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Lockdown Services Archive

These are the Sunday services from late March 2020 onwards when we went into lockdown.

Christmas Star

Online Services

We are meeting together again on Sundays, but recorded services are still available here.

Advent and Christmas 2021

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light"

Saturday 27th November   9.30 am   Advent Service
Sunday 28th November  

10.30 am


Morning Worship

  7.00 pm   Evening Worship: Joint Churches Advent Service in Milngavie United Free Church
Saturday 4th December    9.30 am    Advent Service
Sunday 5th December    10.30 am    Morning Worship
   7.00 pm   Evening Worship: Joint Churches Advent Service in Allander Evangelical Church 
Saturday 11th December   9.30 am   Advent Service
Sunday 12th December    10.30 am   Morning Worship
  7.00 pm   Evening Worship: Joint Churches Advent Service in St. Luke's Parish Church
Saturday 18th December   9.30 am   Advent Service
Sunday 19th December    10.30 am    Christmas Family Gift Service 
   7.00 pm   Christmas Readings and Music 
Friday 24th December   7.00 pm    Christmas Eve Family Service 
Saturday 25th December   11.00 am  

Christmas Morning Family Worship




Minister's Blog

Our minister, Fergus Buchanan, has kept a blog since 2012 which you can read here. 

Words for Life

Spend a few minutes in reflection.

Words for Life, March 2020

31 March 2020

The Plot to Kill Jesus John 11 45-end (nsv)


Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs.  If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
This reading is straight after the raising of Lazarus and as Jesus’s profile is getting more and more noticeable the question for The Sanhedrin was “ what do we do next?”. Let's face it Jesus was proving to be a very imposing threat. On the face of it there was nothing he couldn’t do. Among other things that he had proved to be the Lord of nature by calming the storm, the Lord of darkness by allowing the blind man to see, the Lord of death by raising Lazarus from the grave and to feed 5000 people didn’t seem to be a problem. So this problem that Jesus presented seemed insurmountable….what to do with him…..whats going to happen next?
“What's going to happen next” is something today we are all asking ourselves, so many questions so many deadlines. Will it be three weeks?, will it be six months?
As we move along this Lent journey going towards the hill at Calvary we know what happened next. Jesus proclaimed “ I am the resurrection and the Life”. So the answer to our question of “ what happens next?” is simple “ whatever happens next is in the hands of our Father God. The Father who gave us his son. This man who gives us so much that when we sing " alleluia what a saviour" gives us so much security and confidence and grace. So what happens next? He knows and it's in his hands. Amen




Words for Life, April 2020

30 April 2020

Acts Chapter 6


The Choosing of the Seven

6 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen Seized

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom; the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.



A growing Family

Among our friends we know a young couple that have a baby boy. Starting a family is an exciting time and takes a wee bit of time to get used to it all. No sooner were they getting used to it all…. when they had twins!!!! The family of three suddenly becomes a family of five!!

Help is needed!

In a completely different context we read in Acts 6 that the family of disciples are growing. It was a known fact that many different ethnic races and religions were coming to Jerusalem to end their days.

What is the problem?

Amongst them were many widows and there was a problem sharing their food amongst this growing newfound family. There is internal wrangling going on and something needs to be done. So what is the problem? Verse 2 “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables”


Is there a solution? Verse 3 “ Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”


The result can be read in Verse 7 “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”

Very early on in the birth and growth of the Church we see the need to organise. In this case the Apostles saw what the problem was and the knew they could not be tied down by this. So they delegated. And in doing this we know that “ this pleased the group”. They chose seven other people to help do other things and free them up and in verse 4 “ we will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

The big issue here was the priority of God and Prayer. Yes there were tables to be laid and there were internal struggles and fights. There was a lot to do but nothing should ever distract from “ prayer and the ministry of the word” And even all these years later we find the same problems with the modern day church. People try and make big changes, other people try to bring in other priorities, people are concerned about what the church needs to function when it has been functioning for years. But above all of there is God and we need to talk to him, we need him to help us to delegate and we can only do this through prayer.

The BIG verse in this reading is the result. Verse 7 “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith”

So we know it worked for them and it should be a lesson to us all that The Word is still as relevant today and our priority should be taking it to God in prayer.

Father, we see from our passage this morning that we are called to care for others, to look out for the needy and the less fortunate than we are and to serve one another. And although this event happened 2000 years ago, we see today people during this current crisis, people who have taken on these roles of service to others. And it has been costly – as they have given their lives in that service. And so, as we remember again today the people who have given their lives because they cared for and served the weak and the vulnerable; whether in hospital, care homes or in their own homes, as well as others who worked in transport and the distribution of vital services to all our communities. They will be greatly missed by their loved ones and so, we pray for their families and friends, praying that your love will surround them as they mourn their loss. Amen






29 April 2020

Acts Chapter 5



Ananias and Sapphira


Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.





Create in me a clean heart O Lord


So we have the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. It was quite a common practice in those days to sell off your assets and give the money to the temple. This couple were being a bit naughty and kept back some of the money for themselves. While it's possible they were telling everyone that they were selling it for the temple, they were also selling it for themselves by keeping some of the money.


There was a certain amount of hypocrisy going on. And I think that Ananias revealed something that we all struggle with. We fundamentally miss out on what God wants from us. We think that God wants our stuff more than He wants us. Or we think that God will love us more if we give Him more. Or we think that what other Christians think about us will increase the love that God has for us.


Think about what Ananias and Sapphira tried to do. They wanted to project an image of themselves to the church that they were generous, too. They wanted others to look at them and say - “wow look at those Christians - they are always giving, always serving. They are always there anytime the doors are open. They are always doing the right thing.” But at the heart of their actions there was a lie.


There is a lesson here. And that lesson is that God wants our hearts more than he wants our money. Oh sure the money is necessary to allow the church to function but God wants our hearts to be clean and pure


Psalm 51 verse 10 reminds us


Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.


The lesson of the day is this - God cares more about the heart behind your offering than He cares about the offering itself. God wants your heart in worship. He wants you to love Him and connect with Him and to have joy in knowing Him. And in doing so we should root out the hypocrisy in our own lives and present to God a purer heart and a cleaner self. Amen






28 April 2020 

The Believers Pray

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.[b]’[c]

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.


Breaking News

We are still on Acts 4. Yesterday morning when I sat down to prepare these words, it dawned on me when you look at some of the titles in the bible, for our readings, they are really hitting home at the moment. Never in the current generation and never in the history of our church has the bible been so relevant. (I read that in Winstons Churchill's voice?) An example of that would be today's titles which are “ believers pray” and “ believers share their possessions”

Peter and John are released and the church rejoices. His friends relieved and excited lift their hands to God in prayer and praise. They were aware that they were still in danger as the non believers were still around. They were aware that everything was scripture based, but look at verse 29 “ Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”….Talk about relevance for today…..And another important factor here is that " they shared their possessions" so another timely reminder of what we should be doing as a living church in society today. Then after all of this after all We are told that after they prayed .....the ground shook and they spoke the word of God boldly. Not just prayer but that " rocket fuel" prayer that I have spoken of before.

And of course this is a timely reminder that prayer is all important today and every day. Praise God for what we have, praise God for keeping up safe and Thank God for a new day that is about to unfold before us. Keeping him at all times “ on the menu” so to speak or even “ breaking news” as we go through our day. God is amongst us, we have him in our lives and in our hearts. Let's share Him with others. Amen





27 April 2020

Acts 4

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

4 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.



Rocket Fuel.

I can remember the first time I ever preached in a pulpit outside my own home church. I was terrified. “ What am I doing?” I thought “ Why am I doing this?” These words came in waves. But the minister I was taught by, a man called Bill McAreavy in Kelvin Bridge filled me with confidence. I remember his prayers before we went out into the sanctuary they were like rocket fuel. I would walk out into the church telling myself “ I have a job to do and I can do it”

The confidence of Peter and John is amazing. They are arrested because of their teaching. The Sanhedrin intimidates them. But despite all that Peter and John put up a great case for their actions and they even reverse their roles from the accused to the accusers.

Peter indicts the Sanhedrin because they had crucified Jesus, whom God had raised from the dead and in whose name this lame man had been healed. Furthermore, Peter let them know that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (4:12).

The members of the council were amazed at the confidence of Peter and John, who had not been educated in the rabbinical schools. When the council saw the man who had been healed standing there (proof positive of his healing), they had nothing to say. After a private conference the council commanded Peter and John not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John replied that they had to obey God, because they could not stop speaking what they had seen and heard. After further warnings, the council let them go, since the crowd was glorifying God on account of this miracle.

Ask yourself today “ where does my confidence lie?” “ How can I be more confident?” “Why do I need this confidence?”

Confidence comes through prayer. Praying that the Holy Spirit will guide you and guard you. Praying that you have the necessary energy to make a difference.

Confidence through Jesus. Learning more and more about how he changed lives. What his relationship was like with his family and his friends the disciples.

Confidence through God. God is the rocket fuel that is going to get us from here to where ever we will find ourselves in the months to come. Things may seem huge and frightening at this point in time but the kids in the Sunday school sing “ our God is a great big God”. We owe it all to Him. Amen






26 April 2020




11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant[b] Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus[c] has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
Faith in the one who speaks the name.
Yesterday Peter and John healed the lame man. The man was overcome by his healing and literally leapt for joy at the transformation of his life. As they are all gathered, Peter reminds the crowd that the man was not healed by him or John but by Jesus, or rather the God of Abraham who was, and is still at work through him.
Peters quote “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers” is actually from the book of Exodus (3:6). He would have used this quote so that the people who were listening to him would be familiar with the reference point. Exodus 2 was when God called Moses from the burning bush and tells him to go back to Egypt and lead the people from slavery.
You see Peter is quoting a scripture that they would be familiar with. He is also trying to explain to the crowd something really important and that is, it was Jesus who healed the man. He repeats this point to rub it in and uses the name Jesus.
Tom Wright reminds us that “ there has to be faith, faith in the one who speaks the name and faith in the one who hears it”
Verse 16 is the all important verse here 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all. Tom Wright goes on to say “ that’s what’s on offer through the gospel message which announces the powerful name of Jesus. Believing in him and in the power of his name is the way to wholeness even in the 21stcentury as it was in the 1st.
Tom Wright said this in his book in 2008 it is even more relevant in 2020.
Lift high the name of Jesus. Amen






25 April 2020

Peter Heals a Lame Beggar



3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The outsider
In the Bible Luke told us how the church was formed by the gift of the Holy Spirit and baptism and gathered around the apostles’ teaching but now we move onto narrate examples of the apostles’ ministry in Jerusalem.
This scene is part of a larger story: the healing is really the set up for the sermon Peter gives to the crowd of witnesses in Acts 3. The healing and sermon together, in turn, set up the first instance of persecution of the church in Acts when Peter and John are imprisoned and tried for their actions.
So the scene is set for the book of Acts. Let's look at this man who receives healing. The first thing we learn about him is his history. Lame from birth and needed carried. The people who carried him, left him at the temple gates in order for him to beg from those going inside. It's at this point her engages with Peter and John hoping to receive money.
Peter goes on with the famous verse “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” You see, if the man had been given money it would only be a temporary fix, it would be spent in hours but what Peter gave him was everlasting. Not only was it everlasting, he was healed after all, definitely a new life for the man lame from birth but what else was he given? Well he was definitely enthusiastic walking with them to the temple courts walking and jumping and praising God. So this man, now filled with the holy spirit had a new purpose, a new energy and he was a new man. He was also living proof of what God can do. All the people saw him, recognized him and were filled with wonder and amazement.
Isn’t that marvellous? Living testimony what God can do and we all know he is still doing that today. If you're feeling a wee bit sad or a wee bit vulnerable its good to know that God is there for us and through the Good News of Jesus Christ we can be reassured that “ this too shall pass” it's only temporary and we will get through it together.
As a young child I went to the Baptist Church in Partick to The Good News Club, every Thursday night 6:30 till 8pm. At the end of each evening we got a glass of Lemonade and a biscuit and we always sang the same song
It is NO Secret
The chimes of time ring out the news another day is through
Someone slipped and fell was that someone you
You may have long for added strength your courage to renew
Do not be this hearten for I bring hope to you
It is no secret what God can do what he's done for others he'll do for you With arms wide open He'll part anew it is no secret what God can do
There is no night for end his light you'll never walk alone
Always feel at home wherever you may roam
There is no power can conquer you while God is on your side
Just take him at his promise don't run away and hide
It is no secret what God can do what he's done for others he'll do for you
With arms wide open He'll part anew it is no secret what God can do
What God can do






24 April 2020

Acts Chapter 2 from verse 42




The Fellowship of the Believers


42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

An out of date message?
A while back I preached on this passage in a church in Dumbarton. So I decided to look up my preaching notes and had to do a double-take when I read them. You see if I had to preach the same sermon this coming sermon that would not be possible as everything has changed.
Back in the day I was talking about the purpose of the local church and being a healthy church. In the reading from Acts we are being told that after Jesus had left them and they were left to their own devices they had to plan what was important to them.
Verse 42 devoted to the teaching and to the fellowship and the breaking of the bread. Verse 44 everybody being together all with a common bond that was Jesus. 45 tending to those in need 46 meeting together and finally in verse 47 praising God.
You see my sermon was all about being a healthy church and having a purpose( just like the followers of Jesus found in the book of Acts). My sermon was all about the importance of fellowship and finally I talked of the importance of prayer. But as I put the old sermon down I picked it up and re-read it and thought that although everything has changed dramatically since I wrote it we can still follow the same principles.
Through social media and other sources we still have the teaching of God's word. More than ever, fellowship from a distance has become not only a reassuring thing but a healing thing as some of us feel lonely. Finally we can all pray on our own or share a prayer on social media and even on here.
Here’s an unusual twist today as we leave these words. If you have minute think about “ the fellowship” of your own church and try and reach out to someone today that you might never have done in the past. Phone someone, not in your fellowship circle that would maybe appreciate a phone call or even an email. And in your prayers today think about them and the others who are struggling at the moment and who more than ever need contact and care.
Let us Pray
Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day. Thank you too for walking with us – especially so just now when things are so strange; when we can no longer meet with our loved ones. We remember especially people who live alone and who may feel even more isolated just now. Thank you for all the expressions of love and help which are being made in order to help others. We pray that these will keep happening when this crisis is over as we see the benefits of caring for others within our communities. Thank you for prompting people to look out for others. We give you thanks for all the people who go above and beyond the call of duty to care for the most vulnerable – thank you for them and pray that you will continue to keep them safe. We ask all this in Jesus Name – Amen







23 April 2020

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas


Acts Chapter 1 from verse 12


12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[c] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[d] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

“‘May his place be deserted;

let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e]


“‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f]

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.



Trust and obey for there is no other way.

These days all we seem to do is wait. Wait for the next set of instructions from the Government, wait at home or wait in queues at the shops and then go back home and wait. Wait until we can see our friends once more face to face in the flesh. Apart from waiting the other things we have to do, is be obedient. Don’t mix with friends, don’t go on unnecessary journeys, don’t drive to beauty spots just exercise in your own area and obey what we are being told on the radio, tv and in the newspapers. So we wait and we obey and above all else we depend. We depend on being told the correct information, we depend on taking this information and absorbing it and making it work for us. All of these rules as we appear to be locked in our own homes.

At this point in the book of Acts Jesus has left his friends. He has gone but just before that he gives them strength through his teaching and his presence and his advice. Yesterday we remember he said “don’t leave just wait” to his disciples and they did.

The disciples returned to the upper room and united in prayer they waited. Of course no one wants to wait unless they can help it but we know from this reading in Acts (v14) they all joined in prayer. They all waited and they all obeyed.

It was during this time that Judas was replaced by Matthias, the only time an apostle has had to be elected and we are told not just because Judas had died but also to fulfil the Scriptures. So the disciples are obeying Jesus and obeying the Scriptures. Time was not being wasted during the wait and things still had to be done. God was preparing them and he was teaching them and above all else he was nurturing them into a better place

And of course that’s happening today and during this current crisis we seek God in prayer and in Scripture, we remain obedient to Him and depend on His Word and of course we wait.

Let us Pray

Might and glorious Father we come before you today and we wait. While we wait, we ask you for forgiveness if we are not really following the rules. We ask that you give us the patience to remain at home and make our time resourceful. And that you give us the willpower to be obedient to your word Amen







22 April 2020

The book of Acts Chapter 1 verses 6-9


Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”



You will be my witnesses

There is one very powerful verse early on in the book of Acts and we find that in verse 8 …..” and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth”

Here we are talking about the founding of the church and the spread of the gospel not just locally but “ to the ends of the earth” The first four gospels told us about Christ's life and his teaching but now we are going on a journey to witness the very beginning of The Church and the spread of Christ's message to all.

…..” and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth

Tom Wright tells us that we should notice one thing in particular which will help us as we go through the book of Acts. Jesus gives the apostles an agenda. Jerusalem first, then Judea followed by Samaria and then to the ends of the earth. We are told that the journey will be so interesting that we don’t need to know “when He is “going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus has been appointed as the worlds true king, seated on his throne. One day the kingdom will come, Tom Wright says “ in the meantime we have a job to do”.

We all have a job to do. Even though we don't have our organisations and our buildings and our fellowship we still have a job to do. After all we are all witnesses and that has not been put in lockdown. As we think of the start of the early church we should be thinking of the day when we have to go back to our own churches and start again. How do we prepare for that? Well through the reading of the scripture and of course through prayer.

Let us pray “ Heavenly Father we are so grateful that you sent your son to die for us. To afford us this amazing grace. To allow us to leave our sins at the foot of the cross and as the hymn says “ stand amazed in His presence”

Father we pray this morning for the church. For the first time in a lifetime we are scattered. We are separated from a place we call our sanctuary and although we know its only bricks and mortar, it holds us all together in fellowship.

So as we pray for our “ missed” church we pray too for our fellowship. You know us all. You know our names and you know every hair on our heads. Today as we miss the sound of our choirs. As we miss the look on our friends' faces and as we miss the message given to us so clear and so nourishing. We thank you for keeping us safe. We thank you for giving us tomorrow and we thank you for the fellowship of Christ and the fellowship of each other Amen







21 April 2020

Acts 1 New International Version (NIV) Acts 1 verses 1-5


Jesus Taken Up Into Heaven

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”



For the time being we will look at the book of Acts in the New Testament. To help me along this journey I am relying on Tom Wrights book” Acts for everyone” to make this more interesting.

In his book Tom Wright talks about the movie the madness of King George the third. Alan Bennetts script was bound to be a sure fire hit but there was one problem. The Movie makers had a problem with the title. Superman 1 had two sequels out at this time Superman 2 and Superman 3 what if people thought that The madness of King George was a trilogy and people went looking for the first two movies?

The book of Acts. This is of course the story of the early church with Jesus as the main character. It is authored by the physician Luke and begins by giving us the fact that this is a sequel and then goes to give us a brief resume of what has happened up until this point.

There are two strands to this book and the first is that it is the story is based on the resurrection of Jesus. At the end of Lukes gospel Jesus gave “many convincing proofs that he was alive” in fact Tom Wright goes on to say that Jesus’ “ transformed body is now the beginning of Gods new creation”.

The second strand of this book is that it introduces the power and the importance of the holy spirit.” For John baptized with water but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

And you know? there is some important advice just at the end of this short reading we see that Jesus asked them to wait. “ do not leave Jerusalem but wait for the gift my Father promised” Tom Wright comments in his book that “ Luke would tell us to wait and to pray for the presence and the power of the holy spirit. And that’s good advice for these changed days when we have to stay indoors and be patient. Patient while decisions are being made. Patient while keeping to the advice we are given. Patient while we heal, improve and get better.

On TV yesterday Detective Supt Catriona Paton was speaking in “ reflections at the key” a committed Christian her mother and father were missionaries in Africa. She said her work ethos comes from a painting on her fathers wall that stated “…keep working for the Lord. The pay isn’t much but the retirement plan is out of this world….”

From our homes today we can still work for the lord. We can do this with prayer…. So let us pray

Prayer: Father we pray this morning for all our loved ones and our church family. We pray for our ministers and for our church. We pray for patience during these darker days and as we wait for the light to shine over us once again we thank you for your son Jesus who taught us so much and can teach us so much more. Amen







20 April 2020

1 Corinthians 15:19-28 New International Version (NIV)



19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

The persecuted church.
One of the things that has come out of this pandemic is the publics use of ZOOM. It’s an audio visual app that’s available so that a crowd of people can see and speak to each other. Don’t get me wrong, people love it, are using it and it’s making their life a whole lot better at this time. But me? I don’t like it at all. I might be OK using it audibly but I have no desire to see my “ Halloween cake” face on a screen. ( an ex-colleague once said that of me while using something similar)
So the other day when I was flicking through the paper I came upon a headline all about zoom. But I literally pulled myself up as I started to read the article. Several members of China’s heavily persecuted Early Rain Covenant Church were arrested by communist authorities for participating in an online Easter worship service on Zoom and ordered to cease all religious activity.
The 5,000-member Sichuan house church, ( yes that’s right 5000!) led by pastor Wang Yi, has not been able to gather in person since the communist regime shut down the church in 2018 and arrested their pastor and other leaders. Since then, it has opted to gather online.
She added that in addition to Wang, other key church leaders including Guo Haigang, Wu Wuqing, Jia Xuewei, Zhang Jianqing and Zhang Xudong were also taken away. One member’s home had its electricity cut off, while others received phone calls that “police were coming to visit them soon.”
Like Christians all over the world, Paul suffered extreme persecution for his faith. But his faith was so important and so secure that he really wanted to hammer home the message of the resurrection. After all what would be the point of a version of Christianity in which Christ was never raised from the dead. I read somewhere that the picture is bleak for those who do not believe in the resurrection. If the resurrection did not take place the gospel is false and those who teach anything else are liars. Strong stuff indeed but when we think that 2000 years later people are still being persecuted for their faith we must be like Paul and share the real gospel, the only gospel and that’s the gospel of the risen Lord.
If none of this was true then the physical and emotional abuse Paul suffered was pointless.
2 Corinthians 11 24-28 reminds us that
23-27 I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, and beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummelled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard travelling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labour, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
28-29 And that’s not the half of it, when you throw in the daily pressures and anxieties of all the churches. When someone gets to the end of his rope, I feel the desperation in my bones. When someone is duped into sin, an angry fire burns in my gut.
30-33 If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus know I’m not lying. (Eugene Peterson Message)
And so this morning as we praise the risen saviour who did rise victoriously from the grave we remind ourselves of the pain of Paul and the persecuted church yesterday and today.
Let's pray for the persecuted church
Our father in heaven we remember Paul this morning and the pain that he had to endure convincing people of your son's life, his resurrection and the amazing grace freely available for all. We pray today for the church in all the corners of the globe. We thank you that in some of these corners your church is growing and thriving but at the same time we bring to your attention those who risk their lives for your church and your son. Bless your church wherever your people meet even in these difficult days when we meet using social media. We pray for your people who are persecuted and in pain. We pray for your church wherever and however it meets. Amen






19 April 2020

The Resurrection of the Dead


But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 1If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,




A Hoax

At the moment there is a lot of controversy surrounding corona virus. When will the lockdown end? Should we be wearing masks? What about the people that wear gloves? What about the NHS? Questions being asked but no real answers to satisfy the doubters.

Paul writes to the people of Corinth an important wealthy city between North and South Greece. Pauls would spend 18 months there to establish a church and then move onto Jerusalem among other places. After leaving Corinth, Paul wrote a letter after hearing about issues the Christians were having and decided to write to them with guidance for their problems. One of their main issues was who should they follow?

A few years ago I met someone who I used to work with. I was amazed and very pleased when they told me that they had become a Christian. They then went onto to tell me what parts of the bible they believed but then took longer to tell me the bits of the Bible that they didn’t believe in.

I remember parting from this person with the words “ if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then the whole of the bible is a hoax!” “ Christianity is a hoax” back came his retort “ well then your type Christianity is a hoax Alex”

There is no “type”. There is the Bible and there is Christianity

It might seem that Paul is struggling to convince people of the authenticity of the life of Christ but he is making it perfectly clear. If Christ did not rise from the dead then our faith is futile and more than that, Grace would not exist so we would all be drowning with sin. We might be living in strange times and some of the stories we are clearing might be unclear. But what is crystal clear is that Christ died for us on a cross and three days later he rose from the grave. Now I have been repeating myself over the past few days but it’s a point worth hammering home. Strange days and uncertain times deserve a clear message. Christ died for us! He rose from the tomb! Alleluia what a Saviour.

And now a short prayer

Father, we have just celebrated an Easter like no other – when we have not been able to gather together to praise and worship You and to remember Your great sacrifice for us on the Cross and give thanks for your glorious resurrection. And so we pray that whatever our individual circumstances, we give you thanks that the great truths of Easter are the same regardless of where and with whom we celebrated the Easter message.

When we think of the first Easter when the disciples had witnessed the crucifixion, they too felt isolated and lost without Jesus who had been their constant friend and companion for over 3 years. But praise God, because of the resurrection of Jesus, He is with us today. We give you thanks for the hope that the Easter message brings – not just in times of joy and gladness, but more importantly, in the times when we are anxious and concerned. In the Bible passage this morning, Paul exhorted the believers at that time to remain true to the centrality of their belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and, as we continue to ponder the Easter message in our hearts, we pray that we too may give you thanks and praise and continue to believe in Jesus who gave His life so that we may live.







18 April 2020

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene


11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.



Use the tool box!

Every time we turn on the television or the radio we are confronted by the latest statistics and facts and figures. But for me personally I am always asking myself “ what is the bigger picture?” “ How do we really explain to each other what is happening?”

In our reading today Mary was deeply disappointed, first by the shock of the crucifixion, but now by the fact that she wanted to see Jesus’ body. She was thinking, “If only I knew where they have taken him? But she didn’t understand the big picture, which included Jesus’ resurrection.

So often, we’re just like Mary. We’re disappointed because we don’t understand the big picture of what God is doing and what is going on in the world. We’re disappointed because God isn’t working as we think He needs to work. It seems that His promises aren’t true! But our faith has to be stronger than that. We have to use every tool in the tool box to repair what is broken in us and that includes prayer, scripture and reflection.

Mary thought that evil men had triumphed over God’s purposes. They had killed Jesus and now they had stolen His body.

We often suffer needless sorrow because we forget that God is so mighty that there is nothing that can overturn his purpose. And yes sometimes that can lead to an emotional struggle especially with the aftermath of what has happened and certainly not in our lifetime, will we get some answers.

Romans 8 verse 28 tells us that

“ we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

And yes that you and me. Our love for him is rewarded by the promise that He works, for the good of us. The Shepherd as always recognises the voices of his sheep. Through his Son Jesus Christ who was crucified and who rose from the dead, we are given answers we are given reassurance and we are given a friend. So if I had to give anyone advice today about what to do? it would be to build up our strength in prayer and scripture, hear the voices of our friends in the hymns that we shared while at Church and reflect on the fact that we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose





17 April 2020

1st Corinthians 15 1-10


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, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 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. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 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. 10 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. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.



Is there enough evidence for a conviction?

Years ago I remember hearing a sermon and the main message was “ if you are accused of being a Christian is there enough evidence to convict you?”

I’ve just finished my eighth “Shetland “ book by Anne Cleeves what I like about her books is that at the end she seems to go over things that have happened in the book. ( my memory is getting worse so I like this)

She reminds you what the conviction was, who were the witnesses, who provided the evidence and finally what happened. She talks a lot about the evidence and hammers home the message of the crime.

This passage from Pau's letter is a bit like that for me. It breaks down the basics of Christianity. The conviction being that we have “ received the gospel and on it we have taken our stand. The case being that “ Christ died for our sins and after three days he rose from the dead” and the eyewitnesses being Cephas and of course the 12 disciples. There were a couple of special witnesses namely James and of course later to Paul. And of course all of this means that by this Gospel“ you are saved”

Today more than ever Christians are scrutinised for practising their faith, there is an increasing scrutiny on the belief system and its perceived “intolerance.” As a result, many Christians are fearful of offending others or worry about how they may be perceived if they are vocal about their faith. Yet Jesus Himself was not afraid to offend others. A reading of the gospels shows many instances when Jesus made people angry and hostile. Yet He always showed love, even toward those who rejected Him. Jesus was tried, convicted and killed for His teachings and beliefs. If you were to stand trial for being a Christian, what would your trial be like?







16 April 2020

Colossians 4 2-6



Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.



82 words


There are 82 words in this passage; you could say it’s quite a short passage. There are eight lines of text, that’s all that’s there. If you read it quick enough it might mean nothing. But then again if you look close enough?

It is a universal message for Christians.
It is packed full of words that are so clear and so positive it could be your motto for life.
It is a prayer about prayer and arguably,.. It's “chicken soup for the soul”
Paul's message to the Colossians was relevant then and it's relevant now. It’s relevant as we are in lockdown and it will even more relevant when we find ourselves being allowed to do more
It reminds us to devote ourselves to prayer. To be alert at what’s around us and at the same time to be thankful.
We must always be aware of opportunities that will allow us to share God's message
It’s reminding us to pray for others who are also involved in prayer. And at the same time make it simple and make it clear. And in order to present yourself with grace and wisdom……..remember the great bible verse Matthew 5 verse 13 “You are the salt of the earth”
And so it might be appropriate to end today’s words for life as we started
Dear Heavenly Father allow us to devote ourselves to prayer. Let us be watchful as well as thankful and at the same time open doors for us for the message of your son Jesus Christ. Let my words flow clearly and wisely while dealing with others. Give us conversations that are full of grace seasoned with salt and allow us to share your light with others. Amen







Due to a scheduling problem, the words for life for today (as above) was published yesterday on Facebook.  

So this morning I leave you with another simple story. I don’t know where it came from, the author is unknown.



With the hand of the Master .............

Wishing to encourage her young son's progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted an old friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked "NO ADMITTANCE." When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit." Keep playing." Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child, and he added a running obbligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed what could have been a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played. Only the classic, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

Perhaps that's the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren't always graceful flowing music. However, with the hand of the Master, our life's work can truly be beautiful. The next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You may hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, "Don't quit." "Keep playing." May you feel His arms around you and know that His hands are there, helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces. Remember, God doesn't seem to call the equipped, rather, He equips the 'called.' Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than by the things you acquire.



Words for Life, May 2020


31 May 2020

Luke 1 39-45


Mary visits Elizabeth


39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’


Treated with honour

Having learned from the angel that she will give birth to the Son of God, Mary hurries to visit her pregnant relative Elizabeth. The conversation suggests Jesus as more important than John. It also shows God already at work to overturn the world as it existed at that moment in time. The spotlight shines on Mary and Elizabeth, two women through whom God has chosen to begin the transformation of the world.


Though Luke clearly signals that the unborn child’s leaping is prompted by the Spirit, it is Elizabeth, John’s mother, who takes on the role of prophet by speaking the prophetic words “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear” Furthermore, through the Spirit she knows who Mary’s child will be, for she calls Mary “the mother of my Lord


Elizabeth greeted Mary with honour, and by doing so she overturns social expectations. Mary is an unmarried pregnant woman and Elizabeth knows from her own experience the cost of being shamed and excluded. In her culture a woman’s role in life was to bear children, so as an elderly infertile wife she had endured a lifetime of being treated as a failure. By being pregnant God had reversed her social status and emphasis Gods ability and his amazing grace.


So the pregnancy that might have brought Mary shame brings joy and honour instead. When Elizabeth welcomes Mary, she practices the same kind of inclusive love that Jesus will show throughout his life and his ministry. And like these women we too are blessed to have God in our life and the knowledge that he has come to free us from sin. Like these two women we belong to a community that supports each other as we hope and wait. Especially in these strange times.


Let us pray. Father God as we come to another Sunday, another Sabbath we remember your church today. As we are scattered in our own homes and in our own community we know that your church is wherever your people are praising and we praise you today. We pray today for all the people who we invite into our lives through social media, the Internet and television. People who have taken the time to share your word to us while we sit in our own homes. We pray too for Ramsay and John who carry on and share their thoughts and your scriptures each week while our church buildings are closed. And of course we pray for those of your flock who may, at this time, feel vulnerable and alone. May your Spirit fill them with the love and confidence to carry on while we make progress in what’s happening in our towns and cities.  Amen








30 May 2020

Matthew 5    New International Version - UK (NIVUK)



Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount


Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.


The Beatitudes


He said:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.




I read yesterday that one of the big criticisms of The Bible is that it is no longer relevant. It is full of rules and advice that is irrelevant and out of date. There are criticisms too of the language used. People say the KJV is not easy to understand and other translations are misleading. Personally I think the language used in the KJV is beautiful and I think some of the translations are great for Bible Studies and great too for injecting some fresh understanding. I could fill a book about the Beatitudes and what they mean for us and what the background is but today I thought I would address the critics about irrelevance and poor translations. I know I go on a lot about Eugene Peterson and his translation of the Bible but just for a moment think about what’s going on in your life today and the “ relevance” and read his translation of Matthew 5 


Reading from Verse 4


“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds!


