Bible Readings & Prayer Points
This month in our Bible readings we are going to consider some of the promises of God which are found in the Scriptures. These promises were made to God’s people in Old and New Testaments but God’s character does not change, nor does his attitude to his covenant people, so we can justifiably take these promises for our own encouragement in the faith.
Thursday 1st November
‘The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still’. This was the promise given to the Israelites when they had left Egypt and Pharaoh was pursuing them. God assured them that he would deal with Pharaoh and the Israelites need only be still and trust in him. There are many times in life when we face battles of one kind or another and the temptation is always to fight these battles with our limited human resources. Our God says to trust him and he will fight the battles on our behalf. We must trust him.
Pray for the Kirk Session corporately and for each elder individually. Pray especially for your own district elder. Ask that God would help them in the pastoral care of the congregation.
Friday 2nd November
‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you’. This is the fifth commandment and the first one to have a promise attached. To respect and honour our parents and, by implication, the older generation as a whole, demonstrates the values of a God-fearing, civilised society. This is not just a message for children but for people of any age, we must all respect our elders. Where old people are not respected and where they are regarded as a problem or a burden, we are not obeying God and therefore cannot expect his blessing. Many eastern nations and African nations are far better at looking after their old people than we are in the western nations.
Pray for the fund-raiser tomorrow evening for Romania and for Rachel Taylor as she prepares to go there with the school.
Saturday 3rd November
‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go’. God spoke these words to Joshua, a young man who was about to take over the leadership of the Israelites from Moses. Moses had been the great leader and law-giver, the one who had spoken to God face to face on the mountain. No doubt Joshua was afraid to step into those shoes, so God reassures him. Joshua did not need to be afraid because the same God who had led and guided and protected Moses was going to do the same for him. In the same way, we need not be afraid as we live the life of faith because that same God is with us too.
Today has been designated a National Day of Prayer in the Church of Scotland. Take time to pray for the Church in its work throughout the country. Pray too that it will become more obedient to God speaking by his Spirit through the Scriptures.
Sunday 4th November
2 Chronicles 7:14
‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’. Many people in Scotland have been quoting this verse as the way to deliverance for our church and our nation. Repentance and prayer are required. Certainly, whenever people have taken seriously to prayer in the past, God has acted. Unfortunately, only a tiny fraction of those who worship in churches on a Sunday turn out to the prayer meetings which are held all over the country. Many say they believe in prayer but until we corporately give ourselves wholeheartedly to prayer and repentance, how can we expect God to act?
Pray for the Minister taking the morning and evening services today and for Iain Macdonald taking the Raigmore service.
Monday 5th November
‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me’. There can be very few verses of Scripture which have given so much comfort to so many. All of us during our lives will, at some point, go through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’, whether the death of a relative or a friend. The Psalmist assures us that the Lord will comfort us in such circumstances. Many of us could testify to the truth of this, having found that, in the very darkest days of our lives, when we lost loved ones the Lord himself met us and carried us through.
Pray for those in the congregation who are ill and for those who are undergoing hospital treatment. Pray too for those who care for them.
Tuesday 6th November
‘The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?’ This was written by King David, who knew what it was like to be in fearful situations. Often his enemies sought to kill him and waged war against him. David’s confidence in the Lord, however, was solid. As he says in verse 3 of the same Psalm, ‘Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident’. There are many situations in life which can make people afraid. This can be fear of physical violence, or mental cruelty. It could also be fear for our children or grandchildren. It might be fear of not being able to pay our bills and put food on the table. Or it could be fear for the future, fear of losing a job, fear of failure. This wonderful Scripture assures us that there is no need to be afraid if we are trusting the Lord. He knows us, he knows the situations we face and he will stand beside us. Do not be afraid. Trust in him.
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade and for its faithful team of officers. Pray for the girls who attend and ask that they might grow up to follow the Saviour.
