Radio Addresses

These are Two-Minute Addresses (Three Minutes on Sundays!) delivered on Nevis Radio by Rev Sandy Sutherland. The ‘spark’ for each address came from various sources.

Good morning,

 The Bible asks the question: What do you think of Christ ?

The Pharisees said, He eats with sinners.

Pilate said, I find no wrong in this man.

Judas said, I have betrayed innocent blood.

The soldier, at the foot of the cross, said, Truly, this was the Son of God.

John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God.

John the apostle said, Behold the bright Morning Star.

Peter said, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God.

Thomas(after the resurrection) said, My Lord and my God.

Paul said, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

The angels said, Unto you is born a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

God the Father(who knows all things) said, This is My Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.

Such human, angelic and divine testimony cannot easily be dismissed. We owe it to ourselves to consider this Q carefully: What think ye of Christ ?

Good morning,

Recently I spent some time in my home village of Brora on the east coast of Sutherland. There’s a man there called John Duncan whom you may have read an article on earlier this year in the Press and Journal. John, in his spare time, makes weather-vanes. No ordinary weather-vanes mind you but highly ornate weather-vanes—Clydesdale horses pulling the plough, a Grey heron with an eel in its bill, a puffin, an eagle, and so on. The making of weather-vanes must run in John’s family because I remember when I was a boy(and John himself was a boy) being fascinated by a weather-vane on his granny’s house(where John now lives) which took the shape of an aeroplane(a spitfire if I’m not mistaken). But all of this reminds me of a weather-vane Spurgeon(the late, great Baptist preacher)once saw. On the arrow of this weather-vane were the words ‘God is love’. Spurgeon turned to the owner of the weather-vane and asked him, What do you mean by that? Do you mean that God’s love is as changeable as the weather? The man answered, Not at all. What I mean is that no matter what direction the wind comes from, God is still love. The Scriptures say that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We can trust ourselves to Him (JN 3: 16).

Good morning,

In the blockbuster movie, Independence Day, a 15 mile wide UFO hovers over the American White House. The president of the US makes an announcement to the world, where he says, The Q of whether or not we are alone in the universe has now been answered. OK so its only a movie, but we are interested in the Q, Is there life out there? For me, and I’m sure that I speak for many listening this morning, the A to the Q, Are we alone in the universe? was answered 2000 years ago when angels(not aliens as such)announced at the birth of Christ, Emanuel, God with us. The Bible has much to say about other creatures which we know little or nothing about(principalities and powers, seraphim and cherubim, e.g.)but primarily the Scriptures speak about a God who is not only out there but who is, God with us. But not only this because the real message of Christmas is not only that God is out there and is with us but that He can be found: Ask and He will be given, Seek and He will be found, Knock and the door will be opened. Belief in Christ, God in us.

Good morning,

The Wise Men said, We saw his star in the east and have come to worship Him. Wise men indeed. Naturally speaking they were wise and learned men. Spiritually speaking they were also very wise. They, undoubtedly, had access to the prophecies of Daniel who had been made ruler over the entire province of Babylon and was in charge of all its wise men. Daniel foretold the coming of God’s Son. The Wise Men’s spiritual wisdom is seen in that it is one thing to know the Scriptures but it is another to believe in them and act upon them. They did both. And not only that but when they found the Saviour they were not put off by the lowly abode of the One they came to worship. Their faith saw the Saviour’s majesty and they worshipped him. The Wise Men were not kings but they are kings now. What do I mean? I mean they are now reigning with Christ because the One whom they worshipped is no longer a babe but King of kings and Lord of lords who saves to the uttermost all who come to Him making them kings in His kingdom. Do you have the same faith as these Wise Men? Wise indeed if you have.

Good morning,

Yesterday I mentioned that I had been up in Brora on the east coast of Sutherland. Myself and my wife were joined there by our daughter and her fellow art student. This particular art student wanted to take some photographs of old cemeteries for her art project. So, as an obedient parent, I duly obliged, and took them to one of the oldest cemeteries in the parish of Clyne. Now, I thought to myself, going round a grave yard wasn’t exactly the most thrilling of undertakings(no pun intended)especially for a minister trying to get away from it all for a few days. However, while it wasn’t thrilling or for that matter chilling, one grave stone’s inscription was thought provoking. I repeat it as our thought for today:

Passenger pause as you pass by

As you are now so once was I

As I am now so must you be

Therefore prepare to follow me.

Good morning,

In a few minutes you will be listening to the national, perhaps international, and local news. The News on radio, TV and in newsprint, is, for the most of us, something that is both important and interesting. The word ‘News’ is itself interesting. It can be used as an acrostic to illustrate how news is gathered from all around the world: The N stands for North, E for East, W for West and S for South. The news is gathered from all quarters of the world. Sadly, by enlarge, it is bad news, but how cheering it is to hear of good news from different parts of the world. But the best and lasting Good-News does not come from all around us but from above. This heaven sent Good-News is the real, lasting message of Christmas: Unto you is born a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. This is news sent by God that is, surely, important enough to interest us all. Why? Because he who trusts in the Lord(the Christ, the Son of God) will never perish but have eternal life. Good-News indeed for the N.E.W. and S.

Good Morning,

 When I was on holiday recently I bought a second-hand book. Inside the book I found a piece of paper which had on it a different version of what the Church calls, The Lord’s Prayer. You know the prayer I mean? It’s the“Our Father which art in heaven” prayer. Allow me to read this different version to you this morning.

 I cannot say:

 ‘Our’ if I live only for myself.

Father’ if I do not try to act like your child.

 ‘Who art in heaven’ if I am laying up no treasure there.

 ‘Hallowed be thy name’ if I am not trying to live a holy life.

 ‘Thy kingdom come’ if I am not doing all in my power to bring it about.

Give us this day our daily bread’ if I am dishonest or looking for something for nothing.

Forgive us our debts’ if I bear a grudge against another.

Lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path.

Deliver us from evil’ if I do not take precautions against the devil.

 ‘Thine be the kingdom and the power and the glory’ if I do not give the

King (i.e., Jesus) the loyalty due to Him from a faithful servant.

