03 July 2020

 

 

James 5:13-20 New International Version (NIV)

 

The Prayer of Faith

 

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

 

 

You and me and prayer

 

Yesterday I talked about a reading that “ summed up”  your relationship with God. Today’s reading is all about US and  the power of prayer. The writer asks us “ is anyone among you in trouble?” then pray and what about if your happy? Well that too deserves prayer. Pray also when you are sick and when you’ve sinned and always remember to make it common practice.

We know that prayer can be powerful, look at Elijah as an example. For more than three years he prayed for rain and eventually it did and notice that he never gave up he prayed till he felt he had the answer. And what about the people that have stopped praying, you know the ones that have wandered off from Gods House. We all know that someone? Well pray for them too, even if you know that they have stopped praying. And pray that they come back to the family of God and pray that they will receive the gift of eternal life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

02 July 2020

 
Psalm 145:8-14 New International Version (NIV)
 
 
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendour of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
 
 
 
I read somewhere that this psalm is an alphabet acrostic. This means that the initial letter of each of each verse is the Hebrew alphabet in sequence. It is said this is the last of the Psalm authored by David.
 
Not only is it a hymn of praise but in my head this is a “ summing up” of our relationship with God. His gifts of mercy and grace. His characteristics of slow to anger and rich in love. He is good to all and in everything he does grace comes first. The Psalm tells us that because of this ,creation applauds him and his people bless him and praise him. We as his people should talk about his glory and everything he does for us. We should share with the world the goodness of his power, his availability and his graciousness in everything he does. I will leave the last two lines of this Psalm to Eugene Peterson who translates them as
 
God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
 
It is perfectly understandable to feel sorry for yourself, even if we were not in the middle of this pandemic. But through the grace, the mercy and the compassion of our Father we can wipe the slate clean on a bad day. We can put a poor experience behind us for ever and start all over again. Let us pray
Heavenly Father, as we come to you again this morning, we give You thanks for Your presence with us during this past week – some days we have found it a struggle and we have been glad that You have walked with us each step of the way. We are aware that we would not have coped so well with things if You had not been by our side. Thank you for being our perfect companion in all of life’s experiences. Thank You too for Your Word and for the honesty of the people who are recorded in it – and for the help and guidance which we gain from them as they have shared their experiences, both good and bad, with us today. The Psalms are not only so rich in language but they are full of emotion – with the people calling out to You for help, knowledge, assurance, understanding and guidance in order that they can go forward in faith and strength. Today’s Psalm speaks so clearly to us of Your love, mercy and encouragement, and demonstrates your marvellous provision to those who call upon You. Thank you that we can trust in You and in Your promises and glad that we can truly rest in You and in your good purpose for each of our lives – Amen.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

01 July 2020

 

 

Genesis 7 verses 15-22

 

 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though[a] every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

 

 

Gods Promise

 

 

Following on from yesterdays story of Noah we find him at the end of his adventure and the earth has been dried out, God instructs Noah to come out of the Ark with every creature that he took on board. I think Noah was so happy that he had been delivered safely he built an altar     ( as the scripture tells us) and made an offering to God. God was pleased with Noah’s reaction and made a promise to never again destroy all living creatures. This was no simple promise, it was the promise that as long as the earth exists the simple things in life will continue. Planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter and day and night.

 

God had a purpose in Noah. Just as God was there for Noah and guided him through this part of his life, Noah acknowledged his thanks by building the alter and giving thanks and in return God made a promise to him. Today God has a purpose for you and me and he is standing beside us unseen and guiding us. We may not know the purpose that God has for us but we must thank him for making us a child of His and above all else giving us his son Jesus. The promise for us is written in John 3 v16 and as long as we believe in Him we are guaranteed and eternal life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

30 June 2020

 

Genesis 6 New International Version (NIV)

 

Wickedness in the World

 

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal their days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.

 

 

The big boat

 

We all know the story of Noah. The other day as it was pelting down in rain there was a man round the corner from where we live and in the middle of all this rain he was fixing a boat outside his house. I immediately thought “ I wonder what he knows?”

Quite a few years ago, I heard about a man who set out to build his own sailboat in his driveway. He worked diligently on the boat. He worked after hours when he was off work from his day job and most weekends. After several months, the boat began to take shape. People in the area begin to take interest in the sailboat and in their neighbour who had proven to be quite the craftsman. 

All went well, until one day, someone asked him how he was going to get the boat to the sea. The poor man had never given a thought about how he planned to get his prize sailboat to the coast. His boat was too big to be moved down a public street. The backyard shipbuilder had thought about everything, except this! Folks in the community thought it rather humorous that a man would go to all the trouble to build a sailboat and never stop to think of how he was going to transport it to the water.

It looked as if the sailboat would never get the opportunity to prove itself seaworthy...that is, until 
the right people happened to be watching the local news, telling of the man's predicament. Someone in the Navy heard about the man's problem and offered to help. The Navy contacted the man and through a training exercise they offered to airlift the boat with one of their giant helicopters. 

The story made big news! Everyone turned out to see the boat lowered into the water. People cheered and applauded, as the captain took the wheel for the first time.

 We all know the story of Noah. He, too, built a boat . And just like the man in the story before us, Noah's boat was nowhere near the water...but differently than our first story, God would bring the water to Noah. That would be a story for the evening news, wouldn't it?

