Sunday 6 September 2020 – Church at Home


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

– The Messy Church At Home information is now available on our church website

JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School. Today’s session is a focus on the story of David and Goliath.

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

Sunday Evening Prayer Livestream 7.00pm. We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday 6 September 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 98

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for He has done marvellous things;
His right hand and His holy arm
    have worked salvation for Him.
The Lord has made His salvation known
    and revealed His righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered His love
    and His faithfulness to Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
    the salvation of our God.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn –
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.

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

Our opening song of praise and worship is: ‘To God be the glory’

Opening prayer:

Our loving heavenly father we come into Your holy presence today with hearts full of thankfulness to You for all the blessings and encouragements we have received over this past week. For some of us we thank You for answers to prayer and things going well. For others we come grateful for the needed grace to keep going in the midst of very hard times. Thank You that despite the difficulties we are going through we have been enabled to persevere through to this the start of another new week.

We come before You today confessing our sins and asking afresh for Your forgiveness for them. Once more we ask for the fresh empowering of Your Holy Spirit as we prepare for another week at school, work or our other regular routines. Help us to honour You as we gather for worship and come to read, listen to and respond to the proclamation of the message from the Bible, 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.

All Age Talk – Moraig Piggot

So this morning we are think about how life has big decisions, but one outweighs all the rest. If we don’t prioritize it above all else, nothing else matters. I wonder from this list which one would you order from most important to least important:

Do homework
Spend time with friends
Attend sports practice
Go to youth group
Call friends
Sleep a lot
Read Bible
Go to class
Talk with family
Eat a lot
Become a Christian
Watch TV
Do chores
Go to church
Help a friend in trouble

Its difficult isn’t it because a lot of these would be really important to us. Well in the bible there is a story about two ladies would argue about what was important in life. Lets watch it:

In this story we are reminded as Jesus said that only one thing matters and that is God. Our relationship with God should be our priority over everything else. If our love for God is the central piece of our lives, then everything else will sort itself out.

Now it can be tricky because we have got to decide what, or who, will be number one in our life. Many of us want Jesus plus something else. We’re afraid that we may, somehow, be restricted. When we come to know Jesus and count Him as Lord, we give up everything. The funny thing is, when we do that, we realize we’ve never had it so good. He takes what we’ve given to Him and He reforms it, reshapes it, adds new meaning to it, and gives it back to us in a new way.
So this week let’s have a think about what maybe is out of priority in our lives? It’s time to rearrange our priorities – and recapture our joy.

We continue in worship as we sing: ‘Jesus strong and kind’

Prayers for others

Dear Lord,

We pray for countries such as Thailand, Pakistan and Bangladesh that are having to deal with the effects of the monsoon season and problems with flooding as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. Pray for wisdom for those in government in these monsoon-affected countries.

We pray for the people affected by the hurricane in Louisiana and Texas in America, and especially for the families of the many Christians slaughtered by Islamist militias in Nigeria and the families of the more than 500 Christians targeted for killing by Islamic extremists in Ethiopia in recent weeks.

We remember the other countries in the world where there are much higher numbers of cases of covid-19 virus than our own country and pray that their governments will soon be able to get this problem under control. We give thanks for those at the cutting edge of science working flat out to find treatments and a vaccine. We pray that God would send wisdom, direction and scientific breakthroughs

We remember in our own country the people affected by the recent virus outbreaks. We thank You that the testing and tracing regime appears to be working more effectively across the UK. We pray for wisdom for the management teams at the schools and workplaces in our city and region that have experienced positive test results that they will be able to adjust effectively to safeguard the health and wellbeing of those under their care.

We pray too for young people from our own church and others around the country who are heading off to university for the first time. We pray that they will settle in to university life quickly despite the challenges of the current pandemic.    

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

Scottish Baptist Lay Preachers’ Association – We give thanks for the ministry of the SBLPA, particularly during this time as preaching and pulpit supply will have been provided via video/online. We pray for the SBPLA as they continue to support our churches, as well as other denominations, in their preaching ministry and development of younger leaders.  

We also pray for the Lead Academy learning communities during this challenging time. We pray that these church leadership teams may soon be able to meet online or eventually in person so that they can continue developing their vision and learning together.

Lerwick BC – We give thanks for the ministry of Lerwick Baptist Church in Shetland. We pray that the congregation know God’s presence with them in the months ahead in their work and witness in their community.

Leslie BC – We give thanks for the first year with their new pastor. They are in the process of expanding their building that will be completed early in 2021. We pray for its successful completion and the opportunity for them to draw closer to God, one another and their community during this process.

