Wednesday @ 11 – 4 November 2020

Welcome to the notes from our midweek service of worship in our building in Panmurefield

Opening Scripture verses:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2

Opening praise: How Deep the Father’s Love

Opening Prayer:

Thank you Lord once more for this opportunity to gather in Your house to worship You. We know as King Solomon of Israel many centuries ago declared in I Kings 8:27-28: 

But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in your presence this day. 

Lord unlike us You are not constrained by space and time and are able to hear and answer the prayers we bring to You today. We ask Your blessing on our time together in the wonderful and precious name of Jesus, Your Son, Our Saviour, in whose name we pray, Amen 

Bible Reading:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
 Would all of you throw me down this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.


My salvation and my honour depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
‘Power belongs to You, God,
12  and with You, Lord, is unfailing love’;
and, ‘You reward everyone
according to what they have done.’

Psalm 62

Intercessory prayer using Psalm 62

Heavenly Father as we come with our prayers of intercession today, we are conscious of so many needs within our congregation, community and country and that is before we come to consider the wider world. Yet we remember that the Scriptures ask us to offer our prayers with thanksgiving.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. Lord, I want to thank You today for…   

Our Father, we are very conscious of people or circumstances that for us or for others are very difficult. We are aware that for King David it was other people who had caused deep hurts to him. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Lord, I want to bring before You the person or people or the circumstances with which I am struggling today….

Lord, we come deeply aware that sometimes our commitment to You or to Your service is not as it ought to be. We remember David’s challenge to himself in Psalm 62:5: Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Lord, I am aware of my need to renew afresh my life into Your hands today, as David did long ago, in particular, I want to ask You to help me with…

Thank you Lord that our faith is a missionary faith and the needs of others to trust You will be on our hearts, week by week. David appealed to those not yet committed to God in His day to take that step of faith. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. I want to bring before the following names of people I want to see You bring to faith or bring back to You…

David reminded us of the shortness of life. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Lord, we are currently concerned about the ongoing virus pandemic in our city and in other places.  We want to bring before You the following Health Service or Social Care workers…

We also want to bring before You the following people who are unwell or who have been bereaved in the recent past…

We also want to bring before You these other needs… or particular personal needs ….

Thank You Lord for hearing and answering our prayers in Jesus’ name, Amen

Message from Psalm 62 ‘Trusting in God’

Introduction

This Psalm was written at the time of Absalom’s rebellion against his father King David with a view to taking the throne as the new King of Israel nearly 3,000 years ago (See II Samuel chapters 15-18 for more details). There was real uncertainty in the King’s household as to who had remained loyal to the aged king and who had sided with the young claimant in what became a short civil war.

At first Absalom in having the element of surprise had the upper hand. It seemed likely that had he made the right strategic decisions in the first few days that he would have been successful in this military coup. Even some of David’s closest friends and acquaintances sided with Absalom.

We won’t go into the reasons for that here as it would take us away from the point of this Psalm, but it asks the question to all of us – in whom do you put your trust? How many people do you know whose words you would trust 100%? How many individuals would you trust with the most personal and sensitive information about your life, of your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and your failures? This is a very hard question to answer.   

Let us look here how in the most difficult of times David comes to terms with the very serious predicament he was facing of the possible loss of his throne and with it the danger of also losing his life as well.  

1. Trust in God our choice despite adversity (Psalm 62:1-4)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence?Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. 

Who can you depend on when you need help? Whose presence with you gives you a sense of security and an assurance that things will be okay? When we were little children of course for the vast majority of us the answer would be our parents.

They were amazing people who knew ‘all the answers’ to sort out all the difficulties we were facing in our childhood.  As we grow we come to a point where we know that our parents are not able to resolve all the problems we face or put right all the wrongs done to us. In fact, there are circumstances in many people’s lives that no other person can make right. It doesn’t have to be as extreme a situation as David was facing where he had a genuine fear of losing his life. 

Can you say as David did here: Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1a)? All of us have our genuine worries and concerns in life, if not for ourselves then for other people around us. But worrying about something does not resolve anything, the situation remains as difficult as before and on top of that we may struggle to get adequate sleep; we may be unable to concentrate adequately at school, college or our workplace; it can rob us of pleasure and joy in the good things of life that we experience and give us nothing positive in return.

Worry or anxiety is a thief that takes from us our sense of wellbeing and if we remain in this state it will damage our emotional and mental health and sometimes even our physical health as well. David’s secret to the long life he lived was the revelation he shares here in this verse. Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1a). He also explains why he turned to God in the first place. My salvation comes from Him (Psalm 62:1b).

Have you put your faith and trust in God? There is no-one more able to save us than God. As a Christian I would add through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour; the One who died in our place on the cross to take the punishment for your sins and mine so that instead of condemnation we might have a welcome into God’s family through His amazing undeserved kindness to us. The security of God’s love makes all the difference to His children. David goes on to say in Psalm 62:2L Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.  Is God your anchor in the storms of life? Is He your reference point when you lose your sense of direction in life? He invites you and me to follow Him. If you have never put your faith in God the Father through Jesus, then I would encourage you to take that step today.

In Psalm 62:3-4 David turns to the people whose actions have caused so much distress for him. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless,but in their hearts they curse. 

Are there people who have made promises to you and broken them? Are there individuals who betrayed your trust or who took advantage of your goodness to them? David now as an aged man acutely aware of his bodily weakness feels righteous indignation rising up within him. How could they do…? Sadly it happens all the time, but it doesn’t make it any easier to understand why someone would act in this way. Each of us will recall examples of this kind of behaviour. However, David’s point here is that even when other people are unaware of wrongdoing that God will see it and act in response to it.

Have you ever been falsely accused of doing something wrong? Or aware that another person has wrongly treated you? Never forget that God sees all these things. Therefore, says David, Truly my soul finds rest in God despite all the adversity that may come my way today or tomorrow or sometime in the future.                                                                       

2. Trust in God brings a sense of security (Psalm 62:5-8)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people;pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

Notice how these words build on the earlier verses one and two. In Psalm 62:1-2 there is a statement of David’s practice. But here in Psalm 62:5 there is a personal exhortation to practise more seriously the message he proclaimed to other people. All of us know how easy it is to give advice to other people about how they should act in particular contexts. But do I follow my own advice in practice? We are familiar with the pattern in many of David’s Psalms.  He has gone through some great trials with God’s help and afterwards writes a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to celebrate answers to prayer. Somewhere in the Psalm he will invite or exhort the reader or hearer to do what he did in trusting God. 

What can we learn from David here? I may have put my trust in God for the first time many years ago. I may have read the Bible, prayed and attended church for decades, but sometimes we can drift in our commitment to following Him. There are times when we need to come to God and ask Him to help us get back on track in our spiritual journey. We can have times of self-pity.  God it is not fair.  I have served You faithfully. I have been a good neighbour, a diligent worker and a person who helped others in need. This bad situation ought not to happen to me! Unfortunately life is not that simple.

