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URC Daily Devotions

Six Reflections on the Trinity

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 06:00
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Six Reflections on theTrinity

Dear <<First Name>>

I hope you've enjoyed our journey through the Johanine Epistles and have gained new perspectives on them for both faith and life. l We now have a short series written by the Rev'd Dr Alan Spence on the Holy Trinity.  
 
Alan is a URC minister who retired, earlier this year from a pastorate in Kent  but still serves as the Convener of the Faith and Order Committee.  He was ordained in the Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa and has worked in the URC since 2001.  Like all good theologians (Alan has written a number of books including  Christology: A Guide for the Perplexed, The Promise of Peace: A Unified Theory of the Atonement, and Love Hurts: The Heart of the Christian Story) he is able to deal with complex ideas in a clear straightforward manner.  
 
Over the next 6 days we will see, from the Old and New Testaments, how ideas about God being one underpin both the Jewish and Christian understanding of God and the paradox that arose with the realisation that Jesus was Lord and was, and is, worshipped and adored along with the Holy Spirit who, the early Church realised, was guide and animator.  Alan weaves together 6 key Biblical passages which show the early Christian understandings of the Trinity with poetry, prayer and even quotations from the Athanasian creed.    At the same time Alan makes these key ideas clear and vital for our own discipleship and understanding of God.
 
In an age when Christians often find it difficult to articulate our belief in the Trinity it's good to set aside a week to read, reflect, think and pray through our central belief in God.
 
with every good wish

Andy

Andy Braunston
Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC Project

 

  
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URC Daily Devotion 6th July 2019

Sat, 06/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 6th July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

3 John 1: 9 - 15

I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Everyone has testified favourably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true.  I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face. Peace to you. The friends send you their greetings. Greet the friends there, each by name. Reflection

Short letter, long division?

This short letter highlights some painful tensions in church life. There are two names in today’s verses, who never surface elsewhere in the Bible. All that we know about them is here, in and (to some extent hypothetically) between the lines.

Diotrephes (9) appears to be a local church leader, who does not want John, or anyone else, telling him what to do. He has stopped his congregation giving hospitality to travelling preachers whom John sent out. This has upset John, and he means to challenge Diotrephes – when he can get there to do so (10).

Demetrius (12), by contrast, is clearly someone John trusts. He may be one of the missionaries mentioned above. He may even be the person carrying the letter.

And the point of the letter? To persuade its recipient, Gaius, to give Demetrius and his team a friendly welcome and strong support. If Diotrephes has blocked their coming, John wants to make sure that this attitude won’t spread. He feels he can depend on Gaius, and the letter is an attempt to make sure.

Behind the personalities are important issues. Mission is one: people who take the faith to new places do need support from the rest of us. Disagreement is another: conflict can be a growth point, but some church conflict damages people and blocks the spread of the faith; we need to be careful when we disagree. Tension between local congregation and wider church can be healthy too, if it helps us to listen to each other. But the attitude of Diotrephes, “who likes to put himself first” (9), will generally cause problems wherever it crops up.

Behind all of this is what the letter calls “the truth” (12). This is a theme in all three of John’s letters. It centres on ‘confessing Jesus’, believing that his human life embodied the personal involvement and love of God. This belief shapes and sustains Christian fellowship. It holds us together, and motivates us to believe that difficulties and misunderstandings in church life are worth trying to overcome.

Prayer

God whose love is known in crucifixion,
teach us that truth matters
more than ego,

fellowship more than pride,
your purpose more than our position.

God whose power is seen in resurrection,
teach us hope when we meet trouble,
wisdom when we disagree,
and persistence in love.
For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Today's Writer

The Revd John Proctor, member at Downing Place URC, Cambridge, and General Secretary of the URC.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 5th July 2019

Fri, 05/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 5th July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

3 John 1: 1 - 8

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.  I was overjoyed when some of the friends arrived and testified to your faithfulness to the truth, namely, how you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you;  they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on in a manner worthy of God; for they began their journey for the sake of Christ, accepting no support from non-believers. Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may become co-workers with the truth. Reflection With the advent of the email have we lost the art of letter writing?  In 3 John we have the briefest of openings to an Epistle typical of a secular letter of its time: first the greeting, next the prayer for good health, after that the main body of the letter with its news, and then final greetings. Early Christian letters were the kind of letters which people wrote to each other every day.

Some Christians from Gaius' region have reported to the author of Gaius' ‘faithfulness to the truth’.  We know nothing of Gaius except he was a lay person, a convert of the author’s perhaps, (later tradition makes him bishop of Pergamum). Gaius is praised for his extraordinary hospitality offered to some itinerant Christians.

In our modern world we wouldn’t claim hospitality as a mark of ‘faithfulness to the truth’. But in the ancient world it was much more than offering an occasional meal. Here truth is integrated with love. This would include financial assistance as well as other support so that these missionaries might fulfil the vocation to which God has called them. The ancient practice of a local stipend as a living allowance to enable ministers to live does sound familiar!

