27 May 2020 – What is my goal in life?

As has been our custom during these last few months I have invited you to put aside some time in the middle of the week for prayer and reflection. I am aware that many people are finding life very hard at the present time and although there is so much we are not able to do just now, we can always pray for one another.

II Corinthians 5:9-10 What is my goal in life?

9 So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

(1) Our Goal (II Cor.5:9-10a) 9So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

In Roman cities the governor sat on the judgement seat to hear court cases, as Paul knew well from his time before Gallio’s court in Corinth (Acts 18:12). This was a serious matter as the most serious penalties could in principle be given to guilty defendants. However, Paul is much more concerned by a much higher court and a greater judge, before whom we shall all one day appear, the Lord Himself.

In the light of this reality it is no wonder that Paul says in II Cor.5:9: So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.

Is that what you do? A significant proportion of our lives other people in our church family, and even our human family, know little about, unless we care to tell them. But, there is one person who knows and sees everything and it is before such a One that we will stand on that day.

It is not your husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, brother or sister who makes that call but the Lord of glory. It is not the mocking person in the street, the cynical colleague in the workplace or the caustic critic on the TV, but the One who hung on a cross and said: Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

It is not the helpless victim of injustice or oppression or one of the starving multitudes in parts of Africa who will judge you and me, rather the One who rebuked Peter for chopping off Malchus’ ear in the Garden of Gethsemane and said in Matthew 26:33-34: Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?

Without exception, every man, woman, boy or girl, who has walked this earth will stand before King Jesus –the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). What is your number one goal? Is it the same as that of Paul? It needs to be as that is why you were placed on this earth in the first place.

(2) Our Reward (II Corinthians 5:10b) that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Our salvation is eternally secure because Jesus obtained it on the cross. However, our judgement as believers covers rewards for service rendered; and all our works will be tested to discern their quality.

In I Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul explains this point in more detail: For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

Are you / am I as Christians on course for a pleasant surprise or an awful shock or a bit of both when we stand before Him? May our goal be to put Him first throughout our lives and on that day be delighted to hear Him say: Well done good and faithful servant…come and share your master’s happiness (Matthew 25:23).

Our song for reflection today is: ‘Great is the darkness that covers the earth’

Pointers for our Prayers

• For whom or what are you particularly thankful this week? Let the Lord know!

• Give thanks for the many gifts that have come in for our care packages for the staff of the residential care homes. It has been an excellent initiative.

• Continue to pray for the Government in Scotland and in the wider UK and for their clinical and scientific advisers, that they may have wisdom to lead us effectively

• Pray for our NHS and Social Care Staff as they continue to serve so willingly the many people under their care. We particularly remember Hannah A and the social care staff who have been caring for very vulnerable people under extreme pressures in the last few weeks. We pray that they and all other workers in our country may be renewed in their health and strength.

• Pray for John G’s daughters Nicola and Alison and their families at this time as they prepare for his funeral on 6 June. We thank God for the short time John was a member of our congregation while living in Lochleven Care Home.

• Pray for Jan and Mark F and other members of Jim’s family as they prepare for his funeral on Friday 29 May. We thank God for Jim’s years of faithful attendance in this and other churches and his work for the Lord over those decades.

• Pray for those ill with the Covid-19 virus that they may soon regain their health and strength. We pray also for people with other health conditions that they may also have access to the medical care they require at this time. We continue to remember older members required to be at home or in care homes that they may not feel discouraged or forgotten by their friends and families who are unable to visit them. We pray also for Ali T’s parents, Jude R’s grandma and Isdale A’s dad; we also pray for others waiting for hospital appointments to address their health issues at this time.

• Pray for teachers and pupils, and lecturers and students, at different levels of education especially those known to you. That they may be able to work adequately online. Help them to overcome the challenges of technology and the difficulties of communicating effectively through online learning. Help parents also trying to work from home alongside supporting their children doing schoolwork.

• We pray for the emotional and mental health of our nation, especially those of whatever age who are particularly struggling to cope with the lock down and the inability to meet with their families or friends.

• Pray for those recently bereaved that they may experience more of God’s love and comfort at this time, in particular we continue to remember Betty and Scott R, Betty W, Eloise P, Elizabeth F and their families.

• Pray for ourselves that we always make time each day to read His word and spend time in His presence.

• Pray in advance for the online meetings and activities throughout this week and the service next Sunday

Brian Talbot

26 May 2020 – Daily Message

The newspapers and social media have been overflowing with comments recently about a certain Westminster government adviser and what he should or shouldn’t have done during the lock down period. Yesterday we had the extraordinary spectacle of this individual explaining in great detail in a press conference in London what he had done and why.

I have no intention of offering any comment on the details of this case, enough has been said already. However, as a Christian pastor I have been deeply disturbed by the tone of some of the criticisms I have seen on line and in the print media about this situation. When this is combined with the abuse outside his London home and apparently from others who made the journey to do the same outside his parent’s home near Durham, I think it is time to take stock as a society how we handle the shortcomings of others and in turn how we would want to be treated when we have made mistakes.

Jesus in John chapter eight was pressured to pass comment on the conduct of someone who was judged to be a heinous sinner who needed to be punished for their wrongful behaviour.
John 8:3-11 states:

At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts where all the people gathered round Him, and He sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.

5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. 7 When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

The context (John 8:3) The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery… It was so obvious that a sinner had been caught flagrantly breaking God’s moral law and punishment must follow.

No-one could dispute the logic of such a claim. There is a problem, though, as every child knows that when you point the finger at someone else as a sinner, there are other fingers that point back at another sinner – ourselves! These individuals who dragged this woman before Jesus were assuming their moral superiority over her and expecting Jesus to agree. They ‘knew’ what had taken place and had the right to pass judgement.

Can I ask how many of us in the United Kingdom had already passed judgement on this government adviser long before his lengthy account of his actions at the press conference yesterday? How easy it is to rush to negative judgements on the conduct of others. Might it not be wiser to wait to see if we have gained an accurate account of proceedings first?

The claim (John 8:4b-6) ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.

The clue that something was wrong here is the fact that only one of the two people involved had been brought before Jesus. They were not interested at all in the man involved with her. He has been allowed to go free without charge. More remarkably, they were not really bothered about the woman and her conduct; she was being used as bait in a trap as they sought to ensnare Jesus into saying something they could possibly use against Him. In effect, they were using this couple simply as a means to achieve a particular end. It raises the question, how do I ensure I treat other people fairly?

The challenge (John 8:7) When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

What a challenging declaration from Jesus. Instead of the woman being put in the spotlight, it was now this group of men who were making the allegations against her and who by implication were quite prepared to stone her to death should the opportunity arise. Jesus cleverly puts the question back to them in front of their friends and in effect invited them to polish their own halos or drop the case altogether. Do you and I need to remember this challenge of Jesus when we too are tempted to pass judgement too hastily on the words or actions of another person?

The conclusions (John 8:9-11) At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

It was a remarkable day. The accusers had left and the woman was free to go. However, Jesus knew that she had made a bad choice, but she was not alone in that respect. Her accusers were equally guilty in wanting to use her to attack Jesus. May God help us to have a right view of ourselves as well as a similar understanding of our families, friends and neighbours as we continue living in the light of the lock down regulations.

Our song for reflection today is: ‘Purify my heart’

Brian Talbot

Sunday 24 May 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information is now available.
  • Jam Kids Focus – Navigate Family Series Episode 4
  • A worksheet to accompany the video is also available here.
  • Another option for children is the Virtual Sunday School sessions which give an activity idea too.
  • JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com
  • Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream – We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm tonight (Sunday). This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Please join in and, if you don’t already do so, would you let your fellowship know about this and put it on your social media. Click here to access.

Call to Worship

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40: 28-31

We are grateful to Fiona Small for selecting the songs for worship for this service. Our opening song of praise and worship is:

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship: How Great is Our God, How Great Thou Art

Opening prayer

Heavenly Father once more it is a privilege and honour to come into Your holy presence today in the name of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. We recall the wonderful words of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter five: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. 

It is incredible that though it may be a long process to gain access for an audience with our Queen Elizabeth II in the United Kingdom, we can come directly into the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the name of Jesus. What a wonderful privilege and joy! We recognise too the responsibility too of honouring You in our daily lives and come to say sorry for our shortcomings of the last week. Please forgive us once more and empower us afresh with Your Holy Spirit as we start this new week.

Help us to glorify You as we sing Your praises, read the Bible, bring our prayers and hear Your Holy Word expounded to us, in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.      
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen.

Before we come to the All-age talk we will sing: I believe (The creed)

All Age talk – Alan McRobbie

It’s a story of man who really lived, his name is Phocas. He lived in the fourth century and has been respected through the years as a real precious man of God who lived in Asia Minor, which is called Turkey today. He lived in a city and he had a little cottage outside the city gate in which he grew a garden. The whole story of the man has been written down and has found its way down through the years of history.

The story goes something like this. Travellers passed his cottage garden gate almost all hours of the day and night as they went in and out of the city gate. And out of his love for others, he stopped as many of them as possible. Were they tired? Let them rest themselves, sitting in his well-tended garden. Were they in need of a friendly word? He would speak it to them as he lived for Jesus.

But then quite suddenly one day life was all changed for Phocas. Orders went out from a Roman Emperor that the Christians must be put to death. When the Roman soldiers entered the city they were under orders to find a man by the name of Phocas and take his life. About to enter the city one hot afternoon, they passed in front of Phocus’ cottage and garden by the city gate. In his innocence, Phocus treated them as though they were his warmest friends, begging them to pause a while and rest themselves. They agreed. So warm was the kindness they received that when Phocus invited them to stay the night and go on their way refreshed the next day, they agreed to do so.