Wednesday 7th November
‘Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart’. What are the things in life that bring us pleasure and delight? What are the things on which we spend our time and our money? Do we always find that these things give us a true, deep-seated delight? Sadly, many people chase after things that they think will bring them pleasure but when they have them, it is never enough, they want more. Sometimes we read of people who in our eyes seem to have everything but they are not satisfied. Pleasure seems to be just around the corner but never reached. In the verse we have read today, the Psalmist is telling us that true delight and true pleasure are to be found in God. Paradoxically, he also tells us that when we take delight in the Lord rather than on material things, God gives us the material things too!
Pray for all the young people from our church who are working away from home and those who are attending college or university. Pray that the Lord will keep them close to himself.
Thursday 8th November
‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight’. Too often we think that we know better than God. We work out our own way of life without taking seriously what God has said in the Bible. This is also a national problem. One of the problems with our country is that many politicians imagine that they can produce plans to change society for the better. They legislate for everything under the sun. What they forget is that God has already told us how to live as individuals and as a society. He has given us the guidance and wisdom we need. Politicians, using their own understanding, instead of looking to God and his Word for help, inevitably lead us in the wrong direction.
Pray for the Senior Citizens’ lunch today at Raigmore and ask that the message will be heard, understood and believed.
Friday 9th November
‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak’. Two questions here. First, do you feel weary and tired and lacking in strength? If so, then this verse will be a huge encouragement. God comes to us when we are tired and weary and gives us strength. Second, do you feel weak? We live in a world where many people believe that strength, power, wealth and influence are the keys to getting ahead and achieving greatness. Weakness is frowned upon and the weak are usually trampled upon as people try to climb the ladder to ‘success’. God, however, takes a different view. God raises up the weak and brings down the self-important. He also chose the weak of this world to shame the strong, as we see in 1 Corinthians 1:27.
Pray for Open Doors today asking that everyone who comes in will feel welcomed and valued. Pray that help and encouragement might be given to those in need.
Saturday 10th November
‘Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’. This follows on from what we saw yesterday. If our hope is in the Lord, then he will give us all the strength we need for each day. If you have seen eagles soaring in the skies, you will know what an impressive sight it is. God says that we can ‘soar’ like eagles, run and not grow weary. He does not mean that we can learn to fly or that all believers could run a marathon! No, he is speaking spiritually. Very often our spiritual lives can be in the doldrums, in a rut. The Lord can help us to break free from the doldrums and to ‘soar’ in our spiritual lives.
Pray for Jack Macdonald in his studies for the ministry at New College, Edinburgh. Ask that the Lord would help and strengthen him through his work.
Sunday 11th November
‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’. These words were spoken to the people of God, at Jerusalem. God, speaking through the prophet, addresses Israel. He recalls how he chose them, beginning with Abraham, who is described as God’s friend. God brought his people from the ends of the earth and settled them, he called them his servants and his chosen people. For that reason, they have no need to be afraid. If God has chosen them, called them, given them a land in which to live, made a covenant with them and blessed them, why should they be afraid? He is God, after all, with all the power to do as he pleases.
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services today, the morning being the Remembrance Service. Pray too for Alex Stephen taking the Raigmore service and the Rev D.A. Maclennan taking the Gaelic Service.
Monday 12th November
‘For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you’. The message here is similar to what we saw yesterday but notice two things in particular. First, God addresses the Israelites in this way: ‘I am the Lord, your God’. In other words, God self-identifies as the God of Israel. He is their God and his concern is for them. Yes, the Israelites were to share the message of this God with others, they were to be a ‘light to the nations’ but he was Israel’s God and Israel was his primary concern. Second, God tells them not to fear because ‘I will help you’. That is a most encouraging promise. When we have a lot to do and someone comes to help us, it is often a huge relief. Work that would have been difficult on our own becomes easier with people to help. How much more then when God himself promises to help us? God is good.
Pray for Christine Macdonald as she continues to wait for a liver transplant in London. Pray for Don and the family in Zambia, as they await news.
Tuesday 13th November
‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze’. Just before this promise to Israel, God speaks through the prophet and says this: ‘I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine’. The reason the people can be confident of their safety and security is because God has redeemed them and so owns them. They belong to him. In Exodus 20 we’re told that the Lord is a ‘jealous God’ which means that God loves his people and is unwilling to share them with another. That is why it hurt him so much when they worshipped other gods. We can say confidently that Christians are now in the same position. We have been ‘redeemed’ by the blood of Christ and God has set his ‘seal’ of ownership upon us. We belong to him.
