KCF Notes 2019

Please note: these are my jottings during the sermons/messages given by the preachers, teachers and speakers.
They contain actual phrases spoken, summarised comments and other relevant thoughts that came to me at the time.

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Available notes ⇒
  6/1/19 - 20/1, 3/2, 17/2 - 12/5, 26/5 - 29/9, 20/10 - 10/11

Last updated 10/11/19
Speaker Index
Alan Milnes3/11
Alan/Ellen Seel17/3, 9/6
Andrea Mill3/2, 28/4, 18/8
Arthur Christie9/6
David Seel17/2, 12/5, 15/9
Dawn Martindale3/3, 2/6, 1/9
Diane & Andy West20/1, 31/3, 30/6, 29/9
Harry Sprange10/3, 26/5, 10/11
Heather Sutherland16/6
Hugh Henderson28/7
Iain Sutherland6/1, 7/4, 27/10
Jim Neilson24/2, 5/5, 11/8
Kenny Borthwick22/9
Liam Morton25/8
Michael Palmer7/7, 8/9
Paul Younger27/1 (lost), 24/3, 21/4, 23/6, 14/7, 20/10
Richard Hobson13/1, 14/4, 4/8
Theme Index
A Call to Action3/11
Alignment9/6
All Things Are Possible21/4
Angels, letters, churches11/8
Armour of God25/8
Be Still and Know23/6
Citizens of Heaven26/5
Faith, Confidence in God3/2, 3/3, 10/3
God Is Good13/1
God Is With Us17/2
Hearing & Doing27/10
Holding Out for a Hero14/7
Humilty with Authority31/3
Intervention, Revelation, Salvation7/4
Jesus, John, Church5/5
Lament29/9
Liberty4/8
List → Lift → Gift30/6
Message to the Church28/7
Near to God24/3
Power in God's Word15/9
Prayer9/6, 20/10
Seasons20/1, 17/3
Speak Life18/8
The Father's Blessing16/9
The Kingdom of God1/9, 10/11
Three Appearances22/9
Treasure in Jars2/6
Trusting God12/5
Unity, Humilty, Authority8/9
Unity Through Diversity28/4
Watch & Pray6/1
Witness24/2


10/11 Harry Sprange Mt 13:1-8 The Kingdom of God

  God's Kingdom is 'now and not yet'. What is the gospel? It is the power of God to salvation. If people are not being saved, what are we not proclaiming? As we approach Christmas it is traditionald in some parts to think about Jesus' second coming. Acts 1:11, Mt 24:30, Rev 21:3. We are told about the future in the Word and we can believe it or reject it. What is for today and what is to come? Eternal life is now, Jn 5:24. Is healing for now or future? There is a tension. Some parts of the church have different understanding.
  The context of Lord's prayer is important; it is for those on the earth. When are we praying for God's will? Is it for now or for the future? Our expectations determine our priorities. A number of people have had assurances of revival and yet they have 'gone home' before it has come. We are told the Kingdom is near, how near? Immediately after this statement, Jesus acts and demonstrates that the Kingdom is here now. Even in the way He called the disciples, He acts with Kingdom authority. He acts as King right away.
  In the 450 years from Malachi to Jesus, God had not 'spoken' to the people. The Jews were expecting something, but they were not ready for it. Mal 3:1. God annouces His arrival, but only Simeon and Anna recognised him Lk 2:25-38. At 12 years old, in the temple they did not recognise Him Lk 2:46,47.
  A frequent word in the accounts of Jesus' is 'immediately'. Jesus was unpredictable. He begins to break up the natural order of things. He demonstrates the Kingdom. The Jewish background to the NT is they were expecting a demonstration of the presence of God: Emmanuel. They were longing for their enemies to be defeated, God was bring about the defeat of the kingdom of darkness. God was offering salvation, they were hoping for national deliverance. They desired a new society, God was bring a new order where servants are greatest. Our ties to church family are greater than those to our natural family.
  Mk 4:1-8, Mt 13:1-8, The Kingdom comes secretly, slowly. It takes time to grow, but it will fill the earth. The net has to be full at the end of time Mt 13:47-50. Jesus expects growth. We are close to a national crisis, but we are probably some way from the end times. Our expectations affect our actions.
  The Kingdom must be received. God gives the Kingdom. Lk 22:29 at the 'Last Supper', the Kingdom is conferred. The Kingdom is within you; The Kingdom must be entered. Repent and believe, yes, turn from sin. More than this, change your mind set, hand yourself over to the king.
  Are you going to obey God? There needs to be obedience of faith. In Romans we see that The Kingdom has come, is coming and will come. There is a future dimension to see. There will be a day when everyone will see Him, all will worship him. The promise is what we are living for. Zech 14:9. How do we fit in? We are the first fruits Jas 1:18. Rev 14:4 stay pure and follow the Lamb. 2 Thes 2: 14 we share His glory by belief in the truth. We are a sample and a demonstration to the world. Heb 6:5, we have tasted the goodness and power of age to come.



3/11 Alan Milnes Amos 2:1-16 A Call to Action

  A group had been meeting at a coffee shop for years. Recently their waitress, Tina, was more subdued. Her dreams of marriage and family had crumbled when her boyfriend broke off the relationship. We don't lose sleep when Boris Johnson doesn't phone us personally, but when someone close turns against us we feel it deeply. God is feeling jilted and scorned. God has greatly blessed His people, through the dessert and various trials. Generation after generation have been deluged by His blessing.
  Who was Amos? At this time Egypt, Babylon and Syria were powerful nations; Israel was weak. Amos knew his politics and believed God would judge the people. He was a shepherd called to bring God's message to the people. This was also a time when people were indifferent to one another. They were pretending to follow God. God desires sincere hearts rather than correct rituals. He wants us help one another as fellow sinners.
  What does this message to ancient countries say to us today? The NHS is 5th largest employer globally. Does God approve of our Government? How can we model the teaching of Jesus? There are Christians in all parties. Listen to one another respectfully. Avoid media bias by getting information from different sources. Paul advises Timothy to pray for their leaders (1 Tim 2:2) and teaches the Christians in Rome to respect their leaders (Rom 13:1-7). John Wesley wrote in his journal “October 6, 1774 I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them

  1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
  2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
  3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

Index

27/10 Iain Sutherland Mt 7:21-27 Hearing & Doing

  We must be careful which voices we listen to. Take note of the signs around you. Hear the right voice, then find out what we are to do with the word we hear. Which house are we building? We need to build our lives on what Jesus said. Jesus' manifesto is what counts. We are people of hope. We know how it all ends. He is in control of all things. Hear these words and do them, put them into practice. Compare verses 24,25 in The Message. Connect the Word with real life. All the things that Jesus speaks about are still around today, bread, vines, sheep. Work the words you hear into real life. Share life. Believe in the Son of Man (know it and do it). Do you really believe, or are you still worrying about finances and other concerns?
  Keep taking the Word and applying it to your life. Be in the relationship with Him. Build on the rock. Jesus was not criticising people for prophecying, it was for not standing on the rock. Keep coming back to Jesus words. Jesus lived what he spoke. We need Him working in our lives, like stones being tumbled with grit, washed with water, becoming polished and smooth. Be connected. We may be surrounded by pictures of scenery, but we should get out there and experience it.
  Look for the words in all situations. Amos 4:12 Prepare to meet your God. Work His Word into your life. Make it accessible, read it slowly. Prov 3:5 acknowledge Him, he will direct your path. Soak it into your life. Be open and aware of what God is saying today. Isa 30:21 urges us to listen for His voice behind us and direct our way. As we live out these words, people notice. Jas 1:2 be hearers and doers, and don't get weary doing good (Gal 6:9). Stephanas 1 Cor 16:15-18 give special recognition to those who are devoted to serving God. Follow good examples. Be motivated by the Kingdom.
  There were three stone cutters. The first one was asked what he was doing. He asnwered "I'm making a living". They second one was also asked; he replied "I'm making the best stone cutting I can". The third one was also asked. He was busy "building a cathedral". He was the happiest of the three. Dedicate yourself to working for the Kingdom and looking out for the 'one'.


20/10 Paul Younger Acts 12:1-19 Pray Something!

  Picture during worship: a servant collecting an ancient wine skin and bringing it up from the cellar, the light turned it into a new wineskin. We are told not to put new wine in old wineskins, but Jesus can make them new. Jesus first miracle was making water into wine.
  Acts 12:1-19 (don't focus on the drama). Question: Do you have a perfect life? Life has problems and worries. How do we deal with these? Don't just sit there, pray something! Pray as often as breathing, especially in times of crisis. Are you praying often enough? Do you believe God answers your prayers? Be grateful for answered prayer. A drunk man took a short cut across a railway line. His trousers got caught and he heard the sound of a train approaching. He prayed to God to free him and promised to never drink again. He immediately got free and tells God not to bother as he's OK now. Prayer is not a last resort.
  The early church was being persecuted, and Herod was turning up the heat. This Herod was the grandson of Herod the Great who slaughtered the boys under 2 years old. James was dead, Peter was next. something dramatic would have to happen to change this. They had no senator or benefactor to turn to. They prayed.
  A boy was playing in stream, building a dam. The stone he wanted to complete the dam was too big. His father was watching the struggle and asked him, "Are you using all your strength?". What is available to us? What other help can we ask for?
  The church was weak, but not helpless. They had not given up hope. What were they praying? Safe, easy conservative prayers are what we usually resort to. We may be afraid to ask for what we really want. God's strength is many times greater than ours. Nothing is impossible for Him. God demonstrates His unlimited power and love. Seems like not everyone was expecting this answer to their prayers. Pray remembering that God can answer your prayer. 1 Never forget to pray, before it is a last resort. Prayer is the most important thing to do. 2 God can do the impossible.