Sometimes when we cant take things to God he can come to us, unlike the guy in the story we don’t need the local news or a helicopter all we need is prayer. God knew all about the ark, its purpose,its dimensions he may even have know about it weaknesses. And that , too, is the same with us. When we bring our prayers to him, he knows us, he’s been watching us and he is waiting for us to get it off our chests and feel better.

 

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer

Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer

 

Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

29 June 2020

 

 

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 New International Version (NIV)

 

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

 

 

The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about the need for them to love one another. The apostle Paul writes to them about loving one another but tells them that he does not need to write to them about it because they have been taught by God. These Christians understood that loving one another was a critical characteristic. If we do not love one another, then we are not disciples of Jesus. Not only were they loving each other, they were loving Christians all throughout the region of Macedonia. But there are ways that we show love to each other that we may be neglecting. Sometimes we can have a shallow picture of what it looks like to love one another. Since Paul has no need to write about all the reasons why the Thessalonians need to love each other, since they are doing this already, Paul teaches them some deeper applications of what it looks like to love each other. 

 

A different kind of touch love 

 

Jesus said that the world would know that we are disciples of Jesus because of how we love one another. What this means is that how we live our lives Monday through Saturday has an impact on what people think about Jesus and about us. Loving one another is not something that only happens when you are at church. What we do when we are at home has an impact to the world. What we do while at work sends a message to other people. What we do when we are engaged in our hobbies and chores will say something to the world around us. Pauls ends by saying that what we do each day ,should win us the respect of outsiders. This is a different kind of tough love. It’s a big ask, it’s a hard ask but we are told that it is an essential ask for us to live our our lives as Christians.  Let us Pray

 

Father in heaven you know us by the hairs on our head, you know how we appear in public as well as in how we appear to you. Help us to truly love each other and to show others our ability to show grace and to follow your Word and your ways. Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

28 June 2020

40 years today 

 

 

1stCorinthians 13 

 

13 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11 When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

 

 

Today we celebrate 40 years of being married. On this day in 1980 on what should have been a beautiful day, it poured. There was a leak in the church roof, the organ blew up. . We sang “ Love divine” in direct competition to the flower girl who decided to sing “ insy winsy spider” and then we had a reading from 1stCorinthians.We couldn’t take photographs outside because of the storm and there was a bus crash on the way to The Kessington Halls for the reception. On the plus side we,ve lasted 40 years. 

 

In all those years I do not know how many times I have read and heard 1stCorinthians 13. At times I have thought it was a wonderful reading and there have been other times when I have thought “ why do we have that at weddings?”

 

We thought this year we would have a big celebration but of course the pandemic put paid to that, people said just delay it while other said “ wait till 2021. But in the sale of things a party is not important.

 

Looking at Petersons translation there are 5 lines that are relevant in a relationship and the same 5 lines are for anyone who is struggling whether in the pandemic or whether its just life in general.

 

Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keep going to the end.

 

Have we all done this in life? Have I done that over the past forty years? I think you’ll have to ask someone else that.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

27 June 2020

 

 

James 3:13-18 

 

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

 

Live Well, Live Wisely

 

Have you ever thought about what makes a person wise?

 

Often we have these ideas of what makes someone wise. Perhaps it’s someone that wears glasses. Or, someone with gray hair. Perhaps we think of owls when we think of someone who is wise. Maybe someone with a lot of degrees on his or her wall. Or, someone who likes to read a lot. Now, let me ask, “ do you think you are wise?”

 

The reading tells us that there is two types of wisdom. One is what I am calling, “human wisdom”. Trying to live wisely in the way we talk, sometimes twisting the words to make us look wiser than we actually are. We might even come across as cunning and using that as wisdom to fool others or look better than others. To benefit ourselves.

 

The other wisdom is what I am calling “ real wisdom” and the wisdom that comes through God. Leading a better Christ like life in dealing with others and at all times. Showing  Christ like qualities and be reasoinable, gentle and showing mercy and grace to others.

Its only when we are displaying real wisdom and the wisdom of Christ, will we reap the true benefits of living a God filled life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

26 June 2020

Luke 18 New International Version (NIV)

 

 

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

 

18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

 

 

 

The most important thing about this reading is in the opening line and “that they should always pray and never give up”.  Sometimes we may feel our prayers are futile and empty, we might hear ourselves say “ here we go again the same old prayer”. You might even think to yourself “ why do I bother?”. Someone once told me that praying was like breathing. Its something we have to do to live, every breath is important no matter how big or small. In order to live we have to breath, in order to live a Christian life we have to pray too. No matter how little or how often, how eloquent or how simple, God hears our prayers and gives us the necessary faith to carry on. The last verse in this reading asks us “ when the son of man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”….Only time will tell. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

25 June 2020

John 4

 

The Woman at the Well  

 

Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”

 “I have no husband,” she said.