We need to accept that there is much in life that we will never understand. Our ‘why’ questions may never get answered to our satisfaction; sometimes we need to stop and challenge ourselves not to be weighed down completely by the trials we face that we forget to keep our eyes on the Lord. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him (Psalm 62:5). Actually, a more accurate translation of David’s words in verses 1 and 2 and here in verse 5 and 6 includes the word alone. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. 

God is not just a person to whom we turn in our times of crisis, but the One on whom we depend and with whom we seek fellowship in good times as well as tough ones. His sufficiency in our times of need is something we need to remind ourselves of on occasions.       

Notice that whereas in the first few verses of this Psalm (Psalm 62:3-4) David feels the need to address those who had made his life so difficult, but in these next few verses his focus is entirely on God. The Bible in quite a few places challenges us to keep our focus on the Lord and on what He has called us to do. Jesus, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount said these challenging words in Matthew 6:31-33 to His followers when they were tempted to worry about the future.  

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

Are you, am I giving God the first place in our lives. In a time of the worst virus pandemic for a century it is no surprise that many people are worried about their health, or worried about their job or their business. God through David invites us to commit our day, our week and our future into His hands. The implication David gives if we don’t follow his advice is that instead of rest we will become increasingly weary and very vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed with all that we might have to face in times like these. 

Therefore, in Psalm 62:8 David gives a challenge to us, his readers and hearers: Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Notice he says at all times not some times. God is sufficient to meet our needs in every situation so that we can find a place of rest and peace of mind through Him. His words here are in effect a testimony of God’s goodness in helping him.

Never underestimate the power of your story. Your account of how you came to faith in Jesus or your memory of answered prayers. A person may disagree with your opinions on many subjects. However, it is so much harder to challenge lived experience. There are many people in country after country looking for a way to handle all the pressures that have come their way in the last six months. You might be the person God uses to speak a word for Him later today or later this week. Please pray for opportunities to share your faith story with others. Who might you want to share the good news with that God is our refuge?      

3. Trust in God gives a right perspective (Psalm62:9-12)

Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. 10 Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. 11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard:‘Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’; and, ‘You reward everyone according to what they have done.’

Have you ever been somewhere and got well and truly lost? I can recall car journeys over the years where it was incredibly frustrating, trying to find places because the road signs were inadequate for a visitor to the area. I have also been walking on a few mountains when the mist came down and visibility was almost non-existent for a while. It can be quite scary to be in that position. Here our author wants to remind us that trust in God enables us to have a right perspective on so many things. First of all is a reminder of our weakness. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath (Psalm 62:9). Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. Even dictators and tyrants who may not face general elections will eventually depart this life. 

We ourselves will not be here for ever either. God knows the bigger picture. He knows how the pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ fit together. Our ultimate hope must not rest on, for example, which politicians are in office. They may try their best, but will rarely accomplish more than a fraction of what had been promised in an election campaign.

David also reminds us not to take integrity shortcuts when under real pressure in daily life.  Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them (Psalm 62:10). There are plenty of people who will falsify tax returns, or give misleading information about products they are selling to maximise their business profits. There are others who in hard times engage in theft or trade in stolen property.  Don’t do any of these things and others that your conscience and mine has concerns about. Be known as a man or woman of integrity who cannot be bought and who always endeavours to the best of your ability to do what is right. 

David then comes to his concluding remarks in verses 11 and 12: One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard:‘Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’; and, ‘You reward everyone according to what they have done.’ What is his concluding advice to us?

Remember: (i) God is strong Power belongs to you, God… We at times are acutely aware of our weakness and inadequacy but He: is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21). There is nothing too difficult for you to do today with His help.

(ii) God is faithful … and with you, Lord, is unfailing love. Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3:22-23: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. David understood afresh something of the character of God as he rejoiced in the faithful covenant love between God and His people. You may feel alone, but God will never leave you alone because He always keeps His promises.

(iii) God is fair You reward everyone according to what they have done. Paul reminded some fairly new Christians of this truth in Galatians 6:9-10: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.In our city in the last six months it has been great to see people coming together to serve their communities during this virus pandemic. However, I have been particularly pleased to see the number of churches that have stepped up to play their part as well. We have only one life to live here on earth and then after this life we will stand before the Lord to give an account of the way we have lived. May He help us to do what is right and live each day in a way pleasing to Him, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Closing Song: I will sing the Wondrous Story

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord for Your amazing kindness to us as Your people. We come with grateful hearts again and again to express our thankfulness to You. Help us at this time to rest in God alone, and not to worry about the issues that are beyond our control. Help us to commit our future to You, both individually as well as in our families and here in our church family, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Benediction

Wednesday @ 11 service – 21 October 2020

Please find below notes of our midweek service of worship in our building in Panmurefield

Opening Scripture verses:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:1-3

Opening praise: ‘Be Thou my vision’

Opening prayer:

Lord we come with Your joy in our hearts today for the privilege of worshipping and glorifying Your holy name. We are an incredibly privileged people with so many things for which to praise You our great God and Saviour. The apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-32 declared: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Father, forgive us for those times when we doubted Your good ness to us or failed to display a thankful spirit for all our blessings. Help each one of us to honour and truly worship You each day of our lives as You desire, for Jesus’ names’ sake, Amen.

Bible Reading

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

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

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

Today, if only you would hear His voice,
‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested Me;
they tried Me, though they had seen what I did.

10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known My ways.”
11 So I declared on oath in My anger,
“They shall never enter My rest.”’

Psalm 95

Intercessory prayer using Psalm 95

Heavenly Father, We come with confidence in Your holy presence today because we come in the precious name of Jesus, Your Son, our Saviour. When we look at the suffering in our world and the many crises around the globe with our confusion, it forces us to come back to the cross to see how much love You have for us as creatures created in Your image when You sent Jesus to die in our place so that we may have life in its fullness as Your children here on earth.

We do recognise that although our scientists and medical specialists are working so hard to care for patients who have been infected with the Covid-19 virus, or seeking to find a suitable vaccine to use to reduce its devastating impact on most people’s daily lives, we know that we must be patient for some time to come before we will be free once again to live in some form of our previous normal ways of living. We ask that You would help us as the human race to appreciate how we might live better on our planet as stewards of the natural resources entrusted to us, as well as share more appropriately the wealth so unfairly distributed into fewer and fewer people’s hands or held by a very small number of global corporations.

We come to use the words of Psalm 95 in our prayers today:  

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

Father forgive us when our minds are so fixed on what is wrong in the world that we fail to honour and thank You for all the blessings and good things we enjoy. The wonderful blessing for most of us of close family and friends and church family; in particular today I want to thank You for ….   being a blessing to me…. 

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

Lord thank You for the beauty of creation around us. We are so blessed to live near the seashore where many of us at times can walk on the beach or paddle in the water, or simply listen to the sounds of the waves or the birds all around us. Thank you too for the mountains and hillsides and valleys inland, some places we can visit on foot or others to which we must travel to walk or in other ways to enjoy the scenery. In particular, there are special memories of places precious to me, I want to thank You for ….   

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

Lord, we come individually as well as collectively to worship You today. In particular, I want to thank You for what I have learned as I read and study Your Word or as I seek You in prayer…..