For ever if the horizon of my life is bound completely by time.

Now whether or not we see the Lord’s prayer as a prayer to be prayed collectively (as in church) or simply a model or guide to teach us how we should approach God in prayer (or indeed both of these things) one thing that this alternative Lord’s Prayer teaches us is that our prayers have to be real and not just a going through the motions of “saying one’s prayers” (as they say). Can we truly come before God today and say, “Our/my Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy Name”?

Good Morning,

This morning I want to tell you about two learned men. One was Lord Littleton and the other was Benjamin Gilbert West. These men decided to try to destroy the Christian faith. They knew that in order to do so they would need to destroy two things: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. They decided that Lord Littleton would try to disprove the conversion of Saul, and Benjamin West would try to disprove the resurrection. They further decided to take leave of one another and return at a later date with their findings which they would then use to make a book to disprove Christianity. When both men returned to Oxford they were both more than a little sheepish because each of them had come, independently, to the exact opposite conclusion to that which they had set out to try to prove(or disprove as the case may be). The result of the matter was that they, like Saul, both became followers of Christ. They went on to write(not a book to disprove the Resurrection/Christianity)but a book called: The History and the Evidence for the Resurrection. In the flyleaf of that book Dr. West wrote: Reject not until you examine the evidence. This is sound advice which we should not ignore. Why not? Because Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life, If anyone believes in me, even though he dies yet shall he live. ‘ He is not here for He has risen’!

Good Morning,

I’m sure we all know the story of Beauty and the Beast. Some of us may even have watched the former hit TV series of that name. Catherine, the Beauty, falls in love with Vincent, the Beast, who looks like a lion gone wrong. But the Beauty loves the Beast not because of his good looks but because of his compassion and sensitivity. Part of the story’s attraction is that that kind of love is unusual. There is surely a lesson here for us. Are we not in danger when, for example, we consider the way certain products are advertised on TV, of cultivating a society where how we look is the be all and end all of everything? Now don’t get me wrong I’m not suggesting we don’t care for our appearance. But surely there is much more to beauty than a curved figure, bulging biceps or a sun-bed tan. The Bible tells us that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. So when God looks at our heart what does He see? Beauty or the Beast? Here’s our thought for the day: If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature; the old is gone, the new has come. By their fruits you will know them. Beauty is more than skin deep.

 Good Morning,

I wonder if you have ever thought about praying? Someone might say, I’ll turn to God when I need Him. This sounds O K in theory but when we haven’t prayed before, or our prayers are merely routine sayings, we may well find that when we turn to God in a crisis we don’t know what to do or what to say. We don’t want to be like the two men who took a short cut through a field one day only to discover that there was a bull in the field and now it was chasing them across the field with some 2-300yds. to go. One man turned to the other and said, You’d better do something! What can I do? said the man. The very least you can do is pray, said the other. But what will I pray? I don’t know but pray something! And so the man prayed: For what we are about to received may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen. O K so that’s only an illustration but the point is this: Why leave it until a crisis to talk with God. God has given us the gift of communication with Him at all times and not just in a crisis. God the Father has given us His Son that we may through the aid of the Holy Spirit walk and talk with God. If you have not done this before or if your prayers are little more than routine why not commune with God today in a personal way through Christ(the Great High Priest)who has given us a new and living way. What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grieves to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

 Good Morning,

One of the complaints we often hear about the Bible is that different people have different interpretations about what the Bible actually says. People point to the many different denominations as an example of the lack of agreement between people who believe the Bible to be the Word of God to mankind. This complaint however fails to take certain things into account. It fails to recognise that Bible believing Christians do not disagree on the fundamental truths or central teaching of the Bible. It also fails to recognise that different denominations have come about for a whole host of reasons including cultural, ethnic and social. Certainly it is true that there is often doctrinal differences of opinion such as who should be the recipients of baptism(infants, adults or both)but such things do not deny the central teaching of the Bible. It seems to me that those who say, ‘We can’t know what the Bible teaches’ are people who have either never actually looked to see what the Bible teaches or are a people who know full well what it teaches and are in need of an excuse why they should not believe in it. What is the central teaching of the Bible anyway? Jesus made the main issue crystal clear, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (Jn 3: 36.) Is it not the case that it is not so much the interpretation of the Bible we have difficulties with but rather our difficulty is in its application? He who believes in me, said Jesus, even though he dies yet shall he live. We need to apply this to our lives. We will then have no difficulties about where the Bible comes from.

Good Morning,

There is a certain person in our family who just loves to watch the epic cinema love stories. You know the kind of films that have you weeping your eyes out yet paradoxically at the end of them (with red eyes and a runny nose) you say, that was a wonderful film. Films such as Dr Zhivago and Gone With the Wind spring to mind. Romance is seldom without is problems but every now and again you hear people talking about A marriage made in heaven or when two people seem to be right for one another some people say, It was written in the stars. The greatest love story of all was not however written in the stars it was written in the scars. This story is a Universal Picture because it is for whosoever will believe in Jesus Christ. God the Father sent His only begotten Son and in the self-sacrifice of The Son on the cross the love of God is written in the scars of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ when He rose from the dead said, Touch me and see, a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have. Thomas! Place your fingers in the scars. See it is I myself. The Good-News is that this great picture is still running. There is still time to see it, in fact there is still time to get in on the scene-an eternal love relationship with God through Jesus Christ His Son risen from the dead to reconcile us to God. Whosoever believes in Jesus Christ will be saved not by the stars but by the scars.

Good Morning,

Donald lived in the far west of Scotland. He was a crofter and once a year he travelled to the big sheep sale in Lairg. After the sale Donald got out his shopping list and went off to the shops to stock up with nails, fence wire, posts, a new handle for his hammer and other bits and pieces which he needed for the coming year on the croft. After he got everything that was on his list he made his way back home. But at the back of his mind he had the feeling that he had forgotten something. He stopped the ‘pick-up’ and looked at his list but as he saw everything on his list was ticked off he carried on his journey but still he felt that he had forgotten something. So a few miles further on he not only stopped the van but got out to make sure everything on the list was not only ticked off but was actually in the van. Sure enough everything was there and so Donald made his way home. When he got home to the croft his daughter came running out shouting with great anticipation, Daddy! Daddy! Did you get me something from the shops? ‘O Yes’ said Donald ‘it was on my list’. But Daddy! Daddy! Where’s mammy?! O Dear! Mammy wasn’t on the list. Donald had forgotten that Mammy went shopping too. In Heb 13:5 God says to those who trust in Him through Christ: I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. Trust yourself to Him who forgets not.

