Church at Home – Sunday 23 August 2020


  • You may want to use some of these resources for daily worship during this week.
  • JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School – ‘Jonah and the Big Fish in the Bathroom’
  • 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
  • We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday 23 August 2020.  This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Please join in and, if you don’t already do so, would you let your fellowship know about this and put it on your social media. The link to access the event is  

Call to worship: Psalm 100 

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
 come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

We are grateful to Margaret Clark for selecting the songs for worship for this service

Our opening song of praise and worship is: There’s a place where the streets shine:

Opening prayer:

Heavenly Father, once more we come with joy into Your holy presence today.

We are so thankful for all Your kindness to us during these difficult months we have been experiencing this year. Lord we thank You, that You hear our cries in our times of need and although it may take much longer than we would like to get answers, we know that You will hear and answer our prayers.

Once more we come with a sense of expectancy to offer our praises and thanksgiving for all our blessings of health and strength and the provision of a roof over our heads and food on the table and so much more besides. We come with thankful hearts to You today. We also come confessing our sin and asking for Your forgiveness. Purify our hearts and fill us afresh with Your Holy Spirit as we start another new week, for Jesus’ sake we pray Amen.  

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

‘Our Father in heaven, 
hallowed be Your name. 
Your kingdom come, 
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread, 
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.       
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen. 

Our second song is ‘Lord you hear the cry (Lord have mercy)’

Prayers for others

Dear Lord,

We come before you to pray for a world of so much pain and suffering. We remember the ongoing heartache of the people of Yemen living in the midst of famine and the violence of war that has claimed so many lives. Lord have mercy upon them.

We remember the country of Syria seriously ravaged by the Covid-19 virus pandemic that is claiming so many lives. We particularly bring before you the family and church family in Aleppo of the inspirational Christian doctor and bi-vocational pastor of Aleppo Baptist Church, Jani Haddad, who died last week of the virus.

We thank you for his courageous leadership on the frontlines in that city and the opportunity a few of us in this church had to meet him six years ago in Dundee and elsewhere. We pray that the unjust sanctions regime being applied against Syria that prevents many essential medicines being obtained by their health service will soon be lifted. Lord have mercy upon them.

We pray too for the people of Lebanon. Words fail us to describe the tragedy to fall upon Beirut with the devastation that has been visited upon mile after mile of urban communities. We ask that You would open the hearts of the international community to provide both the aid to alleviate the suffering, together with pressure to see a reform of the political system that has been so disastrous in recent years. We are encouraged to see the visionary contribution to aiding the suffering being played by the churches in Beirut, despite so many of their own buildings being damaged or destroyed. Lord have mercy upon them.

We pray too in the United Kingdom for the young people and their families coping with the problems associated with grading their studies by the examining authorities. We pray for peace of mind as they together with schools, colleges and universities try to sort out the mess that has taken place. We hope that each young person will obtain a viable pathway to achieve their proposed course of studies or chosen form of employment. Lord have mercy upon them.  

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

King’s Park BC – They are grateful for the different forms of technology that have helped them keep in touch with one another and to reach out to people that don’t or cannot normally attend services in their building. We pray for those, who in partnership with Cambuslang and Rutherglen Reachout Trust, will be hosting a virtual Holiday Club in August. We also pray that children in their area will register and engage with this opportunity. 

Kintore Community Church (Hillview, Aberdeen, Church Plant) – We are thankful that their church family have been able to stay relatively connected throughout the lockdown, and have found ways to serve their local schools and community. We pray for God to give them wisdom and favour as they begin to reengage with each other and their community in person. And that they would see many in their community come to faith. 

Kirkintilloch BC – We thank God that despite the pandemic their Food bank and Christians Against Poverty (CAP) centre remain open. We pray that God would guide them in these challenging times as they try to do Church differently and search for a new minister. 

Kirkwall BC – They give particular thanks to God in terms of timing, that they were able to take on Fraser (their new full-time Leader of Evangelism and Youth) just before lockdown began. Through that, they have been able to use this time to reach out with the message of Jesus. We pray for them, that they would see many people come to a living and personal faith in Jesus Christ. 

Knightswood BC – We give thanks that the Lord has sustained them and blessed them through the lockdown. Like many churches, they are thinking and praying through what the next stage will hold for their corporate worship services and prayer, their discipleship, pastoral care and community connections. They view these circumstances as a time for innovation, experimentation and anticipation.