Read that last bit again “ All heaven applauds” and that applause is for you and me. That applause is for the pain and the sorrow as well as the joy and the triumphs. That applause is for the person going through all of this alone as well as the big families living under the one roof in lockdown. That applause is because you are special…….Amen










29 May 2020

Romans 8:14-17 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)


14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to son ship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.




And so (as we read in John and in Acts) after the promise of eternal life and through the gift of the Holy Spirit we can call him Father and we can call ourselves Gods children. In Israel’s wilderness God went before them every day in a pillar of cloud but now it’s the Holy Spirit that provides our leadership. But there is one difference and that is we are not to become slaves to the law, Christ has freed us from slavery as well as sin. 


The scripture then uses the word “ adopted” and when you think about the true meaning of those words it tells us that we have been welcomed into the family of God as a full member. I especially like the story of the mother of two children – one natural born and the other adopted.  When someone asked, “Which child is adopted?” the mother gazed for a moment into the distance and then answered, “I can’t remember.”


So we have a relationship with God that enables us to call him Abba, Papa, Father. We can live as Gods children, led by the Holy Spirit and enjoy the full rights and privileges as sons and daughters. Our inheritance will be unbelievable through the good times and especially through the bad times. Amen









28 May 2020

Acts 2 New International Version (NIV)


The Holy Spirit Comes at Pentecost


When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.


…..even to the remotest parts of the earth


In Acts chapter 1 Jesus instructed the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father and that they would be “ baptized with the  Holy Spirit” and they would receive power to be Christ’s witnesses even in the most remotest parts of the earth.


Just as Jesus’s ministry would depend on the Holy Spirit, the disciples too would benefit greatly from The Holy Spirit working alongside them with their work on earth.


And so in Acts chapter 2, we are witnesses to a historical event signifying a new period in God's dealing with His people. It is the dawning of the age of The Holy Spirit where people would be empowered to witness to all nations even in the remotest parts of the earth.


And today that’s what this all means for you and me. God is equipping His church with the power of His spirit so that he can be glorified throughout the whole of the earth. And the earth that was created by Him will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of The Lord.


And that’s up to us now!  We have to bear witness to the crucified Christ and to show people that a spirit filled church is the answer to all problems that exist today.


Let us pray







27 May 2020

John 3:31-36 New International Version (NIV)


31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.


Heavenly visitors


You could fill up a whole library building with the books that have written about people who have gone to heaven and come back to tell the tale. I’ve even bought a few to my shame.


John is telling us in this text that only Jesus can testify about heaven,  because he is telling us what he has seen and heard. In other words he is the key witness to all of this. Nowhere in this text does Jesus use the words “ I’ve heard” or “ I think” or “ it has been said”. No speculation or theorizing Jesus is speaking the very words of God and as far as being a witness he is 100% reliable and certain.


Eugene Peterson translates this as 


“31-33 “The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heaven born is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven. No one wants to deal with these facts. But anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.”

John then repeats the promise from verse 16 in verse 36 “ whoever believes the Son has eternal life” which means if we accept the authority of Jesus unquestionably and trust in him with our lives has a complete life and forever. Petterson goes on to remind us 

“And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.”


Let's remember the great hymn “ Jesus is Lord”




Jesus Is Lord! Creation’s Voice Proclaims It,
For By His Power Each Tree And Flower
Was Planned And Made.
Jesus Is Lord! The Universe Declares It,
Sun, Moon And Stars In Heaven
Cry, ‘Jesus Is Lord!’


Jesus Is Lord! Yet From His Throne Eternal
In Flesh He Came To Die In Pain
On Calvary’s Tree.
Jesus Is Lord! From Him All Life Proceeding,
Yet Gave His Life A Ransom
Thus Setting Us Free.


Jesus Is Lord! O’er Sin The Mighty Conqueror,
From Death He Rose, And All His Foes
Shall Own His Name.
Jesus Is Lord! God sent His Holy Spirit
To Show By Works Of Power
That Jesus Is Lord.


Amen "Jesus is Lord" - Hymn







26 May 2020

1 Peter 4:7-11 The Message (MSG)


7-11 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!




Someone recently commented that I live by the KISS concept,( really?) which apparently is  “Keep it simple son!”. Well I don’t know about that but I do know that living with stress in your life dictates that a simple life is an easier life, rather than one that is bogged down with complicated issues and demands.


I read somewhere that one of the keys to an excellent life and an excellent church is simplicity and that is by doing a few simple things that can attain excellence. Many people and churches are not experiencing excellence because they are trying to accomplish too many things, and through a lack of urgency the important things are being set aside.


Today’s reading asks three things of us. All of these three things demand a sense of simplicity and yet these three things are the backbone of our Christian lives.


These three things are 


Prayer (verse 7) “Stay wide-awake in prayer.” We should pray with a sense of vigilance, being aware of what and who we are praying for. More importantly keep it simple. Don’t send yourself to sleep with your prayers, keep it alive with the spirit within you.


Love (verses 8-9). “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything” Loving each other gives us a sense of purpose, makes us and others feel good and creates a better world. Simple love, without trying to emulate anyone from the pages of a magazine or the chapters of a novel


And finally. Serve (verses 10-11) “Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if its words, let it be God’s words; if it is help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, “


They say the secret to good mental health is routine.  Pray, Love and Serve and we will not go wrong. Amen








25 May 2020

Peter 4:1-6  again from The Message (MSG)


Learn to Think Like Him


1-2 Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

3-5 You’ve already put in your time in that God-ignorant way of life, partying night after night, a drunken and profligate life. Now it’s time to be done with it for good. Of course, your old friends don’t understand why you don’t join in with the old gang anymore. But you don’t have to give an account to them. They’re the ones who will be called on the carpet—and before God himself.

Listen to the Message. It was preached to those believers who are now dead, and yet even though they died (just as all people must), they will still get in on the life that God has given in Jesus.




Get on with your short Life


Brian Kennedy is an Irish singer who has spent his life touring with Van Morrison. Alongside that, he has had his own career and at the height of his career he released a song “ you raise me up” which he sang at George Bes's funeral. 


Just after 9/11 he was in America and couldn’t believe how things had changed. The people he knew were worrying about what was going on and what had happened. They were suffering and had made it into an art form. 


Their life was slowly grinding to a halt. In response Kennedy wrote a song which became popular amongst his fans called “ Get on with your short life”, a warning to all that our time on earth is temporary.


I think that this passage in Peter was written for people who were suffering for their faith, who were known for their past and didn’t want to be remembered for it or by it. The words of this chapter ( to me) are saying “ you’ve be been there, you’ve done that but don’t listen to them. Instead listen to The Message, the words of God. 


 But now get on with your short life.


There is no point looking back. What we are going through at the moment will improve eventually, we have to show patience. Its human nature to look forward and plan things.


 But what can we take from today’s reading?   Four words :


 “ Listen to the message” 


That message tells us  “ you are loved”.


I have a card on my desk and it never fails to make me smile. It’s a quote by Max Lucado


“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it.  If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.  He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning... Face it, friend.  He is crazy about you! ”


Let's have a good day. Amen







24 May 2020

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

 Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

 To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.


Sometimes Words speak for themselves


If you are familiar with Dessert Island Discs you will be aware that as well as their favourite music the person gets to take The Complete Works of Shakespeare and The Bible. It always annoys me when some of the participants feel the need to say “ Oh I wouldn’t want the Bible” and I can hear myself saying “ well you're getting it anyway!”

Today’s reading again from the lectionary, probably planned for publication a few years ago. It’s a letter written mainly for the new Christians during the times of The New Testament. But on this day, that is Sunday 24th May 2020 has anything from the Bible ever been more relevant for us in Milngavie.

Eugene Peterson translates the first part of our reading as 

“Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”  He then goes on to translate the reading as 

“Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. 


Sometimes in life its best to say nothing and let the words speak for themselves I hope they speak for you today. Amen







23 May 2020

John 8:21-30 New International Version (NIV)
Dispute Over Who Jesus Is
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up[a] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
The Voice
While I was reading for this passage I came across a website about the sermons on Dr Martin Loyd Jones. In fact the page was about this passage and while I was reading the words, suddenly the voice of Martin Loyd Jones came over the speakers of my computer. Stern Welsh and very powerful. It made me think about the people who were listening to his sermons and verse 30 of this reading “even as he spoke many believed in him”.
Martin Luther, another historic preacher, once said that this passage was “ a dreadful sermon and a dreadful word of farewell”. Maybe not so much dreadful but uncomfortable. There is a lot of hope in our Bible and there is a lot to despair about. There are many many words of encouragement and that is our “go to” default. But we usually try and ignore the doom and gloom and the “ hell, fire and thunder”
There is a time when people who once rejected Jesus will earnestly seek him out, but will it be too late. In this reading there is a glimmer of hope right at the end in verse 30 “ even as he spoke many believed in him”
In the unlikeliest of moments, after some of the darkest and hardest teaching from Christ, many believed and were saved. Hard hearts were softened by the hard preaching of Christ.
Today more than any other time I hope and pray that people who once shunned Jesus, people who wrote him off as a fable will hear his voice. Today more than ever we can find comfort in his voice and the words from the scriptures fall off our pages and make us believe more in the God of grace and the Son of Man who we lift every day in our thoughts and in our prayers.  Amen








22 May 2020

Psalm 93


The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity.

The seas have lifted up, Lord,
    the seas have lifted up their voice;
    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
    mightier than the breakers of the sea –
    the Lord on high is mighty. Your statutes, Lord, stand firm;
    holiness adorns your house
    for endless days.


Trust and Obey (still)


This is Psalm 93. Yesterday was Ascension Thursday when we read about Jesus ascending to his throne. Today we are reminded about God our creator “ robed in majesty and armed with strength” These are powerful words to describe a powerful God. The psalmist reminds us of the power of the sea, being lifted up and the pounding of the waves. The thunderous noise it makes, the impact it has as it crashes to the shore


But we know of a man who could calm the stormiest waters, who could direct the fisherman to their biggest catch and then defy nature by walking on the sea.


I’ve talked recently about the” constant” Christ in our lives never changing, always available and there for all.


The Psalm ends telling us the Lord's statutes stand firm. I had to have a think about what that means (statutes?) I read somewhere it means that by Loving God in such a way everything else will follow. We need to listen to His voice, focus on his commandments and walk in Gods ways. Amen








21 May 2020

Acts 1 1-11
1:1 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. "This," he said, "is what you have heard from me;

For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.
The Here and Now
Forty days have passed since Easter and today is Ascension Thursday.  The days that Jesus Ascends into Heaven? Forty days and nights is seen as a time of preparation.
So what has been happening? Just after Jesus was crucified the women find two men dressed in white standing at the empty tomb early in the morning, but when they tell the other disciples that the Lord is risen, those disciples don’t believe them. Then Jesus appears to a couple of discouraged disciples on the road to Emmaus, and after he reveals himself to them while breaking bread, he disappears, and they hurry back to Jerusalem to tell the others. While they are all together, Jesus appears to all of them, and eats a piece of fish to prove he isn’t a ghost. Then he takes them out to Bethany, commissions them, and disappears in a cloud.
The writer Timothy Tennent tells us Jesus did not just ascend from here to there. Because he ascended into the Heavens, he ascended from here to everywhere. Because he went to be with the Father, he went to be where the Father is, and God is everywhere. Which means that Jesus is right here, right now.
It’s time to stop staring into the clouds. It’s time to become apostles who are witnesses to God’s grace. Christ is here and now, calling us to be witnesses to his here again her and now. But you can only be a witness to what you have seen and heard and experienced for yourself. Pentecost is just round the corner so let's share the good news however we can in these different days, let's be witnesses for Jesus here and now
Let Us Pray
Heavenly Father, we give you thanks this morning for Your word and for the way it challenges, teaches, comforts and directs us. We also give you thanks for the wonders of your creation and for the beauty of the countryside round about us and for all the pleasure that we derive from it. When we are feeling down or perplexed, we are grateful that we can read your word and gain comfort and strength to face each new day. And so, as we think of this day in the church’s calendar and also on the passage which we read from Acts, we see that the disciples would be feeling confused and would wonder what would happen now that you had Ascended and been taken from their sight. And because you knew that they would be feeling vulnerable, you gave them instructions – to stay together; to go to Jerusalem; and to wait. We give you thanks that they did what you asked, even though they did not fully understand all that you had planned for them and for the generations who would follow. We are in a perplexing time just now Father, where we have to stay together and to wait – it is not easy, we want to break free and relax and meet our families and our friends. Help us at this time Father to know that despite our concern and anxiety, help us to maintain our faith and trust in you – the Risen and Ascended Lord – who is our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.








20 May 2020 

John 16:16-24 The Message (MSG)


16 “In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me.”


Joy Like a River Overflowing


17-18 That stirred up a hornet’s nest of questions among the disciples: “What’s he talking about: ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? And, ‘Because I’m on my way to the Father’? What is this ‘day or so’? We don’t know what he’s talking about.”

19-20 Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, “Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, ‘In a day or so you’re not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me’? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You’re going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You’ll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.

21-23 “When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.

23-24 “This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!



The late Scottish preacher, Alexander Whyte, observed that we all tend to hang heavy weights on the thinnest wires. He meant that we hang our happiness on fragile things that easily and quickly can be taken from us: health, friends, children, jobs, homes, or possessions. These are all blessings from the Lord. But they sometimes fail to give us lasting joy, because they’re all so uncertain and “transitory”.


At the last birthday celebration of the Queen, a famous Christian was heard on TV saying that the Queen was the one “ constant” in his life, she had been around for so long as a public figure and someone he admired. I remember looking at the screen waiting for next bit, but it never came.


You see I expected him to say “ as well as God and my friend Jesus Christ. But it was never said. Maybe I was being naïve but I became disappointed in his comments.


The disciples are confused over what Jesus is saying. They will have sad times but that doesn’t compare to the joy that will come later. The pain will be overwhelming just like childbirth but as soon as that passes there will be joy untold.


This joy will come from something that is not temporary or a passing phase. Peterson translates this as a “ joy that no one can rob you of”


I’ve said it before but I love Deuteronomy 28 v 15 “ And it came to pass” and that’s the reassurance we have in our lives today. This too will pass. Tough times, trying times sad times and hopeless times they cannot compare with the joy and the peace that passes all understanding. And that one constant thing in our lives? 


Is God. Always there, always available, never too busy for a chat, never engaged ….always there.








19 May 2020

1 Peter 3:8-12 New International Version (NIV)
Suffering for Doing Good
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous  
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
The lectionary
Each day when it comes time to chose a bible reading for Words for Life I use a resource called The Lectionary. Its really like a diary that tells you what you should be reading about on a specific day of the year in The Christian Calander.
It comes as no surprise to me then when I look at the readings and think how appropriate these readings are with what we are going through at the moment. God moves in mysterious ways indeed.
This letter from Peter is considered a short letter and it is thought he was writing this while in Babylon.
This letter has much to say about Christian life and duties and it was relevant as it was possibly written only 60 years after the death of Jesus.
But looking at the letter and thinking about what’s going on today it has a lot to tell us. Peter is talking to brand new, fresh experienced, Christians. How would you describe yourself today? Peter is writing from Babylon all those years ago while today most of us reading this are sitting in the United Kingdom. So what can it tell us? Is it relevant?
Just look how Eugene Peterson translates this for today's people he tells us
“Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, Here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; Snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth.
God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he’s asked; But he turns his back on those who do evil things.”
Every word, every line and every sentence is an experience shared. Its advice for us all. It’s a demonstration of the pitfalls that are before us while in lockdown. Trust Peter to get it so right all these years later. Trust God to see us all through these times.
And Remember
…this too shall pass.







18 May 2020

Exodus 13:17-22 New International Version (NIV)


Crossing the Sea


17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.


19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.


20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.


God's people are on the move

One of my hobbies has got to be driving. Finding places out of the way, and discovering lovely things (normally coffee shops!). My dad used to say “ how did you find this place Alex?”  That was easy as I had taken the scenic route.

People today are too busy, they want to get from A to B in the quickest time possible. Some people don’t like the scenic route as it takes longer, sometimes its quite difficult, certainly not the most efficient but its usually beautiful in the long run.

I think God took his people on the scenic route, on the desert road towards the Red sea. And through all of this, he gave them guidance in the form of a cloud of dust by day and a pillar of fire by night.

God was teaching his people the importance of trust. “Trust and obey for there’s no other way”

When God’s  Son came to this earth and took on human flesh, God led Him on “the scenic route.” It was the most difficult way imaginable, the way of the cross. When Jesus began to tell the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the Jewish leaders and be killed and raised up on the third day, they thought that He had lost it! 

If you are finding the route long and hard, rest assured because God is in front of us giving us light in the darkest of corners. All we have to do is Trust ( and obey)   Amen







17 May 2020

John 14:15-21
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
A simple approach
As far as the bible and explaining it I appreciate I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I take a rather “ Janet and John” approach to the message and struggle sometimes when the scriptures are tough. In this passage Jesus is saying that if we love him through God we will be provided by something that will never leave us. This friend being The Holy Spirit.
Through his love, this spirit is within us, unseen so it cannot be stolen. It's with us 24/7.
It's because of this spirit within us that we are able to “see” Jesus. We have the faith to see him at work, we have his love to see it in each others lives and because he has been given to us by God our father we can see that he is an important member of our family. Because of all this we will never be alone.
The last verse of this reading informs us that “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” Now that cannot be any simpler. Amen







16 May 2020

Genesis 8:13-19 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)


13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

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.


How many times have people said to you “ you must be mad !” or better still how many times have you said to someone else “ you must be mad?” Sometimes people astound you when they show grit determination and tenacity. Sometimes there’s just an odd notion behind their action but sometimes their actions are driven by God.

I remember many many years ago ( and I hope they don’t mind me saying ) when I heard about the Ferguson family were going to Japan I thought “ really?” and of course off they went and look at the life and experience they have had since then.

People can be an excellent example of faith. Faith in God. Faith in what God is telling them. Faith in their ability to deliver the goods for God.

We all know the story of Noah. His story covers many topics and examples of faith. But there is also another thing that it covers and that is “ obedience”.  In our passage today, it wasn’t until God spoke did Noah remove the coverings protecting them in the Ark. It wasn’t until God spoke did they take possession of their and renewed world.

Today as we are bombarded with information it is important to remain obedient to God.  And when all is said and done we will be like Noah and take off the covering and look at the new land, the new church. And of course all of this will happen when God is ready. Amen








15 May 2020

Acts 27:13-38 The Message (MSG)


13-15 When a gentle southerly breeze came up, they weighed anchor, thinking it would be smooth sailing. But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’easter, struck. They lost all control of the ship. It was a cork in the storm.

16-17 We came under the lee of the small island named Clauda, and managed to get a lifeboat ready and reef the sails. But rocky shoals prevented us from getting close. We only managed to avoid them by throwing out drift anchors.

18-20 Next day, out on the high seas again and badly damaged now by the storm, we dumped the cargo overboard. The third day the sailors lightened the ship further by throwing off all the tackle and provisions. It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue.

21-22 With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, “Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed.

23-26 “Last night God’s angel stood at my side, an angel of this God I serve, saying to me, ‘Don’t give up, Paul. You’re going to stand before Caesar yet—and everyone sailing with you is also going to make it.’ So, dear friends, take heart. I believe God will do exactly what he told me. But we’re going to shipwreck on some island or other.”

27-29 On the fourteenth night, adrift somewhere on the Adriatic Sea, at about midnight the sailors sensed that we were approaching land. Sounding, they measured a depth of 120 feet, and shortly after that ninety feet. Afraid that we were about to run aground, they threw out four anchors and prayed for daylight.

30-32 Some of the sailors tried to jump ship. They let down the lifeboat, pretending they were going to set out more anchors from the bow. Paul saw through their guise and told the centurion and his soldiers, “If these sailors don’t stay with the ship, we’re all going down.” So the soldiers cut the lines to the lifeboat and let it drift off.

33-34 With dawn about to break, Paul called everyone together and proposed breakfast: “This is the fourteenth day we’ve gone without food. None of us has felt like eating! But I urge you to eat something now. You’ll need strength for the rescue ahead. You’re going to come out of this without even a scratch!”

35-38 He broke the bread, gave thanks to God, passed it around, and they all ate heartily—276 of us, all told! With the meal finished and everyone full, the ship was further lightened by dumping the grain overboard.


Fastened to the Rock.


I was listening to the radio yesterday and I heard someone asking a young parish vicar this question “ can we honestly say that anything good has come out of this pandemic ?. I don’t think there was a second between the question and his answer. His answer was confident, useful and very reassuring.


He said that when we are going through a storm we tend to focus on ourselves and what's going wrong but it was obvious to him that a lot of people today were focusing on others. The people that were at risk, the elder statesmen who needed special care and attention and the heroes and heroines from every walk of life who were still working and avoiding society to grind to a halt


We learn that Paul did not keep Gods encouragement to himself, he shared it with every single person on board, pagans and prisoners among them.


Today's reading, like the message from the young vicar yesterday is powerful useful and reassuring.


We can encourage others by being with them in the storm. It is said that often God puts people into the storm for the good of others.


We can encourage others by praying for them. When faced with rejection Paul put his feelings aside and prayed that they would all be delivered.


We can encourage others by ministering to their needs ( and yes, from a distance ) Paul encouraged the men to eat food so that they would have the strength to carry on. Remember our assistance does not have to be spiritual all the time.


And finally, we can encourage others by reminding them of Gods greatness.” You're going to come out of this without a scratch” Paul said. Now that’s not to say that we will all come out of this pandemic unblemished. But we can remind each other of Our God, Our Church, Our Fellowship and the fact that we have an anchor that keeps the soul “steadfast and sure while the billows roll”.  Amen







14 May 2020

Acts 27:1-12  from Eugene Petersons The Message 


A Storm at Sea


27 1-2 As soon as arrangements were complete for our sailing to Italy, Paul and a few other prisoners were placed under the supervision of a centurion named Julius, a member of an elite guard. We boarded a ship from Adramyttium that was bound for Ephesus and ports west. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, went with us.

The next day we put in at Sidon. Julius treated Paul most decently—let him get off the ship and enjoy the hospitality of his friends there.


4-8 Out to sea again, we sailed north under the protection of the northeast shore of Cyprus because winds out of the west were against us, and then along the coast westward to the port of Myra. There the centurion found an Egyptian ship headed for Italy and transferred us on board. We ran into bad weather and found it impossible to stay on course. After much difficulty, we finally made it to the southern coast of the island of Crete and docked at Good Harbour (appropriate name!).


9-10 By this time we had lost a lot of time. We had passed the autumn equinox, so it would be stormy weather from now on through the winter, too dangerous for sailing. Paul warned, “I see only disaster ahead for cargo and ship—to say nothing of our lives!—if we put out to sea now.”


12,11 But it was not the best harbour for staying the winter. Phoenix, a few miles further on, was more suitable. The centurion set Paul’s warning aside and let the ship captain and the ship owner talk him into trying for the next harbour.


We learn in some detail about an incredible storm that took place on Paul's journey to Rome and as always there’s something to learn from the scriptures today. And as we read through this we will learn how NOT to react to the storms of life and there are even more lessons to be learned if you decide to read further into the chapter.


Tom Wright tells us in his book on Acts that Luke tells us specifics about where exactly they sailed. When they left Caesarea they travelled along the coast of Asia, around the island of Cyprus. The next day they landed at Sidon, where the centurion Julius allowed Paul to go to his friends so that they could provide for his needs. Then they sailed on to Myra where the centurion found a larger grain ship that was sailing for Italy and transferred all 276 passengers onto this vessel. Verse 7 tells us that from there they made slow headway for many days and they finally made it to Cnidus. Because the wind wasn’t cooperating they sailed to the lee of Crete (which meant that the island was hit by the wind first and they weren’t as affected by it). They continued to move on, still with difficulty and arrived at Fair Havens. But Luke explains in verse 9 that a lot of time had passed and it was now past the Day of Atonement, which meant it was late September or October and past the time of year they should be sailing. So Paul told them in verse 10 that they should just stay in Fair Havens for the winter because the voyage was going to be disastrous if they continued on. But the centurion decided to listen to the pilot and the owner of the ship rather than Paul and they decided to sail on to Phoenix, which was a better harbour to spend winter in. And this is where we start learning from the negative example of the men on the boat.

So from this reading today what can we learn?

  1. Listen to God and seek his guidance and above all else obey him
  2. Sometimes we need to “ block out” the worldly advice of others and even ignore the majority vote and take matters into our own hands and pray. These actions will lead us back to number one above.
  3. John Ortberg has a great book called “ If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat” and it's all about our confidence in God. Negativity can be a killer but confidence can be the rocket fuel that we all need.

There is a lot of advice going on all around us today and it seems every day it changes. But sometimes the best thing is to shut it all down, find a quiet space and just sit. Listen to God and tell him about your day. Amen







13 May 2020

John 14 27-31


.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.


I read an article yesterday in the newspapers that said that 25% of the people questioned said that they had “prayed for the first time”. All of these people said they did so because the believed in God. Most of them said that the prayers gave them Hope above everything else.


These words of Jesus in John chapter 14 were said just hours before he was going to be crucified. But what was in the forefront of his mind was those he was leaving behind. He was going to make sure that there would be others to look after his followers. He would not leave them “orphaned” and this message he was leaving behind was not from him but from his Father. He was giving them Hope. He was leaving them with Peace and that Peace is still with us today.


Damien Hirst the artist has painted a rainbow as well as a rainbow heart. Its seen as a sign of Peace. We think of Noah and the ark and the rainbow that he saw,  And if you think about it we only see the rainbow after the rain has gone and there are brighter days ahead.


Yesterday was International Nurses day. Hirst wanted to thank the NHS staff for what they are doing all around the country. Today children are putting up rainbows on their windows waiting for better days when they can go back out with their friends and meet up with other members of their families, especially their grandparents.


As long as we have a Saviour we have hope.






12 May 2020

Proverbs 3 5-12


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
    and nourishment to your bones.

 Honour the Lord with your wealth,
    with the first fruits of all your crops;
 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in.


Just a spoonful of sugar


The meaning of the word proverb, according to the online dictionary is a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice. I’m not sure that’s how I would describe the proverbs of the Old Testament but what I do know is that they give us rich medicinal advice coupled with some harsh realities.

I once heard someone sing this proverb to the tune of “ just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” and afterwards when I thought about it, this all made perfect sense ( in a broad sense)

The psalmist is telling us that we should always put God first, and in every sense we will benefit by this action. The dangers are clear, don’t try and figure out everything on your own. Don’t assume you know it all, and above all else don’t resent God's discipline.

The benefits are clear, he will make our paths clear, keep us healthy in body and mind and our barns will be fit to burst with all the necessities in life. And why does He do this? Well just like the father who loves his child we are in a loving relationship that works two ways and does require us to knuckle down now and again. At the beginning I said a proverb contains the general truth or a piece of advice. Our parables are filled with Gods truth, his fruitfulness and his loving hand in our lives. Amen 







11 May 2020

Psalm 102
Hear my prayer, Lord;     let my cry for help come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me;     when I call, answer me quickly.
3 For my days vanish like smoke;     my bones burn like glowing embers. 4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;     I forget to eat my food. 5 In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones. 6 I am like a desert owl,     like an owl among the ruins. 7 I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof. 8 All day long my enemies taunt me;     those who rail against me use my name as a curse. 9 For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears 10 because of your great wrath,     for you have taken me up and thrown me aside. 11 My days are like the evening shadow;     I wither away like grass.
12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;     your renown endures through all generations. 13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,     for it is time to show favour to her;     the appointed time has come. 14 For her stones are dear to your servants;     her very dust moves them to pity. 15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,     all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. 16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. 17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;     he will not despise their plea.
18 Let this be written for a future generation,     that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: 19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,     from heaven he viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners     and release those condemned to death.” 21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem 22 when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.
23 In the course of my life[b] he broke my strength;     he cut short my days. 24 So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;     your years go on through all generations. 25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,     and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you remain;     they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them     and they will be discarded. 27 But you remain the same,     and your years will never end. 28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;     their descendants will be established before you.”
Psalm 102 is also known as The Prayer of the Afflicted.
The person in this psalm is truly afflicted as they cry out in pain and desperation. They are scared “ don’t turn your back on me, I am desperate” And their afflictions are many. “ wasting away to nothing, a ghost of their former self, jaws aching from grinding their teeth and an insomniac". It's an A to Z of afflictions. They are impatient and the source of their pain is coming from many directions. They feel grieved and abandoned.
But in their darkness yet again there is a light. They acknowledge that our Sovereign God is there and he won't dismiss their prayer. They acknowledge that God hears the prayer of the afflicted and that he even opens the cell doors of the imprisoned. And as everything changes and the many are gone, the afflicted acknowledges that “ year after year, God is as good as new, and that the servants children will always have a good place to live.
You may think today, you are afflicted. You may even feel lonely and abandoned. But everything is changing and changes will come faster and faster. But the lesson this morning from Psalm 102 is despite what's happening to you in this ever changing world we find ourselves in, take Hold of Gods unchanging hand. Remember this hymn?
Guide me, O my great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your powerful hand. Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore, feed me now and evermore.
Ask him to guide you and feed you for evermore.






10 May 2020

James 1:19-27 New International Version (NIV)
Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen,          slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
It's knowing when to listen?
A change of tact today as we leave Acts and move onto James. This morning I am specifically looking at verses 19 and 20. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
There are three things that this passage teaches me
Firstly ‘ everyone should be quick to listen” when I worked for BT as a manager to new customer service advisors I would say ‘ you have two ears that you physically cant close so use them’ and you have only one mouth that can be closed and must be closed sometimes
Jesus tells us in Luke 8 verse 18
He who has ears let him hear’ James is trying to tell us that if we want to be receptive to Gods word that we are quick to hear the word after all Jesus told the Jews in John chapter 8
‘He who is of God hears the words of God, for this reason you do not hear them because you are not of God
So if we want to be included as god’s people we must hear god’s words that are the words contained in the bible and the words that we hear of each week from our pulpit.
The apostle Peter said ‘ like new born babies we long for the milk of the word so by it we may grow in respect to salvation.
So that’s hearing the word and the second thing is to be slow to speak often out of pride some believers love to spout how much they know about the bible. The book of proverbs tells us to ‘ slow down and hold our tongue’
‘ Even a fool when he keeps silent is considered wise when he closes his lip he is considered prudent’
James is not telling us to always remain silent he is talking about the people who are never silent before god. …Remember Eli taught the young Samuel‘ Speak Lord for your servant is listening’
Just as you won't hear what a friend is saying while you do all the talking…. you’ll never hear what God is saying unless you control your tongue and more importantly patiently listen.
So we’ve dealt with the ears and then the tongue now we move onto the emotions of it all and its quite easy the way that James puts it
For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God’ so if we want to grow in righteousness we need to stop fighting gods word and submit to it.
Paul warns us that unchecked anger gives the devil a foothold in your life -Ephesians- Jesus labels anger as the root of all evil and god did say to Cain before he murdered his brother ‘ why are you so angry’
Sometimes when I am angry I ask myself ‘ whose needs are being met here? Beng angry some times gives power to the wrong people. We are angry and it debilitates us and the person who made us angry is sometimes not even aware of how debilitated we have become
So all of the old proverbs that we grew up with and know and love all come somewhere from the bible and even after all the years even since new testament times and through the lessons of the fathers of the old testament and Jesus and James there are things to be reminded of and things to learn
Just like today. ‘ everyone should be quick to listen’ – two ears- sometimes we need to be slow to speak – one mouth- and even slower to anger
If any of this is a problem for you, then the answer has to be prayer. Pray to God for the patience to listen, the confidence only to speak when you have thought about what you have to say and if you feel anger? prayer for the peace that passes all understanding in your life today and always







09 May 2020

Acts 12 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)


Peter’s miraculous escape from prison


12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. ‘Quick, get up!’ he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

Then the angel said to him, ‘Put on your clothes and sandals.’ And Peter did so. ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me,’ the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

11 Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.’

12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognised Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’

15 ‘You’re out of your mind,’ they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, ‘It must be his angel.’

16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. ‘Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,’ he said, and then he left for another place.

18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.


Peter is going to be executed, so his friends thought. So they gathered in prayer. Then Peter's chains fall off and he turns up at this friends door. But they thought he must be an angel after all he should be dead. But behind that door they had all gathered to pray.


Finding peace during a struggle, is like trying to find calm in a hurricane. But just like there is calm in the eye of the hurricane, we can find peace and calm right in the middle of our struggles. Simply pray!


