ONLINE CHURCH (5)Welcome to our church-wide Lockdown Blog!
Each day for 6 months during lockdown, our church family members contributed daily devotionals.

 

Here's a quick list of all devotionals

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Copy of Advent 2020 (7)

advent verses (13)Dec 23. I Love Thee Lord Jesus

I love Thee Lord Jesus’-
This is the response of the writer of the children’s carol ‘Away in a manger’. He says -

‘I love Thee Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side
Until morning is nigh’

A simple carol for the smallest of children, but the most profound and important of responses that I found myself thinking about this week.
It’s what all true believers should say as they think about the love of God for them - shown not just in Him taking humanity but when ‘He loved me and gave Himself for me’.
And He did this when we didn’t acknowledge or worship Him. Just the opposite in fact. Yet He moved towards us. We can only ‘love Him because He first loved us.’
And His love has so many wonderful dimensions to it, in all its magnificence. Paul says in Ephesians 3 that it actually ‘passes knowledge ‘.

But Jesus asks of us a question. It's the same one He asked Peter on the seashore -‘do you love me?’ In fact He asked him three times and He asks it of us too!

Do you love me because I came from heaven for you? Do you love me when you look to Calvary and see my suffering? Do you love me more than you love the ways of this world? Do you love me enough to follow me and obey me?

At one level they are easy words to say. But to say them with meaning and sincerity and consistently is another thing completely.
I hope, this Christmas to be able to sing this simple carol in a way that lets my Saviour hear the words He wants to hear from me -‘Lord Jesus I love You’.

prayer for advent

Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances. Lord, we ask You to grant us peace and love. In our homes, in our churches, and in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control. Help us to stay focussed on loving You, this Advent season and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Willie Harrison, 23/12/2020

advent verses (9)Dec 22. Angels Rejoice

I sometimes wonder about the shepherds. These unassuming men suddenly dropped into the middle of the most incredible story ever told. Much has been speculated about them. Songs have been written about them. Their role on the Nativity stage seldom disappoints. But then they are gone. The last we hear of them they are returning to the fields, “glorifying and praising God”. And then silence.

But what happened next? Did they continue shepherding? Did family and friends get tired of their tales of “that night”? Did they manage to keep track of this baby they visited as he grew? Years later, as older men, did they recognize the one who was healing, preaching and offering hope like no other had before as the one they had seen in the manger. Did they listen in as he told the parable of the lost sheep and hear his concluding words “there is rejoicing in heaven and in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents”?

 If they were aware of those words, they must have struck a wonderful chord in their hearts. They were, after all, among the few eyewitnesses to see exactly what it meant for angels to rejoice! Could it possibly be, that those same angels who lit up the skies with their praise, who dazzled the Shepherds with their brilliance and declared the good news of great joy, would they really rejoice over a shepherd’s repentance? And not just in the sky above Bethlehem, but throughout the courts of heaven?

And what of ourselves? It’s easy to imagine angels rejoicing when a person comes to Christ for the first time. A life saved, a future transformed – what greater cause to celebrate. But would angels rejoice to see us return? Again. And again. As we stumble our way through life, struggling with the same issues and falling at the same hurdles, it’s often easier to picture the angels rolling their eyes, giving glances of “I told you so” and even our Saviour’s shoulders slumping as we slink back for forgiveness yet again. And so sometimes we just don’t go. We stay away, downcast and sad with the most false of pictures in our minds, achieving nothing but the stealing of some joy from heaven and from ourselves.

If this resonates at all with you (and even if it doesn’t), let me encourage you to take time to draw near to Christ this Christmas. Tell him what’s on your heart. Confess your sins, your failures, your pride, your indifference. And ask that he might work in your life to make you a little more like him. He certainly won’t turn you away. And he certainly won’t say no. Because it was for this joy that he came as the Saviour. It was for this joy that he endured the cross. And as we come to him, his joy will be intertwined with the angels joy as the unfolding impact of the good news of great joy is witnessed once again. And as heaven rejoices, don’t be surprised to hear some shepherds' voices join in the chorus.

prayer for advent

Lord, I thank you for your love. Forgive me for the times when I wander away from you. Rather than basking in the warmth and brightness of you I see you dimly at a distance. Lord, help me to draw closer today, to seek you and to worship you and know again your affection for me. Amen.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Rod Pirie, 22/12/2020

advent verses (8)Dec 21. Now See The Light

Due to the pandemic we were prevented from holding any kind of performance in school this December so we decided to put something together that we could share with families at home. This morphed into a Virtual Advent Calendar where each day of December, in the run up to Christmas, people open a door to view an item the children have put together with the help of school staff.
In the calendar are a selection of readings from Isaiah and the Gospels which include the following verses:
 

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2 ESV


In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
John 1:4-5,9 ESV

 
As I read and heard these I was struck by the recurrence of the words light and darkness.
For many people 2020 has been an extremely "dark" year with coronavirus the cause of much of the bleakness as it has led to isolation, uncertainty and serious illness around the world, with no one untouched by its impact.

