Words for Life

Spend a few minutes in reflection.


 

Monday 16th May 2022 

 

Colossians 1 9-14

9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

13-14 God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

 

 

 

During his imprisonment in Rome, Paul penned this letter to the Colossian Church. They were under attack from false teachers who were denigrating the deity of Jesus, teaching that He was not actually God.

Paul was giving his friends a “pep-talk” encouraging them to shake their fears. Even when we are on an uphill journey Jesus is with us. When we are the underdog and need assistance Christ stands beside us to help us find courage and regain our confidence.

This particular translation is from The Message and if we look around verse 11 we read  “We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us”

This translation is definitely very descriptive and encourages us to go for the long haul if that’s what’s going on and also to enjoy the glory of having God by your side at the same time. And that promise that God has something bright and beautiful for us. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ponder, Praise and Prayer

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th April

Ponder: Luke 5  One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

 

Praise: In preparation for this week's taped service I was remembering Simon Peter on his boat talking to Jesus. Jesus tells him” Peter, I want you to get you into the middle of this lake,(which is 13 miles long and 8.1 miles wide).  It's almost as if he is saying “Peter, here’s what I want to do.  I want to get you to be quiet. I want to get you to the place where you’re away from the people and away from the crowds

 

Jesus is taking Peter away from the noise, away from the busy.  He’s isolating him so He can speak to him.  Isolation is often the place of preparation.  Isolation is often the place where we meet Jesus or where He takes us deeper into a relationship with Him.

 

This picture is Jesus taking Peter out of the world so that He can start to take the world out of Peter.  And there are a few examples of this type of encounter with Jesus

 

Luke 19 tells us about Zacheus who was mixing with the crowds and he could not see Jesus so he famously climbed a tree. Minutes later Jesus comes along and says “ Zachaeus come down immediately I must stay at your house today.

 

“ I must stay at your house today” why do you think Jesus said that?  It's certainly not for the quality of the food or drink that Zacheus was serving. I imagine it's  Jesus taking Zacheus out of the world so that He can start to take the world out of Peter. And we know that after this Zacheus declared “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Remember earlier when I said “ Isolation is often a place for preparation”

And then of course there was the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus asks her “ will you give me a drink?”. He takes away from her job in hand to fill her jar with water, H2O. Jesus takes her out of the world so that he can start to take the world out of this Samaritan woman.

Isolation is often a place for preparation. In this instance Zacheus was prepared to declare  “ I give my possessions to the poor and if I’ve cheated anyone I will repay them four fold. The woman at the well, she was prepared to run down into the town and declare “ come and see a man who knows everything I have done. Sometimes to hear ourselves pray we have to seek that isolation. A quiet space and a quiet place. Isolation is often a place for preparation and prayers may come easier.

 

Pray: We pray about the busier times in life. Where all the noise is. The voices and the traffic. The distractions and sometimes we don’t recognise the transactions. Let us seek out the quiet place, the prayer place where we find isolation and in that isolation we will find Jesus easier. We will find prayer easier. We will find peace. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 26th April

 

 

Ponder: Proverbs 18 v 24  “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”

 

Praise: Friendships can be the equivalent to family, as this verse states, for some friends can be closer to their friends than even their own family members are. The saying goes that you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends, and many people might see their friends as their family.

So, one of the greatest gifts you can give your friends is prayer. We can pray for their needs and for the blessing of God’s presence to guide them each day. Not sure where to start on prayers for your friends? 

 

Prayer:Thank you so much for my friends and the spiritual impact they have made in my life. As Proverb states, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” That is why I am praying a prayer of thanksgiving for my friends who have sharpened me. I am so thankful for them in my life, through the good times and bad, reminding me of God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice that allows me to face each day. I pray for nothing but thanksgiving for them, and that our friendship will only continue to blossom, sharpening one another for God’s glory.

 

We recognise that sometimes friends replace family that we either have lost contact with or family that we don’t have. We nurture those friends and that we ourselves don’t become too much of a burden for them to bear. But we are safe in the knowledge that you are among us in these friendships and that you have brought about our support to them and from them. Finally we pray for the friend that sticks closer than a brother for without them we would be poorer brothers and sisters. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 25th April

 

Ponder: Revelation 1:9-20

 

John’s Vision of Christ

 

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[b]of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

 

Praise: Brothers and sisters, we are not alone. We have one another. And more importantly Christ is in the midst of us. He is in our midst both to encourage and to refine.

 

Do you remember what Christ said to his disciple before his death in the Gospel of John? he promised them, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18). The Gospel of John records the promise for us. In Revelation the promise is shown to be fulfilled. Indeed our Lord is with us.

 

Revelation 1 describes a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, unveiling aspects of the Savior's power and eternal mission, including the reassuring truth that the Lord labours among and with His faithful servants.

 

Prayer: Today we pray for the saviour who walks among us. For the Holy Spirit that touches men and women’s hearts and encourages them to do His work. We pray this day that it is not left to others and that even in a small way we can all work for the Kingdom. The smallest gesture, even a smile can leave an impression with someone that there is good in this world and not everything is bad as we see it on the news and in the newspapers. We pray today for all that we meet, all that we see and all that we do. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 24th April

 

Ponder :Acts 5:27-32

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us. "But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

 

Praise: The apostles were doing what they believed they were commissioned to do. Unfortunately, this conflicted with what others believed and how others lived. In this particular instance the apostles’ witness conflicted with the ideas of the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem

 They just wanted everyone to know Jesus loved them, didn’t they? After all, isn’t that the essence of the gospel message? 


After refusing to obey the Jerusalem authorities’ orders to keep quiet, Peter and the apostles find themselves on the defense in a courtroom setting. They remind Peter, “Did we not tell you to keep quiet?” Peter’s first response is not, “I’m sorry, sirs, we shall not go about publically proclaiming the name of Jesus any longer.” To the contrary, what he says can be defined as sheer “gallusness” to use a Glaswegian expression.

 

But remember this process of obeying God rather than humans is backed by the promise that with Jesus’ resurrection there is something better. Public proclamation of Jesus in obedience to God rather than humans intends not to cut off those who oppose this but to underline God’s renewal of all things.


In 1980 Ozzy Osbourne released a song called “Crazy Train.” The chorus of the song is ridiculously simple, but very evocative: “I’m going off the rails on a crazy train.” What the apostles were doing must have seemed like this. The Pharisees and leaders certainly seem to think this. Drawing attention to the public proclamation of Jesus as Lord was indeed crazy. This crazy train, Peter is clear to note, does not have a human conductor, and God is taking it right off of the rails. 

 

 

Pray: We pray today for the ability to prioritise. God first everything comes after. Sometimes we make our own boundaries and road blocks so that we can do what we think is right when our priority is God's work and the spreading of his word. Give us this burden today we ask and at the same time remind us what you have done for us in our lives. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 23rd April

 

 

Ponder: Luke 24:36-40

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is me! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.


Praise: We come with our doubts, confusions, fears and misunderstandings. We, each week, through worship we encounter the risen Christ. In the reading of the scriptures and the preached word we are offered explanations, proclaiming the good news of what God has and is doing. We may eat with Christ, breaking the bread of the resurrection in Communion.  (Perhaps like the early Christians we should share fish as well?) The Spirit brings enlightenment, opening our hearts and minds, setting our hearts afire. Finally, the exit should be ours for Christ has sent us out into the entire world to be witnesses to this amazing news.

 

Prayer: We end this week still praying for faith. The great unseen but much needed faith for our pastors and ministers. For our church people to connect with The Holy Spirit and go out and carry on despite the changes, despite the pandemic and despite the forces against us. We pray all of this in the name of the son Jesus Christ.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 22nd April

 

 

Acts 5:17-26

The Apostles Persecuted

 

Ponder: ”Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.  They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.  “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.”  On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

 

 

Praise: The apostles could not be silenced. They knew of nothing more significant for them to do. It is every Christians calling to share the good news of repentance and forgiveness. Does this calling fall heavily on your shoulders, or do you prefer to leave it to others? Has the message of God and his forgiveness, so powerfully changed your life that you can’t help but share it with others?

With fresh wounds across the backs of the apostles—blood clinging to their clothes, dripping onto the ground beneath them—they return to the temple. Who are these people? Where are they today? We simply do not find this kind of boldness in the 21stcentury. Or do we?

“We think of these apostles as ‘heroes.’ And perhaps they are! We are awed by their boldness and tenacity. Yet they were only the first in a long line of bold Christians throughout the centuries. Do you not want to be among them?”

 

 

Prayer:  We pray this morning for the persecuted church. The brothers and sisters, like the early apostles, who are willing to lay down their lives in order to spread the word of God and the story of Jesus their saviour. Like the early apostles these men and women cannot be silenced and their boldness in the 21stCentury is the stuff of heroes and heroines. We pray for them and their churches. We pray for the job that they carry out and we pray for their lives as they are at risk on an hourly basis in the foreign lands they find themselves in. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 21st April

 

Ponder: 1 Samuel 17   A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armour—126 pounds of it! He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail—the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.

Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel today. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!”

When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.

 Enter David. He was the son of Jesse the Ephrathite from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse, the father of eight sons, was himself too old to join Saul’s army. . David was the youngest son. While his three oldest brothers went to war with Saul, David went back and forth from attending to Saul to tending his father’s sheep in Bethlehem.

 Each morning and evening for forty days, Goliath took his stand and made his speech.

One day, Jesse told David his son, “Take this sack of cracked wheat and these ten loaves of bread and run them down to your brothers in the camp. And take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers to see whether they are getting along all right, and let me know how they’re doing—Saul and your brothers, and all the Israelites in their war with the Philistines in the Oak Valley.”

David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock, took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines moved into position, facing each other, battle-ready. David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines, and gave his usual challenge. David heard him.

 

 

Praise: We all know the story of David and Goliath. Tiny David, Giant Goliath. David with only a few stones and a catapult while Goliath had 126 pounds of armour on. “What was he thinking?” people said “was he mad''. You could say he had the confidence of God facing up to the giant and the confidence that he would not miss his target. I love Max Lucado’s analogy of events when he says that, “while others feared for David being so small and Goliath so big, maybe in David’s head he was thinking  "let's face it he’s so big I’m not going to miss him  am I?”

We all have giants to face in our lives. Sometimes we feel we don’t have the ammunition to deal with them but the “ammo” we need is contained in the scriptures. 


Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Philippians 4:6-7 - Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen

 


Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that you have been sending us your promises from the very beginning of time. Thank you for your faithfulness, as you give the definition of faithful a true meaning. You have never and will never break a promise. Time and time again throughout all Scripture, you promise to lead us and guide us, to never leave us, nor forsake us. Thank you that you have already paved a way and wherever we are sitting in this very moment, you are near us and one step ahead of us. 

Whatever we are facing, Lord, we can trust that you know what’s next and are protecting us along the way. We ask that in those moments where doubt creeps in, that you would remind us of today’s verse. When fear creeps in of what is going to happen, remind us that you are in total control and that you have already gone before us, you’ll be with us during it, and you’ll go behind us. Thank you that you are trustworthy for these beautiful promises to help navigate us through this life. 

In your mighty name we pray.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 20th April

 

Ponder: Matthew 28  11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests' everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, 'You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

 

Praise: Jesus has just been crucified and already conspiracy theories abound. The chief priests are all part of it and come up with the story that he did not rise from the dead but the disciples came during the night and stole the body.

The tsunami of events that had taken place over the previous week must have left the disciples shocked and confused. First came the “highs” then the illegitimate trials and an unlawful sentence.

But God overruled the plans and schemes of men. God teaches us to live by faith and not by sight. We trust God's word even though the storms of life are beating down on us. We are to know his word, obey his commands, trust his promise and remember all of this so we will not be deceived by theories, deception or doubt.

 

Prayer: We pray today for the unseen. Faith at work. The spirit that dwells among us. We pray for a trust that is unwavering even though we know as mere men and women that does not always happen. We pray for the word. So important in the lives of Christians we pray that the word continues to act as a catalyst so that we all can be fishers of men. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 19th April

 

Ponder: Psalm 118

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”

 

Praise: Martin Luther made a strong connection with Psalm 118.  While Luther had several favourite Psalms, he had a passion for 118.  While hiding in Coburg Castle during 1530, he wrote an extensive commentary on Psalm 118.  On the wall of the room where he worked was written his personal motto: “I shall not die, but live, and recount the deeds of the Lord” (118:17).

 

This is the message of the Psalm. It applies to Jesus and, through him, to all believers.  “I shall not die but live, and recount the deeds of the Lord,” this inspired Luther’s militant faith. 

 

Of all people, Martin Luther certainly had cause to fear what others might do to him. Of this Psalm he wrote, “the dying live; the suffering rejoice; the fallen rise; the disgraced are honoured. It is as Christ says, ‘He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.'” 

 

Luther further declared that whenever the scriptures “deal with God concerning comfort and help in their need, eternal life and the resurrection of the dead are involved.” 

 

Just as the Psalmist was delivered by God, so now Christ empowers us, comforts us, and snatches us out of the realm of death. All this is done, says Luther, so that we might proclaim the deeds of the Lord. We have been so fortunate to celebrate Easter this year. The way we wanted Easter is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

 

Pray:As the Easter Celebration passes we pray for ministers and pastors that they may find peace and rest. We pray for the Easter message and hope that in some way it changed lives or at best encouraged brothers and sisters in Christ to appreciate that our God and our Lord not only loves us but it is a love that endures forever. We live in a temporary world, things come and go, what was important yesterday is insignificant today but we have the blessed assurance that our God so loved the world that he gave us his only son. We pray for faith and we pray for belief and we pray for eternal life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 18th April 

 

Ponder:1 Corinthians 5:6-8

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


Praise: A well known Jewish proverb asks us, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?" In today's reading Paul compared tolerance for ongoing sin to "yeast"  or "leaven"  working its way through a whole batch of dough. 

In ancient times, yeast was scarce and leaven was the popular alternative. Leaven was actually just an old piece of dough that had begun to ferment. When added to a new batch of dough, it spread its fermentation throughout the whole loaf, making the bread lighter. The longer the process continued, the greater the danger that the dough would become spoiled and poisonous. When the dough became bad, it all needed to be thrown away, and the process began again.

 

Paul's audience in Corinth may or may not have picked up on all the connections of unleavened bread to the Jewish Passover. But they did understand that Christ had been sacrificed for them. So for the sake of the purity of the body, the old leaven of immorality,  and wickedness had to be removed.

 

Prayer: Today is a time for reflection. Christ died for our sins and we must acknowledge that. Of course there is all the good stuff about the empty tomb and the risen Lord but at the end of the day Jesus did it for us. Let's not waste this opportunity to thank him for all that he has done and thank God for this opportunity to keep a good heart, a clean heart and to seek out the purities in life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 17th April

 

Ponder: Luke 24:1-12
24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. "Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

 

Praise:”If you look at the meaning of the word faith you might see that it is a “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.” I read somewhere that this passage is the true test of faith. From this reading, the women did expect to find Jesus as they took with them the spices needed for his body. When they saw he was not there “ they were perplexed”. Same goes for the eleven. It seemed to them that this story was nothing but an idle tale. 

