JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School
JAM young adults have a separate programme Breakthru 7:00am-8:00pm
Please contact Gary Torbet on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details of today’s programme.
Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream
The monthly prayer livestream takes place tonight, Sunday 2 May, 2021 7.00–7.30pm. You can access on YouTube.
This service is led today by Rev Gary Torbet
Call to worship: Genesis 12: 1 – 3, Psalm 8: 3 – 4, Intro.
Genesis 12: 1- 3: The Call of Abram
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Psalm 8: 3 – 4:
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them.
We come to worship today a generous God.
We have so many promises that God has made to us, just like the one he made to Abram.
We have God’s generosity in the beauty and wonder of creation
We have God’s generosity in giving us life & breath.
Most of all we see God’s generosity supremely in the giving of Jesus Christ, his one and only Son, to come down from heaven, to show us the way to the Father
And to die for ours sins and be raised to life – in order that we need not fear death for those who are in Christ Jesus.
How should we respond, but in giving our lives afresh to God today – in worship and in praise!
Let us do that now and reflect on all of this as we sing;
Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘Above all Powers’
Loving Heavenly Father
As we gather for worship today, may we encounter you afresh, by the power of your Holy Spirit, touch our lives today. Wherever we are with you – may you today God give us the Holy Spirit, that as Paul prayed,
“to grow in wisdom and revelation, so that you/we MAY KNOW HIM BETTER.”
Might that be our prayer today that comes from our hearts, hearts that are open and expectant to be touched by you today. That we might know afresh “the hope to which you have called us”.
Thank you for your promises to us, like the promise to Abram, that bring us reassurance in the midst of troubled times. That the beauty of creation and the stars in the night sky will lift our minds beyond our circumstances, to a God who is the creator and sustainer of the universe and who is in control.
Thank you for Jesus and as we reflect on his example, may it inspire us – in the power of your Holy Spirit to be Jesus to the world around us. To generously give our time, our love, our compassion and material possessions to the needy world around us;
Come now Holy Spirit, our prayer is that we want more of you Jesus, may all we do in worship today bring you glory to the wonderful and powerful name of Jesus.
May none of us Lord – whether we are at Panmurefield or on Zoom, leave the same way as we came – change us, mould us Father into your image, we pray. Amen.
Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:
All Age Talk ‘Jesus & Zacchaeus – the generosity of Jesus’, Luke 19: 1- 10
A Little Man with a Big Problem
Have you ever been to a parade where you couldn’t see over the person in front of you? It isn’t much fun to go to a parade if you can’t see the marching bands, the floats, or the fire trucks with their flashing lights, is it? When that happens, a periscope may be just what you need. The periscope has two mirrors in it so that you can look in the bottom and see out the top. It allows you to see over tall objects or even around a corner. Periscopes are used in submarines so that the people in the submarine can see what is happening above the water. I have seen people using these at parades and at sports events where they may have difficulty seeing above the crowd.
Today’s Bible story is about a man who went to a parade, but couldn’t see above the crowd. The main attraction in this parade was Jesus. He had become quite famous because he had performed many miracles. He had raised Lazarus from the dead and had restored sight to a blind man named Bartimaeus, so when he entered the city of Jericho, the atmosphere was very much like a circus parade. People lined the streets hoping to get a glimpse of Jesus. One of the people in the crowd was a man who was very short. He was so short that he couldn’t see above all the people in the crowd. You probably know this man’s name, don’t you? That’s right, it was Zacchaeus. He didn’t have a periscope to help him see above the crowd, but he really wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree and waited for Jesus to pass by.
As Jesus travelled through the streets of Jericho, he came to the place where Zacchaeus sat up in the tree. Jesus stopped, looked up in the tree, and he said, “Zacchaeus, you come down, for I am going to your house today.”
The people in the crowd were shocked! You see, Zacchaeus was one of the most hated men in all of Jericho. Why did the people hate him? Because Zacchaeus was a little man with a great big problem! He was a thief and a cheat! He was the chief tax collector and he had become very rich because he cheated people by collecting more taxes than they owed and keeping it for himself. The people could not believe that Jesus would go to the home of a man like that!
Zacchaeus knew that he had cheated people and when he and Jesus arrived at his house, he confessed and said that he was sorry for what he had done. He said to Jesus, “I am going to give half of all that I own to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Because Zacchaeus was sorry for what he had done and confessed his sin, Jesus forgave him and said, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Yes, Zacchaeus was a little man with a big problem — sin! But he met Jesus and his life was changed. It doesn’t matter if you are short or tall, when you meet Jesus, he will change your life too!