However, the darkness we've experienced this year is nothing compared to the darkness that has impacted our world since the Fall when sin entered it. It is important to recognise that long before Covid-19 had ever been heard of, the impact of sin was seen and felt by us all in the greed, selfishness and anger that blights all our lives. Yet we live in a world where very few people are aware of the darkness of sin and it's consequences both on our lives here on earth and in eternity.

But these verses remind us that into this great darkness shines a far greater light, as the Son of God arrives on the scene of history with the express purpose of dispelling the darkness once and for all, through living a life of perfect obedience to the Law of God and dying on the cross in our place so that we might have our sin forgiven.

With December days being short we experience a lot of darkness at this time of year, meaning that all the Christmas lights contrast sharply against it.
As we see all these beautiful lights on streets, homes and gardens, let us all give thanks to God for sending His only Son as the light which could not be overcome by the darkness, and to ask Him to shine His light into the lives of people in our families, communities and workplaces so that they will come to know Jesus as their personal Saviour this Christmas.

prayer for advent

Father, thank you that you stepped down into darkness as the Light of the World. We pray for those who are walking in darkness now, that they will see the light of morning - the hope of man - shining into their lives.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Duncan Reaves, 21/12/2020

advent verses (3)Dec 18. O come, O come, Immanuel!

‘“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means God with us).’
Matthew 1:21-23

Do you allow yourself to hope? If so, what do you hope for? Peace, good health, wealth, comfort, or a happy marriage and family life? These can be good things for which to hope, but what happens when the thing hoped for fails to materialise, or is not wholly satisfying, or maybe a blip occurs in your health, wealth, comfort, marriage, or family life?

It may be that you enter a cycle of adjusting your hopes to account for any blip, failure, or dissatisfaction and continue pressing on in life towards the new object of hope. Another option is to not allow yourself to hope at all. Some of us know all too well the feeling of being repeatedly beaten down such that it feels futile to hope.

The Israelites in the time of Jesus (and before) knew what it was to hope. The Old Testament often talks of their desire for things like peace, prosperity and deliverance from those foreign nations oppressing them. The Old Testament also speaks of the Israelites living in the hope that there would be one called ‘Immanuel’ who would come to save them. Matthew, in writing his gospel account, often referred to the fulfilment of the Old Testament. One such example is used in the first chapter where it says that ‘the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us).’ Isaiah, the book from which Matthew lifts these words, was written about seven hundred years before Jesus was on the scene. It’s remarkable that a statement made so long ago perfectly coheres with the event of Jesus’s birth and his status as ‘Immanuel’ – God has come to earth to save.
However, for the Israelites, seven hundred plus years seems a long time to wait for their hope to materialise in Jesus. As well as the time span, there were plenty of blips, including their being exiled and conquered, which may have caused their hope of the long-awaited saviour’s arrival to dwindle. Generations of Israelites came and went without living to see the final fulfilment of God’s promise to send Immanuel. Despite this, God remains sovereign and knows the big picture. He still loves His people and does not abandon them. With the birth of this baby in an unassuming corner of the world, God shows His faithfulness and willingness to change the situation for humanity on the ground by taking to the ground Himself.  
           
These Old Testament experiences, prophecies and promises would have rung a bell or two for the Israelites making up Matthew’s original audience as Jesus was born. Could this be the fulfilment of their hope? Many would’ve hoped Jesus was a political or military solution to delivering them from their Roman oppressors. However, those people would’ve been disappointed. Matthew makes it clear that Jesus arrived to ‘save his people from their sins.’ The greatest problem faced by the Israelites was not their material circumstances or oppression by the Romans, but sin and subsequent separation from God.  
Similarly, sin and separation from God remains our greatest problem now and it’s not one we can solve by ourselves. God hates sin (this is anything we think, say or do that makes us more important than God) and His judgement dictates that there must be a penalty for rejecting Him. Romans, a book that comes later in the New Testament, says that the ‘wages of sin is death.’ That is to say that the end point of living in sin is death and judgement.
           
