Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Then the dragon took his stand on the shore beside the sea.’

Revelation 12:18

The dragon, who represents destruction and wrong, is taking his stand on the shore beside the sea. He has himself positioned and isn’t prepared to move.

Are we as Christians prepared to take our stand on the hill of Calvary beside the Cross? As the dragon represents destruction and wrong so we should stand for kindness and righteousness. Or does this thought make you feel afraid?

This is a spiritual battle and not a physical one. We are not called to fight the evil one in our own strength or take a stand against him on our own. In fact, it is impossible and foolish for anyone of us to take on the forces of darkness! We are not called to fight but to find ourselves hidden in the safety and security of the One who will fight for righteousness: The Lord of Hosts is His Name. Like a child who has a ride on their daddy’s back, who suddenly finds themselves taller, stronger and running faster than they could ever could do in their own strength, so the Lord of Hosts is to us. We can travel with Him, run with Him, catch the glory of His swiftness and power as we look on and feel courage because He is so close.

Our secret, then, is not to try and be big and brave in this warfare but to stay as close as we can to our Heavenly Father. Whether waking or sleeping He watches over us. The more we discover our weakness and limitations, the greater will be our ability to hide in Him. Others may look on and think we are brave, courageous Christians whilst in fact we feel the total opposite; like a small child who hides behind a strong parent.

‘I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side.’

Psalm 3:5-6

We will not be afraid of the dragon who has taken his stand on the shore beside the sea for we will lie down and sleep and be unafraid. We will trust in the One who watches over us during the night hours and in the day. Even though there be ten thousand dragons, we will still not be afraid for we choose to be that small child hidden behind and within our Father. He will deal with the dragon and the beast when it rises out of the sea!

‘Arise, O Lord! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!’  Psalm 3:7

This is our God! He is unafraid and will deal with all who stand against us. As a true father would protect His own child, so the Lord of Heaven’s armies will defend and protect us. He will not allow our battles to go on too long. He will never allow things to get to breaking point. He will deal with the enemy quickly and effectively.

‘Victory comes from you, O Lord. May you bless your people.’

Psalm 3:7-8

Then we will be blessed. When the dragon takes his stand, let us be comforted that blessing will come quickly.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armour and protection.’

Psalm 91:4

Last night at church, there came a delightful presence of God. We found ourselves waiting before Him in prayer and worship; all routines forgotten as we drew near to Him.  It’s so hard to describe His presence, but it was very comforting, reassuring and strengthening.

Towards the end of the service these words were used ‘He will cover you with His feathers.’  It felt like being in the very safety of God. All our troubles melted away and we were comforted by the softness and warmth of being hidden in Him.

Like many others, we’ve had our fair share of troubles. Life has been more than a little tempestuous at times, and there was a sense of drawing near to the One who protects His own.

This verse presents a lovely picture of being sheltered by His wing and covered with His feathers. Can you imagine being there? Absolutely protected from every unkind, cruel or nasty word or action. Totally close to the One who made you and understands you better than any other. Completely hidden from every stress factor and pressure. A place of utter delight.

The word says:

‘The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest.’

Isaiah 31:5

Our God is very real. Just as His word says, He will protect us as a mother bird protects her young. The true comfort of God is strengthening!

Christians grow weak because they don’t find their way into this hidden place often enough. We know the theory, but it’s the waiting that’s difficult! No one can bring down the presence of God. No one can dictate these special moments but we can be available to receive them when they come. 

Be aware that there may come moments of divine visitation during your church services or quiet times or even sometimes in the middle of a busy stressful day, when suddenly He is there. It might only be a breath, a wave of peace that passes over you but be ready to receive it with both hands. In that moment just stop, look up, take a deep breath and find His comforting strength around you. The very fact He is with you is often enough. It fills us with joy knowing our Lord is watching over us all the day long. May you find many strengthening moments today.

‘He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.’

Zephaniah 3:17

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.’  Psalm 101:2

A lovely word of the Psalmist for our souls for a bank holiday weekend.

I don’t know if you enjoy being at home; for me it’s a real treat! I love being at home in the quietness, knowing I’ve got a whole day and evening to myself. Time, not to be selfish and self centred, but an opportunity to be filled with integrity and to dwell in His eternal presence.

What does integrity mean? It means being upright, honest, fair minded, truthful and having a good character. It means being at peace within yourself, content with what you have in whatever situation you find yourself. It means having a clear open attitude towards God with no hidden motives or secret thoughts. Having integrity means your conscience is completely clear before God. This leads to a happy spirit and an overwhelming joy in life itself. We don’t need adventures or parties or even social media to cheer us: we have the very presence of God in our own homes.

