The Thought for the Week this week is by Mandy Stinglehammer

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6)

Does your sense of deserving God’s favour or forgiveness depend on whether you feel you’ve had a good day or a day when you feel a failure?

Well, this is not how God sees you.  Your worth before Him depends on the eternal effectiveness of the blood of Christ, and that blood will never lose its power.

There is a difference between deliberate sin, and falling because of a flaw in our nature.  

The one is a conscious taking a step in the wrong direction, a rebellion against what we know to be right.  

The other is a tripping over a fault in our nature which is peculiar to us.  When we fall in this way, we immediately get up, repent and ask forgiveness.  

He knows our fallen natures are run through with faults. Yet He has chosen us, so we cannot question His choice.  

Despite all we see wrong in ourselves, we trust His resurrection power to remake us in His image.

He has chosen you, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6)


THe Thought for the Week is written by Paul Sharkey

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 “I am .... the truth..” (John 14:6)


 It’s a huge relief that Jesus declares Himself as the truth! We live in a generation that has, to a great extent, abandoned the truth, or should I say, the Truth - and any search for ultimate truth and purpose in this life. In fact, it is generally accepted (it seems,) that you can choose or invent your own truth, this doesn’t just refer to belief in some form of life after death, (I’ve heard it said that when we die we become stars), but the ability in this life to ‘identify’ as a particular race, age or gender, even if it is plainly untrue. This brings a huge problem to this generation and at least the next, that people are believing - and, being encouraged to believe - ‘facts’ which are plainly not true. This has, and will have, huge repercussions when society starts believing black is white and white is black. Society’s very foundations are under threat and it will become impossible to reason on any issue by making reference to some previously accepted norm - simply because it won’t exist anymore.
Many will find these recent trends and developments deeply worrying and have a feeling of helplessness that they are trying to stand against an awful flood tide of lies and untruths. Take courage! Jesus has declared Himself as the truth! Live close to Him, steep yourself in the bible and let God’s truths take deep root in your soul. You will find fear departs, courage appears and you will see these issues very clearly and be able to answer any critic. Jesus is not ‘a truth’ He is the truth! Hallelujah!
 


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment" 1 Peter 2 v 2

I'm sure you that most of you are like myself and have needed to lose weight at some point in life. I console myself with the fact that I'm not alone! We've all gone down this well trodden path and we all know what we need to do. In the past, I've gone to classes, I've signed up on line, I've bought the recipe books, I've kept a food diary, I've bought the monthly magazines (and even read them) all with the intention of losing weight. Life is so full of good intentions. And it's exactly the same in spiritual life. We know we need to get to know God better, we know we need to cultivate our relationship with God. We buy the bible, we download the bible app, we sign up for Alpha, yes we do all the outward things but inwardly nothing has changed.  Our hearts are the same. We are still the exact same person on the inside. It's not enough to buy a bible and read it...we must then take the next step and do what it tells us to do within the pages. It's not enough to read my health living magazines, agree with how wonderful if would be to be thin and then go to the freezer and eat a pot of Ben and Jerry's ice cream! No, if I want to lose weight I know that Ben and Jerry's has to go. I know I need to focus on what is important. And in spiritual life we need to do the same. We need to bin the junk food, the food that makes us lazy, the food that makes us into people we would rather not be, and instead we need to desire the pure word of God that will nourish us and increase our desire for more of God. So, this week, have a look in your spiritual food cabinet and bin the stuff that you know you just can't eat/drink/watch if you are to grow into a healthy mature child of God. 


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut” (Rev. 3:8)

            This is a very important verse to us in Struthers' Church for 2018. It has come at the beginning of the year, in what we call our “New Year Word”. It's the latest of many years of such verses that contain a prophetic element to them, given by the Holy Spirit to our group of Churches. 

            Make it personal: “an open door that no one can shut”. What door is God opening or is going to open for you? Maybe it's not just one door, maybe there are many? 

