Daily Readings – February 2020

Daily Meditations by Sam MacDonald on the Songs of Ascents using extracts from the notes on biblical themes by the late Selwyn Hughes, in his booklet Every Day with Jesus.

During this period of study and meditation we are going to look at that part of the book of psalms known as the Song of Ascents. They comprise that section of psalms from 120 to 134.

Prayer Points by Ann MacDonald.

Saturday 1st February.
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way. Mark 10: 32
It is thought that these songs were sung by pilgrims as they climbed up to Jerusalem to attend the great festivals of worship, Passover; Pentecost; and the Feast of Tabernacles. Our reading records that Jesus led the way with the people going up to Jerusalem, so let us seek Gods’ guidance as we set our feet on the road of this year of 2020 without any feeling of fear. Wouldn’t it be wonderful when we come to the end of this study to find that we are cheered in spirit, for we will have travelled with God, and every step we take, is on the road that He has chosen for us. Before we go on to read and ponder on the Songs of Ascents let us be assured that we are all travelling on a journey, some will end up in hell to be punished for their wicked ways and others, by faith will climb to Heaven to be with our Lord and Redeemer forever.

Prayer Points.
Give thanks for all those who faithfully prepare the Church for services on Sunday and for Prayer meetings and Open doors throughout the week. Pray for those who will tonight look for fulfilment in the pubs and nightclubs of the town that hearts and minds would be opened to the realisation that Christ alone can satisfy every longing.

Sunday 2nd February.
Save me, O Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. Psalm 120: 2
The psalmist is setting out on a journey to get away from the wicked people who dwell where he has been living. He prays to God that he will be set free from the evil talk and wicked ways he has been forced to live amongst and prays that he will soon be united with folk who worship God. However, Christians must live in this world, which is full of evil, and are surrounded by people who do not know God and hurl abuse as they oppose the ways of God’s Kingdom. So, let us seek to always follow the path which will lead us home to heaven. May the peace of God, and fellowship of being close to Him, be our portion as we continue in this time of study. What must we do to live a God honouring way of life? Well, we must recognise that before we can be accepted by God, we must renounce the ways of this world. Let us confess our sins to God and He will do as He has ever promised, to fully forgive us and cast our iniquities into the depths of the seas.

Prayer Points.
Give thanks to God for sending Jesus to earth to become our Saviour and that His salvation is free to all who will simply believe. Pray for our many brothers and sisters around the world who worship the King in fear, that they would be upheld by our prayers and be aware of God’s arms around them in protection.

Monday 3rd February.
What will He do to you, and what more besides, O deceitful tongue? Psalm 120: 3
How busy our enemy the devil is, when he tries to lead us to accept his statements, such as, that all men’s ways are good, and everyone will end up in heaven or again there are many ways to get to heaven. Help us, dear Lord to trust only on Your Holy Word, and the truth that there is only one way to heaven and that is by the shed blood of Jesus. The ways of the wicked are many, but God warns that He will punish them for trying to lead His people into evil ways, therefore false preachers should heed these warnings and follow God’s Word as they prepare to preach. It may not be what the congregation would prefer to hear, but it will be in accordance with the Holy Word of God, and will lead to peace in our hearts as we follow the path which God has prepared for each one of us.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for those Elders who have stepped forward to undertake unfamiliar duties during this lengthy time of vacancy. Pray for the Nominating Committee that they would be sustained and encouraged in their difficult task and that God would be speaking to the heart of someone to be our next teaching Elder.

Tuesday 4th February.
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom tree. Psalm 120: 4
This psalm is not full of joy, but it contains statements which look forward to escaping from people who would encourage us to break free from the ways of God and to join with them in following Satan and his wicked ways. We are told that God will send great punishments to those who would so treat His precious people, but these chastisements are sent so that people might repent of their evil ways and come to acknowledge the truths of God’s Kingdom. Let us give thanks for the Salvation He has wrought for them all through Jesus His Son. Let us not seek to look for revenge against those who try to mislead us, but like Jesus would do, plead for their forgiveness and despite this seemingly unlikely outcome, it will surprise you what our Lord can do.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the signs of new life as Winter recedes and Spring approaches, for the wonder of each new season designed so brilliantly by God. Pray that we would all seek to care for His creation, thinking every day about how we can reduce pollution, and waste so that grandchildren and great grandchildren might still have a beautiful world to live in.