Index

29/9 Diane & Andy Ps 23, Ps 88 Lament

  At creation there was deep chaos and darkness. Sometimes in our lives there can be chaos and darkness. The Spirit of God is still hovering over us. Ps 23 - take time to consider what it's like being in green pastures and beside quiet waters. The Bible has many references to joy and also contains Songs of lament. Scripture is written honestly. How do we let God know when we are lamenting? Feelings that Van Gogh seems to illustrate in his painting of bare willows.
  Heman the Ezrahite was a hero, musician, musical director and reported directly to King David. God promised and gave him any children as a great blessing and exalted him. A man of great standing, he was movede to write Ps 88 (a serious contender for winner of best lament). Even Ps 13 which asks "How long O Lord?" turns round to praise God. Ps 88 doesn't. Was it just a bad day? We learn that suffering has affected him from his youth. The tune for Ps 88 is called 'suffering of affliction'. Many people featuring in the media appear happy but are facing tough times. This Psalm shows that even in hopelessness, we should keep crying out to God. Brian Doerksen Ps 13.
  Other passages express lament. Lamentations (probably wasn't written by Jeremiah), Mt 5 (beatitudes). Rom 12 encourages us to mourn with those who mourn. Revelation tells of the martyrs. Lamentations 3:19-23, Mt 5:1-11, Rom 12:15 some translations have 'weep with those who weep'. Rend Collective - Weep with me.
  When Lazarus died, John 11, Jesus showed there is a place for weeping and mourning. It should be acceptable in church. Jews were good at weeping and mourning, this is good way of processing grief. Jesus wept (v35). We are to come alongside those who are grieving. The centre of the gospel is the cross. Jesus dined out and attended parties, but was also familiar with grief and sorrow. Jesus is beaten and disgraced. When you're feeling weak, perhaps you don't need to fast. We always need God. He doesn't need us to make Him look good. Jesus was glorified on the cross. He was pierced for our transgressions. Don't sweep away the message of the cross.
  Healing ministry is available. We rely on Jesus to do this work. God is right there with us in every situation. Even in the most hellish experience. The light at the end is amazing. God can step in at any time. How many bullets have we dodged? Jesus takes shrapnel for us. Genuine heart cries to God can be more honest worship than 'hallelujah' sometimes. When we cry out God hears a melody. He knows what we are like; He still speaks His shining blessing over us. God does lament over humanity's failure.

Index

22/9 Kenny Borthwick Heb 9:24-28 Three Appearances

What do you sense as you walk about your community? Is there a struggle going on? God showed Kenny a picture of the skyline of a city in the blitz. God is building from the bombing. Light is streaming through 'windows' created by the gaps. God will turn hurts to blessing. This is an encouragement for LBC.
  There are three truths about Jesus we must hold on to. There are three appearings of Christ. There are three beats to hold on to, just like conducting an orchestra, to ensure everything keeps together. In chronological order, v26 Jesus appeared in order to put away sin by His sacrifice. God came down to us, we don't have to climb the ladder. In other religions you must work your way up from the bottom. Jesus has dealt with our sin. It's not on me, it's all on the cross. God says the "shining" blessing over us (Num 6:24-26). Gal 3:13 the Son was cursed for us. God did this to keep us close forever. Spiritual disciplines bring us close to God. We should be serious and intentional in the way we live. Brennan Manning reminds us that the cross is not a joke. Live in gratitude and the freedom of this first beat. 2 Cor 5 - God's appeal through Christ was to believers. Keep short accounts, be reconciled quickly, to God and men. Leave nothing between you and God. It will sap your strength. Someone who has been forgiven will be forgiving. Love is not proud or jealous.
  2nd beat v24 Jesus is doing what He does continually. Interceding for us. He appears in heaven before the Father. He asks God to watch us, keep us. Jesus identifies with us. He didn't need to be baptized, yet He was baptized. Pray simple and childlike. Jesus will come alongside us. Wait for Him to change the picture. Henri Nouwen speaks of moving from having a closed fist in God's presence to having an open hand. We can do this knowing He is gentle. He understands, it is safe with Him. When Jesus is near we can speak about things that we have never spoken about.
  3rd beat v28 He will appear to save. He is coming and sorrow will be no more. The now but not yet Kingdom will be fulfilled. Those in heaven still ask 'how long?' Let Jesus touch you with trust and love.

Index

15/9 David Seel 1 Kings 17 Power in God's Word

  David shared a specific verse/passage and word of encouragement for everyone in the Fellowship. God's power was in the words spoken over His servant in this passage. God had been drawing David's attention to this character through daily devotional articles. Elijah did many things with God, but was also human and ordinary just like us. God can take what is ordinary and make it good. Elijah did extraordinary things. 1 Kg 17:1 - There is not much background to Elijah, although there are many references to him. Ahab and Jezebel were killing the prophets. God hears and provides for those who are faithful. Daily faithfulness to God will result in His provision. This ordinary man prayed for no rain and there was drought. God doesn't pay up front. We need to go first, then God will help.
  The flour and oil did not run out for the widow who was down to her last batch. At the feeding of the 5000, the little amount of food didn't run out. The supply continued as they went. We go on through the trials we face, but Jesus is with us. The woman's son came back to life. Allow God to use you in other people's lives. Have faith, pray in faith that God will provide. We have more faith in somethings and less in other things.
  Elijah is very specific in prayer. God knows what we will pray. There is no point in praying generally. Be direct and expect God to answer. Mt 6:33. Receive stuff and give it away when you can. Rom 8:28 God is working for the good of those who love Him. God confirms his word with action. The widow witnessed what the prophet did and declared v24 "Now I know that you are a man of God". God demonstrates salvation by signs and wonders (Heb 2:3,4). Jesus did many other signs and wonders.
  many people have said "God is not allowed in schools ". Be helpful, and you will get in. Be clever how you present yourself. Some people don't want to hear, but there are some who do. Many have no hope and are broken. Every conversation has the power to transform someone's life. When we pray things change. God's power over man's life is His word. God spoke powerful words over Elijah ch 19. Paul is eager to preach the powerful gospel, Rom 1:15,16. It is God's power, we have this treasure in jars of clay (2 Cor 4:7). God spoke powerful words to Paul, Acts 22. We still need to deal with the things that trip us. Mt 16:25,26. The message. Jesus is in the driving seat. Let God speak into your life.


8/9 Michael Palmer Phil 2:1-13 Unity, Humility, Authority.

  Unity: sharing and participating together in the activity of HS. In all activities we should work together. We are to be as 'one being', one body, the body of Christ. All parts functioning in harmony. This is an amazing vision that Paul has of the church. Sometimes unity can be hard work, other times it just flows. It doesn't require complete agreement on all theological matters. We can treat each other with love and respect before we reach agreement on every issue. Unity happens as we are humble and treat others as valued by God. Put unity first.
  Be humble, but do not degrade yourself. In attitude put others above yourself. Have a mindset of humility. Jesus is the prime example of humility. Although He is the essence of God, He takes on the essence of a slave. Jesus doesn't assume His position or entitlement. He gave up his privileges. Jesus makes God known to us, He has the same character. Death on a cross is the most shameful thing for a Jew. God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself. The Father did not leave Jesus, but Jesus felt the forsaken-ness of the sin of the world. Jn 13:1-5, Jesus knew everything was his, but he got down and washed the disciples feet. As we serve one another it brings us both to the same level and also brings unity. The incentive is v9 when Jesus is raised to the highest place. 1 Pet 5:6,10 just as Jesus was exalted after suffering, we too will be restored. Jesus shares the authority and blessing with all his followers. God blesses us to equip us for ministry opportunities.
  Humility leads to authority. Paul is not a universalist: many will receive eternal life, but not all. Heavenly and earthy beings should bow to the highest authority, however some will choose not to. Bowing in v10 refers to kneeling in reverent worship. When Jesus was exalted, he didn't lose his humility. He shares his authority with us. Christ is seated in heavenly places. Jesus' authority is a gift given to the whole church. God invests himself in the church, Eph 2:6 we are with him. God gives authority to everyone in the church. When we act in authority and serve others we bring unity. Authority can be rejected and resisted by disobedience. There are consequences for disobedience. When serving and ministering we can meet resistance, but authority can win. Daniel (10:12-14) prayed and fasted for the nation for 21 days while spiritual principalities battled. Healing or deliverance from God can be delayed. We should persevere in prayer and in authority in Christ. God's will is to heal and restore all creation. We can ask God what is going on. Live out your salvation v12 (we already have it, now we must choose to live it). God works in you, energises you, inspires you. He gets pleasure from his purposes being worked out through you, v13.


1/9 Dawn Martindale Lk 16:1-9 Understanding the Kingdom

  In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the sorting hat song assesses the students abilities and assigns their school house. The rich man assesses the manager in light of the accusations made against him. Today, many people see Christianity as weak and irrelevant. Some only see value in the structures. A BBC documentary from the 1970's 'A Passion for churches' was only interested in the buildings and contents. There was no hint of any passion for following Christ. The culture around us need to see the real Kingdom, but so often we fail to capitalise on the opportunities to demonstrate this.
  Verse 8 speaks of 'people of the light', those whose focus is on God's Kingdom. Yet the observation of the people of this world is that they are more shrewd. The manager was not doing a great job. He didn't have good accounts. There was, and still is today, an expectation that people are obliged to return deeds of kindness. The manager created a social network and support group to provide for when he lost his job.
  Harry didn't want to be in Slitheryn house. All the evil ones were in this house. They knew how to be determined and persistent. They were shrewd. They manipulated people and situations for their own advantage. Being focused on the Kingdom is good, but we can learn to understand situations and how to capitalise on opportunities. Severus Snape, although cold and calculating, gives up his life to protect the Potters.
  Jesus knew how to 'push people's buttons', to motivate them to proclaim and declare the Kingdom. We need to be brave. Jesus actions were not esteemed by the Pharisees. Jesus didn't have a passion for churches, but for the Kingdom. He showed the true values.
  Canoeing the Mountains (Tod Bolsinger, 2015 IVP) uses the example of explorers Lewis and Clark who planned a trip by waterway, but ended up traversing mountains. Leaders must be prapared to take a different route and learn how to go off the map to reach their goal. We also must explore new ways to invite people into the Kingdom. Verse 9 is Jesus' advice to everyone. The wealth and resources we have in this life will not go with us into eternity. Every generation will be different, we cannot rely on previous methods. Think for yourself. Use your gifts, abilities and possessions for the Kingdom of light. Make friends for the sake of the Kingdom. When this age ends, we lose all our wealth.
  What separates us from other good people? Only living and acting according to the values that support the Kingdom, rather than ourselves. We need to understand the values of this world and the Kingdom.