As they were sitting down together Phocus asked “And why do you come into the city?” And then they told him that they would answer his question if he would regard it as a secret. Why they were the soldiers of Rome searching for a certain Phocas who was a Christian. And please, if he knew him, would he be so good as to help them find him? After all, he was a dangerous follower of this Jesus about whom the Christians talked and he must be put to death immediately.

“Oh, I know him well,” said Phocas quietly. “And by the way, he’s quite near. Let’s talk about it in the morning.” As his guests fell asleep, Phocas sat thinking. Escape? That would be easy. He had only to leave now under cover of darkness and at daybreak he could be at least 20 miles away and he knew his Christian friends would hide him. And when the threat had passed, he could reappear and once again grow his little garden.

But, the decision to run to safety or stay to die was made without struggle or delay. We can only imagine what he was thinking. Out in his garden Phocas went and began digging in the middle of the night. Was there anything he loved better than this little garden. What were his thoughts as he went on digging? Well, there was still time to run away but Jesus didn’t run. He didn’t run from going to the cross. Or perhaps he thought of his Christian friends to whom he might go for safety, would not his coming put them in danger too? And as for these Roman soldiers that now were soundly sleeping under his roof, they were, after all, only men who were carrying out orders, and if they failed to find their man, their own lives likely as not would be taken and they would die in their sins.

Deeper and deeper Phocas dug. Before the sun came up, he was done and there it was, his own little grave. Morning came and with it the waking of the soldiers. “I am Phocas,” he said calmly. And we have it written down that the soldiers stood still in amazement. They couldn’t believe it. And when they did believe it, they obviously didn’t want to put to death a man who had shown them nothing but love and kindness. But it was a duty, Phocus reminded them, that they were ordered to do. And he didn’t hate them for it. After all, death did not terrify him, his heart was filled with hope of heaven. He had nothing but the love of Christ towards them and moments later it was all over. Phocus died in the garden he loved so dearly and went to be with Jesus.

This is a story of Christ-like love, of thinking of the needs of others before ourselves, and of the hope of heaven for those who are friends of Jesus. What do you take from the story of Phocus for how you want to live?

Our All Age Song is:

Prayers for others

In our country the United Kingdom and around the world

Lord we remember the advice of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6 when he wrote:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. We admit that sometimes we struggle with the first thing he wrote here as there are times when we are anxious about things that are outside our control.

Even in this past week there are those in our congregation who will have had health concerns, work struggles, and other issues on our hearts we want to bring to You. However, we recognise the appropriateness of coming with a thankful spirit for the blessings we enjoy. For most of us reasonably good health that has allowed us to go out for walks in the glorious sunshine we have had recently.

Thank you too that the numbers of people contracting the virus and of those in hospital has significantly declined. We pray that this may continue as a pattern in the coming weeks. However, we are particularly concerned for other countries like Brazil where the numbers continue to increase.

We remember too in our prayers the people in the coastal communities of India and Bangladesh that suffered last week from the cyclone that damaged or destroyed many very basic homes and other buildings in poor communities. Lord have mercy on those affected, especially the families of those who died as a result of the cyclone.

We pray too for wisdom for the United Kingdom government and the devolved administrations as the lock down starts to ease. We recognise that there will be many judgement calls that are difficult to make and we pray that the right choices will be made.  We continue to pray for good health and strength and for the renewal of energy levels for the NHS and Social Care staff who have done a magnificent job in caring for those affected by this virus. We remember also others in less prominent roles that have also provided invaluable service to their communities and our country as a whole during these difficult weeks. Help us as local communities to keep working closely together to limit the hardship that may be experienced over the coming months.     

In our Baptist Union of churches in Scotland:

We give thanks that as Christians, we have hope in Jesus despite the challenging circumstances of life and any stormy seas we may face. Please pray that this global pandemic would bring many people to faith in Jesus.

We pray for the Continuing Ministry Development workshops taking place online this week. Pray for those leading the workshops (‘Building The House of Mission’ and ‘Knowing My Limits’) and those connecting in with the training sessions.  

Dumfries BC – They started two Alpha Courses in mid-February on a Sunday lunch time and a Thursday evening. Despite Covid19 the groups are still meeting through Zoom online. Like everyone else they are navigating their ways through these troubled times, innovating and discovering new ways doing church ministry, ministry, supporting one another as well as serving the local community.  

Duncan Street BC – We pray for Duncan Street BC in Edinburgh as they seek to make

Christ known in their local community.

Dundee Central BC – We give thanks for those who have been coming to faith and are being baptised and for the appointment of their Woman’s Pastoral Coordinator Karen Keir. Pray for them also as they seek to share their faith in Christ and serve their community at this time.

Dunfermline West BC – We give thanks for the recent renovation of their main worship area and the positive response from the community. We pray that they might see fruit within the community as they reach out; also that they can create relationships where guests can come and in due course use the space they now have available. We pray particularly for the growth of children and families work within the church.  

Dunoon BC – They have been doing some interesting outreach recently and have had a number of new faces in the church at services prior to lock down. We pray that the time of separation caused by Corona Virus will not put them off and that the church will provide good support for its members.

We now pray in our own congregation for:

Jim and Jan F and Jim’s son Mark who has come over from Australia; We pray for God’s peace and comfort for them and other family members at this difficult time.

John G We bring before you John and his daughters Alison and Nicola and other family members as they also go through a very tough time.

We are aware of other members who have experienced bereavements or ongoing health difficulties and pray for God’s strength for them at this time.  In addition, we bring our own needs to You at this time … in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.

Bible reading

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
or instruct the Lord as his counsellor?


14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.

17 Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. 18 With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken him? 19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20 A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple.

20 Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. 23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.  25 ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One.


26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. 27 Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.


29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40: 12-31

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘My Jesus, My Saviour”

The Message

Introduction

In Isaiah 39 there is a clear warning from God that one of Israel’s darkest ever days was shortly to be experienced in the Holy Land. The country would be devastated as a result of the war that would occur with the forthcoming regional superpower Babylon, now called Iraq. Did Israel still have a future as a nation, or was it all over? If you want to know what it felt like shortly after the ending of the killing and destruction in that war, read the book of Lamentations.

It is one of the most sobering of books in the Old Testament. However, in the midst of all the pain and darkness there are some wonderful verses about the faithfulness of God in hard times. Lamentations 3:19-25 took the weeping prophet Jeremiah from his deepest agonies to a place of reassurance from God.

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. 21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;therefore I will wait for Him.’


God had a plan for their future. They were not only a people with a past history. Neither are we! God has a plan for your future and mine as well.

Are you thinking? Have I got a future other than this lock down? I am not sure how many more months I could cope with it. For other people there are health issues that dominate their thinking; in some cases family struggles, or relationship tensions, but no matter who you are, at some point in time, you will face real struggles and wonder what lies ahead of you, of if there is anything ahead of you! In all these and many more similar scenarios this Bible passage reminds us that God has plans for His people. He has plans for you and me if we have put our faith and trust in Him.

As individuals, as families and as a church family, we need constantly to be reminded of this fact. Your life is not random or a chance existence. Instead, you are a child of the King of Kings who loves you and cares for you and wants the best for you. However, that does not mean we get what we want or even are necessarily praying for. Do you need to be reassured about your future? Isaiah 40 is one of those passages of Scripture that provides such guidance and teaching on God’s provision for you and for me.               

1. Encouragement for God’s people (Isaiah 40:1-11)

(a)The blessing of forgiveness (Isaiah 40:1-2) Comfort, comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

The context of Isaiah 40 was the past sinful failures of Israel as a nation. She had not lived up to her promises to be faithful to the God who had blessed her in many ways. Turning to other gods of the nations around them and making lifestyle choices that violated the covenant promises agreed in the time of Moses and the exodus from Egypt would inevitably have consequences. We must not forget that the inevitable consequence of their wrongdoing, exile in Babylon and the destruction of the city they loved was still to take place, but God was already planning for their restoration and new start. As a loving heavenly Father He wants the best for His children.

There are times when He answers ‘no’ to our prayers because He can see the unforeseen difficulties we might face if we obtained what we wanted. Sometimes looking back we get a glimpse of why we were spared potential heartache had a relationship continued or a job opportunity been realised or some other scenario unfolded. At the time we could only see the immediate negative response to our request and struggled to understand why God might have seen things differently. We can only accept and live with our present disappointments when we have complete trust in the God of all comfort who loves and cares for us more than we love ourselves.     

(b)The comfort of God’s presence (Isaiah 40:3-5) 3A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

From the declaration of comfort and encouragement Isaiah now speaks about the future about how God can make a way through the most difficult of circumstances. The imagery is of preparation for a royal visit to a community so no expense is spared. All kinds of up grading of roads and buildings takes place, in fact everything is attended to in order to ensure that the short visit goes as smoothly as possible.

The obvious benefit to the community is that some facilities have been upgraded that will be of benefit long after their visitors have departed. The message here is that God will do what it takes to ensure His people get back home after their time away in exile. The exile for them, lock down for us or whatever difficulty you are experiencing will not be a permanent thing because His promises to His people are guaranteed. God will be glorified through the fulfilment of His guarantees to Israel. God will be glorified too through our lives also.

(c)The reliability of God’s Word (Isaiah 40:6-8) 6A voice says, ‘Cry out.’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ ‘All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures for ever.’