Wednesday 5th February.
Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech, that I live among the tents of Kedar. Psalm 120: 5.
As this psalm ends, the psalmist declares his sorrow that he has had to live among people who are heathen and whose speech and actions are wicked. In fact, that is why he has set his mind to travel to where God’s Word is present, and he prays that Gods’ ways are to be sought by many who stay in that region of evil. May we also be like the psalmist and yearn to flee from the wickedness of the world about us and turn to the joyous ways of God, for He has declared that following the truths of His Word is the only way by which we can be saved. We must renounce the ways of the world, confess our sins and whenever we are faced with evils, we must cling to what we know is right in the sight of our Lord and Saviour.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for those who prepare the Word and lead the Bible study and Prayer groups and pray that more would come and join this powerhouse of Church life. Pray that every evil power at work in our world would not succeed and that the day will soon come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus only is Lord. Especially pray for ex-Muslims who have renounced Allah and face expulsion from their families.

Thursday 6th February.
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Psalm 121:1-2
We now come to the second psalm of these Songs of Ascent and it will be well known to those who attend church, especially in the Highlands, for we can view the hills which are all around us and as we sing the first line, back comes the answer, it comes from the Lord, who made everything that has been made. He has created it all to be inhabited by a people, whom He can love and encourage to seek and worship Him. Sin has however torn us apart from His love, but in His great mercy He has provided a way for us to return to Him, by sending His only Son Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins on Calvary’s cruel cross. We rejoice to know that because He has ascended to sit at God’s right hand, to intercede for us, our sins can be forgiven.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the amazing work of Mercy Ships UK which brings hope and healing to many people around the world who would not be able to receive lifesaving and life changing treatment otherwise, let us all be thankful for help readily available from the NHS. Pray that preaching in our times of Worship will remain true to the Word of God and ensure that no part of Scripture is missed or diluted.

Friday 7th February.
He will not let your foot slip, He who watches over you will not slumber nor sleep. Psalm 121: 3.
As we travel on life’s journey, it is so comforting to be assured that we are guided by our loving God, for He will protect us from all harm. Even the burning rays of the sun, or the dangers of the night, should not worry us when our faith is in our gracious God. This does not mean that we will not have to bear illness and have our lives free from difficulties of many kinds, for we are told to rely on Him who will steer us on the path which He has chosen for us. Because of this, we are confident that our ways are kept guided by Him. Let us learn to lean on Him as we travel on our journeys, for He has promised to be ever close to us. Surely, we can rejoice as we sing the old hymn ‘Though Satan should buffet, if trials should come, let this blessed assurance control, for Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul’. Praise be to our God for this glorious thought.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for Theological College staff who use their talents to prepare people for a role in preaching and teaching. Pray for missionaries who have travelled to foreign lands that they would be protected and encouraged and that many who have been converted by these missionaries would come to lands like the UK where Christianity is declining. Lord we pray for a revival in our land.

Saturday 8th February.
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore. Psalm 121: 7 and 8.
What a wonderful assurance is available for those, who rely on His guidance and protection, for we can say with confidence that nowhere in Holy Scripture does it declare that Christians will have lives free from pain and worry. We are given His power so that our life will be not be spiritually affected when difficulties arise. As the traveller was moving from a heathen country to find a place where God’s people lived, it is likely that he would head for Jerusalem, and as he approached the city, he would have climbed the hills and be glad his journey was nearly over, guided and protected from all harm and evil by the God who loved him. May we be joyous to know that as we travel though life, we too are being led by our loving heavenly Shepherd.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the children who are part of our Church family and for the parents and grandparents who bring them faithfully to Worship and Sunday School. Pray for the teachers as they prepare lessons for the children that they would be encouraged by the task You have placed on their hearts. Pray too that we would be open to ideas like ‘Messy church’ to encourage folk who might find our traditional Church building intimidating.