            Perhaps it is a door of sharing the gospel with friends and family? – having the Holy Spirit anointing to speak about Jesus, His atoning sacrifice on the Cross and His power over sin, fear and addiction – the setting free of a life. That's wonderful – now go and pray! Seek this open door, if that's what God is calling you to. 

            Perhaps it's a door of ministry? - having the power of God coming upon you to transmit to others to help them in their spiritual walk. Is that the door God is opening to you? Then, go pray! Pray that this door opens wide for you until His promise is fulfilled. 

            Perhaps it's a door of prayer? - perhaps experiencing a new power in prayer that changes people and the world around us. Is this you? Then, pray! And pray and pray and pray! Until the mountains move through a new faith in God found in prayer. 

            Then again, it might be a door of miracles, or healings, or prophecy or discernment?

It might be one door or many doors. Be hungry! Pray until this scripture is fulfilled in your life!


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Exodus 12 v 13 “......when I see the blood I will pass over you.....”

 

“When I see the blood I will pass over you”. That’s one of my favourite verses in the bible. It was spoken by God thousands of years ago to the children of Israel but it is still as powerful and potent for every single person today. When God sees the sign of the blood of the lamb on our lives, vengeance passes over us. When God sees the mark of blood in our hearts and in our lives, he knows we have been redeemed by the very blood of His son. His own Son, Jesus, is that lamb who’s was slain and it’s His blood that covers us so that the punishments and penalties of sin pass over us....Christ has paid the price, His blood covers our sins and we go free from the land of bondage and slavery (sin) and we can enter into our own land of promise


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


God says to all his angels, ‘Let’s have a joyous celebration, for that one who was lost I have found!’” Luke 15:10 The Passion Translation

There’s a story in the Bible that Jesus tells. The story is about a woman who has 10 silver coins. She values the individual coins highly because each one is worth a lot of money. In the story the woman loses one of the coins. She searches for it everywhere - she lights a lamp, she sweeps the floor, she peers  into every corner; it isn’t enough that she has the other nine, she looks high and low for the lost one until at last she finds it. When she finds the lost coin she celebrates joyfully with her friends.

Come and celebrate with me! I had lost my precious silver coin, but now Ive found it. she says.

Jesus tells this story as an illustration of how earnestly God searches for the lost ones.

 We were all lost once. God searched for us diligently just as the woman searched high and low for her lost coin. Some scholars think the coins in the story might have been strung into a necklace and worn around the womans neck as a piece of jewellery. We are like shining jewels to God; when God looks at you and me he sees us as individuals, each one beautiful, desirable and valuable. We are God’s children and He loves us. We are precious to him.

 There are many around us who are still lost - perhaps members of our family, colleagues, or people we meet when we’re going about our daily business. Let’s pray for the opportunity and the anointing to speak to them of Gods love. Let’s pray for a heart more like God’s heart, a heart with a passion to seek for the lost.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Why pray? (part 2) 

Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) 

            We pray because we need the breath of God.

            When the human race tries to put their plans into practice and to 'fix' what they see as wrong – it is often disastrous. A brief look at history will confirm that. It often comes down, not just to 'the rich and the poor', but to the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. It has been this way as long has humankind has inhabited the earth. Go a level deeper and you will find pride (the original sin of Lucifer that cost him heaven and God's presence); and, that pride is now resident in the fallen sons and daughters of men. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man...” (Mere Christianity). Even greater pride, are the (usually) men (but, women too) who believe that the hand of the judgement of God rests with them. We have seen it in history in Christians and we see it in our own day in ISIS, and the like – applying what they believe to be God's righteous judgements – and, to those looking on, we see only ugly, dark and sin-filled fallen human nature.

            We need the breath of God to change all this and protect us from it. The Christian Church needs to pray until the very breath of heaven fills our hearts, thoughts, lives and judgements, until our lives and Churches are 'sweet' with the fragrance of heaven; until visitors walking into our homes and Churches, or meeting us in a workplace situation will know that we live and move in the presence of God – without us having to speak a word. Prayer brings this: we open our hearts in prayer to find our Jesus – our Best Beloved – and, when we find Him in our spirit, we linger there and worship Him, simply beholding Him and letting His sweet fragrance and presence saturate us. Every aspect of life can be transformed by the touch of His breath.

