JAM Kids’ focus: The Virtual Sunday School
JAM young adults have a separate programme which today is Breakthru 7:00-8:00pm Please contact Gary Torbet on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details of today’s programme.
Scottish Bible Society Wonder Walks – You don’t need to prepare anything in advance, just download your map and head off for your weekly Wonder Walk.On each map you will find something to read from the Gospel of Mark, questions to think about, games to play, and ideas to pray about. We have created a walk for each Sunday in Lent, concluding with a Good Friday and Easter Walk, but you can go use these walks anytime you go out! Visit the website for further information.
Prayer for Scotland “Cry for Mercy” – a call to 40 days of prayer for Scotland.
Baptist Union of Scotland National Prayer Livestream The monthly prayer livestream takes place next on Sunday 7 March, 2021 7.00–7.30pm.
Call to worship
A word from Jesus on Discipleship;
“A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned to them and said to them “If you want be my disciple you must hate everyone else by comparison, your father & mother, wife and children, brothers & sisters – ye even your own life. Otherwise you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14: 25 – 27
As Edwards the scholar comments “Jesus is talking to the crowds – to all contemplating a relationship with Jesus lest they imagine that familiarity with Jesus even proximity to him are substitutes for costly discipleship with him”
For it says in Galatians 2:20
“For I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” Amen!
The treasure is in jars of clay – and let us now reflect on this in our first song of praise “Yet not I but through Christ in me”
Let us commit our time to God in prayer, let us pray.
Loving heavenly Father, we come to you as the God of creation the Sustainer of the universe, and yet a Holy perfect God.
Help us afresh today to stand in awe of you – that you are Holy and that we would have the privilege, of coming into your presence God!
Help us wonder at that privilege, that Jesus, whose hands flung stars into space – to cruel nails surrendered!
That we might receive salvation, to receive your forgiveness, to receive your treasure – into us as earthen vessels;
Father as we worship you today, take us deeper into you, enable us to see what we need to repent of, that we might more fully represent you in costly discipleship. That we might share you Jesus in our needy world and communities;
In all that we do today – in praise in prayer, in testimony, in hearing and listening to your voice through your word.
May our lives be touched, infused, challenged by the work of your Holy Spirit – Lord, shake us today and may you the God of heaven be glorified. For it is in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:
All-Age Talk Rev Gary Torbet
Later, Brian is reflecting on our need to be faithful in witnessing for Jesus and in this passage is says in 2 Corinthians 4:7:
“We now have this light shining in our hearts (that is the amazing truth of the Gospel) BUT WE OURSELVES ARE LIKE FRAGILE CLAY JARS CONTAINING THIS GREAT TREASURE”
In Jesus times these were jars of Clay, and yes they don’t look like something you would put something precious in, and we are like the jars of clay – with all our failings, weaknesses, things we do wrong – yet still seen as precious for the purposes of God.
The knowledge of the Gospel has shone light into their hearts, unveiling them to God’s glory. This knowledge is through Christ, and it is their treasure. Paul recognizes their worthlessness before God, but He has chosen to give them this valuable truth, to free them from their sins and bring them to Him in order to show His surpassing greatness. As His servants, He has chosen them, jars of clay, to spread this truth.
This treasure is for us if we accept Christ Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. When we become followers of Christ, the veil in our hearts is torn and our darkened hearts are filled with light. This light is the knowledge of the glory of God that we have heard about through God’s Word and that we begin to experience as believers through our worship and prayers.
Jars of clay were valueless containers, readily discarded, being cheap and always available to people in Paul’s day. The difference between these worthless jars and the treasure of Christ is huge! Paul’s main purpose in calling himself and the apostles’ jars of clay is to reveal that human weakness presents no barrier to the purpose of God. The worthlessness of the vessels is evidence that the magnificent power which occurs when the Gospel is preached, the change that takes place in human lives, is God’s and not the apostles.
