Daily Readings & Prayer Points
(submitted by Mr Iain A Macdonald)
This month the bible reading and prayer looks at the topic of sleep throughout books of the old and new testament, with references to different bible characters and events.
It centrally focuses on God’s dealings with bible characters and the part sleep often played in that. Dreams, biblical advice about sleep, events in Jesus’ life that significantly describe when he slept or not, parables that concern sleep and some references from scripture which talk of ‘sleep’ in ways which do not mean ’40 winks’, (as well as a reference to the Land of Nod!), are included.
Since sleep plays a vital and large part in all our lives it is not surprising that there are many and varied references to it in the bible. I hope that you do not fall asleep as we look at how sleep features in the bible!
Friday 1st November
Mark Chapter 1 v 35-38
‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed’. v35. If we can be ‘morning people’ for an early boat, or a flight to Barcelona, could we make morning prayer a priority too, like the Lord of sea and sky? Can we be lord over our sleep? Can we overcome health issues and work and family duties to ‘seek first the kingdom of God’ in morning prayer and find that all these other things are added to us? We are to ‘pray without ceasing’, yes. (1 Thessalonians 5 v17) And yes, we can be like brother Lawrence who wrote ‘The practice of the presence of God’ and said ‘There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of continual conversation with God; those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it’. But is God asking us to draw close to Him and to find that He will draw close to us at the beginning of the day in a dedicated time of prayer, like Jesus? ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ (v37) the disciples told Jesus when they found Him at prayer and He then responded ‘Let us go somewhere else -to the nearby villages- so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come’. (v38). His express purpose outlined here was to preach the good news. Should we honour that by spending time listening for that same good news for us today, and every day?
• Pray for an increase in a desire to pray and read His word amongst His people and for a growing confidence in it.
• Thank God for the Bible Society, Scripture Union, UCB ‘Word for Today’ and other agencies that help us know God’s word.
• Pray for villages, towns, cities and country communities as the church of Scotland addresses her profound need and organizes prayer in acknowledgement of our need as part of the Radical Plan.
(2 Chronicles 7v14)
Saturday 2nd November
Genesis 2 v 21-25 (NIV)
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. v21. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. v22. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and he got brought her to the man.’ The whole creation process, including man and woman, has a wonderfully profound mystery about it. God replied to Job, ‘Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding’. Job 38 v4 (NKJV). Just as Adam was asleep in this account and Job was not present at Creation so we too cannot understand or know more than we need to about Creation. In v24 we learn, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ These verses are read less now at weddings. Society uses the word ‘wife’ much less and talks of various partnerships, even in some churches. Society does not necessarily now hold to Romans 1 v26, 27 (NIV) which plainly speaks of women exchanging’ natural relations for unnatural ‘ones and men committing ‘indecent acts with other men’ and the consequences of their ‘perversion’. We are now in a society which is used to terms such as transgender, not simply man and women.
. Give thanks for marriages, for our parents and for the stability which society and we gained from that, but also for those who have had to deal with the difficulty and heartache of divorce or break up. Pray for the Family Mediation Service run in our building.
. Pray that we be ready to learn and listen, be informed, wise, compassionate, patient, courageous and discerning as we face society issues of sexual orientation, identity and gender. Pray for those challenged by these issues. And for those who challenge.
. Pray for parents as they face school syllabus’ problems, politicians as they confront political correctness and consensus and for any who swim ‘against the tide’.
Sunday 3rd November
Genesis 4 v 1-16
‘So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the Land of Nod, east of Eden.’ v16 (NIV) The land of Nod normally evokes for us thoughts of peaceful slumber. Cain was condemned to be a ‘restless wanderer on the earth’ in the Land of Nod, though. The very expression “went out from the presence of God” fills us with dread. How had it come from this dream start with Adam getting his helper Eve after a deep sleep to this nightmare position? Adam and Eve later disobeyed God when tempted by the serpent, ate the forbidden fruit and were banished from the garden of Eden. Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel. They grew up and both offered sacrifices to the Lord. We read, ‘The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.’ v5 (NIV) Cain was very angry and his face was downcast. The Lord encouraged him that if he did what was right his offering would be accepted but if he did not then ‘sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it’. v7 (NIV). Cain did not master his anger and invited Abel out to the field and killed him, bringing on himself God’s banishment, albeit God protecting him from being killed by putting a mark on him so none would kill. When we find out what our Heavenly Father wants we must try to do it. When others set a better example we must learn from that and take our second chance and not let sin take over. Only Jesus made the ‘once for all’ perfect sacrifice. Ask Him to save us from jealousy, anger, bitterness and a feeling ‘nobody loves me and my contribution’. And ask for His grace if, unfairly, we really are not favoured, like genuinely persecuted Christians.
. Pray for those with anger management issues, those who help them or live with them. Pray for those with ‘road rage’.
. Pray for parents and grandparents who try to help their family to manage sibling jealousy or anger.
. Pray for chaplains and agencies in Porterfield and throughout Scotland who counsel prisoners who deeply regret crimes of passion and need to hear the gospel of free grace.
. Pray for all preachers of that free grace throughout Scotland today, particularly for Bart Buell and Ian Challinor, that God would bless His word to us through them. Thank God for their willing and joyful service to us and pray that God would bless them and their families.
Monday 4th November
Genesis 9 v 20-27
v24 ‘And Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him…..’
