Word for the Day and Prayer Points
This month the ‘Word for the Day’ and Prayer points have been submitted by Kathleen Mackinnon and Kirsty MacVicar. The ‘Word for the Day’ excerpts are from a blog by Fiona Talbot, at findinggodintheeverydayblog.wordpress.com who has kindly granted permission for these to be reproduced. Suggested readings have been added where not included in the blog.
Tuesday 1st October
This seems to be such a time of change, so many of my friends and ourselves too experiencing change in so many different aspects of life:- little ones going off to school for the first time, bigger ones going up to high school, others on to college, all leaving gaps of different kinds, leaving us to face changing roles, changing lives, changing situations. Then there are the new jobs, and for some even new countries!! I don’t really embrace change, I brace myself for it. I like the comfortable, the familiar, it takes a while for me to adjust both in my thinking and in my practice. But we too are facing change, huge change in daily life, daily routines and roles. All for the better, yes, but it doesn’t mean that the transition is any easier and it shouldn’t be undermined. So how do we face change, how do we embrace it instead of fear it? I suppose really it is a matter of trust. Trusting that God has got us in this time too, trust that He has this planned, trust that He will walk with us in these new times, just as He has in past times. It is the old saying isn’t it:
“I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future.”
So in the days ahead I may walk tentatively, I may be a bit shy in stepping out, in seeing what this new phase may bring, but I can put my hand in the hand of “the one who walked the water” and I can trust that He will be there walking right beside me, every step of the way. What a glorious assurance and one I need to hold onto and bring to mind each and every time the fear and anxiety of change arises
• for the Women’s Bible Study group as they meet this morning, that they will know God’s presence with them as they study His word
• for the Girls’ Brigade as they meet this evening, that girls and leaders would know a time of fellowship and fun together
• for all who those who face new situations in school, college, university and the workplace
Wednesday 2nd October
Recently we had our ‘Back to school With God’ Event, an event created by Scripture Union in the UK, to dedicate our schools, teachers & young people to God as they go back to school, college, & university.
So that made me think, what else are we going back to? Back to autumn, back to dark nights, back to turning the clock back, back to winter activities. How do we respond with these seasonal changes? It doesn’t have to mean going back to old ways, old habits or old self-defeating behaviours. It can actually mean going forward. Going forward to new things, going forward in our walk with God, going forward into new events, and situations in life. It could be a new time of re-dedication, of new direction, of new purpose, a time to go back to God, even a time to go back to church! Whatever the next season brings, may we dedicate ourselves to God in it, may we surrender to His will, may we seek Him first. May it be going back to God, and even back to church?
• for Alex Stephen as he leads the prayer meeting tonight, that he would know God’s blessing and peace with him
• that all who attend would enjoy a time of prayer and fellowship
• for an increase in numbers and that there would be a turning back to prayer
Thursday 3rd October
I am late in writing this week mainly because when I saw the prompt word ‘Willing’, it somehow just seemed too big, too deep. Not only what was I going to write about, but what does it actually mean for me to be willing, what does that look like in my everyday life? It conjures up pictures of sacrifice, hardship, struggle and do I really want that? Absolutely not, give me my comfort any day! Sacrifice for a greater good? Well perhaps. Sacrifice for a greater reward? Maybe. Sacrifice because Jesus asks? Well, I suppose so. In recent months the area I have had to be willing is in the area of truth. Standing up for truth and reality. I have realised more and more not just the lies our society tells itself and enforces on others, but also the unreality of situations it is presenting as though this was the truth and acceptable. In my work place unreality and deception have ruled until I was willing to take the stand and say NO, actually this is not the way it should be, actually I am not going to bow down to this. The consequences have not been as I imagined, I thought I could write a ‘happy ending’ and victory story, but that has not been the case. Unreality completely over-ruled, and like most things truth got smudged, emotions got in the way and people got hurt. It was hard to take that stand, but having taken it I had to see it through. It has been hard. Hard to keep on standing, hard to keep my reality, hard to keep my truth in the midst of the turmoil. Am I glad I did it, even though it hasn’t turned out as I expected? Hesitantly, yes I think I am because we are called to truth aren’t we and it is the truth that will set us free. Would I be willing to put myself in that position again? Yes, Lord I am willing. Willing to stand for You, willing to stand for Your truth and Your reality. Because really there is nothing else we can do when we are following the Master.
Hebrew Ch 13, vs 20, 21
• for the toddler group as it meets this morning, for the Mums/grannies who attend with the children and that the time together would be enjoyed by all
• for those who seek to stand up for the truth in often difficult situations
Friday 4th October
When I think of culture I also think of identity and of retaining our identity no matter which culture we live in or move to. Think of Abram, God called him to go, to leave his father’s land, his culture, his familiar to go to the unfamiliar, the new, the strange. But what was he to do in that new, strange land? He was to retain his identity as a servant of the living God. He wasn’t to mix, to water down his faith, take on other Gods, no he was to remain faithful to YAHWEH.