            But, you may reply, “I am a working mother with young children, how can I possibly do this?” Or a busy student? Or an overworked father, holding down two or three jobs to support the family? There is a way! Let me explain...

            You must train your spirit to worship even when you are asleep or busy. Your spirit never sleeps (it doesn't need to). When you're working, or looking after children, or whatever it is you do, in the split second gap you get between one task and the next – even just the time to take a breath, pray something like, “Lord, I love You!”, or, “Lord, I praise and worship You!” Keep doing that, day after day and one lovely day you will turn in the same way to bring a second's worship to God in your heart and you will have the delightful experience of finding your spirit is already in worship! You can wake up in the morning with a living joy in your heart because your spirit has been in that communion with God all night, while you were asleep. It's possible. It's real. It's wonderful. How else could the New Testament tell us to “Pray without ceasing.” (1Thess 5:17).

Put it to the test. It's life-changing.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Romans 3 v 10..."None is righteous, no, not one"

I wonder if you ever feel that you're not good enough? Of course you do, every body does. Even when we come to God, we feel we're not good enough, and guess what?....we're not, never were and never will be. The bible tells us that none of us is worthy, not one, and God's word never changes. But His word also tells us that Jesus paid the price for our unworthiness, for our not-good-enough-ness and when Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross, it was never that we would be good enough but that His blood is God's grace that covers our unworthiness and we are made worthy by Christ, not by anything we ourselves have done, will do or could ever do. 

This year instead of reading the bible in a year, I am listening to it. And believe me, if you ever feel you're not good enough, read or listen to the book of Genesis. Great men of God but oh my goodness what even greater flaws! If God can use them, He can use you. We need to look beyond our faults, our failings and look to the God of the patriarchs, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who promised deliverance to the captives, the God who promised a Messiah and as we look at the cross we see all His promises fulfilled in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ....don't look down, down look inward.....look upward, for it's only as we look at the cross, embrace the cross, ask forgiveness for all our transgressions that God looks upon us, not our unworthiness, but the worthiness of Christ in us.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Why pray? (Part 1)

            The short answer is we are told to by Jesus himself to pray.

            However, understanding 'Why?' is definitely a help in pursuing prayer. Well, in as much as we can understand it, that is. We're not told everything – and, even what we are told has depths which we may, or may not come to understand, throughout our Christian lives.            

            Could God accomplish everything He wants to on earth without us praying? Of course, He could! But, He has decided (and, we don't know why) to involve His Church in the action of heaven upon earth. It's a mystery – and one I can't explain – other than to say I believe that it's in His great love that He has chosen to make us into channels of asking (for that's, at least, part of what prayer is) and, sometimes (though not always), channels of receiving the answers to our prayers.        

            The Old Testament tells us, “Call upon me and I will answer you and tell you great and hidden things you have not known.” (Jer 33:3 NRSV). Here is the first (incredible) clue as to what prayer is about – the promise that if we call upon God, He will answer us! It's a spiritual truth, an eternal law. It can't be changed. Let us be greatly encouraged and put this to the test – call upon Him today – God has promised to answer you.

            The second part of that promise (in Jer 33:3) is a gift to us in addition to the promise God made to us, “I...will tell you great and hidden things you have not known.” When you pray, you get to know more of the personality of God! That's the truth – and everyone who has made even an attempt to pray will tell you that God drew near, or they 'saw something in the spirit' or even that their mind became clearer about a certain issue. God draws near us in prayer. Yes, we might have to apply ourselves over a period of time (“Seek and ye shall find” Matt 7:7 [italics mine]), but God will come, as He has promised.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 