“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”

 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshipped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

“Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

 

 

Come and see a man

Today is one of my favourites days of the year, so I thought I would be a bit self indulgent and go back to my favourite story in the bible and that is “the woman at the well”. It’s a great story of comparisons. Here is a woman who is too ashamed to be seen with her peer group so she fetches water when the sun is at its peak. This woman is incomplete as she has had so many husbands and she sounds tired and weary as she meets this strange Jewish man who dares to speak to her. But before we can feel sorry for her everything is about to change. She challenges Jesus and he in turn challenges her, offering her water that will take away all her thirst for ever! And this woman who was afraid to mix with the public suddenly throws herself into the town and tells everyone “ come and see a man who knew all about the things I did and who knows me inside out. Jesus changed her life and is still changing lives. And I am guessing “ change “ is not a strong enough word and   “ transformed”  is a much better word and closer to the real thing.  

 

Favourite story? And now a favourite hymn and the words are so appropriate for our story in Matthew today 

 

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene
And wonder how He could love me
A sinner condemned, unclean

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song will ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love for me

He took my sins and my sorrows
He made them his very own
He bore the burden to Calvary
He suffered and died for me

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love

Forever I will sing Your praise
Jesus, Risen King
Oh my God I stand amazed that You loved me

When with ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see
It will be my joy through the ages
To sing of His love for me

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love

How marvellous, how wonderful
And my song shall ever be
How marvellous, how wonderful
Is my Saviour's love for me

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

24 June 2020

Matthew 10:5-23 The Message (MSG) 

 

5-8 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:

 

“Don’t begin by travelling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighbourhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

9-10 “Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.

11 “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.

12-15 “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry—but it’s no concern of yours now.

16 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.

17-20 “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation—just because you believe in me. Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you—and me—a favour, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.

21-23 “When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.

 

 

 

The little Commission

 

We’ve all probably read this reading before at some stage or even heard it in our churches. Learned people call it the “little commission” or the “mission discourse’ but for the purposes of today let's concentrate on the last few lines of this reading

“It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.”

I remember a famous quote by Terry Wogan when he said: “ if you live by your numbers you can die by your numbers”. He was talking about audience figures. Many Churches today can be obsessed with with   “ bums on seats “ ( apologies) but the trick is survival. Especially as we move out of this pandemic. We can become impatient.

We all have a job to do but the lesson in Matthew 10 is quite clear. There is to be no drama, no lots of equipment and no luxury. Should you knock on a door and there is no response don’t make a scene cause they are no longer your concern just move on.

The important thing today is that we are presenting “ the living God”   ( verse 21) and not a false idol and if there is hate, don’t give up! And when words fail you don’t worry, the right words will come.

If we do what it says on the packet then the cake we are baking will be a good one. If we read the map carefully we will get to where we are intended and if we adhere to the scriptures and the word of God we shall share in eternal life. Don’t live by the numbers, live by The Book.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

23 June 2020

To the Church in Smyrna

 

Revelation 2:8-11

 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

 

He’s our best friend?

We are told that these are the words of the “ risen saviour” and he walks in the midst of his church, knowing every detail and situation that there is too know. But he comes to us in love and wants his people to be faithful and unafraid.   There are thousands of books available to explain Revelations but this morning from this short reading we are made aware that God sees our pain and our poverty as well as our wealth. He is aware of the hypocrisy of some who are pretending, and warns us that the pain will not last for ever and that victory will follow.

He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Isn't it amazing that even down to the last book of the Bible there is still so much to be gleaned? People say not all of the Bible is relevant and some of it is simple folklore. Let's not worry about those types of people, for they don’t know the scriptures as we know them and God knows us.

Think of your best friend in the whole world. Do you know them? Do you really know them? Do you even know the hairs on their head? That’s how well God knows us and let's rejoice in that knowledge today that we have a friend and a saviour in Christ the King. Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

22 June 2020

 

Psalm 6

 

 Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
 My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?

Turn, Lord, and deliver me;
    save me because of your unfailing love.
 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
    Who praises you from the grave?

 I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

 Away from me, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
 The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.

 

 

This prayer from the Psalmist and we read that he is suffering.

 

” For I am faint heal me, my bones are in agony and my soul is in deep anguish”. 

 

The plea is clear “Turn Lord and deliver me, save me because of your unfailing love”. This person is clearly in trouble what my mother would  call “ a poor soul” the wording of the Psalm suggests near death and certainly a painful emotional experience

 

But it’s the Lord he turns to, he cries out five times “ O Lord” and asks for the Lord to return as he assumes he has been left alone. The Psalmist does not ask for justice for his predicament he asks for this unfailing love that he knows exists and because of this he knows he can confidently say 

 

“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.”

 

Let's make our prayer today a prayer of thanksgiving for God's unfailing love. Let's pray for his mercy and the acceptance of our prayer today and for always. Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

21 June 2020

Genesis 21 verses 8-21

 

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

 

The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

 

11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b]will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

 

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes.16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

 

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

 

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt.

 

 

Hagar and Ishmael

 

I love the old testament and the stories that are there. Sarah saw Isaac as their son and heir (and not Ishmael), so Hagar and her son were sent away. But God promised Abraham that he would look after both sons and just when Hagar thought her son would die God “ opened her eyes” and she saw a well of water. Because they drank from it we read that God was with the boy while he grew up.

 

Another story where water is mentioned and it is in this water that life is promised and given. Throughout the Bible water is mentioned many times and The Holy Spirit is never far away. Also, an important part of this text is God's promise to Abraham that though Isaac is the principal heir, God will not leave Ishmael and his mother in the lurch. They, too, will receive a blessing by becoming a great nation. And all because of God's faithfulness to the promise made to Abraham. 