 Good Morning,

So the World Cup starts today. We do hope that Scotland will do well but realistically (and with the greatest respect for the Scottish players who are doing what I could never do) this is about all we can hope for–that they will do well. Sometimes I wish Scotland could have a substitute. But the problem then would be that if Scotland had a substitute and that that substitute went on to win the Cup then that substitute would get the credit for winning the Cup not Scotland. This truth doesn’t stop me from wishing that the Peles and Ronaldo’s of this world had Scottish grannies and could legitimately pull on a Scottish shirt (the Peles and Ronaldo’s I meannot the grannies!). You see the problem with a substitute is that he/she gets the credit. This is where Jesus Christ as His people’s Substitute is so different from ordinary substitution because He is their Representative as well as their Substitute. In footballing terms it is as if He scored the winning goal and won the Cup but His team as individuals and as a whole get the credit: indeed it is much more than this because it is as if His people have actually played and have won the victory themselves. Even if the team that wins the world cup had represented Scotland Scotland would never feel as if she had really won it; but by trusting in Christ the victory over death (among other things) will actually be experienced by His team. I hope very much that Scotland will do well in the World Cup–even win it! (Come on Scotland!) But what I hope the most is that you are in the winning team in the most important thing in life which isn’t football but death? Jesus said: He who believes in Me even although He dies yet shall he live! Be a winner over death—pull on the shirt of Christ’s righteousness.

 Good Morning,

Young Donald was in school one day when his teacher asked him: ‘Donald if there are 100 sheep in a field and one goes through a hole in the fence, How many sheep will be left in the field?’ Donald replied, ‘None, Miss!’ To which the teacher replied, ‘O Donald your arithmetic is terrible!’ ‘No Miss!’, said Donald, ‘it’s not my arithmetic that’s terrible its your knowledge of sheep that’s terrible!’ Donald knew that if one sheep went through the hole in the fence they would all go through the hole in the fence. Isaiah 53: 6 says, ‘We all, like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.’ Contextually and prophetically this text refers to Christ the Great Shepherd laying down His own life for the sheep, i.e., for all who follow Him now that He has conquered death. Jesus said (Jn 10), ‘I am the gate for the sheep…whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish….’ We are left therefore with the Qs. ‘Have we entered in? Do we know the Good Shepherd? Do we have eternal life? Or are we still going our own way?

 Good Morning,

I haven’t yet seen the muti-oscar winning film The Titanic. Indeed I’m not sure that it’s my kind of film but I’ve said that before and enjoyed a film which I didn’t think was for me. The story of the Titanic is of course a tragic one but like most tragedies there are lessons to be learned. This, it seems to me, is also true at the spiritual level. The Titanic was a ship of dreams with its Jacobean dining saloon, Louis 15 lounge, swimming pool, Turkish baths and millionaire suites. It was a triumph of Edwardian enterprise and technology but little did anyone think, as the band played on, that in a moment or two the Titanic would be lying 2 miles down at the bottom of the ocean. The owners had boasted that she was unsinkable. I believe that the Lifeboats had been removed from the decks to stop the decks looking cluttered, water-tight hatches were not secured down and repeated warnings about icebergs were ignored as Captain Smith sailed on at high speed. Tragic. Tragic too when people today sail on ignoring the spiritual warnings to slow down: Be still and know that I am God. We are not to live our lives in fear of what might happen but it would be foolishness to forget that the Scriptures say, ‘It is given unto man once to die and then cometh the judgement.’ Jesus said to the man who was laying up his wealth and dreams here on earth, Fool! Your soul is required of you tonight! Will we sail on regardless?

Good Morning,

Jesus Christ came into this world to do what God the Father had given Him to do. So what did He come to do? He came, as the angel proclaimed,to Save His people from their sins. Once this work was done Jesus cried from the cross, ‘It is finished’. The Father was pleased with the Son’s work because on the first day of the week He raised Jesus from the dead. It is this that makes Sunday such a special day–The Lord’s Day. It is the first day of the week when public services are held to worship God and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Saviour’s words from the cross are not the words of a victim but a Victor. There is a sense in which religion comes down to a matter of two tenses: ‘Do’ or ‘Done’. False religion is about doing this that or the other with no assurance of salvation (for at what point could one say, Now I’ve done enough?). True religion, on the other hand, rests on what Christ has done, ‘It is finished’. Done! Complete! It is this truth that enabled the apostles to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel: Whosoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved! Now that’s a thought worth praising God for every day but especially on this the first day of the week.

 Good morning,

Winston Churchill once attended a formal banquet in London at which visiting dignitaries were asked the Q, If you could not be who you are, who would you most like to be? Naturally everyone was curious as to what Churchill would say. When it came to his turn to A the Q he stood up and said: ‘If I could not be who I am, I would most like to be (and at this point he paused and took the hand of his beloved wife, Clemmie, and said, I would most like to be) Lady Churchill’s second husband.’ A stately answer from a great statesman. A happy marriage is a most precious jewel. Someone has said that faithfulness in marriage keeps two hearts beating as one as if tied by an everlasting band of gold (symbolised in the wedding rings exchanged at the marriage service). Churchill, obviously, had a good marriage. But loving faithfulness is the key not only to a happy marriage but to a happy home. Can we not even go as far as to say that not just in Churchill’s case was a happy marriage good for the country but that marriage is one of the foundational stones for a happy society? I certainly believe so because the Bible teaches that marriage is from God for our good at every level. I hope that those of us who are married can answer the Q, If you could not be who you are who would you most like to be? in the same sentiments as the great Winston Churchill, who said, If I could not be who I am I would most like to be Lady Churchill’s second husband.

