15 April 2020

Matthew 28:1-10 New International Version (NIV)

 

Jesus Has Risen

 

 

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
 
 
 
It is true!
 
I remember when we first went into lockdown, I would waken up in the morning looking forward to a new day. What would we do today? Go for a run in the car may be to one of our favourite beaches? Or maybe phone a friend and meet for coffee. NO sooner had the thought come into my mind and I would remember about the lockdown.
 
“Yep it's true” I would remind myself.
 
That’s the only thing that needs to be said today. In some ways it’s the only thing that can be said. That Jesus has been raised from the dead is the only thing I really have to tell you today. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s the same thing the angel told the two women who went to Jesus’ tomb. He didn’t tell them once but twice. “He is not here; he has been raised.” “He has been raised from the dead.” It was true. They saw Jesus. They touched him. They heard his voice. It was all true.
 
Matthew does not explain how it happened he is more interested in hammering it home for us, reminding us. This truth, this resurrection, is earth-shatteringly true, its life-changing true and it’s the one thing that keeps us going.
 
I’ve heard people say “ oh groundhog day, here we go again” and then yesterday a friend said “ I woke up this morning and that’s a blessing”
 
When we are confronted on a daily basis of the death toll that is caused by this pandemic. When we are faced with basic restrictions on our daily lives day in and day out. When we hear of people waving off their loved ones for the last time. Yes all of that is true and its heartbreaking. And we should hold them in our prayer ALL day.
 
But this morning lets say to ourselves “ yes it's true” We look at the Easter story we are never disappointed. The truth about Easter is the life and the light and the hope and the joy.
 
The Easter story is true and you will never be disappointed. The angel’s message to the women in today’s gospel is the Church’s message to us today. “He has been raised from the dead.” It is still true.
 
The story is true. You can count on it. It’s for you and your life. It was true yesterday, it is true today, and it will be true tomorrow.
 
Let finish with the words of Paul in his letter to the Corinthians
 
1stCorinthians 15
 
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
 
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b]and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
 
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

 

 


 

 

14 April 2020

Colossians 3:12-17 New International Version (NIV)
 
 
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
 
 
 
 
I am wondering how we will all feel when the lockdown is over and we have to decide what to wear when we go out to face the world once again. After Easter was over when I was a child, the next big thing was the first Sunday in May. A long time ago it was traditional for parents to but new clothes just especially for the first Sunday in May and we would always be sent to The Sunday School. In my case, with a brand new knitted jumper, made by my mum.
 
But here’s a thought? Even in these circumstances we find ourselves in, when we are choosing what to wear even just around the house, spare a thought for Paul and his advice to us. His advice is to clothe our selves in kindness, gentleness and patience. The Bible says we should put on a forgiving attitude and we should top it all off by putting on love. That brings it all together in perfect unity. The great thing about this outfit that the Bible describes is that it fits us all, young or old. Do you know what else is great about it? It never goes out of style!
 
The next time you are trying to decide what to wear, why not put on a little kindness, gentleness, and patience? Add some forgiveness, then, top it off with love. It might make the day pass a lot easier.
 
And with that, remembering the great Charles Wesley hymn
 
 
Soldiers of Christ, arise,
And put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies
Through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts,
And in His mighty pow’r,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts
Is more than conqueror.
 

 

 


 

 

13 April 2020

Acts 10 verses 39-48

 

 

 

39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.46 For they heard them speaking in tongues[b] and praising God.

Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

 

 

 

 

You made One MIstake

 

There's a story about the pastor who was preaching at an Easter service. He thought it was a great sermon and he started at the resurrection but for some reason he worked back in the story of Christ and his crucifixion. At the end of the service he stood at the door as usual and shook hands with everybody as they left the kirk. Everyone was complimentary as they shook his hand and left. All that is except one wee smart Alex. As he shook the pastors hand he said to him “not a bad sermon! But you made one mistake” The pastor was shocked and annoyed at the boy “ One mistake? What are you talking about?”

 

The boy looked him straight in the eye and said “ you left him on the cross!” and then he walked away.

 

The pastor realised that he emphasised the crucifixion during the sermon but had not explained the resurrection in any detail. Then it dawned on him even further, that maybe that was the first time the boy had heard the Easter story

 

And you know that can happen to the hardiest of Christians. We hear a story we’ve heard over and over again but suddenly its as though we are hearing it for the first time. This Easter as we are separated from our Church buildings and the physical fellowship of our pew pals we hear The Easter story differently. On Social media, on youtube and on the radio and the TV.