 

Today the promises and the faithfulness of God is still there and there for all of us to enjoy. Likewise it's up to us to enjoy God and keep our promises to Him and our faithfulness in His endless love.    Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

20 June 2020

You’re more than a million canaries
 
 
Luke 12 1-12 Using The Message Translation
 
12 1-3 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
4-5 “I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
8-9 “Stand up for me among the people you meet and the Son of Man will stand up for you before all God’s angels. But if you pretend you don’t know me, do you think I’ll defend you before God’s angels?
10 “If you bad-mouth the Son of Man out of misunderstanding or ignorance, that can be overlooked. But if you’re knowingly attacking God himself, taking aim at the Holy Spirit, that won’t be overlooked.
11-12 “When they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don’t worry about defending yourselves—what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes.”
 
 
 
A man and a woman stopped to buy some hamburgers and chips. After they had paid for their food, they were handed a paper bag which, they assumed, contained their food. When they arrived at the place where they planned to eat, they opened up the bag and found that it contained the day’s proceeds in bank notes, and not their food. The man closed the bag, went back to the burger place and handed back the money, much to the relief of the employee who had mistakenly handed him the wrong bag.
 
Every one in the shop was ecstatic, the money had been returned by this lovely couple and the owner wanted to take a photo of them both for their website. The man was very insistent that this was not to happen. “Why?” asked the owner. The couple looked rather sheepishly and said “ we are devout vegetarians and we tell all our friends and family that hamburgers are so bad for you”
 
Hypocrisy is all around us. Jesus was lecturing the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He tells them to avoid the contamination of the “Pharisee yeast”.
 
We all know that yeast in bread makes it rise, its something that can develop and grow and under certain circumstances can make things become bigger. Hypocrisy is a bit like that, it can get out of control and if added to things it begins to grow in size and stature.
 
If you feel threatened by hypocrisy, Eugene Peterson's translation is great. It tells us that we are at worth 1 million canaries. He tells us “6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
 
The thought for today should be that there is no place for hypocrisy but if you fear it, if it frightens you or if you feel bullied by it He knows every hair on your head and of course He is watching over you. What is the advertising people say -  “ You're worth it “.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

19 June 2020

Acts 5:17-26 New International Version (NIV)
 
 
The Apostles Persecuted
 
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”21 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. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 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.
 
 
A dialogue for peace
 
The temple guard found the jail locked, the guards at their posts but there was no sign of the apostles. They were amazed and could not explain the situation. Then the council was amazed to hear that the apostles were back in the Temple teaching the people. They were re-arrested but with no show of force because the leaders feared the opposition of the crowd.
 
We have here again something that recurs right through the history of the Church and indeed among all those who fight in this world for truth and justice. Untold numbers of Christians in every part of the world have found themselves in jail for their faith. There are Christians in detention and labour camps right now. They have experienced the protection of God who gives them courage and peace and a sense of freedom even if they are not always released.
 
There must always be dialogue, even resistance but never violence.
 
Gandhi was a wonderful example of this and he was the inspiration for Martin Luther King’s anti-segregation campaign in the US. They both totally opposed any form of violence but, not surprisingly, were themselves the victims of their opponents’ violence.
 
Our prayers for today have to be about dialogue and for peace. While we cannot change history and what has happened, we can secure a better future through prayer and through integrity and honesty. Today we pray for the persecuted church all over the world, we pray for those whose job it is, to enforce the law so that they can do their job in safety and in peace and with integrity. Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

18 June 2020

Psalm 86 1-10
 
It’s a psalm today and a psalm that could easily be a prayer for today. It could be a prayer for you and me and for everybody who wants to read it, share it and believe it. So today, that what it’s about. Its time out for a prayer and a psalm. Its time to reflect on the fact that only through God do we have the security and the safety. Only through God can we pray and tell him our insecurities and it's only through prayer that we can be upheld.
 
 
The Psalmist in Psalm 86 tells us
 
Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
 
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
 
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
 
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
 
You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
 
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
 
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
 
Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
 
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
 
For you are great and do marvellous deeds;
you alone are God.
 
 
Now let's pray
 
Heavenly Father, we come before You at the start of another day – a day in which we may feel safe and secure, or concerned and anxious about ourselves or about the health and wellbeing of a loved one. Whatever our circumstances and whatever may happen this day, we pray that we will entrust it and ourselves to You in order that your love and grace will sustain and encourage us. Father, there are many examples of men and women in the Bible who could not carry on without the assurance that You walked with them each step of their journey of life. We consider these people to be ‘giants of the faith’, but they were just ordinary men and women who are ‘giants’ to us only because of the faith that they had in You. They were well aware of their frailty and their weakness. And so, as we look at the Bible Reading this morning from Psalm 86, we see how David not only spoke to You but he expected that You would answer his prayer. David sought your love to surround him, Your protection to guard and shield him, Your forgiveness to enable him to go forward in faith, and your Word to direct his path. Today, we who are weak and frail, need to be assured that we too are upheld by that same love, fellowship, teaching and forgiveness in our lives.
 
Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

17 June 2020

Luke 6:12-19 New International Version (NIV)
 
 
The Twelve Apostles
 
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Blessings and Woes
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
 
 
 
In the garden
 
I imagine Jesus having a big decision to make. “ Who should I call?” So the natural thing for him would be to talk to his Father, and in this case it is with prayer.
 
