Bible Readings and
(submitted by Sam and Ann MacDonald)
For this month’s Bible readings, I am again using extracts from the bi-monthly magazine ‘Every Day with Jesus’ as published by the late Selwyn Hughes, and his notes on the book of Acts as it contains many comments on the establishment and growth of Jesus’s Church.
‘On this rock I will build my Church’ Matthew 16: 18.
Monday July 1st
God’s intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made clear. Ephesians 3: 10.
The beginnings of the Christian Church can be taken to have occurred on the day of Pentecost when Jesus fulfilled His promise to send us the Holy Spirit, Who would guide all who would believe in God and His dear Son, to worship the Lord and to strive to spread the Good News of the salvation which God has provided to all He has chosen. But be warned – when we look at the early church and compare it with the present day, it is clear that we need to return to the principles of, and purposes of the 1st century Church.
Give thanks for yesterday’s services and for the Word preached. Pray a blessing on those who have been so willing to perform this duty and enrich our worship during this period of vacancy. Pray for all who have lost dear ones in recent days, that they would be aware of God’s everlasting love surrounding them always.
Tuesday July 2nd.
Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us and the lot fell to Matthias. Acts 1: 21 and 26.
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and so the 12 apostles became 11. Therefore it was necessary to appoint a replacement apostle, and Matthias was chosen, because he had been with Jesus during His teaching and healing. Now the apostles were ready to continue the work which Jesus had began while He was with them here on earth. His promise of sending the Holy Spirit to guide them on their way to holiness, and leading people to accept the salvation He had wrought for them on the Cross had been totally fulfilled. We are assured that Jesus commissioned His Church when He declared to Peter, ‘On you I will build my Church’.
Give thanks for those who willingly arrange meetings and events in the congregation and pray that those attending Bible study, Gathering, Toddlers groups etc would enjoy real fellowship together. Pray for any who are lonely in our city and give us hearts to visit or make a phone call to cheer up someone who hasn’t seen another soul for days.
Wednesday July 3rd.
In reply to Jesus’s question ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’, Peter replied , ‘You are the Christ, the son of the Living God’, to which Jesus declared ‘You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church’. Matthew 16: 13 and 18.
We have been considering the growth of the early Church and now we think of the answer to the question, what is a Church? Is it a building where people who believe in Jesus meet? or is it a massive cathedral with stained glass windows? Or even a small house where people go on a Sunday? It is none of these. A Church is people who share the love of Jesus, whose hearts have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and who seek to bring others to worship God in His three persons, until they are saved.
Give thanks for those who prepare for and lead the prayer meetings, for the time spent in study and prayer in order to be able to share God’s Word. Pray that all who can would attend and be faithful in praying for all aspects of Church life.
Thursday July 4th.
Some made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’ Acts 2: 13
Let us view the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, for on that day, extraordinary things were performed by ordinary people. Men who had only one language, spoke in tongues which they previously had no knowledge of, and heard Peter explain clearly, that all the work which had occurred while Jesus was on earth, including His death and resurrection, were all in the plan of God, but by agreeing to crucifying His Son Jesus, they had sinned against God. All who heard were cut to the heart and asked what they must do to obtain forgiveness. The answer was given, ‘Repent and be baptised.’ and 3000 were added as believers that day. Now, is that not the enthusiasm we would love to see in our Churches.
Give thanks for ‘Open Doors’ the organisation which strives to support persecuted Christians throughout the world. Pray for those who meet to worship their Saviour in fear, that they would be protected by the Holy Spirit.
Friday July 5th.
In the last days, I will pour out my spirit on all people and everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2: 17 and 21.
Yesterday we saw that as the result of Peter’s sermon, 3000 people were saved, – in today’s Church it might need someone to preach 3000 sermons to save one person. That is how the early Church differs from the Church today. Why the difference? We have the same Holy Spirit and the message we hear is still the same, but we do not have the same eagerness to accept that the Holy Spirit is with us in the place of Jesus and can rely on the very words of our Saviour for our guidance. We pray for days to come, when many people would be cut to the heart when they understand how easy it is to have their sins forgiven.
