Easter Sunday events

Our Good Friday service is available here.

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

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

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

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

Easter Sunday Facebook service @ 6pm

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

Church at Home – Palm Sunday 28 March 2021


Jam Kids – Virtual Sunday School

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

‘Through Lent’ Baptist Union reflections Week 6 ‘Perseverance’

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

Holy week events @ Broughty Baptist Church

We have many services planned for this Holy week. Click here to find out more.

This service is led today by Rev Gary Torbet

Hello everyone, can I give everyone joining us this morning a really warm welcome to our Church at Home on this Palm Sunday!

It is so exciting to be able to gather for worship together and I especially give a welcome to those joining us for the first time and …. From the furthest flung places on the planet

May you all feel at home as we worship the Lord Jesus together and enter for us as Christians the most special, reflective and hopeful week of the year – Holy Week.

Call to worship

20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
    and the godly enter there.
21 I thank you for answering my prayer
    and giving me victory!

22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has now become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing,
    and it is wonderful to see.

24 This is the day the Lord has made.
    We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Please, Lord, please save us.
    Please, Lord, please give us success.

26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
    Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
    You are my God, and I will exalt you!

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever

Psalm 118: 20 – 29 New Living Translation

There are days when the last thing we want to do is rejoice.  Our mood is down, our situation is out of hand, and maybe our sorrow and guilt is overwhelming.

We can relate to the writers of the Psalms who often felt this way.  But no matter how low the writers felt, they were always honest with God.  And as they talked to God, their prayers ended in praise.  God has given us this day to live and to serve him – let us indeed rejoice and be glad.

We shall begin our time of worship by singing the same words as the crowds on Palm Sunday – “Blessed be your name.”                                                      

Our opening song of praise and worship is: Blessed be your name

Opening Prayer:

Loving Heavenly Father, what a privilege to be able to come into your presence to worship you!

To encounter you Jesus – yes we sing “Blessed be your name” – help us afresh today to reflect on what that means for us.

Help us Father, to put aside what might distract us, yes we may be at home and not together – but help us Lord – engage with you!

With our Father in heaven, through the Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit – our fuel Lord for hearing from you, our fuel for hearing your truth, our fuel that you give us to live for you!

Forgive us O Lord when we take this for granted. Forgive us O Lord when we go through this time – as ritual – instead of what should be vibrant, life-giving, surrender and encounter with you!!  Wake us up Lord to all that you have for us, in you.

Help us today as we reflect on the story of Palm Sunday – to not just be the crowd cheering you on one day – and turning our back on you the next – turning our back on the call you have on our lives to live for you every day!

By the praise, by the prayers, by the testimony of your people; By the reading and hearing of your word; By the preaching of your word;

By the gathering around your table – let us take out the ritual and see it again today as a life-changing, life transforming meal that sees us participating in your mission Lord to the world.

Enable us by your Holy Spirit, we invite you to renew us, transform us together today. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 19; 14

“May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be pleasing in your sight – my Lord, my Rock, my Redeemer.”

For we pray in the mighty and powerful name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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

All Age Talk  “Who do you follow?” Rev Gary Torbet

So in our passage from Luke 19 that we will look at later on, on Palm Sunday we see the crowds shouting and singing, praising God;

But later, we read in Luke 23; 13 – 25, when Pilate was trying to release Jesus because he had done nothing wrong – some people who had been in the same crowd the previous week cheering Jesus, were now shouting;

“Crucify him, Crucify him”

They were turning their backs on Jesus.

That got me thinking about football. As many of you know I am a life-long supporter of the world famous Dundee United!  I have followed them for 45 years now, followed them through thick and thin, watched them winning cups, titles, in European finals and also seen them relegated and in the doldrums.

There are also others in our church who are football fans;

Which team do you support? Would you ever think of supporting a rival team?  I thought not. And yes, same with me, I am a Dundee United fan – they will always be my team.

Did you know that the very same thing happened to Jesus? Do you know what these are? (Hold up the palm branches.) These are branches from a Palm tree. In the country where Jesus lived, the Palm tree was everywhere. The branches of the Palm were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, people used to wave Palm branches as they cheered in celebration when an important person such as a king rode through the streets of town.

On the Sunday before he was crucified, Jesus rode through the streets of Jerusalem on the back of a small donkey. As he rode along, people waved Palm branches and shouted and cheered. They shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” The people cheered Jesus as their King.

Just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers that he had heard on Sunday now turned to jeers. Many of the people who just a few days before shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” had now turned against him. They were now shouting “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! He is not our king. We have no king but Caesar.” They were even offered the choice of whether to free a criminal named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to free Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Many of His once-faithful followers had forsaken him.

You and I have to make a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus and make him the King and Lord of our life, or we can choose to forsake him like the people who cried, “Crucify Him! He is not our king!” Will we be found faithful?

Let’s pray; “Jesus, Blessed Jesus, today we choose to make you King and Lord of our life. Help us to be strong, and to follow you, even when all others have forsaken you. Amen.”

Song: ‘Hosanna in the Highest’

Prayers for others

Gracious God

We come before you as children do to their fathers, with confidence, trusting in your loving kindness, your mercy and grace.

We ask for your mercy on our world, and pray for people devastated by war in Yemen, Myanmar and Syria, especially for the children. We pray for all those involved in charity and missionary work that seek to bring food and medical help and compassion to people in need.

We pray for peace and justice in our world and for courage and wisdom for those who are in power to bring peace and justice to their people. 

We pray your blessing on those campaigning for environmental issues, that your beautiful world would recover from the mistakes we have made.

We pray that many more people would have access to Covid vaccinations, no matter where they live.

We pray for our Queen and for our Parliaments, and for all those who are in authority over us.  We pray for wisdom when we come to use our votes.

We pray for our NHS and for all those involved in healing and caring, for your help and strength and energy for those supporting people through physical and mental illness.

Father, we pray for those in our church family both here and abroad, that you would bless and have compassion on us.  We pray for help especially for those who are having a hard time with long term illnesses, financial difficulties and stress.

In the silence, we bring before you those close to our hearts, that they would know the power of your presence and blessing, each and every day……..

Thank you Lord God. Amen

Bible Reading

28 After Jesus had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 As He approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying to them, 30 ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” say, “The Lord needs it.”’

32 Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as He had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ 34 They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’

35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.

37 When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples!’ 40 ‘I tell you,’ He replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’ 41 As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it 42 and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. 

43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’

Luke 19:28-44

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘Make way, make way for Christ the King’

The Message

Luke 19:28-44 What causes you and I to weep?


It is one of the happiest times of year in the Jewish religious calendar. It is one of the few times in the year when people in that country 2,000 years ago got some time off. Most people would have had a spring in their step and a sense of expectancy as they gathered with the vast crowds in Jerusalem. Yet in Luke 19:41 Luke records of Jesus on this visit to Jerusalem having this response: As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it. Jesus’ perspective on that occasion was extremely different to the majority of people present that day. This account gives a hint to us that some things other people, even a majority, might rejoice in may cause deep sadness to a follower of Jesus. Taking a step back from this account of that Palm Sunday two thousand years ago, we reflect on our own situation and that of others in our communities. 

We have passed the anniversary of a whole year of lockdown restrictions. The experience of people of these islands has been decidedly mixed. A percentage of people have loved it, enjoying working from home instead of a long daily commute saving money usually spent on travel. Others with enforced free time carried out more DIY or found a new interest in home baking. Some people claim to have taken up new hobbies or enjoyed lots more time with their families. Great fulfilment has been experienced by some who were able to serve as volunteers in local communities and some lower-paid workers have had self-esteem boosted by being referred to as ‘essential workers’. Feeling valued is now acknowledged as crucial for contentment. (The Times, 23 March 2021).

By contrast, the pressure on others in frontline services such as health and social care, at times was dangerous, leading to excessive stress and an increased number suffering from physical, mental or emotional health problems.

An unknown number have suffered from ‘long covid’ and are finding it incredibly hard to recover their health and strength. Each of us can quickly compile lists of things that we or others have struggled with over the past year.  However, what events in the recent past or even the present have brought sadness to your heart – or even tears? Some of us, for example, have lost someone close to us who has died.

Others may be struggling to cope with serious health problems that have caused us to shed tears. Over the last year plenty of people will have cried with frustration over work issues, either due to extreme stresses within the workplace or out of fear of employment that might be lost as a result of lockdown restrictions. Others maybe out of a sense of loneliness as they are unable to meet with family or friends. The list of possible causes can be quite lengthy. However, what is also likely is that some of those who shed tears do so because of the suffering or difficulties of other people. We wish they didn’t have to go through the circumstances we have become aware of.

Here in Luke’s account of this joyful festival in the Jewish religious calendar, the author draws attention to something quite unexpected, something that causes deep distress in the heart of Jesus. His coming to the capital city was part of God’s plan in making history in what would be the most important few days in human history to date. So what was it that happened that Sunday?   

1. The Plan of Jesus (Luke 19:28-31)

After Jesus had said this, He went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem (Luke 19:28).  What had Jesus been talking about? It had been about the cost of discipleship. It will not be easy to live in the way God wants us to live. Open Doors, a Christian ministry supporting the persecuted church, in 2017 reported that 215 million Christians in fifty countries endured serious marginalisation or were vulnerable to physical attacks or endured formal persecution or lived in a society where it is illegal to practise the Christian faith [Jeremiah Johnston, Unimaginable, p. 20]     

In the worst case scenario some Christians will be martyred for their faith; many more will be discriminated against in a whole variety of ways that make life very difficult for them. Of the first disciples of Jesus the apostle John was the only one to die of ‘natural causes’ and that was after serving a lengthy term of imprisonment in the slate quarries on the Island of Patmos. All the others were martyred for their faith. Although the formal persecution of the Roman authorities against followers of Jesus only began in the 60sAD it was never uniform across the Empire and was often centred on particular locations where a key leader was particularly opposed to the presence of this new faith. Christians were a small minority in any case and what is more the majority of them were enslaved people or the very poorest of the poor, with only a tiny proportion of the wealthier classes professing faith.

Therefore, it was easy to pick on them as the Roman Emperor Nero did in particular. Yet despite all that was thrown at them, the Christian Church slowly but steadily grew until in the early fourth century an Emperor called Constantine professed faith and declared that his empire would recognise Christianity as the main faith in its midst. It would lead to a remarkable transformation of society with a huge reduction in racism, together with a growing respect for life both of the most vulnerable in society from its very youngest to its oldest members. The Christian Church was responsible for the foundation of healthcare facilities and education which we take for granted too often today. What was Jesus expecting when He got to Jerusalem?  

(a)His knowledge (Mark 10:32-34) They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again He took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to Him. 33 ‘We are going up to Jerusalem,’ He said, ‘and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.’

Jesus was in no doubt concerning what lay ahead of Him in Jerusalem. As you read through Mark’s Gospel it is not difficult to see that He repeatedly explained to His disciples what would happen to Him and how things would turn out. It is equally clear that they did not even come close to understanding what Jesus was saying to them.