These verses in continuing this train of thought remind us very clearly that God keeps His promises. His inspired Word is entirely trustworthy and true. We can depend totally on it. Everything else in life is transitory. Each of us can tell our own stories of changes; both in our own lives and in the communities where we live or have lived. Yet this passage gives us this wonderful assurance. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures for ever (Isaiah 40:8). We can trust it 100% Praise God!

(d) The certainty of the final outcome (Isaiah 40:9-11) You, who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and He rules with a mighty arm. See, His reward is with Him, and His recompense accompanies Him. 11 He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.

The last part of the opening section of Isaiah 40 proclaims in pictorial language the certainty of God’s triumph in the work He has planned for us to do. It seems extraordinary that restoration to their homeland is not portrayed in the military language of conquest, but in the pastoral language of a shepherd caring for His flock. God’s kingdom expands through evangelism and is lived through social action by people who are motivated by His love in their relationships with one another and other people with whom they interact. In secular eyes and Islamic ones the way of Jesus as described in the Bible seems foolish, but in this glorious vision of God’s plans for the future, both then and now, we can be assured of His triumph in and through the people who follow Jesus, ordinary people like you and me.

2. The greatness of our God (Isaiah 40:12-31)

(a)He created the universe! (Isaiah 40:12-17) 12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? 13 Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as His counsellor? 14 Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten Him, and who taught Him the right way? Who was it that taught Him knowledge, or showed Him the path of understanding? 15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. 16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. 17 Before Him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by Him as worthless and less than nothing.

Who can guarantee that all this can happen when this little nation has been brushed aside by the forces of superpower armies like trees and buildings in a raging flood? No mere earthly ruler even begins to fit the description! Isaiah 40:12 has the answer. Only one person, the Creator of the Universe who spoke and brought the world into being and who upholds it by the Word of His power can do it. The same point was made near the end of the book of Job when the subject of the book raised so many ‘why’ questions about what had happened in his life. We are creatures. He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. This verse speaks of His power to deliver what He has promised. Humans can have aspirations that are beyond our power to accomplish, unlike God.

The second thing that marks out the One who can accomplish all this is His wisdom, as Isaiah 40:13-14 highlights. To ask the question with respect to God – or [who] instruct the Lord as His counsellor?(Isaiah 40:13) is to realise the utter absurdity of the question. Isaiah 40:15 and 17 remind us of the sovereignty of God. How can we be in despair when we serve a God like this! We need to look up and worship such a great and almighty God (Isaiah40:16). Yet how can we offer adequate worship to Him? He is worth so much more than any offering of praise and adoration we could bring! Yet He delights to receive the worship of His children. When we feel down remember to meditate on the greatness of God!   

(b)With whom would you compare Him? (Genesis 40:18-20)With whom, then, will you compare God? To what image will you liken Him? 19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and fashions silver chains for it. 20 A person too poor to present such an offering selects wood that will not rot; they look for a skilled worker to set up an idol that will not topple. What vocabulary is adequate to describe God? Isaiah looks around at the images used to represent the gods of the nations around them and asks: do you really think this is adequate to reflect the greatness of Almighty God? No! is the only answer we can give to such a  question. We serve an incredibly awesome God. To see God in His greatness puts our problems and challenges in perspective.

(c)Awesome in power! (Isaiah 40:21-26) Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.  He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.23 He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing. 24 No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner do they take root in the ground, than he blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff. 25 ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of His great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.

The God who parted the waters of the Red Sea in Egypt to enable the fleeing slaves to escape the mighty Egyptian Army (Exodus 14:15-15:21) is the God who has plans for His people. The God who caused the walls of the powerful city of Jericho to fall down at exactly the right time (Joshua 6:1-27) when Joshua and the army of Israel went on a praise and prayer walk around its perimeter is the God who has plans for His people. The God who raised Jesus from the dead on the first Easter Sunday is the God who has plans for His people, for you and me! Do you know Him? Have you put your faith and trust in Him? Why not today take that first step of faith and acknowledge the King of Kings and Lord of Lords as King of your life.

(d)The God who restores and renews (Isaiah 40:27-31) Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

In every generation there have been times when God’s people felt discouraged, or were acutely aware of a felt absence of His presence. Isaiah was well aware in Isaiah 40:26 that there were people of his day as well as ours who uttered similar words to make this claim. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God’? What response does the prophet give to people of His day and ours? The answer is given in the familiar words found in Isaiah 40:27-31. God is the restorer of my soul, my hope, my vision for the future, because of who He is, our great and awesome God.

This passage provides great encouragement for God’s people when discouraged because it reveals to us an amazing and wonderful God whom it is our privilege to serve. This is the God who has plans for our lives, individually and collectively, if we will put our hands in His and go forward in faith exercising the calling entrusted to us, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Our song before we come to communion is: One Day (Before we get to heaven)

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.

Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’

Our closing song is a powerful song well—known to us: ‘By Faith’

Closing Prayer

Thank you Lord for the privilege of spending this time together in Your presence today. Go with us we pray into the new week that lies ahead of us as we will seek to honour You in the way that we live. We thank you we can enter it with confidence because You go with us each step of the way, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

20 May 2020 – Prayer Update

The weeks seem to pass with increasing speed as we adjust to the lock down in our communities. However, it is also clear that a greater number of people are feeling the mental and emotional strain of separation from friends and family and the familiar routines they previously enjoyed.

On this day, another Wednesday, when we have set aside some time for prayer and reflection, we come to remember each other in our prayers for strength to continue our day to day lives.

I Kings 19:9b-10 What are you doing here?

And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ 10 He replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’ (I Kings 19:9b-10)

Elijah had been happy with the dramatic and adventurous calling God had given him. He was a person happy with his own company and more than willing to live a lonely life as an itinerant minister serving the various rural hamlets of Gilead and in training future prophets to minister in other communities in the years to come through the small Bible schools at Jericho and Bethel.

His was a hard life, with many a night spent outdoors in the cold, together with endurance of the burning heat by day. Into that steady and settled work to which he was committed for the rest of his life Elijah’s regular routine had been shattered by the call to address the king of Israel concerning the judgement God was about to visit on His sinful people Israel.

The cumulative pressures piled upon his broad shoulders were gradually taking their toll. No ordinary mortal could have continued the day after the triumph on Mount Carmel as if it was another day at the office! The Covid-19 virus pandemic has come like a most unwelcome visitor into many of our lives that if we are honest had settled into a fairly comfortable pattern. It was not that everything was wonderful, but at least we had a fair idea of what was happening week by week.

By contrast, the opposite is now true for many people. We cannot plan too far ahead because there is too much uncertainty surrounding what may or may not happen in the coming days.

Will a vaccine be found that is completely safe? In the meantime how will my job be affected by the changes in guidelines from the governments in Edinburgh and London? Or will my company survive the lock down restrictions? When will I finally be allowed to go out freely to do what I want again? When will it be possible to gather as before in a church or a school, or a cinema or football ground?

These and so many more unanswerable questions pass through our minds. This chapter of I Kings reveals very clearly the pastoral heart of God, in the way that He deals with His servants in their most vulnerable times. It gives us a window into the heart of God and here in the Old Testament shows us a God of compassion, a term associated uniquely with Jesus in the New Testament, but it is an accurate word to describe the love of God for His people throughout recorded history.

Elijah had sunk into self-pity and despair, recycling his difficulties repeatedly in his own mind. It may be part of the human condition to go through this process at times, but sadly we never feel any better for doing it, because the problems are not changed as a result of this activity.

He had reached the point where he wanted to resign from his ministry because he was weary with it and felt it was time for someone else to take over. All of us can feel this way at times and sometimes with good reason, but not here.

The lesson from this passage is the very opposite: Elijah wanted to quit because of the pressures of the calling, but these stresses arose precisely because he was being effective in God’s service and had more years still to give in this important work. He could not see that, but being on his own that was not surprising.

This is why it is so vital for us to be there for one another to encourage and sustain each other in our service for the Lord. Who might you want to contact today to encourage them at the present time? Ask God to put someone in your mind and sent a message of encouragement to them or even phone them to see how they are getting on.

Our song for today is: ‘ I do not know what lies ahead’

Pointers for our Prayers
• What blessings in particular do you want to thank God for today? Take some time to praise God for who He is and then thank Him for the things we can be grateful for in our lives. Give thanks for Robin and Aileen G reaching 60 years of marriage tomorrow.

• Give thanks for the many gifts that have come in for our care packages for the staff of the residential care homes. It is good to see the generosity evident in our community.

• Continue to pray for the Government in Scotland and in the wider UK and for their clinical and scientific advisers, that they may work together effectively at this time

• Pray for our NHS and Social Care Staff as they continue to serve so willingly the many people under their care. We particularly remember Hannah A and the social care staff who have been caring for very vulnerable people under extreme pressures in the last few weeks. We pray that they and all other workers in our country may be able to carry out their duties as safely and effectively as possible.

• Pray for those ill with the Covid-19 virus, in particular John G, that they may soon regain their health and strength. We pray also for people with other health conditions that they may also have access to the medical care they require at this time.

We continue to remember Jan and Jim F especially as Jim has become progressively weaker that they may know God’s peace and strength at this very difficult time. We pray also for Ali T’s parents, Jude R’s grandma and Isdale A’s dad; we also pray for others waiting for hospital appointments to address their health issues at this time.

• Pray for teachers and pupils, and lecturers and students, at different levels of education especially those known to you. That they may be able to work adequately online. Help them to overcome the challenges of technology and the difficulties of communicating effectively through online learning. Help parents also trying to work from home alongside supporting their children doing schoolwork.

• We pray for the emotional and mental health of our nation, especially those of whatever age who are particularly struggling to cope with the lock down and the inability to meet with their families or friends.

