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.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.’ Psalm 145:14

What a wonderfully compassionate God we have! When we acknowledge our faults and turn from our sin, He is the first to meet us on our way ‘home.’

Whether we have fallen into sin or stumbled with tiredness, He upholds us. He comes to save us, stop us falling further and carries us in His arms to a place of safety. When we stop fighting Him, give in to His firm embrace and let Him take charge of our lives again all will be well.

Not only does He understand those who fall, but His heart is tender towards those who are bowed down and oppressed by life. If we are bowed down we are looking at the ground. We can see nothing but dirt and creepy-crawlies! We cannot see the way ahead. We haven’t got a sense of vision or drive, just stumbling and coping with one step at a time. But our God raises us up. He lifts the burden from the heavy laden. He straightens our back. He lifts our head so our eyes can see the glory of the Son rise. He fills our gaze with light and the beauty of the world beyond our own. To be bowed down is not God’s way. Christ came to give us life. He came to take the burden from the heavy laden, to set the captive free from a life of toil and overwork. He came to teach us to ‘consider the lilies’, to observe the sparrow and to love our neighbour. Satan oppresses but Christ delivers!

If you are heavily laden today, no matter the cause, it is a snare of the enemy. Come, let His gentle hand straighten you as He takes the burden away. Don’t resist, but let Him have every care, fear and worry. He is able to bear it for you. In fact, there isn’t anyone better to carry your burden. He’ll do a far better job than you can. Let His wisdom lead you. Let Him be your Father and relieve you of every care and find the freedom of a happy, carefree child again. Then you shall be as one that is raised up and upheld by the One who watches over you all the day long.

‘The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials.’ 2 Peter 2:9

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘We did not follow clearly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye witnesses of his majesty.’ 2 Peter 1:16

Every Christian in the world, and there are over two billion of them, are eye witnesses of His majesty. Every true Christian, converted from sin to salvation, knows what a miracle it is when wrong desires are taken out of their heart and as a result their actions and lifestyle changes. Each one is an eye witness of the power of God.

The power of testimony is remarkable. We do not follow ‘clearly invented stories’ but we each have our own story to tell. Each story or testimony is different.

In a small house group I’ve been attending each person has a different testimony. Karen was converted as a young child, Jim from a life of crime and drugs, Carol as a single mum came to Christ, David as a wealthy business analyst, Mima as a worried parent, Rachel as a quiet teenager and Caroline as a hurting rebel. It was something different that drew each one but they all have a powerful and wonderful story to tell.

Do you have a story? Can you remember the day and hour when you chose to believe? Is there a marked difference in your life today from your life before you believed? Then, you too have a story to tell.

Make a point of sharing your story this week. Pray for a God given opportunity to tell someone else what He has done for you. Don’t beat yourself over the head saying ‘I’m not good at speaking’ (Moses did that) or ‘I’m not a very good witness’ (I’m sure Peter did that). Just have courage and when an opportunity is there, take it and tell your story. It will warm your heart, increase your faith, and you just don’t know, but it might be another link in the chain for another to find faith. I find testimony is often the most effective way of reaching others. In church, a new person doesn’t always understand the sermon, can’t always tune into the worship, but a testimony reaches into every heart. Share yours this week and let light shine.

‘No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.’

Luke 11:33

Take courage!

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.’ Psalm 37:7 (King James Version)

From this verse we see there are two very important qualities we need to practice. The first resting and the second waiting.

Resting in the Lord is quite different from just normal resting. To rest means to relax and recover strength, which is true for the Christian as well, but resting in the Lord means to relax into His presence and to gather strength from Him. It is not just a physical rest where we switch off and become a ‘couch potato’, but a conscious sitting quietly without any music or social media or prop of any sort for support. As you rest, let the room fill with Him and choose to let everything become still inside you. It is an essential quality in our Christian experience if we are to grow. We need to be able to find rest easy. Jesus said:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

It’s rest for our souls that we need. We hear on the news about the number of young people seeking support for mental health. I personally believe that one of the main factors why so many need help is because of a lack of soul-rest. We need rest inside: not just physical but mind and emotional rest. No one can give us that but Jesus. No one can come to you and just understand you for who you are, how you tick, understand the choices and decisions you have made. Only Christ! When we rest in the Lord it is a soul rest, a mind rest, an emotional rest and a body rest. Every part of us benefits from resting in the Lord.