Suddenly everything has changed but one thing remains the same. The resurrection is the proof. It’s the proof that something mysterious, supernatural and wonderful took place on the cross. It is Gods receipt to the world. If there was no resurrection there would be no grace, no payment for sins.

 

But with the resurrection we have hope, we have a debt that has been paid. “ paid on the nail!”  We have a new and a living presence in the Living God.

  

 


 

 

12 April 2020

Luke 24    1-12

 

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with 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; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by them, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

 

 

It’s Sunday and as we read the passage we know that the women intended to visit the tomb with the spices that they had prepared.

 But why? 

We know that Jesus was inside the tomb and the stone rolled to secure its entrance. Not just some large boulder but a massive boulder that would take a couple of strong men to secure. So the “inquisitive” in me is asking what were they expecting? How were they going to use their spices? How were they going to get access to the body.?

Surprisingly the stone was rolled away and even more surprising the body was nowhere to be found. “ Then they remembered his words” that on the third day he would rise. Excited the women ran to tell the others what they had found but it was thought they were talking rubbish. Peter then took it upon himself to run to the tomb and he wondered what had happened.

For me the story of Easter Sunday is all about faith. Let's face it there’s no point being a Christian if you don’t believe that he rose on the third day. But we are blessed to know the end of the story. But what about the others?

Well, the women decided to visit a locked tomb with embalming oils. They had so much faith that they would have access to their friend and master Jesus Christ. They found the stone was rolled away and once they reminded of the words of Jesus, they ran back to the disciples excited at what they had found. 

Peter ran back to find out for himself what the women had found and we read that he wondered what had happened.

Their faith on resurrection day was tested. Some things were confusing but other things were straightforward. After all they were told that on the third day he would rise from the dead and the body was no longer in the tomb. But still their faith was tested.

Martin Luther King Jnr once said that “ faith is taking the first step when you can't see the whole staircase”. Now a better quote from him is “We must live by Faith and not by Fear”

This Easter Sunday we must not be guided by fear but by faith. Just consider the words of this great hymn

 

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my saviour lives

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

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy He gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain day, because He lives

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, I'll cross the river
I'll 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 He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just 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

 

Have a blessed Easter Sunday

  

 


 

 

11 April 2020

Luke 23 v 50-end

 

The Burial of Jesus

 

 

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
 
 
 
The Saturday between Good Fridays and Easter Sunday is a quiet day in the Christian calendar. Or is it? We are all waiting with anticipation to get to the main event and the excitement of the resurrection. Good Friday was tough for Jesus, but Saturday, that seemingly quiet day on our church calendar, well it’s a waiting game. “It’s the gap between our faith and our fulfilment,” someone said.
 
Winston Churchill thought he would die young and forgotten. Yet he lived a long and fulfilling life. In his nineties, he planned his own funeral. It was to include numerous eulogies, the grand hymns of the church, and portions of the powerful Anglican liturgy.
 
The grand finale was to take place after the benediction, when an assigned bugler, in the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, would play a mournful rendition of Taps. Then, after a lull, when the last echo of Taps was finished, another bugler was instructed to begin playing Reveille! ("It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, and it’s time to get up in the morning.")
 
If Good Friday is our “taps” and Easter is our reveille Saturday could be the lull between the two. So today it’s a time for us to shout out “ hallelujah “ we heard that yesterday “ it is finished” but it’s not!
 
And as we go about out lives in these strange days when some folks say we are finished. We certainly are not! and as we wait for the reveille to sound and let us go back to our families and our church ( in my opinion) life will never be the same. We will look at the open spaces and worship the creator who created them. We will sit with our loved ones with a new set of eyes and we will walk back into our church buildings with a new perspective and a more profound faith,
 
Jesus will rise shortly! Christ will come back soon! Hell cannot hold Him much longer. Heaven will not keep Him concealed forever. Today maybe Saturday, but tomorrow -- tomorrow is Sunday. The best is yet to come! I can hardly wait.  Amen!"

 

 


 

  

10 April 2020

John 19

 

 

28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

 

 
 
Good Friday……Oxymoron
 
There is a story of a young soldier who had been condemned to death by Oliver Cromwell. He was to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. His fiancée climbed the bell tower and tied herself to the clapper of the giant bell so that it would not ring. When the bell did not ring, soldiers went to investigate and found the girl battered and bleeding from being bashed against the sides of the bell. Cromwell was so impressed by her love for the young man that he was pardoned.
 
