Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.' Psalm 34:18

I received bad news recently concerning the health of two members of my church. When reading my bible I came across this verse and it brought much comfort. Perhaps it will help someone else this week.

'The Lord is close to the brokenhearted'.  It's quite a statement to make! He is close when we are sad, when we are majorly upset by something but we still need to turn and find Him there. We can continue in our grief or turn and lean on His shoulder and find the warmth of His comfort, the living, throbbing, vital presence of God.

'He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.'

This does not always mean He will change the circumstances but He will rescue us from being completely overwhelmed by them. When our spirits are crushed beyond measure, when we feel we cannot take anymore, then He will lift us out of the darkness that surrounds us.

How often have we found it so? In difficult circumstances we have found to our surprise a sudden calm or strength to do the right thing; in bereavement a peace that passes understanding; in trouble a joy that floods our souls.

Let us trust Him for what is ahead of us. Our God is able not only to carry us through difficult circumstances but He is able to bear our loved ones into His presence.

Let us learn to lean our anxious hearts upon Him and to hear the whisper of His command:

“Quiet! Be still!”

Then we read:

'Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.'

Mark 4:39


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 'Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”' John 21:12

First of all a belated but very Happy Easter to you. I hope you had a peaceful and joyful weekend.

I don't know about you but I'm pretty tired after a fairly action-packed Easter conference at our church this weekend.

This morning I'm just appreciating the peace and quiet of it all being over and reflecting on the wonderful times we had together.

It made me think of the disciples and the rollercoaster emotional  experience they had witnessing first the death and then the resurrection of our Lord. They must have been emotionally exhausted. It's no wonder that Peter decided to do something very plain and ordinary and go back to work after it all.

Our Lord Jesus must have known how they were all feeling. Here He is, in a very ordinary situation, making them breakfast on the beach. How nice! How amazing that Christ, who rose from the dead, should be cooking breakfast for them.

It tells me that even when the excitement is over, yes even after a fantastic baptismal service with 16 candidates going through the waters, our Lord is in the ordinary things of life, like making breakfast. It's actually a relief to know this because, no matter who we are, we can't live 'up there' all the time. We've all got to come back down to earth to everyday realities and get on with life; but the joy for us is that, although these moments of elation pass, Christ will still be there with us in the ordinary things of everyday life.

So for this Easter Monday as you hopefully relax and unwind let Christ be with you in all your basic everyday affairs. This way we will learn to maintain our peace and joy and He will strengthen us for all the excitements of tomorrow.

'Remain in me, as I also remain in you.' John 15:4


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'This body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn - conflicts on the outside, fears within.' 2 Corinth 7:5

In contrast to last week's thought here is one where Paul finds no rest; he was harassed at every turn.

I found this word peculiarly comforting although I personally prefer last week's thought! If Paul could be harassed at every turn then it wasn't wrong for me to feel the same. Paul even describes the harassments. Some conflicts are on the outside such as the circumstances of life, whilst other conflicts are coming from within, his feelings, in this case fear.

I suddenly felt very comforted to know that if Paul was suffering from all these mixed emotions in the middle of pioneering a work for God then it was okay for me to feel the same.

At the end of the day it's not what we feel that matters but what we are and what we do. The bible teaches us to hold fast to our faith and here's the perfect example of one who did that despite all these conflicts.

The next verse describes a change:

'But God who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.' V6

Our Lord will never allow circumstances to get too much for us. He will provide and in this instance Titus came bringing encouragement to Paul.

Perhaps you're suffering from the inner and outer conflicts that Paul described. God will send you help, the encouragement you need to strengthen you.

Or perhaps today, you are Titus; the encourager, one one who brings comfort to another.

Whichever one you are today, do it to the best of your ability. Know that God, who cares for us, will provide what we need to either give to another or to endure until light dawns.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'He lets me rest in green meadows;' Psalm 23:2

I believe there is a place in heaven just like this. Why, because I've been there!

A bold statement to make but a true one. Once in prayer Jesus took me there. It was the most delightful, restful paradise I could possibly describe. A place where every burden I had was laid down; every hurt I had received was gone; every troubling thought was put to rest - they didn't belong to me anymore.