We now pray for other people with particular needs that are connected to our own congregation: In particular, Lord we remember Peter P continuing his rehabilitation in Royal Victoria hospital after surgery at Ninewells and his wife Jean coping with her own health challenges at home. We pray for the school staff and pupils in our congregation adjusting to life back at school, in particular those like Ali T and Robert L associated with the King’s Park School in Dundee. We pray for Ali T and her family as they work through the best plans for her mother’s future care needs.

We remember a number of older people, especially those living alone who have not been able to go out and for whom the isolation of recent months has been hard to cope with. We pray for Rachel, John and Ann S’s niece as she recovers from brain surgery. We also pray for Hamish R as he will depart on 31 August for his work with a church in Nice, France. We also pray for Alan McR as he leads the new introductory course in the Christian Faith that starts on Tuesday evening on the zoom platform.  

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 II Corinthians 1:1-11 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favour granted us in answer to the prayers of many.                

Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing: ‘O love that will not let me go’

The Message

Matthew 5:4: ‘The right kind of attitude’


Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. In theory it is possible to translate the opening words of this verse as Happy are those who mourn (Good News Bible). There are Bible versions that use this rendering, but in our use of the English language today we associate this word almost exclusively with our feelings; like a little child skipping around happily playing with its toys.  There may be adults in the room discussing weighty or serious matters, but the child is oblivious to the nature of their conversation. They are happy and secure in their own little world. In this context – is this how God wants us to be quite oblivious to what is going on in the world? I don’t think so! We would need to stop watching the news on TV; avoid the internet and certainly stick to the most basic type of mobile phone available. 

The world has become a much smaller place and many of us have experienced that in the recent months of lock-down due to the Covid-19 virus. We take for granted the ease of communications. On the day I wrote this message I was able to respond to a request from a Baptist pastor in Pakistan with advice from two Baptist pastors, one from England currently on holiday on a remote Scottish island and the other in Virginia, USA. The messages sent between us took twenty minutes maximum and we take this kind of opportunity for granted.

But it is not just factual communications we can make. We cannot avoid becoming aware of the dreadful things going on in the world. I have had numerous unsolicited phone calls from pastors in other countries in recent months, all resource poor in comparison to our own country. They were all struggling to find food to feed their families or other people. In one incredibly difficult to listen to, I was asked to listen to little children crying because they hadn’t eaten that day. Just imagine anyone wandering around such communities exhorting people to ‘Be Happy’ with their situation and feel good about it would be unlikely to receive a warm reception from those who have ensured so much difficulty this year. They would have assumed you were either being cruel or had taken leave of your senses.

There have been enough extremely difficult situations in our own land for many people in recent months and we still could face more difficult times to come. We could all list numerous examples from the recent past where exhortations to ‘Be happy’ would be seriously out of place. So what is it that Jesus was advocating for people who want to follow Him? What kind of sorrow is it that Jesus is speaking about here to which He promises to bring comfort?

John Stott answered this question with these words: those here promised comfort are not primarily those who mourn the loss of a loved one, but those who mourn the loss of their innocence, their righteousness, their self respect. It is not the sorrow of bereavement to which Christ refers, but the sorrow of repentance [John Stott, Christian Counter Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount pp.40-41].  Only when we grasp the context in which Jesus is speaking will we appreciate the message He wishes to communicate to us here in Matthew 5:4. In life there are different kinds of sorrow or grounds for mourning that we will view quite differently.

A person might be overcome with tears of happiness because of some unexpected good news that they hadn’t expected. It may be tears of relief because you were expecting bad news of some kind, but in such a context it would be inappropriate for someone to try to ‘comfort’ you! What kinds of sorrow are there? 

1. Natural Sorrow

The verb ‘to mourn’ here is a strong expression of sorrow. It is not a mild term used of someone feeling under the weather; rather it is normally used in the context of someone bereaved who has lost a person they loved and really miss. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament it was used of Jacob when he was told by his older sons that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal in Genesis 37:34-36: Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him. 

The same verb is used in the New Testament in Mark 16:10 with reference to Mary Magdalene. It concerns her reaction to meeting the risen Lord Jesus.  She went and told those who had been with Him and who were mourning and weeping. There are some Christians who have a theology that implies we should always be happy with a smile on our face and be almost effortlessly victorious over all our trials. This is not consistent with the teaching of the Bible!

