What better thought can we have at this time of year than that expressed in the words of this beautiful hymn by Frances Havergal.
Standing at the portal of the opening year
Words of comfort meet us hushing every fear
Spoken through the silence by the Saviour’s voice
Tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice!
He will never fail us, He will not forsake
His eternal covenant He will never break
Resting on the promise what have we to fear?
God is all-sufficient for the coming year!
Onward then and fear not, children of the day!
For His word can never, never pass away!
The Thought for the Day is from Mary Bell.
The Almond Tree Coffee Shop had a big sale on for several weeks before we closed. Our Christmas sales assistant showed us a dull looking cylindrical object that none of us was interested in buying ... until she switched on the lights inside it!
What a transformation! It had a leaf design on it that you couldn’t see before and with the light shining through, the green was a lovely hue. Well, all three of us wanted to buy it - especially at the bargain price! I made the comment - ‘Wouldn’t we be more likeable if we were lit up?’
Then the conversation went on to the fact that we do have the Light of the world within us. Is the light shining through us? It is so attractive.
One way to let the light shine is to rejoice in Christ. Thanking Him for His love for us and His goodness to us. Don’t let anything steal your joy in Him - no problem, worry or annoyance. Let us radiate the real joy of Christmas to others around. Many are fearful, sad, stressed and anxious because of the restrictions just now and the threat of illness and death.
Let us smile and be glad! We have a Saviour who walks with us!
Thought for the Day is from Lesley.
When Jesus was born a few of those around received revelation to fill them with increasing wonder about the baby born into the world.
The Saviour, yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:11)
Messiah - Mashiach, the Hebrew word meaning Messiah, means "the one anointed with oil." The custom of anointing with oil is a ritual act designed to elevate those designated for priestly, royal or prophetic roles. This revelation was given to ordinary shepherds about a tiny baby lying in a stable. Take courage! That anointed One is in your situation no matter what it is.
Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him." (Luke 2:34)
Simeon called Him 'child' to his mother.. So normal, insignificant but something we can understand. Yet we need to remember it is God who has come into our world to help normal, insignificant human beings who are opposed by the enemy of souls. Be encouraged!
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” (Matt 2:2)
The people who were first to call Him king, and who came the longest road at His birth to do so did not have the revelation of all God's names that the Jews had. Yet they were very much drawn to Him. Take courage if you puzzle over situations - do what they did, come and worship the King.
"...for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel". (Matt 2:6)
He would be ruler but also the shepherd. We can only marvel, even at birth all His provision for our lives is so clear in His names. Let your faith in Him rise despite what the day may bring.
And you will recognise him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. (Luke 2:12)
The angel said they would recognise the Messiah by this sign - He would be a baby wrapped snugly in an animal feeding place. They saw that poverty, yet the care and love shown to Him - He was well wrapped. They also saw two unknown people - Mary and Joseph - who were well known to God. One fragile baby but all the power of the Godhead in the flesh. Even at His birth, heaven gave signs that men could recognise if they wanted to find Him
This thought for the day is from Lesley.
Before Christ was born revelation came to different people - bringing names to fill them with wonder at the coming baby.
He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The greatness of God's Son spoken to a poor insignificant woman. Be encouraged, the same Christ has now come to you.
He has sent us a mighty Saviour from the royal line of his servant David... (Luke 1:69)
The Saviour was about to born. It would be as a fragile baby, but He is described as a mighty Saviour. Take courage in these fragile times.
She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’ (Mat 1:23)
God's Son born in flesh - the mystery of His nearness to His people. He is with you, near you today what ever the day holds.
Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light (or dayspring) from heaven is about to break upon us,(or visit us). (Luke 1:78)
Heaven’s newday was a tiny baby who came into a very large darkness... Yet He came and changed everything for us... and in you is that life!
This is the title of a new book of daily readings for Advent which someone brought to my attention. It has 24 short chapters - one for each day of Advent - and each one focuses on something very unexpected in the Christmas story. It is easy for us to gloss over these things because the story is so familiar to us. But take a moment to think about it.
God had a plan to intervene in man’s affairs in order to redeem him. Who would have thought that God Himself would actually become a man amongst us to do that? Who would have thought He would come as a helpless baby... have an unknown peasant girl be that baby’s mother... and have the first public announcement made to shepherds who were often despised people in the community and counted of no worth?
Take time to think through the other details of the Christmas story. So many of them are things we do not expect. If we had been planning how to outwork things, our approach would have been very, very different.
My thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We need to think about this in our everyday lives. His way of handling things may be very different from yours and mine. His thoughts about people might be very different from our thoughts. His ways are higher - they are better, they are ‘full of grace and truth’. The disciples of Jesus took a long time to learn that He really did know best and that they should always listen to what He said and not to their own ideas.
And we take a long time to learn this lesson too. We need to learn humility and look to Him for wisdom, for understanding. For His ways are the ways that lead to light, to peace and to joy in the human soul.
Today’s Thought for the Day is from Josie McFarlane.
I would like to share with you how the Lord, my Shepherd, has been leading me.
During the months of lockdown I often walked to the Boardwalk Restaurant. I would lean against the metal barrier - sometimes I would pray, meditate or just quietly look around. I didn’t know this would be my next place of employment, but my Shepherd knew.
In August I returned to work in The Almond Tree and it was on September 19th we were told the Coffee Shop would be closing. We were encouraged to start looking for employment so that we could have something in place as soon as possible after we closed in December or even before then. That evening I began my search for a job and saw a vacancy at the Boardwalk.
On the Monday a few of us were going to the Boardwalk and my sister Mary encouraged me to phone the restaurant in advance and enquire about the vacancy. I did - and an interview was arranged for after our lunch. I left the restaurant with a job - my starting date was the next morning! There was much to give thanks for as the job was very suitable in many ways.
Then very recently on a Sunday morning while I was at work the presence of Jesus drew very near. There came the assurance that this was the place where God wanted me to be and I felt such joy. But that was shattered a few minutes later when I was called to the General Manager’s Office and told she was about to terminate my employment. However, as we spoke it became clear there had been a misunderstanding about the job description and she apologised for that.
I was very relieved and said that when I had to work on a Sunday, in future, I would no longer ask to get away early to go to church. But to my astonishment she replied, ‘You will go to church every Sunday. I won’t come between you and your religion'. I couldn’t believe my ears! I knew my Jesus had worked everything out for me.
Yes, He leads me. He smoothed the way and brought peace in the midst of misunderstanding. In the dark valley He is right there, to help and protect.
Be encouraged today. The Lord your Shepherd leads you. If you are in a place of peace and rest, rejoice in that place. Your Shepherd knows what you need. He gives green meadows and peaceful streams. If life is difficult - be encouraged for He is still close beside you. May each one of us know this truth - that He leads us and He is our Lord, Shepherd, Saviour, King and Friend.
Jesus shall lead me night and day
Jesus shall lead me all the way
He is the truest friend to me
For I remember Calvary.
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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.