And they can be used to place beautiful flowers in;
Boys and girls – why not draw a picture of a clay jar and place inside it a some beautiful flowers or a precious gem or treasure and with the verse “BUT WE OURSELVES ARE LIKE FRAGILE CLAY JARS CONTAINING THIS GREAT TREASURE” 2 Corinthians 4; 7
Let us now sing about the light of the gospel and how it is something God calls us to do – to spread the Good News of His wonderful Gospel of grace and salvation. “Light of the World”
Prayers for others
Loving heavenly Father,
We thank you are the light of the world Jesus – that you came to us, to show how much you loved us “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life”
Your Gospel of truth, love and grace are so amazing, and how the world we live in, so needs this just now, so needs your peace, your healing just now.
Help us realise afresh today Lord that we may not always have the freedoms we have to share your gospel – help us not to take this for granted and especially now as we remember our brothers and sisters around the world that
have the real threat of being imprisoned, taken away from family, being tortured for the sake of “picking up their cross” and daring to follow you in some of these lands that we pray for now – from the Open Doors Watch list of the 10 most dangerous countries
to be a Christian – we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in:
- North Korea
- And India, where we remember our brother Nilapu and his colleagues preaching the Gospel there.
Father, as we think of our nation, we pray for continuing wisdom for our leaders – Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon as they continue to battle the pandemic. And also that as a wider world we would not create, yet another injustice, by withholding vaccines from much poorer countries that will heap further suffering and death upon their people – May you raise up leaders and in the church – who will speak out for the voiceless.
We pray especially for all the Doctors, Nurses, Physios, OT and Care Workers in the NHS and care homes as they care for the sick and dying – protect them, give them daily courage. We pray for all those who have lost loved ones through COVID – each a personal tragedy – would they know your comfort Lord.
Father we pray especially for those who are currently unwell or suffering from long-term conditions;
For Helen S and for a successful hip replacement tomorrow.
For the T and G families as they grieve the loss of loved ones
For people with on-going health issues – Betty R, Fiona K, Dorothy G, Fiona Mc, Mary D, Nicola L’s Dad (L) and Margaret – Ann W’s sister, for Fergus R, – may you grant them all your comfort, your peace and a special sense of your presence during these difficult times. We pray for supernatural breakthroughs and for your healing Lord – grant medical people involved with them renewed insight for their well-being.
We pray now silently for those known to us now; …
We continue to pray for;
Hamish R for recovery from COVID, in his ongoing ministry in France, his ongoing witness to Frank (the 69 year old skateboarder) and for Hamish’s future direction next year.
The Christianity Explored and Discipleship Explored participants that they will grow in their knowledge, understanding and application of God’s Word particularly the 5 people on these courses who are yet to be saved.
The church of Broughty Baptist -may each one of usl grow into a mature relationship with Jesus and be devoted to one another in prayer, learning God’s Word together, sharing the gospel and in fellowship with one another.
For the deacons and pastor as they meet at the end of March for the deacons ‘away day’. May they discern God’s will for leadership direction.
For the church’s youth and children and families provision. That young people will grow in their relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit working through the Word, leaders and young people. For the children and parents/carers who take part in Boogie Babies and Messy Church that relationships with Moraig and Claire will mature and through the Word and these relationships the Holy Spirit will lead children and adults to a growing knowledge and understanding of Jesus leading them to an understanding of their need for Christ.
We bring all these prayers to you, our loving Lord Jesus and it is in your name we pray. Amen.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.II Corinithians 4: 1-15
Before we come to listen to God’s Word let us sing:
II Corinthians 4:1-15 Are we faithful witnesses for Jesus?
