The Thought for the Week this week is written by Isobel Marshall

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13 v 38

I have been reading the Acts of the Apostles. With freshness the core message of the Apostles struck me. Peter speaking to Cornelius and his household, “Everyone who believes in him has complete forgiveness of sin through the power of his name.” Acts 10 v 41 Paul speaking in Antioch, “So listen friends! Through this Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is offered to you”.Acts 13:38 What must it have been like to hear that message for the first time and respond. I can remember when first I needed that forgiveness, with what welcome I received it. 

Sin, like ill health may not always be visible. For some, ill health caused by physical trauma or a disease process can mark our lives, paralyse, disfigure, bring malaise, depress and more. Sometimes it is very visible, sometimes not, but its impact is felt day and night by the person who bears it. Sin is like that; crippling, deforming, weakening, affecting all aspects of our life. We bare it day and night. Its hard to watch someone struggle under the weight of ill health, Jesus healed the sick and still does. Its harder yet to watch someone you love struggle under the weight of sin, Jesus has the power to forgive sin. “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5 v 20. To prove to an enraged audience that he possessed the power to forgive, he asked them: which is easier, heal the paralysed man or forgive him? Immediately he rose up and walked. When Jesus forgives us we immediately know the difference and it is felt throughout our whole being. 



The Thought for the Week this week is written by Alison Atkinson

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“How kind the Lord is! How good He is. So merciful, this God of ours.” Psalm 116 v 5

‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, I cannot find in my own, and He keeps His fire burning, to melt this heart of stone, keeps me aching with a yearning, keeps me glad to have been caught, in the reckless, raging fury, that they call the Love of God’  by Rich Mullins

I loved this Rich Mullins song as a child, although only as an adult did I realise I’d messed the words up: having it in my head as the ‘wildness’ of God’s mercy, not ‘wideness.’ On reflection though, I think this is the perfect way to describe the mercy of God. But what is ‘wild’ about mercy?? Surely mercy, in it’s essence, is a gentle, soft characteristic, something that nice people possess but don’t make too much of a fuss about? 

As I’ve ridden the rollercoaster that is life, I’ve come to appreciate to some extent the true strength of the mercy depicted in this song. I think there are few stories that illustrate this better than that of the Bishop of Digne in ‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo (promise there’s no singing, so you can keep reading!!) His tale, set in 1800’s France, tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who has recently completed a prison sentence of 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Angry and bitter at his treatment in the world, he finds on his release he still cannot find work, shelter, or a means to survive as a result of his prison legacy. In this state he finds himself cast on the kindness of the town Bishop, who offers him shelter and food for the night. The assumption is that this kindness will change Valjean; instead he gets up during the night and steals the Bishop’s silverware and runs off into the dark, only to be caught by the local police and brought back to face the Bishop and the consequences of his actions, most likely a life prison sentence for reoffending. This does seem a just and reasonable outcome, given his disregard for the trust and kindness of the bishop. On arrival at the Bishop’s house the police mockingly tell the story Valjean has told them: that the Bishop had given him the silverware as a present. Their mocking turns to astonishment and disbelief when the Bishop tells them not only that this is correct, but that Valjean has forgotten the most expensive item in the house, the silver candlesticks - and gives these to him also. Faced with this, the police are forced into a position where they have nothing left to charge him with- and melt away, leaving Valjean alone with the man who has ‘bought his soul.....and given him back to God

Valjean at first cannot comprehend and does not know how to act in the face of such undeserved favour and kindness- and suffers for a time the confusion that accompanies one trying to grasp the concept and possibility that there is Grace. Valjean‘s behaviour, in stark contrast to the Bishop’s willingness to show mercy at any cost, even when it may make him look foolish to the people, and his willingness to be made a fool of by Valjean again, causes Valjean to break and turn to the light...and to the mercy of God. 

The ‘wild’ mercy, that will take a risk in looking foolish, for the sake of the impact that that mercy and Love can have on a soul in turning it from darkness to light. We need to remember this: that the strength of our Christianity lies not in rules, in judgement, or our ability to adhere to our current version of what ‘good’ looks like: rather, it lies in the strength of the Love and mercy of our God, who looks on our sin, all of it, any of it, and lets us go free- knowing that this Love has the power to break us, and bring us back to the light, with a greater and more binding force than all others put together. 






