of God’s Word, and as each piece of PPE is put on with prayer, may we know in these days what it is to be true warriors of prayer and of the Word!

The God of the Lonely

The God of the Lonely

Loneliness, in a crowd, at home, in work, at school, in Uni or even in a church is something that most of us experience from time to time. For some, being alone can at least for a little while be desirable and beneficial.

However, when “being alone” becomes “being lonely” our joy and zest for life is greatly diminished. If the loneliness experience is repeated, extended or sustained we can feel crushed and descend into recurring patterns of despair and self-doubt. Anxiety, low mood and insecurity may grip our lives and negatively taint how we view the world around us. The root cause of loneliness from an orthodox Christian perspective flows from the fallen state on man.

Adams wilful sin disrupted the fundamental relationship between man and God and consequently with how we exist, relate and care for ourselves and each other.

Loneliness has emotional, spiritual, mental and practical consequences. Ultimately the loneliness of solitude immobilises our will and purpose of being, we become isolated, fearful and lost in the crowd.

Rejection by others is anticipated so we compensate and vail our loneliness with masks and distractions.  Christians believe and teach that God has a remedy for those who are distressed by loneliness. It begins with personal salvation through repentance from sin and is sustained by devotion to Christ. 

Salvation by faith alone, self-effort excluded; is the primary means by which the soul of man is renewed and by which the bondage of loneliness is ultimately broken. Biblical salvation provides a new foundation for life and a gateway to a path that leads lonely souls to the comfort of a loving Creator and His people.

Mr Derek Thompson

The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

Picture the scene… you have been in the presence of Someone you know to be exceptional. He not only can teach, advise, and enlighten like no other before, but he behaves differently. He is kind and compassionate. He cares about your EVERY need, and He is not prejudiced. He is happy to be in the company of the people who society around you, deems to be ‘outcasts.’

You have heard of this Man’s reputation, how He has made the deaf to hear, how He has made the blind to see, how the lame have walked by the authority of His word. And yet you are aware that not everyone feels the same way about Him, some are intimidated by His authority, and by the way He challenges traditions and rituals. Some are plotting His very destruction and death.

The day is growing late, you have spent hours in this Man’s company, and you haven’t even noticed the hours passing, as His word has been so enriching and all encompassing. Suddenly you realise that you are hungry, and that you find yourself in a rather desolate place. The great crowd you are a part of also find themselves in the same situation. Then you hear a call ‘how many loves have ye? Go and see,’ the reply comes back, ‘five and two fish.’

Human thinking clouds everything you have been enlightened by all day, the reputation and miracles of the Man you have spent time with are distant memories. You know there is nowhere near enough food to go around.

Calmly and compassionately, you are instructed to sit down in groups, on the green grass, and you can’t help but think of the Old Testament Psalm; ‘He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…’ Something special is about to take place…

The feeding of the five thousand in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 6v30-43) not only shows us another great miracle performed by Jesus but also directs our thoughts back to Psalm 23 ‘The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.’ – ‘And Jesus when He came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd.’ (Mark 6v34).

We cannot perform miracles as Christ did, we cannot teach like Him, and we can never speak with authority as He did. We can, however, show Him to others, we can speak of His marvellous acts, and we can pray that He will teach us to have compassion for the lost, just as He had. We can tell others that this wonderful Man and Saviour left the splendours of heaven to come to earth to die for us on the cross at Calvary, simply and plainly because we ‘were as sheep not having a Shepherd.’

Praise God for our Good Shepherd!

Praise God that ‘He restoreth my soul!’

Praise God that because of all this, ‘I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!’