Because of love, people do extraordinary things for others. They give us a glimpse, a small glimpse, at the kind of love that God has for us. God the Father sent his dearly loved Son into dangerous territory. He allowed his Son to be treated cruelly. He stood by and watched his innocent Son be nailed to a cross and to hang there in agony. He could have rescued him and cursed those who were treating him so brutally and maliciously.
 
I have often wondered why we call today “ Good Friday” what was good about it. Jesus endured pain and soul-wrenching agony hanging to a cross. We call today “ Good Friday” because it's happening is the proof of the powerful love that God has for each of us.
 
God sent his son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing
He bled and died to take away my sin
( How great thou art)
and there’s another thing “ my burden gladly bearing” another oxymoron. No one, not even
God would do something like that unless he truly loved us. This is a love that was prepared to carry out the ultimate in order to rescue us. He has won forgiveness for all people, nothing else needs to be done it is finished
 
I don’t think we can fully appreciate what it meant for the Father to abandon the Son and let him die at the hands of evil people.
 
God did all this for us. He did all this because of his love for us.
 
Jesus' announcement, "It is finished" is clear and simple. Jesus has completed his task. The reason why he came as a human has been fulfilled. He came so that you and I can have forgiveness and salvation. He came to give us the victory. He came to ensure that we would enter his kingdom and live forever.
 
Amen

 

 

 


 

 

09 April 2020

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 

 

 

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. "In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

 
 
 
“ On the night he was betrayed”
 
For me this is one of the most emotional readings from the bible. For me it evokes so many memories from all the churches that I have shared in a communion service. From way back in Old Partick Parish to Carbury Towers while training as a reader, holidays in Whiting bay, Skye and Tobermoray and all the different churches in Milngavie including my own, St Pauls Parish Church.
 
For 2000 years the church of Jesus has been celebrating the Lord's Supper, some services are stern and ornate while others are more relaxed and meaningful. But however and where ever we celebrate The Lords Supper we must always remember why we are doing it and what we are doing. Each and every time we have the Lord's Supper we are taking part in a living illustration of the Gospel Message. A message that is for everyone in the room. A message for anyone sharing the supper.
 
Jesus was establishing a new tradition for his disciples. This meal was meant to sustain them so that they would always have him with them. But we can imagine the disciples were stunned. What is this new thing Jesus is doing? What does he mean, “this is my body?” Their comprehension of this meal wouldn’t come into focus until much later. After Jesus’ death, after his resurrection, after his ascension, then they understood! Jesus comes to them as often as they eat this bread and drink this wine. And that’s the wonderful thing about the Lord's Supper.
 
It’s a meal intended for sinners. Jesus gives himself, body and blood. And in this reading, he does so in an atmosphere of betrayal and confusion.
 
Every time we eat this meal, we tell the story of what happened on that night. And the story we tell always begins the same way: “On the night in which he was betrayed.” This meal comes to us in the context of betrayal and desertion. The disciples gathered there didn’t fully get what was happening; Judas was about to betray Jesus; Peter would soon deny he ever knew him.
 
And Jesus knew all of this. He knew his end was just a few hours away. In less than 24 hours, he would be crucified but Jesus remains utterly focused on love. He creates a meal of grace for his disciples and all who will follow. He washes their feet in service. And then he gives a command, a command to love. “Love one another. Even as I have loved you.” In the face of death and desertion, Jesus remains focused on love. And that love is our hope, for God’s love cannot be extinguished. Let us love one another, even as we have been loved.

  

 


 

 

08 April 2020 

Matthew 26 verses 14-16

 

JUDAS AGREES TO BETRAY JESUS

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

 

 

 

Judas is a pivotal figure in the story of Calvary. He is not only important

But has a lot to teach us apart from being the one who betrayed Jesus.

Judas, one of the most recognised names amongst the original twelve but his life was a mystery as well as a tragedy. Why did he give us the amazing opportunity of a life with Christ, why did he give up the offer of eternal life and was he really a friend of Jesus?

 
If you think really hard about this you will know that a real friend can only betray you. With anyone else you can shrug it off, write him or her off and then move on. But with a real friend it’s a very emotional and almost psychological experience.
 
To really betray someone you must first secure his or her trust. Enemies can attack you, your competition may deceive you and a narcissist may plan for your destruction but betraying someone with a kiss is pouring salt over a wound and making it sting.
 
But if you look carefully there is no “ me” in this story. Jesus chose not to use the first person (betray "me") when asking if Judas would "BETRAY THE SON OF MAN WITH A KISS.". The use of his title demonstrates the extent of his betrayal far beyond a few friends falling out.
 