There are plenty of examples of commended figures with tears, mourning in the face of death or, for example, in King David’s case the needless death of his rebellious son Absalom (II Samuel 18:33-19:4). Jesus wept over the spiritual hardness of the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-42) and at the graveside of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35-38).  

In the long time of appropriate activities that are a part of the human experience Ecclesiastes 3:4 includes: a time to weep… Yet as Christians in the face of death our understanding of it was explained so clearly by the apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 4:13-18: 

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.  There is natural sorrow which we will all experience. May we never give anyone the false impression that we as Christians somehow escape or experience less natural sorrow than other people around us. 

2. Unnatural Sorrow  

(a)Remorse but not repentance It can be described as a despairing kind of sorrow in which a person bitterly regrets a course of action, but is unwilling to take the necessary steps to getting their life back on track. There are people who struggle to accept forgiveness for their own past wrongdoing and go on torturing themselves in their minds for past mistakes, long after other people have forgiven them and moved on.

Judas Iscariot is a powerful and well-known example of a man who was remorseful about a course of action, but unlike Peter was unwilling to do anything constructive about it. Matthew 27:3-5 records the sorry end to his life. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 

We need to stress repeatedly that we believe in a gospel of grace to the undeserving, no-one is beyond the grace of God. The devil wants us to live in condemnation for past failures even when we have been forgiven, but Romans 8:1-2 states clearly God’s perspective to us. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Do you need to hear that today?

(b) Fake mourning There are people whom you have met and I have met who say or do things that are wrong and appear to be deeply sorrowful at a course of action taken, again and again! We want to believe that ‘this time’ they really mean it –but when you have been there with them so many times before it is difficult to accept the sincerity of their confessions.

In I Samuel 15 the spiritual leader of the nation, the prophet Samuel, was asked by God to go and tell the King Saul that God was removing him from his office as a result of his persistent failure to honour God. In I Samuel 15:30-31 it states: Saul replied, ‘I have sinned. But please honour me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.’ 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshipped the Lord.

The problem was that Saul was mourning the potential loss of his office not that he had failed to honour God as he should have done. The words and the posture looked good but there was insufficient desire to live in a manner pleasing to God. We can fool other people, but never the Lord. One day we will stand before the Lord to give an account of our lives so it is foolish to live in pretence. 

3. Godly sorrow

Paul explained it this way: 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 (II Corinthians 7:10).

The prodigal son in Jesus’ story in Luke 15 has wasted his life, but reaches turning point where he faces up to what he has done and sets off for home to apologise to his dad. The forgiveness of his father was bestowed on an individual who knew there were no excuses to offer. He could only cast himself on the mercy of his father. At one level it was a risk.

In real life when we have seriously hurt someone or caused them harm in some way there is no guarantee that if we apologise and offer to do our best to make restitution that it will be accepted. They might want to have nothing to do with us again. Yet the genuine follower of Jesus wants to have a clear conscience. In the New Testament there are some precious words for us to remember when we come to God to ask for forgiveness of our sins. I John 1:8-9 declares: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness What wonderful good news for the one who seriously asks God to forgive their sin and give them a clean slate, a fresh start.

As we grow as a Christian and become more like Jesus, we also become more acutely aware of our shortcomings and failures. When this happens in a human heart a person who in the past might have been harsh and displaying a condemnatory attitude to someone who had failed in some way, now is acutely aware of ‘but for the grace of God that might have been me’. If I had kept that company, if I had been born into those circumstances, if I… whatever it might be – it could have been me. We can thank God for the blessing of good parents who guided and directed us; for Christian leaders or teachers or others who gave us wise advice about how to live our lives.

William Barclay (The Plain Man looks at the Beatitudes pp. 29-30) noted a progression in Paul’s references to himself in his letters. In his earliest known letter written to the churches of South Galatia, in response to some serious doctrinal errors, he asserts right at the beginning that this letter comes from Paul an apostle…(Galatians1:1); seven years later when he writes I Corinthians to another church with significant problems there is a different self-reference.

In I Corinthians 15 he lists some of the people who were witnesses of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Last in the list he mentions himself before making this comment in I Corinthians 15:9-10a:For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  

Then in the letter to the church at Ephesus a few years later he states: I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:7-8).

Later still in a private letter to the young pastor of the church in Ephesus, Timothy, he writes in I Timothy 1:15-16: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. 