The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you’….. The Lord appeared to Abram and said ‘to your offspring I will give this land’, so he built an altar there to the Lord. Gen 12:1-7
So what about us? Do we mix in the our cultures so much that we are no different from those around us? Do we take on the identities of those around, so that we are just like them, you can’t tell us apart? Sometimes we are called, sometimes circumstances just dictate that we have to uproot and move somewhere new but wherever we go we should never lose our identity in Christ. Whose we are, whom we serve should be so ingrained in our lives, that whilst we may have to adapt, we never compromise our faith, we serve the living God and that should be evident to all no matter our culture or place we live.
I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Genesis Ch 12, vs 3
• for the state of our nation, for the stalemate in our national politics with regard to the Brexit negotiations, that all sides of the debate would look to God for guidance
• for the leaders of all political parties, that they would first and foremost seek God’s leading in their lives
Saturday 5th October
I have learnt over the years to pace myself both mentally, spiritually and physically to enable me to get through my days and cope with life and with age my pace has also slowed considerably! However, after our old dog died and we got our puppy I discovered that boy did I need to up my pace!! The old girl would plod along at a considerable slowness, then the shock of having a young male, strong pup whose pace far outstripped mine!! I so had to up my pace in more ways than one to keep ahead of him!! So I have learnt that whilst pacing yourself is good and having a balance is right, there can also be times when we are called upon to up our game, to up our pace, to stride out in faith and confidence. For me it is in my writing that I have been called to up my game, learning the craft, developing skills and then having to put it out there. It is out of my comfort zone, it calls for faith, it stretches me, it scares me, but it also calls me to up my game and up my pace. I want to run the race/finish the course and I want to do it well.So is there an area of your life where you have to up your game, up your pace and stride out in faith?
Hebrews Ch 12, vs 1, 2
• giving thanks for all who give of their time in the upkeep of the church buildings
• giving thanks for the smooth sale and purchase of the old and new manse and pray that it might be occupied in the near future!
Sunday 6th October
When I think of building I think of blocks one on top of the other. But in order to build you need a good foundation and that reminds me of the parable of the wise and foolish men. The wise man built his house on a good strong foundation, the foolish man on sand and when disaster struck, guess what? His house fell down!
So for me I have to have my faith, my life built on a solid foundation, on Jesus Himself. This week the ill winds of pain and sorrow blew in, a situation which I have no control over again came into our lives and it is hard, it is sore, those ill winds are blowing mighty hard, but Praise God, we have not been shaken, our foundation is strong and sure in Jesus.
Luke Ch 6, vs 46-48
• for the Girls’ Brigade dedication service today. Give thanks for leaders who seek to teach the girls how to build their lives on the sure foundation
• that Alex Stephen would know God’s presence as he leads the service
Monday 7th October
The middle is a funny time isn’t it? It doesn’t have the joy and expectation of the beginning nor the resolution of the end. It is just the middle and it might be long and boring. It might just be a time of plodding on, persevering, waiting, waiting for resolutions, waiting for something to happen, waiting for answers. So how can we make our middles more productive? How can we flourish in our ‘middles’? How can we have the faith required in our middles to keep on going with hope and expectation? And how can we have joy in the midst of our messy middles? I have been looking at Hebrews 11:1 this week and I think that this is the answer for our middles: Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The conviction of things not yet seen. [ESV, Heb 11:1] Faith to keep on going. Faith to persevere. Faith to trust. Faith to believe, so we can have joy and peace in our middle. Faith to see that whatever our middle is we can have the assurance that actually God is not our middle, but He is our all – our beginning, our middle and our end. We can trust the outcomes with Him, and we can also leave the middle processes with Him and we can walk with Him through our middles in conviction that He has our starts, our middles and our ends.
• for the Nominating committee, that they would know God’s guidance in all their discussions
• giving thanks for a sense of unity in the congregation at this time
• that as a congregation we may be aware of God’s presence in the ‘middle’ of our vacancy
Tuesday 8th October
So what is the measure I use to give? To give of my time, to give of my finances, to give of my gifts /skills? Do I have a sliding scale according to how much I like doing/giving of something? Is it dependent on who I am doing it for, different ways for different people according to how much I like them or judge their need to be? My goodness! I realise how prejudiced I am and that I do limit how much I give depending on the people or situation. So what does the bible tell me?