The Thought for the Week this week is written by Alison Neill

by Susie Jean Sharkey


"Make the seven lamps for the lampstand and set them so that they reflect their light forward" Exodus 26 v31-38

I have for a long time been attracted to what that holy place must have looked like, enclosed, the only light being the lamps and the gleaming reflected gold, but when I read this verse earlier in the year the word 'forward' has  stayed with me - so that they reflect their light forward. As I tried to understand what the word 'forward' meant, I made a connection with the famous words of Paul thousands of years later 'Forgetting what is behind I press on towards the goal". It made sense as I imagined that beautiful holy sanctuary of the Tabernacle 'looking forward' and in the brightness of that light I realised afresh that all our sins, all that we are disappears from view, hidden in the shadows - the shadows of the one who is the one true Light, and hidden in the shadows of the cross. Standing on that holy ground the past really is gone because the eye, the lamp of the body, is facing forward.  When we come out of that place of faith, we, others and the devil can remind us of our past, but with faith we can in every circumstance remember the command of God to look forward.

But what are we looking forward at? In Revelation John speaks of the vision of "seven golden lampstands and standing in the middle of the lampstands was some-one like the Son of Man" From the days of the first tabernacle, reverently speaking, God looked forward - forward to the redemption of mankind, forward to the union of the church with himself, forward to the great rest that is promised, and he invites us individually, one by one all over the world, all through the millenia to stand in that holy place and look Forward

"He who has this hope in him purifies himself" I had always read this verse to mean 'he who believes this will strive and make himself as holy as he knows how in order to be accepted' but it came to me very differently this year. It is not me that purifies myself no, it is the very hope within fed by the Holy Spirit that works the purification. As I let that light burn within so the hope that grows brighter, it is this very process itself that is what purifies me, and not any striving of my own. Jesus said 'this is the  work God asks of you - to believe in the One he has sent. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Andy Creighton

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 107.1

Modern psychologists have studied the effect on wellbeing of practising thankfulness. In one study, one group of students was assigned the task of recording three things they were thankful for at the end of each day for one month. The control group made no change to their daily routine. Each group answered the same questionnaire at the start and end of the month. The questionnaire revealed the happiness of the students and each group started with students of varying happiness levels. In the group who recorded their thankfulness, happiness levels increased by a noticeable amount. Unsurprisingly, the control group remained unchanged. 

The Biblical writers understood the importance of giving thanks to the LORD many years before. The Psalmists didn’t just tell people to be thankful without giving reasons. In this one verse we have three reasons:

1. He is good

2.  His love is faithful

3. His love is eternal

God proves these things throughout Scripture. In this Psalm alone we read of those who suffer hunger and thirst in the desert, those In the darkness and misery of prison, foolish rebels who are so troubled they can’t eat, and sailors who are tossed about on the chaotic sea. Each group cries out to the LORD in desperation and each time He “saved them in their distress”. 

God proves himself again and again throughout the Scriptures. And those of us who follow and love him can reflect on all the occasions that he has saved us or simply reassured us of his love and presence. 

Let’s give thanks to the LORD in all that we think, say and do this week. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Rosalind Creighton

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Psalm 139: 23 & 24: "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

I was thinking about this verse recently when praying about a particular situation. The words “Search me, O God” suddenly struck me: the psalmist is asking God to do the searching of the psalmist’s heart. He then goes on to ask God to do four more things on his behalf: test, know, see and lead. 

What I realised was, that very often, we try to do the searching and seeing ourselves and it can lead down a blurry, and sometimes dark, path of introspection and condemnation which is often fraught with anxious thoughts- thoughts we really should hand over to God, and realise He knows them already and knows what to do far more than we will ever know. 

It is good to acknowledge our sin and confess it to God. But then we must allow Him to deal with it, instead of berating ourselves and tying ourselves in knots wondering if we will ever be free of our sin.  When we allow God to search, test, know and see, He lovingly allows conviction of sin to touch us, so that we can confess it to Him who has made the “way everlasting” open to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a path of peace, true freedom and the knowledge that God is our Father who cares deeply for us. 