Noah cursed his son Ham who told his two brothers Shem and Japheth when he saw his father in a drunken sleep uncovered in his tent. Shem and Japheth covered their father, walking in backwards and not looking. Noah had got drunk from wine made from his vineyard, planted after the flood. From the perfection of Adam and Eve in Eden, to the fall, to the first murder by Cain, many generations had followed and the world had generated into such wickedness that God judged the earth by flood. Noah had been asked by God to save the animals and only his own family in an ark. Noah was the best of men, saved by God and called to achieve a great and astonishing task building the ark. He also did something small that he and his sons were ashamed of. It is easy to get drunk and fall into a drunken sleep. It is astoundingly hard to build an enormous ark. Was Noah half awake that he knew how Ham had behaved? It seems not. It says v 24 ‘When he awoke from his wine AND found out what his youngest son had done to him’…. then he cursed Canaan, Ham’s son. Did the brothers tell their father about Ham’s apparently disrespectful behaviour to their father? Could they have corrected him, concealed the matter and also saved their father his blushes?
. Pray for people this morning who have thronged the pubs near this church and in our land at the weekend and regret what they have done while drunk.
. Pray for young people who are vulnerable in our cities and get their drinks ‘spiked’.
. Pray for police, ambulance, Raigmore casualty, Beechwood C. of S. and emergency services who help those who deal with the often unexpected casualties of alcohol, even deaths.
. Pray for public figures who have fallen from grace that we and the tabloids would deal with them as Jesus treats us.
. Pray for friends or family who are snagged by alcohol.
Tuesday 5th November
Genesis 20 v 1-17
Remember, remember? Abraham did not remember, or at least he hadn’t learnt. He committed the same sin twice. He had tried the same trick before. In Genesis 12 v11-13 we read how fear had led him to tell Saria to say she was his sister. She was his half sister. Is that a half truth? v11. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai,” I know what a beautiful woman you are. v12. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but let you live. v13. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.’ (NIV) He even allowed Pharoah to take her as his wife. Pharoah treated him well for her sake. He acquired sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels and servants before Pharoah realized and told him to take his wife and go. Later he stayed in Gerar and said that his wife Sarah was his sister. Because of that king Abimelech sent for Sarah and took her. Genesis 20 v3 (NIV) says ‘But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him,” You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” Abimelech had done this ‘with a clear conscience and clean hands.’ God had therefore prevented him from touching Sarah. God told him to return her. If he did Abraham would pray for him and he would live. He did and said to Abraham, v9, 10 (NIV) ‘You have done things to me that should not be done’, asking his reason. Abraham said that he thought there was no fear of God there and, (again ), he feared that he would be killed due to his beautiful wife. Abimelech gave Abraham animals and slaves and a free choice of where to live, 1000 shekels to cover the offense and he told Sarah she was completely vindicated. Abraham prayed and Abimelech, his wife and his slaves were restored. Abraham who God promised to bless and make his name great was ‘blessed’ with flocks and money here but he did nothing to make his name great. Abimelech acted with honour. And to our shame Christians don’t always show a good example either.
. Pray for the Girls Brigade as they meet tonight, for all the leaders and parents and for Girls and Boy Companies throughout Scotland, that they would learn values of courage, honesty, integrity and Christian virtue.
. Pray for the Women’s Bible Study group.
. Pray for all church leaders, ministers and for those in government, leadership and media that they would have integrity, avoid half truth and be courageous.
. Pray for the moderator, Colin Sinclair.
Wednesday 6th November
Genesis 28 v 10-22
We have learned that God used a dream to prevent his chosen one, Abraham, getting into deeper trouble. Isaac, his son was also deceitful and, like his father, pretended his beautiful wife Rebekah was his sister, as he feared for his life (read of God’s remarkable provision of Rebekah to Isaac in last month’s Easterlings section of the Easterly.) King Abimelech noticed him caressing his ‘sister’ Rebekah and Isaac was found out, with less serious consequences than with his father’s deceptions. It seems almost unbelievable that Isaac had repeated the same wrong! But witness how man keeps going wrong through the generations. Like father, like son. Isaac’s son, Jacob, deceived his brother Esau of his birthright with awful consequences. Had he waited he would have had the birthright in God’s time and in God’s way. It is this same Jacob who in his sleep was given a wonderful dream of a stairway to heaven with angels ascending and descending on it. And not a warning but wonderful promises. v13 (NIV) reads, ‘There above it stood the Lord, and he said: I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the Land on which you are lying. ‘God also said to him v14 (NIV), ‘Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth’ and, ‘All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.’ and v15 (NIV), ‘I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…..’ He called the place Bethel and said that if God provided essentials until he returned to his father’s house the Lord would be his God and the pillar he set up would be the house of God and he would give God a tenth of what God gave him.
. Thank God for ‘our’ house of God and for the many C.of S. churches still open, along with other Christian churches.
. Pray that the God of Bethel ‘by whose hand His people still are led’ would revive his sleeping people and ‘through each perplexing path of life our wandering footsteps guide’.
. Pray for those at home, in homes or hospital and not able to go to a church would know that God is with them.
. Pray for Donald MacVicar as he takes the prayer meetings that he would know God helping him.
Thursday November 7th
Genesis 37 v 1-11
V 10,11′ When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous, but his father kept the matter in mind. ‘Actually!? In sleep we dream. Is any dreamer more famous than Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, born in Jacob’s old age, the favourite and consequently hated. He dreamt of his brothers and parents bowing down to him. I had a friend called “Flashie”. Why? Asking around I was told he’d told friends he’d had a dream folks were calling him “Flashie”. They then started calling him “Flashie”. It stuck. But no way were the brothers going to bow down to Joseph merely because he told them the dreams. They hated him and were jealous. These dreams were from God and only God would fulfil them. We could argue that Joseph was cocky, young, unwise and should have kept his own counsel, like Mary who,’ kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart.’ Luke 2 v19 (NIV) when she gave birth to the Messiah. But God was weaving his plan through all these sinful fallible men, leading us to the One to whom every knee will one day bow. Joseph’s forthright way nearly precipitated his death through the brothers’ wickedness. But ‘God intended it for good’ Genesis 50 v20 (NIV), as Joseph later said when he was second to Pharoah in Egypt.