God knows that we cannot solve this problem and save ourselves. In his mercy and love, He provides Jesus who entered the chaos of the world. He lived a perfect and sinless life, continually calling people to turn from their old and sinful life to follow Him. His life channels towards crucifixion, where he takes on the penalty that we deserve for our sin. However, he didn’t stay dead. Sin and death did not have the final say. He defeated death through his resurrection, which has paved the way for us to be right with God if we only turn and follow Jesus.
           
In Jesus, the long-awaited saviour of the world, there is a hope that will satisfy like nothing else and outlast any other object of hope in this life. Allow yourself to root your hope in Jesus, who later in Matthew is recorded as saying: ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  

prayer for advent

Pray for the country of Malawi. Pray for the new President and other leaders of the country. Give thanks that the Covid outbreak did not escalate and that cases are on the decline. Give thanks for the work of organisations like Dochas Education Trust who were able to provide buckets and soap for handwashing facilities for schools. Pray too for the Reilly family from Edinburgh who were approved for essential travel by SIM Malawi and SIM UK to travel to their first missionary posting, after the lockdown delay! They left Edinburgh on Wednesday 16th, due to arrive in Blantyre on Thursday 17th. 

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Phil Moon, 18/12/2020

advent verses (1)Dec 17. Renewing Your Mind

"Mary treasured up all these things" Luke 2:19

Everything the shepherds said about her son was cherished and stored carefully in the vault of Mary's mind. She stored the memories and the messages away like treasure accumulated in a bank. 

For her the statements about Him being "The Saviour-Christ the Lord" were of incredible value. She hoarded each one and pondered them carefully and deliberately with joy and pleasure.

We all have special, treasured memories at this time of year - of traditions and family and good times. But I'm going to try and follow Mary's lead to consciously treasure up and value with delight all the precious things that are said about our Wonderful Saviour - "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 

I think it's what Paul would have called "renewing your mind."

prayer for advent

Give thanks for spiritual leaders and those who encourage us when we might be ready to give up. Pray for renewing of minds and fresh focus on the treasures of faith-filled wisdom. 

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Willie Harrison, 17/12/2020

advent verses (12)Dec 16. Glory to the New Born King

Christmas is a feeling of joy that’s so divine.  Preparations were to be made for the coming of Christ, baby Jesus.  The hurry to prepare the stable,  the three Kings following the star and the shepherds pregnant with anticipation themselves as they had been separately visited by an angel who gave them happy tidings of the glorious news.  The shepherds were on foot while the three Kings were on camels loaded with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the new born King, baby Jesus.  When they got there they must have been filled with joy and adoration, rejoicing while they worshipped baby Jesus, even the animals present worshipped Him. 

A similar fuss is made every year as we all prepare to celebrate Christmas; choirs and musicians practice for concerts, getting the Churches ready for the Christmas services, children practicing the Christmas play, the purchasing of gifts and greeting cards to show our love and appreciation for each other that represents the love Jesus has for each of us.  We hurry to shop for all the ingredients to prepare for the special Christmas celebration meals we share with our loved ones to commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ we outpour our love for Him and for each other.  The excitement, joy, love, comfort, belonging and peace we all feel is contagious as we come together at the concerts, the plays, at church services and at home to celebrate our Lord, Jesus.

There may be many who feel the same and don’t know why they have these feelings but acknowledge the preciousness of it at Christmas time. 

Let every person know that even if some are alone, there are angels present to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings with them and Jesus himself shares in their celebration, so that no one is ever really alone.   ‘Glory to the New Born King.’

prayer for advent

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your one and only Son, Jesus, to us as our Saviour.  Give each of us the grace to remember that Holy Night and feel the same joyful anticipation, curiosity, worship and love that the shepherds and Kings felt, as we wait for the wonderful promises still to come. IN JESUS NAME.  AMEN

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Dixy Morrison, 16/12/2020

advent verses (11)Dec 15. Eternity Enters Time and Space

The birth of the baby on that very first Christmas, saw eternity enter into time and space. The immortal came to those who knew death only too well. The one seated on a throne in heaven, came to the dust of the earth. The one to whom was given endless praise, came to give himself. In the one who was fully human and fully God heaven and earth met.
 
Jesus was not an emissary sent from heaven, a messenger or representative of God. Instead, as God he made visible what was invisible. As God he declared that to look on him was to see the Father (John 14:9). God came to dwell amongst us on that first Christmas day and everything changed because the Saviour had been born.
 
Yet, despite the seismic nature of the event, God came in gentleness. Born as a baby that would change the universe, he came because of love. A love that arrived gently, a love that has never been forced upon us but offered to all. A love that through this baby came within the grasp of every man, woman and child.
 
