Sunday 26 July 2020 – Church at Home


Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:30am on the Zoom platform

You may want to use some of these resources for daily worship during this week

This link takes you to the Rooted Family series for JAM Kids. There is a video to watch and family discussion material for each week. 

JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:30am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on

We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday 26 July 2020.  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: Psalm 1; 1 – 3

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Our opening song of praise and worship is: “What a beautiful name it is”

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship: “I am who you say I am”

Opening prayer:

Loving heavenly Father,

As we gather for worship this morning, we can say, how beautiful is the name of Jesus, how wonderful is the name of Jesus, how powerful is the name of Jesus.  We come in awe of you, your majesty which reaches up to the heavens, and your love which stooped so low to be born as a baby in a smelly manger.

Thank you for your love, thank you for your grace, which sets us free from the power of sin and death.

We come afresh confessing, how often we stray from how you want us to be in thought, word, deed or not even doing what we know you ask us to do.  Please forgive us.

We pray today as we come we may indeed “delight in the law of the Lord”, may we delight in the opportunity to study your word and not just do this out of ritual – but seek to be touched by and changed by it.

We offer ourselves now in worship to you, come Holy Spirit, we invite you to have your way among us today, not what we would will but may your will be done in our lives and worship today.

For we pray in the powerful name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit.


All Age Talk: Gary Torbet

“Metamorphosis – From caterpillar to beautiful” Video

That was a beautiful video with such amazing imagery – the process of metamorphosis as a caterpillar miraculously is transformed into a beautiful butterfly.  Another piece of God’s amazing creation!

That is what we are reflecting on later in the service, and I am using the imagery of the butterfly to illustrate what can happen when we put our trust in Jesus.  Just like in the video we can be rid of our old selves – our sin, by accepting the forgiveness of Jesus, then as we gaze on the glory of God shown in Jesus – He can transform us by His Holy Spirit into something so beautiful.  Into the likeness of Jesus Christ – hands up, thumbs up, who would like to be more like Jesus this week.  I would!!

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” 2 Corinthians 3; 18.

When we say Jesus – “I put my trust in you – I accept your forgiveness – I want to gaze, to reflect, to focus on your glory Jesus – Please give me the power of your Holy Spirit – to become more like Jesus” 

If you, we say that, Jesus will come and each day turn you into a beautiful child of God reflecting his glory to others.  We are going to sing about that now.

All Age Song:“Shine” with actions

This time tomorrow – Update from Project Footsteps Team including video (3mins);

Project Footsteps – Fundraising for Tearfund and Carpathian Aid

Project Footsteps is made up of members of Broughty Ferry Baptist’s Youth Group and aims to support a number of different charities as best we can. We fundraise for causes that we believe in and try to shed light on areas of the world that are less fortunate than we are. We are now planning to do some  fundraising for Tearfund – more specifically their work to support people in Yemen – and Carpathian Aid – to send desperately needed support to Casa Harului. Both charities need our support at this time as coronavirus has understandably had a huge impact on people in both Yemen and Romania.

Yemen is currently trying to fight off cholera, famine, a war, and covid-19 all at the same time. This paired with their already struggling economic and healthcare systems has led to the country suffering from the worst humanitarian crisis of the last 100 years. Major news sites such as Sky News have predicted that coronavirus will “delete Yemen from maps all over the world”.

Quite simply, without help, the people of Yemen will not survive this. We decided we wanted to do something to offer any relief we can to Yemen, and we thought the best way to do this would be a sponsored walk. We have mapped the distance from Dundee to Al Hudayah in Yemen, and we hope that if enough people join in, we can walk the 4924 mile distance between the 1st of August and the 26th of September. If you can pledge to walk, run, swim or cycle even a short distance it would make such a difference to these people but if you are unable to do this, you can sponsor any of the people taking part or simply donate to our Just Giving page and help us smash our goal of £500.

As most of you know, our church has had a very close relationship with both Carpathian Aid and Romania for many years. Every year, members of our church travel out to Casa Harului in Romania to help the people there and offer much needed support. This year a group was due to go out to Romania around this time, however due to the covid-19 pandemic, they could not travel out and the camps were cancelled.

This has left the camp with no income for most of 2020, as well as depriving many children of a much-needed couple of weeks of fun and biblical teaching. To raise money for Casa Harului, we are putting together a live online concert. Even though it deeply saddens us that we cannot meet together, we want to share our music with you and hopefully raise some money for a really important cause at the same time. Some of our church’s young musicians are all coming together over zoom for what is shaping up to be a wonderful night of music making. Confirmed details will follow shortly, we hope to see you there!

Thank you in advance for your support with these projects. If we all come together, we can help some of those who are really struggling to get through this pandemic.

Bible reading ; 2 Corinthians 3; 7 – 18

The Greater Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Prayers for others – Led by Alison O’Brien

Dear Lord

We thank you for the opportunity of meeting together today via Zoom and ask that you bless our time together as we remember others.

We pray for those at this time suffering from illness or frailty or from corona virus and ask that you would be with them and improve their health.  We pray for all those involved in caring professions especially in hospitals and care homes and ask for your protection as they go about their day to day work.

We pray for the government and those in leadership positions as they continue to make decisions regarding the easing of lockdown restrictions especially as we await final decisions on the return of schools.  We are thankful for the opportunities that we can enjoy since some of the restrictions have been lifted.

We give thanks that in the UK the numbers of those currently affected by Corona virus has reduced over the last few weeks.  However we pray for those Countries which are still experiencing increases in numbers and do not have the health care services which we enjoy here.  We remember the US, Brazil, India and South Africa and ask that you be with health professionals in these countries.

We remember Churches locally, nationally and abroad that they can continue their witness through these difficult times.  We pray for our own church as the deacons make preparations for starting services and grant wisdom for the decisions that require to be made.

We pray for the churches in our Baptist Union including:

High Blantyre Baptist Church – as they continue to adjust to Zoom services and midweek Bible studies and for the non Christian contacts reached through the Church facebook page

Hillhead Baptist Church – give thanks to God for enabling to retain a sense of community during this time via Sunday services and midweek groups, and the blessing of being joined by family and friends on other continents as well as throughout the UK each week 

Hillview & Kintore Community Church – ask us to pray for creativity, energy and wisdom as they seek to share Jesus’ light and love.

We remember those in our own fellowship who are grieving from losing loved ones recently and ask that you comfort them at this time.  We pray for those awaiting hospital appointments and treatment and ask that you strengthen them over the coming weeks.

We pray for those in the fellowship on holiday or enjoying time off from the routine of work and ask that you refresh them.  We pray for the teachers in our fellowship as they prepare for returning to a classroom situation.  We remember all the children as they think about returning to the structure of nursery or school and for those preparing for university and the challenges which they currently face.  We pray for those who are facing difficult work situations or financial worries and ask that you grant them peace.

Lord we thank you for the world that you have given us to look after.  Help us to enjoy the many blessings which you give us each day.

We pray in Jesus name.


Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: King of Kings – a fairly new song!

The Message; “Transformed into His Likeness

When we are reflecting on the glory of the new covenant in Christ, I want us to remember the beautiful imagery of the caterpillar and it’s transformation into something much more beautiful – a butterfly.  In the same way, by the power of the Holy Spirit how God can, and will if we let Him, can transform us into the beauty of the likeness of Christ.

V 7 -11 The comparison of the old and new covenants

Paul was recalling the old way, the stone tablets had written the Old Covenant, the Law and Ten Commandments.  He identified the “Law” as a “ministry that condemns/brings death” (verse 7) as operating under the law can only condemn those who fail to meet its demands.  However, under the new covenant of Grace, which Jesus has brought through his death on the cross, this is a ministry which brings “righteousness/right standing before God”  (verse 9).  You see under this provision, those, you, me who are certainly guilty of sin, are nevertheless accounted righteous by God – Hallelujah!! 

The Law is nowhere near as glorious in what came by the new covenant – the new way of life in the HOLY SPIRIT – “will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious”  (verse 8)  The Holy Spirit was present at the creation of the world, as one of the agents in the origin of life itself. (Genesis 1; 2)  The Holy Spirit is the power behind the rebirth of every Christian.  The Holy Spirit is the power which enables us to live for Christ and as we shall see, be transformed.  

I wonder if any of us, are trying to prove ourselves to God, trying to earn God’s approval, are tied to works in our own strength.  Even in us coming to church or Broughty Baptist Live! as it is just now, coming to church in a religious even ritualistic way, operating under the law  – for where the law reigns, there is no freedom, there is bondage.  Rather than operating under the grace of Jesus, by faith, in that he alone can save us by his blood shed at the cross.  It can be so tiresome trying to make yourself acceptable to God – and Jesus says, just come, come as you are, “I love you, have died for you – receive my salvation, my forgiveness, and receive the freedom only I can bring you!”

V 12 – 16 The veil is taken away which leads to freedom in Christ.