Tom Wright tells us that “Prayer works even when we mess up the words. Prayer works, even when you don’t know what to pray! When you don’t have the words to pray, you can pray in the Spirit, The Holy Spirit knows exactly what to pray for you and it works!

Prayer gives God free reign to do whatever it takes, to bring about not just your desired outcome, but His will in the situation, which works everything for your good!


That in itself is a miracle. And this story of Peter is yet another miracle all made possible through prayer. Even today God is working and changing lives so prayer in these darkest of days is a priority, it's your first resort not your last. Some people say “ I don’t know what to pray for. I don’t know how to pray” And if that’s the case you are not alone many people feel like that.


There is a great hymn that we sing in church 


At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him King of glory now;
this the Father's pleasure, that we call him Lord,
who from the beginning was the mighty word.


These words ring out and remind us that we should pray that we should glorify his name and exactly who were are praying to. The Lord who from the beginning was the word



There's a story about a  heart-broken little girl who began to kneel and pour out her heart to God in her local church. She did not know what to say. As she wept, she began to remember what her father had told her, "God knows your needs even before you pray, and he can answer when you don’t even know for what to ask." So she began to say her alphabet.


A concerned adult from that church came beside her and heard her sobbing and saying her ABC’s and inquired what exactly she was trying to do. The little girl told this caring adult, "I’m praying to God from my heart." But the adult answered, "It sounds to me more like you are saying the alphabet!"

"Yes," she said, "But God knows more about what I need than I do, and he can take all these letters and arrange them in just the right way to answer my prayer. 


Lives were changed in the bible through prayer and all these years later lives are still being changed. So let us pray….


Father in heaven we come to you this day and we ask that you take the words from our heart and make sense of them and turn them into my prayer. I know you are an awesome God and you already know all my needs so today I ask for calm and confidence so that I can share this peace and this love that you give to us in abundance. Amen







08 May 2020

Acts 11 New International Version (NIV)


Peter Explains His Actions



11 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.”

Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was.I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’

“I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’

“The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ 10 This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

11 “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. 12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.13 He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. 14 He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a]water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.’ 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”

18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”


It could be said that this is just a repeat of the previous chapter. I read somewhere if you see something repeated in the bible then we should take notice. In this reading this morning there is an important lesson to be learned.  Our text shows how God changed the thinking of these Christians on a matter that was essential for the spread of the gospel. If the Gentiles had been required to adopt Jewish rituals and ceremonies to be saved, the gospel would not have spread around the Gentile world as it did, and it would be a different “gospel.” The Holy Spirit inspired Luke to include this story twice so that the Jewish believers especially would see that salvation is not a matter of adopting Jewish rituals, but rather of God saving people of every race through faith in Christ alone.

God had to change the thinking of His people and in just the same, sometimes, he needs to change the way we think. Sometimes the way we think, will stop people coming into our churches. It gives people the opportunity to label us as part of some exclusive club.

Verse 17 So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?”







07 May 2020

Acts 10   verses 1-8    and then 17-23


Cornelius Calls for Peter


At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

….17, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon’s house was and stopped at the gate. 18 They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.

19 While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20 So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”

21 Peter went down and said to the men, “I’m the one you’re looking for. Why have you come?”

22 The men replied, “We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to ask you to come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say.”23 Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests.


The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the believers from Joppa went along. 24 The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26 But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

27 While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people.28 He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?”

30 Cornelius answered: “Three days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

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.



My very first General Assembly was a controversial one. There were two people going forward into the ministry and each had served a prison sentence. One for murder and one for fraud. In the small group of people I had to be with in the assembly there was certainly a fair bit of prejudice, each giving their own reason why these men should not be in Edinburgh that year.


Once again in the Bible we come across a story of opposites. In one corner we have Cornelius a centurion gentile and in the other corner Peter a Jewish apostle. This might be a story of Prejudice but God is about to bring these two parties together to teach us all a lesson.


It is said we all have a bit of prejudice in our selves, some say it’s a human disposition. We try and pigeon hole people into them, and us to show that we are not a part of their lives. We are all aware of our own prejudices and for most of us we try and work through them. Scripture and prayer are the best two antidotes to prejudice. God is the answer of course to all prejudice.


Thankfully, God works gradually and gently with us in spite of our many shortcomings and sins. He teaches us by putting us in uncomfortable situations, challenging us to be more like Jesus who befriended sinners and those that were prejudiced against.


This passage speaks for itself but the most important verses are verses 47 and 48 when Peter is talking about those originally against God


“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.


So we are told that nothing can stand in the way of being baptized. John 3 v16 said that God so loved the world and that in itself should take away all prejudice from our hearts. So today in our prayers we should be praying for all our own prejudices and those that destroy the world that we are living in. A hymn also that brings this to mind is 


Would you be free from the burden of sin?
There's power in the blood, power in the blood
Would you o'er evil a victory win?
There's wonderful power in the blood

There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the blood of the Lamb
There is power, power, wonder-working power
In the precious blood of the Lamb

Would you be free from your passion and pride
There's power in the blood, power in the blood
Come for a cleansing to Calvary's tide
There's wonderful power in the blood


Let us pray


Heavenly Father, it has been a strange time for us as we come into another week of lockdown – a time when we have been prevented from meeting Sunday by Sunday to listen to your Word and to have fellowship with our brothers and sisters. We have also been restricted in our ability to travel to places near and far, in our socialising with family and friends, and in our visits to parks and restaurants. We confess Father that we miss these important times and pleasures in our lives, but we remember our Brothers and Sisters in the Faith, in countries where the regime is harsh, who have endured and been denied so much more than we have because of their faith and trust in You. We pray that you will be close to them at this time. We give you thanks Father that it was always Your plan that when Jesus, your Son, gave His life on the Cross it was not only for the Jew but it was for the peoples of all Nations, then, now and in the future. We know that this was a lesson that Peter needed to understand – and so we give you thanks that because of him and the other apostles that the Gospel was preached throughout the world. Thank you for making us part of your plan – Amen.








06 May 2020

Acts 9 from verse 19


Saul in Damascus and Jerusalem

 Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. 20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.


23 After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.


26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.


 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.


31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.



One of the things that I think about is “ will the church ever be the same?” after the lockdown is over. Will the changes be too big to cope with. In fact it could be that over a period we will slip into the new norm as if it never happened.


Things according to Luke in the book of Acts are changing constantly. Stephen is stoned to death, Philip is converted and everyone is on the move. Meanwhile there appears to be a madman called Saul who stirring up trouble. No sooner is he doing that when we find him in verse

20 preaching “ that Jesus is the Son of God”. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? 


So maybe this latest change is too much to swallow by the believers in Christ. One thing that has dawned on me since the lockdown is that God still wants us to serve Him and his church in whatever situation we find ourselves in and whatever changes we have made.

Paul teaches us that we must deepen our roots and prepare for the big comeback for it will be even more important to bear witness to Christ the King, than were before. I think there will be people that will tell us that the church has no priority over other outlets so we should be ready and face any opposition or rejection. And be like Barnabus who took Saul under his wing and convinced others confidently and without question. And as I think of these things I am immediately drawn to the Getty’s hymn


O Church Arise


O church, arise and put your armour on;
Hear the call of Christ our captain;
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We'll stand against the devil's lies;
An army bold whose battle cry is "Love!"
Reaching out to those in darkness.

Our call to war, to love the captive soul,
But to rage against the captor;
And with the sword that makes the wounded whole
We will fight with faith and valour.
When faced with trials on every side,
We know the outcome is secure;
And Christ will have the prize for which He died—
An inheritance of nations.







05 May 2020

Act 9 


Saul’s conversion


Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’

‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked.

‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’

The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus, there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, ‘Ananias!’

‘Yes, Lord,’ he answered.

11 The Lord told him, ‘Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.’

13 ‘Lord,’ Ananias answered, ‘I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.’

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord – Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here – has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptised, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.



The chip van man


I think it was in 1992 that there was the Billy Graham Campaign in Scotland. I volunteered to work in the campaign and did so, with the great St Paul's Parish stalwart Moira MacAllan. I would meet Moira straight from work and we would go for a bag of chips at one of the many food vendors that were around the football stadium. I always remember the man in the chip van telling us how he was “raking it in” with all us folks going to see Bill. I think we would call this man a real Glasgow character both in looks and in his choice of language. For a few nights that week we tried hard not to listen to him as I bought my roll and chips. On the last night of the campaign the caravan was not there and after it was all over Moira and I saw him walking down the road with his daughter and in case you never guessed, he was carrying one of the bibles given out when you walked onto the grass at Billy’s invitation.


The conversion of Paul could fill more books that are in the biggest library the world has to offer. Its all been said in print and will continue to do so for many many years to come. But to me the conversion of Saul tells us that God is able to convert the unlikeliest of people. The bible tells us this and history shows us. Just look at people like John Newton slave trader and convert who told us “ I once was blind and now I see” (was he telling us about Paul?)


Another thing this reading tells us is that it’s not down to the will of man to seek conversion (or even avoid conversion). I’m sure conversion was the last thing on Saul’s agenda up to a point. All of this is down to the sovereign power of God and no one can escape from that.


Over the past two thousand years, who knows how many people have been converted no one can be sure. But there is one sure thing and that is people are not converted on their merit and what they have done but they are converted through the grace of God and the fellowship that comes from knowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit.


The result then is a conversion from spiritual blindness to spiritual sight.









04 May 2020

Acts 8 reading from verse 26


Philip and the Ethiopian

 26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
 and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
 so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”[b]

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and travelled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.



An unusual baptism?


I know that as a child I was “ christened” as they called it then, when I was around three months old. But it's only when both of my parents died that I found a document that said I was “ christened" in Ward 4 of Ruchill Hospital at 02:40 am by the Rev John Macnaughton of St Brides Parish Church Rosevale Street Partick. (All I know is that I had contracted a bad case of Dysentery). 

An unusual baptism you could say. As with the story of Philip, we are about to witness an unusual baptism. The man in question is a eunuch and Philip finds him sitting reading Isaiah the prophet. 

The man asks Philip to explain the scripture that he is reading and Philip then tells him the good news about Jesus Christ. We are told they saw some water and the eunuch was baptized by Philip. No sooner had that happened when Philip is spirited away and the eunuch never saw him again. Philip reappears in other towns until he reaches Caesarea.

Philip had validation; he was guided at all times by the Holy Spirit. He had explanation. His revealing of the scriptures and sharing the good news led to the salvation of the man he met. The celebration was in the man being baptized.

 Philip’s story gives us a prime example of how the gospel smashes through barriers - not only geographical but, more importantly, barriers of racial pride and prejudice, religion, nationalism, and any other barrier that people erect to keep people who are different out of the picture. And all these years later we must learn from the early church as we move forward on our journey of life. Amen






03 May 2020

Acts 8 using Eugene Peterson “The Message” translation.


Saul was right there, congratulating the killers.

 1-2 That set off a terrific persecution of the church in Jerusalem. The believers were all scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. All, that is, but the apostles. Good and brave men buried Stephen, giving him a solemn funeral—not many dry eyes that day!

3-8 And Saul just went wild, devastating the church, entering house after house after house, dragging men and women off to jail. Forced to leave home base, the followers of Jesus all became missionaries. Wherever they were scattered, they preached the Message about Jesus. Going down to a Samaritan city, Philip proclaimed the Message of the Messiah. When the people heard what he had to say and saw the miracles, the clear signs of God’s action, they hung on his every word. Many who could neither stand nor walk were healed that day. The evil spirits protested loudly as they were sent on their way. And what joy in the city!

9-11 Previous to Philip’s arrival, a certain Simon had practiced magic in the city, posing as a famous man and dazzling all the Samaritans with his wizardry. He had them all, from little children to old men, eating out of his hand. They all thought he had supernatural powers, and called him “the Great Wizard.” He had been around a long time and everyone was more or less in awe of him.

12-13 But when Philip came to town announcing the news of God’s kingdom and proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ, they forgot Simon and were baptized, becoming believers right and left! Even Simon himself believed and was baptized. From that moment he was like Philip’s shadow, so fascinated with all the God-signs and miracles that he wouldn’t leave Philip’s side.

14-17 When the apostles in Jerusalem received the report that Samaria had accepted God’s Message, they sent Peter and John down to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit. Up to this point they had only been baptized in the name of the Master Jesus; the Holy Spirit hadn’t yet fallen on them. Then the apostles laid their hands on them and they did receive the Holy Spirit.

18-19 When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!”

20-23 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.”

24 “Oh!” said Simon, “pray for me! Pray to the Master that nothing like that will ever happen to me!”

25 And with that, the apostles were on their way, continuing to witness and spread the Message of God’s salvation, preaching in every Samaritan town they passed through on their return to Jerusalem.



The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church

Continuing with the many contrasts that Acts brings to us. Stephen has just been stoned to death. A martyr in the true sense of the word. While it’s a time to mourn for the disciples, perhaps even regroup and consider their options, there’s a guy called Saul who is wreaking havoc and persecuting all the believers. Dragging them from their homes and putting them in Jail. Two figures come into the story. First of all there is Simon who Peterson calls a magician. He has everyone in the grip of his hands as he entertains them with his tricks of the trade. The second character is Philip. He comes proclaiming the glory of the Messiah and in doing so heals the sick and cures the lame. 

Another contrast here. One man “performs” with his sleight of hand tricks and sorcery. The other is filled with the Holy Spirit and wins over the crowds to a more permanent solution to their lives.

Simon is so enthralled by what Philip has and what he is doing…. he wants to buy it! But the glory of God cannot be bought it has to be lived. It has to be a way of life not a performance. It cannot be a bargaining tool in our approach to God. Simon asks for prayer and hopes that he can live a different life. Meanwhile the disciples scatter to spread the message of Gods salvation.

Maybe you have tried to make a deal with God at some point in your life. I know I have. Maybe, like me, you have been impressed with what other churches have to offer in terms of gizmos and different forms of worship. But the real job of the church (I think) is to spread the word of God and that includes outside the four walls of the church. The last verse of our reading   “And with that, the apostles were on their way, continuing to witness and spread the Message of God’s salvation,”


That’s how the church will survive today by being reminded of the relentless journeys of the disciples and their mission to spread the word of God and increase their flock.


This morning let us pray for the church as it is today. In lockdown, with sanctuaries lying empty. But the family of God working on the outside using every tool in the box to continue fellowship and to fuel our hearts through the scripture and keep us amazed in His holy presence.






02 May 2020

Acts Chapter 7 


Stephen is being held as he makes a very passionate speech. We pick up that speech from verse 48

48 The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:

49 “‘Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me?
says the Lord.
    Or where will my resting place be?
50 Has not my hand made all these things?’[l]

51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”


The Stoning of Stephen


54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.



When the world gives its worst Christians show their best


Stephen, by accepting Jesus Christ and offering a new covenant is found to be guilty of blaspheming God, Moses the law and the temple. These were considered to be the big four so they brought him to trial before the council. Stephen is able to defend himself confidently and not only that he indicts Israel for the execution of the Messiah.

Someone once said “ when the world gives its worst, the Christian shows their best” So we read that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit and all his accusers could do was gnash their teeth, they were speechless in their rage. It’s a good thing to point out here the comparison between the two. Stephen, he was calm and serene and they were grinding their teeth. Then Stephen looked up to heaven. There’s a lesson there. When things get tough…..look up.

Stephen draws their attention” behold” he says “ I see the heavens open and the son of man standing by the right hand of God” And that was the last straw. They dragged him away and stoned him.

And just at that point something interesting happens “Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul”.  Some say that this showed that Paul was the ringleader and he was the one heading up all the charges.

And while they stoned Stephen “ he kneeled down”. He somehow got himself in the praying position and he cried aloud “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

6Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

I have loved learning more and more about Stephen In this chapter. In the arena of adversity he remained calm. When they looked down on him, he looked up. When they raged and hurled stones, Stephen prayed.

Augustine said “ The church owes Paul to the prayer of Stephen.

Willie Barclay said, “Saul would never forget the way Stephen had died. The blood of the martyrs had begun to be the seed of the Church”       Amen






01 May 2020

Stephen Seized



Acts 6 from verse 8


8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Shine Jesus Shine
I read somewhere that the gospel singer Matt Redmond wrote one of his best works “ Blessed be your name ” straight after the 9/11 attack. Although he comes from the UK he was in America visiting at the time. His inspiration came from Job 1:21 “ The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.''
Only yesterday I was watching something from the great gospel writer Kirk Franklin and he was talking about the times that we are in at the moment. He said “the time was right for us to shine! for only in the deepest darkness do we shine brightest”
Stephen is a living example of this in our reading from Acts today.
It appears everyone is against him as the opposition rose.
They even convinced other men to lie about him and stir up others to say that he had broken the law. Eventually they seized him and brought him before the Sanhedrin. The liars are out in force as they accuse him. But how does Stephen react? Verse 15 tells us that “ his face was the face on an angel” To me, that means the light was literally shining out of him. And you know today we need that light.
We need to have it, use it and shine like we have never shone before.
But where did Stephen get this light? Where did he get this “ supercharge “ from?
We are told in verse 8 he was a man full of God’s grace and power. In verse 10 we are told that when his back was up against the wall “they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit as he spoke”.
And that should be our prayer today that in this present darkness we are still able to shine for Jesus Christ. Just like Stephen we should be full of faith, we should seek words of wisdom and faithfulness and be a beacon of light with Jesus Christ in our lives. Amen

Words for Life, March 2020

Words for Life, April 2020





Words for Life, June 2020


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











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.










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…









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?









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


Words for Life, March 2020

Words for Life, April 2020

Words for Life, May 2020

Words for Life



Words for Life, July 2020


31 July 2020



1stPeter 1 verses 1 to 12 using The Message Translation


1-2 I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!


A New Life


3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over the future and us. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.

8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

10-12 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamoured to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!



 Is it time to shift?


I know I have said this before and I dare say I will say it again sometime soon. And I’m going to say it now and that is each and every verse from the bible sometimes screams out “ This is for today!”


Straightaway Peter the Apostle praises God and then gives us almost ten reasons why it’s necessary to follow God :


1. He is the father of the Jesus (verse 3)
2. He gives us new life ( v3)
3. Through this new birth we are given mercy (v3)
4. The result of this mercy is hope
5.  The means to this hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ
6. As a believer we are shielded by the power of God
7. This shielding requires faith to hold on to the promises of God


 I read only today “The best time to trust in God is when crisis and trouble relentlessly strike our state of peace. That is the appointed time to believe in the power of the Lord God our Saviour Jesus Chris. The strength of God can overcome the weakness caused by the seeming crisis of the pandemic.”  Now while that sounds like a good idea, what happens when the pandemic lessens? Do we reduce our grip on Christ? Do we begin to put God on the back burner ready for the next wave? I don’t think so. We really need to be thankful for the grace of God in your everyday life. While it may be a good idea to find the little things to be thankful for that can help you cope during the crisis. Thankfulness is a great virtue and should be offered to God in every day and in every situation. Do not be like the Apostle Peter who took his eyes off the Lord and began to sink.


God can advance his purpose through those times of crisis and adverse experiences, but maybe its time to shift focus from the crisis of the pandemic to the peace and stability that our God freely gives to us.   Amen









30 July 2020



James 5 v13-20


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 ill? 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.



We are staying with James for the time being. 


I don’t know if you have noticed but each Thursday we have a special extended prayer and in St Paul's we have a prayer group that meets each Thursday evening. Despite the lockdown the Prayer Group is still in contact with each other and are still praying from their own homes each Thursday evening. SO what about Prayer? Is there a special way we should pray? What are the “go to “ passages in the Bible? We all know that you could fill shelves and shelves of books on how to pray and what the Bible says about prayer but for now, let's stick with James.


This passage tells us that there are four things James wants to remind us about prayer.


  1. We should pray for ourselves (in other words) our prayer should be personal. In verse 1 James tells us that if we are suffering we should pray, if we are happy again we should pray. Prayer is the best way to speak to God and we should be telling him how we feel and express our feelings.

  2. We should pray for others. Verse 14 reminds us when others are ill we should share our concerns with our church folk. The word “elder” appears in this translation but that could mean the pastor or minister. But the important thing here is that we should all pray for one another, that’s the important thing.

  3. Thirdly, our prayers should be genuine. James tells us that “ we should pray in righteousness and faith” that is faith filled and from the heart. Verse 15 “ and the prayer offered in faith” tells us that we should pray with the faith that God can do anything! Verse 16 “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” We should get close to God as he hears and answers our prayers.

  4. Our Prayers should be powerful. Verse 17 “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.” All prayers should be earnest and here we are given the example of Elijah and how he prayed. We are also reminded that Elijah was just an ordinary man and yet he prayed from the heart.


So this morning we ask ourselves “ how is our prayer life?”. There never has been such a greater need for prayer than today and where we find ourselves in the world, in Scotland and in Milngavie. But wherever you are in this world we should pray for ourselves, pray for others, pray in faith and above all else prayer with the full power of knowing God.  As Willie Barclay once said  


“ Live the way He’s called you to live and pray the way He’s called you to pray”


Let us pray


Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day and for sustaining and encouraging us through these days of uncertainty, of anxiousness and of loss.   We think of how, during this time, we have been unsure of how we will cope if we venture out and how we sometimes get anxious over little things, which, in the past would not have bothered us.   We are also living with a sense of loss – the loss of freedom to meet together in Your House to worship You; the loss of freedom to travel to places in our country as well as throughout the world where we have friends and loved ones who we would love to meet up with and spend time together.   We freely admit to You, that we have found these restrictions difficult to cope with.   And so, it makes it all the more important that we hold on to our faith and trust in You – the One who truly knows how we feel and ask that You will continue to encourage us and bring to mind all the blessings we have in our lives because of You and Your love and sacrifice for us.   We also give You thanks for Your Word which is often so practical as it tells us of people long ago who were also going through similar things and they too had anxious thoughts and fear.    Thank you for the life of James the Apostle who saw You do wonderful things during Your earthly ministry; who shared the good times and the bad and kept his faith in You to the end – we pray that You will give us today – with all that is going on – the same steadfast and unshakeable faith and trust in You to walk with us and before us and surround us with Your peace and Your love – Amen. 










29 July 2020



James 2 1-10

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbour as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 




A tale of two churches


I can remember years ago being in the Q for the bank. I wasn’t walking particularly well at that time and I was visibly struggling. I was eyeing up a chair which was sitting against one of the walls when a bank teller who recognised me brought me up to the front of the Q and opened up another of the counters for me. I could feel the daggers in my back as I stood there. A clear case of favouritism in their eyes.


James is warning us against such favouritism. He is warning us against judging people ( he does that later in the chapter). He is ruling out pulling rank in the church and he even goes further to hint that the rich are likely to be oppressors and even persecutors of the church. Tom Wright comments on verse 7 of this reading and tells us that "it is most likely “ the rich” who were anxious about the dangers of this new messianic movement, these raggle taggle Jesus followers making a fuss about an executed mad man and thinking that God's new world was born”. These rich people were not going to be usurped by those poorer than themselves.


I guess favouritism still goes on, perhaps in churches, perhaps in committees and perhaps in the church nationally. But let's be clear, and that message is hammered home by James. No one is above anyone else, no one should be exploited or judged by their fine apparel or even for the lack of it


We all might have a favourite church but we should all be aware that in God's eyes no church is more special than the rest.


I am reminded about the story of the Presbyterian who is shipwrecked on an island for about thirty years. He was a resourceful man and spent his time well on the island. 30 year later people arrived on this deserted island and were shocked to see a beautiful wooden church on the hill. Inside they found the man, who was grateful to see them. He told them he spent his thirty years wisely as the only person on the island. As they were coming out of the door of the church someone noticed another church further on, in the island. “what’s that ?” the man was asked.  “ Oh” he said “ this here is the church that I attend on a Sunday. This is the church I go to”.  He looked at the other church raising his nose slightly in the air “ that’s the one I don’t ”.









28 July 2020



James 1 verses 12 -18


1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:



Trials and Temptations


12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.




Leaning on the everlasting arms


We are staying with James for the next few days. 


We looked at this reading a while back just as the lockdown was enforced. It was quite a bleak time when we didn’t know if things would get better. People were anxious as they realised what they could and could not do. But now we see our community going through the different phases and restrictions are being lifted gradually. Perseverance has won the day so far.


Of course, it's important for Christians to trust God. You could say it is in our trials we learn to trust God even more. Maybe you have felt that during the past few months of uncertainty, you have prayed more to God and you have searched more in the scriptures. Or maybe you are the lucky one that has a rock solid faith and you are immovable and steadfast in your faith in God.


Tom Wright says that James is reminding us that “one day God's word will transform the whole of creation filling heaven and earth with his rich wonderful light and life”. What a wonderful vision those words bring to our minds and in the meantime (as the old song says ) we can lean on his everlasting arms. Amen




What a fellowship, what a joy divine
Leaning on the everlasting arms
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine
Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning
Safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning, leaning
Leaning on the everlasting arms

What have I to dread, what have I to fear
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near
Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning, leaning
Safe and secure from all alarms
Leaning, leaning
Leaning on the everlasting arms









27 July 2020



James 3 13-18


Two kinds of wisdom


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 harbour 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.




I have said often enough, that the bible is one of the greatest self-help books, if not the greatest. But in every walk of life, we have to demonstrate what we have learned. If we were to learn the French language and then never use it, what would be the point? If we learn how to be a wonderful artist and never show the beauty of our works off, then who would benefit?


I think James is reminding us that some people “ talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”. Its all show and backed up by self-promotion and false witness. However James goes onto remind us about the wisdom that comes from God (not necessarily from books). This wisdom is pure, considerate and submissive and produces a wonderful harvest.


Let's look at that reading again but this time its Eugene Peterson’s translation :


13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.


Let's pray today for each other, for those who struggle in the light of this pandemic. For those who work for the church and try to hold us all together in a time when people are wary of going outside their own front door. And finally pray for our ministers, give them wisdom and clarity, patience and understanding in the days ahead. Amen








26 July 2020

A reward for the righteous
1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? 
2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. 
3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; 
5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. 
6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.
7 Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. 
8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. 
9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 
11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
Render them harmless
David is asking “ Is this any way to run a country?” “ Is there an honest politician in the house?”. He is accusing them of making deals behind closed doors and at the same time he is asking God to” smash their teeth to bits”. He is not asking God to kill them but render them harmless and even before they can cook up some more evil their deeds should be thrown out with the garbage.
You have to ask yourself what does God make of politics and politicians today? MP’s being prosecuted for fraud, Countries being over run by looters and more than one president making strange decisions on behalf of their people.
Tyranny still exists today in our world.
But we can rest assured that between these incidents, trials and demonstrations, miracles are being performed by Christian people, voted into office for their integrity and their beliefs and with God by their side. We must acknowledge the wisdom and the power of God and his ability to mix with politicians in every country. So today, in our prayers lets pray for our own United Kingdon and for Europe and all the countries throughout the world. We are all being flooded by information but at the same time we are searching for wisdom.









25 July 2020



James 3 13-18


Live Well, Live Wisely ( but pray always)


James 3 tells us 


“ Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.


Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”



All the advice in the world should be backed up with prayer ( a quote by Alex McEwan)


When using a modern translation it is sometimes easy to forget that you are reading the bible and in some cases you would think you are reading a modern self-help book. The book of James is just like that. This selection from James 3 gives us advice on living as well as ambition. It reminds us about community and how we should treat each other. It all sounds so easy.


But then if you look closer it's not as easy as you think. James talks about mean spirited ambition and twisting the truth. In this translation, he talks about animal cunning and trying to look better than others and suddenly the self-help book becomes a self-awareness exercise. We all have these things from time to time and we are aware of our failings. We all have questions and sometimes we ask where are the answers?


Max Lucado gives us a great quote about looking for answers. He reminds us when we are looking for answers we have to turn to prayer. We may not feel like praying, we may even feel awkward but Max reminds us -


"Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference." -   Make sure we pray today. Amen







24 July 2020



Psalm 119   129-136  Translated from the message.


Every word you give me is a miracle word—
    how could I help but obey?

Break open your words, let the light shine out,
    let ordinary people see the meaning.

Mouth open and panting,
    I wanted your commands more than anything.

Turn my way, look kindly on me,
    as you always do to those who personally love you.

Steady my steps with your Word of promise
    so nothing malign gets the better of me.

Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
    so I can live life your way.

Smile on me, your servant;
    teach me the right way to live.

I cry rivers of tears
    because nobody’s living by your book!






With 176 verses,  Psalm 119  is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. Some experts call it a “ hymn psalm”.  It is a prayer of one who delights in and lives by the law. Unlike most other psalms the author did not include his name in the text. It has been set to music often. British Politician William Wilberforce would recite the entire Psalm, while walking back from Parliament, through Hyde Park on the way home.

I have said this before and I am sure many people have said this before me but the Psalms are a great respite when you find you need a prayer, when you find you need to pray and sometimes there are no words. I particularly love this translation as each line stands alone and reminds us of our relationship with God. Read it again and you will see what I mean.









23 July 2020


1stCorinthians 4 14-20   King James Version

Thy testimonies are wonderful:
therefore doth my soul keep them.
The entrance of thy words giveth light;
it giveth understanding unto the simple.
I opened my mouth, and panted:
for I longed for thy commandments.
 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me,
as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
Order my steps in thy word:
and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Deliver me from the oppression of man:
so will I keep thy precepts.
 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant;
and teach me thy statutes.
 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,
because they keep not thy law.



We are known by our fruits


We see Paul writing as a father.  A father wants his children to do what is right. A slave could take a child to school. He might even teach him to behave but a child can only have one natural father.

We see Paul here as a father, the spiritual father of the Christians in Corinth.  Some proud Christians in Corinth did not believe that Paul would visit them himself. But Paul intended to visit Corinth as soon as possible. He would go if Christ wanted him to go. Then Paul would discover whether the Christians had the power to live in the right way. They had plenty to say.  Jesus had said, ‘You will know them by their fruit" (Matthew 7:16). A person might say that he belongs to Christ. But his actions will prove whether his words are true. Paul asked whether he should come to punish them. He could be like a father whose child had not obeyed him. Or they could change their behaviour because of Paul’s letter and Timothy’s visit. Then Paul could come gently to share his love with them.

Just think for a minute about those words “ you will know them by their fruit” and let us ask ourselves are we known by our fruit?


Let us pray


Heavenly Father, as we come into your presence this morning, remind us again that we come into the presence of the Holy One, the Lord and Creator of the Universe and that we can only come to you because of what your son, our Saviour, did for us at Calvary – by dying in our place and rising again to give us new life in Him.  We thank you that although you are ‘high and lifted up’ you are pleased when we, your children, come to you; whether it be in the morning, or in the evening, whether we are happy or sad, whether we are in plenty or in want, you want us to come and have fellowship with you.   This is indeed a mystery as well as a joy to us.  Thank you that each day is a new day with you, whenever we come and ask your forgiveness for the things we have said and done which have brought dishonour to you and have not helped to be a loving witness to our faith in you.   Father, we admit that we have missed meeting up with our brothers and sisters and having fellowship Sunday by Sunday during this time of restriction and so we are especially glad that we have access to your Word which teaches and challenges us and reminds us what we have because of our faith and trust in you.   Paul reminds us in the passage today how important it is to remember what Jesus did and taught, and we pray that we too will remain close to Jesus and that we will never take what we have now and what is promised to us in the future lightly but will, through the encouragement and love of Jesus continue in the faith, for Jesus sake, Amen.










22 July 2020



Matthew 12 15-21

God’s chosen servant

15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. 16 He warned them not to tell others about him. 17 This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

18 ‘Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
21 In his name the nations will put their hope.’[a]



I believe that this passage in Matthew is a verse of “ Hope”. I would go further and say it is a verse of  “ hope for all”.  Remember that John 3 v 16 tells us that God so loved the World. There was no special focus on one particular race or culture. John doesn’t say that God so loved the Jews, or the gentiles. It was the World.

Matthew reminds us that Jesus is a servant of God as well as a Saviour of sinners and like John 3 v 16 there is no singling out. Verse 21 tells us that  “the nations” put their hope in Him. The point of verse 21 and verse 18 as well, is that the hope Jesus brings is not limited to just the Jewish people.

The Jewish people were not only wrong about what type of Messiah Jesus would be, they were also wrong about the scope of His Messiahship, ( I hope that’s a word!).

He brought hope for the nations! The gates to the kingdom of God are wide open for anyone to come to Jesus. Red, yellow, black, white, or brown. Young and old. Man and woman. African, Asian, European, North American, South American, Australian, and that includes people who have yet top be discovered in the undiscovered parts of the world.  “ All” nations can put their hope in the name of Jesus: the servant of God and the Saviour of sinners. Amen









21 July 2020


Matthew 26 verses 36-46

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”



Are we soldiers of Christ?