Good morning,

The story is told of a man who upon dying went to the gates of heaven. He was immediately met by an angel who said to him that he needed 1000 points to get into heaven. ‘Tell me about yourself’ said the angel ‘and I’ll add up the points’. The man said that he went to Church all his life. The angel said, ‘ You’ll get 3 points for that’. The man was horrified (only 3 points). ‘What else did you do?’ asked the angel. ‘I was a Sunday School Superintendent for a while, gave money to the Church and to various charities and I loved my neighbour as myself’. ‘That’s 10 points in all’ said the angel. The man gasped again and said, ‘At this rate I’ll never get into heaven but by the grace of God.’ This story makes the point that it is only by the grace of God that we get into heaven—not by our good works good though they are. The story is a good one but it is nevertheless flawed. The Bible teaches that good works, in terms of hoping to enter into heaven by them, no matter how many we do they all add up to nothing—not even 10 points. Salvation is by grace through faith in God’s Son. Jesus made this clear when He said: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes unto the Father but by Me. The apostle also said, The wages of sin is death but the gift of eternal life is through Christ Jesus the Lord. For it is by grace that you are saved and not by works lest any man should boast. Have you faith in Jesus Christ alone? The Bible says, Whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life.

 Good morning,

107 days to go! So says the giant electronic counter to the Millennium on the side of the Forth Rail Bridge. It’s taken 1000 years but it sure is coming up fast. What are your plans to celebrate the Millennium? “There not the same as yours anyway”, minister, you might say. “Your God is a right ‘killjoy’, a ‘cosmic cop’ who says, ‘You can’t do that! And You can’t do this!’” Such a view of God is a myth. God does not stop us from having fun and enjoyment but He does warn us that there can come a point when fun can bubble over and land us in a mess. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” The Great Shepherd never leads us into unclean fun which may prove harmful to ourselves and to others. The story is told of a group of tourists in Palestine who had just been told by their tour guide that sheep in Israel are always led by the shepherd but to their amusement as their tour guide told them this there was a man passing by with a flock of sheep but he was not leading them but driving them from behind. The embarrassed guide stopped the bus and went up to the man and said, I thought shepherds led their sheep in Israel?” “Indeed they do” said the man “but I’m not the shepherd I’m the butcher!” Now such a story/illustration goes in for ‘over-kill’ and I do intend to have fun and celebrate the Millennium with family and friends but the thought or the Q before me is: Am I being lead or am I being driven? Jesus the Great Shepherd leads us within the paths of righteousness even for His own name’s sake. Is He your Shepherd? Is he your Guide? It is after all His Millennium.

 Good Morning,

Life today, for most, is busy, busy. Having said that, life in these parts is not such a hassle as life in the city but nevertheless we can often agree with the Queen in Wonderland, when she said to Alice, in answer to why the inhabitants of Wonderland had to run very fast to get anywhere. She said, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else you must run at least twice as fast.” There are times when we can feel the same way. You have to run fast just to keep the status quo. If you need to do something extra you need to run twice as fast. We’re busy, busy, busy. This usually means that something or someone is being neglected. It may only be the garden but on the other hand it may be one’s marriage or children or maybe it’s neglect of oneself. One things for sure if anything is neglected it will degenerate. This is also true at the spiritual level. God says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Somewhat ironically the Bible describes us as sleeping when we are too busy, too busy for God. The Bible says, “Wake up O sleeper. Take care how you live your life.” Today I must practice what I preach. I must spend time with God. I must do more than say ‘Good Morning’ to my wife and if my kids are listening to this remember your old man needs a hand in the garden. De-generation and vegetation at every level when we’re busy, busy, busy. “Awake, O Sleeper. Take care how you live your life.”

Good Morning,

It is said that Sir Isaac Newton had an exact replica of our solar system made in miniature. At its centre was a large golden ball representing the sun, and revolving around it were smaller spheres attached at the ends of rods at varying lengths. They represented Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and other known planets. These were all geared together by cogs and belts to make them move around the model’s ‘sun’ in perfect harmony. One day as Newton was studying the model, a friend who did not believe in God, as Isaac Newton did, stopped by for a visit. The friend marvelled at the device, and watching as Newton made the planets move in their orbits the man exclaimed, “My Newton, what an exquisite thing! Who made it for you?” “Nobody”, replied Newton. “Nobody?” his friend asked. “That’s right, I said Nobody! All these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began to revolve in their set orbits and with perfect timing.” His friend got the message. What message? The message of the Bible, Things have not come about by chance: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” In fact the Bible tells us that God, in Christ, is the twice Creator. He recreates in Christ. Those who believe in Jesus as called ‘new creatures’. New creatures who revolve around God’s Son. The Bible says, And they shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall never perish but have eternal life. No chance with God; No chance without God.

 Good morning,

 I’d like to tell you a story this morning about a large prestigious Church which had 3 mission centres in different parts of a large city. Every New Year the 3 mission centres came to the main Church and they held a joint Communion service. On one such occasion a criminal who had served seven years in prison but who had subsequently come to faith in Christ found himself at the Communion rail kneeling next to the judge who had sentenced him to 7 years imprisonment. After the service the judge said to the pastor, ‘Did you notice who was kneeling beside me this morning?’ ‘Yes’ said the pastor. The judge said, ‘What a miracle of grace.’ ‘O yes’ said the pastor. The judge said, ‘But to whom do you refer?’ ‘Why I refer to the ex-convict of course’. ‘But’ said the judge ‘I was referring to myself’. The pastor was somewhat taken aback and asked, ‘Whatever do you mean?’ The judge said that in a manner of speaking it was natural for a criminal with a history of crime to come to a saving realisation of faith in Jesus Christ giving him joy and forgiveness of sin. But for me I’ve been taught from infancy to live as a gentleman, make my word my bond, say my prayers, go to church, and so on. And now I am a respected graduate of Oxford and Cambridge and a High Court judge. Such things cannot give me eternal life but I could so easy fall into the trap of thinking that they could. Therefore I am a greater miracle of grace than that criminal. The pastor saw the judge’s point that God is no respecter of person but the pastor reminded the judge that both he and the ex-criminal were both cases of God’s free grace. Whosoever shall believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will not perish but have eternal life. The same rule applies to the everyone whatever their standing in society. The Bible says, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you (whoever you are) shall be saved.