Our Father, when we meet Jesus it is a life-changing experience. Thank you for your love and forgiveness. Amen.
If you follow this link you can Children’s activities related to the All Age Talk.
All Age Song – Zacchaeus was a wee little man
Prayers for others
We come with heavy hearts once more to cry to You for the people of India and other countries where the virus pandemic is causing suffering on a scale that was feared might happen around the globe. Thank You for more nations who have resources being willing to assist the government of India in seeking to address this critical situation. Lord have mercy upon them.
We pray too for those countries suffering extreme violence and mass murder and pray for relief that pressure from the international community can be brought to bear on the Chinese government in its treatment of minorities and faith communities, especially the Uighur people group. We pray for Myanmar and the escalation of brutality by the regime that has extended its violence from killing non-violent political protestors around the country, to concentrated attacks on the Christian minorities in the north of the country and now medical staff in hospitals who are treating injured protestors. We pray too for the Christian community in north and central Nigeria where it appears the government has lost control to Islamist militants who raid and pillage at will. Lord have mercy upon them.
We pray for the young people preparing for their National 5s / Higher & Advanced Higher, or College / University exams. We pray that they may know Your peace at this time.
We pray as people of Scotland go to the polls on Thursday, that no matter which political party wins the election, that something of Your justice, mercy and goodness would be seen flowing in this land. We pray for fair policies and plans, which provide equity, provision and the ability to flourish for all.
We pray for the Baptist Union Accreditation Conference taking place online on Tuesday, as candidates engaged in the early years of some form of church or chaplaincy ministries finish their three year accreditation journey with a final interview. We pray that despite being online, that these meetings will result in wise discernment and be helpful to both the candidates and panel.
We pray for the following chaplains and churches:
Rebekah Sharp-Bastekin (Chaplain, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow) – We pray for Rebekah and the work of the chaplaincy team at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Glasgow as they seek to support patients, their families and the staff at the hospital.
Dalbeattie BC – We give thanks for the Baptist church in Dalbeattie and pray that they would know God’s presence with them as they meet together and witness to the community.
Dalkeith BC – We give thanks to God for the encouraging weekly fellowship they are able to maintain through technology, as they wait-out the Coronavirus storm at a distance from one another. We pray for them as they begin to consider how they might best ‘reset’ post virus, and move on in ministry in the pursuit of God’s glory.
Dedridge BC – We thank God for preserving a strong spiritual bond between them as a family through on-line study, prayer, book club, Alpha and social evenings. They are particularly conscious of this given early anxieties about more senior folk mastering the technology. We pray for the families that have lost loved ones to Covid, and other illnesses. The present climate with its restrictions has made their passing all the more difficult to bear
We come to pray for the needs in our own congregation:
We bring before You today John and Shona H and other members of their family as they prepare for the funeral on Friday of his mother Jean. We pray that you would comfort and strengthen them at this time.
We continue to remember Mary D as she continues to cope with the ongoing problems with her left hand. We continue to pray for Your strength for Jim and Dorothy G as they cope with ongoing health issues at this time.
We remember Alison A as she copes with a lot of discomfort from torn tendons and a twisted knee. We also continue to remember Sheila and Jim B Betty R, Hamid and Alva D, Fiona Mc, Nicola L’s Dad Lawrie and Margaret – Ann W’s sister, Bill T, and the R family at this time.
We also continue to pray for a restoration of health for other members of our congregation or members of their families…
We pray too for anyone else with ongoing health conditions and bring them before You now…
We pray for the people whom we cannot visit in residential care, and others who are at home on their own, together with others in our church family who are feeling the effects of increasing age and infirmity…
We continue to pray for those who have been bereaved and ask Your comfort for them …
We now pray silently for anyone else known to us who is in need of our prayers at this time…..
We pray also for our own needs…
We bring all these prayers before you in Jesus’ name,
Bible Reading II Corinthians 9:1-15
There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we – not to say anything about you – would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
6 Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
9 As it is written:
‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures for ever.’