This morning we find ourselves in Gethsemane and in the final days of Christ's life. In Gethsemane grief and anguish seem to come over Jesus and he prays to be spared the coming ordeal. This is a very moving story and the last supper has just been shared. It is moving, for me, for it shows the humanity of Christ. Here is this son, anticipating the end of his life, perhaps feeling abandoned but literally submitting to his fathers will.

The disciples don’t come out of this story well. At the moment of his greatest need, Jesus has asked them to ‘Stay here and keep watch with me’ (verse 38). Instead, they sleep. Again this shows that the disciples were suffering too. Perhaps exhausted and overwhelmed, never the less they sleep and leave Jesus

There was nothing they could really do for him, practically speaking. But knowing they were awake, thinking of him and praying for him would have helped. Sometimes that’s all we can do for someone; even if it’s very costly for us, it’s friendship or duty, and it needs to be paid.

Sometimes we’re called to be involved in another person's suffering, just so they know they are not alone. Similarly how many times have we said ‘I’ll pray for you’, and neglected to do it?

We are not called to be super humans neither are we flawless but as soldiers of Christ we must be mindful of others and as the great hymn reminds us

From strength to strength go on;
Wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down,
And win the well-fought day:
Still let the Spirit cry
In all His soldiers, “Come!”
Till Christ the Lord descend from high,
And take the conquerors home.








20 July 2020



Psalm 139 ( from the Message translation)

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvellously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
    And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
    all the men and women who belittle you, God,
    infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
    see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
    Your enemies are my enemies!




Who are you?



I am always struck by the comparison of my two favourite programmes. “ Who do you think you are” is a programme where celebrities research their family history. The other programme I like is “ long lost families” where people who were adopted or abandoned find their birth parents or siblings. People looking for answers about who they really are and some of them having an identity crisis and need to know more.


“ who am I?” would be a great title for this Psalm, and it’s a question a lot of us ask. We all know that we are but a tiny speck in a vast universe and we all struggle on this planet. If you think like this, and think that you are irrelevant or insignificant then Psalm 139 will give you the answers. And as insignificant as we feel we are God knows us inside out, he knows every bone in our body and how we were made bit by bit.


To use my two programmes as an analogy. We know who we are, and rather than a long lost family we belong to the family of God which goes back thousands and thousands of years. And to bounce back to the NIV version of this reading, verse 14 tells us that :


 I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  your works are wonderful,   Amen










19 July 2020



The Parable of the Weeds


24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”




Another parable is being taught this time it's about “weeds”. The weeds are growing alongside the wheat and the solution for the servant is to pull them up. But the man who planted the wheat explains that they will grow together until the harvest. It is only the harvesters who will pull out the weeds first and then burn them.


We all know about weeds, they are tricky, they can be a nuisance and grow where we least expect them to. I think the lesson here is that there is room for the weeds as well as the wheat. It is only through the judgement of God who can decide what is the weed and what is its fate. Amen









18 July 2020


Matthew 7:15-20 The Message 


15-20 “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.



And the rain came tumbling down............


All week we have read about Christian Living, learning through parables and stories and the unshakable promise of Gods love but today we come onto something a bit more sinister. The false preacher. It could be so easy for a preacher to preach sunshine and rainbows all year round and ignore the storms, the sin and the cruelty of Calvary. But in order for us to lead a balanced Christian Life we must have the balanced teaching of a God-given teacher. It all goes back to the old Sunday school song


The wise man built his house upon the rock
And the rains came tumbling down

The rains came down and the floods came up
And the house on the rock stood firm

The foolish man built his house upon the sand
And the rains came tumbling down

The rains came down and the floods came up
And the house on the sand fell down


If our church is built on preaching that comes from the very essence of God. If it includes everything that is necessary with no short cuts or false substitutes. If no ingredient is left out then that Church and the people that are in it will have a firm foundation, protected, steadfast and strong. Of course of the preacher only talks about the sunny side of life, if he only talks about what he feels he needs to then that church will fall in the first storm, exposing the people to all the elements that can harm them. Praise God that in our own church we have preachers who preach The Word, only the Word and nothing but the Word. Amen









17 July 2020



Hebrews 6:13-20 New International Version 

 The certainty of God’s promise


13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’[a] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest for ever, in the order of Melchizedek.




How many times have you heard someone make a promised and follow that up with the words “ swear to God”.  It’s a rather foolish statement to make, it is usually made to make the other person believe that the promise is especially binding when sometimes more often than not…its not.


Eugene Peterson tells us that when God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, “I promise that I’ll bless you with everything I have—bless and bless and bless!” Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.” Through this reading we are reassured that Jesus has run ahead of us and for us and because of that we must hold onto that unshakable promise for our very lives.  Amen








16 July 2020


Psalm 86:11-17 The Message 

 11-17 Train me, God, to walk straight;

    then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
    then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
    I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
You’ve always been great toward me—what love!
    You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
    A gang of thugs is after me—
    and they don’t care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
    not easily angered, immense in love,
    and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
    give your servant the strength to go on,
    save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
    so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
    put me back on my feet.


A time for prayer and praise


I love the Psalms. They are my “ go-to” books whenever I am stuck in a rut and don’t know what to read. They help me when I find I cannot pray and need to pray. They are a great example to help you praise God when you're finding it difficult to be positive.


I read somewhere that Psalms are beautiful poetic songs of prayer. I also read that they remind us that God is active even through history. They also remind us that it is necessary to respond to God through praise and prayer. The focus each Thursday has been on prayer.


Let us pray : 

Heavenly Father thank you for all your goodness to us this past week – for your presence with us – especially at times when we struggled with things which would not normally have troubled us.  We also thank you for helping and encouraging us through your word and for helping us to focus on you and your promises.  When we think of our lives and our homes in such a lovely part of the country, we realise that we are, indeed a fortunate people.   We are also grateful that our lives are enriched by the love and friendship of family and friends, as well with books and music.  It is when we think of this and the wealth of our blessings, that we become mindful of other people who are not as fortunate as us – living in places where they have no running water, poor sanitation and lack the basic comforts of life.  We pray especially for them at this time where the Coronavirus will be running rampant because of lack of proper hygiene facilities.   They will be in a desperate situation and, so, we pray for them and their families and for the relief agencies who will be working hard to try and protect and care for them.   We pray for the people of Yemen, Syria, South Sudan as well as other countries and pray that you will keep them safe from the virus and from danger.   Like the Psalmist who cried out to you and acknowledged that he had nowhere else to go, we are reminded of the verse in John’s Gospel where Peter says ‘Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words of eternal life’.    Keep us safe, keep us faithful and keep us in the palm of your hand – for Jesus’ sake, Amen.








15 July 2020


Matthew 13:10-17 New International Version 

The story teller

 10 The disciples came to him and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’11 He replied, ‘Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

‘Though seeing, they do not see though hearing, they do not hear or understand 14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:‘“You will be ever hearing but never understanding you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
    they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes hear with their ears,
    understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.



After having visited a church in Dumbarton several times to preach, a wee lady said to me on the way in “ Oh here he is….the story teller” I smiled and walked on. I worried about that for quite a while, was it a compliment? I wasn’t sure. After another few visits her husband told me that she liked to hear the stories that I came up with to illustrate a point in the bible and she loved to recount these stories to their grandchild who did not attend church.

My first experience of a story teller was the Sunday programme that David Kossof appeared on each week and told a story from his book. The book was called “ the book of witnesses” and to this day I still have the book. It’s a book about the characters in the bible all told from a witness perspective.


The parables are an important part of The New Testament as they illustrate the message that Jesus is trying to get across. People can be “ blind” to what they are being told and “ deaf” to what they should hear but through a simple analogy or story the message can be opened up and all its wonder and beauty is there to be experienced.

Jesus told the disciples that they had “ God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! “ He went on to say “A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance”


In our church lives we must pray for eyes that can see and ears that can hear the message. The parables are just the starting point for some but through a simple message and story people can find God, find forgiveness and grace and can find healing. Amen 









14 July 2020



Ephesians 4:17-5:2 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)


Instructions for Christian living


17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.




The Bible is definitely a handbook for life. It can’t be called a “self-help” book, but a “Gods help book”.  Someone asked me the other day about “ words for life”. Was there something I was hoping to achieve? The answer to that is “ no not really”.  When I set out to compose my thoughts from the reading I am continually “ pulled up” by myself, about what I continually strive to achieve and sometimes ultimately fail to do. But I keep on trying. I keep on reading the scriptures. I am continually reminded, not about my failures but more importantly that I am forgiven. And as this reading tells me “I am a dearly loved child and trying to live a life of love.








13 July 2020



1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 The Message 


You’re God-Taught


 One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life. Keep yourselves from promiscuity. Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body, not abusing it, as is so common among those who know nothing of God. Don’t run roughshod over the concerns of your brothers and sisters. Their concerns are God’s concerns, and he will take care of them. We’ve warned you about this before. God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside.

if you disregard this advice, you’re not offending your neighbours; you’re rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit.




Our God is a great big God


As we go through the lectionary for today's reading we find ourselves in Thessalonians. In the past few days we have talked about living in the dark as well as the light. Yesterday we read about people not accepting the scriptures that unfold in the Bible but would rather choose what to believe. Today we are continuing this theme about Us and God and we read about “ keep on doing what we are doing to please God”.  The children sing “ Our God is a great big God” and it's true our Christian lives are a great big fulfilled life that we have to juggle. And at all times make sure what we are doing is pleasing to God. Paul is warning us not to run roughshod over the concerns our brothers and sisters, their concerns are His concerns and He will take care of them. We must lead an orderly life because anything else is rejecting God and the gifts that he so freely gives. Amen









12 July 2020



Matthew 11:16-19 New International Version (NIV)


16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

17 “‘We played the pipe for you and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”



Eugene Peterson translates this reading as:- “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy. I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”


Many of those  Jesus preached to would find this message too much for them, it wasn’t what they wanted and it was too much of a challenge. Jesus seemed to be calling them out from their comfort zone. Does that sound familiar even today? When we like someone they can do no wrong. If we don’t like them they can do no right but at all times we must ask God for understanding. He never asks more than we can give and we must trust him completely at all times. It doesn’t suit us to be too choosy about how the scriptures are presented to us and if we only look to prayer we may find our hearts will open to new things as well as old. Amen










11 July 2020



John 12:44-50 New International Version (NIV)


44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.


47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”




Eternal life.


I always “see” Jesus as the image of God and as the light of the world but we are always reminded in the bible of “ the opposition”.  Light and darkness sight and the blind, action and inaction and the lame and those who can walk. We all know that life can be a struggle and sometimes we find ourselves, not where we would like to be. Sitting in that darkness, crippled by inactivity, lost or alone.


This passage reminds us that wherever we find ourselves we will not be judged as long as we believe. This passage comes at the end of Jesus’s public ministry and once again is an assurance of eternal life with Jesus. Amen









10 July 2020



Hebrews 3:1-6  (NIV)


Jesus Greater Than Moses


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.




Anchored to the rock that cannot move

Yesterday we left Moses at the burning bush and in today's reading Moses is being compared to Jesus. We know that Moses was a great leader but people considered him as a member of Gods house but now we have Jesus, He is the builder. The reading is not being demeaning to Moses we are just saying here that Jesus is in a completely different class. Moses is worthy of honour while Jesus is worthy of far more glory. But let's look at that last verse in today's reading “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 are reminded that we are his house and that house is built on glory but also in confidence and hope. If we have no hope or no confidence then his house would be nothing, a shaky building not fit for purpose, not fit for worship.


And so if we are his house, let's stand up strong. Let's make sure that even down to the foundations of the church we are immovable and anchored to the rock. …….Amen









09 July 2020


Exodus 3:1-6  (NIV)

Moses and the Burning Bush


Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb,the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”And Moses said, “Here I am.”“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father,the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.



There's no place like home


After being chased out of Egypt and away from his Hebrew people, Moses is out shepherding sheep for his father-in-law. Out in the wilderness, Moses stumbles upon "the mountain of God" known as Mount Horeb. In the ancient world, mountaintops were the traditional dwelling places for the divine. There, at the mountain, Moses encounters an unquenchable burning bush.  Some say that the inextinguishable flame is “a sign of God's awesome and powerful holiness, a fiery holiness that is both dangerous and attractive, frightening and comforting, untamed but reassuring”.

 God instructs Moses to remove the sandals from his feet. The gesture is an ancient practice when entering a holy place of divine presence. 

Moses is not fully "home" in any  community. Taking off your sandals is a gesture in many traditional cultures that is associated with entering not only a worship space but also a home.  Here at the foot of the mountain of God, Moses the "alien," has at last found a true "home." Moses finds his true home not with humans but with God, the God of his ancestors, 


Where is home for you? Is it the bricks and mortar in the street where you open your door and feel its “home”.  Or is it the place you were born maybe the town or the village, it may even be your church, the pew you sit in with all your friends and neighbours all around you. The Church of Scotland gives us the burning bush in its logo but more importantly we have the motto “ Nec tamen consumebatur”  which roughly means “ it was not consumed “.  For our church today there has never been a more appropriate emblem and motto. Suddenly we have many many churches using social media and other tools to spread the word of God to their congregations throughout lockdown. We have ministers, elders and members turning their hands to make available the Word and the scriptures to people that cannot have access to the internet and other modern media. (In St Paul's we currently have Chris Scott, Hugh McGurn, Stephen Thoms and Derek Norval all producing an excellent  church service for us and of course thanks also to our minister himself Fergus!)

Despite this pandemic “ we will never be consumed”  we will still be found at home in the House of God wherever that maybe in whatever shape or form we can access it.  

Let us pray

Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day – for some of us it may be ‘just another day’ in this period where our lives are still restricted, but it can also be a day of possibilities and opportunities.  We never know what each day may bring – there may be people that we contact or who contact us; there may be something that we read that challenges us or disturbs us; or there may be a specific task which we need to do.   When we think of our Scripture reading this morning, we see that Moses must have had days when he wondered what his life was all about.   After all, he had been an important person in Egypt and had everything life had to offer, but now he is in a period of waiting, a period when he is limited in what he can do whilst he is a shepherd for his father-in-law.   We know that this period was a time of preparation for Moses whom You called to deliver Your people from bondage into freedom.  Moses was reluctant to take on such a task, and we can understand why when we think of the enormity of it all, but we give You thanks that when you asked Moses, you went with him every step of the way and helped him fulfil your command.   We pray that, whatever our circumstances today, that You will give us a spirit of trust in You in order that we may be able to undertake whatever task – however big or small – that you have laid on our heart – and that by being obedient to that leading serve you and a benefit to the one who needs it, Amen.











08 July 2020

John 13:1-17 New International Version (NIV)


Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet


13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.




The new obsession 



The world has become obsessed with reality television. TV programmes about first dates, reality programmes about people getting married having never seen each other, reality programmes about people watching people watching reality television. You could be forgiven for thinking we have all lost the plot! But we have “diluted” the word reality and it begs the question what really is the reality of our lives.


The reality for the disciples was that soon their friend and master would be leaving them and they could not follow him. The reality was that he was going to be betrayed by one of the disciples that had once been a friend. But before this all takes place Jesus goes on to tell them he intends  to wash their feet, but this seemed up for debate. Why would Jesus want to wash their feet, surely it was their job to wash his feet ?


Jesus tries to explain to them why it is important for him to wash their feet. Peterson translates these verses as 


"12-17 Then he said, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do. I’m only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn’t give orders to the employer. If you understand what I’m telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life."


This is a clear example of Christ’s humble service. He was doing it for them, he was doing it to them, in order to be a part of them. And in turn we have to be the same. We are not “ above” helping others in our service to Christ and the Church we are all part of the one body, we all have a function to carry out and that should be the reality of our Christian lives. Amen









07 July 2020



Romans 1 1-7


1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly lifewas a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes fromfaith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


Have you ever had a calling? Some people are called to be teachers while others are called to the medical profession and as we know some are called to ministers of the scriptures and the word of God. Whatever and who ever does the calling there is one thing for certain and that is, if its you that’s called you must know your passion.


With Paul it is more than a passion, some translations tell us that he is called to be an apostle and is called to belong to Jesus Christ.


This reading is from Romans, the sixth book of The New Testament, composed by Paul to explain that salvation is offered through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul gives the qualifications for his calling by explaining the gospel he is commissioned to preach (Romans 1:2-5). Paul introduces himself as a servant -- or slave -- of Jesus Christ whom God has called to be an apostle, which means he has been set apart for the gospel that comes from God. Then Paul explains more about this gospel: “it was promised beforehand in the scriptures about God’s son”. And then he explains more about this son: “he was born of David’s seed according to the flesh but appointed Son of God in power according to the Holy Spirit by resurrection from the dead, so that he is now Jesus Christ our Lord (verses 3-4)”.

Finally, Paul returns full circle to his qualifications: this Jesus -- the man who lived and died as one of us but became Lord though resurrection  He is the one through whom Paul received grace and apostleship 


This morning I would like you to pray for those who are called. Those who are in the ministry who , never in a million years, could prepare for what is going on in the church today. Those who have had to manage social media and the many forms and tools of the trade to be in touch with their people . But in your prayer be confident. Confidence in the ones that are called, confidence in the scriptures being even more vibrant in these times and confident that more and more people are hearing the word of God for the first time. Amen









06 July 2020



Genesis 27:30-46


30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob[a]? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

39 His father Isaac answered him,

“Your dwelling will be
    away from the earth’s richness,
    away from the dew of heaven above.
40 You will live by the sword
    and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
    you will throw his yoke
    from off your neck.”

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”




The grudge match


Today we hear of something that is very powerful. Something that is debilitating can even described as rancid and very definitely destructive. And that folks is a thing called a “ grudge”. You hear of sportsmen and teams having a grudge match and that doesn’t sound helpful at all , it conjures up scenes of hatred and retribution and nothing to do with sport at all. Of course in this reading we are talking about the grudge between Esau and Jacob. In verses 41 we read “ Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”


But Esau forgives and the grudge is gone.


I know that it's not easy to forgive sometimes. But we need to remember that the Bible teaches grace and forgiveness.  Sometimes we can forgive and still hold the grudge. If someone holds a grudge against you and you forgive them it takes all the power from their grudge.


There are extreme circumstances where a person isn't going to be able to forgive or let go of a wrong without therapy, or professional counselling. For those of us who have or maybe are holding grudges now, I hope you understand how destructive it is for you. It's impossible to love those you hold a grudge against. Please. For your sake. Let it go. If Esau can do it, you can too.   Amen








05 July 2020

Luke 18 31-42


Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time


31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.32 He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; 33 they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.


A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight


35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.



During the pandemic a few weeks ago my spectacles snapped in two, couldn't be repaired and panic immediately set in. How would I cope with no glasses. The had snapped at the bridge and could not even be super glued. A drama ensued. Eventually , believe it or not , later that day I got new glasses as my lenses could be fitted into an existing frame a local optician had. He definitely was the hero of the hour.


Vision is so important. Some people have good vision but there is also a thing called tunnel vision. To a certain extent the disciples had tunnel vision. Jesus tried to explain what was going to happen to him when they arrived in Jerusalem but the disciples could not see it, they didn’t understand it and we are told they had no idea what he was talking about. It's possible they thought that Jesus would overthrow the Roman occupation that existed.

In our reading we go from tunnel vision to inner vision. The blind beggar did not want money or food. He called out Jesus because he believed that this son of David could heal him and when he did the beggar praised God and those that saw it praised God as well.


This morning's question is how is your vision today. Tunnel vision? A close follower of Jesus but you are just not sure exactly how you fit into God's plan?  Or do you have a deeper faith knowing that your faith will see you through and when you trust God you have a strong sense of who Jesus really is.


We are called to have 20/20 vision. To see Jesus in full focus and to trust that he will be with us through every situation and more than that to believe in his saving power for all of humanity. Amen










04 July 2020



Romans 7 15-25

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.




What would Jesus Do?


There is a lot of the Christian faith that contradicts the expected order of the world. The king who arrived on a donkey. God who sent his son to be crucified like a common criminal to name but a few.

At the moment the world is full of contradictions. Opposing events and words and actions that challenge each other. Life has become complicated and we are being pulled in different directions. Some of us are struggling.

Pauls speaks of his struggle. His will says one thing but his actions do another. He wants one thing but there are other things he doesn’t want. He wants one thing to happen but then something else happens. He wants to follow the law of the Lord but he is blown off track again and again. Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me!

Paul then goes on to say that there is an answer to all of these conflicts and contradictions. There is answer to all the internal battles that rage within us. The answer, of course, is Jesus. We are called to follow him and to learn from him. He is the one that keeps us on the straight and narrow way.














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

Back to Words for Life

Words for Life, August 2020

31 August 2020


Luke 4 16-30


Jesus Rejected at Nazareth


14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
 because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
 and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy[g] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.



Good news Jesus is going to Nazareth his hometown. Bad news they rejected him and he made them angry. The people of Nazareth were not receptive to Jesus’ teaching as they were over familiar with him as a person. He was Joseph’s son and that’s how they knew him. They did not recognise his sovereignty and the fact that he was Saviour and Lord

If you grew up in the church or if you’ve been in the church for years, it’s easy to grow so familiar with spiritual truth that you don’t let it affect your own heart. You begin thinking, “Repentance is something the non-Christian needs, but me? I’m a pretty good person!” “Salvation, and tender mercies of our God—ho hum!” Before you know it, you’re right there with those lukewarm Christians.


None of us know that if we reject Jesus, will we get a second opportunity to accept him.


 A wise scholar writes, “Last year a man jumped from a plane and his parachute didn’t open. It took him more than a minute to fall 3,000 feet. Somehow, he survived. But what do you suppose he thought about in that long minute? Did he cry out to God? If you have not trusted Christ as Saviour and Lord, you’re right where that man was. You’re free falling toward eternity, but you won’t fare well when you hit the deck.


Jesus offers right now to release you from the downward pull of your sin that is plunging you toward God’s judgment. If you will respond by receiving Him as Saviour and Lord, then rather than going His way and leaving you, Jesus promises, “I will come in to him and dine with him and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Amen









30 August 2020



Matthew 16 v 21 to end 


Jesus predicts his death


21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

28 ‘Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.’




What cross do you carry?


In these few, powerful words, Jesus revealed the whole purpose of His earthly ministry, the Father’s divine plan for the salvation of all humankind and the good news. Jesus had come to suffer, die and be raised again for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the whole world!


Poor Peter couldn’t understand all that Jesus was revealing to them and he responded, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to You!” 


But Jesus knew who He was and why He had come! Looking through Peter, Jesus said to the devil, “Out of My sight, satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”


Jesus knew that He had come to “take up His cross” and follow the will of His Heavenly Father. It was absolutely necessary that He must go to Jerusalem; suffer at the hands of wicked, hateful men; die a cruel death on the cross and three days later be raised again to life by the power of Almighty God. By doing so, He took on our sin and through His forgiveness and grace He has compounded our relationship with God. 


And what “ cross” do you carry? What cross have you taken up? I'm not talking about self indulgent matters that we enjoy moaning about but the crosses that God puts before us and that we are willing to endure because we are His children and because we are His disciples.












29 August 2020



Matthew 25 v 14-30


The parable of the bags of gold


14 ‘Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag,[a] each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more.17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 ‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.”

21 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

22 ‘The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold: see, I have gained two more.”

23 ‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

24 ‘Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.”

26 ‘His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 ‘“So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”




While we wait


Another parable and we can probably guess the message behind this one. It seems the third servant has admitted that he was afraid to lose the masters money and he buried the bags to protect himself. The master is furious that the servant was unfaithful to carry out the masters work and it costs the servant dearly.


The master expected the servants to continue his business, to take risks and to make a profit. Two servants were found faithful, and they are rewarded. Their faithfulness had increased the master's wealth and expanded his estate.

Tom Wright reminds us that this was all to take place  to prepare them for the days ahead when their faith will be tested. This parable depicts how the disciples are to demonstrate their faithfulness as they anticipate the return of the Lord.

What does faithfulness look like in a time of waiting? In Matthew's Gospel faithfulness is emulating the ministry of Jesus. Jesus has announced the arrival of God's kingdom by feeding the hungry, curing the sick, blessing the meek, and serving the least.


We need to ask ourselves what are we doing while we wait? Are we carrying out the work  that is needed?












28 August 2020



Matthew 25 v1-13


The parable of the ten virgins


25 ‘At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

‘At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”

‘Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.”

‘“No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.”

10 ‘But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 ‘Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!”

12 ‘But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”

13 ‘Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.




Are you ready?


Yesterday we talked about the hope and the certainty of His coming. I read somewhere that Jesus is warning us in this parable that there are some people who look like Christians, who work with Christians but will be shocked to learn that they will not be welcomed when the Lord returns.


In this parable the foolish virgins thought they knew better and when push came to shove they would be able to share in the spoils of the other virgins. This was not the case. While they disappeared for the oil, the bridegroom appeared. Again, maybe, they foolishly thought the door would be open for them. But it was not


There should be no contingency plans for the coming of the Lord. There is no plan B if we feel we have not readied ourselves, no second chance. The last verse of this passage has the ominous message


Keep watch because you don’t know the day or hour. So ask ourselves “Are we ready?”










27 August 2020



Matthew 24 v 42 to end


42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.


45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.




The certainty that he is coming!


It is so easy for us to get caught up in all the things that slow us down in life. There are always bills to pay, schedules to keep, struggles to overcome, difficulties to navigate, families to feed, and jobs to do. We can so easily get caught up in the routine of these things that we lose sight of our glorious hope that is out there on the horizon. 

Since it seems so long ago to us that Jesus lived and died, we can easily lull ourselves into thinking that he won't return in our lifetime, much less at any moment. We lose our sense of urgency, and expectation. Jesus wants us always to be ready and more importantly to live with expectation.  Tom Wright reminds us "He is forever at the door just beyond our boundaries of space and time waiting to usher in his fulfilled Kingdom in power and glory. Our job is not to know the day this will happen, but to be ready any day it may happen and to live our lives full of good deeds and the great anticipation of the certainty that He is coming!










26 August 2020



Mark 5 v 35-43


35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Overhearing[c] what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!”  (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this, they were completely astonished.43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.




Don't be afraid Just believe


We take time out this morning to look at a well known story from the Bible about Jairus’s daughter and how she was “ brought back to life”. This is a story of faith and as Jesus said in verse 36 “ don’t be afraid just believe”


Just when Jairus seemed helpless and hopeless Jesus was the answer. Jairus put his trust on Jesus and Jesus brought life where there was death. Today, we know that in the kingdom of God there is no suffering, hearts are mended, wounds are healed and a new life takes the place of death.


Where is our faith today? Do we trust that Jesus’ way is the real way? When you have a problem do you bring it to Him? Sometimes there is a delay in our help coming but if you look back at that delay we see we have learned more about Him and maybe more about ourselves.


Faith is a free gift. If you don’t think your faith is strong enough, take it to the Lord in prayer and ask for a stronger faith. Faith to carry on. Faith to move forward. Faith to be a strong disciple. Don't be afraid just believe.  Amen









25 August 2020



Matthew 23 25-28


25 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.




 A solution for every problem


In a few days Jesus will face his accusers and be crucified. Its probably his last encounters with the scribes and the Pharisees so there is one more lesson to be taught. He calls them hopeless, and stupid accuses them of being frauds. Why is that?


Just like the parables Jesus gives them an illustration of the problem. 


Eugene Peterson translates this perfectly in verses 25 and 27 when he says “ You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. In this translation there is no doubt and what Jesus is trying to put across. So everything is exterior, it’s all for show and to impress but simply scratch the surface and the rot and hypocrisy are evident.


 Jesus goes onto giving them a solution, again Peterson translates verse 26 


“ scour the insides and the gleaming surface will mean something


Jesus does not criticize the outer cleanliness. Instead, he is furious with the Pharisees' preoccupation on the outside cleanness while ignoring the interior world of the heart, motives, intentions, and desires. As he did in the Sermon on the Mount in specific detail, Jesus once again reminds us that no amount of external preoccupation with cleanness will make the interior world clean. Greed and self indulgence must be addressed as issues IF you want the authenticity that God wants from us. Amen










24 August 2020



Luke 22 24-30


24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.



People out front?


There is always a struggle in life with the people who want to be out front. Of course there are people who deserve a place there, and  inevitably there are others who are simply showmen or women who are maybe subliminally saying “ I am the greatest!”

But what is greatness? Greatness is doing the things that no one else wants to do. Great people are those who clean out our buildings, see children safely across the street and teach our children on a daily basis. Great people declare their love of Jesus and tell others about Him.

Greatness is not necessarily leading people in worship but in doing the things that are unseen that allow the worship to be a good thing. 


We have so many great people in the church who are serving in such important ways, ways that you and I do not see. If the only service we will offer is something that is seen, then we are seeking greatness in a worldly way that is condemned by God. Jesus does not offer titles. He hands out towels to serve.


So I guess I am asking myself  “ how do I serve?” “ how do you serve?”

Jesus is great, we are not. True greatness is not about power it is found through serving. Great people do great things that only God can see. Amen










23 August 2020



Matthew 16 13-20


Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah


13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.



A declaration of faith from Peter


Imagine asking a friend “ who do people say I am?”. Not only would I want to ask that I wouldn’t want to hear the answer. At this point in his ministry Jesus was possibly being accused of all sorts and he wanted to know about the people that were following him. Peter declared his faith in Jesus, the Son of God and that in itself is important because 

Christ declared that he was going to build His church on the apostles and they would proclaim the message of Christ, record it in Scripture, and establish the Church throughout the known world. Everything we do today is based on the work and the teachings of the apostles, who were commissioned by Christ and inspired by the Spirit.

Today we all have the keys of the kingdom. Our task is the faithful teaching of the truth of the Gospel, even though some will be offended and refuse it. The message is based on the person of Jesus and the Son of the Living God, and it's up to us to tell others about it and his amazing grace.










22 August 2020



Acts 5 v27 to the end


27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Saviour that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.



Put to the test?


The apostles are having a hard time of it and are being made to appear in front of the Sanhedrin, Someone suggests that they be put to death but a man called Gamaliel puts a suggestion before them. Gamaliel is literally saying to them “ let them go their own way and if they are just like the others before them, they will soon disappear. But IF God is really behind them, you will not be able to oppose them. For if that’s the case, you will be opposing God”


Because of this, the apostles got flogged and were allowed to go on their way as long as they did not “ speak in the name of Jesus”. The apostles ignored this and never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news. What can be said of Gamaliel? Was he man of faith? He was giving the Sanhedrin options. “If they are not of God they will fizzle out” or “ if they are of God are you going to fight Him?”


This week we have been talking about us together, being a body of God. When we are together as one, we can be an immovable force. When we are put to the test, yes we have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Fasten to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Saviours love. The apostles in the face of adversity were fastened to the rock and because the moved on and continued to teach in his name we are grounded firm and deep in the saviour's love. Amen









21 August 2020



Acts 5 12-26

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.



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.



When one or more are gathered.


Yesterday we talked about disputes especially between Christians and it could be said that we could be accused of being “ fake” Christians. Sometimes God needs to give us a reminder of who he is, and that he is God and that we need him and without him we are nothing. We are nothing without him.

In verse 12 we read “The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade” When great things happen in the Bible especially between believers we find them all gathered together. It's really a recurring theme in the Bible. This tells us they were all together in one accord, and it’s a great sign that when all his people are together, one people and one vision, great things can happen.

And I guess that’s why it's important for us all to work together and be back together as a church. When God's people are together all with one accord it is a greater display of the power of the Holy Spirit than any particular sign or wonder.

Just when they thought they could imprison the apostles and hold them to ransom, suddenly they were free and standing in the temple courts teaching the people. At this point the captain and the officers did not use force as they were afraid, their confidence gone. Confidence belonged to the apostles who were all together and teaching. Let us pray this day that we will continue to work together as one body and one church, no ego, no competing just praising his name, getting back to the word in hand and sharing his word. Amen










20 August 2020



1  Corinthians 6 1-8


Lawsuits among believers


6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court – and this in 

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 




Another difficult one 


Another difficult reading this morning, but while not avoiding this difficult subject lets try and give it some kind of understanding.


Have you ever taken your car to the mechanic because of a strange noise or squeak, only to be told that the noise you heard was just the symptom of a much bigger problem? What you thought was simply a brake pad that needed to be replaced turned out to be a cracked axle or a bad bearing or any number of things that added up to major damage.


In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul addressed a squeak in Corinth. Some believers were taking other believers to court before unbelievers. Now today, we might not think that was such a big deal. But today we belong to a society where “ if there’s blame there’s a claim. We are such a lawsuit-happy society, I read somewhere we have gone from “ in God we trust” to “ see you in court “.


The Corinthians neither understood nor lived the gospel. And I wonder, if we understood the gospel better, would we be more disturbed by Christian believers having disputes between themselves? When you consider how much we have been forgiven, why is it so hard for us to forgive? When you think about the grace that we have been afforded why do we think it costs so much to show grace to others. Something to think about and to pray about. 


