Church at Home – 23 May 2021

With Helen and Wit Boondeekhun from Thailand

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

JAM young adults have a separate programme JAM 11:30am to 12:30pm Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

This service is led today by Moraig Piggot with special guests Helen and Wit Boondeekhun, BMS-supported church-planters in Thailand.

Call to worship: Psalm 96:1-4a:

Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘Open the eyes of my heart’

Opening Prayer:

Thank you Lord for this new opportunity to gather to worship and honour Your holy name.  We want to echo the words of the Psalmist who wrote: Sing to the Lord, praise His name;  proclaim His salvation day after day.Declare His glory among the nations, His marvellous deeds among all peoples.For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise.

We are deeply thankful for all our blessings in this deeply troubled world in which we live. We are optimistic that in our own country there will be a further easing of pandemic restrictions in the coming weeks and are so grateful that so many people have taken care to act responsibly during this past year. Thank you that many of us have now been able to visit or meet with members of our families or close friends from whom we had been separated for some time.

Most of all, we thank you Lord, that You have been our anchor through these uncertain and unsettling times. Meet with us today as we seek Your guidance for our lives from the Bible, at the start of another new week. Cleanse us from our sins and fill us afresh with Your Holy Spirit as we seek to shine as lights for You in the midst of the dark clouds of challenges that still have to be worked through in the coming days. We bring our prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen 

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

This time tomorrow  video talk of their work from  Wit and Helen Boondeekhun

Our next song is: ‘From heaven You came’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father, 

Thank You that at the start of another new week we can turn to You with both our praises and our petitions because You take delight in hearing our prayers.

We pray Your blessing and guidance upon each one of us as we live out our faith at school, college or university; in the workplace or in other places this coming week. Help us to remain true to the faith we believe in the way we live out our faith. Help us to be people of integrity who reflect the character and way of life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

We also continue to pray for the young people preparing for their National 5s / Higher & Advanced Higher, or College / University assessments or exams. We pray that they may know Your peace at this time. We pray too for the staff who will mark or grade them, and hope that the approach taken will be both fair and appropriate for all concerned at the end of a difficult academic year.

We pray for our Baptist Union convenor and two of our churches:

We pray for our convenor of the Baptist Union Frances Bloomfield as she chairs various national meetings of our Baptist Union and who has also been representing us at the Church of Scotland Annual Assembly last week  

Dumfries BC – In recent weeks, lockdown, coupled with the deaths of a number of their church family, one of which was to Covid19, has been a blow to this congregation. They are living out Romans 12:15 and ‘mourning with those who mourn’, but not without hope! We pray with them for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones.  In the midst of this they are encouraged through their virtual online activities and services. They are particularly excited about their Alpha and Christianity Explored courses as well as the Church Centre Sports Hall being used as a Vaccination Centre. We give thanks with them that they can bear witness to Jesus through this activities. 

Duncan Street BC, Edinburgh – They are praising God that He has blessed them in many ways over the past twelve months through the preaching, praying and ministering of the fellowship. They ask us to pray that He would help then to love the people in their communities well and that they would faithfully live and speak that message of hope that they find in Jesus.

We come to pray for the needs in our own congregation:

Heavenly Father,

We thank You for those who have been nominated for election as deacons at this time and pray for Your blessing on them. Guide and direct us as a church family as this process is completed in the coming weeks. We do thank You for all those who serve as Deacons or in other ministry positions in church life, that each one of us may know Your wisdom and guidance as we serve in Your name.

We pray too Your blessing upon Claire McNutt and those who work with her in our Children and Families’ work, and upon Rev Gary Torbet and the youth work team as they seek to respond to the slight easing of restrictions for our work with younger people. Likewise we pray that You would grant us wisdom as a church as we seek to adjust to the changing environment for our work and witness in the coming months.  

We continue to remember quite a number of people in our church and others known to us who have ongoing health issues.

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 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 also pray Your blessing on the Prayer courses taking place in the church at this time and ask that those of us participating in them may be enriched in our relationships with You.

We bring all these prayers before you in Jesus’ name, Amen

Bible Reading I Peter 2:1-12

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like new-born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’ Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Lord the light of Your love is shining’

The Message pre-recorded version from Wit Boondeekhun

The Message I Peter 2:12:  ‘Let your light shine’

Good morning. I am delighted to be able to share with you this morning.

First of all, thank you for your faithfulness in supporting us through prayers and finance. Thank God for your generous gift that we have received.

We thank God for his Word. In such a time like this, during the Covid crisis, we are facing many challenges, but God’s Word reminds us of what is important:

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2.12

Basically, God says that we should let our lives shine for Jesus. Live such a good life among those who do not know Jesus. Five years ago, we started our journey in going to plant a church amongst the indigenous Thai Buddhists, and we believe that He called us to live in the village of Wang Daeng, Uttaradit, Thailand. Thank God for his faithfulness to his promise, “Do not give up in doing good, if you don’t feel discouraged, when it’s the opportune time, you will reap the harvest.” Galatians 6.9, because now we have begun to see some fruit.

These are the questions we asked ourselves when we came to live in Wang Daeng:

Can people see Jesus in our lives?

Do we give honour and glory to Jesus in what we do and say?

The Apostle Paul instructed Timothy when he was a pastor at the church in Ephesus: “Command and teach these things. Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4.11-12

As for us, God calls us to bear fruit. Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15.16)

We can see which one is a good tree when we see its good fruit.

God wants our lives to be transformed, so that we can shine the light of Jesus to others.

There are three ingredients for shining the light of Jesus:

1. We need to have a passion for the lost, just as Jesus did when He wept over the city of Jerusalem. He came to seek for the lost. Like the parable of the lost sheep, He left the 99 and went out to find the one lost sheep.

BMS vision is: The highest goal of everything we say and do is to bring people to faith in our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and an experience the abundant life that only Jesus can provide.

When we meet with friends, neighbours, family or relatives, we should plan to share God’s love with them and tell them about the Good News.

2. We need to be motivated by God’s love. Paul says that God’s love compelled him to evangelise. Human love is limited but God’s love is limitless. God loves us to the end, even though the hardship and sacrifice that he had to make to die on the cross. I have asked the Lord ‘How many times do I need to forgive the people that I have reached out to?’ Because many times they accuse me of doing wrong, they reject me, or they refuse to listen to me because they know I am a Christian. If I was relying on my human love, I would have quit already, but God’s love that I ask him to keep pouring out on me, has enabled me to keep on loving. Here are some wonderful words from Amy Carmichael, a great missionary to India. She said, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

3. We are to be peacemakers. Do not get into an argument. You will never win people through your argument. If you win arguments but you lose people – what’s the point? Just swallow up your pride, even though you may be right. Do not get mad or angry, when you are accused of doing wrong. People often try to find fault with us because they know that we are Christians, but thank God, He has protected us and blessed us to be a blessing to people.

Our purpose of being a follower of Jesus is to make Jesus known, and to bring Him glory. This means that people should be able to see Jesus in our lifestyle.

We need to live in such a way that those who know us, but do not know God, will come to know God, because they know us.

This should be our plan, to let our lives shine for God. Let us be ‘donkeys’ for Jesus. Lord please use us to be witnesses for you, to share God’s love with others, and to share the Good News of Jesus with others.

Lord, help us to have a passion for the lost, help us to be motivated by God’s love, and make us to be peacemakers for you.

We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’

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: ‘To God be the glory’

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord that You have called us to live our daily lives in such a way that other people may see our good deeds and glorify God. Thank You for this reminder that our attitudes, speech and action should be honouring to You. Strengthen us by the aid of the Holy Spirit to live this way in the coming week, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen 

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – 16 May 2021

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

This service is led today by Helen Rice with Rev Gary Torbet preaching the message

Call to worship

Praise the Lord O my soul
All my inmost being, praise His holy name
Praise the Lord O my soul
And forget not all his benefits
Who forgives all your sins and heals all you diseases
Who redeems your life from the pit
And crowns with love and compassion
Who satisfies your desires with good things
So that your youth is renewed like the eagles

Psalm 103; 1- 5

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  Amen.

Galatians 2: 20

Our opening song of praise and worship is:O Praise the Name (Anastasis)’

Opening Prayer:

Loving Heavenly Father, Indeed we praise your name Jesus, we say Praise the Lord O my soul. As we gather before you today, we ask that we remember who you are God, that we might come into your Holy Presence. That we might come into your Holy Presence God. Who are we that, you care for us, you have created us and all that is within creation. May we lift our heads, to you our risen King today, our King who stooped so low in ultimate humility to save us.

Father we pray for our worship today – our songs, our prayers, the testimony we hear. As we gather around your word to reflect on what it means to be your disciples. Forgive us our sins afresh and by the power of your Holy Spirit, mould us into the people you call us to be, “For such a time as this”. We want to see you glorified Jesus in our church, in our lives. We want to see you name lifted high Jesus, and revered and hallowed again across this land. But we are here now Lord, praising you, have your way among us today – speak to us, challenge us we pray. For we pray all of this in the mighty and powerful name of Jesus.  Amen.

All Age Talk      ‘What is a Disciple?’   Helen Rice

In the message Gary is going to share with us an aspect of discipleship.

But what is a disciple?

If you want to learn something new, finding a good teacher is very important. Perhaps you want to learn to play the piano. Wouldn’t you want to spend time with the best teacher you could find? You would watch your teacher play the piano, listen to instructions, learn to read music, and hear what the music sounds like, and through practice you would try to copy what you have seen and heard.

Maybe you would like to learn how to build things. You could find a joiner who could teach you how to use various tools, how to work with wood, how to follow instructions and design.

When you study and spend time with someone who is helping you learn a new skill you may be called an apprentice or a disciple.

Jesus had 12 disciples; they were his followers. In the bible we see how Jesus teaches His disciples, and they faithfully follow Him wherever Jesus goes, spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God. Jesus trains them how to be more like him so they can continue his work when his is no longer with them.

In Matthew 28 verse 19, Jesus spoke with the men who were his followers and told them, “Go, and make disciples of all nations…”. He tells his followers to carry on his work and help others learn about God’s love. This is referred to as the Great Commission.

This invitation is extended to us as well. We can all be disciples of Jesus, learning how to receive God’s love and how to offer God’s love to others.

This next video gives us an example of what Discipleship can look like when we follow the command that Jesus made to his followers; to share His love and Hope and make disciples of all nations.

For the children there is a printable colouring sheet. It has D for disciple on it along with the 12 disciples’ names. As a follower of Jesus, you could add your name to the sheet too.

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

We come with grateful hearts for Your blessings to us over the past week. We continue to remember the many people in countries with fewer resources than in our country who are struggling to provide even basic food supplies and medical care at this time. We are also aware that several million people are on waiting lists in our own land to receive initial medical appointments or scans or surgery for sometimes quite serious medical conditions. We pray that You would give strength and assurance to those feeling particularly anxious at this time. Also, we pray for wisdom for the NHS staff who are seeking to reduce the length of time people are waiting to be seen after the backlog that has built up over the past year.  

We also continue to 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.

God, we thank You for the vaccine for Covid-19 and the protection it is bringing to the most vulnerable in our society. However, we pray against those who are intent on trying to prey on the vulnerable with many different scams at this time. God shine Your light on these crimes and bring forth Your justice.

We give thanks for church leadership teams and ministers today as they have worked hard over this season to give pastoral support and direction to their congregation. We pray that You would bless leaders and may they know today refreshment for their souls.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Chris Withers (Army Chaplain, Ripon) – We pray for Chris as he journeys with the recruits in the barracks in Ripon and as he seeks to listen, support and encourage them. We pray for opportunities for him to be able to share the gospel with the recruits.

Drumchapel BC – We pray for the church fellowship in Drumchapel as they seek to be salt and light to their community at this time.

Dumbarton BC – We pray for Dumbarton Baptist Church as they reach out to their community with the love of Jesus. We pray for wisdom and guidance for the church as they witness during this season of restriction due to the pandemic.

We come to pray for the needs in our own congregation:

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 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, Amen

Bible Reading Luke 14:1-14:

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, He was being carefully watched. There in front of Him was a man suffering from abnormal swelling of his body. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?’ But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, He healed him and sent him on his way.

Then He asked them, ‘If one of you has a child or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull it out?’ And they had nothing to say.

When He noticed how the guests picked the places of honour at the table, He told them this parable: ‘When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honour, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, “Give this person your seat.” Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, “Friend, move up to a better place.” Then you will be honoured in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’

12 Then Jesus said to His host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Yet not I but through Christ in me’

Message          “Signs of Discipleship 1: Lessons from Jesus in Humility” 

Series on “Signs of Discipleship: 1 – Lessons from Jesus in Humility”

Introduction

It is so lovely to be here again and to be with you at Panmurefield Baptist Centre and also everyone else joining in at home on Zoom.

Today and then on two Sundays in July I am going to do a series on “Signs of Discipleship” from the Gospel of Luke Chapter 14, and today we primarily focus on “Lessons by Jesus on Humility”

Just in this one little chapter, Jesus teaching gives us a fascinating and challenging insight into what it means to be a “disciple” of Jesus, for you see calling yourself a “Christian” means nothing if you are not a disciple of Jesus, for that is what biblically, a Christian is.

It says in Acts 11; 26 “And the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch”

Context

So, to start let us try and understand a bit of context, what is the backdrop to the story as this feeds into a better understanding of what Jesus is teaching at this stage and why?

Jesus, has been invited to dinner by the Pharisees, who were some of the religious leaders in the day, and you would think, “That is very nice of them – what a lovely thing to do” One would think?

However we need to notice in v1, “One Sabbath day….and the people were watching him closely” and we also notice in v2 “There was a man whose arms and legs were swollen” a sick man who had obviously been brought there at the invitation of the Pharisee as host. 

We need to not miss and notice that it is Sabbath – that a sick man was there – invited by the Pharisee – Why?  Because they were seeking to trap Jesus into what they saw as “wrong-doing” and discredit him.   You see for the Pharisees and as it says “experts in the religious law”, the Sabbath was about necessity – if something could not be delayed – it was allowed, but if something could be delayed until after the Sabbath it was forbidden – and remember that the Sabbath was meant to be a “Hold Day unto the Lord”.