Sunday 9th February
I rejoiced with those who said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord. Psalm 122: 1
We come to the third Song of Ascents which deals with the joy the pilgrims felt as they joined to journey to Jerusalem to worship their God. They would have gone with others from the same village or town, many of whom would be close relatives and we can imagine how delighted they would be to arrive within the gates of the city, for this was where God had chosen to establish the place of worship and sacrifice for His people Israel and it was known as the Temple. We too should be drawn to find joy in our hearts as we worship God in His three Persons, for it is in engaging in times of worship that our souls find their highest potential and God tells that He is pleased that we have come to praise Him for His guidance and protection.

Prayer Points
Give thanks that we can come to our Church in peace and relative safety and for all those who have willingly led our services. Pray for Christians around the world who have been imprisoned for their faith or their failure to renounce their faith. Pray that they would be aware of God’s presence in their isolation, torture and often death.

Monday 10th February.
Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. Psalm 122: 3
Now that we have considered the joy of going to worship God, let us think a little about the place which was available for them to offer their prayers and established sacrifices. Jerusalem was a walled city and thus the houses were built close together, we can say that the planning was done with care, for the city had to take advantage of its protective wall. It was here that God chose to establish His dwelling place and build His Temple to be the place where His people Israel would come at the times of ceremonial feasts to worship their Father God. How enviously we look at the orderliness of these times long ago, in comparison with the way we see our leaders accept new laws which are destroying the moral integrities established in past years.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the ‘Open Doors’ organisation Christmas appeal which helped raise funds for vital supplies to help during the winter in Syria. Syria has 814,000 Christians who live under the control of Islamic extremists. Pray that ‘Open Doors’ work in Syria would enable and encourage women to be able to set up small businesses so that they can provide for their families.

Tuesday 11th February.
The tribes go up to praise the Name of the Lord as He commanded. Psalm 122: 4
Today we think of the command of God to His people that they must be faithful in worshipping Him, for without this directive, we would only go to church when we felt like it, or when it was a nice day. We cannot deny that this is now evident in the reduction in attendance of Sunday Services. Let us develop a feeling of keenness to seek to worship God in sincerity, for He will encourage our hearts with greater understanding of His Holy Word. Dear Lord, we pray the Lord will speak to those councillors who have been influenced by those who are following the ways of Satan, to repent from how they are leading us astray by introducing laws based on evil practices, such as free abortion, same sex marriage and the like. May there be a return to God’s ways.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the ladies who meet together in our Church to study God’s Word and pray that they would be encouraged by that Word and grow in each other’s company. Pray for protection of young people in a world which is bombarding them with wrong and hurtful ideas via social media. Pray too for groups who attempt to reach out to those who are in danger of self-harming or who may be contemplating suicide.

Wednesday 12th February.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122: 6
As we come to the end of this psalm we are encouraged to pray for the security and peace to be maintained in the city of Jerusalem, for if harm were to destroy the city of God, it would spell spiritual catastrophe for the nation of Israel. The Temple would be destroyed and the ark of God’s covenant would be lost and since it contained the tablets of stone on which God had written the 10 commandments, even that would cease to be, all that had been preserved as a testimony of God’s help and guidance of His own nation would disappear. Without a safe place for the tribes to worship their unity would be lost. Let us remember to give ourselves to God in worship.

Prayer Points
Give thanks that we have the Word of God available to us in our own language, and for those who have spent endless hours translating the Bible so that all may hear and believe. Pray for the land of Israel, that the Jews might have the veil removed from their eyes to recognise Jesus as their Messiah and that peace and reconciliation would be possible between the Jews and Arabs in that land. Especially uphold Palestinian Christians who are prevented from open Worship and often have their land stolen from them and their houses destroyed.

Thursday 13th February.
I lift my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. Psalm 123:1
We now begin to look at the 4th of these Songs of Ascents, which examines our attitude to how we should serve our God, who has control over this earth and all that He has created. Well, the first way is by worshipping Him and following His guiding hand, but we are told to watch and wait, to always be attentive to what God may be telling us. In ancient times, a wealthy man would have many servants who required to be skilled to understand the orders of their master. When he wanted drinks brought to the feast, he would make a secret signal and the servants would obey. Likewise, we should be ever attentive to God and recognise His mightiness and power over all He has made.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for those who have recovered, or are recovering for illness or operations. Pray for the caring services and all who work in them, for doctors, nurses, and surgeons in our hospitals and in homes, for the police and ambulance services, and carers for the housebound that they would be protected in the vital work they carry out.