The author's response to this situation is to rejoice and to urge Gaius to continue offering such hospitality. But the author is doing more than merely requesting Gaius show the same hospitality to the missionaries when they return. He is appealing to a broader principle: all people should be supported in this way. By giving such support, Christians like Gaius become ‘co-workers in the truth’ loyally living in Christian obedience. Can we make the same claim? To fulfil this responsibility is to play our part in ‘spreading the truth’ for it is both our Christian duty and an act of Christian love.  

Prayer

Welcoming God,
whose love is boundless
and whose compassion
makes no distinction
between friend and stranger,
grant us generosity of Spirit
that we may faithfully walk in the truth.
Turn our indifference into hospitality
and our hard-heartedness into care
that we may participate
as true co-workers in your kingdom. Amen.

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Nicola Furley-Smith, Moderator of Southern Synod.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 4th July 2019

Thu, 04/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 4th July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

2 John 1: 7 - 13

Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist!  Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Do not receive into the house or welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person.  Although I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink; instead I hope to come to you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete. The children of your elect sister send you their greetings. Reflection It’s hardly surprising that the early Christians were victims of false and confused messages spread by the ‘many deceivers’ whom John mentions here. After all Christianity was new and the message of love, and a Kingdom where everyone looked after everyone else, was utterly counter-cultural. It was fertile ground for the heretics who spread inaccurate stories about the new religion. Maybe I’m being generous by suggesting the heretics thought what they said was indeed true Christianity.

Perhaps more surprising is that little has changed. In the 21st Century there are people who speak as Christians and claim that their faith prevents them from engaging with sections of society, that it means they condemn other people and lifestyles, or makes them behave in certain ways. They often preface their views by stating that they speak on behalf of Christianity. The difficult bit for me, is that they believe what they say.

John is very clear in this passage; we must not let these people into the house, which seems quite harsh to us today. However, in the 1st Century missionaries relied hand-to-mouth for a living, on the hospitality of Christians; and if as a Christian you hosted a missionary, it indicated that you shared that missionary’s views. Hence in a culture where hospitality was crucial, John said don’t offer anything!

John was urging the early Christians to speak out and act against people who preached anything other than God’s love. He encouraged people to love and care for one another as Christ did before.

For 21st Century disciples, the message of John’s second letter is still spot-on: we must speak out against those who say Jesus’s love is exclusive of any sections of society, and most of all, we must share that message of a Kingdom of love - with everyone. No exceptions.

Prayer

Lord Jesus
we know your love is all-encompassing
and we pray that you will walk with us
sharing the times when we struggle
to stand up for what we know to be right.
Help us Lord, to spread the message
of your love for everyone
to everyone
Amen
 

Today's Writer

Linda Rayner - Elder at Bramhall URC, URC Coordinator for Fresh Expressions (fx) and  fx Missioner at Cheadle Hulme Methodist.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 3rd July 2019

Wed, 03/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 3rd July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

2 John 1: 4 - 6

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we have been commanded by the Father. But now, dear lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it. Reflection I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have met this lady who is obviously highly respected by John, and entrusted to deliver his words of life and hope to her and her household. It might be possible that she was an older, more maternal character who had responsibility for lots of children. Perhaps she was a widow, but her life had been influential through her Christian faith which had touched the lives of at least some of her wards. On the other hand perhaps she was the host, or even one of the leaders of one of the churches which met in her house, something which happened much during the early days of the Church. Whoever she was she had made her mark in such a way that John feels it is worth mentioning here. He feels however, the need to endorse the new commandment of love which Jesus gave to them, by not just knowing the words themselves, but in walking in them. This is very needful for us all and easy though it is to say, or listen to in a sermon, the proof of our commitment as well as the truth in which we are believing, has to be seen to be evidenced by action. This is not an attitude that can be suddenly exhibited but one needs to walk in love which is genuine, deep in ones’ spirit, working out not only on a Sunday when everyone else can see it, but day by day, even when life is not being loving towards us. As my Mother used to say to me, “It’s not enough to say you will do something, but you must live it, and be it.”
 

Prayer

Loving Saviour,
who taught us the way of love,

touch our hearts in a new
and transforming way,

that we may not just speak
the truth of such love,

but walk in it, work from it and share it
from our lives and hearts
witnessing to the reality of that love

every day of every year
that you grant us life.

Through the Name of Jesus,
who is our example. 
Amen.
 

Today's Writer

Verena Walder, Lay Preacher and Elder, Tabernacle URC, Mumbles.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 2nd July 2019

Tue, 02/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 2nd July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

2 John 1: 1 - 3

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us for ever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, in truth and love. Reflection Since I first came across the short - only thirteen verses long - and curious second letter of John, I have been intrigued about the identity of ‘the elect (or chosen) lady and her children’!

