Rev John Woods, 32, BRAE HILL ROAD, BELFAST, BT14 8FL. / 07595220981

Sunday 25 April 2020

Dear friends,

This letter finds us all still affected by the lock down which is necessary to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. We each feel very much the constraints which prevent us going out to visit and prevent others coming in to visit us. We still miss gathering in the public place of worship but at the same time we look forward in faith to days when these needed restrictions will be relaxed.

Thinking of being shut in reminded me of Paul and Silas in prison in Philippi in Acts 16 v 25 where we read, “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God:” We thank God that we can still, in our own homes pray and sing praises. We have always a need to be more fervent and persistent in the matter of prayer. “Men ought always to pray and not to faint” and all the more so in the current situation we find ourselves. Prayer is needed for the medical staff and carers in these days, for the ill and for the bereaved, but above all for a breath of revival and a spiritual awakening. These days can be of great spiritual benefit to our souls and to the work of God despite the discouraging and distressing news we are faced with on a daily basis. The words of 1 Thessalonians 5 v 17 are very applicable, “Pray without ceasing.”

When we consider Paul and Silas having been beaten and in prison singing praises unto God we are taught that in the most difficult times the child of God has reason to offer praise to God. To be saved by the grace of God and to be kept by his power and to have the assurance that his grace is sufficient for us is cause for praise. To know that our God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will and that Christ has promised to build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it and to be able to look up and lift up our heads for our redemption draweth nigh, these blessings call us to praise God every day. We can count our blessings and name them one by one and it will surprise us what the Lord hath done.

If you are unsaved and reading these words surely God is speaking clearly through this pandemic calling you to consider your mortality and to seek the LORD while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near. Do not be careless about your soul dear friend. The oversight of the congregation have a desire for the spiritual and temporal well being of all connected with the congregation and are praying for you. Feel free to contact myself or any of the elders at any time if you require help.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. John Woods.

Sunday 26 March 2020

Dear friends,

The pandemic of the coronavirus is having an effect upon us all. The circumstances of our lives have changed in a very short space of time. The places we were used of frequenting in many cases are now out of bounds and the people we once visited can, for a time, only be contacted by phone. For each believer who has still had the health and strength to attend the public place of worship even this privilege has been taken from us for a time.

The times are distressing and troubling and yet God has not changed and none of this has taken Him by surprise. In Malachi 3 v 6 we read, “For I am the LORD, I change not” We greatly appreciate the sacrifices being made by all involved in the health care system and especially remember them in our prayers. We also remember all connected with the congregation in prayer and our wider family circles, those shut in, those self – isolating, those caring for loved ones and those bereaved in recent times. We can encourage one another and be a witness to the unsaved by means of a phone call or a text message. As your interim moderator please feel free to contact myself or any of the elders at any time.

We are thankful for the internet and other means of hearing the Word of God preached in these days such as CD’s or DVD’s. It is important that we continue to worship God at home. We have the word of God to read and the throne of grace is still open to us as we pray. The times when we would have been in the house of God can still be set aside to worship God. Continue to pray for our missionaries and churches.

I was reading from John 16 as part of my devotions and the Lord impressed upon my heart the words of v33 where the Lord Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. The Lord Jesus was speaking in the context of his coming departure from his disciples and the persecution they would experience as they lived for God in this world and he was bringing words of comfort. There is an application for us as God’s people in the present circumstances of our day. The end which the Lord Jesus had in preaching this farewell sermon to his disciples was that they might have peace in him no matter what troubles were without. The Lord Jesus pointed out that we are to expect tribulation in this world. The word tribulation carries the meaning of trouble, anguish and pressure. The Lord leaves us in no doubt that there are troubles to face for the child of God in this life. The Lord at the same time calls us to be of good cheer or to take courage because he gives us the comforting truth that he has overcome the world and we have peace in him. Matthew Henry the commentator wrote this concerning these words of the Lord Jesus, “He comforts them with a promise of peace in him, by virtue of his victory over the world, whatever troubles they might meet with in it”. May the Lord comfort all our hearts in these days.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. John Woods.

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