Luke 6:38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
I am in fact limiting my own blessing! By limiting my giving to those I like or count worthy, I am limiting God’s blessing on my own life. By giving abundantly, giving generously, giving freely and without prejudice, then I will receive back much more than I ever gave out in the first place. The amount I give is the amount I will receive back! Pressed down, running over and poured into my lap!
I need to open wide my hands, open wide my heart, open wide my life and give according to the measure I have been given by Christ. Freely, freely you have received , freely, freely give …
• for our Treasurer and Finance Committee that all decisions taken are for the good of the church and congregation
• giving thanks for all who volunteer their time and talents in the stewardship of our congregation
Wednesday 9th October
As I was waiting for sleep last night I came across the song by Lincoln Brewster: “While I wait”
“So while I wait I will worship Lord, I’ll worship Your name,
Though I don’t have all the answers, Still I trust You all the same”
What a great attitude to have! So often we wait for something in fear, or in frustration or anger, what a difference it would make if we used our waiting time for worship! This is not just something spontaneous when we feel like it, it is intentional, it is something we actively choose to do. I choose not to wait in fear, I choose to worship. I choose not to wait in anger, I choose to worship. I choose not to wait in frustration, I choose to worship.
We wait for many things:- for sleep, for healing, for peace, for tomorrow, for holidays for test results, for exam results, for decisions, for resolutions. We wait.
While I wait I will worship, Lord, I’ll worship Your Name.
We wait to hear from loved ones, we wait for kind words, we wait for a letter, a phone call, we wait to hear.
While I wait I will worship, Lord, I’ll worship Your Name.
We wait for the kettle, we wait for the washing, we wait for ‘paint to dry, we wait for the rain to stop, for the sun to come out. We wait.
While I wait I will worship, Lord, I’ll worship Your Name.
We wait in traffic, we wait in waiting rooms, we wait for people, we wait for solutions, we wait for answers. We wait.
While I wait I will worship, Lord, I’ll worship Your Name.
• for Donald MacVicar, that he would know God’s leading as he takes the Prayer meetings today
• that we all remain faithful as we wait for God’s will in His choice of new minister
Thursday 10th October
I like things to be convenient, I like things to be at a convenient height for my shortness, I like things to be conveniently laid out for the morning so that I am not rushing, I like going to the local shop rather than drive to the supermarket because it is convenient. I like having visitors when it is convenient, I like meeting up with friends when it is convenient. But what about when it is a busy week and someone needs help, or an extra church meeting is called, or someone wants to come and stay? How do I react when people and things get in the way and come at a time when they are not convenient?
Then I need grace, grace to be disturbed, Grace to go out when it is not convenient, Grace to extend mercy when it doesn’t suit me. I need to be saved from my convenient life and be willing to be stretched, flexible and expanded to live a reaching out kind of life, where others are put first before my convenience.
Hebrews Ch 4, vs 1
• for the Fabric Committee and Deacon’s Court in the practical managing and maintenance of the church buildings
• that we would be willing to use our time and talents in this part of God’s vineyard
Friday 11th October
I don’t always like people touching me. I am an introvert and so guard my privacy and personal space, but even I at times need the touch of another. The patting of an arm, the drawing into an embrace, a hug, a peck on the cheek. Sometimes we just need that touch of empathy from a fellow human. There are many lonely, and often elderly, people within our communities who rarely experience the touch of another human. I am often conscious of this and do try to give them some sort of touch. Sometimes there can just be a longing for human connection. When I think of touch in the bible I think of the lepers, whom no-one touched, no-one went near, they were the outcasts, no-one wanted to touch them. How they must have longed for the touch of another never mind a tender, empathetic touch, just any sort of touch to remind them that they were still human, still valued, still thought of, still loved.
Then there was the woman who longed to touch Jesus, in the midst of the crowd, she just longed to reach out and touch Him and when she did, it was a healing touch, she felt it immediately reverberating through her broken body.
So for me today, yes I want to feel the touch of the Lord, yes I want to reach out and touch Him, feel Him, have my broken soul healed by Him. But also if I am to be His hands extended in this world, then I need to reach out and literally, physically touch others, let them know that I care, let them know God cares, let them know that they are loved, valued, and that they can have the touch of the Master.
1 Corinthians, vs 13
• give thanks for the Open Doors team, outside and inside the church, that their witness would be one of love and care
• for the work of EMMS Zambia giving thanks for John and Tina’s recent fundraising bike ride
• for those who come that they would know the touch of the Master
Saturday 12th October
I am conscious that often I write out my struggles in the everyday, but you know sometimes you just have good days. They are not out of the ordinary days, but just days where you breathe in and out conscious of God’s blessing on your life. Days where you appreciate the good things you have in your life. Days where you are mindful of the everyday things which bring joy. Living in the moment, thankful for the moment. It is just as important to speak out of those days, to give thanks for those days, rejoice in those days, write out a Psalm of Praise on those days. So today I am thankful for a beautiful, crisp, clear sunny morning. Thankful for my church family, who I am going out to see soon. Thankful for my pastor, who faithfully preaches the Word of God. Today I am so glad of some precious time with my (adult) children, because as these times are getting fewer and longer in between they have become more and more precious, so I am especially thankful for them. Thankful for having merciful God in my life, Thankful for His grace upon me. I am thankful for so many things. What are you thankful for today?
