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Word from Scotland

    by Sandy Shaw

It was away back in November 2019, when I wanted to look at what are called “The Servant Songs”, in Isaiah, that as I read these Chapters, it was Isaiah Chapter 40 which first attracted my attention afresh.

When that happens there is very often a reason, of which I may never know.

The people of Israel have been captives - prisoners - exiles - in Babylon - modern day Iraq - for around 50 years – disciplined because of disobedience. That is the scenario.

They had been disobedient to God - the Father of our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ. They…  ( Click for more )

We are reading in Acts Chapter 27 – Paul is a prisoner and he is being sent by ship from Caesarea to Rome. Seriously bad decisions have been made by the owner and pilot of the ship to sail on – and they are soon confronted by a violent Mediterranean storm.

What can we learn about storms and from storms? We all face storms of one kind or another as we sail through life.

Storms can cause me to drift – to drift from my goal.

Acts 27 verse 15 - “The ship was caught in the storm and the wind was so strong that they could not sail against it.…  ( Click for more )

Have there been many disappointments and setbacks during 2019?

Most of us, if not each of us, will have been confronted with more than one – but how do we handle these, and can we learn important lessons that may help us in 2020?

It is often easier to face a setback or problem when it is your mistake – but what do we do when it is not our fault? Sometimes other people make foolish decisions – which can affect us seriously.

Paul always wanted to go to Rome – and he got to Rome – but as a prisoner of the Roman Empire – and in ACTS…  ( Click for more )

We have been reading the opening words of Psalm 90 – a prayer of Moses, the man of God. Do you wish to be a man of God – a woman of God? What are your hopes and prayers and longings for this New Year?

As we come before our Creator God, and our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ, what is uppermost in our hearts and minds?

When God created man He made us perfect and placed us in a perfect garden – or parkland. "I have put you in there to enjoy it - do not spoil it - do not ruin the world I created." Have you ever seen someone's garden which…  ( Click for more )

As we come to the end of another year I turn to a Psalm to Psalm 90. In Scotland we have appreciated and loved the Psalms. We sing the Psalms regularly - as did Israel - and as Israel continues to sing the Psalms. God has not changed over the years.

The God Who heard the Psalmist's Prayers hears ours. What are you saying to our gracious God as this year draws to a close?

God's nature has not changed - and human nature has not changed.

So much is changing – governments – leaderships – fashions change regularly - but God looks at our…  ( Click for more )

Matthew 1 verses 18 to 25 – These must be among the best known verses in the Bible – and most loved verses.

It is a beautiful story –and it is a true story. It is the account of our gracious God at work – giving us, and the world Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord.

This is how it begins – and all is not well to begin with – that is often the case when God is at work.

Our God wants to work in our hearts and lives and through these lives into the dark world out there with light and love and mercy and grace – to minister to…  ( Click for more )

We have been reading in Nehemiah of the challenges he faced when leading that team of workers as they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah made a few changes. He reorganised what was not working well.

Nehemiah 4 verse 13 - “So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows.”

He did not give up on the goal – he simply reorganised how they were working.

That can apply to being out of shape – budget – being over-committed and we need to…  ( Click for more )

When Nehemiah and his construction team were busy rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem they were faced with various challenges.

All of us have to face real challenging circumstances when we serve Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

When the walls were half way up the workers were confronted by criticism and sarcasm.

It did not become any easier when they came to see that the task was much bigger than they first realised – there was a lot of rubble lying around that needed to be dealt with if they were to move around more easily.

But some began to doubt their own…  ( Click for more )

It can be easier to start something than to finish it and is easier to get in to something than get out.

It can be easier to get into debt than get out of debt and easier to make a commitment than to keep that commitment.

It is easier to fill your diary than fulfil your schedule.

Discouragement is a real enemy. God works upon us and with us to make us more like Jesus, but there can be lingering and persistent discouragements.