The next day, having prayed he calls twelve out of all his disciples. Twelve men all with different traits, different skills bringing different things to the party.
 
But if you notice there is one important, stand out phrase in this reading “ he went down with them and stood on a level place” This was Jesus at his best, involved, in the midst of the crowd and being with his people. And you don’t need reminding he walks with us today, he’s out there in the streets watching his flock. We also hear him today, like the disciples of old. We hear him in our prayers and in the reading of his scriptures. There is another old hymn that I love that reminds us of this reading and that hymn is “ In the garden”
 
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
 
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known
 
He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
 
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own…
 
Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

16 June 2020

1 Samuel 3:1-9 New International Version (NIV)
 
 
The Lord Calls Samuel
 
3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 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.6 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.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.8 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. 9 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.
 
 
 
Here I am Lord
 
 
In the Baptist Church in Partick where I went as a boy, there was a huge picture in the church hall of Eli and the boy Samuel. To this day it is so clear in my mind.
 
When I read this passage inside my complicated head I can hear the words of the great hymn “ I the lord of sea and sky” and the chorus
 
Here I Am Lord, Is It I, Lord?
I Have Heard You Calling In The Night.
I Will Go Lord, If You Lead Me.
I Will Hold Your People In My Heart.
 
That in itself is a great lesson to learn today, to go where we feel led and more importantly hold people in our heart. This is a time for prayer, there are people all around us that might feel the need to pray but can't, and there are people all around us in need of prayer as they feel vulnerable and trapped. God called Samuel and he calls you today
And as the hymn says:
 
I, The Lord Of Sea And Sky,
I Have Heard My People Cry.
All Who Dwell In Dark And Sin,
My Hand Will Save.
I Who Made The Stars Of Night,
I Will Make Their Darkness Bright.
Who Will Bear My Light To Them?
Whom Shall I Send?
 
Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

15 June 2020

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 New International Version (NIV)

 

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.  For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labours might have been in vain.

 

Why Me Lord?

 

Over the past few weeks we have been talking about change. The changes that may be necessary to allow us all to meet up again as a church of God. In his reading Paul warns about people being “ unsettled by trials” and reminds the Thessalonians church that these trials were prophesied.

 

Sometimes change brings about confusion in the life of a Christian and we ask ourselves “ why me Lord” so instead of that surely our prayer should be “ what we really need are answers” and for that problem the solution lies in the Bible and in our prayers

 

Paul was trying to encourage the Thessalonians Church as well as establish it and trying to get people to work through their afflictions i.e. their hurdles. Today we should be praying for our Church leaders as they go about trying to establish the change that is required for us in this new arena we are about to enter. But at the same time we need to remind ourselves that Christ is our King and in Him we can find the answers and the grace and the rest when we need it. Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

14 June 2020

Matthew 9:35-10:23 New International Version (NIV)

 

 

The Workers Are Few

 

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

 

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

 

10 Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,[a] drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12 As you enter the home, give it your greeting.13 if the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

 

 

In reading this morning's reading it is clear that God has chosen us to tell the good news to everybody. We should answer his call as we have received his grace and Salvation. Jesus is giving the disciples and us practical advice and a step-by-step guide on what we should do.

 

We are not perfect and not ready. We have the authority from Jesus but nothing is guaranteed. We should show and tell that God is the King but many will reject our offers and services. Still we have to respect that and trust in God’s faithfulness and love. That is all God wants from us: faithful service. And so this morning a few questions for us to ponder and pray and about

With whom are you willing to share your faith story? What kind of preparation do you feel that you need to share your faith with others?

And finally what part of Jesus’ instruction is hard for you to swallow?

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

13 June 2020

Mark 7:1-13 New International Version (NIV)

 

That Which Defiles

 

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

 

 

Make sure your heart is in the right place.

 

The Pharisees are shocked when they see the disciples eating food. They are not doing it the traditional way or the way of the rulebook. They should have given their hands a ceremonial wash. In our church today (and I mean the church in general) people of a certain age like things to be done traditionally. Whether that is in the singing of the hymns or the reading of a bible or even the preaching of the word, some people like it done the old way.

 

The Pharisees were devoted to preserving the old law, it was a tradition. Tradition was used to apply the law, to explain the law and to interpret the law. But it’s a known fact that traditions get older as the years go by and they become more distant. Jesus’ rebuke was based on their wrongful emphasis on the human tradition above The Word of God. And for us, as a church, we need to remember this.

 

My mother had a great familiar phrase “ your hearts in the right place” it was usually to point out that in one way you were wrong, but on the other hand you were almost right. So we need to ask ourselves today “ are our hearts in the right place”. Do we place tradition over what's right in God's eyes?  Something for us all to think about and pray about. Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

12 June 2020

Psalm 100

 

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

 

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
 come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he, who made us, and we are his [a];
 we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
 and his courts with praise;
 give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.

 

 

The world is changing on a daily basis, some good and some questionable. In preparation for today I look to the lectionary and see readings from Psalms, Exodus and Acts. So I thought I would share Acts today but keep on getting drawn to Psalm 100 noted above.