Let us pray :


Father, thank you for your continued presence with us – and not only for the good days when we feel things are going well but, more importantly, when things are difficult and we are not sure of the way to go and we need your presence to give us the courage to go forward. Father, we thank you for our families and loved ones who give us encouragement and support – especially through this time of uncertainty and limitation – and who have helped us in so many ways. How much we value human contact and this has been highlighted even more during this time of restriction. Human relationships can be very fickle and we pray for people in this country and throughout the world who don’t have the love and support of family and friends – some because of estrangement and some because family life is so difficult for them and they find it difficult to find time to be supportive of vulnerable family members. We pray for them and hope that the healing can begin to take place. Our scripture reading this morning speaks to us of forgiveness and grace – words which we see often in the bible where You, our Heavenly Father, give opportunities to us time and time again to gain forgiveness and grace in order that we can continue in our Christian life and we pray that the grace and forgiveness we receive from You will spark the same willingness in us to show the same to those who seek to heal relationships – may not always be easy, but we pray for your love and grace to allow us to carry out this command – in Your Name, Amen 








19 August 2020



Matthew 20 1-19


The parable of the workers in the vineyard


20 ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

‘About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the market-place doing nothing. He told them, “You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went.

‘He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”

‘“Because no one has hired us,” they answered.

‘He said to them, “You also go and work in my vineyard.”

‘When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.”

‘The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.12 “These who were hired last worked only one hour,” they said, “and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.”

13 ‘But he answered one of them, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

16 ‘So the last will be first, and the first will be last.’






( in my humble opinion) There are some things in the gospel of Matthew that don’t make sense firsthand. An example would be the Canaanite woman was considered “annoying”. The odd comment about the“ crumbs from the table”. And the lame man who was getting more than he bargained for. 


We now come to the parable of the workers in the vineyard. The landowner has a weird sense of economics and pays everyone the same amount of money (even those who turned up an hour before finishing time). I remember last year preaching on this reading at the time of harvest and all that it taught us about the workers in the field. 


But this morning lets look at this from a different angle.


So what about the people who turned up late? Who spends hours waiting to be hired and doesn’t find success till the end of the day? It could be these people were weak and or infirm. Perhaps they were elderly and slow to turn up or perhaps they were people who were discriminated against or even people with a bad reputation.


The parable teaches us about equality, generosity and graciousness.


Qualities that you would expect from a true disciple of Jesus and qualities you would expect from a brother or sister in church today. In the parable everyone was treated the same, the workers who were told what they would be paid, got what they expected. And those who turned up late for what ever reason they were all  were paid the same.


Christianity is a great “ leveller”, we are all the same and we are all treated the same. Yes we have lawyers and dentists and CEO’s who are Christians just the same as we have the poor and the unemployed. But at the end of the day what we give to God, when we give Him our time and we give him our lives, His reaction to that is going to be the same. Our prayer for today is for all of the people affected round the world by this pandemic. Whether in a job or out of a job, whether struggling or surviving we pray for the people of God's Church as we work together to meet again. Amen









18 August 2020



Acts 4 v5-12


5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.

11 Jesus is

‘“the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.”

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’




A lame beggar is healed


Peter and John are being held to account “ by what power or what name did you do this “ they are asked.

Just like the lame beggar did not get the answer he expected (when he asked for money), I am imagining that Annas the high priest and all his cohorts were surprised when they asked Peter and co where was their authority was coming from.

Verse 11 tells us that

Jesus is

‘“the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.”

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’


Peters response came from the heart because of 4 reasons.

1. He was without doubt a confident witness filled with the Holy Spirit

2. He was confident because he learned from Jesus

3. He was confident because he testified on what he knew

4. Finally he was confident in that the only way of salvation was through Jesus Christ.


Today we should pray for that confidence, pray that we will continually learn and testify on what we know. And pray that we tell others that the only way in life is through Christ the King.   Amen










17 August 2020



Acts 3 1-


Peter Heals a Lame Beggar


3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.


Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.


When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.




A solution to a problem?


Sometimes we seek out things that are temporary, an answer to a problem that is immediate but not a permanent long-term fix. We rush to pray. Not thinking about the long road that stretches ahead,


The man who was lame from birth saw that his immediate problem was a lack of money so he asked Peter and John for the money.


“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.


The man thought he knew the answer to his needs, but what he was given in the name of Jesus Christ was something quite different, unexpected and life-changing. 


The next time we have a problem, the next time we take it to the Lord in prayer let him decide on the solution, let him give the answer. It might not be what you wanted, but it's probably the best thing for you and who knows it might even be life-changing.   Amen











16 August 2020



Matthew 15 21-28


The Faith of a Canaanite Woman


21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.







I think I might have said that when I worked I was surrounded by mainly students sharing many faiths and cultures. Muslim Sikh Hindu to name but a few. One of the things that surprised me was at Christmas; some of them would send us Christmas Cards. It wasn’t unusual for someone to ask about Easter or Holy week. We worked in an environment, like it or not where we had to embrace one another’s cultures and religious holidays. Even if sometimes it was uncomfortable it worked.


This reading from Matthew is uncomfortable as it presents us with a Jesus that we don’t understand. Jesus ignores this woman who is distressed, the disciples confirm with him “send her away, she won’t stop crying”


But the woman is determined and does three things


Kneels before him. 

Calls him Lord 

And asks, “Help me”


Maybe Jesus is impressed by her determination. Maybe he is moved that she talks bout “ the crumbs that fall from the table” Maybe it's just the fact that she knows who he is, knows what he can do and because of her love for her daughter and asks Jesus for healing


Jesus said to her “Woman. You have great faith, your request is granted” and her daughter was healed in that moment.  Despite the adversary and despite their differences she had faith.


Sometimes we have to turn in prayer and be uncomfortable in what we are praying about. Sometimes it’s an uncomfortable request in our prayer or perhaps we have reached a point where we are uncomfortable with our relationship with God. The important thing is “ keep talking to God”. Keep praying


We should pray today for the determination of the Canaanite woman, who ignored what was going on around her and sat at the Lord's feet. Even if we are uncomfortable we can find some comfort in today’s reading.             Amen











15 August 2020



Matthew 19 verse 16 to end 

The Rich and the Kingdom of God


16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honour your father and mother,’[c] and ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’”

20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”




There have been books written on what this passage really means but on this day today I want to say that this passage has always been about commitment. Again it’s all down to people who can “talk the talk” and don’t “ walk the walk”. I appreciate that’s a very glib way of putting it but the young man in this passage is under the impression that as long as he keeps to the rules he can enter the kingdom of heaven. But Jesus is reminding him that it's not just his time and energy he has to give, but something more than that. Something that is very precious to him. Perhaps something that he worships more than God,

The young man is sad as he knows he is rich. Jesus then goes on to tell us, ”it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”


So in a week when we have heard about allowing God to control our lives, placing our faith in Him and loving one another (even when there is a grudge) we know that following God is not as simple as people might think. But being rich (and not money rich) in your commitment to Him and to his people will bring you an eternal reward, eternal satisfaction and an eternal life. Amen 









14 August 2020



Matthew 19 verses 3-12


Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’

‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,”and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’

‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man gives his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’

Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’

10 The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’

11 Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others – and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.’




I’ve said before that I don’t like avoiding the suggested passages for the day. But sometimes I feel that the subject matter is far too contentious for a short message and potentially could be a minefield.

But what I will say is that marriage is a sacred vow between a man and woman and the Bible offers many verses that offer guidance for married couples, husbands, wives, newlyweds, and engagement. 

Marriage is a beautiful covenant before the Lord and if you follow God in your relationship, you will experience a blessed life together~ Read these Bible verses from the Holy Bible about marriage and the importance of this covenant relationship. Use these Scripture quotes on a wedding card for a newly married couple. I have been married 40 years but I certainly don’t profess to be an expert or know the secret of a good and happy marriage. But should a marriage go wrong, it's very easy to focus on what's wrong instead of stopping to listen to God and ask Him for guidance. 

Ephesians 4:2-3 tells us that "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."



And Psalm 143:8 tells us we should  "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

But sometimes marriage can be a mystery to some  Proverbs 30 tells us that "There are three things that amaze me—no, four things that I don't understand: how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman."

All I can say is that a marriage that is made in the church, a marriage that is lived out within the church and a marriage that needs the church is a great marriage.   Amen










13 August 2020



Matthew 18 v 21-


 The parable of the unmerciful servant


21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’

22 Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 ‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of goldwas brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 ‘At this the servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

28 ‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[i] He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

29 ‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.”

30 ‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 ‘Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 ‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’



The lectionary that I use that is used in most churches is not letting go of this theme of forgiveness this week. I am reminded about the story of Corrie ten Boom, who had heard an unbelievable speech by a person in reconstructed Germany, about how God had forgiven him. He put out his hand to her after the speech and said, "Sister, God has forgiven me." She recognized him as one of the guards in the concentration camp where her sister died. She said, in effect, "I could not raise my hand to shake his, but in that awful moment I realized how much God's mercy and grace had been extended to me. What I could not do by my own strength, I did by the strength of God."

I think that we should all extend forgiveness by as many times as possible. When we read that we should forgive not seven times but seventy seven times, that number could go up and up and up. When we think about the maths of forgiveness, and how much grace has been shown to us by God should we not extend that same amount of grace to others. The last verse of the reading tells us that after there was no sign of forgiveness the servant was given back to the jailers “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’”


Holding a grudge is definitely just like dragging shackles, refusing forgiveness can be just like a life sentence. Giving forgiveness can be like a light going on, a door opening or a new days sun rising.


Pray that you are not shackled by grudges or imprisoned by a lack of grace. Forgive seven times, or seventy seven times. Forgive always.


Our Dear Lord Jesus, we come into your presence this morning with grateful hearts for your love and mercy towards us.   Thank you for this new day – with all its possibilities and challenges – which we commit to you, asking that you will be with us every step of the way.  Father, thank you again for our surroundings which remind us of your creative power and your ability to create something out of nothing with all its beauty and diversity.   We think of all the flowers – so many different colours, textures, perfumes and varieties.  We think of the hills, mountains and rivers which live in harmony with one another.   Thank you for giving us a sense of appreciation of your creation and also praise to you, the Creator of all that we enjoy.  We continue to pray for the people of Lebanon – and the city of Beirut in particular.   They are suffering such sorrow and heartache but we pray that you will ‘stay the hand’ of retaliation and revenge against the Government officials and those in positions of authority within the country and pray that the people will instead focus on the vital work that is needed to comfort the bereaved, care for the injured and work together to bring about a better future – without further bloodshed.  Father, we know that this is a tall order in a country which has suffered much, but your word this morning speaks about people coming together to resolve differences – often deep rooted.  Human effort often fails, and so, it is with a sense of pleading to you, on their behalf, that you will answer our prayer – Amen.










12 August 2020



Matthew 18 v15-20

15 ‘If your brother or sister sins go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 ‘Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’




I’m not a fan of The Simpsons, but there is an episode I’ve seen where Marge suddenly falls to the ground “ and starts to speak in tongues”. Homer picks up a bible and looks inside and proclaims, “ There are no answers in this book”


Today’s reading tells us three things


  1. If you're being hassled tell the person doing the hassle

  2. If that fails get a couple of witnesses to take along for back up

  3. If that fails take it to the church


Handling conflict is an expertise that some people have, for others all they can do is make matters worse. And yet the Bible tells us to “ love one another”


Love here does not mean wet, sloppy kisses, nor does it mean hearts and flowers.  This kind of love is about care for the other person’s well being.  Wanting what is best for the other person, even when he or she has made you angry.  If we have that sort of love for each other, we will always want to be reconciled and will always accept each other’s apologies – because that’s what people who love each other do.  That’s what Christ did – and does – with us every day.


If there is someone who you know holds a grudge against you for something you did, or were perceived to have done, either recently or ages ago, apologize and sincerely ask forgiveness.  Likewise, if there is someone who comes to you and asks forgiveness for something that has caused you to hold a grudge against him or her, grant him or her forgiveness.  To ask forgiveness is not weakness.  And to grant forgiveness is not to condone what someone has done. 


 They are merely steps toward reconciliation – the thing that Jesus did when he reconciled the whole world to God by hanging on a cross.  If He can do that for us, surely we can do this for each other, and for Him.


And I am sorry Homer Simpson the Bible has got answers but it's up to us to follow them through.  Amen.










11 August 2020



Acts 1 v15


15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, ‘Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.’


18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)


20 ‘For,’ said Peter, ‘it is written in the Book of Psalms:

‘“May his place be deserted;
 let there be no one to dwell in it,”[e]


‘“May another take his place of leadership.”


21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.’

23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.




There’s a lot said about making decisions in a church and the obsession to form committees and getting the right people to be in that committee. In this portion of The Acts of the apostles we see two things. The need to make decisions and the need to handle Gods business. But the odd thing is that after they prayed…. they drew lots.

“Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.’ 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles”

I think the important thing here is that it’s all down to God's will. God's will shall be accomplished, helped along by prayer whether we draw lots or not. His will is carried out with or without us but at all times we have to be obedient to His will and his gracious way. Amen









10 August 2020



Matthew 17 v22-end


Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time


22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Temple Tax


24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”




In the Bible Jesus shows us three ways to proclaim that God is the King in all the decisions that we make daily.


 First, Jesus had faith in God and he was willing to die for you and me and to forgive those who betrayed him. Jesus said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands and they will kill him and on the third day he will be raised


We know that the disciples “were filled with grief”.  Because we love to control our own lives sometimes it difficult to hand our lives over to 


Secondly, Jesus acted out of love. Because Jesus was the Son of God, he did not have to pay temple tax at all. However, Jesus paid the tax “But so that we may not cause offence” verse 27, 


With Jesus, everybody is God’s child. Jesus loved God and loved God’s people. He made the decision to pay temple tax out of love.


Thirdly, Jesus shared his power with others. Jesus commanded Peter to go out and catch a fish. When Peter opened the mouth of the fish he found a coin. Jesus wanted to use the coin to pay tax “for Jesus and for Peter.” We know he paid the tax for Peter also. In that way, Jesus showed that we should share what we have with others if we want to proclaim that God is the King.


Above all else we need to hand over our lives completely to God for him to be in control. Amen










09 August 2020


Matthew 14 22-36


Jesus Walks on the Water


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

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

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

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

29 “Come,” he said.

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

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

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

34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.




If you want to walk on water?


John Ortberg has a great book called “ if you want to walk on the water you have to get out of the boat” It's not only a book about faith but a lesson in trust and obedience. But what the book brought out to me was the ability to be confident. Confidence today has been shaken. A lot has happened in the past 5 months and we now live in a very different world.

People have become obsessed with the fact and figures of the pandemic, what’s gone up and has anything come down. I heard one expert on TV say “ don’t take your eye off the ball where this menace is concerned”. Today maybe I have some other advice? And its “ don’t take your eyes off Jesus”.


Peter took his eye of Jesus as he was going to walk on the water and nearly sank. Jesus said “ you, of little faith!” and that’s what he is saying to us today. Now I’m not saying throw your mask off and run around Tesco but look at Jesus reaction to this situation “ he reached out and caught him”. So if you want to walk on water, yes get out of the boat but rely on Jesus, take his hand, be courageous and live in confidence, praise and prayer. Amen









08 August 2020



Continuing with Luke 24 from verse 36 (the Message)



36-41 While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

41-43 He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.


44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

52-53 And they were on their knees, worshipping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.




Can you believe it?



I still get tired when some people say to me “ do you believe everything in the bible?” with the emphasis on the word everything. My answer is always a simple one. “yes”. In my own wee head I always imagine that somewhere at some point  the disciples sat down and said to each other “ did all of this actually happen?”


Jesus appears to them and they think they are seeing a ghost. You see that? There is still doubt. They didn’t say” its Jesus!” the scriptures tell us “ they were upset” But Jesus goes on to reassure them “ look at my hands, look at my feet, a ghost does not have muscle and bone” But they still thought it was too good to be true. So then he asks for food and ate it in front of them.


But his final revelation is the more important one as he opens the scripture for them. He opened their eyes and their understanding and of course reassured them that everything that was written has come true. He takes them outside the city and blesses them and then took his leave and here is the good bit “ they were on their knees, worshipping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God” 


All doubt removed, replaced with Joy and with a lot of work that had to be done, they praised God. We praise God today for the scriptures and all the evidence therein of a great and glorious God and his son The Saviour of the world. And we are thankful for all the ministers and pastors who open The Word to us in such a way, that makes it real and makes it relevant and utterly believable. Amen










07 August 2020



Luke 24 verses 13-29

On the Road to Emmaus


13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;16 but they were kept from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

19 “What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.  And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.




A simple question?



A question to ask yourself today. Do you know Jesus? Have your eyes been opened to who he is and what he has done for you? Do you know that he walks with you and he talks to you? And more importantly do you tell others? Ask yourself another thing today. What will you do with Jesus today?


This reading from Luke could parallel your own journey with God in your own life. In today's reading Jesus did seek the disciples out and while he did not want recognition straight away, he wanted them to learn something about him first. And then while there was only a little faith Jesus took them through his own journey by using the scriptures eventually revealing himself to them. And finally in the breaking of the bread Jesus was recognised by them before he disappeared. But even although he cannot be seen they tell the others as their lives have been changed forever. Does this sound familiar? Thank God that you know Jesus. Thank God that he is with you on your journey. And finally don’t forget to tell others, Good news is worth sharing. Amen










06 August 2020



Luke 9 verses 28-36  ( from the message)

The Transfiguration  

Jesus in His Glory


28-31 About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once two men were there talking with him. They turned out to be Moses and Elijah—and what a glorious appearance they made! They talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.

32-33 Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. When Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.

34-35 While he was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.”

36 When the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. They were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.




Up until now the Jewish leadership had rejected Jesus and planned his death. The disciples believed that he was the both the Messiah and the Son of God but they perhaps did not know the implications of these titles and at the same time maybe they were a bit uncomfortable about the prospects of Jesus impending death.

This part of Luke is known as The Transfiguration but what exactly is this? And what does it tell us?

  1. The outward glory of Jesus was displayed, maybe for just a few moments but our reading tells us that “While he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white.”  On many occasions Jesus was provoked into revealing his splendour and majesty and here and now “ the veil of his humanity was lifted

  2. In verses 34 and 35 we read “While he (peter) was babbling on like this, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen! Listen to him.” This is certainly the divine testimony, authenticated by a heavenly voice in the sky that truly Jesus was the son of God, the Messiah and soon to be the Saviour.

The transfiguration teaches us a lot, but can you imagine what it would have been like for the disciples? The visual aspect of it all is one thing but then to hear the voice of God validating in this manner would have been amazing for them.     



A special prayer for Thursday


Heavenly Father, we come into your presence today and we bring to you our prayers for others – especially those in Beirut at this time.  The pictures we have seen on our televisions screens have shocked and saddened us because of the devastation brought to the people who live there.   We see how quickly their lives have changed and how quickly they are surrounded by loss – loss of loved ones, loss of homes, loss of friends, loss of community and neighbours.  Everything that was familiar to them has been taken away and we confess before you that we cannot begin to know or understand how they are truly feeling at this time.   We bring before you the rescue teams who have the harrowing task of sifting through the rubble in the hope of finding people alive. We pray for all the medical personnel in hospitals and pray that they will be given the equipment and medicines they need to treat the injured.    We pray also that other countries in the world will be moved to give money and physical resources to help alleviate the suffering.    We feel helpless in the face of something so huge and so remote from our own country, but we thank you that we can bring the most difficult situations to you – asking that you will bring healing, comfort, renewal and hope to the people who right now, think they have no hope and feel such loss.  Our passage this morning speaks of your transfiguration – a time when you showed your glory to those closest to you – and they were left in no doubt that you were indeed the Son of God.   We pray that something of your glory will be seen in that land, speaking to the people in their time of greatest need – Amen.  










05 August 2020


Luke 23 v 32-49


Famous Last Words


32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[e] When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.





Many famous people have said famous last words on their death beds. It is said that Winston Churchill’s last words were “ I’m bored of all this”.  All of which have been remembered because of their flippancy and sarcasm.


But on a more serious note, the last words of Christ have more to tell us, remind us and to reassure us than any celebrity in our lifetime. Jesus’s final words “ Father into your hands I commit my spirit,” tells us so much about the characteristics of the man especially when we think about what happened to him on the way to the cross.

On his journey to his crucifixion the people stood and insulted him, rulers sneered at him and soldiers mocked him. Even the criminal on the cross beside him teased him but Jesus kept his strength for his final words.


Nailed to the cross he shouted aloud  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And when he had said this, he breathed his last.


The first thing we should notice is Jesus's loud voice -- scarcely what one would expect from a man about to die. But Jesus seems determined that his final words be heard. His words are firm and confident. 


Let's examine three aspects of these words.


First, Jesus speaks to God with intimacy. His time of desolation expressed by the Fourth Word is past. He prays to the Father as he has done throughout his ministry. For Jesus, death is no out-of-control accident. No matter how bleak the moment, he knows his Father is present with him to receive his spirit.


Secondly, Jesus entrusts himself to his Father. In Psalm 31:5 the word "commit" is the Hebrew verb pāqad" to entrust to someone for safekeeping, give over, entrust. As he lets go of this life, Jesus trusts his eternal destiny to the Father's everlasting arms.


Finally, Jesus speaks a word of surrender. He gives up his human life to his Father who gave it to him 33 years before. The word "spirit" is the common word pneuma, "breathing, breath of life


Jesus prays his final prayer with this kind of equanimity and peace because he knows the Father, and knows that there is life with the Father beyond death. As a devout Jew he has prayed these words as part of an evening prayer all his life. Now at the end of his life he prays them one last time --  and lets go of human life in order to embrace the Life that the Father has to offer in his own presence.


Today we pray that we too are given this trust to place our lives into the hands of God so that we can live a life today of confidence and trust. And as we look at what is happening around the world we can know that He knows us so well, every hair on our heads and loves us.  Amen










04 August 2020


1st Peter 2 verses 11-17 Using Eugene Petersons The Message

11-12 Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cosy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

13-17 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.



True representatives of Christ

In my last year or so of my working life, I worked alongside people of many faiths. Muslims, Sikhs, Hindu and Jewish people. This suddenly made me aware of all the festivals and holidays that other religions hold and I always had to be mindful of other peoples faiths and needs.

Peter is reminding us that in this world where we live with God and other cultures we have to behave appropriately. In society today there is no place for prejudice and God is counting on us, as his children, to do his will while we pass through this earth.

While we might be free we are servants of God too and we should honour every single human being and while we love other believers we should honour The King of Love.

And while we are here on this earth we are representatives of Christ while mixing with other people, always reflecting his qualities and his gifts to us. And if we do this successfully I think Peter is telling us we might show other people a true reflection of being a follower of Christ. We then become an ambassador of God, serving him publicly, encouraging love and ignoring prejudice.  Amen










03 August 2020



1stpeter 2 


The living Stone and a chosen people


As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:


‘See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.’[b]

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

‘The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,’[c]


‘A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.’[d]

They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.


But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.






My dad had an allotment in Broomhill and there were two things he hated most about the allotment. One was the weeds (which he said he could control as they were visible) but the other was stones that were always hidden underneath the soil and he would hit them with his spade.


In this reading the word “stone” appears in this reading six times and the word “rock” is thrown in for good measure. Having said that Stone was a very important and evocative word in biblical terms.


The hope was that God would return to Zion and live forever in the temple. There was a long tradition that the temple would be rebuilt on the rock or the “cornerstone” ready for God to return. In the Old Testament, God had made a promise to send his son and to build a house where he will come to live forever.


But here Peter is saying that Jesus is the “stone” and the temple is being built “in” him.

Tom Wright reminds us “ if we find it hard to keep up with the bewildering scriptural references imagine what it must have been like for the pagans in Turkey being told this for the first time” We have the advantage and the joy of knowing that scholars have come before us and explain these things to us, as well as our ministers in church.

And through all this we can “ fasten to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the saviours love. Amen










02 August 2020



1 Peter 1 22- chapter 2v3

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a]23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

“All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”[b]

And this is the word that was preached to you.

2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.



Taste and see the goodness of God


I love watching cookery programmes on TV. One of the programmes I like is “ the corner shop cook off”. Basically the chefs are given £15 and they have to go to a local corner shop and get enough food for a three course meal. Of course they cut corners and buy an odd array of foodstuffs to make the food as interesting as possible. Given that they substitute things like passata for tomato ketchup and maybe use budget cheese instead of parmesan. The end product looks good but as I watch this programme I cannot be convinced about the food that I see on the screen because I cannot taste it. In food it has to be about the taste, the presentation might be good but the taste has to make it a winner.


How do you convey taste to someone just by reading words or watching on tv? At the end of this reading Peter uses the idea of “taste” as one of the things in Christian living that we have to experience. The taste that The Lord is gracious. Like a baby who is tasting its mother's milk for the first time you will want more and more. Along with this you will grow, and in this reading we are told we will grow in our salvation.


Christianity is not just about reading the scriptures, it's not just about wearing the correct clothes to the kirk and its not about singing the loudest when your favourite hymn is being sung. It's about all the ingredients that you collect and enjoy in your Christian journey, through the living and enduring word of God. It's about the spiritual milk that you need and enjoy that will make you stronger


The hymns remind us that:-

Taste and see, O taste and see,

taste and see the goodness of God.

Taste and see, O taste and see,

taste and see the goodness of God.










01 August 2020



1 Peter 1:10-21


10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.


13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’[a]

17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God.




A Visit to the Junk Shop


Tom Wright tells a story of a man who goes into a junk shop and sees a cracked and dusty old bowl. When he wiped some of the grime off the bowl he saw that it was beautiful underneath. He took it to the shop owner and agreed a price. The man took the bowl home and washed it carefully.  It was beautiful. Not only that he had some decorative eggs that looked as though they were just made for this bowl and set the whole thing off as a beautiful ensemble. But the next day the shop owner turns up, he found some flowers that originally sat in the bowl and he would like it back as he had changed his mind.


But the man was not having any of it. He had washed and cleaned the bowl almost back to its original state, not only that he had given it a new and fresh purpose, it was rejuvenated. 


Tom Wright says we are just like the bowl, under God we have been rejuvenated and given a fresh purpose in life. Verse 18  Peter says that 

“you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors” and the word “redeemed” here is the key word. You see we are just like the bowl. We have been bought back. In some translations the word is “ ransomed”. At one point we had a different purpose but God came into the junk shop and paid for us. The price he paid was through the blood of His son Jesus Christ. Have a good day today. Amen





Words for Life, September 2020


25 September 2020




Rizpah (riz'-pa, "coal", "hot stone") was the daughter of Aiah, and one of Saul's concubines. She was the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 3:7; 21:8–11).

After the death of Saul, according to the Bible, Abner was accused of sleeping with Rizpah, resulting in a quarrel between him and Saul's son and successor, Ishbosheth. (2 Samuel 3:7–8) The quarrel led to Abner's defection to David, (2 Samuel 3:17–21) who was then king of the breakaway Kingdom of Judah. This incident led to the downfall of Ishbosheth and the rise of David as king of a reunited Kingdom of Israel.

A famine lasting three years hit Israel during the earlier half of David's reign at Jerusalem. This calamity was believed to have happened because of "Saul and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites." The Gibeonites were not Israelites, but the remnant of the Amorites, which Saul pursued from within Israel. David inquired of the Gibeonites what satisfaction they demanded, and was answered that nothing would compensate for the wrong Saul had done to them but the death of seven of Saul's sons.

David accordingly delivered up to them the two sons of Rizpah and five of the sons of Merab, Saul's eldest daughter, whom she bore to Adriel. These the Gibeonites put to death, and hung up their bodies at the sanctuary at Gibeah. Rizpah thereupon took her place on the rock of Gibeah, and for five months watched the suspended bodies of her children, to prevent them from being devoured by the beasts and birds of prey, till they were at length taken down and buried by David in the family grave at Zelah with the bones of Saul and Jonathan.

British rabbi Jonathan Magonet has described Rizpah as "every mother who sees her sons killed before their time for reasons of state, be they in time of peace or in war. All that remains is for her to preserve the dignity of their memory and live on to bear witness and call to account the rulers of the world".

This story of double dealings and murder might seem outrageous but I think the point I would like to make today is that even today mothers are seeing their sons die in places of conflict and even in times of peace.

It is clear from the story of Rizpah that she was a grieving mother who loved her children fiercely even after their death. She was a woman who stood by her sons even in these awful times. She had consistency and tenacity and is a lesson for us all when the going gets tough/



An extract on Rizpah


2 Samuel 21

“What do you want me to do for you?” David asked.

5 They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6 let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.”

So the king said, “I will give them to you.”

7 The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. 8 But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. 9 He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of the harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land.










24 September 2020


The story of Stephen


Charles Swindoll tells us that “Anyone can be great because anyone can serve.” Those are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They remind us of the words of Jesus who declared that he did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). On the night before he was crucified, when the weight of the world was on his shoulders, he took a towel and basin and washed the dirty feet of his disciples. By that one simple gesture he showed forever what sort of man he was and what sort of people we should be. He came to serve, and in his bloody death on the cross he served all humanity. Was Jesus great? The question hardly needs answering. He was great because he was God’s servant.”

Dr. King is right. Greatness is open to all because anyone can be a servant. Sometimes we may feel that serving is fine with us as long as someone else does most of the work.


But sometimes someone will come along to serve and go that extra mile. Will give that last breath in their lungs and that last bit of energy in their bodies. Sometimes in a crisis those who serve come to the fore and there are occasions when faced with a crisis, those who serve not only give their time and energy but give their lives.


 I am told that the Chinese word for “crisis” is made up of two word-symbols – one meaning “danger” and the other “opportunity.” That’s what a crisis is, a danger and an opportunity rolled up together.


So when the opportunity came to serve, Stephen did serve and he gave up his life for the Word of God that meant so much to him.


How do we serve today? How is it possible to serve in a society under lockdown?


Jesus said “ love one another as I have loved you” and it is still possible to do that from the comfort of our own homes. We can reach out to people by phone and by prayer. We can write them a note or tell others about their need. Don’t ask me why I remember this, but the first ever sermon I heard in St Paul's, Fergus’s strapline that day was quoting the Barbara Streisand song “ people who need people are the luckiest people in the world”. Today more than ever the church needs us, more than ever the church needs us to serve, after all we serve a risen saviour who gave his life for all of us. Amen



An extract on Stephen 


The Choosing of the Seven

6 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews[a] among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Stephen Seized

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.










23 September 2020


The Queen of Sheba


On our landing, back in the day when I lived with my mum and dad, we had a lady who lived a few doors down who liked everything done in a particular way. Usually her way! I always remembered my mother would comment” who does she think she is! The Queen of Sheba?”. My immediate reaction to that was always “ I wonder where Sheba is?”


The Queen of Sheba was a wealthy and influential ruler whose nation dominated commercial trading in the middle east. She must have had a certain measure of wisdom to rule such a country but it is said she had many questions unanswered so she turned to a man of wisdom and that was Solomon. 


Solomon’s wisdom had become renown throughout the ancient world. However, it wasn’t something he could brag that he came up with himself. No. His wisdom was a gift from God.


Certainly, Solomon in all his wisdom knew this, and in impressing the Queen of Sheba, he made effective inroads in cooperating with trading partners and powerful nations.


Eventually the queen was not disappointed and she went away satisfied.


All of this makes me consider all the times I think of my “own” skills and consider that all of the gratitude should go to God as everything comes from Him. Even our lives are a gift and although we may not have the wisdom of Solomon or the riches of the Queen of Sheba what we have is priceless and irreplaceable.  We should try to use these skills however small in return for Gods gifts to us.


As we find in James 1 verse 17 “ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”



And now lets read about The Queen…………………..


The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon


10 When the Queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions.Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. When the Queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at[a] the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

10 And she gave the king 120 talents[b] of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

11 (Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood[c] and precious stones. 12 The king used the almugwood to make supports[d] for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.


Psalm 90


Teach us to number our days alright

that we may gain a heart of wisdom

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.











22 September 2020



The Prodigal Son


He was a rebel, a drop out, a party animal. He drank heavily at one point and was involved in quite a few brawls in his time and he was in jail on more than one occasion. Now, having said all of that he was the successor to one of the most prestigious Christian Organisations and I am talking about Franklin Graham the son of the late great Billy Graham.


In the gospel of Luke we hear about two famous sons. One of course is Jesus and the other is in the parable of the lost son. We all know his story, someone of us might even have lived his story. But this parable has one of the most significant lessons in the bible for all of us and that is God always leaves a light on for us. Just as the father stood every day looking at the horizon for his lost son to appear.


