EASTER – the act of God’s holy love!
Thursday 1st to Saturday 10th April
It is easy for Easter to be presented as: ‘the Cross is the supreme expression of ‘God is love’ - and He loves us and He died to show His love’. But this view of God and His actions doesn’t cut it! God’s love has been expressed through the Cross – because God is holy! God is first and foremost holy and because of our sin, the relationship between God and us is broken. His holiness demands His wrath and His judgement of our sin. He cannot deny His own nature! We are helpless to repair the relationship! Easter is His solution! The good news is that because God is love and loves us, God has diverted His wrath to the One He sent to take our flesh, our sins and our death! He subjected His Son to be our substitute and to bear HIs wrath for all our sin - to satisfy His holiness. Jesus, God’s own son took human form, and the God/Man died the death we should die! Yes - God loves us all right!
Pray in response to God’s Easter action: Let’s take time to think of God’s holy love – and thank Him for loving us enough to pay the price of the only solution. Pray that we may love ourselves as He loved us – and pray to live a life of thanksgiving and of service to Him. Pray we will love others, all others, because He loved all of us. Pray that whatever the nature of our Easter celebrations, our families may also know the ‘holy love’ of God and experience the joy of His victory in the Cross and resurrection.
Pray for those for whom Easter will be especially difficult this year! Many families will be without loved ones taken away from them by COVID. Many will ask ‘Why?’ and look for help and hope. Pray many will find strength in the Easter message and turn to the ‘holy love’ of God for support and assurance.
Pray for our Church’s Special Easter Events and Services!
Sunday 28th March A den of robbers – Luke 19:45-48
Monday 29th March One denarius – Luke 20.1-26
Tuesday 30th March Two copper coins – Luke 20.27-21.4
Wednesday 31st March Thirty pieces of silver – Luke 21.5-38
Thursday 1st April The enormous cost – Luke 18.31-34, 22.14-22, 39-48
Friday 2nd April The price was paid – Luke 22.1-65
Saturday 3rd April A rich man’s tomb – Luke 22.66-23.56
Please watch or listen to the daily devotions prepared for Holy Week on our YouTube channel or on CD. Please pray for all these services and ministry sessions. Why not let your friends know? Or share the links on Facebook?
Behold the Lamb of God!
Sunday 11th to Saturday 17th April
‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes
away the sin of the world! John 1: 29 (NLT)
I watched a TV programme where whole village communities living high up in the mountains of Mexico, in Copper Valley, celebrated Harvest Thanksgiving by actively slaughtering a goat to say thank you for the harvest. All the villagers realised that one (the goat) must die for the many (the whole village) so that they could give thanks and look forward to next year’s harvest. There was a stage in our family, when grandchildren were at the dinner table and the meat was brought to the table, it was whispered to me, ‘Whatever you do, don’t mention the meat is a lamb roast!’ In our civilised nation we have lost sight that some animal of God’s creation sacrifices its life so that we may live! EASTER today is about Easter cards, bunnies, flowers, rolling eggs and lambs bouncing in the fields – but, whatever you do – ‘don’t mention the Lamb’!! ‘Behold the Lamb of God who bears away the sins of the world!’ Easter is about the Lamb of God dying for our sins, being our substitute, shedding His blood for us so that we might live and have eternal life! Let’s remember - The Lamb of God - Jesus died for the many!
Continue to give thanks for our salvation! When we pray, we know we cannot have fellowship with Him in our sin, so we come to Him through the One who took away our sin and gave us His ‘robes of righteousness’ so that God sees only Jesus righteousness in us!! So, let us use our privilege again and again – let us enter His presence and share time with God through his Easter gift!
Pray for the persecuted: We are free to express our Christian faith – but many millions of Christians are persecuted for their beliefs. The World Watch List indicates there were 4,761 Christians killed for faith related reasons last year and we should pray for those in countries where persecution is a constant threat. Perhaps you might read about one community where persecution for faith is rife and pray for them faithfully? Give thanks that politicians in the UK are more aware of this widespread persecution – pray that political actions may be taken to encourage all nations to guarantee religious freedom.
Pray for ‘the healing of the nations’: if ever there was a need for the nations to work together it is NOW! Pray that God will lead the politicians to work together for the rollout of vaccines to every nation and every part of our world. Pray the Easter message of selfless love and sacrifice may inspire the nations to serve each other. Pray for people to be prepared to sacrifice their own selfish pleasures and be prepared to be patient and postpone travel and leisure wherever possible. Pray for the poorer nations who have no vaccine and pray the rich countries may rise to the challenge and give to the needy.