I imagine if you were there at this scene there would be a lot of standing about. The woman reporting what they had found and the eleven deciding that this was nothing but a fantasy or an idle tale.

But suddenly there is movement and Peter runs to the tomb, sees the empty tomb clothes and was amazed at what had happened. Out of the eleven disciples there he was the one that did something with the information that the women had given them. He went straight back to the tomb to see for himself. Now you could say that his faith was tested but you could also say that he did something about it. He went to the tomb to see for himself.

Imagine yourself at the scene? Would your initial thought be “ he has risen as he said he would be” or would you be with the women and be perplexed by the whole scenario. Could you be like Peter then think,  “I need to do something about this, I need to find out for myself, I need to see with my own eyes. “

 

Prayer:As we stand at the entrance to the tomb and see that He has risen we pray this Easter for a stronger faith. As we live in a changing world, a world that seems to be at war with each other we pray that our faith is full of “spiritual conviction” and allows us to go on and continue our work in your church, bringing in more disciples and changing more lives. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 16th April

 

Ponder: Matthew 27 from verse 57

Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.  When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,  and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.  And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.

 

Praise: Have you ever found yourself in complete, total darkness? The kind where you can't see your hand in front of your face? It can be a terrifying place. As a child I was terrified of the dark but loved being under the covers with a torch reading my book.

Today's story begins in darkness, at least it's supposed to. It is the darkness of the closed up tomb where Jesus' body lay. The stone has been rolled in front of it. No light enters. It is utterly dark. Jesus' torn and beaten body is there and the women are planning to bring spices to help preserve his body in the morning. But now, it is Saturday, in the dark, airless, still tomb. It is not a pleasant place to be.  

 

Unlike the hosannas of Palm Sunday and the glory of Easter Day that we yearn for every year and especially this year. Saturday speaks most directly to the daily reality of our lives. After the shock of death or words that bring despair - words like covid, divorce, separation, illness, we find ourselves living with the "what next" of life--and we enter the dark void of unknowing.

 

This is where many of us live, from time to time. Yes, there are times when we experience the stark pain of Good Friday, and there are times when we know the jubilation of Easter. But this Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection. It is the valley of grief and unknowing--for us as well as for the first disciples. On Saturday we, and they, don't know what the future will bring. It’s a time of uncertainty. But as we look forward to Calvary and the resurrection the darkness turns to light and death has been conquered.

 

Prayer: We pray for those who live in the darkness, perhaps unwillingly but some out of choice. Bring these people into the light and to God's grace. We pray for the tomb and what it held and we thank God for our faith and belief in such a wonderful supernatural event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 14th April - Good Friday

 

Ponder: John 19 from verse 38

19:38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

 

Praise: And so Joseph and Nicodemus lay Jesus to rest in an empty tomb which was nearby. We learn, for one thing, from these verses, that there are some true Christians in the world of whom very little is known. The case of Joseph of Arimathea teaches us this. Here is a man named among the friends of Christ, whose very name we never find elsewhere in the New Testament, and whose history, both before and after this crisis, is completely withheld from the Church. He comes forward to do honour to Christ, when the Apostles had forsaken Him and fled. He cares for Him and delights to do His service, even when dead.

Let us hope and believe that there are many Christians, who, like Joseph, are the Lord's hidden servants, unknown to the Church and the world, but well known to God. Perhaps, on this very day, there are saints in the back streets of some of our great towns, or in the lanes of some of our country parishes, who make no noise in the world, and yet love Christ and are loved by Him. . After all, it is special circumstances that bring to the surface special Christians. It is not those who make the greatest show in the Church, who are always found the closest friends of Christ.

 

Prayer: We pray for those who are the invisible Christians. Those who love the Lord so much that they make their work unseen to the man and tending to the few. No one knows except God who they are and even this Easter they will serve him quietly, work with him unseen but effective nevertheless. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 14th April

 

A split reading this morning Hebrews 2 1-4 and then 10 to 15

Ponder “1-4 It’s crucial that we keep a firm grip on what we’ve heard so that we don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit.

10-13 It makes good sense that the God who got everything started and keeps everything going now completes the work by making the Salvation Pioneer perfect through suffering as he leads all these people to glory. Since the One who saves and those who are saved have a common origin, Jesus doesn’t hesitate to treat them as family, saying,

I’ll tell my good friends, my brothers and sisters, all I know  about you;
I’ll join them in worship and praise to you. Again, he puts himself in the same family circle when he says, Even I live by placing my trust in God.

And yet again, I’m here with the children God gave me.

14-15 Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Saviour took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.

 

 

Praise: When I read the opening lines of this morning's reading I immediately thought of The Church during the pandemic. Naturally people stayed away as they were instructed but now as more and more people are returning there are still old favourites missing. Maybe too vulnerable to return or scared that the pandemic is still out there. Of course there are online services and many more resources available to all. But we read the words in Hebrew “do you think we can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to us by those who heard it from him”

There has never been a more important time to join in the Harvest. We read the other day about the seeds needing to be planted on the good soil and there are quite a few analogies about being fishers of men and the harvest being plenty.

Today's reading ended “Since the children are made of flesh and blood, it’s logical that the Saviour took on flesh and blood in order to rescue them by his death. By embracing death, taking it into himself, he destroyed the Devil’s hold on death and freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.” And that's a great reminder of what the saviour has done for us, embracing death, destroyed the devil's hold and freed all.

We are living in changed times but still a time of encouragement. Of reaching out and of course being thankful.

 

 

Prayer: We continue this week with prayers for our church family. For those back in the fold and those who cannot return through vulnerability and fear. We continue our prayers for the Church that it can find a new normal still reaching out to all who are in need of God's Word. Praying still for the ministers and pastors who are finding a tougher job, surround them with people that can uplift them, encourage them and make them feel fulfilled. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 13th April

 

Ponder John 13:21-32

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me."The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples--the one whom Jesus loved--was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking.
So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?"
 

Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.

After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do."Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the festival"; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.

 

Praise. And so the journey to Calvary goes on, Judas was the one appointed to betray Jesus and as soon as this is pointed out to the others we read that “Satan enters into him”. You could write book after book as to why Judas was the one. Was it because he was holding the money? Was it because he was the weakest? None of that really matters as it was all part of God's plan.

What plans do you have? Especially in our journey as a church? Do you pray to be part of that journey? Pray that God's plan for you takes you to a place where you could be comfortable? Effective? Productive?

 

Pray for the journey we find ourselves in with God. Pray for the confidence and ability to be part of that journey and no matter how menial the role maybe it's all part of God's plan for us. No matter how insignificant we may think we are in his plan we must remember that his “eye is on the sparrow” and he is watching us today forever. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 12th April 

 

Ponder: John 12:20-24

12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus."Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

 

Praise: We all know that Jesus did not die needlessly. Because of his death many more people believed. Because of his death the seed was planted and from his death there was growth in the new church that was forming. But the ground must be prepared for the seed for it to be nurtured and bear fruit. Likewise we must use our Church and our Fellowship to encourage others to come. John 15 reminds us that "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. The important seven words there are " apart from me you can do nothing". We must remember those words and live by them

 

Prayer: Today we pray for the church. We pray for the ground we lay (as a church) to enable the seeds to grow and gain strength. As we read we are the branches and as such we must look after ourselves as a Church and present to others in confidence with a strong voice and a confident future. Praying for our own churches that they might find a place in the local community, be relevant, growing stronger all the time and bearing the essential fruit required.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Monday 11th April

   

Ponder: John 12:1-11

12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
12:2 There they gave dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 12:5 "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"
12:6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 12:7 Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
12:8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." 12:9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
12:10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well,
12:11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

 

Praise: Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Judas and the crowd all attend to Jesus in some way. Jesus has had an impact on their lives and on this occasion they all have a role to play. Did Lazarus have the biggest impact? Certainly Jesus had the biggest impact on him raising him from the dead. Judas will have a big impact on Jesus by betraying him. Each one of them had a role to play for their friend.

 

Prayer: Today we pray for friends. Those who have an impact on our lives and those who attend to our needs. Those who are in need of help and advice and those who light up our lives in so many ways. We pray for healing in relationships and healing amongst those who need it. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 26th February - More Words for Life

 

Romans 1 v 20

 

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 

There’s a certain TV programme on at the moment that we both love and we especially like the presenter (no names and pack drill). But as the programme is going on week after week the presenter blasphemes from time to time and in some cases he really over emphasises the Lord's name. Fast forward a few days later and I read on social media that he is an agnostic and prefers to believe in the science side of things. Quote unquote. 

Most people merely accept God's existence as a fact, but few appear to make it foundational to their way of life. On the other extreme are those who utterly reject it because they have faith only in what they call “science.” That faith is an impossibility because they have no scientific answer to where life came from in the first place, (in my humble opinion).

You only have to look around you to see God's existence. The beauty of the mountains even with a dusting of snow reminds us of all things bright and beautiful. The Lord God made them all. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 25th February - More words for life

 

James 5 

 

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes.Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves on the day of slaughter.

 

James contrasts the impatience and callousness that can come from trusting in our wealth with the patience and strength that comes with trusting in the Lord. He is also challenging us to serve the needs of others and not out our own needs by building up a life of riches and wealth. He condemns landowners who keep the wages back from the labourer and this is an accusation of abuse of power.

 

We have learned a lot this week from James and he has clearly shown us that things that can be used for the good of others can at the same time be used to destroy others. The way we approach others in our church. Putting our faith into action and not just talking about it. The tongue is another example: good things can come from using God's way and not the devils.

 

All of these issues can come from power and we all know that the misuse of power can destroy even the strongest of people, shake the most secure of churches and reduce the ability to spread God's word.

 

Question? “ Does the way I live diminish or enhance the lives of others?” “ Do I present myself as a Christian worthy of God's grace and redemption?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 24th February - More Words for Life

 

The main theme of the book of James is receiving wisdom from God's Word. Wisdom from God, results in a life bearing fruit. Wisdom from God's Word that affects every area of life, results in a life that is fruitful and thrives even in the face of trials.

 

The book of James references key points from the Sermon on the Mount and calls on Jesus' followers to live wisely. James combines the wisdom of Jesus with the book of Proverbs in his own challenging call to live a life of devotion to God. Today’s reading perhaps is one of the most difficult to read as it is one of the most damaging experiences that we could suffer 

 

James tells us 

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider that a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

 

I think today’s challenge would be in verse 6 - The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Yes, all of that is true but let's flip the coin today and say that as Christians we can use our voices to show compassion. We can make ourselves be heard for the good of God and show our brothers and sisters understanding and above all else love. We accept the warning by James but we show our true colours as brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 23rd February - More Words for Life

 

James 2

 

Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

 

18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

 

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and work, work and faith, fit together hand in glove.

 

James has a warning in his second chapter “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” But he follows that up by saying “not so fast faith and works go together hand in glove”

 

It's all too easy to say that we have a Christian faith but it has to be followed up with “but do we do that Christian faith any justice?” with our abilities to give, to help and to take part?

 

We are blessed in St Paul's to be able to assist so many Christian Organisations like Christian Aid, Tradecraft, Preshal to name but a few. But that envelope that sits on the dresser is no use lying empty. Telling people that you attend a church is an empty statement unless we say “come along and join us.”  Reading the Bible is just that, “reading the bible” unless we take from it, live it and use it.

 

Faith and works go together but have to be seen and evident in our lives. Amen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 22nd February - More Words for Life

 

James 2

The other day I was in a church that had apparently had someone walk out quite a while back. Two people in fact had been asked not once but twice to move seats as they were sitting in “ someone's spot”

When the minister heard about this the following week he preached a whole sermon on the fact that what had happened was wrong.

“ But that's where I always sit!” I hear you shout but wouldn’t you rather have someone new coming into the church, sitting comfortably in a pew and giving you the opportunity to move?

When the time comes we have been told that the first could be last and the last first. It won't be down to clothes or jewellery, personal hygiene or money in the bank. James tells us ( from The Message)

 

1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” Haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?

 

 

The words that jump out from this short passage is “ This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God” and that’s what needs to be in our hearts as we arrive at Church on a Sunday.

 

Shake it up a bit, move seats just for the fun of it and anyone who loves God should show that love even if it's only with a wee smile to your fellow pew pal on The Sabbath. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 21stFebruary More Words for Life

Matthew 9 from The Message

35-38 Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”

When we look at the problems and needs of the world, it can seem impossible. At times, it can be so overwhelming to the point that it can  overcome us and we are unable to respond in action. 

 

Jesus understood this feeling . In Matthew and Luke in both situations, he said, “The harvest is abundant but the labourers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out labourers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2). 

 

But the difference in Jesus’ attitude was that he did not stop responding in action. He acted and continues to act. He served to the very end, to the point of giving his entire life for the redemption of the world. Why? Because Jesus understood the need and loved the world so much that doing nothing was not an option.

 

As a church, we are always confronted with “the harvest is abundant but the labourers are few”. 

 

If all we  are able to do is pray Let us continue to pray the prayer of service and continue to search for the “labourers” welcome them  all, Let us love them first and foremost. Once they feel loved and find belonging, everything else will fall into place. So far in the past few days we have preached about the confidence of faith and the confidence of healing, but we also have to pray for more people to come and do God's work in our church, communities and in our country . Amen

Sunday 20thFebruary More words for life

 

Matthew 9 From The Message

Become What You Believe

 

27-28 As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!”

29-31 He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. “Don’t let a soul know how this happened.” But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met.

32-33 Right after that, as the blind men were leaving, a man who had been struck speechless by an evil spirit was brought to Jesus. As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he’d been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: “There’s never been anything like this in Israel!”

34 The Pharisees were left sputtering, “Smoke and mirrors. It’s nothing but smoke and mirrors. 

 

In this interesting parable even the blind recognize that Jesus is the Messiah. The irony is that they have not “seen” any miracles, but the nation has seen at least 17 by now and still missed the point. In fact, in just a few verses we will see the nation’s leaders accuse Jesus of performing miracles by Satan’s power. 

 

He touches them and heals them. During this time  eye diseases were as repulsive as leprosy.So touching them has special significance. He doesn’t just talk to them. He touches them at the point of their disability.

 

Then He tells them to tell no one. This is possibly because Jesus wants to avoid the political aspirations of the multitudes that would result from the blind men’s identification of Him as “Son of David.” 

 

They disobey. They don’t follow his will for them. This is the same thing that we saw in the miracle of the leper who was told to be silent, but didn’t. They experienced his mercy, but disobeyed the instructions given.

 

Why did Jesus want them to be silent? It would be obvious to most that they had been cured such as the turn around in their lives. They would have to say “ Jesus healed me” Perhaps what Jesus didn’t want them to say was “ The messiah Son of David  cured me” from….” I imagine that would have been their inclination because of the way they addressed Jesus.

 

The “ experts “ tell us that physical handicaps are no barrier to spiritual insight”. Just as Jesus touched the blind men’s eyes, He touches us where we hurt. 

 

Saturday 19thFebruary More Words for life

Matthew 9 From the Message

Just a Touch

 

18-19 As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along.

 

20-22 Just then a woman who had a haemorrhage for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” The woman was well from then on.

 

23-26 By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossip looking for a story and the neighbours bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Clear out! This girl isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. But when Jesus had gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet—alive. The news was soon out, and travelled throughout the region.