 In my head I could hear the people of my church singing Psalm 100 especially during the Communion Service

 

O enter his gates with praise

Approach with joy His courts unto

Praise Lord and bless his name always

For it is seemly so to do

 

And so today is Friday, darker days behind us and there is some light ahead as things begin to be relaxed. And so our thoughts turn to our church building and our church family as a process may begin to open our doors in the future. I think today is a good day to take stock, a great day to Thank God for bringing us so far and as the tune of the Old Psalm 100 is ringing in our ears let’s take a look at a modern translation of Psalm 100

 

 On your feet now—applaud God!
    Bring a gift of laughter,
    sing yourselves into his presence.

  Know this: God is God, and God, God.
    He made us; we didn’t make him.
    We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.

 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”

     Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
    Thank him. Worship him.

 For God is sheer beauty,
    all-generous in love,
    loyal always and ever.

 

And so today folks just enjoy God, Praise God, thank God and enjoy God and as the Psalm says, “ for it is seemly so to do” Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

11 June 2020

Hebrews 3:1-6 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

 

Jesus greater than Moses

 

3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. ‘Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

 

We read today that Jesus is greater than Moses. To understand this, you must realize that for the Jews, there was no greater leader than Moses. For them, he was the greatest man in history. God had miraculously preserved Moses’ life as a little baby. God revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush and sent him to deliver His people from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. God used Moses to bring the plagues on Egypt and to part the Red Sea for the deliverance of the Jews. He struck the rock in the wilderness to provide water. He went up on the mountain to commune face to face with God and receive the Ten Commandments. God gave Moses the elaborate instructions for the Tabernacle. Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, showing Israel how to live before God.

 

Eugene Peterson titles this passage ” The centrepiece of All we believe” and that’s a great more modern way to put it. Here is his translation :

 

 

“So, my dear Christian friends, companions in following this call to the heights, take a good hard look at Jesus. He’s the centrepiece of everything we believe, faithful in everything God gave him to do. Moses was also faithful, but Jesus gets far more honour. A builder is more valuable than a building any day. Every house has a builder, but the Builder behind them all is God. Moses did a good job in God’s house, but it was all servant work, getting things ready for what was to come. Christ as Son is in charge of the house.”

And yet again words that we need to take to heart as we go through these days of the pandemic and we may need to talk about changing the way we worship or how we will worship. Despite all our fears and opinions the last word has to go to Paul. Jesus has to get all the honour, we don’t have to worry about the building because God is the builder. Christ is in charge of the House not a committee or ambitious men.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

10 June 2020

 

 

John 14:25-26 New International Version

 

25 ‘All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

 

 

Staying with the themes of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit. We read here of Jesus and his final discourse. Soon he would not be with his followers physically so he is comforting his friends by telling them that help will be on hand. The Holy Spirit will represent Christ after he has gone and his support will be infallible.

 

Some people find it difficult to grasp what The Holy Spirit means in a Christian life but the fact that Jesus is telling us that the Father is sending The Holy Spirit in his name means it can be trusted. The disciples can fully trust the Helper. They can rely in all circumstances on the Spirit to lead, guide, and teach them. All this applies to us today. In our search for truth, the Spirit and the Word guide us. He will not lead us astray. All that He teaches will be in harmony with the Word of God. Tom Wright reminds us that

 

“This presence of the Spirit assures the progress of Christ's mission and the integrity of the message. The Spirit will teach them all things and bring the truth to their remembrance. The disciples can take great comfort from the presence of the Spirit. We are comforted and taught by that same presence today. Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

09 June 2020

 

 

1 Corinthians 12:4-13 The Message (MSG)

 

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits and tongues, interpretation of tongues.

 

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

 

Last week we saw the horror of George Floyd and what followed on from that. We also saw an American President stand holding a bible in front of a church. When I saw this on TV my simple thought was “ what is God thinking when he sees this”. When the president posed in front of that Church awkwardly holding a bible, I imagined Jesus standing beside him, arms folded, head down nodding his head in disappointment.

 

Paul is telling the people of Corinth that all of their gifts come through Gods Spirit. As we read “God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is”

 

So let's ask ourselves this today. What are your gifts? Do we use them wisely? And let's have a look at Eugene Petersons closing in this reading

 

“Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.”

 

And yet again the relevance of a reading, comes screaming into our lives today as we see the violence and the carnage on the streets of America at the moment. Let's hope that enough people can use their God-given, spirit-filled talents and gifts to make changes and show that all lives matter.    Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

08 June 2020

1 Corinthians 12:1-3 The Message (MSG)

 

Spiritual Gifts

 

12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phoney god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

 

We live in a society where the younger generation all follow each other in most things that they do. Not so much peer pressure but more doing things because “ everybody else is doing it”

Paul is talking to people like that, except they have stopped doing it and are now following Christ. This passage is a contrast between the Corinthians former and current lives with Christ. Before, as pagans they were misled to worship speechless idols but now their spirit filled lives lead them to a different conversation. Instead of damnation they now talk about “Jesus is Lord!” In this way, Paul reminds his Corinthian followers that the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to create faith in Jesus Christ. 