Paul also highlights the veil.  When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the Ten Commandments his face glowed from being in the presence of God (Exodus 34; 29 – 35).  Moses had to put a veil on to stop the people from being terrified about the brightness of his face.  Then in verse 16 – 17 it says “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  This brings eternal life and freedom from bondage, and when this happens that person can then become like a mirror reflecting God’s glory – no need for a veil, no chance of it fading.

Those who were trying to be saved by keeping the Old Testament Law were soon tied up in rules and ceremonies BUT now through the Holy Spirit, God provides freedom from sin & condemnation  In Romans 8; 1 it says “Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are (where?)  – in Christ Jesus.”  Amen. Is that your experience, day by day – have you fully put your trust in Christ for your salvation.  In Christ do you have freedom, have you fully surrendered your life to Him?

When we fully trust Christ to save us, he removes our heavy burden of trying to please him to earn salvation, and our guilt of having failed to do so.  By trusting Christ we are:

“Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3; 17) 

There is no remembrance of sin (Romans 4; 6 -8)

There is no condemnation for sin (Romans 8; 1)

We are children of God (John 1; 12)

So for us to reflect on – do we live in this freedom and also do we release others into this freedom as well – do we treat people with the same grace shown to us by Jesus – or in fact by the Law??

And that is not all;

In verse 18 it says

“And we, who have unveiled faces, all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson, told her husband that a local newspaper had likened him to some of the apostles, this is how he responded;

“I do not want to be like Paul, or any apostle, or any mere man.  I want to be like CHRIST!  I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Holy Spirit and place my feet in His footsteps. OH TO BE MORE LIKE CHRIST!”

So what is Paul saying here, 3 things –

So as I conclude today, let us reflect on our Church vision;

Looking to Christ – falling in love with Jesus, encountering Jesus in individual devotion and corporate worship

Growing in Christ – becoming a passionate follower, disciple of Jesus.

Sharing Christ – developing a growing desire and confidence to share the good news of Jesus with others.

As we come to Jesus today, what areas do we want to ask Him to help us with – so – as we refresh our knowledge and experience today of the new covenant, as we behold and see the glory of Christ.  What areas do we need help in transformation this week – remember it is to be continuous and progressive!

We shall sing a song in a moment in way of response to what God has been saying to you today in this time of worship, and would encourage you to reflect on these questions – what is God saying to you today?

“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
 which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.”

I will now finish with a prayer that I have become familiar with through the 24/7 Prayer Movement devotional series “Lectio 365” Prayer;

Let us pray;

“Father – help me to live this week to the full, being true to you in every way.

Jesus – help me to give myself away to others, being kind to everyone I meet.

Spirit – help me to love the lost, proclaiming Christ in all I do or say.


Our song by way of response and as we come to communion is: ‘Behold our God’

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: Yet not I but through Christ in me

Closing Prayer: 

Father, thank you for the opportunity to come to you in worship, thank you for the freedom in which we do this.

Help us by your Holy Spirit to gaze afresh on your glory, to be transformed day by day and seek this coming week to reflect you to others.

May you continue to guide us, strengthen us, give us wisdom in all that we encounter this week and most of all your love to touch others that we meet.

In Jesus name we pray.


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 in Scotland  

At this link:

Sunday 19 July 2020 – Church at Home


  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information is available on our website.
  • Jam KidsThis link takes you to the Rooted Family series for JAM Kids. There is a video to watch and family discussion material for each week.
  • 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
  • (Online) Life and the Christian Faith course, August 7.30pm-9pm. A short introductory online course via Zoom/Skype that opens up conversation about life, faith and God for people who want to know and understand more. People beginning to explore and ask questions about the Christian faith are encouraged. August start date to be confirmed. For details or to take part contact
  • We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday 19th July 2020. 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

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

Acts 17: 24-28

We are grateful to Helen Rice 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:

Opening prayer

Psalm 100 “It is he who made us and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Our Lord and loving Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that you are the Sovereign Ruler, the one and only true God exercising supreme authority over all of creation and over all of mankind. We are so grateful Father that you took our sin debt away and that we can now come into your presence through your Son. We thank you that you created us anew and that you will help us to be all that you want us to be.

We thank you that we can trust and rely on you to instruct and teach us in the way we should go. Help us to live a life filled with love for you and for others following the example of your Son. Help us to keep growing in knowledge and understanding of your ways so that we may live pure and blameless lives.

May we always be filled with the fruit of our salvation produced in us through your Son Jesus. Surround us with your protective love. We ask that you speak to us this morning in accordance with your will for our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

All Age Talk: Helen Rice

Before Jesus ascended into Heaven, He reminded the disciples that He would always be with them. And He told them to go into all of the world and make disciples of other people. That meant they were commanded to spread the Gospel, start churches, and tell others of Christ.

We often refer to this sending as the “Great Commission”, as Jesus was sending us out to perform an essential task. This video shows Paul and Silas following Jesus’ command.

Paul and Silas shared God’s story and God’s love just as Jesus had instructed. Those special instructions apply to us, too! God wants us to serve others and tell them about the good news of Jesus. It’s our job to share God’s love with one another. We can do this around the whole world, but we can also do this with people near to us.

What are some ways we can follow that Great Commission of Jesus? Well, we can tell people about Jesus. We can invite them to church and church activities. We can send them cards, emails or messages…and we can just love them and be their friends! That’s a great way to share and spread the good news.

Remember God sent His Holy Spirit to be with us to help us do this. What can you do this week to share God’s story and God’s love?

Dear God, Thank you for Your love. Please help us to love and serve others. Those near us, and around the world. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your great plan. Help us to share the good news. And spread your love to one another. In Jesus name, Amen!

All Age Song

Prayers for others

Our Father, in you we trust, and our hope is in you. We thank you for the privilege of praying for others at this time. We pray for the people around the world who are far from you who have not yet received the gift of your grace through your Son Jesus. We trust in your wonderful promise that for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

We pray that by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit your people around the world will live the gospel and bring the gospel to them and through that same power you remove blind eyes to see the truth and empower them to accept the gift of your Son.

We acknowledge that sovereign power belongs to you Lord. You rule all the nations. And it is through our faith in your sovereignty that we pray for the Governments in Edinburgh and London. We ask you to surround the First Minister of Scotland and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom with Godly advisors and we pray for the salvation of those who lead.

We pray for your mercy O Lord to be granted to the people of this land particularly at this time in history during the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept through and devasted the world’s population. By your common Grace, we pray that you would guide Governments to make wise decisions to minimise the spread of this virus and to encourage national economies which have been affected.

We give you thanks Lord for the love you share with us particularly during these times of viral transmission through the work of the National Health Service and social care sectors. We ask that your protective love would be upon the people who serve us within these services to enable them to sustain health and social care to those of us who are in greatest need.

In our Baptist Union of Scotland we remember to pray for sister churches and others:
• Beatrice Anderson (BUS Finance Administrator)
• Harestanes Baptist Church
• Hawick Baptist Church
• Helensburgh Baptist Church

We pray too for the ongoing work of the Christian Churches in our land who are the hands and feet of Jesus. Help your people O Lord to be salt and light in your creation. Empower us to make an effort to affect the world. Give us confidence and boldness when we should speak up for injustice and to obey your will. Let us not deny the Light in our communication with the world but explain the Light and our light to others. Grant us the desire to meet the needs of others through the love of Christ which indwells us and enable us to be a beacon of Truth.

We pray for Broughty Ferry Baptist Church and we ask Holy Spirit that you would sanctify us in the truth of the Word. That we would submit to your will and serve you faithfully in our lives. Help us more and more to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind and to love others as we would wish to be loved.

You provide us with the peace that you know of our needs and are interceding in
our lives. We pray for people that are connected with our own fellowship:

In particular, we remember…
In addition, we bring our own needs to You at this time…
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Amen.

Bible Reading

11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 14: 11-14

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing:

 The Message

Pre-recorded message

John 14:11-14
The title of this message is In Jesus’ Name.

When we pray privately and when together it is common to end our prayers, or include in our prayers, the words “in Jesus’ name” because Scripture teaches us to offer our prayers in this way. What is the significance of these words? Do you find yourself ending your prayers with these words without knowing their meaning? When we learn the rich meaning behind these words, they can pave the road to answered prayer and bring us closer to God.

Let’s look at the context of John 14:11-14. Jesus and his disciples have been sharing life together for the last 3 years as Jesus fulfils his ministry. He has revealed to them his identity and mission. He has demonstrated God’s power and authority to teach, over sickness, over death, over nature, and to forgive sin. He has taught them and prepared them and now we reach the section of John’s gospel when Jesus is gathered with his beloved disciples on the night before his death. It’s a very private affair with only the disciples as his audience.