I will sing of the LORD’s great love forever;
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself.
• give thanks for the fellowship we belong to
• give thanks for the praise band as they regularly meet to practise old and new praise items for our Sunday services
• that our praise would be meaningful and acceptable in the eyes of the Lord
Sunday 13th October
Take according to the dictionary = lay hold of (something) with one’s hands; reach for and hold.
So what do I take? What do I lay hold of, what do I reach for and hold? To me it is the promises of God. I want to reach out, I want to take hold of those promises, I want to hold them tight and not let them go.When there are things which would come my way and distract me, shiny things begging for my attention and to be taken, I say no to laying hold of them and instead reach for the promises of God. When doubts come and lies are whispered, ‘Did God really say ……’, then I take hold of the promises that God is good, God is faithful, God is steadfast, and that He has set His love on me. When I feel a bit swamped by life, a bit buffeted by trials, then I reach out to the promises that God is with me, God will never fail me, that He is my rock, my refuge, my hiding place. I reach out, I take hold of and I hold on tight. STANDING ON THE PROMISES
2 Peter Ch1, vs 3-4
• for Rev Douglas Horne as he takes both services today, that he would know God’s leading
• for all those who feel anxious or worried about health, families, work, or relationships, that they would take hold of the promises of God who remains faithful
Monday 14th October
I have just come off a week away on holiday, which has been a good time to relax and clear my mind. So what is next now that we are back? As I get back into routine and tasks, what is next, what is the next thing to be done? Truthfully, I am reluctant to get back on that wheel of the next meeting to attend, the next task to do, the next job to go to. Even to think about the next phase of my life and all the changes that could bring, or the next new thing to study and learn from God’s word, the next command to obey, the next comfort zone to leave, the next step of faith to take. I actually just want to stay in this little time of ‘post holiday contentment’ before life takes over. I’m not ready for the next yet. So, as I enter into today I will try and do so slowly, not rushing, but moving from one thing to the next and as I do so I pray that the next will flow and will glorify God. Lord, I give you my next.
• for all the young folk in our congregation still in school and planning their next steps, that they would be guided in all their decisions and trust that God has a plan for them
• for Hugh Watt our Interim Moderator as he guides us in each step of our vacancy
Tuesday 15th October
For some reason the passage of scripture which came to me is this one from Joshua chapter 15:
“And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Aksah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Aksah to him in marriage.
One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What can I do for you?” She replied, “Do me a special favour. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.”
‘give me also springs of water’
You see Aksah knew she had the land, had the inheritance, but she wanted more. She wanted her land to flourish, she wanted it to be watered, she wanted it to bear fruit, she wanted more
‘Give me also springs of water’. The water which will well up and become life-giving, the water which refreshes our souls, the springs which remain constant and fresh and which won’t run dry.
Lord give me also springs of water. Give me this water so that I can drink deeply of it, give me this water so that I can flourish, give me this water so that I can more than just survive, give me this water so that I can thrive and flourish for Your Glory.
Give me also springs of water- May this be your prayer today
• for our faith to be strengthened daily through prayer
• for faith to know that our prayers are answered, to be bold in our prayers for our family, for each other and for our church, knowing that with God “all things are possible”
Wednesday 16th October
The dictionary definition of well is: in a good or satisfactory manner. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak. “This is what the crowd said of Jesus when He had placed His hands on a deaf and mute man and healed him – ‘He has done everything well’. In other words it was good in their eyes, it was conducted in a satisfactory manner, they were pleased with the outcome. It was also non threatening to them. When Jesus does ‘nice’ things, we approve, we say He has done all things well. But what about the hard things we have to face? What about the challenges which come our way, or the challenges Jesus places on our behaviour and beliefs? Do we still turn round and say, ‘He has done all things well’? I have faced a particularly tough week at work, I’m still in the middle of the mess, the outcome is not assured, there has been no resolution to the problem. Can I say today, at the end of the week, ‘He has done all things well’ or do I have reservations? Do I want to qualify that statement with a BUT? Or can I hand over the situation to Him, trust Him for it and in it and say, He has done all things well? I need to be assured and reaffirm my trust that the author of creation, the redeemer of my soul does indeed do all things well, and that He does not make mistakes. Amen so be it Lord, You do all things well.