While some commentators do think that this does refer to an individual family, more consider that this is a code where ‘the lady’ represents a Church community, and ‘the children’ denotes its individual members on the grounds that it seems unlikely at this stage in Christian history that one family would have been so prominently known.  

I wonder what provoked the writer of 2 John to need to write in code?  Reading the letter as a whole it would seem that this was written in a time when the Church was being persecuted and perhaps the ‘false teachers’ were not false in the sense that they were attempting to lead the faithful astray through suspect teaching but rather that they were spies from those persecuting the community posing as visiting teachers and preachers!  

Codes have a long pedigree as a method of hiding messages.  Arguably the last thing that today’s Church needs or ought to be doing is working in code.  If ever there was a need to speak plainly that is today. But different parts of the Church do use a certain code.  I am aware in my ministry developing an ecumenical county with friends in other denominations that we each have our own shorthand and ways of speaking that seem normal to each but strange or even impenetrable to our friends.  Different parts of the theological spectrum have different ways of speaking too. Perhaps we need to check ourselves to see if we are actually talking in code when really we need to speaking plainly? Do we think we are talking plainly - without jargon - but actually might as well be speaking in a different language as far as those outside the Church - the people we are yearning to reach - are concerned? 

Prayer

God of the elect lady and her children,
teach us how to speak plainly.  
Plainly of you.  
Plainly of the Good News
taught by Jesus.  

Plainly of the Good News of the Kingdom.
So that we might help others
see the way to be your disciples.  
Help us to repent of our jargon
and to let go of the codes we use.  
In the name of Jesus,
Amen
 

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Sarah Moore is a member of Carver Uniting Church, Windermere, and is currently serving as President of the United Reformed Church in Cumbria

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 1st July 2019

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 1st July 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 5: 18 - 21

We know that those who are born of God do not sin, but the one who was born of God protects them, and the evil one does not touch them. We know that we are God’s children, and that the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Reflection A difficult passage to conclude this letter. It is perhaps no wonder that one commentator suggests that it is unclear and that there is little agreement as to what it means, or even why the last sentence is there at all.

Yet certainty is there in the three-fold statement of knowledge. We know that the Christian is freed from the power of sin; that the Christian lives in a world where there is sin; and that the Christian is given understanding and discernment. Hence a Christian is able to differentiate between a life which is dominated by sin and by idols and a life lived in the truth of God as exemplified in Jesus Christ.

That of course is easy to say, but a lot less easy for the Christian to acknowledge and to put into practice. However, William Barclay commenting on this passage in the Daily Study Bible [1] suggests that “we live in a civilisation permeated by Christian principles … [where people] accept the ideals of chastity, mercy, service, love.” Even if that were true when Barclay was writing, I doubt if many people would be so sure that it reflected 2019 Britain.

Recent events, especially as portrayed in the media, suggest that Britons might be more likely to be unfaithful, ruthless, selfish and self-centred. This might be exemplified in the bitter debate regarding Brexit, unresolved as I write. Little charity has been displayed between the protagonists, although, mercifully, demonstrations and events have been relatively peaceful. Entrenched positions on all sides have been raised to the status of idols.

John’s charge to us as Christians is to use the freedom given to us in Christ to strive to keep ourselves and the world from idolatry. Have we so striven? Or have we just acquiesced?

[1] Daily Study Bible, William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, Revised Edition 1976, Westminster Press

Prayer

Before God, with the people of God,
we confess to our brokenness:
to the ways we wound our lives,
the lives of others and the life of the world
May God forgive you, Christ renew you,
And the spirit enable you to grow in love.
Amen.


Daily Office of the Iona Community

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 30th June 2019

Sun, 30/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 30th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Psalm 103

1 Praise God, my soul! With all my heart
Let me exalt his holy name.
2 Forget not all his benefits;
His praise, my soul, in song proclaim.
3 The LORD forgives you all your sins,
And heals your sickness and distress;
4 Your life he rescues from the grave,
And crowns you in his tenderness.

5 He satisfies your deep desires
From his unending stores of good,
So that, just like the eagle’s strength,
Your youthful vigour is renewed.
6 The LORD is known for righteous acts
And justice to downtrodden ones.
7 To Moses he made known his ways,
His mighty deeds to Israel’s sons.

8 The LORD is merciful and kind,
To anger slow, and full of grace.
9 He will not constantly reprove,
Or in his anger hide his face.
10 He does not punish our misdeeds,
Or give our sins their just reward.
11 How great his love—as high as heaven—
Towards all those who fear the LORD!

12 As far as east is from the west,
So far his love has borne away
Our many sins and trespasses
And all the guilt that on us lay.
13 Just as a father loves his child,
So God loves those who fear his name.
14 For he remembers we are dust,
And well he knows our feeble frame.