The surroundings were perfect, they matched the beauty and restfulness of that inner moment; lush green grass, wide open fields, perfect tranquility and total safety and security. There couldn't have been a more beautiful place. A bit like a perfect moment on holiday when even for a few minutes every care and stress has  completely gone.

It's available to all of us in this life not just the next. That moment of stillness when every care can be laid aside and your spirit is totally relaxed. The moment when you can truly feed on Christ. The next verse says:

'He renews my strength.' Psalm 23:3

This is what happens here. Our strength is renewed as if it were given to us for the first time.

Why do so many Christians go around so tired, weary, feeling as if they are fighting all day long? Is it because they  don't know there is such a place to renew their strength?

Take time out this week to meditate on these two half verses. Don't pray about them, just think about them, let them sink deep into your soul until you get that overwhelming feeling that He is leading YOU into those green meadows, those rolling hills with wide open spaces and let your soul soak up His strength and anointing once again.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'But Jonathan had not heard his father’s command, and he dipped the end of his stick into a piece of honeycomb and ate the honey. After he had eaten it, he felt refreshed.' 1 Samuel 14:27

A command had gone out from King Saul that no one was to eat until the enemy was defeated.

1 Samuel 14:24 Now the men of Israel were pressed to exhaustion that day, because Saul had placed them under an oath, saying, “Let a curse fall on anyone who eats before evening—before I have full revenge on my enemies.” So no one ate anything all day.'

It is a foolish thing for any leader in any field to press people until they are exhausted. King Saul had done that foolish thing. The soldiers saw honeycomb lying on the ground and were too afraid to eat despite the fact they were tired and hungry. Jonathon, King Saul's son, broke the King's command unwittingly. He hadn't heard it and discovered how refreshed he felt after eating the honey.

Thankfully our King doesn't make these kind of demands on us. He knows the battle is long and fierce and He knows His people need sustenance. He provides honey on the ground for us that we might be refreshed. Our King doesn't command a fast; instead He commands we eat of the living bread that came down from heaven or the manna that fell during the night. He knows we need sustenance like Elijah who was fed by the ravens as he sat by the brook.

Have you grown weary and deep down tired? You need to find honey on the ground. God will provide. Go your way this day, and watch out for the moments of quiet when your spirit can drink in of His presence and strength. There will be pockets of them for each one of us throughout our days.  He knows what we need. We just have to be careful enough to find them.


Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 

'The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.' Psalm 115:14

 

Sometimes it's good to meditate on the positive promises of God to help build one's faith and confidence in Him.

Over the years I've watched the hand of God at work; heard the whisper of His voice; understood His plans and then watched the fulfilment of them either in my own life, in another or within the church. It's been a privilege to stand on the 'wall' and watch the Spirit of God move.

As I looked round last night at our fairly full church service I couldn't help reflecting on His past promises and felt grateful for everything He has done.

There was a day when I felt led by the Spirit to pray He would establish works of God in various towns across our county . To date we see four meetings running simultaneously across North Lanarkshire. God is with us!

And yet it's not a time to be resting on our laurels (whatever that means!) but rather to continue to pray and watch on the 'wall' for the further action of God.

Recently, He gave me the above verse. It is His will that the work of God will grow. He will continue to bless us and increase our number. Not only will the work grow under my care but my children will be used to bring others into the church.

When a farmer goes forth to harvest his crops, he doesn't do it with a heavy heart, but with the knowledge that his work will be prosperous. Let us also go forth into the harvest fields, knowing that God has given us such a promise, and He will fulfil it. We will come home with our sheaves. He will increase us more and more.

Meditate on this promise. Let your heart be encouraged and go forward in the work of God with faith, enthusiasm and strength knowing God is with you to bless you.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground at Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named that place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.' Judges 15:19

 

In Scotland it's not something we appreciate, the idea of being thirsty and not being able to get a drink. We must be one of the most fortunate countries in the world with some of the best drinking water available whenever we want it. We don't appreciate what it must be like to be faint or need revived with a drink of cool, clear water.

 

However I think many of us appreciate what it is to find our spirits thirsty. We come home from work tired, sometimes exhausted, only to start on the next set of jobs, making the tea, seeing to the family etc. By the time we've sat down in an evening we're feeling pretty done in.