• for Iain Macdonald as he leads the prayer meetings today
• give thanks for God’s goodness to the congregation over the years
• give thanks for provision of sound teaching throughout the vacancy
Thursday 17th October
Joy is not a word we use very often here in Scotland, so I asked a couple of people “What is joy to you?” Here are their answers:-
Joy is family, Joy is recovery
Joy is knowing Jesus through the pain
Joy is being happy no matter our circumstances.
The dictionary definition: something or someone who provides a source of happiness.
So for me then, where is my source of joy? Where do I look for it? Who provides it? How do I find it? Well I look to the Lord, obviously, but for me it takes more than that. It is knowing and trusting that He has my back; that I can totally rely on Him. It is surrendering my need to control situations, people, places, things. It is laying it all down and accepting that the Lord has the situation covered and because He has the situation covered I can rejoice! I can trust Him, I can leave the outcome with Him and not only that, I can leave the process with Him too! So then, no matter the situation or the outlook, I can look to the Lord and not to my problems. In submission comes trust, in trust comes joy. So even though the outlook may be dreary, or it may be scary, yet still I will trust, still I will choose joy. I will rejoice, I will take joy – it is choosing to do this over fear, anxiety or anger. In the midst of the day, I will PAUSE, I will EXHALE, I will ACCEPT God’s ways, I will CHOOSE joy and will EXPRESS my thanks and before you know it I have PEACE as well as joy!
Galatians Ch 5, v22
• for the Gathering as it meets today, for the members of the congregation and any visitors who may attend, that all would feel welcome
• for the Pastoral Team as they endeavour to support the varying needs of the congregation
Friday 18th October
So what is in a name? Why are names important? It is because they identify us, they mark us out from other people, they individualise us. So When God says in Isaiah 43: I have called you by name It is us He is referring to. Not someone else, not my sister, not my neighbour, but me. He has called ME by name. And what has He called me to do? Not to fear. Why? I have redeemed you .. you are mine. He has set His love upon me and I am His. Me, not my brother or sister, but little old me. Because He knows MY name, He knows me and He loves me, He takes me for Himself. So what is in a name? – Reassurance, love, comfort, protection, redemption by the God who made the universe, because He knows my name!
• for the Youth Group who meet tonight
that they would know God’s blessing as they enjoy a time of fun and fellowship together
• for the elderly and housebound in our congregation that they would feel valued and that we would always be mindful of them
Saturday 19th October
We have a young collie dog and he has started leaning on me! If I am sitting down, he comes and sits on my foot, leaning his whole body into me, or if standing he comes and leans right in! I’m not really sure why he does this, if it is a security thing or not, but it reminds me of the old hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”
“What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
When you lean on something/someone you expect that thing /person to be stable, to be firm, to be able to hold you up. So Who or what then do I rely on, what do I lean into? Often it is myself and my own resources, I try and figure things out first and then present my solution to God. I lean on my own wisdom, my own understanding of a situation, and don’t see things from God’s perspective.“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and DO NOT LEAN on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5) It is no wonder then that my thinking gets confused and muddled, I’m leaning wrong!I need to lean on Jesus – He knows best, He knows things from God’s perspective , He knows how things work! He is wisdom and light to my confusion and darkness. He is strength to my weakness. He is security to my fears. He is peace to my anxious soul. He is my rock to lean on. The hymn writer speaks of such joy and peace and security through leaning on the everlasting arms, so by not leaning on Jesus, by trying to do it on my own I am missing out, missing out on that blessedness, that sweetness, that assurance of His presence with me. So then I must lean in with my full weight to the God above, who is more than able to bear us and the full weight of all our insecurities, troubles and anxieties and muddled thinking! Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms, safe and secure from all alarms, Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms!
• for the bereaved in our congregation that they may have the assurance of God’s presence with them
• for the National church, that there would be a turning back to the truths in God’s word
• for students of the Ministry, that they would uphold biblical views in an ever-increasing secular society
Sunday 20th October
I have been giving a lot of thought recently, to when things are going well, when we have been blessed. For some strange reason I find it unsettling. We all identify with hardships, sorrows, struggles and there is much written about these things, finding faith in these things, but not a lot about what to do when things are good!
What do you do when things are going well? Do you rejoice? Do you take it for granted? Do you return thanks to the Lord? Do you share your good news, your happy times?
Am I unsettled because I am not used to blessing, because I don’t expect blessing? Does that mean then that I have a view of God which is of a very austere God who grudgingly gives blessing? If that is the case, then it is wrong. The bible is full of examples of God being a bountiful God, One who delights to give blessings out of His abundance of good things.