It is possible that they were secretly hoping God had a ‘Plan B’ by which Jesus could avoid the cross and all the suffering that accompanied it and somehow set up His glorious future kingdom without any of the difficulties He had mentioned along the way. Their grasp of what God had planned for Jesus was not in line with His divine purposes. If we stop for a moment to reflect on their error we ought to ask ourselves to stand in their shoes and think what kind of response we might have given then and what kind of response we would give now to God in our current circumstances.

Our natural human reaction is to want life to be straightforward and if we work hard for things to expect success in what we are doing. Yet Jesus was perfect and did exactly what God the Father had for Him to do, but it was anything but an easy road to travel. The author of the book of Hebrews wrote these words in Hebrews 2:9-10:

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered. 

These are deeply challenging and sobering words.

Jesus’ professed followers today number more than 2.3 billion individuals, but the total number during His earthly ministry who were committed to following Him was fairly small. If the ‘Church Growth’ experts had been evaluating Jesus’ earthly ministry I am not sure how positive they would have been. What is of greatest importance here is how it ended; death on the cross or burial in a borrowed tomb was not the end.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday was God’s verdict and declaration of triumph! We are a resurrection people following in the footsteps of Jesus. Therefore, although we will have disappointments and heartaches and setbacks along the way, the final triumph of God in building His Church is assured. We must lift our eyes from the difficulties to focus on the One who was triumphant over all the obstacles placed in His pathway.    

(b) His command (Luke 19:29-31) As He approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, saying to them, 30 ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” say, “The Lord needs it.”’

Jesus and His disciples are within sight of Jerusalem and will soon have a glorious view of the city from the nearby Mount of Olives as they make their descent down towards Jerusalem. At a time when they were passing through two tiny villages very close to one another Jesus made a request to two of His disciples. It was not a surprising request because in that culture a Jewish rabbi could ask to borrow a donkey for a day.

He had a duty to take care of the animal and to return it in the condition in which it was loaned to him.

We have no knowledge of the details here as to whether Jesus had a prior arrangement with the owner or not, but on the surface it looks like a supernatural revelation of Jesus in predicting that an available animal would be tied up in a specific location, and thereby be available for Him to borrow. There appears to be a specific form of wording He gave to His disciples to say, if they were challenged about their course of action.

On other occasions Jesus clearly had made plans such as the upper room used for their Passover meal. In Luke 22:7-13 it states: Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ ‘Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked.10 He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks: where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.’ 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

These incidents remind us that there will be occasions in our lives when we have clear instructions about how we live our lives as Christians, but there will be plenty of others where we have guidelines for our behaviour and choices, but we have no detailed blueprint for our course of action. There will be particular times when we need the special blessing of other people coming alongside us or even in response to our prayers when God the Holy Spirit intervenes in a special way for our good and for God’s glory. The issue here was trust.  Do I trust Jesus enough to follow Him? Am I willing to commit the whole of my life to honour Him? It is the biggest call you will ever make. Have you taken that step of faith? I hope each one of us has done so.         

2. The Obedience of the Disciples (Luke 19:32-35)

(a)Our trust in Jesus (Luke 19:32-35) Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as He had told them33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ 34 They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’ 35 They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. 

These disciples had learned to trust Jesus on a daily basis as they had walked around the country with Him over the past more than three years. They still had plenty to learn, but let us give them the credit due for what they did that day. How strong is your faith and trust in Jesus? It is important when we pray for something, if we notice an answer to write it down in a notebook so that in difficult times we can encourage ourselves by what we have recorded on previous occasions. Jesus is trustworthy.

Are you following Him? Or is today the day when you will start following Him? We are a people called to prayer both individually and corporately. What expectancy do you have of God working in you or through you this week, for example? If we expect nothing then we are sure to hit the target! I am fairly certain that these disciples did not know what Jesus was going to do with the donkey – in terms of where He had planned to go with it. So often you and I likewise in our journey of faith will not know how and when God will work in particular circumstances for which we are praying. His message to us is quite simple: ‘Will you follow Me?’

Is there a situation you are struggling with at the moment? Are you wondering how you should act in a particular situation? We need to keep on praying until God makes clear His will or opens or shuts a particular door of opportunity we were considering. In so many life situations there is no obvious right or wrong choice, instead it is often between a good and legitimate choice versus the best choice in that situation. We need the aid of the Holy Spirit to help us make our choices.

(b)  Our trust in His Word (Zechariah 9:9-10) Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey… He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the Riverto the ends of the earth.

What Jesus was doing on Palm Sunday was not a last minute impulsive action, first thought of that morning. It was something prophesied 500 years earlier by Zechariah, one of the spiritual leaders of God’s people after the return to the Promised Land from exile in Babylon (Iraq). We can often forget that there were 400 years of apparent ‘silence’ after the end of the book of Malachi with no more revelatory words we are aware of before the ministry of John the Baptist.

We know very little indeed about those centuries with respect to their walk with God or how the people of faith viewed their circumstances in most of that time. Yet God had not forgotten them or delayed the fulfilment of His promises. We in our day make many requests to God and at time wonder why something we are praying for is taking so long to happen. It is important to remember that His timescale is often longer than ours. God knows what He is doing even if we are unclear why things take place the way they do in many situations. We can trust His Word because God is in control.

In God’s time came One who would proclaim: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
(Matthew 5:3-10).

The militaristic Messiah most Jews had been hoping for and expecting was so different to Prince of Peace. The final triumph of King Jesus at His second coming is still to take place, but we can trust God’s Word for the future just as much as rely on it for events fulfilled in the past.

3. The Response of the Pilgrims (Luke19:36-38)

36 As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. 37 When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’

The crowds grew larger the closer Jesus got to Jerusalem. Almost certainly many of these people cheering Jesus that day were Galileans who had recognised Him from the meetings they had attended and the miracles they had witnessed. There was genuine enthusiasm for Jesus presence that day it was not contrived or forced like the applause at political party conventions that differs little across the range of parties here in the UK from those of regimes overseas that choreograph praise for the great leader or President!

It was not confetti and plastic flags distributed by public relations personnel employed by major sports teams or other well-funded agencies at work here. It was genuine and sincere with Palm branches strew along the pathway and some coats put down on the road as well. However, although these expressions of praise are heartfelt and once again a fulfilment of prophecy with a citation of Psalm 118:26 Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord it was only a part of the picture.

Around the world the Church of Jesus Christ is growing with more people added every week, but as we know in our own cultural context a positive response to the claims of Jesus is not the perspective of the majority in our land. However, we rejoice with those who have the humility and wisdom to receive the grace of God and commit their lives to follow Jesus.

4. The Indifference of the Majority (Luke 19:39-44)

(a)The folly of the Religious leaders (Luke 19:39-40) 3Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ 40 ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’   A few moments ago I cited the first part of Psalm 118:26: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. The second half of that verse states: From the house of the Lord we bless you.  

The general public on the streets welcomed Jesus, but the words not cited from the second part of the verse was also with good reason. The religious leaders ought to have welcomed Jesus, but were mostly indifferent or actively opposed to Jesus and what He was proclaiming. It is extremely sad that things have not changed over the centuries. In every generation there have been religious leaders, some holding extremely high offices who have taught opinions contrary to the teaching of Jesus. We must always check things out with God’s Word. What does the Bible say? What does the Bible say in context!

I have heard over the years some outrageous things claimed as being ‘what the Bible teaches’ by people indifferent or hostile to following Jesus. It is so easy with the Bible or even simply with the words of someone else in conversation to twist what has been said. It happens all the time in the media.

Here on Palm Sunday it was the ordinary Jewish pilgrims from Galilee who acknowledged Jesus more accurately than the religious leaders. It is a challenge to us, always to take care with our words and even prior to that in our listening to other people so that we may hear accurately what they are seeking to communicate to us. How tragic it was that Jesus was not welcomed into God’s House, the Temple in Jerusalem, by the religious leaders. Have you welcomed Jesus into your life?  

(b) The heartache of Jesus (Luke 19:41) As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it  These verses in Luke 19 are a part of the Palm Sunday story that is often overlooked when we consider that day, but it is part of the story we need to consider most carefully. Jesus cared deeply for these people. It saddened Him deeply that so many had missed out on the relationship with God that their heavenly Father intended them to experience. How much do you care for people who don’t know Jesus? It costs emotionally at times when we seek to share something of our faith with other people.

It is painful at times when others indicate that they don’t want to know about the Lord Jesus or are not interested in the invitation we are offering to them. Behind the happy palm branch waving and celebrations Jesus was broken-hearted that the good news He was presenting was not wanted by a majority of the population of that major city. There is nothing new under the sun. Cultures and outward forms of things in society change with great regularity but the underlying human needs and aspirations don’t change from one generation to another. What is more, people’s need of God is just the same for everyone whether they recognise it or not.

We must keep on praying for people even if it takes years before we see them come to Christ. We are involved in a work for God over the longer term when current fads and fashions of the wider society have receded into history. Who are you praying for week by week to come to know Jesus? Safeguard your time for that investment even if it is only for a very short time; we must be intentional about finding a little time to spend with people as a little over the medium to long-term adds up to a significant amount of time over the years.

We will have our tears of disappointment like Jesus, but people will only care what we know and stand for when they know first of all that we genuinely care for them as people. There are no quick fixes. We are in it for the long haul. How much do you care for people who don’t yet know Jesus? Who are you praying for and who might you invite to an Easter online service this year?    

(c) The misjudgement of the people (Luke 19:42) and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The religious leaders were worried that there would be a reaction from the Roman authorities if people increasingly followed Jesus. It was astonishing that at the very time when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, not long before the first Easter that some people together with their religious leaders could so misjudge the situation. In John 11:45-53, just after Lazarus was restored to life, it states:

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’ 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take His life.

It was a catastrophic misjudgement. How could they get it so wrong? 

(d) The consequences of their actions (Luke 19:43-44) The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’

This prophetic message refers to the Jewish–Roman War, 66-70AD. In Josephus’ contemporary work the History of the Jewish Wars, the details of the destruction of the Temple, Jerusalem and the Jewish nation were recorded: while the sanctuary was burning…neither pity for age or respect for rank was shown.

On the contrary children and old people, laity and priests alike were massacred (Book 6:271); the Emperor ordered the entire city and the Temple to be razed to the ground, leaving only the loftiest of the towers…and the portion of the wall enclosing the city on the west…as to leave future visitors to the spot no reason to believe that the city had ever been inhabited (Book 7:1-3).  Jesus was unpopular with some because He cared for them and for this city.

Not everyone will welcome the good news of the gospel, but because we care for them, we will continue, month after month and year after year to make Christ know. We will have our tears of sadness at some of those rejections, but I trust we will never cease praying week by week for the people God places on our hearts; while an opportunity remains we will proclaim Jesus by word and actions so that those we encounter have the chance to own Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, Amen.    

