The Torch

Issue 1, 2020

Produced and published by
Torch Trust
Torch House,
Torch Way,
Market Harborough,
Leicestershires
LE16 9HL, UK
t: +44 (0)1858 438260
e: info@torchtrust.org
w: torchtrust.org

The Torch Trust for the Blind a charity registered in England and Wales no. 1095904. A company limited by guarantee no. 4616526

The Torch is available on audio CD, in braille, email and large print and can be downloaded from the Torch website as an HTML file. All extracts and articles appearing in The Torch are used with permission and do not necessarily reflect the views of Torch Trust. Unless otherwise stated all Bible quotations are from the New International Bible copyright 2011 (NIV)

Contents

Welcome

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Psalm 27:14)

Welcome to this edition of The Torch! As we write from England we are waiting for the spring to come. In the winter months we wake up in the darkness and look forward to the dawn and before we have finished our day’s work the night has fallen. The trees have no leaves and the weather can be bitterly cold. We long for the warmth and beauty of the summer when everything is lush and green again. Around the world we experience seasons, whilst the weather varies we all have times to plant and times to harvest. We all must learn to wait.

Our theme for The Torch this issue is waiting.

God’s word tells us to wait on the Lord, but often we can be keen to rush ahead and make things happen in our own strength. Remember Abraham and Sarah? They had a promise from God of a son, but they doubted in the waiting and so made their own plans allowing Abraham to have a son with Sarah’s maid, Hagar. The result was strife in their home.

And sometimes God’s promise comes in an unexpected way. The Israelites were surprised by the way the long-awaited Messiah arrived in the world, not in a palace but in a stable. Many missed the miracle they had waited for as they couldn’t see God’s hand at work.

Are there promises God has given you that have not yet come to pass? It’s our prayer that this edition of The Torch will encourage you as you wait on the Lord. Whilst we may not enjoy waiting we can learn to lean on God and grow closer to Him, learning to trust His timing and His ways. We can recall the things He has already done, as Psalm 77:11 says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Let the stories of God’s faithfulness in the scriptures remind you of his faithfulness to you as you wait.

With every blessing from your friends at Torch Trust in the UK.

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Let the scriptures speak

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8–9)

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It’s time to become mature

[A Word of Encouragement from United Christian Broadcasters (UCB)]

We must try to become mature.(Hebrews 6:1 (CEV))

Paul writes: ‘May God himself ...who makes everything holy and whole ... put you together – spirit, soul, and body – and keep you fit for the coming of ... Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24 MSG). Are you growing into spiritual maturity? Before you answer, read these words: ‘Maturity is the ability to control your anger and settle your differences without violence or resentment. Maturity is patience; it’s the willingness to pass up short-term pleasure for long-term gain. It’s the ability to “sweat it out” in spite of heavy opposition or discouraging setbacks. It’s the capacity to face unpleasantness and frustration without complaining or collapsing. Maturity is humility. It’s being big enough to say, “I was wrong,” and when you are right, never needing to say, “I told you so.” Maturity is the ability to make a decision and follow through with it instead of exploring endless possibilities and doing nothing about any of them. Maturity means dependability, keeping your word, and coming through in a crisis. The immature are masters of alibi; they’re the confused and the disorganised. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, former friends, unfinished business, and good intentions. Maturity is the art of being at peace with what you can’t change, having the courage to change what you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ The Bible says, ‘We must try to become mature and start thinking about more than just the basic things we were taught.’ So the word for you today is: it’s time to become mature.

Copyright © Bob and Debby Gass.
Used by permission.

[Free copies of the UCB Word For Today are available for the UK and Republic of Ireland by contacting United Christian Broadcasters, Westport Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST6 4JF. www.ucb.co.uk]

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Take your hands off

[An excerpt from Coping with the Camel: The Story of God’s remarkable work with the Torch Trust by Stella G Heath]

‘You know there are a lot of people who can’t read any of our literature because they are not able to read braille’, I said one day when we were opening mail back in the [1960s]. ‘We’ve got nothing that we can give them. I feel so much for the young folks, and we seem to have contact with so many who have other handicaps as well as all those who are too old to learn new skills. I wish we could do something for them.’ I looked at my husband to see what his reaction would be to my observation.

‘I daresay’; he said with a hint of a sigh, ‘but we are involved first and foremost in a braille work. We are only just managing to cope as it is, and if we start going into tape recording, well it’s a completely new thing. There’s no telling where it will lead us. I’m sorry I don’t think we could cope with it!’

I sighed audibly! I could see in my mind many blind people who were cut off from all that could help them grow as Christians, and many too who didn’t know the Saviour yet. Still, it was one of those times when it was best to leave the matter. People who are inclined to have a vision have to be careful when they project that vision on to their practical friends and relatives. I was gradually learning that the vision was sometimes ‘for an appointed time,’ and that meant ‘stop talking about it, get praying!’