• Pray for those recently bereaved that they may experience more of God’s love and comfort at this time, in particular we especially remember Betty and Scott R, Betty W, Eloise P, Elizabeth F and their families.

• Pray for ourselves that we always make time each day to read His word and spend time in His presence.

• Pray in advance for the online meetings and activities throughout this week and the service next Sunday

Brian Talbot

Update – Care home Donations

We are collecting donations of non perishables such as toiletries, sweets and chocolates for local care home staff in Broughty Ferry. Thank you to everyone for your donations so far.

You can put your donations into boxes found at the following locations:

Co-op Lawers Drive, Panmurefield

Co-op Claypotts Rd, Broughty Ferry

Tesco, Brook Street, Broughty Ferry

5 Crathes Way, Broughty Ferry

Thank you so much to the generous donations made so far, particularly from McPherson Pharmacy and for the above businesses for helping us with this worthwhile cause.

Here are some photos of the donations made so far.

Please help – Donations for staff in local care homes in Broughty Ferry

We will all be so aware of the amazing support and generosity our wonderful, hardworking NHS staff have quite rightly been receiving.

As a church we would now like to also show the same support and generosity to local care home staff who are also working so hard.

We have a care home right across the road from our Panmurefield premises and as a church we also visit other care homes in Broughty Ferry and surrounding areas.

We would like to ask everyone if they would be willing to support us in this.

We are looking for donations of chocolates, biscuits, cake bars, toiletries and any other non perishable gifts you think the staff working in the care homes would appreciate at this time.

These can be placed in a donation box at 5 Crathes Way Broughty Ferry DD5 3BY and we will then package them up and deliver them to the staff.

Please feel free to share this post for others who may wish to help too.

Thank you 😊🌈

Ps we are hoping to get other drop off places soon and will keep you posted.

Sunday 10 May 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • Messy Church at Home is available to access now.
  • Jam Kids Focus – Join us every Sunday from 9.30am for the next 5 five weeks for our Navigate Family series. This series will give you an opportunity to explore the Bible together as a family and find out about what it means to be a follower of Jesus today.
  • A worksheet to accompany the video is also available here.
  • Another option for children is the Virtual Sunday School sessions which give an activity idea too.
  • JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com
  • Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream – We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm, celebrating the theme of Resurrection Hope with live prayer and news from churches around the country. This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Click here to access.

Call to Worship

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
3Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Saviour.

Psalm 24

We are grateful to Gary Torbet for selecting the songs for worship for this service. Our opening song of praise and worship is:

Build MyLife

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship:

Lord Reign in Me

Opening prayer

Heavenly Father, once more we gather together to worship You on another Sunday at the start of this new week.  We confess that it is difficult to distinguish between the days in this season of lock down, but we are thankful that each new day is a blessing we gratefully receive from Your hand.

We admit that it is so easy to focus on what we cannot do and to dwell on things that have had to be cancelled or family members and friends that we cannot meet at this time, rather than the good gifts of food and health and shelter and for some of us the opportunity to work. 

We are so thankful for the good community spirit that prevails in our land as we seek to stand together through this difficult time. We come with humble gratitude for the dedicated service of NHS and Social Care staff who have helped save the lives of so many and continue to support many others in need.

Lord we thank You that You did not complain in the years spent on earth carrying out Your ministry about the tough times that were experienced, but as Hebrews 12:2 reminds us: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We pray that by Your Holy Spirit that we may be equipped and empowered to live for You in the coming days, Speak once more to us as we sing Your praises, read Your Holy Scriptures and listen to it being explained, to the glory of Your wonderful name, Amen.

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.      
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen.

All Age talk – Fergus R

As we all grow up physically, this means we are not babies anymore and we have grown up. We also grow up mentally, making wiser decisions through having more experiences. At the same time as we grow physically and mentally, we also need to grow spiritually. This involves having a relationship with Christ as it says in 2 Peter 3:18 ’’But grow in the grace and knowledge of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever! Amen’’. To grow in Christ we need to talk to God and to do this we can pray to him.

Think of people that you are friends with, how did you become friends? Did you just stand there and talk to them and not give them an opportunity to talk back to you? Or did you create a good friendship and have a two-way conversation where you both got to know one another?

It’s the same when we talk to Christ, we need to pray, listen and live in him and we get to grow in him. In John 10:27-28 it says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out my hand’’. This shows us that when we listen to Christ Jesus then we grow in him and we receive the greatest gift of all, eternal life!

So, my challenge to you all this week is to not just pray but to create a time for God to speak to us. And if you feel God speaking to you then I encourage you to listen to him, maybe go somewhere quiet or somewhere you can relax and just focus your attention on to God.

Let God rule your week and let him decide how we should spend our time wisely.

Our Children’s Song is: Every Move I Make

Prayers for others

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to pray for other people as well as ourselves, While many of us are using the internet as a means to stay in touch with people, we pray today for families who cannot afford the internet and who also don’t have a TV in their house.

We give thanks for the food banks and other community agencies who are supporting people in this situation at this time. We praise You for the excellent working relationship between the agencies involved in this work in our city and pray that this may continue along with the many individuals who so willingly offer to serve those in need in our midst at this time.

We are conscious that at a time when many people are doing their very best to live their lives appropriately that in some homes and families strained relationships are causing tensions that we trust can be reduced in the coming days.

We particularly pray for those who sadly are experiencing domestic abuse in our nation, for whom staying at home is not a safe option at this time. We also pray for agencies working to help victims during this very challenging time.  We remember too those who are supporting the vulnerable children and young people in our country in social services and schools.

We continue to remember day by day our health service and social care workers, together with other workers engaged in providing essential services in our country. We remember in particular those known to us….  Strengthen them and their colleagues at this difficult time. 

For others in education seeking to support younger people through their education, grant wisdom particularly as they assess the work of pupils in crucial examination years. We pray that each one may know your peace during this time of uncertainty.

We pray for our Governments conscious at this time of review of lock down regulations that there is a need to speak as far as possible with one voice of clarity. Grant each one wisdom in the making of decisions that may have such serious implications for some people’s lives in the coming weeks.

In our Baptist Union of churches in Scotland we pray for:

The Continuing Ministry Development workshops taking place online this week. We pray for those leading the workshops (‘Leading an Evangelistic Course’ and in ‘Transformations, Generations and Innovations’) and those connecting in with the training sessions. In particular for:

David Vogan (Chaplain, Nethenvale and The Retreat, MHA Auchlochan) – We pray today for David Vogan as he seeks to support, strengthen and provide spiritual comfort, via phone, to residents and staff as much as he is able to during this Covid-19 crisis.

 Dennistoun BC – We thank God for how He has provided for them in multiple ways. Bridges are being built through their outreach ministries and opportunities to share and talk about Jesus are becoming more frequent. God is opening a door for them to reach another areas of the city and we continue to pray that He would grant them all they need to do this in His power and for His glory.

Denny BC – We give thanks for people coming to faith and for the continued attendance by non-Christians as well as the increase in our community involvement. We pray for plans for more structured corporate missional activity over the coming year through courses like Christianity Explored, and for the redevelopment of our leadership structure.

Dingwall BC – We praise God for good relationships with our local community, through school chaplaincy and groups who have been using our building. Also, that some young families have joined us over the past few years. However, we value prayer for God’s provision of leaders for the next generation at DBC.

We also pray:

For other churches in our local area that God will help each one continue their work and witness at this time.

We especially remember those who live and work in the Care Homes that our church led services in – Ferry House, Orchar, Elder Lea Manor, Ballumbie Court, Moyness and Balcarres. We pray also for our neighbour, Lochleven Care Home. We pray that you would give strength to exhausted staff as they seek to cover for absent colleagues and to support the many residents who have been unwell. We especially pray for the families of staff and patients who have died in recent days both in hospitals, residential care homes and in their own homes.

We come now to pray for particular people on our hearts at this time. These include: Jan and Jim F with Jim’s ongoing health challenges; Jean, John H’s mother in Orchar, who has contracted the covid virus; also for Ali T’s mum Norah in hospital and for her dad Frank at home. Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers as we bring them in the wonderful name of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Bible reading

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 

20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 

29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and ill, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further instructions.

I Corinthians 11:17-34 

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Jesus shall take the highest honour’

The Message

Introduction

In the first decade of the twenty-first century in England there was a profoundly sad event,  the death of a young child. However, the nature of this death was the reason for the national attention. The date was the child’s birthday aged one or two. The parents had decided that the child was too young for a party and put the child to bed on that evening, having invited adult friends to celebrate the occasion downstairs.

It was a winter’s evening and all the guests had heavy winter coats that were laid down on a bed, the child’s bed. Somehow I’ve forgotten the details but the medical report of the cause of death I believe suggested that the child had been smothered by the coats. The point of that celebration had been missed and would indelibly be fixed on the minds of every adult at that event, not least the grieving parents.

The apostle Paul in writing about public worship in Corinth in general and in this passage the Lord’s Supper in particular suggests that they too had been missing the point of the celebration.

1. The problems at Corinth (I Corinthians 11:17-22)

The apostle Paul is in Ephesus in another country Turkey, and receives a visit from some of Chloe’s household (I Corinthians 1:11) to report their serious concerns about the behaviour of certain members of the congregation in Corinth. They could not text, phone, email, tweet or even write their concerns in a letter that could be posted to the recipient, as all those forms of communication were unavailable to members of the public. Only Governments had access to a basic postal system.

In recent weeks police forces in various countries in the Western world have had to deal with numerous phone calls from people reporting their neighbours for breaking the lock down regulations. In some authorities apparently a majority of calls to the police have been to report this kind of offence. Clearly this family were so deeply distressed by what was going on in their church that they took some weeks off to undertake an arduous journey at their own expense to deliver this message. What was it that caused such a problem?