It is always better for us to be “ informed and knowledgeable” and remember the ways of our own lives in Christ. And yes, if it helps compare it to what we were before finding our Faith. Yesterday we read about The Great Commission and in order to carry that out we have to think about using that Spirit to work in our lives.  Amen

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

07 June 2020

Matthew 28:16-20

 

 

The great commission

 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

 

As you can see this passage is commonly known as The Great Commissison. The arrest and crucifixion of Jesus was a deeply disorienting experience for his followers,  dashing their hopes and dreams they all shared. They had lost one they loved and admired to a brutal execution. To see Jesus alive after his death, must have been  astonishing. Nothing in their history or Jewish faith had prepared them for what was happening and they were struggling.

 

We all struggle to comprehend the astonishing work of God in Christ. Having reunited with Jesus in Galilee, the disciples' response is somewhat peculiar. They see Jesus and we read that they worshipped him . This part we understand; it makes sense given the circumstances of Jesus' resurrection and the recent events. But there is also doubt. Worship and doubt don’t exactly go together but you can forgive them for being like this because nothing was making sense.

 

Jesus' parting words here are commonly known as the Great Commission. We sometimes here this on special Sundays where mission is being talked and preached about but having said that it is the basis of who we are and what we are as a church.

 

There are four "alls" in this text: Jesus has all authority given to him, we are to make disciples of all nations, we are to teach that we should obey all that he commanded during his earthly life, and the promise that closes is that he will be with us always. These four "alls" are the central them of the gospel of Matthew, but it also one of the greatest   “ toolkits” that we can have as a Christian to explain our role and purpose on this earth.

   

“And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

06 June 2020

John 14:15-17 (NIV)

 

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

 

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will bein you.

 

 

 

Someone asked me about “ words for life” and very politely asked what “ I was hoping to achieve”. The simple answer is not a lot. My original intention was and still is that its an opportunity first thing in the morning to be encouraged by words found within the scriptures. And it's with that in mind, that the reading today is intending to encourage all of the disciples living at the time of John and alive today.

 

These words were spoken just hours before the greatest event in world history- the greatest act of love in history - namely the death of the son of God. He died in the place of sinners so that everyone who receives him and believes in him will be forgiven and enjoy eternal life.

 

John's reading is to “ the sheep” the eleven precious apostles who at that moment are confused and fearful and in need of encouragement. This is what Jesus did for them, and can do for you and for everyone who believes in his name. The message is clear. When he dies, he will live again. He and the father and the holy spirit will come to us and be with us forever and never leave us. No matter where we are and what is happening to us.

 

When I read today's reading it took me back to The Billy Graham Crusade and Bryn Haworth who sang a song that is now a familiar hymn in our churches.

 

 

What kind of love is this
That gave itself for me
I am the guilty one
Yet I go free

What kind of love is this
A love I never know
I didn't even know How name
What kind of love is this

What kind of Man is this
That died in agony
He Who had done no wrong
Was crucified for me

What kind of Man is this
He laid aside His throne
That I may know
The love of God

 

Eugene Peterson translates today's reading by telling us “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!    Amen to that.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

05 June 2020

2 Timothy 1:12-14  (NIVUK)

 

12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

 

 

Fight the good fight but Guard the good deposit!

 

By the time Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the young pastor had been ministering to the church at Ephesus for four years, and it had been almost that long since he had received his first letter from Paul. Timothy had been a faithful servant to Paul since he had left home with the apostle more than a decade earlier. Since then, Timothy had ministered alongside Paul for the duration of both the second and third missionary journeys, in places such as Troas, Philippi, and Corinth.

 

Paul wrote 2 Timothy from a dark and damp Roman prison cell, just before his death in AD 67. With the residents of Rome in an uproar, Christians became a convenient target for Nero, who used believers as scapegoats for his city’s own lack of preparedness. Paul was one of those caught up in this persecution and was beheaded by Roman officials soon after writing this letter. This letter offers a picture of Paul at the end of his ministry, just before his death. You could say that this is the final instruction from the old Paul to the younger Timothy

 

You could also say that this is the final piece of the evidence that the Younger Timothy requires to carry out his ministry and it is still sound advice for us today.

 

It is telling us that we should not be embarrassed to speak up on behalf of God because he will give us stamina and fortitude as well as confidence and patience. The evidence is clear; now that Jesus has died for us on Calvary we have the grace to carry on and through the Holy Spirit we should feel entitled to spread the word of God.

 

Paul finishes this part of the reading by saying “ This is the message I’ve been set apart to proclaim as preacher, emissary, and teacher. It’s also the cause of all this trouble I’m in. But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end.

 

Today we should pray that we have the confidence of Paul, the wisdom and the doctrine through the Holy Spirit and as Pauls says,

 

“But I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what he’s trusted me to do right to the end” Amen

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

04 June 2020

Thursday 4th June

 

2 Timothy 1:8-12 - (NIVUK)

 

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

 

 

Are you a cracked pot?

  

Following on with the theme of Pentecost and the Holy Spirit, this second letter to Timothy is to remind him that he has to guard the truth that has been entrusted to him by the Holy Spirit. It is a cautious reminder to us never to be ashamed of what we have done or for that matter our love for our Saviour.

 We are reminded that we all have a purpose even through our own suffering and shame, God still sweeps us up into his arms loving us for what we are, what we have achieved and the service we give. Even if that service is big or small…we are loved.  And do you know? The best way to illustrate this love is to share a story with you which is an old folklore from India (stick with it friends it’s a good one!)