This is the kernel of our personal walk with Christ; let Him be central in every situation that presents itself to us. We are not always in control of these situations but we can be in control of our emotions, thoughts and feelings. We can have an honest and upright view up to heaven if we put all things right and make our peace with God.

Look for integrity right into the depths of your personality. Let there be no deceitfulness, no lies within you, even towards yourself. Let Truth flood you. Look at yourself and at life through Christ’s eyes and find integrity in every part of your being. Then you will have the joy of your salvation. Your cup will overflow and your head will be anointed with oil. Then we will not only live a life of integrity but of praise to Him who has helped us.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will fetch a morsel of bread and comfort ye your hearts.’ Genesis 18:4,5

These words were spoken by Abraham to three travellers as they passed by. Such lovely words spoken to those on a journey and we may well take them and apply them to ourselves on our journey through life.

Rest yourself under the tree of Calvary, the place where Jesus died. Let a little water wash you from all your weariness and sin. Eat the bread of life, comforting your hearts from every worry, fear and anxiety, allowing yourself to grow strong again for the next part of the journey.

Life is a journey, not a race. There must be moments of rest for us when we find new strength again. Rest is vitally important to the human mind and body. It needs rest to grow and function properly.

In the same way we need to rest spiritually. We need to stop, rest our minds on Christ, absorb His presence and experience His refreshing so we can go on functioning as a Christian and continue to grow.

When was the last time you came and sat at His feet like Mary? She had found what was important in life.

‘“There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”’

Luke 10:42

Come and rest. Come and find Christ at Calvary. Come and sit in the shade of that tree and let Him refresh you with the wonder of His presence as you surrender all your thoughts, desires and energies at the Cross. Then you will find the waters of refreshing, the bread of comfort and strength again for the journey that is ahead of you.

We have to make the journey whether we like it or not. We cannot stop ourselves growing older! The choice is given to us to travel the road in our own strength, growing old and weary, or come to that One who is the fountain of life and be refreshed. There, there is a joy for the journey!

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Go and walk through the land in every direction, for I am giving it to you.’  Genesis 13:17

When we are young and at the beginning of new ventures, life is exciting.

Abraham was a young man when he heard these words. He had left his own family, had begun a long journey and one day, looking out over far distant horizons, these are the words he heard. It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure for Abraham where the Lord caused him not only to be prosperous but to become a large and established community.

I’ve always loved this verse too. When I was younger it filled me with the same sense of adventure and excitement that I think Abraham would have known. God has not disappointed me in the fulfilment of these words and the ‘land’ I look at today is bigger now than the one I looked at as a late teenager. There are still some adventures ahead!

But I’m consciously aware this morning that this verse says ‘in every direction’. Sometimes we have to walk in directions we would rather not! When I’m out walking, I’d rather walk towards the sunshine with the wind behind me, but if we are going to walk ‘in every direction’ then there are times we need to go against the wind and face the darkness.

There were times in Abraham’s life when he had to battle with his own difficulties: enemies in the land, a selfish nephew, a barren wife and a God who demanded all were just some of the trials he had to face. I’m sure these were only some of the directions that he would rather not have gone in.

Are you walking in every direction in your Christian life or are you just choosing the sunlit paths?

To truly enter into our spiritual inheritance, we have to face all that God sends to us, both good and ill. We have to have the same courage, faith, love and perseverance in every situation. We must not waver when the going gets tough and think to ourselves, “I didn’t sign up for this!”

We agreed to follow and if that means walking in directions we would rather not choose then there will be times when we must do it. We aren’t given the option of pulling out or even following at a distance with a reluctant hardened attitude making it difficult for others.

Lot, Abraham’s nephew, could have shared the adventure with Abraham. He could have entered into the same promise that God gave to Abraham but instead he became a rival spirit and in the end the two men parted company. He had the wrong attitude. He was selfish and greedy. He wanted his own way.

Have you become part of a work that started with the blessing of God? Perhaps a work that has grown up and developed around about you. Unless we maintain the right attitude, live selfless surrendered lives, we will end up parting ways and the inheritance and blessing we could have shared will slip through our fingers and we’ll watch whilst others find what might have been ours. We’ve become like Lot, separated and distant from the blessing. It’s all in the attitude. Face into the direction God is pointing you even if it’s not sunny! It’s there that you will find Him and be at peace.

Abraham was tested and found wonderful reward. Turn again to the only One who is able to give to you the reward that is peculiar to you and the blessing that bears your name.

‘Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”’  Genesis 15:1

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.’  Psalm 9:9

When things go wrong in our lives we tend to react in one of three ways. We either want to run away and hide, give up trying or become frustrated and often angry. There is a place for the Christian where, instead of reacting in any of these ways, we can choose to hide ourselves in the presence of the Almighty. To do this means to turn to God instead of to our own reaction and find His strength and peace to cope with whatever difficulties are before us. We let Christ become our focus rather than the way we feel.

