“O the month of May, the merry month of May” wrote Thomas Decker in 1599. Whilst our merriment is muted by our mourning for those who have died from the terrible disease that has brought the world to its knees, our gardens and parks still display the glories of creation. May is the month when God shows us his creative beauty in all its variety. The Children’s rhyme is once again proved true: March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. Even if we can only look through the window or watch on television, we can appreciate the kindness and goodness of God in bringing us to this delightful month.
Brief Devotional: I am a rose of Sharon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834 – 1892) suffered from depression during the winter months. A century later, Dr Lloyd Jones suggested that the cause of this depression might have been gout, which Spurgeon also had. But whatever the cause, it grew so serious that his church in London, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, sent him to Menton in the South of France every winter for several years so that he could get warmth and sun. He wrote many letters from that Mediterranean retreat and returned refreshed and ready to minister to them again.
It is no surprise that Spurgeon, a man truly taken up with the beauties of Jesus, should combine his love of the month of May with his love of Jesus in a devotional piece he wrote for May 1st. He took as his text Song of Solomon 2 verse 1 “I am a rose of Sharon”. He writes, “Whatever there may be of beauty in the material world, Jesus Christ possesses all that in the spiritual world in a tenfold degree. Amongst flowers the rose is deemed the sweetest, but Jesus is infinitely more beautiful in the garden of the soul than the rose can be in the gardens of earth. He takes the first place as the fairest among ten thousand. He is the sun and all the others are stars; the heavens and the day are dark in comparison with him, for the King in his beauty transcends all. I am the rose of Sharon.” Pause and gaze upon the beauty of Jesus. Then, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”
1. ‘If Christians are more afraid of death than the world during a disaster, then the suffering they have endured would be in vain. God wants us to overcome difficulties through him. The epidemic provides an opportunity for us to introspect our faith, reflect on ourselves, strengthen our spiritual life and to depend on God.” These are the words of Senior Pastor Huang Lei of the Root and Branch Church in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus pandemic began.
2. I read yesterday that the islands of the Outer Hebrides, which includes the Isle of Lewis, is the only part of the UK in which no one has died of Covid-19. As of last Tuesday, only six of the 27,000 residents have been diagnosed with the virus. They have had no new cases since April 11th. An early decision to ban non essential transport to the islands, together with the islanders’ quick response to lockdown because they know the limitations of the local NHS services, may have helped keep the virus at bay. I was also reminded that this is one of the places in the UK that experienced revival in the 1950s. Here in Wales we have seen nothing of the blessing of revival since 1904/5. Oh that the Lord would come again, but we need to be humbled as a church before we can expect any such movement of God (2 Chronicles 7 v 14)
Brief Prayer Requests
1. Asia Link have produced some prayer leaflets on different countries. We are asked to pray for the Kingdom of Bhutan. There are 760,000 people in Bhutan over 99% of whom are considered unreached with the Gospel. Please pray for the Christian Church in this country where worship is forbidden as the official religion is Buddhism, Christian meetings are classed as unregistered gatherings, and the building of churches is forbidden. Pray for believers as they meet in homes – that God would bless them increasing their faith and knowledge and giving them boldness to share the gospel with the lost.
2. You may remember that just before the lockdown we were looking forward to a visit from Adam Urban, a pastor working in a town called Siedlce in Poland. He was due to preach for us in March, and we as a church will be linked with him and his wife Dagmara. This week I heard some very sad news that his grandmother has been murdered. Naturally this has affected Adam and his wife strongly. The work there continues to be hard, but they are knowing some encouragements.
3. I mentioned the needs of the Falconer Home, Zambia last week, well the good news if that Neil Starling was able to raise well over the £2000 he was aiming for last Saturday by playing hymns on his Facebook channel. This money will help towards the extra food costs for the orphanage during the crisis.
4. Give thanks to the Lord for his safekeeping of us as a church over the last few weeks. Pray that we will learn the lessons he is teaching us through this trial. The worst possible outcome is not that we would catch the virus but that we would return to our old way of life without considering our walk with the Lord. We all need to examine ourselves before God and ask the Lord, “Where am I falling short of my high calling in Christ? What needs to change in my life as a result of the chastening hand of God?” Only then will this all have been a positive experience for us.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, here are the readings from this Wednesday until Friday of next week. On Wednesday 6th we will be one third of the way through Psalms.
Wed 6th Psalm 50 Thursday 7th Psalm 51
Friday 8th Psalm 52,53,54 Saturday 9th Psalm 55
Sunday 10th Psalm 56,57 Monday 11th Psalm 58.59
Tuesday 12th Psalm 60,61 Wed 13th Psalm 62,63
Thursday 14th Psalm 64,65 Friday 15th Psalm 66,67
Warmly yours in the Lord Your Pastor Jeremy 4th May 2020