Index

25/8 Liam Morton Eph 6:10-20 Armour of God

  We need to realise how significant the victory of Jesus is. We share in this. Life as a Christian is a battle ground. Mez McConnell, 20 schemes, found out that to be a Christian you go to church and pray. Everyone else there looked and acted perfect, but life was a struggle for him. There is a battle going on within us. The world, the flesh and the devil oppose and attack us. 1 Jn 2:16 love of the things of the world will lead us from the Father. However, God's grace is immense and Christ has overcome the world.
  Faith allows us to fight. We need to acknowledge the battle and the enemy. God warns us and instructs us how to overcome. The ememy is known as the devil (accuser), satan (adversary), the tempter, a liar, a lion seeking to devour believers (1 Pet 5:8), serpent (Genesis 3), god of this age (2 Cor 4:4). He wants to destroy us. He has schemes and strategies and takes no holidays. Paul tells us we all have a battle v12, and the enemy is against us.
  We celebrate that once we are rooted in Jesus the enemy cannot win. He is not God. We are involved in a wrestling match, a hand to hand combat. We are on the field fighting for a goal. We should focus on the Lord and the purpose and plan He has for us. We need to work together. We are a family. Proclaim the praise of Jesus together. Acknowledge repentance, it destroys the power of the enemy over us. Confession brings victory. We are being equipped for offence and defence. Jesus has conquered the enemy.
  The belt holds all the armour together. Practice the truth. Integrity fights with a clear conscience. The breastplate is our righteousness in Christ. It deflects satans accusations. It covers and reassures us. The shoes help us to stand and withstand in the gospel and good news of Jesus. Prepare yourself at all times to share this gospel. We are ambassadors wherever we go, whether we go off to a summer camp for Romanian children or across the street. The shield of faith is large. When we stand together we build a solid wall of defence. Faith in God is a saving faith, that is alive and living every day. The helmet protects our minds, which although secondary to our heart and faith, they are still very important.
  The sword is our weapon. Study the Word to protect yourself. Collydean Baptist are running 6 house-groups and a discipleship class to train people in the use of the Word. God's Word transforms us. Peter encouraged believers to be on guard and to grow in grace (2 Pet 3:17,18). The sword of the Word pierces our heart. The sword of the Spirit heals. Know God's word. Don't miss apply the Word. Prayer is the energy that sustains us; it is the power for victory. Through prayer, the power of God changes things. God sustains us, He gives us the victory, He is the truth. Only Christ is victorious. God gives us all these things daily. Hold your trust in God's Word. Prayer sustains us and transforms our situations.


18/8 Andrea Mill Ezek 37:1-14 Speak Life

  During a week of prayer at Bristo Baptist Church, God drew attention to Ezek 37:1-14. Ezekiel was born into a priestly family, then taken away in exile by Nebuchadnezzar. While there he was called to be a prophet to the exiles. He was to warn the exiles. Again, today, we see evil and destruction on the earth. God has a message for his people of hope and restoration.
  Ezek 36:22-28 cf Jer 31. Ch 37:1-14. As with other scriptures, it was written for specific time and situation, but it still speaks to us today. God declares that He is coming; people need to do what Jesus commissioned them to do in order to be ready. We can all hear God and must speak out what we hear.
  Prophecy edifies the church. Listen, hear, speak. Jesus promised us HS and said we would do greater things than He did. God's light has already come (Isa 60:1). Some situations can look dark and hopeless, but we can speak words that dispel darkness. We can prophecy to impossible situations.
  Spend time connecting with God. We have power to change things for good. We can see breakthrough in difficult circumstances. We do this through prayer. God says "My light has come!". Personal, family, work community issues are not off-limits. Ask for words that breathe life. Find out what will bring lifeless bones together. Discover what the skin is to cover the bones.


11/8 Jim Neilson Rev 2:1-29 Angels, letters & churches.

  What are angels? The word can refer to human or heavenly messengers. However, Revelation only uses it in the sense of heavenly beings. John is speaking these messages to the church angels and the congregation simultaneously. The angels are responsible for the churches. They are created beings that help the church to make God known to heavenly realms, Eph 3:9,10. The 20th century, modern, materialistic world-view distorts our perception. The spiritual and physical realms are closer than we know. Jesus came to restore the connection between heaven and earth. Every church has an angel. They, like us, can do good and bad. Churches are riddled with strife. Any goodness in a church is God working to show what we should be. Each church is accountable, we must keep Jesus at the centre. We are all affected by the influence of the world and evil. Paul reminds us in Eph 6:12 that we are in a battle.
  The letters are more like OT prophecies or royal proclamations. They are written as parodies of Roman edicts. The ruler of the church spells out their shortcomings. Seven is a complete number, so these seven churches represent the whole church. The messages are to individuals and communities in these places and also to the whole church everywhere. God delights to use people in getting his message over, so John speaks it out to the angels and the church. God knows everything, yet He perseveres with us. Jesus calls us to be faithful, despite persecution, even if it is from the Jews. The Gk word for hearing includes being obedient. There is a promise from God given to those who are faithful. A message to KCF would include, faithfulness, generosity, welcoming. How are we doing at mission? Consider the picture of a ball on slope: it has to be pushed forward or it rolls back.
  The Churches. Ephesus - praised and criticised. Their zeal had pushed out love. Paul was there for 3 years. (It no longer exists.) Revelation often refers back OT. The city was prosperous but church was poor, yet Jesus calls them rich. The Jews persecuted the believers, that is why Jesus criticizes them. Beware of compromise. Pergamum - it was centre of emperor worship. The church were strong against external influences, but weak against spiritual diversions. Nicolaitans were a bad influence. The church were to guard against outside influences. Persevere with what is right. We are in a war. Don't lose love for people. People need opportunities to change. How far do you want to take this? God is not just for the good times, but for the whole journey. The pressure on the church is intense: marriage, identity, individuality. Thyatira - known for its trade guilds. Again there was lots of idolatry and pressure to compromise. Occult practices and secret teachings were prevalent. Loss of faith was a real risk. Not all religions lead to God. Be faithful.


4/8 Richard Hobson 1 Cor 10:23-31 Liberty

  God cleans our conscience from guilt. The cross takes all guilt from us. We want to enjoy a God given life, but a lot of our behaviour is influenced by others. The Christian life is about liberty and freedom, not religious restrictions. In the garden of Eden, there was paradise to enjoy not just one tree to avoid. Adam and Eve were commanded to enjoy all the others. The garden is an expression of God's generosity to his people (Gen 2:8-16). The law about the forbidden tree is not to limit our enjoyment, but to protect it. God is lavish with us and makes all kinds of beautiful and fruitful trees.
  1 Cor 10:23-31. Paul quotes the mis-informed believers. Their freedom was being misused by these Corinthians. Paul is not making a law, he is just urging them to use their freedom responsibly. Obey the 'law' of showing love to others and encouraging weaker brothers and sisters, Rom 14:15. In church we are one body in Christ. Don't damage the integrity of the body. This is not to take away our enjoyment, but to protect it.
  v28, the meat is good, the issue is the conscience. Your conscience can be clear, but be sensitive to others. Don't lose your joy because someone is offended, but don't use your freedom to wound others. Enjoy God's abundance. The Westminster Confession has a whole section on Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience Chapter 20. God is Lord of the conscience. Obeying men is forsaking your freedom. Protect your liberty and do not be subject to men. Preserve your freedom to enjoy the earth, it is God's.
  1 Tim 4:3-5 warns of false teaching to abstain from some food which God wants us to enjoy. Nothing is to be rejected. v31 Paul encourages believers to glorify God by enjoying all the things He provides. The law against killing or coveting allows us to enjoy all the other things and makes it easy for us to do right. Use wisdom to ensure you don't cause the weak to stumble, but don't be fearful. Also be thankful. Carry the aroma of Christ. Live in peace. Remind yourself daily that Jesus blood cleanses your guilt. When we meet God it will be as if we had never sinned. Love God, love what he loves.

Index

28/7 Hugh Henderson Rev 2:8-11 Message to the Church

Mission updates: Myanmar is a Buddhist country, the Rohingya people are Muslim and are stateless refugees. Chin state is mainly Christian. Pastor training in Mandalay next visit, lots of GB war graves. Tunlin, Pastor has masters in theology, Thiang left water board to plant church and grow mushrooms.
Haiti, Guanaminth, size of Dundee, no water or electricity services. Pastor Rolex Poisson. School now open. Richard from Troon. Tues 30/7 team training day for Burundi. New dental surgery built.
Rev 2:8-11 Only 2 churches were not criticised by Jesus. The one in Smyrna is just 50 miles from Ephesus. The word angel can mean messenger or pastor. This may have been a code to try hide the real meaning of letter from authorities, but would be understood by believers. This is not just a message, it is from Jesus himself. Polycarp the pastor and the church would know who He (The First and the Last) was. Do not be afraid, v10 and also in ch 1:17,18 where John fainted in Jesus' sight. We encounter this same Jesus daily. He says fear not, whatever the circumstances. Even if we fear death, Jesus has already been there. Learn to spot these clues.
  From the day we are born to the day we die, Jesus brings us everything we need. God sends us small waves to get us ready for the big waves. Nothing is a surprise to God. Some of God's providences are tough. Jas 2:5 God has chosen the poor and afflicted. Worldly poverty and afflictions prepare the way for Kingdom riches. Slander and blasphemy affect God since we are His.
  v9 the people of the world are creating a lie. They appeared to be living as Jews, but in name only. Test the fruit to see who is a true believer. v10 the devil will test us. Be faithful, even to death. Jesus applies himself differently in each church. Some churches will attack believers. Men can produce horrendous evil. Pray for God to protect His people and build his church. Lk 21:16-21. Despite attempts of some, even our own families, God will protect us. v11 listen to Holy Spirit and stand firm. Hold on to the promises.