15 Each human life is like the grass,
And like a meadow flower it grows.
16 Its place will never be recalled
Once over it the tempest blows.
17 But everlasting is God’s love
For those who fear him, and their seed—
18 For those who keep his covenant,
And carefully his precepts heed.

19 God’s kingly rule is over all;
In heavèn he has set his throne.
20 O you his angels, praise the LORD,
Strong ones by whom his will is done.
21 O praise the LORD, you heavenly hosts,
His servants who perform his word.
22 Praise God, his works throughout his realm,
And you, my soul, O praise the LORD!

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the, stunning, tune Before the Throne of God Above here.
 
Reflection
The practice of mindfulness – bringing one's attention to experiences occurring in the present moment – is not new. Whilst increased prominence has come through popular authors and popular apps alike, its roots go back centuries.

Over the last forty years, mindfulness has played a part also in therapeutic approaches to a range of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. Studies have indicated it can significantly reduce the kinds of rumination and worry that too often lead to poor mental health. A focus upon the present can be powerful indeed.

Today's Psalm is in the form of a “note to self”, but the invitation is to all of us to identify with the Psalmist in a kind of holy mindfulness. Here is a litany of praise and thankfulness in which our attention is drawn above all to the “now” of God's gracious disposition towards us. “The LORD forgives... heals... rescues...” - therefore our response of worship is likewise brought forth right now, not assigned to some arcane schedule.

Not that the Psalmist is oblivious to the place of past and future in God's dealings with us. The LORD who is perceived today in acts of righteousness and justice (v6) is the same LORD who ministered to Moses and the Israelites in deeds of power (v7); and just as this God remembers the dust of our creation (v14), so we do well not to forget God's presence and power (v2). Meanwhile, even if we can't perceive precisely what lies in store, the Psalmist affirms that it is simply not in God's nature to consign us to everlasting reproach (v9).

Above all, though, it seems that mindfulness of the present is the order of the day. Perhaps we find its echo in the summons of Jesus – who told a parable of a great banquet for which the invitation said “Come, for everything is ready NOW” (Luke 14:17). A banquet for which the host accepts no delays or deferral.

Prayer

This day, Sovereign God,
open my eyes to your wonder,
open my ears to your voice,
open my whole being to your presence.

Draw forth from me, O Lord,
thankfulness for all that has been,
confidence for all that is to come,
but above all,
wholehearted praise
for this present moment.

And may my praise be joined
with the worship that all creation offers.
Amen.

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Dominic Grant, Minister at Trinity URC Wimbledon

Bible Version

 
Sing Psalms! © Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 29th June 2019

Sat, 29/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 29th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 5: 13 - 17

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him. If you see your brother or sister committing what is not a mortal sin, you will ask, and God will give life to such a one—to those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin that is mortal; I do not say that you should pray about that.  All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not mortal. Reflection Our reading today starts with what sounds like a conclusion to 1 John, telling us why it was written. Then we have the postscript urging us to have the confidence to be bold in prayer.  It reminds us that we know that God hears our prayers and so we have obtained the requests that we have made, so long as they are in accordance with God’s will.

That is a very powerful claim. We don’t need to spend time looking for the answer to prayer, because our prayer will be answered. That doesn’t mean that our prayer will be answered at the time we expect, or in the ways that we might anticipate, or even in ways that we can recognise. Nevertheless, we can pray in the confidence that God will hear us.

Perhaps, then, we need to concentrate on discerning God’s will, so that we can get our prayers ‘right’. On the other hand, God clearly knows God’s will and it’s God who will be answering our prayers. Surely, then, what we need to be identifying are the people, places and situations that God wants us to pray about and leaving the details up to God. Yet how often do we ask God for guidance on what we should be praying about?

The other aspect of this is how our prayers will change us and the way in which we respond to people and situations. Is this why we are urged to pray for forgiveness for others? Will that help us to forgive them ourselves and to include them fully in our fellowship? If our first prayer is to ask God what we should be praying about, then our second prayer needs to be to ask God how we can begin to answer our own prayers.
 

Prayer

Living and Loving God,
help me to know deep within myself
that you hear my prayers.
Give me the confidence
to be bold in prayer.
Show me the people, places and situations
that you want me to pray about.
Open me to your will for them.
Guide me in how I can begin
to answer my own prayers.
Thanks be to God!
Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Jacky Embrey, Moderator of the Mersey Synod.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 28th June 2019

Fri, 28/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 28th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 5: 6 - 12

This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.  If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. Reflection This single, strong powerful testimony. That is all we need written on our hearts.

Many of us, I’m sure, will find the concept of ‘testimony’ daunting. But that’s on the assumption that a testimony is simply standing up in front of lots of people saying how they came to know Jesus. Not an easy task. Particularly if, like me, you grew up in the Church anyway, and/or you struggle to pinpoint an exact time at which you first came to know Jesus. But this delivery is the most common association with the word. Testimony as a word is actually far simpler than this. Deriving from the Latin word ‘testis’ (yes, I chuckled too!), but meaning ‘witness’. Best to leave that there... But that’s really all it is, a witness!