 Thank you Lord that there is nothing too big for You to handle, no situation too difficult or beyond hope. Today I want to bring before You …. with their particular need for prayer….

 Lord we thank You that Betty Watson had her hip operation last week and we pray she makes a full recovery of health and strength. Lord, I am also aware of  …. in need of prayer and I bring them before You now…. 

Today, if only you would hear His voice, ‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,where your ancestors tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known My ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in My anger, “They shall never enter My rest.”’

Lord forgive me my sins, both those I know of and those of which I am even unaware.  Lord, we bring before You the sins of our nation and its leaders. Where they have put personal or party interests before others, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable citizens; forgive the sins of our country in its foreign policy that has too often focussed on selling arms or other goods that make great profits here, but too often cause misery and disaster for vulnerable people in other places. We are distressed at the astonishingly long queues for even basic food items like bread in places like Syria caused entirely by Western sanctions and the deliberate destruction of their ability to produce sufficient food in their own land. Lord have mercy…  

In particular, I want to bring …. (world issue) to You to work in resolving things we cannot change.

Thank you Lord for hearing and answering our prayers, in the name of Jesus, Your Son our Saviour, Amen.  

Psalm 95 An invitation to worship

Introduction

This psalm was written after the return from exile in Babylon (Iraq) by the small group of exiles that returned in different groups after the seventy years with no functioning nation in the land of Israel. However, now the situation has changed, homes have been built and occupied and businesses and lives re-established in the land.  The Temple in Jerusalem has been restored and rebuilt so that it can be a place of worship once again.  

The city too has seen its basic infrastructure rebuilt, including its walls, in the time of Nehemiah as governor. There is much to give thanks to God for in the nation. The generation that lived through times of despair and utter hopelessness, has largely passed away, but a tiny number remained to see the promises of God fulfilled before their eyes in Jerusalem. 

The challenges we are facing today are nothing like as severe as the ones they passed through. However, in many countries around the world millions of people are enduring life-threatening difficulties on a scale that is distressing to see.

The starving people in Syria in lengthy queues for basic food supplies and missing out on all kinds of medical supplies in their National Health Service, due to the theft of some supplies by America and Turkey from the north of the country and more generally as a result of unjust sanctions against the Syrian government by certain Western nations including our own. The problems in Yemen and Nagorno-Karabakh, likewise, caused by military weaponry sold by a handful of countries including our own that makes large profits for the sellers at the expense of heartache and tragedy for many ordinary people. Lord have mercy upon us.

However, we are aware that alongside so many people in our city volunteering to help their neighbours and others in the wider community, there are still people struggling with the pressures of daily life, including as yet unaddressed health needs, or the pressures of work responsibilities. The uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic will be with us for some time to come and it is taking its toll on the emotional and mental health of an increasing number of people.

Our politicians, scientists and health professionals are doing their best to help our country through this time, like their counterparts in other countries, but there is so much that they cannot control. Ultimately there is only one person to whom we can turn at a time like this and that is to the Lord as our unknown author directs us in Psalm 95. What does the Psalmist direct us to do in our worship service today?        

1. The joy of worship (Psalm 95:1-2)

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. ‘If only’ might be the cry of our heart when we are currently not permitted to sing out loud in public worship services! We will certainly appreciate it when the day comes when we can return to joyfully singing our loud God’s praises and being blessed by the contributions of our excellent musicians. It does raise the question for me; did I always appreciate enough what a privilege it was to come before the Lord with praise and worship with His people as we gathered Sunday by Sunday? How often do we take for granted the things we expect to be available for us week by week?

Since lockdown restrictions began back in March 2020 we have had to be creative utilising other resources. Many Christians have sung at home in their own homes using hymnbooks they possess. Others have utilised Christian radio or television services online or as we in this church do in services, taking links from earlier recordings of hymns or other songs being sung that we can then use in our services each Sunday on zoom, or via the church website or via the email version of the service.

But just mentioning these different ways in which we offer a Sunday service to people, and I had not mentioned the CDs or DVDs prepared for a smaller number of people, or the paper copies of services printed off for other people in their homes or residential care! God’s praises can still be offered and our thanksgiving expressed for the blessings we enjoy that are received from His hands. We are thankful that we can also gather in smaller numbers on church premises like today. We miss greatly our fellowship with one another that the pandemic restrictions have brought about, but through forms of technology such as phones or computers, or meeting people in public places the majority of us have had some contact with others over recent months.

Our author highlights some different ways to offer our worship to the Lord. In fact, it appears he is concerned that some of the recipients of this Psalm might not have been taking the opportunities to worship open to them as regularly as they might. Therefore, he issues a strong invitation to join with God’s people to honour and glorify His name. How should or might we offer our worship here? 

The first exhortation is this: let us sing for joy to the Lord;(Psalm 95:1a) It is part of the human experience of life to want to sing. It is not just in churches that people like to gather to sing. In all kinds of concert halls or theatres, football grounds and in so many more places singing is a part of bringing pleasure to ourselves and to others in daily life. We might also want to add our homes or even our cars as places where we enjoy singing! However, the Psalmist here is specifically speaking about singing God’s praises. He is also exhorting us to do it with joy.  That is, to do it with our hearts and emotions as well as our minds and our vocal chords!

We are called in the Bible to be a praising people who take delight in expressing our delight at the privilege of worshipping our great God and Saviour. In the book of Nehemiah there is an account of a worship service held in Jerusalem by a large group of Jewish people who had returned to the land of their ancestors to live when they were free to do so. They had been addressing seriously issues relating to living their lives for God and some of those present had clearly had a sense of failure to live up to God’s standards to the extent that they were weeping in the service.

However, Nehemiah the governor of the land and a real man of God said these words to them, recorded in Nehemiah 8:10: This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strengthHad you ever thought that in praising and worshipping God, not only does He benefit from our adoration, but we are strengthened in our faith as a result of this activity?  

The second exhortation is more surprising: let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1b) In most Western Christian Churches worship can be fairly solemn and respectful and that is viewed as the way all services ought to be conducted. However, in many African or African American Churches worshippers may shout out ‘Amens’ or equivalents during the sermon or in the times of praise. It is clear that there is evident biblical sanction for their more vocal expressions of worship and in heaven we may have to get used to some more lively worship than is customary in most churches here in Scotland! After all we have a gospel that is incredible good news that is worthy of being proclaimed to anyone who will listen to us! Praise the Lord!  

The third exhortation is expected: Let us come before Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2a) This statement matches Paul’s teaching in I Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It also complements the apostles’ advice regarding prayer to the church at Philippi in Greece, stated in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

There is something of a pattern in the Bible of the blessing of God being attracted to His people when we are modelling a thankful spirit towards God and other people in daily life.  It helps us flourish as people. It is a challenge, in my daily life how easily do I look for reasons to be thankful in various situations ahead of being critical of things that need to be addressed. God desires us to cultivate a thankful spirit towards Him for all the blessings He has given us.   

