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Word from Scotland

    by Sandy Shaw

Psalm 3 - where we are reading of a man of God in trouble. Last week it was Asaph the musician in Psalm 77.

These are the words of David, king of Israel. It is a time of personal and national crisis. Not only had some of the people turned against him - but his own son Absalom had turned against him.

David had been chosen and anointed and appointed king in Israel - and he is having to flee from people - he is on the run from his own son - and his heart is breaking.

Such experiences can appear in the life of God's people.

Psalm 66 verse 15 is almost a verse…  ( Click for more )

We live on through this deepening crisis. Where is God in all this? What are we, as individuals, supposed to do? Many are hurting – shrouded in fog, and unable to see the future. We are in unexplored uncharted territory. Israel, at the Red Sea, had never previously been down that road. All the people could see facing them from the shores of the Red Sea was trouble – water stopping their path, and the chasing Egyptians. It looked bleak and hopeless – a dead end – but God knew there was a way out. Their sad situation was filled with struggle and…  ( Click for more )

He was in a spiritually dangerous situation and it was not the government’s fault – he was the government.

King David loved God – was chosen by God – and anointed for his life's work. Something went terribly wrong. Sin exploded.

King David had coveted Uriah’s the soldier’s wife, Bathsheba - got her, and lay with her – and when she became pregnant, he had her husband killed.

This is the behaviour of a man of God.

God sent a prophet who pointed all this out. 2 Samuel 11,12.

What a task – challenging…  ( Click for more )

David had seen disobedient and rebellious Saul lose everything.

Suddenly when faced by Nathan the prophet he is aware of his personal spiritual predicament, and he repents and confesses and prays – “Take not Your Holy Spirit from me”. Psalm 51

David is alert and sensitive to the danger – and he acts.

When you remain alert and sensitive that is a sign of spiritual life. You know God is with you, and you do not want to lose that presence and that assurance.

To be unresponsive to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit – to become…  ( Click for more )

It is the task of the medical folk to deal with the disease – it is the work of the Church of Jesus Christ to deal with the dis-ease.

The Word of God is written to help people who are suffering upset and pain – and it is to this Word we turn.

1 Corinthians 13 – “Faith hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”

Many years ago, I ‘translated’ these as Obedience, Assurance and Loyalty.

Things are not getting all that much better. This pandemic is lasting longer than many of thought – and longer than…  ( Click for more )

On 1May 1968 I was ordained in Cowdenbeath West Church, but by December I became drier and drier. Christmas and New Year was terrible.

In January 1969 at our local Fraternal Meeting, which was held in Kinross, a colleague who was to become a very close friend, Jim Kincaid, walked into the room and said, “I have just been baptised in the Holy Spirit.”

Well, five or six of us met with him, at the close of the Fraternal. “This is what we need.”

I always knew there was more, but I did not know what it was.

We met over these next Monday mornings.…  ( Click for more )

This is a very personal story. It is part of my spiritual journey and testimony – yes, only part – but as one significant experience took place almost 70 years ago, I thought it expedient to put it down in back and white.

Let me take you back to one Sunday night when I was 8 years of age. I was in bed but playing at ‘ministers’, announcing Psalms and Hymns and reading the Bible. My mother came through and told me to “Go to sleep.” I asked for “Five minutes more” which was granted.

In that period of five minutes I had…  ( Click for more )

October 5, 2020

Shortly after my ‘Ordination’ to the Church of Scotland ministry in May 1968, I experienced increasing difficulty in ‘baptising’ infants – and this had arisen from a careful study of the Scriptures, where baptism is only administered following Repentance, and Faith in Jesus Christ. The following Biblical passages have been the basis of this careful study.

Acts 2 verses 37 to 41. People having heard Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost wish to respond. They want to do something, and genuinely ask, “What shall we do?”

Peter…  ( Click for more )

We come to the concluding verses of I Thessalonians Chapter 5 from verse 12. – we just touched on this.