So Jesus turned their question into another question “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath?”  They refused to answer, “Silence from the Pharisees, from the experts in the law”– I thought they were experts?  You see they knew that if they said “Yes” they would be law breakers of their own law, and if they said “No” they would be seen as heartless.

So what does Jesus do,he touches the sick man, releases him from his sickness and sends him on his way.  Jesus, asks what is “permitted on the Sabbath” and as there is no response, Jesus shows that healing the man on the Sabbath is not simply permitted BUT REQUIRED!

The Pharisees, the so called “religious leaders” are “mute” before the authority of Jesus – Jesus was actually inviting them to “come off mute” – and they could not because they had no answer to his scriptural logic and compassion!!

V6 “Again they could not answer”  reminds Luke’s readers then and us now, that there are people like the Pharisees who call upon Jesus, knowing who is, invite him to dinner, sit in His presence, even listen to His teachings and yet remain silent in the face of his concrete and clear call to discipleship and in this situation, to help a fellow human being who is in need!

I don’t know how many of you watch “Line of Duty”, which came to a conclusion a couple of weeks ago, but some of you might know the mantra of Detective Inspector Ted Hastings “There is only one thing I am interested in, which is to catch bent coppers”  Police officers who are meant to representing the law and justice but their criminal actions do the opposite.

You see the people of Israel and especially religious leaders were meant to be “bearer of both God’s name Yawheh and His image” to others and Jesus was seeking to and being successful in exposing people who were meant to be living in a way to represent God’s holiness, his justice, his standards and live out his love – but were clearly not.  This brings us back to the focus of this chapter in Luke 14, “Signs of Discipleship”, being “image bearers of Jesus” and what are some of the key components of following Jesus and living these out authentically.

The Pharisees and the “experts in religious law” are full of their own self-importance and adherence to man-made rules and Jesus now turns to story-telling, to sharing parables, prompted by the contrast between the self-righteous contentment of the Pharisee and the afflicted sick man.  He does this to illustrate what is wrong and he warns now against the folly of self-promotion which is the root of the problem for the Pharisees.

Humility

So we now turn to Jesus teaching on Humility and we see in v 7 “those who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honour near the head of the table”

You see banquets were public exhibitions of the social status of guests, the social pre-eminence was signified by proximity to the host – an obscure seat distant from the host was an unfavourable position.

It is, if we admit it, part of human nature to be first but Jesus insight tells us that there is danger in the undignified clamour for the best seats – and now Jesus is specifically teaching us in the way of being a disciple, and one of these signs is to exhibit HUMILITY.

As we will celebrate later in the service, in the laying down of his life for us, Jesus set the ultimate example in this!

The advice Jesus gives us here is that when a man succeeds in finding for HIMSELF THAT PLACE OF HONOUR,  you, me anyone run the risk that later another guest may have more claim to it – in the eyes of the host, and then might end up in the lowest place, with all the shame and loss of face implied.

As we see in v10 “Instead, take the lowest place.  Then when the host sees you, he will come and say “Friend we have a better place for you” The way to get to the top is to start at the bottom – if a man/woman, me, you chooses the lowest place as we put others importance in front of ours – the only way we can go is up!!

V11 says “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted”

Jesus is teaching his disciples and us, to be genuinely humble.  The truly humble man or woman will finish up where we ought to be and receive the honour that is due – that is the way of Jesus, the way of true exaltation is humility.

What is God saying to you, to me, to us today?

What is God through his word, not me, for the word of God speaks for itself, speaking into our souls?

How is God challenging us to be transformed more into his image this week – by increasing our humility.

And where does Jesus take us next, but in an outworking of what humility is like in practice – and one of the ways is to show radical hospitality,

So in other words Humility leading to hospitality!

In v 12 – 14 “Don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbours for they will invite you back.  Instead invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind.”

We see Jesus deepening his emphasis on hospitality, but maybe not just in the way we are comfortable with, Jesus, in a way takes it a step further.

Humility in hospitality – Jesus is teaching here that another hallmark of discipleship, is to show hospitality to either those who cannot repay or without the need for a return invitation!

Jesus is saying to us “when I am willing to put myself in the lowest position and show humility in Christ”– it then needs to extend into how we are living our lives – the practical outworking – which includes hospitality – which is the way of Christ.

Hospitality is great isn’t it – and a really good thing to do and how I long to have my amazing Youth Ministry team round for a meal – something that so many of us have so missed during the pandemic – round for them to have a meal, where we create community, build team, have some food and then pray and plan together. 

So yes it is good to do, but what Jesus is teaching here and the question he asked then and ask us now is “do we only offer hospitality to those from whom will come a return invitation?” But go deeper in your devotion to Christ and invite those who cannot repay you – WOW!!

Isn’t that amazing “Ok, so now yes I get it Jesus – If I’m claiming to be your follower, you’re disciple – out of my response to your grace and salvation – that is how you asking me to live – so that I can be a true “image bearer” of Jesus” to others.

Barclay the theologian puts it like this;

“If we give to receive reward, we will receive no reward, but if we give with no thought of reward  – our reward is certain”, as it says in verse 14 and these are the words of Jesus himself – “For GOD will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”  Amen!

Now I get it Lord!  Ok now Lord in the Power of your Holy Spirit help me on the other 6 days of this week, help me to live like that!

Application

So before we come to a worship song, for the Lord to confirm what He is saying to you – How can we apply the scriptures that we are reading today and take this into our week;

  1. Let us not be like the Pharisees – Is our “religious” practice or even the concept we have of what it means to follow Jesus wrapped up in adherence of rules of men rather than a vibrant, dynamic, Holy Spirit filled relationship with you creator – through Jesus Christ.

You see the Jews of Jesus time have no monopoly on inconsistent beliefs.

Is the one above, God someone we acknowledge when it suits us, but we largely ignore, we claim to be “Christian” while denying what Christ says we ought to be?

Do some people believe and yet pay lip service to a “religion” that they neither have patience for or the courage and intention to follow, be it an hour at most at church on a Sunday??

As Barclay again comments “The man who wishes to pass through the narrow door of salvation, will have to discard such half baked religious notions before he can do so.”

  1. Lessons on Humility from Jesus

And the link today you see is from how he saw the hearts of the “religious” the Pharisee, and how he teaches into our hearts – what he desires of us “Lord I give you my heart”

Where should our hearts be, as we give him our hearts and lives – a starting place is Humility – for the way to true exaltation is humility – let us this week follow the teaching of Jesus and his example in humility.

As the theologian Edwards illustrates;

“Christian discipleship is not self-promotion but freedom from it, freedom from self-obsession first – It trusts in the God who call us to give us our personal identity and honour and from there establish our place and purpose in life.”

  1. And finally deepening humility in our hospitality this week – call people to your “banquet” that God calls you to invite – and you will be blessed!!

The Greek word “agape” is to give freely without thought of return, so in our discipleship & humility – who can you invite round for tea and a cake  – and maybe for a meal – maybe someone lonely in our fellowship – hopefully all going well on Monday with Nicola’s announcement last week, whilst maybe yes with social distancing and ventilation!  But could we do that? An exercise in humility and hospitality!

Wouldn’t it be great if the 40-50 people here or on the call were to out in humility this week and seek to be a blessing, where possible, in offering hospitality?

So what is God saying to you today, in our next song “Lord I give you my heart” let us listen to the Holy Spirit and see what is God calling to us this week.

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.

Firstly I will read from;

Philippians 2:5-11

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[
b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Let us leave a time of quiet to reflect on these words.

 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: Facing a task unfinished (we go to all the World)

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord for this opportunity today to gather in Your presence to worship You. Thank You also for the opportunity to meet and pray together as well as to hear and reflect upon Your Holy Word.  Help us this week to live in a way that honours You and is a blessing to others around us, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – 9 May 2021

Intimations

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

The monthly prayer livestream takes place on Sunday 2 June, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.  

This service is led today by Alan McRobbie

Call to worship: Colossians 1:13-20:

For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.

Our opening song of praise and worship is: See What A Morning’

Opening Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we rejoice that once more we are privileged to enter into Your holy presence in the wonderful name of Your Son our Saviour Jesus of whom Paul wrote: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Thank You for the cross; thank You for the sacrifice of Jesus in our place to reconcile us to You and You to us. Thank You for Your undeserving loving-kindness that has provided this amazing gift of salvation that is a free gift available to all who by faith receive it. We come once more seeking the forgiveness of our sins and the fresh empowering of the Holy Spirit as we begin another new week. Speak to us Lord through the songs that are sung, together with the reading and proclamation of Your Word, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen  

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

All Age Talk               A Loving Warning by Alan McRobbie

Have you noticed that loving warnings from those who have authority are all around us? Our parents or those who care for us lovingly warn us to protect us from harm, to keep us safe or to safeguard our future. The National Health Service lovingly warns us not to smoke cigarettes, to be physically active and to eat healthily to protect us from poor health. The Government lovingly warns us during the pandemic to wear face masks, to keep 2 metres apart and to restrict contact with others to reduce the risk of harm from the spread of COVID-19. But some of us might see these loving warnings as being told what to do and think. We resist and want to do things our own way which can sometimes lead to disastrous results for us or for others.

Jesus too gives us a loving warning. He has told us about how human sin separates us from a right relationship with God and what the disastrous results are for each one of us. His loving warning also tells us how we can be saved from the disastrous results of being eternally separated from God.

The Narrow and Wide Gates

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

This passage teaches us that the way to Heaven has only one way, but many find this difficult to accept or act upon. It is easy to follow our own way, but hard to give up everything and follow God’s way.  Giving up everything to follow God’s way is the narrow road in life through the narrow gate.  It cannot be done by ourselves, but we are able to do this with God’s help and worth the end result, which is Heaven with our Heavenly Father. Jesus told us to enter through the narrow gate. He says that he is the gate. We enter the gate by allowing Jesus to be our Master. When we surrender everything to him, then we walk along the narrow road. If we do not choose to have Jesus as Master of our lives, then which door do we chose? The wide one and that road, Jesus says, leads to destruction.

Please watch this short children’s video on the Narrow and Wide Gates at this link:

When you look at this video, my question to you is do you think Jesus’ words are there to save you from your sinful human nature that separates you from God or to ruin your life? Are his words the most unpleasant words said to you or the most loving warning you have ever heard? Jesus came to lovingly warn us and to rescue us. He is pointing to the one and only way to be in a right relationship with God. Is he being narrow-minded? Yes! Not because there are other ways to God but because he, as God the Son who knows more than we do, is saying that He is the only one who can save us. One day, you and I will have an appointment with Jesus Christ that we will not miss nor be late for. We will be asked to give an account of how we have lived (Romans 14:12). What will you do at that point? Has your sin been dealt with by Jesus? Are you ready to meet him?

If you want to walk through the narrow gate, contact Brian Talbot who will talk you through what is required.

All Age Song ‘Shine from the inside out’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

Once more we pray for the people of India and any other country that is struggling to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. We pray that the medical staff seeking to treat so many patients will be strengthened to continue their work and that may be provided with the medical equipment and vaccines needed to address this situation. We also pray for wisdom for the NHS and Social Care staff in our own country as we progress through this time of further change and openness as the pandemic recedes in our own country.   

We also 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 for those who have been elected to office in England Scotland and Wales at the different levels of government last week. We pray that they may be able to work effectively in their respective communities for the good of all who live and work there.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

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 are thankful that despite the challenges of lockdown God has been growing His church in Dennistoun and bringing us together for prayer more than ever before. We pray that as they are about to purchase a new building in the area of Riddrie and as they reach out into this new area, that they would be equipped in every way for this exciting next step as a church.

Denny BC – We give God thanks with them for His continued faithfulness and guidance over the past year. We pray for their recent appointment of an Interim Minister who will help and support the church in the next phase of their work. We also pray for the leaders and congregation as they seek to serve God in Denny

Dingwall BC – We pray for the church family of Dingwall Baptist as they meet together to worship God and serve the local community in different ways.

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 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, Amen

Bible Reading II Corinthians 10:1-18

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ towards you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ 11 Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God Himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Jesus hope of the nations’

The Message

Pre-recorded version of the message

II Corinthians 10 How do we handle unjust criticism?

Introduction

Words matter! What we say and our body language as we express it is important. In the modern age where words and actions can be recorded on a wide variety of devices, the choices we make can have a very long life online. In our multi-media age images can be incredibly powerful. In the Vietnam War in the 1950s to 1970s one image, that of Vietnamese girl Kim Phúc stands out as a window into the horrors of that conflict. The picture taken of her aged nine, together with others, fleeing a napalm bombing raid of the South Vietnamese Airforce on June 8, 1972. That image was taken by a well-known Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. Imagine how much more powerful that and other images from that dreadful war might have been in our internet age. However, it conveyed so powerfully legitimate criticism of the indiscriminate use of chemical munitions on a largely civilian population. On Wednesday evening 5 May 2021 Chelsea played Real Madrid in the Champions League Semi-final. After the game, former Chelsea player Eden Hazard was pictured smiling as he chatted with Chelsea players. A charitable explanation of the images would be that he was very sporting offering congratulations to the other team who had won the fixture. However, particularly in the Spanish media, suspicions were raised that he was being too friendly with former teammates; maybe they believed that it was linked to his poor performance in the game! Compared to the former image, this was one that will fade from memory soon, but the story around it raised the question of unfair comments being made about the actions of this individual.  In I Corinthians 10 we see how Paul had been viewed by some individuals in the congregation at Corinth, as well as his critics from Judea. Their opinions expressed so openly were less than fair, but they were having an unsettling effect on a proportion of the congregation and could no longer be ignored. The difficulty, for Paul then and other people at other times, is how we react to this kind of situation.      

1. Their criticisms of Paul (II Corinthians 10:1-7a)

By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you – I, Paul, who am ‘timid’ when face to face with you, but ‘bold’ towards you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be towards some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.You are judging by appearances. 