. Pray for the toddlers group in the church today and for parents and helpers.
. Pray for parents as they try to teach children values of sharing and fairness, how to value others gifts and their own and to combat undue rivalry and jealousy.
. Pray for teachers as they try to encourage children equally and wisely.
Friday 8th November
Genesis 40 v1-23
Because of Joseph’s dreams the brothers’ jealousy and hatred was inflamed and they conspired to kill ‘that dreamer’. Reuben persuaded them to put him in an empty cistern, planning to get him later. But Judah persuaded them not to kill Joseph but to sell him to Ishmaelites bound for Egypt. Reuben was distressed when he came back and found the cistern empty. Potipher, one of Pharaoh’s officials in Egypt bought Joseph. Joseph ‘found favour’ in the eyes of Potipher and Joseph was entrusted to care for everything he owned. But because Joseph was well built and handsome Potipher’s wife tried to seduce him. When she was unsuccessful in her persistent advances she lied to her husband saying Joseph had made advances to her and got him put in jail! But, we read in Genesis 39 v21 (NIV)’ the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder.’ One day when he was in charge of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker he noticed their dejection. He discovered that they both had dreams but no-one to interpret them. He acknowledges that interpretations belong to the Lord and asks them to tell the dreams. The cupbearer, he says, will be restored in three days .He asks that when he is he is to remember Joseph who didn’t deserve to be there and to show him kindness and mention him to Pharoah and get him out. The chief baker he says will be hanged in three days. Both interpretations prove true. But the chief cupbearer forgets Joseph until two years later. His memory is jogged when Pharoah has a dream and he is reminded of his shortcomings. Joseph provides a great example of faithful submission, patience and reliable service while waiting a better outcome. He is spectacularly rewarded and restored.
. Pray for the church Open Doors team who befriend regular visitors, greet passers by and offer hospitality and the gospel in the city centre. Ask God to bless this.
. Pray for OPEN DOORS, a Christian organization that helps persecuted Christians in Syria and the Middle East.
. Pray for people world wide imprisoned unjustly and for those agencies helping and freeing them.
Saturday 9th November
Genesis 41 v1-16
Pharoah had two sleeps and two dreams. Seven sleek and fat cows came out of the Nile but were swallowed up by seven ugly and gaunt cows in the first dream. Seven good healthy ears of corn were swallowed by seven thin and scorched ears of corn in the second dream. None of the magicians and wise men could interpret it. But then the cupbearer was reminded of his shortcoming and told Pharoah of how Joseph interpreted his dream two years before. Pharoah summoned Joseph and told him he’d heard he could interpret dreams. Joseph said v16 (NIV) “I cannot do it but God will give Pharoah the answer he desired”. Subsequently Pharoah related the dreams and what followed proved life changing for Joseph, Pharoah, Egypt and history. Our acknowledgment – that we cannot do it but that our God can give us the answer we desire – can be life changing for us too. Jesus said ‘apart from me you can do nothing’. John 15 v5 (NIV) and He also tells us that He will turn none away who genuinely come to him for forgiveness and help. John 6 v37 Let us come.
. Pray for preacher Rev. Douglas Horne and his wife and family. Give thanks for his much appreciated service to us. Pray for his preparation.
. Pray for all who are to preach tomorrow.
. Pray for Donald John Morrison and all who worship in Gaelic.
Sunday 10th November
Genesis 41 v 17-40
Pharoah related the two dreams to Joseph and he was told that the seven good cows and the seven good ears of corn were one and the same and the seven lean and ugly cows and the seven worthless ears of corn were one and the same too. Joseph explains that God has shown Pharoah what he is about to do. Seven years of abundance are to be followed by seven years of famine. The abundance will not be remembered because the famine will be so severe. The reason that the dreams came twice was because God had firmly decided it and Joseph said, ‘God will do it soon. He advised Pharoah to put a wise and discerning man in charge of Egypt. He advised him to store grain during the years of plenty to be held in reserve for the years of famine so the country was not ruined by famine. The plan seemed good to Pharoah and his officials. V38 (NIV). So Pharoah asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man , one in whom is the Spirit of God?” He acknowledged to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you there is no-one so discerning and wise as you.” V39. And he was put in charge of the palace second only to Pharoah! May we be patient in adversity, faithful in the tasks set before us, mindful like Joseph to give God the glory for any good we are able to do and certain that God has his sure purposes which none can contradict. Christ will return. 1 Peter 5 v6 (ASV), ‘Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time”.
. Pray for all who do flowers, transport, door, tea, beadle duty, organ and music, data screens, cleaners, secretary and all needed to run our church services and other churches too.
. Pray for those who help famine relief. Pray for Christian Aid and Tear Fund.
. Pray for James Campbell who leads ‘Blythswood’ and James Dunbar who leads ‘New Start’ locally.
. Pray for Iona Macdonald and our Blythswood collection.