1 Samuel 16 part of verse 7   "People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Do you ever feel you’ll never make it, you’ve made a mess of things – again?God doesn’t see us like that! He doesn’t say, “Oh, she’s done it again.  She’ll never be any use”

We put people into pigeon holes, and judge from their words and actions what kind of person they are and what they are capable of. But God does not see us like that.  He does not judge as we do.  It’s as if our past does not exist before Him. He forgives, takes us from our present selves, and never stops seeing what we can become in Him.  He looks way down the corridor of the future and knows what He can make of us, filled with the light of His Son. He is the God of the present, of encouragement, of infinite love and possibilities. He has a plan for each of us, and will spend many patient years changing us, for He sees something in us that was worth sending His son to die for.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Deuteronomy 6 v 3 (first part)

"Listen closely Israel and be careful to obey. Then all will go well with you......"

As I read this verse, there were words which I felt were key words in the passage, such as 'listen', 'obey', 'then'.

Some promises of God are totally and completely unconditional. He says he is going to do something and it is done. However there are other promises that are conditional which means in order for the promise to be outworked, we have to play our part too. This promise in Deuteronomy 6 v 3 is one of those conditional promises. So, what did the children of Israel have to do in order for the promise to be outworked.....

Firstly, they had to listen. And by listen, I don't mean hearing something, hearing a voice, hearing words, for in truth, you can hear without listening. No, they had to listen, really listen to what God was saying then to them. They had to put aside all distractions, get before God and in the silence of their own heart really listen.

Having listened and having heard the voice of God they had to move forward and obey the voice that spoke to them. It was no good to have listened for that voice, heard Him speak and then walk away and do nothing about it. Their hearts had to be changed, their lives had to be transformed and they had to walk in obedience to what God was telling them to do.

Having listened and having obeyed, then (and only then) would things go well for them in the land that God was bringing them into.  If those conditions weren't met then the promise could not be fulfilled. And so it is in our own lives too. There are promises that God makes to us, some unconditional and some conditional. For those conditional promises to be outworked, we need to do the same as the children of Israel were instructed to do many years ago. We too must listen and obey and once the conditions are met, God will move to fulfil the promises He has made to you and me.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


1 John ,1:9. 'But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness' 

It doesn't matter if you have committed the most heinous crime, God can forgive. The only requirement is repentance, then the blood of Christ can wash clean. It is known and unrepented sin which creates the barrier. 
No one is perfect. We all have faults, but God can and does overlook them, if our hearts are in the right place, for He is not expecting us to be perfect. He is expecting us to trust Him to change us and to present us faultless before His father
He sees our imperfections, but because when he looks on us he see Christ, Christ covers all our sins, he has opened the way for us to have unbroken communion with Him!
So there is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans, 8:1)
 


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Work.....while it is day,the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

In Scotland, we have a rich and deep spiritual past. Without effort, I think of St Ninian in Whithorn, Galloway, probably building the first Church in the land, his Candida Casa, or White House in the 5th century, on the shores of the Solway. After Ninian, came St Columba of Iona, then skipping forward a thousand years, there is Samuel Rutherford of Anwoth, Alexander Peden (Peden, “the Prophet”) and the thousands of his contemporaries - those Covenanters who gave their lives at the edge of the king's sword, or on the hangman's gallows for allegiance to Jesus Christ in the 1600s. Into the 19th century, there was William Chalmers Burns of Kilsyth (later missionary to China) and, Robert Murray McCheyne, of Dundee, who is said to have affected a generation in Scotland for Christ during his brief 29 years on this earth. A wonderful heritage – and those are only a few of the many, many giants of prayer and faith who held high the banner of the Lord Jesus Christ and proclaimed forgiveness from sin and new life in Christ - in this land and far beyond.

So, you may ask, “Where are they now?” An unnecessary question, we all know, because each and every on of them is dead. Long gone. They had their day, they committed themselves to the cause of Jesus Christ, they lived out their lives and now they are gone. Gone from this land and from the world. Their day is done.