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘O Lord, the clouds are gathering’

The Lord’s Supper

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

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

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

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

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

Our closing song is: ‘Living Hope’

Closing Prayer:

Lord, You are the head of the Church, we truly want to love and worship You more.  We desire to grow more like You as we read and reflect on Your Word and as we spend time with You in prayer and in fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Help us this week and in coming weeks to have a greater desire to make You known and share You with others, in the light of all You have done for us, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – 21 March 2021

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School.

JAM young adults have a separate programme Breakthru 7:00pm-8:00pm looking at the Youth wellbeing journey, a range of issues to do with God’s plan for our wellbeing. Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

Through Lent’ Baptist Union reflections Week 5 ‘Thankfulness’

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

Call to worship

Let us start by opening our service in prayer –

Here we are Lord, your people, your church, meeting in your presence. We welcome each other albeit virtually and we welcome You Lord personally. Make yourself known to us in new ways through our worship, our prayers, and our understanding of your Word today. Please bless our time together in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

In Psalm 5: 11 it says, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with Joy.”

Our opening song of praise and worship is: Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord’

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

All Age Talk Helen Rice   ‘Jesus Calms the Storm’

This last year life has been challenging in a way most of us could never have imagined. In this video clip we will see the disciples facing a challenging and scary time on a boat during a storm.

As we journey through life, things are going to happen. We will face many storms in our life. They may not be the kind of storms like in this video. Perhaps we may face a serious illness or a family problem. We might encounter difficulties at school, or work, or with friends. We might make a wrong decision.

When you have these problems on the sea of life, who do you want to have with you? I know who I want! I want Jesus. He can calm every storm, helping us through any difficulty no matter how big it may seem. With Jesus in your life, you can be assured that you will never be alone. He will be there with you always no matter how tough things get.  

Let us Pray – Father God, we know we will have difficult situations to deal with in life. Thank you, that you are always there for us giving us peace and comfort through the hard times. Let us remember, that Your great love will always lead us through. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Song: ‘My lighthouse’

Prayers for others 

Heavenly Father, 

We come so conscious today of our need as a society to treat one another with respect and for all to feel safe within our society. We are deeply saddened by the murder of Sarah Everard in the south of England and pray for Your comfort for her family and friends at this very difficult time. We pray more generally for attitudes to change in our land so that all women can feel safe going out in our towns and cities across the land. Lord help us as a country to know how best to be able to respect and honour each other in person and in all other means of communications, regardless of our differences, knowing that each one of us is special because we are created in Your image. 

We pray too today for children and adults who are on the Autism spectrum and for whom this time of upheaval has been very difficult and traumatic, and where everything has been turned upside down. We pray for God’s peace and presence to be with all of these people and their families in this season.

We pray too for Scripture Union Scotland, Compass Christian Centre, and other Christian outdoor activity organisations who may be really struggling due to the pandemic and who are not able to open currently. We pray God that you will lead them to innovative and creative ways to continue to reach out to children in the coming days.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

Gordon Jones (Lead Chaplain, NHS Orkney) – We give thanks that the profile of and appreciation for healthcare chaplaincy among NHS staff and service-users in Orkney is greater than it has ever been. We give thanks that an Honorary Chaplain has joined the Team. We pray that the Chaplaincy Team would be sustained with vigour and creativity to respond in effective and flexible ways in what is a dynamic context. We pray that, in responding to opportunities which have arisen to develop spiritual care locally and influence its shape nationally, that Gordon would have sufficient wisdom as he carries out his duties.

Castlehill BC, Bearsden – We praise God that most of their congregation are still connecting with one another despite such a long time without meeting face to face (and little prospect of it since they meet in a school hall). We pray as they anticipate appointing a Children and Families’ Worker later in the year that God would give them guidance as to the right person at the right time.

Castlemilk BC, Glasgow – We thank God for making the way for them still to help people in need throughout the pandemic. We pray for all those we know who have suffered bereavement recently; and others struggling with the restrictions and with being separated from loved ones.  

Cathcart BC, Glasgow – We pray for those within their fellowship who have felt deeply the deaths of those they love over this last period and have sought to work out new ways to make, remember and hold precious these moments. We give thanks for the creative possibilities in serving each other and the people around us which are taking shape because of the lockdown, but which are also helping us think through what church looks like going forward even beyond all this.

We pray also for our own needs…

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


Bible Reading II Corinthians 7:2-16

 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.

For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 

11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.

In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.

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

The Message 

II Corinthians 7:2-16 Our source of joy in Christian service


‘How are you?’ is probably one of the most common questions asked when two people meet in person and frequently asked to in other forms of communication. The British response to that question most often is: ‘I’m fine’. However, behind the words spoken the reality can be very different. The respondent to this stand polite enquiry about their health might be in good health and enjoying good life circumstances. Yet on many other occasions these words cover over a mix of feelings from I am not really okay, but I don’t want to talk about them with you just now (or not at all!); or I am not wanting to talk about my circumstances at this time as I don’t know how I would cope if I started to explain how I really feel deep inside.

We are complex beings as humans. Christians are not exempt from the whole range of life issues faced by others; we are not excused the mix of physical, emotional and mental health challenges experienced in daily life by people around us. One Sunday morning in 1866 the pastor of the largest Christian congregation in the world, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, stood up before that vast congregation and declared; ‘I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever gets to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.’ Although, to that date few would have known of his severe struggles with what we call today clinical depression, and without the medical support available today, it was far from a one-off. In 1887, he told the congregation in that same place that ‘Personally, I have often passed through this dark valley.’

It was not a unique example. Alexander Whyte, minister of Free St George in Victorian Edinburgh, was one of Scotland’s most powerful preachers in that era. To an outside observer it appeared that he was extraordinarily successful in his work for God, like Charles Spurgeon I mentioned earlier, yet his biographer, G.F. Barbour noted: ‘Resolute as was Dr Whyte’s character, he had seasons of deep depression regarding the results of his work in the pulpit or among his people.’ [W. Wiersbe, Walking with Giants, pp. 263-265] 

Many more examples can be given of great Christian figures from the past. But although we are much more aware of mental health problems today, the sad reality is that this is an increasing not a decreasing challenge, even without the added burden of the difficulties caused for so many people by the virus pandemic of the past year. It is important to acknowledge that no-one is exempt from the potential of physical, mental or emotional ill health. At such times when depressive illness is a real issue we can lose the felt sense of God’s presence and the sense of our close ties with other human beings close to us. It can be a horrible time to go through. It can leave us in a place where we feel unable to pray and we are struggling even to do the ordinary routine activities of life.

Many of us are aware of people young and older alike, whom we love, and who have been going through deep mental health challenges during this past year. May we commit ourselves to continue to support them by our presence where possible, and our prayers, until they are enabled to come through these incredibly tough times. You may not be surprised to note that the apostle Paul was not exempt from this reality in his own life as well.   

1. The reality of difficult times (II Corinthians 7:2-5)

It is easy for us to focus on the physical trials Paul had endured because he has given lists of them in this letter to the church at Corinth. We have to read the text more closely to note his mental or emotional health struggles, not least because the vocabulary to express this reality was very limited until the relatively recent past.

However, in II Corinthians 7:6 Paul speaks of God who comforts the downcast… (NIV). However the New American Standard Version translates this verse: But God, who comforts the depressed,  comforted us by the coming of Titus; What had happened to Paul and his companions that had contributed to this situation?

He gives a clue in II Corinthians 7:5: For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within.  It appears that enduring so many difficult times had led to this place of complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. What is more, it was only when they finally stopped to rest in Macedonia that this emotional rollercoaster was experienced by Paul. You too may have shown great fortitude in keeping going through tough times, but we all need times for rest and relaxation. We cannot keep going indefinitely without adequate breaks. The God-given pattern of work and rest on a weekly cycle is for our good. 

It appears that the troubles in the church at Corinth were weighing heavily upon him. The false accusations against him brought by the self-appointed apostles who were seeking to turn that church against its founding pastor Paul were serious. It is likely that the three statements in II Corinthians 7:2 indicate the nature of what had been alleged. Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 

It is impossible at this distance to be certain about what is behind these words. But clearly when Titus did meet up with Paul some months later he would have clarified for Paul the nature of the difficulties that had needed to be addressed. It is possible that some people in Corinth had felt Paul was too severe in insisting on biblical standards of personal morality and were objecting to the disciplinary measures he had required with respect to the man described in I Corinthians 5. This is very likely, because prior to Paul’s intervention the church had taken no disciplinary measures against him for his sexual misconduct. They had been reflecting the low standards of the Graeco-Roman society of that time.

It is possible with respect to the second charge that it related to Paul implementing the decision of the Council of Jerusalem in AD48, in his teaching to the people of Corinth. This Council was incredibly important in Christian history because under the guidance of the Holy Spirit its leaders were convinced that Jewish social and religious rules regarding what you ate or whom you could have fellowship with were not to be expected of Gentiles, that is non-Jewish followers of Jesus.

By contrast, Paul’s opponents wanted them imposed on all followers of Jesus; and taught that Paul and others were leading people astray with His gospel of grace that was so different to their rigid rule-based approach to living out their understanding of faith in God. The third charge of possible exploitation almost certainly relates to the special financial collection Paul and his missionary colleagues were gathering to help poor believers in Jerusalem who were suffering acutely during a time of famine. It is possible that his opponents raised questions as to whether Paul and his colleagues would pass on the money collected.

Almost certainly, Paul is responding to this accusation in II Corinthians 12:17-18: Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? Until Titus arrived, Paul was unaware of whose account had been believed in this congregation. But the false accusations had affected his health. Today, whether words spoken in person, in written communications or on social media can equally affirm or damage other people. Let us be exceptionally careful how we speak with one another to our common good. We live a world where so many people are damaged by the criticisms and false accusations of others. 

Paul also had fears within (II Corinthians 7:5b). This related to his concerns about how his converts were going on in the faith. When he was feeling depressed or at least low in spirits he has times of anxiety concerning their progress in the faith. For example, he wrote to some Christians in Southern Turkey, who it appears were now following the teaching of his opponents from Jerusalem. I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. (Galatians 4:11); in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica in Greece, Paul wrote these words: 

We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labours might have been in vain (I Thessalonians 3:2-5).

Later in this letter to the church at Corinth Paul wrote: Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (II Corinthians 11:28). He had such joy in his heart to see people coming to faith in Jesus, but the other side of that coin was his sense of responsibility for their spiritual wellbeing and his regular pattern of praying for them in the years that followed. If you too are blessed to see people come to faith in Christ; if you too are praying for others to come to faith and seeking to take opportunities to share your faith; if you pray regularly for other Christians as they journey through life, then you will to some degree experience the emotions Paul went through at times in his life.  However, the months of anxiety finally came to an end when Titus arrived in Greece and was reunited with Paul.        

