Good morning all,
I hope this finds you all well and managing to keep safe and well.
May I first apologize for not producing an Audio version of today’s Service but my wife Jo has succumbed to the Coronavirus, having been tested and found to be Positive and has been quite unwell for the past week or so – I have been really worried about her – but she seems to be a bit brighter today.
I am now in a bit of a downward spiral with aching joints, sharp headaches, sore throat and tiredness (or is that just old age!?).
We have both been told to isolate for 12 – 14 days – so as you can imagine we are both a wee bit under the weather at the moment – but we hope to be up and about before too long
Please find the printed version of the Service copied below.
Hopefully all will be well for the Midweek Meditation on Wednesday 21st, we’ll have to wait and see. I will put out a Reflection to you – it may not be a recorded version depending on how things go.
Your good thoughts and Prayers would be very much appreciated.
Take care folks – and please, please be careful and self protect, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone one of you.
Online Sunday Service
“I am the Good Shepherd”
I hope this finds you all as well as is possible in these circumstances.
Things seem to be getting worse instead of better don’t they? Here’s hoping that if we all consider the welfare of others as well as ourselves, things will begin to get better for us all the sooner.
I invite you to find a comfortable set, relax and take in what God’s message is to you today…
As you may remember we are currently taking a look at some of the “I am” sayings of Jesus – and today we continue that theme.
But before we do that, can I ask you to find a soft seat, close your eyes take a deep breath, let it out slowly– and let us pray together.
Holy, Heavenly God of the earth, universe and beyond, we take this time to bring you our praise and our worship. We come to hear your Word to us and to rest in your presence as we soak in all that you would say to us.
We are different people, with different needs and come from different homes, yet we are united in our journey of faith. Wanting to learn and to understand our own role in this amazing story of a baby who was born in Bethlehem, was to end his life nailed to a cross for me.
Walk beside us as we take each step of understanding, open our minds and our hearts that we might be able to take it all in.
Forgive each of us, Father, for the times when we have been less than enthusiastic in matters of faith ; encourage and support us when we falter ; hold us close when you see us begin to weaken and remind us daily of your great love for us.
Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we pray together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~
Our Father, who is in heaven,
bless-ed be your name;
your kingdom come;
your will be done;
May it be on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily needs.
And help us to forgive others,
As you forgive us.
Keep us from falling in to temptation;
and deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
the power and all the glory,
Let us read the Word of God ~ as we find it in ~
John 10 : 1 – 14 from the New Living Translation
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
“I tell you the truth, anyone who creeps over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.”
This is the word of the Lord – Thanks be to God
As you might remember – our theme is the – ‘I am’ sayings of Jesus .
We looked at the ‘I am the bread of life’ saying 2 weeks ago – last week we heard – ‘I am the light of the world’
And today we have 2 more of these sayings which were said together when Jesus was trying to help the Pharisees understand that He had been sent by God to lead all people in to a safe haven – into God’s eternal kingdom.
Our sayings for today are – as you will have gathered from our Bible reading – ‘I am the good shepherd’ and ‘I am the gate for the sheep – (whoever enters through me – will be saved.)’
We notice that ever since Jesus was born in that byre – Shepherds have played a large part in his life.
And that ‘pastoral theme’– of a shepherd who cares for his flock – of one who watches over, feeds and nurtures those who follow Him – was to continue right throughout his ministry.
Indeed – it’s a theme which continues to this very day – with the pastor who cares for his ‘flock.’
In some denominations, the minister is called ‘the pastor’.
Of course – it’s not very complimentary for the flock –His followers – to be called ‘sheep’ ! But, as in all of Jesus’s sayings – it means much more than it actually says.
So let’s have a look – and see what it has to say to us today –
Well – there’s so much in today’s text ! – but if we were to put it in a nutshell – Jesus is saying that just as a shepherd cares for his sheep – Jesus the good shepherd – cares for his flock – those who follow him.
So much so – He says – that He is willing to lay down his life for us – and that’s exactly what He did for you and for me – when He died on the Cross.
And then – He goes on to say that we can all enter God’s kingdom – even people of other faiths – ‘the other sheep’ as Jesus calls them in verse 16.
But if we are to gain access to God – then we have to go through His Son, He is the gate through which we must all pass and as verse 9 says “anyone who goes through me – will be saved !!”
