Church at Home – 2 August 2020

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:15am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information is available on our website.
  • JAM young adults Ignite Live have a separate programme at 11:15am on the Zoom platform –parents of teenagers can get a link code by contacting Gary Torbet on garytorbet@btinternet.com
  • We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm. This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Please join in and, if you don’t already do so, would you let your fellowship know about this and put it on your social media. Click here to access.

Jam Kids

Here are the links to the new series from Out of the Box for JAM Kids age group. 

Rooted New Series 4: on ‘The Fruit of the Spirit’

Rooted New Series 4: Activities and worksheet 

Call to worship

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

Psalm 96: 1-4

We are grateful to Fiona Small for selecting the songs for worship for this service

Our opening song of praise and worship is:

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship:

Opening prayer

Thank you Lord for the privilege of praising and worshipping You today. You are the great and almighty God in whose presence we are privileged to be this morning. We have gathered to glorify Your holy and majestic name. We are mindful of the invitation of the psalmist to ‘Declare [Your] glory among the nations; [Your] marvellous deeds among all peoples’. 

We come with thanksgiving because we have much to thank you for. Many blessings are ours at this time. You truly are great and ‘most worthy of praise’.

Once more we come confessing our sin and asking for Your forgiveness. So grateful that You are a loving and merciful God who forgives Your penitent children who come humbly before You acknowledging our sins of thought and word and deed. We ask for a fresh anointing with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to live lives pleasing to You in the coming week. We bring our praises and prayers in the name of Jesus, Your Son, our Saviour, Amen.

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

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

All Age Talk: Alan McRobbie

Imagine that you are sitting outside late at night.  You look up and what do you see? Stars! Hundreds and hundreds of beautiful shining stars. Some are twinkling, while others are making pictures in the night sky. 

Who do you think created the stars? The answer is God. The Bible says “The Heaven’s declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1). 

The stars don’t speak with words like we do, but they speak in their own way.  Every time we see stars they are a reminder of the God who created them. 

We are not the only people who can see the stars.  They can be seen all over the Earth by all people on Earth.  In some places in the world there are people who don’t know about God.

The stars can speak to these people by making them wonder who created the stars and maybe someday they will understand that there is a God who created the stars and controls the universe. 

When we think about how wonderful the stars are it might seem like they are one of God’s most wonderful creations.  But there is something that God created that He cares for even more than the stars.  Can you guess what it is?  Us!  God’s love for us is even greater than all the stars in the sky. Watch this film:

All Age Song

Prayers for others

We give thanks for the beauty of God’s creation given for us to enjoy and care for. We pray that as a family of churches in Scotland, we can find ways to steward our environment better and use resources carefully

We give thanks that those in the shielding category are now able to get out and have more freedom to meet with others. We pray for those who are nervous and wary about leaving the safety of home. We pray for peace and protection for them. 

We give thanks for the online Induction of Matt Alexander to Wick BC yesterday and for Martin Hodson, our General Director who took part in that online service. 

We pray for all churches across Scotland as they consider when and how best to reopen for worship in a safe way at this time. Pray for God’s guidance and wisdom as church leadership teams across Scotland make plans for the coming months. 

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

Ivy Young (Ministry Administrator) – Ivy states: I’m grateful to God for His goodness and faithfulness throughout this past year. Please pray for me as I continue to support Jim Purves and Andrew Clarke in our national staff team in their work with our ministers and churches. I would also appreciate prayer for my family, for the challenges and opportunities presented as we navigate life through work, university and school. 

Hopeman BC – We pray also for the fellowship at Hopeman Baptist as they seek to be salt and light in their community during these challenging times. 

Inverkeithing BC – We praise God, no-one has had the Coronavirus illness in their fellowship and God has drawn many of us closer together as friends in prayer. We pray for them as they continue to grieve over the death of their beloved pastor, Ross Brown, so soon after his retirement. They never got to say goodbye as a church after 20 years of ministry. We pray for a new vision and way forward for this congregation. 

Inverness BC – We give thanks for this city-centre church. We pray for the church as they seek to make Jesus known in the city of Inverness. 

We now pray for other people with particular needs that are connected to our own congregation: We ask that you would comfort those who have been bereaved in recent weeks. Help them to come to terms with their loss and to know Your presence with them each step of the way. We remember those with ongoing health problems like John Cairney, and those like Jim and Helen Simpson that have been waiting a long time for hospital treatment or operations, together with some older members struggling with declining health.

We also pray for those in residential care like Gwen Paterson and Sylvia Williamson and others shielding in their homes who are acutely conscious of the restrictions they have had on their movements. We remember in particular Grace C recovering at home after breaking an ankle; for Ali Torbet’s mum still in hospital and for her dad at home.