As they ate their last meal together just before his arrest and death, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. In his final teachings to his disciples, knowing that he would send his beloved out into the world to be his hands and feet proclaiming the good news bringing glory to God, he taught them that he is the way to the Father. He taught them that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through him. He taught them that anyone who believes in him will do the same works that he has done, and that the disciples would carry out even greater works as the power of Holy Spirit carries the Good News of God’s Kingdom out of Judea and into the whole world. However, Jesus then says, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (14:13-14). So, what does he mean when he says, “ask in my name”?

  1. John 14:13a;14
    And I will do whatever you ask in my name…You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

    There are five words which teaches us what he means by “ask in my name”.

    In these verses, our Lord reveals his provision to the disciples. They were to be sent out carrying the Good News into the nations, however, the power of the gospel would prevail not by their own merit or effort but through their association with Jesus Christ. Like the disciples, it is possible for us to come to the Father through our association with Jesus.

    When we were saved, we were born again. We who have received him as our Saviour now have a new relationship with God the Father through the Son. It is our association with Jesus Christ that when asking in Jesus’ name we are saying to the Father that we are coming to him because of our new relationship with him which was provided through Jesus Christ.

    Because of what Jesus would do at the cross and subsequent resurrection, the disciples in their forthcoming works for our Lord could access the throne of grace in the name of Jesus. It is because of Jesus Christ that we too can also access the throne of grace in his name (Hebrews 4:16) and find help, grace and mercy in times of need.

    The disciples’ future works throughout the nations would not be accomplished out with Jesus’ divine permissive will. They were coming on the authority of Jesus Christ. Two examples are in Acts. In Acts 3:6 when Peter commands the lame man “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth walk”, he is speaking on the authority of Jesus, not on his own authority.

    When the Sanhedrin asks the disciples in Acts 4:7 “By what power or by what name did you do this?”, they are asking “By whose authority did you do this?” When Paul rebukes an unclean spirit in Acts 16:18 “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!”, he makes it clear that he is doing so on Jesus’ authority, not his own.

    To come in the name of someone means that another person has authorised us to come on their authority, not on our own. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying with his authority and asking God the Father to act upon our prayers because we come in the name of His Son, Jesus. The word “name” means representation. When we say, “Father I come in Jesus’ name” we are saying, “I am coming to you on the authority delegated to me by your Son.”

    Jesus has the authority to give to us the authority to come to the Father and expect our prayers to be answered.

    “In my name” represents all that he is, his entire character. This means that the disciples would not only be conducting their works for our Lord in his authority, but also in a way that would be consistent with his character, that truly represents him and reflects his manner of life and his own will. Praying in Jesus’ name means the same thing as according to the will of God, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

    And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15). We ask of him that which is consistent with his person, will, his purposes and what he’s attempting to do in the world. This is the essence of praying in Jesus’ name, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you” (John 15:7). When we align our will with God’s, we can truly pray in Jesus’ name.

    It is easy to misapply “And I will do whatever you ask in my name” (14:13a) thinking that saying “in Jesus’ name” at the end of a prayer results in God always granting what is asked for. Jesus is not merely speaking about adding certain words that would give power to our prayers.

    This is essentially treating the words “in Jesus’ name” as a magic formula. Our prayers are a representation of what Jesus would pray. When we are praying in Jesus’ name what we are saying is “I believe this is what Jesus would pray if he were praying into this situation.”

    Praying the will of God in your life means to submit your life to his will. It means laying down your dreams, desires, and wants because you would rather see his will and purpose happen instead of your own. So, when we pray for the world’s issues. When we pray for Governments and those in authority. When we pray for the church.

    When we pray for people who have health conditions. When we pray for people who are grieving. When we pray about injustice. When we pray for the dying. When we pray for our family. When we pray for our marriage or singleness. When we pray for our own needs and issues, we pray as if Jesus would pray for these matters.

    Looking to Christ teaches us how to pray. God always makes his will plain to the person who seeks to know it. For instance, Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7). For example, when tempted to respond harshly to a person who frustrates you, pray in Jesus name that you will yield to the Holy Spirit in practicing kindness. That you would lay aside all the attitudes that don’t fit who you are in Christ, like selfishness, pride and a critical spirit.

    This is God’s character and will, and his will for you, so ask him to help you. Then watch how our Lord provides opportunities and respond in obedience when our Lord reminds you to be merciful.

    Because the disciples would act in keeping with his will, they would approach their good works for our Lord with the assurance that whatever they ask, God is going to hear and answer their prayer, in Jesus’ name. We too can approach our Father with the assurance that he will hear and answer our prayer. When we come to the Father in Jesus’ name this is a phrase of confidence. It is our confession of assurance.
  2. John 14:13b
    …so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

    In John 14:11, Jesus is connecting himself with the Father so that the Father may be glorified, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” God wants the whole universe including mankind to glorify Him.

    Ephesians 1:4-14 teaches us that we were saved and made right before God “in order that we…might be for the praise of his glory.” Romans 11:36 “For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to him forever!”

    Notice how John in 14:13-14 has put the phrase “so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” in the centre – it’s between the two repeated phrases. This portrays its importance. Jesus is saying that he will promise to do the request of any prayer in his name for the purpose to glorify the Father through him. This means that when a prayer, even though it might have “in Jesus’ name” attached to it, doesn’t fulfil the purpose to glorify the Father through Christ, then Jesus won’t do it.

    The purpose of prayer does not end in the comfort, safety, and provision for the Christian, but the glory of the Father through Jesus. If a prayer is made that doesn’t glorify God, then it won’t be answered.

    Invoking Christ’s name means that we desire to glorify God instead of ourselves. James gives this warning: “You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

    To understand that, let’s consider those who are trying to pray their way out of financial debt. The question is: does a person want to get out of debt so that they have more for themselves or so that they can use the excess in God-honouring ways?

    Motives are apparent to God. He will not offer help until our heart is right. If what we ask for or say in prayer is not for God’s glory and according to His will, saying “in Jesus’ name” is meaningless. What have you been asking of God in prayer? What do your prayers focus on?

    Jesus said to His disciples, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (14:13). That’s the purpose of prayer: “that the Father may be glorified.” When we pray, glorifying God should be our underlying motive and core pursuit.

    Our Father in Heaven may all glory, honour and praise be yours. I thank you for your Word this day which directs me in how to pray in Jesus name. Help me to keep growing in knowledge and understanding of your ways so that I may learn how to pray. Help me when I pray to focus my prayer in agreement with your character and your will, glorifying you. 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:

Closing Prayer:

Father, you saw it fit for us worship you today. It is not because we are perfect people but because you are a God that is worthy of our worship. Thank you for making us worthy to stand before you to worship you through your son Jesus Christ. May our worship be acceptable before you. Let the peace that surpasses all understanding be with us. Help us to make a difference in the world this new week. Let our words and actions align with your word. Help us to practice what we have learned here today. Bless us and help us to be a blessing to everyone that we meet and interact with. Help us never to forget that you’re with us always. In Jesus’ name, we believe and 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.

13 July 2020 – Our confidence for the future

Around the world it has been an extraordinary year. On 1 January 2020 many of us began this New Year with optimism about what lay in store for us in the coming twelve months. I am not aware of anyone predicting a global pandemic that would lead to some form of lockdown restrictions in many countries across the globe. The virus caused many businesses to cease trading for an unknown number of weeks and millions of people were ordered to ‘Stay at Home’ unless required for essential work commitments, medical appointments and purchasing of food supplies.

Any figures reported related to the virus will be on the low side because too little testing has been conducted in most countries, but what we do know is that in excess of thirteen million people contracted the virus and currently around 4,900,000 are reported to have tested positive for Covid-19 virus, with more than 7,500,000 apparently recovered from it and sadly more than 570,000 people have died from it.

At the moment although there are some vaccine trials that appear promising we have no certainty that any will provide immunity from this virus in the future. So should we be worried about the future? Although there are many legitimate concerns about food supplies in some countries and certainly economic insecurity in the majority, I want to turn your attention today to words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians chapter three. In the last part of this chapter he had written a prayer for the recipients of his letter. It states:  

For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21).

Can I encourage you to read slowly through this prayer today and reflect on what Paul is saying and claim this prayer as a prayer for you today and in the coming days.  I particularly want to draw your attention to the last two verses with which Paul concludes his prayer.  They are amazing and uplifting words. 20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What is he saying here about the God to whom we are bringing our prayers?

(a)His infinite ability Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine… How great is your God? If you have faith in the God Paul advocates here, then it is absolutely amazing what He can do. What genuine need do you want to ask Him for today? 

(b) His unlimited power according to His power that is at work within us… This is the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Remember I John 4:4 The One who is in you (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the one who is in the world (the devil)’. Praise God for that. Many of us are facing genuine obstacles in our pathway at the present time. Please do not despair. In His timescale He can help each one of us overcome them, although not always in the way we would have preferred.   