What was going on that caused this problem? There were a number of issues that contributed to this conflict. There were cultural issues and some religious differences as well. We have only limited information on which to make a judgement, but it is possible to highlight some of the differences. In the two letters in the New Testament addressed to the Church at Corinth it is clear that there were some doctrinal beliefs they held that Paul sought to address as well as issues of conduct. There were also problems over how the church leaders had been conducting worship services, especially concerning the observance of the Lord’s Supper after their shared evening meal each Sunday. However, in the last four chapters of II Corinthians the focus is on the person of Paul and his leadership style.

   A proportion of this congregation in Corinth had warmed to the triumphalist rhetoric of the visitors from Judea. As we have noted in earlier studies in II Corinthians, they had brought with them glowing testimonials about the effectiveness of their ministries. They had boasted about their amazing spiritual experiences which were claimed as a validation of their ministries. It is possible that they were trying to take some credit from work that others had accomplished for the Lord as well. There is no doubt that their ministry style was incredibly different to that of Paul. They were very much into self-promotion, highlighting their apparent success in ministry, in contrast to Paul who kept pointing people to his wonderful Lord and Saviour. Their messages would have highlighted spiritual power and victorious Christian living, stressing their overcoming of the challenges they experienced. Of course, to some degree there is truth in these claims, but it is not the whole story. They were neglecting Christ-like qualities of meekness or gentleness; or teaching about servanthood and humility. Passages such as Philippians chapter two where Paul speaks about the humility of Jesus as God’s servant, even at a cost of death by crucifixion would have been absent from their messages. Of course, we have answers to prayer and encouragements as we serve the Lord, but there are also times when things don’t go the way we would wish. Are our prayers a failure when God’s answer is not what we wanted? Absolutely not! Remember Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:41-42: He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 ‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. Jesus would have preferred a different answer to that prayer. There is a costly obedience at times as we walk in the way of Jesus. Remember, in Mark chapter 8:34-35: what Jesus said to His first disciples: Then He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it.  Paul’s opponents wanted highlight the final victory of God at the end of the age, but they were unwilling to admit that living the way Jesus lived in the present can be incredibly difficult at times. In parts of the world then and now there are Christians who die simply because they are followers of Jesus. Others face serious difficulties or actual persecution. Paul, himself, in II Corinthians highlights the hardships he has faced as a follower of Jesus and he will be more explicit about what he had endured in the next chapter of this letter. Does Paul try to overpower his critics in his response? No! By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you (II Corinthians 10:1a). Paul wanted to win over the people to whom he was writing more than winning an argument. He could, and later did mention his spiritual experiences in II Corinthians chapter twelve, but he sought gently to persuade them to adopt the way of Jesus.     

   It is not just Paul who acted in this way in the Early Church. In I Peter 3:15-18a the apostle Peter reminded his Turkish readers how they should share their faith with other people.  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.

In evangelism or pastoral work or any other form of ministry with other people we will only be fruitful in that service with the attitudes commended here by Peter and by Paul. The dominant coercive style may appear to work in some settings in the short term, but it is not an approach commended by our Lord and master. Good relationships are based on mutual respect. Effective team-working is based on a shared commitment to accomplishing agreed goals in so many different contexts, not just in church life.   

      How do we seek to live effectively as a Christian? Paul addresses this point in II Corinthians 10:3-4: The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Paul has already highlighted the attitude we should adopt, by the humility and gentleness of Christ, but he goes on to highlight the approach we should adopt. In the context of the pagan world then and in our secular world today we see too often the ‘might is right’ approach where individuals in positions of power use that influence in inappropriate ways to get their message across. It can happen in families, church families, businesses or even countries, such as China with Hong Kong and Taiwan or Russia with Ukraine and some other neighbouring countries. People might say to us in so many contexts that thinking of others as well as of ourselves will hinder our cause. It may in the short-term. When Jesus’ earthly ministry was completed, how many followers were left to start the Christian Church?  It was a rather small number considering the task before them. Was His work a success or a failure?  We all know the answer to that! There are Christians all over the world. The total number has increased year after year. Numbers aren’t everything, but they are an important measure of the effectiveness of our work. Paul’s message here is abundantly clear. Do not be deterred from doing Jesus’ work, Jesus’ way. Let others have their slick marketing and image campaigns, but never deviate from our clear calling as Christians. We are all commissioned to take the whole gospel to the whole world. We have an integrated holistic mission. Naturally, we want to keep our focus on the most important things. The most important of all is people coming to faith in Jesus and committing to living as His followers. However, an integrated holistic gospel includes seeking to meet the needs of people around us and of taking good care of the planet on which we live. We must keep our focus on being God’s people, proclaiming God’s message, living God’s way, in God’s world, entrusted to our stewardship. 

2. Paul’s response to his critics (II Corinthians 10:7b-11)

If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’ 11 Such people should realise that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

Paul has already hinted in this letter part of the problem in Corinth. In his previous letter to them he made the following point: Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign – and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honoured, we are dishonoured! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world – right up to this moment (I Corinthians 4:8-13). I can easily imagine Paul preaching these words! There had been a disconnect between their acceptance of the faith Paul proclaimed when the church was founded and their understanding of it under the influence of other preachers who held triumphalist ideas about how the Christian life ought to be lived.  At its heart was a failure to hold firmly to the ‘now, but not yet’ aspects of the kingdom of God. The kingdom or rule of God that began in the life and ministry of Jesus was and is a foretaste of the perfect eternal kingdom of God beyond this life. Then in that perfect world there will be no sorrow or sickness, or all the other things that we might have to face at the present time, besides a virus pandemic! But we must not confuse life in God’s new creation with the first glimpses of it in the here and now. In this world, Christians can suffer ill health or from famine just like other citizens who do not share our faith. We can catch the covid-19 virus and even die from it just like anyone else in the world. Or in other countries where there is serious religious persecution and killing like Nigeria or Somalia, Christians know that they might experience it and a small minority be martyrs for their faith. The apostle Paul is very clear that the advocacy of a prosperity gospel where a few Christian leaders are incredibly rich living lives of luxury while millions of brothers and sisters barely survive is incompatible with the way of Jesus. The servant of God does not desire great titles, fame or status, but instead has a passion for reaching those who need Jesus by speaking and living out the gospel in many different ways. Paul could so easily have claimed Christian celebrity status. He was almost certainly one of the most intellectually able thinkers in the Early Christian Church. He had been a star pupil at the higher education institution in Jerusalem. He was a Roman Citizen. This was a prize status few possessed in the Empire. Even the Commander of the Roman Garrison in Jerusalem at the time of Paul’s arrest in the mid-first century AD had found it hard to obtain. The purchase of it was very expensive. Paul calmly reminded him that he was born a citizen. This disclosure caused Paul, then under arrest for his faith, to be treated very differently (See Acts 22:23-28). Yet Paul deliberately played down his higher social class background or any other privileges he had possessed.  The way of Jesus was the way of humility, pointing people to his wonderful Lord and Saviour, rather than creating a culture where church members thought what a great man Paul is. This approach is the way Jesus lived and one He commends to us today. We invite others to join us on the journey of faith as equals, following our Lord Jesus in the way He directed us to live. 

    Paul was not particularly concerned by what others thought of him or his reputation. He did correct or challenge some misrepresentations of his beliefs or behaviour, and on occasions was happy to defend himself in a court of law. In the latter case, he was almost certainly seeking legal confirmation that Christians were free to practice their faith.  A good example occurred in Corinth in the 50sAD in Corinth. For example, some Jews brought a case at the highest court in the region of Achaia (a Greek region –similar to Tayside in Scotland), claiming that what Paul was doing was unlawful, before the Proconsul Gallio. It was an overwhelming victory for Paul as Gallio made it clear in his judgement that the remit of that court did not include restricting the practise of the Jewish faith or any other religion (Acts 18:12-17). From Paul, we learn that there are times when for the benefit of the wider Christian Church court cases may need to be undertaken reluctantly. 

    He was most reluctant to respond publicly to criticisms of his appearance or his preaching. 

A short work from some years later contained a descript of Paul’s appearance: ‘At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a small stature with meeting eyebrows, bald [or shaved] head, bow- legged, strongly built, hollow-eyed, with a large crooked nose.’ [Acts of Paul and Thecla, written between 68 and 98AD] In Corinth, they liked their public speakers to be tall and handsome with charismatic personalities and individuals who possessed great skills in oratory, able to move a crowd to depths of emotion. Paul certainly impressed the country people in Lystra (Acts 14:8-13), but mainly as a result of a local man being miraculously healed after Paul prayed for him, but it was a different matter altogether in cities like Athens or Corinth where there were plenty of well-trained public speakers. Paul was following in the footsteps of Jesus who rarely defended Himself in the face of unjust accusations or ill-treatment such as in His trials before Herod and the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate (Luke 23:6-12; John 19:8-10). What can we learn from Paul and apply to our contemporary context?  I think were he alive today that he would advise us to be wise in what we say on social media and certainly not respond to foolish comments that someone may have fired off without any proper thought. He would also be likely to advise us to take a little time to think carefully about why we want to respond and what we hope to accomplish by doing so.  It can be quite disastrous in our instant age to fire back responses that we might later regret. In the days when everything was communicated by pen and paper, a wise approach might be to write down what was on your heart in a letter to the other person, but to sleep on it and re-read what you had written the next day before considering whether to post it or not. Paul was a good example of giving careful thought about when and how to reply to criticisms of his ministry. Other people will have a range of opinions for and against what we say and do, just as we have our views on the words and actions of others as well. Paul wanted to take time to reflect on how his course of action would reflect on his Lord and Saviour. Could I imagine that Jesus would want me to think, speak or act in this way? We will not gain definitive answers with this kind of reasoning, but it may help us avoid impulsive reactions when others have hurt us by their words or actions.  Paul was certainly not a ‘door-mat’ allowing others to ‘walk all over him’, but he took time to frame his responses in the hope of restoring or retaining relationships, rather than in seeking to win an argument. The example of his communications with the church in Corinth show that even in quite unpromising circumstances, as here, his patient careful communications with them led to a restoration of relations with the vast majority of that congregation. God will honour us as we endeavour to live this way, although there are no guarantees concerning the outcome of our efforts. However, if we seek to honour the Lord by living in this way we will have done as much as is possible to resolve difficult situations.       

3. Paul’s understanding of the bigger picture (II Corinthians 12:12-18)

(a)Improper boasting (II Corinthians 10:12) We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. Paul was reminding the Christians in Corinth about self-awareness. The person who needs to tell other people how wonderful they are, because no-one else has noticed has a problem! His critics from Judea were full of their own importance. All of us have met some people like that over the years. It is not a nice experience. None of us are better than other people. You and I are created in God’s image and therefore have a dignity and worth just like every other person who is alive. However, as well as accepting that wonderful truth, we need to live in a way that gives others their rightful place as well. I don’t want to succeed at a cost of denigrating other people. I want to make fair judgements about what they say and do. I will seek to think before I speak because I want to build up others by my words and actions not tear them down. When I have genuine criticisms to make, I will do my best to find something else to highlight that they do well or express my thoughts in such a way that communicates that my concerns are about a particular statement or action or course of action not an attack on the person in question. I will do it with a full awareness that I am an imperfect person who also will at times make mistakes in my attitudes, words or actions. My aim will always be to seek to build others up in my interactions with them. I will be able to do this better if I am self-aware of my own strengths and weaknesses.         

(b)Legitimate boasting (II Corinthians 10:13-18) 13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God Himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. 15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. There is a place for legitimate commendation of our own work. You could not succeed at a job interview without doing so! However, as Paul sets out the legitimate grounds for highlighting his own successes in ministry and that of his fellow team members, he points to the fact that it is fine to state accurately what we have accomplished. So, for example, a person in business can point to work done for other clients; they can rightly point the enquirer to satisfied customers who can testify on their behalf. A funding proposal for a research grant in a university setting might allow the writer to draw attention to the success of work done as a result of previous grants, something of particular importance if they are returning to seek further funding from that particular source. In his particular context, the problems were caused by critics from Judea who were so full of their own importance and wanted the church members in Corinth to recognise their greatness in comparison to the inadequate Paul! Here Paul has been willing where appropriate to address issues raised in his letters to this church that in time led to a resolution of the tensions that had arisen. However, he was uncomfortable boasting about his legitimate achievements, but was much more comfortable pointing people to his wonderful Lord and Saviour. This is why he concludes this section of the letter in this way: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. It is a point that we may also seek to bear in mind as we respond to the criticisms of others, Amen.       

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘More about Jesus would I know’

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: Amazing Grace (My Chains are gone)

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord for Your amazing grace given to us.  We are so thankful that You modelled for us how to live our lives not only when things are going well, but also in the toughest of times. Your prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Your crucifixion is an inspiration and a challenge to us all to live with that same desire of pleasing our heavenly Father in our attitudes, speech and conduct. Guide and direct us through all the circumstances we will experience this week, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen  

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – Sunday 2 May 2021

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

JAM young adults have a separate programme Breakthru 7:00am-8:00pm
Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com 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.

“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.
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:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them.

Introduction;

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’

Opening Prayer:

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

Heavenly Father,

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:

Heavenly Father,

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,

Amen.

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. 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. 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. 

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. 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.

Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. 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. 

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’

The Message

II Corinthians 9:1-15 The pattern for giving

Introduction

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. 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. 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. 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’

Closing Prayer:

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

Church at Home – 25 April 2021

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

JAM young adults have a separate programme JAM 11:30am-12:30pm
Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details.

Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream
The monthly prayer livestream takes place next on Sunday 2 May, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.  

This service is led today by Helen Rice

Call to worship: Psalm 25 (selection of verses)

Come, lift up your hearts to the Lord!
To You, O Lord, we lift up our hearts!
In You we trust!
Do not let us be put to shame.
Our God is full of compassionate love.

He brings sinners back to His way,
and teaches the humble the way they should go.
Show us the right path, O Lord;
point out the way for us to follow.

Lead us by Your truth, and teach us,
for You are the God who saves.
We put our hope in You!