Good morning,

 I’m sure you have noticed that most, if not all, of our towns and cities have statues to famous people. In Edinburgh where I was a few weeks ago I noticed that a number of these statues are of military men on horseback. Apparently the sculptors of this kind of statue had an unwritten code, not true in every case, which gave clues about how these men died. If the horse has all four feet on the ground its rider died from natural causes. If one of the horse’s hooves is raised it indicates that the rider eventually died after having sustained a wound in battle. If the horse is rearing up with both front hooves in the air the rider was killed in battle. Death, and how a person dies, is often something we pay attention to. The question is usually asked: How did he/she die? The question is asked out of sympathy but maybe there is a forward glance to how we ourselves might die. Death is usually the last subject to be talked about. I believe we shut it out because it was never meant to be something which we were to experience. It is the work of the enemy of both God and man in what was God’s perfect creation. However the good news tells us that there is no death (as such) for those who follow God’s remedy of eternal life by believing in His Son who conquered death. To be sure there is physical death but even here the Psalmist says, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death thou art with me, I will not be afraid. So, if you are a child of God in Jesus Christ the Saviour, even if no one erects a statue of you, everyone will know how you died—securely cast in God’s eternal love.

Good morning,

The advert says that things go better with Coca-Cola. There are, however, many different kinds of soft drinks. One of which is called ‘Dr Pepper’. Dr Pepper was a real doctor but he had nothing to do with the making of the Soft-drink of his name. Dr Pepper was the owner of what the American’s call a ‘drug store’. He employed a young man by the name of Wade Morrison. Wade fell in love with Dr Pepper’s beautiful daughter but Dr Pepper didn’t approve of this romance and so, broken hearted, Wade moved away and opened his own drug store. Wade, in turn, employed a man by the name of Charles Alderton who, among other things, was responsible for making soda drinks for the customers there in Waco, Texas. Charles experimented with different flavours and came up with a new drink which proved very popular with the customers. Wade and Charles met to give the new drink a name and they thought that if they called it Dr Pepper that it would impress the real Dr Pepper and Wade might yet win the hand of Dr Pepper’s daughter. Alas Dr Pepper was still unimpressed by Wade. The drink however came to the World Fair in 1904 and the rest is, as they say, history. To drink a Dr Pepper or any other drink is indeed refreshing (especially in a hot place like Texas) but it is a short lived refreshment. Personally I find fissy drink makes me want to drink even more but in any case at the physical level we all have to drink every day. Jesus said, with reference to the water from the well at Samaria, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again’. But at the spiritual level He went on to say, ‘Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again.’ At the spiritual level man’s thirst, thirsting for peace, thirsting for answers to life, thirsting for the answer to death and to eternity, (where we have come from and where we are going) can only be satisfied in Jesus, God’s Son, who said, I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. Jesus is the Doctor who quenches our thirst: but He is no soft option!

Good morning,

When you want to be the person to announce some piece of exciting news but someone beats you to it you would say that that person has ‘stolen your thunder’. This saying, ‘stolen your thunder’ was coined by a man called John Dennis. John Dennis was a playwright who, in 1709, invented a new way of simulating the sound of thunder on stage by using wooden troughs. The play he created the sound effects for didn’t last, but the idea of his thunder did. When John Dennis went to see another play he recognised the sound effects of the thunder which he had invented and in the middle of this play, at the point when he heard his own invention being used, he was heard to cry out: “The villains will not use my play, but they have stolen my thunder”. Ever since that day the phrase ‘stolen your thunder’ has come to expresses disappointment at anything that keeps you from getting the honour or attention you feel rightly belongs to you. Such is life but one thing is for sure that while there are many who try to imitate the saving work of Jesus Christ and rob Him of His honour (His thunder) they will fail because Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Me’. And God the Father said, ‘This is My Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.’ And the people who have followed Jesus to heaven (as recorded in the book of Revelation) sing in glory: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise…To Him…be praise and honour and glory and power for ever and ever.’ No one will rob Him of His rightful place and honour; but Jesus also said, ‘Those who honour Me I will honour.’ Therefore follow the Inventor of eternal salvation not the imitators. Don’t be robbed of your thunder!

 Good morning,

 I asked my daughter the other day, Who was it that said: Is that it? She immediately replied, Bob Geldof. Her answer, however, is only half true. The people who first said: Is that it? Were youngsters at the end of the Live Aid concert held in Wembley Stadium in 1985. This great charity event was the largest concert of all time. It had been staged by the Irish rock singer Bob Geldof and had various singers from all over the world. When it was all over these youngsters came up to the foot of the platform and shouted out to the organisers: Is that it? Bob Geldof then went on to write a book and he called it: Is that it? In the book (the very last sentence) he says that this is a question that he keeps on asking himself: Is that it? I suspect, in one way or another, that this is a question that we all ask: Is that it? Especially when there has been an anti climax of some sort. Not that the Live Aid concert could be described as an anti climax but just that all things end: Is that it? In ultimate terms death leaves us with this question: Is that it? Is there no hope after death? Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me, even although he dies, yet shall he live. So as we look ahead to the end: Is that it? No! Jesus gives life after death: life that shall never end. Live aid indeed!