The testimony of God is manifested through Jesus Christ. The life Jesus lived was a witness to God’s power, glory and love for the world. The ‘ultimate witness’ was seen at Eastertide. The biggest sacrifice that could have been made, was made by God, giving his only Son. This is the very testimony we must tell. We must be witness to the living God. It’s important that the life we live out, the life others see, is a testimony. Others need to see the Jesus in us, see us living a Christ-like life, imitating him closely.

We don’t need to be confident at public speaking to ‘do’ testimony. We are all testimonies through our everyday life. Some may find that daunting and pressurising, perhaps feeling watched, or judged? But rest assured, similar to my encounters in the gym, people will actually only pay attention to the bits that you do well! So make those good bits shine, make your Christ-like characteristics shine!
 

Prayer

Living God,
help us to be
the confident person in the gym,
help us to let our actions be visible,
and be known
actions inspired by you,
by the life your Son led on this earth.
So that all may see the witness
we have to offer
the witness of your love for us,
and your saving grace
Amen.

Today's Writer

Dan Morrell, former URC Youth Assembly Moderator, member of St Andrew’s, Roundhay.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 27th June 2019

Thu, 27/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 27th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

I John 5: 1 - 5

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? Reflection What, to the apostle, seem logical steps may seem a lot less clear to us. If you love God, then you’ll love his children. The problem is, that children aren’t necessarily like their parents. You may well have good friends whose children you have always found stubbornly unlikeable. Love the parent, Yes! But the children, No!

So far as life in God’s family is concerned, there are going to be times when it’s hard to feel warmly towards those we are commanded to love. When I ministered in Yorkshire I sometimes heard the phrase “Chapels and choirs: nowt but strife” – and I think not always uttered by the outsider looking in. Having significant things in common sometimes accentuates those human differences that mark any community, and which in church life result in what we should experience as a school for saints becoming at best a much-needed hospital for sinners.

Yet it’s within this sometimes fractious community (and remember that John is writing to church members: they know what it’s like) that we may just learn that what at first seemed impossible can somehow be achieved. Without necessarily all being the best of friends, we realise that we can work together, listening to one another and learning from one another, and discover together what God may be asking of us in our particular time and circumstances.

So the bald statement “his commands are not burdensome” may turn out to be more than wishful thinking. If we could just escape the human logic that links loving and liking too closely, we might recognise that within the company of believers, for all our shortcomings, there is something powerful at work as we try to align ourselves with God’s loving purposes. Even here, there may just be glimpses of that “victory that conquers the world!”
 

Prayer

Loving God
though we are challenged by your commandments
may our love for you be real
and may that love be reflected
in the life we share as children within your family.  Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d John Durell, retired minister and member of Waddington Street URC, Durham.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
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URC Daily Devotion 26th June 2019

Wed, 26/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 26th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 4: 16 - 21 

JuGod is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgement, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. Reflection This is quite a reading. On first glance, the reader may well pass over it, thinking it to be ‘yet another mushy reading about love’. But read on, and we’ll find it packs more of a punch than first we realised.

Having a younger brother, I know how hard it is to love our siblings all the time, yet love them we must; and that doesn’t just mean our biological siblings, but all those we come across from day to day. Christian, or not. Friendly, or not. Man or woman; rich or poor; young or old - there is no exception in God’s eyes.

But what does this mean for us?

Well, you know that Church Meeting where you’re planning to kick up a fuss? Perhaps re-read what you’re going to say, so you can truly say it in love.  You know that person who always parks in your space at work? Perhaps consider how appropriate the note on their windscreen is. That homeless person you pass every day on the way to the newsagent? Perhaps consider whether you really need the loose change in your pocket.

This is love, I hear you say, but how is it Christian love? Isn’t Christian love about praying? Well, says James’ Epistle, “…faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” Jesus, in His earthly ministry, didn’t spend all day praying for others from within the Synagogue - He got out and about and helped those He came across: we love because He first loved us.

It seems that our faith is shown through our actions, and our actions are shaped by our faith.

Funny how things work out, really.

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
at times, we forget that showing
and sharing Christian love
is the cornerstone of our faith.
May we,
empowered by Your grace and mercy,
be ever ready to share that love
with others, ‘using words if necessary’.
Amen

Today's Writer

Michael RJ Topple is training to be a Lay Preacher, and is a member of Chappel URC, Essex.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
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URC Daily Devotion 25th June 2019

Tue, 25/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 25th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 4: 13 - 16

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
 
Reflection I simply can’t abide … How often have we all thought that?  A negative attitude and the first one the dictionary gave me when I looked up “abide”.  Let’s change it to a positive and marvel that Jesus abides us, He abides me; and I deserve nothing but He knew this and sent His Spirit to help sort me out.  