14/7 Paul Younger Dan 3:1-30. Holding out for a hero

  Where have all the good men gone? Where are the gods? We need a hero. Daniel's friends were known in Babylon as Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego. These were not their Hebrew names. The story is accurately dated. Babylon was the super power of the day. Jerusalem was captured. The men's Jewish names reflected their religion. All four young men have prospered and developed. They have good careers and were appointed to senior positions. They are aliens and are not well liked. They were thrown from the frying pan into the fire.
  Where was Daniel at that time? It is not clear. It was an opportunity for his friends to shine. The manifestation of Nebuchadnezzer's folly was an expensive, functionless, idolatrous statue. He already understood that Daniel's God was "the God of gods" ch 2:47. His vanity made him very susceptable to "The emperor's new clothes". Nebuchadnezzer's height of stupidity was 90ft.
  Perhaps the astrologers hadn't quite managed to capture Daniel, but at least they had his friends. The Jews were not well liked. The king's vanity and love of power were used by the astrologers. The king speaks without thinking. He displays his insecurity. He has learned nothing about God. The three men are not afraid of the king or his threats. Their faith is unshakable. They draw on God's strength. The men's calm infuriates the king. His anger was so hot, he ordered the furnace to be 7 times hotter. He was puzzled by 4 men in furnace. Who the 4th person is insignificant. The men were completely unharmed. Being faithful was all that mattered. Never compromise on your faith. The promise is given in Isaiah 43:2, God is with you, you will not be burned. We all face trials. Remember this story; iron comes out of fire stronger. God is the hero.


7/7 Michael Palmer 1 Pet 1:16 Holiness

  Holiness, sanctification, becoming like Jesus. Gk hagiasmos = consecration.
The state of holiness: what is it? Set apart. God is the creator, He is unique. Items can be separated to God for service, they are re-puroposed from evil usage.
Selflessness: why does it matter? Like approaching the sun, it can become dangerous. We need to be holy to enter His presence. 1 Pet 1:16 (a quotation from Leviticus 11:44,45). It is His commandment and also His will for us. Heb 12:14 we will see the Lord. Christians are holy. Heb 13:12 states we are sanctified by His blood. We are also sanctified by Holy spirit. Rom 15:16, the Gentiles an offering to God. 1 Cor 1:30 Jesus is our holiness. We are holy and are also becoming holy. Transformation of character and conduct are ongoing. We are holy and grow into the mold of Jesus. Heb 10:13). Character befitting holiness. How do we align with holiness? Phil 2:13, God works in you to make you holy.
  Practical things we can do. Like a tree, rest in soil (surrender) Rom 12:1. Absorb sunlight, drink water, produce flowers that turn into fruit. Heb 12:14. Want to be holy. Discipline leads to holiness. Heb 12. Water of the Word. Ps 1, Eph 5:26. Jn 17:17 truth of word makes us holy. His Word instructs us and transforms our minds. It literally changes our brain function. Sonlight. 2 Cor 3:18 we are transformed in the presence of God. 1 Thes. May the God of peace sanctify us completely.

Index

30/6 Diane & Andy West Ps 139:13-16 List→Lift→Gift

  Cleaning, the basics, regular maintenance. Brass is polished to make it shine, this can reveal scratches or marks. We should also review or maintain our situations. Prepare a list of things you would like to see in your life. RT Kendall recently asked "What one prayer would you like answered?". Ps 139:13-16. Henri Nouwen being at home in your own house is a skill that requires to be developed. We grow towards the place where we don't need to make apologies for the lack of cleaning. Most of us go around feeling that we are rejected until we do better. God wants to visit no matter how you are. What images do we have of hospitality?
  Try to find an anchor place in your life; this comes as we are still. Consider Ps 46. Accept where you are. Rev 3:20 is about letting Jesus in. Life is more important than stuff. List the things you think you can do. There are things to enjoy. Shakespeare uses a malapropism (deliberate misuse) of a popular say when writes "Comparisons are odorous". Self pity is smelly and needs cleaning out. Envy, greed, arrogant pride, criticism, comparison. It's not good to feel either superior or inadequate. We are at different places on the map/journey.
  God protects us more than we realise. Enjoy the trust and freedom of a child. Mk7:24-30 the Syrophoenician woman was not letting go of any blessing from God. The parable of talents (Mt 25:14-30) describes a man with a screwed up view of God. The proverbial landlord scenario. God trusts us with His stuff. We should try to let Him into our space. It's OK for us to make choices. God gives us all immense scope to do whatever good or evil we decide. Do we compare ourselves to Jesus? Notice how He is described in Isaiah 53:1-2. Lift up your list to God in prayer. Allow God to bless you with His gift. Enjoy being yourself. Then you can love others as yourself. Be still, be free.

Index

23/6 Paul Younger Ps 46 Be Still and Know

  Preaching is a funny thing, it's not all about speaking, not just intelligence or education. It's God that is speaking. For us it's about listening. The preacher must first listen to God. What He seems to be saying to us today is "Be still and know". It's inscribed on a small stone that [the preacher] carries with him. It's a special stone. The words are simple and direct. We will explore the original context, who God said it to and how He is saying it to us.
  The command to be still means to desist, let your hands drop. God is the God who makes wars cease. David was a warrior king. This was a direct message to his enemies. Resistance is futile. Stop fighting, lay down your weapons. Some people don't really learn that fighting or resisting God is futile. The original context is important, but God's Word has wider application and speaks into our situations today.
  When Elijah encounters Jezebel, he flees to Horeb. He runs scared and is less than heroic. 1 Kings 19 tells the story. God asks him "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (v13). His question came not in the wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in a whisper. Elijah allows threats and fears to overtake him. The eye of a hurricane is still. Elijah was encouraged and got on with his battles.
  Martha and Mary have a disagreement. Jesus tells them only one thing is important. Other things are required, but focus on priorities. God is our No 1. Jesus, after the last supper, goes out to pray. He is aware that painful, costly events lie ahead. Mk 14:32-36 Jesus was fully human and could have walked away. His strength is renewed by the encounter. He continues to complete His work.
  What about us? What does it mean? Be still. What should we stop doing? Listen to what He says. Know He is God. The Message translation vv8-10 'Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”'. If anything is more important than God we need to address it.


16/6 Heather Sutherland Mk 1:9-12 The Father's Blessing

  Inspired by John Paul Jackson's teaching on The Father's Blessing. Life is a journey. Sometimes we feel like we are in a quandary, other times we experience elation. Life lies in your hands. We can choose to follow God. Some moments compel us in certain direction. These moments are blessings. We often seek what we want in others until we find it in God. His first words to Adam & Eve were a blessing. They were fruitful. Blessing must be spoken. Heb 11:20,21 the patriarchs spoke blessings in faith. The blessing must also be received by faith. This opens a path for the blessing to take place.
  Jesus met a woman at a well (Jn 4). After the introductory details, He starts a discussion with her about worship, instead of condemning her. The Greek for worship means to come close enough to kiss. Through worship, she will find in God what she was looking for in men. The promise He told her, was fulfilled two years later at Pentecost. Jesus made a way for her and her village to come to God. Don't look for God in the wrong places. The HS indwelling in us will lead us.
  The Father's blessing of Jesus came before He started His ministry. This was Jesus's ordination. He was given and He received words of approval. Immediately He was led out to be tested, Satan tries to steal the blessing from Him. He does this to us too. Jesus was blessed because he was a child of God. What we do doesn't make us deserving of blessing or not. Jacob was a deceiver, but the blessing took him to great places. God will never leave us: this is another blessing. Life in general is confused in 2019 in Scotland. As thos called by God we have a future in His great plan. The Father drawing close to us, allows us to draw close to others. Jn 12:23-30. Sometimes we don't recognise His voice. Do we just want to hear thunder? Listen to the Father's blessing over you, Numbers 6:23-27. This was the pronouncement of Moses.


(Pentecost) 9/6 Arthur Christie Nehemiah 2:11-18 Prayer

  A message preached at Churches Together in Glenrothes and District Pentecost Celebration (Thy Kingdom Come).
  Prayer needs to be nurtured. We gather together in His presence since we understand God's life. We have had overwhelming experiences of God's love, they sustain us. God refreshes us. Living by the Spirit is an adventure. It can be challenging. HS fire is wild and free. It changes us. It is life changing. While resting after mission in Anstruther, God spoke and called [Arthur] to a church vacancy in Anstruther. HS won't be quiet until we respond. HS sends us to places we haven't been before, and goes with us.
  Nehemiah, a man who prayed and listened for God. He understood we are heirs of the promise. Perhaps just a remnant now, but we can become a nation. Nehemiah researches at night, then inspires the people. Together, vision and hope become actions, steeped in prayer. Night and day Nehemiah pleaded for the people and the city. God brings us back to the place where He will be honoured. We must place a high priority on prayer. Pray for power and guidance of HS. Prayer clears the vision. This is the only way to move forward through the fog. Prayer quietens your heart. You can't worry and pray at the same time. James, according to Hegesippus, spent so much time on his knees praying and interceding that they "became hard like those of a camel". When you're on your knees it stops them knocking. In God there is security. Prayer sets faith on fire. HS waits for us to cry like Nehemiah did. Although considered unlikely to be the words of Sir Francis Drake, this prayer is aposite.
  "Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.
  Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.
  Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back the horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.