2. His comfort and joy through the coming of Titus (II Corinthians 7:6-7)

 It was a two-fold blessing:

(a)The arrival of Titus (II Corinthians 7:6) But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus… We must remember there was no means by which Titus could have told Paul the reason for his delay. There were no phones, no internet communications and no public mail delivery system. On top of that time was lost in the winter months when there were no sailings across the Mediterranean Sea to avoid the potentially severe storms that could endanger the lives of those caught in them. We too struggle with time delays not just in our prayers to God, but also in our interactions with other people. Then there are the inevitable delays as we wait for test or examination results or those from job interviews and in so many other areas of life. Paul gives thanks to God that his time of waiting and anxiety was over.

He acknowledges that His divine hand had enabled them to be reunited. Take time to thank God for the people who are a blessing to you even today. I thank God that on the day I am writing this message that I received a communication in the post from someone in the church that brought such joy to my heart this week. I thank God for another message earlier in the week from a third party of the spiritual progress of someone for whom I pray regularly. It was a special joy to receive that news. Take time to treasure these blessings when we receive them.  

(b)The encouraging news from Titus (II Corinthians 7:7) …and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. This was what Paul was particularly waiting for. Paul had not been particularly anxious or depressed for his own circumstances but primarily for the well-being of other people, in this case his representative Titus and the congregation in Corinth. What was it that thrilled the apostle?

(i) He was greatly relieved by how they had treated Titus: …but also by the comfort you had given him.  A number of Paul’s other colleagues were less than excited at the prospect of spending time working with this church. Of all the newly planted causes in the first century AD, this congregation was probably the one whose members raised the most concerns with fellow Christians across the Roman world. It was a problem that continued in the decades after Paul’s death. However, they had treated Titus well and listened to the message he had brought to them.

(ii) Secondly, he would not have been human if he had not been thrilled with what Titus reported about his visit on behalf of Paul. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.  It appears that the majority of the church was loyal to their father in the faith. Although, it is clear that some members had been swayed by the presentations of Paul’s opponents, something that will be a cause of sadness to the apostle; however, his worst fears have not been realised. His heartfelt pleas have been heard and the course of action he recommended followed. Paul’s great joy comes from God’s assurance to him, but it is mediated in part at least through the right choices undertaken in this congregation. Those of us who are parents or grandparents will understand something of how he feels because many of us have had anxieties about things that affected our children or grandchildren. Like him, we were powerless to effect the necessary changes, but equally like Paul we can pray about these matters, persevering until the issues have been addressed or the circumstances changed.       

3. His encouragement and joy through the Corinthians’ repentance (II Corinthians 7:8-13a)

(a) Godly sorrow (II Corinthians 7:8-10) There are different ways we can respond to a challenge when we are in the wrong. We could be remorseful that we were found out or because we had to face the consequences of our actions. But this response is failing to take the responsibility for our actions.

A remorseful person might also be opening to doing the same thing again, if they are only regretting being found out for their actions. Thankfully in Corinth there was no doubt about what had taken place and although it was difficult no-one wanted to see it repeated in the families associated with that congregation. The opposite response was repentance. In this scenario a wrong is acknowledged or an omission recognised and action is taken to put it right. …now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. 

The man’s actions (see I Corinthians 5) needed to be addressed and disciplinary measures put in place. In a city like Corinth where sexual permissiveness was the norm, it was very likely that for many of the non-Jewish converts to Christianity this was the first time they had heard about boundaries to sexual expression for free citizens in the city.

Paul wanted to remind them that these circumstances were a good learning opportunity for the whole congregation to understand how they could react more appropriately in the future. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes at times. What is important says Paul is that we experience godly grief; that is we are genuinely sorry for our wrong choices and sincerely want to do better and act appropriately in the future. The principle here is so clear and easily applicable to many situations in daily life today.   

(b) Good grief! (II Corinthians 7:11-13a) Earnestness reveals an intentionality to do what is right in the future. It demonstrates that they had understood the seriousness of the situation. Fast forward to our day, it is sobering how much we still have to learn as a society about appropriate and inappropriate sexual activity and how we relate to other people.

The tragic death of Sarah Everard in the south of England a few weeks ago provoked a deep reaction of revulsion amongst decent people. The BBC News website on 14 March 2021 ‘How a woman’s death sparked a nation’s soul-searching’ There was an inevitable shock that someone could be randomly snatched off the street by a total stranger, an incredibly rare event, and especially so that a serving police-officer was charged with her murder. Yet as a society we have so much still to learn about genuine respect to one another and providing a safe living space.

The BBC News article reported the experiences of other women who also had genuine concerns for their safety. Helena Wadia was one of those. She told BBC Radio 5 Live she wanted to highlight how common it was for women to feel unsafe. “The first time I was catcalled I think I was about 12 years old,” she said. “I have been self-policing since then. We moderate everything – our clothing, our drinking. We get taxis where maybe we can’t afford it. We hold keys between our fingers. We don’t wear headphones when we’re jogging. We stick to well-lit areas. It’s exhausting.” [BBC News website 19.3.21]. 

The saddest part of it is that no sector of society has a perfect track record. Even those places where we would expect the highest standards such as schools or churches or in our Houses of Parliament in Edinburgh and London, the number of examples of people who acted inappropriately in recent years is profoundly sad.

I thank God for how seriously this church has taken safeguarding over the years so that every effort has been made to provide a safe and welcoming environment for children and adults who join with us. The challenge across our land is whether there is just words of regret and anger at the wrongs that have happened or whether there is ‘good grief’ that produces the fruit of a willingness to make the necessary changes in behaviour and boundaries to ensure all can live their lives safely in our land today. The example of this church in Corinth, on this occasion, was most encouraging. They had grasped the need to honour both God and one another in making the right choices. May God help us to do that today as well 

4. His encouragement and joy through their response to Titus (II Corinthians 7:13b-16)

(a)Right choices encourage other people (II Corinthians 7:13b) By doing the right thing standards were set and safe boundaries established in their midst in Corinth. However, they also greatly encouraged Paul as he heard about their choices. They had also been a real blessing to Titus who may have gone to Corinth fearing that it was a wasted journey that they wouldn’t listen to him. When you and I speak in the right way, or do the right thing, we can also be a big encouragement to other people who had been too afraid to speak up or to take the appropriate action themselves until we stood up and were counted first. As you stop and reflect on your life at school or work or in other contexts are there times when we could have done better? Are there lessons we learned from the speech or actions of others about our own future choices? 

(b)Right choices now will later be vindicated later (II Corinthians 7:14-16) Notice how Paul had sought to speak about the Corinthians in the best possible terms to Titus ahead of his visit. He had raised expectations that they could and would do the right thing. It helped Titus keep focussed on upholding best practice and was a model to his team and to us to endeavour to speak well of other people. It is so easy to focus on an area of difference rather than the greater number of things we share in common or appreciate about someone else or other people.

Now in his letter to the church there is positive reinforcement of their good choices. We can see how Paul’s inter-personal skills have improved so much from the abrasive young man who came to faith as a university student. Let us today be those who encourage others by our affirmation of good choices and reinforcement of appropriate courses of action. If like Paul here, we can do it in a very positive way then it can be a helpful bolstering of confidence in good practice.  Paul’s source of joy was rooted in God’s love for Him but it was also based here in the good choice made by the members of the church in Corinth.

Today, you and I might be pressured to tolerate inappropriate speech or behaviour. Like Paul and Titus we may fear the negative fallout from seeking to help others address inappropriate behaviour. However, I hope and pray that through our words and our examples we can encourage each other to live lives that are both honouring to God and a blessing to other people, Amen.  

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Only by grace can we enter’ 

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: ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’

Closing Prayer: 

 Thank You Lord that we can be a source of joy to other people through the right choices we make in our attitudes, words and actions. We ask that you would guide and direct us in the choices that we make this week that this joy may be our experience and that of those with whom we interact day by day, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace 

Church at Home – 14 March 2021


JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School

JAM young adults have a separate programme JAM 11:30am-12:30pm looking at the character of King David from the Old Testament.  Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

‘Through Lent’ Baptist Union reflections Week 4 ‘Connecting with Creation’

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

Call to worship

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
I will fear no one.
The Lord protects me from all danger;
will never be afraid.

In times of trouble he will shelter me;
he will keep me safe in his Temple
and make me secure on a high rock.

Hear me, Lord, when I call to you!
Be merciful and answer me!
When you said, “Come worship me,”
I answered, “I will come, Lord.”
9Don’t hide yourself from me!

Psalm 27: 1, 5, 7-9

Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘The Lord is Our Salvation’

Opening prayer

Lord, we come before You today to offer our praise and worship to You. We confess that there are times when we can struggle to articulate the desire of our heart to worship and adore You. We echo in our hearts today the prayer of King David, recorded in I Chronicles 29:10b-13:

Praise be to you, Lord,the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendour, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all… You are the ruler of all things. In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious name.

We may have particular blessings we want to thank You for today. However, we also come confessing our sins and ask afresh for the purifying of our hearts once more by the Holy Spirit. Speak Lord into our lives as we gather for worship today, in Jesus name we pray, Amen.  

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

Our next song is: ‘You are my anchor’

All Age Talk Isdale Anderson  ‘Mother’s Day’

Hands up any mums who got –

Breakfast in bed today?

A homemade card?

A bought card?

Some flowers?


Are getting their dinner/tea made for them?

Maybe in “normal” times, some mums might have been taken out for lunch – but not this year. This year it might be difficult for some mums to even to meet up with their children – especially if they live far away and are not allowed to travel. Hopefully the children will still be in touch – as I think that it’s a good idea to have a day celebrating mums.

Mother’s Day has been celebrated in Britain for many years. Hundreds of years ago it was quite common for people – even children as young as 10 – to have to leave home to work, perhaps as a housemaids if you were a girl or to learn a trade if you were a boy. These young people were allowed to go back to their home area on the fourth Sunday in Lent. The idea was that they should go back to worship in the main church or cathedral in their home area. This was called their “mother” church – and gives us the name Mothering Sunday. Of course the children didn’t just visit their mother church when they were back in their home area, but also their mothers and families as well. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers to take to church or to give to their mother as a small gift.

Now as you might expect – things were a bit different in the United States of America, where Mother’s Day is a more recent holiday. Over a hundred years ago, a lady in the USA called Anna Jarvis tried hard to have a Mother’s Day holiday recognized by the US Government.

Anna Jarvis

She finally succeeded and Mother’s Day was made an official holiday in 1914 and was celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Anna wanted the day to be celebrated every year so that families would take the chance to express their love and gratitude to mothers, and acknowledge the sacrifices that they had made for their children.

However, strange to say, not long after Anna was successful in getting Mother’s Day made an official national holiday, she tried to get it stopped! The reason was that she was unhappy with the way that it had ended being used by card makers, flower sellers and chocolate makers etc to make a lot of money. That was never her intention. Anna thought that this spoiled the whole point of the Day which was supposed to be an opportunity for children to thank their mums for all they did for them, without needing to spend a lot of money.