Pray for the Trustees of Covenant Fellowship Scotland as they meet today, asking that God would assist them in promoting evangelicalism within the Church of Scotland.
Wednesday 14th November
‘“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you’. The people of God had done a great deal to upset God, as the prophet has explained earlier in this prophecy (1:1-17). They had broken the covenant, disobeyed God’s law, resisted God’s commands and persecuted God’s prophets. The wonderful thing is that God did not abandon them. As the verse says, his covenant is still in place, and his unfailing love is not shaken. This is an amazing God. Not only does he save sinners and adopt them into his family but he also receives us back after we have fallen into sin and disobedience. The God of unfailing love!
Pray for Fraser and Dawn Jackson in South Africa, remembering Fraser’s work in providing a digital library service to a number of colleges. Pray too for Dawn’s work among those in prison.
Thursday 15th November
‘“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD’. Throughout the history of God’s dealings with human beings, he has always had a faithful remnant of believers. These believers have often been persecuted and attacked, both physically and verbally. God reassures them that their enemies will not triumph and they will prevail against every opposition. The main word here is ‘vindication’. God will vindicate his people from every slander and every attack. In the end, they will be shown to have been the true people of God. Christians today face attacks, some physical and some verbal. We have many enemies. In the same way, God will vindicate his own people, in his own time and in his own way. We can be sure of it.
Pray for the Gathering today. Pray that those who come may find it to be an enjoyable time of fellowship and pray for June McGowan and the other helpers.
Friday 16th November
‘“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”’. In the midst of the apparent uncertainly of life, we are told here that God has a plan. Not only so but the plan is a good one! It is a plan which will bring prosperity and hope for the future. We know from elsewhere in the Bible that God’s plan was worked out before we were even born, for example, in Ephesians 1:11: ‘In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will’. God has no plans to harm us but only to bless us. Having set his love upon us in advance, having predestined us to salvation and having called us and saved us, the plan is good and is gradually being revealed. We should be excited about the future because God’s wonderful plan is still unfolding before our eyes.
Pray for the World Reformed Fellowship, of which the Minister is Vice Chairman. Ask that the WRF would have a global impact for good.
Saturday 17th November
‘“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”’. The people of God were required to contribute 10% of their income to the Lord. The prophet Malachi tells them that they should not try to avoid this obligation, or give less than the tithe. He also explains that God’s arithmetic is different from ours. We might be inclined to keep back some of the tithe because we are anxious about having enough money. God is telling us that if we give the whole tithe, we will never run short! God’s blessing follows the generosity of his people. If they give the tithe, he will bless them. We might say that the way to be sure we have enough, is to give more to the Lord’s work!
Pray for the Minister as he leads an Elders’ Conference in Aviemore.
Sunday 18th November
‘So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. This is about priorities and it is a challenge from Jesus that all of us need to hear. As Christians, we must not worry and we must get our priorities right because only then can we serve our God properly. If our minds are cluttered with all kinds of worldly cares then we must ask Christ to take them away. We must seek first his Kingdom and we must hunger and thirst for righteousness. There are some people come to worship on a Sunday and go away unfilled (spiritually) because they sit down without an appetite, because they aren’t truly hungering and thirsting after righteousness. They are preoccupied with other things, worries and concerns. Do we want a deeper spiritual life? Do we want to know more of God and grow closer to him? Are we hungry for the spiritual nurture that comes from the Word of God? We will only seek first the Kingdom of God and hunger and thirst for righteousness if we feel our need for God.
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services today and for Donald MacVicar as he takes the Raigmore service.
Monday 19th November
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’. This is the most famous verse in the Bible and the most significant promise. It tells us that, because of God’s love and his Son’s death, there is opened up before us the gift of eternal life. How can we receive that eternal Life? This verse tells us that it comes by believing in Jesus. Many religions will tell you what you have to do in a search for God but Christianity is different. It tells us that God came to find us. In doing so, he sent his Son to die on a cross. Now, we do not have to search for God, we simply have to believe in Jesus and accept eternal life. Have you believed in Jesus and received this gift of eternal life? Have your family and friends? This message is simple but it is vital.