The fourth exhortation is: and extol Him with music and song(Psalm 95:2). We are blessed with a good number of gifted musicians in our church family and we thank God for each one of them and the way their ministries have enriched our worship services, together with thankfulness to God for the team of people who have or continue to lead some of our worship services. Psalm 150, a latter Psalm, is a celebration of the many instruments we can use to glorify God in our praises. Our list of musical instruments today might differ from this list compiled more than two thousand years ago, but it is easy to grasp the point. The worship of Almighty God is meant to be enthusiastic as we raises our voices in praise and thanksgiving and that singing is enriched by the musical instruments that assist us in exalting His holy and majestic name.

2. The reasons for worship (Psalm 95:3-7a)

We could state that the first part of this Psalm is speaking about how ‘how’ we praise and worship God, something we can do on our own, in a small group or with a larger congregation of believers in a more structured worship service. The middle section of the Psalm answers the questions as to ‘why’ we should want to worship God. It is not something we consider when we have nothing else to do.  On the contrary, it is the most important human activity on this planet. The older catechisms of Protestant Churches in unison declared that our ‘chief end’ or our most important activity on earth is: ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever’. Now to the average citizen of our country such a thought would be foreign to their patterns of thinking or their daily lives, but not to the author of this psalm. He would have offered an ‘Amen’ or even a ‘hallelujah’ to such a claim. He gives us two reasons why this is the case.   

(a)The greatness of God (Psalm 95:3-5) For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it and His hands formed the dry land. 

All of us are brought up to appreciate the kind actions of other people. As children the vast majority of us were taught to always say ‘thank-you’ to a person who gave us a gift or carried out an act of kindness for us. Appreciation for the good works of others is an essential part of the character of every human being.

However, there are times when some people assist others in ways that are worthy of particular praise. For example, a teacher or sports coach that has helped a young person develop their musical skills or sporting talents over many years and now sees them achieve their goals is worthy of praise and public acclamation.

An even greater sense of gratitude might be due to a person who donated a healthy kidney to someone whose kidneys had failed enabling them to continue to live. But, infinitely higher than that is our obligation to acknowledge the greatness of God.  

The One who spoke and brought the universe into being out of nothing! The One who upholds and sustains it by His mighty power year by year; how great is our God!  We rightly get excited by parts of the creation, for example, the views from a mountain-top, or the sight of the flowers in our garden, and so much more, but we are invited to lift up our eyes and worship the One who brought all this into being. The One who positioned the planet earth so perfectly in its orbit in our galaxy that life of all kinds could flourish is worthy of infinite praise and adoration for His greatness. How great is our God?  Will you give the glory to Him for all He has created?  It certainly didn’t happen by chance that is impossible!

Psalm 8 focusses exclusively on this topic and includes these verses:  Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants You have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars,  which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?.. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-4, 9)  

It gets even more awesome in the New Testament when we read in John chapter one that the being who carried out that act of creation through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit entered our world as a baby at Bethlehem two thousand years ago in order to become the Saviour of the world. More than half a century after these events the aged disciple of Jesus, John, wrote in John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. How great is our God! Have you put your trust in Him as your Lord and Saviour? I hope each one of us has done so.

God could have created the world and left us to look after ourselves, but amazingly the Bible teaches us clearly about the amazing love and care of God for us as His children.  

(b) The care given by God (Psalm 95:6-7a)Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. 

There are many passages in the Old Testament that speak of God as the Shepherd of His people. Many people, even some non-churchgoers are familiar with Psalm 23. That Psalm begins: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).

Ezekiel chapter 34 is a lengthy chapter using the same imagery of God as the shepherd of His people. Christians will naturally turn in the New Testament chapter ten where Jesus describes Himself in this way in John 10:11, 14-16: 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… 14 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me – 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 

We should naturally want to worship God because of His amazing love and care for us. His modelling of care in the person of Jesus is the pattern given to Christians in general and church-leaders in particular in I Peter 5:2: 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; 

Do I genuinely care for other people in our church family to pray for them regularly and in other practical ways when and where appropriate? To a lesser degree do we care enough to pray for and in a more limited way support Christian work in other places in our country and overseas? We need to reflect the loving caring God who has done and is doing so much for us. 

3. The warning given by God (Psalm 95:7b-11)

The third section of such a beautiful psalm is such a real shock to read. It is like a musician playing beautifully at a concert and then striking some discordant notes that no-one could miss. Why does God through the psalmist need to give such a challenge in a psalm about worship and our invitation to honour the Lord as we ought to do? It is because of the repeated patterns in history of people in earlier generations drifting away from giving God the honour that is due to His holy name. This is why we notice here:  

(a) A danger to be heeded (Psalm 95:7b-8a) Today, if only you would hear His voice, ‘Do not harden your hearts… Don’t assume it is only a reminder to other believers to keep their focus on God. It is a constant challenge to my own heart and to yours to maintain our focus on praising and glorifying God, not just when all is going well but also in the midst of a Covid-19 virus pandemic or any number of other adverse circumstances. Do you need to address this issue today and need to ask God for forgiveness for not giving Him the first place in our lives as a Christian? Have other things crept in and you now have a greater joy in participating in lesser things? Nothing should be a greater priority in our lives than in giving Him the worship and adoration He deserves. If this is an issue for you, take the necessary time today to plan how to get your life back on track.  

(b) A pattern to be avoided (Psalm 95:8b-10) ‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested Me they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known My ways.” 

Our author illustrates his message with two examples from Israelite history from the generation that had seen so many extraordinary miracles from God as they were released from captivity in Egypt and forged a new future as a nation under God. The first reference is chronologically later than the second one, but we will reference them in that order following our author here. Meribah – the reference here is to Numbers chapter 20:1-13.

The Israelite community had got themselves into a dreadful state of constant complaining that life was hard and claiming that God was not looking after them properly. The particular cause for complaint on the day in question was the lack of a satisfactory water supply.

God told Moses that He would provide a miraculous intervention to ensure an adequate supply of water that duly happened. But it appears that very few of those present really expected it to happen, including the leaders of the nation Aaron and Moses. What we the consequences of this lack of belief? Numbers 20:12-13 states: 

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in Me enough to honour Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ 13 These were the waters of Meribah (quarrelling) where the Israelites quarrelled with the Lord and where He was proved holy among them. 

We will not truly worship God when we do not trust Him as we ought to provide for our needs in the present and the future. Time and again God is portrayed in the Bible (for example Genesis 22:14) as the One who provides what we need.

The second example was at Massah, a story recorded in Exodus 17:1-7. The events there had taken place many years earlier in the desert wanderings before the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua. As they did in the example above, the nation had become ungrateful to God and was habitually complaining about their lot; on the day in question the particular cause of complaint was the quality of the water supply. The incessant waves of constant complaints became all too much for Moses. But God intervened and utilised Moses as the means of transforming the situation.

The last verse of that account, Exodus 17:7 states: And he [Moses] called the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarrelling] because the Israelites quarrelled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord  among us or not?’ 

These people had lost their trust in God to provide for their needs and also lost a thankful spirit for all the blessings they had received from God. Tragically they had lost their joy by taking their eyes off the Lord. This is why in whatever setting we must find time to prioritise the worship of Almighty God. What were the consequences in that setting?   

