Featured items of current interest

Please note that Living Water is no longer being published so this section is being used to promote items of past ministry that have particular relevance to our times.

Forgiveness

"If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
...for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."  Psalm 130:3,4,7.

There was a young man who was an atheist. The Spirit of God was obviously striving with him and he went into the church in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square and he prayed this: ‘God, if you’re real put me in touch with somebody who knows you’. He came out of that church, crossed over the road and went into Charing Cross Station that was two minutes away. There a lady gave him a tract and he could see it was a tract. He told her what he had just prayed and she said to him: ‘Well I'm the person that God wants you to meet’. She then told him about Jesus and how He had saved her, saved her from a very mixed-up life and background. This young man took the tract and said his train was going to leave and he ran off. But there you are! He prayed to God that if He was real He would put him in touch with somebody who knew Him and within a couple of minutes later that’s exactly what happened. That’s the God I know, a God who is anxious to bless you, anxious to bless the sinner, anxious to meet the need of whosoever will. He’s been so anxious about that, you know, that He’s provided the perfect righteous basis whereby a sinner can be forgiven.

There was another young man whose story comes to my mind. He had no interest in God. All he wanted to do was to live his own life. He got up to all sorts of mischief and one day he passed a book shop and in the window he saw a book that appeared to be about the devil. He thought: ‘That’s just the kind of book I want!’ So he went in and he didn’t look too closely at it but he bought it – a book about the devil. When he came to look at it more closely he found out that it was a book about Christ and it just had an unusual title. But through reading it he came to know the Saviour. Yes, that’s the God I know – a God who will even use interest in the devil to bring someone to knowledge of the Lord Jesus as their own personal Saviour.

That’s the God I commend to you! But more than that, God commends His own love to you and He commends it by the very fact that He gave His only begotten Son. You see sin has brought in a distance between us and God and it’s something that we by ourselves can do nothing about. Not only does the Bible tell us that we’re all sinners but you know you’re a sinner, you know there are things that you’ve done that you shouldn’t have done and things perhaps that you should have done and haven’t. The BBC conducted a survey one Easter and asked people about things they had done and wished they hadn’t. A huge percentage of people responded to that survey coming up with all sorts of things from their lives. They wished they had done this or that better or they wished they had not got so angry about something and things like that. Whatever we think of ourselves the Bible is quite true that everyone has sinned and comes short of the glory of God. But the wonderful thing is that in that situation God has provided a Saviour for you and me – One whom we can trust with absolute assurance, One who invited all those who were weary and heavy laden to come to Him. You are perhaps weary and burdened with your sins but tonight there’s a Saviour for you. It tells us here: “if thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” God knows about our iniquities and our sins – He’s got them all written down but He is not holding these things against us tonight. He sent His only begotten Son. One thing that stands out in the life of Jesus and makes Him different from everybody else is that He was absolutely perfect.

There was never a sin, never an evil thought, very different from every one of us. The gospels don’t tell us very much about the early life of our Lord Jesus. They just show us His birth and a few incidents up to His being twelve years old and then there was a great gap. They tell us when at the age of thirty Jesus took up His public ministry there was a voice from heaven that said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight” (Matthew 3:17). There was absolute perfection in all those years. Marvellous! Think back to your own teenage years if you are beyond them and think of how you were as a young person. Jesus under the eye of God was absolutely perfect.

And if anything proves His sinlessness it is what happened to Him when He was taken and given a mockery of a trial when He endured the indignities and hatred of those persons around Him. They hit Him in the face; they spat upon Him, covered His face and said to Him “prophesy to us, Christ, Who is it who struck thee?” (Matthew 26:66). They scourged Him; they made a crown of thorns for Him. They heaped every kind of indignity on Him and what happened? What did Jesus do, what did He say? He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). What a proof that Jesus never even had an evil thought! I know if people did things like that to me I would be very angry. I would have hated them but the Lord Jesus had nothing of that. He says “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” – absolute perfection, absolute sinlessness and that had to be so because as suffering at Calvary’s cross He was going there as a perfect sacrifice. He offered Himself spotless to God.