 Good morning,

I wonder if you have heard the story of the old woman who sat in front of a pot of dirty water and stirred and stirred until eventually she put her hand into the pot and took out a bag of gold? In this story there is a greedy, covetous man who after being amazed by what he saw rushed down to the old woman in great excitement demanding to know how the trick was done. ‘It’s very simple’ said the old woman, ‘you take an old pot, fill it with dirty water and stir. After a while a lump of gold will appear. Just reach down into the pot and lift it out.’ The greedy man hurried off and filled an old pot with dirty water and began to stir. He stirred and stirred and stirred, but no lump of gold appeared. In a rage he went back to the old woman and demanded to know why he had been unable to produce any gold. ‘Tell me what you did?’ asked the old woman. When he had finished telling her what he did the old woman said, ‘The reason it did not work for you was because I forgot to tell you one important thing. I forgot to tell you that while you are stirring the dirty water you must never think about the gold.’ ‘It will only work if you don’t think about the gold!’ Jesus said: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all other things will be added unto you. Do not store up (or put your hope in) treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Riches indeed but don’t think about the gold!

Good morning,

My father like myself was named Alexander Sutherland. We lived in a street where there were 3 others who had the same name. A nightmare for the post-man but the locals gave each a nick-name so as everyone could be quite clear who it was they were talking about. Surnames in this case didn’t help very much but surnames were nevertheless initially given to help people know who it was they were talking about. For example, If your father’s name was John then you could have been surnamed Johnson (son of John). That’s a bit like the ‘Mac’ surnames such as MacDonald meaning ‘son of Donald’. Or it might be that you would be surnamed Green because you lived near the village green. Or it might be that you would be given a surname which reflected one of your parent’s stature: Longfellow or Small; or after hair colour: Brown. Most surnames appear to have come from a parent’s occupation. Cartwright, Mason, Butcher, Taylor, Baker or Smith if you belonged to the local blacksmith. Real names today are unlikely to reflect one’s occupation but by-names usually reflect someone’s character or size or even what they do. At home we have two Margarets with the same surname but they are known as little Margaret and big Margaret. In the Bible God also has different names. Jesus especially is given many different names so as we can know more about His character and attributes. For example the prophet Isaiah calls Him: Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The apostle tells us that Jesus, now that He is risen from the dead, has that name that is above all names; but perhaps Jesus’ best known name is, Saviour. You shall call His name Jesus because He will save His people from their sins. Do you know Him as Saviour your Saviour? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. If so Jesus says: I will write on you a new name, the name of God (children with the Father’s name and the Father’s character, a heavenly name reflecting the place of your heavenly Father); and I will never erase your name from the book of life. Wonderful indeed! The peace that passes all understanding from Him who is the Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Saviour.

Good morning,

In Henry Garrity’s book, “Portraits of Perseverance,” he tells the story of a rich man called Carl. Carl owned a great estate. One of his favourite pastimes was riding horseback through his valley, looking at everything he owned and congratulating himself on his great wealth. One day, as he was riding along, he came up over a hill and saw one of his tenant farmers, an old man named Hans. It was lunchtime, and the old man had set a little table under the shade of a tree and was getting ready to eat. But before he ate, he bowed his head and thanked God for the food he was about to eat. Carl watched the old man as he prayed. Then he looked at the old man’s meal. It was only a slice of coarse bread and a piece of cheese. With a sneer Carl said, “If that’s all I had to eat, I wouldn’t even bother to pray.” The old man replied humbly, “It’s enough, and I’m thankful that God has provided it.” Taken aback by the old man’s answer, Carl turned his horse and prepared to ride away. But before he could leave, old Hans said, “Wait a minute. I need to tell you something. I had a dream last night. In my dream I saw a beautiful scene, and then I heard a voice saying, “Tonight the richest man in the valley will die.” “Rubbish!” said Carl as he rode off toward home. But as he was riding, he felt a little unwell and so he became anxious that the old man’s words, “the richest man in the valley will die tonight” might come true. When Carl reached home he called out his doctor. The doctor said, “You don’t have anything wrong with you. You’re as strong as a horse.” Reassured, Carl went to bed. The next morning there was a knock on his door, and the messenger said, “Old Hans died last night.” Carl then realised that truly, the richest man in the valley died last night. Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 Good morning,

I wonder if you have ever wondered where the saying, ‘A1 At Lloyds’ has come from? It came about because of a group of businessmen in London who were interested in ships and shipping and who formed a company called Lloyds to insure ships. Many ships were being lost at sea because there were no high safety standards and ships went to sea with bad equipment and even rotten hulls. These businessmen persuaded the government of the day to pass a law that stated that no British ship could go to sea until it had passed an inspection both outside and inside. To obtain a certificate to go to sea and be insured an inspector from Lloyds would come and inspect the outside of your ship and if it was in good condition he would give it an ‘A’ if it wasn’t quite perfect he would give it a ‘B’ and so on. The inspector would then look at the inside of the ship—the rigging, masts, equipment and if it was in good condition it would be given a ‘1’ if it wasn’t quite up to scratch he would give it a ‘2’ or a ‘3’ and so on. So if a ship was classified as being ‘A1 at Lloyds’ it meant that it was perfect inside and out. There’s no use in having a ship that’s perfect on the outside and rotten on the inside. This is true with our own lives as well. We can have a body beautiful but Jesus said, ‘Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect’. This is a complete perfection. But how can it be obtained? After all the Bible says: ‘there is no one righteous, not even one.’ A man once came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Jesus told him to give up self and then to follow Jesus. The Bible teaches, “Fix your eyes upon Jesus the Author and Perfector of the faith.” We need the righteousness of Jesus—whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life—not ‘A1 at Lloyds’ but ‘A1 at the Lord’s Throne’. Completely insured; and completely assured of a safe arrival at the heavenly port no matter how heavy the seas.