(c) His ultimate purpose to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. What is it that God will be guaranteed to bless? Things that bring glory to Him! So when you and I are praying about something, ask the question: will this glorify God? Will this request, if granted, bring honour to His name? When our heart’s desires align with His heart’s desire then there is the real potential for a taste of heaven on earth, even here in this community; even here in this church family! If that is not exciting then nothing will excite you! 

We must always remember that it is not about us, or about people thinking how great we are. It is exclusively for His glory, so that people will think great thoughts about the One we worship and adore. We want to honour and lift high His wonderful name. I believe we can go forward with confidence into the rest of 2020 knowing that with His help we can in time overcome all the obstacles that currently are causing us concern. Nothing is too difficult for God! Make sure you bring your specific concerns for the next few months to Him and prayer and wait with expectancy for God to hear and answer our prayers, Amen.

Our song for reflection today is: ‘Praise is rising’

A bonus song that has been a real blessing in the United Kingdom during the lock down period is the UK version of ‘The Blessing’ song

Brian Talbot

Sunday 12th July 2020 – Church at Home


  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information is available on our website.
  • We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday’s.  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.

JAM Kids’ focus:

Here is the new video series from Out of the Box for JAM Kids age group.

Worksheet 1 to accompany this talk

Call to worship

I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendour of your majesty –
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works –
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Psalm 145: 1-7

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:

Opening prayer

I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; 

Heavenly Father You are an awesome and majestic God who is worthy to receive all our praises and worship today. We come recognising the sense of privilege that is ours to enter Your holy presence today. We come, though, with confidence because we come in the name of Jesus Your Son our Saviour who gave His life for us on the cross, dying in our place. As we are so thankful for all these blessings we remember the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 8:31, who 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?

Cleanse us afresh from our sins of the past week we pray and fill us with the power of Your Holy Spirit to live for You in this new week. Speak to us today we pray from Your Word, for Jesus’ name’s sake, 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.

Song – Fairest Lord Jesus

This Time Tomorrow

We’re David and Helen Heron, living in Stowmarket, Suffolk where we are calling you from today.  As you can tell from our accents, though, we originally come from Scotland!  We worked in Peru, South America for 17 years with a mission agency called Serving in Mission (or SIM). Originally we were involved in a programme training church leaders, then moved into leadership and administrative roles.  

Our three daughters, Kat, Louisa and Suzie all grew up in Peru. In 2009 we felt the Lord would have us return to the UK.  My mum needed care and came to live with us for five years and then moved into a nearby Care Home where she lived for another two years.  I spent time caring for her and serving as secretary in our church and working part time for another mission organisation. Our girls have all married and we now have two grandchildren, who live in Edinburgh.

I have continued working with SIM and for the last ten years have been the International Personnel/HR Director.  SIM has just under 4,000 workers – half of these are employees who work in our hospitals, schools, theological colleges, sports ministries, etc, as well as our offices.  The other half are what we traditionally call missionaries – people who are sent by their churches to take the gospel to other parts of the world.  SIM supports churches who send missionaries by linking the church with a team in a particular country or ministry.

This section of your service is called ‘this time tomorrow’ – so what do I actually do?  Firstly, I don’t provide direct HR services or support for all our 4,000 workers!  SIM functions in teams in each country and each one has an HR or Personnel Coordinator.  My role is to oversee our global HR policies and practices, and a lot of my time is spent training and providing advice and support to all our HR people so they can look after their teams well.  Since we work in about 60 countries and have over 70 nationalities in SIM, a lot of my work is focussed on how an organisation functions globally.

But looking after SIM people is not an end in itself.  The purpose of SIM says: 

That’s what we are about and that’s what SIM’s people are about.  My role is to ensure our workers are well managed and cared for so they can concentrate on the task at hand.  Also, with so many people in SIM the increasing amount of employment legislation today means we need to ensure we are compliant with local laws regarding our people (and they vary across the world!)

So what will I be doing tomorrow?  I looked at my diary and found I have a committee meeting for the ‘Membership Recommendation Committee’.  Sounds boring?  Not another Zoom meeting! Actually it is one of the most encouraging things I do – this is the committee that reviews the selection process for people joining SIM from some of our newer sending countries.  

Tomorrow we will be (hopefully) be recommending three new people as members of SIM – they all come from West Africa.  Two weeks ago we recommended another nine people to join SIM – two families are going to an unreached people group in Africa, one family are coming to Glasgow (yes, SIM now receives people into the UK to work with churches in multi-cultural communities).  Our West Africa sending office is one of our fastest growing offices.

Another team I am on at the moment is a group made up of ten people from across the SIM world who are looking at the medium to long term effects the Covid-19 pandemic may have on SIM ministries and operations.  We have been developing tools to help our Country Directors carry out some scenario planning, and also planned a major relief project to help countries where they are involved in supporting the most needy in their communities who have been seriously affected by strict lockdowns, plus supporting our hospitals to have all the PPE they need to treat Covid-19 patients.

Jesus’s commission to his disciples was to go to Jerusalem, Judea and to the ends of the earth, and that remains the commission for the church today.  It’s the ‘going to the ends of the earth’ part that SIM partners with churches to carry out and that is a huge challenge right now.  

  • We have new missionaries ready to go overseas – and can’t 
  • We have people who were on home assignment and can’t get back to their regular ministry, and are also limited in what they can do on home assignment
  • We have people who want to go on home assignment and can’t
  • We have people stuck who were travelling when lockdown happened, and families in different countries

You get the picture.  

Of course, people are being creative – and joining you on this Zoom is an example.  We were planning visits to supporters and churches this year – and can’t go anywhere. 

So our ministries are changing and adapting.  Theological colleges and pastor training initiatives are going on-line and some are seeing many more students engaging.  Of course, not everyone has access to good technology like this (as you know!) and some work has to be done by phone or Whatsapp – not always ideal. 

However, what we are hearing across the world, and you see it in your own community – are the people who are affected by lockdowns, in particularly those who are experiencing the lack of basic needs like food and without basic supplies.  Particularly just now in South America and South Asia there are millions of people who earn their living on a daily basis – if they are locked down and can’t work then they don’t eat.  So in countries like Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia people have to go out and earn some money, including selling food – so there is real hardship, a tight lockdown, and yet the virus is spiralling ever upwards.

In these countries SIM is working with churches to buy food in bulk and distribute it to the most needy.  They include some bible portions and chat with people (from a distance!) as they visit them. In South Africa people are sewing face coverings and cooking hot meals for people.  We see this happening in our own country, but the levels of poverty and need in some of these other countries is desperate.  SIM is not a relief agency, but we have strong partnerships with churches and are able to work with these churches to help the most needy in their communities.

So our ministries have had to change and adapt.  You know all about this because you have had to do it too, just like all churches in the UK and in most of the world.   History tells us that in previous times of pandemics the gospel has spread and churches have grown.  We pray this will be true of these days in which we are living, both for you in Broughty Ferry Baptist Church, for Cedars Church where we belong and right across the world.

All Age Talk: Isdale Anderson

Well the wait is almost over! The barbers and hairdressers are opening on Wednesday! The first Sunday that I led a service on Zoom I said that it could be a while before we could go for a haircut – and so it has been – a whole 11 weeks! During lockdown we have had to wait for lots of things – not just for haircuts, but to get a hug from our Granny or Grandpa, to get to mix with our friends, to go to the shops and of course to go to school! It’s not easy waiting for things is it? It’s bad enough at Christmas time or when it’s our birthday. We have let our mum or dad know what we would like as a present but then it takes for ever for Christmas Day or our Birthday to arrive. And even then sometimes we are disappointed because we don’t always get what we asked for!

Some people feel that way about prayer. They ask God for things but they say that God doesn’t answer their prayers because they don’t get what they want.  That’s not really true. Just because you ask for something doesn’t mean that you haven‘t had an answer. I mean, do you expect your mum or dad to give you everything you might ask for, for your birthday or Christmas? We might think that it would be nice if they did, but we know pretty well that it’s unlikely. You might ask – but your mum or dad might say NO –  what you want is too expensive. They might say that you’re not old enough yet for what you’re asking for so you’ll have to WAIT.  

Some people wonder if Jesus had a sense of humour. I think he did. He once asked some parents if when their children asked them for a fish supper they would give them a live snake instead! Or if they asked for a boiled egg, they would give them a scorpion! I can imagine his listeners laughing and saying “Don’t be silly, we wouldn’t do that!” And Jesus said, “Of course you wouldn’t! Even though you are not perfect, you still know how to give good things to your children. How much more then”, Jesus said, “can you rely on your perfect loving heavenly Father to give good things to those who ask him.”  

Of course sometimes we might ask God for what we think are good things e.g. like someone who is ill to get better. We might be very disappointed when it doesn’t happen. God may not have said NO. He might be saying “Not yet” and we have to wait. However sometimes we have to accept that we don’t know what is best and just trust God to answer as He knows is best. It might be Yes, it might be No but it might also be Wait. The important thing is that we don’t give up praying or trusting God to do what He knows is best.      