Leven BC – They thank God for His presence and people’s adaptability during this lockdown period. In this emerging season, they would appreciate prayer for God’s wisdom for developing new things, for those from teenage years to their 40s.

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 a number of families seeking to help some of their older members make the best plans for their future care needs. We pray for Elizabeth F and her sister to recover full health and strength after a recent car accident. We pray for Rachel, John and Ann S’s niece as she recovers from brain surgery. We also pray for Alan McR as he leads the third week of the new introductory course in the Christian Faith that starts on Tuesday evening on the zoom platform. 

 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 readings Psalm 42:1-5 and Luke 10:38-42

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5)

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. 

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ 41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42)

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

The Message

Matthew 5:6 Getting our priorities right


The Sermon on the Mount, the teaching contained in Matthew chapters five to seven, was directly address to people who claimed to have put their faith and trust in Jesus. In other words they are people who have already begun to follow Jesus. The beatitudes are deeply challenging as they act like a mirror for our hearts and affections, to reflect on our priorities and desires, none more so than in this particular verse.

Jesus declared: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6). This is the most intensely active of these sayings and provides an opportunity to look within our own lives and see how we are progressing in the way Jesus wants us to live. Jesus has already raised a challenge to us in earlier beatitudes about our views of ourselves and in certain respects our attitudes, but in the earlier ones there is a more passive element of seeing what God is doing in our lives in changing us to be more like Jesus, whereas here He turns from what we are like within –albeit with a lot of room for further progress!

To what we do; a person in whose life God is at work will have an awareness of their own sinfulness, in fact the more holy we become the more acutely we will be aware of it. We know that in ordinary life. Looking at some windows in your house at night, looking at the same window on a cloudy day in daylight and then looking at the same windows in direct sunlight will be a very different experience. Only in the latter scenario do we really see how clean they are! The intensity of the sun’s rays brings to light the remaining dirt on the window that we may have missed when cleaning them, maybe only minutes earlier!       

1. The context of natural hunger

In our world today there are people who die of hunger and thirst. Several hundred million day- labourers in significant parts of the two-thirds world are living a very precarious existence at the moment with a loss of employment and its income.

If we think it is not a problem here at all remember around 250 of the staff in the factory with the virus outbreak in Coupar Angus were on zero-hours contracts. No work meant no income. What does two week’s self-isolation mean in that context to those workers from other countries with no money to buy food?  This is a real example close to home. There was a solution of course available in our city, but it appears not all of these individuals were aware of it.

Others suffer because of economic mismanagement or through living in war zones and others affected by climate change. What is so appalling about this problem is that there is no need for anyone to go hungry or to go without access to adequate amounts of clean water, as humanity in the twenty-first century has the means to address this issue very quickly – if there is the will to do so. It has been distressing in recent weeks to have messages and phone calls from people overseas who have no food. Some who were not looking for help only wanted someone to listen to their difficulties, but others were begging for help that I was not in a position to provide.

However, until roughly the last hundred years this was not so. In the world of two thousand years ago the majority of people could not be certain of adequate supplies of food and water. Many people were day-labourers, who hoped to get work each day, but were not guaranteed it. No work might mean no food for your family for the next day.

A farmer whose crop failed might fear weeks of inadequate supplies; a fisherman who caught nothing with his small net on the Sea of Galilee would likewise know the pangs of hunger. Various scholars have estimated that the typical family of that time would have only had access to meat once a week due both to its scarcity and its cost. Only the rich could afford something approaching a balanced diet. In the first half of the nineteenth century in Scotland the growing population in the north-west highlands and island, in some communities, was living almost exclusively on potatoes or kelp (seaweed); when a serious disease destroyed much of the potato crops in some years starvation was a real issue there, albeit not on the scale of the potato famine in Ireland.

Food scarcity was a major factor that led many people to emigrate to other countries; especially North America; Our world, and especially the provision of food in western supermarkets would have been unimaginable to the people listening to Jesus that day. For almost all of them genuine hunger and thirst would have been part of life they took for granted. We must hear these words of Jesus in such a context if we are to grasp the intensity of his message to us. In effect Jesus was saying: ‘Blessed are those who desire righteousness in the way a starving person longs for food and a thirsty person wilting under the Middle-Eastern sun desires cool refreshing water.’  

2. The importance of spiritual hunger

(a)The Old Testament background Jesus was speaking in a way that echoed various Old Testament passages. Listen to some of them.  For example, Psalm 42:1-2: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Or Psalm 63:1: You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land  where there is no water.