There are many reasons we need to hide. Sometimes, it’s because of what others say about us:

‘You hide them in the shelter of your presence, safe from those who conspire against them. You shelter them in your presence, far from accusing tongues.’

Psalm 31:20

It’s not running away to turn and find His quiet strength when others speak against you. He is the only One who truly understands your motives, reactions and the situation. Find quiet strength in His shelter. If you have behaved badly or spoken out of turn He is able to gently correct you and show you how to sort things. Facing an army of angry people won’t help but finding the presence of God will quieten your spirit and bring you strength.

The Bible also says:

‘Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’ Psalm 91:1

It’s important to find a place where your spirit can rest. If you are continuously afraid, anxious or even angry and annoyed, you will never find a resting place in God. You’ll become the anxious, fearful or angry person. Come into His shelter, away from all your troubles and tempestuous feelings. Come and rest. Don’t listen to any other voice. Let the quietness of His presence wash over you and through you as you lean on Him. Train yourself to come into this place each day, where the very person of our Lord Jesus lives. Let Him become your refuge, your help and your companion. Let His quiet voice still the storms that rise bringing peace and quietness.

The one who finds their way into this place will not only find a refuge in times of trouble but will become a trusted servant of God. We will be trusted with the Master’s business. He will share with us His plans for our tomorrows and we will learn His thoughts for His work. How much better is this place than coping with our own reactions on our own!

‘I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.’ John 15:15

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.’

Isaiah 32:18

Sounds idyllic doesn’t it? There’s no place like home we say and it’s true. It’s fabulous to go on holiday but it’s even better to come home, at least it is for me.

We’ve recently had some extensive renovations done to our home. After talking about it for years and planning for months, it’s finally all come together and we moved back home again this weekend after being out of home for a month.

I’d like to say it’s pristine, but now begins the fun, first of all cleaning and then unpacking things, finding new homes for everything and then trying to remember where you’ve put them!

It’s a nice thought that the Lord God Almighty wants us to have a home. As the verse says home should be peaceful, secure and undisturbed. Sounds nice doesn’t it? A place of safety where you can totally relax and be yourself. For the Christian, a place filled with His peace and presence. We read:

‘Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.’

Psalm 84:3

All of God’s creatures have found a home. We see it in all of creation especially at this time of year in Spring when so many birds and animals are preparing a home for their young.

It is a reflection of what will one day be in eternity for us if we choose to follow Christ. One day we will have a perfect home which won’t need tidied, cleaned or any renovations done! A place of perfect peace, total safety and where there will never again be any disturbances.  Best of all you will have the most perfect companion you could ever want. Now that is idyllic!

‘In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.’

John 14:2-3

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.’

John 12:3

In this story, Mary took something that was incredibly expensive and valuable, broke it and poured out it out on Jesus’ feet.

It is descriptive of what our Father has done for us at Calvary. He gave of His best, His incredibly valuable and precious Son, broke Him and poured Him out for the whole world.

Calvary was an explosion of grace and light as the body of Christ was broken and love was poured out across every country and continent. His fragrance didn’t fill a house, but the whole world.

Receive it for yourself. When there is a strong smell it’s hard not to inhale it. Christ has filled the world with His fragrance. It’s actually hard not to receive it!

His grace has fallen like precious jewels and there has come eternal life to all who are willing to receive it. Like the Israelites we have to gather our manna.

Now Christianity, the biggest religion in the world, is known in every country and continent. Through the death of one man from a small country village in a faraway country, the fountain of eternal life has opened on the Cross and brought life to billions of people. Resurrection life is everywhere! 

We see it in the newness of creation. The newborn lamb, the green bud unfolding with new growth, the sound of the world coming alive again after a long winter. Life is everywhere.

Simply receive and you shall live!

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘After Lot had gone, the Lord said to Abram, “Look as far as you can see in every direction—north and south, east and west. I am giving all this land, as far as you can see, to you and your descendants as a permanent possession.’

Genesis 13:14-15

Recently Graham and I managed to take a day off and headed up to the hills for a very welcome break. It was a beautiful sunny day!