(c) A punishment to be dreaded (Psalm 95:11)11 So I declared on oath in My anger, “They shall never enter My rest.”

For them it was the generation who missed out on entering the Promised Land. Their children would inherit this blessing. The challenge from the psalmist to each generation of people, including his own, was this: will I covenant to God to cultivate a thankful spirit for all my blessings and to focus on that more than my struggles and difficulties? Will I ensure I find the necessary time to prioritise the worship of Almighty God, both individually on my own and collectively with God’s people? No-one can do it for us, each of us must make our choice. May God help us to give Him the first place in our lives, for Jesus’ sake, Amen  

Closing Song: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’

Closing prayer:

Thank you Lord for the blessing of gathering to worship and glorify You today. Please give us expectant hearts to desire to worship You more fully in the coming days and to cultivate a heart overflowing with gratitude to You and to other people for the blessings You have given to us, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

The Benediction:

Sunday 17 May 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • Jam Kids Focus – Navigate Family Series Episode 3
  • A worksheet to accompany the video is also available here.
  • Another option for children is the Virtual Sunday School sessions which give an activity idea too.
  • JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com
  • Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream – We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday, celebrating the theme of Resurrection Hope with live prayer and news from churches around the country, including from Broughty Ferry Baptist Church this evening. This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Please join in and, if you don’t already do so, would you let your fellowship know about this and put it on your social media. Click here to access.

Call to Worship

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
 he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress…

10 
He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.’

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 1-7, 10-11

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

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship a modern version of Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy)

Opening prayer

Heavenly Father once more at the beginning of another new week we come with a sense of anticipation and joy into Your holy presence. As the Psalmist declared: This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm 118:24 NKJV)

We come today to praise You for the blessings of the past week. Thank you for the particular answers to prayer we received. The difficult tasks that we managed to accomplish with a degree of success. At a most basic level for those of us who have struggled to keep going, we record our gratitude for Your help in just getting through that week.

As we turn to the new week before us we come to confess our sins and ask for Your forgiveness. We also seek the fresh empowering of Your Holy Spirit to help us address the challenges we will face in the coming days. Today we ask that You would encourage our hearts as we sing Your praises, read Your Word and reflect upon it later, in the name of Your Son our Saviour we pray, Amen. 

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

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

Our next song to sing or listen to is one new to many of us entitled ‘Holy Overshadowing’:

All Age talk – Moraig Piggot

So I wonder if anyone has learnt any new skills during lockdown or maybe revisited skills, talents or hobbies from a few years ago.

Well I have had to revisit something I used to do. I don’t know if I would call it a skill or talent and it’s certainly not a hobby- it’s called cooking! You see for the last few years Simon, my husband has been doing all the cooking in our house and do you know what he is actually very good at it, in fact I would say he actually has a talent there!

Recently though Simon has taken a new job doing delivers while his joinery business is closed due to lockdown restrictions. The hours of his new job meant that he would not be at home to do anymore cooking. so much to Freya and Hamish’s complete disgust it meant it was back to Mums cooking!

The first night I was making tea I got out Simon’s cookbook, all the equipment and started. This little voice in the background kept saying over and over “just follow the recipe, please just follow the recipe, don’t make up your own version.” This of course was Hamish! I must admit when it said gravy I thought I would be mixing gravy granules with boiling water not following two pages of instructions about have to make it from scratch!!

Anyway it’s safe to say that we all look forward to Friday nights when Granny kindly pays for a take away to be delivered to our house and the two days off that Simon has each week to take back over with the cooking. We won’t even mention the evening that I set the oven to the wrong setting and we had to wait an extra hour for tea!

As we have said to before these are strange and different times that we are living through, so many people are feeling out of their comfort zone and so many people are having to do things in ways they are not used too. For me having to cook again isn’t really a hardship but for so many people what they are going through right now on a daily basis is really tough.

Kevin has already told us this morning about the staff from local care homes in Broughty Ferry who are working incredibly hard right now and so many other front line and key workers continue to do the same.

In these times God needs us as a church fellowship and community to use a skill and talent we all have and share- the ability to show his love, support and kindness to those around us. In the bible there are so many verses that remind us about this, in John 13 34-35 its says

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

And in 1 Peter chapter 4 verse 10 it reminds us that we should use the gifts Gods has given us to serve others as HIS faithful stewards. As a church we are so thankful for everyone who has been showing Christ’s love through the different ways they are supporting people in our fellowship and beyond. Through prayer, giving and practical acts of kindness. So once again we are asking you to show Christ by serving others, please pray about how you could support our care package for care home staff- through donations of goods or money.

Boys and girls I have an extra special task for you this week- I need you to make cards, pictures and love hearts for the staff in the care homes that we can include in our care packages. Remember to tell them what a wonderful job they are doing, thank them and let them know that they are our care home heroes. When you have finished them please put them through my letter box when you are out for your daily exercise or if you don’t live near me email me a photograph of it and I will print them out.

Let’s all remember to never stop doing little things for people because sometimes these little things occupy the biggest part of their heart.

Our Children’s Song is: God Suit On

https://youtu.be/B4dTFJxNM28

Prayers for others

In our country the United Kingdom and around the world

As the economic toll of the Coronavirus Pandemic begins to bite across the world, we pray for those people who have lost their jobs and for the self-employed whose incomes have dried up. For wisdom and direction for owners of and managers in companies, together with Trades Union representatives seeking to grapple with how best to take their companies forward in the coming days.

We pray for mental health organisations who may be receiving a lot of calls just now from people struggling with their mental health during this current situation.

We continue to pray for our NHS and Social Care staff, together with other workers providing essential services in our communities, that they may not only have the right equipment in their work places, but also that appropriate social distancing measures can be maintained as greater numbers of people return to work in England this week.  

In Scotland we pray for the Church of Scotland and other Christian denominations that were due to hold their annual conferences this month and who have had to cancel their meetings. Please give wisdom to the national leadership of these denominations as they seek to reschedule meetings for later in the year or into 2021.

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

Chris Withers (Army Chaplain, Ripon) – Please pray for Chris as he journeys with the recruits in his new chaplaincy posting in Ripon and as he seeks to listen, support and encourage them. Pray for opportunities to be able to share the gospel with the recruits.

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

Dumbarton BC – We thank God that their CAP Life Skills course is now running and that their recent partnership with The Haven in Kilmacolm has resulted in some of their residents becoming regular attendees. We join with this congregation in their prayer request that they will see many people in their area coming to faith through the prayer activities of Awake Dumbarton.

Dumfries BC – We’re thankful to God for the baptisms we had recently and for the clear Christian testimonies of each of those who were baptised. Our Youth and Community worker, Andy Feather, has indicated that he will be moving on to take up a Pastor in Training opportunity on the Isle of Man, please pray for Andy, Claire and their children.

We now pray in our own congregation for:

We come now to pray for particular people on our hearts at this time. These include: Jan and Jim F with Jim’s ongoing health challenges; Jean, John H’s mother in Orchar, and Jude R’s grandmother who have contracted the covid virus; also for Ali T’s mum Norah in hospital and for her dad Frank at home. Also Isdale Anderson’s dad for recovery of health after a recent fall.