Give thanks for all the young folk connected with our Church as they complete their exams and progress to higher education or into work. Pray that the grounding they have been given in the Gospel would sustain them all through their lives.
Saturday July 6th.
Everyone was filled with awe and many miracles and wonders were done by the apostles. Acts 2: 43.
How we pray earnestly that we would come to realise that the same power of the Holy Spirit, which was available to the early Church, is still leading all who believe. So we pray that we will develop the same eagerness to call on the same Holy Spirit, and that God will forgive us for allowing new laws to develop and lax morals to be accepted. Note that the people who heard Peters’ words enquired, ‘What must we do to be saved’, they did not wait to be told, they were eager to be saved. Again this indicates how our worship has altered.
Give thanks for the Compassion International programme which is helping to care for over 2 million unwanted children in South Korea. Pray that their work would be blessed as they strive to save these wee ones and tell them about a God Who loves them.
Sunday July 7th.
Can anyone keep these people from being baptised for they have received the Holy Spirit, just as we have. Acts 10: 47.
We continue to reflect on the truth, that the early Church was distinct because of the way it led the early Christians by the Spirit. Now we look at the way the principles which had been developed were given to the gentiles, and Peter was involved in this spreading of full salvation from the Jews to every other nation, starting with the Romans. Cornelius, a Roman centurion had a vision to send for Peter and at the same time Peter saw a sheet come down from heaven with all types of animals and told to kill them for food, some of them forbidden by Jewish law, Peter refused, but when the same happened again and he was told never to call unclean what God had created. He went to Cornelius when called to do so by God and by his message to them, they too eagerly received salvation.
Give thanks that today we are able to join together freely in worship and pray for a Spirit of unity as we pray, study and sing praise. Pray for guidance for the nomination committee, so that they would soon be led to the person God has already selected to be our next Minister.
Monday July 8th.
Paul took the road to Ephesus where he found some disciples, and asked if they had received the Holy Spirit when they believed, and Paul declared ‘John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance’, while John had told them to believe on the One to come, – Jesus. Acts 19:1 and 3.
Here we are told how Paul during his travels met with 12 men who had not received the Holy Spirit; thus they had no power to call on. But when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them and they had the power to follow Paul’s teaching. The result of this transformation was evident as their teaching became eloquent and powerful. Sadly today there are pulpits occupied by people who have years of training but no dependence on the Spirits’ power. What a difference between them and the original 12 apostles who were brim full of energy.
Give thanks for those who attended the recent General Assembly of the Church and especially those who spoke up against the wrong direction the Church is taking. Pray that God’s Spirit would enter into the hearts of those seek to turn us away from the truths of Scripture, that they and we would follow the narrow way leading to salvation.
Tuesday July 9th.
Paul proclaimed, ‘that this Jesus, who had suffered and died, is the Christ’ and many joined with them, but some Jews were jealous and formed a mob to start a riot. Acts 17:3 and 5.
It is clear that even in the early Church, there were some who did not agree with the way the early disciples sought to change peoples’ beliefs to Christian ways and tried to cause trouble for the emerging Church. So also in today’s Church, we see that Christian beliefs are being gradually changed by the introduction of false views, which are allowing non-Christian ideas to become acceptable. Perhaps we should return to the vision of the early Church and be empowered by the Holy Spirit and see a return to the teaching of Jesus. Revive us, O Lord and bring us back to true worship.
Give thanks for those who have helped us in life to see our need for Christ at the centre of everything, perhaps someone who has now passed into glory. Pray for any we know who have yet to take that step of faith that we may be given the opportunity to lead them just as we were led.
Wednesday July 10th.
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, and to the fellowship, and everyone was filled with awe. Acts 2: 42.