From about 1920 onward, Anna tried hard to stop businesses from making a lot of money by selling Mother’s Day cards, sweets, flowers, and other gifts. She spent a lot of her own money in the process. However she wasn’t very successful. In 2017 it’s reckoned that the total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day gifts in the USA was over $23 billion.

Now I don’t know about you but I do think that Anna had a point. It’s not necessary to spend loads of money on chocolate and flowers on Mother’s Day. It’s certainly nice to have a day when you are made to feel special and appreciated. But when the Bible said that we “should honour our father and mother”, it didn’t just mean on one day a year – but every day! More than presents I’m sure that what mums want to be given is our love. And for us to show it not just by a giving a card but by how we act. For children living at home, it could be by trying to help in the house and not expecting our mum (or dad!) to do everything. For older children who have left home it could be by giving our time – to phone regularly, to text, to find out how they are doing and – as Covid restrictions allow – to visit.

Take a moment to think of one thing about your mum that you really appreciate. Then at some point today, take the time to tell her. I’m sure that she will enjoy that even more than the biggest box of chocolates!

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

We continue to pray for the Covid-19 Vaccine rollout across the UK at this time. We give thanks that millions of people have already had their first vaccine and we pray for the ongoing logistics of this mass vaccination programme. We are delighted too with the easing of some of the restrictions we have had to live under in recent weeks and pray that this process may be able to continue without further increases in the virus infection rate in  the community.

On Wednesday this coming week is St Patrick’s Day. At this time we pray for the people of Ireland both in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, as they continue to battle Covid-19 and vaccinate people across the land. We give thanks for the rich heritage of Christian witness in Ireland and we pray for an outpouring of God in Ireland again in these days. We pray too for them as they adjust to the problems caused by the implementation of the new Brexit arrangements. We pray that the politicians in our Westminster Government and those in the European parliament may be able to come to fair and appropriate arrangements to address the issues that have arisen over the transportation of good around these islands.  

We pray also today for churches who might be struggling to connect together effectively at this time and for whom technology might be an issue. We give thanks that other local churches are helping with resources and encouragement. We are most grateful for those within our own congregation whose work behind the scenes on technology makes it possible to hold our services and meetings week by week.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

John Jamieson (Army Chaplain) – We give thanks that John has been extended two more years’ ministry and service in the Royal Army Chaplains Department. We pray for wisdom for John as he supports soldiers and their families as we progress through this challenging COVID situation. We pray for help as John and his wife explore how they do church, and disciple Christians, using the online tools available.

Campbeltown Community Church – They are thankful for close fellowship and cooperation with believers from other churches in the town. We pray for them as they continue to serve the local community and share the good news of Jesus with the town.

Canonmills BC, Edinburgh  – Their wee church in the centre of Edinburgh stands empty but the Canonmills Family’s loving concern for one another is sustained by the candle of hope that they can soon all be together again.  They state that there are a wee church, maybe, but with a big heart, and we pray that the friends of Jesus everywhere may be strengthened by His hand in the face of the concerns we all face in this terrible pandemic.

Carluke BC – We pray today for the church family in Carluke Baptist, especially those who may have been very badly affected by Covid-19, that they will know God’s love and comfort at this time.

Carnoustie BC – We give thanks to God for the deepening of fellowship and growth in maturity over this past year, in the midst of lockdown; and for their 10th anniversary at the beginning of March this year. We pray as they continue to look at their witness to the most marginalised in their community; and for funding as they hope to start work on their building revamp this year.

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


Bible Reading

We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonour, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange – I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts also.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

As God has said:

‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’

17 Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ 18 And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ 7 1Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

II Corinthians 6:3-7:1

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘How firm a foundation’

The Message

II Corinthians 6:3-7:1 Living the gospel of Jesus


We live in a world that is messy and complex. We are well aware that human beings are all sinful creatures that potentially can get so much right, but equally can get things horribly wrong. On the day I started writing this message a Scottish member of the Westminster Parliament was obliged to step back from their promoted post in their political party because of allegations of misconduct in office. They are not the only one in recent years as others too have had to stand down or even resign from parliament altogether as a result of choices made. 

Sadly, across society we are not taken by surprise when such stories are made public. It is particularly sad as a Christian, reading accounts of church leaders that have to step back from their ministry positions, but in the USA there have been quite a number of prominent figures who have had to stand down for a shorter or longer time depending on what has taken place.

Living the gospel of Jesus has never been more critical than it is today. It has always been true that many people in our communities are unable to determine whether a minister, priest or pastor is faithfully proclaiming the gospel in a church pulpit, but many more are able to spot when that same church leader or congregational member they know is living their daily life in a manner inconsistent with the faith they profess.

Many Christians are concerned at times about our limited abilities to speak about our faith to people outside the church, but what is fundamental to our credibility is a genuine attempt to practise what we claim to believe in everyday life. No-one is expecting us to be perfect or even close to that! However, it is fair to understand that we ought to be seen to be at least attempting to follow Jesus in the choices we make and the attitudes we display in our interactions with other people. What does Paul say to these relatively new Christians in Corinth on this topic?     

1. Authentic ministry (II Corinthians 6:3-13)

We have to remember that most of the New Testament books after the Four Gospels and Acts were written as letters without chapter or verse divisions. Paul was no different to us in that his letters flowed from one thing to another without any formal subdivisions in what he has written. Immediately prior to this section he has spoken about the extraordinary work of God in the life of the believer: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:17)

This transformation is not the waiving of a ‘magic wand’ the moment we come to faith in Jesus. It is the start of a remarkable journey during which we progress to become more life Jesus in partnership with the Holy Spirit working within us. In this context, Paul states in II Corinthians 5:20: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. 

In other words, when people want to see how God wants us to live they should see that in the life of a Christian. In the same way, the attitudes we  display and the words we speak should be a fair representation of how the Lord Jesus would have us act or react in that situation. Many people do not read the Bible even though quite a lot will own a copy on their bookshelves. But they certainly ‘read’ the way followers of Jesus live their lives. What message are you and I communicating by the way we live? It is in the light of these remarkable truths that Paul presents the first of two principles in this short passage to show us how we ought to live our lives. They are two boundary markers for us.    

(a)The principle (II Corinthians 6:3) We put no stumbling-block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.  This is an essential conviction that every Christian should be committed to.  I do not want anyone to be put off committing their life to follow Jesus as a result of any of my words or actions. 

I may never be perfect, but with God’s help I want to live in a way that pleases Him and that shows however faintly that I am trying to live in a way that pleases Him. Of course, this does not mean that all will be well if we live this way. Like everyone else alive today we are coping for better or for worse through a virus pandemic. How that health crisis affects your life might be very different to a neighbour in your street or a colleague at work, even apart from the differences experienced in other countries around the globe.

On top of that there are individual challenges and opportunities that cross our pathway week by week. Yet through it all this principle applies. Through good times and through the hardest times I want to honour God through the choices I make and the life I lead. There will be times when we are sorely tempted to cut corners or just to act like other people around us. In the short term that can make life easier, but our calling is a privilege as well as a responsibility. How am I and how are you in getting on with living out this way of life? Are there any issues that you are struggling with that you need to pray about or even want a friend to get alongside you to pray with you or to pray for you? Don’t assume everyone else is doing better than you. We all have issues that we struggle with at times.

Timothy Dudley-Smith, in his biography of John Stott, of one of great Evangelical leaders in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, recorded a conversation with that church leader about how he handled conflict in the course of church ministry. Stott made the honest admission that his first inclination was to run away as he found dealing with this kind of issue in church life quite exhausting. One of his favourite passages in the Bible came to mind from Psalm 55:5-6: Fear and trembling have beset me, horror has overwhelmed me. I said, ‘Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.

Quite a lot of other church leaders would have deep sympathy for his honest admission. In fact, I suspect the vast majority of people shrink back from getting involved in trying to resolve conflict situations whether in our extended families, amongst our friends or colleagues at work or in our church families. Yet for Paul, the number one thing for him was to do his very best to avoid saying or doing anything that hindered anyone else’s faith journey.

I thank God for the Christian men and women I have known over the years who lived this principle so well and who have been such an encouragement to other people. I also want to thank the Lord for each person in this church family who over this difficult past year has gone out of their way to encourage or to assist someone else in their times of need.              

(b) The practice (II Corinthians 6:4-10)  The principle Paul stated was cast in a negative form, but now in a few sentences Paul attempts to convey how we and his mission team sought to live when they were in Corinth or in any other city where they had sought to plant a Christian church. Here in verses four to ten of II Corinthians chapter six he opens his heart to them to demonstrate how different he is to the ‘super apostles’, the other unnamed people seeking to win their affections and allegiance. Paul wants to make it very plain that the differences between him and them were much greater than some secondary level theological beliefs. What was Paul seeking to explain to them? 

(i) The true servant of God will live through tough times (II Corinthians 6:4b-5a) in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; The message his opponents were proclaiming was that if you are trusting God and living in the right way before Him that you will see things going so well for you. This man Paul, they were saying, is so inadequate. He goes from one crisis to the next. He is working himself to death and even then he is achieving so little compared to us. Look at all that time he spends in prison or under house arrest or in recovering from injuries inflicted during his ministry. We have not been in prison or beaten up for our faith in Jesus. Paul is going about it the wrong way they were saying. What they would have omitted to say was that it was Paul and his church-planting teams that were responsible for so many new churches beginning across the Roman Empire. What they might also have neglected to remind the Christians in Corinth were these words of Jesus to His disciples at the Last Supper in John 16:33:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Was this truth part of  Paul’s messages to new converts? Yes! In Acts 14:21-22: They preached the gospel in that city [Derbe] and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, 22 strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.

Then and now, living the way of Jesus will include going through some hard times. Our difficulties may be quite different to the list Paul cites of his own issues, but our calling is to seek with God’s help to persevere through our hard times.

(ii) The true servant of God will experience troubles from other people (II Corinthians 11:24-25a, 26a)  An example of Paul’s imprisonments came from Philippi where he and Silas were brutally beaten and put in the most secure inner section of the prison with their feet confined in stocks within the cell (Acts 16:24). If ever anyone had a right to feel hard done by, then these men could have raised this example as one for them.

As you read through the book of Acts there is a pattern of wrongful arrests and imprisonment and then release. Paul was well aware that as a Roman citizen he had rights when under arrest, something denied to the majority of people living under Rome’s jurisdiction. He was, though,  reluctant to claim his rights, as his aim was to secure freedom of worship for other believers in the locations where churches were planted, not just as a torture avoidance guarantee or as ‘a get out of jail’ card for himself. However, he claimed his legal rights when under arrest in Jerusalem (Acts 22:22-29).