Opening song of praise and worship

Opening Prayer:

Lord we come with joy in our hearts today assured by Your amazing love for us revealed through Your Son our Saviour Jesus. We come to You our Father both because we have been encouraged to do so by You, but also because as Your children we take delight in spending this short time at the start of each new week in Your presence alongside other members of Your family. Thank You for the grace that we have needed to get us through the past week. Thank You for Your patience in those times when we have failed to live for You as we should. At the start of another new week we come seeking the forgiveness of our sins and the fresh empowering by Your Holy Spirit to equip and enable us for all that lies before us. Speak we pray to our hearts and minds as we come to worship You today, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

All Age Talk  Helen Rice – Moses and the Burning Bush

When Moses was a young man, he was living as a prince in Egypt, but when he was older, he ran away from Egypt after committing a crime. Moses went from being a prince to being a pauper. Moses wandered in the desert, until he met and married his wife, and there he went to work as a Shepherd for his father-in-law. And that’s when something amazing happened!

One day whilst tending the flock of sheep Moses led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the Mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush.

Moses stared in amazement, although the bush was engulfed in flames it didn’t burn up! Moses edged forward to check out this burning miracle, and as he got closer something even crazier happened, God spoke to Moses through the burning bush.

God said, “Moses! Moses!”
“Here I am”, Moses replied.

God said to Moses, “Do not come any closer, take off your sandals, for you are standing on Holy Ground. I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Can you imagine Moses confusion? A bush is on fire, but not really! And then a voice calls out his name!

God continued to speak to Moses, “You are Moses, the man I have chosen to lead my people out of Egypt.” At this time God’s people, the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. God wanted Moses to lead them out of Egypt and to set his people free.

Moses cried, “But I’ve been kicked out of Egypt I can’t just go back!”

Moses thought God had chosen the wrong guy! Moses said, “Who am I to lead the people out of Egypt?” God replied, “You must do it Moses, I have heard my peoples’ cries. I have chosen you to lead them and I will be with you. I will lead them out to a good fertile land.” 

Moses was worried, “What if they won’t believe me?” “Throw your staff on the ground”, God instructed. Moses threw his staff down and it turned into a wriggling snake.

Then God ordered him to pick it up. Moses wrapped a shaking hand around the snake, and it turned back into his staff. God told him, “This is so the Israelites will believe the Lord appeared to you.”

God then told Moses to put his hand inside his cloak.  When he took his hand back out it was covered in a skin disease. God then instructed Moses to put his hand back into his cloak. So, Moses put his hand back into his cloak and when he took it out again his hand was healthy like the rest of his skin.

God said, “If they still don’t believe you after these two signs, take some water from the Nile, pour it onto the ground and it will turn to blood.”

Moses needed to be brave and to depend on God. Even though Moses was scared he had to trust that God would give him the strength, courage and means to lead the people out of slavery.

So, what about you, is there something that makes you scared?

In the Bible in Hebrews 13 verse 6, it says this:

“So, we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

As Christians we need to trust that God will meet all our needs.

Song: ‘Confidence’

                                           

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

We continue to remember in our prayersour Queen Elizabeth II as she continues to serve our country at the remarkable age of ninety-five and pray for Your comfort for her and her family at this time of loss. We also remember the families of those who continue to die week by week during what we hope are the later stages of this virus pandemic. We pray for Your comfort and support for all concerned. We pray for wisdom for the NHS staff as they adjust to the changing environment allowing more operations and treatments to resume after the restrictions over the past year.

We come with deep concern for the country of India with its alarming numbers of new cases of the virus and the increasing inability of the hospitals to cope with the growing numbers of cases and the many patients simply waiting with family members outside hospitals as there is literally no space for them inside. Lord have mercy upon them at this time.

We pray too for the citizens of countries suffering great hardship due to the brutal military regime in Myanmar or Islamic terrorism in Mozambique as well as the civil war in Chad. Lord have mercy upon them.

In our own land we come with grateful thanks for the further decrease in reported cases of the virus and the low numbers gaining treatment for it in hospitals. We pray for wisdom for us all as citizens as we enjoy the return of many sectors of society that had been on hold for the last few months. We pray too for many businesses as they reopen that they may be able to re-establish themselves and for workers furloughed to be able soon to return back to their work.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Andrew Oliver (Chaplain, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards) – The next 12 months is a very busy time for the regiment with lots of time away from home training in preparation for deployments overseas. Andrew asks: ‘Please pray for me as I minister into this and in particular for opportunities to share the gospel. This is potentially a year of change for us as a family with the likelihood of another move in November. Please pray that the Lord will prepare the way especially for our children.’ 

Culloden-Balloch BC – They give thanks for the church fellowship in Culloden. We pray for the church as they seek to live for Jesus and bring others to Him in both Culloden and Balloch.

Cumbernauld BC – They give thanks to God for the safe keeping of all their church members during the past year. They have been unable to meet but have utilised online services and the Baptist Union of Scotland Prayer Live. They ask for God’s guidance in the months ahead as they prepare to open and seek direction in knowing God’s will for them as a church in the community they serve.

Cupar BC – They acknowledge that they have been adversely affected by the lockdown. They invite us to pray that they will know the Lord’s will for the way forward as a fellowship and that He will build them up again. They give thanks for the faithful support of their interim Moderator.

We bring all these prayers before you in Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Bible Reading II Corinthians 8:16-24

Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.

19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honour the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.

22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Christ is mine for evermore’

The Message

II Corinthians 8:16-24 The importance of integrity in Christian service

Introduction

A man named Salvatore Scumace who was a civil servant in the southern Italian city of Catanzaro was appointed to work as a fire safety officer in the city hospital in 2005. In the months to the present day he has been paid in euros approximately £464,000. His disciplinary record is excellent. Apparently, he only had one disagreement with his line manager. I can tell every reader of this paragraph will be waiting for the catch, and with good reason.

In April 2021 a lengthy police investigation into corruption in the Italian public sector suspended a number of senior managers from their posts at the hospital and began to look more closely at the records of other employees as well. This man decided to stop going to work in 2005. His one disagreement with his then line manager was over their threat to report him for non-attendance at work. They never did report him. He is now ‘helping the police with their enquiries’ along with fifty-seven other hospital employees and facing some serious criminal charges. There appears to have been a major breakdown in the quality of governance in that hospital. [The Times 22 April 2021] 

The tragedy is that it is only one of many examples that could be cited. One of the best known stories of serious professional misconduct from the UK in the last year relates to the materials used in the cladding at the Grenfell Tower and many other high rise tower blocks in our country. The tragedy of the fire in that tower in London in 2017 might have been avoided had the correct materials been used in the construction of that building.       

Integrity – does it really matter? Do my words matter? What about my conduct?  Does anyone care if the way I live is seriously contrasting with the words I speak? The answer of course is yes! What we say and how we say it is important. The connection between our words and our actions is also of vital importance. Imagine a financial adviser telling clients to place their life savings in a particular investment scheme while at the same time pulling out all his or her own money from it days before it collapsed.

Words and integrity matter! Imagine a doctor telling you that your worst fears are realised and you need surgery to make things better. They offer to conduct that surgery successfully for you in the next few days. What decision do you make? It depends on their track record. If former patients report being worse off, not better, or even worse die as a result of that surgical procedure then your enthusiasm for proceeding is likely to diminish. However, if the opposite is true and former patients testify of the good results from that doctor’s work then their words will carry extra weight as you consider whether to go ahead with the procedure yourself.

Here in Scotland we will soon have a parliamentary election and many promises are being made by our politicians. The weight we place on their words on election literature or spoken in public events will go a long way to determining how we place our cross on the ballot paper on May 6.

In this second letter to the church at Corinth we can feel the tension that exists as Paul and these ‘false apostles’ from Jerusalem battle for the hearts and minds of this congregation in Greece. Who do they trust? Whose words will they heed? It is of crucial importance because their eternal destiny might be at stake. To us, it is so obvious that it should be Paul as the leader of the church-planting team that first brought the good news of Jesus to Corinth. Surely they can see that he has consistently practised what he has preached over the years? The answer will be ‘yes’, at least a majority of the congregation did, but the outcome was in doubt for some time until Titus reported back to Paul to confirm what had been going on in the church.

Our integrity really matters. In this context the issue under discussion was the probable claim by the false apostles visiting Corinth that Paul could not be trusted over handling all the money being donated to help struggling Christians in Judea. How did Paul demonstrate his integrity and that of his mission team in this important work?

1. The first identified person – Titus (II Corinthians 8:16-17)

16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 

A key thing was that he, Paul, was not directly involved in counting or handling the funds raised. There were three identified individuals entrusted to handle this large sum of money. Paul knew that it was much easier for him to appeal for financial assistance for this aid appeal in person or by letter if he was not profiting from the collection and because others had been set apart for the accomplishment of this task. By this wise step the suspicions raised concerning him by these false apostles was dismissed straightaway.

The congregation in Corinth was given clear evidence that the care Paul had taken previously over the handling of finances in his mission work had been maintained in this new venture. Paul was not only doing what was right, but operating in a manner that ensured everyone could see he was conducting this appeal appropriately as well. Titus had come to faith some years before and then joined Paul’s mission teams.

He was a dedicated Christian and faithfully carried out the work entrusted to his care. I thank God for the many Christians in our church, and other churches at home and in other countries who faithfully carry out so many different forms of Christian service. However, of course it is not just in churches, but in every workplace or sports team. Everyone has to play their part effectively or things can go wrong quite quickly. It is a reminder that the celebrity culture that is so familiar in our world today is not healthy. It is particularly harmful when it invades the Christian community. We are all servants of the greatest servant of God on earth, the Lord Jesus Himself. He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross in our place (Philippians 2:7-8).

Titus took such a delight in accomplishing the tasks entrusted to Him that must have brought joy in heaven in the heart of our heavenly Father. I hope and pray that each of us may carry out our service for the Lord with a similar heart-felt enthusiasm.

Paul knew that Titus could model both integrity and enthusiasm in his Christian service while in Corinth. The message that comes from that so clearly is that we don’t always have to use a lot of words; sometimes living out what we profess is more powerful. Titus could be trusted by Paul and in return Titus had confidence in Paul otherwise their partnership in the gospel would not have worked so well. It is very likely that Titus was the leader of this trio of people entrusted with collecting the money raised by the churches and ensuring its safe delivery in Jerusalem at the end of their long journey in the Mediterranean world.   

2. The second identified person who is unnamed (II Corinthians 8:18-21)

18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honour the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.

Who is the second person who was entrusted with carrying out this mission? We do not know who it might have been. There are two clues to his identity.  The first is stated in verse 18: the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. This unnamed individual must have been on Paul’s mission teams that were involved in planting the Christian churches in Greece. To be praised by all the churches implies a long-standing team member who had spent years travelling with Paul on his missionary journeys. This person was, therefore, well known and highly respected in these different congregations. His Christian commitment and personal integrity were clear to all concerned.

Therefore, this person was an ideal choice for this task and their apparent willingness to undertake it made them a good choice for the apostle to make. The burning question of course relates to the identity of this person. We do not know who it was. This is the only certainty. Church leaders and Bible commentators in subsequent centuries have offered a variety of names that cover a high proportion of named team members from Paul’s letters. These include Barnabas, Paul’s earliest companion on missionary journeys, though I would suggest this is most unlikely as he would have been quite old by the time of this lengthy journey. Silas, one of Paul’s most regular companions in his earlier years of church-planting, could have been a strong candidate, but he has already been named in this letter (II Corinthians 1:19) because he was well-known in Corinth having been there with Paul for eighteen months when the church was first-planted along with Timothy and Titus two other experienced companions of Paul.

It is inexplicable that either Silas or Timothy would have been a team member, but not be named by Paul in this context. Other names include two members of the church in Thessalonica who regularly accompanied Paul, Aristarchus (Acts 19:29) and Secundus (Acts 20:4); or Sopater from the church in Berea (Acts 20:4); two Turkish colleagues Trophimus (Acts 21:29) and Tychicus (Colossians 4:7-9) have also been suggested. The most popular suggestion by far is that it was Luke, Paul’s close friend and doctor, who accompanied him on many of his missions and wrote about a number of them in the book of Acts in the familiar ‘we’ passages in Acts that indicated his personal involvement in those particular events. Yet at the end of the day we cannot identify this person with certainty.

There is, though, a masterstroke by the apostle Paul in the decision making process regarding this fund-raising tour. This second unnamed individual was not only well respected as a Christian and honoured for the work he put into serving the Lord, but he was also selected as their representative on behalf of the churches in the region of Macedonia. II Corinthians 8:19 states: 

What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honour the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness to help.

This person was selected by them to keep a record of which churches participated in the collection; how much they gave and presumably at the end the total amount handed over to the church leaders in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17). Personal integrity in the handling of finance is and always has been an incredibly sensitive topic down the centuries. This is why as a church we have always been so careful to ensure transparency and accuracy in the recording of donations received and in the presentation of the annual accounts. Bible commentator William Barclay made this memorable comment: ‘It is a most interesting thing to note that this same Paul who could write like a lyric poet and think like a theologian could, when necessary, act with the meticulous accuracy and care of a chartered accountant. Paul was a big enough man to do the little things and the practical, things supremely well.’ (William Barclay, Galatians, I & II Thessalonians; I & II Corinthians, p. 363)

The gathered meetings of the local churches discussed this matter and presumably through some form of correspondence came to a common mind as to who should be their official representative. The fact that Paul explains this process to the church in Corinth suggests that they had not been a party to this decision-making process. However, it was probably crucial in persuading them that great care had been taken by Paul to ensure that the full collection arrived at its intended destination. The principle behind this action is so applicable to our work and witness today.                   

3. The third identified person who is also unnamed (II Corinthians 8:22)

22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. Paul could have said two people are sufficient for this work, namely his named representative Titus who was the leader of this delegation that visited the churches in Greece and a second person chosen by the local congregations. However, in view of the fact that the sum raised was probably a large one and was in coins. It could be heavy to carry and noticeable to other travellers on the roads or boats on which they journeyed to Jerusalem.

Therefore, asking a third person to join them on the journey to provide both added security and companionship seemed a wise step to take.  In our world of cheques and card payments, and even more recently bank transfers through online banking, it would have been so much easier to forward money to the needy people in the Holy Land. Again this third brother is not named, but it seems that Paul thinks the Corinthians will regard this person as another good choice for this mission trip.