After walking for just over an hour we began to catch sight of rolling hills, wide open spaces and magnificent views. This verse came to mind. It’s a verse I’ve loved for many years as I’ve always been able to visualise the land of far distances, endless possibilities for God, living a life of faith and bringing others to Christ. It’s been my privilege and joy throughout the years to enjoy all that that means. However, on this occasion I found myself thinking the opposite; about lives who cannot see the vast, endless, hazy horizon but are enveloped in their own small world of joys and sorrows, pleasures and problems. How small their world is compared to Abraham’s! I appreciate we can’t all be Abrahams, pioneers of new places; but surely there are far too many of us who are like Martha rather than Abraham. Our Lord Jesus said to her:

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42

Are you so absorbed in all the small details of every day living that you miss the bigger picture? Abraham had to look up to see the land. The words were ‘Look up as far as you can...’

Surely we can all try to do that. You might not be able to see very far but at least you can look up beyond your immediate surroundings.

These words were spoken to Abraham after Lot had gone. He couldn’t have looked up before that; he was too busy coping with Lot! His problem nephew had now left and suddenly Abraham was free; no longer worried and upset over the small details in life. He could suddenly see the plan of God.

Our problems might not disappear as easily as Abraham’s. Maybe our troubled nephew keeps hanging on! There is however, something we can learn here. We need to let go inside ourselves. We need to stop worrying about problems we cannot fix, troubles that actually are not our own and we need to look up and see as far as we can into the land of far horizons, the greatness of our God.

Life is full of endless possibilities. We only live once. Don’t let others wreck yours! Don’t let your own difficulties rob you of your joy in life. Find Christ in all things!

To close, let me share a short but true story. A friend left our home one Sunday evening. As she went out the garden gate we suddenly noticed the northern lights streaking across the sky. They weren’t terribly clear but we could definitely see long pinks and greens moving slowly in the sky.  Chatting with my friend a few days later, I asked if she had seen them. She laughed saying no she had been too absorbed with a hedgehog that was crossing her path to look up. She missed the glory in the heavens for a hedgehog! Make sure you don’t miss the purpose and glory of life for some prickly difficult situation that has so absorbed you. Remember:

‘There is only one thing worth being concerned about.’ Luke 10:42

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

“Their strength is to sit still.”

Isaiah 30:7

Graham and I have been ministering in Malta this weekend. It’s been a very busy time with 3 services and between 20-30 folks coming for ministry. There was much blessing and we are very grateful to God for His power at work in helping lives.

This morning, as I’ve been lying in bed at 6am, listening to the hustle and bustle of the busy city; police sirens, machines operating, car horns tooting, workmen’s voices calling, clock towers chiming (the wrong time!) and generally just a normal city waking up to Monday morning, the beginning of a new week, I was reminded of this verse. How fortunate I am that I can sit still and gather new strength.

Our lives, meant to be made easier by modern technology, seem to be busier than ever. We go from one form of activity to the next. Our jobs become increasingly stressful as more is demanded of us in the same amount of time. We need to take time out every day to gather strength and to be in control.

Make time to just sit still when you’re not playing a game on your phone or iPad or listening to the radio or watching a programme. Take time out to just sit and watch the world go by. As everyone else is in a hurry take time out to stop. Use the opportunity to de-clutter your thinking and to de-stress. These moments are precious. Moments, as you quieten yourself, that help you tune into the throbbing living silence of God. Let no one or no thing rob you of these moments. It brings a tranquility into your spirit, a quiet rest that helps us become aware of the Eternal and reflect on the true values in life.

Satan is a slave driver. God is a giver of rest. Satan brings weakness. God gives strength.

Our strength is to sit still. There we become strong so that when we rise again we will be effective, managing our affairs correctly, living orderly lives and bringing glory to His name.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘I will put upon you none other burden.’Rev 2:24

In our Tuesday night Bible Study meetings we have been looking at the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation and making comparisons with our own lives and church. Last week, we looked at the letter to the church in Thyatira.

When I went home I was rereading the letter and noticed these words. They spoke quite clearly to me in a different way from our study.

There was suddenly that near presence of Christ that we cannot magic up. The presence that comes when He chooses. He was with me. I could feel His gentleness and kindness. The kind of feeling you have as a child when a kindly adult takes over and does something you’ve been struggling to do for ages! His words were a relief and I could easily see how they could apply in several situations in relation to myself. Life had been incredibly busy, I hadn’t been very well and on top of all that, we have an overseas mission ahead of us this week. So to think life wouldn’t get any worse was quite a relief!

The next verse says:

‘Hold tightly to what you have until I come.’ (Verse 25)

Sometimes all that is required of us is to hold on tightly when our cup is full. To take on board even one extra duty is enough to make us feel strained. When we have days or seasons like that we need to just hold on tightly to what we know and believe to be true. Walk consistently with Him, our joy will come again. He will help us. He will never allow life to become too difficult for He will carry us through the waters. They will not overwhelm us if we stay in Christ.