We are conscious other people are waiting for delayed operations in hospital or needing tests to address health concerns, we pray for peace of mind and patience as they wait for a longer time than usual due to the Covid-virus crisis. We pray too for those living in residential homes or confined to their own homes over the longer term, that you would give them the strength to cope with the sense of isolation that will be experienced particularly at this time.

Thank you Lord for hearing our prayers as we bring them in the wonderful name of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Bible reading

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

50I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 

53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’

55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

I Corinthians 15: 1-11, 50-58

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘I want to walk with Jesus Christ’

The Message

Introduction

What are you focussing on at this time? What are your hopes and aspirations in the coming months and maybe into the next year or two? For some of us it will simply be to get through this Covid-19 virus pandemic and get our lives back to ‘normal’. Naturally, there is no-one living on this planet who would want to continue in this state of uncertainty about the future for any longer than necessary.

However, assuming this pandemic is brought under control in the not too distant future, what is it you are focussing on as your motivating force for the future? What is it that is your passion in your heart at this time? The apostle
Paul who had accomplished so much for God wrote these powerful words to the congregation in the bustling port city of Corinth in Greece.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58). 

Paul’s passion in life was sharing the good news about Jesus and with his church-planting teams starting new Christian congregations in the towns and cities across the Roman Empire. This verse encapsulated in a few words his motivation for Christian service. Let us look at it briefly:  

1. The command to obey

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you (I Corinthians 15:58a)

(a) ThereforeThis verse is the summary conclusion to the whole of I Corinthians 15, a long chapter that explains very clearly the solid ground on which we stand in believing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus. It is not the wishful thinking of a few religious people, but the extraordinary revelation of God to more than five hundred people in the six weeks following the crucifixion, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus that first Easter. This was a large group of people, none of whom were expecting this event to take place but whose lives could never be the same again once they had encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ. The list concluded with the writer of this letter Paul himself.

By way of personal testimony it includes every genuine believer who has encountered the risen Lord Jesus by faith and experienced His love and mercy in their lives in subsequent years.  It raises the obvious question:  Have you met with the risen Lord Jesus by faith?  Have you acknowledged Him as your Lord and Saviour? Have you taken that step of faith away from living for self to living for God through Jesus?

Paul spends the majority of this chapter talking through the extraordinary significance of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. He challenges other views that denied the bodily resurrection of believers who have left this life, because by definition if Christian believers are not raised to life again after death then it naturally calls into question the resurrection of Jesus! If that event did not happen then the gospel he and we proclaim would not be true.

The vast majority of religions could not be shown to be true or false in terms of an evidence test. By contrast with Christianity, if the events of the first Easter had not happened then Christianity could not continue. But many great minds have failed in their attempts to dismiss the credibility of the accounts of that first Easter. Too many eye-witnesses could give personal testimony that Jesus was dead but they met with Him on or after Easter Sunday.

A case in a court of law may succeed on the testimony of one credible witness, but when there are more than five hundred who can testify to an event taking place then, in terms of legal proof, the burden of responsibility is on those who deny the event has taken place because the evidence is overwhelming as Paul has made plain in I Corinthians 15:1-8.

(b) my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. There is a time and a place for being open-minded, listening to other points of view. All of us will have more to learn on any subject we can care to name. However, there are foundational convictions we hold on a range of topics that are non-negotiable.

We are absolutely certain they are true and build our worldview and convictions about other things in the light of the implications of the things we are convinced are true. No subject whether Arts or Science could exist without some assumed convictions on which current explorations are grounded.  Paul is absolutely clear that the physical death and bodily resurrection of Jesus after His crucifixion on that first Good Friday is the factual bedrock of Christianity.

We must stand firm on these truths. Our future life beyond this life is linked directly with the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Because He rose again from the dead so will we; because He has been welcomed into the Father’s direct presence so one day amazingly will we. The practical blessing of these truths is never more useful than in the latter days of the life of a believer who can be assured of the wonderful things that await them beyond this life.

It is equally the case that we can urge someone who has yet to trust Jesus to do so while they can because this wonderful future Jesus has planned for us is only for those who have embraced Him as Lord and Saviour. The gospel truly is good news but we must receive this amazing gift by faith to benefit from it. Have you done so yet?

(c) Let nothing move you. Paul made this point in his letter to the Church at Colossae. In Colossians 1:21-23a: Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because ofyour evil behaviour. 22 But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation – 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. 

The whole purpose of Christian discipleship is to ensure we are properly grounded in the faith. In Ephesians 4:11-16 the apostle Paul explained this purpose in this way:

to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Will you and I stand firm in our Christian faith determined to give our very best for Him? I hope so!

2. The calling to follow

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58b) Paul has given an exhortation about what we ought not to do as followers of Jesus, now he puts it positively: Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58b); what does this mean in practise for us?

(a) Our priorities At its heart it speaks to us about our priorities; We have an extremely lengthy list of options as to how we use our time outside of the time for work that is essential for paying the bills. The bad news is that for many people the ‘other’ time is more limited than we would like and choices have to be made. Sadly for too many people, even some Christians the Lord gets squeezed out of our schedules, or gets ‘whatever is left over’ when it comes to priorities. Work whether waged or voluntary is something God ordained for human beings as a core feature of our lives.

Paul was very blunt about the sin of idleness on the part of people who could hold down jobs but choose not to do so (See I Thessalonians 3:6-10). This is very different from the predicament of many people of all ages today who want to work and having a real struggle to find meaningful employment or who are off work just now due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic and are uncertain of what their job prospects are in the coming months. In this case we must do all we can to encourage them until they are successful in finding or getting back to appropriate employment.

The tragedy in sinful human society is to value some relatively peripheral jobs in various forms of entertainment and sport with excessive salaries and reward those who undertake some of the most demanding and essential NHS and Social Care-related jobs with low salaries and poor terms and conditions. This is a scandal that must be addressed once this crisis is over. Care for people in our own families is likewise essential. It was a required characteristic for potential church leaders -See I Timothy 3:4-5:

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?). 

However, the hardest choices for many people lie in what they can fit into the remaining hours left in their week, apart from sleep! As you look back over the last week, month or year could you say that you have fulfilled what Paul was asking here in this verse? Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58b). It was a challenge given to an early Christian congregation where too many of the members could not say that this was the case for them.

(b) Christian service The work of the Lord can take many forms some in public and other ministries most definitely in private. I thank the Lord for the many members of this congregation who have been dedicated in their service in their range of ministries from working with crèche and toddlers right up to serving the elderly in residential homes and all things in-between. Paul wanted his readers to commit themselves to serving the Lord as he most definitely was doing.

Hebrews 10:24 states: And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. These words are very similar to Paul’s exhortation in Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

There are always plenty of things we cannot do, but what can I do for the Lord at this time is the question we need to answer! The apostle’s exhortation Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… (I Corinthians 15:58b) is a challenge once more to dedicate ourselves in His service.  There are public ministries of evangelism and community service as well as work that is age-specific on Sundays and during the week.