9/6 (Pentecost) Alan Seel Lk 5:1-11 Alignment

  Acts 1:8 describes what will happen in anticipation of Holy Spirit coming. The disciples were waiting, then suddenly they were set on fire. This was the day the Spirit came. 3,000 people were added to the church. Holy Spirit is still moving today. In the early 1980's some of us experienced a move of Holy Spirit. There was power in our lives. This move continued through 1990's, God was on the move. We had great conferences. Holy Spirit was touching and changing our lives. God has worked in us. This is immeasurable. He comes and enables. After looking back at these events, we must move forward.
  Am I in alignment? To progress and serve God we must align ourselves. Jesus was always in alignment with the Father. He had intentionallity. Peter was in and out of alignment. Lk 5:1-11 it's hard when we have to start again. Peter was reluctant to go out fishing again. Through obedience he started his adventure with Jesus. Peter gives us lots of examples of getting out of alignment. Peter denies Jesus; he cuts off servants ear. Peter loved Jesus.
  God makes ways for us to get back in alignment. We can look out for things that get us out of alignment. Ask what God wants you do in a situation. Discouragement can cause havoc. Live in God's blessing. Let Him resource you. Live an abundant life. Move in faith and victory. Do everything out of love. Jesus wnats us to make His joy complete.
  Answered prayer is an encouragement. Ellen had a burning sensation in her pinky. God healed during prayer at service. Pray more. Open doors are an encouragement. Found Church are running a coffee morning with devotion/testimony. There are lots of new opportunities. Speak positively to each other. Encouragers are encouraged. Col 3:23 give your all to God.


2/6 Dawn Martindale 2 Cor 3:1-6, 4:1-7 Treasure in Jars

  We have treasure in ordinary jars. Unscrupulous people have come among the Corinthians to lead them astray. Some of the letters from the Jerusalem churches against Paul may be fake. Paul challenges the Corinthians to be discerning and not to look only at outward appearances. We shouldn't be discouraged by aspiring to be like the perception we have others. They are probably less perfect than we imagine. Ministry is about the treasure not the jar. Paul had real treasure. We are also capable of holding God's treasure 4:6. Jesus shows us the treasure.
  Look to Jesus as your Lord to get the light. Moses is the example (vv 7-18). God's light shone in him and shines in us. The jars are part of the process and contribute to the light, therefore they are not completely insigfnificant. The new covenant is sealed by Holy Spirit working in us, writing on our hearts. The internal covenant changes us from the inside. The requirements of the law are met in us. We are jars, on display, open letters. People read and interpret us. What is my heart saying.
  Prof. Willie Barclay, commenting on this passage tells of Diogenes advice: No matter what is written about us, if people cannot distinguish between good and bad, it will amount to nothing. People read our hearts. We are transient and fragile. God's glory is greater than the jars. We are to live in ways that allow others to see the light. God causes light to shine out from us. Our confidence to minister is in Jesus. God's glory is indestructible. He uses us to show the light to those around us. Paul urges us (4:1) to minister to keep heart. Our confidence is in God (3:5).
  Mt 5:43-48 says love your enemy; perfection comes through extraordinary love. Practising the presence of God (spending time with Him) lets the light shine brighter and attracts others. Some are blind and require God to work to be able to see the light. Everyone can do evangelism (sharing the good news). Spend time with Jesus, then spend time with others.

Index

26/5 Harry Sprange Phil 3:17-4:1. 3:20 Citizens of Heaven, Jesus' Return.

  Philippians is a book about behaviour for believers while we await Jesus's return to earth. Philippi in Macedonia (Greece), although far from Rome, was a Roman colony. Whilst they were in a foreign territory, they were expected to act and live as though in Rome. Due to their geographical position, they were far more likely to be influenced by the east. Philippi was founded by ex-servicemen. A few may have been Roman, but mainly foreign conscripts. There was a shortage of food and land (a soldier's reward) in Rome so they were not really welcome back home. To prevent incidents, the emperor would visit them, they did not return to Rome. They continued to live as Romans while staying in an alien land.
  Paul writes in a counter-cultural way. Caesar Augustus (the august, majestic one) claimed divinity and imposed himself on the world. Jesus, born during his reign, arrived quietly and did things in a much different way. Ps 8:6 & 1 Cor 15:25-27 Jesus reigns until everything is put under his feet. The power displayed, v21 is the power of resurrection from dead. We will be transformed. Our bodies will be renewed. God is not finished with the world. It will not be totally destroyed, it is going to be renewed. Rom 8:20-22 creation is groaning for its liberation. 2 Pet 3:13 God promises a renewed heaven and a renewed earth. The world won't melt like snow. Men are trusted with stewardship of earth.
  Plato circa 500 yrs BC formulated his theory of the soul which was trapped in the body waiting for liberation through death. Jesus appeared after the resurrection in new physical body that could eat and cook. 1 Cor 15:42 our new bodies will be imperishable. Paul urges the Romans to be transformed.
  Acts 1:11 Jesus will return. He will be present in a physical and spiritual way. He will return to transform us and renew the earth. Acts 3:19-21 until the time for everything to be restored (v21), Jesus is waiting in heaven. What about the 'rapture' ? This idea is based on 1 Thes 4:17, however, there is no mention of 'going to heaven' in this passage. Just as Roman governors would go out to meet the emperor to welcome him and bring him in to the city, the believers will rise to meet Jesus on his return. Rapture means snatched away; not an accurate description of what is happening here. Rev 3:12 & 21:2 describe the City of God coming down and being established on earth. Our task is to get the earth ready to receive Jesus. This is how we live, stand firm in the Lord. NT Wright, Resurrection.


12/5 David Seel Prov 3:1-6 Trusting God

  Challenges can take time to work through. How we can trust God? Too often, we overthink it. How do you respond to someone when they say, "trust me"? Sometimes we trust people for no real reason. There are times when their trust is not warranted. The meaning of word is reliance, confidence in someone or thing. Pr 3:5,6 enocourages us to trust in the Lord with all we have. There is nothing I can do that is better than God's plan. We are to submit to His ways. Submission means to get under the mission of. It's about obedience to God. Bruce Wilkinson said, "Dependence on God makes heroes of ordinary people like you and me". God's Spirit working in us is different from our natural response.
  The importance of context can be seen here in that Pr 3:1-4 are building blocks for verses 5 & 6. Father God wants us to have long, peaceful, prosperous lives with good favour and good standing before God and men. This is why we can & should trust Him. What in our lives right now do we need to trust God for? We can trust Him in any situation. Isa 55, a passage about covenant of grace, informs us that His ways are higher than our ways (8,9). We never know what is going to happen in a day. Always kiss the ones you love goodbye. God is with our family all the time, we are not.
  In some aspects God's plan is like a giant jigsaw puzzle; He gives you the pieces one at a time. The problem is that when we start to see the picture we try put our pieces in, not always in the right place. We need to try to keep in step with the process and with God till we know it is right. Learn to trust God in all you do. Trust His timing. Waiting time is not wasted time. We can all relate times when we have tried to force the result we want. We must do what only we can do and let God do what only He can do.
  Jer 18:1-4 potters house. We must realise that God doesn't work the same way every time. Whatever way He brings about His plans it's all for our benefit. God wants the best for us. It's futile to argue with the potter. [Word for someone today: the creator can mould the clay any way he wants, right up until it goes in the oven.] All that we need to be able to do God's will was provided for us at the time of creation; however we are currently still in the process of being moulded. Trust Him. Live this life to the full. Charles Blondin the famous tightrope walker was cheered and applauded when he asked if they believed he could take someone over Niagara Falls in a wheelbarrow. When he asked who wanted to go in the barrow, there were no volunteers. Who's getting in the wheelbarrow? Who's putting their complete trust in God?.
  Heb 11:5,6 - Enoch was a man of faith who pleased God and got his reward. By faith, we can please God and He will reward us with a good outcome. Go to God first, use prayer before acting or thinking how you can resolve the situation. Pr 16:3 is an instruction to trust God to see your plans worked out. Barry Miller's testimony is about how God blessed his wife and family when it seemed like there was no hope. Wiersbe - God keeps promises when we obey and reveals His will to us. Obedience prepares us to receive His promises and His goodness. Choose to trust Him.


5/5 Jim Neilson Revelation 1 Jesus, John, Church

  The Greek word for Revelation is apocalupsis which means revealing, unveiling. Through this writing we get to see what God is doing. There is a spiritual reality, beyond what we see in the physical. God shows John what He is doing. It was written for specific people who knew what John was speaking about. It was to help them live for Christ in a pagan age.
  Jesus, John, the Church.
  Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Gk word for a witness is martyr. John writes to a society immersed in Roman culture about a different reality. Jesus way is different. Most of this book is not literal. It is set in a violent context, but promotes a non-violent way of life. God is at the boundary of language, we struggle to describe God and the visions people see of heaven. Our response to God's presence is to worship. The focus of this whole book is Jesus.
  John, who wrote this book, was probably not the apostle who was with Jesus, but he was respected by the church. It is very likely that John was banished for his faith. At this time Nero, burned Rome. There was persecution of Christians although the extent of this varied across the empire. The believers thought Jesus return was imminent. Persecution may be evident here soon.
  The church had been established and was growing in this area of the world. Each letter in this book was to be read to the whole church in every place; not specifically to the one mentioned as the 'addressee'. The Church is the light of the world. At this time the Churches met in houses. There were no mega churches. Most of society cow-towed to the emperor, even the local council towed the party line. Believers are to be a community, a family. Church groups may be small, but they are still significant. Heb 10:24,25. Who are the angels of the church? Be encouraged, be a blessing.