Eternity entered into the world that day, and just as Christ entered into creation he even now desires to enter into us, to dwell within us. He desires to see each of us enter with him into eternity. To receive the love that inspired that first Christmas. To receive the greatest Christmas gift of all; that of Jesus Christ.

prayer for advent

Thank you for giving us the gift of your Son. Jesus, thank You for taking on all of our sin by way of the cross. Thank you for walking the earth so you could understand how we feel, and comfort us the way no one else can. Let us not forget the joy and peace you give us through our salvation. Help us to receive this gift.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Iain Hepburn, 15/12/2020

advent verses (10)Dec 14. John the Baptist

The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.’ Luke 1:13

Running in parallel to the birth of Jesus was that of his cousin, John the Baptist. He was born to Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, and her husband Zechariah, a priest in the temple, after a long period of barrenness. God blesses us all in different ways but teaches us to wait patiently for His promises.  

Even in the womb, John recognised that Jesus was special, as he leapt with excitement at the news of Mary’s pregnancy. We too can accept that message, believing in Jesus as the Son of God and our Lord and Saviour. Like John, we can get excited about the Word of God.

Later, John preached the Good News that the Messiah was here. Isaiah described him as calling out from the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord. Sometimes it may feel like a wilderness as we seek to share Jesus in our daily lives, but we should not give up the conviction that one day many more will come to know the Lord.

I hope that I will not be called upon to share in the death of John, executed by Herod on the request of his step-daughter Salome. But God calls us daily to die to ourselves and take up his cross and follow Him.

In this way we can know the glorious hope that he has set for us.

 prayer for advent

Pray for Christians throughout the world where their faith puts their life in danger. Pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen them to fearlessy tell others about Jesus. Pray that God would surround them with fellow believers who can provide spiritual, emotional and physical support for one another. Pray that they would know the hope and peace that God gives.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Anne Parfitt-Rogers, 14/12/2020

advent verses (7)Dec 11. My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

Whenever I’m asked to pick my favourite _____________ (fill in the blank) I’m stumped. I like this, but I also like that and somedays I prefer the other! So, choosing a Christmas hymn – help – I love so many.

A common theme in many of them though is that God has COME TO US. First promised in Genesis 3, the One who would come to crush the serpent’s head was miraculously born in Bethlehem…Jesus, Immanuel, God with Us.

While now, again, we anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ first Advent I think about Simeon (Luke 2). Led by the Holy Spirit he had been waiting for the answer to this old promise.

This promise that is a person.

In his waiting, how many firstborn sons had been brought to Jerusalem to be presented to the Lord? Hundreds, thousands? Yet when Mary and Joseph arrived with the infant Jesus, Simeon knew. He took the child in his arms, blessed God and said, “…my eyes have seen your salvation…”.

This baby come to us “found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) to bring the salvation Simeon saw. The Lord has opened our eyes and our hearts. How blessed we are to say the same: my eyes have seen your salvation. 
 prayer for advent

 Thank you Lord in your great love that you have come to us in Jesus. Thank you that Jesus lived the blameless life we could not, paid the crushing debt we could not and opened up the way to know you as our Heavenly Father. We ask you Lord, come and open many more eyes to see your salvation in Jesus. We each ask for loved ones, friends, colleagues and neighbours to be able to say, ‘I once was blind but now I see’. To your great glory Lord, in Jesus’ name Amen

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Arlene McLeod, 11/12/2020

advent verses (6)Dec 10. No Room At The Inn.

It is over seventy years since I first attended Hebron Sunday school and one of the Christmas songs that has remained with me all these years is, "No Room for the Baby in Bethlehem's Inn." Two words help me to reflect on what it must have been like for Joseph and Mary as they arrived in Bethlehem to search for accommodation: "No room." What were they to do? Mary had received word from the Lord that she would give birth to a baby, a special baby, the Saviour of the world, and Joseph was told that Mary would bear a son and that he should give him the name Jesus because he would save his people from their sin. Where could she give birth when every available room in Bethlehem was occupied?

"No room for the baby in Bethlehem's inn, only a cattle shed."
A scene that's so familiar on Christmas cards, Joseph, Mary and the newborn Baby surrounded by animals and shepherds. In this humble scene is the Saviour of the world.
As Jesus grew surely conditions would improve. But alas...

"No home on this earth for the dear Son of God, nowhere to lay his head."
All through his life, the Saviour of the world suffered rejection and hate until the time came for Him to be offered by his Father God to be the one sacrifice for sin forever.

"Only a cross did they give to our Lord, only a borrowed tomb."
In Isaiah 53:3 we read these words, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering."
Jesus gave everything for us, what can we give to him?