Pray for the Andrew and June McGowan as they go on a week’s holiday. Ask that they might enjoy a break before a very busy period coming up.
Tuesday 20th November
‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him’. We saw yesterday that the way to salvation and eternal life is by believing in Jesus. Here we see the opposite side of that promise. Those who do not believe in Jesus will not see life. Indeed, God’s wrath remains on them. The point is that the wrath of God needs to be turned away and dealt with. That is what Jesus did on the cross but he only did it for those who will believe in him. Without faith, we remain in our sin and only the wrath of God remains. This underlines the teaching of Jesus that there are only two destinies which await human beings at the end: eternal life to those who have believed in Christ and death and judgement for those who have not.
Pray for the Presbytery of Inverness meeting this evening. Ask that the discussions and decisions would be in accord with God’s will.
Wednesday 21st November
‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’. The Jews who heard Jesus say these words were deeply offended. The suggestion that they were not free was unacceptable. After all, they were part of God’s family because they were the descendants of Abraham. Jesus, however, was speaking about spiritual freedom, as we read in verse 34: ‘Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.”’ Are we slaves to sin or are we the free sons and daughters of God? Notice, if we have been set free through holding to the truth that comes through faithful discipleship, then we are ‘truly free.’ This means that we have not only been set free from our slavery to sin but also that we have been adopted into the family of God. There are many in our city who believe themselves to be free but are in bondage to sin. We must tell them about the true freedom which Christ brings.
Pray for Beechwood and Cameron House, the two Church of Scotland centres in Inverness. Give thanks for the staff who work in these places and pray for the residents with their different needs.
Thursday 22nd November
‘And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it’. Jesus was telling his disciples that he was going away but that he would send the Holy Spirit to his followers. He assures them that he will continue to be with them, even although he was no longer physically present. To demonstrate this, he tells them that he will answer their prayers. Sometimes in days like ours, when the churches are shrinking and some are closing, we can begin to lose faith in the power of prayer. This is a terrible mistake. Jesus is as active today as he was in the earliest days of the church and we must pray, confident of his response. Notice that this is one way in which the Son brings glory to the Father. By answering our prayers and so advancing the kingdom, the Son brings glory to the Father.
Pray for the Scottish Bible Society and for its Director, Elaine Duncan. Pray that many will read the Bibles it produces and distributes and so find Christ.
Friday 23rd November
‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’. If we are Christians, then we have a God who works out everything for our good. This is a wonderful promise and it should help us to rest in God. It means that we can look forward with confidence, knowing that everything which happens is ultimately for our good. Now, of course, there may be events and circumstances in which we suffer great pain and loss, and there may be times when we go through experiences which we cannot see as ‘good’. Nevertheless, God has made a promise and he will not break it. It may be that we do not understand why something was for our good until much later, or even until we go to be with the Lord, yet ultimately, we will find that the promise is true.
Pray for Rutherford House and for its new form as the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology. Pray that it will continue to help people to think biblically and theologically.
Saturday 24th November
‘If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved’. There is a great deal of theology in these two verses. First, we learn that justification (which means pardon and acceptance) comes through believing in Jesus Christ. Notice, not just believing that he existed but believing that he died and that God raised him from the dead, for our salvation. Second, we learn the importance of confessing our faith, telling others what we have come to believe and the difference it has made to our lives. Have we believed and been justified? Have we testified to our belief in the Saviour, encouraging others to follow?
Pray for Jim Fraser, our organist and for Muriel and Myra who assist when required. Pray too for the Music Group who share in leading our worship.
