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

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

‘And being let go, they went to their own company.’

Acts 4:23a

I want to use this very obscure text in connection with your thoughts.

We are often very busy during the day, at work, with our families, dealing with this problem or that situation. Our thoughts are in a whirl but when they are free, or ‘let go’, where do they go?

Do you know where the birds live that are feeding in the field or garden? No, but wait till the evening, then you will see which way they fly home.

Do we fly home in the evening? When the day is done, the children, hopefully, tucked up in bed, the long shift over and your duties of the day are done, where do you go in your thoughts? Do you go after Christ? Do you fly home to rest in the quietness of God? Our minds need as much rest as our bodies; time to ponder and pray; time to unwind after all that we’ve dealt with during our hectic day; time to process all that’s taken place and bring it to Him. No wonder we grow weary and stressed when we don’t fly home in the evening.

It’s a lovely picture of the birds. I can see the setting sun, noisy birds flying up into the trees and then, as it grows dark, all is quiet and the world is at rest. Not so in our homes! We come home after a busy day at the office to unwind over the TV or some loud music or we go out with our friends to catch up on all their news, or spend an evening helping at church. When do you fly home to God?

The Bible speaks of wonderful rest that we so often miss. A place where our strength is renewed, where we gather again for our busy tomorrows. Don’t leave Him to do it all for you whilst you're sleeping! Take time as the sun sets to unwind, let go and fly home into the arms of God. You will feel an enormous benefit from quieting yourself before Him.

‘He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.’  Psalm 23:2-3a

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Let fall handfuls on purpose for her.’ Ruth 2:16a

This verse comes from the story of Ruth who had returned to her own country with very little, after losing her husband. When seeking to pick up stalks of grain left behind by the harvesters for food, a wealthy and influential man requested his servants to ‘let fall handfuls on purpose for her.’

It made me think of the kindness of Christ when we seek to gather souls for Him, or assist in the church. Our little efforts to help build and extend the kingdom can seem so small in comparison to the huge harvest. But, sometimes for our encouragement, He lets fall handfuls on purpose so that we may gather souls into the kingdom. We think we have been successful but in reality Christ has been kind to us. He has allowed part of the harvest to be left behind so we may gather for ourselves. It throws a different light on all our previous efforts in the work of God. The times we have seen His blessing and souls affected by His Spirit, drawn into the kingdom and baptised in His power, had really nothing to do with us at all! It was His kindness in allowing us to gather.

What if our Lord in His kindness ‘let fall handfuls on purpose for her’ but she, or he, didn’t bother to go and gather these extra stalks of wheat? What a dreadful thought that we should miss these golden opportunities without even realising it.

I wonder in reality how many opportunities we miss, perhaps because we are so self-absorbed, or too busy doing important things of our own to listen to the prompting of the Spirit in our lives. Perhaps we are battering our head off a brick wall trying to open a door that will not open, no matter how hard we try, and miss the real opportunities that are waiting for us at our fingertips. Perhaps we’re too lazy to fight past our own indifference and get out the door and be ready for Him. It doesn’t really matter which category anyone of us fits into except for the fact we miss our Lord’s kindness to us.

We need to be like Ruth who had reached the end of her tether in her personal circumstances:

‘So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.’ Ruth 2:17

Let’s change our mindset and as we go about our daily duties, whatever kind they may be, let us, like Ruth, seek to gather all day. Gather His conscious presence with you, gather the anointing, gather opportunities to speak to others so that in the evening you may return home with a full basket, brimming over with the kindness of Christ and be truly grateful for the kindness He has shown to you.

‘Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked.’ Ruth 2:10

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 “Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!”

1 Samuel 25:29

Happy New Year to you! I wonder how your new year began spiritually for you? Was it really a new beginning or a continuation of the old year? Sometimes, in my mind there is a clear division between the old year and the new, whilst at other times it feels like troubles and burdens of the past year are coming with me into the new. For me, it’s been the latter this new year. Nonetheless my eyes are not on my difficulties but on where I’m heading: into the care of the Lord my God.

Whether you’re being chased by enemies, running away from the past or walking into the new year with confidence, make sure you are heading in the right direction: nearer to God, into a place of safety. 

This verse is very beautiful. It describes this place close to God as a treasure pouch. You see, you and I are very precious to Him. We are like treasures of darkness that Christ has come and rescued. Our spiritual safety and protection are of utmost importance to Him. He cares more for your safety than you do. Therefore for you to be in His care means He will hide you in a very safe place.

Can we just stop for a moment and realise how stupendous that is! God, the Creator of heaven and earth, has promised to care for you and protect you, to keep you like a treasured possession, close to Himself. When you begin to understand this and realise how big this promise is and how safe you can be, does it not only make you feel incredibly secure but also very happy? A child who is secure in a parent’s love is a child that is happy. We can be happy no matter our problem or situation if we are in the treasure pouch of the Lord.