Good morning,

Earlier this year a friend and myself had the privilege of photographing a rare bird as it sat on its eggs high up on a Scottish mountain. The bird was the summer visiting Dotterel. The Dotterel is what is know as a Schedule 1 Bird which means that it is protected by special laws. I had to apply to Scottish Natural Heritage for a permit to photograph it at the nest. One of the dangers for the Dotterel is that fowlers found them easy to catch. You can actually sit beside the incubating bird and some have even had to lift the bird off the nest in order to photograph the eggs only to find that the bird was back on the nest before they managed to do so! The Dotterel is so trusting that its scientific name means ‘little fool’; and the name Dotterel itself comes from the same root as ‘dote’ and ‘dotard’ and the modern idiomatic ‘dotty’. The Gaelic name means the ‘peat bog fool’. Personally I think the bird has been hard done by. It was most engaging to see, at first hand, what I would call the Dotterel’s parental boldness—protecting its unhatched young. After we had photographed the bird itself we wanted to photograph its eggs but we just hadn’t got the heart to put the bird off its eggs which it was incubating so courageously. So we left it sitting there 2500’ up a very cold hillside that still had snow round about—a small bird all the way from Northern Africa—and I went home filled with admiration not for a ‘little fool’ but for a ‘little genius’ which was determined to protect and keep warm its unhatched chicks. The bird’s parental courage is illustrative of God’s protection for His children. Provided we trust in God through Jesus Christ we need not be afraid. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled; trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you… . I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” God will never abandon His children and (unlike the Dotterel) He needs no special protection from ‘fools’ or even from principalities and powers. Therefore trust yourself to God, in Christ, who promises His children: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 Good morning,

The late Very Revd John R Gray of Dunblane Cathedral once told the true story of a little girl who lived in Dunblane which is in Perthshire. The girl was of a very young age and was not yet attending church but her mother had taught her to say the prayer we know as The Lord’s Prayer. Well at least her mother had thought that she had taught her daughter the Lord’s Prayer. But in the evening as the little girl’s mother listened to her daughter saying her prayers she heard the little girl say, Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done inPerth as it is in heaven! Jesus, of course, taught His disciples to pray, Thy will be done on earth (not Perth) as it is heaven. Yet the little girl’s prayer was a very good prayer which we could all emulate by putting the name of our own home into it: Thy will be done in Fort William, Mallaig, Armadale, Acharacle (or wherever) as it is in heaven. We should also pray, Thy will be done in our house and in my life as it is in heaven. God’s will being done on earth does, after all, begin with ourselves. The Lord’s Prayer is certainly not meant to be blindly repeated; it is meant to have real meaning in our lives. Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in my life. Jesus said: Whosoever does God’s will is my brother and sister; andwhosoever welcomes me welcomes the Father who sent me; and whosoever believes inme will never perish but have eternal life. Therefore our prayer should be, Father Thy will be done in my life because the promise to whosoevermeans me.

Good morning,

Jesus Christ came into this world to do what God the Father had given Him to do. So what did He come to do? He came, as the angel proclaimed,to Save His people from their sins. Once this work was completed Jesus cried from the cross, ‘It is finished’. God the Father was pleased with the Son’s work because on the first day of the week He raised Jesus from the dead. It is this that makes Sunday such a special day—The Lord’s Day. It is the first day of the week when church services are held to worship God and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The Saviour’s words from the cross are not the words of a victim but a Victor. There is a sense in which religion comes down to a matter of two tenses: ‘Do’ or ‘Done’. False religion is about doing this that or the other with no assurance of salvation (for at what point could one say, Now I’ve done enough?). True religion, on the other hand, rests on what Christ has done, ‘It is finished’. Done! Complete! It is this truth that enabled the apostles to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel: Whosoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved! Now that’s a thought worth praising God for every day but especially on the first day of the week. So, Were will you be found on the first day of the week?

Good morning,

In the Bible Jesus compares Himself to a brooding hen. He said, I have longed to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.How marvellous that the Saviour (who is both God and Man in one Person) should condescend to liken Himself to a brooding hen gathering her chickens under her wings. Now hens are neither preachers nor theologians. Yet through this beautiful and vivid illustration of a clucking mother hen caring for her vulnerable chicks, the hen does speak to us. She ‘speaks’ of Jesus and His love. I used to keep bantam hens when I was a boy and I remember the picture well: Little chicks under the wings of their mother. They were happy, chirpy and content. This happy scene is an apt illustration of the children of God under the protection of God. We are happy and content under God’s care and protection. The Psalmist said: “God will cover you with His feathers, and under his wings you will find safety”. This means that we have absolute safety because even when we die we live. This doesn’t mean that everything in life is rosy but when there are difficulties Jesus helps us and in sadness He comforts us. Especially there is comfort and strength in the knowledge that having Jesus as one’s Saviour means that one’s sin is forgiven and eternal-life is secure. How sad Jesus was that there were some who would not come to Him. Chicks that don’t come to the mother hen are in great danger. She goes before them, guards them, preserves them, and provides for them. We are to hide under His ‘wings’ and learn from Him growing strong in faith, grace and knowledge. The hen is said to be the most valuable bird in the world (I wonder how many eggs are used every day through-out the world?). The cockerel is said to have the best-known bird call in the world. Because cockerels crow early in the morning we could say that the cockerel was not only of the first alarm clock but the first speaking clock! But when the apostle Peter heard the cockerel crow 3 times he remembered that Jesus had told him that he would betray Him and Peter then started to cry. Peter had done wrong. But because Peter really did love Jesus and was truly sorry for his actions he came back to Jesus. Just as a mother hen wants her chicks to stay with her Jesus wants us to come to Him and to never stray away. Peter never went away again. How valuable that cockerel was to Peter. God often speaks to people through His creation. Perhaps even a hen gathering its chicks under its wings has spoken to some of how they must come and trust in Jesus for eternal life as well as for protection and love in this world. What a valuable hen that would be. So the next time you see a farmyard hen with its chicks, or when you hear a cockerel crow, remember Jesus’ love and Jesus’ words, Come unto me. The great value of the hen is that it teaches us the very simple truth in a very simple way: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Come to Him as a hen gathers its chicks) and thou shalt be saved. Safe and saved—now and forever.

Good Morning,

One of the complaints we often hear about the Bible is that different people have different interpretations about what it actually says. People point to the many different denominations as an example of the lack of agreement between people who believe the Bible to be the Word of God to mankind. This complaint however fails to take certain things into account. It fails to recognise that Bible believing Christians do not disagree on the fundamental truths or central teaching of the Bible. It also fails to recognise that different denominations have come about for a whole host of reasons including cultural, ethnic and social. Certainly it is true that there are often doctrinal differences of opinion such as who should be the recipients of baptism (infants, adults or both) but such things do not deny the central teaching of the Bible. It seems to me that those who say, ‘We can’t know what the Bible teaches’ are people who have either never actually looked to see what the Bible teaches or are people who know full well what it teaches and are in need of an excuse for why they should not believe in it. What is the central teaching of the Bible anyway? Jesus made the main issue crystal clear (Jn 3: 36), “He who believes in the Son (of God) has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Is it not the case that it is not so much the interpretation of the Bible we have difficulties with but rather our difficulty is in its application? “He who believes in me,” said Jesus, “even though he dies yet shall he live.” We need to apply this to our lives. We will then have no difficulties about where the Bible comes from.