Discouragement is common and powerful

Discouragement is universal, in as much as it confronts everybody. It can be deadly. It keeps…  ( Click for more )

We have reached the concluding verses of Ephesians Chapter 3 – and these verses on prayer are so rich.

Many have said over the years – “Listen to other people praying – you will learn much about them – and maybe something from them! You will learn what is on their hearts – something of their concerns – and what they may not be concerned about. You may learn where they are in Christ. We all pray about those things that really matter to us.”

Might praying not influence people where preaching and witnessing doesn’t?…  ( Click for more )

We come to Ephesians Chapter 3 verse 14 – “For this reason I kneel before the Father.”

There are times when we can allow our imagination to inspire us spiritually.

Reading these words give rise to such comment.

Paul is writing to people who had come to real faith – he had seen it – he had been there – he knew them.

He deals with might and majestic themes in this letter – and he is also so personal when he speaks about his imprisonment. He had been limited and restricted physically – but he remains a servant of the…  ( Click for more )

Paul is writing this letter to the Ephesian Church while imprisoned in Rome. We come to the concluding verses of Chapter 3.

Why does God allow this? From the very beginning of the Church of Jesus Christ there have been those imprisoned for their faith in Jesus and for their courageous and bold ministries.

Following Pentecost, Peter and john were imprisoned in Jerusalem simply as the result of healing a cripple who had been crippled for 40 years – but doing so in the name of Jesus.

Around the world today so many believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have…  ( Click for more )

We are reading in Ephesians 3. Paul changes from these magnificent themes about Faith in Jesus Christ - and suddenly becomes quite personal. Both are needed. We see the reason for this.

Because of these magnificent themes which he has been preaching, teaching and writing - I, Paul am the prisoner of Christ Jesus - for the sake of you Gentiles.

We need sound theology and the ability to share our testimony. Paul was able to do both.

This man of God who travelled and preached and founded churches and visited various churches - is now limited in Rome - housebound…  ( Click for more )

We come to these concluding verses in Ephesians Chapter 2.

This middle wall separating Jew and Gentile - this dividing partition - has been demolished and destroyed by what Jesus Christ did on the Cross when HE shed His Blood.

We Gentiles are no longer separated from Christ - excluded no more - no longer are we foreigners to the Promises of God - but we have been brought near through the Blood of Christ. For all this we give thanks.

Verse 18 - Through Jesus we have access to the Father by one Spirit - Father Son and Holy Spirit each mentioned.

We have access…  ( Click for more )

We are reading the second half of Ephesians Chapter 2 and last week closed with these words - "Israel - I give you the promises - the prophets - the Word of Light - the promise of the Messiah - now go and share all this with the world."

We too must be careful that we do not fall into the same trap. Our ministry must be to others - because we learn here that outside of Christ man cannot get through to GOD. Outside of Jesus Christ man remains a stranger and an alien - sojourners.

Israel was called by God to be the light of the world – to take the light of…  ( Click for more )

We are reading in Ephesians Chapter 2 and we come to verse 11.

Therefore – remember. It is always interesting to read of what the Bible instructs us to remember - and when we have a 'therefore', we always need to discover what it is there for - why it is there.

Paul has been teaching theses Ephesian disciples of Jesus Christ that they have been saved by grace - through faith - and this is a gift of God.

It is not by works - not by anything good which we might have done - or think we deserve - so that no-one can boast.

We come to another of Paul's long…  ( Click for more )

We remain in the Ephesians Chapter 2 where in verse 3 we learn that before we came to Jesus Christ the Saviour, we were objects of wrath. That is not a very pleasant description of what we were like – and how mankind remains.

There is a-coming a Day of Wrath - it will be a dreadful day.

It is bad enough when someone in your family is angry with you - but when God is angry with you - and shows it - that is really serious.