This year, no matter what it holds for you, run into the treasure pouch of the Lord. He will keep you utterly safe and still in Himself. The deep inner part of your being can be like the calmest loch showing His perfect reflection. Within there is no harassment, no stress, no anxiety, no worry, no fear and no evil; a perfection of quiet beauty deep inside you because of your trust in God.

So for you, if this new year has started well or not, look to where you are heading rather than where you are, and find in Christ all the help and security that will make you confident to face all that this year holds, good and bad alike. Like a contented child rest in Him, knowing you are in a place of great safety.

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

Exodus 23:20

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning.’

Job 42:12a

Surely to the Christian who has been walking with God for some years this is often our hope and prayer that the second half of our life will be even better than the first.

It’s an interesting thought that even scripture speaks about our lives being in two parts! Which half are you in right now? I, unfortunately, am in my second half, and so for me this promise is very important.

The first half of my Christian life was full of adventures. I have seen literally hundreds come to Christ, over a thousand baptised in the Holy Spirit and countless deliverances. I have had the privilege of preaching to small and large groups both in the UK and abroad. Life has been busy and full. I am a mother of three grown up boys, a teacher by profession and a minister of a church. I’ve also made countless mistakes, gone down wrong roads, refused on occasions to listen to advice and had to learn the hard way. Yet despite it all, God has generously blessed me and made my life fruitful.

How can the second half be better? Well, with age and experience there comes wisdom. We learn from our mistakes so the more mistakes you have made the more opportunity you have to learn. It’s the most positive way to look at it! I go forward into the second half of my life knowing so much more. My spiritual life, though hard pressed at times, is steadier and stronger. I pray for as many, if not more adventures than I had in the first half of my life. I pray that I’ll not grow old and sit quietly at home. I want to be out doing God’s work but this time with greater spiritual wisdom and thoughtfulness.

What about you? We come to the end of the year and are about to move into a new one. What will this coming year hold for you? Have you made as many mistakes as me? Could it be you’ve grown discouraged and weary with trying? Perhaps this verse is for you. The second half can be better than the first. Don’t forget He is able to do in a moment of time, in one breath, what we try to do in a lifetime. Let’s not grow weary of well doing, or grow spiritually tired: let’s look for a miracle!  Take courage, grasp hold of your faith, your Bible and prayer, and make a ‘new go’ at this coming year. Remember what you have felt until now has been only:

‘the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power.’

Job 26:14a

May God bless you richly in 2019.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.’  Isaiah 9:2

A great light shone around the angels as they proclaimed the birth of the Son of God. A great light shone in the stable as the shepherds came to worship. A great light shone in the star that led the wise men from the east. A great light shone on Mary as the angel proclaimed she was with child, upon Anna the prophetess and Simeon in the temple. These people all walked in darkness, waiting and hoping for the light; each one rewarded as they saw it and life was transformed for them.

It is quite incredible that the light that shone from the Christ child as He lay in the manger is still shining today. Not only has He touched billions of Christians alive today, but also those who have lived and died before us. It is indeed a great light!

A great light that has shone within us giving us insight and understanding, removing our sin and guilt and bringing us peace; a great light that has brought us out of the darkness of ignorance and unbelief.  Now, not even the ‘shadow of death’ can cause fear, because the light has shone on us.

There are times when we are very aware of the light that has changed life for us. Sometimes its brilliance shines like the sun on a cloudless summer’s day causing our hearts to overflow with gratitude, whilst at other times we are more aware of the clouds, the drudgery that life brings. Whether today is a good day or a difficult day for you remember the light that broke through the darkness of the night sky on that first Christmas night. Even today if your light feels small, flickering and insignificant let it shine! Let the joy of the light of eternity lighten your dark days, even if you walk in the valley of the shadow. It’s our duty, our pleasure and privilege, to come and give to Him praise because once we walked in darkness and now we have seen this great light. Once we were ignorant and unbelieving, now we understand and accept.  Even if you only have a seemingly small candle, let Christ light it this Christmas and give Him thanks for His greatest gift of all to us: His Son.

‘For Thou wilt light my candle; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.’  Psalm 18:28

He will lighten your darkness as you look up! Ask Him, He will come to help you quickly.

May I take this opportunity of wishing you a very Happy Christmas and health and happiness for 2019.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘You are dressed in a robe of light. You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens.’

Psalm 104:2

It seems somehow fitting to consider the stars on these long, dark, cold winter nights. In Scotland, our winter daylight hours are short. Today, we have only seven hours of daylight. The stars are out when we go to work and when we come home again!

Although many of us miss the warmth of the summer sunshine, there is something beautiful about the clear starry nights too. The early darkness brings a quietness to the evening, a sense of solitude and rest. The Bible encourages us to:

‘Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing.’

Isaiah 40:26

What an opportunity for us to consider His creation! Wrap up and get yourself out under the clear crisp starlit skies. He encouraged Abram to do just that.

‘Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can.”’

