Daily Reflection

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‘A man went out to sow his seed…’ (Matthew 13:3)

Matthew 13 represents a pivotal time in Jesus ministry, or at least in Matthew’s account of it. Up until this point a lot of Jesus teaching has been in Synagogues, but from this point forward we find that more and more it is out in the open, like here by the seashore and, perhaps in light of that, we see that Jesus parables become slightly more fuller in what Jesus says. Matthew 13 contains a number of parables but the parable of the sower is perhaps the most vivid of all the parables Jesus told in that its descriptive language really invites us to be part of that story for ourselves.

We all know this parable so well, but read it again – verses 1-9 and then consider it from two perspectives. First of all as someone who hears the Word of God. Reflect on the different types of ground that the seed fell on and the subsequent outcome as a result of that and then ask yourselves, which type of ground am I most like? A difficult question, perhaps, but also one that we have maybe considered before. However, I wonder if we have considered that we might be a different type of ground at different times in our lives. Think again now about that and then ask yourselves why that might have been the case – and how can we be more like the good ground more of the time.

Notwithstanding the above, there is also something in this parable which is relevant to those who spread or share the Word of God. For the reality is that as we seek to sow the Word of God, we do not know for certain what kind of ground it is falling upon in terms of those listening to us, nor do we know for certain what effect our seed is having. Yet sometimes we expect quick and instant results to our witness and may get disheartened and discouraged when we fail to see any sign of that. This parable offers us some encouragement in that. Whether or not we see immediate results, there will always be a harvest. It may take time – but there will always be a harvest. And the more we allow God’s Word to permeate our hearts and souls, and the more we share it with others, ultimately, the greater that harvest will be.

 

Daily Reflection

By | Reflections

‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment…’ (Matthew 9:16-17)

The Pharisees saw themselves as the guardians and teachers of the law. For them the law was the final word and nothing could be added to or taken away from it. It had to be followed rigorously as it was written in line with the rituals and ceremonies prescribed within it. When Jesus began His teaching in a manner that was not prescribed in the Torah – using parables, analogies and allegories with every day things the people were familiar with – naturally the authorities were upset by this, and Jesus was aware of that, hence this short story. However, this still applies to us today.

How often, I wonder, over the years, have we heard expressions like, we never did that before or the old ways were better (often spoken after a sharp intake of breath!) whenever a new idea has been mentioned or when some form of change is suggested in our church life. Yet change, in all of life, is inevitable – so why not in our church life?

It doesn’t mean we have to abandon our traditions or the essence of our faith, nor indeed the Gospel message that we bear witness to. But are there not times when we might need to think on how we can do so in a way that might reach more people and does that not mean that we might have to allow our minds and our imaginations to ‘stretch’ a little as the Holy Spirit prompts and guides us?

If we believe that God’s Holy Spirit is alive within us and transforming us daily, does that not mean change is inevitable and if we continue to resist that change, will our cloth not tear and our wineskins not burst?

Daily Reflection

By | Reflections

‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged…’ (Matthew 7:1-5)

Even though we might immediately dismiss the idea as being ludicrous, as human beings we are all too often judgemental of others, even to the point where we might make instant judgements on people based on stereotypical assumptions. Here Jesus warns us against being judgemental, adding that the measure we use to judge others will be used against us all – which in itself should make us wary of any such judgements. However, there are three main reasons why we should avoid judging others.

First of all, as human beings it is almost impossible for us to be impartial in any judgement because all too often we are easily swayed by our instincts and initial reactions towards people – their thoughts, their beliefs and their actions.

Secondly, in any given situation there is an extremely high probability that we will never know all the facts, so how can we possibly judge someone when we are not fully aware of the situation or the circumstances they find themselves in at any given time.

Finally, and most importantly, as Jesus Himself alludes to in this parable, none of us – not one – is good enough to judge another person. Rather we should look to ourselves and our own actions first, and possibly ask ourselves – does my life show evidence of following my Lord – and if not look to that first before we judge others.

Daily Reflection

By | Reflections

Over the next couple of weeks we are going to have a look at some of the parables of our Lord, beginning with those found in Matthew’s Gospel, and look briefly at what they say to us today.

‘You are the light of the world…’ (Matthew 5:14-15)

‘I am the light of the world…’  is one of Jesus well known I Am sayings found in John’s Gospel but here Jesus applies it to those who would be His Disciples. In many ways this might be taken as a great compliment, yet when Jesus said this to His Disciples He was effectively saying that they should be like Himself.