Monday 11th November
Ruth 3 v 1-18
Ruth’s story is in a hard time. The children of Israel, oppressed by cruel Pharoahs were led by Moses and Joshua to the promised land but disobeyed God and paid the price in this time of violence, idolatry and disobedience. There was famine and no social security in the time of widows Ruth and Naomi. When a husband died a kinsman redeemer volunteered to take responsibility for the extended family. When a woman’s husband died, by law, she could marry her husband’s brother (Deuteronomy 25 v5-10) or failing that, the next nearest relative. Boaz was delighted when Ruth had said v9 “Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are my kinsman redeemer. He said “This kindness is greater than that you showed earlier”. She could easily ‘run after younger men’ he felt. He had woken up to a lovely surprise. This act Naomi had advised was not encouraging seduction. She was encouraging a normal Israelite custom. It was normal for a servant to lie at the feet of a master, even to share a covering. Ruth was telling Boaz he could be her kinsman redeemer. He was honoured, she was honourable. He had to find out if the nearest kinsman redeemer would allow it first. Naomi was confident…” the man will not rest until the matter is settled today” v18 (NIV). He didn’t rest. Boaz and Ruth married. And so another part of God’s plan was weaved. Both Boaz and Ruth acted honourably unaware that they would be ancestors of David and ultimately Jesus. Let us try to play our part and do what is right.
. Pray for young people growing up in age when ‘Love Island’, speed dating and tabloid and soaps are totally opposed to Christian values.
. Pray for the University Christian Unions, Youth for Christ and Scripture Union who encourage Christians values among young folks.
. Thank God for mother-in-laws and pray for them to be like Naomi, and daughter-in-laws to be like Ruth.
Tuesday 12th November
1 Samuel 3 v1-10
Around the time of Ruth and Samuel ‘the word of the Lord was rare’ v1 (NIV) and visions few. Young Samuel helped the old, near blind, priest Eli at the temple at Shiloh. He had been dedicated by his mother, Hannah, who promised if she had a child it would be the Lord’s. Eli’s sons were wicked, stealing temple meat and acting immorally. They were a disgrace to the Lord and Eli, and Eli had not stopped it. Things were bad. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room, and Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest (CEVUK) v2,3 and something wonderful happened because… ‘Then the Lord called Samuel’ v4 (NIV). Samuel answered, saying ‘Here I am’ and ran to Eli saying ‘Here I am, you called me’. Eli denied it, telling Samuel to lie down. When it happened again Eli did the same. ‘Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him’ v7 (NIV). This is the crux. The Lord called Samuel a third time and this time Eli realised that. Next time he said Samuel was to say, when he was called, ‘Speak Lord for your servant is listening’ v9 (NIV). The Lord is still calling children and adults, sometimes by name. But we may not hear a voice or hear our own name spoken. We can, like Samuel come to know the Lord through his word. And as we come to read it with a servant attitude we too can say expectantly ‘Speak Lord for your servant is listening’.
. Pray for leaders of Girls’ Brigade (and Boys’ Brigade) that they would be able to help the girls and boys to ‘Seek Christ’, like the Girls’ Brigade motto.
. Pray for the Womens Bible Study.
. Pray for Raigmore Audiology Department, the hearing aid shop near the Church and all who help the deaf, and the deaf themselves.
. Pray for family and friends who are spiritually deaf, that we may be able to help them hear.
Wednesday 13th November
1 Samuel 3 v 1-19
We read in verse 2 and 3 (CEVUK) ‘Samuel was sleeping’ and the Lord called him. Until Eli helped him to recognize God speaking to him three times he thought Eli spoke to him. But realising it was the Lord he replied, finally ‘Speak Lord for your servant is listening’ as instructed by Eli. Previously Samuel did not yet know the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Samuel was given a very hard and awful message concerning Eli and his lack of restraint of his evil sons. God was going to bring judgement on Eli and his house. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. Eli pressed Samuel and he delivered the awful news of judgement on Eli and his house. Eli was resigned and said, ‘He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes’ v18. Shortly after Eli’s sons died when the Philistines captured the ark and defeated the Israelites. Eli fell off his chair and died when he got news of the ark. Like Eli we have to be resigned to a righteous God doing right. We must accept that Jesus who was love and mercy personified talked plainly of hell, and wrong has consequences. Seek mercy.
. Pray for our nation to turn back to God.
. Pray for the national church, and those in charge of the Radical Plan as we try to get our house in order, and those orchestrating national prayer for it.
. Pray for faithful young preachers.
. Pray for the prayer meetings today.
. Pray for future of the CLC Christian bookshop and the meeting tomorrow night.
Thursday 14th November
Judges 16 v 4-30
The outcome of sleeping is not always happy. God can speak to us in our sleep but people can take advantage of us during sleep, like a robber, or Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair. It was the reason for his enormous strength. He eventually told Delilah that he belonged to God and that if his hair was cut off he would lose his strength. She had tried and tried to get the secret out of him. The Philistines who had been the oppressors in the time of Samuel, had come and several men each had offered her eleven hundred shekels to subdue him. He was incredibly strong and the Philistines feared him. They gouged out his eyes and held him captive. But as these enemy Philistines gathered to thank their God Dagon and to celebrate overcoming this feared, enormously strong Samson, he struck. They had allowed his hair to grow back and when they had all gathered in their temple he leaned against the pillars and gave an almighty push and it all collapsed killing himself. He killed many more that day than when he lived, as well. We could learn from this that we should not give in to temptation or trust all. And we can ask the one who turned the other cheek to give us wisdom and discernment and help to love our enemy.
. Pray for the peacemakers and peacekeepers in society. For the police and the army, some of whom live in our parish. Give thanks.
. Pray for religious harmony and peace.