We abide in God and God abides in us.  Sometimes when life is good it is easy to accept that we abide with God. What about people who do not have all that we have?  Do they abide in God and does He abide in them? John does not suggest that abiding in God has anything to do with wealth or success but is it all to do with attitude and acceptance of the truth of Jesus.  We can look at Christians who have a lot less than us and see them rejoice in their faith and their abiding in Jesus. Our faith is not a transient thing but a lifelong experience. The United Reformed Church has a programme called Commitment for Life that links us with people in other places who lack the material wealth that most people in the UK have.  It is the word “Commitment” that matters here, if we are truly committed to abiding in Jesus then we will also be committed to helping those who need our help and prayers.

“So we have known and believe the love that God has for us”.  What a marvellous statement from John and one we can relate to as if we had not known that love we would not be reading this (or writing it).  God’s love changes us from people who we probably could not abide into people who abide in God because He abides in us.
 

Prayer

Almighty and loving God,
Thank you for abiding in me,
for not rejecting me.
and transforming me
so that I also abide in You.
I confess Jesus as Lord and ask that He will be Lord of every part of my life,
that He will direct my thoughts and deeds.
Help me to give to  those with so little who also abide with You,
Amen

Today's Writer

John Collings. Lay Preacher and member of Rutherglen URC.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
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URC Daily Devotion 24th June 2019

Mon, 24/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 24th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

I John 4: 7 - 12

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. Reflection “You can have the sound of a thousand voices calling your name…” sang Shinedown; the song continued, “The one thing you leave behind is how did you love?”  

Paul tells us “I could speak in the tongues of mortals or of angels, but if I have not love, I am just a noisy gong” (1 Corinthians 13:1) Love is mentioned 13 times in today’s passage encouraging us to love one another as God has loved us and because God has loved us from before we came to love him.  So how do we love? Do we offer comfort to the bereaved? Hope to those in despair? Welcome to the stranger? Food to the hungry? Voice to the silent? Do we seek to be rewarded for the love we offer or do we love because we cannot help ourselves. Victor Hugo once said “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving”.  God’s love is all encompassing and was present even before we realised it. He gave without counting the cost when he sent his son for us. How can we respond but with love for all without the need for the spotlight, or secret agenda of payback when needed. Love should be unconditional, absolute and available to all. God has shown us how, and, as Isaac Watts reminds us “love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”
 
 

Prayer

God of Love,
thank you that you first loved me,
so that I may know I am loved completely.

Lord of Love,
help me to love without looking for reward.  
Help me to love my neighbour –
friend or stranger –
that your love is reflected through me.

Spirit of Love,
inspire my actions
that they may all be guided by love
so that you live in me and my life is of you.  
Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Ruth Watson, Minister of Patricroft and Worsley Road URCs.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 23rd June 2019

Sun, 23/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 23rd June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Psalm 102 1-22

1 LORD, listen to my prayer,
And hear my cry for aid.
2 Hide not your face from me,
For I am so afraid.
Incline your ear to me in need;
And, when I call, be swift to heed.

3 Like smoke my days are gone;
My bones are burned away.
4 My appetite is lost;
My heart is parched like hay.
5 Because of my incessant groans
I am no more than skin and bones.

6 I’m like a desert owl,
An owl midst tumbled stone,
7 Or bird upon a roof—
I lie awake, alone.
8 My foes revile me all day long;
My haters mock my name in song.

9 For ashes are my food;
I weep incessantly
10 Because in your great wrath
You have abandoned me.
11 My days like evening shadows pass;
I wither like the sun-dried grass.

12 But you, O LORD, are set
For ever on your throne;
Through each succeeding age
Endures your great renown.
13 You will arise in mighty power;
On Zion mercy you will shower.

The set time now has come
To bless Jerusalem.
14 Her stones your saints hold dear;
Her dust is mourned by them.
15 Nations will fear your name, O LORD;
All kings on earth your praise record.

16 For God will yet appear
In glorious might to reign;
The LORD in grace will build
Jerusalem again.
17 The prayers of the poor he’ll heed;
He will not spurn their cry of need.

18 Let this be written down
To teach a future race,
So people yet unborn
May magnify his grace:
19 That from his holy place above
The LORD looked down in tender love.

From heav’n he viewed the earth
Observing all mankind,
20 To hear the groans of those
In prison cells confined,
And to deliver from on high
A multitude condemned to die.

21 In Zion will be praised
The LORD’s exalted name;
His praises will be sung
Within Jerusalem,
22 When peoples and their kingdoms throng
To serve the LORD with cheerful song.

The Editors of Sing Psalms suggest the tune Love Unknown for this Psalm.  You can hear it here.
 
Reflection The direct clarity of these words allows the images to speak for themselves – and deeply to us.