So this passage should give us all great comfort.
We have someone who watches over us, cares for us – leads us along the right paths (unless we decide to wander off – that is !).
And at the last – we know that He will keep us – and all who follow Him – safe in His loving arms – in the wonderful life that is to come – that is a promise to each one of us.
Perhaps it’s not so bad being called a sheep after all !! –
Here’s a short story which might help us understand the point Jesus was trying to make –
The scene was a party which was being held at the opening night of a Shakespearian play in London.
All the actors were socializing – as well as some of the ‘behind the scenes’ people.
As the evening wore on – the lead ‘actor’, who was very proud of his beautiful voice, was asked to recite something.
And after very little persuasion – he said he would recite something he had learned as a young man. It was the 23rd Psalm.
He read it beautifully – his diction was perfect and his lovely welsh lilt was a joy to hear.
When he had finished – the crowd gave him a rapturous applause – and he greeted his adoring fans with a slight bow and an almost ‘royal’ wave.
But then a young apprentice who was working on the scenery – asked if he too could recite the 23rd Psalm.
The crown weren’t so keen – but the lead actor gave a condescending smile and said – ‘let the boy have a go’ – and so the young man cleared his throat – and recited the 23rd Psalm with such feeling like the people had never heard before.
When he had finished – he simply said ‘Amen’ and sat down.
There was no rapturous applause – only a stunned silence and a few sniffles as tears ran down one or two faces…. it had been very moving.
The lead actor came over and said “Well done my boy – that was wonderful – how did you manage to convey such feeling into your voice without the proper training, such as I?” – ‘Well, you see’ said the young man ‘ you know the Psalm – but I know the Shepherd – I am one of his flock !’
I pray that you will come to know the shepherd well enough to know his voice and follow him – and so know the joy which He brings in this life – and the amazing promises which He gives for the next.
I am going to ask you now, to sit for 30 seconds – that’s all – and think about your own faith – your own prayer life – the time you spend reading the Bible – your devotional life –
And then ask yourself this one important question –
“How well do I really know the Shepherd who gave His life for me…?
Let us sit for 30 seconds together, now –
“How well do YOU really know that Shepherd who gave His live for you??.
Food for Thought for us all.
PRAYER (Thanks giving & Intercession)
We thank you for all your goodness to us, for family, friends, food on our table and a home where we can be safe – and so much more.
Forgive us for taking so many of these things for granted; they make life good for us – we really are blessed in so many ways.
But we know that there are many, aye too many, who do not have these things, and we bring them to you in our prayers –
The hungry and the homeless – the lost and the lonely, the sick and the grieving – and we particularly pray for the Powell family who were involved in a fatal car accident in Oxford-shire where Mum Zoe, her 3 eldest children, Phoebe, Simeon and Amelia were tragically killed, leaving dad Josh and 18 month old baby alive but critical. Draw close the family, we pray, and watch over them as this time. No words can alleviate their grief – but may they know the love and concern that we, and many others, feel for them.
We also pray for those who are struggling with the lockdown which we are all having to endure to keep ourselves – and others – safe.
We thank you for those frontline workers who put their own lives at risk in order to keep others safe – watch over them and keep them from harm, we pray.
We pray too for our own families and loved ones – keep them under your watchful eye in these troubled times.
Be with them all dear Lord – for we ask it in the name of the one who leads us into a brighter and better life – and gives us His joy and His peace – here and hereafter – our dear Lord and Saviour – your only son – our only hope – Jesus Christ.
‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’
Here’s what I call ‘Fascinating Sheep Fact no 143’ –
From that best selling book –
“How much do you know about sheep ??” –
When a sheep rolls over on it’s back – it can’t get itself upright again.
Many sheep die like this as they’re easy prey for foxes and the like.
The only way it can get back on it’s own two feet is if somebody grabs it’s coat and turns it over.
So here’s a thought for the week –
Who do you know that may have taken a tumble and could do with a helping hand to get on their feet again ?
Who will you help up this week ??
Isn’t that a thought !!………
And now – go in love, hope, joy and peace –
And follow Jesus throughout your life………
And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – be with your families, friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.
Take care and May God Bless you
And those you love.
Please keep safe
Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.
And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.
“Be still and know that I am God”
Psalm 46 : 10