But it was all there for us to see, it was all predicted. Jesus declared there would be wolves in sheep’s clothing, he warned of false teachers.
 
Judas was a real friend who walked with Jesus for three years but he never allowed the power of Christ to transform his life. He missed the opportunity of eternal life. His name would go down in history as the man who betrayed Jesus.
 
Judas didn’t betray his emperor. Judas didn’t betray his President or even his Nation. No, he went far beyond that and betrayed Jesus Christ, God’s only Son who came to earth so that all people including Judas himself could be saved from their sins and experience the love of God in a personal way. We should hope and pray that in the coming days and weeks more and more people will experience Gods love in a personal way and be guaranteed eternal life

 

 

 


 

 

07 April 2020

 

JESUS PRAYS ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

LUKE CHAPTER 22 VERSE 39-46

 

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

 
 
 
 
 
Time is running out
 
They are out to get Jesus. So Jesus went to one of his favourite places to pray to his Father. We know that the prayer was answered, maybe not the way he wanted, but an angel appeared to him and strengthened him. But by then he was feeling anguished and we know from this reading that he prayed more earnestly. The disciples are exhausted and asleep so he wakes them up and tells them to get up and pray so that they will not fall into temptation.
 
Time is running out for Jesus and the disciples will soon be separated from their friend and master. So I don’t think it's strange that we find prayer very prevalent at this time. Jesus is praying to his father he is having a conversation with him and we should remember that’s what prayer really is. The best prayers I have ever heard have been when the prayer is very natural, and dare I say, informal. Sometimes the formality and the language can get in the road and put you off praying.
 
On verse 45 Jesus rose from prayer and finds the disciples exhausted and sleeping, Jesus tells them to get up and start praying in case they fall into temptation. Was that unkind of Jesus? I don’t think so. I think it shows that in this hour of need, prayer was important, so important that there was no time for rest.
 
Let's not forget
 
I firmly believe that during this week people will be praying that have never prayed before. I believe that there are more people praying this year than have ever prayed in previous years. Of course we are praying for each other, praying for the ones we love and praying for the current situation. But let's not forget the origin of our prayers. Let's not forget the book that taught us all about prayer and let's not forget the one who is our every reason to pray and that is our friend and Lord, Jesus Christ.
 
For him it’s all uphill for this Holy Week he is about to be betrayed and scorned, captured and crucified. But even so we can still call him in prayer. He is always there, always listening and after all he died for you and me. Amen

 

 

 


 

 

06 April 2020

John 12:1-11

 

 

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (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.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." 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. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

 
 
 
 
Three quick things to consider this new day.
 
  1. We should always honour Jesus from our home.
Notice how welcome Jesus was in the house of Simon the leper. It was a place where friends met and where people felt comfortable especially Jesus. How would Jesus feel in your own home today? Jesus should always be the " unseen guest" in our homes. We should strive to live the kind lives that Jesus would want to have
 
2. We should honour Jesus from our hearts giving him the best.
 
There are three people in this story who especially gave from the heart. Martha, the worried housekeeper, everything had to be perfect and her way of honouring Jesus from the heart was to serve him. It was her gift to Jesus. There there was Lazarus. People can criticise him for "reclining" in Jesus company. Was that disrespectful? No he was comfortable in God's presence and enjoying the fellowship. Sometimes when I am in St Paul's on a Sunday morning I wish I was sitting in an armchair with a cup of earl grey listening to the sermon. Does that make me disrespectful? There is nothing wrong in enjoying being in the presence of God. That was what Lazarus was doing he was enjoying his friendship with Jesus.
 
3. We should give Jesus the best in us.
 
Of course there are different levels in which we could honour Jesus just as there are different ways in which we can worship him. Martha and Lazarus responded to Jesus in one way while Mary took it to the next level. She shared with Jesus something that was priceless
Mary shared what was priceless without giving it a thought, she was humbled before Jesus in anointing his feet and of course she risked criticism for doing something out of the ordinary
Let's just think about that for a moment? Do we give God the best that's in us? unreservedly?without question?
 
 
There is a song I know that talks about Jesus love being " extravagant" and the writer of that song puts himself out there with lyrics about being intoxicated with the fragrance of God.
On this Monday of Holy Week we serve Jesus on his journey to the cross, we can enjoy his friendship and his love and always give him the best that we can offer.
 
