TFTD 03.07.20

‘I’ll labour night and day

To be a pilgrim.’

John Bunyan’s famous pilgrim hymn is one we often sing with some fervour, although I sometimes regret that the tune encourages us to put undue emphasis on the second syllable (‘to be a pilgrim’). It may be true that we do sometimes need grim determination to keep to the right path, but that isn’t the complete picture of our pilgrimage! True, the term is somewhat loosely applied these days to what amounts to not much more than a pleasant day out to visit some place of interest, so maybe it is good to be reminded of the serious intent of a pilgrim’s journey.

John Bunyan was born and lived in a village near Bedford in the seventeenth century. He was imprisoned for many years because of his refusal to stop preaching, but the town is nowadays proud to claim him as a famous son. When we were living there, our children were all set school projects about him, first in their Junior schools, and then again (how unimaginative!) in their newly instituted Middle schools. But even I, in my younger years and not in Bedford, was taught about him. I can still remember a poem that I wrote:

Christian started off one day

With a burden like a load of hay.

He fell into the S;lough of Despond,

Which was a great big murky pond.

Well, I was only eight at the time! 

Christian meets with many setbacks and hazards on his journey in Pilgrim’s Progress. One such occurred as he approached the House Beautiful, where he hoped to find peaceful lodgings for the night. However, he was suddenly confronted by two pilgrims named Mistrust and Timorous running hard in the opposite direction. They urged him to turn with them because there were lions ahead. Poor Christian continued, but somewhat apprehensively. The path narrowed as it neared the house – but the porter on duty there told him not to fear, as the lions were chained. He still had to hold his nerve, and somehow pass them – and so he reached his destination.

It was while we were living in Bedford that I was caught up in a quite extraordinary situation, which was so awful that as I set off to work one morning my resolve failed me, and I stopped in my tracks, ready to turn round and return home. Suddenly those words leapt into my mind: The lions are chained, and somewhat fearfully I decided to continue. Sadly, it wasn’t the House Beautiful that I was going to – but at least the lions didn’t devour me. And fortunately, our pilgrimages do contain many peaceful and tranquil resting places on the way.                                         Ruth Tiller

 TFTD 01.07.20

“Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.”  (Psalm 96:7-8)

I have been so blessed recently that I want to share it with everyone!  (Which means I would love to know how others have been blessed too!) One of the points in Peter’s sermon last Sunday (28th June) was to remind us that we are all different.  His focus was on our own Christ Church Christian community and he challenged us to celebrate the differences which go to make up the team that we are – the body of Christ here.  It’s possible for us to carry on with our lives unconsciously not noticing the larger focus of this, and therefore missing out on a glorious reality which reveals a God of so much more variety than we acknowledge.  I have listened to the BBC radio 4 services during lockdown (8.10am, but I listen later in the day, and often listen twice).  I have heard Christians from Manchester, Cardiff, London, Iona and elsewhere, and every service included voices with different accents, clearly voices of people who have come from abroad to live here.  The Fathers’ Day service was presented by three Londoners and was particularly moving and challenging. 

 The “UK blessing” (a sung version of the OT blessing, “May the lord bless you and keep you …”, found on youtube) was inspiring to me because I was struck by the variety of minority communities who are part of our body, the body of Christ, here in the UK.  I went on to find the French and Australian versions and saw more of my brothers and sisters around the world.   And then I found the Irish version which began, before singing the blessing, with a glorious celebration of Christianity within the Irish culture, using “Be thou my vision”, attributed to an Irish saint of the 6th century.

I love the verse of the hymn: “As o’er each continent and island the earth moves on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”.  This voice of prayer will be words foreign to us, songs, dance, silence, thoughts, imaginings …  and our own prayers take up the never-ending chain of prayer around the world. 

 Psalm 96 is a jubilant song of praise: “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength …”.  Let’s revel in the joy of the diversity of our world-wide family of God.

Eleanor Aldred

Remember you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

TFTD 29.06.20

I have to admit, I was struggling.  My turn for Thought For The Day was looming and I had no thoughts, none at least which were suitable to share.  Then as I opened up my bible, there it was, jumping out at me, hitting me right between the eyes.   Who would have thought it – from the bible!