"Today he is seeking a place in your heart. Will you still say to him, "No room."
Let us rejoice this Christmas in the knowledge that The Saviour of the world is our Saviour, that there is room in our hearts for him.
 prayer for advent

Pray for all those who are homeless today. For those sleeping on benches and in doorways, or who have shelter for the night but nowhere to go during the day. Pray for those suffering rejection by relatives and those who have no-one. Pray that we would see Jesus in them, and that they would see Jesus this Christmas. Give thanks that He knows their suffering and ask that our hearts would be opened to them, as we also make room in our hearts for Him.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Robert Riddell, 10/12/2020

advent verses (5)Dec 9. Fear Not.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” Luke 2:10
 
I want us to consider this phrase: “fear not” as I’ve recently been struck by how frequently they appear in Scripture and particularly in relation to the Christmas story.
 
Each time an angel appears, they start off with “do not be afraid” such as to Zechariah when he met the angel in the temple who foretold him of the birth of John the Baptist. Mary, when she met the angel Gabriel who told her she was going to have a baby. Joseph, when he was wondering whether to take Mary as his wife because she was expecting. And finally the shepherds on the hillside when the angels appeared first announcing to them that Christ had been born.
 
That feeling of anxiousness and being worried is a common thread right now in conversations with many people I encounter and for myself at times. We all have different reasons for this whether it be related to health, employment, studies or our family.
 
Each person needed this phrase when they saw the angel. Let’s consider the circumstances of each before an angel appeared: Zechariah was a priest who was “advanced in years” and had no children. Mary was engaged to be married and so looking ahead to the future. Joseph had just found out his bride to-be was pregnant meaning something unexpected had happened. The shepherds in those days weren’t well paid and weren’t widely accepted in society. Can you relate to these?
 
So as we reflect on the Christmas story this year, let’s remember that God said “do not fear” and what was said next to each person:
“Do not fear” because like Zechariah “your prayer has been heard”. 
“Do not fear” because like Mary, if we know the Saviour whom she bore, Jesus, then “we have found favour with God”.
“Do not fear” because like Joseph, we are part of God’s sovereign plan.
“Do not fear” because like the shepherds, we have good news of great joy which is for everyone, and I mean everyone, that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to save sinners.

 prayer for advent

Exam time is here for our students. Pray for them as they study and complete coursework under the added pressures of distance learning and the ever changing guidelines issued by the government. Pray for them as they head home for Christmas and look ahead to a staggered start to the next term. 

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Esther Reaves, 09/12/2020

advent verses (4)Dec 8. A Holy Night.

One of my favourite Christmas Carols is “Oh Holy Night”.  I’ve heard it sung by a trained singer, with the backing of a huge choir and accompanied by the most amazing orchestra.  I’ve heard it sung by pop stars, by primary school children, by us at Hebron and I would sing along in my kitchen or car with it too.

But what all these occasions have in common is that it never fails to move me.  I can feel the tears at the back of my eyes and the lump in my throat.  It gets me every time.
 
As I was walking Glen this morning in the rain the words came to me again.  I couldn’t get passed the first line. “Oh Holy Night.”  I stopped to think about it. 

It was a night that would never be repeated again.  It was a night in which God showed that He So loved the world.  It was the night when God's redemption plan was seen.  It was a HOLY night.  A holy night when The Son of God humbled himself, becoming a small and tiny baby.  A night when The great Creator of the world, the Sustainer of all things, the One who holds the oceans in His hand appeared to the world.  It was a Holy night.  It was a night that changed all things.

It was a night which allows us to have that thrill of Hope.   It was a night that allows us to rejoice through our weariness because there will be a glorious and new day.

As we sing these words and other carols may we truly think about the words. May we fall on our knees and give Him the worship He deserves.  It was indeed a Holy night.

 prayer for advent

Lord, help me to draw closer to you today, to seek you and to worship you and know again your great love for me. Amen.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Gillian Milne, 08/12/2020

advent verses (2)Dec 7. In Gabriel's Absence.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. [Luke 1:38]

Well we were the family that put our Christmas decorations up waaaay too early this year. Embarrassingly early. I’m comfortable admitting that I regretted it within the first hour of everything being up. The house just seems so cluttered and chaotic, the kids are fighting nonstop over the lamb from the nativity scene, and my husband keeps hitting his head off a flying Santa dangling from ‘the big light’ in the living room. Beyond the mess though, there is a general ‘meh-ness’ about Christmas this year- I can’t be the only one who feels tired before it’s even really started? Everything is still so uncertain for so many people, that to switch the Buble album on and argue with little calendar windows seems a bit capricious.