 

In this story, Samson the mighty warrior of God, had fought long and hard. He too was exhausted and needed revived. One long drink from the hollow in the ground revived him again.

 

It depicts our spiritual life. We grow tired and weary. Sometimes there isn't a drink of the water of life to hand. Like Samson we have to cry out to God for that refreshing touch. He will revive us again.

 

This weekend, I had the privilege of leading a gentleman to Christ. He came to our Sunday morning service and was asking questions about parts of the service. I discovered he had been seeking to find Christ for many years and had never found Him despite, visiting lots of different churches and attending many services. He didn't know he could be saved. He didn't know all he had to do was to come to Christ and seek forgiveness from past sin, accept Him into his life and begin to walk afresh. When he realised this was available for him he wanted prayer. How he wanted prayer! He got a lovely touch from God. At the end of our prayer together he said he felt whiter than the snow! Isn't that lovely? What could be nicer than a person so forgiven and restored they feel revived with new life. This gentleman had come to the well and had a wonderful drink of the water of life.

 

That water is available to each one of us. It reaches into the deeps within us and brings us peace, cleansing and reviving again. Make sure you take some time out to come to the well to drink deep and long today so that your tired and weary spirit might indeed be revived.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him.' Hosea 11:4

I have recently been meditating on the kindness of God. There are lots of verses that describe His kindness in different situations but I particularly love this verse; the drawing power of God's kindness.

We all love when someone is kind to us. We love the little kindnesses that tell us someone is thinking about us and loves us. Who doesn't?

Our Lord shows His kindness to us. He remembers that we are but human beings who fail Him continually and yet He leads us with ropes of kindness and love. Ropes that don't hurt us but are just enough to guide us, stop us wandering off the chosen path and more importantly keep us close to Him. We read in Psalm 23:4

'Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.'

These ropes are like that. They comfort us because they reassure us of His presence.

And yet, these verses take us one step further. We come to a place where we no longer need the ropes of His kindness and love. We enter a new relationship with Christ where He stoops to gently lift the ropes from round our neck and instead He lovingly feeds us from His own hand.

We are no longer servants who need the rope of His kindness but we have become His trusted companions.

John 15:15: I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

We read Christ stooped: He stooped when He became flesh and lived amongst us; He stooped when He washed the feet of His own and even more so when He died on the Cross; He stooped to bring us the bread from heaven to feed us tenderly from His own hand.

Let us be obedient children and respond to His great kindness today by not rebelling or closing down to His love but rather be as children who have come to trust the gentle hand that feeds us.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Treasure in jars of clay.' 2 Corinth 4:7

'Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.' 2 Corinth 4:16

There is so much emphasis put on healthy living, good diet and exercise these days that we can almost lose sight of the importance of the renewal of the inner life. This is even more important as it is our inner life that invigorates our outer bodies. If we lose the inner renewal of our mind and spirit we lose the joy of living. We might be able to slow down the decaying process of our bodies but how much more important it is to tune into the energies of the eternal Godhead and renew the treasure within our jar of clay.

Renewed by the Spirit of God; renewed daily by this 'all-surpassing power'. A power that goes beyond all your expectations. A power within you to overcome, to have joy when you're hard pressed, perplexed or persecuted. Joy within because you are renewed daily within your spirit.

Moses was so renewed within that his face shone. He was made radiant! He found food for his soul in the presence of God. We must feed our soul as well as our natural bodies. If you eat rubbish you'll be unhealthy. If you feed on spiritual rubbish you'll be unhealthy spiritually but if you feed on Christ you'll achieve an eternal glory.

How do we do this? By fixing our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal. (V18)

Therefore take care of the treasure within you. It is more important than life itself. May you find your spirit, soul and mind renewed daily by His presence as you fix your eyes on things eternal. God bless.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Thy kingdom come.' Matt 6:10

These are words that we have heard so often before and yet do we understand the depth of their meaning?

'Thy kingdom come' means basically that we are looking for Christ to come and reign. When a king takes over a kingdom he expects that nation to follow his rules and give their loyalty to him. In the same way as we pray 'thy kingdom come' we are accepting the kingship of Christ, His laws and rules and we are expected to give our loyalty and allegiance to Him. I love the thought of praying 'thy kingdom come' in my home, in my life, in my job, in my classroom and wherever I go. I love the thought of the kingdom of God being all round me everywhere. Let heaven come on earth.  Let there be peace, light, love and liberty in our hearts as we choose to allow the kingdom of God to be established in our lives. Let the presence of God within that kingdom affect every member of my household, every colleague I work with in fact everyone I meet. That kingdom is full of light. You can't help but feel happiness when it's around you. It's like heaven on earth.