All Age Song

Prayers for others – Helen Heron

Lord God, Heavenly Father, we come before you today in praise and adoration for your holiness, love and mercy. We acknowledge you as Sovereign Lord over this world and we are thankful that you are in control of all things. We praise you that you have loved us, and have opened up a way for us to come to you through the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for the security we have in knowing that you are our Lord in this world and that we know the promise of eternal life in the future. Your desire that all nations, tribes, languages and peoples will one day worship you is still your desire and your commission to us to go to our ‘Jerusalem, Judea and to the end of the earth’.

Lord I pray for the fellowship here in Broughty Ferry. I pray for their witness in the community through the Food bank and all the other ways in which they are reaching out to people.  We pray that people in this community may be protected from coronavirus, that you would provide their daily bread and needs and most of all that more people would come to know Jesus as their Saviour. Give strength, energy and creativity to the church leaders here and be at work we pray.

Lord we pray that you would constraint this virus which has devastated our world, indeed we pray that you would take it away, bring it to a speedy. Whether this is through your direct intervention, through the skill of scientists and doctors or through other means of your choosing we pray that no more lives will be lost or people suffering debilitating after effects.  And Lord, while we are in this situation we pray for your strength and protection.

We pray for people in South America and in South Asia – countries where the economies are being devastated by lockdown but where case numbers are rising. We pray for hospitals and medical staff who do not have the resources to cope with patient numbers, and for people who are sick but cannot afford hospital or oxygen and are treated in chairs outside the hospital for lack of beds. We pray for your church in these countries to rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who are suffering. We bring before you the refugees and poorest people in Peru and Bolivia and pray that the food parcel and gospels that are being distributed weekly will not only bring physical comfort but also the light of the truth of the gospel. Give strength and perseverance to the SIM team members and churches, and provide financially for these ministries.

Lord we bring before you those who have become more vulnerable in these times – those suffering domestic abuse, and those who are at greater risk of human trafficking which we know is increasing. We pray that people in desperation will turn to you and know the greatest liberty of a relationship with Jesus.

We remember those who have answered you call to serve you in other countries but who cannot travel at present. We pray for those who are trying to raise prayer and financial support that they will find ways to connect with potential supporters even though they can’t travel and meet people in person. Lord you called us to go to the ends of the earth and so we pray that the gospel will still go out to all nations and that you will show us how to do that in these times.

So be with us, comfort, strengthen and equip us for your service. In Jesus’ name, Amen

In our Baptist Union of Scotland we also remember to pray for:

Jim Purves (Mission & Ministry Advisor, BUS) – Join in giving thanks for creative movements in mission and ministry across our Union of churches. We pray for attentiveness within churches to the leading of the Holy Spirit, walking in obedience to our Father and pursuing the way of Christ. May God grant wisdom when guidance is sought for pursuing excellence in Jesus’ name. 

Granton-on-Spey BC – We give thanks for the church family at Granton-on-Spey Baptist. We pray for the church as they seek to serve and bless the local community. 

Greenock BC – Please pray for wisdom as they seek to pastor those who are bereaved, hospitalised, and seriously ill in these days of lockdown and social distancing. They are thankful for the sense of oneness as a fellowship that is being maintained though regular phone contact and video conferencing facilities. They are also learning of some who are watching to their services who would not regularly be churchgoers.  

Hamilton BC – They are thankful to God that even in these difficult times, He has been faithful to each of our congregation. Although they cannot meet together in the Church building, they are blessed by the preaching of God’s word online with many more tuning in. “We rest on His unchanging grace, in every high and stormy gale”

We pray too for the other Christian churches in our local communities and across the land. In this summer season we pray that You would grant each local congregation wisdom about what services and activities they can plan to relaunch or begin in the later part of this year. Help us all to remember the necessity to balance outreach and community ministries alongside our worship services and smaller group meetings and discipleship programmes. In the midst of our rest or continued work help us always to continue to pray for God to be at work in our midst in the coming days. 

We now pray for other people with particular needs that are connected to our own congregation: We ask that you would comfort those who have been bereaved in recent weeks. Help them to come to terms with their loss and to know Your presence with them each step of the way. We remember those with ongoing health problems, particularly those that have been waiting a long time for hospital treatment or operations. We remember in particular Grace C recovering at home after breaking an ankle this week. We also pray for a full recovery for Nina G after her time in hospital as well. 

Bible Reading

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 

Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 

And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. 11 ‘Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, “This is what the Lord says: look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions.” 12 But they will reply, “It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.”’ 13 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

‘Enquire among the nations: who has ever heard anything like this: A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel.14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes?
Do its cool waters from distant sources ever stop flowing? 

15 Yet my people have forgotten Me; they burn incense to worthless idols, which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. They made them walk in byways, on roads not built up. 16 Their land will be an object of horror and of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads. 17 Like a wind from the east I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them My back and not My face in the day of their disaster.’

Jeremiah 18: 1-17

 The Message

Pre-recorded message

Jeremiah 18:1-17 The Potter and the Clay


Have you ever taken the time to watch a skilful glass-blower shaping the molten glass in to a beautiful vase or some other magnificent creation? Or have you observed a potter taking an ordinary lump of clay and moulding and shaping it into a bowl or jar or some other creation that would be of use and value once the potter’s work has been completed.

There is a real joy and pleasure to be gained watching a master craftsman or woman at work. Many hours have practice have enabled them to master techniques for shaping and moulding the material with which they are working. If your observations take place at a venue where members of the general public can also have a turn, for example, at transforming a lump of clay using a potter’s wheel then it quickly become apparent that the task in hand is so much harder than it appears in the hands of a skilful potter. Even the best efforts of an amateur volunteer fall short of the goods produced by one who has mastered their trade. 

In the book of Jeremiah there are a lengthy series of messages to a people who largely paid lip service to the claims of the God of Israel on their lives. If there had been civic censuses taking place during these years a large majority would have ticked the Jewish religion option in any question about religious or philosophical convictions. Like in our own society until recent decades only a relatively small minority would have ticked an agnostic or atheist option. However, Jeremiah knew from the crushing indifference to his messages that it was a nominal Judaism at best that was practised in this nation.

Very few people were taking God seriously or prioritising a commitment to following the God of Israel. No matter how passionately he preached or pleaded with them the response was usually the same. The account in Jeremiah 18:1-17 is one of the messages preached in Jerusalem during the years that preceded the devastating war with the superpower of the day Babylon (Iraq) and its rejection along with Jeremiah’s other messages led to the inevitable fall of the city; and to the subsequent exile of most of its prominent citizens for the rest of their lives in Babylon. Let us look briefly at this message then and its significance now for us today as well.  

1. The potter at work (Jeremiah 18:1-4)

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you My message.’ So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

(a)A familiar sight (Jeremiah 18:3) The image of the potter at work was a common sight in the Holy Land at that time. In the Middle Eastern climate work was carried out mainly outdoors, although sometimes shaded from the hot sunshine. Jeremiah was not told what he would see, but was asked simply to visit this place of work and observe the potter at work.

The potter’s wheel was literally two stone wheels on a vertical axis. The lower of which was spin by kicking with the feet and the upper one was where the clay was moulded by the potter. In later centuries the apparatus was made out of wood to make it easier for the potter to move. Archaeological digs in Israel regularly unearth vast quantities of pieces of pottery that play a significant part in determining the dating of particular excavations. There were at different times a wide variety of types of pottery in use so this can on occasions be particularly helpful in determining the dating of layers of sediment. However, the word used here for pot is simply an incredibly common basic household item produced in large quantities. It is an ordinary pot on which the potter is investing his time and creative skills, not a luxury item for a wealthier customer.

This is important because of the message Jeremiah will seek to draw out of what he has seen for the lives of the ordinary residents of Jerusalem with respect to their relationship with God. This imagery of God as the potter and the clay representing Jewish people or humanity is very familiar to readers of the Bible. In Genesis 2, the Bible passage that focusses on the creation of humanity by God used this imagery.

Genesis 2:7:  Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. The word translated as formed in Genesis 2:7 was used in Jeremiah 18, but also elsewhere in the Bible to refer to the work of the potter, for example, Isaiah 64:8: Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of your hand, though it was also used in Isaiah 44:12 to describe the work of the blacksmith on metals. The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm.  The emphasis is on the ordinariness of the scene and of the material being used to fashion something else. God was preparing Jeremiah to deliver a message to other ordinary people not just a select few from within the wider population.     

(b)A problem to overcome (Jeremiah 18:4) But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. The crux of the matter is seen in this verse with two obvious points to be made from what Jeremiah had observed. The first is that the potter is obviously in charge of proceedings. He has the final say with respect to the use of the raw materials with which he is working.