Verses 1-11 cry out with such anguish that we cannot but be taken to the dark-side of our human condition and to recollections of worldly and personal distress.

Jerusalem has been destroyed and the dust of her renown is mourned.
Then the groaning gives way to trust and hope with the simple word ‘but’.

It is a small word, yet very powerful. It causes a pause; a moment to stop the tumbling words of pain and to think again.

We humans face so much pain, ‘but’…
Post-Brexit Britain is deeply divided, ‘but’…
We are judged, stereotyped and separated, ‘but’.
Social media can glorify eating disorders, suicide and hate speech, ‘but’…
Some folk can sit at home all week; seeing no-one, ‘but’…
I am so busy with family, work and everything else, ‘but’…

So many creative moments and times in our daily lives, full of potential, when we need to stop, to pause, to consider another truth; to change the narrative - ‘but… you, O Lord, are set forever on your throne’.

In these ‘but’ moments, receive the truth sent down the years
God hears us
God does not want groaning and wrath for us or for any.
God delivers us.
God loves us.

‘Let this be written down to teach a future race, so people yet unborn may magnify his grace: that from his holy place above the Lord looked down in tender love.’

 
 

Prayer

God, the depth of my being,
you cause me to pause and you fill those moments with such possibility;
to take a breath from anguished words,
to stop and see
the flame of hope in the dark,
to see your truth written through succeeding years;
you are with me in tender love.
Thank you.
May I know this in the here and now.
May I share this through your Spirit.
Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Martin Knight, Minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon

Bible Version

 
Sing Psalms! © Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank St, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 22nd June 2019

Sat, 22/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 22nd June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 4: 1 - 6

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus[a] is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.  Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore what they say is from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Reflection We Christians like to be very nice, and  can be very sentimental while we're at it. But this is a passage calling us to be discerning, and, yes, discriminatory, even critical; we don't find ourselves comfortable with this. There are a lot of attractive things and ideas out there, but not every attractive impulse is of God. We have to exercise our judgement, and that is not always easy.

There are insistent spirits, pulling us in all sorts of directions, not all of them helpful. There are the membership statistics to increase - or a decrease to stem. A few more socials, or meals, should do the trick. Nothing the matter with this, of itself. But the cart goes behind the horse, not in front. Bible Study can be boring, but it should lead, not follow.  A fellowship spiritually forged can well be cemented by bands of fellowship and food, but it doesn't often work in reverse order.

The story of the Sheep and the Goats is a salutary one. There are far too many starving people around, certainly for a nation as rich as we are. It is an authentic spirit which leads to support Food Banks, and also to ask why they are needed. But if we let this take over, the authentic spirit drowns out a siren voice, which can lead to political action becoming an end in itself, rather than a proper consequence of Christian witness.

One of our denomination's leaders has pointed out that we are not called upon to be successful, but we are called upon to be faithful. Or maybe it is that an authentic spirit enables us to see success in God's terms, rather than the world's. Those are surely the only relevant criteria.

Prayer

O Lord, we are so busy,
we don't like to waste a moment,
with so much to do
and we feel virtuous after we've done it;
how out of order is that?
What we don't seem able to do,
Lord, is to stop;
to stop and listen to the spirits,
to welcome the authentic ones,
and reject the attractive spurious ones.
Lord, teach us again to recognise the ones that indeed come from you.

Today's Writer

Ed Strachan, Lay Preacher, Heald Green URC

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
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URC Daily Devotion 21st June 2019

Fri, 21/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 21st June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 3: 23 - 24

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. Reflection I often think that as Christians we have confused the Gospel value of love with the social value of liking people.  It’s not helped by the paucity of English in trying to translate the various Greek words for love - we can mean the emotions we feel for our family, the affection we feel for friends, the power of eroticism and selfless service of others in this term love.  Often, however, we major on whether we like someone or not.  Of course it’s good if we like those we encounter in our daily lives, in our workplaces and in our churches but whether, or not, we like them is irrelevant to the command to love.

The writer of 1 John sees the command to love as being on a par with the command to believe in Jesus.  That’s quite something. Often in our credal statements - classic, from the Reformation era or contemporary - we focus on beliefs, finely honed words to reflect our deepest theological ideas.  Yet we rarely, if ever, focus on our behaviour as a facet of Christian belief. Maybe if we did we’d find a third way between those who, rightly, focus on the importance of sound doctrine and those who, again rightly, focus on the importance of living well.  

Prayer

God our lover,
help us to love even those we don’t like.
God our lover,
help us to be faithful to you
in our beliefs and in our actions,
that the world may believe in
and love you.
Amen.
 