Index

28/4 Andrea Mill Ps 133, Rom 12:3-21 (TPT) Unity through Diversity

  Whenever we pray or act, we are joining in with heaven. What are some of the ways we communicate that God loves us? Acts of kindness, caring & appreciative messages, visiting, spending time together, listening, sacrifice... We can unite in lots of diverse ways to show that God is love.
  The purpose of Ps 133 is to bring you higher. [Poem] What is unity? Is it everyone all agreeing about everything or eveyone being the same? No, this is not what it means. Does the world see the churches as united? No, we are fallen and mess up. How can we recover our unity?
  God made us all different. We are also shaped by our circumstances and experiences. Some of us choose to live in our woundedness. We tend to gravitate to those who are like us. We avoid facing our differences and hold on to our prejudices. Jesus spoke to unclean, immoral, unlawful people. We must change to be able to communicate with people. We are all made in the image of the Holy Trinity. Through sin we have become broken. We work with God as He restores us. We work towards unity in the church. Ask God to help you with the people you find difficult. Choose to look for the gold and the good in other people. Take time to share God's love with them. We must seek Him and find the ways He helps us to share His message with everyone.
  Be careful to express your opinions and views with love and humility. We all have cultural 'baggage'. In John chapter 17, Jesus prays for His disciples (v9 ff) to be in unity with God (v11), and for all who come after (v20 ff) to be in unity with God (v22). Jesus wants the whole world to recognize Him and be convinced of who he really is. Our differences are vital and are all valid contributions towards unity. The Passion translation of Rom 12:3-21 gives us great advice for promoting unity. We must apply appropriate self esteem while activating our gifts. We should get excited about what we are called to do. We must know the truth and let it set us free. Jesus is Lord, He unites us. When He calls us, He equips us.


21/4 Paul Younger Mk 16:1-8 All things are possible

  A sermon usually requires a dramatic opening to capture people's attention and make sure they are listening. The preacher could demonstrate his ability to fly. We may discover a flaw in his plans. He may believe he can fly. but it's impossible. Lewis Carroll's Alice asks the queen how she can believe the impossible. The queen replies that she practises and believes 6 impossible things before breakfast.
  Prior to 1903 and the endeavours of the Wright brothers, it was impossible for people to fly. Before 1969 it was impossible for man to land on moon; tell that to Neil Armstrong. These things were impossible, until they were done. The women who came to the tomb early on the first Easter morning believed an impossible thing. They went to perform their duties, although they knew there would be a practical problem - a sealed tomb with a heavy stone door to be rolled back. The scene they found was very different to what they expected. Who was the stranger; where was Jesus? The stranger was an angel who delivered the messge about Jesus, "He has risen, he is not here".
  The most important events in recent history that show up in a 'google' search include: James Watt and the steam engine, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and many others. All of these pale into insignificance beside what Mary found that morning. This eclipsed Jesus birth. People re-appearing after they were dead only happened in second-rate movies. The whole of the middle-eastern world knew that Jesus was dead. It's not just men who can do "the impossible", so can God. What made it possible? Mary told Gabriel it was impossible for her to have a baby. He told her, "with God all things are possible". The Romans didn't want people to believe Jesus was alive. The women were afraid and said nothing at first. They would probably have been ridiculed. Later they did testify to these 'impossible' events. Sometimes we have to challenge the accepted beliefs of the world. Some things are beyond our capabilities, but with God all things are possible.


14/4 Richard Hobson Lk 7:36-50 Forgiveness

  Jesus went to places we might not have expected Him to. When these encounters happen, there is a revelation of Jesus. This account is about a pharisee and a woman. Pharisees didn't have good reputation with Jesus. They thought that they pleased God by tring to follow the law. However, their good intentions went wrong as they added to the rules. By inviting Jesus to his house Simon was honouring Him. Jesus showed respect for Simon as a person, Jesus went to many places pharisees wouldn't go.
  How did the woman get into Simon's house? There was a tradition to allow poor to come in to big banquets for leftovers, but her reason for coming was not for food. Simon had sought Jesus for teaching or perhaps prestige; the woman sought Him to worship. Jesus feet were behind as he reclined at the table. Her approach was a sign of humility. She was grieving her brokeness. She showed respect, love and devotion. The oil was expensive and perfumed. She only cared what Jesus thought, not any of the others. Simon only saw the prostitute, not the worshipper.
  When questioned about the parable, Simon reluctantly acknowledges the right response. There is a stark distinction between the behaviour of Simon and the woman. Jesus saw the devotion and the love in her. Simon only saw the physical. The men in the parable loved because their debt was forgiven. The woman loves much because her many sins are forgiven. Jesus words changed the woman's life and her eternity. Simon had no awareness of his own sin. This is how God responds to broken sinners. How can we learn? Never forget we are sinners, we need forgiveness. The woman had none of the pharisee's self-righteousness. James encourages us to confess to one another, to get confirmation of forgiveness. Jesus forgives completely. When confessing, don't hold anything back. The more we are forgiven the more we love. Don't confuse actions with motivation. The woman was nothing on the outside. Obedience requires love.
  What can we do? Seek Jesus through prayer and spending time in his presence and his word. Sinning against God is not good, and causes brokenness. When Jesus forgives us we can go in peace. We can know we have no condemnation. Jesus forgives us so we can move on. Why come to Jesus? Not just to fix outward things. Recognise who we are before Him, take full advantage of the cross. Our minds can hang on to unforgiveness and sinfulness. Obey Jesus when he says we are forgiven.


7/4 Iain Sutherland John 4:1-42 Intervention, Revelation, Salvation

  The amount of gold on the earth would fill 3 Olympic swimming pools. We all have a little bit and it his hidden all over the earth. We can choose to look for the 'gold' in everyone. Jn 4:1-42. The woman was ostracised due to her careless lifestyle, so she went to the well when it was quiet. Jesus meets her there. He starts a conversation and offers her hope. She resorts to tradition. Jesus' reply informs her that it's who and how you worship that matters, where isn't so important.
  After her conversation with Jesus the whole village believed. It started with an intervention, a divine interruption. The message is for the woman and her village. As she talks, she gets the revelation. Jesus declares that He is the Messiah. The root of word 'testimony' means to repeat the observation and declare it is true. A story is a 3rd hand account of an event. A testimony is 2nd hand account. Now the village were listening to Jesus in person. This is a 1st hand ocassion. Jesus saw the significance of where this was taking place. Jacob, who wrestled with God, gave the land to Joseph. Joseph didn't have an easy life. he became 2nd in command of the biggest empire at that time. The woman also had troubled life and now she was also being transformed. She was restored and went to tell the village. This is not the end of the story, the whole village came to meet Jesus.
  Intervention, revelation, salvation, restoration. Get it first hand from God. Rev 19:10, the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy. God wants us to 'know' Him in the sense of experience. Paul urges the Philippians (3:10) to know Christ. Hab 3:2, the prophet has heard about God's deeds and calls him to repeat them. Job 42:3-5, God's deeds are too wonderful, my eyes have seen you. The chorus of the song 'All I once held dear' by G. Kendrick says there is no greater thing than knowing Jesus. Get your 1st hand testimony.
  Heather led us in an exercise to learn to hear what God is saying through everyday things and circumstances. We should ask God to speak into ordinary situations.

Index

31/3 Andy & Diane Rev 1:1-6 Humility with Authority

  Humility with Authority. Don't disrespect yourself. Ps 139. Know who you are. Don't be a football to be kicked about. The contest between Jacob and Esau is about owning your birthright. Know you are in the right place. Stand in the full armour. The gospel works in situations where society breaks down. Gospel works on all parts of the map. Put on the armour. Stand. Be in the place where God wants you to be (Eph 6:10-17).
  Keep being kind. People stumble over the corner stone. Build your house there on the corner stone. Ex 10:3 Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?". Moses married a Cushite woman and Miriam and Aaron grumbled against him, Numbers 12:1-3. God asks why they were not afraid to doubt His word and disciplines them.
  Choose faith over fear. We should not be separated from the knowledge of our birthright. At the transfiguration, when Jesus clothes blazing were white, the disciples saw a truer image of who Jesus is. Prayer retreats with Jesus would be regular things for the disciples. The vision gave them a clearer picture and fuller understanding, God spoke his . Jesus warns them not to speak of it. When the truth and Word of God goes out it is powerful. We may not even realise what we said. Know where you are on the map and who you are in Him. Overcome unkindness with kindness.


24/3 Paul Younger Eph 2:11-16 Near to God

  The game 'hot or cold' is based on a simple principle, but can still be very challenging. The Gentiles (by definition, not Jewish) were regarded as being as far from God as it was possible. "You're not one of us" is a cutting insult. They were separate from Christ v12, aliens from Israel, strangers to the promise, without hope or God. A very bleak outlook. In 20th century, the solar system was made up of 9 planets. Now we have 8: there are many more bodies around that are bigger than Pluto. There are lots of other similar sized bodies that are now classed as 'plutoids'. Due to its distance from the sun, temperatures on Pluto are around -220 degrees. This is almost as cold as it gets. This is a tautology, same thing twice, needless repetition: without hope, without God.
  Paul brings good news to the Gentiles, in Christ they are as close to God as the Jews. This is a dramatic change, but not of the Gentiles own doing. God brought them near. This is crucial to their physical, social and spiritual standing in both senses. (crucial = cross-shaped). God came all the way to us to get us. Jesus brings us near. His sacrifice allows two to become one (v14). The temple in Jerusalem had a physical wall; there were other cultural and spiritual 'walls'. In Mexico there is a wall going up, in Berlin the wall came down. Jesus destroys the wall of division between Jew and Gentile and brings unity. In Him there is no longer Jew and Gentile, Col 3:11.
  Jesus has done something new. Greek has two words for new. (neos, time & kainos, essence or quality.) In Christ we are new creations (2 Cor 5:17). Paul states in Gal 3:28 there is neither Jew nor Gentile. Both become new and come closer together. In Christ we are made new and and made one. God did all this work. He doesn't want us to stay cold.