To return to Paul in Philippi, the governor did not realise what effect locking up these Christian missionaries would have in his prison. Luke records that as late as midnight Paul and Silas were singing and praying to God with the other prisoners listening to them. The rest of the story was remarkable with an earthquake seriously damaging the prison facilities, prior to an evangelistic meeting being conducted on site in which the governor and his family were amongst those who came to faith. If that was not enough excitement for the night, it was followed by a baptismal service and then an exceedingly late dinner or full breakfast before Paul and Silas were due back in court. It was certainly eventful wherever these first Christian missionaries went to share the good news of Jesus.        

(iii) The true servant of God will experience self-inflicted hardship (II Corinthians 6:5b)… in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; Paul’s dedication to Christian service was remarkable. Yet we must not forget the growing numbers of colleagues who were members of his mission teams sent out to plant new congregations. They all faced the same dangers and struggles as they lived out the gospel of Jesus. Clement of Rome, a prominent Christian clergyman, in the generation after Paul wrote this concerning Paul:  ‘Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After he had been seven times in bonds [imprisoned], had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith.’ [Clement of Rom Epistle to the Corinthians, 5 trans. J.B. Lightfoot].

What these religious opponents of Paul in Corinth saw as a failure, Clement, one of the most prominent European Christian leaders in the 90s AD, saw as something to be admired. Was this fortitude and endurance simply something that was characteristic of Christians two thousand years ago? Absolutely not! It has been a common pattern over the centuries. Around the world at any one time in some countries there is freedom to practice your beliefs, but in others, discrimination, persecution and imprisonment or in the worst cases martyrdom for professing faith in Jesus.

In Nigeria over the last decade, for example, barely a week has gone by without some Christians being murdered by Islamic extremists for refusing to deny their faith. It is not only religious extremists who will imprison and kill. North Korea, is an atheistic country. It is effectively a death sentence to be caught practising the Christian faith. A country currently in the news is Myanmar where the brutal military regime has reasserted control over its governance. Their horrific treatment of Christians mainly from ethnic minorities in the North, alongside Rohinya Muslims from the South, has been going on for some years. How are Christians responding to their plight? They continue a faithful witness and are prepared to die for their faith, whether young or old.

At a protest rally on Wednesday 10 March 2021 in Myanmar’s northern State of Kachinhas there was a remarkable sight of a Roman Catholic nun Sister Ann Rose Nu Tawng who put herself between the protesters and police by kneeling before one squad and pleading with them to stop their violence. Two officers dropped to their knees and joined her. [story and picture available online from many sources]

Sadly, although her intervention was successful at that time, the police came back later that afternoon and shot dead unarmed peaceful protesters. Around the world at the present time more Christians are living under discrimination or persecution than have the freedoms we enjoy in the United Kingdom. Living the gospel of Jesus around the world for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ is as difficult now as it was two thousand years ago.              

(c) The purpose (II Corinthians 6:11-13) Paul rightly points out what he and fellow Christians had endured to take the good news of the gospel around the Roman world. He was not seeking to stir their emotions to tears so that they felt sorry for him and his colleagues. Instead, he wanted to demonstrate to them his inner motivation for coming to Corinth or any other place as ambassadors of Jesus Christ. His proof of apostleship and genuineness in his calling is demonstrated in the way he is living the gospel of Jesus.

The Corinthians needed to view differently the contrast between Paul and his ‘super apostle’ opponents. They may have had charismatic personalities, were gripping to listen to in their sermons and their self-promotion second-to-none. However, they need to see that endurance through suffering and hardship demonstrated Paul’s commitment to the Lord Jesus and his love for them as his converts. We as Christians today likewise must be honest and admit to those seeking faith that it can be tough to follow Jesus.

We must never pretend that life will necessarily get easier if we put our faith in Jesus. In fact, in many countries today the opposite will be true. What is particularly noticeable is that the church is growing in those parts of the world where there is a greater cost to Christian discipleship. However, this will only happen if enquirers see that existing Christians are truly living the gospel of Jesus. We thank God that in countries like China and Nepal remarkable things have happened over the last seventy years as the Christian Church has grown remarkably fast despite constant government opposition.

2. Authentic lifestyle (II Corinthians 6:14-7:1)

Our character as well as our conduct is really important. Many Christian leaders have pointed out over the centuries that the greatest dangers the church can face comes from within. Will we live the gospel of Jesus today? Our words lose their power if our lives are inconsistent with our claims. Paul now highlights a second principle for living for followers of Jesus. What did he mean then and what does it mean for us today? Remember, Paul is contrasting the gospel message he preaches and lifestyle he lives with the self-proclaimed apostles who were teaching a very different message and living a different lifestyle. Paul is very clear in spelling out that both ways cannot be right. The Corinthians need to make a choice. Over the centuries of Christian history there have been quite a number of times when huge choices had to be made over doctrinal matters, especially regarding the identity of Jesus and over the way we live the Christian life. The pressures to water down Christian convictions and the way Jesus calls us to live are as strong now as in any previous era of history.

(a)The principle (II Corinthians 6:14a) Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  In 1964, a well-known American theologian reflected that many of the churches in his country had large attendances and yet appeared to have too little influence on the culture of the day. He wrote: ‘In the area of belief we find widespread indifference to the Bible and ignorance of its contents –and strong resentment if a biblical word of judgement is brought to bear on the life of a congregation. In worship we find notably lacking any sense of the holy presence of God and of what worship is for…In ethics we find the cultural ideas of friendliness and fellowship more evident that the difficult standards of the New Testament or historic Christendom’ (Langdon Gilkey, How the Church can minister without losing itself, p.1)

The sad reality is that those words could equally have been spoken about some churches in the UK as well, in his day and today. It is a huge shock to many new Christians to come to terms with the fact that there are professing Christian Churches that do not stand for historical orthodox Christian beliefs and the lifestyle commended from their pulpits is at variance with biblical teaching on a broad range of issues. Paul would have encouraged Christians seeking a marriage partner to look for a fellow believer because they would have more things in common in terms of faith convictions and outlook on life, but that is not his primary point of application here. He is asking the Christians in the congregation in Corinth not to follow the other religious leaders who were claiming their allegiance instead of them continuing to follow Paul and the teaching of Jesus.

What did Paul highlight in this letter about these opponents in his day? II Corinthians 2:17: Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. They were becoming rich at the expense of those who followed them. There are sadly church leaders who promote a prosperity gospel that justifies them gaining significant wealth that goes far beyond their needs. The God channel has so many of these false prophets promoting their gospels that are so different to the way of Jesus. Thankfully, there are genuine Christian ministers preaching on there too, but we need to be discerning when we hear them.

In II Corinthians 5:12 it appears these ‘super apostles’ were strong on self-promotion about their greatness and successes, rather than being humble pointing others to Jesus. When we leave a church service if we are thinking more about how wonderful Jesus is then the preacher has succeeded. If the opposite is true and our minds are totally focussed on the messenger not the message something has been missed. Remember John the Baptist’s well known words: He must become greater and I must become less (John 3:30).

These other religious leaders visiting Corinth had a different view of the Bible and the teaching of Jesus. They wanted to privilege a works based faith and the observance of Jewish dietary guidelines at the expense of the gospel of grace. The letter to the Galatians in the New Testament was written to congregations who had been taken in by that false gospel. Today, this is not an issue for churches in the UK. In Western Europe, by contrast, too many clergy and churches adopt a view of God and His activity in the world that is effectively at variance with what the Bible teaches about Christian belief and behaviour, more influenced by secular voices outside the church. We need to stand firm on God’s inspired and authoritative Word, like Jesus did in His response to the devil’s temptations. It is written… and cited passages of Scripture to counter them (Luke 4:1-13).               

(b) The practice (II Corinthians 6:14b-18)

Paul is quoting six Old Testament passages in this section that in simple terms point to God’s desire for a personal relationship with His children by faith. ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Relationships flourish when there are no barriers to prevent them prospering. Are you and I allowing anything to hinder our relationship with God from flourishing? Even more remarkably, Paul declares, God wishes to adopt us into His family ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’ Paul, in effect is asking the Christians in Corinth, and us today, if we really grasp how special this is? Almighty God has a personal interest in wanting you to flourish as the person He created you to be. He wants you and me to avoid any false beliefs or behavioural choices that could prevent this taking place. Therefore, Paul ends this section of his letter with a challenge:    

(c) The purpose (II Corinthians 7:1) Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. In essence, Paul invites us to reflect on our lives to ensure there are no issues we need to address so that God’s vision for our lives can become increasingly the reality in our experience in the coming days, for Jesus’ sake, Amen. 

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Purify my heart’

The Lord’s Supper

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

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

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

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

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

Our closing song is: ‘The Servant King’

Closing Prayer:

 Lord, what a privilege You have entrusted to us to represent You in this world. We are conscious of the need to depend on the help of the Holy Spirit to equip us as we seek effectively to live out the gospel of Jesus. We pray that You would bless and encourage us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves this week, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

Church at Home – 7 March 2021


JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School ‘The Greatest Commandment.’ 

JAM young adults have a separate programme Breakthru 7:00am-8:00pm looking at a series of issues in the ‘Youth Wellbeing Journey’.  Please contact Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com for more details of today’s programme.

‘Through Lent’ Baptist Union reflections Week 3

Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream

The monthly prayer livestream takes place next tonight on Sunday 7 March, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.

Call to worship: Revelation 5:12-13:

12 In a loud voice they [the heavenly beings] were saying:

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and praise!’

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honour and glory and power,
for ever and ever!’

Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘At the name of Jesus’

Opening prayer

Heavenly Father we come with a sense of privilege into Your holy presence today as we desire to glorify and honour You in our praises and prayers. We join with the angels and other heavenly beings who declare in heaven: ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!’

Thank You that in this ever changing world You are our constant reference point, our anchor, that gives us our sense of perspective. You are the One who gives us our sense of direction and purpose. Lord, as we gather at the start of another new week we do so seeking You to speak into our lives as we sing Your praises and listen to Your Holy Word being read and expounded. Cleanse us afresh from our sins and fill us afresh with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit as we enter the new week before us, in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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

All Age Talk – Alan McRobbie

How to experience peace when times are tough

Life doesn’t always have sunny mountain top moments when everything in our lives is going well. There will be times when we have the dark valley moments when we are stressed, worried, doubtful, and fearful by what is happening to us or to someone we care about. These are forces within us which steal our peace and leave us to experience unwanted thoughts and feelings. Suffering in our lives and in the lives of those we care about happens. How we act at these times will say something about who we rely on.

It’s normal for us to be led by and be affected by our feelings. But Christians have someone in their lives whom others don’t. Christians have Jesus Christ. Jesus said to his disciples,

“Peace” doesn’t mean that our troubling times will be taken away by Jesus. It means that during our troubles we are asking Jesus to provide us with a confidence that his love and work is within us, a confidence that he is in control, and that he will be there no matter what happens.

How do we experience Jesus’ peace when times are tough?

Below are five things that must happen to know the peace of Jesus:

1. We must have invited Jesus Christ to come in and control our life through the Holy Spirit (received Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour). In other word, we must be a ‘born again’ Christian.