It is amazing how God moves when we take our hands off! Soon after this we were given a small tape recorder, little more than a toy, and we started to experiment with it. Yes we could do something’.

* * * * * *

Now fifty years on from this, Torch produces much of its literature in audio; people can listen to the Bible, daily Bible reading notes, magazines and books. Torch is also able to broadcast on the radio giving encouragement to those who need it. The ministry of Torch began when the needs of one young lady were made known to Ron and Stella, it didn’t form overnight. God gradually grew Torch adding people, making connections, providing resources at the right time. Whatever your vision, we pray you will ‘take your hands off’ pray as Stella did and trust God to make the way at the right time.

You can listen to the Torch radio programmes if you have access to the internet by following the link on our website www.torchtrust.org

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Simeon

by Michael Stafford

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the Temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God ... (Luke 2:25–28 (ESV))

Although we are not told how old Simeon was, it seems that he was an old man who knew he was near the end of life. God had extended his life in order to fulfil a prophecy given him by the Holy Spirit, that he would see the long-awaited Messiah before he died. We may be tempted to wonder why God lets some people live long lives and others die comparatively young. Psalm 31:15 says ‘My times are in Your hands’. We can take comfort from this – our passing, whenever that is, will not be an accident but is already planned by God.

Simeon had spent many years waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled. He never lost hope and when Mary and Joseph appeared, carrying the baby Jesus, Simeon immediately recognised who this child was. It is astonishing that Simeon instinctively knew that this baby, who no doubt looked similar to any other baby, was the promised Messiah, but it is clear that Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit that this was indeed the One for whom he had waited.

Simeon was now ready for God to call him home:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:29–32 (ESV))

This was Simeon’s prayer. Today it is often sung in Anglican churches at evening worship, and is known as the ‘Nunc Dimittis’.

The Nunc Dimittis is also a prophecy, for Simeon was a prophet and had been given wisdom and understanding by the Holy Spirit. Most Israelites saw the Messiah as a military hero who would deliver the nation from its enemies. That enemy in Jesus’ time was Rome, which had incorporated Israel into its vast empire and ruled it with an iron rod. Simeon had a totally different revelation of who the Messiah would be:

And his father and his mother marvelled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed’ (Luke 2:33–35 (ESV))

Jesus demonstrated that He could see what was in the hearts of people – see John 1:47–48, where Jesus knew all about Nathanael though He had never met him before. He discerned the true nature of many of the Pharisees and how they were hypocrites – looking good on the outside but full of deceit and corruption within.

It may be an alarming thought that God knows all about us and even our deepest thoughts. However, He is not only a Judge, but also a Redeemer. Simeon hinted at the fact that Mary would have bitter suffering because of what would happen to Jesus. We know that He had to suffer and die in order that we could be forgiven when we believe and repent of our sins – including those dark thoughts which sometimes invade our hearts. Those who rejected Jesus as God’s Son would fall under God’s judgment and condemnation; those who receive Him will rise to new life and the promise of heaven.

An important lesson we should learn from Simeon’s life is that he waited patiently, believing that God’s promise of a coming Messiah would be fulfilled in due time. We live in a different age but we are still encouraged to ‘wait’ for Jesus’ coming. He Himself promised that He would return to usher in the Kingdom of God and take us to a place that He has gone to prepare for us:

In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:2,3 (ESV))

Paul encouraged the believers in his day to wait for the Lord’s second coming: ‘you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven’. (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 ESV)

Paul was aware in his day that some of the churches he and his colleagues had planted had gone overboard in regard to Christ’s second coming. They were convinced that Jesus would come at any moment, so they gave up their work and just ‘waited’. The result was that their families were neglected and were not being provided for. In his second letter to the Thessalonians Paul denounced this and instructed the believers not to be idle but to carry on with their daily work and earn their own living. We are now nearly 2,000 years from the promise that Jesus gave concerning His coming, and we may feel that the promise is just not being fulfilled. However, Peter reminded his readers in 2 Peter 3:9 that the Lord is not slow to fulfil His promise.

Jesus Himself said that no-one knows the time when He will come, but we should always be ready: ‘the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ (Matthew 24:44 ESV). So let us wait patiently and prepare ourselves to meet Him when He comes.

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I am waiting for the dawning of the bright and blessed day

Trevor Francis

I am waiting for the dawning
Of that bright and pleasant day,
When the darksome night of sorrow
Shall have vanished far away;
When forever with my saviour;
Far beyond this vale of tears,
I shall swell the hymn of worship
Thru the everlasting years.

I am looking at the brightness,
See, it shining from afar,
Of the clear and joyous beaming
Of the bright and morning star;
Thru the dark grey mist of morning
I behold its glorious light;
Then away with ev’ry shadow
Of this sad and weary night.

I am waiting for the coming
Of the Lord who died for me;
Oh, His words have thrilled my spirit,
‘I will come again for thee.’
Faith can almost hear Christ’s footfall
On the threshold of the door,
And my heart, my heart is longing
To be with Him evermore.

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