. Pray for those tempted to try be strong for wrong reasons.
. Pray for the Gathering, Guilds and other social meetings.
. Pray for the Social Evening to raise funds for the EMMS on Saturday.
Friday 15th November
Samuel 26 v 1-25
Israel compromised and did not drive evil out. God sent judges. They obeyed, then fell away, again and again. Like us, fierce independence led to everyone doing as they saw fit. They had no king. Old now, Samuel appointed his sons as judges but they perverted justice. So the elders gathered. Since Samuel was old and the sons corrupt they asked for a king like the other nations. Samuel explained the disadvantages, in detail. “But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said, ‘We want a king over us.’ Samuel told the Lord what they said. ‘The Lord answered,’ Listen to them and give them a king.’ Judges17 v22. Soon Saul was anointed, but not without Samuel saying that the Lord had said they had rejected their God who had brought them out of Egypt. Soon Saul had disobeyed God’s command. Samuel told him his kingdom would not last and that God had sought out a man after his own heart, appointing him leader. Samuel anointed David as next king while Saul was still king. David killed Goliath, befriended Jonathan, Saul’s son, yet was pursued by Saul who was fiercely jealous and tried to kill him. In contrast, one night when Saul and his camp slept deeply David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, leaving him unharmed. From a distant hill David shouted, asking Saul why he was hunting him, assuring him he would not harm the Lord’s anointed and asking him to value David’s life as he had his, that day. Contrite, Saul wishes David to be blessed and says he will do great things and triumph.
. Lord Jesus, help us to forgive our enemies and to give those in authority the place you want.
. Please bless Queen Elizabeth II, personally and as monarch of the Commonwealth. Thank you for her long, loyal service and example. Help her as the ‘defender of the faith’ to honour you, the King of all kings.
. Help Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and Donald Trump and the leaders of all the nations, no matter we think of them and their politics, that they would not just do what is good in their own eyes, but what you want, Lord Jesus. Give them wisdom.
Saturday 16th November
2 Samuel 12 v 15-23
Although David who replaced Saul as King was a man after God’s own heart he was also a sinful man. Seeing Uriah’s beautiful wife bathing he was tempted, sent for her, slept with her and made her pregnant. Uriah was encouraged to go home after a tour of duty in David’s army to mask this but remained dutiful to David and his comrades in war. David arranged for him to be sent out into the heat of battle. He was killed. A child was born but soon became seriously ill. David fasted and prayed night and day on the ground. The child died on the seventh day. He then washed, lotioned, clothed and worshipped the Lord. The servants asked why he had fasted and wept but now got up and ate. He went without sleep, fasting and praying seeking grace while the child lived. Now the child was dead he could not bring him back. David believed he would go to him but the child could not come to him. David hoped in the Lord and believed the Lord had taken the child and they would unite later…in heaven. Does prayer do any good then? Yes, Jesus said ‘Ask and it will be given to you’ Matthew 7 v7 (NIV). In time David saw the enormity of his sin, sought mercy and was forgiven. (Psalm 51) God did not heal the child or lengthen days (Psalm 139 v 15,16). But if we truly seek mercy we too will find it, like David, bought by Jesus’ blood. ‘Seek and you will find’, He says. Matthew 7 v7 (NIV) God will answer that prayer. Ask. Seek.
. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me and for the greatness of your love, no matter my sin.
. Help Douglas Horne to share that love today. And other preachers too. Thank you that you receive all who come for mercy. Help all, even us, when we have harmed others, even publicly. Forgive us.
. We pray for those who are adjusting to loss especially of those little ones whose time was short on earth. Thank you for heaven and for those we loved on earth.
Sunday 17th November
2nd Chronicles 1 v 7-13
Sometimes we pray to God and don’t sleep, like David. Sometimes we sleep and God speaks to us, like he did to Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba. David had been forgiven for his great wrong with Bathsheba. Because of his warring ways he would not build the temple as he desired though, but his son Solomon would. The Lord had said in a dream to Solomon ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you’. v7. Solomon acknowledged God’s goodness to David his father and he asked God for wisdom to lead and govern this great people. God replied that since he hadn’t asked for wealth, riches or honour or long life but wisdom and knowledge, wisdom and knowledge would be his and also wealth, riches and honour such as no king before or after would have. God also speaks to us saying ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you’. Let us seek his righteousness. Let us also trust his promise to us that if we lack wisdom we ‘should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given’ James 1 v5.
. Thank you Lord for young leaders. May they be like Solomon and ask for your wisdom.
. Thank you Lord for guiding us to do your will and finding that you added your blessing too. Bless us this week at work as we seek your will.
. Thank you Lord Jesus for asking for your Father’s will – the cross. Our salvation.
. Thank you for the young people at Millburn Scripture Union. Bless them with your Spirit, and all S.U. groups in the Highlands and Islands.
. Pray for Raigmore Primary School, pupils and teachers and all those living in Raigmore estate.
Monday 18th November
Psalm 121 v1-8
This psalm is chosen to focus our attention on the only reliable source of help for us whether we read it in the watches of the night when we can’t sleep, before we sleep or when we rise. Any time night or day we can say ‘My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth’ v2 in answer to verse 1. ‘I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?’ A psalm of ascent as pilgrims ascended to Jerusalem. The hills was where the pilgrim journey began, maybe providing the opposite of help but potential threat. I recall my dad talking of a padre quoting these lines of verse 1 as bombardment was raining on them from the hill in Italy and saying ‘makes you think’. Some call this the soldiers’ psalm and some think David wrote it when among the dangerous hill. Others contend that. David Livingstone read it with his father and sister before he set out for Africa. Nobody should say that a Christian is free from sin, danger, trial, illness or disappointment but ‘he who watches over you will not slumber’ v3. Indeed ‘he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’ v4. We are comforted with the words ‘The Lord watches over you’ v5 and v8 ‘The Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and for evermore’. May we know that and be comforted as we read and read again this precious psalm.