2. We must believe that God is in control of our life and our circumstances. Otherwise, we will attempt to be in control. There’s no peace in that struggle.

3. We must believe that Jesus’ offer of peace is real and be willing to accept his offer in spite of how we are feeling.

4. We must fully give up our life, thoughts, plans and feelings to Jesus as our Lord.

When we experience Jesus’ peace, we have no need to fear what’s happening now or the future.

Psalm 69 – Let David be an example to follow. In his troubles we read that he is depending of God. He keeps turning to God in prayer. He is persistent in crying out to God. It appears that God did not rescue him immediately, but he perseveres. He could have given up, but he trusted God to help him cope.

  • Save me, O God (v1)
  • I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me (v3)
  • But I keep praying to you, Lord, hoping this time you will show me favour (v13)
  • Don’t let me sink any deeper! (v14)
  • Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is plentiful (v16)
  • Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged (v32)
  • For the Lord hears the cries of the needy (v33)

Worship Song   ‘All that I am, all that I have’

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father,

We are conscious of the ongoing needs of so many people around the world who are going through such hardship at this time. We continue to remember the people of Myanmar suffering as a result of the brutal military leaders who have taken ever tighter control of their country.

Thank you for the brave men and women who have risen up to challenge this oppression, but we are particularly remembering in our prayers the families of those shot dead by the authorities simply for being out on the street to protest peacefully against all the injustice taking place. We are conscious that with the country increasingly closed to media and outsiders that ethnic and religious minorities will be suffering even greater hardships at this time. Lord have mercy upon them.

We remember also the people of Yemen. We are well aware that at least half of the population is dependent on food aid as a result of the deprivation caused by the ongoing war. We pray that the Western nations that have been so quick to pay for bombs and other weapons to be used on that country, devastating the lives of its citizens, will now be equally open to paying for the aid needed for many people simply to survive, let alone rebuild the country. Lord have mercy upon them.

We pray today also for people across the UK who run local businesses, who were already facing serious problems, but now find themselves struggling to stay afloat and stay in business. Father, may people staring into the abyss, find hope in You. Please enable our politicians to find effective means of helping businesses survive and those without work to gain adequate financial support to get through this difficult time. We thank You for the many churches and charities and other voluntary groups working together with local governments to support those in need in their local communities.

Today we also give thanks for Police Scotland and the men and women who serve as officers or other Police personnel, together with the other Emergency services staff during this challenging time. We pray that you would protect them Lord as they seek to bring peace and justice, and assist those in need in other ways in our land.

We pray too for Christian Chaplains working in hospitals across Scotland and the UK as a whole. Lord, in this difficult time when they will be supporting patients, grieving families and burned out healthcare workers we pray that you would give them the compassion and words they need to help people during this pandemic. May You uphold the Chaplains and may they also find the support they need at this time.

We pray for the following chaplains and churches:

George Hunter (P/T Chaplain, MHA Auchlochan) – We give thanks for being covid free at the care home and pray that we will continue to be vigilant in keeping ourselves and residents safe with the Lord’s help

George Hunter (also P/T Chaplain HM Forces) – We pray that they will be able to have an annual camp this summer. We pray that cadets and adult volunteers will be able to cope with lock down and not feel isolated. We pray for those who ‘aged out’ last year that they will find a place to ‘belong’ again.

Burra Isle BC, Shetland – We give thanks for technology and the wonders of Zoom as Burra Isle Baptist Church continues to meet online for their Sunday services and other meetings. We pray that the community in Burra Isle will know God’s goodness and provision in the year ahead.

Calderwood BC, East Kilbride – We give thanks for the amazing work Calderwood Baptist does to support those on low incomes through the East Kilbride Foodbank, CAP Jobs Club and many other initiatives. We pray for the church as they seek to share the good news of Jesus with the people they serve and walk alongside in the local community.

Callander Baptist Fellowship (Stirling BC Church Plant) – We give thanks for the church community in Callander who have recently renamed themselves as Callander Baptist Fellowship. We pray for them as they meet together online at the moment, that they will know God’s creative presence with them spurring the church on to even greater things for God’s Kingdom.

Cambuslang BC – We pray for Cambuslang Baptist Church that they will know God’s leading and guiding at this time as they encourage one another, worship together and serve the community

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

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for the progress made by Helen S since she came out of hospital. We continue to pray for further progress in the recovery of her health and strength. We also remember Shona H’s niece Lynne after her time in hospital and Sheila B who has been unwell recently and pray for the restoration of her health.

We bring before You Jeanne P in Ninewells Hospital and pray for the recovery of her health and strength.

We also continue to remember Alison A, Betty R, Fiona K, Dorothy G, Fiona McC, Mary D, Nicola L’s Dad Lawrie and Margaret – Ann W’s sister and Fergus R at this time. 

We also continue to pray for a restoration of health for other members of our congregation or members of their families…

We pray too for anyone else with ongoing health conditions and bring them before You now…

We pray for the people whom we cannot visit in residential care, and others who are at home on their own, together with others in our church family who are feeling the effects of increasing age and infirmity…

We continue to pray for those who have been bereaved and ask Your comfort for them …

We now pray silently for anyone else known to us who is in need of our prayers at this time…..

We pray also for our own needs…

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


Bible Reading

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 

13 If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! 

18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For He says, ‘In the time of My favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.

II Corinthians 5:11-6:2

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘All Heaven Declares’

The Message

Pre-recorded version of the message

II Corinthians 5:11-6:2 Our primary calling


All of us are passionate about something. Some people wear their emotions ‘on their sleeves’; others by contrast look like blocks of granite and rarely show any emotions at all, like Ivan Lendl, the well-known former Czech-American tennis player. All of us have particular temperaments and display our feelings in distinctive ways.

With family members and friends we can predict fairly easily how they will react in a variety of situations. The question we need to answer is this: what is it that you and I are most passionate about? What would you say would give you the greatest happiness if you could make a list of choices? In our world the range of choices would, I suspect, be limited to a relatively small number of predictable options.

There would be some people who would put winning the national lottery at the top of the list; or some similar financial windfall. A further group would look to sporting achievements, such as an Olympic gold medal or the equivalent attainment in other sports. A proportion of people would look to academic or work-based success, with the aim of being recognised in their careers as contributing something of major significance through their endeavours.

In our celebrity and multi-media age the lure of fame would be the primary appeal to others. Yet what would your answer be or mine? This is very hard at times because we can all say the right words about how Jesus comes first, but the living out of that claim in practice is very difficult.

It is my conviction that if Jesus was truly Lord for every person that named the name of Christ in Scotland then our country would be transformed for good and for God; if every churchgoer was passionate about honouring our Lord and Saviour and relating as Jesus would have us do with our fellow attenders then there would be queues outside an increasing proportion of church premises on the Lord’s Day, not empty pews and merged congregations up and down the land.

The dedication of men and women who have served in this church over recent decades has been honoured with the blessings we have experienced here in the twenty-first century, but if it is to continue then we too must show at least that same level of dedication and commitment in the coming months and years. In these verses in II Corinthians the apostle opens his heart to these Christians to reveal his motivation for mission; his zeal for the gospel and his love for Jesus Christ and lost people.  When our heads and our hearts are united in commitment to a cause as our primary concern it will undoubtedly determine our priorities in terms of our time; our financial choices and the use of our gifts and abilities.

Paul serves as a model New Testament Christian for us, an imperfect flawed person like you and me, yet one whose love for Jesus and whose dedication to the cause of the gospel was second to none. 

1. Our motivation for mission (II Corinthians 5:11-15)

(a)The fear of the Lord (5:11-13) This section begins: Since, then (NIV) (or therefore in the original Greek), on the basis of what I have just recorded says Paul, doing nothing is simply not an option. It is simply a question of what we should do and how we do it in the light of the fact of what Jesus has done for us and that we will one day stand in front of His nail-pierced hands and give an account of what we have done for Him. Our challenge is to live now in a way that will be credible when we stand before Him on that day. The apostle reminds us that there are two emotions the child of God will experience concerning this great task before us.

The first is given in these three verses: Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. In the last hundred years of church history in this land the notion that Christians should fear the Lord would be deemed rather shocking not just amongst the wider population, but in an increasing proportion of churches as well. This is a huge concern because, for example,

Proverbs 1:7 reminds us that: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. In other words a person who dismisses this reality as unchristian or outdated has not even begun to grasp anything of the nature of God and of the seriousness of our calling as His children.

By contrast Proverbs 29:25 states: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Abraham while living in Philistine territory, expressed a deep concern about the probable behavioural choices of the local people because, he said: There is surely no fear of God in this place (Genesis 20:11).

In that context he was speaking of people outside the community of faith who worshipped Yahweh. However, how much more profoundly sad it is when such words could be said of individual churches or families of churches when decisions are taken in meetings motivated by a greater fear of what unbelievers might think outside their ranks than by the God of heaven  before whom they will one day stand on the Day of Judgement.

John Knox

John Knox, a timid soul, shrank from the limelight until he grasped something of what it means to fear the Lord more than Queens and Cardinals, or even death itself.  Why is this important?

Proverbs 14:26: He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. Whom do you fear most the Lord or the people around you? Christian people in our generation need afresh to grasp the challenge posed by the apostle Paul. Unless we have a right attitude towards God then we cannot expect people outside the church to do so. It is not simply something for believers, but a challenge for all people. The pagan sailors who threw Jonah overboard and saw the storm cease had this reaction: At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to Him (Jonah 1:16).

Likewise the disciples of Jesus in John 4:35-41, in the midst of a terrible storm in which they thought they might drown, pleaded for Him to stop the tempest and when the winds ceased and the waters became calm at His command, Mark reported that: They were terrified and asked each other, Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him! (Mark 4:41). This is not a cringing fear, like that experienced by a medieval peasant about to be stretched out on the infamous torture instrument ‘The Rack’. It is a profoundly healthy respect and reverence for someone that gives us such a commitment to them that we would do anything in the world than incur their displeasure or consciously go against their express decrees.

I would hope that many of us had godly parents who lived a life that we would seek to emulate and would shrink from departing from the principles they laid down for us. How much more ought we to reverence our great God and Saviour and honour His standards in the face of the very real opposition from an increasingly hostile secular world. Yet this is not our only emotion, Paul reminds us that a second emotion is equally compelling to him, and hopefully to us:

(b) The love of Christ (5:14-15) The highest motivation of all is love –yet here Paul is careful to state that it is Christ’s love for His people that motivates us to love other people in return.  He is making the same point as John did in I John 4:10: This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Would any of us be willing to sacrifice our only son for the benefit of a neighbour, or a person living in the next street? The likely answer is no! For another family member it is much more likely, but it is still an extraordinary action; the love of Christ had been his highest motivation since he had been arrested by Christ on the Damascus Road some years earlier.

In the familiar passage in Romans 8:35-39 Paul’s passionate grasp of this matter is plain for all to see: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Does this divine love tug at your heart-strings and give you the highest and most noble motivation to live for God and serve other people? It is no surprise that Paul’s life motto: For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21) was a fair reflection of his life choices. A person consumed with genuine love for God will influence others for God.