So, what now? Who is to stand against the onslaught of evil in this land? Who will pray against the powers of darkness and sin entrapping our young and old alike? Who will pick up the banner for Jesus Christ now in our day? Who will take the gospel to the lost? Who will weep in prayer for the souls swept away to hell day by day and year by year? Jesus said, “Work....while it is yet day, for the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4). This is our day. This is our moment. This is our generation. We are the Church of Jesus Christ in Scotland today! If we won't pray, who will? If we won't speak for Jesus, who will? If we won't work the works of righteousness in our day, who will?

Dear friends, seek the Lord while He may be found (Is 55:6). Call upon Him and He will answer (cf. Jer 33:3)! Be the fire in the Church today. Be the one who seeks the Lord, Be the intercessor who cries to God and weeps for lost souls until the fire from heaven falls in this generation!


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


They serve at a sanctuary [tabernacle] which is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.”

(Heb 8:5)

There is something very special about the Tabernacle (the place of worship, where, we are told that the presence of God resided with the Hebrew people in the Old Testament). Moses was told to build the tabernacle exactly as God had shown to him in a revelation. The book of Hebrews, in the New Testament,  enlightens us further explaining that the tabernacle was a “copy and shadow” of that which is in heaven. Something of the heavenly structure of worship was represented in that earthly tabernacle. We don't know what or how the structure mirrored heaven, but we do know that it was a most holy place containing the very presence of God. The tabernacle was a place that could only be entered after ritual cleansing and, the inner 'most holy place', could only be entered by the high priest - and that only happened once a year. Incredibly holy – no sin could enter there.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them...”

(Rev 21:3)

 In the book of Revelation, John sees the tabernacle - that inner dwelling of God - being with and inmen (mankind). The tabernacle, as described in the Old Testament and the New Testaments, explains, as we have seen,  the fact of the very presence of a holy God dwelling there. It was very holy! Utterly holy! No impure, sinful or unclean thing could ever enter there. God's plan is that the hearts men, women, boys and girls become that tabernacle – being the place of residence of the very God of the universe. That is so far beyond our understanding we can only imagine or get a tiny glimpse of now. And yet, in the coming of the indwelling Holy Spirit at Pentecost God began that process – and through holy living, His revelation and presence reside more and more within us. 

Finally, if we are being transformed into the very tabernacle of God, sin must have no place in us! If no sin or defilement could enter Moses' tabernacle, likewise nothing spiritually dark, sinful or sexually unclean must be allowed to contaminate us. We must be vigilant! Drive out and avoid anything sinful, or God will not reside there. And, if we do sin, let us quickly throw ourselves at the Cross of Jesus Christ in repentance of our sin and to receive cleansing. We are called to be children of God – Oh, that we should appreciate what a holy calling that is! Bless His Name.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


1 Corinthians 3 v 11.....For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ

A number of years ago I watched as a new house was built near to where we were living. It was built on the site of an old shed which had been demolished, the debris swept away and then the building began. They started by laying a large concrete surface then built the house on it. I was a bit puzzled. I'm not an expert at building but one thing I do know is that you've got to get the foundations right....if you don't get this right then you may as well not start building. There just didn't seem to be any foundations to this house! About a year later, cracks began to appear on the walls, the house had to be knocked down and the work started all over again. This time there were diggers, pile drivers, you name it, they were on that site. Why hadn't they done that at the beginning? I will never know. But this I do know, the foundations need to be sound, they need to be solid otherwise when you start to buildthe structure will be unsteady and will eventually collapse. In life, our only sure foundation is Jesus Christ. If we use as our foundation anything else (husband, wife, family, money, career) then sooner or later the foundation will collapse (let us down) and everything we built upon will come crashing down. Christ is our solid, unmovable, unchangeable foundation. Build your life on Him and make him your sure foundation.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. Psalm 40 v1

 

Those two words 'waited' and 'patiently' aren't very often seen together. The fact of the matter is, very few of us wait patiently for anything - ever! Sometimes we wait, and sometimes we are patient but very rarely do both occur at the same time. Our waiting is usually done with drumming fingers, stomping feet, yelling, kicking, sometimes screaming, exasperated that whatever we are waiting for should have come/happened by now and why am I having to wait? In the 21st century, we tend to be a very impatient people, expecting everything 'now', and having to wait can seem a very alien concept.