Genesis 15:5

Do you notice the Lord took Abram outside? When your day is done, the meal is over, the dishes all washed and you’re all tucked up in your cosy home for the night, do you ever consider that the Lord might want to take you outside? He might be encouraging you to look up and see the magnitude of His vast creation. He is encouraging Abram to do something he actually cannot do.

‘And as the stars of the sky cannot be counted...’

Jeremiah 33:22

There is only One who can:

‘He counts the stars and calls them all by name.’

Psalm 147:4

But the Lord still wanted Abram to look up and have one of those breathtaking moments when the vastness of creation overwhelms.

‘The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.’

Psalm 33:6

Imagine, the Creator of the universe being so powerful, that all He had to do was merely speak and the heavens and all the stars were formed. Could we look at this verse in a different way?

‘The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the Word, and all the stars were born.’

Psalm 33:6

The Son, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, is referred to as the Word of God in the Gospel of John. Could it be that as Christ was begotten of God, the very stars were born; such was the joy and exultation in the heart of the Father? When we go outside on a dark starry night, perhaps we will consider the stars in a different way; all creation rejoicing in the Son, the Word of God. He is known as the Morning Star; the Fairest among Ten Thousand! Imagine the wise men had been too tired after a day’s work to consider the stars. They would have missed that stupendous moment of following the star to Bethlehem.

‘When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!’

Matthew 2:10

What joy was theirs because they hadn’t been lazy, drawn their curtains, put their feet up and forgotten about the world. Perhaps they too had an Abram moment of being led out to look up at the stars.

Friends, what do we miss by coming home tired from work, putting our feet up and relaxing till bedtime or perhaps rushing around Christmas shopping, making sure our To Do Lists are getting ticked off? Make sure you have moments when you stop, look up, count the stars and take a big, long, deep breath as you consider the beauty and the vastness of the heavens.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”’

Luke 2:10

‘I desire your children to seek the Lord. Desire them from me to be blessed and happy.’ Samuel Rutherford

‘I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!’

John 15:11

There doesn’t seem need to say more except, perhaps, for those of you going through trying circumstances at present. Christ brings us joy! But for those of you going through the ‘vale of tribulation’ or the ‘valley of the shadow’ let this be a word of comfort. These troubling places affect all of us, no matter our beliefs, but it is a comfort to think, as on that dark Christmas night in Bethlehem, that standing somewhere in our troubles is a great shining angel promising us joy.

Take heart, dear friend, no matter how grieving your situation, God knows, cares and understands. He sees not only the trouble you are in but the way out of it for you. Look up into the darkness and see the bright angel proclaiming peace and joy to you, even in the midst of grief.

What a sight it must have been! What a sound!

‘Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others - the armies of heaven - praising God.’

Luke 2:13

What an amazing experience for these poor, lowly shepherds living in a country under Roman occupation. They too had their troubles. I sometimes wonder what they were thinking about out there during the night; what were they talking about around the fire. They were just ordinary folks like you and I, doing a night shift, when suddenly life was changed. Eternal light broke through into their lives. These men would never be the same again. Never! They would never forget this phenomenal moment. They would never forget the light that pierced the night darkness, the sound of the armies of heaven, the voice of an angel speaking to them. They would never again feel a sense of hopeless despair or the depression of the drudgery of life. Every day of the rest of their lives would have been touched by this one night. This story would have been told and told again to their children and grandchildren.  More than this, these very ordinary, insignificant, poor people had become part of the greatest story ever told. Their joy would have overflowed!

May you, in whatever circumstances you find yourself today, look up, see the great shining angel and find the joy of Christ.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.’ 1 John 3:5

I was preaching on this verse on Thursday night in our Airdrie meeting and suddenly in the middle of speaking it broke afresh on me the stupendous fact that Christ has taken our sin away. He has actually removed it so that it doesn’t belong to us anymore. He has taken our past failings away to such an extent that we have no ownership over them, they are anonymous! If we truly enter into our inheritance then we don’t remember them for they are no longer part of who we are or were.

It is quite a remarkable fact and one that deserves much thought and pondering until it breaks upon us just how new we are in Christ. There is nothing further for us to do but to simply believe He has taken our sins away. Christianity is so different from any other religion in that it’s not what we do that increases our faith but in whom we believe.

This same chapter in John goes on to say:

‘The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.’ (v8)

To destroy means to ‘end the existence of’. Christ came to remove the very existence of the devil’s work in your life. He comes to utterly change and transform you from feeling guilty, discouraged and despondent to one who is unashamed, unsullied and confident, not because of what we have done, but because of who He is. All we need do is have faith in His ability to change and transform us entirely into new creatures in Christ.

How many Christians miss this basic fundamental and yet profound truth? How many are trying to work it all out in their heads and in turn become dismal failures because of self efforts?  Turn yourself to Him today and believe.  He will take away your sins and destroy the work of the devil in your life. Then you will be the happy, confident Christian you have always wanted to be, not because of what you have done but because of what He has done for you.