However, there is also much that goes on behind the scenes in pastoral care. I thank the Lord both for the pastoral team officially appointed to watch out for the people on their lists, together with others who make a point of caring for particular individuals who need assistance, and for each one of us who pray regularly for our fellowship whether in prayer ministries or in private prayer times. It is a team effort and everyone is needed to play their part.       

 If you stop and look carefully you can see a pattern at work. As we step out in faith and go forward for the Lord He opens doors of opportunity for us as we can see in the last few years.

3. The conviction to remember

because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (I Corinthians 15:58c).  Paul will conclude the letter with similar language with which he began I Corinthians 15. Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

However, Paul has reminded them of the solid ground on which they stand. The death and resurrection of Jesus are facts of history to which there are an incredible number of primary witnesses. It really happened. Now that we know this is true, because He has been raised from the dead we too will conquer the barrier of death by physical resurrection to spend eternity with Him. Sin and death and the devil will all be vanquished in God’s new creation after this life.

Life has its joys and delights but also many frustrations and times of tears. The exciting thing is that unlike an Agatha Christie thriller we know the ending well ahead of the final scene. Jesus has won the victory. He is our coming King. In John 12:32, are words spoken a few days prior to His crucifixion when He made this prophetic statement about the significance of His forthcoming death:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death He was going to die.

It was a declaration that people from every ethnic background would come to faith in Him. In Revelation 7:9-10: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’

Have you joined the winning team? If not will you take that step of faith today? I sincerely hope each one of us will do so, in Jesus’ name, Amen

Our song before we come to communion is:

The Lord’s Supper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer

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

Benediction:  The Grace

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

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

Sunday 3 May 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

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

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

Call to Worship

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

Psalm 100

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

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

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

Opening Prayer

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

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

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

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

All Age Talk – Helen Rice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers for others

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

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

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

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

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

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

We remember:

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

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

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

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

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

We pray in our local context  

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

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

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

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

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

Bible Reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 12: 13-21

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

The Message

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our closing song is ‘Build Your kingdom Here’

Closing Prayer

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

Benediction:  The Grace

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

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

Sunday 26 April 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

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

Call to Worship

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


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


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

Psalm 95: 1-7

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

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

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

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

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

Opening prayer

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

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

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

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

Romans Chapter 8:31-34.

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

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

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

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

JAM Kids’ focus:

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

All Age TalkIsdale Anderson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers for Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible Reading

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

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

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

Luke 12: 22-31

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

The Message

A filmed version of the message:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BenedictionThe Grace

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

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

Church at Home on Zoom!

We are now doing our Sunday church service through zoom online in addition to our online materials on this website.

Each Sunday morning at 10am we are meeting for a hour long service with worship songs, prayers, children friendly talk and a message from our minister Brian Talbot.

If you would like to be able to join with us online please Contact Us with your email address and your full name. We can then arrange for a weekly email invitation to be sent to you.

During this time of lockdown we may not be able to meet in person but we can now gather together online 😊

Important – During the service you must keep yourself on mute unless asked to speak. Thank you.

Sunday 29 March 2020 – Church at Home

Welcome to Broughty Ferry Baptist Church online on Sunday morning 29 March, the second Sunday of our temporary way of life that we share with billions of other people around the globe, of which normally around two billion share in some form of act of Christian worship. We may feel isolated in our homes but rest assured you are part of the biggest family on earth – the follower of Jesus Christ –our Lord and Saviour.

Intimations

  • Another resource you might want to take a look at for use at home is Engage Worship.
  • This evening join with Christians from other churches around the country in a 20-30 minute prayer service. You need to be on Facebook to join in.

    Over 700 people joined together for last Sunday’s Prayer Livestream, gathering from all corners of Scotland in the midst of the present crisis.  This gathering will now take place every Sunday at 7.00pm. To join in, follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/scottishbaptist/live/

    This Sunday will include live contributions from the Isle of Tiree and the Borders and we will be joined by Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director for the Scottish Government and a member of Airdrie Baptist Church.

Call to worship: Let us stop and be still in the presence of our amazing God who is with us as we gather to worship in His name. Let us read in our own context these words from Psalm 91:1-2:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’

We are grateful to Kevin for choosing our praise songs for today.

You are My Vison, King of my Heart
https://youtu.be/-uMeuhxftiQ
Shout to the Lord (My Jesus, My Saviour)

Opening Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
What an amazing God You are. We have just sung: ‘My Jesus My Saviour, Lord there is none like You’.  We thank You that You are ‘My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength’. In the light of who You are, our natural response is to ‘sing for joy at the work of Your hands, for ever I’ll love You, for ever I’ll stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.’   

We come into Your holy presence today deeply thankful for all the many blessings we have of families and friends, of food on our dinner tables and for most of all good health.

Forgive us for the times when we forget so many of our blessings and only remember to ask for lesser things we would like. We come once more asking for the forgiveness of our sins knowing through the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus on the cross in our place we can receive Your forgiveness of our sins and receive the fresh empowering to live each new day through the enabling grace supplied to us by the Holy Spirit.

At a time when we are acutely aware of our inability to meet in person with fellow Christians in church today and at other times with family and friends, we want to express our appreciation for the people precious to us who are still able to keep in touch by phone or various forms of social media.

Thank You for all Your kindness to us over the past week in providing for our needs. We are deeply humbled by the blessings received and look forward in anticipation for Your help in the week to come. As we come to look later at the Bible we ask that You would speak to us into our lives what we need to hear from You. We ask our prayer in the name of Your Son our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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

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

Let us remember those serving on our behalf – listen to some fellow Christians sharing about their daily experiences.  Please listen to their stories:

This next song is also a prayer based on Paul’s words in Philippians chapter 3

All I Once Held Dear

JAM Kids’ focus

There is the second of a series of Bible based activities for children on the Out of the Box website.   This series looks at the Armour of God from Ephesians 6. Click the link below to view

https://youtu.be/V8k9Fu7a5g4

A second JAM Kids resource worth visiting: Virtual Sunday School videos produced by 4Front Theatre Company

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

Our next song is a new one to many of us:  Be strong and Courageous

The Bible reading for today is Psalm 91:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’

Prayers for Others

Thank you Father for the privilege of bringing our prayers to You today.

Let us continue to remember:

Our governments in Edinburgh and London and our city council here in Dundee as they continues their planning to provide essential services for everyone in this time of crisis.

Our National Health Service once again as the pressures have increased on those serving the general public due to the further spread of this virus, on top of other medical conditions.

Our Social Care system We pray for guidance for those handling care in the community for the most vulnerable members of society.  In particular for the staff and residents of our many care homes who are so vulnerable because of the necessary close contact between them on a daily basis. We pray for your comfort for residents as well as patients in hospital who are unable to receive visitors at this time due to the risks of additional infection.

For Churches and other charitable bodies seeking to support many people in their local communities so that we can come through this difficult time together with stronger social bonds between us.

For Eloise Pearson and her family through the death last week of her brother; we pray for your comfort for his widow and other members of that family at this time

For ourselves and other people we want to mention personally to You as we seek to carry out our daily lives this week.