Do we not feel a little embarrassed that the Psalmist’s language is a bit over the top here! Surely God doesn’t expect me to be that intense about my relationship with Him – does He? There is a parallel to human relationships. Imagine you have fallen in love with someone and they are asking you to call them or visit them and you are thinking or may even say: ‘Do I have to this week?’ I suspect there might be a bit of a reaction!

Now in a long-term friendship or a marriage that has stood the test of time the depth of commitment may be less visible to other people because it is less outwardly demonstrative – as other ways may demonstrate that practical love and commitment, but it is genuine and alive! However, may God the Holy Spirit give each of us an intensity of desire to live for Him and to fellowship with Him. Sometimes, though, God’s people had to be recalled to their first love for God and what really mattered in life. They had been so busy with lesser things that they had forgotten what was most important.

(b) The New Testament challenge The challenge Jesus was giving His disciples was very simple. Do you desire righteousness with the intensity of desire with which a starving person seeks food or a thirsty person water?

I know looking into my own heart that the answer I have to give is not that often at that level. I have had such times; and recalled a couple of times in preparing this message in my undergraduate years when I took time out to wrestle with some major spiritual and doctrinal issues that have been formative in my spiritual journey in the decades that followed.  I thank God that I have fairly consistently had a desire for righteousness, but too often it falls short of the standard Jesus commends to us here.

Maintaining the intensity of spiritual desire here is like maintaining physical fitness in the gym or some other similar facility. It is a daily discipline that is with us each week, month and year of our lives. We can never reach a position of total comfort and be serious about what we are doing.Yet do I have that hunger for spiritual food, for meeting with God in my daily devotions or with His people collectively in worship services? I was born a month premature, but also the birth process did not go to plan and I was almost got out too late! What is more I was so weak and exhausted I wanted only to sleep; in that situation I had no desire for the milk I needed to stay alive no matter how hard my mother tried to persuade me to do so. My greatest need in that context was my mother’s milk but in my fragile state it was not top of my priority list! As a premature baby I had a reasonable explanation for my choice of actions!

However, in spiritual terms there are Christians at various stages of the Christian life who have either never truly possessed or who have lost their hunger for spiritual food. To ask ourselves today how much does it really matter whether I have my time with God in daily prayer and reading and reflecting on His Word? It doesn’t have to be a long time ‘quality time over quantity time – any time’! Do I safeguard those few moments each day because I treasure my time with the Lord? I suspect all of us will confess as Christians that there are days when we need to challenge ourselves on this matter? How seriously do I safeguard time in God’s house on His day as a priority to start the week with Him – only missing when I genuinely cannot avoid it?

The question to ask ourselves might be this: ‘Lord on what area of my life do I need to work most to gain a greater hunger for righteousness, for spending time with you?’ Or maybe you have been on the Christian pathway for some time and you need to confess that you have lost your passion for righteousness and need to rekindle that affection and earnest desire for the Lord’s presence.  

(c) The New Testament calling (i) Priorities In Luke 10:38-42 we have a familiar story to many of us: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ 41 ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’

Now we must not misrepresent the passage to portray Jesus’ message here as saying there are two types of Christians here; some who ‘do’ things for Jesus and others who ‘spent time with Jesus’ as if there were two exclusive categories here. The work in each area of Christian service needs to happen from evangelism to property maintenance; from personal discipleship to stewarding rotas and a whole lot more! The question is about our motivation of heart why we are doing what we are doing.

It has to be Jesus at the centre –looking to Him, growing in Him and serving Him. We must regularly remind ourselves what it is all about as well as each other so that when choices have to be made we don’t lose our focus. In the busyness of life we cannot be too busy to spend time with Him. Yet Christians can do that –all of us. In the busyness of Christian ministry the focus on ‘doing’ God’s work can dominate to such an extent that time alone with the Lord can be squeezed out.

If we do not invest in our own spiritual lives we will dry up as Christians and our dedication to duty will eventually become lifeless and spiritually arid. Living for Jesus at its essence is quite simple of putting God first and thinking of others as well as ourselves; however, it only happens in practice when we consciously set out our priorities and stick with them. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus gave this challenge: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Am I doing that today? Are you doing that today?

(ii) Discipline Paul’s words about our contribution to growing as a Christian in Philippians 2:12-13 will always be a challenge. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose. In I Timothy 6:11-12 he wrote: But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight [agwnizou lit. agonise!] the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

This is strong active language of intentional, dedicated, spiritual discipline. It will often not be easy to live our lives as the Lord would have us do. Like a serious sports-person we have to have self-discipline over our choices in life – if our lives are to accomplish what God intends us to do. There are a small number of Christians over the centuries who have accomplished amazing things for God. Ordinary people whose lives are wholly dedicated to Him will always achieve more than a high gifted individual who fails to give God the place He deserves in their lives. What do you aspire to accomplish for God before you leave this life?