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘God of justice, Saviour to all’
II Corinthians 9:1-15 The pattern for giving
In chapters eight and nine of this letter to the church at Corinth we have a window into one aspect of the life of the Early Christian churches in the Mediterranean world. Here we see what the apostle Paul and his mission teams taught the members of the congregations they planted. They first were challenging to see themselves as part of a community of believers, not just in one local congregation, but as part of a wider Christian family with responsibilities to care for and provide where appropriate for one another.
This fellowship extended across racial and geographical boundaries. Giving was a privilege that was modelled on the example of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Here the issue was famine relief and the necessity of doing what they could to provide for needy brothers and sisters in Judea. In the latter part of chapter eight Paul promoted the importance of integrity in how church life was administered, especially in the area of finance.
He wanted them to be a model of transparency as a public witness in this aspect of their work. In this third and final section on this topic the apostle speaks about the pattern for giving. Is there a regular pattern to this area of Christian discipleship or is it only a focus for intensive fundraising for a limited time when particular needs arise? What did Paul recommend to this local church in Greece, and by extension to later generations of Christian churches?
1. The organisation of our giving (II Corinthians 9:1-5)
(a)Paul’s scheme was planned in advance (II Corinthians 9:1-2) There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
It will be no surprise to anyone to find that the New Testament pattern for giving is something that is regular and sustained and the approach to meeting particular needs carefully planned. We might think that this is the only way to do it, and in our cultural context it is natural to think this way, but in the majority world that is much closer in the way of living to the New Testament world many individuals and families live a precarious existence day by day.
There is little many of them can do to plan too far ahead. The congregation in Corinth was untypical in that some of its leader had higher than average incomes and may have been quite well off, unlike the majority of the membership. This small group almost certainly paid the bills as they arose and had complete control of church life. However, Paul wanted to enable the whole congregation here and elsewhere to have a stake in what was going on, including in sharing in financial giving. This fund-raising appeal would accomplish so much more than just raising funds for people in need. It brought both within and between the Early Christian congregations a greater sense of unity and shared purpose as they lived out their faith.
Church life is what we do together. It is not left to a few individuals while others applaud on the side lines. Here the issue is financial giving, but it may be about so many other things from inviting people to attend courses to explain the Christian faith, or engaging in various forms of ministry. We are all in this together. The question to ask is this: what is my part and how can I play it, in seeing this project come to fruition?
When Paul wanted to launch this appeal for the needy in Judea it had first gained the assent of the congregation, presumably at an in person meeting or service. It was a new situation, a crisis that had not been faced before like the covid-19 pandemic is for the vast majority of us today. However, the need had led to creative thinking and better ways of working had emerged. Please pray for our church and others that we may see clearly how God wants us to come out of this pandemic as a church and how we can best live out the gospel and communicate it more effectively to our community.
(b) It was a team effort (II Corinthians 9:3-4) But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we – not to say anything about you – would be ashamed of having been so confident.
Paul’s letter was to the whole church, encouraging each person as they were able to contribute to this relief effort. Each member of the congregation could play a part in ensuring this appeal was successful. Why did the Early Church see congregations growing and spreading to all the major cities of the Roman Empire within a generation? It was because each person recognised they had a part to play in evangelism, in living as a disciple of Jesus and working together effectively in a hostile environment.
Certain individuals like Peter, the most prominent public speaker amongst Jewish followers of Jesus; or James the leader of the Jerusalem congregation and the one who chaired the meetings of leaders when key decisions were taken; and Paul the apostle to the Gentiles occupied key leadership positions. Yet it is likely that the majority of those who came to faith in Jesus first heard the good news from ordinary men and women whose names are unknown to us.
Too often in Western Christianity, church life has reflected professional sport where a small number of people are doing the hard work and many more are supporting them from the side lines. If you doubt that, take a closer look at the Sunday attendance and active ministry by members of parish churches compared to the total numbers on the roll. In smaller Evangelical churches a greater proportion of the congregation are active participants, but as we come out of lockdown and beginning to return to something more like normality, it will require each of us to ask ‘what can I do?’ to play my part in proclaiming Jesus Christ in our community.
(c)People are required to administer it (II Corinthians 9:5) So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
The congregation in Corinth had committed itself to participating in this venture. However, it would only happen in practise if there were people in that local setting who were organised to promote it and willing to arrange the collections in line with what had been agreed. Of course, Paul and his missionary colleagues used this crisis to build stronger ties between these young congregations so that significant good emerged from it that had not been planned prior to the time of famine.