The Gospel says that our works cannot save us - and we should apply this to our daily walk with God. Allow him to do the searching, testing, knowing, seeing and leading, rather than relying on our own efforts which are often futile. He leads us more patiently, gently and wisely than we could ever hope to do ourselves. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Leah Marks

by Susie Jean Sharkey


‘Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ Matt 18:3

I was recently in a situation where a something of a philosophical debate was taking place. I felt slightly overwhelmed by the whole discussion and generally a bit perplexed! However drifting off to sleep that night I felt the well-known words of Christ filter through my subconscious....

‘Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ Matt 18:3

They spoke peace to me and reminded me of the simplicity of faith in Christ that is all that really matters. Leaving things that are too great for me aside, there is a place of resting and if peace in Him. 
What does Jesus mean when He says that we must become like a little child? Being around children on a daily basis there are lots of aspects of childhood that I wouldn’t want to go back to! And in Jesus’ day, children had much less importance than our society places on them, so I can’t imagine many of Jesus’ listeners thought going back to being like a child was a good idea! 
I think what Jesus is talking about is very much related to the idea of the helplessness of a child. There are just so many things that a young child is utterly reliant on the adults around them for. The whole process of growing up is about becoming independent and learning to do things for ourselves but there is very little that a tiny child can actually accomplish for themselves. 
We depended on Jesus for redemption when  we were initially saved but He desires that we are dependent on Him for our whole lives. Every part of us is fallen and it’s good to remember again that it’s all about Him and the work He has done for us at Calvary. 
Even Jesus did ‘only what He saw the father do’ (John 5:19) when He was on earth. He was completely reliant on the power and direction of God in His earthly ministry. So many times we try to take things into our own hands and work things out for ourselves. But in becoming like a child, we accept that we actually can’t do things for ourselves and are wholly dependent on the continuing power of redemption in our daily lives. This is what He died for - and He wants to take the burden from us again and again. 
A poem Amy Carmichael which I have always loved sums up this thought for me: 
‘Leave it to me, Child, leave it to Me,
Dearer thy garden to me than to thee,
Lift up thy heart, Child, lift up thine eyes,
Naught can defeat Me, naught can surprise
Leave it to me, Child, leave it to me,
Let stop the burden too heavy for theeThat which I will, My Hand shall perform,
Fair are the lilies that weather the storm’




The Thought for the Week this week is written by Mandy Stinglehammer

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them” Exodus chapter 14 v 9

I have just been looking at Exodus Chapter 14. 

The Israelites found themselves in a humanly impossible situation: the apparently uncrossable Red Sea was in front of them, and the whole army of Egyptians was racing up behind them.  But…..then we read that wonderful verse 9, stated above.

FB Meyer, in Through the Bible day by day, says about this verse:

“The ordinary man puts circumstances between himself and God, but the consecrated soul inserts God between himself and circumstances”

I have been a Christian now for nearly 50 years and I have recently been looking back and reflecting on the faithfulness of God. He has been with me through happy times and difficult times, and I see His love and care  even in the small everyday affairs of life.I am so grateful to God for how He has led and gently guided in the big issues of life ever since I gave my life to Him, sometimes without me realising it at the time.  It makes me wish I had trusted Him more, and had, as FB Meyer wrote, more often inserted God between myself and circumstances. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (Berean Study Bible) 

Life changed forever, at the age of seven, when my mum died. Life had been blissfully innocent and safe; our wonderful parents gave us a simple, but safe and secure home to grow up in, but all that changed one day in November 1967 when mum lost her battle against ovarian cancer.

It was an empty, strange time. We weren't allowed to go to the funeral and no one knew exactly what to do with myself and my two sisters each day after school and during school holidays. There was no out-of-hours childcare or social work help, so we spent hours unsupervised and for the first couple of years elderly aunts came to supervise us, or we were sent to one of them for the summer. Our Dad did his best and employed nannies, or housekeepers as we called them - some good, some not so good. Then we were sent away for school holidays for a couple of years to a children's home, which has been in the news, these last few years, for all the wrong reasons. 