When the kingdom of God comes within us, our hearts are filled with all forms of godliness. All the things we want to do, but can't do by ourselves, we can when the kingdom has come. We find new strength, new patience, new kindness new levels of tolerance in situations, new understanding, new wisdom in dealing with others and new thoughtfulness. It opens up our minds and hearts so we are no longer narrow and blinkered as if we were the only ones that were right. We are able to see things from other's points of view. We are able to do this because the kingdom has come within us and given us light. We no longer need to hang on to our tiny view point because now we can see from His.

When the kingdom is come we are made complete. Our searching is over for we have found our home in the well beloved of our souls, Jesus Christ.


Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 

'To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.'

Rev 2:7

Eating fruit from the tree of life in paradise sounds like the most idyllic holiday possible.

 

So often we save our pennies all through the bleak winter months in order to have that fortnight in the sun to relax and recharge our batteries. How often we do without, so that we can save up. We have a lovely time away but when we come home and return to work within a few days our holiday feelings have all disappeared.

 

One day we will be in the Paradise of God. It won't be for two weeks and then back to the grind, but for all eternity. One day we'll be in the warmth of His Son all the time. We'll no longer be tired or weary or stressed but content, happy, at home and relaxed and, more than this, full of praise to our God who has done all things well.

 

Meanwhile, in the same way we work hard for our holidays we must work hard for the kingdom of God. The Bible says:

 

'So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.' 2 Peter 1:10

 

I don't think the Christian should go round in life longing to die but I do think at the back of all our minds there should be that thought: one day I will be with Him. If I am victorious then I will be in Paradise. I will eat the most delicious ripe and juicy fruit from the tree of life. One day I will be on holiday forever and enjoy eternal rest! It's something we should look forward to. It can be the goal that drives us on when we are weary with well doing. It can be the joy we set before us when we battle with temptation. We work hard so that one day we can be at rest.

 

'So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.'  1 Peter 1:6


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles... so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 

2 Corinth 1:3,4,5

These are lovely phrases and expressions, the 'Father of compassion' and the 'God of all comforts'. I would like to take each one in turn.

The Father of compassion explains something of the character of God. Compassion didn't exist before Him. It is one of the traits of His personality, it flows from His essential being. Compassion cannot exist without God because it was born from His own heart. It is a lovely quality within an individual: a kindness, sympathy, understanding, tenderness and love. When you find someone with that quality you instinctively trust them knowing that you won't meet harshness or unkindness. All compassion flows from within the Father. He will never run out of it. It is one of His eternal qualities. Therefore we can put our trust in Him knowing that whatever difficulty we meet He will surround us with His compassion when we reach out for His help.

The God of all comforts is also a beautiful phrase which describes our Father perfectly. Again from his essential being there overflows a warmth, a presence that brings absolute and total comfort in every situation. When we are comforted we feel safe and secure. Circumstances may not have changed on the outside, but within we feel at peace and rest because He has comforted us with His overwhelming presence. Have you ever felt surrounded by the comfort of God? I tell you, you won't forget it! It pervades your whole body, making you feel totally secure and loved. This is our God.

More than this, all this is true of Christ. For the Bible tells us in Colossians 2:9: 'For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.'

The fullness of God is in Christ, therefore all compassion and comfort is within Christ also. 

If that were not enough for us the last part of my verses this morning bring another amazing fact:

'so also through Christ our comfort overflows.'

It is not enough that God the Father and Christ the Son are full of comfort and compassion, but that we can be too. As we learn to experience the compassion and kindness of God so we discover it becomes part of our own nature and overflows from us. Sometimes in the most difficult of situations we find wonderful compassion or kindness overflowing from our hearts to others when we know full well our own human heart would have run out of love long ago!

Therefore it's important that you find this wonderful compassion and comfort for yourself - not simply for yourself but so that you might fill the world with it.

