This week’s Thought for the Day is from Isabel Fairgrieve
I often find the words of hymns inspiring and thought provoking which is not altogether unexpected, given that hymns are written due to the inspiration of God. One such hymn written by Fanny Crosby deeply touched me recently. The verse was quoted on a daily calendar:
“O the soul thrilling rapture when I view his blessed face,
And the lustre of his kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise him for the mercy love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.”
Take a moment to ponder these beautiful words. It is many years since I have heard that hymn sung but the chorus immediately sprang into my mind.
“I shall know him, I shall know him
And redeemed by his side I shall stand;
I shall know him, I shall know him
By the print of the nails in his hand.”
Amidst the crowds of the redeemed in our heavenly home, one will stand out from the throng – our lovely Saviour. But should there be any doubt, only one will have the nail prints in his hands. What a wonderful God we have.
“Great God of wonders, all thy ways are matchless and divine... Who is a pardoning God like thee? Or who has grace so rich and free?” (Samuel Davies)
What a loving God we have.
“Such love, pure as the whitest snow;
Such love, weeps for the shame I know;
Such love paying the debt I owe;
O Jesus, such love.” (Graham Kendrick)
Our Saviour is uniquely faithful and compassionate and he wants us to know him here, in this life as well as in the next. May we develop an ever closer relationship with Jesus, day by day enjoying his friendship, guidance, comfort and strengthening, through the present difficult times and in the future. May we thrill in his presence and praise him for all he has accomplished at Calvary.
A Saviour worth knowing.
Thought for the Day, this week from David Wilson.
Nevertheless when anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, seeing the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory by Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)
Something we probably only thought about once a year at Halloween has now become an ever-present in our society. We even go to church and sing and pray wearing our masks. How life has changed!
For some of us, however, there is nothing unusual about wearing a mask to church. We’ve been doing it for years or even decades. We walk in and meet the greeters at the door with our “No we didn’t just have an argument in the car” masks on. We sit in the pews with our “I’m doing just fine” masks on while we wonder how it all went so wrong. So many different masks worn for so many different reasons, but all with one aim - to protect us, to stop God and the people around us from knowing what we are really like, because if they did, they probably wouldn’t like us any more.
It’s not original. After Adam and Eve sinned, the first thing that they did was make clothes to try and hide their nakedness from God and here we are so many years later still trying to do the same thing. It doesn’t have to be like that.
In the passage from Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that turning to the Lord requires us to remove the veil(or mask) from our faces and come with complete openness to the Lord. In that state, when we are truly vulnerable to the Spirit, he promises liberty from the shame that clings to us and gazing on His beauty, we find ourselves being transformed into His likeness.
If we set our hearts and minds to live in that place of vulnerability to God, there will be no need of masks to hide our scarred and twisted visages anymore, as we will be reflecting the perfect glory and beauty of the Lord. Even the smallest part of that reflection will vastly outshine any imperfections of ours.
One of the buzz word around these days is "authenticity". Let us all strive to be authentic before God, and He will be authentic with us.
This is the time for Remembrance and this year - like so much in these times - it has been different. Remembrance Services were so small and many people across the world were on their own as they could not come together. This annual act of remembrance has had to be more individual than at any time over the past 70 years.
In the Bible, one Hebrew word for remembrance is ‘zakar’. It has a full, rich meaning - of remembering someone, and doing something about it. This is not a reminiscence or passive thinking about a person or situation.
God ‘remembered’ Noah and those in the ark and He sent a wind across the earth to make the waters recede (Genesis 8:1). In Egypt, Joseph asked the cupbearer to ‘remember’ him to Pharaoh. He wanted the cupbearer to do something to help his release.(Genesis 40:14). The psalmist often said God had forgotten, which meant that God did not seem to be moving on their behalf or remembering them. God first gave His name ‘I Am’ to Moses to be remembered. ‘This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations’ (Exodus 3:14, 15).
Christ, on the day of resurrection, caused the two on the Emmaus Road to remember scripture concerning Him. Even before full revelation came to them we read that their hearts burned within them as He spoke and stirred their remembrance. As they remembered the words of the prophets they began to hope, where before they had been hopeless.
Are you actively using this great gift of remembrance that every child of God has been given? Is your heart beginning to burn within you? Even if you are sad and discouraged like the two on the road to Emmaus you can do as the psalmist did and say, ‘Now I am deeply discouraged but I will remember you’. (Psalm 42:5)
As you are alone in these days, spend time remembering until your heart begins to burn, despite your situation.
Remember, as we have retuned to church but seem distanced from others in these unusual services. Allow God’s gift of ‘zakar’ to flourish in you in these unusual times. Follow Christ’s one request in the communion feast - ‘Remember Me’. And allow your heart to burn in worship and love more than ever before.
The Shaking of all Nations
Today's Thought if from Kathleen.
“I will shake all nations and the treasures of all nations will be brought to this temple... The future glory of this temple will be greater than its past glory.” (Haggai 2:7)
During these recent months the compelling focus has perhaps centered on “the shaking of all nations...” while the future glory of the church has seemed remote. But the Lord Jesus committed Himself to building His church with living stones into an unshakeable kingdom.
“Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakeable let us be thankful and please God by worshipping Him with holy fear and awe”. (Hebrews 12:28 )
The purpose of the shaking is clear. Hebrews 2:27 “So that what remains cannot be shaken”: that is the unshakeable Grace, the unfailing Love, the eternal Faithfulness of the Lord Jesus towards His Church. These are of the everlasting age. They are undiminished and remain unchangeable. This is the Good News of the gospel which Paul speaks of in Colossians 1:6 “This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives”.
Meantime an invisible virus has also gone out all over the world and is also changing lives. The expectancy of a return to “normality” has evaporated like an early morning mist. We don’t readily see what God is doing. We do see old comfortable routines, social interaction and freedoms previously taken for granted, withdrawn. The economy, public institutions and family units have been shaken to the core. The new is strange and unembraceable. We long for the old ways. Yet Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that “…there is nothing new under the sun”.
In Luke 5:33-39 Jesus told a parable...new wine must be stored in new wine skins but no one who drinks the old wants the new - “The old is just fine” they say. Clearly though the “new” is not fine. It has negatively impacted all of us. Grief, loss, anxiety and fear abound. That has to be acknowledged. Yet God’s promises of an abundant life and mercies which are new every morning are not under the restrictions of a secular government. Yearning for life as it was is a real issue and can affect our ability to discover new mercies.
How readily we can judge those who clung to the old and not realise how easily we also become attached to the well-trodden familiar paths. Subsequently, anticipation and expectation can become marred by disappointment and frustration that this is not what we want it to be. A verse from Mr. Black’s hymn comes to mind:
“Come Holy Spirit we await You, Come in all Your Sovereign power,
This is the day The Lord has chosen. This is the day and this the hour.”
This is the day. This is the hour. Not waiting till a more agreeable time but looking for and expecting to find new mercies as we come together: living stones being built into an unshakeable kingdom.
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.