We move to explore another distinct feature of the early Church which is sadly missing from the Church of today – namely their devotion to the divine truth of God. These first followers showed great eagerness to listen to the apostles, while they expounded the truths concerning Jesus. It didn’t matter how long the sermon was taking, they were eager to hear and understand what was being said, unlike some, who today do not take kindly to long sermons. I remember an old lady who remarked that she did not come to Church because the minister went on too long. She was not pleased to be told that maybe her listening ability was not very good.
Give thanks for ‘Mary’s Meals’ who provide a meal for children in over 18 countries, feeding over 1 million people per day. Pray that there would be continued support for the organisation so that it can expand its operation as over 64 million children cannot attend school meaning that they don’t benefit from these meals.
Thursday July 11th.
Do not love the world or anything in the world, for the world and its desires pass away but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2: 15 and 17.
Today we digress to 1 John in order to look at the doctrine of divine truth as preached by the early disciples. They were opposed by false teachers who were called Gnostics or the Knowing ones, who said that because they had received special guidance from the Holy Spirit, they were superior in their knowledge, so the apostles teaching had to be supplemented by their higher knowledge. How typical of the way Satan tries to interfere with the work of God and that is evident in how we are being led astray in these days, as matters which were considered evil are now accepted as permissible.
Give thanks for ways to catch the attention of those who pass the Church door, for the Wayside Pulpit notices, posters and information of upcoming events. Pray for all who have read these, or tracts given to them, that a word might kindle a longing in their hearts to know more about Jesus and the difference He brings to lives.
Friday July 12th.
All the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade and more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. Acts 5: 12 and 14.
Biblical teaching was important to people in those early days, they would gather to hear the Word of God proclaimed and details of Jesus’ healing, miracles and parables were related for many hours. They would then return to their homes, where around a meal at the table, they would discuss what they had heard. Since many were drawn to Jerusalem to hear the Apostles words and were housed in the believer’s homes, this new teaching spread and many were saved. In modern times people are so busy with other things that they can find no time to attend Church. Let us encourage them to seek the Lord while He may be found.
Give thanks for the Street Pastors and the Salvation Army as they show Christian love to those who seek satisfaction in the broken cisterns of life. Pray for their safety and that those they try to help would have open hearts to accept Jesus because of the work they do.
Saturday July 13th.
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power did great wonders among the people. Opposition arose however from members of the Synagogue of Freedmen, who began to argue with Stephen but could not stand up to his wisdom. Acts 6: 8-10.
We now are introduced to Stephen, one of believers among those 7 chosen to be added to the fellowship by the apostles to help in equality of food distribution. He was a gifted teacher and as our Bible reading has explained, was opposed by other factions, who falsely accused him of blasphemy, and we will hear about his trial tomorrow. Today we will confirm that Stephen was one of those who gathered at Solomon’s Colonnade and eagerly listened to the worship led by the apostles and from what he heard, he grew to become a gifted preacher who was unjustly put to death by those who did not accept the true Word of God.
Give thanks for ‘Embrace’ working in the Middle East in areas of health care, education and developing understanding between different communities. Pray earnestly for Palestinians under siege in Israel, especially Palestinian Christians, that the Holy land would soon be a land of peace.
Sunday July 14th.
All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Acts 6: 15
Stephen’s enthusiastic preaching of the apostles’ gospel message was opposed by jealousy and he was sent to be tried by the Sanhedrin. His statement in answer was to relate the growing up of the Jewish nation from Abraham to Joseph, then to Moses as he led them to the promised land and as he dealt with the nations grumbling and related how each time they were disobedient, God sent another leader to guide them to right ways, but when he told the Sanhedrin leaders that they were guilty of persecuting those whom God had sent, they incited the mob and stoned Stephen to death. So again the upcoming Church was being opposed.
Give thanks that we have easy access to God’s Word in our Bibles and also online. Pray that we would be encouraged to study every day and grow in the knowledge of God’s plan for our life. Pray too for those who, like the Bible Society, provide Bibles to areas of the world where people are desperate to hear the Gospel.