Sometimes I think about how it must have been for Mary to deal with a pregnancy when her life seemed up in the air. Granted, a visit from an angel is sure to validate most peoples’ reasons to trust, but I’m pretty sure if it were me I would be riddled with doubt nonetheless, not least because there was so much more riding on an unexplained pregnancy in her situation.

The part of the verse that currently stands out to me is: ’then the angel left her.’ It seems mad to me that this girl (likely still a teenager) has just received the most outrageous and scandalous information and then simply left to get on with it. Perhaps to begin with her servanthood felt easy in the wake of the Gabriel’s visit, after all he did say “don’t be afraid”… Filled with fresh purpose it might have been easy for a while to trust and obey what God had promised her.

As the months went on though, I wonder whether she felt abandoned? I think we could all sympathise with Mary if she found her trust to be lacking. As each day heightened morning sickness, back-pain, bone-tiredness, and a fear of the impending childbirth experience, it would be easy to assume that some of that hope may have lost its glimmer. Not only that, but she wasn’t to be sure how her local community were going to accept this information or even how Joseph might adapt to Fatherhood on the back of all of this. And to add the cherry on top, they’re called out of their comfort zone for the sake of a census to wander the streets until the last moment. It can’t have felt like there was much glory in contractions next to a goat. You and I know that God was with her the whole time sewing purpose into each phase, but you and I also know that sometimes it’s hard to connect our head knowledge of God’s presence to how we actually feel.

But at last, interrupting this weariness and disarray, the long awaited for hope of the world arrives. To have everything else fall away and look into the face of what she had waited for for so long must have been like taking a breath for the first time in months. However, the soaring elation at the baby’s arrival was only a foreshadow of the hope that that same baby was to eventually fulfil. Mary finally holding God’s faithfulness in her arms was the start of her seeing promises held time and time again in the most tangible way.

I think it’s ok to feel weary. We’re all tired and exasperated by how frustrating and uncertain times have been. For some, it may be difficult to feel even an ounce of hope, but know that He IS coming, that each and every one of his promises are held, and you can approach him with all of your weariness in hand. You don’t need to have the house wrapped in fairy lights to sit in quiet wonder.

As the carol goes: “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."


 prayer for advent

Lord, we give thanks for the faithfulness, courage and obedience of Mary and Joseph as they walked in the fulfillment of your plan. In our weariness, give us strength to hold onto the hope of Your promises.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

 


Alex Perrett, 07/12/2020

advent verses (1)Dec 4. The Traditions of Christmas


Christmas is not going to be quite the same this year for most of us, our well loved traditions and times with family may change a little. It has been a hard year.

As we look forward to Christmas in our family our usual traditions may change a little. We love to decorate the house with lights and sometimes too many decorations! We bake fudge for our friends and neighbours, eating too many sweets and watching the same Christmas films over and over (my personal favourite is Christmas with the Kranks!) We take walks and look at all the lights and trees in the houses nearby. We have friends and neighbours in for mincemeat pies, not this year though!

We may not see everyone this year, sing the carols we love with our friends, see our little ones in nativity plays and concerts, but the true meaning of Christmas started with a family alone in a cold dark stable: Jesus the Saviour of the world came to bring us hope. Hope that nothing in this world can change, hope that brings forgiveness, love, peace to our troubled world. Hope that can come into each of our hearts, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son".

It is my prayer for my family and yours that this Christmas we will see Jesus . 

**This is an article which will be printed in a Christmas Magazine for delivering to the homes in the community around our church. If you would like to help deliver, or would like some copies to give to your own neighbours, please get in touch with Mark**


 prayer for advent

Pray for our city centre community - our neighbours - and for your own neighbours, that through all the traditions of Christmas, they may each see Jesus. Pray too for the printing and delivering of the Christmas Magazine, and for the message of hope it will bring into each household.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)


Angela Harrison, 04/12/2020

advent versesDec 3. The Astonishing Story of Christmas.

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger”.
(Luke 2:16)

 Step back for a moment and consider again just how astonishing the Christmas story is. The God of all creation being born as a baby. Myriad angels crowding the skies and singing their praise. Wise men following a star, bearing gold and frankincense and myrrh. And Shepherds on a hillside. Into this grand and supernatural scene, God calls forth a group of ordinary shepherds. Men with without much status or education. Men with blistered hands and calloused hearts. In the midst of so much majesty, what could such common, everyday people as shepherds have to offer? Perhaps they brought along a lamb, or a blanket, or a lantern for the stable. We are not told. But we do know this: the shepherds hurried to be present. They hastened to respond to what they had been given. And they opened their hearts, witnesses to the miracle.