We beseech you – we plead with you – respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Know them and know their worth and appreciate their value. Recognise the leadership that is ordained of God.

Develop a proper respect for leaders – especially those who are over you in the Lord – those who admonish you – or counsel you – and guide you – rebuking when necessary. We need love…  ( Click for more )

Our passage today starts at I Thessalonians Chapter 5 and verse 8. We come to one of Paul’s sentences which is developed later on in another letter. We are to be sober or self-controlled or watchful or vigilant.

Paul touches on the armour of God here. He develops that in the Ephesian letter in Chapter 6.

We are to put on faith and love – faith in Jesus and the love of Jesus. If we try to separate these then both may die. These guard the heart.

We need our hearts and lives garrisoned by faith and love – like two sentries.

Paul writes about…  ( Click for more )

We move into Chapter 5 of Paul’s first letter to the Church of Jesus Christ at Thessalonica, where Paul says that you do not need me to write to you about the times and the seasons.

That fellowship was very different in that day from various places today.

Armageddon – do we hear that in the church today – or do we hear it more frequently from politicians, and scientists and environmentalists and ecologists – or from Hollywood?

Verse 2 – The day of the Lord will be like a thief in the night. When Jesus comes it will be similar to that…  ( Click for more )

These verses in I Thessalonians Chapter 4 take us into areas where each of has to visit at some time – areas of life and death and bereavement and grief and sadness

But in Verse 14 we learn that death does not have the last word. Jesus Christ has!

Jesus who died and rose again is one of the central themes of Paul’s preaching and teaching and writing.

It was central to Peter’s preaching too and it must remain central today.

Verse 15 – The Lord revealed it to Paul. Jesus is still revealing truths to men. He says it all here with such…  ( Click for more )

In I Thessalonians Chapter 4 at verse 13, Paul begins this section with the word ‘Brothers’. He is writing to brothers. He is not lording it over them with his apostolic authority, but he is seeking to teach these believers in Jesus with the authority of Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul has been dealing with the kind of life that is pleasing to God. He has been speaking about moral purity and living holy and upright lives and he has been pleading with these disciples to walk worthy.

Avoid impurity. Adopt brotherly love. Ambitiously…  ( Click for more )

Each should learn how to discipline and control his body. This is a lesson we have to learn and can learn. This is a lesson we have to learn – as we come to I Thessalonians Chapter 4 and verse 4.

These were immoral days and Paul is pleading with believers in Jesus Christ to be different – he wants to bring the best out of these converts to Jesus Christ.

He calls them to learn and this involves having a healthy mind and one of the results will be controlled emotions.

To have control and poise and balance, we have to work at it.

It is not –…  ( Click for more )

As we move on to I Thessalonians Chapter 4 – Paul is asking and urging or beseeching or pleading – and whenever Paul speaks like this he normally has something significantly important to say.

He had taught these believers in Jesus how to walk with God and how to live for God in that brief spell he had with those who came to faith in Jesus Christ – and now he is asking them to go further.

He wants them to walk with God – to make progress – to have movement forward towards a goal. He had instructed these disciples of Jesus how to live and walk…  ( Click for more )

We move on in I Thessalonians to Chapter 3 and verse 6 – Having read something of the concern and compassion in the heart of paul for these new disciples of Jesus, now we are reading of the consolations of the Gospel and compensations and rewards and fruit. God knows when we need encouragement – and in these days virtually everyone needs encouraging – and perhaps something deeper.

Paul had been awaiting news of these disciples in Thessalonica and when the news came the news was like the gospel message itself – it was good news.

Verse 7 –…  ( Click for more )

I Thessalonians Chapter 3 – We have seen how these disciples of Jesus in Thessalonica became Christians, through Paul’s ministry. We have seen how he had to leave them through the pressures of persecution – but he so wanted to hear and learn how they were – so he sent Timothy.