The principle of course is so clear to us that in God’s work we must not only do what is right but be seen to do so, taking every step to demonstrate personal and collective integrity.  In the USA where a much higher proportion of the population are church members or professing Christians, some Christian ministries or churches have remarkably high incomes. The temptations to those involved in handling such large sums of money, if there is a less than adequate system of accountability in place, has sadly been too great on too many occasions.

The sad events of mismanagement at a number of the Hillsong congregations in the USA in the last year [various online sources] are a sobering reminder of why each Christian and churches in general need to demonstrate integrity and accountability in their activities. Two thousand years ago the apostle Paul knew all too well how important it is to maintain the highest standards of conduct to avoid bringing dishonour on God’s name.        

4. The commendation from Paul (II Corinthians 8:23-24)

 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.

Paul concluded this section of his letter with these words summing up his confidence in the three representatives that would soon visit Corinth. The poorer churches in Macedonia had already collected their incredibly generous donations to the needy believers in Judea. The church in Corinth who had started to collect money some time earlier during Titus’ visit (see II Corinthians 8:6-7), were now given a big encouragement to finish their fund-raising and to be at least as generous as these other congregations. There had been a crisis due to a famine in Judea. It appears that relationships between Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus had been quite distant from one another due to religious, cultural and linguistic differences. However, this visionary plan of Paul for famine relief, and the honouring of his commitment to the leaders of the church in Jerusalem to provide funds for the assistance of the poor and needy in Judea (Galatians 2:10) was a means of bringing the churches much closer together in Christian service. It was also a good public witness of care for one another. Within Greece, it appears the churches all participated in this plan, but most crucially the wise way Paul planned it demonstrated his personal integrity in Christian service to all concerned. It is a reminder to us today that what we say and do go together, and an important aspect of our public witness for the Lord, Amen.    

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Before the Throne of God Above’

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: ‘The Splendour of the King’

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord Jesus that You modelled for us a life of personal integrity in Your words and actions. We acknowledge the difficulties we face at times in attempting to live up to Your standards, both individually and collectively. Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit to equip and enable us to live this way in the coming days. We go forward with a quiet assurance that Your grace will be sufficient for our needs at this time, for Jesus’ name sake, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

Sunday 18 April 2021 – Church at Home (Tearfund focus)

Our service today is led by Isdale Anderson.

Virtual Sunday School

For JAM young adults, please contact garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of online events.

Baptist Union prayer livestream
The monthly prayer livestream takes place next on Sunday 2 May, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.

Call to Worship

Opening Worship

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus, we come in Your name to our heavenly Father this morning with joy that You indeed hear our cries. You are the Lord over all the creation You brought into being; but only human beings were created in Your image with the ability to engage in relationships with You. We acknowledge the sense of privilege in the direct access we have to You at this time. We have the wonderful assurance that You take delight in hearing the praises and prayers of us as Your children today. 

We acknowledge that human beings have been given the responsibility of caring for this planet we call our home. We confess that as a race we have not taken this responsibility as seriously as we should. Help us to be wise in our use of the earth’s natural resources and also to think how the choices we make may affect others in less economically privileged parts of the world. We bring our praises and prayer in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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

All Age Talk – Your Neighbour is Thirsty
Graeme McMeekin

Good morning, and thank you for your warm welcome! I’m Graeme McMeekin and here on behalf of Tearfund Scotland.  Before I begin, can I also say thank you to those of you who have faithfully supported us whether it be through prayer, financial giving, or committing to a legacy. Your support is so important to us and makes such a difference to lives around the world.

Can anyone tell me what this is…..

It is in fact a tap.  Do you see the string that comes down to the ground?  That acts as a foot pedal!  You press down on the string with your foot and it tilts the container, pouring out water on to your hands.

Do you see the bottle top?  Inside this is a bar of soap on a string.  The bottle top protects the soap from the occasional heavy rains.

If you go around various rural villages in Africa, then you may see this form of tap.  These particular pictures were taken in the south of a country called Uganda in East Africa.  Tearfund have been working with Dioceses of Kigezi and North Kigezi in order to enable access to clean water for villagers as well as to teach them skills for good hygiene such as making these simple taps.

Recently we have heard a lot of focus on how we wash our hands – that we should be washing them for over 20 seconds and singing ‘happy birthday’ twice as we do so.  However for many people around the world, they don’t have access to clean water in order to wash their hands and many don’t know that they can prevent diseases by washing their hands regularly with soap.  That is why this type of training is so important.

Quiz

Let’s have a quick quiz.

  1. What percentage of the Earth’s surface is covered in water?
    71% – if you look at a globe, there is more than twice as much water than land.
  2. How much water should you drink in a day?
    1.2 – 2 litres – the recommended daily amount by the NHS is a minimum of 1.2 litres however in other countries, like the USA the recommendation is closer to 2 litres.  This equates to about 8 glasses a day.
  3. What percentage of our fresh water is on the surface (e.g. rivers and lakes)
    0.3% (the vast majority is found in glaciers, icecaps or underground) – Only a small percentage (about 0.3 percent) of the earth’s water is even usable by humans. The other 99.7 percent is in the oceans, soils, icecaps, and floating in the atmosphere. However, we don’t have access to much of the 0.3 percent because it is under the ground.  Most of our water comes from rivers but the majority of fresh water is actually found underground as soil moisture and in aquifers. This groundwater can feed the streams, which is why rivers keep flowing even when there has been no rain.   
  4. How many people lack a basic drinking water service?
    785 million people (11% of the global population) – Yes, 785 million, that is almost 1 in every 8 people have no basic drinking service.  That is more than the whole population of Europe including Russia!!!

With a staggering 785 million not having access to a basic drinking service, then people are going thirsty and not getting the basic 1.2 litres of drinking water.  Jesus talks about being thirsty.

In Matthew 25 Jesus says that when the Son of Man comes, he will separate people out and will say to the righteous.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matt 25:35-40)

Whenever we quench the thirst of someone who is thirsty then it is as if we are doing this for Jesus.  This is quite a responsibility but one that Tearfund takes seriously.  For many years, Tearfund has been working with our partners to provide clean, safe and accessible drinking water to communities.

One of the ways we do this is by helping people to access some of the water that is underground.  In Uganda, near where we saw the picture of the tap, you can find these small fields. Each of these small fields in the boundaries of the hedges, contains a spring where water naturally emerges from the ground.  Tearfund has worked with our partner to put drainage into these areas that capture the water and enables it to go into pipes that flow into the tank in the upper right hand side of this picture.

This water then flows down pipes to help people like Scovia and her children who are able to access water from the taps further down the hills.

Whilst we can get water from the ground, another way can be from catching the water that falls.  In Rwanda, rain can be unpredictable and when it does fall, it falls very quickly causing floods.  Tearfund have been able to work with our partner AE (African Enterprise) on a project funded by the Scottish Government in order to help families capture some of this water.

When it rains, the rain water is caught in these gutters and instead of flowing into a drain, like we would normally do in this country, the water flows into this large 10,000 litre tank.  This water is then filtered in the tank and can be used as drinking water or for the animals or irrigation so that they can grow crops.  We call this Rainwater harvesting and can be a real lifeline to communities.

Later in our service, I’ll be talking to the adults a bit more about water and particularly about the situation in Ethiopia.  For now we just want to pause for a moment and thank God for the water that he has provided and pray for those who don’t have as easy access to it as we do.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus,

We thank you for water.  We thank you that it is so useful in growing crops and refreshing us on a warm summer’s day.  We thank you for the work of Tearfund’s partners working with communities around the world to enable them to access clean, fresh water.

Lord, we pray for those people who have too much water that it floods their land making it difficult to farm and grow crops for their everyday needs.  We ask that you will strengthen them, comfort them and give them wisdom in how to use this abundance of water.  Likewise we pray for those that  don’t have access to the water that they so desperately need.  We also ask that you strengthen them, comfort them and draw people around them that will help them to access this much needed water. Amen

Song: ‘Give thanks to the Lord our God and King’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

Once more we acknowledge with gratitude the contribution to the life of our country of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the loyal and faithful husband of our Queen Elizabeth II. We thank You for giving the strength needed to his family yesterday for his funeral. We continue to remember them in our prayers asking for Your comfort for them at this time.

We are thankful, but also relieved to see the further easing of lockdown measures in our country. We deeply appreciate all those whose dedicated service to our country has enabled us to navigate safely to this point in time, and pray that further progress in the journey towards a restoration of a more familiar way of life can be our experience in the coming days.

We pray today for those managing rural estates and other popular tourist destinations who may face challenges managing large numbers of people visiting their areas in the coming weeks. We hope and pray that all of us as citizens can be trusted to care for and respect the natural environment and that the dreadful scenes of littering of the countryside last year will not be repeated this summer.   

As this week sees school pupils return full-time and many more shops and leisure facilities begin to reopen we pray for wisdom for those managing these times of change. We pray too for churches as leaders and congregations plan and prepare for restarting more in-person services and ministries in the coming weeks. 

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Al Nicoll (RAF Chaplain) – We pray for Al as he support chaplains from all three armed services who deploy on military operations across the world, particularly with the added complications caused by periods of quarantine before and after long periods away from loved ones.

CBC Community Church – We give thanks for CBC Community Church in Crookston, Glasgow and ask You to bless them as they meet as a fellowship, whether online or in-person and as they continue to be Your witnesses to their local community.

Crown Terrace BC, Aberdeen – We thank God that they have been able to establish a regular online presence with services and groups which support people within and out with the fellowship. We pray for God’s guidance for the future and where they should concentrate their resources to have the greatest impact for the Kingdom.

Culduthel Christian Centre – We give thanks that the church remains united despite the pressures of lockdown and that they have had opportunities to be creative in pastoral care, discipleship, worship and mission. We give thanks that they have seen new believers added and have many asking when they can be baptised. We ask in our prayers for them in rebuilding their youth and children’s ministry which has suffered from a lack of face to face ministry during lockdown

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,

Amen.

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘For the fruits of all creation, thanks be to God’

The Message
Graeme McMeekin Tearfund

My name is Graeme McMeekin and I am the Head of Tearfund Scotland.  I would like to tell you about the work of Tearfund before we go on any further.   Tearfund works primarily through the local church in order to unlock people’s potential to end poverty.  There are three main ways in which we do this.

The first is through Church and Community Transformation.  This is where we work with the local church in order to identify what the needs are in the local community, to work alongside the community in order to identify the needs, the responses and the potential within that community. Then the church works with the community to set up new programmes, new businesses and new entrepreneurial activities. Most of this work starts through Bible Studies – by doing Bible Studies with the local community that show what the needs are in the community, both spiritually and physically but also how God can use the little that they have already.

The second area of our work is our advocacy work.  Now advocacy work looks different in different places around the world.  In Scotland it might be in working alongside the Scottish Government or Westminster government in order to mitigate for and tackle climate change.  Climate change has a huge effect on those living in poverty around the world and we will find out more about that later on.  As we move towards COP26, the UN summit on climate change that is due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021, we want to work together to reduce some of the effects of climate change.

We also do advocacy work around the world.  In rural areas, it might be about lobbying the local government to build a road so that villagers can get food to the market.  Our advocacy work can look quite different in the various places.

Tearfund are also involved in humanitarian work.  Over the last few months it has focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic and how we respond with water, soap and hygiene work in various places. These include refugee camps such as Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh which is one of the world’s largest refugee camps or in places like Columbia where we are providing food programmes for those who cannot get out to work due to lockdown arrangements. We have also worked in places with Tsunamis and cyclones. We have recently been working in Ethiopia where a plague of locusts have been infesting the Eastern side of Africa over the last year.

[Ephraim Tsegay – Ethiopian Country Director]

Praise be to the Lord for who He is, His greatness and majesty!  The year 2020 has been a quite challenging time, as we all know it has been a very difficult year.  In Ethiopia it has been, as I call it, a cocktail of disasters, complex problems and climate-change induced crisis.  In Ethiopia we had recurring droughts, we had flash flooding, desert locust infestations combined with the effects of COVID-19 and also over 114 inter-community conflicts taking place since 2018 according to our Prime Minister reports.  All this have undermined the livelihoods of those living in Ethiopia.

These crises have resulted in pushing the most marginalised people, those with disabilities, the elderly, and children into the brink of collapse. With this compounding crisis, millions of people were internally displaced in Ethiopia.  Thousands of innocent people were killed.  Millions of people have also lost their lives and the cost of living has soared upwards. 

If you see the desert locust infestation, this is what you see in Afar region.  It was devastating and ravaged animal feed and crops that we have in Ethiopia.  We also have had the challenge of flooding in the same region.  It was recurring in just a couple of months.  Following also we have had the conflict in the Tigray region.  More than 4.5 million people are in need of emergency response/aid, including about 2.2 million in the Tigray region.  Also the number of cases of COVID-19 in Ethiopia is increasing.  It now [at the time of recording] has the second highest number of cases in Africa, following South Africa. 

All these affect the work we are doing in Ethiopia and it impacts the progress that we have made over all these years in our Church and Community Transformation approach and our Self-Help Groups, our economic sustainability and our emergency approach.  However we didn’t lose our hope.  Why didn’t we lose hope?  Because the Bible says that the excellence of power is from God and that whilst we may be troubled on every side, we may be despised and distressed, we are persecuted but not forsaken.  We are not cast down or destroyed because of the power of the Lord.

We also had some really encouraging things in Ethiopia that give us a source of hope.  Our source of hope was really the joy in communities, when we serve communities – when they have access to water.   It really was our joy, such as when we have installed solar-powered borehole pumps in the Afar region where people do not have access to clean water.  This is the time when we see drought affected communities, impacted by climate change, but we are able to bring clean water through solar-powered pumps in Afar.  This was also our source of joy in the last year.

Also, the sacrificial giving of our supporters, their commitment to serve communities affected by COVID-19 was also a source of hope last year.  We have had hope in the midst of the wilderness and this crisis of a cocktail of disasters in the last year, but there was hope for us.  There was hope because of His power, the work we see in communities, because also our supporters standing with us, because also of the teamwork and collaboration in Ethiopia.