This story tells us probably as much, if not more, about God than any other single story in the Bible. But it also tells us as much, if not more, about us than any other story in the Bible. It lets us know why it is so wonderful to realise that God is always there for us, despite the decision we have made, despite the actions that we have taken, despite the words that we have said in haste God is always on the look out for us waiting to take us in his arms and bathe us in his amazing grace. Amen


And now the  Parable of the Lost Son


Luke 15 


11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”










21 September 2020



Naomi ( meaning joy)


Naomi was married to a man named Elimelech. A famine causes them to move with their two sons, from their home in Judea. While there Elimelech dies, as well as his sons who had gotten married in the meantime. Near destitute, Naomi returns to Bethlehem with one daughter-in-law, Ruth whom she could not dissuade from accompanying her.[4]Her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, remains in Moab.

When Naomi returns, she tells the Bethlehemites, "Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara, for the God has dealt very bitterly with me". Scholars say that Naomi was very self absorbed and that her daughter in law brought about her rehabilitation.  The Book of Ruth depicts the struggles of Naomi and Ruth for survival in a “patriarchal environment”.


The arrival of Naomi and Ruth in Bethlehem coincides with the barley harvest. Naomi gives Ruth permission to glean those fields where she is allowed. Ruth is working in the field of Boaz, when a servant identifies her to him as Naomi's daughter-in-law. It happens that Boaz is a kinsman of Naomi's late husband. He tells her to work with female servants, warns the young men not to bother her, and at mealtime invites her to share his food.


When Naomi learns that Ruth has the attention and kindness of Boaz, she counsels Ruth to approach him directly: "... dress yourself in your best attire and go down to the threshing floor. Do not make yourself known to the man before he has finished eating and drinking. But when he lies down, take note of the place where he does so. Then go, uncover a place at his feet, and lie down. He will tell you what to do." 


The story of Naomi reminds us of Gods faithfulness to restore an empty life and Naomi went from a starving and hungry environment to a place where there is a full and healthy harvest. Another story of contrasts Naomi goes from the loss of her husband and sons to the loving care and concern of her daughter in law Ruth. Like Naomi we may have trouble recognizing Gods goodness and his faithfulness at times but he is always with us despite out thinking and our circumstances.



The story of Naomi Ruth Chapter 1


In the days when the judges ruled,[a] there was a famine in the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah, together with his wife and two sons, went to live for a while in the country of Moab. The man’s name was Elimelek, his wife’s name was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem, Judah. And they went to Moab and lived there.

Now Elimelek, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons.They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth.After they had lived there about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.


When Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them, she and her daughters-in-law prepared to return home from there. With her two daughters-in-law she left the place where she had been living and set out on the road that would take them back to the land of Judah.

Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”

Then she kissed them goodbye and they wept aloud 10 and said to her, “We will go back with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?12 Return home, my daughters; I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me—even if I had a husband tonight and then gave birth to sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you remain unmarried for them? No, my daughters. It is more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me!”

14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her.

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.

19 So the two women went on until they came to Bethlehem. When they arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them, and the women exclaimed, “Can this be Naomi?”

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,[b]” she told them. “Call me Mara,[c] because the Almighty[d] has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The Lord has afflicted[e] me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

22 So Naomi returned from Moab accompanied by Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, arriving in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning.










20 September 2020



Mathew, Jesus and Harvest



The Calling of Matthew

 Chapter 12 from verse 9

As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus Questioned About Fasting

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?”

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”



Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman


18 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”

22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

23 When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, 24 he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. 26 News of this spread through all that region.

Jesus Heals the Blind and the Mute

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”

28 When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”

“Yes, Lord,” they replied.

29 Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you”; 30 and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

34 But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”


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.”



Today is the Sunday before the local holiday September weekend. Today it is traditionally the day we celebrate Harvest Festival in St Pauls parish church. But of course today sees a change in how we must celebrate it. Today it may appear that we have different priorities and protocols to worry about. But one thing is clear and one thing is definite and one thing remains the same and that’s the love and the grace that we find in Jesus. Still the same as yesterday, today and forever.


The reading is especially poignant this morning because the harvest that is required is now different. The churches have been closed, people have been alone in their homes and for some, fear has been palpable.


So as we are moving to the next stage (hopefully) of the church beginning to open, what is this different harvest that’s required.


Well my first prayer this morning is for Food banks. 


Food banks and other like minded agencies.


They have been suffering over the past five months and places like Preshal, (although closed over the lockdown) have still been feeding folk on a daily basis. They have also given out food parcels. The Salvation Army hasn’t closed its door, they are still needed for the homeless and the desperate, as well as City Mission and The Lodging House Mission. Therefore it's so important that we still support them in our own way this year we are unable to support them in our usual way.


When we read today's reading we hear that “When he saw the crowds, Jesus had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. “ Of course today we have the Shepherd, we know him and call to him in our prayers.


In verse 37 Jesus 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.”


So this would be my second prayer this morning, and that would be for the “new harvest” that we need over the coming months. The church will begin to open its doors and people will be missing. People who are not there because of the numbers. People not able because of their age or their frailty. People who prefer to stay away as they are afraid. Their bodies may not be in the building but their hearts and minds will be there because their love for their church never fades, never goes away.


Yes we need to harvest the crops, we need to feed the homeless and the despairing, but we need to feed our people who long for the smell of the church sanctuary, the sound of the chatter and laughter, the music of the choir and the unity of their prayers and the uplifting voice of our minister.


Through our reading this morning one thing is clear and that’s the authority of Jesus. In our reading, he had the authority to call Matthew and this morning he is calling on you. He had compassion for the crowds as they were like sheep without a shepherd, we are lucky for we know the shepherd but at the same time we also have a flock of friends and pew-pals that need an additional shepherd to keep in touch and reassure them. And that could be you. Let's not be discouraged for there are many things going on at the moment to help our spiritual needs. The on line service, the DVD's being distributed by Chris and the many other sources that are available to us.


At the end of our reading Jesus shows that the Harvest is important for there is a lot of work to be done. 


On this Harvest Sunday lets pray about a new Harvest, what we have to give and what we can do. Amen




What gift of love could I offer to a King
What weight or worth could be held within my offering
When He alone is worthy

A glory song is inscribed upon my heart
This treasure held in an alabaster jar I break
To bring Him all the glory

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below

What sacrifice could be equal to His own
The cross of Christ has declared that there is nought I owe
Yet I know I owe Him all

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise God from whom all blessings flow

Our Father God the infinite
The matchless King magnificent

The living Christ
The servant Son
The prophesied
The saving One

The Holy Ghost gift from above
The faithful Friend
The seal of love

This life, this heart
This song to Him
My all in all
My everything

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts
Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost

Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost









19 September 2020





According to the Bible, Naaman was a commander of the army of Syria. He was a good commander and was held in favour because of the victory that God brought him. Yet Naaman was a leper. Naaman's wife had a servant girl from Israel who said that a prophet there would be able to heal him. Naaman tells his lord this and he is sent to Israel with a letter to the king. The king of Israel didn't know what to do, yet Elisha sent a message to the King, advising that the King tell Naaman to come to see him. Elisha then told Naaman to go bathe in the Jordan seven times and he would be clean. Naaman was angry and would have left, but his servant asked him to try it and he was healed. A servant of Elisha, Gehazi, seeing Naaman being turned away from offering God offerings ran after him and falsely asked for clothing and silver for visitors. And the leprosy from Naaman fell on Gehazi and would remain in his descendants.

Naamans pride was defeated by Gods gracious response to his obedience but the situation could have turned out differently. There are obvious questions here, for instance why didn’t Elisha speak to Naaman after he made such a long journey. Why hadn’t the prophet merely waved his hand and healed him.


But despite all this Naaman did what he was told and dipped himself in the water and was amazed as he began to feel the changes in his body. The man who almost forfeited a miracle because of his pride humbled himself to receive the promise God had made to him through Elisha.


An extract from the life of Naaman


2ndKings 5


5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.[a]

Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

17 “If you will not,” said Naaman, “please let me, your servant, be given as much earth as a pair of mules can carry, for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord. 18 But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I have to bow there also—when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this.”

19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said.


A promise from scripture


Exodus 15    "For I am the Lord who heals you"


Jeremiah 17 “ Heal me O Lord and I will be healed, save me and I will be saved for you are the one that I praise” Amen










18 September 2020





Miriam was the daughter of Amram, the leader of the Israelites in ancient Egypt, and of Jochebed. She was the sister of Aaron and Moses.


The narrative of Moses' infancy describes an unnamed sister of Moses observing him being placed in the Nile (Ex 2:4); she is traditionally identified as Miriam.


In the Exodus, Miriam is described as a "prophetess" when she leads the Israelites in the“Song of the sea” after Pharaoh's army is destroyed at “sea of reeds”


The Old Testament describes Miriam and Aaron criticizing Moses’ "Cushite" wife in Numbers 12 and in verse 9 we read that “The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them” God was not impressed by their judgment on Moses or his wife and he made them feel his displeasure.


Though we don’t read anywhere what Miriam did about this we must assume she repented during the seven days of her banishment. After all its not easy for a person of faith to be judged in such a way. Having said all of that Miriam was one of the great heroes of our faith, as a young girl she helped save the young Moses and she led the people encouraging God. It is thought that she led them singing the first ever Psalm ever recorded in the Bible. 


Regarding the death of Miriam, the Torah states, "The entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the desert of Tzin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. Miriam died and was buried there."



Now let's read an extract of the life of Miriam


Numbers 12 


Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, he said, “Listen to my words:

“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”

The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my Lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.









17 September 2020



 Josiah A man who loved the word


 Josiah was the sixteenth king of Judea, he was known as the man who instituted major religious reform and compiled important Hebrew scriptures. He is described as a righteous king, a king who "walked in all the ways of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left". He is also one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthews gospel. 

 Although he became a King when he was a boy, he became a strong spiritual leader and he helped restore Judah’s fractured relationship with God. Not only was he a man of his word, he was a man who looked to words for the rules and the law that was set before him and his people. It was known that he came from a background of “ nasty” predecessors but he was the clear example of how grace can inhabit even the nastiest of families and when with hearts that are open to God, anything is possible.

So from this lets read an extract from the life of Josiah




2ndKings Chapter 22

22 1-2 Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. He lived the way God wanted. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to either left or right.

3-7 One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, King Josiah sent the royal secretary Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to The Temple of God with instructions: “Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money that has been brought to The Temple of God that the doormen have collected from the people. Have them turn it over to the foremen who are managing the work on The Temple of God so they can pay the workers who are repairing God’s Temple, all the carpenters, construction workers, and masons. Also, authorize them to buy the lumber and dressed stone for The Temple repairs. You don’t need to get a receipt for the money you give them—they’re all honest men.”

The high priest Hilkiah reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, “I’ve just found the Book of God’s Revelation, instructing us in God’s ways. I found it in The Temple!” He gave it to Shaphan and Shaphan read it.

Then Shaphan the royal secretary came back to the king and gave him an account of what had gone on: “Your servants have bagged up the money that has been collected for The Temple; they have given it to the foremen to pay The Temple workers.”

10 Then Shaphan the royal secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” Shaphan proceeded to read it to the king.

11-13 When the king heard what was written in the book, God’s Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal aide. He ordered them all: “Go and pray to God for me and for these people—for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God’s anger must be burning furiously against us—our ancestors haven’t obeyed a thing written in this book, followed none of the instructions directed to us.”


Josiah lived by promises and the Bible is full of them 


2nd Chronicles 7 verse 14


if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”









16 September 2020





So what do we know about Dorcas? Well in the bible she is also referred to as Tabitha. Dorcas means “ gazelle” and believe it or not there is a species of Gazelle called “ the dorcas gazelle”.

But what do we know about Dorcas, the woman. Well we can glean from the scriptures that she was quite a wealthy woman as she seemed to be a popular seamstress. We are told that she was always doing good and helping the poor. We can safely say that God was glorified in her life story and also up to the point of Peter coming to her when she was dead. Her acts of kindness and her generosity give us a great example of how we can glorify Gods name as well. He can be glorified through our simple acts of love and obedience whatever they are and who ever you are.



Now lets read about Dorcas


Acts 9 36-43


 36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. 37 About that time she became sick and died, and her body was washed and placed in an upstairs room. 38 Lydda was near Joppa; so when the disciples heard that Peter was in Lydda, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Please come at once!”

39 Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.

40 Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. 41 He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. 42 This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord. 43 Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named Simon.


Psalm 19 v 14


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

Be pleasing in your sight O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer.











15 September 2020





From Ruth 2 verse 12


Boaz said to Ruth………


“May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge”.


These are the words of Boaz the wealthy landowner of Bethlehem. Boaz was, in fact, related to Naomi who was Ruth's mother in law.


He notices Ruth the widow gleaning grain in his fields. He soon learns of the difficult circumstances her family is in and of Ruth's loyalty to Naomi. In response, Boaz invites her to eat with him and his workers, as well as deliberately leaving grain for her to claim while keeping a protective eye on her.


Ruth approaches Boaz and asks him to exercise his right of kinship and marry her. Boaz accepts and In marrying Ruth, Boaz revives Elimelech's lineage, and the patrimony is secured to Naomi's family.  Their son was Obed, father of Jesse, and grandfather of David.


Boaz was a capable and upright man and was touched by the loyalty and generosity of a young widow. In Ruth he found a well suited wife who would bless him with a son. 



Now let's read an extract from their story.


Ruth 2


Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?”

The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.”

So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.”

10 At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favour in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?”

11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

13 “May I continue to find favour in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.[a] 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]

21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”

22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.


Boaz offers us a great portrait of a good man, the type that God would bless. 



Palm 41 v 1-2


Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them –
    they are counted among the blessed in the land –
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.










14 September 2020



Abigail name means “ my father’s joy”


This story of Abigail is one of opposites colliding. On the one hand you have Abigail's first husband Nabal ( which means “the fool”) he appears a mean and stubborn man with great wealth. But he was not for sharing anything and he turned David’s men away when they asked for food. 

On the opposite side we have David. With his ruddy good looks and his prowess in battle he was a giant amongst men and killer of Goliath. All he needed was some food for his men but Nabal was having none of it and refused.

Well as we can read. Abigail wife of Nabal flew into action and she took bread, wine, cakes and meat in order to feed David’s men. Fast-forward to the end of the chapter and a raging Nabal collapses and dies. Abigail then goes onto becomes David’s wife


One of the interesting lines in this reading is how Abigail describes David, telling him “Your God-honoured life is tightly bound
in the bundle of God-protected life;”


Abigail was a courageous woman who made the best of a difficult situation. God honoured her for her for her consistency and her generosity. In the same way God continues to honour those who are faithful even when the faithfulness beings difficulty and pain. He doesn’t promise to always deliver but he does promise to stand beside us and to follow us in our path through life.


Now let's read the story of Abigail



1 Samuel 25 v2-42


2-3 There was a certain man in Maon who carried on his business in the region of Carmel. He was very prosperous—three thousand sheep and a thousand goats, and it was sheep-shearing time in Carmel. The man’s name was Nabal (Fool), a Calebite, and his wife’s name was Abigail. The woman was intelligent and good-looking, the man brutish and mean.

4-8 David, out in the backcountry, heard that Nabal was shearing his sheep and sent ten of his young men off with these instructions: “Go to Carmel and approach Nabal. Greet him in my name, ‘Peace! Life and peace to you. Peace to your household, peace to everyone here! I heard that it’s sheep-shearing time. Here’s the point: When your shepherds were camped near us we didn’t take advantage of them. They didn’t lose a thing all the time they were with us in Carmel. Ask your young men—they’ll tell you. What I’m asking is that you be generous with my men—share the feast! Give whatever your heart tells you to your servants and to me, David your son.’”

9-11 David’s young men went and delivered his message word for word to Nabal. Nabal tore into them, “Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? The country is full of runaway servants these days. Do you think I’m going to take good bread and wine and meat freshly butchered for my sheepshearers and give it to men I’ve never laid eyes on? Who knows where they’ve come from?”

12-13 David’s men got out of there and went back and told David what he had said. David said, “Strap on your swords!” They all strapped on their swords, David and his men, and set out, four hundred of them. Two hundred stayed behind to guard the camp.

14-17 Meanwhile, one of the young shepherds told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, what had happened: “David sent messengers from the backcountry to salute our master, but he tore into them with insults. Yet these men treated us very well. They took nothing from us and didn’t take advantage of us all the time we were in the fields. They formed a wall around us, protecting us day and night all the time we were out tending the sheep. Do something quickly because big trouble is ahead for our master and all of us. Nobody can talk to him. He’s impossible—a real brute!”

18-19 Abigail flew into action. She took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep dressed out and ready for cooking, a bushel of roasted grain, a hundred raisin cakes, and two hundred fig cakes, and she had it all loaded on some donkeys. Then she said to her young servants, “Go ahead and pave the way for me. I’m right behind you.” But she said nothing to her husband Nabal.

20-22 As she was riding her donkey, descending into a ravine, David and his men were descending from the other end, so they met there on the road. David had just said, “That sure was a waste, guarding everything this man had out in the wild so that nothing he had was lost—and now he rewards me with insults. A real slap in the face! May God do his worst to me if Nabal and every cur in his misbegotten brood aren’t dead meat by morning!”

23-25 As soon as Abigail saw David, she got off her donkey and fell on her knees at his feet, her face to the ground in homage, saying, “My master, let me take the blame! Let me speak to you. Listen to what I have to say. Don’t dwell on what that brute Nabal did. He acts out the meaning of his name: Nabal, Fool. Foolishness oozes from him.

25-27 “I wasn’t there when the young men my master sent arrived. I didn’t see them. And now, my master, as God lives and as you live, God has kept you from this avenging murder—and may your enemies, all who seek my master’s harm, end up like Nabal! Now take this gift that I, your servant girl, have brought to my master, and give it to the young men who follow in the steps of my master.

28-29 “Forgive my presumption! But God is at work in my master, developing a rule solid and dependable. My master fights God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you.

If anyone stands in your way,
    if anyone tries to get you out of the way,
Know this: Your God-honoured life is tightly bound
    in the bundle of God-protected life;
But the lives of your enemies will be hurled aside
    as a stone is thrown from a sling.

30-31 “When God completes all the goodness he has promised my master and sets you up as prince over Israel, my master will not have this dead weight in his heart, the guilt of an avenging murder. And when God has worked things for good for my master, remember me.”

32-34 And David said, “Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He sent you to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and taking charge of looking out for me. A close call! As God lives, the God of Israel who kept me from hurting you, if you had not come as quickly as you did, stopping me in my tracks, by morning there would have been nothing left of Nabal but dead meat.”

35 Then David accepted the gift she brought him and said, “Return home in peace. I’ve heard what you’ve said and I’ll do what you’ve asked.”

36-38 When Abigail got home she found Nabal presiding over a huge banquet. He was in high spirits—and very, very drunk. So she didn’t tell him anything of what she’d done until morning. But in the morning, after Nabal had sobered up, she told him the whole story. Right then and there he had a heart attack and fell into a coma. About ten days later God finished him off and he died.

39-40 When David heard that Nabal was dead he said, “Blessed be God who has stood up for me against Nabal’s insults, kept me from an evil act, and let Nabal’s evil boomerang back on him.”

Then David sent for Abigail to tell her that he wanted her for his wife. David’s servants went to Abigail at Carmel with the message, “David sent us to bring you to marry him.”

41 She got up, and then bowed down, face to the ground, saying, “I’m your servant, ready to do anything you want. I’ll even wash the feet of my master’s servants!”

42 Abigail didn’t linger. She got on her donkey and, with her five maids in attendance, went with the messengers to David and became his wife.





A promise from scripture Psalm 30 10-12


 called out to you, God;
    I laid my case before you:
Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead?
    auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs
    and stories of you won’t sell.
So listen! and be kind!
    Help me out of this!”

You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough.



From Eugene Pettersons translation of the Old Testament










New Series begins on Monday 14th September 2020 

Image may contain: one or more people, close-up and text





Alex McEwan who has faithfully been giving us our daily dose of Words for Life is taking a wee break from today, Monday 7th September 2020.  He assures us it won't be for long and to keep a look out.  In his words, "As Arnie would say, 'I'll be back'."








07 September 2020


Luke 6 6-11



On another Sabbath he went into the synagogue and was teaching, and a man was there whose right hand was shrivelled. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to the man with the shrivelled hand, ‘Get up and stand in front of everyone.’ So he got up and stood there.

Then Jesus said to them, ‘I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?’

10 He looked round at them all, and then said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was completely restored. 11 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.






A well known pastor held up a 20 pound note to the children in the church, “ who wants this?” Of course hands went up all over the kirk. The minister then crumpled it up into a ball as small as his strength would allow,“ who wants it now?” and a large proportion of children's hands disappeared. “ Wow” he says I can understand why some of you have put your hands down, but let me tell you this. No matter how crumpled this note is, no matter how dirty or discarded it might be, to me, it's still worth the same. And that’s how God feels about you, no matter how dirty your faces are, despite all the cuts and scrapes you have on your arms and legs. No matter what kind of clothes you wear. To God you are valuable and you are worth just the same.


In today's reading, these Pharisees are not happy people, they continue to observe Jesus to find fault and look for an opportunity to accuse him.


This story tells us about a man with a withered arm. He was probably a man who was disabled by his affliction. But where do we find him on the Sabbath? We find him in the synagogue. He was a man who did not let his affliction hold him back, or keep him at home. It was the Sabbath and we find him in the synagogue.


At this point in time I am sure those who are reading this are desperate to get back into the house of God, back into their home church. You might be worried about your minister or the fact that the church has now been empty for five months. Has all this separation caused a brokenness that can never be repaired. Are you suffering from a brokenness? Is there a part of your life withered?


Just as Jesus repaired the man's withered arm he can repair us and the church. It may take Him some time to do it, but He will fit every piece of your life back in its proper place.


There is a story about the Duke of Norfolk  who was a loyal and loving subject of his esteemed king. As a gesture of friendship he gave the king a priceless Portland vase. It was so highly treasured by the king that he had it placed in the British Museum. In this way, he could share it with his whole kingdom.

 A household servant of the Duke of Norfolk became envious of him and sought to kill him in order to steal his estate. Finding this out, the Duke banished him. Smouldering with envy, bitterness, and rage, the servant sought revenge. He chose the Portland vase as the channel for his viciousness.

 For days he studied the routine of the guards at the British Museum. At a predetermined time, when the guards were being changed, he stepped across the restraining cord and seized the vase. He raised the vase over his head and with all his might, dashed it on the floor. The vase broke into innumerable pieces. The priceless treasure was ruined, or so it would seem.

 The king ordered all the pieces to be saved. A search was made for someone to restore the vase. At last, a descendant of the maker of the vase was found to possess such skills. For weeks he laboured until at last the vase was restored. Today this vase can be seen in its restored glory in the British Museum. Only on close examination can one detect that it had ever been broken.

 When this man with the “withered hand” was healed, others could possibly see other little problems in his life. But there is one thing for sure that they could not deny. They could not deny that Jesus performed a Great Miracle in his life and could do the same for me and you. Jesus Is The Cure For Broken churches and Withered Lives!   Amen


And this is the actual broken but repaired Portland Vase 








06 September 2020



Matthew 18 v15-20


Dealing With Sin in the Church


15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”



We have covered this topic in another part of the gospels but in a nutshell Jesus is saying that being a member of the church means you have a responsibility. If your sheep gets lost you don't look for an hour and call it quits. You get out there and find that sheep. If your brother sins against you seventy-seven times (another hypothetical), that's how many times you forgive him. And of course, we know from the Gospel of Matthew how Jesus treated the Gentiles and tax collectors. 


Notice that Jesus follows this with talk about the power of agreement, saying “anything that is agreed upon by two on earth will be done for them by the Father in heaven”. This is a promise. But notice as well that this is not where Jesus ends. Jesus says last, "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." 


 Jesus is present, really present, where two or three are gathered in his name, not just where two or three agree in Jesus' name, but where two are three are gathered, presumably this includes the two who cannot listen to each other nor know how to handle it.  Christ Jesus is present.

Jesus offers a simple guide to help us handle our sin. But far more importantly Jesus promises us that he is present that his presence is real for us, when we are gathered in his name in agreement and even in conflict. Surely this must be good news for everyone involved. This Sabbath day lets pray for conflict. Those who are faced with it, those who witness it and especially for those who choose to allow it.  Amen









05 September 2020



Luke 6 1-5


Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath


6 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the cornfields, and his disciples began to pick some ears of corn, rub them in their hands and eat the grain. Some of the Pharisees asked, ‘Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’


Jesus answered them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’




The Pharisees are at it again, “why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” The Pharisees in their attempt to protect the Sabbath burdened it with restrictions. So we should ask ourselves are we more like the Pharisees in Luke’s story than we care to admit? How have we managed to turn God’s gift of the Sabbath into a burden?


We could argue that we have gone to the other extreme with no restrictions on what we can do on the Sabbath. Our children have schools ports activities on a Sunday and most of the big shopping centres see Sunday as a big money earner. But what about worship. At the beginning of the lockdown, I thought it was great that you could download a service around 8 in the morning and that would free up the day. But where was I going to go? We may feel a tinge of guilt if we do not attend worship, or we may attend but find ourselves distracted by the many things we have to do. Instead of feeling rested and renewed, we begin another week exhausted.


“Jesus says that the Sabbath was made for humankind. It is meant to be life giving, not life-draining. It is meant to be a gift, a time apart from the relentless demands of daily life, a time to rest in God’s presence, a time to savour the goodness of God’s creation and celebrate God’s deliverance, a time to do what is good and what gives life. Even in these strange times lets give the Sabbath a bit more thought and a lot more respect.  Amen










04 September 2020



Luke 5 v33 to end


Jesus Questioned About Fasting


33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”

34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”

36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better."



Jesus is being asked, “ Why are you rocking the boat? Why do you insist on doing these things that make people angry with you?”


It appeared to them that he was mixing with the wrong people and the worst of all was that he was calling it “ a ministry”. The Pharisees were not amused. They were worried about fasting, if you didn’t fast you were looked upon as unholy and the Pharisees had fasting down to a fine art. They would fast every Monday and Thursday, and would whiten their faces with ash so everyone could see that they were fasting. Of course, the fasting itself was somewhat hypocritical because the fast only lasted from sunrise to sunset, and they could eat as much as they wanted before and after the fast.


Their prayer was also regimented. They would pray promptly at noon, three and six, no matter where they were or what they were doing. Some of them, when they knew the time of prayer was approaching, would hurry up to get to a place like a street corner or a marketplace so that everyone would observe them praying. So their prayers also were hypocritical.


Jesus offers us “ new garments”. You see, up to this point, the Jews has been trying to live according to the law. But it could never give them righteousness. All it could do was cover over their sin. And now Jesus is saying, “Look, you’re still wearing your old clothes. They’re stained and soiled and full of holes. The Old Testament law could never make them new. But I have come to give you brand new clothes of righteousness. Don’t try to cut them up to patch the old clothes – just wear the new!”


Jesus offers new wineskins. Jesus is saying, “Nobody pours new wine into old wineskins. This would ruin the wine.” Nobody pours fresh orange juice into old bottle. This would ruin the orange juice” Jesus is saying” Look, I’m bringing some new wine, and it needs a wineskin. But the old wineskin of the Old Testament has been stretched to its limit. So I need a new wineskin to hold it. The old just won’t do the job.”

And finally. We all know wine gets better with age. Jesus is not disagreeing with this. The old wine vs. new wine doesn’t mean aged wine vs. fresh wine. He is talking about a kind of wine people have been drinking for years, and a new, different kind of wine. 


Some people prefer red, others prefer white. Some people prefer a particular brand. And generally, when they are presented with a new kind of wine that they are not used to, they don’t like it initially.


This is what Jesus is saying here about His teachings on grace. He is simply asserting that what He is teaching will not immediately be accepted. It will not immediately be liked. The old and familiar seems better because it is not threatening. The new way of doing things demands that we change. And people don’t like change


Just as Jesus preached about change we know that we need to embrace change especially in this day and age we find ourselves in. Today let us pray for understanding and the need for change.  Amen











03 September 2020



Luke 5 1-11


Jesus calls his first disciples


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

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

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

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

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

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




I love the parables and all the other stories in the Bible, as I believe that they not only tell us something but they teach us and more often than not, they teach us by example. You can almost hear the annoyance in Simon's voice when it is suggested that he put out the nets one more time. I can just hear the tone in his voice when he says, “ Because you say so”

Of course they have a record catch and had to ask others for help in bringing in the catch. Simon feels bad for doubting Jesus. In my own wee head I can hear Jesus say to them “ see! If you do what I tell you it’ll all work fine? Now you’ve seen what you can do catching fish I want you now to use those skills and my teaching and go and fish for people”

This story in Luke shows us the importance of the disciples following Jesus’ lead and how it was their job to move from fish to men and women.

Nothings changed. We need to stop what we are doing and spread the good news of Christ. Literally pulling our boats up to the shore and do as we are told and become fishers of men. As the old Sunday school hymn reminds us...


I will make you fishers of men,
Fishers of men, fishers of men.
I will make you fishers of men,
If you follow Me.

If you follow Me, 
If you follow Me,
I will make you fishers of men,
If you follow Me.

Hear Christ calling "Come unto Me
Come unto Me, Come unto Me."
Hear Christ calling "Come unto Me
I will give You rest."

"I will give you rest.
I will give you rest.
Hear Christ calling "Come unto Me
I will give You rest."











02 September 2020



Luke 4 v38 to end


Jesus Heals Many


38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.



Staying with Luke 4 today and we are looking at how people reacted to Jesus and what they wanted from him. Simon’s family asked him for help, as his mother-in-law was demon possessed. Notice what she did when she was free of the demon “ she began to wait on him”

At daybreak he went to find some “ alone time” but they searched him out and then tried to keep him in their company. But what we read said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching.


Sometimes how we react to the church, in general, is how some people reacted to Jesus in the Bible. We want to provide for our brothers and sisters but at the same time try to keep our church the same as it’s always been. While we should serve our brothers and sisters it is our job to serve others too, others that are outside Gods grace and need to hear his word. At the same time it is right not to keep our churches like social clubs and keep things they have been for years.


Times are changing and the Church will change in accordance to what is happening outside in our streets, We need to share his good news and keep preaching his word where ever and what ever our church may be.  Amen









01 September 2020



Luke 4 31 -37


Jesus drives out an impure spirit


31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 ‘Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!’

35 ‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, ‘What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!’ 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.





Yesterday we talked about the good news and the bad news. Today we talk about the “real” news and that comes to us in three parts in this reading.


First of all God's teaching is amazing and as verse one says it is amazing because of it's authority. What that means to us today is it calls for obedience. It's not “wishy-washy” and it certainly is not “open to discussion”.  It is authoritative and fresh every day as though we are hearing it for the first time.


Secondly it is demanding. It demands us to live a certain kind of life and it demands that we obey him and his words. Just like the demon threw the man down and came out of him, God's demanding word requires our immediate and total obedience.


And finally, He is good news! And that news deserves to be told to others. It's news of an eternal life and news of a man that “threw stars into space and to cruel nails suffered”, but the news is good that he died for us so might sit at the Father's right hand with acceptance and grace.  Amen

 Back to Words for Life  


Words for Life, October 2020


31 October 2020


I have tried to stop watching the news or read anything about what’s going in the medical world at the moment. But I fail on a daily basis. It's just not possible. You would have to walk about with noise cancelling headphones or lock yourself in a darkened room. 


I am the world's worst worrier. I worry when there is nothing to worry about.


I have to admit I am still thinking about those going back to Church this coming Sunday ( and I will be one of them). I mean, what do you actually pray for when there is so much going on, so much to be aware of and so many new practices to be aware of?


Then I was glancing through a book by Max Lucado when a verse jumped out from the pages, its from the book of James (chapter 1 verses 5-8)


“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all, generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubt, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord”


After I read the verse, I stopped and read it through one more time just to make sure I was getting the gist.


If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.


To me, this verse tells me, even when you don’t know what you are doing you should pray. It doesn’t really matter if you're mixed up, confused or scared, God will listen, He will help and never judge us for our insecurities. 


Eugene Peterson then tells us from this passage  “People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.


And so tomorrow is a new week, a new Sunday and a new opportunity. Don’t be adrift at sea, but rest in the harbour of His peace remembering to stand tall and confident in His Love. Amen 










30 October 2020



I made a confession to someone the other day. “I am rubbish at having an opinion”.  You see, I read something and then think ”yep I agree!”, and a few minutes later I might hear someone on TV and think “wait a minute? No! that’s really what I think !”.  Every day I have shifting opinions about politics, what I see on TV, read in newspapers or even talking to friends.


I’m a bit like that with the bible. No sooner do I say “wow that’s my favourite verse in the bible”, then I go and read something else and frantically write that down “my new favourite verse”.


My “latest favourite verse in the Bible is Romans 15 verse 13”.