Three simple words.  Three powerful words.  A strong and unequivocal declaration. The opening words of Psalm 97

THE LORD REIGNS

The Lord, the almighty, all knowing, ever present, creator, eternal, holy, righteous, majestic God; full to overflowing with glory, mercy and grace; the one who loves all He has made with an extravagant never ending passion … this God reigns. That is, He is sovereign.  Sovereign means He has supreme authority and power and all things are under His control.   Phew!  Thank goodness!  Of course, I knew that.  But sometimes, as the world, life and it’s problems close in and attempt to overwhelm us, we need reminding – THE  LORD REIGNS.

When I look around at some of the seriously erratic, dangerous world leaders in other countries, some of whom have nuclear weapons, I could be very afraid.  But they are to God as dust to be blown away (Isaiah 40:23,24)   – for all their pride and arrogance they are no match for our God.  THE LORD REIGNS

When I am confronted by injustice, greed, selfishness and evil men seem to prosper, I fear that justice and goodness are being swept away.  But there will  be a day of reckoning for everyone, all evil doers will be dealt with (Matt 16:27) Our God is a God of justice and righteousness – they may gloat and boast now, but God will not be mocked.  THE  LORD REIGNS.

When I am struggling with my personal circumstances or fearful for the troubles of those I love, I am afraid of what the future might hold.  But our God is a God of love and wants only the best for us.  Whatever we face He is with us in it and our eternal future is safe in His hands. (1 John 3:1, John 10:27,28)  The world is a troubled place, but He is with me and anyway I’m just passing through to a better place.   THE LORD REIGNS

Knowing that this God, who longs for the very best for us, is ultimately in control and none can thwart His purposes, assures me that “all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well”.  Sure He does things and allows things that I don’t understand.  But I have confidence that His wisdom is far greater than mine. (Isaiah 55:8,9)  So I have a peace that the world cannot give because THE LORD REIGNS                  

                                                                   John Langridge

 

Remember, you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org     

Or ring: (01743) 583215

And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

 

TFTD 24.06.20

TRUTHFUL WORSHIP
“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the
Father seeks.” John 4:23 (NIV)

I don’t know about you, but I am a stickler for truth. I like to dig down to the heart of things and uncover the truth of what’s going on. I love honest conversations where people are real with me about how they feel and allow me to do the same and if something is wrong in a relationship I want to discover what it is, confront it honestly and try to resolve it. This can make me a bit hard to live with, especially if you want a quiet life! It means confronting the truth of who I am too and that’s often painful but I do it because I believe it leads to transformation and freedom. Our children know that it’s always much better to come clean about things straight away rather than try to hide the truth, as the thing that makes me more furious than anything that they might have done is lying! We have a phrase in our house and its “own your stuff” – in other words when we mess up we try to own it rather than deny, explain it away or blame someone else for it. Not always very easy and we don’t always get it right but I think it’s worth doing because it deepens our relationships and builds a culture of trust and forgiveness within our family and within our
friendships too.

The verses I have chosen to focus on today are part of the well known conversation that Jesus has with the woman at the well. And what I want to share with you is what I believe God has been saying to me through a powerful devotion by a writer and broadcaster called Carrie Lloyd entitled “For our own sake, we tell the truth”. Some of what I write are her words and so I want to attribute them to her as we start.

This is an amazing passage of Scripture – do read it all if you can. You see this Samaritan woman in John Chapter 4 was confronted with two kinds of truth; the truth about who Jesus is and the truth about herself. When I read the account, it reminds me, as Carrie points out, that Jesus is in fact the finest truth teller that ever lived. You see Jesus never avoided honest conversations. He revelled in them. Why else would He make space and wait upon the hottest hour of the day for a woman who was outcast by society? He seeks the honest ones – ones who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The truth of who God is in all His infinite greatness and goodness most certainly, and I also believe, the truth of who we are too.

I wonder what truth about yourself has been surfacing within the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic we are now in? I wonder am I alone in having been confronted with some uncomfortable truths about my character and my behaviour? It’s been like holding a mirror up and in it at times I’ve seen resentment, self righteousness, emotional insecurity and control, mixed in with (thankfully!) some of the fruit God is growing in me of compassion, grace, kindness and self control. Some of what is coming to the surface in the chaos or in the silence (whichever one we find ourselves in) can feel uncomfortable can’t it, and there aren’t the  distractions there anymore for us to be able to hide from the truth. As I’ve said before everything is heightened. But I wonder, how helpful were these distractions in allowing us to come before God honestly and worship Him in spirit and in truth? What if in every moment we hid, we missed an opportunity to experience the beauty of God working in our lives and transforming us into more of who we are truly meant to be?