‘Joy will come in the morning.’ Psalm 30:5

To the best of your ability, steer a straight course even through your difficulties. What you cannot do, Christ can manage easily! When life gets tough, hold on tightly and remember these words:

‘I will put upon you none other burden.’

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.’

Jeremiah 31:26

Have you ever noticed the moment you waken can be particularly pleasant? If you’ve had a good night and feel well rested you waken feeling good.

This morning I woke feeling very relaxed. The sound of birdsong outside, mingled with the sense of peace within, was delightful. I lay for a few minutes just absorbing the peace and thinking, this is one of these special moments when the presence of God draws near. Sometimes these peculiar moments happen just before a difficult time, as if the Spirit of God was preparing and equipping you for a future event. When these moments happen take note of them. They are often a signal from heaven.

What I noticed next was, as I came to, my mind was suddenly galvanised into action! I had lots to think about and that special moment was past and gone forever. Thankfully I had not only sensed it, but it had been food to my soul before it was gone.

In nature, there are many such moments. The sound of birdsong first thing in the morning, the shining of dew on the lawn, the quietness of evening, the first star appearing. Most of these happen every day, and yet we in our busyness miss them. We are so consumed with what’s happening around us that we miss the moment when God speaks and stills our soul. How strong we would be as Christians if we learned to pause and find His presence! Our Lord Jesus describes this ability as ‘abiding in Him.’

Would you be the type of Christian who could bring peace to a troubled soul? Then you must learn to recognise these moments when they come to you.

If you would be strong then your roots must go down deeply into His presence and you must drink of Him many times a day. That doesn’t mean spending hours and hours in prayer and study, cutting yourself off from the world, but it means learning to gather strength from every quiet moment He gives you.

Find these times today. Look for them. Take a deep breath, pause, and you will be surprised at how often He accompanies you on your daily journey.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Sometimes to understand a verse fully I look at the opposite of what the verse says. For example, if we were to look at this verse in the opposite way it would say:

‘I pray that God the source of doubt, will fill you completely with sorrow and turmoil because you mistrust Him. Then you will overflow with uncertain apprehension through the power of the Holy Spirit.’

Romans 15:13

It somehow helps us to see more clearly the blessing our God has made available for us. It also makes us identify with the work of the devil in our hearts. There are certain folks that I know that the words ‘uncertain apprehension’ sum up their walk with God.

Do you find yourself full of sorrow or turmoil? Either emotion can come in ways which we find ourselves experiencing daily. For example, stress at work can throw you into turmoil! A sharp word from a friend can leave you feeling sorrowful. Recognise it as the work of the devil in your heart. Paul is praying that our God will fill us completely with joy and peace. Be determined today to look up and receive His joy no matter how troubled or sorrowful you are. We only have one life to live! This day, today, will never come again. We will never have the opportunity to live it again, to look up and catch the breath of eternity. Only what we do for Him will last; everything else will pass away. Use every opportunity to enjoy the moment and be filled with His joy and peace. Then you will find confident hope comes naturally to you. Skies will be brighter, the way forward clearer and life will be once more filled with Christ for you.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘By night on my bed I sought him.’ Song of Songs 3:1

Bed is not really the best place to find Christ unless you have no choice in the matter, then it’s the best place! For most of us who are able to get out of bed, getting up is the best method to find Christ. I find a cup of strong coffee helps too!

It’s one of the main reasons for Christians failing in their walk with God because they haven’t taken the time to seek Him before their day begins. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour you can spare, it’s still good to have a special time when you seek Him.

But what happens when you don’t find Him? Do you turn over and go back to sleep, if you’re still in bed, or if you’re like the lady in this story do you become more determined to find Him?

‘I will rise now.’ (Verse 2)

This seeking lady still didn’t find Christ even though she had made an effort, but she never gave up. Instead, she went out into the broad ways and met some watchmen. These watchmen represent church workers. She asked them if they had seen Him and it was only a little distance further on when she found Christ.

So what did she do then? She certainly wasn’t casual about her findings.

‘I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him and would not let him go.’ (Verse 4)

Sometimes our Lord appears difficult to find, not because He is far away, but because He wants us to really treasure Him when we find Him. This lady certainly did. She held on to Christ and wouldn’t let Him go.

It’s a beautiful story, told in a very few verses, and one that we should practice in our lives. Sadly, laziness, unbelief and business prevent us from finding the One our souls really want to love.

When you find Him it makes all the difference in all the world. You become a complete person, no longer pining after this or that because you are now at Home in God. No more restless seeking; no more wondering what is the point to life, or your purpose in life. You’ve found the One who will guide you and help you fulfil your calling.