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


In the last church I visited on a Sunday I used it as a part of a  benediction. A few people on the way out commented on it and it kind of stuck with me over the last seven months. I can see it, not only as a benediction but maybe inside a card and it would be great to see it on the side of a bus one day as you go along the road.


If you look carefully there are so many words in such a short verse that reassures us as Christian words like “hope” “fill” “joy” “peace” “trust” “overflow” and finally “power”. That’s just about 25% of the verse uses some thought provoking words.


Our church goes back to an open Sunday Service this coming week. Someone of us will be there. Most of us won’t. Over the next 48 hours I will be thinking and praying about the people I will not be able to see on Sunday. I call them Pew Pals and Pew neighbours and an extended Pew Family. I’ll also be thinking about Fergus and all the changes as well as the familiarisation he has to deal with. So what can you say to those who can't be there on Sunday? What can we say to our minister on this most unique event of 2020? 


Well above all else it could be the words of Romans 15 verse 13


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.












29 October 2020



If Walls could talk


I am reading at the moment about Thomas Telford. The Telford kirks are a series of Presbyterian churches built in Scotland with money from the  Parliament of that time. The Church of Scotland act of 1824 provided a grant of £50000 for William Thomson to design a series of churches, built by Thomas Telford who was a Scottish stonemason. In total 32 churches were built and many are still there to be seen, some have been destroyed and many are still in use. Most are recognisable by their bell tower. These churches are a testament to a wise designer/architect and builder and to the many congregations who packed into these buildings over a long period of time.

We all know the analogy that Jesus makes about the wise man who built his house upon the rock.  The church is beginning to change in its practices and procedures, it's changing the way it is communicating to most of its congregation and the sanctuaries are taking on a new form and a new design. But looking to the words of Matthew we must remember the Church is built on the words of God, not bricks and mortar and to ensure that our buildings remain in their rightful place we need to continue teaching that word, nurturing our ministers and pastors and teaching our congregation that the Word of God is everything. That message comes to us with authority and grace. Amen




Matthew 7 24-29

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.



If you are interested here are the churches that were built.

The churches are/were

  1. Acharacle (Acharacle Church Of Scotland Parish Church)

  2. Ardgour

  3. Berneray (converted to artist studio and featured on UK Channel 4 show 'The Restoration Man')

  4. Berriedale (out of ecclesiastical use)

  5. Carnoch (Strathconon Parish Church)

  6. Croick

  7. Cross (in use to 1905, since demolished)

  8. Duror

  9. Hallin (Waternish Parish Church, Hallin - in use as artists studio)

   10. Iona

   11. Keiss (Keiss Village Church of Scotland)

   12. Kinlochbervie

   13. Kinlochluichart

   14. Kinlochspelve (Kinlochspelvie Church of Scotland - in use as self-catering holiday       accommodation)

   15. Knock (since demolished)

   16. Lochgilphead (demolished, replaced by new church on same site in 1885)

   17. North Ballachulish (demolished, replaced by new church on same site in 1900)

   18. Risabus or Oa (in use to 1930, now derelict)


   19. Plockton

   20. Poolewe

   21. Portnahaven

   22. Quarff

   23. Shieldaig (rebuilt using Telford's foundations)

   24. Steinscholl

   25. Stoer (in use to 1963, derelict since 1970, plans lodged to covert to holiday accommodation)

   26. Strathy (converted to house)

   27. Strontian (key features altered - only Telford Church to not be listed)

   28. Tobermory (demolished, replaced by new church on same site in 1895)

   29. Tomintoul (unrecognisable as Telford Church, key features altered in 1900)

   30. Timsgarry (Baile na Cille Church - disputed as Telford Church, built in T-shape with additional alterations for climate)

   31. Ullapool (in use to 1935, now museum)

   32. Ulva (privately owned, remains in occasional ecclesiastical use)







28 October 2020


Missing believed Lost


I read an article the other day about an 18 year old boy who ran away from university and his hometown. For three days and nights, he slept in hostels afraid of exam results and being judged by his parents. In Kent, he came across a pastor in the hostel who told him the story about the lost sheep and mixed that up with the story of the prodigal son.


The eighteen year old gave him a face that summed up a lack of understanding and puzzlement, why a bible story seemed appropriate.


The pastor explained that his parents were not sitting waiting to judge him, they more than likely were looking for him and would be concerned that he was missing. Their reaction to him coming home would not be one of anger but happiness. It didn’t take him long to come to his senses and three hours later he was reunited with two very happy and relieved parents.



We all stray from time to time. We might be coaxed or swayed, we might even be coerced. But if you look over your shoulder you will find the shepherd, looking our for you, bringing you home to the peace and quiet of his ever loving presence.


And as the reading says in verse 14 our Father in heaven will find us and save us and we will not perish but have everlasting life.



Matthew 18 v 12-14

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.










27 October 2020


The authority of the Son


16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defence Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’ 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.


19 Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.


24 ‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.


28 ‘Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out – those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.











26 October 2020



 Does Jesus measure up?



Yesterday's reading still has something to say to us and so stay with this for a few moments longer.


28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


An interesting fact is that when harnessing two beasts into a yoke, one of the beasts will always be more experienced than the other, the second animal would be “the learner” while the more experienced would be more “tuned into” the master's commands. This animal providing experience, leadership and training for the less experienced one.


Charles Swindoll suggests that when Jesus says “come to me” he actually means “to me alone” and nobody else. He goes on to use words like “gentle” “my yoke” and “my burden” and in doing this Jesus is demonstrating his meekness and humility and contrasting the religious leaders of his day.


For 33 years Jesus did what we could not do. He met God’s standard. He made the grade. He measured up. Through his sinless life and subsequent death and resurrection, he earned the right to become the experienced member of the team in the yoke. Now, like then, He invites individuals to come get in his yoke and let Him be their credentials for acceptance by God!   











25 October 2020


Take my yoke.


My aim now for the next few weeks is not to mention the pandemic but to lead up to Advent with some insight into the words and actions of Jesus.


So I’m guessing this is the last time I will mention the current situation we find ourselves in with the lockdown.


A well-loved verse from Matthew 11 reassures us   28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”


The “yoke” is part of the harness to pull a cart or a plough, it was necessary to control the animal working the field. But here it has a deeper meaning.


The yoke is designed for two animals, bringing the strength of two together while being impossible with only one. Jesus is speaking to people with an impossible load. Being “heavy laden” suggests that these people were exhausted with what’s going on.


Many people carry that same burden today. The pressure often manifests itself in strained relationships, depression, stress, being bullied, and other conditions that tell people they don’t measure up. They seek to get rid of the burden, by impressing other people, taking on more jobs and usually suffering in the process. Jesus used the yoke to show people the impossibility of measuring up to God’s standard. The yoke continues to speak to us today. Telling us to seek that help, ease that burden and take that rest


While so many people are demanding,  Jesus is gentle. While competing with others can be exhausting, being yoked with Jesus is easy. And while our anxiety is on the rise?. He promises to make it lighter.


Take that step with him today, share the yoke, enjoy the rest and your burden will then become light. Amen











24 October 2020


They announced yesterday that it could be “a digital Christmas”. Really? To me that sounds dull, dead and deeply depressing. It seems this crisis is getting hotter.

In the book of John, the messianic crisis moved from Galilee to Jerusalem and the crisis became hotter there too. There were divisions, doubts and dashed hopes there too but these words of Jesus tell us of something that’s very alive and active and actually moving.

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

Even in the doubts, in the midst of a crisis when people were arguing Jesus tells us that if we believe in him we will be streams of living water. Bringing sustenance, rehydration, encouraging growth and be fully alive with him.

Nine weeks today we will look back on the 2020 Christmas day that was yesterday. Will it be digital? Well, we may have to see people through Zoom, we may not have some people round our tables but as Christians, it will be our job to celebrate the birth of a king, the great story of a Saviour born in a stable. Yes, and be streams of living water, pouring out, reaching out, refreshing and alive. 

Please. Please. Please, let's ditch the word "digital" and tell others we will have a Living, Loving Christmas.  Amen












23 October 2020


Someone was describing a friend who is “shielding” at the moment and they described them as “strong as an ox”.  Now this person that is being shielded is 4 foot 11 inches, 92 years of age and around 7 stones, and a smile crossed my face thinking of them being described as an ox.



Proverbs 14 verse 4 tells us “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.” 


This verse from Proverbs could fill a few bookshelves in its content and as a resource for sermons and children's addresses.


We all know that the oxen are huge strong animals and a much needed tool in biblical days to bring in the harvest. We all know that the manger was a deep trough for the food to feed the cows and other animals. The writer of this proverb warns that if there are no oxen to work the fields, there is no food for the manger and no sustenance for the animals. If we don’t have any strong oxen in the church our resources will soon disappear and as a church we would have no sustenance either.


Are you as strong as an ox? The lady at the top of the story might only be  4”11 but she was as strong as an ox. She was known in her church as a “prayer warrior” and she loved the well worn pages of her bible. So strength comes in many ways and comes from many places but none so fruitful as the Bible on our shelf and the prayers in our heart.


Let's all be strong as an ox and let's all bring in a great harvest for our church.











 22 October 2020


Matthew 5 13-16


Salt and Light


13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.


14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


As we think about returning to our churches we think of all the constraints that have been placed upon us while we are there. Wearing masks, no singing, no cushions and no socialising. But think of what we can do. Sharing the sanctuary with our brothers and sisters, worship while listening to the music and listen to the prayers. Hear the word as its being said by our minister and more importantly its public worship of a God that has always been there for us even during the bad times of the past few months.


You. The person that is reading this right now. You are the salt of the earth. You have unique properties that effect those around you. You enhance flavour and you can be a preservative if you are strong enough. And, in being salt, means that you deliberately seek to influence the people in your life by showing them the unconditional love of Christ through good deeds.


Whether it's inside the sanctuary or our in the street we have a job to do, more than ever to shine our light and move forward “with the cross of Jesus going on before” 


Let us pray


Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day – and for some of us, we may have wakened up and thought that ‘it’s just another day’ because we may feel that we are very limited in what we can do in this period of restrictions.  For some of us, this has been a difficult time as we miss sharing times with our families and friends, as well as missing being spontaneous and just doing things that we love.  But as your children, we are also aware that, however we are feeling, each day can also be a day of possibilities and opportunities – we may feel led to contact someone to offer a word of encouragement or undertake a specific task for someone in need.  Or there might be something that we have read that challenges us or disturbs us.  When we read our scripture reading this morning, we see that we are called as your children to be of value and be visible to others in our world – necessary ingredients for the nourishment of our physical lives, and a light in the darkness for others who may need to be led to the true light – the Lord Jesus.   Some days this may be a tall order for us to carry out, and, so, we give you thanks that your word also tells us that we will be given all that we need in order to be your witnesses each day.  As always, we pray that you will be our strength and comfort as we seek to be your salt and light today and every day. 










21 October 2020


Waiting for the Dance


Isaiah 40 v28


“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”


My favourite season by far is Autumn. The nights get darker, there is that autumn feeling in the air and of course, the leaves turn spectacular colours and fall from the trees.  Most mornings my car is covered in leaves and the results can be beautiful.


Everything changes and it is a good time for renewal. But that’s not a thing for us to worry about. Today’s verse reminds us that God is the one constant in our lives and the autumnal changes that we see and feel are down to him, preparing us for renewal and growth and a new beginning. And that is irrespective of any age we find ourselves to be. And so as we look to the trees this day and we see them lying on the ground in all their autumnal splendour don’t think of them as dead, but they are waiting for the wind and a chance to dance.


Our verse reminds us that He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding? No one can fathom. So let's give thanks this day for the one constant in our lives. Hallelujah what a saviour









20 October 2020


Feathers flying through the air


A verse in Proverbs 18 v 21 tells us that 


“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Another one of those verses that can rest uneasy on your mind if we are completely honest. I watched a film the other night, I had seen it before, “Doubt” starring Meryl Streep. There is some gossip involved and she is told to empty a feather pillow out of her window to help her understand this proverb. Once that’s been done she is then advised to go and get all the feathers back and put them back in the pillow. Of course, it's impossible.

At the moment there are many tongues in this world and they are wagging. Whether it is politics, pandemic or just simple “put-downs” once they are out there the damage has been done and the proof of that is out in the air.  Paul had something to say about all of this in Ephesians 4 when he said

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work, doing something useful with their own hands that they may have something to share with those in need.


 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.


Someone once told me that you have two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in that ratio. Listen twice as much as talking. Let's use our words this day to praise the name of Jesus and all that we have to be thankful for and pray for others unlike ourselves who need our words, not of gossip or trouble, but of comfort and healing. Amen










19 October 2020


2nd Peter 3


"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."


A newspaper article this week suggested that some people were “desperately trying to find their old Bibles to see if there were any answers to the current problems of the world”. Where would they start? I wondered and how would they know?

When I think of the Bibles I have on my bookshelf, I sometimes think I should clear some of them out. But then I pick one up and see that I was presented it in 1967 for reciting all the books of the Bible, another old battered one belonged to my dad who was given it in 1955 the day he got married. I may have an abundance of Bibles but there is an abundance of memories that come with them.

As old as my Bibles may seem, this reading from 2ndPeter comes from the pen of an eye witness to the work and the words of Jesus. This verse in particular tells us about the relevance of the scriptures. Within the pages of any Bible lies, not only answers, but food to nourish your body, fuel to give you energy and wings to make you feel that with God all things are possible. Here are some of my favourites….


Mark 10:27 “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’”


Philippians 1:6 “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Psalm 37:23-24 “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”


Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 


I will leave the last word to Charles Spurgeon and his thoughts on the Bible


Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it. From such folly deliver us, O Lord. . . .










18 October 2020


Aye Ready


A friend called me this week to check when we first became elders and it wasn’t too difficult to tell him that the year was 1977. I can remember that year because I was 21 and a very young elder in the Church of Scotland. It was a testament to the faith of our minister John Jolly who knew that some young elders would inject some needed changes in the church.

In our reading Jesus said to Simon “don’t be afraid! from now on you will fish for people, so they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him”.

Maybe you're reading this passage this morning and think that maybe life has taken a turn that’s too bad to recover from? The pandemic, the church being closed, the promise of no singing when we get in there and no cup of coffee and biscuit at the end of the service.

In today's reading Jesus knew better. He told them to move their nets where they would find a better catch. He called them warts and all and still calls us today. Even through the roadblock that the pandemic is, he still calls us and needs us more than ever. And certainly we need him more than ever.

As I type this I was aware of a motto that I was going to mention. I imagined in my head it was something from a Scottish clan, I was careful that it would not be a political party motto. So I researched this motto and discovered it was a well known Glasgow Football club.

So my motto for today is “aye ready”.  We should be, we need to be, we have to be. The church is still there waiting and Jesus is calling You.



Jesus Calls His First Disciples


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

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

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

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

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

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









17 October 2020


Many many years ago we agreed to give a lift to a friend's sister to SelbyYorkshire (just to make it clear we offered she didn’t ask). We were not even out of her street making our journey when said sister ( who we had only met once before) said, from the back of the car, “so tell me? When were you two saved?”  I thought she was asking me how much money we had saved for the holiday to York but I was wrong.

It was clear to Nicodemus that Jesus had “come from God” and because of what he had witnessed, “the signs” that Jesus was doing it was clear that God was with him. It is clear for us today that we must “come from God” and may do so at any age young or old.

Many people today can claim the hour and the minute they were “born again”. But there are many many people that for them, it was just a gradual coming to the realisation that they were true Christians. And for all of us ”the wind blows wherever it pleases, we hear the sound but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going”.

One of the new phrases born from this pandemic is the “care bubble” whose care bubble are you in? Some of us are lucky about our care bubble, some of us have no physical person in our care bubble.  

The salvation of being “saved”, the comfort of being “a Christian” and the joy of having a huge church family means we are in many many peoples thoughts and surely in one of the most important and unique “care bubbles” around. And that too comes from God.   Amen



John 3 verses 1-9

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.










16 October 2020


The wedding disaster


“ NO son of mine is having steak pie peas and potatoes at his wedding”

That was my mother's war cry during the preparation for our wedding.

A disaster at a wedding will always be remembered. The disaster at our wedding was legend. Due to a mix up the caterers turned up with the wedding feast. And you’ve guessed it. It was steak pie, peas and potatoes. You can still see my mother’s tears in our wedding album.

The disaster here is announced by Mary, mother of Jesus. “They have no more wine!”. Now that was a disaster. In those days and even today, eastern land's lavish hospitality was a sacred duty and disgrace was about to ruin everything.

To make wine one needs a good vine. There is water involved then flowers and insects. Little clusters of grapes then appear, picked, crushed and put into vats. Then there is the slow process of fermentation and only then is it ready.

Jesus simply telescoped the whole process into a miracle and as John Philips tells us “The simple water touched by grace divine,

Owned its Creator and blushed into wine”

Even today miracles are still being performed, you just have to look around you. Better still go and find a mirror, have a look at one of the best miracles in your life. Yes…you!!!



John2 1-11


Jesus Changes Water Into Wine


1 On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

4 “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.










15 October 2020


A quick tale of two prayers


Prayer is so important in a Christians life but sometimes its possible for us to get it wrong. Take the prodigal son for instance. Some say that this is the story of two prayers. The first prayer is  “Father give me”. The son is tired of all the restrictions and tired of his relationships in his family. Maybe it was an overbearing father or perhaps it was the smug other brother. So his prayer was answered and with some money in his pocket, he was off!

But like a lot of things we are taught in the Bible, there is a comparative lurking in the background. The second prayer.  John Philips calls this “the homecoming prayer”. It's not “give me” any longer. That’s been replaced by “just make me one of your hired hands”

Clearly, the prodigal son did not anticipate what would happen when he returned. He was not made a servant, he wasn’t served up the pig swill but caught up in his father's embrace. The dirt and grime and fear was gone. The robe and the ring and the fatted calf were for him.

And this “whole priceless story from the lips of the Lord is the parable of God's dealing with us”. Amen



Luke 15 17-24

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.










14 October 2020


Getting through the day unscathed


I would have to say that the current situation with the pandemic increases my anxiety levels to almost unbearable levels at times. We are bombarded with a terrific amount of advice as well as the dos and don’ts of getting through the day unscathed.

In our reading Jesus has been crucified and some of the men are talking about that day's events. Jesus joins them on the road and joins in on their chat. “What’s up?” he asks them. It seems the men are disappointed that Jesus has left them. It’s been three days since he was crucified and he’s even left the tomb?” Jesus then puts them right and chastises them for their “dip” in their faith.

As Jesus goes on to continue his journey, they ask him to stay a while but sadly there is no account of the conversation that took place that night. I bet it was a great evening.

Today we have the scriptures set before us with all the stories that can make us feel better. It’s a veritable treasure chest of positive thinking, antidotes and family genealogy. Don’t get me wrong there are some danger, warnings and dark stuff in there too. But every day we can settle down with our Lord and Master and forget just for five minutes what the others in the world are doing.



Luke 24: 25-29


25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.










13 October 2020



Let's do some entertaining at home!

Luke 7:44-47


Entertaining people in our homes seems to be a thing of the past for us at the moment, but this story in the Bible makes you wonder why the Pharisee invited Jesus in the first place.

Peterson calls her “ the town harlot” she appears in the story and using expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus she then dries them with her hair. Could the story get any worse? It did for the Pharisee as Jesus told him about his lack of manners. But this woman? This woman who had ill repute?

Jesus says “I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” Then he spoke to her: “I forgive your sins.”


You see that’s what He does, it doesn’t matter what you have done in the past, it doesn’t matter what you are up to at the moment even the thoughts in your head, he is well aware but as long as you have faith you can be saved. You see the pharisee pretended to know Jesus, pretended to entertain him but the woman knew. She knew her place, she knew the power of the Lord and set about to anoint his feet and crown him Lord of All. 


Today we can ask Christ into our homes ( and you won't be breaking any lockdown rules) Call to him in prayer, give him his place and the glory that he deserves and by your faith you will be saved.




Luke 7 44-47

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little, loves little.”










12 October 2020


Matthew 14: 22-33  -  Peter walking on water



Peter did something he had never done and probably would never do again. He walked on water! 

Immediately you would want to ask why?, or better still “how?”  Look at those words “ Take courage”  “ Don’t be afraid” and lastly “come!”

Peter had doubts just like the rest of us. He knew what he was capable of and what he could not do. “ Get out of the boat?” walk on the water?” “ are you mad?”

But there was the advice given to him by his friend Jesus “ Take courage” and then that was followed by “ Don’t be afraid” and finally “come!” Just like the best of us Peter doubted but just like the rest of us he knew that this was the son of God.

Today let's listen to what he has to say to us, take courage in these days ahead, trust in Him always and walk beside Him. Even if it feels choppy like the water or it's narrow like the tightrope or if your steps feel like wellies in the mud…..walk with him today and always.  Amen




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

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

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

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

29 “Come,” he said.

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

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

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










11 October 2020



Psalm 8


We end the study on Psalms today with Psalm 8


A few of the sources I have used tell me that this Psalm 8 was probably written around the time of Goliath being slayed.


Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
    to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?[c]

You have made them a little lower than the angels
    and crowned them with glory and honour.
 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
    you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
    and the animals of the wild,
 the birds in the sky,
    and the fish in the sea,
    all that swim the paths of the seas.

Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!



But what does this Psalm say to us today, well it reminds us of his position. (Verse1) “Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth” reminding us that God is all-important in all that is going on in the world, despite all the things competing against each other, our God is an awesome God and the most important thing in our lives.


The Psalm also tells us about God's power. (verses 2&3) “Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place. We live in a world that is so finely tuned with the stars and the galaxy all around us, we know that we have a creator in God who created this beautiful place for us to admire and to worship.


Finally, Psalm 8 reminds us of his presence. ( verses 4-8)


What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels 

     and crowned them with glory and honour. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.


In all that we are going through, the Lord's presence is always before us behind us and beside us.  Feeling lonely? Call him in prayer.  Feeling vulnerable? Call him in prayer. Feeling that you are truly thankful for his position, his power and his presence? Call him in prayer and thank him. Amen










10 October 2020



Psalm 23


David wrote this Psalm but we cannot be sure when. Some think he wrote it as an old man looking back on his life others thought he wrote it as a young man out on the fields rejoicing in the knowledge that HE had a shepherd in the Lord.


John Philips tells us that this Psalm is divided into three parts. In the Psalm David takes us to the glen, then he takes us to the gorge and finally he takes us to the glory.


The Glen


The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
   he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.


The Gorge


 Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.



The Glory


You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord




The question this morning is “ what is a good shepherd”? 


Now we can go on for months talking about what a shepherd does and means to his flock. But this morning its good for us to know that The Good Shepherd shares his life with us. He also gives his life for us. Thirdly he puts his life in us. And its in that journey to the glen, the gorge and the glory that all of this becomes apparent when we read the 23rdPsalm and go on that journey that leads us to Glory.


So what about Glory? What about “ I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever”.


Let me tell you a story


In 1572 John Knox died. As he lay dying his friends gathered round him and one of them begged that if all was well “ when he crossed the river of death” that Knox would give them a sign. A poem tells us what happened......



Grim in his deep death-anguish the stern old champion lay

And the locks upon his pillow were floating thin and grey,

And, visionless and voiceless, with quick and laboured breath,

He waited for his exit through life's dark portal, Death


“ Has thou the hope of Glory” they bow to catch the thrill

That through some languid token might be responsive still,

Nor watched they long nor waited for some obscure reply,

He raised a clay-cold finger and pointed to the sky.


Thus the death-angel found him, what time his bow he bent,

To give the struggling spirit its last enfranchisement.

Thus the death-angel left him, what time earth's bonds were riv’n

The cold, stark, stiffening finger still pointed up to heaven.













09 October 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.
10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish;
    they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame.



This is what we call a “penitential Psalm” and it is one great cry of anguish. Here David is in such distress that he cries all night long. He has sinned, seduced Bathsheba, arranged the murder of Uriah and then married the widow Bathsheba. The Psalm tells us that David is weak and he is asking God for some consideration in his plea. In the Psalm he is telling God what has been happening to him and how low he has gone. But there is hope at the end of the Psalm and that comes with the confidence that he knows that  “ the Lord has heard my weeping, has heard my cry for mercy and the Lord accepts my prayer”


David has not gone and consulted anyone else, he has turned to the Father and on him alone.


Max Lucado tells a great story about leaving home to go on a tour and gives all of his children chores to carry our while he is away. He tells his eldest son that his youngest son loves to jump off his bunk bead each night and Max catches him “ don’t play that game too long or he’ll never go to sleep. When he comes home he discovers that the game didn’t work for the eldest and the youngest sons, so he asks the young one what went wrong. His response was “ I only jump into my father arms”


Wise words indeed from one so young, but wise words for all of us when we don’t know where to turn.     Amen












08 October 2020



Psalm 5

Listen to my words, Lord,
    consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help,
    my King and my God,
    for to you I pray.

 In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
    with you, evil people are not welcome.
 The arrogant cannot stand
    in your presence.
You hate all who do wrong;
    you destroy those who tell lies.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
    you, Lord, detest.
 But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.

 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight before me.
 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
    their heart is filled with malice.
Their throat is an open grave;
    with their tongues they tell lies.
Declare them guilty, O God!
    Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.
 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

1Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favour as with a shield.



Wikipedia tells us that “Psalm 5 is the fifth psalm from the Book of Psalms. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to king David. It is a reflection of how the righteous man prays for deliverance not only for freedom from suffering, but to allow himself to be able to serve God without distraction.

So there is our first task of the day. How do we serve God without distraction?

Psalm 5 is looked upon as a  morning prayer, because the morning was very important in the religions of the ancient Near East. Hence the verse 4 (3 in some versions).

 “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly”

An interesting fact is that in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 5 is appointed to be read on the morning of the first day of the month.


It is clear that in this Psalm David is asking God to listen, John Philips comments on this as an “admonishment to God” and he suggests it’s a bit of an insult. But he goes on to say that actually all that David was saying was “ Right! I have something important to say to you and I would like your undivided attention”


David's Psalm reminds us that God is a hearing God. “ In the morning you hear my voice” David's heart was heavy, he was talking to God about his situation and was being very detailed about those who were against him and how he personally felt.


God is a holy God.  Verse 4  “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome.” David talks about those who are lawless and Absolem was living that kind of life and David knew that God would not bless that kind of life. It was Gods power that made all the difference for David because it was the uniqueness of this power that made God Holy.

God is a loving God verse 7   But I, by your great love,
    can come into your house;
in reverence I bow down
    toward your holy temple.

 Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies—
    make your way straight before me.


All of these things should contribute to our morning prayers. We love a God who is a Holy God, who is aware of our situations and who hears us in our prayers. He is a loving God and no matter what we give to him, it will never compare what he gave us. He gave us his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross on Calvary. Halleluiah what a saviour!


A Prayer for Thursday


Father, thank you for this new day with all its opportunities and, for some of us, we know that there are challenges ahead that we need to deal with, but no matter how we may start today - whether we are anxious or not, we are grateful for the knowledge that you walk each day with us.   Thank you for this assurance which is a great comfort to us.   Father, we also come with thanksgiving for your Son, our Saviour, and for the love He demonstrated so clearly at Calvary by being willing to give His life for us.  Jesus is indeed your gift to us and we thank you for Him.    


Father, there are so many situations in our world which are of concern to us – the people in countries where the virus is spreading and they have little or no medicines and medical staff to care for them.   Some too live in countries with no proper sanitation and clean water – all necessary to keep the virus at bay.   There are others Father, who live in countries with political unrest; whilst others have had years of civil war.   All this has taken its toll and there are new generations of people who have never known peace in their own land.   Father, that is something that we cannot begin to imagine and so we pray for them just now and ask that you will work in the hearts and minds of the political and national leaders so that they will turn from their ways and seek to serve the people wisely, justly and mercifully so that the people may be able to live in a peaceful and stable environment.   With this in mind we pray that we will never take what we have and where we live for granted and continue to remember in prayer those who are not as fortunate and blessed.   In Jesus Name – Amen 












07 October 2020



Psalm 4


For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of David.


Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

 How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous

    and trust in the Lord. Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.
 Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.

 In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.



Useless fact first, this is the first of the Psalms to have a musical instrument mentioned in its title.


Psalm 4 is the 4th psalm from the Book of Psalms. Its authorship is traditionally assigned to king David, but his authorship is not accepted by modern scholars apparently.


We are told that this psalm's text is a reflection of David speaking to all sinners while addressing himself to Absalom. The message in the psalm is that the victories of sinners are only temporary and meaningless, and that only repentance can bring true happiness.


It is a request to God for deliverance from the past.


But in the midst of all the turbulence between David and Absolem what do we know of David and how he reacts to this? Absolems forces for what they hoped would be a knockout blow. The armies that David had himself trained for Israel were now with Absolem and against him


So what does David do? He went to sleep! He enjoyed the personal peace that he had found with God. David was confident and secure, more secure than he would be in a palace full of guards. So out in the hiss [sic] he was even safer his security was in Gods hands.


Isn’t that a great example of confidence in God?


Cannon Gibbon of Harrogate preached on this passage and was so taken by it he wrote a hymn reflecting his thoughts on the passage. The first line of the hymn was a question and the second line was the answer.


Peace perfect peace? In this dark world of sin?

The blood of Jesus whispers peace….within













06 October 2020


Psalm 3

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
 I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

 I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

 From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.




Psalm 3  is the third Psalm of the Bible. 

It is a personal thanksgiving to God, who answered the prayer of an afflicted soul. Psalm 3 is attributed to David, in particular, when he fled from Absalom his son. David, deserted by his subject, pursued for his crown and life by his ungracious son, turns to his God, makes his supplications, and confesses his faith. (The story of Absalom is found in the 2 Samuel, Chapters 13-18.)

Writers like Martin Luther felt that, overall, the goal in this Psalm is to impart the confidence of those who consider themselves followers of YHWH to call on him. The reader is encouraged to consider how God rescues someone like David, who was at that time very in distress, saved and later raised to be king over all Israel.

But what does this Psalm tell us as Christians living in 2020.  John Phillips tells us that this psalm is a psalm of trial trust and triumph and that surely must speak to us today. In the midst of treachery and torment David was outnumbered by those who were on Absolems side. Absolem had the numbers but David had God.

As the psalm comes to an end there are some words that we can but read and not act upon “Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.”

These days salvation doesn’t come from physical violence. Salvation is not in ourselves, it's not about charitable donations and good works alone. Salvation does not come from the church alone. The last lines of this psalm

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people.


Real help comes from God and it is his blessing that we wear as the armour that protects us. Real Salvation comes from the relationship that we have for him and nurtures on a daily basis. Amen










05 October 2020


Psalm 2


Why do the nations conspire
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
    and the rulers band together
    against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,
‘Let us break their chains
    and throw off their shackles.’

The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
    the Lord scoffs at them.
He rebukes them in his anger
    and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
‘I have installed my king
    on Zion, my holy mountain.’

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, ‘You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron[b];
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.’

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
    and celebrate his rule with trembling.
12 Kiss his son, or he will be angry
    and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.



John Philips tells us that there are four voices behind this second Psalm. First there is David and then there is God the Father. Following them its God the Son and the fourth person is God the Holy Spirit


The Psalmist David ( verses 1-3) is seeing a conspiracy as the nations rise up against God. David is asking the question ”why?”.


God the Father ( verses 4-6) is almost laughing as he answers David’s question, but behind that laughter there is anger as the very thought of a conspiracy or uprising is ludicrous.


God the Son ( verses 7-9) reassures David and tells him that there should be no doubt that David has been chosen by God and there should be no doubt about the outcome.


Finally God the Holy Spirit ( verses 10-12) reminds them of Gods sovereignty and the fact that the path they are taking will lead to destruction but right at the end the reassurance that those who take refuge in him will be saved.


John Philips in his book reminds us that there has always been rebellion against God ever since Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit. But when we delve into the Bible we can always find the words of determination that can reassure us. There are words of the utmost authority that define the way we live. And there are words of Grace that keep us on the path of righteousness and love.


The last word goes to the last line of this Psalm “ Blessed are all who take refuge in him”        Amen









04 October 2020


Psalm 1  NIV UK

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.

 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither –
    whatever they do prospers.

 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.



Today more than ever the media and especially social media are obsessed with our lifestyle. What we wear, how we live and that’s before we go on about eating, drinking and exercise. 


But of course the lifestyle experts are only interested in the superficial. How we look to the outside world, how we appear to our friends and neighbours. There is nothing fashionable about looking how we really are, what our real lifestyle is like on how we judge other people and how we compare to those who walk on the “wild side”.


Psalm 1 looks at the “saint and the sinner”.


 In his book “ Exploring the Psalms” John Philips calls this an emotional psalm, he uses the term saint and sinner and tells us that it’s the story of those who walk with God and those who chose to ignore him.