 


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. Ecclesiastes 7:3

This seems a strange verse to use for Thought for the Week and an even stranger one to use for the front page of a website! Yet sometimes it's the unusual that catches our attention.

How can sadness be good for the heart? How can sorrow be better than laughter?

I suppose it depends on what we are laughing about doesn't it?

Life can be lived at all different levels. There are those who live only for today without thinking that the choices of today will affect their tomorrows. There are those who never get round to doing something about anything and they'll still be the same in 10 years time. There are those who spend their life worrying and there are those who just treat everything lightly and appear almost frivolous often leaving a trail of disaster or unhappiness behind them.

Sorrow often causes us to lean more heavily on God. It reveals unknown depths within us as we are forced to become more reliant on God than on our own strengths. It stops us living thoughtlessly or frivolously. It stops us living a shallow life. Instead sadness plumbs the depths within us, finding new abilities to depend on God therefore obtaining new resources and power in our lives.

During our time of sorrow we are often confused, upset and don't understand what God is doing but in later years we can look back with understanding and appreciate the changes that have come within us as a result of our sad times.

Whatever you're going through at the moment let us seek that our lives will not be shallow, worthless or meandering aimlessly as we try to serve God. Let God use your circumstances to plough your soul that there may be a richer harvest.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  James 1:5 NLT

I have been trying to help a friend this week deal with a very tricky problem.

My friend has been a good Christian for many years and has been confronted with a major problem. She wasn't sure what to do and asked me. The truth was, I wasn't sure what she should do either, and we both decided on the 'lesser of two evils' after consulting a third wise friend. Even in the midst of this situation my friend isn't sure she is doing the right thing but is praying for guidance and wisdom.

As I said I've known this person for many years; she is a sister in Christ to me, and I have had a lot of respect for her over the years, but all of a sudden, because of her new situation she has come right into my spiritual orbit in a way she has never been before. It's as if something of the care, compassion and love of God for her has touched me. I find that very encouraging and I hope she will too when she reads this! It's not an easy situation to deal with and one that will no doubt have cost her a great deal, although she's not told me that!

This verse struck me so powerfully as I thought of her situation and the number of difficult situations we face as Christians. Whether you're dealing with a personal problem, a difficult child, a marriage that's gone wrong or some difficulty at work or home always remember that our God wants us to ask for His help.

This verse tells us He is a generous God. He is waiting for you and your problem to come to Him. His heart is full of wisdom to impart to His people and He longs to guide us through every difficulty that we face. This word says He will not rebuke you for asking. Isn't that a lovely thought? I don't think He would mind even in our anxiety if we asked Him several times, over and over again.

How many times as Christians do we try to solve difficult problems on our own and normally make a hash of it? How often we forget to come to the One who is brimming over with goodness and wisdom, ready to guide us in every anxious moment. How surprised we are when we do ask and He answers! Again and again we our amazed at the interest our Heavenly Father has in the minutest detail of our lives.

So, today as you face this new day, remember to ask our most generous God for His abundant wisdom and grace for each new situation you meet.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?' Psalm 85:6

 

Reading recently about the Welsh Revival I read a quote that really struck me.

'Revival must be in your heart before it comes into the earth.'*

Many Christians would love to see revival. This is when the church comes alive with the power and presence of God; when routines are forgotten and people become God conscious rather than self conscious; when folks within the church are so affected by the presence of God it overflows into the community and there comes an awakening of souls and lives are added to the church. Sounds great doesn't it?

We read of it in Acts Chapter 2 when up to 3,000 souls were added to the church in one day!

Evan Roberts was a man deeply used of God in the Welsh Revival. He accomplished more in two years than any of us will do in a lifetime. The revival he led was based on 4 main points:

1. Confess all known sin

2. Search out all secret and doubtful things.

3. Confess the Lord Jesus openly.

4. Pledge your word that you will fully obey the Spirit.*

There is nothing new in this and yet it is constantly new as we use it to examine ourselves. So often within the church we talk about the move of God and yet we forget sometimes it's down to the basics if we want to make the heights.

The verse from Psalms asks for personal revival that we may rejoice in God. When we are backslidden our hearts grow cold and indifferent. When we are right with God our hearts rejoice; we come alive spiritually and feel the life of God throbbing within us.