Sunday 25th November
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’. This is a theme which we touched on at a morning service when we were going through the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus told us not to worry because God knows our needs and will provide for them. Here Paul underlines this truth. One popular paraphrase of the Bible summed up this verse in the phrase, ‘worry about nothing, pray about everything’. That is very good advice. It is also the way to a more stress-free life because worrying is a major cause of stress. If we learn to pray and to commit everything to God, there will be much less stress in our lives. Notice too that Paul says our prayers should include thanksgiving. One of the dangers with prayer is that we come to God with a ‘shopping list’ of what we want him to do and forget to thank him for what he has already done.
Pray for the Rev Seoras Mackenzie as he takes the morning service, Ian Challinor as he takes the Raigmore service and the Rev Douglas Horne as he takes the evening service.
Monday 26th November
‘And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus’. The theme of this verse is faith. This is real faith! Here is a man in jail writing to a persecuted church telling them that God will supply all of their needs… Do you believe that God will meet all your needs? Paul is saying two things here in these verses: First, it is not only the needs of Paul that are met by God but the needs of every Christian (not just missionaries and famous Christians). Second, the generosity of the Philippians to Paul has not gone unnoticed by God. They will be rewarded by having their own needs met. This second point is important because it speaks to us of the grace of giving. In 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9, Paul explains that when Christians give generously, they receive generously from God. Indeed, he says that this is grace at work.
Pray for the women who will gather tomorrow (and each Tuesday) morning for Bible study. Ask that it might be a blessing to those who come, as they go deeper into God’s Word.
Tuesday 27th November
‘If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him’. James has been speaking about trials and testing. Now he explains that these trials and testing, which lead to maturity and spiritual growth, are not easy to bear. In order to endure the testing, to take it in the right spirit, and to go on to maturity, wisdom is necessary. This is given as a gift from God to those who ask. The wisdom that God gives helps us to see things as they really are, to see things from God’s perspective. Wisdom is given as a gift from God to those who ask, but we must ask properly. As James goes on to say, ‘when he asks, he must believe and not doubt’. Do you see the point? We must ask for wisdom but we must ask in faith.
Pray for the Minister as he takes a Raigmore Assembly this morning and then takes the Word at One service at lunchtime.
Wednesday 28th November
‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. There are two parts to this statement. First, we must submit ourselves to God. This requires total obedience to God and to the teaching of his Word. It also means that we have to look at everything from a different perspective. Instead of looking at God and the world as if everything revolves around ourselves, we must learn to look at everything, including ourselves, realising that God is at the centre. In other words, we must see ourselves as we truly are (i.e.) in relation to God. We can only know ourselves properly if we see ourselves in the context of that relationship to God. The second part of the verse requires us to resist the devil. This is not easy. He knows our weaknesses and always tries to exploit them. Often, we give in too easily to temptation and so fall into sin. The good news, however, is that if we do resist him, the devil will flee from us.
Pray for Christian Aid and TEAR Fund and the other relief agencies who do their work in Christ’s name. Grant that their work and their witness will be effective.
Thursday 29th November
1 John 1:9
‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’. This is a wonderful promise. Sometimes when Christians sin, they think that God will not forgive them, that they have let him down so badly, they have crossed a line and cannot return. This is not true. John has just said that ‘if we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves’. He understands that as human beings we do sin. The question is: what do we do when that happens. Our sins can easily drive a wedge between us and God or separate us from God but there is no need for this. As John explains, if we confess our sins, God will forgive them. Do not delay, if there are unconfessed sins in our lives, let’s come to him and find the glorious release which comes from Gods gracious forgiveness.
Pray for the meeting of the Kirk Session tonight and ask for God’s guidance as the Elders think about the impending vacancy and other business.
Friday 30th November
‘He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels’. In the wonderful imagery of the Book of Revelation, John describes the visions which he received from God. In one of those visions he sees people clothed in white robes. When he asks who they are, he is told that they are believers who have come through great tribulations. He also sees books with names written in them, particularly the Lamb’s Book of Life, in which are inscribed the name of every true believer. Notice, if our names are in that book they cannot be blotted out. This is a great promise and a huge encouragement. Once saved, always saved. We cannot be lost.
Pray for the many people in the congregation suffering with cancer, of various types and at various stages. Give thanks for those who treatment has been successful. Remember especially those who are awaiting results of scans and other treatment.