Have you found Him already?  Have you been in a room which has been filled with His presence? Were you filled with a quiet peace suddenly knowing what you were to do? I hope you didn’t let Him go! If you did, seek Him again until you find Him. He will be found, He’s not far away!

In truth, everything else may fade from our gaze or fall through our fingers like sand: health and strength, youthful energies, friendships and even your career; but if you have Christ, then life goes on shining for you.

You may be alone but you have found Him ‘whom your soul loves’. Since your soul is the very kernel of who and what you are, then everything is in its rightful place within you because your soul has found Him. You can be blissfully content with very little because you have so much, even Christ.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering.’ Revelation 1:9a

If you’re going to listen to someone enough to take advice then you need to be able to respect them and relate to them. A person can say all manner of challenging things to you but if you have no respect for them then you won’t listen. You can almost despise what they say. In the same instance, if a person is living a completely different lifestyle from us, and they offer us advice, we listen with only half an ear, because we think ‘it’s alright for them!’

In this passage, John gains our respect. He was not only one of the twelve disciples but one of the three that was given, on occasions, exclusive insights into the infallibility of Christ, and he was the disciple that Jesus loved. He was given the practical commission of looking after Jesus’ elderly mother and many of us know what that’s like! He wins our respect. John, however, does more than that. He relates to us by the very fact he was a partner in suffering. The moment another identifies with you in your suffering, your heart opens in a new way. When someone else says the words ‘I know how you feel,’ or ‘that happened to me,’ it makes you feel more comfortable. The defensive, protective barriers that automatically go up towards others come tumbling down and our hearts open in a fresh way to that one.

John had been exiled, sent away, where he could cause no more damage by preaching the word of God or sharing his testimony. But God’s plans are greater than man’s and instead of closing the door through his suffering there came an open door through writing, not only to the local churches on the mainland, but to the whole Christian world. John had no idea that his suffering and patient endurance would lead to such significance.

It reminds me of several others who have left us writings as a result of being confined. Samuel Rutherford, exiled to Aberdeen, wrote the most insightful letters to members of his congregation that have been preserved down through the centuries. Amy Carmichael, bedridden through a fall, wrote books to her workers and friend which bring the voice of our Lord Jesus to many of us. C H Spurgeon, often set apart from his flock through ill health, wrote many a book that has been instructional and helpful to many. Each one put their suffering to good use. It didn’t stop them from pressing on in the work of the kingdom. What they felt just had to come out in a different kind of way; through writing rather than speaking. Thousands, if not millions, have been helped and supported in a way they could never have imagined. They were ‘partners in suffering’. 

It’s a foregone conclusion that we will suffer for Christ. We need to learn to suffer with patient endurance, which is the next part of the verse, so that our suffering is put to good use and leads to fruitfulness for Christ. Instead of moping about your lot in life, let Christ shine through you. Be content in all things, praise in all circumstances and put a smile on your face even when life is hard or you’re feeling a bit down. Remember others have suffered before you and are suffering alongside you. Instead of feeling isolated and cut off, remember they are your brothers, your sisters, your family, your partners in suffering. We are partners in suffering as well as partners of joy! Let our Lord Jesus who has allowed these circumstances into your life, for whatever reason, put them to good use, and bring something positive out of them. Allow your difficult circumstances not only to strengthen you but strengthen others too. You are not alone; you can never be alone for our Lord Jesus has promised to be with us all through the day even until the end of the age. Begin to view your circumstances through different eyes and recognise we can do all things through Christ who loves us.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”

Ecclesiastes 4:6

We all yearn after a nameless sense of satisfaction. We work all day long, save our pennies for that dream holiday in the sun, where we will experience that holiday feeling, the moment of bliss, when our travelling is over, our work is finished and we are going to put our feet up. Teachers capture that moment at the beginning of their long summer vacation. It’s a wonderful moment of bliss but, sadly, it doesn’t last.

How many times have you been on holiday, experienced that moment, to find as you return to the grind, the cooking, washing and the office it’s as if you’ve never been away? Despite looking at holiday photos, holding on to memories, it doesn’t bring back that feeling totally.

There’s a very good reason for this. It’s because that rest we seek, that moment when all our cares lift, is actually only found permanently in God. We were created to walk with Him, as Adam walked in the garden. We’re not meant to experience it for a holiday moment but for eternity. Yes, eternity will be one big holiday moment; that sense of arriving at your destination and the long days ahead just filled with pleasure, song and Son-shine.

The one who truly follows Christ will learn to seek this place of rest in Him; that moment when every care lifts and we are blessed. Blessed means to be much more than happy. It means to be utterly content in God.