This is what today's church needs! We need real life and energies not to plan great events or itineraries but to come alive and rejoice in Him.

Use these 4 points this week to examine your own spiritual life. Use them on a daily basis. If we do, we will be revived by the power and presence of God. Then, we will rejoice in Him and not only will we please our Lord but others will receive the overflow of blessing that is ours.

*God's Generals by Roberts Liardon.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.' Philippians 3:13-14

 

It's week 2 of 2017 and some of us who have been lucky enough to have had an extra few days off return to work today. The wind is howling outside and the rain battering off the window this morning and the whole idea of going outside isn't very appealing! It requires determination, as it speaks about in this verse, 'I press on...'

 

We were hearing about 'pressing on' last night at church. Graham was speaking about the choices we make and how they affect our lives. I concluded by telling a story of someone who recently got in touch with me who has lost her way spiritually and backslidden very badly. She was looking for the way back. I gave her some pointers. These might help all of us if we apply them. Here they are:

1. Spend 15-30 mins everyday reading the Bible and praying. By doing this we are 'pressing on.'

2. Confess all your past sin to God. Tell Him everything and ask for cleansing and forgiveness. That way you are 'forgetting the past.'

3. Turn away from everything you know is wrong. Stop committing sin! If in doubt don't do it. Change the way you live. By doing this you are 'looking forward to what lies ahead.'

4. Find a church to go to that helps you. Attend on a regular basis. I believe we all need church twice a week if not more. At least once at the weekend and once midweek to keep you topped up. That's all part of the 'pressing on.' There are times when all of us don't feel like going out, (even the minister!) especially after a hard days work and when the weather is bad!

5. Get yourself a good Christian book to read. There are hundreds of good books out there: teaching books, autobiographies and study guides. Find something that wets your appetite and helps to create a hunger for more of God. Hear how others have 'press(ed) on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.'

 

These are all basic choices we can make on a regular basis throughout the course of a week. Each one of them will help to brighten our spirits and draw us nearer to God. Each one will help to keep us on the right road when we feel inclined to be lazy and wander off.

 

Last week in Thought For the Week I spoke about reaching higher, wider levels in our spiritual lives. Well, here are some of the ways we can achieve that. Try it and you'll discover it makes a big difference.

 

I pray that His blessing will be on you this week and you'll forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead, by pressing on in your new commitments for 2017. God bless.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Each level was wider than the one below it ...  A stairway led up from the bottom level through the middle level to the top level. Ezekiel 41:7

 

It's the beginning of a New Year and with that comes the making of resolutions. Each year we try to better ourselves - lose a bit more weight, read a few more books, try some new recipes. It's good to have new goals or personal targets.

 

This verse from Ezekiel speaks of new levels. Each new level was wider than the one below it. It is a picture of spiritual growth. As we rise into higher levels of understanding or a fuller commitment to Christ, we come into a wider place. So often people think the Christian life is narrow and restrictive when in fact it's the complete opposite! The higher we climb the greater our freedom and confidence in Christ. In the Psalms David said:

 

'He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.' Psalm 18:19

 

David had found his way into that large place; a place of freedom and joy. He was no longer restricted by rules but God delighted in him.

 

The second part of the verse in Ezekiel speaks of a stairway that runs from the bottom level right to the top level. This is indicative of the Cross. The Cross of Christ is the stairway. It runs through all the levels of our faith; from the very beginner's level where we come to the Cross to find forgiveness for our sins and new life in Christ to the high peaks of spiritual revelation and mysticism in our later years. The Cross is in every level of our faith.

 

So, let's look at the picture this verse creates. Different levels are all connected by the stairway or Cross and each level grows wider the higher we climb.

 

Could we link our new year resolutions to these levels spiritually? Can we set ourselves to climb onto the next level of our faith; to enjoy the expanse and freedom of each new level in Christ and more importantly to maintain it throughout the year? Surely none of us want to go back or slide down to a narrower lower level but unfortunately we are sometimes foolish enough to do that. Let's be determined this year to climb higher and find ourselves enjoying our spiritual heritage in Christ more than we have ever done.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people." Luke 2:10

 

This word has been fulfilled. All over the world, in possibly every country, people celebrate with great joy at Christmas time. Even the unbeliever celebrates!