The Bible in 2 Kings 3, talks about the three kings that went to fight together against Moab.  Similarly we in Ethiopia together, with colleagues in the UK and colleagues in the region, were able to work together and support many communities come out of abject poverty in Ethiopia.  That was also a source of hope.

Regularly prayer, having a mindset of prayer, like the harpist in the Bible.  In 2 Kings, before the word comes to Elijah, the harpist was there giving thanks to the Lord and praising the Lord.  He was in the middle of the wilderness, in the middle of a difficult situation where people really had no water for themselves or their animals, he was giving thanks.  The regular devotion, the prayer, the giving thanks was also our source of hope over the last year despite the cocktail of disasters in Ethiopia.  The Bible says from nothing to plenty of water.

So it was a challenging year with this crisis, this cocktail of disasters but praise be to the Lord that we are able to renew our hope because of who He is.

Thank you and God bless you.

[Graeme]

Today I would read to you from Matthew 25, starting to read at verse 34.  This is the parable of the sheep and goats where Jesus is telling this parable of a king who separates the sheep from the goats and he goes on to say the following:

‘Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

37 ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

40 ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

It is quite an incredible passage whenever we read it – ‘whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me’. Whenever we meet people’s needs – their hunger, their thirst or visiting them in prison, whatever those needs might be it is as if we are doing it to Jesus himself.

One of the things that has struck us in that passage in particular is the references to thirst.  ‘I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink’.

I live in Renfrew and work in Glasgow, both of which are on the banks of the Clyde river. 

The Clyde is one of the many rivers that are flowing throughout Scotland.  We have an abundance of water and it is often through the abundance of rain that comes.  We don’t really understand what thirst is.  We don’t really understand what thirst is because there is always access to that water.  For many of us it is just a few steps to our nearest tap and we can just turn the tap and get that water.

For many people around the world it is just not the same.  For 785 million people, that is about 1 in 8 of the world’s population, don’t have local access to clean water.  That means that they have to travel hours and hours for their basic needs.  Water for drinking and cooking needs, never mind the needs around cleaning that we have become so accustomed to because of coronavirus.  They just don’t have access to the water.

Some of our team in Tearfund Scotland travelled to Ethiopia just before the pandemic and the travel restrictions came into force.  They were in the North-East of the country in an area known as the Afar region.  They met someone called Orbisa and I would like you to watch this short film and hear a bit more about her story.

Film

[Voiceover]

Your neighbour is thirsty, but there is a solution and there is hope.

For many people in the north of Ethiopia, the impact of climate change is devastating. They used to expect rain up to four months a year, but now it only falls in August. People do not have enough water to survive – it is an issue of life or death. And for families, like Orbisa’s, everyday life is a real struggle.

[Orbisa]

My name is Orbisa and I have nine children. Life is very challenging here, we have no food and are dependent on our livestock for our livelihood. Whenever there is no rainfall, our animals die as there is no grass or water. This affects our lives significantly. We will not get money or have milk to drink. We have no other option.

When it rains, I only need to walk five minutes to collect water, but these water sources are now dry. Every night, I walk for ten hours to collect water from a lake. The walk is dangerous, I can face wild animals such as hyenas and leopards. There are crocodiles in the lake.

The water I collect is not sufficient, I am only able to collect a third of what my family needs each day. We need most of it for drinking, but sometimes it is not enough and my family has to go to bed thirsty. I feel extremely sad whenever I cannot provide water for my children.

We used to get rain every four to five months, the area was very fertile and green. But now, the length of the dry season is increasing. It hasn’t rained for six months and I don’t know when it will rain next. It is God who knows when the rainfall will come. I worry about my children and my family. I worry about the small livestock which are remaining. I feel worried whenever I think about the future.

If we could get water access in our village, this would change things for me. This is the first and most important thing that would give me hope.

[Voiceover]

Orbisa’s story is, sadly, all too common. Forced to find any kind of water, more people are getting sick and their livestock – their only source of income – are dying due to lack of water. Because of climate change, the area has become even more dry and arid, like a desert. People are suffering and many are giving up hope.

But, there is good news. Tearfund is changing lives, by working with local partners to set up solar-powered wells that will provide clean water closer to communities. This will help to restore hope and give new life for all who live there.

[Tearfund Partner]

Afar is one of the hottest areas on our planet and rainfall is very meagre. In the last ten years, the droughts are now increasing from year to year. Households used to depend on the water from the river. During dry season, those streams dry up and then availability of water is very, very difficult. Tearfund has started now working with FSA, creating access to potable water, drilling boreholes and developing water supply systems near their village. Their lives are being changed, they are getting water and they are seeing the love of Jesus. When we provide water for these communities, we are changing the lives of the coming generations too. The young people – the children – their lives will change, definitely, when we provide water for them.

[Voiceover]

£12 per month, for a year, could provide 12 families with access to a life-saving water source, giving hope and a future to communities, like Orbisa’s. Please donate now: www.tearfund.org/thirst

Afar is in the north-east of Ethiopia and is a very hot, dry, remote place. It’s not a particularly well-visited place – even Ethiopians from other parts of the country don’t really like to go there.  Teachers and contractors are sent to Afar, stay for a few days, then leave. People tend not to stick around. Afar is home to nomadic people who keep goats and camels.

As I said, some of my colleagues from Tearfund Scotland spent some time in Afar and when they were there they were surprised at how everyone seemed so lethargic.  Everyone was just sitting there because they had just enough water to survive and no more.  It was here that they met Orbisa, and her family. They sat with Orbisa and she told them about her life.

In the past, if her family needed water, they would only have to go a short distance, a five minute walk to find a source of water, perhaps to a river, or a stream.  However, over the past five years or so, due to climate change the water has dried up. Throughout the region there are many riverbeds, the earth now cracked and dry where there would once have been water. The rainy season that could be expected for perhaps three or four months of the year is now down to just one short season.

Orbisa spoke about how they have been waiting year after year for things to go back to the way they were – but it never does. The situation is only getting worse, as the impact of climate change wreaks havoc on the environment and on the land. She is feeling the effects of climate change in the here and now.

Because of this, Orbisa now has to set off at around 4am, each day, on a round trip that takes up to ten hours in order to fetch water from the nearest water source. And this is common throughout the region of Afar now. She said that the water they are able to collect is often dirty, and they get sick because of it. She also has to contend with dangers in her journey to get the water, such as hyena and leopard attacks.

Orbisa said that she can carry nowhere near the amount of water for her family’s daily needs. This means she often has to put her kids to bed complaining that they are thirsty. She just has to tell them to wait until the next day. Because of all of this, Orbisa’s life is one of struggle, anxiety and hopelessness.

Here in Scotland, we don’t hear about Afar and what people are going through there. It’s not in the news or in the papers. Orbisa’s suffering continues and it goes unseen – along with many more families in Afar. As we go about our lives, in relative comfort, Orbisa continues to struggle, sitting in the desert heat.

I believe God wants to provide for Orbisa’s needs, both spiritually, and practically, like he did for Hagar.

When the team from Tearfund Scotland were in Orbisa’s village, the overwhelming feeling was that it was lifeless. There seemed to be a lack of joy. The children sat still, not playing, not laughing. There was an intensity in the air.

But, on their last day in Afar, they visited another village. One that had just received a new water source provided by Tearfund’s partner. As soon as they entered the village they could see, and hear, that things were very different here. Right in the middle of the village water flowed powerfully through a large tap, as women filled up barrel after barrel of fresh water chatting loudly together in groups. Children played in the misty overspill of water that bounced off the barrels. There was so much noise, so much laughter.

One of the Ethiopian colleagues turned to the team and said, ‘Where there is water, there is life.’

The good news is that in places of the greatest need, like Afar, we often see Jesus at work through his people or his church.

In Afar, Tearfund’s partner Friendship Support Association are now in the process of providing fresh, clean, abundant, local water for villages like Orbisa’s. So far they have dug two wells, but they want to dig many, many more. We too want to follow Jesus where the need is greatest, and we want to provide, and bless abundantly, like Jesus does.

Those words are so striking… where there is water, there is life.

That desperate situation that Orbisa and her children are in is heartbreaking, however, I am excited there is something we can do about it. I’d like to ask you, today, to consider your neighbours in Afar. Your unseen neighbours who are thirsty.

I know that £12 per month has the potential to enable Tearfund to provide abundant, clean, local water for 12 households a year in Afar. For the cost of a Marks & Spencer Saturday night meal for two, a family – like Orbisa’s – could have their lives completely turned around.

Tearfund are doing work like this to help people all around the world. If you feel led to join us in helping people, like Orbisa, you can do so simply by heading to www.tearfund.org/givewater where you will be able to give. We’d be really grateful for your support.

I would also like to ask you to pray. To pray with Tearfund as they follow Jesus where the need is greatest, and pray for Orbisa, and her family, that they will know the love of Jesus, the living water that only he can provide, but also the physical water that they so urgently need.

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Kyrie Eleison’

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: ‘Christ be in my Waking’

Closing Prayer:

Thank you Lord Jesus that we have received from You so many blessings that enrich our daily lives. We are deeply grateful for them. We recognise our responsibilities to care for and when we can support our brothers and sisters living in much more challenging circumstances in other parts of the world.  We thank You for mission organisations like Tearfund that accomplish so much in partnership with national believers in the two-thirds world. We pray Your blessing on them and other mission agencies serving in Your name. Help us also in our local context to live out our faith in ways that demonstrate Your love and care for others, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – 11 April 2021

Intimations

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School. Here is the link for Sunday 11 April 21 Virtual Sunday School:

JAM young adults have a separate programme. Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream The monthly prayer livestream takes place next on Sunday 2 May, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.  

This service is led today by Alan McRobbie

Call to worship: 

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise His name;
proclaim His salvation day after day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvellous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

Psalm 96:1-4a

Our opening song of praise and worship is:

Opening Prayer:

Lord we come with real joy in our heart and with a spirit of gratitude for all the blessings You have given to us. As the Psalmist (in Psalm 118:24) declared long ago: This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.Although, restricted from singing live in congregations just now, we are so thankful that we can sing on our own at home or accompany recorded songs online. There is nothing that can stop us singing in our hearts Your praises. On this new day we want to meet with You by Your Holy Spirit. Forgive us once more for our sins, purify our hearts and empower us by Your Holy Spirit to be the people You want us to be. Speak to us from Your Word today in accordance with our needs, for Jesus’ sake, Amen. 

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

All Age Talk 
How to handle those who have wronged you by Alan McRobbie

When someone wrongs or mistreats you or says things that will end up hurting you, how do you respond? Being mistreated happens in life. It can occur within our groups of friends, our schools, the church, within our marriage, within our family or anywhere where we have relationships with others. So, what we need to ask is this, are we responding rightly when we are wronged by another by the things they say or the things they do?  How are Christians supposed to respond when someone has wronged us?

Jesus gives strong words to the believer concerning our response to those who are against us or have wronged us either in what they have said or what they have done.

In Matthew 5:43 the system of Jewish law considered it a sin to love your enemy. But in verses 44 and 45, Jesus steps in and says: 

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”

It’s important to say here that built into us there is a self-defence that God has given us for the sake of protecting ourselves from harm or death. If someone plans to physically harm or mistreat me, I’m going to defend myself or run away. This is good. It’s not about that.

When he says the word “love” he means the Greek word ‘agape’ and so he is talking about a deeper level of love. Jesus is not talking about having affection for our enemies. He teaches us to respond to them in a manner that is for their benefit and not for ours. We’re going to respond in love because if we respond in anger and bitterness and resentment, we start to become their enemy.  Anytime we respond with defensiveness and bitterness we are the ones who will suffer, we become unhappy, regardless of how our enemies may suffer.

When Jesus says I am to love my enemies we are going to have to make a choice to love them. There is a price to be paid to love those who have wronged us. We give up something of ourselves for the greater good. The Christian is the person who reasons that it is better to suffer wrong than to inflict wrong.

How are we going to be able to do this? There isn’t anyone alive who can love their enemies as Jesus teaches in their own strength and in their own human nature. My help to love those who have wronged me is Christ. Only because Christ is my life. And what does Paul say in Galatians 5:22-23?

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

He says this is the fruit of the Spirit, not of you, not of me.

In summary, because Jesus loves those who are against him, we should act in the best interests of those who are against us. Christian love says, “You may be harming me, but I’m not going to give you back what you’re giving me.  I’m going to love you in the way that I would like you to love me.” Overwhelm that wrong with goodness. This isn’t normal.  And isn’t that the point? The point being, they will recognise that this is not human, and it will become clear that this identifies you as having a supernatural love which reveals Christ who is working in you and through you which brings much praise and glory to God. We become witnesses of Christ in this world.

Watch this short cartoon animation on Loving Your Enemies at this link: 

Song: ‘Good and Gracious King’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father, 

Today we come to give thanks to God for the life of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the loyal and faithful husband of our Queen Elizabeth II. During seventy-three years of marriage, they have served our country together until his retirement from public duties at the remarkable age of 95, four years ago. 

We appreciate his dedication to public service and his lasting contributions in a number of fields, not least the innovative Duke of Edinburgh activity scheme he founded for young people. We pray for Your comfort for each member of the Royal family at this time.   

We will observe a short time of silence in recognition of his passing.

Father God we pray today for countries within Europe who are being hit with a third wave of Covid-19. We prayer for wisdom for the governments concerned as they seek to tackle this development, and for the health care systems in these countries at this time. In the United Kingdom, we do appreciate the encouraging reduction in the levels of infection and the early stages of the easing of lockdown regulations. We pray for wisdom for our governments that the lifting of restrictions may be sustainable over the coming months as we begin to return to a more familiar way of living.  

We give thanks for the new posts being advertised for serving our churches within the Baptist Union of Scotland. We pray for those applying for the posts and for the interview process. We pray for discernment for the interview panels as they seek to discern who You have chosen to fill these roles.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Stuart Murdoch (Chaplain, Strathcarron Hospice) –Stuart writes: ‘This last year has been difficult for everyone. As Chaplain to Strathcarron Hospice that is no different. The support for staff continued to increase as staff were feeling vulnerable and weary from the intensity of their workload. Pray for me and the staff that we will be sustained and renewed in our spirit to continue to work that God has called us to here in Strathcarron Hospice. Pray for us as we enter the community that we would be kept safe and keep our patients and families safe as we support them through these difficult times and through their Palliative Care journey.’