We also pray for Chris and Helen Danielson as they move this week to Campbeltown. We are so thankful that they have now obtained a house on a temporary basis while they search for a more permanent home in the area. We also pray for Hamish Rice as he prepares for the coming year of mission work in France and Niamh Shiel as she prepares for starting her Ministry Training Scheme in St Andrews.   

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

Bible Reading

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. He said: ‘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. 11 ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5: 1-12

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

 The Message

Pre-recorded message

Introduction

Over the next few years, although we hope the worst of the virus pandemic is over, we will have to get used to living with the uncertainty that our lives and circumstances could change quite markedly.

What we might do in our schools, colleges and universities or workplaces might change significantly in ways we had not anticipated at the start of 2020; likewise, church life too will not be the same again. However, as we live by faith, trusting in God to take care of our future, these verses speak about the kind of people we should be regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

The beatitudes spoken by Jesus in the opening verses of the Sermon on the Mount two thousand years ago are qualities that a high proportion of people are happy to commend as a good way to live, but far too often most people, including many Christian people, think they are an idealistic vision of how things ought to be, rather than a declaration of what God desires in our lives in the world today.  

What is particularly importance to notice is that all these statements are intended to describe a present reality not a future aspiration. They are like a series of mirrors on a wall that invite us to stop and reflect on what we see and consider how close to what we ought to be is the image portrayed powerfully in front of us.

Mirrors or photographs, when not altered by photoshop or some similar technology, are a statement about what is actually seen on the day in question! There are few of us alive who have never grimaced at a photograph of ourselves and declared that it is not going to go in the family album- if you are still creating them!

The truth is not always particularly pleasant. None of us is getting any younger. New clothes or finally getting a haircut after weeks in lock down may enable us to look better for a time, but they cannot halt the march of time!

In I Timothy Paul uses this word makarios (Blessed) with reference to God in I Timothy 1:11: …the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which He entrusted to me. And also in I Timothy 6:15: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 

In essence, the kinds of qualities referenced when this word is used are associated with the character of God and how He conducts Himself. They are a model for a right view of ourselves, and the basis for relationships with other people in our families, church and wider community. There are introductory remarks from Matthew that set the scene for this famous Sermon in Matthew 5:1-2 that state: Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them. Then Jesus declares the first beatitude in Matthew 5:3: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

1. The confusion about this quality – What it does not mean

(a)Mean-spirited There are a vocal minority of people in our land who might fit into this category. They may make loud and belligerent noises that we stop, for example, the international aid budget and spend all the money on people in need at home. Our reply to such people will always be a ‘yes-but’ response; needy people at home should be taken care of from public funds, that is one reason why we pay our taxes to the Government.

In one of the richest countries in the world everyone should have a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, food on the table and the basic necessities of life that enable each individual to participate in society. Yet to restrict our vision to the needy at home is inadequate. As one of the most significant countries on the international stage we must play our part in helping the genuinely needy overseas as well. The majority of people get that thankfully. There are so many circumstances in daily life covered here.

Life can never just be about me and my needs; it must always be about us collectively and our needs. During the current Covid-19 virus pandemic it has been so encouraging to see so many people offering to serve their communities in whatever way they were needed. In our local Food Bank in Broughty Ferry approximately fifty people have helped in different ways to ensure that those who needed food provision had their needs met.

In a family, Church family, local community or country, this principle is applicable across the range of life circumstances. You will think of your own examples here, but a way of living that is primarily about me and what I want must be challenged by the follower of Jesus as a most inadequate way to live. We live in communities so it is about ‘us’ and ‘our’ needs, not ‘me’ and ‘my’ preferences as the priority. 

(b) Intellectual poverty There are people who boast about not knowing things; in the 1840s and 1850s there was an American Political Party called the ‘(Native) American Party’. It emerged out of the popular ‘Know Nothing movement’.

It gained this name because its adherents were instructed to simply reply “I know nothing” when asked about its specific policiesby outsiders, thus providing the group with its unusual name! The Know Nothing movement managed to get a member Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts, a former Union General in the USA Civil War, elected as a member of the US Senate. He was later Speaker of the House of Representatives, in the lower house of the American Parliament. Boasting about wilful ignorance is not at all pleasing to God. ‘Ignorance can never be bliss’ or ever welcomed. 

I remember my former College Principal at the Scottish Baptist College in Glasgow, a fairly mild-mannered man, overhearing one of my fellow students boasting to other students about not taking time to study something. We got a passionate speech from the Principal about the sin of ignorance committed by those who have opportunities to gain knowledge or skills and choose not to bother.

The book of Proverbs again has plenty to say on this subject. Proverbs 3:13-14: Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. Another reference on this topic is even more pointed. The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding (Proverbs 4:7). 