 
Your love is extravagant
Your friendship, it is intimate
I feel like moving to the rhythm of Your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in our secret place
Your love is extravagant
Spread wide in the arms of Christ is the love that covers sin
No greater love have I ever known You considered me a friend
Capture my heart again

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch - Your Love is Extravagant 

 

 

 


 

 

05 April 2020

Matthew 21 verse 33 to the end.

 

“Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

“The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.

“But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

“Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”

“He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvellous in our eyes’[h]?

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”[i]

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

 

 

 

Restoration

The theme of rejection and restoration run through all the readings associated with Palm Sunday. Christ has had a triumphant entry into Jerusalem and the crowds have praised him. We are now presented with a parable.

The image of the vineyard has often been used to represent Gods people. God, the careful owner tending it like a loving gardener even when the vines are not bearing good fruit or growing wild. And so the parable of the wicked tenants unfolds. He wants them to understand the gift that they are rejecting. The tenants in the parable are not only rejecting the landowner they are killing the slaves and then they are killing the son.

Jesus then quotes Psalm 118 calling to mind that the stone the builders reject will become the cornerstone, and the one who was rejected will be restored, the one who was despised will become honoured, and the one who was tortured and killed will live. Through him the vineyard will be restored to its former glory.

A foretaste of Glory Devine

While reading for this parable I read someone who quoted “ We too are called to bear fruit as a choice vine. Fruit that can be transformed into wine for the feasting and celebration but as part of that restoration process, we must taste the bitter wine on the lips of the son who was sent to save us.

Again even in these strange times we can still bear fruit. We can prepare for the harvest and look forward to that time of restoration. The day we can walk back through the doors of our church building.

Someone commented on my use of hymns on YouTube that accompany the readings in Words for Life. The answer to that is simple, its somewhere to go when you are feeling frightened or stressed. Its something to focus on when we are being bombarded with stats and figures on our current dilemma. It’s a prayer when we cannot find the words. It’s a part of worship when we are forced to worship alone. As restoration follows rejection and as glory follows suffering we are all looking forward to the day when we can walk into our churches and see the faces of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all looking forward to joining each other singing and praising God free from lockdown and restoring the vineyard to its former glory. Amen

 

And so another beautiful hymn to consider this morning is “I come to the garden alone

 

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 gives to me

Within my heart is to ringing.

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

I stay in the garden with Him,

Though the night around me is falling.

But He bids me go; through the voice of woe

His voice to me is calling.

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.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch - I Come to the Garden Alone 

 

 


 

 

04 April 2020

Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time

 

Mark 10 32-34

 

 

They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”

 
 
 
We are Very Important People.
 
So the disciples are on the road with Jesus walking ahead of them while we hear the disciples were amazed, those who followed were afraid. Jesus sets the record straight “ this is what’s going to happen” and he then predicts the suffering that’s ahead of him. Some people call this the 3rdPassion Prediction. The disciples just don’t get it. They are confused, and if they are confused as to why he had to have this suffering and die then its no surprise if we get confused about it too.
 
I sometimes find it confusing when I read that “ love and suffering” are joined at the hip but I do know that to love God sometimes requires personal suffering and rejection. Both of these things could be avoided if we did not love God. The disciples were about to find out what love and suffering really meant when they journey with their friend on the road to Calvary.
We are all on a journey today. Some of us are with others while on this journey, while others are alone. But let's not be confused about one thing and that is God knows what he is doing
 
Romans 8 verse 29 tells us
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
“ he followed it up by calling people by name” he knows my name and he knows your name and that’s because whatever we are doing however we feel we are very important people to him. We are his children and like the disciples in this mornings reading it is perfectly acceptable to be “astonished and afraid” at the same time. But think about one thing and that’s how great He is.
 
 
O Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee
How great Thou art, how great Thou art

 

 

 (do watch the clip of the hymn on Youtube below, if you can)

 https://www.youtube.com/watch - How Great Thou Art

 

 

 


 

 

 

03 April 2020

Are you a life worthy of the Gospel?

 

Philippians 1:27-30 New International Version (NIV)

 

 
 
Life Worthy of the Gospel
 
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
 
 
 
 
So how can we live a life that can demonstrate the immense value of the gospel of Christ? In this reading Paul is trying to remind the people of Phillipi of their responsibility to walk in a worthy manner. The greek word for "worthy" is Axios and it means to balance the scales. We are expected to apply our lives to the corresponding message of the gospel and to balance the scales.
 
As Christians we are constantly under scrutiny never being allowed to put a foot wrong. But there are three key points to this reading.
 