 

Two incidents where people have come to Jesus looking for some kind of healing. Jairus’s daughter, who it was thought had died and the haemorrhaging woman who secretly touched his robe.

The translation of The Message makes this a bit more interesting when Jesus says “ courage daughter you took a risk of faith and now you are well”

In both incidents there is clear evidence in Jesus' healing ability. Jairus tells Jesus “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” While the other woman in this chapter says “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” 

Two incidents, two examples of confident faith in healing.

All of this reminds us that we are firmly grasped in our heavenly father's hand, that He always has a plan, and He will never abandon you. Sometimes we have to walk through the dead places, to be reminded that He can step into them also and use every situation.

The girl's father is encouraged to have faith, and the older woman is praised for her faith. The two stories illustrate Jesus' power over both chronic illness and death. In each healing, Jesus shows his marvellous generosity by giving the recipients life and salvation in addition to physical healing.

What is Jesus' plan for us? Whatever the plan we must be confident and strong and place all of our trust in his hands. Amen

Friday 18th February - More Words for Life

 

Matthew 14     Jesus Walks on the Water

 

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,”they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 

 

Sometimes we like to “test the water”. By that I mean we are not sure of the circumstances so we are a bit bolder and see if we are right or wrong, capable or incapable.

For sure, this was Peter in this incident. He is in the boat with the rest of the disciples and a storm starts up while they are out on the water. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that walking towards them ON the water is Jesus.

Peter literally tests the water “tell me to come to you” he shouts at Jesus and no sooner has he climbed out of the boat he is sinking.

The Bible teaches us to be bold. To carry out what’s in our hearts but to know that it’ll take time and effort on our part. I know it’s a bit daft but think of a hula hoop. Swing it round your waist, but in order to keep it up will take some movement and exertion on your part. If you decide to stand still the game is over.

One minute Peter is shouting “I'm going to do it,” and the next minute he is shouting “save me”. While Jesus looks on “you of little faith why did you doubt.”

The gospel hymn tells us 

Be bold, be strong
For the Lord your God is with you.
I am not afraid,
I am not dismayed,
Because I'm walking in faith and victory,
Come on and walk in faith and victory,
For the Lord your God is with you.

Wise words indeed and a good reason to be Bold today. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 17th February - More Words for Life

 

 

27Then Jesus and his disciples went away to the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Tell me, who do people say I am?”

28“Some say that you are John the Baptist,” they answered; “others say that you are Elijah, while others say that you are one of the prophets.”

29“What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”

30Then Jesus ordered them, “Do not tell anyone about me.”

 

 

Jesus is asking his followers what was the “word on the street.” What did the people think? Jesus was not worried but was cautious when he told Peter “Do not tell anyone about me.”

 

Jesus had a spiritual time table, he had so much to do in the limited time that he would be on earth so it was important that events did not overtake him. Peter answered “you are the messiah.” Jesus' response was “don’t tell a soul. It's too early yet."

 

Think about it for a minute, we are all on a spiritual timetable. Everyday is a school day and we all have so much to learn. The world evolving around us constantly needs prayer and as fishers of men our job will never be done.

 

But as we slow down, you are maybe under the impression that your work is done and that all you can do is read your bible and say a prayer and believe me that’s enough. Our spiritual timetable although guided by God should be done in our own time too.

 

Ephesians 4 tells us that

 

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

When you become a follower of Jesus, you become part of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27). The body of Christ depends on each member doing its work. and as disciples, we all play a role in advancing the kingdom.

 

Even praying at home we are all part of the body of Christ and each part does its work.   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 16th February - More Words for life

 

John 21 

 

20-21 Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”

22-23 Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” That is how the rumour got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?”

24 This is the same disciple who was eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate.

25 There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.

 

 

Jesus appears to the 12 at the sea of Galilee and once again offers them advice on how to catch fish. Instantly Peter recognises that this is Jesus. If you read the whole of this chapter it is obvious that Jesus is placing great importance on Peter and asks him to tend the flock.

 

But Peter is worried about Judas. “What about him?” he asks Jesus. Jesus replied in a roundabout way, “that’s up to me If I want him to live he will live- just you follow me” Rumours soon break out as the rest of the disciples hang on every word.

 

Of course it’s a human failing in most of us that we worry about what others in the church are doing and destined for.  And I am the first to admit to this failing, for that’s what it is. Anything we do even if it's just a simple prayer or the most complicated message our God deserves our 100 undivided attention. And what about the others? Well, as Jesus said in this translation “what's that to you?- follow me” And there is your answer.

 

We come to church to worship God ( not the building) and we follow our Lord and Master Jesus. Not the guy at the end of the pew who seems to be so popular or the woman at the back who seems to be busy each and every single week. “ Follow me,” said Jesus and it's that simple. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 15th February - More Words for life

 

There are thirty sayings of the wise in the book of Proverbs and while some of them are quite challenging, some of them are sensible as well as adaptable for our own way of life. One of these “sayings of the wise” is found in verses 24 & 25

 

24 Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person,
    do not associate with one easily angered,
25 or you may learn their ways
    and get yourself ensnared.

 

 

I was reading an article yesterday about living with people who are “slaves to anger”. What I thought was interesting was that while a large proportion of people are embarrassed by others' anger the bigger proportion becomes “desensitised” to someone in the family being angry. In fact, over time they may justify the anger themselves.

When Paul was talking about unity and maturity in our relationship with God he commented to the Ephesians26 “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 

We all remember this phrase given to us by previous generations but it is sound advice not to take your anger over into another day. But my point is this. The Bible and all its sources warn us about Anger. Stay away from it, don’t encourage it, deal with it, don’t hold onto it. The antidote to anger could be “prayer” a time for calm reflection and an opportunity to relax. Jesus had a habit of taking the disciples away to a quiet place when he had to teach them something important.

I have said before that Isolation is often the place for preparation and condemnation can always be replaced by grace. So if you know someone who is angry pray for them and if you yourself feel angry pray for yourself and turn that anger into grace. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 14th February - More Words for Life

 

Mark 10- The Message

29-31 Jesus said, “Mark my words, no one who sacrifices house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, land—whatever—because of me and the Message will lose out. They’ll get it all back, but multiplied many times in homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and land—but also in troubles. And then the bonus of eternal life! This is once again the Great Reversal: Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”

 

 

The young man walked away from Jesus, sad, as he was not able to give his wealth away in order to follow The Master. Jesus at this point said the famous “easier to pass through the eye of a needle” explanation.

Peter being Peter blurted out all that he had done and Jesus showed him compassion but there was a warning there. “Many who are first will end up last, and the last first.”

There will be people who think that they have done enough and have booked their place in the leaders pack. But only God knows their every thought and deed and in fact, they might be struggling at the back of the pack through their ignorance and hubris.

The key words are there in the famous hymn. “For your glory” and “love and serve you,” it's all a two way stretch and not as straightforward as booking a ticket

 

All that I am, all that I do,

All that I'll ever have

I offer now to you.

Take and sanctify these gifts

For your glory, Lord.

Knowing that I love and serve you

Is enough reward.

 

Don’t assume your place in the pack, we have to work for it and honour it in his glorious name. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 13th February - More words for Life

 

Colossians 2

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.

 

Imagine you have a glassful to the brim and someone bumps into you. Whatever is inside the glass will overflow and there will be a mess. Alister Begg in one of his books suggests that’s what happens to us when we are full of bitterness, envy or jealousy, there is a bump and whatever is within us will overflow.

Paul encouraged the Colossians to be overflowing with a “grateful heart” and should they take a bump they should display and encourage “thankfulness”

We have a lot to be grateful for. The grace that we are given and our sins that are admonished all should make us “different”. We should always turn our attention to God and the fact that he will work out our purpose in all kinds of experiences, good or bad. Thessalonians 5 reminds us that we should “ give thanks in all circumstances” and the antidote to “thanklessness” is a relationship with Christ.

What does the song say?  “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to The Holy One.”       Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 12th February - More Words for life

 

Romans 9 v 16

It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 

 

 

Do you remember the story of Esau and Jacob? Jacob was the younger more unpleasant character and he duped his father into receiving his blessing and inheritance (when Esaus was the older brother and more entitled )

The odd thing is, God allowed Jacob to receive both. Why didn’t he intercede and stop this duplicitous behaviour?

You see God determined in advance to fulfill his promises through Jacob and not Esau even before they were born. In choosing Jacob God was fulfilling his purpose and also teaching us that God does not choose on the basis of favouritism or merit.

Instead of looking at the “whys” in God's decision, we should be looking at what possible plan he has in store.

It’s a bit like that for us with God. Maybe something goes wrong and the outcome of a prayer isn’t to your choosing. Maybe a decision was made and it makes no sense in your Christian Life.

That’s when we have to remember it's all God's doing, it's all about God's choosing. God is not tied to man made customs and He is under no obligation to fit in with our plans and choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 11th February - More words for life

 

John 13:17  From The Message

12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious.

 

 

We are told that how we live and what we believe ought to reflect our relationship with Jesus. We are not at liberty to believe what we want and that all that we are given from Jesus “The Teacher” must be passed onto others accurately and honestly. We should lead by example, and as the message translation says “I’ve laid down a pattern for you.”

I am pointing out the obvious when I say that if someone says that they have laid out a pattern for us. It has to be followed to the letter. If we decide to make a change then the pattern is not the same, it has been compromised.

With Christ, there is no compromise. He didn’t compromise when he lay down his life for us, he will not compromise when dealing with our grace and redemption. It's up to us to follow suit. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 10th February - More words for life

 

2 corinthians 9

“This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God. “

 

 

When you consider the gifts that God gives you, how many of them do you pass on? And when you think about it, you might not even be aware of the gifts that you receive, never mind passing them onto others.

God gives us everything we need so that in return we can give to others. And because of that - all the thanksgiving is returned to God. Alister Begg reminds us that “God supplies us not only with the resources but also that grace we need to be truly generous to others. A generous heart protects us from selfishness and the desire to amass significant wealth for ourselves.”

It is God's desire that we don’t sit in our paradise island doing nothing but worshipping ourselves and our money, but that we share the enjoyment with others so that they find true satisfaction in God the provider.

Leaving the last words to Mr Begg, “Joy is to be found unshackling yourself from the enslavement to what you own. It is an honour to be rich in deeds and eager to share even if it's a little and not a lot.”

Remember God loves a cheerful giver!.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 9th February - More words for life

 

1 Corinthians 1 v 10 from The Message

10 I have a serious concern to bring up with you, my friends, using the authority of Jesus, our Master. I’ll put it as urgently as I can: You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.

 

 

I am quoting Alister Begg here when he says “a church united in the gospel will be a healthy church. Nothing corrodes a church as fast as division.”

In the bible, we see great examples of unity and the general principle was not simply “what am I getting from this teaching?” but “what can I contribute to my brothers and sisters who are in my church?”  A lot of people are "me, me" minded but this is the wrong course to take when attending church.

Although “gathered worship in unity” is a great thing and something that is called for, is it realistic? Within our fellowship we won't always agree. We all have individual preferences and some of us are more strong willed than others. But surely we are all unanimous about the authority of the bible and when we embrace this we should be able to gather in unity to worship God. Worship one God with one voice and always having Him in the forefront of our worship.

We don’t go to church to be worshipped, we go to worship. This can be done in praising God's name with one voice and worshiping a God that gives us grace and redemption as well as gifts that cannot be bought. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 8th February - More words for life

 

Exodus 2 

"The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob."

 

 

The promise of food had allowed Jacob and his family to relocate to Egypt where there was no famine. Everything seemed great until they were put to heavy labour and soon there were tears and bitterness.

Although they still had God's promise, it all seemed helpless and their trust in God was under threat but despite all of this it was God that they called out to when they needed to be rescued. But God kept his covenant to his people.

That’s something we need to be reminded of today. God hears our cries, he knows our circumstances and he will act but in his time.

Alister Begg reminds us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us through our prayers and our groans and that we must not forget that God hears and he cares so we must keep crying out for help.

His eye is on the sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for heaven, heaven and home,
When, when Jesus is my portion,
My constant Friend is He;
Oh, oh-oh, his eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watched, watched it over me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 7th February - More words for life

 

Genesis 5 v 22

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.22 After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God for 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24 Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

 

 

Faith is something that shouldn’t be a flash in the pan. It should be something that stays with us. It's also something that we need to feed regularly and make sure that we can sustain it and live it out openly.

 

There must have been a point in his life when Enoch chose to embrace his faith. We read that he “walked faithfully with God 300 years” and when you think about it, is it our deepest wish that we will walk with God for Eternity? And while we are here, all of this is preparation of what is to come.

So as we walk with Him today, soak in his presence, be aware of His grace and power and remember to ask for forgiveness.

“Walk with Him today, until today is the day you see Him face to face. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 6th February - More words for life

 

Philippians 4 v 12

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

We now live in a world where the excesses of life are advertised daily on the TV, the radio and social media. And what's worrying is that the target of these adverts seem to be young children and young adults.

If we are honest it is easy to be swept away by all of this but at the back of our minds, we know what's right and what's wrong. But sometimes we are frustrated when we know friends have more than us. Another frustration is the need to follow “labels” and be on “trend" with everything that we buy and everything we wear.

Again if we are honest, none of this glorifies God and the best gifts to receive are each gift given to us by God through his gracious providence. Alister Begg reminds us that all of these things are out there to be enjoyed “but we are not to make these things into Gods, chasing and serving them as if they supply all our wants and needs.”

Contentment is gained by remembering that Christ is Lord and that nothing else is. But of course, all of this takes maturity. Maturity is needed when we can't afford something, maturity is needed when we are passed over for a job. Begg finishes off by telling us “contentment is a rare jewel and a precious thing to find.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 5th February - More words for life

 

Philippians 4

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

 

 

In times of trouble and times of doubt, Christians will often turn to Philippians 4:13 for reassurance, hope, and strength, and for good reason. The Apostle Paul wrote from prison, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” 

It is hard to imagine a man in prison suffering as he did,  yet Paul's first thought was to tell people that he can do no wrong because of the strength that he finds with God.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians, Paul shows his appreciation to the Philippians by writing, “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need.” 

 

This was a church that had gone out of its way to take care of Paul, and he wanted to thank them for their continued support.

As one who shared such a loving relationship with the Philippian church, Paul also wanted to provide an update on his present condition and let his friends know that he was well cared for and doing all right. He writes, “I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God”.

 

But while their financial support was nonetheless appreciated, Paul also used his time in prison to remind his fellow believers that financial well-being and one’s physical condition are not indicative of one’s spiritual health and well-being. 

 

In a time where there seems to be a lot of “fads” about staying bodily and physically healthy this can be a timely reminder that our spiritual health is very important too. A daily dose of the bible will do us no harm and a few minutes in prayer with God is clearly a medicine that we would all benefit from. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 4th February - More Words for Life

 

Acts 2v38 From the Message

38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”

 

I read in the papers that A certain footballer's wife with the initials VB has been having grilled fish and vegetables for her dinner for the past 20 years or more. Now while some people might think that’s bonkers, who's to judge? She is fit and healthy, knows what she likes and she likes having this nearly every day of the week.

We all have habits and we all go through “the motions”.