Good Morning,

A long time ago, a king invited seven blind men to his palace. He told them, “I’d like to show you my elephants.” So the seven blind men went to the king’s stable and began to feel the elephants. Each felt a dif­ferent part. Then the king asked the blind men to describe to him what an elephant was like. The first blind man said, “An elephant is like a pillar.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s leg. The second blind man said, “An elephant is like a brush.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s tail. The third blind man said, “An elephant is like lumps of earth.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s belly. The fourth blind man said, “An elephant is like a wall.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s side. The fifth blind man said, “An elephant is like a hill.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s back. The sixth blind man said, “An elephant is like a napkin.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s ear. The seventh blind man said, “An elephant is like a horn.” This blind man had felt an elephant’s tusk. Then all the blind men began to argue with one another. The first blind man said to the second blind man, “You’re wrong an elephant is not like a brush. An elephant is like a pillar.” The third blind man argued with the fourth blind man; and the fifth blind man argued with the sixth blind man; and the sixth blind man argued with the seventh blind man. On and on they argued because they were blind and could not see the whole elephant. Likewise people have argued the same way about God. One person says that God is like a king. Another says that God is like a prophet. Still another says, “God is like a shep­herd”. A fourth person says, “God is like a judge.” A fifth person says, “God is like a friend.” A sixth person says, “God is like bread” and a seventh person says, “God is like water.” Then like the blind men they argue about what God is like. They argue because man cannot see all of God. Some in fact argue that God is like an elephant in the sense that people in their own way each have a different aspect of the truth about what God is like and they are all right from their own finite perspective. But because we are finite the only One who can answer the question, What is God like? Is God Himself. God does this in different ways but primarily He has done it in giving to us His own Son—“Emmanuel, God with us”. In the incarnation of the eternal Son of God the eternal Son never ceased to be what He has always been—God, but became what He never had been before—man. No wonder Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” If you want to know what God is like, look to Jesus. Jesus is the Opener of the eyes of the blind.

Good Morning,

About 2000 years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively, confining Himself, except for a brief spell in exile during the years of His childhood, to the land of His birth. His relatives were not influential and He had no formal education. Yet in infancy He frightened a king and in childhood He amazed the learned professors of His day. In manhood even the wind and the waves obeyed Him and He healed and fed multitudes. He never wrote a book yet libraries bulge with books about Him. He never composed a song but He is sung about all over the world. He never founded a college but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students as He has. He never marshalled an army yet no leader has had as many volunteers as this Man. Millions pay homage to Him. Ordinary leaders come and go but this Man’s name abounds more and more. This Man was crucified yet He is not dead. Herod could not destroy Him nor could the grave hold Him. This Man stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, and feared by devils. Who is this Man? He is the God-Man the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who said: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Therefore (as the apostles of God put it quite forcefully yet succinctly and simply): “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

Good Morning,

I wonder if you have ever thought about praying? Someone might say, “I’ll turn to God when I need Him.” This sounds OK in theory but when we haven’t prayed before, or our prayers are merely routine phrases, we may well find that when we turn to God in a crisis we don’t know what to do or what to say. We don’t want to be like the two men who took a short cut through a field one day only to discover that there was a bull in the field and now it was chasing them across the field with some 200-300yds. to go. One man turned to the other and said, “You’d better do something!” “What can I do?” said the man. “The very least you can do is pray”, said the other. “But what will I pray?” “I don’t know but pray something!” And so the man prayed: “For what we are about to received may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen”! OK so that’s only an illustration but the point is this: Why leave it until a crisis to talk with God? God has given us the gift of communication with Him at all times and not just in a crisis. God the Father has given us His Son that we may through the aid of the Holy Spirit walk and talk with God. If you have not done this before or if your prayers are little more than routine why not commune with God today in a personal way through Christ (the Great High Priest) who has given us a new and living way. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear, what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”

Good Morning,

Recently I picked up a Congregational Newsletter from a church in Inverness. At the back of the Newsletter (and if anyone might wish a copy for their own Congregational Newsletter they can let me know) I read a most interesting article entitled ‘Friendship’. Permit me to read it to you and then I’ll add my tuppence worth to it. The article begins: His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby quagmire. He dropped his tools and ran to the quagmire. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death. The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse sur­roundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced him­self as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. “I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is that your son?” The nobleman asked. “Yes,” the farmer replied proudly. “I’11 make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of educa­tion my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he’ll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of”. And that he did. Farmer Fleming’s son attended the very best schools and in time, he graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin. Years afterwards the same nobleman’s son who was saved from the quagmire was stricken with illness. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. We’ll isn’t that quite a story? It ties in with what the writer in Ecclesiastes says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.” Or the same writer in the book of Proverbs, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Jesus Himself said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you. Be merciful, just as your Father (in heaven) is merciful.” The mercy of God the Father is seen in the spiritual equivalent to what Farmer Fleming did for Sir Winston Churchill. This is seen in Psalm 40 where we read, “I waited for the Lord my God, and patiently did bear; At length to me he did incline my voice and cry to hear. He took me from a fearful pit, and from the miry clay, And on a rock he set my feet, establishing my way. He put a new song in my mouth, our God to magnify: Many shall see it, and shall fear, and on the Lord rely. O blessed is the man whose trust upon the Lord relies; Respecting not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. O Lord my God, full many are the wonders thou hast done; Thy gracious thoughts to us-ward far above all thoughts are gone: In order none can reckon them to thee: if them declare, And speak of them I would, they more than can be numbered are.”

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