The second, waiting on God, is a quality that needs to be developed and practised regularly. It is clearly linked to resting. Resting is not an end in itself but is joined to the waiting part. We may all be waiting or hoping for different things but to stress about them won’t bring them any quicker. There is a perfect timing for everything and everyone. It is for us to find ourselves in the place of quietness and hand everything that concerns us over to God. Leave it all with Him. He knows the moment, the precise second when your wants will be met. Until then make the waiting time a pleasant, holy and spiritual experience; one which is filled with moments of rest and quiet patience. Then you will have learned the secret:

‘Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.‘  Psalm 37:7 (NLT)

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

After ...a little while, He will Himself restore, support and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10 (NLT)

These words have so much more meaning when you think of who wrote them. It was Peter the man who forever will be remembered as the one who betrayed Christ. If anyone knew what it was to be restored, Peter did. Being disloyal to your best friend, when He is about to die, is a horrible thing to do, especially when by nature you are normally very loyal. Peter would not only have needed to be forgiven by God but, I think the hardest thing for him, was to forgive himself. He would never forget what he had done and I’m sure the devil wouldn’t have let him forget either!

However, because of Peter’s foolishness our understanding of these words are enriched. 

‘“Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”’

Mark 16:7

Not only was he restored particularly by Jesus, but we read here that Peter understood what it was to be supported too. He must have known some terrible moments, torturing himself for failing Christ and being the worst of the disciples. Someone in this position would need much support. Not only did he preach a fantastic message after receiving the baptism in the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost but he has written some beautiful, helpful letters to the churches. This was the man that failed at Calvary. Through his brokenness, coming to an end of himself, he knew what it was to be supported and strengthened too.

Is this not an encouragement to us all? Haven’t we failed Christ so many times? Doesn’t the devil ever grind you down with reminding you repeatedly of past failures, not to mention the present ones.

Here are words that we can really take to ourselves and believe in not only because they are in the Bible but because of who said them.

These words are proof that our Lord is able to fully restore the backslider; bring self-forgiveness into our lives; support us through our difficult times; strengthen us and set us on a firm foundation, bringing a consistency and steadiness into our Christian walk.

There really is nothing that is too hard for the Lord, not even you!

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.’

Deuteronomy 33:27a

It’s essential to have a refuge or place of retreat; somewhere we can go when we need rest or a safe place to be. If we don’t have somewhere that is like a base or home for us life can become very unstable. I often think of war torn countries where home is not safe, it must be awful for such.

But wherever we are, whether in a peaceful or war torn country we have our great God Jehovah. He has promised to be an eternal refuge for us. He is a place of safety and quiet rest. There is no need to become unhinged in this busy stressful life with all the increasing demands that are made on us. There is no need for us to lose our footing if we rest in God. He is our stability. He is our refuge. He is our strength. He is our home.

Whatever you face this week, whatever ordeal comes your way remember He is your hiding place and if perchance you stumble then underneath are the everlasting arms which are there to catch you, hold you and restore you to the place of abiding strength and safety.

And the Lord looked upon him, and said, “Go in this thy strength, ... have not I sent thee?”

Judges 6:14

We can go into a new week with a confidence that our God has commissioned us to serve Him in this big and busy world. He will look after us and will be our refuge continually.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 1 Peter 4:7

Such good instruction and so in keeping with modern thought too!

Clear minded, don’t we all wish we could have a clearer sharper mind. Sometimes to understand something more fully I look at the opposite. The opposite of clear minded would be muddled, foggy,  fuzzy, dull, guilty, dim or a cluttered mind.

Does this describe the way you feel? It must describe the way many people feel because so many try some form or another of meditation to help calm or clear their thinking. So how does a Christian have a clear mind? Well I’m not against some of the meditations skills that are in vogue at present but what I find is that they lead to an emptiness whereas Christian meditation leads to light and peace. Concentrating on your breathing may help to slow your mind down from racing thoughts but it leaves me thinking about my breath. I find it more useful to begin concentrating on my breath and then to begin to think about breathing in light, wholeness and purity; breathing in God. We need to let our pace slow down so we can tune into the eternal realm, into the very being of God.