It's very easy to go through the motions in your study of God's word in the Bible. Some people open their bible every day, some people call upon a short bible study like Words for Life each day, while others “wait” till a Sunday and see what the preachers are going to come up with and leave it at that.

Alister Begg warns us that “the gospel can seem so straight forward that we put ourselves in danger of missing it”. We might become complacent or worse still disconnect ourselves from the word of God simply because our ears and our hearts are turned to stone through malnourishment and denial.

After Peter received the holy spirit he preached and we know because of this “they grew as individuals and as a whole”. Now these are words we need to take note of and try to follow. In order to grow in spirit and in God we need to feed on his word. This will give us conviction and commitment and growth in both heart and mind. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 3rd February - More Words for Life

 

“If you say so”

 

Luke 5 

When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.”

5-7 Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch.

 

 

How many times have you said to someone, “If you say so?”. It usually means you have doubts about what’s going on and you are maybe not buying into what’s being asked of you.

 

Simon was tired. He had been out all night and hadn’t even caught a tiddler and yet here was Jesus telling him otherwise. Of course “If you say so'' turned out to be the perfect solution to the problem. The catch of fish became monumental.

 

I am thinking of other people in the Bible. The woman at the well asked to draw water, “If you say so.”  Zacheus up the tree and was told to come down, “If you say so” Martha moaning about Mary and being told to keep calm, “If you say so.”

 

And of course Jesus in the garden talking to his father “take this cup.”

 

Luke tells us “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 4And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” And because Jesus said to his father "if you say so," he died for you and me on the cross giving his redemption and grace.

 

The next time you hear God remember all the greats that have gone on before you and who have said: “If you say so”.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 2nd February  - More Words for Life

 

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued from doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Galatians 6:9

 

Alister Begg reminds us in his books that “Doing good is tiring but we must not tire of it.” One day the King of Glory will say to the righteous “As you did it to one of the least of these brothers, you did it for me.” Matthew 25:40

But until that time we have the privilege of obeying and serving Christ.

It's all very good being labelled a "do-gooder" but we must make sure our Christian work for others is effective while not necessarily being obvious. We all know people who are known for their "good deeds" but you can rest assured there are possibly double that number that we are unaware of. People who work away quietly in the background anonymously.

One of the most important things is how we show “tangible” expressions of Christian Kindness towards others. We must be aware when we should ask God for strength and purpose to do his work. And that’s either to continue, to start or restart. The opportunities are all out there and if in doubt? Pray it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 1st February - More Words for Life

 

Romans 5 v 11 from The Message

Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

 

One of my mantras is that “a church that does not evangelise will eventually fossilize”. It's all too easy to say that churches are closing and that “presbytery plans” are frightening but in order to reverse the trend of churches closing we have to shout out loud about our church and our God.

God is not leaving us, people are leaving us. 

God came and reconciled us through his son and if that’s not worth shouting out about what is? For Christians that reality of “being in Christ” is not a trivial matter but it is a marvellous guarantee. Alister Begg reminds us that “He bore our debt on a tree. You are now guaranteed to be seated with Him in the heavens. Your greatest success today will not lift you higher than He has already lifted you. Nor can your greatest struggle or failure pull down from there.”

We tell our friends about the great bargains we get in Aldi’s and we share the secrets of the sales in Marks and Spencer. We even recommend hotels or double glazing companies to our nearest and dearest but still the answer to the question “how was church on Sunday?” will almost always be “fine.”

Matthew 28  instructs us “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God is not closing churches, churches are closing churches it's time to evangelize!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 31st January 

 

Exodus 3v14

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

 

 

 

As a child, my name confused me. My grandmother insisted on calling me Alexander while the gran from the other side of the family called me Sandy. For a while Sandy stuck with me but then I changed schools and I was then called Alex ( the “x” is important when saying my name it helps you spell it correctly?)

 

Now new young parents are calling their kids after film stars, comic book superheroes and characters from TV Dramas. In our family “peaky blinders” seems to be the origin of some names. Very few people are interested in the background to names in my humble opinion.

 

When Moses met God in the burning bush he asked “ if they ask what is His name? How will I answer?”. The name God shares with Moses is YHWH. Four consonants, no vowels, almost impossible to say and put another way, an unspeakable name.

 

It's almost as if God is saying that there is no name that encompasses who I really am.

 

Alister Begg reminds us that “ The Bible was written to establish God's dealings, character and glory” In order for Moses to do what God had called him to do, he needed to understand who God is and the fact that he was more than just a name”.

 

Our life's work will be to try and understand God better. More importantly we need to understand how unspeakably awesome our God is. This can only be done through reading his word. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 30th January

 

Jude 24:25 ( also known as The Doxology)

 

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.

 

The book of Jude is the one of the shortest books of the Bible, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful. This is a doxology that proclaims we have a saviour that is able.

 

Jude comes to an end with a tremendous ascription of praise.

Three times in the New Testament, praise is given to the God who is able. In Romans  Paul gives praise to the God who is able to strengthen us. God is the one person who can give us a foundation for life which nothing and no one can ever shake. In Ephesians , Paul gives praise to the God who is able to do far more than we can ever ask or even dream of. He is the God whose grace no one has ever exhausted and on whom no claim can ever be too much.

 

Here, Jude offers his praise to the God who is able.

 

God is able to keep us from slipping. When we bind ourselves to God, he keeps us safe.

 

He can make us stand blameless in the presence of his glory and we know that we can go to God with joy and with all fear banished. 

 

We note one last thing.

Usually we associate the word Saviour with Jesus Christ; but here Jude attaches it to God. He is not alone in this, for God is often called Saviour in the New Testament mainly in Luke, Timothy  and Titus .

 

So, we end with the great and comforting certainty that at the back of everything there is a God whose name is Saviour. Christians have the joyous certainty that in this world they live in the love of God and that in the next world they go to that love. The love of God is both the atmosphere and the goal of all their living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 29th January

 

Isaiah 42 from the message

He won’t brush aside the bruises and the hurt
    and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant,
    but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.
He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped
    until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth.

 

As human beings living on this planet and as men and women juggling family, friends, work and much more, it is sometimes difficult to prioritise. Even the word “prioritise” means that something might get left to the end or discarded if need be. At the end of the day the phrase “we are only human” might be used to describe our mindset.

When we pray, there will always be our priority, again that’s going back to us “only being human”.  

We love people. We want God’s best for them. We are quick to say “I’ll pray for you” to those we see on a given day, especially the ones who are going through tough times. But do we?

We know that the Bible calls us to be intentional about prayer and maybe not struggle who we should pray for first. Consider the apostle Paul’s plea for prayer in general and on his behalf “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

God knows us, he knows our prayers. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 28th January 

 

Ephesians 4 From The Message

29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 

Alister Begg puts it brilliantly when he says for us to “ ask God for protection from the three “ silent killers” of bitterness, resentment and self pity”. Not only does it mess with your faith it confuses your outlook and gives you a hard spirit. And I should know. Been there done that and the T-shirt is well washed out!

Hannah in the Old Testament had every reason to embrace the three silent killers after all month and month she found that she was not pregnant. Not only that she was probably being teased by the other wife and women about her failure to produce a child.

But Hannah did the right thing. She poured her heart out to God in prayer and she walked in peace. Through the help of God she was shielded by the three silent killers and God will protect us too. Take it to the Lord in prayer and “ learn the value of leaving your situation in Gods care which is exactly where they belong” Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 27th January

 

1 Chronicles 29 v 14 from the message

 

“But me—who am I, and who are these people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand. As far as you’re concerned, we’re homeless, shiftless wanderers like our ancestors, our lives mere shadows, hardly anything to us. God, our God, all these materials—these piles of stuff for building a house of worship for you, honouring your Holy Name—it all came from you! It was all yours in the first place!

 

Alister Begg reminds us that we can “only give to our creator what we have been given by our creator” and once you let those words sink in it makes perfect sense.

We may look at the beautiful church that we have, or the stained glass that adorns our walls or even the garden that makes our church a tranquil and peaceful setting but in the end those words are true “we only have it because God gave us it”.

Of course the culture today in some circles is different where people think that they have come from “self made” money. But God wants us to show more humility than that and to appreciate that through his guidance and grace he gives us the essentials in life as well as the finer things in life.

A few years ago I happened to be near Loch Lomond where a man was showing some Tourists that beauty of the hills, the colour of the heather and the awesome Loch Lomond stretching out for miles. If I had not heard it for myself I would have thought it was a joke. The female in the tourist party said “ it's geeorgeous” and the gentleman said “ some one has to be congratulated for setting this up its magnificent!” A weird conversation then took place where the tourists thought some had “ constructed” the vista that they were admiring.

Maybe if I had read Alister Begg back then I would have been able to say to them “We  only have it cause God gave us it”. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 26th January 

 

Mark 4 from the message

35-38 Late that day he said to them, “Let’s go across to the other side.” They took him in the boat as he was. Other boats came along. A huge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat, threatening to sink it. And Jesus was in the stern, head on a pillow, sleeping! They roused him, saying, “Teacher, is it nothing to you that we’re going down?”39-40 Awake now, he told the wind to pipe down and said to the sea, “Quiet! Settle down!” The wind ran out of breath; the sea became smooth as glass. Jesus reprimanded the disciples: “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?”

 

I think it's well documented that one of my favourite hymns is “we have an anchor” It takes me back to the Boys Brigade and we used to “belt out”

“Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
when the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain? “

 

Of course as a child I knew little of the “storms of life” but as the years went on we both experienced the storms as well as seeing them first hand with friends and family.

Following Jesus does not prevent us from the storms but we need to take comfort that God's promise is to calm our hearts and even quieten the storms.

One of the things we must avoid is the temptation to doubt God. While we are in the eye of the storm it is easy to doubt him. We know that the disciples panicked and forgot who Jesus was while they feared for their lives in the stormy seas.

When we find ourselves in the storm and we hold fast to that anchor, Jesus can mend broken hearts, soothe our tempered brow and calm our anxious soul. Take heart in the thought that if he can calm the sea, he can calm your storm. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 25th January 

 

Psalm 90 verse 12

“Oh! Teach us to live well!
    Teach us to live wisely and well!”

 

Marc Levy wrote a book called “ if only it were true”. In this book he asks you to imagine you have a bank account and every day 80k pounds are deposited. It has to be used wisely each day and there is no overdraft facility and at the end of the day the account is “ zeroed” in other words “ emptied”

Of course the truth is we have 86,400 seconds each day to spend as wisely as we can, each day we spend them in all kinds of ways. Shopping, Reading, Eating and Sleeping.

It is arguable and only we know if we spend them wisely. 

In the old testament Moses tells us to “ number our days rightly so we may gain the heart of wisdom” so I am guessing we must ask ourselves if we are happy with how we spend our minutes each day.

I have been told that I suffer from “environmental stress” and the downfall to this is spending too many minutes each day worrying about things that I cannot have an impact on. I am wasting precious seconds

Alister Begg reminds us that it is unwise to squander the seconds in our account and that we should ask God to assist us in this task. And more importantly “ make every second count for Christ”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 24th January 

 

Acts 4 10-12

I’ll be completely frank with you—we have nothing to hide. By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the One you killed on a cross, the One God raised from the dead, by means of his name this man stands before you healthy and whole. Jesus is ‘the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone.’ Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.”

 

One of the things that impresses me about Glasgow is the many different cultures that are visible as you walk about the city and how different the buildings can be. From downright practical to extremely ornate and beautiful Glaswegians are proud of their culture and proud of their places of worship.

In the environment that Paul lived in, The Roman Empire was very willing to absorb all kinds of religion and they housed a huge collection of idols and Gods.

Having said all of that, Roman Culture would not tolerate Christianity and that was because as Christians we were not prepared to add Christ to the vast collection of “things” that were worshipped and idols who could bring about some kind of salvation.

Interestingly Allister Begg says that “ one day every false prophet will bow at Jesus’ feet and declare that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father”

John and Peter refused to stay silent about the validity of Jesus and that changed The Roman Empire and we have the ability to transform the world as we follow in their footsteps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 23rd January

 

Daniel 6 10&11

10 When Daniel learned that the decree had been signed and posted, he continued to pray just as he had always done. His house had windows in the upstairs that opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he knelt there in prayer, thanking and praising his God.

11-12 The conspirators came and found him praying, asking God for help. 

 

 

New Year's resolutions never work. We promise ( ourselves?) that we will do something improved or differently, even start up a new activity or lifestyle. But how many of us then abandon all of the plans and revert to our old ways.

There is a flip side of this and it is something that you can even observe in the street where I live. The man who takes his dog out every night at 21:50 on the dot. The boy who leaves for work every day on the stroke of 12.30 and the woman who empties her bins every afternoon at 4.30 and polishes the door handles on her way back in.

In his own way Daniel was a man who exhibited such consistency in his approach to prayer. There were no exceptions or disruptions. He clearly prayed whether he felt like it or not and that’s what you call discipline!

Even when prayer was banned for a time, Daniel did not alter his habit or his lifestyle he just prayed on!

I am quoting Alister Begg when he says “ if we want to live for Jesus when we are under pressure our prayer lives must be consistent and regard it as a fundamental element of our faith and not just a sentiment.

So do we have to look at our prayer lives and set aside a time each day when we need to pray? And give thanks to God come what may. “ Whatever God's plans for us may our prayers be unceasing. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 22nd January 

 

1 Kings 19 verses 3-5 from The Message

3-5 When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert for another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.

Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”

 

 

Alister Begg talks about Elijah in this reading. He tells us that Elijah had started looking at God through his circumstances rather than looking at his circumstances through God. Let's just park that for a minute as it could be confusing.

 

Elijah had magnified his difficulties to such an extent his peace was disrupted and any prospects of spiritual movement was long gone. But God never abandoned him, he gave him rest, refreshment and reinstatement, showing him that the work had still to be done irrespective of self torture or feeling sorry for himself.

 

Going back to Mr. Begg. He suggests that we should never think our best days are behind us and it's time to have a wee lie down under a tree. God still has a purpose for us and the work is not yet complete. We should be refreshed by the reminder of God's presence and the work he has set us to do. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 21st January

 

Mark chapter 9 

 

33 They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

 

 

Rivalry can be the making of a team or a group. Healthy rivalry can spur others on and encourage while rivalry can make some try and keep up more able be better team players. At all times rivalry must be “ healthy” and be there for the right reasons.

 

Jesus had been telling his friends that he would soon be delivered into the hands of men and they would kill him. Strange, then, that this should induce a conversation about “ who is the greatest”. Clearly they were concerned about their own needs and who would be able to battle their way to the front. But the warning from Jesus is that true greatness in His kingdom may involve putting yourself last and serving others' needs and not your own.

 

Of course the big question might be how do we do that? How do we deflect attention and self seeking from ourselves and onto the genuine needs of others? Allister Beg reminds us that “ only gazing at the one who left the glories in heaven to die for you on a cross can change your heart so that you seek to serve, not to be served, and care less about your prestige than you do about the good of others”

 

Jesus is calling you today to serve even as he serves you. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 20th January 

 

Proverbs 18:24

 

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
 but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

 

At first, reading this verse might sound a bit trivial and unnecessary but the reality is that no one likes to be alone without a friend. We all recognise the importance of friendship and the bible considers a person who is consistent, honest and sensitive, a good friend to have.