17/3 Alan Seel Eccles 3:1-11. Seasons.

  It's good to be in God's presence. The passion in our hearts is important, the number of people gathered is not so important. With God there are Seasons. God is in charge in everything. Hindsight lets us see things we don't realise at the time. Eccles 3:1-11 lists a number of seasons or times. Right now it is spring time, new life is appearing, there is a freshness. Things are coming alive. Its a time to think what you can achieve.
  A season of sowing. Succes in the garden can vary: slugs can eat the vegetables, pees can shoot up and produce abundant crops. Enjoy planting. Sow into your life, for the fruit of the Spirit. Learn patience and peace. Sow encouragement into one another. We all play our part. We cannot pray for harvest in a field we did not sow.
  Some seasons are times of busyness, with lots going on. At these times important things can be overlooked. Set priorities. Rely on Holy Spirit.
  We experience seasons of dryness. The Word seems dry, prayers don't get beyond ceiling. We can get through it. Realise where you are. Press on. God never changes. God has things for us everyday. Keep meeting together with other believers.
  Season of waiting, these can be difficult. God doesn't forget you. Caleb waited a long time for the Promised Land. He waited 45yrs from Moses to Joshua. God's peace passes understanding.
  Season of testing and trial. Let God increase your faith through it. Focus on God, not the problem. Although you may not understand what God is doing, just trust Him. Isa 43:2.
  Season of contentment. A time to be confident in God, to know who He is. Recognise Him, praise and worship Him. Jesus has an influence on our lives. God's Word is getting back into schools in central Scotland. Pupils are picking up Gideon Bibles. 1 Tim 6:6 "godliness with contentment is great gain", be content in every circumstance. Seek God daily. What happens when situations change? God remains the same. What will spring bring? Look forward to what God will do. Depend on Him. By faith in God people were healed and made whole. We are world changers.


10/3 Harry Sprange Dan 2:31-45 Confidence in God

  God is God of the nations. Heb 12:26-27 These are troubled times, but God is in control. To restore God's order everything will be shaken. Lk 21:10,11 nations will be in anguish. Stand up, look up, redemption is coming v28. Habakkuk expresses his worries about the state of the nation 1:1-4. God answers his complaint v5. The first chapter is a statement of faith. By the end of the book, he has total faith in God. 2:4 declares that the righteous will live by their faithfulness.
  Today's news is predicting calamity, whatever the result of the government votes. Remember that God provides; if we seek first His Kingdom, all things (food and clothes etc) will be added to us. God is at work in the nation and the nations. God determines where and when we live, He determines the nations.
  Gen 10 details the nations and lands of the sons of Noah. Gen 11 is about the building of the first empire, followed quickly by the scattering of the nations. God is OK with nations but not with empires. Jer 25:31,32 storms will rise against the disobedient nations. Many prophecies were given to the nation of Israel and to the other nations. Jesus speaks to churches. God brings down empires. The great ancient empires were all brought down: Egypt, Philistia, Iran, Babylon, Greece, Rome.
  The EEC initially brought equality and unity to Europe. Now it is a political empire. God brings down empires. Mother Barbara prophecy. She was a Russian Nun; the prophecy was given to her by Bishop Aristocoli. In 1911 it stated that an evil will take Russia, there will be rivers of blood, other nations will be ruined. People will be saved by praying women. We believe God is in control of the nations. Isa 40:15, He sees them like a drop in bucket. Ez 26:3, He uses nations to correct other nations. Dan 4:7.
  God is so much more than just a personal friend to sinners. He has a big agenda. What does God require of us? We are to be faithful stewards. Isa 30:15. We are not to be afraid, Lk 12:32. We are to get the world ready for the day of the Lord. We are in a Spiritual battle. Stop discussing the economic consequences, start praying for the Kingdom. We need a spiritual break-through.

Index

3/3 Dawn Martindale Rom 3:20-26, Lk 18:9-14, Rom 3:27-31 Faith

  Paul's letter to the Romans is really all one train of thought. It is the basis of the key to the protestant faith and the reformation. Paul writes thoelogically, but does get carried away at points. This part was probably written just after Pentecost. As confirmed in Acts 18:2, the Jews had been banned from Rome and they were dispersed. Jewish synagogues were independent and had diverse theologies. Paul was writing to raise support for his visit to Spain, but was also trying to bring the churches together.
  There are two era's: the past and the present. Rom 6:23 was understood by most at that time as the appropriate judgements will come to everyone at the end of their life or the end of the age. Paul tells us there is no one holy and able to escape judgement. He also says the time of judgement is here now. Two wrongs don't ever make a right, but in God's plan the righteous one dies and the sinners are set free. God's love and wrath meet at the cross. God demonstrates that He is just.
  Lev 16 vv 11,15,21 gives instruction for the day of atonement: sacrificial offerings for the priest and the people. The sin of the people was carried away by the goat. The mercy seat, the place of God's forgiveness is now Jesus. Atonement is available to all. Faith is a simple acceptance that we can approach God. Trust that God has already taken care of all sin.
  Faith and prayer are linked. Heb 4:16 encourages us to approach the throne of grace with confidence. What does faith mean to me?
  Lk 18:9-14, Rom 3:27-31. Contrasting prayers and the place of boasting. The Baptist declaration of principle is based on 2 Tim 3:16. Allow scripture to teach us what are the essential beliefs. They will challenge us in different ways at different times. Sometimes we are judgemental. It is only faith that makes us right with God. Boasting is futile, there is nothing we can do. Others may commit sin that we would not. We must not judge them for sinning differently to us. Ask what God wants to reveal in you. We are justified by Him, but we are not yet completed works of grace. Rom 14:13 : "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another."

Index

24/2 Jim Neilson Mark 16:9-20 Witness

  This passage is not included in all translations. It was probably not written by Mark. There is more emphasis here on the disciples' lack of faith. What they experienced was all very new to them to be fair. On several occasions the disciples were disbelieving. They experienced loss and despair. They spent years with Jesus and had seen and done lots of miracles. Women were the first apostles in an age of being considered unreliable witnesses. Despite all the predictions they found it too hard to believe that He was alive.
  Witnesses are suposed to testify to what they know. We are called to be witnesses. The Greek word for witness is martyr, and was relatively recently restricted to those who gave their lives. It will cost you. You can rely on God moving ahead of you to speak to people. Be encouraged. Signs accompany disciples. When did we do these things spoken of in v17,18? The Kingdom is supernatural.
  The Romans allowed the Hebrews to worship God as long as they worshipped Caesar. The Romans understood the connection between heaven and earth. Rulers, powers and principalities have spiritual powers. Deliverance was a very real thing in those times. Tongues, v17, is about prayer. It's where we engage with God aside from our understanding. It is the prophetic voice of the church. Snakes/poison are signs of opposition. Psalms speaks of the poison of vipers. This is equivalent to deriding. How much opposition have we known in the context of our witness?
  The main point is that Jesus preached to all creation. We struggle to comprehend or get perspective on this. Our best research can only explain 5% of the universe. Science is not an enemy of faith. What we know is a tiny minority of reality. Powers and principalities still affect us.
  The "market" has been with us for most of our existence in various forms - buying, selling, belonging. The main function of government is the economy. Credit is derived from belief. Oligarchy, the rule of the few with more than a hint of corruption. Money has a huge grip on the world. Advertising is pervasive, materialism is rampant. Modern technology influences more than we known. Social media breeds self worship. Individualism is rife, with the perception that whatever I say is the truth.
  All of these affect us more than we realise. We are called to engage, to have a radical lifestyle. Deny yourself is not what people of this world want to hear. The challenge to us is to engage in prayer. This is the lifeblood of church. We engage with people when we pray with them. God has everything in his hands. We invite God into people's lives. What happens when we pray and no healing comes? Our understanding of God is minimal. Make start, trust God will work. Be engaged in praying for people. Find a person to pray for. Partner with God to overcome powers and principalities.


17/2 David Seel Gen 37:17-28, 39:1-6 God is with us.

  Life is busy, tough but good. A few family health issues. School subject choices. In all these things, God is interested in our lives. He cares for us and will never leave us. The testimony of a woman who survived after being on life support following a car crash; the ringing in her ears reminds her that God was there. Man who couldn't work out why he earned so much making parts for engines; God's provision was amazing. Prosperity is not always a bad thing. The Bible says God will prosper us.
Protection, provision, promotion.
Knew since January this was the word for today. Gen 37, 39:1-6. "The Lord was with Joseph." (v2) Joseph's eyes were opened on his way to Egypt. The hardships he experienced were stepping stones to the blessings he received. Joseph could have questioned God and could have chosen a different path for his life.
Protection None of what happened to Joseph was a coincidence. The key to this episode is that God 'arranged' the travelling merchants and that Joseph was sold to Potiphar. He was an influential man and Joseph would meet important people as he went about with Potiphar. God doesn't jump in and out of our story. His hand is in every event. This story is finely tuned. Look at all the people and details. Note the influence of non-believers in various situations in your's and others' lives. God is working with us and God is working for us. Joseph was not bitter or angry, God protects him from this. Joseph's dreams were true. "Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place.", Casting Crowns, Just be Held 2014. Heb 13:5 is a remnder that God will never leave us. We have God's help for all situations. Rom 8:28 God's promise is thatHe will work it all out. Eph 1:3 every blessing, for our good. Rom 8:18 our present trials do not compare with our future glory. Jer 29:11 God has a plan, for our prosperity and success. Speak scripture over situations. God says we will prosper.
Prosper, to flourish or grow, make successful. God made Joseph successful. Jesus came to give us abundant life. Be the head, not the tail, Deut 28:13. This is what God wants. The coat given to Joseph was a symbol of his position, but his authority came from his character and integrity. Losing the coat didn't mean he lost his authority. We need to have the same testimony as Joseph. He didn't assimilate into Egyptian culture. Although he was bought by Potiphar, belonged to God. Decide what you will do and say before things happen. Joseph's success is entirely God's blessing. Trust God and His timing. Aslan is on the move. How we respond makes all the difference. Joseph was able to move into what God planned.
Promotion comes. Joseph worked for Potiphar while serving God. His life was a witness to God. Be a shining light, Mt 5:16. Lk 16:10 cultivate trust. Bloom where you are planted. God uses us when we get to the right place. The LORD is with «your name here». He puts us where He can use us. He will be there with us. Work out where the opportunities are coming from. Something is happening, God is still with us, He is still moving.