There is nothing muddled, foggy or fuzzy (or any of the other adjectives I used) about God. He is, as described in the Bible, perfect peace, love, light, mercy, compassion, tenderness, helpfulness and joy. He came to bring joy and forgiveness to us. He is ultimate clarity; there is no shadow of turning in Him. When we look through His eyes all things are perfectly clear and controlled.

This is where the self-control comes from. As we learn to be clear minded then self-control follows. The two are perfectly linked together. We cannot have one without the other. We will see things clearly when we clear our minds of clutter and allow the peace and presence of God to help calm every anxiety and busy thought. Self-control will naturally follow.

So let’s concentrate on clearing our minds. Not only will we be calmer and stronger but we will also be able to pray. Prayer is something that doesn’t always come easily to us. Our thinking is so cluttered, our nerves on edge with worry over situations that we find sometimes our prayers are no more than the expression of our busy, foggy minds.

Clearing our thoughts, being self-controlled will help us achieve the quality of prayer that really feeds our soul and brings us into close communion with God.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

We all love to return home after a busy day at work, where you can come in, kick your shoes off, put on some comfy clothes, eat your favourite meal and chill. If we didn’t have these moments we would grow exhausted and life would be very difficult.

Being a Christian we need to follow the same principle in a spiritual way. We need to return, as this verse, explains to God. He is our Home. We need to go out, to look after our families, go to work, buy food, attend appointments etc but when that is all over we return Home, to God.  And, we have to return Home for a very particular purpose; to rest in God.

Resting isn’t something that happens in a few minutes. We need to give ourselves time and more than this we need to do it properly. We can’t fill it with the sounds and thoughts of our own choosing; we have to fill it with quietness. This word says: ‘in quietness ... is your strength.’

In our culture we are always so busy. Even our quiet times are busy! We are busy with our bibles or books, our daily readings or read the bible in a year programme. Everything is industrious. I am not discouraging these things at all. In fact, I am probably one of the most industrious of you all!

However, I do think we lose out. There is a lost chord somewhere in our Christian experience. A stillness, a quietness that throbs with the presence of God.

Give yourself a treat and at some point this week just stop. Stop thinking and planning and making lists and rescheduling and just quietly sit in His presence. Let yourself relax without music or anything to help you. Just give God time. Let your mind unwind in His company. You might even feel as if you are being lazy or idle but just listen to the silence. Watch the clouds moving across the sky or the sound of the wind outside and just let yourself grow still and strong in the silence of His companionship.

This is where our confidence grows. It’s not in our ability to understand scripture, although this is always helpful, or the number of services or Christian activities we are involved in, although these can be good,  but it is the ability to rest in God.

I have been very fortunate to grow up in a thriving church and be under the ministry of men and women of God. I have had the privilege of having hands laid on on a number of occasions, trained in the gifts of the Holy Spirit and have seen many come to Christ but none of these things have given me the strength and confidence I now have.

Strength and confidence have been given to me as I have returned to God and rested in Him. He has taught me not to lean on any denomination, church or person. My faith is not based on any other than Christ Jesus. This is for everyone who chooses to follow Christ!

Do you want to be a strong and confident Christian? Then switch the tv off or whatever it is you are doing and find those precious quiet hours with Him.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

‘Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.’ 1 Peter 1:13

Three commands: prepare your mind for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on grace. I just love Peter’s direct approach when speaking to us.

Let’s look at each one of these.

Firstly, prepare your mind for action. I think we need to know what kind of action we are talking about here. Peter is speaking about being holy. To become holy means choosing to do the right thing even when we want to do the wrong thing. When making these choices we need to prepare our minds so we’re not caught off guard and accidentally or deliberately slip into sin. It’s a good tip! Find your area of weakness and garrison it about with thoughts of prayer and preparation to overcome.