1 Tim 6:17 “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done”
I think that there must be something in that, when you count them, recognise them, acknowledge them, when I see how many little miracles and blessings are sent my way each day, then I will see what the Lord has done in my life, and that in turn will lead me to thanksgiving. The blessing of encouragement when someone gives me a smile or a word. The blessing of work and home, the blessing and of family, the blessing of health, the blessing of friendships, the blessing of books of being able to read, the blessing of salvation, the blessing of knowing God.
• for Rev Kenny Gillies, that he would know God’s blessing as he takes both services today
• give thanks for retired ministers who continue to serve willingly
• give thanks for the many blessings we receive
Monday 21st October
I have thought about this word since Friday and read some of the great blogs on that, but hadn’t got round to writing my own. However, today on the way home from church I realised what hospitality really is. Quite simple – it is showing kindness. As we were turning into our village road, the car behind us missed us by a hairbreadth and crashed into a wall. Three young German women in a foreign land, thankfully they were okay. But we took them to our house, gave them shelter from the driving rain, allowed them to wait for the Police and Breakdown truck, gave them 2 cups of tea and a glass of water. We showed kindness, we showed hospitality. It was no big thing, just showing kindness from one human being to another in a time of emergency. It was only a cup of water. But that is what Jesus says isn’t it? And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. [Matt 10:42]So we welcomed, we helped, we sheltered, we gave some water, we showed kindness, we did hospitality. I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you were doing it to me. [Matt 25:40]
• for visitors who attend our services, that we would welcome them in the name of Jesus
• that we would show kindness to those less fortunate than us
Tuesday 22nd October
When our dog was a puppy we trained him using rewards as an incentive. So when he obeyed, he got one of those little puppy treats. When he behaved, he got a reward. He learnt through rewards. We do this with children as well, don’t we? We reward good behaviour with words of encouragement or treats. Does this then spill over to my spiritual life? Do I expect rewards from God? If I have been ‘good’, if I have been faithful in my quiet time, in going to church, in doing good deeds, do I expect a reward? Do I expect God to show me favour? Do I expect an extra blessing? Do I expect God to give me an easier life because I have been faithful and obedient? If so, then my thinking is wrong. My devotion, service and faithfulness to Him should all come out of a grateful heart, a heart full of love towards Him. His grace is unmerited, His favour is freely given, His mercy is extended in grace. I don’t deserve any of it. He should be enough for me. He Himself is my reward and with Him I should be eternally fulfilled and happy.“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” (Gen 15:1)
• for the Women’s Bible Study and for those who organise the meetings
• give thanks for the freedom to worship
• give thanks for the faithful witness and service of our older members
• for missionaries known and unknown to us who are serving Christ in difficult circumstances in foreign lands
Wednesday 23rd October
Being confident is be assured of a thing, when relating to God it is a confident trust in Him.
A quiet, confident trust which is like a deep assurance, which too ‘passes all understanding’, so that no matter the outward circumstances, no matter the appearance of a situation, there is a quiet confidence, a quiet trust in the Lord, that He is in control and He WILL work all things out.
I am in need of that quiet confidence today. I am in need of that assurance of God’s sovereignty.
Isaiah 26:3 says:
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You,
all whose thoughts are fixed on You! [NLT]
So I fix my thoughts on God, I look to Him not the situation and I have that quiet confidence, that assurance that it is well, it is well with my soul!
• for Ian Challinor as he leads the prayer meeting today
• for confidence to witness for God in the neighbourhood, in the workplace and in the home
Thursday 24th October
God is just, good, fair, impartial, He hates evil, but loves justice.
Do I believe this? If so, why do I find myself explaining/justifying God’s actions/ways to others? If so, why do I feel I have to intervene and sort out situations instead of leaving them with God to act according to His justice and mercy.
God is Just. Full stop. No need to explain, no need to intervene, just leave it, just trust, just believe, just wait till you see God work out His ways, just look at the cross.
• give thanks for the toddler group and crèche and pray for good friendships
• for the many in our city who are struggling with various addictions, that they would look to the Lord for deliverance
• for our police and emergency services as they deal with the many complex situations in society
Friday 25th October
As I get older my “where’s” get more frequent! Where are my car keys, where’s my jacket, where is that receipt, where have I put such and such a thing, where is it? Where has the time gone? Where are those precious moments with my children? Where has time passed me by?
However, one thing I do not ask is, ‘Where is your God?’, for I know Him. I know that He is with me, I am more sure of that today than I have ever been. I can look back and through the trials and hardships of life I can see that the Man of Sorrows has been right there with me. “Where is your God?” they may say, and I will answer, He is here, Immanuel God with us, Jesus on the Cross proves, yes demonstrates God’s love for me. Where are you God? You are there on the Cross, suffering, redeeming, saving. Where is He?, He is right here in the every day, in the messiness of life.
• for Open Doors today and for all who come in to the sanctuary, even for a brief look, that they would feel something of God’s presence and that it would be used to their eternal good
• for Rev Douglas Horne as he leads the Preparatory service tonight
• for the Kirk session as they meet tonight, that the elders would continue to know God’s leading and that they would be united in all their decisions
• for anyone who is considering membership that God would enable them to make public profession of their faith
Saturday 26th October
I’m not talking about the guilt we get when we do something wrong and of which we should repent, but of false guilt. We can get trapped in a cycle of this false guilt can’t we? What are the things which trap you, what do you feel guilty about? I feel guilt when I don’t meet someone else’s expectations .I feel guilt when I don’t match up to someone’s perceptions of me. I feel guilt when I feel I have let someone down. I feel guilt when I can’t do something I feel I should be able to do. I feel guilt when I can’t protect my children from the heartaches and trials of life.
Yes, I seem to feel an awful lot of guilt! Guilt robs me of joy, Guilt keeps me bound in a cycle of unworthiness, Guilt weighs me down, Guilt drains me, Guilt immobilises me and keep me bound in that cycle of feeling guilty, feeling I can’t do anything about it and so feel guilty about that! Phew how exhausting all that is!
So what can I do, what can we do with all that guilt? First of all, we need to get a right perspective of this. Have we sinned? Have we fallen short of God’s high standards? Yes absolutely, but praise Him …There is now no condemnation for those in Christ. So if we have confessed our sin, if we have acknowledged all aspects of it, turned from it, asked for forgiveness then there is no condemnation from Jesus and if Jesus does not condemn us, then we should not be afraid of man’s condemnation. Sometimes we just have to let go of other people’s standards and expectations of us. It is their standards, theirs expectations and not ours, so we should not berate ourselves when we can’t match up to theirs. I have to walk my own walk humbly with my God. We can never match His standards, but Jesus can and has done so and through Jesus we are accepted and justified (just-as-if I never sinned).
No condemnation! Now I can walk free from the guilt of having failed others, walk free from the guilt of not meeting expectations, walk free from the guilt that would entrap me and walk in the freedom of Jesus.
• for the Communion Prayer meeting tonight, that many would be led to attend
• for Children’s Church as they meet and observe the sacrament, that in future years they would no longer be observers but participants
• for our national Church that has fallen far short of our Lord’s standard
• that we would walk humbly with our God and know the freedom of sins forgiven
Sunday 27th October
When I read of PLACE I immediately thought of this song by Matt Redman:
Once Again, Jesus Christ, I think upon your sacrifice,
You became nothing, poured out to death.
Many times I’ve wondered at your gift of life,
And I’m in that place once again, I’m in that place once again.
And once again I look upon the cross where you died,
I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank you, Once again I pour out my life.
Pour out our life to you.
Now you are exalted to the highest place,
King of the heavens, where one day I’ll bow.
But for now I marvel at your saving grace,
And I’m full of praise once again,
Full of praise today, I’m full of praise once again.
And once again I look upon the cross where you died
I’m humbled by your mercy and I’m broken inside
Once again I thank you,
Once again I pour out my life
Yes, I’m in that place once again.
Once again weary and tired of doing things in my own strength, once again weary and tired of carrying worries and anxieties with me.
So once again, I come to that place at the foot of the cross, once again humbled and broken.
I come to that place where I can lay down my burdens, that place where I can lay down my anxieties, that place where I can find refreshment for my soul, that place where I can find healing balm, that place where my sins are forgiven. Once again broken and humbled. But in the right place, at the foot of the cross looking to Jesus.
Are you in the right place today? Are you there at the foot of the cross?
Hebrews 12, verse 2
• for Douglas Horne as he leads both services, that he would have the liberty of the Spirit
• pray for any new members that they would know God’s presence
• for the elders as they dispense the elements
• give thanks for the Cross
Monday 28th October
I came across this devotional from the Life Recovery Bible and loved it, so I share it with you: – Serenity is having an inner calm in the midst of the ups and downs of life. It involves learning to be content with the things in our life that cannot be changed. Some of us have never accepted the hurtful circumstances of our life. We may be living in denial to avoid the pain. We continue to struggle against the painful realities, to rebel against who we are or what has happened to us. Others of us have accepted the bad, even to the point of feeling that it’s normal and comfortable. Therefore, we repeat the destructive cycle of behaviour. The apostle Paul wrote: “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:11-12). When Paul wrote this, he was in a Roman prison waiting to hear if he would be executed. And yet we hear no whining or complaining. Instead, he learned to accept the circumstances he could not change. The process of recovery is a time of learning to find serenity while also accepting life as it is. Life isn’t always fair. It isn’t predictable or controllable. It can be wonderfully rich in some ways and terribly difficult in others. When we become willing to face the hurt in our life and consider how we have reacted to it, then our discomfort can lead us to break the destructive cycle. Then we can learn to be content with the things we cannot change.