I remember such a feeling of emptiness, but it made me begin to wonder what life's purpose was and what happened after you died. I was maybe ten years old. Kids think these thoughts, you know. Without putting it in these words, I had begun a search for God. There had to be something more. 

Skipping forward more than ten years, I was alone in a student flat in Glasgow during a long weekend. My sin and guilt weighed heavily upon me and I knew my life was heading in the wrong direction. I got down on my knees, not even sure any more if Jesus existed, but asked Him – if He was there – to forgive my many sins and 'get in the driver's seat' of my life; I had made a mess of things, I knew that. I got up from my knees and got back to my studying.

Suddenly, about three hours later and in an instant, I felt flooded with light and love. I knew something profound had happened: God had drawn near, I knew my many sins were forgiven and I felt deeply changed inside. Cleansed and forgiven! I knew this Jesus had come to me. The bible calls it being born again. It certainly felt like a new birth.

In that same moment an amazing thing happened. It was as if my eyes were opened for the first time and suddenly, I understood the Cross. Of course, the Cross! It all made sense for the first time. Jesus had taken my sins on the Cross and died for me, so I could be forgiven. I don't understand how I knew, but I just knew and I've known every day since.

This Easter let us think about the Cross. He went to the Cross because He loved us and knew we couldn't cancel out our sins alone. He then rose from the dead on Easter Sunday to prove His victory over sin, hell and now death. There is a way to Life in Jesus Christ. I know – it happened to me. “For, God so loved the world...”


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Janice Hederson

by Susie Jean Sharkey


While they were worshipping as priests before the lord in prayer and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ' I have called Barnabas and Saul to do an important work for me.  Now release them to go and fulfil it.'  so after they had fasted and prayed, they laid hands on them and sent them off.  Acts:13v2  TPT

Saul and Barnabas Sent Out as Apostles

Paul and Barnabas were the ' Sent Ones ' this is the meaning of the word Apostle. This is a lovely thought.  Who sent them? as we read the the above chapter we look at their Church in Antioch we note that there was a number of prophets and teachers of the word, one is Simeon who isn't mentioned anywhere else in in scripture but it's believed he is Simon of Cryene who just passing through, was laid hold of to carry the cross of Jesus, this Simon was brought very close to Jesus and shared the special bond that comes through suffering. Its not surprising that he was part of this church leadership who were committed to seeking, listening and waiting on God. The leaders laid hands on them but It was the Holy Spirit who sent them, He is the Lord of the harvest who sends out the labourers into the harvest field!

We learn the ways of God by looking at the establishing of the early Church, the true church will always be built by the Holy Spirit.  It was while the church leaders were ministering to God that the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to the office of Apostle, they followed the same pattern going out and laying hands on disciples and ordaining elders in the churches.  God is creative, He is the creator He is also the God of Order and we pray  ' thy will be done ' with confidence that his ways work. 

We have all been called to do a particular work of God but first we must learn how to serve and know that God makes no mistakes, that we will be ' Sent ' by the Spirit, His Way, and in His Time also there will be a confidence because He is definite and gives assurance. during our time of learning, we will become more attuned to His ways of transmitting His desires to us, until the ' still small voice ' sounds above the crowd to us, this becomes everything and is such a beautiful way of being, iit is also what a Christian means when they say they are apart or separated to God. Like the Church in Antioch whose leaders were hearing from God, we also trust the same God who imparts the ministry of the Holy spirit from our leaders who follow the same pattern as the first church. God is a loving God who makes every provision to keep His people safe and secure and this is the heart of our leaders who care for our safety in this battle for souls. A soldier does not go out to battle without discipline and training under authority, how much more a Christian without the authority of God! 

A final thought: humility keeps us safe. Personally the more I pass through and learn of God’s ways, the knowledge, value and appreciation of my leaders grow, those who have gone before us are held in high regard.

May the blessing of God be on all his people  Amen


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Graham McKenzie-Smith

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  Isaiah46:4


A few weeks ago during a visit to Ireland, we had the opportunity to visit the Titanic Museum in Belfast. I must confess that like many, I have a strange fascination about Titanic and often wonder what exactly happened that fateful night.

