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.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

Song of Solomon 2:1

I didn’t preach this weekend but if I had this was my text.

These are words of Christ, spoken to us through poetic imagery, proclaiming His beauty and glory in the Song of Songs. Self praise is never recommended except from our Lord Jesus.  We wouldn’t know of Him unless He had come and told us about Himself. It’s a very humbling thought to think that everything we know about God, Jesus and spiritual matters has been revealed to us by the Spirit of God. There is nothing we know that we have learned by ourself.

Again and again throughout the New Testament Christ speaks of Himself. I am the way, I am the Bread of Life, I am the Water of Life but Christ is not only bread and water to us. He is much more.

He is not only the necessities of life; that which we need to stay alive, He is luxury itself. He is a Rose which speaks of beauty, a Lily that speaks of purity. He is filled with fragrance that transmits something of the loveliness of heaven to us.

Yes, believe it or not there are luxuries in eternity. They are just waiting to be revealed to us. An indescribable beauty, a fragrance rare, a warmth of love, beauty of incandescent love, fountains of light within light, luxuries from which we shall never tire, all containing the beauty of Christ. 

This is the incredible drawing power of our Lord Jesus Christ. He draws us to Himself.

‘“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”’

John 12:32

Men aren’t won to God with bullying but by drawing them. Allow something of the loveliness of Christ to be revealed to you.

Think on this, my friend. He wants to fill your life with exquisite spiritual luxury which is not dependent on your natural happiness, mood or circumstances.  All He is asking is that you enjoy Him.

Come and consider that One who can truly say:

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.”

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Our God has brightened our eyes.’ Ezra 9:8

When our eyes are dull our spirits are often low and our hearts burdened with much. Perhaps there are health issues that make our future skies grey or family matters that trouble us.

When we deliberately choose to turn our gaze on our God, He brightens our eyes.  He fills us with His happiness and vitality. It makes all the difference in all the world. It’s why Christ said:

‘“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’  Matthew 11:28

He wants us not only to find rest from our burdens but happiness of heart.

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

John 15:11

Today, look for it! Begin your Monday morning with a spring in your step no matter what is before you. Turn your face again and again upwards to the living God and find new strength for each dull task. He will reward you.

Surely this is how we preach the gospel, by allowing our eyes to sparkle, our faces to shine and joy to be ours.

May you be much blessed today.

Thought for the week by pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

‘See to it that no-one misses the grace of God.’  Hebrews 12.15

This is some command! It is our duty as Christians to make sure that no one misses the grace of God, so let’s examine what that means.

First of all, what is grace? The Bible describes grace as being undeserved, free, overflowing, glorious and wonderful. It is often linked with peace, kindness, mighty power and mercy. Grace is the favour and kindness of God’s attitude towards us. We read in Ezra Chapter 9 of ‘a brief moment of grace’. We cannot manufacture it, we can only respond to it. We cannot be saved without it. We are dependent on His grace.

However once we have received it the Bible tells us:

‘... my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.’ 2 Timothy 2:1

The grace of God can help us to grow strong. We learn to put our trust in the One who has looked kindly on us. This will encourage and strengthen us.

‘So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.’

Hebrews 4:16

Grace will help us when we most need it. We cannot do anything of eternal significance without His grace and mercy. It’s free and overflowing and will be readily available to us when we truly need it. All we need do is ask for it!

So to sum up grace is the favour and wonderful, free kindness of God towards us.

Looking now at the original verse: ‘See to it that no-one misses the grace of God.’

We realise that although we cannot force others to receive the grace of God we can choose to demonstrate it by our attitude of kindness. In the same way God has been gracious to us we learn to be gracious to others.

If every Christian was overflowing with grace the world would be a better place! Let’s choose this week to offer others what we have received. It may be that they know nothing of the grace of God but through our witness they can begin to realise that there is something more to life; something wonderful, free, glorious and overflowing with peace and mercy, even the grace of God. Surely then we will fulfil this command and no-one will miss out on His grace.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your laws.’  Psalm 119:59

We all need direction at some point in our lives. When our direction is clear we know where we are going and what we are aiming for. When our direction is not clear then we grow confused, we go round in circles and we become weary.  The Bible very pointedly gives us clear directions, like layers that unfold before us. This is what we should be aiming for:

‘You have come to mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.’ Heb 12:22

Here is our ultimate destination, the place we aim to spend eternity. Whilst this life is but a breath we will dwell in the heavenly city for ever.