In the words of Isaiah the prophet, God was going to lay upon Him the “iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). In that way the Lord Jesus was going to bear the judgment of God against sin so that there might be a way of righteous forgiveness for you and me, sinners though we are. Tonight that’s available to you. Whatever you’ve done, whatever may have entered into your life there’s a way of forgiveness because Jesus suffered “the just for the unjust” – Why? – “that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). You can come into a relationship with God tonight if only you’ll own up to the fact that you’re a sinner and tell the Lord Jesus in any words you like that you want Him to cleanse you from your sins and come into your life and to be your Saviour.

I was at the Imperial War Museum last Wednesday. I went there to have a look at some New Testaments that were issued during the First World War. They were called Active Service Testaments and they were produced by the Scripture Gift Mission .These little booklets had in the back of them a declaration which read something like this: ‘knowing that I am a sinner and that the Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died to save me and rose again I take Him as my personal Saviour and seek help to commend Him before men’. Some people signed them and put their names and their addresses in them. The researchers at the Imperial War Museum had looked through their collection of these Testaments and they got out all the ones that were signed so that I could have a look at them. There it is! People had signed up to say that they knew they were sinners and they had called on the Lord Jesus to save them. If you want to know God, if you want the forgiveness of sins and to have peace with God the same way is open to you.

God is not holding your sins against you. He knows all about them but the scripture says: “there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared”. That forgiveness is based on the finished perfect work of Christ when He suffered the just for the unjust, when He bore the judgment of God in all its awfulness. That’s what happened in the three hours of darkness when the Lord Jesus was forsaken of God. He did that so that He might be presented as a Saviour for you and me and “God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us” (Romans 5:8). God is commending His love to you tonight because He does love you. God loves you so much that “he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Would you like to believe today? Would you own up to the fact that you’re a sinner in need of a Saviour?

There’s plentiful forgiveness; it says here “but with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption”. The work of Christ is enough to meet the need of every sinner that comes to God through Him. There’s no sin that can put you at a distance from the work of the Lord Jesus in its cleansing power. There’s nothing that you can have done that cannot be met by that saving power of the blood of Jesus. God has given the witness to it that He’s fully satisfied with what Jesus has done and that He has raised Him from the dead. Yea more than that, Christ has ascended into heaven and He sat down at “the right hand of the greatness on high”. He’s turned the greatest throne in the universe into a throne of blessing and from that throne He is administering blessing to whoever trusts in Him today. It’s the greatest offer that you’ll ever find in your life!

The most important thing that you’ll ever need to do is to get right with God because unless you do the prospect is very awful – you will come under the judgment of God, the same character of judgment as was borne by Jesus. Jesus bore that judgment so that there might be a way of blessing for you and today the door to it is wide open. The only thing that may stop you coming into God’s loving favour and forgiveness is your own unwillingness to own up to the fact that you’re a sinner and to trust in Christ. He is certainly available for you as the Saviour.

There is a story that the Lord Jesus told in the gospels, that we sometimes call the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). It’s one of the most famous Bible stories. Charles Dickens apparently described it as the greatest short story that had ever been written, but it’s much more than that. It’s a story that Jesus told to show how a sinner coming to God will be received. It tells us what happened to a younger son who went away to a far country and got into all kinds of disobedience and debauchery and all kinds of evil. He then could not help himself and he made up his mind to go back to his father and say “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee; I am no longer worthy to be called thy son”. As soon as the son had come to that conclusion he set off for home. His father began running to meet him. Somebody once said that the only time God is in a hurry is when He wants to bless the sinner. If you are a repentant sinner you can rely on that tonight. If you feel the slightest movement of your heart towards God, that you want to be forgiven, that you want to have Christ as your own Saviour, you can be quite sure that as soon as you wish to turn to Him He will be there to fill your heart with blessing. It says in that story “the father said to his bondmen, Bring out the best robe and clothe him in it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead and has come to life, was lost and has been found”. That little story shows the wonderful way that God delights and is perfectly righteous in receiving the sinner who believes in Jesus. Tonight there is a Saviour for you! Will you trust Him? Will you own up to the fact that you’re a sinner and that you need Christ? It is the most important decision you will ever make. You can make it now while you are on your seat. May you do so for His name’s sake.