Secondly, be self-controlled. This ties in with our first thought of preparing our minds for action. How often we give into sin because we just can’t help it. It was just so alluring. Afterwards we are annoyed with ourselves and regret the wrong choices we have made. Being self-controlled means that doesn’t happen. We take a grip of our desires and control them. Every small victory is a step nearer glory; think positively.

Thirdly, set your hope on grace. Temptation often begins in our thought processes. When you are tempted to do something wrong, stop thinking about the temptation, and the wrong desire will leave you. Keep thinking about it and you’ll surely fall headfirst into sin. The instruction to set your hope on something higher shows us the key to personal victory.

Preparing our minds for action, being self-controlled and setting our hopes on grace will all lead to higher goals being achieved in our Christian life.

We make slow progress as Christians, sometimes fighting the same temptations for a life time, or going over the same old ground again and again. We need to take definite steps. Examine yourself, your progress or lack of it, and determine to do something about it in the coming weeks. Take action, keep a journal, mark on your calendar days that you fail and as you prepare your mind for action let there come a marked change in your progress and personal victory this week.

‘No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.’

Romans 8:37

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.’  James 5:7

Patience means the ability to accept or cope with delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.

Now this is an eye opener for me. I knew patience meant coping with a situation without becoming annoyed or irritable, and have tried to put that into practice for years, but true patience refuses to become anxious too. That’s a new one for me. I’ve just been awake half the night worrying about a certain situation, a decision that I’ve made whether it’s the right one or not!

Here is a new slant on patience: leaving God to outwork His purposes in our lives without fretting, anxiety, worry or fear.

God is patient. He understands our slowness and inability to comprehend His ways.  Not only is He patient but in this verse we read He has long patience. He waits for the precious fruit of the earth to appear. He waits until the rains have fallen, knowing shortly afterwards green shoots will germinate. In the same spiritual way, He waits for the rains of the Holy Spirit to fall and then the precious fruit of our souls will appear.

Can we learn to commit everything into His hands? Can we leave all at the Cross and trust that He will outwork His own purposes? When He is ready, He will send the rains that bring forth fruitfulness. He will not grow impatient and neither must we.

We are all different; some are prone to worry whilst others are prone to get annoyed or irritable. Both are signs of impatience!

Let’s practise being patient in all things knowing that somewhere beneath the surface the rains are taking effect and before too long we’ll see once again signs of new life and growth, direction and guidance in the things that concern us. Our only duty is to commit all things into His hands and wait patiently.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘But the wisdom that is from above... ‘ James 3:17

I hadn’t discovered until this weekend that there are two different kinds of wisdom. Wisdom from above which:

‘is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.’

and wisdom from below:

‘Such wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.’ James 3:15

Wisdom is a quality that we all need. We need it to demonstrate our faith wisely, to handle tricky situations carefully and to ensure we don’t cause more damage than good sometimes. If you have any responsibilities in the church you need wisdom and the greater the responsibility the more we need wisdom.

There is a wisdom of the world which is totally different from godly wisdom. Wisdom of the world often looks to satisfy our own physical needs. It often springs from self centred motives and always has me and mine at the centre of it. Like a foolish parent who continually spoils a child to keep them quiet by giving them endless pleasures. That child will grow up with a very twisted view of life.

Wisdom from above is God-centred. Rather than trying to seek pleasure and fulfilment for themselves a person demonstrating godly wisdom looks to please God. Godly wisdom is purity and peace, not harsh and aggressive. It is thoughtful and kind. In other words Christ is wisdom. Hasn’t He been all of these things to us?

When we lack wisdom, let’s not despair, but think rather how would Christ react in this tricky situation. He wouldn’t leave a trail of disaster behind Him. He would be careful with every soul.

When we read of the wisdom of Christ we marvel at His intelligence, discernment and accuracy in dealing with all. Let us embed the principles He followed, the example He gave us and pray for wisdom in our churches and in our lives that we may win the respect of our brothers and sisters, colleagues and peers that they may think well of the faith we follow and the Christ we serve.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Let him show his works out of good conduct and with the meekness of wisdom.’ James 3:13

I’ve been enjoying  studying the letter of James in the New Testament. His thoughts on wisdom are intriguing.