Think about it, there is nothing quite like it in our yearly calendar; nothing that brings warmth and happiness like Christmas. The season of good will where people give generously; where families come together and people generally put aside their differences to celebrate and be together. What happiness Christmas brings! Even as it was predicted by the angels on that starry night in the fields nearby Bethlehem.

As you continue to read through the story of the early Christians you come across this joy again and again.

Acts 8:'So there was great joy in that city.'

Here we have a whole city affected by sheer joy because of the works of God.

On another occasion we read:

Acts 15:31 'And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.'

People again are affected by the work of the Holy Spirit in the church. All through the church there was joy.

And so today, for you and I, let us also choose to experience something of that wonderful joy that is given to us, not only at Christmas time but all through the year. Let there be joy in our homes, joy in our streets, joy in our churches and joy in our cities. Let us choose to bring joy to as many as we can. Let us spread it about and share it with others. The greater our own belief the greater our joy, and the more satisfying and fulfilling will that joy be.

Let our hearts truly echo and our lives demonstrate that which the angels sang; 'great joy to all people.'

Matthew 5:16 'In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.'


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


'Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.' Luke 13:24

 

If we really want something worthwhile we need to work hard for it. That's what often makes it worthwhile.

 

The kingdom of God is no exception to that rule. Yes, we receive Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and faith; no man can be born again unless by the spirit of God. But if we truly want to enter the kingdom and become part of it we need to work hard.

 

I was thinking of the different people in the Christmas story. They all had to work hard too.

 

Mary and Joseph on their long journey to Bethlehem, finding nowhere to stay, having strange visitors from distant lands and then having to flee to Egypt before the child was more than two years old. Anna and Simeon in the temple had to work hard knowing the mind of God and watching for the promised Messiah. How long had Simeon waited; he knew he would see the Christ child before his eyes closed in death. The shepherds out working hard on night shift, suddenly encountering strange supernatural powers which frightened them. Why would the angel say 'Fear not...' if it were not so. They had to leave their flocks and seek out this small infant laid in a feeding trough for animals! And then there was theseeking wise men who searched the skies for this special event, who travelled perhaps thousands of miles to visit this child, who encountered an evil king en route and had to be warned and probably disturbed in their sleep not to go back to him.

 

Each one of these had to work hard - but what a reward! Owing to the fact of their watchfulness they experienced the greatest story ever told. Their story is mingled with the Christ child's, and now, billions of people down through the generations learn of their part in the story every year.

 

Yet more than this, they encountered that eternal light that entered the world. Though the world didn't understand it, they did. They came and worshipped because they understood this was God.

 

Sadly, we don't have the same opportunity they had. This wonderful historic event has passed but we have our own present day events. If we watch with carefulness we too will have opportunity to experience this true Christmas glory; the gift of God to men. We will be given opportunities to come and worship and if we are careful something of the awe, fear and wonder will break on us too.

 

Therefore 'work hard to enter' because many this Christmas will fail. They will fail to find the true glory and silence of Light that has shone into our lives through the birth of Jesus Christ.


Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld


 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.'

John 1:5

This is a spiritual fact! No matter how much darkness has come into the world; no matter how many other religions; no matter how much cruelty and bloodshed, nothing can extinguish the light Christ brought into the world that first Christmas.

 

How can such a small, insignificant baby born in a stable in a little village in Bethlehem have such a profound effect on the world? The reason being that He was and is the light from eternity. Nothing can ever put out that light.

 

'The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.' Isaiah 9:2

 

That light was not only in the infant child laid in a manger but He has shone His light into our lives too. Once we walked in sin and confusion, without understanding. We lived in deep darkness because we didn't know anything else.

 

Now we can understand. The light that shone in the Christ child that wonderful Christmas night shines on, giving to us understanding and illumination and the ability to choose light over darkness; righteousness over wrong; kindness instead of cruelty; forgiveness instead of bitterness and peace in place of strife.

 

Have confidence to let that light shine through you wherever you are. Let others feel the warmth of that all encompassing love that will draw them from their deep darkness to live in the light of the Son who came for them. Remember the light within you cannot be extinguished no matter the darkness. In fact, the deeper the darkness, the greater it will shine.

 

'But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.' 1 John 4:4