Gospel Preaching at Chester on 30 March 2014

Extracted from "A Selection of Addresses and Preachings by Mark Lemon"


ISOLATION (1)

I believe that the Lord in a very peculiar way makes up to one for the privation of not assembling together, when it has been caused by circumstances beyond our control; still it is a privation. I think there is an evident distinction between being hindered by the chastening of the Lord, or by the power of the world. It is distinct mercy when one is not hindered; but when one is hindered, either by chastening or by an adverse power, there is an exercise of soul and heart accordingly.

If it be by chastening, the word, as we hear it, is directed to the removal or washing away of that in us which required it. If it be by the power of the world, the Lord manifests Himself, and encourages and consoles us by His presence. This latter is properly isolation - the only good isolation, and the Lord turns it to the best account.

Paul in prison, and John at Patmos, (Acts 28:16; Revelation 1:9) are both isolated by the power of man; but the place and time of isolation were used of God to impart to them the deepest purposes of His mind, and I doubt not the nature of the isolation, indicated the line of truth which was committed to each. One was an exile; the other, a prisoner; and neither of them could by any means escape from the isolation to which they were subjected.

There is another isolation still more painful, and one which was experienced by the apostle Paul before the Roman tribunal, as he says, “all men [meaning saints] forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16). They left him to fend for himself. It was dangerous to be identified with him; but he adds, “the Lord stood with me”. Now this proves that if the isolation is imposed on one, the Lord does make up for it in a very distinct way by His own presence. But I could not call it imposed if I could free myself. Daniel thrown into the lions’ den is an isolation that is imposed, for he could not escape from it, and the Lord is peculiarly with him; he would have preferred Jerusalem, but he could not get there, and hence in the lions’ den he is better off than if he were at Jerusalem.

Nothing but the Lord’s chastening, or coercion from man, ought ever to induce me to abstain from the circle of divine blessing on earth. But if the isolation be imposed either way, I believe that the lessons taught then are most peculiar, and not the mere lessons, but the manner and way of His love and interest as never known otherwise.

In the isolation of chastening, He comes as the physician to cure. The physician who cures always endears himself to his patient. He probes the heart maladies, and ministers the word of cure. In the isolation from coercion, it is as though you were in prison, and then He comes to you, and in the lonely limits of the prison chamber, He is your companion, not to make you indifferent to liberty, but to acquaint you with the compensation of His presence, and to interest
your heart in His own interests, in a scene at once so dark and so dreary. His gentleness makes me great. No one is really softened - divinely so, except the one who has learned the sympathy of Christ. Paul seems to me to have acquired this softness in the prison.

An isolation where no one around is of a like mind, as a child in a worldly family, I consider imposed; and according as it is really and truly accepted, the Lord manifests Himself; and then it is that the heart studies, and learns His features, as you see with the bride in Canticles. It learns to have but the one study, and the more it studies the more it is interested in the study. “The eye is not satisfied with seeing” (Ecclesiastes 1:8). You are in a picture gallery, hung from
ceiling to floor on every side with portraits of the one person; but in different circumstances and different aspects; all private, only visible to yourself, only belonging to you in isolation, and the compensation for it; never to make you indifferent to your liberty, but on the contrary to fit you for using it to more advantage when it is given to you.

ISOLATION (2)

When in isolation through coercion, over which I have no control, there is a time of special blessing. Duties may be of this order of coercion. I think solitude most necessary and profitable, and as there must be rest in sleep for the body or the mind which is much exercised, so there must be much meditation in solitude, for the one much occupied in acquiring. Where the acquiring is small, the retirement can be small. There is little to ruminate on when there has been little taken in. To be a clean animal there was to be both the chewing of the cud, and dividing of the hoof; there must be rumination after feeding, and feet to practise. (Leviticus 11:3-8).

I regret that there is so little meditation. I believe that one really fed by the Lord, is never satisfied until he goes over what has fed him before the Lord, and finds in His presence how adapted it is. I am sure that after a meeting, when there has been blessing, the desire is to get away and be alone with the Lord; there is a fear of losing it, unless or until one has reviewed it before Him. If you are prevented from attending a meeting by any kind of service to the Lord, you lose nothing, but on the contrary, you have your reward.

Extracted from Ministry by J B Stoney (1814-1897) Vol. 12 Pages 216-218