 

A water bearer in India had two large pots, hung on each end of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house; the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

 

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." "Why?" asked the bearer? "What are you ashamed of?" "I have been able for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaw, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

 

The water bearer felt sorry, and said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day while we walked back from the stream, you watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, my master would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father's table. As we seek to minister together, and as God calls you to the tasks he has appointed for you, don't be afraid of your flaws. Go on boldly, knowing that in our weakness we find His strength. You, too, can bring beauty to His pathway!

 

I know there are areas of your life that make you unhappy today. The good news is that He can and will still use you in spite of them! We are all just a bunch of cracked pots, but that is the kind He uses for His glory. Bring the things that burden you today and let Him take care of them.  Amen 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

03 June 2020

John 7:37-39 (NIVUK)

 

 

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

 

Down to the river to pray

 

The one thing I miss with the current lockdown is water. And by that  I  mean the sea or a loch or even a river. We love to drive to famous haunts with our books and sit and read beside “ still waters”. For me it’s a place to relax, to draw inspiration and find some peace in this world.

 

This festival mentioned in the scripture was a festival of special services prayers and holiday meals and it would have been a joyous and popular occasion. Our text today, takes place on the last day of the festival. It is thought that on such a day the priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam with a golden pitcher, then carry it back to the temple and pour it into a silver bowl next to the altar, accompanied by musicians and choirs.

 

It is significant that on the last day of this festival, in which water is an important symbol, Jesus declares, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)” (Translation from The Message)

 

This is similar to what he says to the Samaritan woman in chapter 4: “those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (4:14).

 

You see it’s all about the Spirit, and that’s why this text comes to us in the week of Pentecost. The water and the Spirit seem to be everywhere. For example in John, when Jesus tells Nicodemus that “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (3:5).  Again In Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, living water is the symbol of the revelation of God in Christ, which satisfies all spiritual thirst.

 

Today, even if we can't get to a beach or a loch we are still able to “ draw water” from the scriptures. The water that takes away our thirst and will become in us, a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

02 June 2020

Romans 8:26-28 The Message (MSG)

 

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

 

 

Here we are again

 

I realise I am going on about this all the time but as these readings come up every day onto my computer I just keep thinking “ here we are again” a daily dose of what we need, the medicine for the day and a wee solution to our current problems. It's all so appropriate and of course that’s no accident.

 Romans 8 tells us that those who are with Christ are more than conquerors. Those who are with God should not fear anything else of the world because God is greater than all things. He who gave his only Son in order to save all humans will surely give those (who have accepted) Christ great things.

But? (There’s always a but isn’t there?) But what if you find some day your glass is half empty? Your bounce has gone. And you have no words in you to pray. Paul’s words are a comfort to us all in this situation. Eugene Peterson's translation delivers it in simpler common terms “He does our praying in and for us, making prayers out of our wordless sighs and our aching groans”. And you know, that happens to us all in one way or another. When we are exhausted, when we are flat and the words just don't come and we feel helpless hopeless and prayer less.

What do I do? Well in times like that I just bring to mind a favourite hymn that I know is uplifting, reassuring, inspirational and yes, magical cause it does the trick. I say the words in my head and make it my prayer for that moment in time.

 

I stand amazed in the presence

Of Jesus the Nazarene

And wonder how He could love me

A sinner, condemned, unclean 

 

Singing, how marvellous! How wonderful!

And my song shall ever be

How marvellous and how wonderful!

Is my Saviour's love for me! 

 

He took my sins and my sorrows

And He made them His very own

And bore the burden to Calvary

And suffered and died alone 

 

Singing, how marvellous! How wonderful!

And my song shall ever be

How marvellous and how wonderful!

Is my Saviour's love for me! 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

01 June 2020

Romans 8:18-25 New International Version (NIV)

 

Present Suffering and Future Glory

 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to son ship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

 

 

 

This is the designated reading for today and when I look at what some people have had to say about this passage, it is daunting for me to just jot down a few meaningful words that will mean anything let alone give you some inspiration. Buts it’s not right to avoid a reading and move onto something easier to take in just because its easier.

 

Some of us reading this will be of a certain age when each day brings a new twinge or some new aches and pains. This letter from  Paul to the Romans, to me, is saying that all our aches and pains, all our disabilities and illnesses will one day disappear. And all of this will come about, despite our past, despite our weaknesses and despite our sins.

 

And he is saying to you and me, that no matter what heartbreak we have endured there will come a day when heartbreak will end and we will be with him in all his glory.

 

I read in a book by Charles Swindoll where he was talking about old athletes who sometimes find themselves at a point in their careers where they can't do things that they used to be able to do, and it's enormously frustrating to them.  Swindoll says “You know, the Christian kind of lives there all of life, because we know if we listen to God's word that says what He has made us to be, and what we ought to be, and then we look at what we do, and we don't measure up, we're frustrated. And the apostle Paul says, when that day comes, the frustration is gone, because the glory has been displayed not only to you, but also in you through his Spirit.

 

Let us pray. Father we pray for those who are struggling today. Those in pain, those who have doubts or regrets. Heavenly Father draw them closer to you and take away their anguish. Give them a confidence to carry on, work through their pain and their sorrow to a better life with you. Give them a glimpse of your glory, give them peace in their hearts and lift their spirits today and always.  Amen