Cowal BC – We give thanks for the church fellowship in Cowal and we pray for the church as they seek to keep Jesus as the centre of all that they do.

Cowdenbeath BC – We give thanks that despite not being able to meet physically, Cowdenbeath Baptist have enjoyed meeting for prayer and worship using technology. We also give thanks that, after a tip-off from the Baptist Union of Scotland, we were fortunate to have an application approved for some iPads from the Connecting Scotland charity for members without technical access currently. We also continue to pray with them for the ongoing search for a new pastor. 

Crieff BC – We give thanks for God’s continued faithfulness while doing a mixture of struggling and striving, pushing and pressing our way through this awful Pandemic. Prayer always works best when spurred on with belief and need. We pray for them as they continue to Zoom and You Tube their way through to a new normality with a new consecration amid the amazing consideration of our Heavenly Father for us all

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,

Amen.

Bible Reading 

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a] – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’

II Corinthians 8:1-15

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Father I place into Your hands’

The Message

II Corinthians 8:1-15 The privilege of giving

Introduction

How should I divide the resources I have or the income I receive? Of course there are bills that have to be paid and needs that have to be addressed. Many of us have family responsibilities and commitments with rightful expectations that we will cover certain costs incurred by the activities and choices of members of our families. As Christians we want to support our local church in its work as that is the foundation of Christian presence around the world, but many of us also support other Christian causes at home and abroad who are doing excellent work for the Lord. A proportion of our incomes goes on leisure activities and in the absence of a virus pandemic this might include the cost of a holiday or some days away. These are personal choices each one of us has to make based on the level of income we receive.

Does the Bible have anything to say about the privilege of giving? It certainly does! At its heart, it is a way of thinking and living about the whole of our lives. It is a much greater subject than simply how we divide up the finances we receive month by month. When we grasp this bigger picture it enables us all to see that we have so much we can give as well as receive. We all have talents and abilities that we can give. We also have the precious commodity of time. We can share some time with another person than can be mutually enriching. 

In Luke 19 we see the impact of coming to faith in Jesus in the life of one of Jericho’s wealthiest men. He had grown immensely wealthy over many years, but had little opportunity to gain value from it. There was only so much he could do in home improvements or alterations. The reality was, as he had come to recognise, that he was not really happy or fulfilled despite all he had accumulated. He hears that Jesus of Nazareth is coming to Jericho and he wants to see Him and hear the message He will be bringing to the citizens of that city. However, it has never entered his head that meeting Jesus might challenge his entire way of living.

The first shock he experiences is when Jesus spots him and invites Himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’ home that day. The crowd were stunned that Jesus was spending precious time on this hard hearted man. But that dinner-time conversation was very fruitful. In Luke 19:8-10 we read the outcome of that encounter. But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ 

Jesus had not asked Zacchaeus to take this radical step. However,  in becoming a follower of Jesus, he had gained a different perspective on his way of living. Was this the only rich man Jesus had some personal conversations with about his wealth? No! In Luke 18:18-30 there is the account of Jesus meeting a rich young ruler who seemed a likely convert to the cause of Jesus. Yet he responded so differently to the challenge of Jesus regarding his possessions. Where is your treasure and mine? Is it primarily in what we can gain or what we can give? Our investments speak powerfully about our priorities. There have been some incredibly generous wealthy benefactors of Christian causes.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, William Hartley, the Jam manufacturer, was the largest individual benefactor to an English Methodist overseas mission agency. James and John Campbell-White, chemical manufacturers in Scotland, largely bankrolled the Free Church of Scotland’s Livingstonia Mission, launched in 1875 at the southern end of Lake Malawi at Cape Maclear in Nyasaland (now Malawi).

In British Baptist circles the largest donations to the Baptist Missionary Society were received from a man called Robert Arthington. His family had owned a brewery, but coming to an Evangelical Christian faith they decided to sell the business. Young Robert inherited the sum of £200,000 on his father’s death in 1864. He was a committed Christian whose ‘life and his wealth was devoted to the spread of the Gospel among the Heathen’ [from his gravestone in Teignmouth in Devon]. 

He decided to invest the greater proportion of this money in the Indian Peninsula Railway Company for two reasons. First, to make it easier for Christian missionaries travelling across that large country; second to help develop India’s cotton industry so as to counteract the dependency in Britain on cotton produced by African American slaves in the USA. His investments grew in value despite taking out thousands of pounds each year to give to many different Christian mission societies working in Asia and Africa.

It was a remarkable legacy of a man who lived the simplest of personal lives with a view to giving to extend God’s kingdom all over the world. Although in many ways an eccentric man who lived alone, his life was dominated by a vision of the privilege of giving what he had to tell other people about Jesus. Paul in the first section of II Corinthians 8 shares not about an individual but a congregation who despite deep poverty were so focussed on the privilege of giving to support the work of Paul and his mission teams.      

1. The example from Macedonia (II Corinthians 8:1-7)

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Paul was so encouraged by this congregation. They were so poor in financial and material assets. Yet they were so full of the joy of the Lord and constantly looking to see how they could assist other Christians in God’s work. The apostle highlights the behind it was something he calls grace. It is a term in the Bible that speaks of God’s undeserved kindness to us. It is a declaration that God has been so good to me that I need to pass on to others something of His amazing love to me, in whatever way was appropriate. What a statement Paul makes when he writes concerning these churches in Macedonia in Greece: In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. Could we paraphrase it and say in the midst of a global pandemic their minds were not focussed on the frustrations of the restrictions on their lives, rather they were thinking how can we further extend God’s kingdom. How might we work with other Christians locally, nationally and overseas to help more people come to faith in Jesus?     

There were so many reasons why they might choose not to act in this way. Their future income was certainly not guaranteed. When they had so little it was so remarkable that they would think of other needs so strongly. The picture Paul paints is incredible: In the midst of a very severe trial… and their extreme poverty (II Corinthians 8:2).

By contrast, the recipients of II Corinthians lived in a relatively prosperous city and certainly a minority of this church were comfortably well off. Yet they rarely seemed to think about the needs of other people. They needed constant reminders and in-person visits to Corinth to keep their focus. We might want to stop and reflect on why it was the very poorest people who were most willing to assist others in need and the better off who had so much more who appeared so reluctant to exercise the privilege of giving. If the Macedonian Christians could so easily come up with a long list of reasons not to give to help others, what was it that was the secret of their generosity? Paul gives the answer in II Corinthians 8:2: their overflowing joy…welled up in rich generosity.  

What is joy?  Is it a Christian word that means the same as happiness? Absolutely Not! Joyis an emotion deep within us when we  recognise all that God has done for us through Jesus. It is an overflow of gratitude in our inner person as we appreciate God’s undeserved kindness to us. It was an attitude of mind that Paul had taught them and they were living it out. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul wrote: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). It was not only that congregation, but also the one in the city of Thessalonica that grasped this point.  In I Thessalonians 1:6, Paul wrote: You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. This was why Paul could write next to that second Greek congregation: And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it. 

A faith that is lived in good times and tough is an attractive faith; other people can be turned off by the proclamation of words that are disconnected from our actions. In other words, would an observer watching you and me think our faith was working effectively in us and for our benefit? If the answer was ‘no’ then they would have no interest in becoming a Christian as they have enough problems to contend with at the moment already! By contrast, if the answer is ‘yes’ then there is a likelihood that they will watch us closely as most of us can benefit from the assistance of others in our daily lives. Notice what Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 1:8: The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it. 

The exercise of the privilege of giving in these churches in Macedonia and Thessalonica was opening the door for other Christians to speak words about Jesus. In other words, social action ministries which are good in themselves can also provide some opportunities to explain why we are motivated to do what we do for God.     

Paul continues: For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharingin this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: they gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (II Corinthians 8:3-5).

They were proactive in looking for ways to serve and bless others. They were not looking for Paul to launch a campaign for something, although they always tried to support whatever he was doing, but took on board the responsibility themselves to think outside the box. The challenge for us personally is this: Is there a possible opportunity for me to demonstrate the lived reality of my faith to someone or some people that I had not previously considered? This is quite dangerous to pray for because God might answer our prayers! I did that last year and unexpectedly God answered with something I had not considered or been praying about. In the next few months as this begins I hope to share more about it. These Christians in Macedonia were an incredible role model in that first generation of the Christian Church. 

How does this story relate to events in Corinth? II Corinthians 8:6-7 states: So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 

It is a rather delicate matter. Paul when he became the apostle to the Gentiles was asked to take financial collections from the churches he founded at times when there was real hardship being experienced by Jewish followers of Jesus in the Holy Land. He mentions this in his letter to the churches in Galatian in southern Turkey. James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along (Galatians 2:9-10). 

Titus, it appears had been asked to go round some of these churches asking them to start making collections that could be picked up at a later date by agreed representatives of the churches and taken to Jerusalem where there was a great need. The Church at Corinth initially agreed to do this, but it seems that they had lost interest and stopped collecting any more money. It is so important to say that giving of our time and our abilities, not just our money is part of Christian discipleship. It is a privilege not just our responsibility. Therefore, Paul tactfully challenged them:But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving (II Corinthians 8:7).

Before I move on, I want to say how much as pastor I deeply appreciate your generosity to the work of our church over this last year. I have been deeply humbled by awareness of how our faith is being lived out in this respect.     

2. The example of Jesus (II Corinthians 8:8-9)

(a)Love in Action (II Corinthians 8:8) I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.  

It appears that in this relatively prosperous city in Greece that some of its better-off citizens might have looked down on the poorer people in other parts of the country. Of course, people today don’t compare what they have with what others have in their class at school or college; or what their neighbours in the street have? So this is not an issue today?!! Of course it is, probably worse than then, because we can find out so many things without even going out of our front door. It is good psychology by Paul to drop into the conversation what the Macedonians had already collected. He knows they will be embarrassed to find that their collections were so much smaller. So he lets them know in advance that Titus will come back to be with them towards the end of their time for collections so as to motivate them to get back on track with something they ought already to have completed. Thankfully, this appeal seemed to work and in time the collection was concluded in a satisfactory way.

(b) Their role model for action (II Corinthians 8:9) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 

The example of fellow Greek Christians was a powerful one, but this second example was inevitably the most powerful. What would Jesus do? No, in this context it was what had Jesus already done! Jesus had given up the ease of life in heaven to come down to earth to live among us. As John puts it in John 1:16: Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. Are there any regular opportunities for us today to recall what Jesus did for us? Yes in the ordinances of believers’ baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

In Romans 6:3-4 Paul wrote:  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. It was incredibly costly for Jesus to give His life for us on the cross. When we go through the waters of baptism we are declaring that we are committed to following in His footsteps, even though at times it will be costly for us. Then each week as we gather round the Lord’s Supper as we take the bread and wine it is a physical sign of the price of our redemption. He did all this for me. We can never say we didn’t know.’ Because we have been blessed and brought to faith through the witness and generosity of others, the privilege of giving becomes part of our lived experience of the faith as well. 

3. Paul’s guidance on giving (II Corinthians 8:10-15)

10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’

What is Paul in the last part of this section of chapter eight advising the members of the church in Corinth to do?

(a)Giving proportionately (II Corinthians 8:12) For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. It is a reminder of II Corinthians 8:3: For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own… 

Paul is grateful that the Christians in Corinth, although they had been slow to do it in practice, were committed in principle to their responsibility to contribute financially and in other ways to the Lord’s work.  The principle here is that each person is responsible for how and what they give. Our circumstances are all different as are our incomes, the amount of free time we possess and our various gifts and talents. We are invited to give proportionately to our income.  

(b)Giving together (II Corinthians 8:13-15) Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.’ 

Together, God’s people will be prompted by the Lord to give what is needed in His work. It is something we see in a range of contexts not just in churches where people co-operate sometimes without knowing other givers to accomplish a particular goal.

For example, there was a story of Naana Aisha Issaka, a support worker from Nottingham whose expected student loan to pay for her nurse training course had been rejected turned to crowd-funding to pay for her studies. In just a few weeks members of the public donated the nearly £40,000 she needed[BBC News website 8.4.2021]. 

I found it so encouraging over this year how generously members of our congregation gave to the fund raising appeals by our own younger members. 

However, at the heart of the gospel is the good news that we are recipients of God’s grace, His undeserved kindness to us. When we recognise all that God through Jesus has given us it becomes not an obligation but a privilege to give back to the Lord for His work and to bless other people in different appropriate ways. The Christians in Macedonia had been quick to grasp this principle. The church in Corinth much slower, though at last they understood what Paul had been teaching them. May God help each one of us experience this sense of privilege in giving to God and others, for Jesus’ sake, Amen   

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Give Thanks’

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: Great is the Lord

Closing Prayer: 

Thank You Lord that You gave Yourself for us upon the cross.Willingly, out of love for us You endured the cost of that sacrifice in our place. Thank You for the honour of being one of Your followers. Thank You for the privilege of giving of ourselves, our gifts and time and finances as offerings of worship to You and in some cases also as a means of blessing other people. Guide and direct us is all that we do this week, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen   

Benediction:  The Grace 

Easter Sunday 2021 – Church at Home


Intimations

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School. Here is the link for Sunday 4 April 21 Virtual Sunday Schoolis: ‘Palm Sunday Special’.

JAM young adults have a separate programme Breakthru 7:00pm-8:00pm Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

Facebook service – We also have another recorded service that was live on the church Facebook on Easter Sunday.

Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream The monthly prayer livestream takes place on Sunday 4 April, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.  

Today’s service is led today by Moraig Piggot

Call to worship

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”’

Mark 16:1-7

Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘Thine be the glory’`

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we come with great joy on the happiest day in the Christian year when we celebrate the bodily resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Each year when we hear these words of the angel, it brings real delight to our hearts. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 

 We are so thankful that our faith rests on such secure foundations. We know that those first followers of Jesus were not expecting this glorious news of resurrection as the day dawned on the first Easter Sunday. Thank you Lord that what You predicted during Your earthly ministry came true. In Mark 10:34-35 You declared: …the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.’ 