Friday 14th February.
As the eyes of the slaves look to the hand of the master, so our eyes look to the Lord. Psalm 123: 2
If we look to God as our guide in all of life, it is easier to see ourselves as servants of the living God, as people who are content to obey Him when He calls and give thanks for His answer to our prayers, but we must not come to think of God as someone we can expect to answer when we ask for our wants. He will give when He decides our need is worthy, He is not our servant although it was in His will and purpose that we should become like Him. As we spoke of the servants in yesterday’s story being watchful of their master’s instructions, so must we be aware when our Master speaks His quiet answers to our prayers. Therefore, we must continue to come to God in prayer.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the work of our own Open Doors team and pray that they would be encouraged as they speak to folk outside the building and that they would be given words of wisdom to help any in distress. Pray for Christian Aid’s vision of a world free from poverty. This year they want many to volunteer as ambassadors for Christian Aid. These people would witness in places of work and at music festivals like Greenbelt. Ask God to show us if that is something we could do, but if not that we would pray for those who have agreed to help.

Saturday 15th February.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. Psalm 123: 3
As we close this study of Psalm 123, this verse tells us that our God is merciful and is not willing that any of His followers should perish. He does not treat us as our sins deserve for, if He did no one could stand, instead He sent His dear Son Jesus to earth to live a blameless life, and to give His own life on the cross, so that those who have confessed their sins and believe that Jesus is the Son of God, will in God’s mercy, have the ransom paid for their sins. True servants of God do not cower in terror as they work for their Lord, for they love Him and know that He is merciful. How sad that many will refuse to accept this free offer of Salvation, won at such a cost by our saviour Jesus Christ. Note how the call for mercy is repeated as it stresses, how much we need God’s merciful hand to guide us in the present and in the future.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the Girls’ Brigade and for the leaders who put so much of their valuable time into giving girls skills to live a God directed life. Pray that more girls would be encouraged to join and that they would be safe and inspired in all the tasks and activities which they undertake. Pray also for all the Boys’ brigade branches in the town that they would be well attended and supported.

Sunday 16th February.
If the Lord had not been on our side, Let Israel say. Psalm 124: 1
This psalm relates the thanks of Israel for the mercy of God, which has kept them free from the perils which have come upon the whole country. We are told that the Israelites were the chosen people of God, for He rescued them when they were bound in slavery by the Egyptians, He allowed them to cross safely over the Red Sea but destroyed those who pursued them, and He provided them with food and water as they crossed the desert. When they were safely in the Promised Land, He rescued them whenever enemies attacked and as we pass into New Testament times, He opened prison doors and the disciples’ chains. He saved His people when they obeyed His commandments, and He can still rescue us when we call on Him to help us when we are in distress.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for all who lead us in praise, for the talents of the organists and praise band. Pray that we will have willing hearts to praise and glorify God with new and old songs of praise. Pray for those who are unable to join with us in Worship because of old age or illness that they would be aware of God’s presence ever with them.

Monday 17th February.
When men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive. Psalm 124: 3
When we each look at how we have been carried along the path of life by Gods’ intervention, we should conclude by saying in all honesty, ‘If the Lord had not been there to guide us,’ our lives would not be so controlled and regulated. King David knew that God could save the nation of Israel, but he also knew that God had saved him, so he relied on the outcome of his prayers to God. Unless we truly believe and follow Gods’ ways, we cannot rely that He will answer when we call on Him, and since God wants to forgive each one of us, we pray now that He will change us, by increasing our faith so that we will trust in His saving Grace. How often when we look back at our lives we should think of these words, ‘If that the Lord’ and give thanks for His protection.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for all those who have fought and defended our land and its freedom through two awful world wars and many other conflicts. Pray that they, and their bravery would never be forgotten. Pray too for those who suffer from mental illness, that they would be given courage to seek medical help and talk to friends honestly about their fears. Pray that physicians would be given the skills to address mental illness in the same way as physical ailments.