Why should anyone listen to people from the churches? What are the churches contributing to our communities in this time of a virus pandemic? These are questions someone put to me this week and are questions put to others in churches where enquiries are made about our place in society at this time.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Bishop of York Stephen Cottrell gave this response to an enquiry about what the ‘Church of England is doing’ at this time: “‘Where is the C of E?’” the pair asked. “Let us offer an answer. We have been burying the dead, comforting the bereaved, feeding the hungry and praying for our nation. We have been doing this not as superheroes, but as human beings living through the same crisis as everyone else: grieving, home-schooling, worrying, getting sick, shielding, isolating, weeping.” [Premier Christian News Thursday 11 Feb 2021]
This is of course alongside zoom or livestreamed services; or the multiple ways in which churches distribute services to make them accessible to others, by email, cds or dvds, or by hard copies printed off and posted or hand delivered to people’s doors. We thank God for our online Baptist Union Assembly ‘Canopy’ last autumn and other Christian conferences and media that have been a blessing through these difficult times.
In a culture where celebrities post a stream of social media messages to keep a high profile about their activities, and the news media is attempting to offer a twenty-four hour version of the main news stories of the day, what we are doing will never fit neatly into that kind of packaged presentation. The question of what it means to be a faithful witness for the Lord is both a personal and a collective one.
What have I or you been doing during this virus pandemic is inevitably a mixture of the ordinary everyday things of life that are part of regular routines of running a home; these may include supporting family members with school work or assisting others with needs, especially those older people in our church family or community.
We are very limited in what we can do, when visiting people’s homes is greatly restricted or meeting others for a coffee in a café is not possible. I thank God for those in this congregation who have written letters or cards to encourage other people. I thank God for the number of people who have made phone calls or other forms of messages to others to enquire about their wellbeing. We have had different phases of activities over the last ten months.
Initially there was a great scramble to ensure everyone shielding or vulnerable in some way could access the necessary groceries or other items needed; we have participated in the provision of parcels to encourage NHS and Social Care workers. Others of us have sent or spoken messages of appreciation to supermarket employees or other essential workers in the course of ordinary contacts with them.
There is no limit on who we might seek to encourage or how we might express appreciation for faithful dedication to serving our local community. However, Paul in this passage in I Corinthians 4 is focussed on how as the people of God we engage in worship, witness and social ministries. The ‘how’ is as important as the ‘what’. Let us take a short time to reflect on what Paul has written in these verses.
1. Our commitment (II Corinthians 4:1-6)
Christian liberty is not a freedom to do what we like, but an opportunity to serve wholeheartedly the God who has done so much for us in Christ. This is why Paul begins chapter four with the word ‘therefore’. On the basis of such a wonderful blessing it will be natural that we want to please Him in the way we live. But what does Paul have in mind? It requires that:
(a)We Persevere (4:1) 1Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. The ‘super-apostles’ who boasted about their spiritual greatness, and whom Paul will address in II Corinthians 10-12, by contrast, criticised Paul for his inadequacy. He’s a boring speaker. He’s not a charismatic personality. His ministries are too short. He moves on because he quickly becomes demoralised and cannot continue in ministry at a particular church for too long. This is why he left Corinth.
Nonsense, says Paul, when we recognise how great is our God and how wonderful is the message we proclaim we will never quit. We will not surrender our calling, not today, not tomorrow, and not ever! Nothing will make me cease to do the work God has entrusted to me. In II Corinthians 11 the apostle compares his battle scars for the sake of Christ with theirs and shows how much more he has endured than they. His list included these items:
I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27 I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (II Corinthians 11:23b-28).
There are many Christians who can offer magnificent service for God over a year or two, but He desires men and women who will keep on year after year living for Jesus and using their gifts in His service; touching the lives of others around them with a passionate and prayerful desire that they also will come to know and love Jesus too. I trust this is your desire this year, even during a virus pandemic!
Can you and I promise: ‘God, while I have breath in my body and strength in my limbs I’m available to live for you.’ When we are wholly available to the Lord, don’t be surprised if He wants to use you to influence the people with whom you come into contact in the coming weeks. God’s work is like running a marathon and He calls each one of us to finish well the race we have begun.