As we prepare for Christmas this year, as we write our lists, buy presents and send cards, are there ways we can follow their example. In the midst of our routines and additional busyness, will we allow ourselves to be interrupted by the divine. To stop and listen for angel voices. To gaze upon the face of God.  To come to Jesus just as we are.

When writing about the subject of prayer, C. S. Lewis wrote “We must lay before him what is in us, not what ought to be in us”. In other words, we come to Jesus not with a mask, not with a pretence that we are better than we are, but simply as ourselves. As the shepherds did. Whatever else they may have brought to the stable, they laid aside their plans and chose to present themselves to Emmanuel, God-with-us.

In this busy Advent season, what does the Lord require of me? Surely, in part at least, it is to be alert to the Lord speaking into my very ordinary life, to respond quickly to what I see and hear, and to be no more and no less than who I truly am. And having done that, to discover — astonishing as it is—that that is exactly the gift that he has been waiting for.

 prayer for advent

Lord, help us to stop and listen this advent season and then to respond quickly. Help us to see you clearly and to come to you as we are.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)


Rod Pirie, 03/12/2020

advent verses (4)Dec 2. With the Oxen Standing By

One of the tasks I love at Christmas is the decorating of the Christmas tree but the task I love more, is the setting up of the nativity scene.
 
While on holiday in Switzerland several years ago we saw in the window of a carpenter’s shop, a hand carved wooden stable, figures and animals, which we purchased and brought home. Among the animals is a grey donkey and a brown cow. They are usually placed outside the stable entrance after the baby Jesus is laid in the manger.
 
The cow looks very peaceful as it lies in front of the crib, and as I look on the scene, I wonder if the animals knew what was taking place in their stable. This is not such a random thought, as we read in Isaiah Chapter 1, these verses.
 

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
    for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
    but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
    and the donkey its master's crib,
but Israel does not know,
    my people do not understand.”

 
God is speaking of how the people of Israel have rebelled and have lost their knowledge of God and His provision for them. The situation is so dire that it is contrasted to the farm animals that recognise where their provision comes from.
 
As I consider this scene, I wonder if the cow and donkey were aware that near to them was their Creator?
 
We should take the words of the prophet Isaiah to heart for ourselves. Yes, we have rebelled against God and are estranged from Him. Yet, He has come to us in the person of Jesus, born in a manger, whose birth we celebrate at this season. This is the great mystery of the Incarnation; the eternal Son of God humbles himself to take on a true and human nature.
 
Martin Luther, the Reformer, said these words –
           
“He has brought Himself down into our flesh and blood, and for this alone, that He might pour out the measureless wealth of His goodness and rescue us from sin, death, Satan, hell, and every evil.”
 
Jesus did this through his birth, life, death on the cross and resurrection.

 prayer for advent

This Advent season, our prayer is, unlike those mentioned who did not understand or recognise God’s provision, that we hear the voice of God and respond to His gracious gift.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)


Matt Jack, 02/12/2020

advent verses (1)Dec 1. The Promise of Advent 

I’ve never really paid that much attention to Advent. Oh, there was always a calendar with little doors to open each day (preferably with chocolate inside – double points if there’s chocolate and a nativity scene!) but otherwise the days leading up to Christmas were just the same as any other days of the year, albeit with the added busyness of the season. There was still that magical feeling of winter-time cosiness and anticipation, but anticipation of what?

It’s only in recent years, partly as we’ve had the advent devotional books to read together as a church family, and partly because of the children, that I’ve begun to appreciate the promise of advent properly... 

…The Jesse Tree has become a trendy thing these days – so named because of Isaiah 11v1 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” – but it’s actually an ancient medieval tradition of telling the story of creation through to the birth of Jesus, typically using pictures for those who were unable to read. A few years ago I realised that a favourite book for reading when the children were littler, “The Jesus Storybook Bible” fitted the idea of the Jesse Tree perfectly. The book tells the story of the Bible as one big story, with every chapter pointing forward to the promise that “one day, God himself would come” and the first 24 chapters take you from creation to the birth of Jesus. A chapter for each day of Advent and each day a reminder “the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for Him. He will come! I promise.”