Monday July 15th.
The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And as a result, they brought the sick onto the streets and laid them on mats so that even the shadow of Peter as he passed by might fall on them. Acts 5: 12 and 15.
The power of the Holy Spirit was made evident among the disciples and the new believers were so keen to learn more of the ways of this emerging Church, that even a shadow of an apostles was enough to heal and renew the sick. These amazing attributes so roused the high priest and his followers, that they arrested the apostles and put them in jail, but during the night the doors of the prison were opened by angel of the Lord and the apostles were freed to preach in the temple courts. They were commanded not to preach in the Name of Jesus, but replied that they had been told by Jesus, to tell how He had been falsely sentenced to death by the temple leaders, but now is risen and has left His apostles to carry on with the work He has set in place.
Give thanks for the relative peace we enjoy in this country. Continue to pray for those who have suffered as the result of recent terror attacks like Sri Lanka and New Zealand. We pray particularly for the faith of one man in Sri Lanka who despite losing his 13-year-old son was able to say, ‘he was mine for 13 years, but he is His forever’.
Tuesday July 16th.
This is the message we have heard from Jesus and declare to you, if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1: 5 and 7.
Let us now think about another distinct feature of those who belonged to early Church. They enjoyed a rich sense of community and fellowship with one another and devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship. When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, a spirit of oneness and unity arose, such as cannot be achieved by any other means than the coming of the Holy Spirit. This special unity is now missing from many of today’s gatherings. We have so many separate activities and opposing views which tend to tear us apart, rather than keep us close together. We pray that the Lord will help us to strengthen our fellowships with one another.
Give thanks today for many people we know who have been ill or who have had surgery or medical procedures and have recovered or are recovering. Pray too for those who have received a diagnosis which fills them with dread. We pray that God’s peace would surround any who are fearful about their future and we give thanks for the many advances in medicine to help cure or alleviate pain.
Wednesday July 17th.
Fourteen years later, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus, in response to a revelation and set before the fellowship there, the gospel that I was preaching to the Gentiles. Galatians 2: 1.
To illustrate how the early Church viewed fellowship, we look at how Paul, in his early days after being converted, from his days of persecuting those who believed in Christ and His saving work on the cross, now sought to make friends with the apostles. He gathered with his colleagues in Jerusalem, to speak to the leading apostles there on how he was preaching to the Gentiles and how false brothers had come among their fellowship. They had agreed that just as Peter had been commissioned to preach to the Jews, it was right for Paul to do so to the Gentiles. This matter was settled by Peter, James and John giving Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, a practice which happily still remains in our denomination.
Give thanks for those who have been willing to serve on the Nominating Committee and pray that they would work in unity to select our new Minister. Pray for Rev Hugh Watt with the added responsibility of being our Interim Moderator as well as Ministering to his own congregation in Drumnadrochit.
Thursday July 18th.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by having the same love. Philippians 2: 1.
Today let us concentrate on the word ‘Koinonia’ a Greek word which means Fellowship. If we are in fellowship with others, we agree with them, and we are glad to share with those who are in need. What have we got that we should be sharing with others? We have been rescued from the kingdom of darkness, we have been indwelt with the Holy Spirit’s power, we have all been redeemed by the blood of the same Saviour and if God’s plan is that we would be asked to carry out some task for Him, we have the same power available to us. In the words of Acts 2: 44-47 the early Church told of this commitment to share together. Would it be that in these days that we too would share with those in need.
Give thanks for the abundance of good things readily available to us. We pray forgiveness for the waste we create in expired food, unnecessary plastic etc and ask that we would be able to share our abundance with those who have very little whether that is through local foodbanks or work towards a more equal worldwide distribution.
Friday July 19th.
Be completely humble and gentle, be patient bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4: 1-3.
