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Thought for the Week

Week beginning Sunday 9 June 2024 by Lesley Rankin

Rejoice always […] in everying give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians5 vv 16-18


I heard a little clip this week which relates to what this verse says: keeping joyful and giving thanks
in everything. Sometimes, this is an easy thing to do, but there are other times when all of us have
to do things which are not very agreeable to us.
What this person suggested was that we should change the language we use about this - and
every time we feel fed up or agrieved about something, we should change our ‘have to’ into ‘get to’.
So instead of saying, ‘I have to cut the grass’, we should say, ‘I get to cut the grass’. Instead of, ‘I
have to look after the children tonight while my spouse goes out’, we should try, ‘I get to look after
the children tonight …’.
So instead of thinking of the effort the task requires and how tired we are, we think of the blessing
God has given us. We get to cut the grass because God has blessed us with a place to live, and a
beautiful place outdoors to sit in the sunshine. Not everyone has that. We get to look after our
children - our own and others’! - because God has blessed us with young life in our midst. We
might be fed up with doing the dishes, but we ‘get to’ do them because God has provided enough
for us that we can feed ourselves meals that we enjoy eating.
Although it’s a simple thought, I have really enjoyed thinking about it this week. Even for the most
positive person, there are still things which can wrankle, and which don’t entirely please us. But I
have enjoyed turning them on their heads, and seeing that even the most onerous tasks come
from a place of blessing. I think it also gives God great pleasure when we rejoice and give Him
thanks - we share in a tiny way His joy and pleasure in us, and we can draw closer to Jesus who
suffered more than any man, but who was anointed with joy above his fellows.

Week beginning Sunday 2 June 2024 written by Susie Sharkey

 

"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14 v 6

 

I remember once hearing a quote which said "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". It was supposed to encourage the reader to action, to pull back your shoulders, puff out your chest and strut forward! In reality, when the tough times come, many people struggle, flounder, shoulders slumped, head bent low and an utter disillusionment and discouragement  and even depression sets in. We can't see a way forward, a way through, a way out. You know, that's not actually a bad place to be.

If we could see a way forward, a way through, a way out, we'd probably be relying on our own strength, our own ideas, our own will and as a result, perhaps make things even worse. It's when you come to an end of yourself that God can come in; He can show you the way forward, the way through, the way out and as you lean on Him, He will lead you out into a place of victory and overcoming. The mountain that seemed so insurmountable becomes as nothing when God takes over and takes control. Anything is possible when we cry out to Him and He comes into the midst of the situation and totally transforms what seemed so dark and defeating in our lives. Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". He doesn't say that He is 'a' way, He says He is 'the' way. In spite of what you may have been told, not all roads lead to God. There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus. He is the miracle working God who will transform your darkness into light, your mourning into rejoicing, your sadness into joy if you cry out to Him. You will find that He will lead you forward, through and out into a life you never dreamed possible and when the going does get tough, as is inevitably will be as we walk through life, Christ will be with you every step of the way. Dare to believe in Him today; dare to put your trust in Him; dare to call out to Him and watch as He does something miraculous in your own life.

Week beginning Sunday 26 May 2024 by Mandy Stinglehammer

This week I was doing a bible study with some friends and  the question of why God describes himself as a jealous God came up. It sounds strange to use the word ‘jealous’ because that word normally describes an emotion that’s not good. 

But God cannot have faults or bad attributes. 

We realised that the sense in which He is jealous, is that He doesn’t want anything to compete with our love for Him, not  because  of jealousy,  but because He knows that we will never discover a deep, close relationship with Him, if we hold anything other than God as most important in our hearts.

The bible says, “If your eye is single, your whole body shall be filled,with light”

(Matthew 6:22)

 

It’s the same with sin. We cannot know God if we harbour sin in our hearts, but as soon as we come to the cross, confess and turn away from our sin, then the blood of Christ cleanses us completely and totally.  Our sin is forgiven and a relationship of love and trust can begin to be built between the soul and God.

 

So it is because He loves us, and yearns for us to enjoy full communion with Him, that He describes himself as jealous.

Week beginning Sunday 19 May 2024 by Janet Leith

2 Chronicles 20 v1 to 30

 

This story was the subject at a recent Bible study. The topic was Guidance and how Jehoshaphat received guidance at a time of national crisis in Judah.

 

I found the story speaking to me in a different way. Jehoshaphat was told to go out to battle but he would not have to fight. God would give them victory. The response in the temple to this prophecy was to shout praise.

 

I pictured in my mind the army of Judah vastly outnumbered by their enemy going out to fight. Instead of the King encouraging his troops to prepare for conflict and the sound of battle cries Jehoshaphat issued instructions for praise and worship to lead the army. An unusual way to conduct a battle.

 

It is clear from the story God had a bigger thing in mind than just the winning of one battle. The nations and people groups surrounding Judah were to be impacted by God's victory that day.

 

I was reminded that in our walk with God we have battles to fight. We might need to overcome a jealous nature or impatience or self pity for example. We are not alone in our fight. The battle is often God's and we need to remember that the "shout of praise" or worship especially singing may be our most effective weapon or battle cry.

 

God often has a bigger thing in His plan than just one battle. His plan is to impact the people around us as we are victorious in our battles. 

 

The shout of praise brought victory. Have a victorious week with the sound praise in your heart.

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.

Week beginning Sunday 12 May 2024 by Claire Beesley

 

“Spring up, oh well! Yes, sing His praises.” Numbers 21:17

 

Next weekend, the 19th May, is the day in the church calendar for remembering the day of Pentecost.  Fire is associated with Pentecost, each of the disciples received what appeared to be a flame of fire above their heads and they received the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel of Jesus boldly.  The outward demonstration of a person receiving the Holy Spirit, is that they speak in tongues, but what is the impact to the inner life? 

 

Jesus, when talking to the Samaritan women at the well indicates the impact of the Holy Spirit. “Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14.  A different adjective to describe the Holy Spirit is water; when you drink (receive) the Holy Spirit, a spring or fountain of water is channelled into you, which bubbles up and overflows into your whole life into eternity. 

 

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.  Jesus wants our lives to be abundant, plentiful, satisfied and that is achieved by receiving the Holy Spirit.  “Spring up, oh well!  Yes, sing His praises.” Numbers 21:17. Doesn’t this verse express the joy that there is in life as a Christian, even when life circumstances are difficult, the Holy Spirit helps us to worship God.  “For with you is the fountain of life.” Psalm 36.9

 

If you have already received the Holy Spirit, let that water spring up again, let it overflow, sing the praises of our God this week.  If you are seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask God, as Achsah said to her father in the old testament, “Give me also springs of water.” Judges 1:15.  Let God’s abundant life pour into you.

 

 

 

 

Week begining Sunday 5 May 2024 by Paul Sharkey

 

“God has placed eternity [Hebrew olam] in man's heart. " (Ecclesiastes 3:11)


 

The Hebrew word, olam, may translate better here, as an eternal longing - but, it's easy to get the gist of what he’s trying to say here. The book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament is describing a desire for more from life, or perhaps a part of our being that can only be satisfied with the person who created us with the void inside - God!

 

The writer of Ecclesiastes (King Solomon) in the previous chapter reflected that everything in this life was temporal and ultimately unsatisfying, he uses the word vanity to capture the concept, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity…” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

 

We’ve all witnessed those trying to gain money and all sorts of financial wealth, or fame: public notoriety and adulation. Or self-importance - being the most important person, or the best dressed person on the block, or in the office or the street. We’ve all seen that, and much, much more in the same vein, but let’s look at this a step further…

 

There are many people who are not mesmerised by riches, fame, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians, who feel a void inside, or a feeling of need, or perhaps an unfulfilled feeling, like a regret. They try to self-medicate (understandably) with more disciplined lives, maybe frugality of living, maybe a very restricted or controlled diet, etc.. They also love to breathe in of nature and genuinely love the landscapes and seascapes, the beauty of flowers, birdsong and all things beautiful, they love music and melody and are moved in their souls by all of these things and, although these are fulfilling at the time, they can’t be internalised - brought into our beings and satisfy us forever. Although these are good things, very good things indeed, they are still of this world and won’t last. Sadly, they are also in the category Solomon declares as vanities.

 

So, where do we go from here? What is going to satisfy our inner olam? Only eternal things - only God. Is it possible to find that inner, lasting, fulfilling eternal beauty in this life? Yes! It’s not only possible, it’s actually essential.

 

One of my favourite verses is from the book of Jeremiah, chapter 33, verse 3: “Call to me and I will answer and show you great and wonderful things you have not known.” Or, as the New Testament says, Seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened to you. (Matt 7:7).

 

The truth recorded here is that you can seek and find God in this life!

 

Call to Him and you will find Him and, in Him the satisfaction of your whole being in this life - and that eternal void in your heart will be forever filled.

 

Blessed be His name.