(c) A poor self-image One of the most important qualifications to be made here is that it does not mean having a poor self-image or envisioned as someone with serious self-esteem issues so that they have little confidence in anything for themselves, let alone for others or for God.  This is not what this beatitude is about!

There are plenty of people who struggle with their self-image or self-esteem because of their appearance in a world where photo-shopped, brushed up images of glamorous models star out of the pages of magazines with figures and an appearance that has only a passing semblance to the person who got out of bed that morning. 

The problem is that too many people actually think these individuals look like that in real life when too often it is not the case or that they literally starve themselves of adequate nutrition in their diet to look horribly thin to please the clients that hire them for photo-shoots.

We live in a society that values people in accordance with their social status, their wealth or their occupation; over the years I have met a few people who looked down on others and were not afraid to say so. Thankfully only rarely have I experienced it in a church context.

I was profoundly shocked to hear one particular individual who was volunteering to be added to a door-stewarding rota not because they were particularly keen on welcoming new people in, but in order to keep unsuitable people out!

They were much more specific than that, but that individual was kept away from visitors to that church as far as the leaders could manage it.

Genesis 1:26-27 states: Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ 27 So God created mankind in his own image,in the image of God He created them;male and female He created them

Every human being on the planet of both genders must grasp the truth of these verses. You are special because God created you equally in His image as much as the Queen or the Prime Minister or as a beggar on the streets. There are no exceptions! This is a fundamental issue to grasp if we are going to accomplish anything at school, in our career or vocation or whatever we do with our lives.

If my life is valuable then I must take care of my body to feed it appropriately; exercise it adequately and get the rest I need to renew and refresh it, for example; likewise with my mind I can be so enriched and stimulated with books I can read; music I can listen to or other forms of intellectual stimulation that may be for pleasure not always for work! All of creation is God’s – arts as well as sciences and we can be blessed by experiencing something of a range of diverse and profitable stimuli in these fields. 

(d)A particular temperament There are some very confident charismatic personalities who can sometimes be fun to be around. But there are equally others who are naturally shy and retiring and find it hard to speak in public or do certain things that someone with an extrovert personality wouldn’t think twice about. Our temperaments are God-given and part of who we are; God intended us to have a mix of temperaments otherwise social interactions in a range of settings would be, for example, less stimulating and less creative. 

(e) ‘false humility’ The character Uriah Heep in Charles Dicken’s novel David Copperfield was always reminding people that he was ‘but a very ‘umble person’. It was believed that this character was based on someone Dickens knew personally, but there are individuals who exhibit similar insincerity in every generation.

In some cases it is a mannerism practiced by people who are constantly fishing for compliments. By contrast it can be an excuse used by others to try and get out of tasks they are more than qualified to undertake. We might see Moses in this category, in Exodus 4:10-13, where he pretends he is inadequately qualified to lead the nation of Israel despite the fact that his high school education had been undertaken in the Egyptian equivalent of Eton College alongside crown princes and the sons of other leading figures in the nobility in that land. 

Moses said to the Lord, ‘Pardon Your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since You have spoken to Your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ 11 The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ 13 But Moses said, ‘Pardon Your servant, Lord. Please send someone else. (Exodus 4:10-13)

2. The Characteristics of this quality in my life:  what it does mean

(a)Knowing yourself All of us have strengths and weaknesses; all of us have interests and desires, hopes and ambitions; a range of skills that may include certain sports or the ability to play musical instruments or dramatic skills, for example. Praise God for a few individuals that are multi-talented people who seemed to be highly qualified to do many things and treasure them! When we know ourselves well we know there are strengths we can increase and have an idea how that might happen.

There are some areas of weakness that may never be strengths, but we can by significant effort make them less of a weakness. Knowing ourselves can help avoid making sometimes serious mistakes in career choices or help us form more healthy relationships with other people, for example, than might otherwise be the case. The people who have accepted who they are in Christ are more able to accept other people for who they are as well.

A person seriously struggling with their own identity may have real issues accepting other people and developing quality relationships with them. A person who is constantly feeling the need to ‘put down’ other people or who finds it really difficult to applaud the achievements of others has probably either failed to come to terms with their own identity or has yet to reach the place where they can accept it. 

(b) Accepting yourself God created you to be you. You might have preferred to look like someone else you admire; you might have wished to have the gifts and abilities you observe in other people rather than the apparently lesser ones you believe you possess. What is important here is to grasp that God does not make mistakes. He created you and me to be that person.

Once we can come to terms with who we are then it can make some aspects of life less difficult to handle. It can also more positively affirm some of our strengths that we had overlooked by trying to be someone else. It is good to be ambitious and to set ourselves goals. But if you are over forty and have never displayed conspicuous skills with a football in earlier life there is no point hoping to get picked to play professionally with Dundee or Dundee United. It isn’t going to happen!