Thank you God that You hear and answer our prayers, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Our next song is special to many of us – Faithful One

Message

A filmed Version of a message on Psalm 91 is available at the following link: Google Drive link

Psalm 91 A Psalm of Assurance

The are many images of God in the Bible that convey aspects of His character of which some are very familiar to us, for example,  God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here there is an image of the heart of God for His people using the imagery of a mother hen caring for hr young chickens. The chicks are frightened overwhelmed by the world around them and all that is going on, the mother hen gathers the chicks and shelters them under her wings. The chicks are assured that all is under control because their mother cuddles them close.

Here Psalm 91:4 states: He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge;   Do you feel like the chicks in this image overwhelmed with what is going on around you? Do you fear what the future may bring if some of the worst-case scenarios presented on our TV screens about the spread of the Covid-19 virus come to pass? You are not alone. A lot of people have similar concerns. The reality of some of the challenges we face in life cannot be evaded. It makes us realise at other times how fortunate we really are to have avoided this kind of health crisis for so long. We have no idea what kind of crisis the anonymous author of this Psalm was facing, but the guidance he gives us has been a great blessing to so many people down the centuries. What do we see here?  

1.The personal testimony of the Psalmist (Psalm 91:1-2)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ Whom do you trust? Is this statement or declaration something you share with the author? Can you say these words as a statement of your convictions? I hope you can. However, if you are thinking ‘no’ I have never done so, but I would like to now then these are some steps you can follow to invite God into your life as your Lord and Saviour.

‘God I want you in charge of my life. I confess the wrong thoughts words and deeds I have done in my life. I thank you that your son Jesus died in my place on the cross, 2,000 years ago to take the punishment for my sins, so that I might be forgiven. Lord Jesus I invite you to take charge of my life from this day onwards until the day I leave this life and enter eternity. Amen. 

If from the bottom of your heart you genuinely commit your life to God you become part of His family –in other words a Christian. If you have done that today- welcome to God’s family.

How does our author explain the difference having God in our life can make?   

2. The commendation of the Lord by the Psalmist to the reader (Psalm 91:3-13)

Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, ‘The Lord is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 

The use of the singular you repeatedly here is a personal message: What is it saying and not saying? It is not saying the first Jewish recipients or Christians today are exempt from any troubles. Take for example a sixteenth century church meeting at St Peters Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland.  Church members were dying of the plague.  The issue under debate was who should visit them as it was highly infectious and contact would probably be fatal.

There were two pastors the senior pastor John Calvin and a young assistant pastor. Both men to their credit volunteered to do the visiting. The congregation voted for the younger man to do it as they ‘couldn’t spare Calvin’. All concerned present knew that the individual would be dead in less than a year as a consequence.

So what are these verses saying to us? They are an assurance that we need not be paralysed by fear of the trials of life. Suffering, troubles, ultimately death come to us all. Our lives are in God’s hands: that is the key fact to note –our anchor here. 

In the fifteenth century in England a Christian nobleman Lord Craven was deeply concerned about the spread of the plague in his home city of London. He ordered his servants to prepare his carriage to go to his country home to avoid it. As he was walking to his carriage to depart, he overheard one of his servants say to another: ‘I suppose by my Lord’s quitting London to avoid the plague that his God lives in the country not in the town. It was a straightforward and innocent remark, but it stuck Lord Craven so deeply that he cancelled his journey saying: ‘My God lives everywhere and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will stay where I am. He stayed in London and helped plague victims without catching the disease. (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Vol 2, pp.241-242) 

A similar story was told of Charles Spurgeon, then a very young Baptist minister in London in 1854. The area where most of his congregation lived was afflicted by cholera. Many families had members who caught the disease and the young minister spent much of his time visiting the sick and the dying with many funerals to be conducted as a result.

One day completely exhausted in every respect, he walked home from conducting a funeral. He walked past a shoemaker’s shop on Dover Road London. In the owners handwriting was an inscription. It was Psalm 91:9-10 from the King James version: Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. The power of reading those words lifted Spurgeon’s spirits and with a renewed sense of God’s presence in his heart he continued with his ministry in that health crisis. (C.H. Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Vol 2, p.235)  

   Take time to reflect on the image in verse four of the mother hen caring for her chicks. It is a beautiful picture of God’s care for us- is that what you need to grasp today? That verse continues with encouraging words: His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. God will be there for you to give you the strength to keep going through the crisis. God never promises to give us an exemption from difficulties – instead He provides the strength to come through them. The rest of the verses in this section Psalm 91:3-13 reinforce this point. 

3. God’s promises for the people who trust in Him (Psalm 91:14-16)

Because he loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. 15 He will call on Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’

What promises does God give us here?

(a)God’s protection (Psalm 91:14)  Because he / she  loves Me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him / her;  I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.  Things are bad but without His presence and protection they could be immeasurably worse sometimes. However, in a world of many problems and difficulties, He assures of His protection through the storms to bring us through. God will be with you this week.

(b) God will answer our prayers (Psalm 91:15) He / She will call on Me, and I will answer him / her; I will be with him / her in trouble, I will deliver him / her and honour him / her  We are not speaking to an empty heaven.  God’s silence is not His absence. Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5: And weboast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Events in life are not without meaning or purpose, even if we never find answers to our ‘Why’ questions. God’s unmerited kindness to us will bring us through. Praise God for that!

(c) God’s future blessings prepared for us (Psalm 91:16) With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.’ In the early Old Testament period in particular there were specific material blessings promised (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 30:1-20, for examples); however, in the fuller New Testament revelation given to us through Jesus, it is clearly the quality of our relationship with the Lord Jesus and not just a longer existence in this life that is being promised. What is much clearer, for example, from Romans 8:28 is this: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Is this an assurance you can claim today? Is this a faith declaration you might make?

The little chick has no idea about how to handle the dangers around it. God pictured as the mother hen is protecting and being there for us, to bring us through life’s trials for our good and for His glory, Amen

Our closing song is Before the throne of God above.

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm in Scotland. Visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/scottishbaptist/live/

COVID 19 – Church at Home

Broughty Ferry Baptist Church will no longer be holding public worship services and week day activities until further notice. All lets on church premises will also be cancelled for the time being. 

All activities will be online. Each day a Christian message will be sent to subscribers by email and published online at Church at Home.

If you would like to receive this message please send a request through this website with your name and email address. Anyone wanting further details of our online programme please send a message to the church through the website.

Thank you.

Easter Services 2019

If you are looking for an Easter Service to attend this week, this is what is going on at Broughty Ferry Baptist Church:

Friday 19th April, 12.30 pm – Good Friday Communion Service at our church in St Vincent St, led by Rev Dr Brian Talbot.

Sunday 21st April, 10.30 am – All-age Easter Service, led by Moraig Piggot at Panmurefield Baptist Centre. Breakfast rolls served from 9.30 am – 10 am, Easter treat hunt and refreshments after the service.

Sunday 21st April, 6.30 pm – Traditional Easter Service, led by Rev Dr Brian Talbot at Panmurefield Baptist Centre.