. Lord Jesus we thank you for the beautiful hills which some of us see from our windows. Thank you for climbing a hill for us to do what nobody else could do.
. Help us to know that you do not slumber or sleep and if we are lonely, sad or in pain, help us to know your nearer presence. If we are dying draw close to us Jesus for other helpers have we none.
. Bless the tiny group that gather for the Women’s Bible Study group in the Church.
. Help the leaders and girls of the Girls’ Brigade to seek you, Lord Jesus.
Tuesday 19th November
Psalm 121, Proverbs 3 v21-24, Proverbs 19 v5, Proverbs 20 v13, Ecclesiastes 5 v12
Psalm 121 tells us our God neither slumbers nor sleeps. John Piper argues that sleep is a daily reminder that we are not God in ‘Taste and see: Savouring the Supremacy of God in All of Life’. Sleep is a parable that God is God and we are mere men. God handles the world quite nicely while a hemisphere sleeps. Sleep is like a broken record that comes round with the same message every day. Man is not sovereign… Man is not sovereign… Man is not sovereign. Don’t let the lesson be lost on you. God wants to be trusted as the Great Worker who never tires and never sleeps. He is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps. This is wisdom. The One who does not slumber inspired Proverbs too. Solomon penned Proverbs which like the psalms, could be read daily, a chapter a day. Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (CH 1 v7). When we have calm confidence that can lean on God and we have made prudent wise choices we may sleep sweetly. Proverbs 3 v21-24. Hard working labour can help us sleep well whereas richness may not give us rest or peace. Ecclesiastes 5 v12. Laziness and too much sleep is condemned and may bring poverty. Proverbs 12 v13, 20 v13. All these proverbs should not be taken too literally or stretched.
. Lord Jesus help us make wise decisions and to sleep.
. We pray for those in pain and for pain management doctors.
. We pray for those who have nowhere to sleep. Help us to help them. We pray for Crossreach, Bethany and The Salvation Army and New Start.
Wednesday 20th November
Proverbs 31 (penned by King Lemuel who received those sayings from his mother). His mother had told him not to get ruined by women, not to get too drunk and forget the rights of the oppressed, to allow for alcohol for those dying or in anguish and to stand up for the rights of the destitute and poor and needy v 1-9. The rest of the chapter is devoted to describing a wife of noble character and the description of her harmonizes with previous readings from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and encourages the example of someone who doesn’t sleep too much and works hard, The Life Application Bible says ‘Some people have the mistaken idea that the ideal woman in the Bible is retiring, servile, and entirely domestic. Not so! This woman is an excellent wife and mother. She is also a manufacturer, importer, manager, estate agent, farmer, seamstress, upholsterer and merchant. Her strength and dignity do not come from her amazing achievements however. They are a result of her reverence for God. In our society where physical appearance counts for so much, it may surprise us to realise that her appearance is never mentioned. Her attractiveness comes entirely from her character. ‘She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family v 15. ‘She watches over the affairs of her family and does not eat the bread of idleness’ v27. Much more than her industry though he says ‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised v 30. And ‘Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her’ v 28.
. Lord Jesus we thank you for our mothers and grandmothers and all they did for us and were to us and still are. And for wives who are a blessing to us.
. Bless the young mothers of today and the Toddlers group.
. Help the people who visit the beauty parlour next to the church not to think more about their appearance than you do, Lord.
. Lord, help the poledancers across the road from the church not to user their appearance in ways you don’t want and help the men who go there to value what you do and help Paul, the bouncer.
Thursday 21st November
Great men of God, like Elijah, get frightened and need food and sleep just like us. He had challenged the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and courageously face King Ahab, a bad king of Israel who called him ‘a troubler of Israel’. ‘I have not made trouble for Israel’, Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals’. He got Ahab to get the false prophets and the people to assemble at Mount Carmel, saying to the people,’ How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal is God follow him.’ Disappointingly the people said nothing. He felt ALONE, humanly. He challenged the prophets to call down fire on their sacrifice, he would do so on his, saying ‘The God who answers by fire-He is God’. The fire of the Lord fell on Elijah’s sacrifice. The people fell prostrate, saying, ‘The Lord -He is God.’ Elijah ordered the false prophets slaughtered and ran to tell Ahab. Jezebel heard and threatened to kill Elijah. Afraid, he ran for his life. He told the Lord he had had enough, he wanted his life ended and lay down and fell asleep under a tree. Twice an angel revived him with food and drink. Strengthened he ran for forty days and nights to a cave in Horeb where the Lord spoke to him, not in an earthquake, nor a fire but in a still small voice. A gentle whisper. A voice said ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ The Lord replied to his claim he was the only one left, telling him seven thousand had not bowed to Baal and giving him fresh orders. How many hard working church leaders, missionaries and others may be frightened, tired and downcast. Isolated they need us to stand with them and say so. May we be able with friendship, a meal and even a bed for the night help them. May we share a word of encouragement by text, phone, card or in person, a small voice that revitalizes. May God, in His still small voice speak to and through us to bless.
. Thank you Lord Jesus that you still speak to our souls’ in gentle words of love through your Word.
. Please use New Craig’s hospital and Crossreach services to help the discouraged in mind.