Those who walk with God do not listen to the “ungodly” man, they don’t linger with those who do not have a kind word. Eugene Peterson translates this as 

    you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
    you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
    you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.”


Those who choose not to walk in God's path are the people that “leave God out of their lives” Again Philips reminds us that we are either “ married or unmarried, happy or sad, grateful or ungrateful and either Godly or ungodly. We are told by John Philips “ then ungodly man is driven, doomed and damned”.


Those who walk with God are driven by God and what’s more they delight in the word that is put before them. Philips tells us that “ the word of God has captured his full attention and in doing this they prosper and grow like the tree planted by the riverside". This is the person that proves to be fruitful, is generous with the harvest.


Eugene Peterson tells us “ Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
          you chew on Scripture day and night.
          You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
          bearing fresh fruit every month,
          Never dropping a leaf,
          always in blossom.”


So in finishing with Psalm 1 we see a world of comparisons, a choice of two roads. Saint and Sinner and the God like and the ungodly, but what road should we take? Eugene Peterson makes it easy by telling us in his translation of the last verse of Psalm 1


God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.



Further reading Eugene Peterson's translation of The Message Psalm 1


How well God must like you—
    you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
    you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
    you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.

 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defence in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

 God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row.



Robert Burns’s take on Psalm 1

The man, in life wherever plac'd,  Hath happiness in store,  

Who walks not in the wicked's way,  Nor learns their guilty lore! 

Nor from the seat of scornful pride  Casts forth his eyes abroad, 

But with humility and awe Still walks before his God. 

 That man shall flourish like the trees,  Which by the streamlets grow;  The fruitful top is spread on high,  And firm the root below.  

But he whose blossom buds in guilt  Shall to the ground be cast,  

And, like the rootless stubble, tost  Before the sweeping blast. 

  For why? that God the good adore,  Hath giv'n them peace and rest,  But hath decreed that wicked men  Shall ne'er be truly blest. 

Back to Words for Life 

Words for Life, November 2020

30 November 2020


I know someone who has had a strange career path. He started off as an accountant and ended up being a cooper travelling all over the world showing people the importance of having the right barrel for the right product. He doesn’t know why he wanted to become a cooper, he just knew it was for him so he chased his dreams. During the lockdown, he began researching his family history and discovered there were coopers in his family as far back as the 1740s. Seems like his destiny was planned for him centuries ago with the job he now has.


Yesterday I said that Advent starts with Mary and Elizabeth but of course it goes without saying that it was written long before that.


Christmas sees the opening chapter of Christ's conception and history walking on this earth but as Jesus prayed in John 17 :


“ Now, Father glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed”.  So we know he existed long before he walked on this earth and before the world existed.


And John's Gospel opens with, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made”.


“And so everything was created through him, nothing, not one thing came into being without him. What came into existence was Life and the life was light to live by. The Life light blazed out of the darkness and the darkness couldn’t put it out. (Peterson)


So it all began thousands of years before John the Baptist prepared the way. It all began before Mary and Elizabeth met each other carrying their unborn boys. It all began in the beginning when He was the Word and the Word was with God. Today the Life-Light still blazes out of the darkness and the darkness can't put it out.  Amen




29 November 2020


Advent is upon us and in windows all over, Christmas Trees are going up, some clever people have finished their Christmas Shopping while others have still to start. So where do we start this advent?. Well, we start with two women Mary and Elizabeth.


I wonder if years later they sat over an open fire or with a cup of something warm, and reminisced about that first meeting. Elizabeth might have said  “Do you remember years ago how the baby leapt inside. Mary might remember the words of the Magnificat she sung reported in Luke :


I’m bursting with God-news;
    I’m dancing the song of my Saviour God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
    I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
    the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
    on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
    scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
    pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
    the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
    he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
    beginning with Abraham and right up to now.


This “Song of Mary” forms the basis of The Magnificat that is sung all over the world, it is one of the earliest known hymns and while it is arguable that she actually sang it, the words reported by  Luke give some indication of how she felt about her future, her purpose and her God.


The birth of Christ was planned by God but it was unexpected by many. The song of Mary was perhaps sung by Mary but could be an anthem for all of us. On the first day of Advent, we are bursting with good news and as we think about the days that are to come we should think about what God has done for us. For all of us this might be an unexpected Christmas but for God, it's exactly what he promised.


Luke 1 tells us  “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 



Blessings on us all this Advent 2020



Reading from Luke 1 verses 39 to 45 :

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice, she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’



28 November 2020


Advent begins tomorrow and today we end the mini series on parables. The reading this morning is from Matthew 13 starting off in verse 10. This is how it reads :


10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables? He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.  Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.  This is why I speak to them in parables:


“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:


“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise, they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears,
    understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’


But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.


A few years ago someone in Dumbarton asked me “why do you tell a story at the beginning of your sermon? is that not a waste of time?”

I was flummoxed, to say the least, and mumbled out some excuse. The next time I tried hard to open my sermon a different way but then I thought, NO. There are lots of reasons for telling the story. It’s a way into the sermon, it can act as an illustration and can underline the message coming from the scriptures. It's not saying “I can do this better”, it's really saying, ”let me help make this easier”.


Jesus used the parables extensively in his three-year teaching ministry. He told the interesting stories about everyday life which caught the attention of many people. The crowds enabled Jesus to teach more freely for a short period of time because the leadership limited their restrictions to avoid uprisings.


Malcolm Muggeridge said of parables, “every happening great and small is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message”.


Someone else once said, ”Jesus communicated parables to the secular people around him and he used stories that were very relevant to their lives. He was taking heaven's truth and packaging it an earthly context", ( wow read that again!).

But you know, stories are stories, they are just like seeds. Some seeds fall in the rough and don’t grow while others fall on the good ground and multiply tenfold and accomplish something beautiful.


I'd like to think I am a sower of seeds and I’ll continue to tell my stories.


 27 November 2020


I am reading a book at the moment about “old church life in Scotland”, it's mainly based on kirk session minutes of churches in the Mauchline Fenwick and Ayrshire region. It's amazing the things that you find out of yesteryear. For instance, while it was good to have the words of a Psalm in front of you to learn it, it was considered a sin to have the book open in front of you to sing it!


I remember around 1984 when we visited a church for an inspection of records, Elizabeth was asked to leave by the resident minister as he didn’t think females should be elders. As a young youth leader aged 21, a minister from Partick made me go round all the kids in the Sunday School and ask for the return of some stickers I had given out that Looked like Coca Cola Labels that said “Jesus Christ…the real thing”. I then had to present them to the minister who threw them in his fire in front of me.


Well, time has moved on and we are more ”modern”  these days in the church. While that is the good news there is some bad news because we seem to have gone the other way. Not necessarily in the church but in society we seem to have adopted an “anything goes” policy in some circles. Things that were banned years ago are now openly embraced. This came home to me the other day when I saw a film that was banned in Glasgow in the late 1970s was on Sky Movies at 11:30 in the morning!


Now before you go accusing me of being a boring old man, here is my point. Things change, things come and go, compromises are made on a weekly basis but Mark 13 reminds us that Jesus said that “ Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away”.


Yesterday I joked about the return of Jesus but there is a serious point to that happening. We don’t have the time to think  “manyana” (mañana) or even “que sera sera", whatever will be will be.  As the reading reminds us :

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."


His words will never pass away and no one knows the hour so don’t our standards, don’t try and second guess just be ready.  Amen



Mark 13:28-33

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.



26 November 2020


I suppose you’ve heard the story of the church that had a vacancy and the elders took it in turns to conduct the service. As people arrived the news was out that very soon they would be appointing a new pastor and the feeling that Sunday on the door was of great joy at the good news. It didn’t last long, however, when a homeless man arrived with his blanket under his arm. He asked a few questions about agencies in the area for the poor and distraught but nobody seemed to know. The tried to move the man on his way but he walked into the vestibule and then into the church. He was asked to move three times before settling himself in the back pew.


As usual, a senior spokesman stood up at the beginning of the service to deliver the intimations. This week it was Jim a likeable and jolly man. As he made the usual announcements, he cleared his throat and said: “ as you know we have appointed a new pastor”. People got a bit unsettled for the homeless man had got up and started walking down the centre aisle. Jim looked as though he might faint but carried on: "well I'd like to tell you that our pastor is called Dan Fletcher”. The congregation gasped as the homeless guy walked up the steps of the chancel and lifted the mike clean off from the lectern where Jim stood. In a loud and booming voice the man said “Good Morning people my name is Dan Fletcher, your new pastor, today's lesson will be from Matthew 7  verses 1 to 5. And without looking at a Bible he began :


Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Amen


Today there are a lot of people judging out there. Some people even make a living out of it on TV and Radio telling others about their failings and shortcomings.


Things in life at the moment are changing daily. People make decisions that affect our lives and our families. We are quick to condemn and even quicker to offer our own solutions.


I made the mistake of thinking about the plank in my eye, and as I thought more and more I realised that I possibly have more planks in there than the local sawmill. I have no right to judge and that is what the parable is all about. While I might not be happy about criticisms that are being made I am in no place to judge and if I am ever stuck for something to pray about all I have to do is think about the planks in my life.


There is a great verse in the Bible that I can call on. It's from the book of Isaiah chapter 43 :


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.



25 November 2020


Of course, we have all heard the hypothetical question “what would you do when Jesus comes back?”  The Presbyterian cynics amongst us would probably say “form a committee to discuss”.  We all must have the faith to believe that one day he will return, we know he will because the Bible tells us so.


There is a parable in the Bible called the “persistent widow”.  A widow repeatedly approaches a judge asking for protection, but he ignores her and her demands. But still, she keeps coming back. Eventually, he gives in.


Eugene Peterson translates the rest of the story.  “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”


So I guess the question has changed. It is no longer what would we do when Jesus comes back to walk this earth? It is how persistent will our faith be when the Son of Man returns.


As we approach Advent and we await the birth of Jesus, let our faith be persistent and our prayers be fervent and frequent. God works for those who are faithful to him so let's keep our minds and our hearts on him. Amen



The story of the persistent widow  (Luke 18)


Jesus told them a story showing that it was necessary for them to pray consistently and never quit. He said, “There was once a judge in some city who never gave God a thought and cared nothing for people. A widow in that city kept after him: ‘My rights are being violated. Protect me!’

4-5 “He never gave her the time of day. But after this went on and on he said to himself, ‘I care nothing what God thinks, even less what people think. But because this widow won’t quit badgering me, I’d better do something and see that she gets justice—otherwise, I’m going to end up beaten black-and-blue by her pounding.’”

6-8 Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when he returns?”











24 November 2020


This time, last year I was preaching in Baldernock church about the parable of the Yeast. To bring home my point I took a tiny Christmas tree still in its pot ( around 6 inches) and used it in the children's address. After the address, I presented it to a young boy called Alastair. It transpired that Alastair loved trees and assured me that he would take care of the tree and for the next few months I got regular updates about that Tree. I wonder if, a year later, the tree is still growing and did it make it through 2020.


The parable of the yeast is the shortest parable in the bible. One verse in Matthew 13 verse 33 “He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”


The point of the parable is that from little things there can be a result, a growth. In the parable, Jesus says that the housewife takes a small amount of starter, and hides it in three measure of flour — literally three pecks of flour — about 1½ bushels of flour.  It is said that Christ, Himself, represents the housewife, the small lump of yeast represents gospel and the flour represents the church.


Jesus teaches His disciples that a small bit of leaven leavens the whole lump – from such a small beginning the Kingdom of God will eventually have an extraordinary influence upon this world.


Because of the current restrictions, the numbers are small in the church sanctuary, is it worth it? That’s an arguable point when there are so many possibilities to hear the minister each Sunday, DVD and Youtube being two of them. I like to think that those who gather on a Sunday morning in the sanctuary are just like some yeast, keeping the dough going, keeping it alive waiting for the growth and the bake to make the most incredible bread you could taste. And the good thing is that all over the country there are wee pots of yeast in each household minding the dough watching the DVD's and tuning into FaceBook and Youtube.


From little things come a greater blessing, it won't be long. Be patient. Continue your prayers and tend the dough.










23 November 2020


 A handful of pearls


I am not a great fan of Antiques Roadshow but I’ve come across a few excerpts on YouTube of the American version. In one of the clips, a woman is showing an old painting that hung above her mother's bed throughout most of her life. After she died the painting was given to her daughter and she promptly put it in a cupboard. “It’s a fake,” she said, “someone was said it looked like a Monet”. Well, you have probably guessed right, it was no fake and it was a real Monet. The female in question tentatively asked the price of the painting. The expert looked at her and said: “it's impossible to value as the value is too great. This is a once in a lifetime find.”


There is a lesser known parable, the parable of the pearl in Matthew 13 verses 45-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”


The merchant was able to source fine pearls and when he found one of exceptional value he was able to buy this at a great price having to sell everything he had.  You see there was a price to be paid in order to get the pearl and that involved selling all his belongings.


The lesson here is what is most valuable in life cannot be purchased at any price. In order to come into the kingdom of heaven, it is impossible to value it, as it is priceless. The price was paid on the nail, on a hill in Calvary by God's only son Jesus Christ.


The valuable pearl is the "deal of a lifetime" for the merchant in the story. However, those who do not believe in the kingdom of heaven enough to stake their whole future on it are unworthy of the kingdom.


This interpretation of the parable is the inspiration for a  hymn, “O That Pearl of Great Price!.


O that Pearl of great price! have you found it?
Is the Saviour supreme in your love?
O consider it well, ere you answer,
As you hope for a welcome above.
Have you given up all for this Treasure?
Have you counted past gains as but loss?
Has your trust in yourself and your merits
Come to naught before Christ and his cross.












22 November 2020


How heavy is your pot?


I was reading an old book by Willie Barclay and he was asked what was his favourite verse? He said it differed every other week but the one he mentioned was 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.


My favourite verse in the Bible is a strange one. It comes from John chapter 4 and the story of the woman at the well. We all know the story of this outcast who meets Jesus at the well and he offers her the water of life, which would prevent her ever being thirsty again. This woman who was notorious and burdened was convinced by Jesus who the messiah was. 


For me, the most important fact in this story is her reaction. You see, she could have said “thank you” and walked away. She might have hung about and chatted with the disciples learning more and more from them. But, for me, there are 12 words that defined this woman from Samaria in verse 28 “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town”


She came to fetch water in her pot, perhaps the most important possession in her life that allowed her to cook, to drink and be hydrated. She cast it aside to run into the town.


She risked the midday sun to come to the well, as she wanted to stay away from prying eyes and gossip because of her past. All of that cast aside as she runs into the town.


I’m guessing this woman was secretive and ashamed and lived a life with a low profile but after she encounters Jesus, all of that was cast aside as she went back into the town and said to all the people that she met “Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way towards him.”


The woman at the well teaches me that no matter how heavy your “pot” is, in a life with Jesus you can leave it all behind. No matter what your past is all about not only will all of that be forgotten, but will be wiped clean. If you lack confidence because of all of the drama in your life God can bring about the peace that transcends all understanding. How heavy is your pot today?










21 November 2020



And so its time to think about getting in the Christmas gifts to put round the tree, to post out to family that we will not see and look online because we cannot go out and shop in most shops at the moment. Think for a minute. What would you buy Jesus for his Christmas? A Christmas gift as well as a birthday gift. What does he need? Do you know him well enough to know what he needs.?


Of course, all of this is hypothetical, we all know that Jesus is not looked upon as a human being but he was/is.


Arguably the most famous verse in the Bible apart from John 3v16 might be John 11 verse 35. “Jesus wept” the shortest verse in the Bible.


I’m always amazed by the comparisons that are in the Bible and I think they are there to make us recognise them and by doing so it “pulls us up” makes us think and understand them more.


Here we see the two natures of Jesus. The humanity of Christ where we see him openly weep for his friend who was dead (Lazarus) and the divinity of Christ where he then went on to raise him from the dead. It is this that brings us closer to the man and it underlines his amazing “saviour qualities” as the son of God.


In an instant we see that Jesus showed compassion, sympathy and sorrow and we know that is what he shows us even to this very day. For me to understand “the friend” that we have in Jesus, we have to appreciate the human qualities that he has. This means that when we sit down and have a chat with him, the approach is easier, the language flows easier too and the bond is recognizable. Of course, there is the comparison too that our Lord and Saviour has the ability to save the world, the ability to provide a love that guarantees eternal life.


But when he walked among us, he was one of us. Our master and our friend.


John 11 verses 32 to 37


32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”










20 November 2020


I was genuinely surprised the other day when I read that forgiveness is one of the main struggles with the majority of people. Recent studies on forgiveness prove that practising forgiveness can improve our mental and physical health and wellbeing. But how do we practice forgiveness and experience the peace that it brings?


Forgiveness can be a struggle for most. In life, people behave in ways that can offend us. Holding a grudge might feel natural, but the Bible encourages us to forgive. But for me? I can't help but think that holding a grudge is like holding onto sin, an indelible ink mark on our hearts that we carry each day. So it's important to forgive ourselves first before forgiving others.


The Bible especially the new testament has so much to offer by way of advice on the matter.

Matthew 6/15 “But if you do not forgive neither will your Father forgive."

Matthew 18/21 “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”


Colossians 3/13 “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”


But for me, James 5/16 hammers this home when he says “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”



Someone said the other day “ if we prayed about it as much as we talked about it then the problem would be fixed” and that’s advice to take to heart. While it's important these days to talk about things there can be no better advice than to talk to God in prayer. If there is a problem talk to him about it. And as we know in full confidence that we can get forgiveness from him surely we can expect to forgive others and receive their forgiveness. Amen










19 November 2020



I said I would never use the “Covid” word again on these pages but at the time I didn’t see another lockdown on the horizon. The other day I was talking to someone and heard myself say “we are not locked up at home, we are staying safe at home”.  Easy for me to say when I have a wife at home 24/7 AND we enjoy each others company. But I know there are others who don’t feel that way and maybe feel alone and slightly vulnerable these days.


Lamentations 3 verse 23-26 reminds us :


Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.’

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.


However dark our circumstances and days may seem we are told the steadfast love of God never ceases. NO matter how bleak it appears out there and dangerous the circumstances of life are, we are told that the steadfast love of God never ceases towards us. We have God's unfailing reassurance that His mercies and compassion are new every morning. How great is the faithfulness of our gracious God.


It is inevitable that sometimes we may suffer from “unbelief” when we see the wars raging about us and the daily statistics that are fed to us like a doomsday warning.


It is said, a life of faith cannot be founded on the shifting sands of doubt and disappointment but needs to be secured to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for his steadfast love is the same yesterday, today and forever. AND never ceases.


His mercies never come to an end. His gracious compassion is new every morning - how great is the faithfulness of our gracious God.


Our Thursday Prayer 

Our Heavenly Father, thank you for your presence with us again this week and for the knowledge we have that whatever is going on in our world that you are aware of all that happens and you are ultimately in control of all world events.  In times like these, it is good for us to meditate on your word and take note of how your servants of old showed that, through major disasters and times of great uncertainty, they always fell back on you and your word.   We are reminded of the prophet Jeremiah who lived through some dark days and was known as the weeping prophet, yet he penned these words from 

Lamentations 3 : 22-23  – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.   They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  

What a wonderful testament these words are to this man and what a legacy he has given us today.   We sometimes sing a chorus with these words and it is good for us to sing when we feel that we are becoming overwhelmed or anxious.   Thank you also to the people who have taken some wonderful verses from scripture and committed them to song.   We are indeed a privileged people who have easy access to your word as well as music – and they bless and enrich our lives so much.   May we never take them for granted but let them nourish and feed our minds and hearts – Amen. 











18 November 2020


As the deer pants for the water


We are lucky to live with a woodland area just outside our back windows where we see deer virtually any day of the week. They feast on ivy and a certain shrub.  After they have done that they venture round to the front where they can munch on the beautiful and colourful plants that have been planted there (while they last). 


Psalm 42 verses 1 -5 tells us :

As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. Where can I find him to come and stand before him? Day and night I weep for his help, and all the while my enemies taunt me. “Where is this God of yours?” they scoff.

4-5 Take courage, my soul! Do you remember those times (but how could you ever forget them!) when you led a great procession to the Temple on festival days, singing with joy, praising the Lord? Why then be downcast? Why be discouraged and sad? Hope in God! I shall yet praise him again. Yes, I shall again praise him for his help.



If you think about it for a moment, the Bible can give you a very clear and thought provoking picture. In Psalm 42 the deer is aching with thirst. We don’t know why it has this thirst perhaps from a drought or from a heated pursuit. Either way, the deer longed for and needed the water, not only to survive but to replenish the energy lost and the nutrients that have disappeared. 


The psalmist is in need of God, not water. His enemies taunt him but just like the water replenished the deer, God can replenish the psalmist as well as you and me with the nutrients and the motivation to fight against what troubles us. Not only that, God gives us so much more. He brings us Joy and Hope and through faith, He brings an eternal life.


A timely reminder to praise God for all that he gives us and however thirsty we may be, the water of life is there for the taking. 


Eugene Peterson ends this psalm translating the words with “Fix my eyes on God - soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face He’s my God.”












17 November 2020


Parcels of Love


I have a playlist on my device that’s called, “Alex’s desert island discs". Well, I guess the first thing is, “how sad is that"  and the second thing is, “me? On a desert island? No thanks.”


But I came upon this playlist the other day and was surprised to see that so many of my favourite tunes have the word “Love” in them. In fact, out of 100 tracks, 38 of the tracks have “love” in the title. Titles that range from The Glory of Love, The Power of Love, I want to know what Love is?, even I’m not in Love.


Ephesians 3 16-19 jumps out to me :

 “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”


Paul responds to the glory of God in these words and it is said that Paul repeatedly focuses the reader back to God and the power of his love. Eugene Peterson talks of a God who “parcels” out of heaven and earth suggesting to me that these are gifts given to us profusely.


In these words, Paul is asking God for a deep spiritual strength through the Holy Spirit for the Christians in Ephesus but these words alone could be a prayer from you and me, because its through prayer that we can ask for these “parcels” of strength and the love.


Peterson translates this verse as: “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”


And so as we look forward to next month and the parcels that we should start thinking about wrapping and delivering. We pray that God continues to send us parcels of strength, peace and of course Love.










16 November 2020


When I was a young boy barely in my teens and in the Boys Brigade, the officer would shout, “tallest on the right and shortest on the left in single rank. Size”.  While everybody shuffled around fitting themselves in beside the others, I would diligently walk right to the end of the line.  I knew my place cause I was small. Nothing wrong in this you might think but I was the fourth oldest boy in the company and here I was down among the “wee ones”.


Matthew 10 verse 29 tells us,  “Are not sparrows sold for very little? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. The very hairs on your head have been counted. Fear not. You are worth more than a flock of sparrows.”


I think it's safe to say that God should bring out the best in us when we give him the best in us. 


When we look at this verse we see that despite how worthless or small we are we will never be forgotten. And why is that? Well because He knows us so well that he knows the very hairs on our head. And if we feel afraid of how small we are and of the value we bring to the party, look at the last nine words of this verse “you are worth more than a flock of sparrows”.


Ask yourself something “do I know any other sparrows?”  Right now there might be someone that you know that is not being nourished by the words of God. Someone might feel small because they are not getting around as much as they used to, maybe they are not being held up by the friends and family that they used to see.


God brings the best out in us when we give him the best in us. Share that blessing today if only with the one person, the one sparrow that has slipped through the net.










15 November 2020



Will your anchor hold?


Yes, Advent starts on the 29th of November and before you know it? Bang! Its Christmas day! The feelings towards Christmas this year are almost palpable. “Oh No! it won't be the same”, “It's all been lost thanks to the Politicians”.  “It's going to be a terrible time!”.


Now while I agree that it's going to be tough let's consider the words from Hebrews 10 verses 24 and 25 -  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”


I have said this before many many times before but The Bible does speak to us every day and for me, this is a verse I will hold onto for the time being. 


OK so maybe we can't get to church. But don’t give up! God's message to us throughout the Bible is to hold fast and look forward. Eugene Peterson tells us to keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. God always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do but spurring each other on. We may not be able to worship in our favourite Church but we can use the internet to source a service and open a Bible and say a prayer. Worship can be where ever you and with whatever tools that you have. Again words that I never tire of but we have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll. Soon we will expect and welcome the newborn King. Mary did not give up on Joseph, Joseph never gave up on finding shelter for the expectant mother and God will not give up on you.


When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,

Will your anchor drift or firm remain?










14 November 2020


Choirs all over the country were put on hold over the past few months but where there is a will there is a way and with the power of youtube more and more choirs were able to put something out online to satisfy not only the choir but the listener too. Praise Gathering used to be a yearly event in Glasgow and the gathering of so many men and women on stage praising Gods name was a joy to behold.


Yesterday I came across their latest offering which was a song, I believe, called “ There is no other name”


Fast forward to Acts 4 verses 11 and 12 and we read :

11 Jesus is“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”


The early Church had heard Christ's teaching, witnessed His miracles, watched as He was nailed to the Cross, and rejoiced three days later, when He rose from the dead. They knew that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God and that in Him were the words of eternal life, and light, and truth, and love. They knew that Jesus alone was their hope and so they proclaimed the good news far and wide - with great boldness.

Peter did not tell of one way to be saved. He declared the ONLY way. Salvation is only found in Christ alone. Many experts in the “new churches” have words and theories of the meaning of life, but they are just clanging symbols and empty clouds. No use to anyone The word of God tells us there is no other way for us to receive salvation and there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.


Enjoy the music of Praise Gathering

Your singing moves and shakes the ground
Your beckon brings the rain in drought
Your glory spins the earth around
Your whisper makes Your fire fall down

There's no other name
The Name that stands through the ages

There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus

Your word commands the wind and waves
Your touch revives the sick and lame
Your power wakes the dead again
Your love destroys the grip of sin, Amen
Your love destroys the grip of sin

There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours
Jesus, like Yours Jesus
There's no other name
There's no other name like Yours












13 November 2020



He will cover you with his feathers


Word came through the other day of a vaccine for this latest crisis that has hit the world. I read a sign that said “global solution for global problem”. I thought if only it was that easy. I turned on my computer screen and my reading for the day immediately came up. Psalm 91.


I have said on here before that these days the Bible readings that I come across seem to be the arrow that hits the bullseye, the honey that soothes the inflamed. 


One part of this reading jumps out in verse 4 

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday


And so again the words of God that remain forever, even today has a clear message for those who are anxious, for those who are afraid of the darkness and for those who feel they are too old for a decent set of armour. The image of a swan immediately comes to mind and how the mother protects her cygnets and swaddles them amongst her downy feathers as she glides along the water.


Verse 11 

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord


Things change so fast in this ever-moving world but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. Yesterday I said the word of God will never pass away and we heard a vaccine is just around the corner. The word of God is here for us today for peace for comfort for all of us.




Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honour him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”











12 November 2020








My eyes fell onto a picture in a website about a church in Africa. 


The pastor there was asked what had been going on in the church during the current restrictions.


He admitted that at the moment, they were still trying hard to identify people traffickers, and their home farming projects were in full bloom as everyone was able to pay extra attention to their crops and recently they had a collection for the widows and widowers of the community. And still, this pastor went on and on at what they had done and what they were continuing to do. The interviewer said, “so you will be hoping to get back to normal then?”. “No!” the pastor exclaimed “not normal, we failed in normal and we had so much work to do. We have learned we will not be a normal church . We will be a new church. He then said “Heaven and earth will pass away but the words of God will never pass away”. And with a big smile He said “Matthew 23 verse 35”.


The pastor then said he was going sing a protest song from South Africa that was written and sung by those protesting against apartheid and it was a call to freedom and commitment to the light, the power and the love of God.


The journalist was awestruck as this song the man sang in Africa was a frequent favourite hymn in the church that he went to back home in Kent.


We are marching in the light of God,
We are marching in the light of God.
We are marching, marching,
We are marching, marching,
We are marching in the light of God.


God does not stand still and neither should we or the church. We live in a world of shifting sand and things that were, are no longer. 


Everything has changed but our building still stands tall and The Good News reassures us that the word of God will never pass away.



A prayer for Thursday :


Our Heavenly Father – as we come to you again this morning in prayer, we are reminded of the words of the Psalmist who says ‘Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.’  Father, we have seen from the news this week that the big news story is the progress being made with the creation of a Vaccine in the fight against the Coronavirus.  For the first time in a long while, people are feeling optimistic – dare we say it ‘hopeful’ that this is the one!   This taught us that we all need ‘hope’ – we all need to know that things will get better and that the restrictions which we have been living under will be a thing of the past.  In your Word, we read of ordinary men and women whose hope alone was in God as they endured many things, often in the service of God, and they realised that, regardless of their physical safety and wellbeing, there was a hope far higher and we are glad that they point us heavenward today.   Whilst we are glad for the progress which is being made in the search for a vaccine, let us remember that our ‘hope’ is in our Heavenly Father not only for our physical and mental wellbeing but more importantly for our eternal life which was purchased for us by the Lord Jesus – who gave everything for us that we might enjoy Him forever – Amen.











11 November 2020







I was struck by this image of a young girl. It is said that she doesn’t realise that this is a statue of Christ carrying his cross and her natural reaction is to help him carry it. A brilliant image and one that could lead to many a sermon or children's address in the church.


Galatians 6 verse 2 tells us that to Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”


When the load that others are hauling around becomes too heavy others should step in to help that person get through it. I read somewhere that a “Life in Christ by the power of God's spirit is not meant to be lived alone.”  (I would read that again! To get it to sink in).


But how do we carry each other's burdens these days when we are confined to houses, streets and postcodes. Well, we can pray and we can talk. We pick up the phone or send a card or letter. Relieve the burden of isolation or loneliness by simply picking up the phone and asking, "how are you ?”  Send a note that says, "was thinking bout you today."


When we hear about our brothers and sisters who are struggling we should pray for them first and then share their burden by getting in touch.


We can carry each other's burdens today by simply letting someone know you are there. Even if it's only on the other side of a phone, you are there. I was struck the other week when I was on a Zoom call and one person apologised for their croaky voice as they had not been using it for days. Loneliness can be a burden, an empty day can be a burden, a day without the usual routine can be a burden.


A Japanese martial arts expert said :

“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is life; it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” 


“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”










10 November 2020


Compare the meerkat?



Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.  Luke 6 verse 21


Sometimes we look at a strapline in an advertisement and we get the point immediately, then there are others that just confuse you completely, or even irritate you and my mind immediately goes to “compare the meerkats.”


Luke 6 verse 21 is a great strapline for anyone that is struggling at the moment.


I read somewhere that if you want to achieve spiritual happiness its imperative that you take your spiritual work seriously. Many of us seek Jesus when we are in situations of need, which is fine. But think of this for a minute. A relationship based on what we could give back to God and not what we can take from him is a great place to be. It’s a profound relationship to have.


Spiritual growth can be painful. We suffer a lot of pain through learning but at the other side think of the lasting joy that we will be given. We may weep now under the pressures of life and mourn for others but we can be filled with spiritual joy and pleasure and be comforted by our Father in heaven.


We end this verse with the words of Eugene Peterson and how he translates this part of

Luke 21 :


You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.










09 November 2020


“If a blind person is leading a blind person, both will end up in a ditch.”


Americans wake up today to a new president-elect. Was it what they wanted? Will it make a difference? Will it bring healing? Was the result brought about by the power of prayer?


This verse from Luke chapter 6 has taught me so much and more so when I am looking at life from the ditch.


Jesus also said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” (Matthew 11:24). 


As Christians, we know that prayer is a key part of our relationship with God but it isn’t always a part of our regular practice. Many Christians struggle with making adequate time for God, through prayer and communication. We live in a fast-paced world and while many Christians say Jesus is most important their life, many struggle with fitting God into their daily agendas. 


 But a Jesus follower always has time for God because their lives centre on Him. 


If we stand tall with that negative person we too become that negative person. If we mix with the people who cut corners we will find a way soon enough to cut corners. If we accept the actions of a bully we are encouraging behaviour that is difficult to manage and create a difficult world to live in.


If we Follow Christ and cherish those that follow Him too. If we pray for the things in life that worry us and make any time His time, then we will be able to see with our eyes open and avoid that ditch.  Amen












08 November 2020


In the grounds of Rosslyn Chapel there is a St. Clair family gravestone that has a memorable verse on the stone :

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.


This was authored by the poet John Maxwell Edmunds who composed poems for graves and memorials. One of his famous ones was a theme for a war movie ”Went the day well?”


Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.


That epitaph was regularly quoted when The Times notified deaths of those who fell during the First World War and was also regularly used during the Second World War. It appeared on many village and town war memorials.


Today should have been a normal “Remembrance Sunday” but of course there will be nothing normal about it except, “we will remember them”. We will also remember 2020 for the remainder of our lives.