Tuesday 18th February.
We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare. Psalm 124: 7
In this psalm we are reminded that the Lord is always near, to rescue us from troubles as they come upon us. The wicked schemes of the devil are set upon us like famine or floods or illness, and we would be lost if we did not have our God to rescue us. How we give thanks for the blessings we receive from God, for the deliverance He provides and like a trapped bird, we are set free as our souls are renewed and our spirits revived. Let us pray with thanksgiving, for the ways we have been delivered from all manner of difficult circumstances, by answers to our prayers to God, who joys when we call on Him, to rescue us when we face trouble. Here our trouble is compared to a bird which has been trapped in a net, suddenly it escapes and flies away but with its heart pounding, so are we glad when our trouble has ended.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for ‘Stand by me’ an organisation which aims to rescue children from poverty, trafficking and exploitation. Relying on our prayers and sponsorship they have intervened in the lives of about 3,400 children in places like Burma, Columbia and Ethiopia Pray for those who have been trapped by evil addictions that in the depths of evil in their lives they would hear the voice of Jesus calling them to Himself and to peace.

Wednesday 19th February.
Our help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 124: 8
This psalm ends as it began by giving thanks that the Lord is always with us, and so we can view the future with much hope in His faithfulness. He lets difficulties come to us but promises always to be near to save us from whatever that trouble may be. Dear God, help us to view our broken world with thankfulness that you are always with us, instead of lamenting on things that are trying to bring all manner of evil to destroy Gods’ Kingdom. Let us tell others of the joy of knowing that God loves us, by spreading the good news of His presence in word and in song, as we sing these glorious songs of Ascent. May we keep in mind that when we come to sing, Christians have someone to sing about, and He is our Lord, our loving and merciful Redeemer.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for all that we have. For heat, water light, food and health and pray that we might never take any of these for granted. Pray for all those who lost homes, family and livelihoods in the Australian wildfires, and in floods and landslides in the Far East and India. Pray that world leaders would take the issue of global warming seriously and agree to implement radical changes to reduce such tragedies.

Thursday 20th February.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures for ever. Psalm 125: 1
We turn to look at what we can gather from the words of this next Song of Ascents and as it opens, it tells us of the strength that is given to those who trust in God, for they are likened to the solidity of hills that cannot be shaken. Since it is surrounded by protective mountains, Jerusalem was always known as a secure stronghold and that is how we should feel because we are assured, that God will never forsake those who put their trust in Him. Let us be thankful that whenever we are troubled, we can rest secure in the joy of being known by God. How different life would be for us, if we would always keep in mind that God is on our side, instead of lamenting on how evil seems to be taking over, despite all our efforts to change people’s views to the Lord.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for The Gathering and for those who organise each meeting. Pray for those who are on their own and are unable to reach out for company. Pray that hearts would be stirred so that we would be neighbourly, looking out for those who live around us, making sure to get shopping for them or just to spare time to have a cuppa with them. Pray that social work departments would be given sufficient resources to provide aid and care for all vulnerable folk in the area.

Friday 21st February.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people, both now and for evermore. Psalm 125: 2
As we look at the verse with which we open this days study, we are faced with surety that mountains surround the city of Jerusalem for we can go and check that it is so, but how can we be sure that God really does always surround those who put their trust in Him? Just as the psalmist declares in Psalm 46 that ‘God is our refuge and our strength and an ever-present help in troubled times’, and since these and other truths are contained in Gods’ Holy Scriptures, we can always be assured that we may believe that these assurances will never fail. Pray that God will help us to develop a deeper trust in all that is contained in your Holy word. When we fully trust in God it will be apparent in our attitude when troubles come our way.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the amazing scenery that surrounds Inverness and for the free time we have to spend enjoying the mountains, rivers, lochs and coastline on our doorstep. Pray for all those whose hearts are sore due to the loss of someone dear either recently or who still grieve many years on. Pray especially for parents, families and friends who have lost youngsters in road traffic, and other tragic accidents.