However, it appears that this potter began with a particular plan possibly to fulfil a customer order for a particular kind of pot that he intended to make first that day. Things did not work out as he planned. There seems to have been a problem with the texture of the clay or something else that led him to change his mind and rework the clay into a different kind of pot. The experienced potter was able to adjust his work schedule to produce something of value from the clay with which he was working. There was no loss, simply an adjustment to the circumstances before him. The end result was the successful creation of a different kind of useful pot that a customer would purchase.       

2. The power of God (Jeremiah 18:5-11)

(a)The lesson to be learned (Jeremiah18:5-10) 5Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.  And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. 

What was the point of Jeremiah’s visit to the potter’s house? It was not an excursion on a day off or a form of relaxation, though it is not impossible that Jeremiah did enjoy watching a master craftsman at work. The lesson to be learned was that God is ultimately in control of His world and the course of history. Nations and empires will rise and fall in the permissive will of God.

Although, God wanted to communicate here that not everything was ‘set in stone’; the message here was for the nations more than for individuals, although it is easy enough to apply it to individual lives. God was saying that a nation that does wrong and commits seriously evil acts may fall under His judgement, but if there is genuine repentance for that wrongdoing then the proposed judgement may be postponed or even cancelled altogether.

By contrast, if a nation was being honoured by God for the good choices it was making, these blessings could be lost if that nation turns its back on God and His holy standards. God may accomplish His goals through the use of other people or nations, if His original intended choices are unwilling to honour Him in the way He was intending. In any case in the Old Testament era God was not restricted to using Jewish people to accomplish His goals. There were plenty of cases where individuals of other nations were responsible for some amazing acts. The Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great is a classic example.

Isaiah 44:28: [God] who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and he will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, ‘Let it be rebuilt’, and of the temple, ‘Let its foundations be laid.’  Or Isaiah 45:1: This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of…  

This incredible man who overthrew the mighty Babylonian Empire believed in human rights centuries ahead of his time and released captive populations to return to their homelands. The Babylonian rulers came to believe in the myth of their own invincibility and would pay the price as their empire was lost. Nations, even networks of churches too, if they stray from their solid biblical and moral foundations raise serious questions about their own futures. 

A nation or a church enjoying God’s favour does so while it operates in the right way. If God’s way is rejected and His standards ignored then there will be consequences. The Covid-19 virus pandemic has minded us of our own mortality and that society as we have known it for several generations no longer can assume that medical science can prevent all these disasters taking place. After all, there have been so many warnings by the medical profession over the last couple of decades that some form of health crisis was almost inevitable in the future. But how many people really believed that in their lifetime we would see an event like the Covid-19 virus pandemic?

Recent events are a wake-up call about what is really important. However, the question is how many people will quickly forget as soon as this crisis is over and return to living exactly as before? And how many will seek the living God and want to live their lives His way?

(b)The challenge to be heeded (Jeremiah18:11) ‘Now therefore say to the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, “This is what the Lord   says: look! I am preparing a disaster for you and devising a plan against you. So turn from your evil ways, each one of you, and reform your ways and your actions. 

Jeremiah wanted to warn the Jewish leadership in the royal court as well as the religious leaders in the Jerusalem Temple that if they failed to live God’s way that they too might lose not only their positions but also their country and end up dead or in exile. This passage teaches strongly that fatalism and resigning ourselves to ‘what will be will be’ is not an option.  

We can make a difference both individually and collectively if we choose to do so. God in His sovereign will chooses to allow us to make responses to His invitations to us to follow Him. A person who has gone their own way and lived without reference to God, but who now invites Him to direct their lives will obtain His favour. By contrast a person who once lived for God but who now wants nothing to do with Him, will earn His displeasure. This was not a popular message when Jeremiah preached it to the open air audience outside the Temple in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 7); it will not be a popular message today either. The question each one of us has to ask is this: which way will I go? Will I follow God’s way or make my own choices?   

3. The predicament of the people (Jeremiah 18:12-17)

12 But they will reply, “It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness of our evil hearts.”’ 13 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘Enquire among the nations: who has ever heard anything like this? A most horrible thing has been done by Virgin Israel. 14 Does the snow of Lebanon ever vanish from its rocky slopes? Do its cool waters from distant sources ever stop flowing? 15 Yet my people have forgotten me; they burn incense to worthless idols,
which made them stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths. They made them walk in byways, on roads not built up. 16 Their land will be an object of horror and of lasting scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will shake their heads. 17 Like a wind from the east, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster.’

What was the response of Jeremiah’s hearers to this stirring message? Did they want to heed this solemn warming that God would not be mocked? Sadly, but no surprise they heard the message and rejected it. But they will reply, “It’s no use. We will continue with our own plans; (Jeremiah 18:12) The words uttered and reported in Jeremiah 18:12 suggest that these people were not taking Jeremiah’s words too seriously. They did not believe that their nation could fall under the judgement of God. That was such an old-fashioned idea! They were rejecting out-of-hand the fact that actions will have consequences.

A person may do something inappropriate for a long time and get away with it, but other people may do the same thing for a short time and have their lives devastated by it. The taking of illicit drugs is an obvious example in our society today.  Here the issue was this: would the nation of Judah (southern Israel) take seriously God’s message to them through His servant Jeremiah? The same challenge comes to us today? How seriously am I taking God’s call to me to follow Him, to put my faith in trust in Him through Jesus?

The response was predictable. But God through Jeremiah declares that it is so unnatural to behave in that way.  After all nature has a set course of seasons that follow one after another. For example, he writes, Mount Hermon in Southern Lebanon, now on the Israel –Syria border, is constantly covered in snow on its high peaks all year round. The cool waters of the River Jordan that flow down the valley from this magnificent peak are constant.

Yet the behaviour of God’s people in the Holy Land was inconsistent at best and their attitudes displayed indifference at worst. Jeremiah pleaded with them to turn back to God but they chose not to do it. In time it led to the destruction of their country and exile in Babylon for many. They could not say they had not been warned. The challenge comes back to us in this generation: Will I commit myself to follow Jesus and give Him 100% dedication in His service? This is what He is seeking from each one of us. I hope and pray that each one of us will willingly put our faith and trust in Him, for Jesus’ sake, 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:

Closing Prayer:

Thank you Lord that You are in charge of Your world and indeed in overall control over our lives. Like the potter of old working with the clay, You desire to create something beautiful in and through each of our lives in the coming days. Help us respond to the guidance of Your Holy Spirit in the way we ought to live our lives both individually, in our families and collectively as a church family.

By faith we believe that You have great things in store for us in the coming days as we yield our lives to You.  Guide and direct us in all that we seek to accomplish 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.

11 July 2020 – How long O Lord

We cannot be certain of the exact dating of this Psalm and the Bible commentators do differ in their reconstruction of the context in which it was written. However, I think there is still a good case for placing it in the context of the rebellion of Absalom and the trauma experienced by David and others as they fled for their lives to the safety of a city state (Mahanaim) across the Jordan River where they were warmly welcomed in their time of need. I see this Psalm as an evening Psalm continuing the pattern from Psalm 3 of alternate morning and evening reflections as they made their escape to safety. My understanding of the context here is that they have either reached Mahanaim or are within sight of doing so safely. (See II Samuel 17:24-29 for more details of the journey).

Therefore, the physical dangers that David and his companions feared have greatly diminished, but the mental and emotional struggles were increasing rather than decreasing. It was as if coping with the stress and trauma of his ordeal had almost been suspended until the worst physical danger was over. But as soon as there was an opportunity to rest and relax a little the waves of inner anguish began to sweep over him. What do we learn from David and possibly also about ourselves as we go through this Psalm? 

1.The agony he experiences (Psalm 6:1-3) Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger or discipline me in Your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me Lord, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long Lord, how long?
 David at his best was incredibly sensitive to God’s promptings about the way he was living, especially when he had done wrong. When he was guilty of wrongdoing he was usually quick to acknowledge his error and seek God’s forgiveness. In this context outlined above the aged David acknowledges past failures, but there is no known immediate misconduct or sin for which he needed to repent.

He is in a place of compete emotional and mental exhaustion and in such times our patterns of thought are not necessarily always an accurate guide to our circumstances. We can be right with God and in good relationships with other people and still feel emotionally very low or suffer from clinical depression or the debilitating consequences of uncontrolled pain or loss of sleep. There are times when a family member or friend is in a dark place where we cannot fix their difficulties. At such times we need to show we care and love them enough to stand by them as long as it takes. David’s cry was: How long Lord, how long? Many of us at one time or another have uttered such a cry in these or similar words. Maybe some of the people reading these daily messages have spoken them with respect to the current Covid-19 virus pandemic.   

More often than not God doesn’t remove the situation, instead giving us the grace we need to stand and keep persevering through our tough times. 

2. The appeal he makes (Psalm 6:4-7) Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of Your unfailing love.Among the dead no one proclaims Your name. Who praises You from his grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. His plea goes to the right person to help him. The name for God here in this Psalm (Yahweh) is ‘God in relationship with His people’. It is the covenant name for God. It is the name of One who will never leave us nor forsake us. It is the name of One who promises to provide for our needs. It is the name of One who is with us on our faith journey through the good times and the tough until that day He calls us home forever.