Solomon says that a true friend is “always loyal regardless of circumstances” and of course The Proverbs reminds us that a “ friend loves at all times”. So, by now, you might be asking yourself “ where do you find such a friend?”

Our own personal church experience reminds us of the hymns “What a friend we have in Jesus” and of course “ Jesus friend of little children” but where you think about is Jesus is the ultimate friend to have.

Always constant, shows us love and grace as well as sensitivity, the scope of his love and friendship is amazing!

Reality hits us with a bang when we realise how many “friends” we may have on social media but many of them are not really true friends. Today more than ever we must not only think about our true friends but cherish them as well. Pray for them too! And here is something to think about today “You may just be the answer to someone’s loneliness or the answer to their own weakness and downfall” Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 19th  January

 

The Transfiguration

 

Matthew 17 verses 1-3

 

17 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

 

Sometimes we don’t appreciate how much “light” can transform a view or a scene. That certain light at dusk as it moves over a mountain changing the colours from a sandy yellow to a burning gold. The sunrise that we observe first thing in the morning that literally lifts our spirits as we welcome a new day.

 

Peter James and John will never forget the light that “ transfigured” their friend Jesus. Allister Begg quotes that at the top of the mountain the psalmist says “ he wraps himself with light as a garment”. Who does such a thing? God does of course in a display of his majesty. But the disciples were terrified and Matthew quotes God saying “ Rise and have no fear”.

 

These five words are worth remembering “ Rise and have no fear” as we approach God in his power and with his mercy this is the way we should live. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 18th January

 

Job 2

 

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

 

Someone commented on this passage by saying that “ in his tears, Job recognized that God knows what he is doing in every circumstance”. Not only that but in his anguish Job still found the time to praise God.

 

This is vital and useful information for all followers of God that even when our nearest and dearest are suffering and at an all time low God knows what he is doing and the situation causing grief and anguish is safely in his hands.

 

God grants us (through his son) eternal life and his “steadfast love” He is the anchor that we hold onto and we are fastened to the rock that will not move. As hard as it is, we need to praise his name in all circumstances. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 03rd December

 

Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears wrote his carol, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, from the wellsprings of his profound faith in God and the belief that through the centuries God sends his emissary angels to earth with a resounding message of peace. He also wrote his carol while recovering from a devastating illness and from the depths of profound despair. In 1849, when Reverend Sears wrote his carol, the United States still reeled from the aftermath of the Mexican War and the burning issue of slavery that in another decade would ignite the Civil War.  Europe reverberated with revolutions, and people all over the world warred with themselves and each other. No one seemed to be listening to angel’s songs of peace. 


When Reverend Sears wrote this in 1849, carols were just beginning a nineteenth century revival as famous composers began to write new and contemporary versions of their ancient forms and It Came Upon The Midnight Clear was one of the first of these new carols. 


Like carols and carol singing and dancing, Reverend Sears was experiencing a renaissance in his own life when he wrote, “It came upon a midnight” on a farm in Sandisfield, a town in western Massachusetts within sight of the Berkshire Hills. Edmund Hamilton Sears was the youngest of three sons of Joseph and Lucy Smith Sears. As a child, Edmund loved the Berkshire hills near his farm and later told a friend and colleague Chandler Robbins that he imagined the hilltops touched heaven and that angel messengers rested on the hilltops between heaven and earth on their errands of love. 

 

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear spells out a call for peace and goodwill that echoes as “solemnly and stilly” and some would say futilely as the call that resounded in his time. Some Christians contend that because it doesn’t mention Jesus, it should be removed from denominational hymn books and others have rewritten the words to include Jesus. 

 

 

1 It came upon the midnight clear, 
that glorious song of old, 
from angels bending near the earth 
to touch their harps of gold: 
"Peace on the earth, good will to men, 
from heaven's all-gracious King." 
The world in solemn stillness lay, 
to hear the angels sing. 

 

2 Still through the cloven skies they come 
with peaceful wings unfurled, 
and still their heavenly music floats 
o'er all the weary world; 
above its sad and lowly plains, 
they bend on hovering wing, 
and ever o'er its Babel sounds 
the blessed angels sing. 

 

3 And ye, beneath life's crushing load, 
whose forms are bending low, 
who toil along the climbing way 
with painful steps and slow, 
look now! for glad and golden hours 
come swiftly on the wing. 
O rest beside the weary road, 
and hear the angels sing! 

 

4 For lo! the days are hastening on, 
by prophet seen of old, 
when with the ever-circling years 
shall come the time foretold 
when peace shall over all the earth 
its ancient splendours fling, 
and the whole world send back the song 
which now the angels sing.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 02nd December 

 

Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Polish carol

 

 

Infant holy,

infant lowly,

for his bed a cattle stall;

oxen lowing,

little knowing,

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

Swift are winging

angels singing,

noels ringing,

tidings bringing:

Christ the babe is Lord of all.

 

 

The hymn singing traditions in eastern European countries are rich and diverse, but virtually unknown in hymnals published in the United States. We have a large selection of hymns from German sources, for example, through the translations of John Wesley, who was especially interested in Moravian hymns, in the eighteenth century and Catherine Winkworth in the nineteenth century. To a lesser degree, hymns translated from French, Italian, Spanish, and a few from Scandinavian countries are represented as well. During the twentieth century, the lack of good singing translations from eastern European countries was further exacerbated by world wars, the rise of the Third Reich, and the Iron Curtain.

 

Manuscripts of The Polish sacred song date back to at least the thirteenth century in the Catholic Church. Even though these songs may have been initially influenced by the plainsong used in the offices and Mass settings of the Church, local musical variations soon influenced the performance of these. 

 

Polish hymn scholar Daniel Neises describes some of the general characteristics of The Polish sacred song: “Polish religious songs are a distinct repertory of congregational songs composed and derived from Polish folk music in general.

 

The little jewel, “Infant holy, infant lowly,” has many of these characteristics. The text was composed in Polish and it is no accident that one of the few Polish hymns we have in English is a Christmas carol. Daniel Neises continues: “Perhaps the most well-known and beloved part of the Polish religious song repertory is its superb ‘kolędy’, or Christmas carols. These, if any, are the most likely of all Polish hymns to be found in English translations, and are certainly among the finest Christmas songs from any tradition.”

 

Edith Margaret Gellibrand Reed (1885-1933) was a British musician and playwright. Her education included study at the Guildhall of Music in London, and she was also an associate in the Royal College of Organists.

 

She is now known for her translation of The Polish Carol which she found in the hymn collection. From there it spread to hymnals and increased in popularity.

 

It’s a great hymn and well loved Christmas Carol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 01st December 

 

What child is this?

 

GREENSLEEVES, the tune for which this text was probably written, is one of the most beautiful and beloved melodies of the season.


Though not exclusively a Christmas tune, its association with this season goes back to at least 1642, where it is paired with the Waits’ carol, “The old year now away is fled.” Shakespeare refers twice to GREENSLEEVES in his play Merry Wives of Windsor, helping to date it in the 16th century.

William Chatterton Dix, an Anglican layman, was the son of a surgeon in Bristol, England. He spent most of his life as a businessman, working as a manager for the Maritime Insurance Company in Glasgow, Scotland. 

 

We know of his church affiliation only through his hymns that were published in Altar Songs, Verses on the Holy Eucharist, and A Vision of All Saints.

Hymnologist Albert Bailey notes that some of Dix’s hymns are “horribly sentimental,” but on the whole says, “his hymns are simple, reverent, sincere, imaginative, not above the average comprehension, and two of them at least have proved to be continuously serviceable.” In addition to “What child is this,” Dr. Bailey is referring to “As with gladness men of old,” an Epiphany hymn.

Beginning with a rhetorical question, “What child is this?” the poet condenses Luke 2:8-16, painting a picture of a classic Nativity scene with the Christ Child sleeping on “Mary’s lap” while angels sing “anthems sweet” and shepherds “watch are keeping.”

Stanza two makes fleeting reference to the less than ideal conditions. In essence, he asks why the Christ Child should be in such a humble setting “where ox and ass are feeding.


In the final stanza, the poet expands the circle of those attending this humble scene. Drawing from the Epiphany season and the gifts brought by the magi, we take our place at the manger, bringing gifts of “incense, gold, and myrrh.” This is a setting that defies the conventional class structures of the time; the invitation is open to both the “peasant” and “king.” In a sentiment that is very common in hymnody, “the King of kings” will be “enthroned ” in “loving hearts.”

 

 

 

  1. What Child is this who, laid to rest

    On Mary's lap is sleeping?

    Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,

    While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

  1. Why lies He in such mean estate,

    Where ox and ass are feeding?

    Good Christians, fear, for sinners here

    The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

  1. So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,

    Come peasant, king to own Him;

    The King of kings salvation brings,

    Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The Virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 30th November

 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night, 
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.

 

Congregations sometimes have difficulty giving up a familiar older hymnal when a new one arrives on the scene. In many ways, the story of this hymn from the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century is also about the transition between old ways of congregational singing giving way to new trends. We sing many Christmas hymns and carols that offer a poet's personal thoughts on the season, but relatively few attempt to sing the biblical witness of the nativity verbatim. "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks," Nahum Tate's version of Luke 2:8-14, offers us a way to sing the Christmas story virtually direct from Scripture. In some editions, the hymn is entitled, “Song of the Angels at the Nativity of our Blessed Saviour.”

 

In his day, singing a congregational song based on anything but the Psalms was very unusual. Psalm singing was the usual practice during the era of Nahum Tate in England. In those days, Tate would have been known, among other things, as the writer of metrical psalms — hymns that paraphrased a psalm directly from Scripture and placed it in a poetic form  — with the goal of neither adding nor deleting any content from the text of the psalm.

 

“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” is unusual for its day in that it follows this practice, but rather than being based on a psalm, it is a paraphrase of Luke’s account of the nativity. The practice was based on those churches following the lead of John Calvin whose Genevan Psalter (1551) provided congregations with all they needed for singing in public worship.

 

Furthermore, the practice was to sing the psalms unaccompanied in unison. A worship leader would "line out" each line of the hymn; that is, the leader would sing each line in advance so that the congregation could hear the melody and repeat it. The Supplement to the New Version of Psalms by Dr. Brady and Mr. Tate (1700) indicates a slight loosening of the stranglehold of metrical psalmody by also including, in addition to this Christmas hymn, hymns for Easter and for Holy Communion.

 

This paraphrase was included in the influential Scottish Translations and Paraphrases (1745) almost 50 years later. The 1781 edition of this collection reflects the influence of Tate’s paraphrase but made some changes:

While humble shepherds watch’d their flocks
in Bethleh’ms plains by night.
An angel sent from heav’n appear’d
and fill’s the plains with light. 

 

Tate’s paraphrase, though straying too far from Scripture for some, was closer to the wording found in the King James Version, an important qualification of earlier metrical versions. This later paraphrase, while still close, indicates a loosening of the paraphrase standards, allowing for a little more flexibility. 

 

It is interesting to note that this hymn was not greeted unanimously with acclaim. Like Tate’s other literary endeavours, it received its share of criticism. Just as today’s church goers develop affection for particular hymns and do not appreciate changes, some church people did not like people messing around with the hymns. Nothing changes.

 

When shepherds washed their socks by night
All seated round the tub...

Only joking, of course. Here are the official words to ‘While Shepherds Watched’.

 

While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down
and glory shone around.

“Fear not,” said he – for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind –
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind:

“To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be the sign:

“The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands
and in a manger laid.”

Thus spoke the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song:

“All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
goodwill henceforth from highest heaven
begin and never cease!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 29th November

 

Oh Holy Night

 

A parish priest in a small French town commissioned a local poet and wine commissionaire, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, to write a poem for the village’s Christmas Eve mass. 

 

Cappeau read through the birth of Christ in the gospel of Luke en route to Paris and finished the poem O Holy Night by the time he reached the city.

 

Cappeau turned to his friend, Adolphe Charles Adams, to compose the music to the poem, and three weeks later, the song was sung in the village on Christmas Eve. Initially, Cantique de Noel (the song’s French name) was widely loved by the Church in France, but when leaders learned that Cappeau was a socialist and Adams a Jew, the song was uniformly denounced as unfit for church services. But the common French people loved it so much, they continued to sing it.

 

The song came to the U.S. via John Sullivan Dwight, an abolitionist during the Civil War. Moved by the line in the third verse, “Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in His Name all oppression shall cease,” he published it in his magazine and quickly found favour in the north during the war.

 

Even though it was banned in France, the song was still popular among the people. On Christmas Eve in 1871, in the midst of fierce fighting between France and Germany during the Franco-Prussian War, an unarmed French soldier jumped out of the trenches, walked into the battlefield, and started singing, “Minuit, Chretiens, c’est l’heure solennelle ou L’Homme Dieu descendit jusqu’a nous,” the song’s first line in French.

 

After singing all three verses, a German solider emerged and started singing, “Vom Himmel noch, da komm’ ich her. Ich bring’ euch gute neue Mar, Der guten Mar bring’ ich so viel, Davon ich sing’n und sagen will,” the beginning of a popular hymn by Martin Luther.

 

Fighting stopped for the next 24 hours in honour of Christmas Day. Soon after, the French Church re-embraced O Holy Night.

 

 

 

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;

Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born.
O night, O holy night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming;
With glowing hearts by his cradle we stand:
So, led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land,
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our friend;

He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger!
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King! your King! before him bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease,
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful Chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise his Holy name!

Christ is the Lord, then ever! ever praise we!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory, evermore proclaim!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 28th November 

 

 

Silent Night

 

The words of Silent Night were written by a Priest called Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, Austria, in 1816 and the music was added in 1818, by his school teacher friend Franz Xaver Gruber, for the Christmas service at St. Nicholas church in Oberndorf, Austria.

 

There is a legend associated with the carol that says, Fr. Mohr wanted the carol to be sung by the children of the village at the midnight Christmas Eve service, as a surprise for their parents. But in the middle of practising, the organ broke and not a note would come from it! So the children had to learn the carol only accompanied by a guitar. They learnt the carol so well that they could sing it on its own without accompaniment.

 

However, there are no records to indicate that a children's choir was involved or that the organ was broken!

 

At Midnight Mass in 1818, Fr. Mohr and Franz Gruber sang each of the six verses with the church choir repeating the last two lines of each verse. Mohr set down the guitar arrangement on paper around 1820 and that is the earliest manuscript that still exists. It is displayed in the Carolino Augusteum Museum in Salzburg. There are a number of manuscripts of various 'Stille Nacht' arrangements that were written by Franz Gruber in later years.

 

The original words of the song were in German (and it was called 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht') and the first translation into English went:

 

Silent night, holy night,
Bethlehem sleeps, yet what light,
Floats around the heavenly pair;
Songs of angels fills the air.
Strains of heavenly peace. 

 

Now the first verse is normally translated as:

 

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

 

The carol was sung during the Christmas Truce in the First World War in December 1914 as it was a song that soldiers on both sides knew!

By the time that the carol was famous, Fr Mohr had died. Franz Gruber wrote to music authorities in Berlin saying that he had composed the tune, but no one believed him and it was thought that Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven had written it! But then the 1820 manuscript was found and in the top right corner Fr Mohr had written: 'Melodie von Fr. Xav. Gruber.'.