What will it be like there?

‘You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (v23) to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.’

A joyful assembly of thousands of angels sounds pretty amazing, like the best choir you’ve ever heard. A very happy place to be! But also to a vast number of believers whose names are all written in heaven. Everywhere you turn there will be happiness, joy and salvation.

‘You have come to God, the judge of all men.‘

Here is something that helps us aim high. We have ultimately come to God, the judge of all men. The One who knows everything about us. How fearful it is to be judged and yet what relief to know He knows it all and we need hide nothing from Him anymore. We are accepted into the family of God.

‘To the spirits of righteous men made perfect.’

Not only will we be amongst the believers, good men and women, but amongst those who are made perfect. No more hurt, pain or crying out for justice. No hatred, suspicion, bitterness or cruelty. No secrets or backbiting. Perfect spirits of righteous men with no shadow of sin or evil on any face.

‘To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkler blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.’ (v24)

And ultimately we come to Christ Himself.  The One who is the very centre of heaven, the fountain of Light, loveliness unknown. We will be perfectly satisfied when we see Him. This is our goal. Here is the place of eternal rest, security and pleasure. Here is the One who gives us direction and purpose.

As you ponder the direction of your life, ponder Christ. Let Him guide you step by step until you follow Him with a new strength and  purpose in a straight and clear direction.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

Moses said this about the tribes of Joseph: “May their land be blessed by the Lord with the precious gift of dew from the heavens and water from beneath the earth; with the rich fruit that grows in the sun, and the rich harvest produced each month; with the finest crops of the ancient mountains, and the abundance from the everlasting hills; with the best gifts of the earth and its bounty, and the favor of the one who appeared in the burning bush. May these blessings rest on Joseph’s head, crowning the brow of the prince among his brothers.

Deuteronomy 33:13-16

A lovely blessing, full of richness and fruitfulness. A blessing that we would all want.

Last week we read of Benjamin’s blessing. This week Joseph’s. Both so incredibly rich and full of God. Both speaking of love, provision and rich blessing.

Do you ever wonder what your blessing is? If we were waiting for someone like Moses to speak to us, to lay his hands upon us and give to us a blessing I wonder what he would say. Furthermore what would you like him to say?

What blessing do you seek? Happiness, prosperity, health, a faithful partner? There are many things that we might choose but I wonder what is our blessing.

When I reread Joseph’s blessing I find myself longing for:

‘the finest crops of the ancient mountains, and the abundance from the everlasting hills.’

I love the thought of the provision of the richness of God from of old. Not a new and modern religion that adjusts and changes to encompass all but to hold to the old the holy paths of God. Finest crops from the everlasting mountains sounds perfect. Finest crops within the church. Finest lives that will stand loyal and true and will be rooted and grounded not in the new but the old ways of God. Abundance from the everlasting hills sounds lovely too. The abundance of the presence of God from the eternal everlasting hills.

But the part of Joseph’s blessing that we should all seek whether old or young, modern or traditional is this:

‘the favor of the one who appeared in the burning bush.’

We should seek the favour of God. The blessing which we need more than any other is His approval on our lives. We will find that by living holy lives, by making right choices and following the paths of clean wholesome living, by being upright in all our ways.

I believe anyone can win the favour of God, He has no favourites.  I believe anyone can earn His blessing. Choose Christ the Son and in so doing you will win the favour of the One who appeared in the burning bush, from the ancient mountains and everlasting hills.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘And of Benjamin he said: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between His shoulders.”’ Duet. 33:12

This is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. It is indescribably lovely to think that you and I are the beloved of the Lord. We shall live in safety by Him. The Lord will cover us and protect us all day long. If that were not enough we shall also dwell between His shoulders; His heart.

Benjamin was the youngest of 12 brothers. He was very special to his dad Jacob, the youngest and most vulnerable of a big family. It seems that when Moses at a later point poured out the inheritance blessing on each one of the 12 sons, Benjamin’s portion was peculiarly precious.

We are the youngest of a very large family. Our Heavenly Father has billions of children and yet you and I are somehow singled out - made to feel extremely special. We are the beloved of the Lord.

Let this be your very precious meditation this week. Safe, protected and covered between His shoulders. What a place of quiet rest there is near to the heart of God.