Over the course of Lockdown we’ve been reading The Chronicles of Narnia. We just finished “The Last Battle” this week, and I’ll tell you, reading the last chapter of that book aloud is no easy thing to do!! As we look ahead this Advent 2020, to the celebration of the birth of Jesus - our promised rescuer, to the easing of lockdown restrictions and the potential of being able to visit loved ones ever so briefly, and to the hope of a ‘more normal’ 2021, let us also hold onto the promise, in the words of CS Lewis, that one day we will begin the "Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

prayer for advent
"Father, thank you for our Root of Jesse. Thank you that out of the smallest remnant you brought your Son, our Rescuer, and through Him the way for all to know you and rejoice with you one day in eternity. As we look to the past to see how you have fulfilled your promises to us, let us look to the future with hope and certainty that we will one day be in the presence of the Root of Jesse." Amen.

Copy of Advent 2020 (4)

Jesus Storybook Bible downloads for Jesse Tree: page 1 & page 2


Sally Pirie, 01/12/2020

Who is God?
Isaiah 6 Devotional 

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Rory Smith- AUCU, 09/09/2020

Psalm 139 

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Anne Parfitt-Rogers, 07/09/2020

Quarried 

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Sarah Earley, 03/09/2020

Walking Glen 

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Gillian Milne, 31/08/2020

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith
1 

2

Hannah Holden, 28/08/2020

PRAY for... IBCBI 

2
3
4
5
6
7 

Image of the Invisible God 

3
4 


Willie Harrison, 24/08/2020

Eyewitness of Majesty 

1
2 


Jonathan Keith, 21/08/2020

PRAY for... Choices 

2
3
4
5
6 

Ordinary People 

1 


Hannah Osei-Bonsu, 17/08/2020

Does Jesus Matter? 

jesus matter 

Pray for... Schools 

2
3
5
6 

No Hair? There's Power in Prayer! 

1
Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln
5 


Sarah Earley, 10/08/2020

Why Did Jesus Die? 

QQ 4: Why did Jesus die 

More Quick Questions

What is a Christian? 

QQ3 What is a Christian? 

More Quick Questions

Pray for... Worldlink 

Worldlink 1.
Worldlink 2
Worldlink 3

Can I Trust The Bible? 

QQ 2: Can I Trust the Bible?

More Quick Questions

His Beloved Son 

His beloved Son


Willie Harrison, 03/08/2020

Quick Question...

 

QQ1: What is the Bible?


More Quick Questions

Mark Brown, 31/07/2020

Pray for... Dochas 

Wed 29th (1)
Wed 29th (2)
Wed 29th (3)

The Preeminent Christ

Col 1-16


Willie Harrison, 27/07/2020

Debt Management 

Devotional - debt management 


Mark Brown, 24/07/2020

 Pray for... Unity

3
2
4
5 

Bridge Over Troubled Water 

1 
5
6


Tito Daramola, 20/07/2020

The Before Photo 

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Alex Perrett, 17/07/2020

Pray for our... Government 

2
4
5

 

 

UPDATE

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln

 


Alex Perrett, 14/07/2020

Patience 

1
4 


Nick Raven, 13/07/2020

The Unchangeables 

1 
[Click above picture for devotional]
2
4


Amy-Jo and Duncan Ryan, 06/07/2020

 What Do You Mean You Haven't Tasted It?

Teal and Orange Polaroid Welln 


Kevin Binnie, 03/07/2020

Jacob and the Pandemic 

1

2 


Steve Moore, 02/07/2020

Colossians and the Work Place 

Prepared for 


Anne Parfitt-Rogers, 01/07/2020

A Bend in the Road 

Let the morning bring me word


John Cameron, 30/06/2020

Turn Your Eyes 

Turn your eyes. 


Thea Binnie, 29/06/2020

Living on a Prayer 

living on a prayer 


Alex Perrett, 26/06/2020

Ambassadors for Christ 

2 cor 5-20 


Willie Harrison, 25/06/2020

Make Your Life a Song 

I read an article the other day which I thought was a beautiful, inspiring thought. It’s an illustration I’ve heard used before but I really liked the closing paragraph and wanted to share the idea as a devotional in some way. But since it’s already been written so well, why not just share the original with everyone?
Johnny Goodman
if you've had a verse, passage 


Sally Pirie, 24/06/2020

At Home With the Lord 

We are confident, I say, and w 


Willie Harrison, 23/06/2020

Walk (not) like an Egyptian 

Has all my energy been put in  


Derek Leith, 22/06/2020

Knowing God 
 rod quote


Rod Pirie, 19/06/2020

The Weight of Glory 

Peach and Gray Watercolor Back 


Willie Harrison, 18/06/2020

Where is There Hope? 

happy 


Amy Harrison, 17/06/2020

Treasure in Clay Jars 

jars of clay pic 


Willie Harrison, 16/06/2020