We all know the basic story - a brand new luxury ship sets off across the North Atlantic, loaded with people from the richest in the world to some of the poorest seeking new life in America, then late one night it hits an iceberg, there’s not enough lifeboats and only about a third of the passengers survive. Over the next century, questions have been asked about how a supposedly unsinkable ship could then sink at the first hint of trouble. I could list a ream of these questions and theories but I’m trying keep this short.

Since visiting the museum, I did some research and found that at the time of the centenary there were several new expeditions visiting the wreck with all the latest technologies available. Between new information, tests and computer analyses, experts are 99% certain of what happened. And what they found was very surprising. They found that over the subsequent 100 years, the wrong question had been asked.

The absolute reason the ship sank was because it hit rock hard ice at a fast speed and perfectly strong steel came under more pressure than was reasonably expected. Thomas Andrews, the ship’s architect, was on board and estimated that they would sink in about an hour. Titanic actually took two and a half hours to sink. Not only that, but she stayed upright while most floundering ships tend to roll over (think of the recent Costa Concordia). Sadly, if she had more lifeboats, everyone would have been saved.

So the question all this time should really have been “Why did Titanic stay afloat for so long?”.

When I heard this, I remembered how often we can feel less than ideal in our spiritual walk. So often we ask ourselves “Am I good enough?” , “Is God disappointed in me?” or “Have I failed my calling?”.

These are the wrong questions. We should really be asking “How have I stayed the course for so long when others have drifted away?”, or “Why does God still care so much for me when I’ve failed Him so often?” Maybe it’s the pessimistic Scots in us but I know that many people feel the same way.

God knows us through and through. His plan has taken into account all our past, future, weaknesses, thoughts and deeds. When troubles come or we stumble on the way, we shouldn’t think of our failings but rejoice that no matter the circumstance, He carries us onward as long as our trust is in Him and Him alone.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Alison Speirs

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of you mind, that, by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Romans 12 v 2.

I have been thinking about the ways of the modern world and the requirement that we, as Christians, are required to seek something higher than simply conforming to the standards which are set by those outwith Christ.

While it’s the normal for us to consider the extreme evil of many aspects of this world, the obvious sins of violence and sexual depravity, of theft and multiple addictions, even to look at the ugliness of bitterness or jealousy or anger and to understand that it is unwise to behave in such a way, today I want to look at another aspect of worldliness where it’s misery is not so obvious.

When I look at the world of the 21st century and listen to its vocabulary I realise that words such as “stress”, “mental health problems”, “teenage suicides” are starting to dominate the media and we are required not to conform to this worldly model but to be transformed by having a new mind set which seeks the will of God and thus finds that which is good and acceptable and perfect for our lives.
Let’s pursue a simple life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Susie Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭NLT‬

Theres a song we often sing in the church called “Wonderful Grace”. I love the line in the song that says “wonderful grace that gives me the time to change”...I often sing that and pray that as a thankful offering to God. It’s a quality of God that He bestows on us, that we seldom find out in the world. Slip up, make a mistake, take a wrong road and you have those who are ‘on our case, on our back’, hounding us, telling us we’re not changing fast enough.....not God. His grace is extended towards us and He gives us time, He gives us space to change into the likeness of His son. And that grace is extended to us every single moment of every day.....how humbling it is to think of that. God looks into our heart and He sees our frustrations, our frustrations at ourself, at the baby steps we take instead of leeps and bounds and He tells us “my grace is sufficient for you….” Oh, the kindness of God towards us. Grace is a gift that is given to us; cherish it with all your heart and thank Him for it.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Jenny Revolta

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.” Luke ch 7 v 44-45

Christians were the largest religious group in the world in 2015, according to one research organisation. It stated that nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people claimed to be Christian. 31% equals 2.3 billion people who professed to be christian (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/05). 

The sheer number of people could cause us to wonder if it really matters what we do, we are just one out of that 2.3 billion professing christians! Does He really see and know our every thought and action? And is it really significant to Him how we act and what we think? It seems so unlikely. It obviously matters greatly what the Abrahams and King Davids do, and the Billy Grahams and the David Wilkersons of our modern times. They have influenced their world for God. But what about the ordinary, everyday individual?