That ‘one handful of quietness’ can only be found temporarily in this life but in Christ it can be found for a lifetime. Troubles may come, and troubles may go, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

It doesn’t mean we don’t have two handfuls of hard work, or that Christians just become lazy, but it means we don’t spend our days chasing the wind. We won’t find our rest in that dream holiday but we’ll find it in Christ.

As you begin your day and get back into the routine of your working week, remember to take with you your handful of quietness within. Keep your ‘hand’ steady so that quietness is never disturbed. Learn to master life so that no matter what’s thrown at you it won’t overwhelm you. Instead that handful of inner quietness will give you strength and inner rest.

You may not be looking at golden sands and calm seas but inside you will be just as rested, as if you had just returned from the holiday of a lifetime. It’s biblical, try it!

‘He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.’

Psalm 23:2

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.          Psalm 16:11

There is too much negative thinking in the world. Some people seem to be born with a pessimistic view of life: defeated before they begin to fight; victims from birth.

It’s true that some have a harder lot in life than others. Some are born into difficult family homes where addiction and violence are the norm. We who have been blessed with good parents and a steady, safe home environment cannot begin to understand how difficult it must be to remember an unhappy, turbulent childhood.

But we do know one thing: that in Christ there is peace and happiness. This verse captivates for me the answer to all our problems. I do truly believe that if we put this into practice it will change our negative thinking to positive, our defeatist attitude to one of optimism and we will no longer be the victim in a series of unhappy circumstances.

You may ask, ‘What? As easy as that?’ And yes, the truth is, the moment we look up to Him He will come to our aid.

‘You will show me the way of life...’

If someone shows us the way to something we have to look where they are looking and pointing. This immediately takes our eyes off ourselves, our circumstances and the ‘poor me’ attitude. God, the Lord, is showing us the way; have the decency to look up and see where He is pointing. He will never point you to darkness, confusion, sin or failure: instead He points us to light, clarity, purity and Christ. Simply by taking that first step, our eyes, no longer on the failures that surround us, are now on the Lord.

He shows us the path to life. The meaning of life in the dictionary is ‘continual change’. No longer the same boring, dreary life. No longer the victim of circumstances but now the joy and pleasure of continual change. A life filled with vitality, throbbing with an inner energy of being in touch with God.

We immediately enter into the second part of this verse:

‘granting me the joy of your presence...’

The moment we truly enter the presence of the Lord there is a change inside us: like switching on a light in a room, our lives are flooded with His light. Everything becomes clearer. The darkness and confusion that swirled around us only a few minutes ago has gone and we find peace. We cannot help but feel happier because we are in His presence. Our problems may not have disappeared but we are no longer staring at these awful circumstances like one caught in a trap. Those who live a victorious Christian life are those who practice this presence all the time. They learn, no matter what happens in life, to keep looking up. Christ will show them the way of life.

‘the pleasures of living with you...’

It becomes an absolute pleasure to simply be alive and live with God. Mundane day to day tasks that have to be done, that once filled you with boredom, become a simple pleasure because you are surrounded with His presence. He has promised to be with us always and all the day long. Simply to know that the living God is with you, within you, living your life, breathing peace within your soul, makes life an absolute pleasure. When He really fills your gaze nothing phases you. It’s like two who fall deeply in love, nothing matters as long as they can be together. As long as God is with you, life itself is a pleasure. Gone are the old days of being a victim, a defeated human being. Now, we get up each morning with joy, knowing we can spend our lives in the company of our Creator, our Heavenly Father. We know His protection, His guidance and His companionship all day long.

And the best of all is the little word at the end of this verse, ‘forever’. He who never changes, who never breaks a promise, will always be with us, bringing joy and pleasure as we turn and allow Him to show us the way of life.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Archers attacked him savagely; they shot at him and harassed him. But his bow remained taut, and his arms were strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel.’

Genesis 49:23-24

If we look at this verse in context, it is speaking of the attack on Joseph’s life and his ability to remain consistent in the most difficult of situations. If we think about it spiritually, we can relate it to our Lord Jesus who was attacked by all the demonic hordes on the Cross and yet remained strong and won for us our salvation. If we think about this verse personally, it speaks to us of what we ought to be in God. Yes, we will be attacked at different times in our spiritual life but we must learn to be strong against all that comes against us. The truth is life will always have something to throw at us. Samuel Rutherford said:

‘If this storm were over, you must prepare yourself for a new wound.’

It doesn’t matter who the archers are or what the arrows say as they fly in your direction; don’t become entangled in their talk with explanations or excuses. If it wasn’t this that troubled you, it would be something else!

Joseph was troubled by many difficulties: his brothers hated him; he was kidnapped; Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and lied about him; he was thrown into prison where he was forgotten by the cup-bearer, to name a few of his difficulties.  Yet Joseph remained faithful to God in all the hidden places of his heart, including prison!