Here he talks about the meekness of wisdom. I take from this there are times it is wise to be meek when we would rather be the opposite! The meaning of meek is quiet, gentle, easy to be forced into doing something or making an unwelcome decision. This surely is the opposite of what most of us want. We would rather be in charge of our own lives.

‘The meekness of wisdom.’

We need wisdom to know when we should submit to a situation and when we shouldn’t. There are times when we can feel resentful about being forced into a corner or made to do something we don’t want to do. It brings an annoyance or irritation out in us when another rules over us and it’s even worse when we feel they are unaware of how much they are imposing on us. We just want to tell them! Sometimes these situations lead to further trouble when our anger rises and then like a damn we burst and say all manner of things we later regret. The meekness of wisdom is an essential quality in such situations.

Christ demonstrated the meekness of wisdom many times but we see it particularly in His death on the Cross. He knew that this unwelcome, painful, horrendous decision made by His enemies would lead to the salvation of billions of people.

Let us learn to follow His example. Demonstrate the meekness of wisdom today. Embrace your Cross when people unnecessarily impose on you or take you for granted. Take a deep breath and do the right thing for Jesus.

When there is no meekness in wisdom then:

‘...where envy and strife are, there is confusion and every evil work.’ (V16)

Choose Christ today. Live peaceably with all men in the meekness of His perfect wisdom.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace.’ James 3:18

Those of us who have chosen to follow Christ desire to have righteousness in our lives. Righteousness means goodness, decency, honesty and worthiness; all noble qualities that any person, Christian or not, should want.

This verse explains that the fruit of righteousness is sown when there is peace. It makes a lot of sense. When we are at peace within ourselves, righteousness can grow and blossom within us. When we are at rest and relaxed the qualities of goodness, honesty and decency are at work in our hearts.

A person who is not at peace with themselves is one who is restless, constantly agitated or annoyed and often causes arguments and difficulties in conversations or circumstances. One who is at peace takes things in their stride and learns to cope in every circumstance no matter how trying they may be.

How can we be at peace with ourselves? By accepting our circumstances and situation as it is and only attempting to change what is necessary without strife; by placing everything that concerns us into the hands of the living God knowing that He is able to take care of it all. Righteousness has a chance to be sown within us when we are at peace. When seed is sown a harvest follows. Imagine a harvest of righteousness!

This is a similar train of thought to last weeks Thought for the Week.  The quality of endurance grows, so righteousness can be sown. Both speak of betterment to our lives; an improvement in our Christian standards. The New Testament encourages us to be always striving to be closer to God and to be more Christlike. Never settle for less! Never accept what you’ve become! Always look for more.

Let’s give righteousness every opportunity to be sown in our hearts this week by living in peace so we may grow in Christ to be mature, good, honest, decent folk who are worthy to carry the name of our Lord Jesus.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘For you know that when your faith is tested.’ James 1:3a

None of us like when our faith is tested, if we did it wouldn’t be a test. A true test of our faith causes us to question what we believe, who we believe in and why we choose to walk this faith road.  But our faith is tested for a very particular reason. So that:

‘your endurance has a chance to grow.’ (V3b)

Did you know endurance is a quality that can grow? It makes sense! An athlete that trains looks to improve their speed and endurance.  As Christians we just try and cope and wish the whole horrible testing of our faith would stop and we could relax and be ourselves once again. But God doesn’t want us to be ourselves! He doesn’t want us to be weak, frail people who just love the comfortable life. He wants us to be strong, so He allows trials to come.

‘So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.’ (V4).

See yourself as one who is being trained to endure with each test for longer periods of time. Observe the changes within yourself as through perseverance and endurance you learn to change and sustain greater trials. Remember He will always be with you. And for our encouragement the next verse says:

‘If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.’ (V5)

How often in the midst of trial you begin to doubt yourself or you doubt if this can really be the right way. Why are you the only one going through these difficulties? Well, James gives us a wonderful word to encourage our souls right in the midst of our trial. Ask for wisdom. Ask God, our generous God, to show you if the trial you are passing through is from Him and is part of His will. Ask Him to be generous in His wisdom because when we understand what’s happening we cope so much better with our problems.

He is training us for greater things. Take courage my friend and let your endurance grow.