We live in a world where many good and bad things happen that are outside of our control. What matters, though, is how we respond to the challenges before us. It was far from certain how well this appeal would go in Macedonia and Achaia, two provinces of Greece, but through the willingness of Titus and his unnamed colleagues it was a remarkable success.
I thank God for each person in this church, whether through faithful dedication to the same form of ministry or through a willingness to serve in other ways who has stepped forward to make a difference over this very difficult year. May we be sure, though, not to neglect prayer, whether individually or collectively, because it is often the secret of the success of a church’s work when its children and adults are people of prayer.
James, leader of the Jerusalem church in his letter to the Churches reminded us of this in James 5:16b: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (NIV). Or as the NLT version states: The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. How are you planning to serve in the life of the church in the coming year? Please pray for the forthcoming Deacons’ election that together we may sense God’s leading in this matter.
2. The nature of our giving (II Corinthians 9:6-7)
How does Paul characterise Christian giving? Obviously in this immediate context the issue is concerned with money, but the principles mentioned here in II Corinthians 9 are much broader than that. Paul highlights two characteristics that should be prominent in our lives as a whole as followers of Jesus.
(a)Generous (II Corinthians 9:6) Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Paul is speaking here about our spiritual investment in the lives of others on so many different levels. The imagery works whether we are looking at a person planting seeds in their garden or an arable farmer sowing seeds for a commercial crop of grain or some other product. The reality is that not all the seeds sown will germinate. The fruitfulness of the crop reaped at a future date depends on so many factors including the type of soil and the weather. However, the principle being advocated is that the more generous the sowing of the seed, the greater the likelihood of a good harvest to come at a future date.
What is Paul saying in practise to us as individuals and as a Christian church? To reap a future harvest requires investment now. In terms of personal witness and evangelism, the more people we have contact with and with whom we share our faith, in whatever appropriate way, the greater the probability of a response over the medium to longer-term.
If we look at church life and see, for example, the investment we made into Children and Families’ work and youth work five to six years ago, it is most encouraging to note how much has been accomplished. The last year of a virus pandemic has disrupted everything in our society, but although the transition back to normality will not be easy, the principle of spiritual investment to reap a harvest is absolutely correct.
I thank God for the investment we have made in modern technology that has allowed us to hold zoom services and hybrid services in several forms. It has enabled people to participate who could never have done so in person during the last year on health grounds. It has enabled direct contact with mission partners overseas in a way that was not even considered just a short time ago. It is most remarkable what has happened in such a short time, albeit by necessity. The challenge to us as we go forward is this: what is God saying to us about the next stage of our ministries –what investment steps are required for the new situations we will face?
Our Bible verse for the year from Isaiah 43:18b-19: Do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I don’t have simple answers to offer. However, I am encouraging us both individually and collectively to pray that God will guide us in the way to go forward.
Jesus used the example of the investment of a poor widow in God’s work to teach His first disciples an important spiritual lesson in Mark 12:41-44: Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few pence. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’
I am deeply thankful to God for the incredibly generous financial giving in enabling our church to get through this last year. Thank you to each person who has played their part in this important area of our collective life. However, we must never think what we can give not just of finance but of time or abilities is so small it doesn’t matter. Jesus in Matthew 12:42 spoke of the giving of a cup of cold water in His name was an action that would find favour with God. We never know how God might use what you and I have to offer Him.
(b) Willing (II Corinthians 9:7) Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. This was an echo of an Old Testament principle from the time of Moses. Deuteronomy 15:10-11: Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.
The immediate context of these words was to ensure that the poorest people would have their basic needs met in the newly formed nation of Israel as they settled in the Promised Land. The wider context in Deuteronomy 15 was the formation of an economic and financial structure that prevented the kind of appalling injustice seen in the bonded-labour system of modern slavery so familiar in countries like Pakistan today. However, Paul applies the principle that God wanted them to operate in the nation as a whole to their individual circumstances and by extension to churches as the family of God. Freely, willingly, we invest in God’s work for the good of others and for the glory of God.
3. The benefits of our giving (II Corinthians 9:8-15)
(a)Personal benefits (II Corinthians 9:8-10) And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures for ever.’ 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
Now, we do not give with a primary motivation of personal reward as a result. We give because we see a need and want to help meet it. There is no promise from God that His blessing will come in any one particular way. However, the individuals and churches that reflect the heart of our generous God will receive over time abundant blessings as a result of honouring God in this way. In the Old Testament there is the remarkable account of the action of a Lebanese woman who assisted the prophet Elijah during a time of famine (I Kings 17:7-16).