George Wishart

The great Reformation preacher George Wishart, whose ministry transformed Dundee, but who died a martyr’s death in St Andrews, was such a person, whose witness affected a young man that day in the crowd. According to one story, Wishart’s executioner asked forgiveness before the act, and Wishart kissed him saying, “Do thy duty.” It is also reported that Wishart’s former body guard, watching at a distance, prayed, “Lord, make me like that man.” The claymore wielding guard was none other than John Knox, who was later captured by Mary de Guise and sentenced to row as a galley slave aboard a British ship.

Knox rowed for nineteen months praying: “God give me Scotland or I’ll die.” Two thousand years ago the greatest evangelist of the Early Church, Stephen, was murdered (Acts 7-8), but a witness of that event was so moved by what he saw of his love for the Lord Jesus that he too would come to faith and become the person who would take Stephen’s place as the apostle to the Gentiles.

Why was Paul so moved by the love of Christ? It was because His voluntary sacrifice on the cross, sufficient for all, efficient for His Church, once for all time brought reconciliation between God and sinful humanity. The first Adam’s sin as our representative brought the curse of sin to our race; the second ‘Adam’ brought redemption. Paul in Romans 5:17 put it this way: For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

The love of Christ in offering Himself as the substitute for sinners on the cross, taking the punishment that we deserved was the most extraordinary act in history. Philip Hughes (II Corinthians, pp. 195-6), explained its significance so clearly: On His dying for me, His meeting the demands of God’s justice in my stead, depends the reality of my justification; and on my dying with Him depends the whole possibility of my sanctification. The One who loved us so much to redeem us from the penalty of sin has given us the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the power of sin. Will your testimony and mine be in line with that of Paul, as expressed in Galatians 2:20? I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  

2. Our perspective on mission (II Corinthians 5:16-19)

(a) How we view people outside of Christ (5:16) So from now on we regard no-one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 

In the wider world your social class and relative wealth or poverty is significant. You may be valued or ignored depending on whether you can ‘tick certain boxes’. A number of years ago at a castle in the south of England, one of the younger members of the Royal family was having a birthday party. A smooth-talking individual fooled the people on the door concerning his background. He convinced them that he had come from the same privileged circles as the other guests. He could certainly talk the talk but was found out when he chose the wrong glass to drink champagne and under pressure then made a wrong choice with an unexpected item of cutlery. A person reared in those circles would have never made that kind of mistake!

How do we view people that enter our churches as visitors? Would we treat a disadvantaged person off the street as well as someone else who was economically advantaged? It is profoundly sad that racism and social class divides have been issues within churches, not just in the wider society. It is troubling that these issues still have to be addressed in the twenty-first century. It is a constant challenge in each congregation as well as in other Christian organisations to ensure we are genuinely welcoming those who seek to join with us.

Simply erecting a sign saying ‘All are Welcome’ is insufficient. James chapter two, for example, that challenges social class prejudices is a solemn warning to churches that fail to address this issue. In Paul’s day the issue that he hints at here was a battle amongst Jewish followers of Jesus. There were some Jews who because they had seen or heard Jesus during the time of His earthly ministry viewed themselves as superior to other believers.

In Corinth, amongst the various cliques described in I Corinthians 1:12-17, was a faction that claimed to follow Christ (v12). It is likely that the so-called ‘super apostles’ who made life so difficult for Paul belonged to this group. They had failed to grasp that Jesus does not belong exclusively to any one branch of His followers; by contrast, we belong to Him, if our faith is real, and that makes a world of difference. Over the course of history a willingness to address this issue has been one of most significant factors in the spread of Christianity all over the world.

A passion for saving souls has been proclaimed alongside one for social justice, as two sides of the same coin. The tragedy of Western Christianity over the majority of the twentieth century had been that the majority of conservative and liberal Christians (in theological terms) decided that evangelism and social action were choices of which you picked only one at the expense of the other. A biblical gospel is a holistic one, something that has been broadly accepted over the last fifty years.  

(b) How we view fellow-Christians (5:17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, behold [omitted in NIV] the new has come!

In verses 16 onwards the apostle is dealing with the consequences of a right view of Jesus. From our attitude to the wider population, he turns to how we view other followers of Jesus. A person identified with the dead-and-resurrected Jesus cannot be other than a transformed person when they are in Christ, to use Paul’s favourite theological expression.

Such a person has security in Christ because He in His own body bore the judgement of God against your sin and mine; it indicates acceptance in Christ, the One with whom uniquely God is well-pleased; it provides assurance for our future in this life and beyond the grave, in Christ who is the resurrection and the life; it points to our future glorious inheritance, in Christ, who has gone to prepare a place for us in His eternal home; it speaks of participation in the divine nature in Christ who is the everlasting Word; it declares a revelation of the truth, and being set free by it, in Christ, who is the truth; in essence,  if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, behold the new has come, hallelujah! What a note of triumph! 

But does the life we lead for the Lord reflect the reality of the victorious life-changing gospel Jesus has provided for us? Do we value the people for whom Christ died –as He does? Do we want to work together with them, for His glory, as He desires? Yet recognising that all of our lives are like a building site where the divine builder is at work and none of us are yet the finished article. If you come across a perfect church don’t join it unless you are already like them! However, let us never rest content that the quality of relations within our congregations are as good as they can be, for Jesus’ sake.

(c) How we view our missionary God (5:18-19) God’s people are called to share God’s heart for His world. John 3:16 states: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God’s love here is not just for the people but the whole created order; that is why looking after our planet as good stewards of the resources entrusted to us is so important. God took great delight in planning a beautiful world in which Adam and Eve and their successors would live. Human beings have trashed the planet and the health, climate and other environmental implications of our actions are now coming home to us. His love was never exclusive to humans but for all creation.

Although we, uniquely, are created in His image to glorify Him and enjoy Him for ever (to use the language of the seventeenth century catechisms); is the church a force for reconciliation in the world? The answer should be an unequivocal ‘yes’, but where churches are tied to states and associated with the respective politicians the reality too often has been an unequivocal ‘no’; take the Balkans, for example, where Roman Catholic leaders in Croatia and Orthodox clerics in Serbia have been complicit in justifying state violence against neighbouring civilians in the war in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, and especially in Croatia half a century earlier in the years leading up to the World War II.

A far better witness came from the ecumenical Christian Moral Rearmament movement that engaged with German political leaders after World War II, to enable them to re-enter the political mainstream; or people like Joao Matwawana (biography by John. F. Keith, War is never enough), who led reconciliation initiatives between Hutus and Tutsis in refugees camps after the horrific slaughter in Rwanda some years ago.

Yet we must never apologise that our greatest mission on earth is to proclaim the good news to sinners that in Jesus alone can they be certain of eternal life. God, in the person of Jesus, left the glory of heaven coming down to this world to save us; we have a calling to go wherever it takes from our local community to the ends of the earth to proclaim the glorious gospel of God. In a world of hopeless despair we have a message that can transform both individual lives and communities. May we never cease to proclaim it all the days of our lives.

3. Our focus in mission (II Corinthians 5:20-6:2)

The last part of this section of the letter, 5:20-6:2, concludes with a challenge both to believers and unbelievers, those already in Christ together with those yet to come to faith in Jesus.

First of all: (a) The message to those outside of Christ (5:20) Have you ever stopped to think that as a Christian you are an ambassador for Jesus Christ? It is a great honour to represent your country overseas, especially if your words are the pronouncement of Her Majesty’s Government. Yet we have an even greater honour as representatives of King Jesus.

Nearly two hundred years ago the great Baptist missionary to India, William Carey, heard that his son Felix, also a serving missionary in Asia, had been offered the post of British Ambassador to Burma. This was almost unheard of for a Nonconformist Christian in that era. However, Carey was distressed that his son had accepted the new post. He wrote a letter to his son expressing his regret that Felix had accepted a demotion from the service of the King of Kings to that of the King of the United Kingdom! We, I trust, understand the point being made.

Our primary calling is this, to people outside the faith: We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. Do the people you and I know how important it is for them to put their faith in Christ? Do they know that they face an eternity separated from all that is good and God if they leave this life unsaved? This is not a popular message today in the wider community. What is worse is that there are even churches that find the exclusive claims of the Gospel of Jesus offensive! What such professing Christians have failed to grasp is this: if there was another way to be saved then the cross must be seen in a different light. It was either the greatest act of love in history or the most brutal act of violent betrayal and cruelty, in which God the Father comes across in the most unflattering light –if Jesus is not the way of salvation.

This was certainly how the Early Church saw it, despite the offence taken in their day. Acts 4:12 states: Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. There was also a challenge from the apostle to Christians, containing some of the most extraordinarily precious words in the whole of the Bible.

(b) The message to believers (5:21-6:2) II Corinthians 5:21 is one of the most extraordinary verses in the Bible. Read it and re-read it again and again and marvel at what God has done. The perfect Son of God, while on the cross, was treated for those dark hours as if He had committed our sins and punished accordingly. Yet at the very same time God the Father loved His Son, not one jot less than before, because this was the only way to bring reconciliation between a holy God and a sinful humanity.

In addition, Jesus committed no sin (I Peter 2:22) and has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). This action was not an arbitrary or impulsive one, but a plan agreed between the Father and the Son, out of love for guilty sinners such as you and me, so that instead of facing hell we can be certain of heaven. Instead of God the Father looking at us and seeing our imperfections and sin, in Him (Jesus), we are viewed as perfectly righteous covered with the righteousness of Jesus.

This is a not a game of divine ‘peek-a-boo’; Amazingly, God the Father is treating His children on earth, in principle, as if we had become already what we will be like in heaven. Therefore, granting us free access in prayer into His presence and blessing us with all kind of blessings in Christ. If God has blessed you and me to this extent and gone to these lengths to give us His grace, then may He enable us, in Paul’s words to the Church at Ephesus, 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 fulness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19).

The more we ourselves understand His amazing love the more we will want others to know it too, and evangelism will not be a programme we fit onto the church schedule, but a lifestyle that flows naturally from the heart of a person committed to following Jesus Christ. May that be you and me, for His name’s sake, Amen

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Thank you for the cross, Lord’

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: ‘We have an Anchor’

Closing Prayer:

 Lord Jesus, we are so humbled by the privilege that You have entrusted to us of serving as Your ambassadors in this world. We feel so inadequate to the task before us, but we rejoice that we are not asked to do it on our own, but as members of communities of faith in our local areas called churches.

Thank You that together Your people down the ages have had wonderful and creative ways to communicate Your love to others in so many practical ways, both leading people to faith in Christ as well as serving our communities in fields such as education or social and health care. We rejoice too, that in many other workplaces, likewise, Christians have contributed to so many fields of knowledge, inspired by a desire to honour You. We ask that You would strengthen us for all that lies before us in this coming week, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace