This month, we are going to read John’s Gospel.
Friday 1st December
John doesn’t begin his Gospel with stories of babies and mangers and shepherds, but he still begins with Jesus. Read the first verse over, using ‘Jesus’ instead of ‘Word’ and it all becomes clear. When (verse 14) we are told that the ‘Word became flesh’, John is directing us to the heart of the Christian message: God became a man for our salvation.
Pray for Dougie and Joan Wolf and Jack. Pray for the ministry in Barvas and ask that God would bless the work.
Saturday 2nd December
In this passage, we see the significance of John the Baptist. He was the one sent to let people know that Jesus was coming. We see also something of his humility (verse 27). He knew and was happy to fulfil God’s purpose for his life. How many lives have been ruined by people seeking to be people that God never intended them to be. (see Philippians 4:11-13).
Pray for Christian Witness to Israel and the other organisations who take the Gospel to the Jews. Pray for the ingathering which is promised in Romans 11.
Sunday 3rd December
We learn two things about Christ in this passage. First, he was sacrificed for our sins, like a sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament. Second, he baptises with the Holy Spirit. That is to say, he works in us the ‘new birth’ by which we become Christians. The passage also gives us the example of Andrew who, when he became a disciple of Jesus, first took the message to his brother. Have we spoken to those around us about Christ?
Pray for Douglas Horne as he takes the morning and evening services today and for Iain Macdonald as he takes the service at Raigmore.
Monday 4th December
Nathanael began by casting scorn on the story of Jesus, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth’? He went on to be astonished at the words of Jesus and ended by making the declaration that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. Many people have since followed that path of doubt, astonishment and then faith. Encounter with Jesus changes lives.
Pray for Andrew and June McGowan as they travel home from the Netherlands today, at the end of Andrew’s Study Leave. Pray that he will soon settle back into the work.
Tuesday 5th December
This is the story of the miracle when Jesus changed the water into wine. It is interesting to notice, however, that John does not call it a miracle but a ‘sign’. In other words, it was proof that Jesus was really the one he claimed to be. This is the purpose of a miracle in the Gospel stories, to identify Jesus as the Son of God.
Pray for the Trustees of Covenant Fellowship Scotland as they meet in Inverness today. Ask for wisdom and clear direction.
Wednesday 6th December
John here tells the famous story of Jesus clearing the temple of those who were cheating the people of God. It demonstrates that there is a kind of anger which is righteous and not sinful. Perhaps the most significant part of the passage is where Jesus tells them that his resurrection from the dead will be the final evidence of his authority.
Remember the CYC (formerly the YMCA) in prayer and give thanks for the good work they do among the young people of our city.
Thursday 7th December
This story of Nicodemus shows more forcibly than any other passage of Scripture that, unless men and women are born again, they will not see the kingdom of heaven. This means quite simply that there is no way to heaven except by regeneration (new birth) through Christ. Neither baptism nor Church attendance nor anything else can save us.
Pray for the Church of Scotland Beechwood House and also for the Road to Recovery in Madras Street, as they help people to be delivered from addiction.
Friday 8th December
This is the record of what John the Baptist said about Jesus. He tells us that Jesus has come from heaven, that he speaks the words of God and that everything has been placed in his hands. The last verse makes it clear that to reject Christ is to reject eternal life.
Pray for Open Doors today. Pray for useful conversations and ask that some who come in might find Christ.
Saturday 9th December
Jesus offers living water to the Samaritan woman and points out her sin. Avoiding the subject, she tries to argue about the proper place to worship God but Jesus makes it clear that real worship is ‘spiritual’ and the place doesn’t matter. In a time when there is so much fighting over buildings this should be remembered.
Pray for the work of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship, remembering Neil and Rachel Rae in the Philippines.
Sunday 10th December
Jesus’ disciples were surprised to find him, a Jew, talking to a Samaritan woman but they said nothing! We read in this passage of the results of his talk with the woman. Many people became believers and declared, ‘we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world’. What a wonderful, confident faith.
Pray for the Minister on this his first Sunday back in the pulpit. He will be taking both morning and evening services. Bill Flett will be taking the Raigmore service and the Rev D.A. Maclennan will be taking the Gaelic service.
Monday 11th December
Here we have the second ‘sign’ which Jesus did. This time it was a healing miracle. In verse 48 we see Jesus’ reluctance to do a miracle just to make people believe. This is in marked contrast to some today who feel that miracles should be happening all the time! This was not Jesus’ desire.
Pray for Derek Morrison and the Breakthrough Group, giving thanks for those who are being helped through studying the Scriptures together.
Tuesday 12th December
In this chapter Jesus heals a man who had been an invalid for 38 years. The Jewish leaders, however, instead of rejoicing that the man had been healed were upset because he was carrying his mat on the Sabbath, which was forbidden. Those who do not want to believe never will. Their hearts were hardened against Christ from the beginning.
Pray for all the churches in Inverness, asking that the Christmas season might be a useful opportunity for evangelism.
Wednesday 13th December
Because their love for rules and regulations outweighed their love for God, the Jews persecuted Christ. Jesus spells out to them that believers have eternal life but all others will be judged, and that the judgement will be enacted through Christ himself. This warning made no difference. They did clearly understand what he was claiming (verse 18) and so are without excuse.
Pray for the Minister as he takes a school Assembly in Raigmore this morning.
Thursday 14th December
The Jews held the Scriptures in high regard and so this statement by Jesus is very pointed. He explains to them that the Old Testament was fulfilled in his life and that it speaks of him throughout. To understand what Jesus meant, read Isaiah 53 and think about the death of Jesus on the Cross. It is precise in detail.
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch in Raigmore today, asking that the Christmas message will be heard and understood.
Friday 15th December
The feeding of the 5,000 is a story that most of us learn in childhood but many modern Bible commentators (including William Barclay) question the truth of it. The Bible calls it a ‘miraculous sign’ (verse 14) but they say that all who were there brought out their lunch and shared it out! Why should we doubt what the Bible says?
Pray for the Rutherford House trustees meeting in Edinburgh today.
Saturday 16th December
The picture John gives of Jesus walking on the water is a vivid one. No wonder the disciples were terrified until they recognised him. Jesus could not escape the crowds. They followed him relentlessly. Most of these would desert him later when things became difficult. Perhaps some were among the crowd who shouted ‘crucify him’.
Pray for the work of Inverness Presbytery, remembering the Minister who is currently serving as Moderator.
Sunday 17th December
Jesus challenges the crowd about their motives and tells them that the only thing worth striving for was eternal life. He also explained that the way to this eternal life was belief in the one whom God had sent, namely himself. The most encouraging and assuring verses here for the Christian must surely be verses 37-40, where we are told that all who belong to Christ will be saved, none lost.
Pray for the family Christmas service this morning, for the Ark Christmas service this afternoon and for the service of lessons and carols this evening.
Monday 18th December
In verse 66 we read that ‘many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him’. They were not real believers; they were following for the wrong reasons. The mystery of the Gospel is that only those ‘enabled’ (verse 65) by the Father can truly believe. Simon Peter was one who was enabled and he confessed the truth that, apart from Jesus, there was simply nowhere to go for eternal life.
Pray for the Minister attending a meeting of the Council of Assembly in Edinburgh today.
Tuesday 19th December
In this curious episode we learn one very important lesson: Jesus was closely following a timetable set by his Father. He refused to conform to what the world thought his timetable should be, even when the ‘world’ was represented by his own family. Similarly, the Church of God today must not let the world dictate what it must do. We are not to conform but to be transformed.
Pray for all those in the congregation who have been bereaved in the past year. Christmas can be a difficult time when there is an empty chair at the table.
Wednesday 20th December
When Jesus finally did go up to the Feast, they were astonished at his teaching. This is similar to what Matthew records at the end of the Sermon on the Mount: ‘he taught as one who had authority’ (Matthew 7:29). The authentic word of God is clearly recognisable and when it is preached, people respond.
Pray for those who have drifted away from church and no longer attend. Ask that God might restore their faith and re-kindle their enthusiasm for the Gospel.
Thursday 21st December
Here we see the different responses to Jesus. Some people wanted to kill him. Others wanted to believe in him but weren’t sure. No-one was without an opinion! It can rightly be said that one’s attitude to Jesus determines one’s eternal destiny. We cannot remain neutral.
Pray for the older people in the congregation who are finding life increasingly difficult, especially those with health and mobility problems.
Friday 22nd December
The temple guards were dispatched to arrest Jesus but came back without him. These tough soldiers were as astonished at Jesus as anyone else. The Pharisees were furious! Even among the Sanhedrin there was a Christian, Nicodemus, who later helped to bury Jesus (19:39).
Pray for Kathleen MacKinnon and Agnes Chisholm and the work of the Pastoral Care Team.
Saturday 23rd December
The story of the woman caught in adultery who was brought to Jesus by some who were only concerned to catch him out. If only we knew what he wrote on the sand! The sins of her accusers? Jesus did not excuse her life of sin, he told her to go and sin no more but he did show up the hypocrisy of her accusers.
Pray for the Macdonalds in Zambia and ask that God might give them good health and encouragement in all they do.
Sunday 24th December
Once again, we find the Jews questioning the right of Jesus to speak. The Lord again underlines the fact that he only said what God had told him to say. He makes the position crystal clear in verse 24: unless they believe in him they will die in their sins. This is equally true today.
Pray for the Christmas Eve services, asking that the message of the birth of a Saviour would have an impact on the many people who will attend a church service today, even although they do not usually attend.
Monday 25th December
In this passage, Jesus tells the people that if they believe in him they will be set free. The Jews respond that as the children of Abraham this is unnecessary. Jesus tells them that they are all sinners no matter what their background. Many today believe that they don’t need to be born again because they were ‘brought up in a Christian home’. Jesus’ answer would be the same.
Give thanks to God today that he loved the world so much that he sent his only Son.
Tuesday 26th December
The claim of Jesus to have ‘been’ before Abraham excited the fury of his opponents who were convinced that he was demon-possessed. The truth is that Jesus was simply stating again the truth we saw in the first verse of the Gospel: he is God as well as man and is therefore eternal.
Pray that in all the rush of Christmas we might take time to stop and reflect on exactly what the birth of Jesus means for all of us.
Wednesday 27th December
This miracle begins with a discussion. The disciples ask whether the man or his parents were to blame for his blindness. It was then a common belief that every physical and mental disability was a result of sin. Jesus puts an end to this view. Yet there are many today who believe it! How often have you heard someone say ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ This is not to deny that some illness or trouble can come as a punishment for sin, but certainly not all.
Pray for those members of the congregation who are in Care Homes. Pray that they may know God’s presence with them.
Thursday 28th December
This is a wonderful example of the simple man confounding the wisdom of his ‘betters’. They insisted that Jesus was a sinner, that he broke the Sabbath and so on. But persistently the man who had been blind came back to the simple fact: ‘One thing I do know: I was blind but now I see’. There was no answer to that.
Pray for the work of the World Reformed Fellowship and for its Theological Commission.
Friday 29th December
This is a very short passage for our reading today but there is much in it. The basic truth conveyed here is that the blind will see. Jesus, of course, is speaking in a spiritual way (hence his comment to the Pharisees) and is describing the way of salvation. Each of us is spiritually blind until we come to Christ and have our eyes opened. See Acts 26:16-18.
Pray for the Fellowship Groups in the congregation. Pray that the fellowship, Bible study and discussion might help and strengthen those who attend.
Saturday 30th December
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He laid down his life for his sheep. The picture of the shepherd and the sheep is a most helpful one. As sheep we are dependent upon the shepherd for everything, even our continued existence. Also the whole purpose of Jesus’ coming is stated: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’. Praise God that this is so.
Pray for the Gideon and for every opportunity they are given to distribute the Scriptures. Pray that every Gospel, every Bible and every Scripture portion may be used by God to help people to find Christ.
Sunday 31st December
There are also false shepherds who disturb and damage and divide the flock. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. The hired hand runs away at the first sign of danger. In other words, there are many who claim to be shepherds but only Jesus can be trusted.
Pray for the Minister as he takes the morning and evening services today.