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is a minister in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster serving congregations in Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 20th June 2019

Thu, 20/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 20th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 3: 18 -  22

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him. Reflection As I prepare to attend and read through the papers for a residential synod meeting in a few days, I wonder where this passage sits?  I have no doubt that the meeting will be flooded with words and speech. Some of this will be positive and encouraging, some will be frustrating and depressing.  Some will, hopefully, be challenging and inspiring. Such events are always good opportunities to catch up and share experiences, discover and become more informed.  However, what will happen when we leave and return to our respective pastorates? Will the papers be neatly filed or shredded with a brief summary report presented at the next elders’ and church meeting?  Will it all just be words and speech?

We are really good at words and speech.  We are also good at rituals, systems and creating importance.  The problems arise though when all this drains us of energy, we sideline the influence and impact of that truth and we become too weary to act.  What follows is the negativity of scepticism and criticism together with all those missed opportunities. Too often we need reminding that our perceived greatness is nothing compared with the actual greatness of God.

Today we once again read that it’s all about a love that should be both seen and experienced.  We might say the right words but how willing are we to take responsibility and actually act on them and live them out?  

As God’s love for us was put into action through the sacrifice of Jesus; how can you demonstrate in practical ways the love you say you have and the truth you stand by? Don’t let your ego and what you say distract you from having a love that is far more than word or speech.
 

Prayer

God of compassion,
in this moment I seek your greatness.
Consume me with your presence
so that I can love in truth and action.
A love that is more that word and speech.
Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d David Scott is Minister of Duke Street & Saughtonhall URCs in Edinburgh.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 19th June 2019

Wed, 19/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 19th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 3: 11 - 17

For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them.  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Reflection A compass is a simple instrument but very effective. When we have lost our bearings we can be re-orientated. Throughout the Scriptures we discover the ‘compass’ of God’s love. Invariably it points away from us.  In this passage we read once more that our love should be directed to others. We are mistaken if we think it should be pointed to ourselves. On the rare occasion when we hold a compass and it points to us then if we are to follow it we will end up having to walk backwards – never a good idea! And when we love ourselves more than we love others then it is a backward step for us and the communities that we are part of.

God’s compass of love is always pointing us towards others as he calls us to show his grace to them. We need to open our eyes to see those God is pointing us towards to love. We can be so preoccupied with ourselves that we don’t even notice others or we may think that there will be other people who will love them.

When we use a compass and map to discover where we should go we often need to change direction to get to our destination unless we are adept at walking sideways or backwards. Likewise in our call to love others, we cannot stay where we are and will often find ourselves having to change direction in order to reach out to them. But it is worth it because it is the way to life as opposed to death. Although it is also costly. We are reminded that for Jesus the compass of love led him to death (as well as resurrection) and as we follow the call to love we are to be prepared to lay down our lives for the sake of others.

Prayer

Lord, raise our horizons beyond
the preoccupations with ourselves.
Open our eyes to see who it is
that we are called to love today.
Help us when it means
we have to sacrificially change
our understanding and our priorities
as we travel in new directions
to the people you have called us to love. Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d George Watt, Minister, Reigate Park Church

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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URC Daily Devotion 18th June 2019

Tue, 18/06/2019 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 18th June 2019 Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

1 John 3: 4 - 10 


Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.  Everyone who commits sin is a child of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born of God do not sin, because God’s seed abides in them; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God. The children of God and the children of the devil are revealed in this way: all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters. Reflection In today’s portion of John’s pastoral letter, he addresses the issue of sin. Firstly, he acknowledges that we all have a tendency to sin. In this discourse he raises two very different issues concerning sin. Firstly, he acknowledges two facts related to God. Initially, John acknowledges that God is without sin and then continues to state that true believers cannot sin. But then John develops his theme further by distinguishing how we react when we admit our wrong doings. Firstly, when we sin we also have the opportunity to seek forgiveness by acknowledging that sin before God and seeking forgiveness that is provided through Jesus’ sacrificial death at Calvary and subsequently his resurrection.

However, he also looks at sin in relation to human nature. There are occasions when we do not just sin in the sense of a one off wrong-doing but the continually committing the same kind of sin time and time again. If that was not bad enough, when the nature of that sinning takes over the very essence of the individual’s life, their thoughts and behaviour then that condition indicates that no matter how often we express regret for the continuance of the sinful thought or behaviour we are being at the very least insincere in our confession that John identifies with the work and influence of the devil. Today we are surrounded by all kinds of temptations but will we always resist? We frequently take shelter in our “comfort zones”, but is that approach helpful or not? Repentance is about changing direction, abandoning those areas of our lives or thoughts that are a barrier to our relationship with God.

Prayer

Gracious God, ever loving and caring, so often we get things completely wrong. By your grace, enable us to be honest with ourselves and more especially with You. Give us the courage and will to be honest when we consider the ways we conduct our lives. This we ask through Jesus’ redeeming love. Amen

Today's Writer

The Rev’d Colin Hunt, worshipping at Hutton & Shenfield Union Church, Essex.

Bible Version

 
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Copyright © 2019 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


 
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