3. A Spiritual health check

There are times when we need a medical to check the general state of our health. Our cars get an M.O.T. test annually to see if they are roadworthy. Doing a personal spiritual health-check from time to time can also be a good idea!

This verse is a profound reality check as we look within our hearts. Jesus said: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6). The simple question to ask is this? Am I spiritually hungry? Do I want to get to know God better? Do I want to find our more from His Word? Do I want to get closer to Him through prayer? Do I want to sense His presence with me more clearly? Does it thrill my heart to hear of someone committing their life to Christ? Do I rejoice when I hear of someone who has come back to the Lord? Am I grieved by the coldness of my own heart towards the Lord at times or by that of other people who once walked with Him but who are no longer even present with His people in His house? Do I have a heart to pray for people who need Jesus and to keep at it year after year until I hear they have come to Christ? Do I have a willing heart to serve the Lord when opportunities come up to give my gifts or time in His service? 

In I Peter 2:1-3 the apostle wrote these words: Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

A living and healthy baby is hungry for physical nourishment. The child of God will be hungry for spiritual nourishment. Ask yourself: am I growing in my faith? How have I progressed since this time last year? Or over some other time scale; we must not expect to record dramatic progress every year but like a healthy tree that shows in its rings that it grows each year there should be some progress in our walk with the Lord.

Is this something you need to pay attention to at this time? How we may encourage each other to progress? There is a place for having a fellow Christian or Christians as a kind of accountability partner whom we give permission to them to ask us –how are you getting on in your Christian faith? This can be through some form of mentoring. The pathway discipleship programme that we have offered in the church may be something you may benefit from in 2020 or 2021? Or there are books we could read with profit or podcasts to listen to –some many choices.

4. What I should be desiring most?

Jesus said: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6). Righteousness or holiness is what we ought to seek most. Hebrews 12:14 states: Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

This is not an optional extra for super-saints with polished halos, but a call or every man and woman, boy and girl who wants to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Now a Christian has been saved through Jesus’ sacrifice for us and His perfect righteousness was credited to our account to bring us into fellowship, with God.

However, we also have a calling to live a disciplined Christ-centred lives. Jesus must have shocked His hearers later in the Sermon on the Mount when, in Matthew 5:17-20 He declared:

‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Did He mean we must have a longer list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ than they did? No! that would be impossible; what began centuries earlier with practical guidance for living in a God-honouring way in exile in Babylon had become an unmanageable series of volumes of thousands of rules and regulations that required professional scribes to keep a track of them all. If sincerity alone got you into heaven they would have been first in the queue. If that is not what it means then what is Jesus asking of us?

It is a conscious determination to honour Him and live for Him in each area of our lives with the highest integrity. In our attitudes, speech and conduct in the workplace; as we socialize, in our homes or wherever we are to conduct ourselves in a way that is pleasing to Him. Notice the intentionality and responsibility for making the effort. It doesn’t happen while we sleep! No matter what it is, to be good at something requires effort. I remember a newspaper article some years ago on Nick Faldo the well-known British golfer of a former generation who had great success in his career, but at one particular time was going through a rough patch and not hitting the ball particularly well. The article reported that he stayed on day after day practicing till his hands were bleeding determined to correct whatever the problem had been. We could multiply these examples from the fields of sport, arts and music, together with other whose dedication to academic studies has accomplished in time great things. There are no short-cuts to becoming like Jesus.

Our Lord was issuing here a challenge across our daily lives –do you and I want it enough to please God in our lives day by day? Psalm 84:11-12 encourages us with these words: …the Lord bestows favour and honour; no good thing does He withhold from those whose way of life is blameless. 12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You.

Have you and I missed out on some blessings because we have set too low a standard to aim for as a Christian? But our motivation is not just to please Him in this life –one day we will be with Him for ever. What was this goal? – to live in a way now that when I see the Lord that I will be satisfied that I have honoured Him as well as I can in each area of my life. 

In I Corinthians 10:31-33 Paul expressed it in words more readily grasped. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. If we endeavour however inadequately to have similar goals then we are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and will receive the blessing on God on our lives. May that be our life-long goal, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.    

Our song before we come to communion is: ‘Here is love vast as the ocean’

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: ‘And can it be’

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord for the privilege of being called Your children and invited to follow the pattern of life Jesus modelled for us two thousand years ago.  Help us this week in all the circumstances we experience to live in a way pleasing to You, in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Benediction:  The Grace

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