11/2 No Meeting


3/2 Andrea Mill Romans 1:1-17 FAITH

Passion translation Written to believers in Rome, and also in Glenrothes. Faith. Life through faith is a journey. We all feel inadequate at various times and should all reflect on this passage. Faith is defined as complete trust in some one or thing. Faith is demonstrated by obedience. By faith we encourage one another; life is made meaningful; it is the basis of salvation; develop character. There is a pattern to all Jesus said about faith. Mt 6:25-34 do not worry, God provides even when we have little faith. Don't let doubt win. Mt 14:31 Jesus told Peter after stepping out boat that he had little faith and questioned his resolve over doubt.
  Jesus also commends faith. He praises the faith of the friends of the paralyzed man, Mt 9:2, and the woman with bleeding, Mk 5:34. When we show little faith, Jesus responds. Fear doubts what Jesus can do: we are reminded what He can do. Mt 8:26 Jesus calms the storm, there is no room for fear when we are faithful. Ps 46:2,3 when we hide in Him, nothing can erode our faith. How does this translate to my situation?
  FEARLESLY APPROACHING INTIMACY TRUST HOPE. Go to God to hand over your burdens. Sit with him till we see His way. Intimacy doesn't come easily - choose to be in that place. Ps 73:24-28 true perspective comes when we get closer to God and to one another. Move forward as a family, together, encouraging one another. Be humble before God. There are no short cuts to spending time with God.
  Take time to let Him love you. Take time to process loss, to discuss problems and situations. Once we see, then we can pray - this is 'praying in Jesus name' (not just tagging the phrase to the end of our requests). In the darkest times we can either sink or trust in Him. When we are in a struggle, read the Bible to see what He is like.
  Heb 11:1 (TPT) tells us that hope becomes reality through faith. We can learn from previous generations. People without hope perish. Keep living for God when hard times come. There is power from living by faith. Jesus said to the blind men, you will have what your faith determines. We have access to the goodness of God. Even in the midst of troubles we can know a patient endurance.
  Jn 14:11,12 states that we will do greater miracles. Do we believe we can do greater things? 1 Cor 12 we are all given different spiritual gifts. We can speak to people's hearts. We should all desire prophecy. There are many parts, but one body. Use your gifts according to your faith. We must activate these gifts. Eph 6:10 stand alert. Faith defeats evil. Jas 1:2-4 faith testing opportunities stir up power; endure. Release blessings through testing. Faith requires action. 2 Pet 1:5-7 ...add to faith with goodness, understanding, self-control, endurance, godliness, mercy. 1 Jn 5:4 faith is the victorious power that triumphs. When we believe, God works. Is my life a witness? Is my faith growing?

Index

27/1 Paul Younger Eph 1:11-14 Selected, saved, sealed.

  Sorry, annoying technology fail, my notes lost in the 'cloud'.


20/1 Diane & Andy Ps 23, Ps 91 Seasons

  "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?", Shelley. TS Elliot “In my end is my beginning.” The end of one thing is the start of something else. There is a pattern to seasons. (We all have different relationships with words; some of us see in pictures, some of us require the form of words. It causes us to wonder, 'how does God think?' - very creatively!)
  What does January mean to you? Snow, the year on hold, signs of life, a new start, a low month, a long month. It can be a time to stop, pause and review the vision. Gen 8:22 God makes a promise to Noah that there will be seasons of life. Rev 22:1-2 describes the picture of the river of life and monthly seasons of fruit. Ecc 3:1-8 summarises a time for every thing.
  There are things to explore about what God is saying to us in these days. Isa 45:3 tells us there are treasures in darkness. The number 70 has significance; it indicates the end of the exile. It can be important to finish off the previous thing before moving on to the next thing. Forgiveness leads to freedom. Pruning may be appropriate, Jn 15:2, cutting the branches that don't bear fruit, and the ones that do bear fruit!. Isa 40:31 rise up like eagles, survey the whole scene. See through the field glasses the right way round to get the correct perspective. Holly is spiky and enduring. The effect of the spikes are relative to your size. For some larger creatures they are dangerous, for other smaller creatures they offer protection.
  Consider what season you are in. Decide what needs to be tidied up. Look forward to what lies ahead. Ps 23 contains a message of rest and protection, as does Ps 91:1-4. God is powerful and loving Ps 63:11,12. Welcome and receive His help to give you confidence and encouragement to achieve your purpose.


13/1 Richard Hobson Habakkuk Ch 1-3 God Is Good

  God is good - all the time! Keep declaring this at the start of every service. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything, to be born and to die, but God is good all the time. Even through weeping and grieving. Jas 1:2,3 "trials... produce perseverence". They make us steadfast and more like Jesus.
  What if God ordains the trial? Habakkuk's identity is not known, but he is for God. He was a godly man who dialogued with God vv 1-4. This book is a song and is unique in that it was written for God. In vv2,3 he makes his complaint. The law, v4, is given to show God's character. Habakkuk has been waiting a long time for an answer to his prayers. What answer do we want to hear? What is our expectation of how God's goodness will appear? Usually we look for an easy painless answer and put our constraints on how we think God will act.
  There is a warning in v5 that God will do something unbelievable and vv6-11 describe an astonishing answer to prayer. Destruction is coming at the hands of the Babylonian's, but it will be for the good of Jerusalem. Difficult times will happen in our lives. Habakkuk knows the sovereignty of God who is a covenant God. He has ordained the Babylonians to execute judgment. Jerusalem and Judah had slipped from their position. God is sovereign he has a plan for our lives.
  Verse 12 is a theology discussion re God's character. Can we say he is good all the time? The Fatherly providence is on His people all the time. God's character forms the bedrock of our prayers. "We shall not die", is a faith statement. Judgement and reproof lead to good results. God uses intriguing means to bring his purposes and goodness. Habakkuk questions God's methods, v13. How can God look on while this happens? Can goodness come out of evil?
  Ch 2:2,3 shows that God wants the people to know his plans, but they must be patient. Verse 4 warns that God allows the attack to deal with the problem of a puffed up soul. God reveals this truth, "the righteous person will live by his faithfulness". Habakkuk sees the decline of Jerusalem. He doesn't yet see the destruction of Babylon. Ch 3:2,3 Habakkuk still petitions God to bring restoration. His mercy is greater than his wrath. V16 the only way he can do this is because he knows God is good. What else can he see by faith?
  All the time we can rejoice v17. Even when crops fail and flocks dwindle. God will restore, not destroy but it can be a difficult process. It was a faithful complaint. We can complain to God and ask Him what is going on. Habakkuk showed a lack of understanding of God's ways, not lack of faith in God. Learn more about God and His character. He uses unholy means to bring good outcomes. The crucifixion displays this the most. It has an infinitely good outcome. See the reality but declare with faith. Find the joy of the Lord. This will get us through the toughest times. John Piper "Don't Waste Your Cancer". Cancer is evil, but God can use it for our good. Be joyful.


6/1 Iain Sutherland Luke 2:1-20 Theme.

  There is a good Advent reading plan which goes through Luke, 1 chapter each day. By Christmas you will be reading the Easter story! A word which recurs through this gospel is 'watch'. Watch and pray. The shepherds are watching their sheep. The Magi are watching for the star. They are delighted when it stopped over Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph prayed and watched.
  Shepherds were the lowest of low in society. They are the one's who get the invitation, from heaven, "for you a king is born". The religious leaders missed it, they had given up waiting and looking. The King and Princes missed it. They weren't listening.
  Lk 21 is a warning from Jesus, vv34-38. Watch and pray. Let's not miss what He is saying. Be sleepless, on guard, alert. Be awake. Our faith is not a spectator sport. Watch has been trivialised and made passive in our culture: watching TV, sport. We are involved and participate in God's story. To watch requires the vigilance of a soldier. The army term Stag = on duty. Padre and chaplain training includes spending the night out in the cold in a trench, taking turns on stag. The Ghurka's mission is to find them, overpower them and take them captive. The enemy is out there.
  Faith is not for entertainment. Mainstream media (MSM) gives us the headlines they want us to see. There are other stories we don't hear. Ask God to show you what is going on and what to pray. We don't have to stay up all night. Be spiritually awake. We are called to participate. If we are awake, God will show us His plans, we can live like Jesus. Once we know our real needs, we can then see other needs. Prayer is the first thing we should do, not after we tried everything else.
  In Matthew 26:41, Jesus asks His disciples to watch and pray and stay awake. We have to grow in this. Why wouldn't we turn to God first? We have an open door to the creator. Watching pushes us to pray. Get to the place of listening, ask God to show you His wonder. Leave that place worshipping and celebrating. Watch the news, your neighbours, workplace and pray. Don't let anxiety weigh you down. Be ready to move at the commander's instruction. What does this mean for me? Prayer, fasting, triplets... Hear from Him. He desires intimate fellowship with us.


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