Saturday 22nd February.
The sceptre of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous. Psalm 125: 3
Only our God has the power to defeat the wicked, as He has already shown by sending His Son to earth to triumph over Satan and his wickedness. Jesus then ascended to Heaven leaving the disciples to proclaim the good news of His saving grace, and this instruction from Jesus has been carried along even to this day, although at some periods in time we have experienced more opposition than others. However, if we rely on Gods’ Word, He is faithful and just, to keep us true and steadfast to the words of the Bible and He will sustain us when we seek to battle against evil in our society. Always remember that no matter how evil might seem to be on the increase, it will in God’s times be brought down. Just think of evil regimes down the years, such as the Roman empire; Nazi Germany under Hitler; Communism in Russia; and many dictators in Africa, all dominant in their time but now only a memory, while God’s Kingdom remains.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the many young people known to us who are completing their education and university degrees, and as they progress to further studies or seek employment we would pray for a sense of calm for each one and a firm knowledge that God has a plan for every life. Pray for those who suffer long term illness that their spirits would be upheld in times of pain or when facing gruelling medical procedures.

Sunday 23rd February.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. Psalm 125: 4 – 5
God has promised that He is always close to His people who trust and believe in Him for 3 reasons. Firstly, He created them, then He has chosen them as His own and He has promised to help and guide them as they journey through life. He could be said to be like a mountaineer who, when he has climbed a high hill from where he can see all around, sees that the view he knows so well and it is always there, so we can be sure that God is ever present, He changes not, he is always there and is totally reliable, therefore we can be sure He is ever available to our cry when we call to Him in prayer, for as we read in psalm 121, ‘He slumbers not nor sleeps.’

Prayer Points
Give thanks today that our Lord Jesus Christ gave up all the splendour of heaven to come and live on earth as a man. Here He experienced all the emotions we have, and can truly understand our joys, sadness, laughter, hurt and pain. What an amazing Saviour! Pray for those who have lost their faith, for whom the days seem pointless, and whose hearts are sore. Pray that they will be able to forgive the past and turn back to a Saviour whose arms are open wide to receive the lost.

Monday 24th February.
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Psalm 126: 1
This psalm expresses the joy of the people, when those who had been taken as captives to Babylon, were returned to Jerusalem, and joined with those who had been left behind. It is the same joy we feel when are released from our sinful ways and are free to follow the ways of our Lord and Saviour. We have been set free from the heavy burden of our sin, just as Christian was freed from the burden on his back, when he left the evils of the city of Destruction and came to the Cross in John Bunyan’s book, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’. Godly joy comes to us of its own accord, when we experience the Salvation which Jesus has provided by His obedience to His Father’s command to go to Calvary, and suffer the agony of crucifixion, so that our sins might be forgiven.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the many people who perform tasks in the Church that are rarely seen but that are vital. Those who clean, look after the young children in the creche, those who donate and arrange flowers, and set out the Church for special services like Communion. Pray today for Christian authors providing sound scripture-based teaching aids to help us grow in our faith and perhaps inspire us to move out of our comfort zones in our service to God.

Tuesday 25th February.
It was said among the nations, ‘the Lord has done great things for them’ Psalm 126: 2
Here we are told that because Gods’ people have been set free from the burdens which might overwhelm other nations, this was a source of astonishment to heathen people, for they were in awe of Gods’ wonders, and the joy which filled the hearts of those who worship God. We give thanks that God has filled our hearts with joy, as the burden of sin is replaced with the gladness of forgiveness, which is available to all who have confessed their belief in God. How we give thanks that we can all say the same words as those people so long ago, ‘Truly the Lord has done great things for us.’

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the Salvation Army’s work helping homeless people and those caught up in modern day slavery. Help us to support them in catching folk before they fall into the rough sleeping trap and also as they fight for those who have given up fighting for themselves. Lord today we pray earnestly for those who serve in all governments in this land that they would have Christian integrity and pass only laws which agree with God’s Law. Pray that human ego’s would be replaced by humble contrite hearts.