 

It's now one of the most, if not the most, recorded songs in the world! 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

Wednesday 03rd November

 

Psalms 

 

The Psalms is a wonderful book to turn to for encouragement and healing words. Whether you are in need of peace, protection, or comfort from worry or anxiety, or are looking to offer praise and thanksgiving, the book of Psalms is the perfect place to start. The book of Psalms is widely viewed as the most popular book of the Bible. The main theme and focus of the Psalms are on God's power and goodness. The author's use of poetry to convey thoughts of hope for the future, praise for God as sovereign Creator of all, dependence upon God, and God's faithfulness. 

 

lt's only my opinion but if you are having trouble finding a prayer in your heart then a read through the  Psalms could be the answer to your prayer needs and offer supplication to your problem. Psalm 46 is one of the “stand out” Psalms.

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

 

 

For several decades, some theorists have suggested that William Shakespeare placed his mark on the translated text of Psalm 46 that appears in the King James Version although many scholars view this as unlikely, stating that the translations were probably agreed upon by a committee of scholars.

 

Interesting fact though, Shakespeare was in King James' service during the preparation of the King James Bible and was generally considered to be 46 years old in 1611 when the translation was completed. There are a few extant examples of Shakespeare's actual signature, and as was customary at the time, with spelling being somewhat lax in those days, on at least one occasion he signed it 'Shakspeare', which divides into four and six letters, thus '46'. The 46th word from the beginning of Psalm 46 is "shake" and the 46th word from the end is "spear."

 

We stand amazed each day to the love and the grace of our God and as the Psalm 46 tells us

 

He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”          Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 02nd November 

 

Job

 

Job Chapter 1 The Message

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy—seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants—the most influential man in all the East!

4-5 His sons used to take turns hosting parties in their homes, always inviting their three sisters to join them in their merrymaking. When the parties were over, Job would get up early in the morning and sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children, thinking, “Maybe one of them sinned by defying God inwardly.” Job made a habit of this sacrificial atonement, just in case they’d sinned.

 

The First Test: Family and Fortune

 

6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

 

Like the other Wisdom books Job is primarily composed of poetry and also Job 28 consists of a hymn to Wisdom. Yet Job stands in strong contrast to Proverbs. Many scholars believe that Job was written to correct a possible misunderstanding of the message of Proverbs. 

 

Job is different from Proverbs in another important way. Most Proverbs could be read in one or two verse segments and the full meaning would be clear. To understand the full impact of the book of Job, we are told that the book must be read and understood as a whole. In fact, some scholars believe that Job requires understanding as a whole more than any other book of the Old Testament. So for todays purpose I have simply included some words from Job Chapter 1

 

The climax of the book occurs when God does appear to Job and Job humbly acknowledges the divine sovereignty. Whatever else we might say about Job, it is not a typical book about being good. The questions it raises and the way in which differing opinions are presented can be confusing and even frightening. A reader of Job must "stay with it" throughout the whole book and then ponder what all the speeches and answers mean. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 01st November

 

Esther

The unknown author of the book of Esther was most likely a Jew very familiar with the royal Persian court. The detailed descriptions of court life and traditions, as well as the events that occurred in the book, point to an eyewitness author. Some have suggested Mordecai himself was the author, though the accolades for him found in the text suggest that another person, perhaps one of his younger contemporaries, was the author.

 

The book is named for the “star” of the story, a young Jewish girl named Hadassah who was taken from her guardian, Mordecai, and forced to compete for the affection of the king. This unlikely contestant for a beauty pageant was crowned queen of Persia and renamed Esther, meaning “star.”

 

Esther is the only book in the Bible not to mention the name of God. But that is not to say that God was absent. His presence permeates much of the story, as though He were behind the scenes coordinating “coincidences” and circumstances to make His will happen.

 

Nothing is truly coincidental, the book of Esther says to us. When events seemed out of control to Esther and Mordecai, when the king dictated ruin for their people, when evil was poised to triumph . . . God was at work. He worked through their dark days , their faithful obedience , and their victories .This message is clear: God is sovereign even when life doesn’t make sense. God is also the great Promise Keeper. 

 

 

 

Esther Chapter 2

 

 Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling: “Let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women; he will put them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.”

The king liked this advice and took it.

*

5-7 Now there was a Jew who lived in the palace complex in Susa. His name was Mordecai the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish—a Benjaminite. His ancestors had been taken from Jerusalem with the exiles and carried off with King Jehoiachin of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon into exile. Mordecai had raised his cousin Hadassah, otherwise known as Esther, since she had no father or mother. The girl had a good figure and a beautiful face. After her parents died, Mordecai had adopted her.

When the king’s order had been publicly posted, many young girls were brought to the palace complex of Susa and given over to Hegai who was overseer of the women. Esther was among them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 31st October 2021

 

Nehemiah

 

The Book of Nehemiah, largely takes the form of a first-person memoir concerning the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile by Nehemiah, a Jew who is a high official at the Persian court, and the dedication of the city and its people to God's laws (Torah).

 

One of the powerful messages of Nehemiah is how much you can accomplish when you align yourself with the will and plan of God. Nehemiah and his followers do what seems to be impossible because they are doing what God has called them to do. You don't have to rebuild a wall to do the will of God

 

 

“The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah:

In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. Then I said:

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments,let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favour in the presence of this man.”

I was cupbearer to the king.

 

 

A cup-bearer was historically an officer of high rank in royal courts, whose duty was to pour and serve the drinks at the royal table. ... He would guard against poison in the king's cup, and was sometimes required to swallow some of the drink before serving it.

When we think of what was being said at the top of the page and the best thing would be to “align yourself with the will and plan of God”   you can see that even today that could be a hard act to follow but that’s what Christianity Is all about. It's not just “dipping in your toe” it “full immersion” that’s needed and that involves total commitment to God and his plans for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 30th October 2021

 

Ezra 1 

 

In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—this fulfilled the Message of God preached by Jeremiah—God prodded Cyrus king of Persia to make an official announcement throughout his kingdom. He wrote it out as follows:

From Cyrus king of Persia, a Proclamation: God, the God of the heavens, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has also assigned me to build him a Temple of worship in Jerusalem, Judah. Who among you belongs to his people? God be with you! Go to Jerusalem which is in Judah and build The Temple of God, the God of Israel, Jerusalem’s God. Those who stay behind, wherever they happen to live, will support them with silver, gold, tools, and pack animals, along with Freewill-Offerings for The Temple of God in Jerusalem.

5-6 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, along with the priests and Levites—everyone, in fact, God prodded—set out to build The Temple of God in Jerusalem. Their neighbors rallied behind them enthusiastically with silver, gold, tools, pack animals, expensive gifts, and, over and above these, Freewill-Offerings

 

 

People have asked through centuries “is God really for me?”  As well as that they have asked, “Is God really in command?”

 

In a way, Ezra answers this. God does what He promises. God said through Jeremiah that Israel would return to Jerusalem. Isaiah specifically prophesied that Cyrus would be instrumental in allowing their return. And just as God promised, it happened. Maybe this is a time to ask yourself, “What has God promised you?" 

 

“The Lord stirred up the spirit” of Cyrus and “moved the spirits” of the people to return. When God wants something to happen, He makes Himself known. The Holy Spirit whispers in the ear, “tickles the thoughts, and impresses the heart”. Have you noticed any “tickling” lately? What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? 

 

The people began packing. The king, as well as their neighbours, began to “encourage” them with gifts. 

 

Amazing how God works.

 

Follow His plan and He not only directs your path, but gives you more than you asked. What unexpected gifts has God surprised you with lately? 

 

We serve a God who fulfills His promises, moves us forward, and rewards us abundantly as we serve Him. How great is that! If you have time read more of Ezra and thank God for all his promises. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 29th October

 

 1 Chronicles 29:10-20

The book of Chronicles teaches us the importance of prayer, in this reading David prays to God

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

 

‘Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
12 Wealth and honour come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.

14 ‘But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. 15 We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.’

20 Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God.’ So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.

 

 

Some interesting points about this reading . This is the first time in the Bible that God is referred to as a Father to his people “Blessed are You, LORD God of Israel, our Father, forever and ever.“ Jesus taught His disciples to pray beginning with this phrase, 'Our Father' (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus may have had this passage in mind when teaching His disciples about prayer because there are other similarities between the two passages. Also this verse supplies the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer ‘For thine is the kingdom’ (Matthew 6:13, KJV).

 

David could say this as a man who had a life full of both riches and honour. David knew that those things came from God and not from himself. Sometimes it is good to remember that when we pray, we are praying to God and everything on this earth comes from God. 

Prayer accomplishes at least two things.  It strengthens our relationship with God and gives us access to God's power and purpose. God has a purpose for us and our church that we can only discover as we spend time with God asking questions and listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 28th October

 

The book of Kings

 

1 Kings 3 from verse 5 ( from The Message)

 

That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, “What can I give you? Ask.”

Solomon said, “You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.

7-8 “And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I’m too young for this, a mere child! I don’t know the ropes, hardly know the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you’ve chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.

“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

10-14 God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”

15 Solomon woke up—what a dream! He returned to Jerusalem, took his place before the Chest of the Covenant of God, and worshiped by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. Then he laid out a banquet for everyone in his service.

 

 

 

People talk about the wisdom of Solomon and he certainly proved his label in 1stkings 3. God asked him what could He give him and quite unusually but wisely he asked for “ a God listening heart”. Because of this request God gave Solomon a wise and mature heart and after all this God gave him as well, the wealth and Glory that he didn’t ask for.

 

You could probably put together quite a few sermons and Sunday School lessons on that one story but I think the important thing that sets Solomon apart from all the rest is that he asked for a God listening heart as well as what he did as a result of his dream.

 

He thanked God. He publicly demonstrated his gratefulness and his respect for God. The God listening heart was certainly at work in Solomon.

 

Many times in life we pray to God. We might even pray “fervently” but do we ever “go back to Him“ in prayer? Do we ever thank him for a contented life? Do we ever ask for a God listening heart? When you think about it, the wisdom of Solomon was far reaching. His wisdom extended to things we may not have thought of or have even taken for granted. Maybe today amongst other things we should pray for wisdom and the ability to be discerning in all things.   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 27th October 

 

Samuel

 

1 Samuel 3 and I feel a favourite hymn coming on.

 

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle

 

 

 

Everytime I sing the hymn, “I the Lord of sea and sky” and I come to the chorus “Here I am  Lord, it is I Lord, I can hear you calling in the night,” I am reminded of the young Samuel.

 

Mistaking it was Eli who was calling him, it was the Lord all the time calling him.

 

Dan Schutte who wrote the hymn never assumed the tune would become so well-known.      Mr. Schutte was a Jesuit in his early thirties learning theology in Berkeley, California when one of his friends requested him to compose a song for a forthcoming ordaining Mass of deacons. 

  

Schutte has stated that he frequently used Scripture as the foundation of his songs, so as he thought about the concept of being called for the ordaining Mass, he looked to the stories of the prophets, like Jeremiah, who asked God to bestow him with the best words to use.

 

Schutte describes his inspiration of the chorus as, “In all those stories, all of those people God was calling to be prophets have expressed in one way or another their humanness or their self-doubt.”

 

You can imagine the young Samuel saying these words on the night he was called “Here I am, Lord; here I stand, Lord” to the self-doubting ultimate version: “Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord?”

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 26th October

 

Ruth

 

Chapter 2 

 

Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

 

 

Ruth, as we know is one of the greatest love stories with three characters . Ruth,  her mother in law Naomi and Boaz. The books tell us that Naomi represents Israel while Ruth represents the church and in the background is Boaz a man like Jesus and a man of redemption.

 

Ruth is a love story as well as a story of the harvest. Working in the fields and knowing your place amongst the gleaners and the harvesters. Boaz a kind man insisted that Ruth stay in his field and made sure that she would have a harvest to feed her and her mother in law.

 

The message behind all of this was that we should always stay in the Lord's field.  Don't stray.  Here lies peace, safety, provision, and satisfaction. Out there in the big bad world lies turmoil, danger and confusion and while some of it looks good, a lot of it is a lie.

 

When you find the way with Christ hard, when you find the going difficult, that is when you need your brothers and sister the most. Don't pull away, don't lag behind the harvest.  Rather, reach out and ask for help.  Don't turn back - stay in this field.

 

You see, this isn't the end of the story of Boaz and Ruth.  This was merely their first meeting.  But a little later, we see Boaz come back to the field and pick Ruth up in His arms and marry her. Even so, you and I must stay in the Lord's field, busy with His harvest, at any moment our Boaz could come for us, gather us up in His arms and take us home to heaven.  Since no one knows that moment, we simply don't have time to be distracted

 

There is a job to be done, there will always be a harvest out there and we have to get on with it.   Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 25th October

 

Judges

 

Judges Chapter  16 

 

25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.

When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.

 

 

The text of Judges gives no indication as to who wrote the book, but Jewish tradition names the prophet Samuel as the author. The namesake of 1st and 2nd Samuel, Samuel was the last of the judges, one of the special leaders whom God raised up to rescue His people. The judges did not oversee merely legal matters, as in our sense of the role, their tasks often included military and administrative authority as well.

 

In Judges, He disciplined them for following other gods, disobeying His sacrificial laws, engaging in blatant immorality, and descending into anarchy at times. Yet because they were His people, He listened to their cries for mercy and raised up leaders to deliver them. 

 

Unfortunately, even these godly individuals did not wield sufficient influence to change the nation’s direction. 

 

Memories from the Bible are a gift. Remembering the past teaches us countless lessons about how to live today. The Israelites forgot. They did not remember the miraculous events that brought them to their land or the covenant that united them to their God. But God did not forget His covenant—and because of His great love for His people, He disciplined his children so that they might return to Him.

 

Have you forgotten the great works God has done in your life? Perhaps your difficult circumstances are overpowering your faith. Do you feel as if He is disciplining you right now? Know that He disciplines those He loves Return to Him. Remember, trust, and obey. He is waiting with open arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 24th October

 

In the book of Joshua the story of Rahab the prostitute is a worthwhile story and should be investigated more if you have the time. Chapter 2 of Joshua picks up the story of Rahab who is harbouring spies sent over by Joshua.

 

 

Joshua 2 

 

15-16 She lowered them down out a window with a rope because her house was on the city wall to the outside. She told them, “Run for the hills so your pursuers won’t find you. Hide out for three days and give your pursuers time to return. Then get on your way.”

17-20 The men told her, “In order to keep this oath you made us swear, here is what you must do: Hang this red rope out the window through which you let us down and gather your entire family with you in your house—father, mother, brothers, and sisters. Anyone who goes out the doors of your house into the street and is killed, it’s his own fault—we aren’t responsible. But for everyone within the house we take full responsibility. If anyone lays a hand on one of them, it’s our fault. But if you tell anyone of our business here, the oath you made us swear is canceled—we’re no longer responsible.”

21 She said, “If that’s what you say, that’s the way it is,” and sent them off. They left and she hung the red rope out the window.

22 They headed for the hills and stayed there for three days until the pursuers had returned. The pursuers had looked high and low but found nothing.