Don’t let life rob you of these precious moments. How often we stop and read something like this and think how nice it is then rush on to the next thing we have to do. This is a very special verse that needs much savouring. Take your time with it. Give your thoughts to it. Let your prayer life centre round it this week and you will discover how much He loves you and how precious you are to Him.

What confidence it gives us to know how deeply loved we are. We can go out facing any difficulties knowing that we are safely protected between His shoulders.

May this verse bring you the blessing it has brought me.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Let us throw off everything that hinders ... and let us run.’ Heb 12:1

Is this not a good word? I love the last part ‘let us run’. It brings a sense of freedom, of wide open spaces and being like a child again running for the sheer fun of it.

Oh to be like this spiritually: to cast every care aside, throw off everything and just run for the sheer pleasure of running into the freedom and presence of God. We seem to grow more complicated with age. Perhaps that’s why Christ said:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

We need to forget ‘everything that hinders’.  What is that to you? Work? Finances? Worry about family? Health? Colleagues? Exams? The list is endless! Whatever your ‘everything’ is, throw it off. Yes, this translation says THROW! Don’t tuck it away in a corner for later, just throw it away as if you were putting it in the bin.

Then run! Run into God, into His light, His power, His freedom. Run into His heart. There is a place prepared for you there to enjoy the most exquisite fellowship imaginable.

There is no comparison between our ‘burdens’ and His glory. Once you have seen His glory, heard His voice, felt His touch, smelt His garments and tasted of His sweetness there can never again be anything that can ever stop you from throwing everything aside and running.

Thought for the week by Pastor Diana Rutherford

by Struthers Cumbernauld

 ‘Consider Him ... so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’ Heb 12: 3

There are times when we all need to draw aside and have special times with family or a close friend. A mother craves the company of her children, even when they are older, those special moments when the busyness of the day ceases and hearts are frank and open. It’s these moments that make us what we are and connect us to each other.

The same rule applies in the spiritual world. If we are to have a unique relationship with our Heavenly Father and with Christ, the Well Beloved of our souls, then we must have special times of being alone to consider Him.

Consider Him doesn’t mean thinking about ourselves or pouring out a list of needs to God. It means reflecting on the kind of person Christ was and is. It means thinking no longer of ‘me’ but of Him. This is not a simple task and requires some amount of concentration and motivation to achieve. We can physically draw aside from the busyness of life but still be busy inside. Consider Him means to stop the actions and the thoughts, the whirl of our minds and allow time for sweet contemplation of our Lord Jesus.

So how do we manage to achieve this? Not on our own that’s for sure, but with the power of the Holy Spirit. For me it works this way. I prepare myself sometimes for days. I encourage a hunger to grow in my heart for that special revelation when I can consider Him. I read material* that draws me closer to Christ. When I find a phrase or a sentence or small portion that speaks to me I concentrate on it. This morsel can last a day, a week or even longer. When something speaks to us like that we shouldn’t just gloss over it and run on for the next crumb. Take time, let the morsel become a meal and the meal a feast. Let Christ step out of the words on the page. Let Him speak to your heart and have those special moments when the busyness of the day ceases and hearts are frank and open. Yes, Christ can be frank and open with you and as you begin to grasp what He is saying you learn to open your own complicated, confused being to His beautiful simplicity. His touch, as we consider His perfection, sorts everything for us. It stills the storm, it helps us to understand where we went wrong, it helps us to face up to our mistakes and we learn to be at peace with ourselves. Our soul is brought into a closeness of fellowship with Christ as is described:

‘the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’  1 Samuel 18:1b

Our soul is knit with Christ’s and we will learn to experience the love Christ has for us. In return, our heats become soft and open, willing to hear whatever words He wants to drop into our soul.

‘His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely.’

Song of Solomon 5:16a

It doesn’t matter what He says, when we truly consider Him, we can receive it. His words are sweet and bring true life, peace and the abundance of blessing to us.

We will learn a vital lesson, one that every Christian should learn although few truly find their way into the deeps. Our true source of strength is in fellowship totally alone with Christ. We shall not grow weary and lose heart. In fact the opposite will happen for us. We will grow strong and be encouraged, for we have learned how to truly consider Him.

*Reading material that I find helpful might be useful to others.

The Bible of course! The writings of Amy Carmichael, C H Spurgeon and Samuel Rutherford, J Hudson Taylor’s Union and Communion.