We know that He loves us and knows us altogether - the bible tells us that even the very hairs on our head are numbered - which, when you think of the sheer numbers of people alive today, is a phenomenal thought. But does it actually matter to Him what we do, moment by moment?

God spoke to me about this through a lovely poem by Amy Carmichael called Mary’s Kiss. The 2nd verse says:

“Rich is Thy harvest, O Thou Corn of Wheat:

A cloud of lovers gather round Thy feet.

What miracle of love that Thou shouldst miss

Low on Thy feet, one kiss.”

There are billions who love and worship Christ, some do what the world terms a ‘great work for God’, some who are completely unknown, and everyone who is in between. Yet God knows each and every one, and He misses our love if we do not bring it. He knows when one is missing and that matters to Him. He does not miss our ‘goodness’, our ministry, our works, our service, our effort. He misses our kiss. And a kiss is something that everyone of us can bring, it is the simplest yet most precious of things. What a miracle of love this is - the God of the whole universe sees us individually, amongst a cloud of 2.3 billion others, He knows what we do and think, and He misses our kiss of love if we do not bring it.




The Thought for the Week this Week is by Mandy Stinglehammer

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Create in me a clean heart……….” psalm 51 v 10

I recently came across some books about Fred Lemon, who in 1950 had a miraculous conversion experience, where Christ appeared to him in his prison cell.  This is just a little of what Christ showed him:

“Clearly yet gently, Christ traced the whole of Fred’s criminal life up to the desperate present,  the drinking, the violence, the bad friends and the crime that had brought him at last to Dartmoor, on a charge of robbery with violence. He spoke of the good things too, of Fred’s small kindnesses and his efforts to reform. There was no harshness in the words, only love”

This encounter with Christ transformed his whole life.  He suddenly was given hope, hope that only Christ can give, that he actually could change, and could become a better person. He had his struggles at the beginning, as it wasn’t easy for him to extract himself from his former life, and his former habits. Yet at critical points on his journey, often when he was ready to give up, it was people in his church who stepped in to help and support, both materially and spiritually. He was eventually powerfully used by God to bring many souls to Christ, often from similar backgrounds of crime, addiction and violence.

As I read I was struck  by two things: 

Firstly, the wonder of God’s renewing, restoring, transforming power. We may not have been living in a criminal underworld as Fred had, but that same miraculous power is there to transform every one of us.

And  secondly, just how vital it is for us as individuals in the church to be ready to come alongside those just starting on the journey, to be aware of their needs and to help, encourage, and support them


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Maureen MacKenzie

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted Himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that free from sin we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1Peter3 (v23 )

Theme: A Suffering Heart.

 

Many of us suffer in different ways: weariness, illness, loneliness, through relationships or ageing. It is possible to be dragged down by negatives e.g. things we can no longer do, physical pain and worries. How do you respond to suffering in your life?There is a defence mechanism in us that wants to hide pain and push it down into the depths of our being. However, it is never dealt with when we do that and often re-emerges to cause trouble. 

There is another response, which initially we shy away from. Open yourself to Christ and let Him make his home in the part of you that is hurt. Christ suffered and died for us – he knows our difficulties.

Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

 Jesus can work through our sufferings to bring peace, wholeness and blessings.

How can suffering help us to progress spiritually?

·         We have more time to reflect on our life, leading to conviction of sin and repentance.

·         We have more compassion for others who are suffering.

·         We are drawn closer to Jesus and depend on him.

·         There is nothing for SELF in suffering which leads to greater humility.

·         God can take away fear of suffering and death.

·         If we open our hurts to Christ he can make us whole.

 Let Christ open your suffering heart and expand the boundaries so that you may love Him and others more deeply. Christ will treasure the gift of your suffering heart and take loving care of you.

 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Flo Buchan

by Susie Jean Sharkey


See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.

Exodus 23:20 (NLT)

 

God spoke these words to the Israelites as they prepared to face the next stage of their journey to the Promised Land.In his Christmas radio broadcast to the nation in 1939 King George VI quoted the poem by Minnie Louise Haskins:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” 

And he replied: 

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” 

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East

 

We are still fairly near the beginning of the year 2019. We don’t know what lies ahead. While the future is not as challenging as it was for the Israelites preparing to fight to claim the Promised Land as their own, or as dangerously unpredictable as it was in 1939, we are nevertheless at a time in our nation of unusual uncertainty. 