As we read through the book of Acts, we see how the early Church enjoyed a degree of community and relationship greater than was ever known before. This unity could be seen in at least 4 aspects of their new manner of living. The first was that they had total togetherness with God, for when there is disunity with God and His Word, it spreads disharmony in human relationships. The second was unity with one another, they were as one with each other and spoke as with one voice. How sad it is when we hear our fellow Christians squabble over petty matters and thus divisions arise, and fellowships are split apart.
Give thanks for preachers who preach the Word of God without diluting its truth or missing out essential sections of teaching. Pray that Ministers would be raised up by God to clearly teach the message of salvation. Pray that the new Moderator of the Church of Scotland would be given grace and wisdom to lead the Church in a spiritual manner throughout his year in office.
Saturday July 20th.
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity, it is like precious oil poured on the head and running down the beard. Psalms 133: 1 and 2.
Yesterday, we thought about 2 aspects of the unity created by the Holy Spirit which became clear at Pentecost and today we will look at another 2. One of these we have already looked at when we spoke of sharing with one another, but the other has to do with the unity of all people, regardless of race or colour or culture. Remember it took a vision from heaven to get the apostle Peter to go to the Gentiles. In the Church in Antioch there were prophets, one of whom was Simeon reported to be an African gentile, who laid his hands on Barnabas and Paul and sent them out to preach the Gospel to Gentile, Jew, African, Asian, rich or poor, in fact he opened the riches of God’s Kingdom to all.
Give thanks for teachers who endeavour to give children a meaningful education in the face of worldly decisions made at local and national government levels. Pray for a spirit of wisdom and integrity to predominate in all organisations who make decisions that affect the welfare of children and young people.
Sunday July 21st.
They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowshipping together, and to prayer and the breaking of bread. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2: 42 and 46.
Another way that Koinonia (togetherness in love) was evident in the early Church was seen in the ‘Breaking of Bread’. This term almost certainly referred to what we now know as the Lord’s supper. At first, the believers would celebrate their oneness in Christ over a meal and at the same time remember the cause of that oneness – Jesus death at Calvary. They would break open a loaf and pass it to one another while giving thanks for their unity in Christ. There are interesting thoughts on the make up of a single loaf, it is made up of different ingredients and so are we as humans, next Earth produces the grain, while Heaven supplies rain to water the plants, just as we must eat to live and bread needs to be broken to be of service, as do those who have not yet been cleansed of their sin, need to confess so that they may be saved.
Give thanks for all who have served in any way in the service of the East Church over so many years. Give thanks too for the sale of the Manse and pray for the construction of the new building. Pray for the Kirk Session, Deacons Court and committees as decisions are made regarding the fabric and finances of the Church and in supporting the congregation in these uncertain times.
Monday July 22nd.
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man who fails to examine himself, before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup, without recognising what God has done for him, lays judgment upon himself. 1 Corinthians 11: 27 – 29
When we view the deep sense of community that existed in the early Church, we must ask to what extent do we in this modern age compare with them. It is not easy to compare as life has altered so much in technology and culture, but it is fairly clear that the eagerness of sharing fellowship with each other is lacking in our modern Churches. How sad it is to hear of gossip, backbiting, cliques and lack of consideration of others dividing Christian fellowships, instead of living in a spirit of true worship and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. May we pray for unity to grow all over our worship, and may that worship be based on the true word of God.
Give thanks for the work of EMMS and for the massive support given them by the congregation in the East. Pray for Tina and John Bruce and other cyclists as they complete the latest fundraising event in Zambia, that the funds raised would benefit the health care and particularly palliative care in that area of Africa.
Tuesday July 23rd.
Herod and Pontius Pilate met with the Gentiles and people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you had anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Acts 4: 27 & 28.