The story whichever way you read is so incredible. First of all, that God chose to use a desperately poor widow in a foreign country to be the means of providing for His servant in a time of crisis. It was not a means Elijah would have ever considered as the way by which God would answer his prayers. Her act of generosity in a time of famine in offering to share her last meal and that of her little child with this stranger is extraordinary. She was almost certainly thinking we are all going to die of starvation anyway there would have been only a bringing forward what was inevitable. However, Elijah had promised her that if she assisted him in this way God would guarantee her supply of oil and flour until life got back to normal. It happened! God honours those that honour Him.
In the New Testament, a story that appears in the gospels of a large crowd of people who had spent the day with Jesus, but had eaten no food that day and appeared to have no prospects of obtaining any for dinner. Jesus asked His disciples what they would do to meet this need. Mental panic was almost certainly the response! Philip, one of the disciples was doing the maths of the cost of feeding all of them and the figures he came up with were sobering. It is impossible to do it was his response. Yet another disciple Andrew took a different line. What could he do to contribute to meeting the need?
He clearly asked people present if they could help. The one person who came forward was a boy with a packed meal of bread and fish and who offered it to Jesus. A single person’s portion of food was on its own of minimal significance in meeting the need. Yet miraculously Jesus took what he offered and fed a vast crowd of people (John 6:1-13).
A lesson would be learned that day that no-one present would ever forget, especially they boy in question. He saw more clearly that day than many adults present, the principle that giving to God willingly and generously what we have can be an incredible personal blessing. Have you and I grasped this principle as we review our pattern for giving to God’s work and as our way of living?
(b)Church-wide benefits (II Corinthians 9:11-15) (i)It will lead to thanking God (vs 11-12) You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
I have a feeling that the Corinthians or at least some of the people in that church were of the view that all the effort Paul was putting into raising funds for the famine relief in Judea would accomplish little. How many people would join in and support the appeal? We don’t know the figures raised, but it had the desired effect and covered the cost of the needs of the people concerned in Jerusalem and Judea. The total raised was clearly greater than they had thought possible. It led to a spirit of thankfulness to God that they were able with other believers to meet that need. What some deep down in their hearts had thought was impossible had happened. God has used them to contribute to this answer to the prayers of those in need.
Take a few moments today to recall and reflect on the thankfulness you felt when your needs were met through the generosity of other people. I expect particular people or situations will come to your mind.
(ii) It will overflow into the praise of God (v13) Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
The thankfulness of God’s people for the generosity of others in helping meet their needs will naturally overflow into praise of our great and amazing God. In this case the believers in Jerusalem and Judea praised God for prompting Christians they had never met in Europe to provide the means of meeting their needs. Remember Paul’s words of praise to God that overflowed in his letter to the church in Ephesus.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Will you take time today to praise Him for some blessings you have received? Will we, not only individually, but collectively as a church be a people of praise, acknowledging all He has done for us?
(iii) It will strengthen ties between believers (v14) 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. There are people who come to your mind, and others to my mind, who have helped us in times of need in different ways over the years. There will be people who have become friends as a result of acts of kindness in the past. Living this way, Paul reminds us, will enrich our lives in ways beyond our expectations.
The incredibly poor Christians in the Macedonia region of Greece that gave so sacrificially to help fund Paul’s missionary journeys could not imagine what has resulted over the centuries from their generosity. This month, for example, Christian brothers and sisters in their thousands in northern Myanmar are receiving aid from our Baptist World Alliance as they hide in the jungle after the repeated bombing of their towns and villages by the military regime of that country. Why do we as Christians give in this kind of way? We remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:40: Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.
(iv) It helps us appreciate more our generous God (v15) Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! In the light of His gift of Jesus to us 2,000 years ago, and then for us on the cross, we have a model for living and a pattern for giving of the resources entrusted to our care, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Wonderful Grace’
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: ‘And can it be’
Lord Jesus, we are so thankful for the life You lived that modelled generosity as You focussed Your earthly life in the service of others. As we have been reminded once more in the act of communion, the sacrifice of Your life in our place on the cross was the greatest demonstration of Your amazing love for us. Help us this week and in coming days to be people who take delight in giving to others of our time and our abilities as well as at times other resources entrusted to us. We bring our prayer with all our praises to You, in Jesus’ name, Amen
Benediction: The Grace