23-24 The men headed back. They came down out of the hills, crossed the river, and returned to Joshua son of Nun and reported all their experiences. They told Joshua, “Yes! God has given the whole country to us. Everybody there is in a state of panic because of us.”

 

 

 

In this chapter Joshua sends two spies over the River Jordan to scout the territory, especially Jericho. Upon entering Jericho, the spies immediately hit up the house of the prostitute, Rahab, and spend the night there. ... While the soldiers go off in search of the Israelites, Rahab goes to her roof to cut a deal with the two spies. God was not pleased with prostitution. So why did the spies stop at the house of Rahab, a known prostitute? Since the spies were seeking information, they may have felt it was a safe place to gather facts without being questioned in return.

 

Perhaps the nature of Rahab's business made her home the only place strangers could stay without attracting attention. Whatever the reason, the LORD knew Rahab's heart was open to him, and he used her to help the Israelites win the victory over Jericho.

 


Rahab's story shows that God will help us when we want to start doing right. No matter how we have sinned in the past, God can help us if we surrender to him.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 23rd October

 

Deuteronomy

 

The Book of Deuteronomy commonly thought of as the “words of Moses” and is also known as the Fifth Book of Moses. The book consists of sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses shortly before they entered the Promised Land.

 

A notable reading is from Deuteronomy 28

 

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

 

 

These blessings are all and good but there are important points to note for the blessings to be effective.

 

First of all God is the source of all our blessings. He is number one above all else so his blessings should be welcomed.

 

The second thing is God's blessings are attached to his commands. So we should note that they go hand in hand. One is fully dependent on the other and that leads us to the third point.

 

His blessings are activated by our choices. Like water to a plant, like the sun to a good crop, his blessings will stand well with us if we nurture them and their subsequent outcome.

 

And finally they come in all shapes and sizes. Some of his blessings and commands are so easy to follow and adhere to it makes perfect sense but there are others that will take huge leaps of faith to understand.

 

 

And who do we turn to when we are faced with that? God of course.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 22nd October

 

Numbers 6 24-26 

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:

The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The Lord lifts up his countenance upon thee, and gives thee peace.

 


The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Old Testament and records the story of how the Israelites prepared their journey for the promised land as well as the Israelites rebellion and wandering in the wilderness. The author of this book is Moses.

 

Most of Numbers 6 deals with a thing called the Nazarite vow, this was something that the people took to show their allegiance to God and setting them apart from all others who didn’t.

 

Following the same idea of being set apart, the priestly blessing introduced in Numbers 6 is the Lord’s way of reminding the Israelites that they are set apart as a holy nation in contrast to the rest of the world.

 

It is no surprise then that we say this in our own churches and special times as well as during a normal church service. These verses are the desire of God’s heart for His people. What more do we need?   If God of the universe, the Creator of all things is favourable toward us then we need nothing more. God only wants the best for His children. His desire is to bless us. 

 

The meaning of the word “Bless” is to make somebody or something holy: to bestow holiness on somebody or something in a religious ceremony. Just by accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour we become holy under God’s umbrella of righteousness. 

 

God is our protector and our defence. He wants us near Him.  His promise is not only to protect us, but to take care of us. As God watches over us His face shines upon us. When God’s face shines upon us it is His favour and acceptance.  Remember that when Jesus was on the cross, God, the Father, had to turn away from Him, because at that moment Jesus took our sin upon Him and this made Him sin. God, being a holy God could not look upon His own Son in that moment and His eyes shifted from being upon His Son to looking upon us in Christ.   We are His righteousness and God’s love focuses on us. He is delighted with His children and treats us with kindness and goodness


 
It is up to us to open our arms and receive his blessing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday 21st October

 

We read in Leviticus 11 "These are the birds you are to regard as unclean and not eat because they are unclean: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture,  the red kite, any kind of black kite,  any kind of raven,  the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk,  the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl,  the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey,  the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat."

 

Today we look at Leviticus and it's hard to bring out a verse from this book without courting controversy as there are so many rules and regulations contained within. Some relevant most not. But today let us look at the book itself and what we can learn from it 

 

The content of Leviticus relates directly to the Exodus and on more than 50 occasions the text says something like, “The LORD spoke to Moses”. The New Testament also refers to Moses as the author of passages from Leviticus (Matthew 8:4; Luke 2:22; Hebrews 8:5).

 

The word Leviticus derives from the tribe of Levi, whose members were set aside by the Lord to be His priests and worship leaders. As a title, the word means ‘pertaining to the Levites.’  Its content was originally meant to instruct the new nation of Israel in proper worship and right living, so that they might reflect the character of their divine King.

 

The book of Leviticus was important and was the first book studied by a Jewish child; yet is often among the last books of the Bible to be studied by a Christian. Today’s readers are often put off by the book’s lists of laws regarding diet, sacrifice, and social behavior, most of which don’t relate to the way we live today.

 

But what we can take away from this book is that we discover the holiness and utter “otherness”—of God. And we learn how sin devastates humanity’s relationship with their Creator.

 

The overall message of Leviticus is sanctification. The book communicates that receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance should be followed by holy living and spiritual growth. 

 

In Leviticus we learn that God loves to be approached, but we must do so on His terms. A lesson that we can all take on despite what book in the Bible we are reading and a recipe for a good life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday 20th

 

Exodus 23

 

I could not recommend “This present darkness” by Frank Peretti enough as a book. Back in the ’90s, it seemed as if the whole of St Paul's was reading this marvellous Christian rollercoaster ride.

 

One of the significant visuals of the book was the way the angels appeared and were described. It starts with two strange figures appearing outside the little college town of Ashton: "They were tall, at least seven feet, strongly built, perfectly proportioned". They are, it transpires, angels on their way to look in on Pastor Hank Busche who has prayed for help.

 

In literature (and in our own heads) Angels come in all shapes and sizes. They appear on Cards and years ago girls swapped “scraps” of the now famous angel in the clouds. Images that seem timeless but are they a true picture?

 

But make no mistake the angels in the Bible are not cute and ingenuous. They had a role to play, a message to deliver or a battle to assist.

 

In Exodus we read of another angel and we are given some clues in his identity as it says in verse 21 “since my name is in him”. Some books tell us that this is the Angel of God in him. Not mentioned by name we only know a few angels by name, and in a sense, Michael  and Gabriel each have the name of God in their name but neither Michael nor Gabriel commanded this kind of obedience from Israel or presumed to sit in judgment over them. This is the specific Angel of the LORD. Could it be  Jesus appearing in the Old Testament, before His incarnation in Bethlehem?

 

This Angel would go before them into the place which “I” have prepared and we know that same principle is true of our life with Jesus today. Not only is it true that Jesus goes before us to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:2-3), but the place we walk in today was prepared by God, and where we will walk tomorrow is prepared by Him also.    Amen 

 

 

Exodus 23 reads

 

20 “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday 19th October

 

 

It must have seemed a long time to be stuck in the Ark. The family, the animals, the noise and the fear of what was going to happen next must have been disconcerting, to say the least. But in the end, God made good. He kept his word and delivered them all safely.

 

He gave them a new land, a better land so that everything could start from scratch. The land was dried, the boat settled and the animals released while a new life began. A new covenant between God and Noah began.

 

The covenant was established after the deluge subsided and it was  God's plan to preserve Noah and all the others in the ark, there will be no more disruptions and life on earth will be preserved, (after all) the value of human life is paramount.

 

Glasgow as a city will face untold disruption as the world's leaders battle it out for climate change and the preservation of the planet. We know it won't be straightforward and already people are panicking about transport links to their place of work and getting from A to B while the main arterial roads are closed for almost three weeks.

 

But while all of this goes on, what is God thinking? What is he saying? “Didn’t I tell you?”  “How are you going to fix this one?”. My hope for COP 26 is that there is room for prayer somewhere. We know that God is a God of grace and we must bring Him into the dialogue where the beauty of creation is being discussed. While all the government heads sit and ponder I hope they ask God for assistance cause only He knows what it took to create this beautiful planet.

 

So instead of shouting at the telly during COP 26 let's just take a minute to pray for its success and take a minute out each day before that to pray for all that this will entail. Amen

 

 

Genesis 9  ( after the flood)

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday 18th October

 

And the last one for a wee while

 

The spiritual songs come from the times of slavery and persecution and I’m told most times it was a prayer to pray together but disguise it as a song. Spirituals have a lot of emotional content and appeal and in a lot of songs it places the singer right in the middle “ as if you are there”. 

 

Today’s hymn is “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”

 

“Were You There” uses a system of coded language in its lyrics like most, if not all, African-American spirituals. Metaphors, especially those involving Old Testament figures, as well as Jesus, are often central to the meanings of spirituals. “Were You There?” tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus but underneath this narrative, however, it likens Jesus's suffering to the suffering of slaves. 

 

In some versions of the song, the singer asks “Were you there when they nailed Him to the Tree?” Replacing Jesus’ cross with a tree further strengthens the parallel between Jesus’ suffering and slaves’ suffering. African-Americans during the slavery period,

 

 

While this is all relevant I think this hymn goes from Christian discussion to the stark reality as Christ receives the nails being pounded into his bones and when they laid him in the tomb. But the glory is revealed in the last verse when we are asked did we feel like shouting “glory glory glory….. as He rose up from the dead.

 

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they nail'd him to the cross?

Were you there when they pierced him in the side? 
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

Were you there when the sun refused to shine? 
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
O sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

4 Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? 
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb? 
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Sunday 17thOctober

 

As president of his churches young people group James Black called the roll each week. He liked to see new members come forward to their meeting and one in particular, a young girl sat in the front pew.

 

James knew that her father was a drunkard and there was no Christianity allowed at home, so he was worried one week when she didn’t show up. She had become seriously ill.

 

He thought about the day that names would be called from “ the lambs book of life” and the disappointment if one of us was absent. That night he went home and in fifteen minutes he had written three verses of a very memorable hymn. Sadly ten days later the girl died of pneumonia she missed the youth group roll call but he was sure she would have answered “ when the roll is called up yonder”.

 

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more
And the morning breaks eternal bright and fair
When the saved diverse shall gather over on the other shore
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

Let us lay before the Master from dawn 'til setting sun
Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care
Then when all of life is over and our work on Earth is done
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there

 

Friday 15th October


A young Jewish student asked a question to Alfred Ackley. “ why should I worship a dead Jew?”. By training Ackley was a cellist and had studies at the Royal Academy in London but he was also a trained minister of the gospel serving churches in Pennsylvania and California.


Acklys answer to the student was a quick one” I tell you he is not dead! He lives! Jesus Christ is more alive today than He has ever been and in fact I can prove it by my own experiences as well as the testimony of thousands of other people.


Ackley talked to the man further and then went home and went back to his beloved gospels. He went over the story of the resurrection and suddenly the words “ He is risen” took on new meaning. He sat at his piano and “ the thought of His everlasting living presence brought the music and the words easily”

 


I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today;
I know that He is living whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.

Refrain:
He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives,
Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care,
And tho' my heart grows weary I never will despair;
I know that He is leading thro' all the stormy blast,
The day of His appearing will come at last.

Refrain

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find,
None other is so loving, so good and kind.

Thursday 14thOctober

As a child we had a rubbish collection of music in the Radiogram, the good stuff was Neil Sedaka ( Oh Carol), Cliff Richard ( living doll) and Adam Faith ( what do you want if you don’t want money) but the crackliest bit of vinyl was a Mahalia Jackson Album called “The Lords Prayer”.

Albert Hay Malotte was born on May 19, 1895 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.He was a pianist and organist, who gained his start playing for silent pictures. He later performed concerts throughout the United States and Europe.

In 1935, he took provided a tune to Jesus’ words in the Lord’s Prayer. The song was first performed and recorded by popular baritone, John Charles Thomas. The Lord’s Prayer became a popular song during weddings and for special occasions in the church.

During World War II, Malotte toured with the USO and entertained the troops. He held a rank of Captain in the Special Services.

He composed numerous scores and songs over the years mainly to be used in the Disney animations.

 The Lord’s Prayer was not the only Biblical text he set to music. He also set the Beatitudes and the Twenty-Third Psalm to music. He died of pneumonia on November 16, 1964. He is buried at Forest Lawn, the Hollywood Hills Cemetery. However, his melody to The Lord’s Prayer, lingers on in the heart and mind of many believers.

Wednesday 13thOctober

Mark 1 v 16 tells  us that Passing along the beach of Lake Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew net-fishing. Fishing was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions. They dropped their nets and followed.”

I think it’s a “ done deal” that we , in order to be effective Christians have to stay closer to God and his son.

“ Just a closer walk with thee” is the most popular modern gospel song in the history of records. This was probably caused by one man singing it in the height of his fame . Elvis Presley entered the record books many times over for singing this song on his gospel albums and later bringing it out as a single. But it is acknowledged that over 100 artists have recorded this one song.

This history of the song goes back to an unknown writer in the slave fields of the deep south but the Southern Gospel churches kep this song alive during the second world war.

 

I am weak but Thou art strong
Jesus keep me from all wrong
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

When my feeble life is o'er
Time for me will be no more
Guide me gently, safely o'er
To Thy kingdom's shore, to Thy shore

Just a closer walk with Thee
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea
Daily walking close to Thee
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be

Tuesday 12thOctober

 

Ephesians 3 tells us that “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Some of us are blessed with talents that are so obvious while some of us have what we call “ hidden talents” but we have all have spiritual blessings given to us through God and his son Jesus. We just have to recognise this.

Johnson Oatman Senior was a very talented man, as a business man he was at the top of his game and it seemed whatever he touched turned to Gold. His son, Johnson Oatman junior was not so talented and as a young man tried his hand at many things but without the success of his father.

At the age of 34 Johnson junior began to write hymns and immediately found his niche. He was offered good money for his hymns and could have made a fortune as some weeks he was writing around four good hymns. But Johnson junior believed he should count his blessings and took only one dollar for every hymn that he wrote.

When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

 

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

 

 Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.

 

[Refrain]

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

 

[Refrain]

 So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end. [Refrain]

 

Monday

 

The author of todays hymn, Edward Perronet , would probably have fallen into obscurity had it not been for this story that relates to his hymn.

 

Reverend E. P. Scott was a missionary, living in India during the 1800s. One day Rev. Scott met a native Indian tribesman in traditional costume. After enquiring he discovered that the native was from a ferocious mountain tribe which rarely came to the city. Feeling the need to visit the tribe to share the gospel, Rev. Scott after much prayer set out with a few provisions and his violin.

After travelling for two days, Rev. Scott suddenly found himself surrounded by a party of warriors from the very tribe he sought with their spears pointed to his heart. Fearing that this was the end for him, he pulled out his violin and began to play.

Closing his eyes tightly he sang ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’ in their native language. When he came to the stanza ‘Let ev’ry kindred, ev’ry tribe…’ he cautiously opened his eyes. He was astonished to see that the spears had been withdrawn and several of the warriors were in tears! For the next two and a half years Rev. Scott lived with this tribe teaching them the way of salvation.

 When poor health forced him to take a leave of absence, the natives followed him nearly 40 miles, wishing him to return to them soon.

This he did, spending the last days of his life with the people whose hearts had been opened by ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’.

All hail the pow'r of Jesus' Name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!
Bring forth the royal diadem
Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all!
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all!
You are Lord of all
You are Lord of all
Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!