  1. Paul tells us to " conduct ourselves", and that should be in the way we think and the way we act. Reputation is everything and flying the flag for Christ was never going to be easy.
  2. Paul also tells us to " stand firm". Sure we will be opposed in a lot of the things we believe in but we have to be that anchor fastened to the rock and yes we stand amazed in the presence. I find sometimes when I cannot find the words for a prayer and I find myself on shaky ground, if I listen to or thing or read the lyrics to a favourite hymn I am able to stand firm in the faith that I have
  3. And finally Pauls tells us that " it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but to suffer for him" Christ died for our sins and as we approach Calvary this lent we would be dishonouring Christ and the gospel to disregard him or the gospel.
 
What are the words of the great new hymn?
 
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
 
 
Amen

 

 

(do watch the clip of the hymn on Youtube below, if you can)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch - In Christ Alone

 


 

 

02 April 2020

John 12 verses 12-19

 

Jesus comes to Jerusalem as king

The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

‘Hosanna![Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written:’ Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’

At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realise that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!’

 

 

The Lamb of God

The powers that be had asked “what next?”. Then they went on to consider “ How can we get this Jesus”. Jesus is in control. He presents himself to them on a donkey. While people would go on to claim him as “ King of kings” on this day and on this triumphal entry into Jerusalem Jesus was the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. More powerful than any world leader. More effective than any great king. But yet he rides into town on a lowly donkey making himself the sacrifice that could save the world.

While we are in this lockdown situation. There has never been a better time for reflection. We are not going out anywhere so we could today think about the Easter story as it's about to unfold to us over the next few days. We are trying to keep in touch with so many friends on the phone and on social media. But remember that friend that “has all our sins and grief’s to bear” And as we think about all the sins that we can bring to the foot of the cross.

 

Max Lucado tells us “In Psalm 23:3 David said it like this, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.” The path of righteousness is a narrow, winding trail up a steep hill. At the top is a cross. At the base of the cross are bags, countless bags full of innumerable sins. Calvary is the compost pile for guilt. Would you like to leave yours there as well?”

Let's think of this time that we have as not simply a time of lockdown, but a time of prayer and reflection. Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged

Take it to…

Amen

 

(do watch the clip below if you can)

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch - What a Friend We Have in Jesus  

 

 

 


 

 

A message from Ramsay :

 

Psalm 1:1-6 – Real Christianity

 

Today, we turn our thoughts to the Psalm that we read, Psalm 1. This is a Psalm that has some very valuable lessons for us as we live in the world today, not least in these trying times of Covid-19. These are difficult and for some, anxious times. How do we live as salt and light in these days? Psalm 1 is helpful because it gives us an Old Testament lesson in authentic and genuine Christianity. We have here in crystal clear language, two contrasting ways of living – the way of faith and the way of unbelief; the way of God and the way of the world. There is so much false understanding about Christianity these days, and in this psalm, we see three things about authentic faith as follows:-

 
1. Devotion to God’s ways (v1);
 
2. Delight in God’s Word (vs2-3);
 
3. Dependence on God’s verdict (vs4-6).
 
To live in such a way is to live for God and to be blessed by Him. May we know the reality of this blessing in our lives today, and as we serve our perplexed world, in Jesus Name.

 

 (with apologies from the editor as this is published here a day late) 

 

 


 

 

01 April 2020

Matthew 22 verses 23-33

 

 

That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
 
 
 
He has begun in us a process.
 
The knives are out for Jesus and the powers that be are trying their best to trick him. They present him with a problem that at first seems too complicated. Seven brothers that all seem to die one after the other while married to the same woman. The problem that they present to him is when all of this is over and she is presented to all seven brothers whose wife will she be?
 
I'm guessing in your lifetime someone has tried to trick you. Asked you questions about your faith or your God and tried to show you that your belief is not worth believing.
Three things to bear in mind. The men in the reading above were unconverted souls and they failed to understand anything about Jesus other than He was a threat to them. Some people who question us today as threatened by your faith.
 
When presented with problems, dilemmas and crisis as Christians we know that he can handle anything that we present to him. After all he gives meaning to our lives and above all else a purpose ( again people can be threatened by that )
 
To make sure our faith and our purpose is unshakable requires us to commit to God in prayer and in eternal truth. A wise man said there is a spirit in man that shall survive the death of the body. God is the God of the living, not the dead. A resurrection is guaranteed by the Scriptures and the power of God. He has begun in us a process of regeneration He will certainly finish.
 
Amen 

Words for Life, March 2020