As well as this many people will be facing difficult, challenging and heartbreaking  circumstances in their personal lives. God knows the future and nothing is uncertain to him. He knows our lives from beginning to end. He knows our future, our country’s future and the world’s future. God gave his angel as a guide and protector for the Israelites and he gives us Jesus Christ as our companion and friend to guide and protect us through the year ahead whatever may happen politically or personally. God will lead us safely to the place he has prepared for us ... safely into a deeper place in him and ultimately safely to our eternal home.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by David Shuttleton

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Wilt thou not quicken us again: That thy people may rejoice in thee?”–Psalms‬ ‭85:6‬ ‭Revised Version 1885

Recently, as I bowed before God to pray and seek His face early one morning, blanket wrapped around me as I knelt by my bed as I do, the word revival dropped into my head. I tried to concentrate on praying through, but the word came into the forefront of my mind again. I knew then that God was speaking. I was mindful of the fact our beliefs are rigidly based on scripture, being warned of God in the last verses of scripture not to add nor take away from His Word. I then thought around the fact that salvation, Jesus saying we ‘must be born again’, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking and singing in tongues, sanctification, holiness, consecration, purity, all the many gifts of the spirit, healings and deliverance, are all mentioned throughout the scriptures. I knew revival was not in scripture yet it is such a core belief and drive in our fellowship, and indeed around the world with all real Christians. How could this be? I thought that perchance it was there at least once but that I had forgotten about it. But deep down I knew revival was not in the bible. To be absolutely sure I turned to the bible App and the ‘search’ option. I keyed in ‘revival’ and several verses popped up. Immediately I scanned the first and saw that revival was not there. I said to myself ‘I knew revival was not in the bible!’

My entire life is consumed with prayer for revival, in fact I feel it is the call of my life, yet it is not in scripture. I was no little confused and perplexed. I read the first verse out of interest and immediately I was hit with a bolt of lightening as the verse was a perfect description of revival! “Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts; Cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved.”–Psalms‬ ‭80:19‬ ‭RV1885‬‬.

I then eagerly looked at the next one only to find it was another perfect description of revival but from another perspective altogether! “Wilt thou not quicken us again: That thy people may rejoice in thee?”–Psalms‬ ‭85:6‬ ‭RV1885‬‬. And so it was in all of the verses quoted. A huge range of definitions or descriptions of revival, as wide ranging as I could ever have imagined. A core teaching of the bible! 
One of the most beautiful was from Psalm.85:6-10, “Wilt thou not quicken us again: That thy people may rejoice in thee? Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, And grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: For he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: But let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; That glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” It was as if God was giving me an entire sermon in one moment. 

I knew then that revival was, in fact, in the bible after all.


The Thought for Week this week is written by Rhian Jewell

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“And let the peace that comes from Christ RULE in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NLT

 I was interested to learn that the Greek word BRABEUO was used by Paul in this verse and translated as the English word RULE. Brabeuo means to arbitrate or act like a referee or umpire. Like an official who watches a sport in order to enforce the rules are adhered to and arbitrate on matters arising from play.  

As fallen humanity we are often ruled in our actions by our own ideology, fear, anxiety, wilfulness, desires, distrust...to name just a few. These motives can act like that referee,  directing the outcome, decision and direction of our hearts, minds and actions.  They can narrow our life down , restrict its quality and bring disharmony with others. Paul teaches that as those who are redeemed , we have access to a wonderful new referee in our lives. We can have the gift of God’s  peace. This peace within our hearts will show the way that is right for us to live our lives. It is given as an umpire or referee to help direct us in this life and keep us close to Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life.  How wonderful to be at peace in our hearts and with the ‘members of the body’ of Christ.  

As we walk with Him this week let us listen to the referee of His peace within us and endeavour to hold onto it every moment of every day. 