Sunday 10th October 

 

The lyrics to this uplifting hymn, ironically, arose from a series of tragedies suffered in the 1800s by Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago-based businessman and attorney.

 

First, in 1871, the great Chicago fire destroyed most of Spafford’s real estate investments, leading him to lose his life savings. 

 

Two years later in 1873, Spafford, his wife, and their four daughters booked a passage on an ocean liner sailing to Europe. Spafford had a last-minute change of plans due to business matters and never boarded the ship. While at sea, the ship was struck by another vessel and sank. Spafford’s wife survived, but all four of their daughters drowned. 

 

When he received news of the tragedy, Spafford boarded the next available ship to join his grieving wife. During his voyage, the ship’s captain identified for Spafford the approximate area where the shipwreck had occurred and his daughters had drowned. The painful events led Spafford to pen a hymn confirming his continued faith and love in God.

 

Among the hymn’s most poignant lyrics are:

 

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

 

In 1881 and despite their devastating personal loss, Spafford and his wife continued to reflect their devotion to God by moving to Jerusalem to serve the needy and establish hospitals.

 

His incredible faith created this meditation for us all, that no matter what horrible circumstances we face, we can be at peace knowing God is sovereign and his love is constant.

 

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ (yes, He has) has regarded my helpless estate
And has shed His own blood for my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought (a thought)
My sin, not in part, but the whole (every bit, every bit, all of it)
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more (yes!)
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul!

It is well
With my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

  

Saturday 9th October

 Maybe you are not familiar with todays hymn?

 Frances Ridley Havergal was an unusually gifted child. The daughter of a church rector, she was raised in Worcester, England and attended schools in England and Germany. In her love of learning, she grew to become an able scholar  becoming proficient in both Hebrew and Greek as well as a talented singer and pianist.

 The deepest desire of her heart, however, was in “personal spiritual influence upon others” . This led her to value most of all her ability to write for the spiritual benefit of others.

 Havergal suffered poor health and died at just 42 years of age

 The story of “Take My Life” gives a good picture of the kind of passion and joy she had in ministering to others. She oncetold the story behind it:

 “I went for a little visit of five days. There were ten persons in the house, some unconverted and long prayed for, some converted but not rejoicing Christians. He gave me the prayer, “Lord, give me all in this house!” And He just did! Before I left the house every one had got a blessing. The last night of my visit I was too happy to sleep, and passed most of the night in praise and renewal of my own consecration, and these little couplets formed themselves and chimed in my heart one after another, till they finished with, “Ever, ONLY, ALL for Thee!”

In her own words, the hymn is a “consecration hymn” in which the singer commits all of their “possessions and being to the Lord for his purposes.”

 Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.

 Friday 8th October

The hymn I have chosen for today is probably one of the most popular hymns that is sung around the world. People choose it to sing at weddings and funerals, pop stars have recorded it as well as famous opera stars. But like all of the hymns that are made by popular by the secular world, I sometimes wonder if the singers listen to the words.

Of course I am talk about Amazing Grace written by John Newton.

John Newton was born in London in the year 1725. His father was a sea captain. His mother was a devout Christian woman who, realizing that an illness she had would take her life within a short time, taught her son to know the Bible at an early age.

When John was seven, his mother died. He went to sea with his father when he was eleven; and by the time he was seventeen, he was in the British Royal Navy on a man-of- war ship.

During this time, John drifted far from the teachings of his mother. With each passing year, he sank deeper into the pit of sin. First, he was a sailor on a slave ship. Eventually, he was a captain, transporting slaves from Africa to ports where they could be sold for the best prices. Finally, one stormy night on a waterlogged ship in 1748, with the main mast broken in two, John Newton came face to face with the God of his childhood Bible learning. Then and there, John was saved from his darkest sins.

John’s life was changed forever. He abandoned the sea, settled in Liverpool and married Mary Catlett. Soon, John felt God’s call on his life to preach; and preach he did, securing an appointment to the parish church at Olney, England.

To add a special touch to his messages, John would close with poetic verse that he would compose. On a Sunday morning, in 1779, Pastor Newton closed his heart-warming message with an original poem about God’s grace or as John called it, “His Amazing Grace.”

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

 


Thursday 7 October, 2021

One of the strangest things I have read since researching our favourite hymns is that Isaac Watts wanted “ David converted to a Christian”? .

Now what he meant by that was that although he loved The Psalms he wished they were infused with the gospel , he felt that " some psalms were not appropriate for Christian worship".

He felt that they were written before the cross and the completion of Gods “ redemption and revelation”

It is said that Watts was thinking about Psalm 72 

 

 May he rule from sea to sea
    and from the Riverto the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him
    and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
    bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
    present him gifts.
 May all kings bow down to him
    and all nations serve him.

For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
    the afflicted who have no one to help.
 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
    and save the needy from death.
 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
    for precious is their blood in his sight.

 

And from this psalm Isaac Watts penned the hymn " Jesus shall reign"

 

1 Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
does its successive journeys run,
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

 

2 To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head.
His name like sweet perfume shall rise
with every morning sacrifice.

 

Most of the sources that I have read about this hymn say that the words of this hymn take on a new meaning when you think about the global envangelism movement of today where the word of God and the life of his son can be told in every corner of the globe and wherever the sun rises and sets.

 

Wednesday 6 October, 2021

Francis was born in 1182 in Assisi in central Italy, son of a rich merchant. After a rather poor education, Francis joined the army and was captured in war. He came to Christ shortly after his release, renounced his wealth, and began travelling about the countryside, preaching the gospel, living simply, seeking to make Christ real to everyone he met. 

Francis loved nature and there are many stories of his interaction and activity with animals. He reportedly once preached a little sermon to the birds, saying something like this "My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love Him. He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly, and all other things you need. It is God who made your home in thin, pure air." 

That understanding of nature is reflected in his famous hymn “ All creatures of our God and King.

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voices, let us sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beams, 
thou silver moon that gently gleams,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
ye clouds that sail in heaven along,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Thou rising morn, in praise rejoice, 
ye lights of evening, find a voice,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for thy Lord to hear,
Alleluia, alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
that givest man both warmth and light,
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Dear mother earth, who day by day
unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise him, Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
let them his glory also show:
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One: 
O praise him, O praise him, 
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Francis' hymn, "Song of Brother Sun"-was composed just before his death in 1225. Like Psalm 148, it demands that  all creation to worship God: The sun and moon, all the birds, all the clouds, all men and women of tender heart, all creatures of our God and King. The hymn was “ refashioned” in 1925 to be used in children's worship.

 

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

Born in Hertfordshire, Bishop Thomas Ken (1637–1711) was orphaned as a child and raised by his sister Anna and her husband Izaak Walton. They enrolled him in the all-boys school at Winchester College and when he was of the correct age he moved to Oxford University.

Ken was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1662, serving as rector to several parishes and as a chaplain to Princess Mary of Orange and then King Charles II. In 1685 he was appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells. During the reign of King James II, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for refusing to sign the Declaration of Indulgence , a decree designed to promote the king’s Catholic faith. Ken was acquitted of the charge. When, however, King William III ascended to the throne, Ken refused to swear loyalty to him and resigned his office, living the rest of his life at the home of his friend, Lord Weymouth, at Longleat, 

 

Ken wrote in a pamphlet of hymns 

. . . be sure to sing the Morning and Evening Hymn in your chamber devoutly, remembering that the Psalmist, upon happy experience, assures you that it is a good thing to tell of the loving kindness of the Lord early in the morning and of his truth in the night season (Ken, 1675, n.p.).This directive is most often interpreted to mean that the hymns were meant for private devotion, not the gathered assembly, and yet  four lines stood out and ever since have been sung more than any lines since.

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Praise Him all creatures here below

Praise Him above ye heavenly host

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost.

 

Commonly called “The Doxology,” Ken’s acclamation of praise is actually one of many doxological declarations that appear in many hymns, often in final stanza for instance “All Creatures of Our God and King,” and ``Now Thank We All Our God”. 

 

In the bible the words can be found in a Psalm. Psalm 26 verses 6-9

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. ... Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge” 

Monday 4 October, 2021

Psalm 42 deals with someone who is obviously unhappy and even stressed

 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When can I go and meet with God?
 My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember
    as I pour out my soul:

Martin Mystrom is from Seattle and he suffered from stress, he was a schoolteacher in Seattle.He found he had the summer off and decided to attend a summer term at  “Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas”. Little did he know what was about to happen to him, especially with all that he would be exposed to and the worship emphasis of the school. . .

He had graduated from Oral Roberts University and, frankly, was a little overwhelmed in ministry, he suffered from stress related illnesses and it was taking its toll on his spiritual life.


He found himself sitting at the piano in a room of the school, trying to write a song. He was simply playing chord progressions when he noticed a Bible on the music stand of the piano, open to Psalm 42. His eyes fell on the first verse of that chapter. After reading the verse he began to sing its message, right off the page. He wrote the first verse and the chorus of a song, practically straight through. The entire song was completed in a matter of minutes.”

 

Though Mr. Nystrom had not intended to perform the song publically, he shared it with a friend at Christ for the Nations before returning to Seattle. His friend introduced it to the others at the Institute, and it became a favourite. 

 

The whole hymn talks about the peace that can be achieved through worship and the imagery in the hymn itself suggests a peaceful scene and a wonderful relationship that can be had through God.


The hymn is a great prayer too and Nystrom attended a conference in Korea in the 1990’s that began with 100,000 Korean Christians singing his hymn as a dramatic witness of its power.

 

As the deer pants for the water
So my soul longs after You
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You 

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You

You're my friend and You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything

Sunday 3 October, 2021

 

In America there was a need for a portable organ that can be used on street corners, jail visits and general mobile use. Peter Bilhorn designed a small folding organ, weighing sixteen pounds, and started its manufacture in 1887. His Bilhorn Brothers Organ Company grew and is still thriving and Bilhorn organs have won gold medals at six World Expositions, and are currently in use on battleships, in army camps, in rescue missions and hospitals, and on far-flung mission fields.

 

Peter Bilhorn was born in Illinois in 1861, shortly after his father was killed in the Civil War. He was converted at twenty under D. L. Moody’s preaching, and after he acquired musical training he then went onto launch a career in evangelism which was to make him world famous. 

 

When Peter Billhorn was just 21 years he wanted to show his love for Christ in some way. He then approached his Pastor and Evangelist Frances Rowley for advice.

 

In a memoir Rowley commented  “I was minister of the First Baptist Church of North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1886,”. “The church and community were experiencing a period of unusual interest in religious matters, and I was assisted by a remarkable young singer by the name of Peter Bilhorn. One night after the close of the service he said, ‘Why don’t you write a hymn for me to set to music?’ During the night these verses came to me. The original poem began, ‘Can’t you sing the wondrous story?’ but when the song was first published by Sankey in 1887 the phrase was changed to “I will sing …”


we now sing this hymn as 

 

I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me;
How He left the realms of glory
For the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Raised me up and gently led me
Back into the narrow way.
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then at last He'll bring me over
Saved by grace and mystery
Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Saturday - 2 October, 2021

You may not have heard of today's hymn or of Bill and Gloria Gaither but they are two of the most prolific modern hymn writers in America and their shows have been going on in TV since the late 60’s. My dad used to gather the Gaithers videos and would hear them in all their “ cheesiness” in the background when we visited.

I then started recognising some of the videos and found myself thinking” Good this is the one that has “ Because he lives”. I shamelessly hung around to see these folks and all their entourage belt out a great hymn.

It was dark times in the late sixties for the Gaithers as they were both suffering from ill health, Gloria was three months pregnant and they were just starting out as Pastors in the area that they lived in. News of Vietnam was all around them and the world was a nice place to be in, so they thought.

One day, a discouraged and disheartened Bill was inspecting a newly paved area of their parking area. It was a part of their church site where there was no sun. But Bill noticed right at the top corner of the site where the sun shone, and it was there he found a single blade of grass poking through the layers of rock and tar to reach out for the sunlight. You can imagine the smile on his face.

Fast forward to the late summer and Gloria had their baby. When they came home they decided to write this hymn remembering the blade of glass being able to grow in a hostile environment, they rejoiced in the knowledge that their baby could in fact face uncertain days because Christ lives.

 

How sweet to hold
A new born baby
And feel the pride
And the joy that he gives
But greater still that calm assurance
We can face uncertain days

And because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives

And then one day
We'll all cross that river
And fight life's final war with pain
And then, as death gives way to victory
I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he reigns

Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know, I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living just because he lives

 
Friday - 1 October, 2021

I love researching the words and origins of all of these hymns so far and I am lucky to have a few books that make it so much easier. But then suddenly one jumps from the pages and it’s a hymn we all love but the story behind the hymn and the composers make the whole thing just stand out loud and proud. It’s a long one today. Forgive me but it’s a story worth telling

Anna Bartlett Warner, was born in 1827. Warner could trace her lineage back to the Puritan Pilgrims on both sides. Her father was Henry Warner, a well known New York City lawyer originally from New England, and her mother was Anna Bartlett, from a wealthy, fashionable family in New York’s Hudson Square. When Warner was a young child, her mother died, and her father’s sister Fanny came to live with the Warners. Although Henry Warner had been a successful lawyer, he lost most of his fortune in the Panic of 1837 and in subsequent lawsuits and poor investments. The family had to leave their mansion at St. Mark’s Place in New York and move to an old, ramshackled farmhouse on Constitution Island, near West Point.  Seeing such a change in their family’s financial situation, Susan and Anna started writing to earn money.Both sisters became devout Christians in the late 1830s. 

 

The sisters published 106 novels and children’s books. Anna wrote a fresh hymn for her Sunday School class each month. It is believed that Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the last cadets to attend their classes. He graduated the year of Anna’s death.

 

In a novel they wrote called “ Say and Seal” , Sunday School teacher Mr. Linden comforts his sick student, Johnny Fax. 

 

A poem is read to soothe the dying child.

 

Jesus loves me, this I know, 
for the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to him belong; 
they are weak, but he is strong. 


Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so. 

 

Jesus loves me he who died 
heaven's gate to open wide. 
He will wash away my sin, 
let his little child come in. 

 

Jesus loves me, this I know, 
as he loved so long ago, 
taking children on his knee, 
saying, "Let them come to me." 

 

These words were published as a hymn in the hymnbook “Original Hymns”.The tune and chorus were added in 1862 by Dr. William Batchelder Bradbury. Dr. Bradbury dedicated himself to teaching, writing and publishing his music; published 59 collections of sacred and secular music. He wrote hymns such as “He Leadeth Me”, “Just As I Am” and “Sweet Hour of Prayer”. “Jesus Loves Me” appeared in his hymnal “The Golden Sower”.

 

In America in Westpoint ,when they were on military duty, the cadets were taught the words and would sing “Jesus loves me.”


Anna outlived her sister by more than thirty years. The popularity of the song was so great, that both sisters were buried with military honours because of their contribution they made to the spiritual well being of the soldiers. They are the only civilians buried in the West Point Cemetery.

 

Their home, Good Crag, was willed to West Point Academy and made into a National Shrine. Their home is now a museum in their honour.

 

Jesus Loves Me” is the first hymn taught to new converts and children worldwide. Additional verses have been added throughout the years.