Wednesday 26th February.
‘Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the desert’. Psalm 126; 4
As we come toward the end of this psalm, we are reminded that when we are downhearted, we must call to our God to revive our circumstances, for He is the only one who can uplift our spirits. Just as a traveller in the desert, when he comes across a reviving stream is freed from his thirst, so we can be joyful when we are heartened by blessings from God, or as a farmer is full of joy as he sees the seed he planted with no sign of life in it, showing growth and developing to become a good harvest, made glad that God has been bountiful to him. Let us remember that the joy of being carried along by our gracious God, does not mean there will be no tears, for joy from the Lord is included as we carry out our daily worship to our merciful God.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the solid history of evangelical preaching in the East Church over hundreds of years. May those sitting in pews in these days be aware of the many saintly people who have been part of the East family. We remember them with joy in our hearts. Pray that we would not be discouraged by the decline in the number of people attending worship and that we would be open minded in seeking God’s will for what the future will hold, whether we remain in Academy Street or relocate elsewhere. It might seem terribly hard to leave a building beloved of so many but let us try to focus on being in accordance with God’s will for us and not just in His building.

Thursday 27th February.
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain. Psalm 127: 1
Here in this next Song of Ascents, we read of the need to seek instruction from the Lord when we plan to carry out any scheme of work. It doesn’t matter if it is to build a house or taking up duties to care for others, it must be planned and carried out in accordance with God’s guiding hand. If we ignore that God has prepared a plan for each one of us to follow and for all that lies ahead, our own plans will come to nought. May we accept His ways and guidance, for as the old saying tells us, man may build a house, but it needs God guiding hand to become a home. It is so true that if the Lord grants us a spirit of contentment, we will be able to be happy with little or much.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for those who have employment and especially those who enjoy the work that they undertake. Give thanks also for many who are now retired from toil and have time to spend doing tasks they were not free to do whilst working. Pray that there would be an improvement in the standard of morals all over this land, and that there would be a return to truthful ways.

Friday 28th February.
In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat. Psalm127: 2
There is a lesson given to us in this verse. No matter how eagerly we may strive to get a project completed, we labour in vain if we do not ask the Lord to direct our ways. So often in present days, people fail in whatever they set out to do, because they do not know the Lord, and so don’t know that He will give guidance if called upon in prayer. How sad it is that our politicians, governors and councillors do not enquire from the Lord before debating the way forward, and we are governed by those who seek to distort the ways of God and adopt the evil laws of Satan. May we seek to repent that we have allowed these wicked ways of governing to continue.

Prayer Points
Give special thanks today for our Church Secretary, Session Clerk, Deacon’s court, Kirk Session and various committee members who all play a vital part in running numerous aspects of Church life. We give thanks for all the talents displayed in service to the East whether at the forefront of Worship or in tasks performed quietly in the background. Pray that the Word delivered and prayers uttered at each service and meeting would lead to a softening of hearts in people passing the Church that they might be compelled to join with us and find the peace only God can give.

Saturday 29th February.
Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Psalm 127: 3
Here we are assured that we are blessed when children are born into our families, for they provide us with those tiny little folk who will, in Gods’ mercy, grow into adults to protect us in our old age, and who will make us proud of their achievements in life. But how much more we rejoice when they accept the truths of the Gospel of Jesus to guide their way through life. We give thanks to know that God has in His wisdom, created us so that children would be born but we ask forgiveness for allowing them to be killed even before they are born by permitting abortion to become freely available. How we are blessed to know that one day those who believe, will rise to meet our Saviour in Heaven, in that blessed land where sin does not exist, and pain and tears and sorrow are gone. We come to the end of this psalm where the blessings of family and other relationships are stressed. If our family’s life is based on true relationship with God, it will show in how we will treat others, since by our respect for others, it will be evident that we are Christians.

Prayer Points
Give thanks for the Street Pastors who get their sleeves rolled up helping in practical ways when they help those in the city centre and the Hilton and Merkinch Estates during the hours of darkness. Pray that there would sufficient Christian helpers willing to join this work so that the Street Pastors would be like a beacon of hope to many who search the bars and nightclubs for soul satisfaction but find none. Continue to pray that our vacancy would be filled soon and that our new Minister would be enthusiastic in leading the East forward with God.