We look now at another distinct feature of the early Church, the way they were so keen to be active in prayer, not only in times of difficulty but also in times of thankfulness and joy. They took pleasure in being in communication with Heaven and those who occupy that joyous place. When they were facing opposition, as Peter and John had been when they were told by the Sanhedrin not to preach in the Name of Jesus anymore, for on their release they returned to their fellow Christians and prayed. God acknowledged their prayers by shaking the very place where they stood, as if God was saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, let me show you My power when you are opposed.’
Give thanks for the work undertaken at our many Holiday clubs and for those who have given so much time and energy in planning this outreach work. Pray for the future youth weekend being planned that people would be stimulated to attend and learn more about their need to commit lives to Christ. Pray that the seed sown in young hearts over all these years would grow in God’s good time.
Wednesday July 24th.
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him ‘Saul,’ (i.e. Paul) why do you persecute me. Acts 9: 3 & 4
We will continue to consider the aspect of prayer, by looking at how Paul used his time after meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, for he was blinded for 3 days, yet how did he spend these dark days- he spent them in prayer. The fact that he spent time praying to the One whose purposes he had been trying to frustrate is incredible. In fact, one of the disciples in the town, whose name was Ananias, when he was told to go to where Paul was suffering, and lay hands of healing on him, refused to go until he got assurance from the Lord that Paul had been wonderfully converted. And thereafter Paul was known as a prayer warrior.
Give thanks for those who are courageous enough to proclaim Christ where they work or live, also ask that we might all seize every opportunity given to us to proclaim the reason for the hope that we have. Sometimes, we don’t need to say anything, but show to others kindness and understanding when they least expect it.
Thursday July 25th.
King Herod arrested some belonging to the Church, among them, James whom he had put to death with the sword, and when he saw how this pleased the Jews, he had Peter arrested and put in prison, So while Peter was in jail, the Church was earnestly praying to God for him. Acts 12: 1,2 and 5
Today we look at a great prayer meeting which took place among the early Christians, when they heard that their leader Peter had been arrested. They prayed that he would be rescued from death, as Herod had their brother apostle James executed. It certainly was a long prayer meeting for we are told that Peter was not going to be tried until the Passover feast was over. God answered their sincere, earnest prayers made without ceasing, by sending an angel into the jail during the night and freed Peter, opening the prison doors and leading him to safety. What a shock they would all have experienced when Peter walked into their prayer gathering, – what an answer to their prayers.
Give thanks that God’s Word is as relevant today as it was in the days of those early Apostles and that its power is able to save and change even the worst of us. Pray for our city as it expands, that people would seek out a church to worship in. Pray for a real awakening in our land which was known as the ‘land of the Book’, that revival would begin and sweep through the land.
Friday July 26th.
While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart Barnabas and Paul for the work to which I have called them’ and after they had prayed and fasted, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13: 2 and 3.
Now we come to another time of earnest prayer during which the Holy Spirit arranged that Barnabas and Paul were sent out to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, for out of that commission the people of Europe and in time, we in the UK, were made part of the universal Church. We give thanks that the believers so long ago, were so earnest in obeying the Lord, as He answered or instructed them in prayer, and may we receive the same commitment to following God’s call to us in these days. Speak to us, dear Lord and may we obey when You instruct us.
Pray for the Teens & Twenties Outreach Evening in the Church tonight. Give thanks for all the beautiful creation we have around us, for all the flowers and colours of summertime and for the marvellous scenery we have on our doorsteps. Pray earnestly for our country in the uncertainty of Brexit, that leaders of integrity would be appointed to make these massive decisions and that they would be guided by what is right and not by their own ego’s.
Love must be sincere, hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. Romans 12: 9-13.
As we have been looking through the book of Acts and elsewhere, we see how important the practice of persistent prayer was to the early Church. Now it would be unfair to say that we have stopped believing in the power of prayer, but we are not so good as the 1st century Christians at practicing it. Help us dear Lord that when we pray to You, we will do so with assurance that our pleas will be answered, if what we ask is in accordance with Your will, and may attendance at prayer meetings be increased, for when we pray a little, we can only expect a little in return, but when we pray a lot, we will get a lot in return.