 

 

 

Week beginning Sunday 28 April 2024 by Graham Mellstrom

Romans Ch 6 v23 "The wages of sin is death, BUT THE FREE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE

IN JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD”

It is sin that drives us away from entering into the presence of God. In Old Testament bible time’s
people followed a strict system of sacrifices in order to pay the debt for their sins. These sacrifices
and rituals were performed many many times; often the sacrifice took the form of a spotless lamb or
a bull. In the New Testament bible times the Pharisees were consumed with rituals that were
outward in appearance. Jesus said to them that “it is not what goes into the body that defiles you,
you are defiled by what comes out of the heart” (Mark ch7 v15-20)
We might be very good people, kind, loving and generous, or be people who are trying with all our
own strength to change the obvious outward unpleasant things in our life, but in God’s eyes that is
not enough. This is because of the fall of man we read about in the book of in Genesis. There is a
part of us that we can never make right and acceptable to God. As we look upon our fallen sinful
state and reflect on our unworthiness it can seem hopeless. BUT thanks be to God there is hope
because of his love for us.
This is a tremendous verse in Romans Ch6 v23 that brings relief, gratefulness, joy and assurance
that God still loves us. We also read “it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us”
(Romans Ch5 v8-9). Now there is no condemnation, now there is no guilt or shame for those who
have been covered by the blood of Jesus. There is now no need for the sacrifice of lambs or bulls,
Christ is that final and eternal sacrifice; He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
His sacrificial death on the cross broke the power of sin and death that was on us, and if we accept
him into our lives and walk with him, that sacrificial blood is a covering for all of our sins and we are
made right with God. It is in Christ alone our hope is found, He is the way, the truth and the life, He
is the only way that makes us right with God, He is the gateway that brings us into the presence of
God.
If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your saviour or if you are a believer and are finding things a bit
tough, remember we cannot make things right by striving all by ourselves. Come as you are to the
foot of that cross of Jesus and ask for a fresh covering of his sacrificial blood, there you will find the
forgiveness of God, his compassion, and you will enter into that wonderful love relationship with
Him.
I hope you enjoy this lovely version of the song “My Worth Is Not In What I Own” performed by
Fernando Ortega, Keith & Kristyn Getty. Song written by Graham Kendrick, Keith & Kristyn Getty.
To hear the song click the YouTube link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05jKxv8ApuI

Thought for the Week

Week beginning Sunday 21 April 2024 by Leah Martin

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you:

God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1st John 1:5

 

Last week someone asked me why we call our teens age group ‘Switch’ and it caused me to think back to the days just after Covid lock-downs when we were re-energising and re-designing some of the youth work in church. The question caused me to reflect again on the topic of light.  Light is powerful! None of us can fail to marvel at the lengthening evenings at this time of year, and the beauty of the light just before sunset. We have recently moved to an area with very little street lighting and during the dark nights in January I would walk my dog along streets where I literally couldn’t see one foot in front of the other. What a difference a 50,000 lumen headtorch made - walks were revolutionised and the fear I had felt over what might be lurking in the shadows was taken out of my evening stroll.  Back to the youth group name - we decided on ‘Switch’ to reflect the power of the light of Christ being imparted to our lives as happens when we turn on a light switch. Just as a dark room is flooded with light at the flick of a switch, so our desire for our young people is that their lives will be increasingly flooded with the light of Christ - and that this light would reach out into the darkness of the lives of those around them.  ‘Let there be light’ are some of the first words we read in the Bible and Christ is described as the ‘Light of the World’. Following Christ will ultimately lead us to the light of heaven but let’s not forget that He promises this light shining in our own lives, and through us, while we are still here on earth. Thanks be to God for the light of His son - and say a prayer especially for our children and young people this week. Pray that they will never lose the light they have known in their early years and that it will shine increasingly in them and through them to a world which needs it so desperately.

Thought for the Week

Week beginning Sunday 14 April 2024 by David Shuttleton

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” –1 Corinthians.2:9 (from Isaiah.64:4). Amp.

When I was born again my entire life changed dramatically. As I began attending church meetings I was supernaturally drawn up into heavenly realms by those preaching and leading song. The places spoken of were initially way above my head but one thing I knew, I wanted to dwell there! The people were anointed by the Holy Spirit and brought God down to me. Their faces radiated Christ.

Soon enough I was baptised in the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues. This further convinced me of the surreal beauty of this incomprehensibly alluring spiritual realm where God dwelt. I loved speaking in tongues. Singing in tongues also became a passion as it increasingly does to this day, more than forty years later. I couldn’t adequately put what was happening to me into words. How could I? I began to see that tongues was not based on twenty-six letters but surely based upon hundreds, even thousands of letters. Scripture continuously opened up to me. Even Gods Word was obviously out of this world, it was a living book, it pulsated with life. It was eternal in every page. Alive. Living. God drew me. Jesus became my all. The devil fought against me furiously every step of the way. The extremes the devil went to, absurd, shocking, harsh and drastic only served to convince me even more of the sublime majesty that awaited us, he would do anything to stop us.

As I searched scripture I saw that everything in eternity was beyond our comprehension. Peter wrote, ”Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day before the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years are as one day.“ –2 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭8‬ ‭JUB‬‬. Even the concept of time itself was in another dimension altogether! No darkness, no night, no sin, no burdens, no sadness, NO TIME! Only Christ Jesus glistening. Speaking in tongues is preparing us for this realm of great beauty. Tongues is impressing on our spirit and mind a sense of this dynamic and miraculous beauty awaiting us who believe and persevere against our deadly nature.

Oh, how I love Him, ”I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.”–Song of Songs‬ ‭3‬:‭4‬ ‭RV

Thought for the Week

Week beginning Sunday 7 April 2024 by Flo Buchan

“Your lives are like salt among the people...
Your lives light up the world...”

Matt 5:13-14 TPT

God’s creation is amazing - the plant kingdom varying from tiny
algae to giant redwoods - animals ranging from minute insects to
awesome blue whales. God must love diversity.
When we are young we may assume people are all much the same
and have similar characters and dispositions as we do ourselves. It
takes time and experience to realise that each person reacts to
circumstances differently, and perceives and feels things in his or
her own way. It’s obvious how different we all look on the outside
and the older one gets the more aware one becomes of how
different we all are on the inside. If God created us with individual
personalities and temperaments it must mean he loves the
differences and diversity of his people.
When we bring our lives to God he refines and expands our natural
selves, giving us spiritual gifts and a unique place in his kingdom
that only we can fill ... so that we can be the salt of the earth.
God knows us intimately, he understands what makes us tick. He
knows exactly how to guide each of us to the place where we can
be light in a dark world.
You made me; you created me.
Psalm 119:73 NLT

Thought for the Week

Week beginning Sunday 31 March 2024

“Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead” Luke 24 v 5 & 6

We read in the gospels that while it was still dark, the women who had loved and stood by Jesus went to His tomb to finish anointing His body. This was a custom of the Jewish faith. Probably none of them had slept, or very little, so overcome with grief and pain. Jesus had been put to a torturous death on a cross by the Roman soldiers, many of the Jewish people standing mocking and jeering. These women who loved Jesus must have endured terrible pain watching Him suffer and die. All their hopes and dreams of a Messiah died with Jesus on that cross. And now we read, in the early hours of the Sunday morning they make their way to the tomb. Their heads would have been downcast, the walk slow and painful, the feeling of darkness without matching the feeling of hopelessness within. And then, truly miraculously, within a moment of time everything changed. “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead”. Their beloved Jesus was alive! He wasn’t in that tomb, they didn’t have to finish anointing His body; His body wasn’t there. In one divine moment, weeping turned to joy, darkness turned to light and that which seemed utterly impossible just a few moments ago was indeed reality.

I wonder if you are living in darkness and in hopelessness today? I wonder in the wee small hours of the night if the darkness on the outside seems to match the hopelessness within? That feeling that life will never change, hopes and dreams scattered to the four corners of the earth?...but God. Lift up your eyes today, lift up your eyes right now, in this moment, and see a resurrected Saviour who died in your place, to take away your pain, your sin, your guilt, your hopelessness and give you joy, peace and everlasting life. “ For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

Lift your head, lift your eyes and call out to Jesus. Call out to Him in the midst of your darkness and suffering and He will answer you, He will give you hope and a future and He will unveil His plans and purpose for your life.

Week beginning Sunday 24 March 2024 by Elaine Black

”But as they came closer to Jerusalem and Jesus saw the city ahead, He began to cry.” Luke 19:41

 

I wonder what it would have been like to be part of the crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? To have joined in the exuberant shouts extended to Him. To wave palm branches and lift your voice crying ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’ What a joyful celebration, a hopeful exclamation to clothe the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But yet, it would be these same crowds who only a few days later would be uttering cries of condemnation and hate. Swayed by the leaders of the day, controlled by those authoritative figures and living fearful of what might happen to them if they did anything other than what was being dictated to them. No steadiness, but led by others irrespective of what they perhaps truly felt.

 

Although there may be choppy waters all around, times of change and testing, uncertainty and unsettledness, no suffering or trial that we journey through can ever compare to that which Christ endured. He who knew no sin took upon himself the sin of the world. He suffered in our place, paying the ultimate price - His life for our freedom. He restored the relationship between man and God the Father by the shedding of His blood, making a way for us to come right into the Holy of Holies and feel the welcome of our Heavenly Father, cleansed, restored and accepted. Nothing of our own merit or effort. Where there seemed to be no way, He made a way. It was all of Him, what a sacrifice, what love. 

 

Even today in our life, it is all of Him. He continually makes a way for us where the path ahead seems uncertain, His Light reveals the next step to take. Let us stay close behind our crucified, suffering Saviour who carries the scars of this life and who knows and understands us fully. He sees our wounds and imperfections, the flaws in our personalities, the hurts and turmoils that have touched us deep inside, leaving a mark and He lays His healing hand upon us, making us whole. 

 

The easiest thing would be to shy away from bringing our wounds and disappointments, our cracks and imperfections to Christ. To try and bury them, to look away from them and almost deny they are even there but we need to remember that He sees them anyway and He desires that we open them to Him, laying out all the emotion that is attached to them. Surely it is through these scars and cracks that His wonderful Light penetrates through and we realise that it is in our suffering that we can share in His resurrection life.