There will be times when you are harassed by the archers, stressed with life or circumstances. Your bow must remain taut! Your commitment to Christ mustn’t waver. As you do what you know is right, your arms will be strengthened by the hands of the Mighty One. He will be as the strong Shepherd and the Rock of Israel to you.

There is a strength that many Christians don’t find in the midst of difficult circumstances. We often sing of strength, or preach about it in the good times, but when the difficulties come we crumble. We put down our bow and our arms grow weak. We lose ground and wish that life were different. We moan and complain and blame God that life is hard.

We need to learn like Joseph, in the midst of many trials, to trust in the strength of the Mighty One. He is able to keep our arms strong and our bow taut. Practice His presence today, and when things come against you, remember Joseph and his trials, and trust in the God of Jacob.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘But now we have been given a brief moment of grace.’ Ezra 9:8a

Do you ever have a moment when something special dawns on you; something you’ve known already but it just suddenly hits you between the eyes?

These moments can happen spiritually for us when there are seasons of the visitation of the power of God. They can last for a split second, an hour or even over a number of weeks or months. It seems as if this verse is referring to such a time when grace was poured out on the people. I believe, this happens to all of us from time to time, no matter how difficult life can be in between times. He gives to us seasons of refreshing, moments of peace or grace and strength to help in the storms of life.

It is our duty to make the most of these moments when they come. The older and wiser you get the more you realise these moments are not always there, so when they come we must recognise, accept, cherish and squeeze every ounce of goodness out of them before they fleetingly disappear again.

‘He has given us security in this holy place.’ (v8b)

The soul who learns to do this is one who is enriched with the Spirit of God. They appear to sail calmly across stormy seas because they have treasured these brief moments of grace. They have found a security and a staying power in the presence of God that most Christians know little about.

‘Our God has brightened our eyes and granted us some relief from our slavery.’ (v8c)

If we learn to draw strength from these moments of grace then our eyes will be bright and we will find relief from all the little trying moments life brings that dull our spirits. Difficulties won’t overcome us, irritate or stress us out because we will have found that moment when we have gathered strength. We are slaves when sin masters us. We lose our sparkle, our eyes grow dull and our spirits become depressed. Why? Because we haven’t stopped to gather the manna. You see, the Israelites could only gather manna in the early morning. These brief moments of grace come to us sometimes at the most unexpected or inconvenient times. We often have to pay a price to find them and receive the blessing they bring. We can’t make them happen when it suits us. They are gifts from God, but how rich is the one who finds them, how secure and bright they become, how revived they are spiritually bringing life and joy and Christ to others!

Friends, let’s choose to keep our spiritual senses alert and find these brief moments of grace this week. Gather them, embrace them, breathe them deep inside your being and you will be strong bringing Christ to others.

‘He revived us so we could rebuild the Temple of our God and repair its ruins.’ (v9b)

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Though ye have lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove, covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold.’

Psalm 68:13

God is in the business of changing, making all things new, and here is a lovely image of exactly that.

One who has ‘lain among the pots’ is described in other translations as one who has lain amongst the sheepfolds. The shepherd in the Old Testament had a hard shift looking after sheep out on the open hillside, under the hot sun and long dark chilly nights. He often slept across the door of the sheepfold to prevent wild animals damaging or scaring the flock. He was one who had ‘lain among the pots’.

This verse speaks to us of the contrast between being unclean with sin, having lain in places we ought not, to being made clean. Perhaps you’ve sought for love and comfort in all the wrong ways. Instead of realising that God is love, you’ve looked for it in relationships with others, but never truly finding what you have been seeking. As a result, you feel used or unclean, and regret the choices you have made.

‘...yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove.’

How beautiful! The dove speaks of purity; its wings of gentleness and feathers of softness . It seems the complete opposite of this hard life of the shepherd lying amongst the pots; but more than this, the image takes it one step further:

‘...covered with silver and her feathers with yellow gold.’

It brings an element of the spiritual into it. Not only has the life changed from harshness to gentleness, from uncleanness to purity, but now there is a touch of silver in the feathers with yellow gold. The silver speaks of the Spirit and the gold of glory.

Have you ever seen in the setting sun, as the birds fly overhead, the sunlight on the wings of a bird? Just for a moment as the bird passes overhead it’s underbody is golden in light. It’s a very lovely thing to witness.

Christ does that with our lives. As we turn from our old life and welcome the new, He not only changes us, but He touches us with His Spirit and glory making us beautiful. The Son touches our lives bringing His happiness and peace, love and contentment into our lives. Believe that this can be true of your life too. Wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, turn to Him and He will make you new.

‘And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”’

Revelation 21:5a