Let’s go back for a moment to the woman at the well. I wonder if like me you have puzzled over why Jesus asked her to fetch her husband? This can appear harsh, even cruel, especially when He already knew she’d had five husbands, and the one she lived with was not her husband. Was Jesus trying to shame her or put her in her place? No, Jesus is not falling foul here of His own teachings; He’s a master of them! As Carrie writes, I think He wanted to see if she was prepared to own her truth, her own choices. He wanted to see if she was the kind of soil He could sow into. Wow!! She was hungry enough for wisdom and for truth to forgo protecting her
own ego. She didn’t tell Him what she thought He’d want to hear. She didn’t defend her behaviour. She “owned her stuff” and she simply replied, “I have no husband” (John 4:17). To which Jesus replies “What you have just said is quite true” (John 4:18). For true worship, according to Jesus, was coming: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

Can we ever worship Him fully if we’re not walking in truth? You see I think that if we’re not honest before God about the aspects of ourselves we’d sooner avoid, we’re missing out on the opportunity to discover the wonder of His freedom and missing out on His design for us. Denial puts distance between us and God, but honesty pulls us close! And it does the same in our other relationships too. You see, in the great strength and certainty of His undying, never-going to- abandon-us love, we have no excuse to run, but every reason and confidence to face the truth of who we are and to hold onto God’s hope and promise for who we can be. In this divine appointment between Jesus and the Samaritan woman we learn that truth isn’t repulsive its revelatory. It can be the same for us too. And it allows us to  experience the most freeing worship we could ever know!

Debbie Hubbard

 TFTD 01.07.20

“Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.”  (Psalm 96:7-8)

I have been so blessed recently that I want to share it with everyone!  (Which means I would love to know how others have been blessed too!) One of the points in Peter’s sermon last Sunday (28th June) was to remind us that we are all different.  His focus was on our own Christ Church Christian community and he challenged us to celebrate the differences which go to make up the team that we are – the body of Christ here.  It’s possible for us to carry on with our lives unconsciously not noticing the larger focus of this, and therefore missing out on a glorious reality which reveals a God of so much more variety than we acknowledge.  I have listened to the BBC radio 4 services during lockdown (8.10am, but I listen later in the day, and often listen twice).  I have heard Christians from Manchester, Cardiff, London, Iona and elsewhere, and every service included voices with different accents, clearly voices of people who have come from abroad to live here.  The Fathers’ Day service was presented by three Londoners and was particularly moving and challenging. 

 The “UK blessing” (a sung version of the OT blessing, “May the lord bless you and keep you …”, found on youtube) was inspiring to me because I was struck by the variety of minority communities who are part of our body, the body of Christ, here in the UK.  I went on to find the French and Australian versions and saw more of my brothers and sisters around the world.   And then I found the Irish version which began, before singing the blessing, with a glorious celebration of Christianity within the Irish culture, using “Be thou my vision”, attributed to an Irish saint of the 6th century.

I love the verse of the hymn: “As o’er each continent and island the earth moves on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”.  This voice of prayer will be words foreign to us, songs, dance, silence, thoughts, imaginings …  and our own prayers take up the never-ending chain of prayer around the world. 

 Psalm 96 is a jubilant song of praise: “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength …”.  Let’s revel in the joy of the diversity of our world-wide family of God.

Eleanor Aldred

Remember you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

 TFTD 01.07.20

“Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.”  (Psalm 96:7-8)

I have been so blessed recently that I want to share it with everyone!  (Which means I would love to know how others have been blessed too!) One of the points in Peter’s sermon last Sunday (28th June) was to remind us that we are all different.  His focus was on our own Christ Church Christian community and he challenged us to celebrate the differences which go to make up the team that we are – the body of Christ here.  It’s possible for us to carry on with our lives unconsciously not noticing the larger focus of this, and therefore missing out on a glorious reality which reveals a God of so much more variety than we acknowledge.  I have listened to the BBC radio 4 services during lockdown (8.10am, but I listen later in the day, and often listen twice).  I have heard Christians from Manchester, Cardiff, London, Iona and elsewhere, and every service included voices with different accents, clearly voices of people who have come from abroad to live here.  The Fathers’ Day service was presented by three Londoners and was particularly moving and challenging. 