 There is a grace in waiting, and waiting patiently. It is a gracious spirit that waits patiently for God to help us, to answer us, to turn to us and hear our cry. It takes trust to wait patiently, knowing that His timing is perfect and He will indeed move on our behalf, but on His time and on His terms. The psalmist surely had both a gracious spirit and trust in God when he penned those words so many years ago. But they are as relevant to us today as they were when they were first written. We need to learn what it means to wait patiently. There is an expectation in our spirit when we wait patiently, we know that God has heard us and He is going to move at the right moment on our behalf and all will be well.

Let us allow God to train us to wait patiently, and let's not miss out  through our own impatience, on anything God would do for us.


The Thought for the Week this week is written by Eric Wylie

by Susie Jean Sharkey


Acts 28:30-31  "For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!"

The fact that Paul was able to welcome all who visited him suggests that they did not come in their thousands.

Could you imagine it? If the apostle Paul lived in our city, I am sure we would all be crowding around his house, wanting to hear his stories, or a word from God, or perhaps to receive healing from this man of God. Maybe the more mature in Christ would be there to serve and support him. But in Rome, it would appear that the crowds stayed away. Perhaps they didn't appreciate the opportunity that they had.

I wonder if we don't make full use of the opportunities that we have. There are wonderful men and women of God that live among us; Those that have perhaps found God more fully than we have. It is good to be among them in the church services but, are we missing opportunities to receive from them? I know that I can find quite difficult to open conversations with people, and that it holds me back more than it should but, remember that Paul towards the end felt isolated and forsaken. It's not just about receiving, sometimes even the greatest men and women of God could do with company and encouragement. I will be very upset if, by the end, I haven't been able to express the esteem, appreciation and affection that I have for them.

I remember how I loved to sit with Mr Black in the bookshop, and hear things that were never said from the pulpit: Sometimes great stories and personal experiences from his life, sometimes a word of advice or encouragement specifically for me. They were great moments but, the best moments were the times when he needed me to run an errand, or give him a lift. He blessed me deeply but, I got to bless him a little too.

There are those in our midst who would welcome all who come to see them.

 

 


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


"but if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."  (1 John,1:9) 

I do not have a very logical mind, as my husband often reminds me!  But sometimes I start with a thought and others seem to build themselves round it, and it ends up making sense – to me anyway.  I hope it will to you too!

I had been thinking recently about the fact that we were created in God’s image.  I don’t know how the angels came about, but they were obviously at some point able to be corrupted (Isaiah, 14:12: Luke, 10:18)

Perhaps God wanted to test us to see if we also could be corrupted.  If we had passed the test we would have remained in His image.   He gave us free will, but we made the wrong choice.  It was a very real choice as He allowed the ensuing consequences of our failure, that  in our physical form corruption took hold and Satan is now the ruler of this world (althoughonly as long as God allows it). 

But God had a backup plan all along! 

When we are born again we receive His incorruptible nature.  It becomes part of us.  But in this life we also still have the corruptible part.  So when, despite our good intentions, we sin (1 John,1:8 . If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.), He knows our nature (Hebrews,4:15 . This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.), and if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  (1 John,1:9) 

We should not allow ourselves to enter into condemnation, but Instead rejoice that we have within us by the new birth that incorruptible nature of Christ (Romans,6:14), who overcame sin in His body on the cross.

And as redeemed hearts pour out praise and worship to Him, and Spirit led intercession for others, could it be that something of that eternal realm is transmitted into this corrupt world?