. Help busy ministers, church workers and missionaries. Look after Hector Morrison and Christine Macdonald and others known to us.
.We pray for tired folks travelling that they would get rest and refreshing in the hotels and hostels near the church and throughout the Highlands. Bless those who serve them.
Continue to bless the Gathering.
Friday 22nd November
Jonah 1 v1-17
Another sinful prophet. Jonah was asked by God to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it ‘because its wickedness has come up before me’. v2 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. V3 The Lord wanted Jonah to go east. He went west and sailed for Tarshish ‘to flee from the Lord’ v3 God went a violent storm but Jonah went below deck and fell into a deep sleep. The captain asked Jonah to call on his god se they didn’t perish. The crew were superstitious, as sailors often were, and they decided to throw lots to decide who was to blame. They drew lots and although this superstitious method is not to be recommended it fell on Jonah. They asked him directly who was responsible for the trouble and who he was ‘Jonah answered ‘I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven who made the sea and land’. They were terrified. The storm worsened. They asked Jonah what he had done and what they should do to calm the sea. Jonah told them to throw him in the sea. They were very reluctant to do so, frantically rowing to land before praying to the Lord for mercy they threw Jonah in the sea which then grew calm causing the men to greatly fear the Lord. Jonah was swallowed by a big fish. May God grant us strength and compassion to do the things we’re asked to do and not run away. Help us to share the good news of Jesus in word and deed.
. Lord Jesus we thank you that only you, ever and always did what you were called to. Forgive us.
. Help those currently preaching especially hose we know. Pray for those training. Help them to faithfully give your message and not run away from it.
. We pray for those who help us across the Minch and for the crew and passengers of ocean liners who call at Invergordon. May they happily receive your word in bibles offered to them.
. Bless those crew who sail lifeboats and be with all those in peril on the sea.
Saturday 23rd November
Matthew 1 v18-25, 2 v13-15, 2 v19-23
All these amazing stories of imperfect people are pointing eventually to Jesus and Calvary. God speaks in the sleep of Joseph and the Magi to protect baby Jesus and fulfil his eternal plan. Joseph is told in a dream not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife and he is to call the baby Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. This was to fulfil Isaiah’s prophesy that a virgin will have a child and they will call him Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. Joseph was also warned in a dream to go to Egypt because Herod was intent on killing Jesus. He was again told in a dream it was safe to go back to Bethlehem but further warned in a dream he moved to Nazareth. God was guiding and protecting his one and only son so that one day He would make it possible for us not to perish but have eternal life. One day an army of angels would not keep Him from death and He would willing not call on them.
. Lord Jesus, Emmanuel, thank you that you can be with us anywhere anytime.
. Jesus thank you for saving us, your people, from their sins, however bad.
. We bring before peoples fleeing war and persecution, migrants and those on the run. Help us to support them. Bless Barnabas.
. Bless Raigmore Maternity Unit. Help mothers to look after their young children, especially those struggling.
Sunday 24th November
Luke 11 v5-10
Emmanuel was with them. In the past God spoke through prophets but now he would speak through His Son. No fallible inconsistent mouthpiece this. What would He say and do? He grew in grace and wisdom and knowledge until the appointed time to begin public ministry and do the will of His heavenly Father. He was baptized in the Jordan, though not a sinner. He was led into the desert to be tempted by the devil and did not yield. He went to the synagogue in his home town Nazareth on the Sabbath as was his custom and read from the prophet Isaiah. (Luke 4 v18,19 (NIV)) ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour’. As the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on ‘him’ He began by saying to them ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’. All were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. Later he taught people to pray to God as their Father and gave the example of how we should pray as if we were really needing something at midnight from a friend when they may be sleeping in bed with their children. We should persist even if it seems a bother, for our boldness we will get it.
. Lord Jesus thank you for your wonderful words. Help us to trust them more.
. Teach us to pray Lord, persistently.
. Bless your word in churches and homes today.
. May Trevor Hunt know your help as he speaks for you today.
. May Sunday School children hear Your voice.
Monday 25th November
Matthew 25 v 1-13
Jesus often used parables to teach and spike in a heavenly way about the kingdom. He uses these to convey aspects of God’s kingdom. In the above passage is conveyed the essential need to have oil in our lamps and, as the Sunday School song goes, Keep them burning till the break of day. Perhaps a description of the ceremony would help us to understand the mechanics of this story. DA Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “Normally the bridegroom with some close friends left his home where there were various ceremonies, followed by a procession through the streets –after nightfall– to his home. The ten virgins may be bridesmaids who have been assisting the bride; and they expect to meet the groom as he comes from the bride’s house… Everyone in the procession was expected to carry his own torch. Those without a torch would be assumed to be party crashers or even brigands. The festivities which might last several days, would normally get under way in the grooms’s house! For sure the bridegroom is Christ and everyone is expected to have a lamp burning when he comes. We need to keep our light shining. They had all fallen asleep. Some awoke with their lamps ready. We need to personally get ready, now.
. Thank you Lord for the wedding invitation. Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning Lord.
. Thank you for our music group, for our organists and for the ‘Acclaim’ and the ‘Male Voice Choir’ that help us to praise you.
. Help us to have a new song in our mouths, Lord.
. Help us to sing a joyful song to the Lord at Tuesday’s lunch time service (tomorrow).