Week beginning Sunday 10 March 2024 by Sarah Kakooza

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which
transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

 


Biblical peace is not related to circumstances. We may be in the midst of difficulties
and still have peace. Paul was content in any circumstance and had peace even in
jail at Philippi, where he sang and worshipped God.
Where can we find the kind of peace that is not just the absence of trouble? Not long
before Jesus was crucified, even when he knew what He was facing, He still took
time to comfort His disciples with the message of peace. “Peace I leave with you; My
peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be
troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) The peace Jesus is speaking of enables
believers to remain calm even in the most fearful circumstances.
The New Testament speaks of two kinds of peace—the objective peace that has to
do with our relationship to God, and the subjective peace that has to do with our
experience in life.
When we become Christians and follow Christ, we cease being enemies of God.
Through the covenant of peace, we are now at peace with Him. Romans 5:1 says,
"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God."
But in John 14:27 Jesus is not talking about objective peace. The peace He speaks
of here is a subjective, experiential peace. It is the firm conviction that He cares for
us and is in control.
This is the peace that Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus.” The peace of God is not based on circumstances like the world's peace, so it
doesn't always make sense to us. This is divine, supernatural peace.
Mankind wants a peace that deals with the past, governs the present and holds
promise for the future. God alone can bring this peace. In Philippians 4:9, 1
Thessalonians 5:23, and Hebrews 13:20, He is called "the God of peace." Apart from
God, there is no real peace in this world.
Some people worry about things that might happen. Others' anxieties come from
their past. God promises to supply our needs and He has forgiven the past. Don't
worry about tomorrow or yesterday. Concentrate on trusting God for today's needs.
The peace of Christ helps us to know the will of God. Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the
peace of Christ rule in your hearts...” Paul is urging the Colossians to depend on the
peace of Christ when making decisions in life. When we have a problem or a

decision to make, we are to let the peace of Christ make that decision for us. If we
feel peace in our heart, we should be confident it is God's will.
Finally, the peace of Christ is a source of strength during difficulties. When we are
constantly bombarded with pressures, needs and problems, we must keep our minds
focused on Christ. He is our Prince of Peace.

Week beginning Sunday 3 March by Christine Cowan

“ … but now they have no cloak for their sin.” John 15 v 22 KJV


It is sobering to think that with Christ dying on His Cross and His Resurrection which led to
His acting in obedience to the will of His Father and the Holy Spirit, we humans cannot hide
forever from our sin. There is the divine action of the Holy Spirit in revealing truth, as the light
of Christ penetrates into the depths of who we are. God is sifting out His church.
Many years ago I was attending a meeting taken by the late Miss Mary Black who was the
minister of our Struthers Glasgow Church. Mary was on the platform taking a service. I was sitting there when suddenly I became aware that it was as if another pair of eyes were looking at me through Mary’s eyes. These eyes were not human as they were the eyes of Jesus Himself. It is hard to describe this experience as His eyes were full of love and tenderness. I just sat there as I felt a warm heat coming from His eyes. This lasted for a short time before I felt as if I came back to reality. Whatever Christ was doing in those moments,  I believe that He was drawing me into a place where He recognised my desire to have a deeper relationship with him. However, He was also showing me that despite my failings He understood me and there was forgiveness by the power of His blood shed at Calvary. He is a good God.

Week beginning Sunday 25 February 2024 by Daniel Seddon

Credible witnesses

On more than a few occasions I have found myself in court as a character witness.  Once this was to speak for a friend accused of a crime, the others were all asylum tribunals, involving men or women who had become Christians and who sought refuge in the UK from countries where they would face imprisonment or death for changing their religion.  This experience has introduced me to a new language: that of the courtroom.  And one word in particular has been given a new meaning.  That word is the adjective “incredible”.  

Each time I wrote for the court a statement of my relationship with the individual, and what persuaded me of the person’s genuineness, integrity, or innocence.  Each time the solicitors and barristers were clear that the court was only interested in my first hand experience: what I myself had seen and heard.  They were not interested in hearsay or second hand, or in opinion that I could not back up with facts.  In the immigration/ asylum tribunals, the judge would explicitly decide whether she or he found me to be a “credible witness”.  They used the same terminology in judging an asylum applicant's story: the judge either found the story “credible” or “incredible”.

This use of the adjective was new to me. I had always thought of “incredible” as meaning something was true but amazing, exciting, highly unusual.  Something really happened, contrary to expectations or precedent.  However, in the judgements handed out after Asylum Tribunals, the Judges were categorical: either they found the story “credible”..that is, believable and true; or they found the applicant “incredible”…that is, unbelievable and untrue.

And so I find myself asking two questions about witnesses of the story of Jesus Christ.  Firstly, are the stories of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, credible or incredible?  Are they told to us, by credible witnesses?  Secondly, am I myself a credible witness to the reality of Jesus Christ?  Is my witness first hand, what I have myself seen, heard and experienced?

On the first question, I have the words of Luke, John and Peter.  Luke describes clearly how he sought out reliable sources to prepare his account of the life of Jesus, and his account of the early church in Acts is almost all first hand.   John's first letter opens with the powerful words: “we have heard and seen…we saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands”; “we are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard..”.  Peter does something similar in his second letter to Christians.  He writes: “we were not making up clever stories….we have seen his majestic splendour with our own eyes…we ourselves heard (God’s voice) when we were with him on the holy mountain."

On the second question, I can only describe my own experience of Jesus Christ: the awe of worship, acceptance in the face of failure, help in life's troubles, occasional dreams or inner promptings that I believe have been the voice of God to me, and the confident hope of heaven to look forward to.

Week beginning Sunday 18 February 2024 by Alison Neill

The Lord is my rock - psalm 18

David strengthened himself in the Lord - 1 Samuel 30 verse 6

In the countryside or at the beach, a good rock seems the ideal place to sit or congregate, it’s warm from the sun, is dry and above the mud or sand. It is a landmark, and makes a great lookout point too. Even quite a small rock can be a windbreak or create shade from unwanted glare or heat (less likely in Scotland!). David the Psalmist declared the Lord as his Rock.  Moses declared God as The Rock in Deuteronomy – how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; verse 4.

And Jesus speaks of himself as the rock against which the powers of hell have no power. He compares his will and his teachings to the solid bedrock that will be immovable in the storms and floods.

Jesus our Rock never changes. He is always the same and his promises are safe and sure. When we feel alone, or misunderstood, or uncertain of what life is bringing, cling to that Rock: even if everything else shifts and changes. We can find complete peace and rest, even from ourselves, as we lean our whole weight upon this Rock.

God our rock is faithful to all his promises of forgiveness and salvation

God our rock only speaks the truth of victory over decay and death

God our rock brings us no condemnation. Instead his discipline assures us of his guidance, and his indwelling holy Spirit is our guarantee of redemption.

God our rock does not change in his qualities of love, joy, peace, patience and kindness.

If we aren’t quite there and don’t know how to get there, David offered a simple and heart-felt prayer that we can pray too, ‘lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” or “lead me to the towering rock of safety” – Psalm 61 verse 2.

He is the anchor of our souls, a very present help in times of trouble. And underneath each one of us are his everlasting arms.

Week beginning Sunday 11 February 2024 by Natalie Deary

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof"  Proverbs 18:21

 

There are so many verses, in proverbs in particular, about all aspects of our words and the tongue’s power. My thoughts have recently turned again to the words that come out of my mouth. I read something that reminded me that what we say can bring life and blessings or ‘death’ to a situation. I have been more conscious of stopping myself from saying anything negative over a situation and changing it to something positive. It can sound a bit flaky but the frequency it’s mentioned in the bible speaks of the necessity to guard our tongue. Not only can we bless or curse with our words, they can have a massive impact on others, how they view us, how they feel about themselves and also our words about people can impact how others view them. There is incredible power in the tongue! It’s a large part of a Christian’s life to be careful of what comes out of our mouths but as humans it’s another part of the flesh that we struggle daily to keep under control. Thankfully the Bible tells us that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can have power and control over our tongue.

v 20 "From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied."

I know myself that I can mull over something I’ve said for ages, did that offend, did they take it the wrong way, what will they think of me for saying it? I know that when I make an effort to only speak life, I feel better, as I know I can’t be held at fault for my words and that they’ve only brought positivity. Lord, help us to use our tongues that praise you, to bring only healing and life.

Week beginning Sunday 4 February 2024 by Rosalind Creighton

John 1:16 & 17 says, “Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” 
 


How can we receive grace in place of grace? First of all, let’s think about what the first grace is that we have received: it is the word of God that Moses heard from God and passed on to the Children of Israel as God’s laws. But how is the law an act of grace? Well, why do we try to teach our children right from wrong? To protect them; to help them make good decisions; to teach them to consider others’ needs as well as their own; to teach them that sometimes obedience without understanding the reasons why is often because we know better than them what is best for them. And that is why God gave us the law- not to spoil our fun, but to put in place limits that would make society work.  Surely, that was an act of grace- the gift of instructions for how to live a happy life.
And yet, we can not keep all of God’s laws, just like our children cannot keep all our rules.
God, in His immeasurable kindness, gave us a new grace in place of the grace already received - and so the Word of God became a baby, who would grow up to make a new and living way into God’s presence by taking all the punishment for all the  broken laws onto His shoulders and dying the death we deserved. His resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit, sealed this new covenant that we can enter into with God.  And that same power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, is graciously available to us today to help us life the life of joy, peace and hope that we are unable to do under the law alone. 
That is the grace and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will never lose its power!

Week beginning Sunday 28 January 2024 by Howard Mole

 "...learn of Me.. "  -  Matthew 11 : v 29 - 30

Recently at a Tuesday night Bible study we looked at  Exodus 33: v7 -  34 v10, 27-35 .  The study focused on spending time alone with God.
The passages surrounded God giving the law on the stone tablets for the 2nd time.
One of the parts that struck home was the restrictions God gave Moses about who was permitted on the mountain (Exodus 34 v3), apart from Moses,no one to be exact and, in fact, no cattle were allowed to come near the mountain either.
This was the second occasion that God gave the Law.  So immense was the experience,  that Moses' face shone to such an extent that he had to vail his face for people to look at him.
Thinking about the study later that evening, I was struck by how very different things were with the coming of Christ on Christmas day (Luke 2 v 8 - 20).  He was born in a stable, surrounded with cattle and sheep.  Laid in a manager wrapped in swaddling cloths. In fact, shepherds were the first to be called to see Him. The Lamb of God, although God heralded an entirely new dispensation of Grace and Mercy.
The shepherds of that time were a different to those we might think of today.  They would have been of very low estate. Dirty,  smelly, roughly presented having been out with sheep on multiple hillsides for days and nights. And yet they came having been told of Jesus' birth by angels with glory shining all around them.  I don't know about you, however I always seem to identify with those shepherds. 
Moving from there to the last supper and the cross. I have been meditating on Christ on the cross and elements before and after for sometime now. It came to me about John at the Last Supper, laying his head on Jesus' breast and, no doubt, hearing the steady, untroubled, unwavering heartbeat of God Himself.  The Peace and acceptance John would have felt there. And then, on the events at Calvary, where Christ committed His Spirit to the  Father. He, at the end of His earthly work, Jesus committed His Spirit into the Father's care, for the next stage of His great plan of Glorious Victory in the Resurrection!!
You know, life can deliver some very heavy blows and, for Christians especially, there can be a very real cross to bear, with some situations enduring for a very long time.  God sometimes doesn't let us off either, and it can feel that we are "hanging on for dear life" as difficult situations persist.
Whilst meditating on these things, I felt that God was gently offering a choice: turnover spiritual life to God to do with as He wants to do with it. Letting go ... and letting God.
How? By keeping my eyes on Jesus. With a daily and sometimes multiple times daily, choice to look on Jesus, feeling His Risen Life flood my spirit.
Events in our lives can have caused pain and changes,  however God can do more than we can imagine from the rubble of shattered hopes and dreams ; Ephesians 3.20! "Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, " Amplified Bible.
Letting go is in itself a long journey, though we can be comforted along the way with the certain knowledge that He Loves us, knows what is truly best and that we are safe in His hands.

Week beginning Sunday 21 January 2024 by Rosie Gaw

“WHEN I CONSIDER THE 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?” PSALM 8: 3-4 (NIV).

In my own prayer times, I often find it helpful to start by saying the Lord’s prayer. It
immediately turns my focus from myself and the problems of the day on to God. The
other day, I started to pray as usual “Our Father, you are in heaven” but was
suddenly struck with such a sense of awe and wonder at these words that I could not
continue. I had to pause to consider who I was speaking to and what this means.
God is the creator of all things; in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether
they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers (Colossians 1:16). By the
power of His word, He commanded into existence the heavens, earth, sky, land, sea,
trees, plants, sun, moon, stars, birds, fish, animals, and mankind. In Him all things
live and move and have their being (Acts 17:28). I was fascinated by a recent news
article where the James Webb telescope detected six large, mature galaxies at a
time when the universe was only around 3% of its current age. Scientists are
referring to these as “universe breakers” because it is not conceived to be possible
by current theories of cosmology. On a smaller scale, the human body is composed
of around 30 trillion tiny cells, all intricately and perfectly designed and each type
with their unique function. This is the God to whom we pray; the designer, creator,
and sustainer of all things and yet we call Him Father. How can we but tremble in
awe when we come to acknowledge that “Yours is the kingdom, the power and the
glory forever”?
However, the most wonderous thing of all is the immense love of God for His people.
His love is unconditional - “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans
5:8). His thoughts towards His people are as countless as the grains of sand on the
seashore (Psalm 139: 17-18). Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love
of God (Romans 8:39). Unconditional love does not give us the right to sin or live
however we please. On the contrary, the more we understand the love of God the
greater our desire to live a life that pleases Him – of holiness, death to self and
service. The love of Christ constrains us (2 Corinthians 5:14).
We who follow Christ are the most fortunate of human beings, but we don’t always feel that
way. Maybe you are discouraged because you keep falling into the same sin. Or
maybe you are facing circumstances that seem like looming, impossible mountains
to climb. The wonderous love and power of our heavenly Father has been made
available to us. “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you”.
(Romans 8:11). If we ask, we shall receive. In Him there is victory over every sin and
circumstance, and fullness of joy.

Week beginning Sunday 14 January 2024 by Graham Offord

 

 

"Will not the judge of all the earth do right."  Genesis 18:25

 

Its 100 days since the atrocities of 7th October Hamas attacks on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.  

 

First point – we must continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem as instructed in Psalm 112 v6 and the reason given in v9 because of the House of the Lord our God I will seek your good.  As Christians we are grafted into the House of our Lord and we should also pray that the remaining Israeli hostages are brought home.

 

Second point – of course any conflict brings with it knock on or unintended consequences and we see various factions and armed militias taking aim at world trade routes and Governments taking responsive action.  World leaders are keen to contain this ‘local dispute’ and prevent it falling into a much greater regional war with the potential for the optics to change from over there to right here, with the resultant media attention inevitably stoking the fears of the people.  But we have a God who says multiple times across His word – do not fear.  The Spirit of God does not produce negative fear, much rather the fear of the Lord brings wisdom.  The Spirit of God brings us perspective based on His word that is quite different from how the world’s wisdom or perspective reflects world events.  By developing our Fear of God, we surely move into a place of Loving our God.  He becomes our strong tower and refuge, despite all that is going on around. 

 

We can trust our Heavenly Father to see His plan for mankind through to the end and we must avoid an unhealthy fear that catastrophises events or exaggerates the danger posed.

 

Will not the judge of all the earth do right.  Amen

Week beginning Sunday 7 January 2024 by Lynne Mellstrom

 

Come as you are


Matthew 11:25 - 30 (Luke 10:21, 22)


At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have
hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for
so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one
knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one
to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you
will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

God is all powerful, all the glory.
In ourselves we are as nothing but not unloved. Have you ever felt lost or completely at an end with
no joy in your heart and a fear of what is to come? The word of God tells us that God is love and
mercy but His Spirit teaches us God is more. He raises us up and strengthens us not just when we
feel vulnerable but when going about His work. It is God the Father in Whom Christ put all His faith
that the work would be accomplished and give glory to Himself - why is it we sometimes stumble
and find it difficult to believe that our God in heaven is our all in all and we should turn to him where
ever and whoever we are for the daily trials and needs of living.
Life is always complicated with work, family commitments and the challenges of living in todays
society but take hope in the words of Christ Himself. He didn’t ask us to find a better way once we
had sorted ourselves out a bit more - He told us to come as we were weak and needing Him and his
loveliness now no matter what state we are in. And whether you feel you live a good life or one
that’s like a rollercoaster ride we all need that which only God provides for us. Come as you are.
There is no condemnation even although God knows the human heart and it’s failings - there is only
love, kindness and mercy for those who come to Him. Which of us can truly say we don’t need more
of God’s love in our hearts - are you not hungry for more of Him? Come as you are. By His grace we
can know Him and find a place of peace - just come as you are. Don’t reject the love that God would
pour out to you because you feel unworthy, just come as you are.

Week beginning Sunday 31 December 2023 by Janet Leith

Philippians Chapter 3 verses 12 to 14. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. BUT ONE THING I DO: FORGETTING WHAT IS BEHIND and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

I have been reflecting on the past year and beginning to give some thought to plans for 2024. For me
2023 was busy and eventful. There were some major life events – I moved house, my sister had her
60 th birthday and is now in the process of retiring and some sad events with bereavement and illness
being features amongst friends and colleagues.
The apostle Paul writing to the church at Philippi reflects on his spiritual journey including the ups
and downs (or successes and failures). His goals to know Christ and fulfil his calling are clearly laid
out in his letter. He can look back at a busy and eventful life serving God. Yet Paul never seems to
live in the past. He does not let the past victories, successes, disappointments, sadnesses or hurts
obscure what is ahead. He looks into his future eager to find what God has for him.
Let me encourage all of us to forget what is behind. Leave the hurts and failures of 2023 – put them
all in a bag and leave it at the end of 2023. Take all the lessons learned and the successes of the past
year into 2024. Like Paul “strain” towards what God has for us in 2024. We are called “heavenwards”
in Christ Jesus.
I am excited as I think about what is possible for us as individual Christians and as a church. Let me
encourage you to lift up your eyes to see what is ahead.

Week beginning Sunday 24 December 2023 by Daniel Seddon

The prayer that Jesus taught us.

 

Two of the biographers of Jesus..Mathew and Luke…describe one day when Jesus’ followers asked him to teach them how to pray.  Jesus replied with the “Our Father” prayer that is familiar so familiar to many of us.  I don’t know whether he actually intended it as something to repeat word for word; or as a structure to put our own words into.  Maybe both.  Here’s something about how the Holy Spirit has used the “Our Father” prayer in my life.

 

Surely this is the best known prayer in the world?  Many churches and individuals have it as part of regular spoken prayers.  Sometimes it is prayed in old fashioned language, sometimes in modern language.   I remember praying it in old fashioned words at my primary school assembly, and wondering what the word “hallowed” meant.  “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven…”.  I also thought at that time that the pronoun “thy” was a formal, distant way of addressing God.  Years later my dad (not a Christian then) explained to me that “thee” and “thou” are the familiar, not the formal, terms of address! 

 

I use the prayer often, both repetition of the given words, and also as a pattern…expressing my own worship, confessions and requests instead of the phrases I know by heart.  Over the years it has been an immense blessing, and often a challenge.  For example, I sometimes have said “My Father in heaven”, instead of “our”; or have ask forgiveness for specific wrongs on my conscience; or I have listed people that I need to forgive.  For each person, as I say “Lord, I forgive so and so”, a transaction happens and I experience him helping me to let go of resentment or bitterness. 

 

Perhaps the biggest lesson for me is in the phrase “Your kingdom come, your will be done”.  When I want to control life, people or events, this phrase brings me back to submit to my Father’s will and purpose.  I have come to those words and felt the Spirit asking me to give up my own selfish choices and choose His way.

 

This year God gave me an unexpected blessing through the Our Father prayer.  During the last illness of an elderly relative who had carers every day, he found comfort in praying this familiar prayer with us, despite his mental frailty.  I wrote out for him the “Our Father” prayer to use when he was anxious in the night and discovered that it was a blessing to two of his carers in particular.   The first, a young moslem man, was pleased to read the prayer with Colin and liked it.  The second, a hindu lady, read the prayer and thought it was wonderful…she took her own copy because she found it meaningful.  She had heard about Jesus from a newly Christian relative of hers. 

 

I am very glad that Matthew and Luke wrote down the words of this wonderful prayer!

Week beginning Sunday 17 December 2023 by Jennifer Offord

Christmas - The greatest promise ever made, and the greatest promise ever kept.

For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.  Cor 2 Chapter 1 v 20

 

We live in a world where promises are broken and no one’s word seems to be their bond anymore. Maybe you have experienced the deep betrayal of a broken promise. There are times in our lives when we can be let down by those we once trusted with our darkest secrets and most desperate needs. When we ask someone to help us and they do not keep their promise, a deep crack forms in our trust. 

Christmas is a celebration of the greatest promise ever made and the greatest promise ever kept. The promise by God of the birth of Jesus and with the fulfilment of that promise we have the assurance that all His promises are true. 

He keeps promises because He is good and faithful. He keeps promises because there are never circumstances beyond His control, never situations He did not foresee.

He has promised to be with us, provide for us, love us with an everlasting love, give us peace and rest for our souls, strengthen us, give us His Spirit, protect us and finally make all things right when He will abolish all sin, grief, death, and mourning! 

 

We have a song we sing at Christmas with the words “take a step into the promise, do not fear only believe”

 

Mary, Joseph, The Shepherds, and others took that step into the promises of God. So can we once again take a step of faith into the promises He has given us. No matter what you’re facing today, God knows and He is able. You can trust in His presence and hold fast to His promises.  The endless love of God is such that His promises never fail in Christ, no matter how many promises the Lord has made, we have an assurance that not one will ever fail.

Week beginning Sunday 10 December 2023 by Elaine Black

 

 

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

Luke 2:8-10

 

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love this time of year! There’s a particular atmosphere that comes during Advent, an anticipation and excitement, as we think upon that first coming of Jesus into our world. It takes us back, it causes us to think of the now, and also the future. The birth of the Christ Child was the coming of our salvation, a fulfilment of prophecies from long ago, a reconciliation of God and man and a hope that will one day be.

 

December seems to come round quicker each year and the business of the season can sometimes be overwhelming with preparations to make, gifts to buy, cards to write, work events, family commitments and so much more. This year I decided to begin my Advent readings in November and it has been great! Taking time apart from the business of the season to reflect on the glorious coming of Jesus. For each of us that brings different thoughts as we are unique and He speaks into our hearts as individuals knowing exactly what we need to hear. The Word brings light and life, hope and healing, a wholeness and a gratitude for who He is and all He has done.

 

If we think for a moment about the verses at the start. I’m sure like me you’ll have put yourself out there on the hillside when the glory of God filled the sky and the angel announced the birth of the Saviour. It must have been terrifying, but I love the way that the angel’s first words are ‘Don’t be afraid!’ God knew the hearts of those shepherds and their fear was addressed first, followed then by tidings of great joy. How compassionate and all knowing our Heavenly Father is. Speaking to those lowly shepherds shows the inclusivity of the Father; Jesus had come for everyone irrespective of social standing, wealth or intellect. 

 

We know that immediately the shepherds then went to find the manager and their hearts were filled to overflowing with such joy and wonder that they told everyone they met of the glad tidings. Let’s seek to share the truth with the same fervour that those shepherds did and as they praised and glorified God for everything they had seen and heard, let us too treasure the One who is at the centre of it all and meditate on His coming, the revelation of the Father’s love. 

Week beginning Sunday 3 December 2023 by Susie Sharkey

"For 'Everyone calls on the name of the Lord will be saved'" Romans 10 v 13

Today in our Western Christian calendar we embark on a season of church life that we call Advent. As a child of the 1960's that meant that each day we got to open a new window of our Advent Calendar. Back in those days, and advent calendar usually had a painting depicting the Christmas scene and you had to hunt around to find the faint number that marked the window to be opened on a particular day. When the window was opened, you may see a shining star, or a shepherd, or an angel, or a donkey and there was always excitement leading up to the 24th December when the final window was opened to reveal a painting of the baby Jesus lying in the manger. He always had a halo above His head and was lying in a manger with straw, Mary, Joseph and others looking on. 

A lovely scene you may say, the birth of a new child and all the joy which accompanies such an event. But behind that scene lay an unimaginable sorrow, unimaginable pain, unimaginable anguish that Mary was to experience some 33 years later when she watched the Son she had given birth to be whipped, mocked, spat upon then crucified on a Cross. Songwriter Graham Kendrick wrote: 'Til against a darkening sky
The son she loved was lifted high
And with his dying breath
She heard him say 'Father forgive'
And to the criminal beside
"Today-with me in Paradise"
So bitter yet so sweet"

The baby that she watched grow into a boy, then a youth, then a man was hung upon a cross for no other reason thn that He loved us, for no other reason than that He wanted to pay the ransom for our sin, for our shame, for our guilt. That baby was born to die; that baby was born that we may be born again. That baby was born to bring salvation to all who will call upon the name of Jesus. This advent (a period of anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus) can we take some time to consider Him, consider His love, consider His sacrificing Heaven to come down to earth for us. We sing the song "Love came down at Christmas" and truly love, in the form of a tiny baby, came down to our earth, lived as one of us and died all becasue of

love, His love....for me....for you. 

Week beginning Sunday 26 November 2023 by Claire Beesley

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge.” Psalm 61:2-3



How busy are your mornings? I no longer need an alarm clock, I have two little people who wake me up instead. From the moment I open my eyes, I seem to be racing against the clock. Getting everyone breakfast, dressed, shoes, jackets, bags and out the door for nursery drop off. That’s my agenda and I seem to be battling the agenda of my children…play with me or I’m still hungry or I don’t want to wear that today. It’s easy to feel frustrated, annoyed, shouting orders, trying to manage the situation so we can leave the house on time.Does that sound familiar to you? Or perhaps if not the pressures of children, you have the pressures of work, checking your emails before you’re fully awake, replying to the demands already mounting for that day.


Recently, I have been trying to create a new morning routine, a new habit, refocusing on God in the midst of the chaos.


“Lead me” - the start of this verse I have quoted, I have been leading myself and my children, to pause and take a moment before heading out the door. We pray and thank Him for this new day and ask Him to be with us.


“To the rock, that is higher than I” - God is greater than the challenges that each new day brings. He can give strength to cope and manage the cares of the day.  It is comforting to know that He is in control - not me.


“For you have been my refuge” - I have found that by intentionally turning our attention to God, that His peace and love comes quickly, turning angst into calm.In trying to teach my children a habit that will focus their attention on God every day, I have found that I have benefited from it too.


Find God in the midst of the busyness, choose a time to focus your attention on Him.  “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” Psalm 55:22.

Week Beginning Sunday 19 November 2023 by Paul Sharkey

“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46 v10

Be still!

Winter is approaching, so it’s always good to catch a bit of daylight when we can,
the days being so short. I put my big jacket on today and a woolly hat and sat on a bench
in the garden with a mug of tea beside me.
I was seated long enough to have a sip of hot tea and then I automatically went to
reach into my pocket for my phone. Not to answer a call, or to check a text, but just
through sheer habit. Even in my sixties, I’m just so used to having my phone in my hand.
Social media makes it so easy to simply scroll and scroll and scroll, for no good reason. I
left my phone where it was.
Instead, I breathed in the scents of the garden, watched the plants and branches
sway in the wind and watched a robin pick on the lawn for food. I had to resist the urge,
once or twice, to reach into my pocket for my phone, but very quickly realised that I was
feeling a peace I’d almost forgotten about. I breathed it in more and more and realised that
something was happening in my spirit, deep inside. The day now seemed fuller in a way I
can’t explain and my spirit seemed to laugh and soar with joy in the simplicity of ‘being
still’. Gladness appeared to have space in my heart to rise up and bring more happiness
and joy to me. Then, it occurred to me that the still, small voice of God only speaks when
we’re still enough to hear it. The treasures of Heaven only come in stillness.
We live in a day of incredible technology. Messages can be sent and received
around the world in seconds, we can watch videos uploaded in Florida, France or Fiji by
people we don’t know and will never meet. What an addiction this has become! But, the
price: we lose those moments of stillness in which our thoughts sort themselves out and
we reflect on life itself – and those moments when the God of Heaven actually speaks to
us. The relationship you have with your phone is actually a spiritual battle for your life in
God. Win the battle!

Week Beginning Sunday 12 November 2023 Graham Mellstrom

 

 

Steal Away To Jesus

Luke Ch 5 v 16 "Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray”


In these days that we live we are so blessed. We have comparative freedom to come together as
believers and worship the Lord Jesus Christ in our homes and churches. As we know, this sadly is not
the case in many countries where people are persecuted for their Christian faith. Yet with such
freedom available to us, it is sad to see that all too often we find ourselves caught up in the busyness
of life. Many of the demands on our time are legitimate and necessary however, Jesus saw it
important enough to set time aside every day to be with his heavenly father and we too must ensure
that we also go alone with God. We recognise that without Christ we are nothing, we have no
strength to carry us through life’s trials, no power to overcome our sinful desires and weaknesses,
and no anointing to walk in the light and truth, being the witnesses that we are meant to be in
bringing the light of Christ to others.
Recently I have been listening to an audio book called Steal Away Home by Matt Carter & Aaron
Ivey. A book based on historical research, telling of a story set in the 1800s of the relationship
between an African-American missionary called Thomas Johnson and one of the world’s greatest
preachers Charles Spurgeon. The story begins with insights into the life of Thomas Johnson who was
an American slave, born into captivity and longing for freedom. It tells of some of the struggles and
persecution a slave may encounter in their day to day lives, hinting of the evils of slavery and such
hardships that we would not wish to imagine. There are many wonderful sections in the book
including of how these two men came together to be the best of friends but, for me, the most
beautiful part of the story is when we hear that late at night many of the slaves gathered together in
secret, quietly praying and singing in whispers, pouring their hearts out to Jesus. They did so in
defiance against the devil and his earthly holds. Knowing that their captors may have them bound in
slavery but rejoicing that their spirits were truly free in Jesus - giving them strength, hope and faith
to go on.
The passionate songs that came out from that dark period in history are remarkable. One of these
songs was "Steal Away". The song was composed by  Wallace Willis , a slave who belonged to Mr.
Britt Willis, a prominent citizen of the Choctaw Nation and well-to-do slaveholder. I remember as a
newly converted teenager singing this song in church prayer meetings, not having a clue about the
history of the song, yet the impact of the words and the sense of the Holy Spirit that came through
that song brought a healing and freedom to my spirit which was unlike anything I had ever
experienced before, and it still touches my heart even more so today. We must steal ourselves away
from the captives and the busyness of life, making sure that we come to Jesus and centre ourselves
again in Him, to live in His freedom that he purchased for us through His precious blood shed on the
cross.
Like me, I hope you find the simple version of the song “Steal Away” by The Moses Hogan Singers
uplifting.


To hear the song click the YouTube link. https://youtu.be/rPHiN27IivM?si=FeAXTppFzgsbcmkz

Week beginning Sunday 5 November 2023 by Flo Buchan

‘Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.’ John 3:6. NLT


I love the Holy Spirit and I love how the Spirit of God is mentioned at the very beginning and at the end of the Bible. 
In Genesis we read: ‘The Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.’ At the end of the Bible we read: ‘The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”’
In the gospel of John we’re told about Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus: … no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
Even a learned teacher like Nicodemus couldn’t understand what that meant. But we know that we are given spiritual life, and become children God, through being born again. Just as we inherit looks, personalities and characteristics from our natural parents, because we are now God’s children we inherit God’s characteristics  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The Holy Spirit enables us to be Christlike - these ‘fruits’ are freely available to us.
In Luke the angel Gabriel says to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 Yes, this was a unique occasion for a unique baby, but when we believe in Jesus and are born again, the Holy Spirit is conceived in us - God gives us this wonderful, supernatural gift. Just as Mary would have nurtured the Christ child let us nurture and protect the Holy Spirit within us.

Week beginning Sunday 29 October 2023 by Leah Martin

‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it’: John 1:5


Do you ever think about the fact that your whole life runs on the energy from the sun? This might seem hard to believe at this time of year when the clocks have just gone back and some days we feel as though we don’t actually see the sun from morning til night. As we all know, we don’t run on the sun’s energy directly, as though we were plugged into a battery. Rather this happens indirectly because all our energy ultimately comes from plants. Either we eat plants themselves or we eat animals which have gained their energy from plants - and plants get all of the energy that they pass on to us from the sun, through a process called photosynthesis. Plants capture the light energy from the sun and use this energy to produce both glucose and oxygen – two vital components of life. Without oxygen all human life on earth would quickly die, and without glucose there would be no energy from food.
Jesus often used parables about everyday things to illustrate principles of God’s Kingdom. And the life-giving process of photosynthesis speaks to me of the provision of the light of Christ. Sometimes we can feel like we live in a world filled with darkness, not just physically, but from the evil that we see around us. Yet, the sun shines just as brightly (though hidden from us) through the winter, and the process of photosynthesis provides all the food and oxygen we need through the darker times of year. So the light of Christ still shines and provides for us whether we see that light or not.

That light that has come into the world in the form of Jesus Christ provides not only our life itself for us through his sacrifice, but also the energy we need to keep walking in his ways. In times when it can be all too easy to focus on the darkness, remember that the light never stops shining, and never stops providing.

Week beginning Sunday 22 October 2023 by Mandy Stinglehammer

“God specialises in things thought impossible”

 

This is a line from a chorus we used to sing many years ago with the young people. I can’t actually remember the rest of it,  but these words have stuck in my mind as they are so true. 

So many of the stories in the bible deal with situations where certain defeat, failure seemed inevitable, yet each time when there seemed to be no way out, God intervened and brought glorious victory; victory in a miraculous way; victory all the more glorious because of the apparent certainty of defeat.

God stopped the mouth of the lion when Daniel was in the lion’s den; 

David as a young boy defeated the giant Goliath with only a sling; 

God parted the Red Sea for Moses to,lead the people of Israel over….to name only a few.

All the time God was working in the background, outworking His plan.

It seems to be a pattern that at times God reveals His mighty victory when the situation can’t get any worse; when at a human level, victory seems completely impossible.

And the greatest victory of all? Christ! When he was dying on the cross it seemed as if the enemy had won, and yet the greatest victory in the history of mankind was won there. He broke the enmity between God and man; brought forgiveness by His blood; made us able to stand on redemption ground; and defeated death itself!

 

Do you seem to be in an impossible situation, where defeat seems almost certain?

Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD (Exodus 14:13), 

God specialises in things thought impossible!

And, He chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise………things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful”.(1Corinthians, 1:27)

Week beginning Sunday 15 October 2023 by Kirsty Marks

The news has been very troubling this week and can cause us much pain and anguish watching the suffering of others. Our suffering may not be as bad as this but as Christians, our journey is not exempt from challenges. However, in the midst of trials we are called to be thankful in an act of faith. The Scriptures remind us, 'Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you' (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In a world often bustling with chaos, cultivating a spirit of thanksgiving changes our perspective by lifting our eyes from the natural to the supernatural. Each day is a gift, an opportunity to discover God's goodness in the ordinary. Even in moments of struggle, there can be a silver lining of divine purpose. As we express gratitude, we align our hearts with the psalmist who declared, 'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever' (Psalm 107:1).

This week let us count our blessings, recognising them as gifts of God's love. A thankful heart is a humble heart, acknowledging our dependence on the One who gives all good things. In thanksgiving, we draw closer to the heart of God, appreciating the intricate details of His mercy and grace. May gratitude be our song and may it lead us into a deeper understanding of the abundant love that surrounds us, until one day we will sing above.

Week beginning Sunday 8 October 2023 by Christine Cowan

“…put thou my tears into thy bottle… ” Psalm 56 v 8 KJV

“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: …” Psalm 56 v 13 KJV

 

As a nine-year-old I found myself along with my other siblings being taken into my aunt’s lounge by my mother who informed us, “your father has gone to heaven”. My dad had been in hospital and had passed away after having a heart operation. I remember some lines from a poem which I wrote at some point in my life which captured the grief which I carried as follows:

My daddy is dead but he’s not

For years I have hunted and sought

To keep him alive but he’s not …

By my learning I have found God who comes to me in fleeting seconds of tantalising happiness …

 

An example of this ecstasy occurred when riding on my pony and suddenly I just experienced this sensation of a joy that came from nowhere. Despite the state of sin that I was in, I knew this was God. My late mother used to reassure me that there were people praying for me. I wish to praise Jesus that in 1985 I was at Clydebank college as a student when I went along to the Christian Union. I met a student there who responded to my questions by inviting me along to the Struthers Pentecostal Glasgow Church which met on a Tuesday night in an old  building in Knightswood. My whole life was transformed over a gradual period of time when it began with the experience of Salvation in that same year of 1985. I understand that this psalm was written by David and it is interesting that my father was named David.

Week beginning Sunday 1 October 2023 by Sarah Kakooza

“We believe in the Father, who created all that is
And we believe the universe and all therein is His
As a loving heavenly Father, He yearned to save us all
To lift us from the fall
We believe”

Song: We believe” by Steve Green


I have recently been listening to the Steve Green song, ‘We believe’ which is based on the
Apostles Creed. It focuses on the foundation of the gospel and the core of our Christian belief.
In life we meet people with different beliefs and doctrines and sometimes our own views on
things may change. At times these differences may cause strife and disagreements.
Recently, a conversation caused me to look at the basics of my own Christian faith. Did the
doctrinal questions that arose in that conversation matter? Were they worth arguing about? In a
world where people question if we can be sure of anything, as Christians we believe that we can
and that truth comes from God and Him alone.
The song goes on to declare our belief in Jesus, the Holy Spirit and in Christ’s return.
“We believe in Jesus the Father's only Son ......
We believe in the spirit who makes believers one .....
We believe our Lord will come as he said...”
What does it mean to say, ‘We believe’?
⁃ We trust God is who He says He is
⁃ We trust He did what He says He did
⁃ We trust He will do what He says He will do
⁃ But more than that. We trust ourselves completely to His care. We put our lives in His
hands.
In 2 Timothy 1 v 12 Paul says ‘I know whom I have believed.’
When we say ‘we believe’, we are making a commitment to the truth. Salvation depends on
what we believe and determines our destiny, our eternity. Romans 1 v 16 ‘The gospel is the
power of salvation to everyone who believes.’
A Christian is someone who truly believes in Jesus and the Gospel. We may not always agree
with one another about some things but we can share a common faith in Jesus Christ and in
who He is.

The song quoted above is the foundation of our faith and even when we may have differences
with others or doubts of our own, this is what we can be absolutely confident in. “These truths
are secure”. Amen!!

Week beginning Sunday 24 September 2023 by Elaine Black

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” 

John 8:36

I have just returned from a wonderful weekend away at Compass Christian Centre with our Switch (10-16) group. The theme of the weekend was freedom and there really was a moving of the Spirit upon them. 

 

The staff at Compass have a real heart for lives to encounter the living God. Their prayer has been that those who come would be refreshed, that it would provide a space away from the business of life where people could take time to hear His Word and find a fresh touch. It really is a prepared place, saturated in prayer and filled with His presence. 

 

We have all been blessed, young folk and adults alike. There was such unity amongst us and a freedom and joy that I don’t think we have ever known. From the outset, His Spirit hovered over us. The invitation to come right into the Father’s house was beautiful. For them to know that He will lead and guide, restore and provide every step of the way. For many, it was almost as if a burden had been lifted in the realisation that it is His responsibility to keep us and that He is more than able to do it. What freedom there is in knowing and living in this truth! 

 

You come away from a weekend such as we have had and you are so grateful to God for His moving upon the young folk but you realise that God has brought you into a new place too, a place of utter freedom where there is renewed calling and anointing and you catch glimpses of what is yet to come. 

 

It is right that we give praise to the One who has done all things well. He is surely worthy of all our praise and thanks and as we think of our young church, we are so grateful to God for the way that He has brought them together in unity, with a shared vision and purpose of knowing Jesus more! He has touched them anew and the desire in their hearts for Him is tangible. Let us continue to pray for them as a group and as individuals that they will find an even greater freedom in Christ and that they will be shining lights in their day and generation!

Week beginning Sunday 17 September 2023 by Alison Neill

While reading recently I was deeply impressed with knowledge that our whole Christian life can be summed as a relationship, not a creed, doctrine or way of life but as a relationship with a God who loves us individually, who knows us intimately and wants more than anything to have a relationship with us.

 

What I felt on reading was like, but much deeper than, even a good marriage relationship but I didn't know how to put it into words or hold the memory of that thought in my mind, so I googled it, putting into the search engine, 'what are the key priorities of a good marriage relationship"

 

The results were many but surprisingly consistent, everything from Harvard Researchers to marriage counsellors, all saying the same. The 2 highest priorities being #1 Trust and #2  Communication.

 

As I thought on these 2 words in regard to how I can grow my relationship with Christ, I realised that Trust (or faith or believing) was exactly Jesus's first priority too! He said 'The work God asks of you is to believe in me'. My trust does not depend on my experiences in life, but rather on who I believe God is. Jesus said "Trust in God, trust also in me…believe that I am in the Father..." and “..at least believe because of the miracles that I do”.  The more I read the words of Jesus, the more I understand that he is speaking in context of the desire for a relationship between God and humanity, including us.

 

When I considered #2 the importance of communication, my first thought was of Jesus, the Word of God. To communicate with us is seen from the beginning, when God called to Adam in the garden, "where are you?"

 

God initiates communication with us to the point where Jesus could say, "My sheep know my voice. They run from the voice of a stranger". His word commanded life from the dead, calm in the storm, peace in trouble and healing from sickness.

 

Our bible studies on a Tuesday night on the prayers recorded from Moses Abraham and Nehemiah show that Communication is meant to be a relationship, a dialogue, us with God individually and God with us. 

 

Jesus prayed for us with a most remarkable statement of his relationship with each of us, "I am in them and you (Father) are in me". He describes a unity that initiates not with us but with him. And His invitation is always to come, to trust, and  to communicate with Him.

 

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me, so remain in my love”  gives just one glimpse into his heart and into our place of eternal refuge.

Week beginning Sunday 10 September by Sarah Seddon

 

 

But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched
the water at the rivers edge, the water above that point began backing
up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near

Zarethan.
Joshua 3. 15-16 NLT

The story of the Children of Israel crossing of the river Jordan was quite vague to me until I came across it recently in a book. I knew about the Red Sea crossing out of Egypt under Moses’s leadership and the escape from slavery into freedom but little of the details of the second part of the history of Gods plan: namely the journey from wandering in the wilderness to the actual entrance into the Promisedland of Caanan.


Joshua had succeeded Moses and was appointed to lead the people over the Jordan, 40 years after they crossed the Red Sea. The waters parted to allow the Israelites to cross over on dry ground similarly to the Red Sea crossing but this time the Ark of the Covenant (God’s dwelling) travelled with them. The river was in full flood, swollen and treacherous, at the time because of snowmelt from MountHermon.
In my imagination I felt as if I was there as I read on. The waters were blocked off and disappeared altogether leaving the bed bare and dry. Some commentaries say the waters stopped flowing about 30 miles upstream near the city of Adam. The author suggests the waters “had fled helter skelter downstream to the sea of death or piling up somewhere back upstream away from His presence, had refused to come near His face.”
The Ark of the Covenant representing God’s presence and power in the story is highlighted when the priests carried it in front of the people and also stood in the middle (central) of the dry riverbed while the nation passed by. Joshua is said to represent Jesus and the story showed to me how Jesus is our great leader and both stands with His people and goes before us - as the Ark went first into the dangerous river as protector. To quote the author “First in and lastout. He is Alpha and Omega whenever He appears.” I found this veryencouraging.


One particular aspect struck me and it was the fact that no where elsein the bible is the city of Adam mentioned. I saw that the old Adam nature we have inherited as human beings together with the offer of an open way to the promise of a new heart/new creation “on the other side of the bank” was a vivid picture and it made me want to physically run across the dry river past the Ark to the safety of the other side. The waters closed in again as soon as the Joshua commanded the priests to come out. Once their feet reached higher ground on the other side the water overflowed its banks again. There was no going back.
The message to me from this account in Joshua is that God has provided a way for the old life to be left behind far far away and  heard myself ask the question “Why would I stay near the city Adam?” God has opened up a wonderful way for a new life in Him.
Whatever this week brings our way, the crossing of Jordan is a reminder to follow our King who goes ahead of us through flood and river.

Week beginning Sunday 3 September 2023 by Susie Sharkey

 

 

 

Esther chapter 8 v 8 “....but remember that whatever has already been written in the king’s name and sealed with is signet ring can never be revoked”

 

One of my favourite books in the bible is Esther. It tells the story of a young Jewish woman who is chosen to be Queen in the Persian empire and risks her life to save her people from destruction when Haman persuades the King to issue a decree for the Jews to be killed. By the persuasion of Haman,the king had issued the decree which had been written in the king’s name and sealed with his signet ring and therefore could not be revoked. But God had placed Esther in the palace, favoured by the king ‘for such a time as this’, in order that she would intercede on behalf of her people that they may be saved.

Fast forward a few hundred years and we read the words in Romans 5 v 6 “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners”. God knew we needed a saviour. God knew that we would die in our sins. God knew that the devil was out to destroy us and we read ‘at just the right time’ Christ came. A decree had been issued by the king that everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) would have eternal life. That decree could never be revoked because it was written in blood, paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. We read that He himself took our sins and bore them on the cross. God knew that we needed someone who would intercede for us, someone who would plead for us before the King, and that person was Jesus. All we have to do is come to Him and accept the gift of eternal life that He has already paid for on the cross. He has borne our sins on the cross so that we never need to. That heavy load you are carrying around with you; guilt, shame, embarrassment, envy, lust, jealousy, all of that has been taken by Jesus and we come to Him and we are clean, gloriously and wonderfully clean because our redemption has been sealed in His blood and can never be revoked.

If you as an unbeliever are reading this, then perhaps He’s talking to you right now. Perhaps He’s telling you it’s time to come and lay every burden at the cross and accept the gift of eternal life that He has paid for on that cross. Perhaps today, right now He is speaking into YOUR heart, YOUR life and his invitation to you is quite simply “Come”. 

Week beginning Sunday 27 August 2023 by Elaine Black

“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

 

Many people today are searching for an identity because they don’t know who they are or what they should be like. We can have an internal picture of ourselves that affects every aspect of our lives, the way we think, the way we interact with others, the way we believe others see us and the way we even see ourselves. However, how God sees us and how we see ourselves can often be very different. 

 

We can sometimes have a tendency to see our faults and failings, the characteristics and traits that are far from ideal, but we need to move past this place and start to really think about who God sees when He looks at us. We need to start agreeing with, and believing the truths of who we are in Christ.

 

I took some time to think about who He says we are and as I did this, I realised how many different ways He sees us. We are chosen, redeemed, a new creation, joint heirs with Christ, more than a conqueror, called, loved, a royal priesthood, a special possession, a child of God, Jesus’ friend. There are so many more to be found throughout the Bible but as I was listing them, I began to say them out loud and you could feel the power in each of the declarations. We are not who we say we are or who others say we are, we are who He says we are. Our identity is not dependant on something we do or have done, it’s all about His opinion.

 

There is a freedom to be found in who we are in Christ, not oppressed by thoughts and opinions of others, but a free child of God. In Him there are depths of freedom and life for all who truly believe in what He says.

 

The more we agree with God, the more our actions, thoughts and words will begin to shape us into the masterpiece that He sees us as, and we start to reflect our true God given identity.

 

Let us remember who we are in Christ!

Week beginning Sunday 20th August 2023 by Paul Sharkey

 

What exactly makes a Christian a Christian?

I want to begin by listing a few things that definitely don’t make someone a Christian. You might raise an eyebrow at one or two of these statements, but read on and you’ll hopefully get the full picture.

 

Things that don’t make you a Christian:

 

1. being baptised as an infant

2. being brought up in a Church

3. trying to live a good life

4. reading the bible

5. attending Church regularly

6. being religious

 

I know this can come as a bit of a shock, but please read on to the next section and hopefully, everything will make sense:

 

What exactly does make a Christian a Christian?

 

- an encounter with God! It’s the single experience that unites all believers across the world and throughout the centuries since Jesus Christ died on a cross and rose again from the tomb.

 

The bible calls it being ‘born again’ (John’s gospel chapter 3), some refer to it as the ‘new birth’, some Churches call it being ‘converted’ – all these phrases describe the same experience of an encounter with God.

 

As unbelievers, the bible tells us that the devil has ‘blinded our eyes’ (2 Corinthians chapters 3 & 4); in other words, our sin doesn’t let us feel or know the nearness of God who loves us passionately, therefore, we must seek God for forgiveness, and not only be sorry for our sin, but to turn away from it – renounce, or to use the biblical word, ‘repent’ of it. You see, our sin not only separates us from God in this life, but in the next life too. The body will die, but our spirits are ‘immortal’.

 

All of us know sin and guilt from our pasts – things we wouldn’t do if we’d life to live over again – and, we can’t fix any of it – which is why God sent Jesus (the only sinless, innocent person who has ever lived) to die on a Cross and then God laid all of my sins and your sins upon him and, in a way we don’t understand, cancelled out those sins so you and I can be free from the sting and guilt that we know so well. It’s in the moment whenwe realise that Jesus died for our own, personal sins (when we put our belief, trust – or faith) in him that the miracle happens: heaven opens, the sky seems bluer, the grass greener and a joy enters into us that we’ve never experienced before. We know the experience of sins forgiven. We then choose to follow Jesus, so he becomes our Lord, as well as our saviour.

 

Then, having encountered God in this new birth, we want to go to Church to find out more and join with other Christians in songs or praise and thanksgiving to a loving God who has saved us from our sin; we want to read our bibles and kindness and ‘good works’ flow out of us because of the experience we have had. So, living a good life, doesn’t make us a Christian, but when this new life enters into us we can’t help live a good life and press on to know God more and more.

Week beginning Sunday 13 August 2023 by Natalie Deary

Luke 6:45 "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

I’ve had various thoughts along a similar theme over the last couple of weeks so I hope I can bring them all together here! It started with a story I read about a busy salesman rushing to catch a flight. In the hurry with his colleagues, one of them knocked over a vendor’s apple cart, spilling the apples all over the airport terminal floor. All of the men continued to hurry to catch their flight, except one. He felt compassion for the girl selling the apples and went back to help her pick them up. He was glad he did as when he approached, she was in tears, looking bewildered and helplessly trying to retrieve her lost produce, as it turned out she was completely blind. After the man had helped gather all the apples back up and payed for the damaged ones, the girl asked him “are you Jesus?” It really struck me that she would ask that, as no other human has ever lived up to Jesus, however what the man did for that girl, causing him inconvenience, meant a great deal to her. Without his help she’d have been left in a very difficult situation. 

 

It is a very high calling to be like Jesus, but the word does tell us in Philippians 2:5 In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. Do our actions make others think we are like Jesus? Do our thoughts or the way we deal with situations make us like Jesus? Even as a Christian, it could’ve been easy for that man to think, I’m too busy to help, someone else will surely do it. I have to get home to my family and can’t afford to take a later flight. The way he reacted led me to think of Jesus asking his disciples, “who do you say I am?” If we really believe Jesus is who he says he is and therefore believe in and follow His word then we will always be compelled to do the right thing. Even when it inconveniences us or makes life harder, Jesus will see how we’ve reacted in our heart or mind and that makes all the difference to Him. More often than not, it’ll make a big difference to the people around us too, showing them the love of Jesus. 

 

The way we speak to people or deal with situations shows who we think Jesus is. Will we honour what he’s asked us to do by doing it, even when it feels like it goes against what’s easy or our natural reaction? I often feel convicted when a reaction, thought or word that I have is against how Jesus instructs us to live. This verse comes to mind; Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 

 

We are called to act, speak and think in love, even when we don’t feel it. Love is an action not always a feeling. Jesus’ love was transformational, not affirming of what is wrong. Another way of showing Jesus who we think He is and others that we are like Him, is how we deal with all that life throws at us, the difficulties, the trials and tests. Do we crumble or do we believe all of the promises God has made to us and put our trust in Him? Doing this leads to that peace that surpasses all understanding and we can believe that God has a plan and can see the bigger picture for our lives.

 

The bible does set a high standard for how we are to live and it can feel impossible to live up to this standard. We have small victories but it’s a battle with the flesh every day. The word says in Romans 12 v 1 & 2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Thankfully God sees our struggles and helps us grow more like Him through His Holy Spirit everyday, when we turn to Him. Our efforts are seen and our failures forgiven. Hallelujah!

Week beginning Sunday 6 August 2023 by Howard Mole

"to harken is better than the fat of rams ..."1 Samuel 15 v 22

 


This struck me a couple of years ago and has stayed with me since . It relates to Samuel's rebuke to Saul after he disobeyed God's specific instructions ( 1 Samuel 15 v 3 and  v 9). Saul was supposed to slaughter all the animals in the conquered city. However Saul decided to bring the sheep for sacrifice - bringing them back Samuel heard the noise. God had already warned Samuel about what Saul hadn't done and the consequences in v 11.

To harken - I liken this to a fireman who is constantly and quietly listening for the alarm to be sounded when on duty. He might be the fire station  checking equipment etc. however his subconscious focus is listening for the alarm to sound when he will spring into "auto" mode and get to the fire engine and to the fire - he'll even finish getting dressed in the way to the fire/emergency.  He might go to work for months and an alarm won't go off, however he is always listening deeply for that alarm, with very close attention.  If there's no alarm he doesn't take the engine out looking for a fire, or decide when the alarm sounds; he stays in the station to make coffee for everyone else when they get back. It might be a nice gesture however he won't be where he should be and the absence would need to covered by his colleagues.  A good servant is for ever listening for his master,  the servant learns and understands what his master likes and more, he begins to understand and absorb his master's nature.

I'm not sure if you have dealt with anyone or an organisation where your never sure that you'll get what you've asked for? You might get too much  of something and not enough of the thing you actually need! The surplus needs to be dealt with as has the shortage. Both situations can be disappointing and eventually there is a distrust and/or a broken heart.

The fat of rams - for me this is a rebuke where a very costly sacrifice is being offered to negate God's instruction. Almost as if the expectation that God will turn a blind eye to the known disobedience and there changes His plan..  It struck me that offering a ram is a very costly offering. Not only is the smell of the fat roasting delicious, you are also sacrificing the hundreds of sheep the ram could have sired. 

The Hope  - Saul was the old testament and God anointed David to be King. The examples and person I thought about in the new testament were Peter : cutting off the Priest's servants ear at Jesus' arrest and his denial of Christ at the temple (Mark 14 v71). In both cases Jesus had to deal with these actions (Luke 22 v49 - v51). The denial was fixed when He cooked the disciples breakfast and Peter confirmed his love for Christ 3 times. He was restored and pain healed (John 21 v15 - v17)on. And then, wonderfully, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the 120 in the upper room,  God used Peter to preach the gospel with such power that thousands were brought into Kingdom through Faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 2).

I don't know about you, however I know that I have tried to dodge God's requests by trying to do something "costly" to me, that brings no successful fruit! I have also shouted the Gospel at people argumentatively, rather than in love and certainly not under anointing. And there are/have been times, shamefully, where I missed openings to share my Faith.

Thank God  for Calvary!  Jesus obeyed God to the full at Calvary and coming to Calvary, His healing streams flow and  we are restored into His wholeness and we move on into God's tomorrows, wiser, and a more humble servant, able to move back into God's grace. His strenght is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12 v9)!

The Victory is Christ's alone!

Week beginning Sunday 30 July 2023 by Rosie Gaw

 “HE THAT BELIEVETH ON ME, AS THE SCRIPTURE HATH SAID, OUT OF HIS
BELLY SHALL FLOW RIVERS OF LIVING WATER.” JOHN 7:38 (KJV)

You may be more familiar with “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart”, (NLT)
or other similar translations. Indeed, the image “out of his belly” may nowadays seem
strange to some. However, there are some wonderful truths within this word.
One of the meanings of “belly” in the Bible is the grave or underworld. Consider
Jonah, who from the belly of the fish said, “I cried by reason of mine affliction unto
the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my

voice.” (Jonah 2:2 (KJV)). We know that God soon after brought about a mighty
deliverance for Jonah.
In Revelation 22, John sees the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of
God and the Lamb (Christ). This river brings life and healing wherever it flows. It is
not something we can initiate or conjure up within ourselves. It does not come from
our good works or intentions. It is only from the blood of Christ, shed for us through
His death on the cross. Jesus tells us what is required, that we simply believe in Him.
We can ask as thirsty children and open our hearts and arms to receive the living
water of His new life. We can do this no matter what stage we are at – whether
young Christians new to things, mature Christians on the road for many years, or
even if you don’t yet know Jesus as saviour. Every single day there is new living
water for us.
We all have times in life where, like Jonah, we feel that we are in the belly of the
grave. But it is often in the darkest times that, if we invite Him, Christ in His love
draws close and begins to reveal more and more of Himself. He longs to give us
these healing streams of life not just to heal our own hearts, but that we in turn might
also give freely from what we have received. That out of our deepest suffering He
can bring rivers of life and healing for lost and broken souls. Let us as individuals,
and as a church, come as humble children to receive from Christ that the river of life
will flow among us and out from us.

Week beginning Sunday 23 July 2023 by Lynn Mellstrom

 ​   "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another"John 13:34 - 35

Recently I have been drawn again to passages that show the mercy and love that God has for us.There are many examples in the New Testament that speak of how as the sons and daughters of Christ should live both for the furtherance of Gods work and our individual development - probably the most important quality we should have is love.There are many facets to people's personalities that could hold them back naturally speaking from attaining a closer relationship with God (for example pride, selfishness or greed) and it's not easy to break the habits of a lifetime to completely deny self - and so if we don’t have it already we need another quality: faith. Faith that God loves us unconditionally in our sinful state even though wedon’t deserve it and that He is there to carry us in our darkest moments and failings - but do we have faith enough to love others as Christ did?The Lord Jesus implicitly trusted and put His faith in His Father and the plan that was laid out before Him; a plan that could rescue even the most unlovable on earth if we exchange a belief in ourselvesand this world for faith (trust) in Him. Jesus knew that in sharing this word there would be those who despised Him for what He was to do for the Father but He loved them too and was true to theFathers plan. In all the things that He did and said He loved completely; He healed the sick, He fed the hungry and opened the doorway to great riches in the heavenly places for all by explaining in simple terms how we can all find God's goodness love and mercy. The greater wonder is why we find it so difficult sometimes to stay on the path when God's grace IS enough to hold usthere. God never fails - we must again and again throw ourselves upon His mercy and trust Him. If we want Him enough He will be there for us.These days it’s easy to focus on the negatives, but, forget about yourself and glimpse the wonderful Christ - know the love that He has poured out (and continues to pour) upon you, whether you feelit’s deserved or not you are loved, it's a fact whether you believe it or not. If we can find it in ourselves to begin loving Christ only then will we begin to love others as He did and we will understand finally the love God holds for each of us and the loveliness of God.

 

 

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