Corinth was a city like Edinburgh until relatively recently with a very wealthy elite few together with a majority of poorer people. There was little social interaction between the two. Meetings at this church had become a scandal. As well as members of Chloe’s family, Paul had also been visited by Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (I Corinthians 16:17) men of high Christian integrity who may also have confirmed the difficulties that the church was experiencing.

The other problems listed in the first letter to the Church at Corinth were bad enough but to behave as they did at the agape meal and communion was as bad as anything Paul had ever come across. The wealthy minority who provided all the food and drinks, as the slaves and very poor would have had nothing to bring, were eating to excess and getting drunk having started before the arrival of the poorest members who may have eaten nothing that day and to add to their misery got almost nothing at church as well. What kind of witness was that? 

Paul has already stated what is happening in communion in I Cor.10:16: Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation [fellowship /sharing] in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? How true was this of Corinth church? It was the exact opposite!

In fact in I Corinthians 12:19 Paul expresses serious reservations about whether some of the most serious offenders have ever truly trusted the Lord as their Saviour at all because there was no evidence of Christ-like character in the way they treated other people. What were the future implications for the church if their behaviour continued?

Quite bluntly Paul says if you cannot behave in a Christian manner then you had better stop the pretence of such folly and close down altogether! Every church should ask the question – how do people outside our congregation view us? The result might be quite a shock in some cases. We might also individually ask a friend who to offer their thoughts about how we are practising our faith!

2.  The Preparation for the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:27-34)

Paul here indicates to us that it is to our spiritual profit to prepare to come to worship services, especially when coming to the Lord’s Table.

(a) How can I or we do that? (i) Pray for People taking part in the services I would want to encourage you to pray for the people taking part in our worship services, not just for me or whoever is preaching, though I would desire that, but for all who are taking part in some aspect of Christian ministry at a worship service, that at the present time also includes those operating the zoom platform for our online service. To start to do that will ensure we recognise just how many people offer their gifts and time as an offering of worship to the Lord. Paul here indicates to us that it is to our spiritual profit to prepare to come to worship services, especially when coming to the Lord’s Table.

(ii) Pray for other people and for yourself as you come to church that God may minister into each person’s life what He wants us to hear. It may be a word of encouragement, or a word of rebuke; a word of challenge or a word commending patience, or of some actions to take or words to speak to another person;

It may be confirmation of guidance from God, or step along the way on an issue about which God has been speaking to you, a conviction over the need to repent of some sin or a call to get involved in a form of ministry in the church or even a call to mission overseas.

(b) What does Paul suggest here? (v28) In this specific context it is about coming to the Lord’s Table but the principle is applicable to other parts of worship services as well. 28A person ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Paul speaks here of self- examination. Is there some sin I need to confess to the Lord in thought word or deed? If nothing specific comes to mind then a general silent prayer of confession of sin.

In Psalm 24:4 David speaks about how we should enter God’s presence in worship. He refers to the person who has clean hands and a pure heart. Right with God but also right with other people in our conduct; the early Christian manual for worship, The Didache (c.100AD) in its guidelines on attendance at the Lord’s Supper stated: ‘Let none who have a quarrel with his fellow join in your meeting until they are reconciled, lest your sacrifice be defiled’.

This teaching is based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24: Therefore if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift –these words of Jesus were a general principle not simply restricted to the Lord’s Table. The key issue is our attitude of heart as we come to His table as His invited guests.

(c) What are the Consequences of failing to act? (vs 27, 29-34) 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.

Before I comment on the consequences here of wrongful participation.

(i) What does Paul mean by an unworthy manner or unworthily (v27)? These are words spoken to Christians. This passage is not a criticism of someone who in good faith took communion when offered it in the past prior to coming to Christ. These words are addressed to believers in the Lord Jesus. What does it say to us as Christians?

First of all we are required to come with reverence to receive the bread and wine. The elements are bread and wine, but it is what these natural elements represent in symbolic form as we receive then by faith as visible tokens of our Lord’s sacrificial love for us.

Secondly we have a time of quiet at the start of communion in order to allow each of us to pray and prepare our hearts in order that we may partake of the bread and wine. None of us are good enough to be invited on merit. However Jesus was good enough and just as God accepted His sacrifice for us on the cross, in like manner He welcomes us to His table as His honoured guests.

(ii) What are the Consequences of failing to do what God says? (vs 29-30)? 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep.

Paul says that some of the Corinthian Church had become unwell as a result of their sin and in the most serious cases God has shortened the earthly life of some believers there for the same reason so that they will stop bringing shame and dishonour to His name. This passage is a challenge to live a life of integrity. On what areas of my life do I need to work on at the present time?

3. The Purpose of the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

(a) Thanksgiving Episcopalians call Communion ‘The Eucharist’, that is the Greek word for thanksgiving, giving thanks to God with a grateful heart for what the Lord has done for us on the cross. We must always have the element of thankfulness in our prayers as we come to His table.

(b) Fellowship Communion is not a solitary act rather it is a sacred communal gathering of a local church sometimes with other Christians also joining in this act of worship. I Corinthians 10:16 draws attention to this aspect of the observance of the Lord’s Supper. The same word in Greek also means ‘communion’, ‘participation’ and union in Christ. It is a family celebration. The Bible knows nothing of ‘solo’ Christianity outside a community of faith in a local church.

(c) Memorial Jesus said: do this in remembrance of Me. This was a parallel to the reminder God gave to the Jewish people concerning their festival of Passover in Exodus 12:14: This day shall be to you as a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations (NKJV). There are many things we need to remember in our lives but this act of Jesus 2,000 years ago tops the list of essential items!

(d) Obedience do this what we are doing today is not simply a regular and good habit like cleaning our teeth, it is a command of the King of Kings we are required to obey. The Bible does not specify how often each year a local congregation should hold communion services or the form they should take, only that we do it with a reasonable degree of regularity, which in the majority of Scottish Baptist congregations is most Sundays.

(e) Evangelistic When we reflect how much it mattered to God to ensure you and I can have salvation then it must matter to us. This in turn reminds us of our need to share the good news of Jesus with other people. Are you praying for named people in your private prayers to come to Christ? I hope so! God may choose to use you as the human instrument used to answer your prayer.

(f) Eschatological (this word refers to the end of the world when Jesus returns) we hold communion services for a limited period of time: until He comes. Each week it is once more, but also once less until the return of Jesus. In heaven we will be with Jesus Himself no more need there for symbols to remind us of Him –then we will see Him in all His resplendent glory.

(g) God’s Purpose before they eat (v28). God does not put this passage in the Scriptures to keep us from His table; on the contrary He wants us to benefit more from it by recognising more and more its wonderful significance for us as His children. May we each be able with great joy to come now to His table for His glorious name’s sake, Amen 

Our song before we come to communion is:  In Christ Alone

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.

Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus for the privilege of participating in this special act to remember Your costly sacrifice in our place. Help us in this coming week to live our lives in a way honouring to You, for the glory of Your wonderful and holy Name, Amen

Our closing song is Behold our God

Closing Prayer

Thank you Lord for the amazing privilege of knowing Your investment in our lives that demonstrates so clearly how much You love and care for us. As we come to the close of this service we prepare to enter another week with Your strength confident that You will go with us into every situation we experience. Thank you Lord for all You have done for us, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen,

Benediction:  The Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

The UK Blessing

At this unique and challenging time in the United Kingdom over 65 churches and movements, representing hundreds of others, have come together online to sing a blessing over our land.

Many of the churches included in this song have assisted with supplying over 400,000 meals to the most vulnerable and isolated in our nation since COVID-19 lockdown began.

This alongside phone calls to the isolated, pharmacy delivery drops and hot meals to the NHS frontline hospital staff. Our buildings may be closed but the church is very much alive!

Original Song “The Blessing” by Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe and Elevation Worship. Written by Chris Brown, Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe and Steven Furtick Audio produced by Trevor Michael Video edited by Level Creative

Sunday 3 May 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information will be available from next Saturday.
  • Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream – We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm, celebrating the theme of Resurrection Hope with live prayer and news from churches around the country. This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Click here to access.
  • Jam Kids Focus – Join us every Sunday from 9.30am for the next 5 five weeks for our Navigate Family series. This series will give you an opportunity to explore the Bible together as a family and find out about what it means to be a follower of Jesus today.

    Join Park Ranger Chris, Field Instructor Phil and Head Ranger Bill as they take you on a journey through Blue Rock National Park, learning some cool survival skills, doing some fun challenges and discovering truths in Bible. Plus lots more.
  • There is also an activity sheet to download and print after watching the video.
  • JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com

Call to Worship

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100

We are grateful to Helen Rice for selecting the songs for worship for this service

Our opening song of praise and worship is: Light of the world

Our second song of praise and worship is a new version of a familiar song: Great is thy Faithfulness (Beginning to end)

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, once more at the start of another week we come with joy into Your holy presence conscious of the honour that is ours of being able to call the Creator and Sustainer of the universe our Father. Yet that privilege is ours because of the Lord Jesus who died in our place on the cross so that we might have eternal life in its fullness both by faith here on earth and then beyond this life by sight

Thank you for all the blessing you give to us of family and friends.  Thank you for the provision of our daily needs and for the physical, mental and emotional strength to come through another week at this difficult time.  We come to ask for Your forgiveness of our sins and the fresh enabling power of the Holy Spirit to help us live in a way that pleases You in the coming week. Speak we pray to us as we sing Your praises, read Your Word and reflect upon it later. We bring all our prayers in Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.      
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen.