 The “UK blessing” (a sung version of the OT blessing, “May the lord bless you and keep you …”, found on youtube) was inspiring to me because I was struck by the variety of minority communities who are part of our body, the body of Christ, here in the UK.  I went on to find the French and Australian versions and saw more of my brothers and sisters around the world.   And then I found the Irish version which began, before singing the blessing, with a glorious celebration of Christianity within the Irish culture, using “Be thou my vision”, attributed to an Irish saint of the 6th century.

I love the verse of the hymn: “As o’er each continent and island the earth moves on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”.  This voice of prayer will be words foreign to us, songs, dance, silence, thoughts, imaginings …  and our own prayers take up the never-ending chain of prayer around the world. 

 Psalm 96 is a jubilant song of praise: “Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength …”.  Let’s revel in the joy of the diversity of our world-wide family of God.

Eleanor Aldred

Remember you can send your prayer request to: Prayer@baystonhillchurch.org Or ring: (01743) 583215
And you can read these Thought for the Day articles on our website too at www.baystonhillchurch.org

TFTD 22.06.20

 I’m just going to show off for a minute – ‘when I was running this week’ I listened to a HTB podcast (Holy Trinity, Brompton).  I can’t remember the name of the lady who was speaking but she was talking about the story of Joshua .  As I usually have to concentrate on my breathing I wasn’t listening too intently, but nevertheless the message got home  (and so did I!)

 We read that Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom.  The Lord was kind to him and spoke about how He would provide for Joshua and that Joshua was not to be afraid – for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 Joshua seemed to be aware of his own weakness but took what God had spoken to him to heart.  He led the army – He only did what God told him.  He refused to waver from what he was asked to do (read Joshua to get the full picture).  We are told that he had to circle the city 6 times .  Imagine having to convey this to his army – but Joshua and the army did as they were told and on the seventh time he asked the men to blow the trumpet – and the walls came tumbling down.

 I think there is a message here for us today!  We are living in unprecedented days – I know that phrase is a little over-used.  Who could have foreseen that we would be in lock-down, that our churches would be closed – that there would be a sort of plague all over the world.  Yet, we know, that God is in control in these days.  He has been very gracious to us – we are having some good times on Sunday mornings, community and taking care of each other has been re-emphasised.  There is so much excellent stuff on-line that we can feed on from the Lord.

 The unity we once had a as a nation only 13 weeks ago seems to be disappearing very quickly.  There is a lot of sniping going on – ‘if only the government had done this or that things would be different’.  We are living in these days knowing the grace of God – let us continue to go on with him – like the 7th time round the city.  Let our trust in Him have its perfect work, let’s not complain about this or that.  Let’s bring joy to others as we trust God every day – and maybe we will start to see some walls come down.

 Sarah Birchall

TFTD 19.06.20

But the Lord said…’Should I not be concerned about that great city?’

(Jonah 4.10-11)

The Book of Jonah in the Old Testament is numbered among the prophets, yet it is not so much a book of prophecy as a book about a prophet. Jonah appears as a very disobedient and grumpy servant of the Lord. First, having been told to call the citizens of Nineveh, the largest city in the world in his day, to repent of their sins, he sets off in the opposite direction and gets shipwrecked. God saves him from drowning and patiently gives him the same mission to Nineveh. This time he goes and tells them they have got forty days in which to repent or be destroyed. To his amazement everyone repents.

But now he is worried his credibility as a prophet has been ruined; for who knows if the people of Nineveh would really have been destroyed? He is cross with God and tries to justify his reluctance to obey at first: I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. (Jonah 4.2). His black mood continues as a quick-growing plant gives him shade from the scorching sun but dies overnight, so he is left without protection next day. He feels his life isn’t worth living. 

God now tells Jonah that he mourns the loss of one short-lived plant, but wishes the whole city of Nineveh had suffered destruction. Can he not see how God would mourn such a loss? The old Authorised Version of the Bible puts the words of the last verse in a different order, which gives us the force of God’s compassion extending to, not only the 120,000 ignorant citizens, but also much cattle.

Jonah’s greatest insight, though he doesn’t know it, is that God is gracious and compassionate…, slow to anger and abounding in love.

Notice it is Jonah, not God, who gives the Ninevites forty days to repent.

Such a God, we may be sure, mourns over the loss of every person from Covid-19. It would be the same for anyone struck by lightning, lost at sea, or burnt to death. We don’t live in a risk-free world, but we have the capacity to know God as our refuge. God’s greatest sorrow is that so many choose to live without him, and prefer instead to find their own way.                                                                        John Tiller