It’s also worth noting that in Biblical times Jerusalem was spoken of as being ‘a light to the Gentiles..’ However, we should also note that although Jerusalem may indeed have been thought of this way, it was God who ‘lit Israel’s lamp.’ In other words, Jerusalem, and indeed the people of Israel, was called to reflect the light of God for all to see.

So it should be with us as Christians as we seek to bear witness to the Gospel message and the love of Jesus Christ in the world today. We are not called to produce our own light, so to speak, rather we are called to reflect the light of Christ in all we are and do, seeking as best we can to follow His teaching and emulate Him at all times. Therefore, any light that comes from us should come from knowing the presence of our Lord in our heart and should be a light which will show others what it means to know Christ in their lives and then guide them to Him that they too may come to know and follow this light for themselves.

 

Church Offerings

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With the latest lockdown meaning that our churches have to remain closed for the time being one or two have been asking about how they may donate their offerings to their respective churches. There are one or two ways that this might be done – by cheque, electronic payment or setting up a standing order. If anyone would like more information on any of these please contact our Treasurers. At Bendochy Church, David Donaldson on 01828 640017 and at the Abbey Church, Peter Godfrey on 01828 627028. Although our churches are closed we do still have to make our Mission and Ministry payments to the Church every month, as well as other payments (insurance, fuel etc.), and understandably our income has gone down over the last nine months, so thank you to all who are actively considering this.

God Bless,

Andy

Daily Reflection

By | Reflections

‘And pray in the Spirit on all occasions…’ (Ephesians 6:18)

As we come to the conclusion of these verses about the armour of God we end on what holds all of this together – on what holds our relationship with God through His Son together. Prayer! Prayer is the most wonderful ‘tool’ we have at our disposal as Christians. To be able to come before our Lord and communicate with Him; to be able to talk to Him at any time and know that He will listen is a privilege beyond belief and surely the greatest source of comfort, inspiration, encouragement, strength, faith – whatever we need at any one time – that any Christian can possibly have. So let’s remember these words of Paul. Let’s ensure that we have the full armour of God on every day and let’s hold it all together in prayer. Amen…

Daily Reflection

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‘…and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God…’ (Ephesians 6:17)

Knowing that wherever we go and whatever we do that the Spirit of God is with us, is a blessing beyond compare. It is through the Spirit that we are able to discern what the Word of God is saying to us as we seek the guidance, help, strength and faith we need to navigate our way through all of life’s ups and downs, and to overcome whatever barriers and temptations we encounter each day. So allow God’s Spirit to move within your heart and soul that by His Word you might prevail each day.

Daily Reflection

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‘And take the helmet of salvation…’ (Ephesians 6:17)

Perhaps the greatest joy we have as Christians is that sure and certain knowledge we have that, through faith in Jesus Christ and accepting Him as our Saviour, salvation is ours and, ‘…that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38). Amen to that – and in that knowledge we are able to face whatever comes our way knowing that the Lord is always with us.

Daily Reflection

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‘…above all taking the shield of faith…’ (Ephesians 6:16)

According to the author of Hebrews, ‘…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen…’ (Hebrews 11:1) and essentially this kind of faith can be described in two words – confidence and certainty. The starting point for such faith is God’s character and the end point is believing in God’s promises – effectively, God is who He says He is and He will do what He says. Such faith comes also from remembering how God has been with us in the past and the more we remember and put our faith into practise, the greater that faith will become. If we can hold on to this in the face of all adversity then we will have the shield of faith that Paul speaks of here.

Daily Reflection

By | Reflections

‘…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…’ (Ephesians 6:15)

It might seem strange to some that in the middle of a passage that is speaking about spiritual warfare and the need to put on the whole armour of God, that suddenly we have this reference to the gospel of peace. But the peace being spoken of here is that shalom, that inner peace that we can only know through having Jesus Christ in our lives and as we play our part in building up the Kingdom of God in this world in which we live, it’s a peace that we all need to know. That sure and certain peace we can have knowing that in all we do each day and in all we undertake in God’s name, by His Spirit, Christ will be with us. In that peace we not only know the full love of Christ, but find hope and faith to be the Disciples that He has called us to be.

 

If there is any interest I’m looking to start a Zoom Bible discussion evening in the next few weeks. My plan would be to discuss the Bible passages that we looked at on the previous Sunday and just have a discussion about them in a bit more detail and end with 5 minutes or so of prayer. If you are interested please email me : Andrew.Graham@churchofscotland.org.uk I would need your email details to send you the Zoom link for you to join in. Each session would be no more than 40 minutes, as that’s the time limit I have on my zoom account, and could be on either an afternoon or evening.