Paul is spelling all this out to believers in Jesus - to disciples of Jesus Christ - and notice how he emphasizes that all this would have…  ( Click for more )

We move on to Ephesian Chapter 2 - where Paul spells it out - and no matter where we read his writing, he spells it out - clearly and positive and challengingly.

You were dead - in your transgressions and sins - the ruler of the kingdom of the air - this enemy who attacks us at times pervades the very atmosphere - and he is still at work in those who are disobedient.

We were dead – not just weak or sick – but dead – and to change that situation, someone had to come from outside us – and that person was Jesus Christ. This is ‘good news’…  ( Click for more )

We are reading in Ephesian Chapter 1 and learning of how Paul was a man who prayed and in Verse 18 we read of Paul praying for an enlightened heart. We need to pray at times that God will give us LIGHT - light from the inside - inside information - so that I can say, "I see".

"I see what is happening - I see what is going on in the world - I see why people said that - I see why that is being taught - I see why that decision has been made".

Getting to know GOD better comes from the inside too. Then you will understand the HOPE to which you were called…  ( Click for more )

We move on in Ephesians Chapter 1 - and following the introduction - and this opening greeting of Praise - Paul moves on to one of his big themes - "in Christ".

He speaks about - Blessing - Being chosen to be holy and blameless - Creation. He speaks about the Word of Truth - The Holy Spirit - and now Prayer and Praying.

Verse 15 - Paul not only preaches and writes - but he prays for people.

Pray for people - that is something which each one of us can do - without exception.

Because of all that I have mentioned in the opening words of my letter -…  ( Click for more )

In Ephesians Chapter 1 we read of the Grace that has come to us – verse 6. This is a word which is hardly used outside the Church. We can almost translate it "generosity" - God's generous love - God giving and giving and giving - again and again.

Verses 7,8 – We have been redeemed and forgiven!

Redeem – the pawnbroker’s shop – it was a common word in the first century – used in the freeing of slaves. He frees us from the slavery of sin – or to sin!

God - You have spent so much on me - and He wants us to…  ( Click for more )

September 2, 2019

Ephesians Chapter 1Verses 1,2 are typical of Paul's introduction - Apostle - Sent - sent by the choice or the Will of God. This is the Word of God - not just the words of Paul.

Paul is not writing here simply giving us his own opinion.

We can accept the apostle's words as The Word of God.

We know there was that day when Paul wanted to kill the Gospel dead - and every disciple of Jesus with it - but God had other plans.

Paul becomes an apostle - and it was GOD Who chose him.

He describes himself – and he describes the recipients of this letter. …  ( Click for more )

Following some weeks looking at who Jesus Christ really is, let me now turn to a New Testament letter – to Ephesians 1 verse 1.

A pearl is made when a little piece of grit gets into the shell of an oyster - and it begins to irritate and rub against the soft flesh inside. So the oyster protects itself by secreting a hard substance - and a pearl grows. A pearl is produced. What an amazing argument to support Creation!

In that sense this is a pearl of a letter - and as part of the Word of God it is so precious as well as being practical.

Ephesians is a…  ( Click for more )

All I know about God comes to me through Jesus Christ and the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Sin – forgiveness through the blood shed on the cross at Calvary – his love – his joy – his peace – his gifts – his holy character – his nature – his ways of working which are so very different from our ways – all this comes to us through Jesus Christ.

YOU ARE THE KING OF GLORY!

“Who is this? Who is THIS JESUS?” We have the complete answer. Do we? Or is it just half the answer?

God…  ( Click for more )

“Who is this Jesus?” That has been the question we have been focusing on over these past few weeks – and an important question it is.

If we do not get this right – if we do not build on a solid sound foundation then when the storms come Jesus has already indicated and taught about the crashing consequences. Matthew Chapter 7 verses 24 to 29.

1 – Consider the claims Jesus made for himself – Jesus does not claim to have found the answer to man’s needs – Jesus claims to be the answer to man’s needs. “Come…  ( Click for more )

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