In his letter to the Churches in the region of Galatia (part of modern day Turkey), Paul wrote: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6:9-10).
(b) We maintain our integrity (character) (4:2a) 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; In our secular society one of the few ‘unforgivable’ sins is hypocrisy, saying we will do something, while all the time intending to engage in another course of action. Our character is the most important thing we have and its maintenance of the utmost importance.
In Britain today personal integrity seems increasingly to be absent in so many social contexts. In business how many people could be trusted to deliver on a promise sealed with a handshake, even if it turned out to their financial disadvantage, without the signed paperwork to accompany it? How many sportspeople are there who would rather lose a game or competition rather than win by engaging in some form of cheating? We could go on across the whole of society asking these questions.
The bottom line is this: you and I ultimately are responsible before God for one person – ourselves- for whom we will give an account to God one day (II Corinthians 5:10). No other person on earth may know what is going on in your heart and mind, but He does, and that is what is important. May He help us to live in a manner that allows us to maintain a clear conscience before Him and in the sight of other people. Some people may say we are stupid to our face sometimes for being so honest, but deep down they will envy the kind of courage we possess to be willing to do the right thing, even if it is to our short-term disadvantage.
(c) We serve with integrity (conduct) (4:2b) we do not use deception, It is not just words but actions. The battle in the mind and heart is the hardest, and if we win there, inappropriate words and actions will be avoided. However, all of us know that there are times when wrong thoughts get through the barrier; in fact, we may secretly welcome them and take pleasure in them.
The danger then is that we might actually engage in actions which bring dishonour on the name of Jesus. Paul had been accused of declining financial support from the wealthy Corinthians in order to have some kind of moral bargaining power over them (see II Corinthians 12:11-18). This was nonsense. He had asked them to make collections for mission work in other places (I Corinthians 16:1-4), but he was concerned that this might not happen in his absence, because they were possibly the least generous of the churches he had founded, despite their wealth.
May God help us in our work careers; in our family relationships and in our church ministries and roles to be people of integrity who live in a way that honours Him.
(d) We proclaim the gospel accurately (4:2c-6)
The Gospel Paul proclaimed told the truth about heaven and hell; included the unpalatable truths about sin, righteousness and judgement. He was fearless about proclaiming the truth, albeit doing so with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3:15). When on trial before Roman Governor Festus and Jewish king Agrippa (Acts 26) Paul could have said ingratiating words in the hope of securing his release. Instead he reminded them that God had commissioned him to go to Gentiles, like Festus, to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Jesus]‘ (Acts 26:18).
These words would have been as welcome to Festus, as to secular sceptical people in your laboratory, office or staffroom today! The Gospel is good news to those that receive it, but by implication are the very opposite to the people who refuse to accept it. The offence of the Gospel has not changed.
2. Our condition (II Corinthians 4:7-15)
Paul has responded forcefully to the critics of his gospel whose simplistic creed has nothing to say about suffering, death and judgement; whose goals and ambitions concern this life not focussed on the eternal priorities of King Jesus. A gospel that does not meet people in their hours of deepest need is no gospel at all. However, the glorious message that Paul has given his life to proclaim does address these fundamental concerns and issues of daily life.
(a)Our weakness and His power (II Corinthians 4:7) 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all- surpassing power is from God and not from us. The finest diamonds kept in a ceramic pot from the value range of a local supermarket!
The Holy Spirit is at work in human bodies subject to decay, disease, injury and certain death; why? It is to show that the victory of the gospel and its ultimate triumph is of God not of us; or as Paul puts it in II Corinthians 1:9: that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.
You and I are the messengers proclaiming good news in a world that so desperately needs it. We are the means God has chosen to make known the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).