• for a sense of God’s inner calm as we face the ups and downs of daily life
• for those awaiting diagnoses and possible treatments and surgery
• for medical services, giving thanks for their expertise
Tuesday 29th October
For me the word ‘lack’ conjures up negative pictures of want/need or emptiness. There is something I am lacking, something I need or want a physical/material thing, or something inside of me which is empty and needs filling up. Those empty places are my vulnerable places, those are the ones I may cry out to God for, but yet never utter to another soul, I may not even articulate them at all, but there is a lack, something is missing.
Does God always fill those empty places? No. Does God always cover over/heal those vulnerable spots? No. Does God always fulfil my physical needs? No He does not! Because in His mercy and in His Sovereignty, He knows what is best. He knows that the vulnerable spots, the empty places are what drive me to Him, are what keep me bound to Him. To always give me what I want is like spoiling a child, and not for the good of the child. So my Heavenly Father knows me and gives me all that I need, but not all that I want. I may lack some things, but in others, in Him I am rich. Sustained by grace.
• for the Word at One today, led by Alex Stephen
• give thanks for the providers of all the food and the helpers in the kitchen
• that all who attend would enjoy a time of fellowship
Wednesday 30th October
At the weekend I placed expectations upon someone, even knowing as I was doing so that they could not meet them. The result was that I was left disappointed and frustrated with myself as much as with the person. I was unrealistic in my expectation, I knew they could not meet or fulfil my needs. So what could/should I have done?
First of all I think that I have to accept a situation/person as it is/they are and not somehow think that they are going to change out of the blue, even if I want them too, even if it would suit me if they did, even if it would be nice if they did, because the reality is that they have their own issues to deal with.
Being realistic about the person/situation then means that I look, realise that my needs are not going to be met there. So I need to look elsewhere. Perhaps I need to look within myself, can I meet my own needs? Is there another person I can share with? Are my needs just purely selfish and self-centred in the first place? Have I just entered into self-pity mode, feeling sorry for myself? Do I just need to stop thinking about myself and turn to others, do a good deed to take me out of myself?
Perhaps I am looking for a person to fill a need, which actually only God can fill. Perhaps I needed to cry out to God, perhaps I needed to take all my hurts, feelings and cares to Him and find my solace in Him, find my fulfilment in Him.
Psalm 62, vs 5-8
• for the disadvantaged, some of whom can be seen in the vicinity of the church, that they would look to Jesus
• for the clients of Family Mediation service who use our church hall to work with families experiencing difficulties
Thursday 31st October
I got an answer to prayer yesterday. It came out of the blue. It was unexpected. It was generous. It was encouraging. It made me cry. Thinking about it now makes me wonder (1) if I really expect answers to prayer and (2) do I realise answers when they come. Do I return thanks for them? This particular answer came after a time of extended prayer a couple of months ago. The type of prayer which you carry about with you for a while, which weighs on you. It is not that I felt that I had come to a particular breakthrough in prayer, just that I had to leave the matter with God. I had almost forgotten about it when unexpectedly an answer came. So do I expect answers? When I pray am I expecting God to answer me? Otherwise why pray? So often, I confess, my prayers may seem like a vain hope. Hoping something will happen, hoping something will change, hoping the thing I want to happen will happen. But surely prayer is not just some vain, vague hope, but based on the solid fact that the God of the universe has chosen to set His love upon us and to work for our good and for His glory. This is what I am to base my prayers on, not my feelings, not my hopes, but on the steadfastness and faithfulness and love of God alone. And then there are other times when you are praying for yourself and/or others in their everyday lives, that God would provide, that God would enable and He does. Faithfully, He does. But do I acknowledge those answers; do I even see them as answers? So often I take these things for granted. God enabled me; God strengthened me to get through a particularly trying day. I prayed for that, I did get through the day, but I don’t acknowledge that and return my thanks. Shame on me! Surely I am missing out on the full blessing when I don’t acknowledge before God that He did answer, that He did supply my need and that I am grateful? Coming with thankfulness is like completing the circle of prayer – coming before God, acknowledging my need, praying for His intervention, receiving the answer and (closing the circle) – thanksgiving.
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18
• give thanks for answered prayer in your own personal circumstances
• for our congregation in this time of vacancy, that a spirit of unity would remain among us
• for God’s protection over the young children who attend our Sunday school and Bible class