He was unable to go himself, so he did the next best thing. If we are blocked in one direction then we can move in another direction.

Paul knew how to handle frustration. We have to be prepared to face frustration, and learn how to handle a crisis.

Look at his…  ( Click for more )

So many do not realise that rejecting Jesus Christ leads to judgment.

We are in I Thessalonians Chapter 2 and verse 16 -

v.17 – Paul was prevented from nurturing that young church. We were taken from you. We so wanted to see you so that we might care for you. We had this great desire.

v.18 – Paul writes that he wanted to come to them on various occasions – but Satan hindered us. Stopped us – hindered us – it is the word for breaking up a road to render it impassable.

Satan put a road block in his path and he could not…  ( Click for more )

I Thessalonians Chapter 2 verse 10 – You know how we lived among you. So frequently Paul speaks in terms of personal testimony and refers to his example and pattern for life and belief and ministry.

You who believe in Jesus Christ know how we behaved. God honoured Paul’s words and ministry by putting His seal upon them.

He speaks about being ‘holy’ – which means being ‘set apart’ – ‘set apart’ for God for God’s use – and being fit for God’s use – the sense of being pure in His sight.…  ( Click for more )

We are in I Thessalonians Chapter 2 and verse 5 – Was Paul being accused of seeking fame and honour, and money when you read verse 9?

In Paul’s ministry, there was no flattery and no covetousness and no “what is in it for me” or “what can I get out of it”. He was never interested in the ‘kudos’ – personal glory – never. And, he was certainly not in it for the money.

Paul was totally sincere and that is what we are being taught to be through this letter.

People tried to destroy the impact of the message…  ( Click for more )

We move on to I Thessalonians Chapter 2 – “You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.” It was not for nothing that we came – it was not for nothing that all this has happened. Are there not times and occasions when we do wonder if our work and service and ministry has achieved and accomplished much?

v.1 – God owned and honoured the ministry – Paul was able to see how God had been present throughout all their efforts – and it had been tough.

v.2 – What had happened to us did not affect what we were…  ( Click for more )

In I Thessalonians Chapter 1 at verse 4 we learn that these believers in Jesus were chosen. They were part of the elect. They were marked out or cut out to be different. We could say they were ‘holy’ and set apart for God. Their calling was genuine, and that gives a deep assurance to Christians.

We are called by Jesus and carried at times by Jesus, on towards our eternal destiny. This verse raises an issue which can perplex people – the mystery of divine election.

There are two rails running through Scripture. One is the sovereignty of God…  ( Click for more )

We turn to I Thessalonians Chapter 1. This is a letter from Paul and Silas, or Silvanus, and Timothy, and it is sent to the Church, and the wording is most specific and precise.

It is some title – written from Corinth – and there is a strong suggestion that both letters were written within a week or two of each other – or a few months at the most.

We have been dealing with themes and topics recently – all biblical and biblically based – but it is good to take a letter – part of Scripture – a portion of the Word of God –…  ( Click for more )

Paul and Silas had been preaching and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ for only a fortnight – opposition was violent – and for their safety the new believing brothers sent Paul and Silas down the coast to Berea.

One would have thought they were required to remain in Thessalonica to protect and encourage and strengthen those who had newly come to faith in Jesus Christ – but not on this occasion.

Wherever Paul went there was blessing and battle – revival and uproar – faith and fury.

Acts 17 verse 10 – Paul and Silas are sent…  ( Click for more )

How did there come to be a vibrant Church of Jesus Christ in Thessalonica and what was its significance in these early days – but before we read this amazing letter to the Thessalonians – written probably around 52 to 53 AD – probably the first letter Paul wrote to the Church – we take time see how it all began.

In Acts Chapter 15 verse 36, we see something of Paul’s love for the people of God.

Chapter 15 verse 40 – Paul and Silas, go off on this missionary journey, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

Verse…  ( Click for more )

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