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


“Anyone who eats of my flesh and drinks of my blood remains in me, and I in him.” John 6:56

 Feeling somewhat lacking in Vitamin D after a cold grey summer, we took a last minute holiday to Tuscany with the intention to colour our skin from extreme white to pale milky coffee while reminding ourselves what the world looks like when you don’t have to run between pelting rain. It’s so easy to forget that there is a part of the world (i.e. anywhere outside Scotland) where the sky is a deep blue and people go places without raincoats or fleeces. As it happened, Italy was actually experiencing one of the worst droughts and heatwaves for a decade. The temperatures were usually at least mid 30s at lunchtime, often higher. Indeed one day I cautiously stepped into the car and saw the gauge reading 44c. Had I left a chicken in there, it would have been done to perfection. So we quickly learnt to take a nice drive in the middle of each day, viewing the countryside and coincidentally enjoying the lovely air conditioning, which is why one day we found ourselves in a lovely spa town and the foot of the Tuscan hills.

 I say lovely but truth be told, it was mainly plain, modern and unexciting. We parked the car and tentatively stepped out into the heat to explore in the hopes of finding a gelateria. It doesn’t take long in those temperatures to feel hot and sweaty and we were at the point of giving up when we came across a park which had one of the spas that the town has been famed for since roman times. In the middle of the park stood a huge imperialistic looking building from the early 1900s with a grand ornate entrance. Inside, the structure was made up of colonnaded high vaulted ceilings with a large courtyard in the centre. The courtyard was open to the sky and only had white canopies for shade while the sides of the building were on the whole open to the gardens beyond while the floor was a shiny marble. The overall sensation of the place was one of peacefulness with cool shades, colour and light. With every step came a glimpse through the sturdy columns towards trees, fauna and fountains. As if this wasn’t enough, one area had rows and rows of large basins, each with large taps from which flowed cool refreshing mineral waters to drink from. It was all a most tranquil and relaxing setting, like a temple or oasis. 

Now we can’t always run off to Italy or some such place every time the weather is gloomy or things at work are rather stressful, and we certainly don’t live in the midst of a natural drought. However, there are times when we do need a place of calm, of refreshing, strengthening, and it’s not always easy to physically step away and take a deep breath but we must never forget that we have that place within us. He is Christ, and He dwells within. This is the place that our spirits ought to be no matter where we are for in Christ we find the cool from the heat of the day, the shade from the harsh realities of a busy life, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the refreshing living waters that flow from the cross. Jesus is the temple in which we are at peace and if we step outside, even for a moment, we are burned by the things of this world that are so intense and chaotic. Remain in Him and He shall certainly remain in us, keeping us safe through the heat of the day.


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

by Susie Jean Sharkey


 

“Choose this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:14,15)

Choices

    We make choices every hour of every day of our lives. Some choices are of relatively little importance, although they have their moment of glory, for example,  if we’re choosing an item from a lunch menu, or choosing a new outfit in a shop, etc., it will be important for the moment, but in the big scheme of things these choices are of minimal or little importance and may quickly be forgotten.

    Some choices are vastly more important: our education, our careers, relationships and marriage, where to live, etc. These choices affect the direction and the content of our lives and we take these a lot more seriously, or we should do.

    However, when we discover that there is an ‘afterlife’ or an eternity, we encounter decisions that cast every other decision we have ever made into the shade. The bible teaches us, “Choose this day whom you will serve!” (Joshua 24:14,15) and, as we read the bible, we discover a loving, righteous, yet compassionate and forgiving God, who would put to rights within us - through faith in Jesus - the things that have gone wrong (sometimes very wrong), through the incoming of sin (known to Christians as the Fall of Man). But, we must make a conscious choice to follow God - we must choose His will for our lives, or we can choose not to follow God and in doing that, choose our own way instead - keeping our sin and ignoring the invitation that is given to us from God. It’s not just a doctrine. Plenty of evidence exists or lives changed by choosing to follow God.

    God has given us ‘free will’, which turns out to be the most wonderful as well as the most awful gift. We can literally choose our eternity. We’ve never faced a choice like it.

Over to you. Your choice.