When we grasp the security God’s children enjoy in His amazing love it enables us to trust implicitly in our amazing heavenly Father. This truth is especially precious when we feel as weak and vulnerable as a little child as David does here. At such times as this when emotionally at rock bottom we think and say things that would not be given time in our minds or pass our lips in better times. Our heavenly Father knows our weaknesses and has compassion on us. We cannot require God to act in a particular timescale, but can be assured because of Your unfailing love. This enables us to keep going in the darkness and to pray through our tears.   

3. The assurance he finds (Psalm 6:8-10) Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. 10 All my enemies will be overwhelmed with shame and anguish; they will turn back and suddenly be put to shame. The songs in the book of Psalms are deeply open and honest about how their author was feeling at the time the songs were being composed.

This fact is in large measure the reason why the Psalms have been so popular in Jewish and Christian praise and prayer over the centuries. David can declare: The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. This did not mean his problems had vanished like the morning mist. On the contrary, the crisis that caused him to leave his home was still being played out. What had changed was that God had helped David to grasp that He was ultimately in control of the lives of His children and sovereign over His created world. You and I don’t know how things will work out regarding the pandemic in our country, or any other country for that matter. However, we trust the God who sent His Son to die in our place on the cross and who by His Holy Spirit is there alongside us each day of our lives. We conclude with the prayer of praise written by the apostle Paul, and included in his letter to the Romans, in Romans 11:33-36: 

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! 34‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counsellor?’35 ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?’36 For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory for ever! Amen. 

Our song for reflection today is: ‘The splendour of the King’

Brian Talbot

10 July 2020 – Our place of refuge

Over the centuries in the midst of the strains and pressures of life there have been times when some believers have really struggled to appreciate time alone with God. They have found it so difficult even to formulate words in prayer. It is ironic that others have found it much harder when everything is going well and there is no crisis or immediate need to ask God for assistance. We are all individuals and it is a real blessing that our heavenly Father knows and understands our own personal characteristics. David, the aged King of Israel is continuing his pattern of morning and evening prayers in the time of the crisis begun with the overthrow of his government by his rebellious son Absalom. It is not a rushed experience. David is in a calm reflective mood. This Psalm was intended to be sung reflectively accompanied by the playing of flutes. No loud drums or dramatic orchestral music with this song, at least not in David’s day! What does he highlight here in this Psalm?

1. An attitude that is commended (Psalm 5:1-3) Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament.
Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. 
David is beginning the day with God just as he did in peacetime. He has disciplined himself to make this time available at the beginning and end of each day. It continued to give a structure to his day even when he was unable to do very much else. These verses eloquently express how David was feeling. His sense of the loss of what had gone was clear. The future however it turned out would be quite different. David has many faults, but he also had many strengths including his openness and honesty before God. How does he cope with the uncertainty of the times he was living through? He wrote: in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3). Will you and I follow his example and do the same? He certainly had genuine confidence that God would sort everything out given enough time.

2. An attitude that is condemned (Psalm 5:4-6) For You are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with You, evil people are not welcome. The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence.
You hate all who do wrong; 6 You destroy those who tell lies. The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. 
David knew that if he had something to sort out with God or another person, he was usually fairly quick to attempt to resolve matters. He was not the only Psalm writer to make this point. Another psalmist wrote: If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me! (Psalm 66:18-20). We are not ultimately responsible for others, but we most certainly are for ourselves. It is easy to compare ourselves favourably to select others! But how seriously do we hold ourselves accountable to the boundaries we have put in place for our own conduct?  

3. An example to acclaim or to avoid (Psalm 5:7-10) It begins with an example to follow: You destroy those who tell lies.The bloodthirsty and deceitful You, Lord, detest. But I, by Your great love, can come into Your house; in reverence I bow downtowards Your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make Your way straight before me.David here doesn’t come with a spiritual agenda he asked God to bless. Although his existing commitments will soon be back in place, at least within a few months, but it is not the getting back to life as before the crisis David most wants. What matters most for him? Lead me, Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies –make Your way straight before me(Psalm 5:8). In essence, he says, help me to want what You want and show me the clear directions I need to follow to lead a God-honouring life. Are you and I willing to pray in that spirit too? 

By contrast, David highlights some other people who had no time for God in their lives. Their examples were clearly to be avoided. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.10 Declare them guilty, O God! Let their intrigues be their downfall. Banish them for their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:8-10). Notice that David chose to bring his concerns to God in prayer as his way of reacting to this situation. There are times when we are rightly aggrieved at the misconduct of others, but we are powerless to sort things out at the human level. However, there are no lost causes because we can always bring situations to God in prayer. What is most pressing issue on your heart for prayer today? 

4. A Concluding encouragement to believers (Psalm 11-12) But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You. 12 Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favour as with a shield. When we are truly anchored on the solid rock in our faith and trust in God, it can make so much difference. The storm may be raging around us, but we are safe and secure in His Almighty hands. Do you need to be encouraged today to acknowledge that we are not responsible for everything? We cannot do all that needs to be done to cure society’s ills. In fact we can do very little, but what we can do is come with our requests to God the Father in prayer. He can make all the difference in the world!  

Our song for reflection today is ‘My Lighthouse’

Brian Talbot

9 July 2020 – Who provides for you?

How do you cope with bad news? If you are like David and his followers then it takes time to sink in. At first there is just disbelief and shock. Then the panic sets in as you try and find the best way to respond to the difficulty you are facing. For these people and their families their immediate objective was to walk with all the stuff they could carry the roughly twenty miles to the Jordan River and get safely across to the other side. The darkness of the first night on the run was the cover they needed to accomplish this goal. To the royal party used to a comfortable life in the palace it must have been a great shock to live at such a basic level simply trying to survive those first few days.

This meditation by King David in Psalm 4 relates to the end of the second day on the run. The ground under foot had been uneven and far from easy to cover at any speed, even without the presence of elderly people and young children. I picture them camped for a second night out in the open. There in the sight of the starry sky, not dimmed by modern light pollution, the weary travellers eagerly laid down to rest. How did David view their situation at that time? What did he have to say to God in his prayers?

(1)The upwards call (Psalm 4:1-3) Answer me when I call to You, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress;    have mercy on me and hear my prayer (Psalm 4:1). David had many flaws and weaknesses that were well known. He lived his whole life in a very public way. Yet he was never too proud to admit it when he got things wrong and let God down. He was well aware that God was a holy God who knew him better than he knew himself. He had no right to obtain favours from God. Instead, he humbly sought mercy from Him. This is a wise step for us all. God knows our hearts and we cannot hide anything from Him. The wonderful blessing is that God is so gracious to those who come humbly before Him seeking His assistance. David also had a real confidence that God would hear and answer his prayers. Psalm 4:3 states: Know that the Lord has set apart His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to HimI hope each one of us shares this same confidence that David had in God hearing his prayers. 

(2) The inward conviction (Psalm 4:4-6) David recognised so well that we are all sinners and he was anxious that no sin would come between him and God. He wanted to take the necessary time to ensure his heart was right before God. Search your hearts and be silent (Psalm 4:4b). He wanted to make sure that though there was rightful anger at the injustice of what was happening in their land that it did not lead to ill-considered actions. He wanted to make sure that God was approached in the right way during such a tough time (Psalm 4:5). David knew that there were other people resigned to despair. Many, Lord, are asking, ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’  Let the light of Your face shine on us.  (Psalm 4:6).

Another writer of Psalms, the Jerusalem Temple worship leader Asaph wrote in Psalm 77:6 these words: I remembered my songs in the night. My heart meditated and my spirit asked… But he later admitted his own serious doubts of his struggles being resolved satisfactorily. ‘Will the Lord reject for ever? Will He never show His favour again? Has His unfailing love vanished for ever? Has His promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has He in anger withheld His compassion?’ (Psalm 77:7-9). God did bring him through his difficult time and will do the same for you and me if we put our faith in Him. One of the blessings for some people in recent months has been for more time to spend on other things while confined at home. There is a time to be still in God’s presence reflecting or meditating on His Word and coming before Him with our prayers. 

3. The secret of contentment (Psalm 4:7-8) You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. There are two blessings David says he is enjoying even in these most distressing of circumstances. You have filled my heart with greater joy… He is not saying God has supernaturally made him so happy. No! Happiness is based on feelings and in times of serious crisis we are anything but happy. However, joy is contentment and a security in knowing that God has things under His control, even if I cannot see the evidence for it. Then and now God’s people are called to live by faith not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). Will you and I entrust our futures to the Lord? When we can truly say ‘yes’ to this question it is remarkable how much easier we find it to be at peace with ourselves and also to sleep at night. David here writes: In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. I sincerely hope and pray that this is your experience as well, as you and I trust God to take care of our futures.  