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Donna Atkinson

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“ Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes 5 v 18 (NLT)

This verse was part of my daily readings recently and it challenged me to stop and think ‘am I thankful in all circumstances?’ I am thankful in some circumstances but usually the ones that make me feel happy or that I see as blessings. But the verse doesn’t say to be thankful in the good circumstances or the pleasant circumstances, it says all circumstances! So what are all these circumstances? Here’s a few that I came up with and I’m sure you can think of some others to add to this list:

• our home circumstances;

• our relationships within our own families and with friends;

• our work life and the responsibilities and burdens that come with that;

• our spiritual life and how we and ourselves before God and in His church;

• our health, both physical and mental;

• our leisure time and hobbies;

• our financial circumstances.

These are all things that we find ourselves in day by day and week by week. Sometimes these are very good and pleasurable and it’s easy then to be happy and thankful. But what happens when our circumstances are not going well. When our job is getting too stressful or we have been hurt in a relationship. Maybe our health is not good or we are facing financial difficulties. How do we react then? We become grumpy, irritable, short tempered, impatient, unkind, depressed and so on. We certainly don’t feel thankful! We want our circumstances to change and then we will feel better or then we will be able to give more time to someone and be more patient. Then we will feel more relaxed, less stressed and then we can be thankful. But this verse challenges us to not behave like that and to be thankful in all circumstances, in other words all the time because our circumstances are in God’s hands. This is not easy and if we’re honest, it doesn’t come naturally to us. But God knows that already and He has provided a way for us to get the help needed so that we can be thankful.

Philippians 4 v 6 says “ Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds.” (NLT) and in verse 19 “God will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” So when things are not going well we are to tell God about it. He wants us to speak to Him and be honest that we are finding things hard or lonely or whatever it is that is upsetting us. God has all the resources needed to help us in our daily lives, they are glorious resources and given freely to us through Christ. Our circumstances are not a surprise to Him. When we speak to Him and thank Him for all He has done for us then we will experience God’s peace! What a wonderful promise! We will experience peace and our hearts and minds will be guarded against all damaging thoughts. Surely then from that place of peace our hearts will be at rest and we can be thankful in all circumstances.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Janice Henderson

by Susie Jean Sharkey


When the rains fell and the flood came, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.  Matthew 7 v 24-27 (TPT)

I was blessed to have a week in the sun after the new year conference.  Late one evening out in the balcony looking up at the stars i was uplifted and suddenly aware that my life was standing on a solid foundation,  in Christian language we would say ' standing on the mountain of God ', the words alive within me were 'all other ground is sinking sand '

Everyone who hears my teaching and applies it to his life can be compared to a wise man who built his house on an unshakeable foundation.  When the rains fell and the flood came, with fierce winds beating upon his house, it stood firm because of its strong foundation.  Matthew 7 v 24-27 (TPT)

How do we get to this place of unshakeable stability in our lives? the illustration of the wise man makes it very simple to understand but it takes daily practise of building on the ' Rock ' who is Christ our firm foundation.  The wise man has wisdom and this is his protection and safety, God loves us so much that he wants to keep us safe and secure in His unchangeable perfect love.

Do not forsake wisdom, love her and she will guard you.  Proverbs 4 v 6  

Overawed to find the transformation in my own life from brokenness to absolute security in Christ I knew how this had happened, it wasn't overnight but the final piece of the process just quietly fell into place. Particularly over the last couple of years, life had brought a circumstance where I was continually disappointed at first this suffering was very painful and I could only take it to the Lord, each time I cried to the Lord and laid it at His feet the pain lessened, recently I was enabled to hand it over to the Lord again then suddenly the revelation came not only was I standing on the Mount of God, but face to face with God! GLORY!!! 

We are those who build, with a weapon in one hand and building materials in the other.  

Nehemiah 4 v 17.

Everything we lay at the feet of Christ, our troubles, infirmities of body and soul, even our joys, He transforms from' Dust' or 'Adam' until layer upon layer the foundation of our ' house' is solid and will stand for time and eternity.

For just as all people die because of their union with Adam, in the same way all will be raised to life because of their union with Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:22 (GNT)

Finally, when the rains and winds come, others will see that our lives are standing on Christ and will come to take refuge because we love the world through Christ, the highest point of vision.  Amen