On my way home from the Grammar School I attended in England, age sixteen, I was met one day by a small boy of seven or eight who challenged me to a fight. He was only half my height and I played rugby for the second team in my school year. No contest! However, near to our school was a rough area where the boy lived, I knew that he would have an older brother, and a whole gang of mates, who would appear in minutes, or at least the next day, should I lay a finger on him! His boldness (or foolishness!) was not about him, but the resources that he believed was available to him should he need them.
What point is Paul making here? There is a call for humility and self-awareness. Yet it is equally a request to look up and see the divine resources available to us. We remember these extraordinary words in Ephesians 3:20-21 at the end of Paul’s prayer for this congregation in Western Turkey. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. When we grasp the truth of this point we will be able to say with Paul: I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). Praise the Lord!
(b) Our problems and His grace (II Corinthians 4:8-9) 8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Advocates of cheap grace and the prosperity gospel proclaim: ‘have faith’ ‘come to Jesus and your problems will be over –you can rise above them’. As we read the New Testament and follow the path that leads through Church history it is the very opposite that is true. It has been among the poor and marginalised of the world that the gospel has spread, only rarely has it appeared to triumph amongst the rich and powerful. Following a crucified Messiah appears to be foolish to the powerbrokers of the world.
Yet we have a gospel that can meet every need. Abraham Kuyper, the great Christian thinker and Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901-1905, believed that God continually influenced the life of believers, and daily events could show his workings. Kuyper famously said, “Oh, no single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!'[James D. Bratt, Abraham Kuyper, A Centennial Reader, p. 488].
The final triumph of Jesus and His imminent return keeps us focussed on living for Him. Paul expresses so clearly the wonderful paradox of our calling in Philippians 2:12-13 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 according to His good purpose.
(c) Our dying and His life (II Corinthians 4:10-12) 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
There is a cost to Christian living. In much of the world physical violence even martyrdom can be the lot of followers of Jesus. In secular countries like our own, discrimination in an increasing number of workplaces as a result of hostile legislation put in place by the Edinburgh or Westminster Governments which has resulted in a loss of careers for some people and a loss of promotion for others. Now we need to pray for courage, but also for wisdom in the choices we make.
Very few Christians in Western countries are at risk of physical violence or facing death threats simply for following Jesus. However, we must remember that we have our freedoms today because others had to fight very hard, or in a few cases gave their lives, in earlier centuries, to obtain them. There can also be other less obvious costs to following our vocation. Some individuals who had served as missionaries overseas, for example, on returning back to the United Kingdom to retire have lost a proportion of their state pension rights and consequently have only limited financial resources to provide for anything other than a very basic lifestyle in retirement.
We have to be ready and willing to pay whatever price is the cost of faithfulness to Jesus Christ. Our testimony should be in line with that of Paul who declared in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
(d) Our faith and His plan (II Corinthians 4:13-15) 13It is written: I believed; therefore I have spoken. With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak 14 because we know that the One who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
This is our hope and vindication. The God who raised Jesus bodily from the dead will one day raise His people in like manner at the end of the age. Paul would have said a big ‘Amen’ to John’s vision of heaven recorded in his vision in Revelation 7:9-10:
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
No wonder Paul could say in Romans 1:18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
But it took him many years of Christian service to say these words with conviction and truly mean them. Our faith is anchored in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Because He triumphed then so shall we with Him on His return to reign as the King of Kings. I hope as we read and reflect on Paul’s words in Romans 1:18, that we can identify with Him and commit ourselves, like him, to be a faithful witness for Jesus, Amen.
Our song before we come to communion is:
The Lord’s Supper
Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.
Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.
Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’
Our closing song is:
Thank You Lord Jesus for the way You lived Your life here on earth as a faithful witness to God the Father, modelling for us a way of living that You called Your first disciples to seek to follow. Help us as Your present-day followers to demonstrate through the choices we make this week that we are seeking to be faithful witnesses for You in this generation. Please give us wisdom and guidance to make the right choices in all we do this week, in Jesus’ name Amen.
Benediction: The Grace