Our song for reflection today is: ‘In Christ alone’

Brian Talbot

8 July 2020 – Who is taking care of you


What an extraordinary day it had been as King David and those associated with him fled like a long line of refugees from the city of Jerusalem down the steep hillside heading towards the Jordan valley and its well-known river. The city is incredibly tense and quiet as people weight up their options to stay or to flee. Time is of the essence as Absalom and his supporters who had launched the military coup d’état would soon arrive. How would they treat any remaining citizens? Who would be trusted to support the new regime or who would be suspected of deeper sympathies for the aged David? Was it time for the old man to step down and let his middle-aged son take the throne? David although weak in body as the ageing processes cannot be delayed for ever is still as ‘sharp as a pin’ in his mind. He knows that his only hope of survival or even of regaining his throne is to escape across the Jordan River.

All of us have faced moments of crisis and trouble when we felt overwhelmed by events taking place around us. For some of us the events of recent months have been overwhelming, but no-one could deny the unsettling nature of so much that has been going on. The future for us now, like David then, was too difficult to predict. How did David react as an elderly man coming to terms with such difficult times? Psalm 3 was written almost certainly as a response to his time of crisis three thousand years ago.

1. The pressure exerted by David’s foes (Psalm 3:1-2) (Psalm 3:1a) Lord, how many are my foes! II Samuel 15:13-14: A messenger came and told David, ‘The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.’ All of us have had times in our lives when we have felt overwhelmed. The emotions just come over us and we cannot but feel incapable of handling whatever circumstances are in front of us. It may be that in the worst case scenario they might indeed be that bad, but like me you will have had times where a good night’s sleep has allowed our minds to be refreshed and our emotions calmed and then we are able to gain a sense of perspective.

At that point we can start to see actions that can be taken to help us go forward with what lies before us. This is the hardest part of the situation seeking to get a clear picture of what is going on before seeking to process it so that we can organise a plan of action. It is so impressive that David despite his advanced years is able to keep his mind focussed on the task in hand. In life all of us will have our disappointments and setbacks with health issues, work and family challenges and bereavements, together with supporting other people through a varied mix of their life situations.

In these situations it is a privilege and an assurance to know that we can rely on the Lord to sustain and uphold us through these times. 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…(Psalm 91:1-3a). I hope each one of us have the Lord as our Rock on whom we can depend in the ups and downs of life.

2. The protection provided by David’s God (Psalm 3:3-4) (Psalm3:3a) But You, Lord, are a shield around me, God you are my protector. You care for me when other people may think –doesn’t he deserve it? I won’t give a hand! In Psalm 27:7-10 David makes this point at a time when he was in another crisis situation. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of You, ‘Seek His face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 

David’s parents never forsook him as far as I can tell. These words were a hypothetical example – even if this happened – God will never abandon me. In Psalm 34:6-7 during an earlier crisis when he was on the run from his predecessor King Saul, David while in Philistine territory was delivered by God. His autobiographical statement is most encouraging to us: This poor man called, and the Lord  heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. What a wonderful assurance! I hope you and I can share it as well in our lives today as we seek to navigate the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic.  

3. The peacefulness experienced during David’s sleep (Psalm 3:5-6) I lie down and sleep (Psalm 3:5a). It was because his security was in God that he could have the confidence to lie down and sleep that first night. It was not simply sheer exhaustion that brought about his sleep, though undoubtedly he was exhausted with the exertions of the day. The gift of sleep is so precious to us. But we do take it for granted. We only truly appreciate it when on those rare nights we struggle to sleep, we long for it, and if it doesn’t arrive we can feel very weary. There is here a real practical issue in our prayer life of being able to bring things to the Lord and leave them with Him. Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6-7 are so applicable here: 

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. 

May that continue to be our experience as followers of Jesus. David went on to say: I wake again, because the Lord sustains me (Psalm 3:5b). God promises each one of us only the strength we need for one day at a time. It is a battle that we may have to fight daily. May God the Holy Spirit enable us to live this way in His resources.

4. The assurance found in David’s heart (Psalm 3:7-8) From the Lord comes deliverance. May Your blessing be on Your people (Psalm 3:8).  The civil war in Israel was just beginning and David and his companions were camped out on the other side of the Jordan River. Yet this promise would come true. Many people came to assist them with the things they needed from food to bedding; and there would be a rebuilding of their confidence in how things would work out for them to go back to their homes and get on with their lives again as before. The immediate crisis was now over, but what was important was that they committed the future to the Lord their God. We don’t know what the future holds for us either, but we trust the God who holds our future in His hands. 

Our song for reflection is: ‘God is our strength and refuge’

Brian Talbot

7 July 2020 – The bigger picture

Psalm one and Psalm two have been deliberately placed at the start of this book of songs for a purpose. Psalm one zooms in like the microscope to help the reader or singer reflect on the kind of person God wants us to be in order that we might receive His blessing. By contrast, Psalm 2 is like the telescope that helps us look outwards at the bigger picture beyond our immediate little world.  What does this Psalm tell us about our world and our God?

1.There are people who hate God and those who follow Him (Psalm 2:1-3)  

Why do the nations conspire   and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up
 and the rulers band together  against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, 
‘Let us break their chains   and throw off their shackles.’ We live in a world where there are many loud voices advocating their particular causes. Naturally if we want freedom to express our opinions we should also want other people to have similar freedoms. Yet we live in a world where past and present there have been many rulers who have no time for God or for tolerating the existence of Christian Churches. In 1976, for example, Enver Hoxha, leader of the Communist Party in Albania outlawed all religious practices and declared the country the world’s first completely atheistic state.

It was the great leader and the party that must be revered alone. This reign of terror failed. The regime fell in December 1990 and in the census of 2011 just over twenty years later a mere 2.5% of the population self-identified as atheists. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated example; there are plenty of contemporary examples today of regimes hostile to the practice of Christianity or to other faiths.

What is important to remember is that this is far from a new development; it has been witnessed over many centuries. However, this extreme discrimination or actual persecution for holding to the Christian faith does not last forever. The day of freedom eventually comes. The challenges and discouragements in the current Covid-19 virus pandemic for most of us in the United Kingdom are on an apparently smaller scale, but they can seem so large to us. The important point to remember is this: they will not last forever.  

2. There is One who is in control (Psalm 2:4-6)

The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’ The Psalmist pictures God looking down at those on earth who want to prevent other people worshiping Him and bursting out in laughter. Evil things happen in our world and sometimes those who do wrong appear to get away with it. But God will have the final word. The Psalmist drew attention to an installation of a king by God in Jerusalem. It is business for Him as usual in heaven and on earth He is not confined. As a result of the Covid-19 virus pandemic church buildings have been closed for more than three months, but God’s Spirit is very much at work in the world. Record numbers of people have accessed at least one church service online during the lockdown. God is not confined by our difficulties on earth. We have our struggles and our tears at times, but we will not forget that God is on the throne.    

3. God has spoken! (Psalm 2:7-9)

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to Me, ‘You are My son;  today I have become Your father. Ask Me  and I will make the nations Your inheritance,  the ends of the earth Your possession.You will break them with a rod of iron; You will dash them to pieces like pottery.’ God has spoken! He is building His kingdom in the hearts and lives of His people across the planet.  How often in church do we pray these words: ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10); This is what God is doing throughout the world year after year. Often it takes place quietly in the lives of individuals who commit their lives to follow Jesus. On other occasions there are more obvious answers to pray and signs of God at work.

In our church Bible verse for the year in 2020, Ephesians 3:20-21, this prayer begins with these words: Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us… I believe that God is bringing this to fruition in the life of our church during these difficult times. What will be the ultimate result of the work of God’s Spirit in our midst? ‘I don’t know’ is the honest answer, but we serve an amazing God who will be at work in the lives of people drawing them to faith in Him. These cryptic verses in Psalm 2 are understood to be God the Father setting Jesus apart for the worldwide kingdom He will rule over at the end of the age. Those who refuse to tolerate the existence of His Church and seek to wipe out its membership with their imprisonments and other forms of persecution will one day be required to give an account of their lives to God. He will have the final say as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

4. God’s message to the world leaders (Psalm 2:10-12)

10 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear   and celebrate His rule with trembling.  12Kiss His son, or He will be angry   and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. In effect, we might say in contemporary language if you want to be on the right side of history sign up for God’s team. ‘Jesus is Lord’ was the minimum statement of faith of the Early Church and the words uttered from the lips of baptismal candidates in the first few centuries of Church history. The imagery here is of earthly rulers acknowledging that God is God and that they too must bow the knee to Him. These words of many centuries before the time of Jesus were intended as an encouragement to Gods people that despite all the obstacles in our pathways at times like this that the final triumph of King Jesus is assured. Let us go into this new day with confidence that God is on the throne of His universe and give Him all the glory and praise.

Our song for reflection today is: ’10,000 reasons’ (Bless the Lord) 

Brian Talbot