Sunday 18th to Saturday 24th April
‘Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change.’ 1 Peter 1: 3,4 (NLT)
It has been striking to see every politician strive to offer hope that there is a way out of this pandemic. They are acutely aware of the human need for hope as the essential energising force for humanity and for our quality of life. Yet, there is an uncertainty about human promises that diminishes hope to ‘hoping!’ At the time of Lazarus’ death Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish.’ Jesus then carried out His promise – and raised Lazarus from the dead. Jesus was publicly killed on the Cross but was then publicly seen many times thereafter, before His ascension. Here is the certainty of hope that Jesus delivers!
Pray for our missionaries: Keith and Ida Waddell as they continue to serve in Zambia in their important roles in Education and Health. Give thanks for their faith and their determination to express it by sharing the Gospel and in serving the people. Pray for Joel and Fiona Hafvenstein who ask us to pray for: 1. Nepal's continuing struggles with the coronavirus pandemic. 2. For smooth government approvals for all of UMN's work. 3. For visas to be approved for all UMN expatriates, including us; 4. For Joel and the mission leadership team as they plan for 2021-22.
Pray for a vision of hope for our UK nations: As our political leaders promise to ‘build back better’ let’s pray for them that they may be able to deliver their promises and let’s pray for: 1. A better future; 2. A greener future; 3. A sustainable future; 4. A safer future; and 5. A fairer future.
Pray for a vision of hope for our Church of Scotland: In a time when congregations have been shrinking and when our churches have been closed by ‘Covid restrictions’, we have had opportunity to do things differently. As we open up again, we have an opportunity to reset the vision of what we will do and how and where we will do it. Pray for our Presbyteries that they may seek a vision of HOPE and find new, effective and efficient ways to be witnesses for the Gospel in each of our communities. Pray that people may seize opportunities to work together for the Gospel’s sake.
to pray for our children and young people. Many are troubled in mind and soul by the changed
circumstances. Pray for teenagers and young adults feeling cut off from
relationships and normal activities.
Give thanks for the return of education in our schools and pray for
teachers and pupils.
Reflections on the past year!
Sunday 25th to Friday 30th April
happy are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in
the Lord their God. He is the one who
made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. Psalm 146: 5,6 (NLT)
Reflection: The success of our scientists in delivering a vaccine so quickly is a truly wonderful reality for which we should thank them – and give thanks to God! Why God? Some would say we don’t need God, now that we know that scientists can do so much! Surely our society can go forward confident in its own ability to solve its own problems. We don’t need God!? O, yes we do! Our scientists can only do what they do, because of the way our universe and our world have been created and constructed by God. Because of the natural laws we can predict and alter the structures and the behaviours of the natural world - and deliver healing. Without these natural laws through creation, we would be helpless! The world is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made – and we have God to thank for it!
Pray for all those whose work and dedication over the past year have seen us through the difficult times: Give thanks ands pray for all those within the Health Services who have given so much of themselves to helping save lives, comfort the dying and support the bereaved. Many staff are exhausted and drained – and in need of renewal of their energies. Pray for those you know who need refreshing in mind and spirit. Pray for many who will cry out to God at this time – pray for their prayers to be answered. Give thanks for all the public and retail services that have continued in very difficult and demanding circumstances. Give thanks for those you know who have been working every day to keep us going. Let them know how much you appreciate them and that you are praying for them.
Prayers for our church leadership: Pray for Graham as he continues to provide rich ministry to us – and, we know to a much wider audience who are also appreciating his ministry online. It is not easy to pour out so many ministries without being able to engage in fellowship with the congregation. Pray also for Angela who also finds it difficult to provide wellbeing services with just a few to assist and with scope for only limited contact. However, with the help of some the team continue to engage with those most in need of a chat or friendly concern. Pray for God’s encouragement and enrichment of the support team distributing PrayerNet, Steeple News, Orders of Service, Life and Work – whilst also spending time on the doorstep keeping in touch with those alone at home. Pray especially for Pauline as she takes a break from her duties as Session Clerk in order to spend time with her dad, Noel. Pray for them as a family at this time. Pray too for Paul Timms who has kindly offered to deputise for Pauline.