What does this progression of thought in Paul teach us? When we are very young we are asked by our parents not to point the finger at people because it is rude! Many a little person is puzzled by such an exhortation. Yet we as adults know that when we point one finger at someone else there are still three others pointing back to ourselves! It is a reminder that my biggest duty is to address the sin issues that arise in my own life first, rather than highlighting the failures of other people.  

Our graciousness or lack of it in response to the failings of others is a window offering insight into the level of progression we have made in becoming more like Jesus. We are not ignoring wrongdoing or pretending it doesn’t matter, but instead, like our Saviour, are called to have compassion on other people who need to be right with Him. We will be delighted to see someone turning from wrongdoing not highlighting they have a previous history of failures! We are not called to be naïve, but eager to see someone make progress in their journey of faith as we trust they also will take pleasure when we have spiritual successes too! 

4. Spiritual Comfort

Jesus said: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4).  In the Oxford English Dictionary there is a reference to the older sense of this word. When we go back to the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries this word had the idea of ‘to strengthen’ or ‘to give support’; in other words it was a stronger word than we understand today.  What was Jesus was saying was not simply a form of words offering sympathy or a hug, but conveying a sense of encouragement to those who take their progress in becoming more like Jesus very seriously. Such a person is aware of their shortcomings but is making a real effort to make changes to do better! It is true that God will offer support to the people who love Him who have been bereaved, but this beatitude addresses the issue of a person genuinely sorrowful in heart for their failure to progress in their spiritual journey as they shouldThe Bible makes reference to different sources of comfort and encouragement.

(a) From God the Father In II Corinthians 1:3-7 Paul wrote: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfortwho comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through ChristIf we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 

These words were written immediately prior to a reference to a severe trial Paul had come through, which he had felt might even have been the end for him, in terms of this life. However, he sensed the encouragement and comfort of God to keep going with whatever lay before him.  In I Samuel 30:6, in a context of a genuine crisis when all around him were ‘losing their heads’, the Bible states: But David found strength in the Lord his God. Paul, in the wonderful words of Romans 8, gets so excited at God’s encouragements to progress in his spiritual life that he exclaims in Romans 8:31: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

(b) From Scripture In Romans 15:4-5 Paul wrote: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had. In the ministry of Jesus there are various examples of people leaving His presence greatly encouraged. 

In John 8:1-11, the authorities in Jerusalem wanted to trap Jesus by asking him to pass sentence on a woman who with an unknown man had been caught in the act of adultery. The officials did not care on this occasion about the actual rights and wrongs of that encounter; rather they wanted to find a way to undermine Jesus’ authority. However, He turned the tables on them and invited the one amongst them who was perfect and who had never done anything wrong to cast the first stone at her.

It was a most dramatic moment, but this is how it ended in John 8:9-11: At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ 11 ‘No one, sir,’ she said. Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ Jesus is not offering cheap grace. His words of comfort and encouragement are accompanied by an exhortation to a change of lifestyle. In the Bible there are many examples of lives transformed by the power of God.  

(c) From the Holy Spirit Jesus gives quite a bit of teaching in John 14 and 16, in the context of His message at the Last Supper about the comfort or encouragement provided by the Holy Spirit. He is the one called alongside us to aid us in living for Jesus. In John 14:15-17a Jesus said: ‘If you love Me, keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate [encourager, comforter, Counsellor] to help you and be with you forever – 17 the Spirit of truth. We are never on our own as followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is there to assist you in your walk of faith.

(d) From other people Even the greatest apostles needed a team of willing volunteers to assist and encourage them through tough times. In II Corinthians 7:5-7 Paul stated that life had been very tough on mission in Macedonia: 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 Titusand 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.  Who might you be an encourager to this week? 

Jesus said: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). May we have that earnest desire to grow in Christ-likeness and genuinely mourn our failures but only in so far as it serves as an incentive to become more like our Saviour, for Jesus’s sake Amen.

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Search me O God and know my heart today’

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: ‘Blessed be Your name’ 

Closing Prayer: 

Thank You Lord for placing within our hearts a desire for fellowship with You, the living God. Thank You for sending Jesus to show us how to live and then the gift of the Holy Spirit within us to equip us and empower us to live our lives for You. Help us to have that commitment to want to become more like Jesus in our attitudes, speech and conduct. Give us that desire to be more like Him in the coming days, 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