As we celebrate God’s actions in the past, it gives us real hope for the future in our own lives. No situation is hopeless where You are involved. No life is hopeless when Your Holy Spirit is at work within us. We come, once more, confessing our sins and seeking Your forgiveness. Fill us again with the power of Your Holy Spirit that we may be effective witnesses for You in this coming week by our words and actions, we pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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


Talk 1 – The Best Surprise
by Moraig Piggot 

What is the best surprise you have ever had? I would probably say I don’t really like surprises. I think this stems from when I first met Simon and on our first anniversary, we decided we would have a nice meal and exchange gifts. I had obviously put a lot of thought into this and bought Simon a t-shirt by a designer he likes to wear, Simon then hands over my gift and straight away I thought well it’s too big a parcel to be jewellery, but also too small to be a handbag so what else is there he could possibly have bought me? I opened it and it was a CD holder case for my car!

So I know what people who don’t know me will be thinking, I would smile and say thank you but I know that people who do know me will not be surprised that my response was “Well if this relationship is going to last any longer than a year Simon I think from now on I will buy my own presents!” Simon looked quite shocked and couldn’t understand what was wrong after all as he told me it was a very practical present and useful! But he was to learn very quickly that this lady did not like surprises that were practical or useful!

I would have to say though that the best surprise I have ever had was when I gave birth to both of my children and finding out whether they were a boy or girl, seeing what they looked like and knowing that we had a lifetime of unimaginable love ahead of us. 

We are going to watch a video now about the greatest ever surprise the world would ever know! Jesus was dead and buried in a tomb. An enormous stone and Roman soldiers guard the entrance. But when some of his followers go to visit the tomb, something astonishing unfolds. The stone is rolled away, the soldiers are gone, and angels bring an amazing message! We don’t all like surprises but for us as Christians, this surprise at the heart of Easter is the best news the world has ever heard! Today in our service we will explore the resurrection of Jesus and what it means to us as Christians today. 

Bible reading Matthew 28:1-10

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

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

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

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ He said. They came to Him, clasped His feet and worshipped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see Me.’

Talk 2 – Jesus is risen
by Moraig Piggot

Jesus is risen, just as he had said he would be, that he would die, and on the third day, rise again. This is why he came. The disciples, however, although they had heard Jesus say this several times, hadn’t understood. Remember too, that since Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus is dead, as far as they are concerned. The one they thought was the Messiah, the one they had been waiting for, for all of these years, had been killed and buried in a tomb. 

Imagine you go to Jesus’ tomb, you find the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. How would you respond? (Wait for some responses) Imagine being Jesus’ friends that day and seeing him alive again face to face! Now you can understand how this for them was the greatest surprise ever!

It’s a reminder to us today that God is more powerful than death. We know that he loved us so much he sent his only son to earth to be born as a baby in the stable that very first Christmas, but as the video reminded us- Easter is a game changer, Jesus rising from the dead shows that suffering and death are not the end. There will be no more death, sorrow, crying or pain. Rev. 21:4. Jesus came to fix our broken world and restore our relationship with God. We can experience love and life in all its fullness if we follow him. John10:10.

What a wonderful assurance we have through Easter that death is not the end, when we are experiencing tough times or people we love are suffering, Jesus’ resurrection is the reminder that we need that in God there is always hope. God doesn’t give up, as we are reminded in his word May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13.

If you are hearing this amazing and wonderful, surprising news about Easter for the very first time today or have maybe been curious about this for a wee while but are not sure how to find out more then can I please encourage you today to turn to God because he loves you and wants you to know more about the hope he offers us all. Throughout the year we run a number of courses as a church which may help to support you and answer questions you may have. 

Life and the Christian Faith Course. Opening up conversation about life, faith and God

An informal series of free evening conversations on Zoom for people who want to explore Christianity for the first time.

Run by Broughty Ferry Baptist Church. 

Contact  webmaster@broughtybaptist.org for more information.

Similarly if you would like prayer or want to chat about things, Brian, Gary and Claire are also available.

Our next song is: ‘Risen, Risen, Jesus is risen’ 

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father on Easter Day, we come with thankfulness that if You could make history, as You had promised two thousand years ago, then we can trust You to help us in our times of need in the present and into the future. We give thanks for the hope that we have in Jesus’ resurrection and we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and the powers of darkness. We pray that this Easter people across Scotland will come to know this resurrection hope for themselves and the power of Jesus. In this disruptive season, we pray that they good news of Jesus will continue to be shared in-person and online in communities across Scotland. Help us Lord to be your hands and feet in our communities. Embolden us to share our faith with those we journey alongside in the coming days.

While we see signs of the easing of restrictions on our daily lives and the reduction of the spread of the Covid-19 virus, we continue to pray for those countries in Europe and other parts of the world where the spread of this virus seems far from under control.  We pray that governments and vaccine manufacturers will be able to work together effectively to first contain and then to seek to eliminate it in every country of the world for our common good.

We pray today for those people living in the midst of extreme violence. We remember the people of Myanmar in particular whose brutal military regime has murdered many more civilians across the age range as they seek to impose their rule on the country. Lord have mercy on all these countries and situations. 

We pray too for those countries suffering severe food and other shortages as a result of conflicts caused and maintained by other countries, in particular Syria and Yemen. We pray that pressure can be maintained on the governments concerned who could alleviate this suffering if they choose to do so.

We also pray for the election campaign in our country that it may be conducted with dignity and respect across the parties; that truthful speaking and integrity in presentations both spoken and written may be a hallmark of this campaign. We pray too for negotiations in Israel over the formation of a new government. We pray that in this polarised situation that those involved in the negotiations may seek to do what is best for that country.     

Chaplain and Churches for prayer

Jim Meighan (Chaplain, Royal Hospital for Children) – As they work their way through the second wave, there are many staff already running on empty due to Covid, PTSD andexhaustion. Lord we pray that they will get time to rest and recuperate. We also pray that many restrictions will remain in place in Scotland until the majority of people are vaccinated to help reduce prevalence of this disease.

Coastline Community ChurchPittenweem – We give thanks to God for all the community work we have been able to do during the past year, especially within the foodbank and community resilience. Please do keep us in prayer as we seek what the Lord would have us do once we emerge on the other side of this pandemic.

Coatbridge BC – We give thanks for the church family at Coatbridge as they seek to make Jesus known in word and action. We pray Father that you would lead and guide them in the weeks and months ahead as they seek to share Jesus with the people of Coatbridge.

Collydean BC, Fife – Lord, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters at Collydean Granary Baptist as they seek to worship and serve God in the town. We pray for boldness for the church as they share Jesus with the people they come into contact with.

Cornton BC, Stirling – We give thanks to God for the continued fellowship we share in these strange times and that folks remain connected online. Please pray for a new partnership, ‘The Larder’, which provides food and essentials for those who are struggling at this time, and for Easter activity packs distributed to all our church families as well as our Kids Club families in the community.

Our local Church needs for prayer

Lord, we also remember the people in our own congregation in need of our prayers. We ask that as You bring people to our minds that we would bring their situations to You…

Lord, we also pray for other people we know that are in need of prayer…

Lastly, we bring our own needs before You at this time…

Lord, hear and answer our prayers we pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Talk 3 – The Greatest Friend
by Moraig Piggot

The Bible teaches and reminds us that Jesus came to earth to die and rise again so that people could have a friendship with God. This is what Easter is all about! Why is God a better friend than anyone else? 

Jesus’ friends were so impacted by what happened on that first Easter weekend that they gave everything to share this good news. They wanted everyone to know the lengths that God would go to, to show his extraordinary love! 

Last week Gary reminded us in his all age talk of our Church Mission statement that as Broughty Ferry Baptist church we are seeking to build a Christ Centred Church why because Christ is and should be at the heart of everything we say, think and do. What Christ did for us that very first Easter demonstrates the lengths he was prepared to go to, to ensure we have a forever future with God. As we sang last Sunday and will sing again today ‘Hallelujah, praise the one who set me free. Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me. You have broken every chain. There’s salvation in your name. Jesus Christ, my living hope.’

So when we have made the commitment to have Christ at the centre of our lives its right and important that like those first disciples we should want to share this good news will all around us. Why have the greatest friend ever and keep them all to yourself? Now up until this time last year, as a church we were really blessed with the opportunities God was giving us as a church to share his love in our community here in Broughty Ferry, we were a buzzing hive of activity with lots of different groups, courses and services happening. Then like the rest of the world it felt like Covid19 shut everything down and everything we were doing stopped! But we know from what we have heard today that God is a game changer, if he is more powerful than death then he is even more powerful that a virus. God’s love and God’s word continues regardless and so what I feel we need to reflect upon today is what opportunities to grow his church we can thank him for in this last year and how are we going to continue to be looking to him, growing in him and sharing him from today forward, regardless of the circumstances we are in?

That very first Easter the world received the greatest surprise it would ever see- Jesus is Risen, death could not defeat him, God is more powerful than death and he offers us love and life in all its fullness. The very first disciples were filled with excitement and passion to go to every corner of the earth and share this good news, today all these thousands of years later are we filled with that same desire this Easter day to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, our living hope, the greatest friend we will ever have and with every day we have we will proclaim this for all to hear!  

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Standing on this mountaintop’

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: ‘Living Hope’

Closing Prayer: 

Thank You Lord for Resurrection Day, the greatest day in history, when even death itself was conquered. Thank You Lord, because in the light of Your resurrection, death is not the last word on our lives as well. We have a living hope in the God who transcends history. We thank You for the assurance that as we go through another week that You will go with us each step of the way.  We give You our heartfelt thanks in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Benediction:  The Grace 

2 April 2021 Church at Home – Good Friday

Welcome to this short Good Friday service. We come on this very special day as followers of Jesus with deep gratitude for all that He has done for us.  


Call to Worship

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with Him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals – one on His right, the other on His left. 34 Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

(Luke 23:32-34)

The shock and disbelief of so many people at the sight they saw that day would remain with them for the rest of their lives. Why was Jesus on the cross? It is a question we do well to ask ourselves today. Humanly-speaking there are many people that contributed to putting Jesus on the cross –yet supremely the most important answer comes from Isaiah 53:10 It was the Lord’s will. God the Father knew we could never be good enough to earn our salvation. Our sins separated us from Him. Out of His amazing love for us – in the person of Jesus – He died in our place. He died so that we might live with our sins forgiven and the amazing gift of eternal life. Hallelujah What a Saviour! 

Opening Song ‘Come and See, Come and See’

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, it is an incredible privilege on this most holy of days in the Christian year to stop for a short time to reflect on what Jesus went through for us on the cross and the cost of His sacrifice in our place. Thank You Lord for all that You willingly endured in our place so that we might freely by Your grace be welcomed into God’s family as His children.  We come humbly today, confessing our sins, humbled by the knowledge that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Meet with us today by Your Holy Spirit and speak into our lives something more of Your amazing love for us and challenge us afresh to renew our commitment to follow You more closely in the coming days, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.    

Bible Reading

17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for You to eat the Passover?’

18 He replied, ‘Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with My disciples at your house.”’ 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, He said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray Me.’

22 They were very sad and began to say to Him one after the other, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?’

23 Jesus replied, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for Him if he had not been born.’

25 Then Judas, the one who would betray Him, said, ‘Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?’

Jesus answered, ‘You have said so.’

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’

27 Then He took a cup, and when he had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

(Matthew 26:17-30)

Message 

Instead of giving a message in this service today we have a guest speaker, Joseph Steinberg, a Jewish follower of Jesus, who leads the International Mission to Jewish people, and who has recorded two messages, one fifteen minutes long and the second approximately thirty minutes long.

Joseph Steinberg


In these two messages that you can download by clicking the drop-box links, or by coping and pasting the link into your internet search facility, he allows us to see the events of the Last Supper, most probably an adapted Jewish Passover meal, through Jewish eyes. We can take time to listen as he shares with us a Jewish understanding of the significance of the bread and wine taken in communion and, secondly, a deeper explanation of the good news of the gospel in the Passover celebration. It may help us see a little more clearly something of the significance of the events of that first Holy Week in AD33.     

The fifteen minute explanation of the bread and wine is here:  

Jesus ‘the bread of life’ and the ‘lamb of God’

And the longer thirty-four minute Gospel in the Passover short demonstration is here:  

‘The Gospel in the Passover’

Song ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’

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: ‘Give me a sight O Saviour’

Closing Prayer: 

Thank you Lord Jesus for the honour of spending this time reflecting on all You have done for us two thousand years ago. Help us to dedicate our lives once more to be Your willing servants who will live in a way that is pleasing to You, following Your example of obedience to the plan of the Father for Your life on earth. Empower us we pray through the Holy Spirit that other people may see something of the likeness of Jesus in us day by day, for the honour and praise of Your holy name, Amen.   

Benediction

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

(Hebrews 13:20-21)

Find out about our other online Easter events

Easter Sunday events

Our Good Friday service is available here.

Sunday 4 April 2021 @ 10am
Easter Sunday’s Service will be an All Age Worship Service led by Moraig Piggot on Zoom. People are welcome to attend the service in person in Panmurefield Baptist Centre. Those who would like to attend in person or on Zoom should contact us by Wednesday 31 March. (webmaster@broughtybaptist.org or Contact Us form)

Moraig writes “We would encourage everyone to consider who they might invite along on Zoom to our Easter service. Email addresses of family and friends should be sent to Fiona Small who will then send out a Zoom invite. Following on from our successful Christmas Broughty Ferry Baptist ‘Bake Off’ we are going to have an Easter Broughty Ferry Baptist ‘Bake Off’! To take part you will need:

Round plain biscuit such a digestive.
Smaller round biscuit such as an Oreo or Jammie Dodger.
A mini egg.
Green coloured icing.
Some sprinkles.

Instructions about how to use these ingredients will be given on the day. If you are planning on inviting along family or friends to the service who may have children please let them know in advance about the ‘Bake Off’ so they can join in too.

Easter Sunday Facebook service @ 6pm

You can join us for our Facebook service with more celebrations including All age talk, bible reading, prayer and music at Broughty Ferry Baptist Church | Facebook page.