Tuesday 26th November
Luke 9 v 28-35
As I come to the end of this month’s prayer and bible study notes I am conscious that often I have thought ‘I am only explaining what the bible says already. Why repeat? As we have gone through the different passages related to sleep I began to long for something better than blood and war and extraordinary men who failed and failed again (like us). We have learnt of the failures of men like Elijah and so when Peter has, perhaps an unthinking, fanciful idea to build shelters for Jesus, Elijah and Moses and God overrules from the cloud ‘This is my Son whom I have chosen; listen to him’ we can say ‘Amen’. When we awake let us listen for the voice of Jesus, like Peter James and John were asked to when they awoke on the mountain. Just us and the bible and God telling us what to pray for then?
Wednesday 27th November
Matthew 8 v 23-27
Some of us have worked alongside experienced seafarers who knew much more than we did and who have experienced far rougher seas. I sailed out of Mallaig with my young skipper and a pilot and recognized how disconcerted my skipper was when the pilot, looking out into the dark couldn’t make out where we were. Sometimes we feel safe just because somebody more experienced is with us. Sometimes not. Things can put us ill at ease. Sometimes we are plain nervous. We do to always have confidence in even a vastly experienced captain. Sometimes ‘all the bases are covered’ yet we have doubt and fears. In the last reading we heard how we should listen to Jesus. With experienced hands novices take some time before they realise how much experienced hands know and how trustworthy they are. So it is with the totally trustworthy captain of our souls. The disciples had only began to realise the greatness of His power. They were amazed when he stilled the storm, Jesus rebuking a lack of faith.
. Lord help crews on ships coming into our parish and for that busy part of the city. Pray for the motor industry and others.
. Lord be near folks with serious and terminal illness that they might trust you in the storm.
. Guide those in nautical college Lord.
. Bless the Mercy Ships Lord as they bring your compassion to the world.
. Help us to steer through the vacancy Lord, and others with us like the Free North and Trinity. Help Hugh Watt our Interim Moderator and the Nominating Committee.
. Thank you for the new Minister at the Crown.
Thursday 28th November
Matthew 26 v 36-46, 27 v 45-55
Here we witness the real power of Jesus had. The power of love, God’s love. Able to command the storm, raise the dead, teach the Kingdom of God like no other he could have commanded an army of angels to protect Him. But here He is willingly about to hand himself into the hands of sinful men. His disciples could not watch with him. He was alone. He prayed. They slept. ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’ v39 he asked and pleaded three times. Obediently, resigned, he did His Father’s will, going to His betrayer Judas, Jesus prevented any attempts to forcefully protect him saying, ‘But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way’ v53. All the disciples fled. He was led away to be crucified, a crown of thorns on His head. He was subjected to a slow agonizing death on the cross, crying out ‘My God, My God why have your forsaken me?’ He cried out in a loud voice and gave up his spirit. The temple curtain was rent in two, top to bottom the dead were raised, the earth shook, the rocks split. The centurion and those nearby were terrified and said ‘Surely he was the Son of God.’ (Our Saviour).
. Lord we thank you for dying for us. Thank you that you rose from the dead and the good news is spreading today all round your world. Help us to be part of that.
. Help us Lord never to use force that is not yours to try to make your kingdom come whether forceful words or actions. Give us patience with family and friends who do not believe you are alive.
. Bless the work of the Bible Society and translation in English and Gaelic and the languages of your world.
. Bless the Gaelic Service and all who preach and come.
Friday 29th November
Acts 16 v25-34
When we wake from our sleep each day we wake up to what is set before us, only some of which we have control of. We rarely if ever are troubled by earthquakes like this jailer was. A person from the East Church recalls someone close to them being woken by an almighty noise as the bank which once was running up to the Castle collapsed causing considerable damage to the hill and houses below. It happened in October 8th 1932 about 3.00am. They also said that at the time of waking by the enormous noise Psalm 91 v5 came to mind, I understand. ‘Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night…’ (KJV) A great comfort. The jailer was not thus comforted by God…not immediately. As a result of the earthquake the jailer thought the prisoners had escaped as the door was open and, feeling the responsibility or consequences of this he would have killed himself. Paul shouted, assuring him all were there and telling him not to harm himself. Trembling, he fell down before them asking what he should do to be saved. They said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved – and your household’. They told the word of the Lord to them all. The jailer washed their wounds and they were all baptized. He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God and his whole household.
. May we know the joy of believing – and our household.
. Thank you Lord Jesus that you rose again after your cruel death and, at God’s right hand, are praying for us. Help us to pray, believingly for those we love.
. Lord, Paul and Silas sang praises and prayed to you in jail. Help us when circumstances seem against us to know you are with us and you can not only make us forget ‘our prison’ but bring joy to others’ lives, all because of you Lord Jesus.
. Thank you for Prison Fellowship Scotland. We pray for your name to be praised in jail, Lord. Help prison Chaplains.
. Bless those who work in disaster areas and bring relief to people in catastrophic circumstances. Bless Christian Aid.
Saturday 30th November
1 Thessalonians 4 v12-14
The Christians had been wondering what happens to their friends and family who had fallen asleep (died) and Paul here explains. It is a great comfort to us to know that believers will be reunited after death. This short passage is a wonderful comfort to us as we contemplate and savour happy and precious memories of those we loved and spent our days with, knowing that trusting Jesus, the best is yet to be and that ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him’. 1 Corinthians 2 v9. Because of Jesus, death has lost its sting and we have a glorious hope beyond the grave. A hope that we will meet again.
. Lord Jesus, we thank you that you have conquered death. We thank you we can have hope through you.
. Bless all who serve you in hospices and especially Christian staff that they may be your instruments of comfort, Lord Jesus.
. Fulfil your word to us great Saviour – ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted’ Matthew 5 v4.