Pray for the Outreach Family Fun Day in the Church today. Give thanks for times of rest and relaxation in otherwise busy days and weeks. Pray for protection of folk going away on holidays and summer camps. Pray too for the many visitors to our city that they would enjoy their time in Inverness and that we would welcome all who visit the church to worship or to view the sanctuary.
Sunday July 28th.
God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2: 32 and 36.
Another distinctive feature of the Church in the 1st century was how important they viewed the Lordship of Christ. The prominence given to this theme, indicates that they regarded it as of great spiritual importance, so much so, that it was stressed that only by Christ’s Lordship and belief that He and God are One, and therefore Lord of all, can we be allowed entry into the Kingdom of God. This assurance shows us the truth of God’s word which tells us ‘There is no other way to be saved, so we must not heed the words commonly heard today, such as ‘There are lots of ways to get into Heaven’.
Pray for the All Ages Family Service this morning. Give thanks for those who care for children, disabled or elderly folk at home or as part of their career. Pray for those whose work is difficult and demanding and for those who are unable to find employment, that they would be upheld in times or hardship and heartache.
Monday July 29th.
A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and respected by all the Jews and spoke to me saying, ’Brother Saul, receive your sight’ and at that very moment I was able to see again. Acts 22: 12 and 13.
We examine again the details of Paul’s conversion, as it was truly miraculous that someone who had been bought up and trained under Jewish law and was so opposed to the new teaching which Jesus had led His followers to adopt, that he set out around the provinces to arrest those who had believed in the Way, as it came to be called, so that they could be punished, should be changed to become a mighty preaching and praying disciple for our Lord, who had given His life to pay the ransom for our sins. But Paul became the greatest advocate of Christ’s Lordship the world has ever seen.
Give thanks for the praise band, for the talents they have been blessed with, and their willingness to overcome anxiety and nerves to lead us in new, and not so new praise and worship items. Pray that we would be willing to listen, learn and sing with them and the organist so that our praise would fill the church and our hearts with worship for our amazing God.
Tuesday July 30th.
Gamaliel’s words persuaded the Sanhedrin and they were flogged and released but on the Apostles’ release, they rejoiced because they had been found worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name of the Lord. Acts 5: 41 and 42.
The early church was devoted to learning about the apostles teaching, as can be seen from the way they studied the principals and truths which were expounded to them by the apostles. They however benefitted because the apostles had been instructed to spread the Word by Jesus, whereas we in these modern days, suffer because so many opinions and views have been adopted over the years. We need to recover our understanding of the complete authority of the teaching of these Godly apostles. How tragic it is to look on some sections of today’s church, how they have lost the energy of biblical teaching, so that no clear message is seen to flow from pulpits.
Give thanks for times when churches and denominations can join together and worship as ‘all one in Christ Jesus’. Pray for ex Muslims who have accepted Christ as their true Saviour, that they would be kept safe and strong as they face hatred and expulsion from friends and family.
Wednesday July 31st.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, and when they arrived went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Then they all joined together in prayer, along with the women, Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers, until the day of Pentecost came. Acts 1: 12 and 14.
This is where we hear of what the followers of Jesus did in the days after He had left them – They joined together to pray, and what did they pray for? We are not told but we can be sure that they would pray for protection from those who opposed them, guidance from the Lord for the future, that Jesus’s promised Holy Spirit would be given to them and that the promises which Jesus gave while on earth would be fulfilled, like ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’, or such as given in John 14: 1 – 3, when He said that He was going away to prepare a place for his followers but would return to take them home. Even in these days we pray earnestly for his return. ‘What a day that will be!!’
Give thanks for all we have to make day to day life so easy in comparison to many of our sisters and brothers throughout the world. We are able to communicate and connect with folk all over the world instantly. Pray that these innovations would be used for good and wouldn’t be abused to harm vulnerable people.