All Age Talk – Helen Rice

I wondered if you have or if you ever had a special Teddy, security blanket or comforter? No need to be embarrassed (I cuddled my beautiful pink teddy, Marie, every night until I was 14 years old!)

Apparently scientific studies have shown that more than half of all children become attached to a Teddy Bear, a favourite blanket, or some other object that helps to comfort them whenever they are worried, afraid, unwell or upset.  A Teddy Bear or a security blanket can give great comfort especially at bedtime or when unwell, and it can give security and confidence when a child is separated from their parents or when they feel unsure.

Jesus understood that we all need help. When he was here on earth, he was a source of help and comfort to his disciples. When he was preparing to return to heaven, he knew that there would be times when disciples would need help and comfort and that he would not be there to give it to them.

In John 14 verse 16 He tells the disciples that he would ask his Father to send them another helper who would stay with them forever. That is exactly what he did. Jesus asked God the Father, and he sent the Holy Spirit. When we ask Jesus to come into our heart and we accept Him as our Saviour God’s Holy Spirit is with us ALWAYS.  He is there to help us, comfort us and to guide us to step out and live for God.

I don’t know about you, but I am glad that Jesus asked God to send His Holy Spirit to be with us always. Your Teddy like mine might become old and worn out or you might lose it, or you might outgrow the need for it…. But Jesus gave his promise that the Holy Spirit would be with us forever and however old we are we Never outgrow the need for the comfort, help and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit.

So whatever challenges we face, if we are fearful or scared, if we are worried and finding life difficult, if we lack confidence or we are in need of strength, if we are unsure of how to handle a situation, uncertain of what to say or do or what to pray, if we are struggling during lockdown …if we need comfort, guidance or wisdom God’s Holy Spirit is there to help us.

Father God, we thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to be our comfort, our help and our guide. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Our next song is another song that may be new to some participants in this service ‘Confidence’ by Sanctus-real

Prayers for others

As the current Covid-19 crisis continues to unfold before our eyes and shakes the world, we pray for those on the frontline of this situation. We are deeply conscious of the debt we owe to so many who daily risk their health and their lives to provide medical and social care and ensure that essential services are maintained across our land.

We thank God for the consistent  dedicated work that has ensured that our NHS has not been overwhelmed with demand during this crisis to date and sincerely pray this may continue to be the case. We pray for those whose medical procedures or surgeries have been delayed in recent weeks that soon they may be able to receive the assistance they require.

We pray for strength, wisdom and resilience. We give thanks that our God is unshakeable and ‘an ever-present help in time of need’.

We pray for children and young people who may be getting frustrated at the restrictions and fed up in the current situation. We pray for patience for parents, wisdom and creativity in finding things to do!  We pray for our teachers and other educators as they seek to support their students continue their education through various forms of on-line learning.

We pray for our family of churches in the Baptist Union of Scotland:

We pray for the pastoral ministry Accreditation Conference taking place tomorrow, as candidates finish their three year accreditation journey in various forms of church and chaplaincy ministries with a final interview as they reflect on what they have experienced and learned as they prepare for Christian service in the years to come. We pray that despite being online, that these meetings will result in wise discernment and be helpful to both the candidates and panel of experienced church leaders.

We remember:

Rebekah Sharp-Bastekin (Chaplain, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow) – with increasing pressures on NHS staff to do more with less, spiritual care is being drawn on more and more as we seek to support staff under a great deal of pressure. It’s a great privilege but please pray for NHS staff in all disciplines. Please pray for team dynamics after a number of years of staff shortages and lack of leadership. Pray for our new Lead Chaplain as she leads our team into a new chapter. I continue to feel filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit in the care that I offer to staff, patients and their families or visitors.

Dalbeattie Baptist Church:  We thank God for helping them to continue as a small but united, caring and inclusive fellowship with a desire to impact their town for Jesus. We pray for Christians in the area to feel led to join them to strengthen their witness and enable them to reach out in a way that is not possible with their limited resources.  

Dalkeith BC – At Dalkeith Baptist Church, we praise God for new folks joining with them in worship, and for the steady increase in the number of children they see regularly, which is greatly encouraging. We pray that the Lord would bless them as they seek to reach out to their local community, and as they continue to develop a culture of invitation among their fellowship.

Dedridge BC – We give thanks for Dedridge Baptist Church in Livingston as they worship God and serve their community at the heart of Livingston. We pray for good opportunities for them to share hope in Jesus during this time of national crisis.

We also pray for BMS World Mission at this time as they seek to continue to minister across the world during the current pandemic. We thank you for Helen and Wit in Thailand and Christine in Paris our link missionaries as they serve God in the locations He has placed them. We give thanks for the safe repatriation to the UK for some mission personnel in virus hot-spots and pray for those who continue to serve abroad at this time. We pray for protection and peace as well as opportunities to share Jesus with others.

We pray in our local context  

For other churches in our local area that God will help each one continue their work and witness at this time. We thank you to for the ongoing work of the food banks in our city and the stability of numbers needing assistance in the past week in our local area.

We especially remember those who live and work in the Care Homes that our church led services in – Ferry House, Orchar, Elder Lea Manor, Ballumbie Court, Moyness and Balcarres. We pray also for our neighbour, Lochleven Care Home. We  are very thankful that Hannah was able to lead a small Sunday church service for those who wished to join in at her workplace, where their spirits were lifted through singing, praying and counting their blessings together.

We come now to pray for particular people on our hearts at this time. These include: Jan and Jim F with Jim’s ongoing health challenges; Jean, John H’s mother in Orchar, who has contracted the covid virus; also for Shona H as she adjusts to retirement from paid employment later this week.

Also Ali T’s mum Norah who was taken to hospital after a fall and for her dad Frank at home. And we also bring our own requests to you now.  Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers as we bring them in the wonderful name of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Our next song of worship is: ‘Beauty for brokenness’

Bible Reading

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’

14 Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

16 And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.”

18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’”

20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’

Luke 12: 13-21

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘May the mind of Christ my Saviour’  

The Message

Introduction

On the day I was writing this message, one of the stories on the BBC News website was of a Royal Navy submarine commander relieved of his command and assigned to other duties (BBC News Website Coronavirus: Royal Navy submarine lockdown party captain sacked 28April 2020). The reason given was that he had gone ahead with a lockdown party at the submarine base after it had returned for repairs to the base, contrary to the advice of senior officers on shore and other officers on board the submarine.

All of us make mistakes and regret choices that we make so pointing the finger at others when they get things wrong is unwise, because the day comes for us all when we need to apologise for our own mistakes. It is bad enough when a friend or family members questions our decision-making on a subject of some importance, but where do we even begin to reflect when God is the one making that call? This was the issue in this story told by Jesus.

The context of this passage was a dispute between two adult children of a man who had died. The standard accepted model of a shared inheritance of that day saw the eldest brother gaining the largest share of the assets, but he also had the responsibility of caring for his mother if still alive and any other siblings who were children and therefore in need of support. Any other adult children of the deceased man shared equally a lesser share of the total estate.

Culturally it is very different to anything we would do here in the United Kingdom, but the motivation behind it is to ensure the most vulnerable family members were provided for in a social context where there was no state assistance for people in need. The contrast is absolute when compared to our current situation with the covid-19 virus.

Our governments in the United Kingdom are providing grants and support to seek to ensure everyone has a roof over their heads and food on the table for the duration of this crisis, and unprecedented support for some businesses with financial aid and other forms of assistance to ensure that as many jobs as possible are still there for people to return to when the worst of this crisis is over.

Sadly in many countries in the two-thirds world there is very little practical assistance provided, in part because their governments have far less resources to use to alleviate the hardship caused by this virus. At the heart of this story, and the teaching of Jesus in response to this occasion, there is a concern to address the financial and other security fears many people have concerning how they will provide for their needs in the future.

For us today the Covid-19 virus crisis is a deep concern to many people as we have no idea how this situation will turn out in the near future and beyond. Jesus, in this passage of Luke chapter twelve, provides a parable for their and our consideration in our own social contexts.

 Let us turn to Luke’s account of the context in which Jesus told this powerful story, recorded in Luke 12:13-21:

Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ 14Jesus replied, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ 15 Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’ 16 And He told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 

17 He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” 18 ‘Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” 20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” 21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’ 

(a)Living for self (Luke 12:17-19) ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all’ are the famous words of the wicked stepmother of Snow White in the early nineteenth century story written by the Brothers Grimm. The wicked stepmother in the story apparently was obsessed with being the most beautiful woman in the land and her talking mirror told her that this was true.

However, a crisis begins when one day the mirror gives a different answer and suggested to her that her now grown-up stepdaughter Snow White is the most beautiful woman in the land. Many children in European countries will have grown up hearing or reading a version of the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It is almost certainly based on some real historical circumstances with two possible candidates for Snow White.

One possibility is that it is Margarete von Waldeck, a German countess born to Philip IV in 1533. Her father owned copper mines that used child labour. The unhealthy working conditions seriously affected their health and resulted for many in severely stunted growth which combined with serious malnutrition would have raised serious human rights ‘alarm bells’ today.

The alternative and I think stronger candidate is Maria Sophia von Erthal, born on 15 June, 1729 in Lohr am Main, Bavaria. She was the daughter of eighteenth-century landowner, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal and his wife, Baroness von Bettendorff. After the death of the Baroness, Prince Philipp went onto marry Claudia Elisabeth Maria von Venningen, Countess of Reichenstein, who was said to dislike her stepchildren.  The castle where they lived, now a museum, was home to a ‘talking mirror’, an acoustical toy that could speak (now housed in the Spessart Museum).