There is, though, a place for all of our skills. It is true in church life too as Paul explained with his image of the body in I Corinthians 12:16-20: And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. All of us have a part to play, or gifts to contribute. This is really important to grasp.

(c) Accepting circumstances How do I handle circumstances that do not go the way I think they should? Do I react angrily and let myself and the Lord down by the words I use or the attitude I have taken? All of us at times will have situations like this in different contexts. There will be those times when we need to pause for reflection and think carefully before uttering words. Can I view situations from the perspective of another person or other people? Do I understand where someone else is coming from, even if I do not agree with their line of argument?

This is very important because if we can understand why someone else might come to a different conclusion to ourselves then it is much more likely that our tone of response will be more moderate and considered than if we feel unfairly treated or deeply disappointed if a decision does not go our way.

The apostle Paul wrote these powerful words in Philippians 4:11: I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

I know that I still have a lot to learn on this matter. I suspect it took Paul a lot of years before he could honestly say these words. His fiery temper in his youth had to be conquered long before he could even contemplate writing or thinking these words of guidance to this lovely Greek congregation. In addition, Jesus is not asking us to call wrong choices in the past right and vice versa. It is a call to release ourselves from the successes and failures of the past to be free to live in the present and the future in the way God wants us to do. 

(d) A right attitude to possessions A person who is genuinely poor in spirit does not find their highest satisfaction and joy in acquiring things; rather their desire is supremely to delight in God and to serve Him. Paul in the same letter continued with these words: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (Philippians 4:12).

People who are poor in spirit do not value a person who comes into their local church, for example, on the basis of their wealth or social status, but genuinely welcomes each and every newcomer who comes in. Jesus, in response to an invitation to arbitrate between two men over the contents of a will made this comment in Luke 12:15: Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’

 I think the current covid-19 virus pandemic will have caused a lot of people to think quite seriously about what is really important to them. It is alarming in our Western society how many professing Christians make shipwreck of their spiritual lives because of having too great a focus on acquiring more money through a better paid job, but at too high a personal and spiritual cost. Success in business can be something honouring to God, but it can also be the exact opposite. It depends on how a business is conducted.

Jesus’ story of the rich farmer in Luke 12:16-21 illustrated that perfectly when God’s verdict on that man’s life was this: ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” 21 This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich towards God.’ Paul, in I Timothy 6:10 explained what the problem was here. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Jesus put it this way in Matthew 6:19-21:‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

(e) Accepting God’s will for your life This can be a real challenge for us. Sometimes we know exactly what God wants us to do in a situation and things go to plan. However, there are many and sometimes more situations where we may genuinely be unsure what God’s will might be for me or for my family or my church family in particular situations?

At a personal level for someone engaged in finding employment, it may be a good work situation where two options come up both of which are available and appear equally appropriate under the circumstances. If we genuinely have prayed to the Lord openly willing to accept His choice and both paths remain open it may be that either may be equally acceptable in the will of God. It may not be the case that in every situation there has to be a wrong and a right choice; equally both choices may be out or both choices available. Other factors will need to come into play as we seek to discern what the Lord might be saying in the situation.

Often what God has laid on our hearts takes much longer to come to pass than we had expected and sometimes that pathway never opens up for us. We need to entrust things to the Lord and leave them with Him when we face these puzzling situations. We must also be cautious that God declining our request may actually be a blessing to us. There are situations where we do not realize some of the consequences of God granting our request. This is especially the case of us asking for something that will be harmful for us. There will be times in our lives when if we really saw the full picture we would say ‘thank you’ to God for declining our requests.

3. Cultivating this quality in my life in summary  

(i) Accepting God’s view of my life Trust that God knows what He is doing with our lives. Romans 12:3 states: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. We must believe that our loving Father is watching over us and knows what we need. 

(ii) Acknowledging His lordship over my life on a daily basis Jesus said in John 15:5: If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. Through our times of Bible reading and prayer to seek to cultivate a close relationship with the Lord;

(iii) Keeping Jesus as the model we emulate Humility primarily comes not from focusing on our sins and lamenting them, but meditating on the goodness of God and His kindness to us (Romans 2:4: Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realising that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

(iv)Taking opportunities given to us in service …Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13); If God has greater blessings to come allow Him to open the door of opportunity in His time, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘By the grace of God’

The Lord’s Supper

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

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

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

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

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

Our closing song is:

Closing Prayer:

Thank you heavenly Father for the privilege of spending time in Your presence today. Thank You for Your Holy Bible that is a mirror on which to reflect how our lives are going and a signpost to direct our feet in the way we should go in the present and the future. Help us in this new week to honour You in all our attitudes, speech and conduct, for Jesus’ sake Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

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

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.

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