The mirror, constructed in 1720 by the Mirror Manufacturer of the Electorate of Mainz in Lohr, had been in the house during the time that Maria’s stepmother lived there. The dwarfs in Maria’s story are also linked to a mining town, Bieber, located just west of Lohr and set among seven mountains. The smallest tunnels could only be accessed by very short miners, who often wore bright hoods, as the dwarfs have frequently been depicted over the years. The point of this illustration is that the step-mother was exclusively thinking of herself and not of others, certainly not her step-daughter. This was the big problem with the man in Jesus’ story.

In this story the central character was a rich man whose perspective on life was largely centred on himself. He would have been delighted with the opinions of the famous Scottish economist from Kirkcaldy, Fife, Adam Smith (1723-1790) who argued that a businessman who does what is best for himself and gets rich, the benefits of his success will filter down to others who will gain from his prosperity.

In an age of the phenomenon of billionaires dominating world wealth and access to power, it certainly looks like Adam Smith’s model of free market economics was too optimistic in its assessment of human nature. There are too many people like this man who used his great profits to extend his business increasingly which must have meant taking over the strips of land of others in order to accommodate the greater yields of grain his land produced.

He was stockpiling food at such a rate there was no space left. How did he see this problem? As an excuse to stop stockpiling? No! he planned an extension of his premises to enable him to stockpile more! I know it is a story, but there are plenty of people who in the real world never have enough money or things of some kinds, no matter how wealthy they are. How tragic that he didn’t have a good accountability partner or friend who could challenge his choices.

But this happens for real as we have seen in the earlier stages of the Covid-19 virus crisis. It seems crazy just a few weeks ago that some people were purchasing vast quantities of toilet paper causing shortages for others. Once restrictions were put in place things calmed down and supplies steadily reappeared on supermarket shelves once again.

It raises the question of motivation why we react in the way we do to such times as these. Why sometimes we may be tempted as Christians to join in the stockpiling and why on other occasions we are not. However, Jesus’ point is clear contradicting Adam Smith; thinking primarily of self instead of others is quite likely to be bad for everyone. How good are you at thinking about the needs of others as well as yourself?  Ask yourself this question: Has there been a time when you had to challenge yourself because of faulty thinking about my wants rather than prioritising my needs?

(b) The appraisal of Jesus (Luke 12:15, 20-21) Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’…20 ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” 21 ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’ 

In our culture people can be rated by the fashionable clothes they are wearing (or not!); by the type of car they drive or size of home they live in; at school pupils may see their status depending on the possession of the latest style mobile phone, their expensive footwear or whatever is the ‘must have’  thing at that time. It can also happen to us all subconsciously in that we assess the worth of other people by the ‘things’ they possess.

Jesus offers a strong challenge to that way of thinking. Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’… (Luke 12:15) it must be a tough time in the fashion industry just now –not many people will dress up to work from home or to stay at home! Party wear or accessories are not going to be needed for some time. More seriously, if this crisis continues it will potentially reshape quite significantly many aspects of our lives. We have all been forced to stop and think about the way we have been living. What has stood out most for you? This is a good question to reflect on later.

What did God say to this man in the story here? ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).

For him his stockpiling was the equivalent of a large pension and food security in later years of his life. It was a much more considered strategy than panic buying of good in a shop. But no matter how big his stockpile it was never enough. He always needed to have more. Was he in charge over these ‘things’ or were they in some emotional way in charge of him?

In what or whom do you find your security? If it is our good looks then the mirror on the wall will eventually disappoint us –unless our eyesight starts to dim before the wrinkles and grey hairs become too many to bother about! If it is wealth or possessions then one day we will leave it all behind.

We are familiar with these words from attending funeral services: We brought nothing into the world and we cannot take anything out of the world. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord (I Timothy 6:7; Job 1:21). The man in the story had never considered that he was not in ultimate control of his life – His life was in God’s hands.

What did Jesus then say by way of application to His first hearers and to us today? Luke 12:21 states: This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’  What place does God have in your thinking and priorities? Where does He figure in your hopes and aspirations? To what extent do His values influence and shape yours and mine?  These are deep questions with no easy answers. However, we must give them serious thought if we intend to be wise women and men in the sight of God, Amen

Our closing song is ‘Build Your kingdom Here’

Closing Prayer

Thank you Lord Jesus for the privilege of serving in Your name in the communities in which You have placed us. Help us to practise the values that shaped Your life and ministry so that others may seem something of Your amazing love and grace through us this week. For Jesus’ sake, Amen

Benediction:  The Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

Sunday 26 April 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use the Engage at Home resources for daily worship during this week.
  • Messy Church at Home is now available online for you to work through this week.
  • Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream 7.00pm – We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday, celebrating the theme of Resurrection Hope with live prayer and news from churches around the country. This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Click here to join.

Call to Worship

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
 let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.


For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.


Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Psalm 95: 1-7

We are grateful to Francois and Pips for selecting the songs for worship for this service.

Our opening song of praise and worship is: Be still for the presence of the Lord This song invites us come with reverence and respect into God’s holy presence.

We are not on our own God is here with us as we worship Him and it is His presence that enables us to face the future even in difficult times with confidence.

Our second song of worship is: What a friend we have in Jesus

It is an extremely relevant song that even mentions being in isolation!

Opening prayer

Lord Jesus we come with deep thankfulness in our hearts for Your amazing love towards us. In both the newer song ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ we sang today and in the more familiar older hymn of that title we recognise the lengths You went to show us the love of our heavenly Father for His children.

We thank You for dying in our place on the cross, the greatest act of love in history. Once more we confess our sins and ask for Your forgiveness and seek the fresh empowering of Your Holy Spirit to live for You effectively in this new week. We come with a sense of expectancy into Your presence today as we seek Your blessing once more upon us as we spend time in Your holy presence.

Heavenly Father thank You for Your faithfulness to us when we were less than faithful to You. Thank You for Your constant kindness to us each day of our lives. Therefore, we can say with the apostle Paul, in his words:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Romans Chapter 8:31-34.

Thank you Lord for these wonderful words of encouragement from the Bible; Please speak to us from Your Holy Word as we worship You today, in the name of Your Son our Saviour we bring our prayers today, Amen.   

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.      
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen.’

Our third song is a recent composition that has been appreciated by many Christians – Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me.

JAM Kids’ focus:

We have a new series this week, Virtual Sunday School! This week we look at the theme of ‘PRAYER’ and the Bible story of ‘Daniel & the Lion’s Den.’

All Age TalkIsdale Anderson

I’m sure that one question that many people have been asking recently is:

“When am I next going to get to the hairdressers or barbers?”

I think the simple answer  is “It could be a while!”

Now there are various ways that you could cope with this problem. You could – and this is perhaps an easier option for the men – is go for a look that some guys in our church  already have ie the baldie or shaven head! You could just get a razor and shave it all off! 

If that’s too drastic an option then you could always locate that wig that you wore to that fancy dress party a number of years ago. And of course if you don’t have a wig you could always have a go and make one. Then pop it on your head, stick on a pair of sunglasses and no one would be any the wiser!

If you don’t fancy that you could of course ask someone else to cut your hair for you. But would you know anyone in your house who you would trust with a pair of scissors? Your sister might smile sweetly and say “Of course they can do it!” do it for you. But maybe they are just looking for the chance to get revenge for that time you threw a bag of flour all over their hair just as they were about to go out to meet their friends. 

So if that still doesn’t appeal then you could decide to take matters into your own hands and go for a selfie – and just cut the hair yourself! But a word of caution here. Have a look on the internet first at some of those who have tried this as it may put you off! Crooked fringes, tufts sticking out at odd angles, bare patches at the back –  you’d be begging not to be allowed back to school until September!

In the end you may just have to go for the Wild Man/Lady of the Mountain look – and comfort yourself that it’s a very popular look this summer!

Anyway does it really matter that much how we look. I certainly don’t think it does to God. He accepts us whatever we look like and is much more concerned about what we’re like on the inside than the outside.

There’s a story in the Old Testament part of the Bible, where the prophet Samuel is given the very important job of choosing someone to be the new king of Israel. He has to go to a man who has 8 sons. The youngest is only a teenager of about 15 and the others go all the way up to the oldest who was about 30.

In the story, all the brothers come forward one at a time to be inspected by Samuel starting with the oldest. He was a big chunky handsome guy whose appearance really impressed Samuel and he thought “I’m sure he would make a good King.” But he felt God telling him that no he wasn’t the man.

And so the next brother came forward, and the next and the next. All the way down to the 7th son. But still God didn’t tell Samuel to choose any of them. Some of these men looked very impressive. They were handsome – tall – muscular. But Samuel felt God saying to him “People judge others by their outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”

In other words, God isn’t interested in how people look, but on what kind of person they are. What is our character like? Do we put what God wants before what we want? Are we thoughtful and caring to others? That’s what matters to God.

So next time you look in the mirror and groan about the state of your hair, remember what’s on the inside is more important than what’s on the outside. What kind of people we are is more important than how we look. It isn’t easy being  stuck in the house with our families not being able to go out and see friends or play with our pals. We can get bad tempered and annoyed easily and be unkind.  So here’s this week’s challenge. Two parts!

One to aim to do at least one kind thing for other people every day. Could be to help  with the housework – or if there’s no one else in your home, pick up the phone and ask how someone’s getting on. There’s a very good chance they will be in!

Two A fun challenge for the boys and girls – but there’s no age restriction. If you have some bits of wool, string etc you can have a go at making your own wig. Take a photograph of you wearing it and send it to me and we can show them it on the Church News Update sheet or at the next Zoom service.                  

I know that I never told you the end of the story of the 8 brothers. The story is in 1 Samuel chapter 16. Read it for yourself and find out! 

Cast your cares on the Lord (kids song) from Seeds of faith, family worship. Amazing word art on this one, based on Psalm 55:22

JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com

Prayers for Others

Lord once more we come humbly seeking Your assistance to our country and indeed our world during this ongoing covid-19 virus crisis. We ask for Your continuing strength for all the dedicated people serving in our health and social care facilities to support both patients with covid-19 virus and others with different medical and other health needs. We are particularly concerned at the spread of infections in nursing homes in our land and pray for Your protection on some of the most vulnerable people in our country at this time. 

We particularly remember today those working in the NHS or Social Care facilities.

It is with deep sadness that we remember all the people who have died seeking to assist those who have contracted this illness, even in this week. We pray for Your comfort for their families and for the families of the patients for whom they cared until their deaths. 

We continue to remember all those in national, regional and local government seeking to serve their country through these difficult times. We pray that they may know Your wisdom in seeking to govern appropriately under severe pressures at this time.

We pray for teachers who are in school to help teach the children of key workers at this time. Pray also for the home learning environments of most children and young people just now. Pray for parents who are teaching their children at home and give thanks for online learning tools and other resources.

We thank you too for the wider network of Christian Churches at this time as they seek to serve their local communities. During this covid-19 virus crisis we have become so much more aware of the Christian church overseas.

We particularly bring before you those who are seeking to lead worship in communities in the two-thirds world where serious shortages of food have caused many to go to bed hungry during the current lock downs, especially in minority communities in places like Pakistan, where additional government food supplies are withheld from them in some communities by leaders from the Muslim majority – Lord have mercy on them at this time.  

 We are grateful for the blessing of working with other local churches in Broughty Ferry and in our wider city.  We ask for your encouragement and blessing on them at this time.

We thank you within our wider Scottish Baptist Church family for:

Andrew Oliver (Chaplain, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) – In 2019 Leuchars Station had five (unrelated) deaths. Please pray for all families and friends affected by this. Please pray for my children who attend Madras College St Andrews – often the children of ministers / padres feel a certain extra peer pressure. Please pray for their continued spiritual growth and the grace to stand up for our Lord at school.

My time in army chaplaincy comes to an end in November 2021 and we are looking to the Lord for what lies beyond that, including possible church-based ministry. We value prayers for all the practicalities that surround this – especially that the children’s studies will not be adversely affected, and that the whole process will draw us all closer to God and each other.  

Culloden-Balloch BC – Please pray for the church as they seek to live for Jesus and bring others to Him. Pray in particular for the church as they seek to reach out to people in different and more online ways at this time.

Cumbernauld BC – We praise God for a new Leadership team who along with members are seeking God’s will for the church in Cumbernauld as we consider potential new opportunities and ask for prayer that we will know God’s leading. As we are currently in a pastoral vacancy we give thanks for the Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers Association members who have been willing to lead us in worship and we have been richly blessed.

Cupar BC – We praise God for His faithfulness and provision during this time of vacancy. We seek God’s guidance in prayer as the church looks for the way forward to continue God’s vision for our fellowship and community.

We thank you for our local church family and remember particularly those who are confined to their own homes or residential care homes at this time. We particularly pray that You would encourage those who are struggling with these restrictions on their movement or the fact that declining health has led to much greater limitations on what they can do.

We are particularly conscious of people with ongoing health issues and especially remember Jim and Jan F but if we wish to name others before You, we do so now….

Lord we ask for Your ongoing comfort to those who have been bereaved recently and your assurance to those struggling with limited finances or difficulties over their employment. We also bring our own prayer needs before You ….  

Lord hear and answer our prayers in the wonderful and precious name of Jesus, Amen.

As we rest assured in the amazing love and kindness of God towards us let us sing again a familiar older song “How deep the Father’s love for us”

Bible Reading

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27 ‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12: 22-31

Before we come to the Scripture passage let us sing once more: “Lean hard on the everlasting arms” by Lou Fellingham

The Message

A filmed version of the message:

Luke 12:22-31 He will give you all you need…if…

Introduction
‘Don’t’ worry’, we have all said these words countless times to other people and then received them ourselves in return. We are all so acutely aware that there are many types of situations where it is inevitable that there will be deep concerns about what lies ahead of us.  

For us several weeks into the Covid19 virus crisis we have become very aware of the uncertainty of life. Now for some of us with a secure income whether through regular employment or a guaranteed pension and some savings there is a great deal that is certain about our future, at least in financial terms.

However, as recent events have revealed, no matter how well prepared we are life can in a very short time become very unpredictable and the future far from certain. In the two-thirds world for hundreds of millions of people this time has not only been inconvenient and unsettling, but life threatening. On days when many of them are not working there is no money to buy food for their families and so there is no food to eat.

In the last week I have had telephone calls or messages from Christian workers in a number of countries in Asia and Africa pleading for help for their families and church communities because they have no food to eat. It was extremely difficult explaining that I am unable to provide what they needed.

 Yet these words of Jesus in this passage are incredibly powerful and challenging precisely because they were first spoken to a gathering of day-labourers who lived from one day to the next and who had no chance of changing their socio-economic conditions.  If Jesus could ask them some powerful questions about trusting God with our futures then He can rightly do the same with us. Let us look briefly today at this passage.     

(1)The point to note (Luke 12:22-23) Then Jesus said to His disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

We live in a world of growing insecurity. In the two-thirds world millions of people work zero-hours contracts and only eat that day if they have secured work in the morning. Their families too live the same precarious existence. Lock-down is catastrophic for such people when combined with an absence of state support for their material needs.

It raises questions about the ethics of employment in our own land that will not go away once the virus crisis is over. How many jobs ought to be based on zero-hours contracts rather than regular employment contracts?  There is a big debate to be had about economic justice in our land that raised its head powerfully in some of the better aspects of the recent debates about our relationship with the European Union and how so many million people here in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Continental Europe feel they gained nothing from that previous relationship.

Just as pertinent in the last two decades has been the remarkable growth in wealth of a tiny number of billionaires. There are all kinds of issues around tax and its payment by some of the largest companies in the world that will need to be addressed as we reflect more critically on globalisation. Can the world really continue in the way things have gone in recent decades or are their some changes to be made so that the poorest proportion of the world’s population may actually have a chance to simply live?

A number of political commentators have noted that the value of some lower-paid NHS and Social Care workers has noticeably increased in many people’s minds over the last month. And so it should when some of them risked or have given their lives in the service of the people under their care. How should this be reflected going forward? Many would argue with better terms and conditions of service as was experienced after the two world wars in the previous century.

I greatly appreciated the commentator who reflected on whether it was time to have the equivalent of the NHS for social care to ensure older people are treated so much better than many have been in care homes over the years. There is a debate to be had on that subject I believe.  To come back to ourselves, and the personal challenge about the way we live our lives: How have your priorities changed in recent weeks? Are there people we value more than we did before this crisis began?

(2) The example to follow (Luke 12:24, 27-28)Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! …27 ‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith! 

Planning ahead when we have the opportunity is still wise, not just for personal protective equipment for health service workers, but also for various forms of insurance including, for example, pension provision if we have the opportunity to arrange one.

However, although that is true, I hope one of the big lessons learned of this covid-19 crisis is that life does not need to be so complicated. If planning decisions and hospital erections, for example, can be done in weeks why need they take years, as so often in ‘normal times’? The complexity of endless paperwork in most workplaces that has grown so much in recent years – is it really necessary?

Life at every level can be simpler than it was. Consider the rest of creation effectively not just what benefits humans, says Jesus. People who have spent their entire lives in cities around the world with blighted vision and breathing difficulties due to excessive pollution can now breathe more easily and enjoy views some had either never seen before or certainly had only done so with difficulty. Will we as humans place a higher priority on the quality of our environment after this crisis? I certainly hope so 

(3)The challenge to heed (Luke 12:25-26)25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

How many of us have had severely restricted movement recently and as a result had more time to think about our lives? This down time might for some be refreshing and an opportunity to catch up on long-lost sleep. However, for others it might have been deeply disturbing as we looked into the mirror of our lives and didn’t like everything that we saw.

Living one day at a time is biblical but hard to practice. Learning to do what we can and then consciously handing over the rest of our circumstances to God is easy to say, but at times very hard to practise. Is there an issue you are struggling with just now? 

(4) The attitude to avoid (Luke 12:29-34) 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  32 ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Have I been too focused on getting material things or buying experiences no differently to the people around me who don’t have a faith in God? Do I need to have some priority changes going forward? How does Jesus ask us to prioritise our finances, time and abilities?

The New Living version rendering of Luke 12:31 I found very powerful in my daily devotions recently: He will give you all you need from day today if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. For those who normally give financially to their local church in cash on a Sunday –is that offering now being given through standing orders or direct debits.

Sadly there are those who may have to reduce what they give because their income has gone, but what if your expenses have significantly reduced in recent weeks –might you consider giving extra to help avoid a shortfall in church accounts as we go forward? This would be a radical kingdom choice?

It would also be a wonderful testimony of our trust in God to the wider community if we were still able to balance the books as a church at the end of this crisis. I am thankful too in our community for those whose giving has funded our Broughty Ferry Food Bank –and others in our city whose giving has paid for the work of similar initiatives. Jesus finished by saying here: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. What might that mean to you and me at this time in our lives? Now that is a big question for us to answer! Let us ask Him to guide our reflections on this matter, Amen.

Our closing song is Will your anchor hold in the storms of life?

BenedictionThe Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm in Scotland