Online Sunday Service – 21st February 2021 – First Sunday in Lent

Good morning folks, I hope this finds you well. Here is this weeks’ Service which was written and read for the Congregation of Kilmacolm Parish Church where I am currently the Locum Minister. The service gets sent out to a number of groups in the hope that others will find it helpful and encourage you in your Christian journey. This week we are thinking ahead to Easter and the journey that Christ made on his road to the cross. I hope it give you some food for thought as we travel towards Easter during this time of Lent.

Take care, keep safe and God bless. Iain.

Audio Version

Printed Version

21st February 2021

ONLINE SUNDAY SERVICE

1st Sunday in Lent

 

Good morning folks, Welcome to our Online Sunday Service for the 21st February 2021.

How are you today?  I hope all these restrictions aren’t getting you down too much – things seem to be improving and some say that there is a wee light at the end of the tunnel.  We’ve managed this far, so let’s hang on for a wee while yet.

Well, today is the first Sunday in Lent – only 6 weeks to Easter !

It is a time of reflection and preparation – as we look ahead to Easter and all that it means.

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But before all that, let us pray ~

 

PRAYER –

Lord, we come to you acknowledging your greatness,  celebrating your love, to thank you for your mercy, and all your goodness to us.

We come to focus our minds upon you, not that we might turn aside from the world or forget its needs, but so that we might return to our daily lives with a greater vision of your purpose, a deeper sense of your presence around us, and a firmer resolve to serve you in the place where you have put us.

Lord, we are painfully aware of our shallowness – our talk of love and faith and commitment to you and your ways – yet our failure to live up our words.

We can ‘talk a good talk’ but so often we struggle to ‘walk the walk’ of faith in our everyday lives.

Bless our loved ones, we pray – and bless those who are struggling with life but have no-one to pray for them – no-one to help them.

Forgive us for failing to appreciate your mercy, for forgetting your countless blessings.

forgive us for the things we regret having said, done and thought over the past week – and hear us now as we sit for a few moments – thinking about them – and silently confess them to you – Lord, be with us in the peace of our silence –

Forgive us we pray – and bless us with your mercy and your grace –

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

 

Our Reading for this morning is taken from Luke’s Gospel at Chapter 4 : 1 – 13.

Where we hear how Jesus finds himself in the desert facing the ordeal of what is often called “the Temptations”.

And no – that’s not an American Motown band!

Let’s hear how Jesus dealt with them – and see what we can learn from Him

Let’s hear it for ourselves ~

And if you have a Bible to hand, why not read it along with me?  Luke 4 : 1 – 13.
 This week I am reading from New Living Translation

‘The Temptation of Jesus’

Let us hear the word of God ~

“Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, why not turn this stone into a loaf of bread.”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’

Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”

Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’

12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’

13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him, until the next opportunity came.”

Amen.

This is the word of the Lord – thanks be to God

 

SERMON

As I said just now – today is the beginning of Lent – and we hear of Jesus  in a wild, unforgiving place – being tested – being tempted.

As my dear Highland grandmother used to say when having to choose between right and wrong – “aye, it’s a terrible thing is the temptation !”

Luckily most of  us don’t have too many temptations to deal with on a daily basis – or if we do – then they’re not, by and large, life threatening. It’s usually something like – “will I take the chocolate cake or the dry

R y v i t a!?” Mmmmmm…

But the temptations Jesus faced in the desert had the most momentous repercussions.

Indeed – it’s true to say that the lives of each one of us – you and I – rested in the hands of Jesus – during those 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness.

Had He given in to temptation – our lives would be very different today.

Somebody once said that “it’s not what we go through that ultimately matters – but how we go through it”.

And so, on this first Sunday in Lent – we think about how Jesus was tested – and how He reacted – and it leads us to think how we – you and I – react, when put to the test.

We think how when Jesus was under pressure He turned to God’s word – the Bible – for help and support.

It was the first and most obvious thing for Him to do – answer each temptation with a quote from God’s word – the Bible.

Sadly, for many today – it’s the last thing they think about doing !

But if we call ourselves followers of Christ –then we should turn to His word – the Bible. for help and guidance.

It has more adventure than ‘Lord of the Rings’ – more romance than any ‘Mills and Boons book’ – more passion than ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – and for sheer drama and excitement – ‘Harry Potter’ hasn’t got a look in !

Yet how many “Christians” actually read it ?

How many haven’t even got a Bible in the family home !?

A Christian – without a bible – whatever next?

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It was God’s word that helped Jesus through that difficult time – and it’s God’s word that will help each one of us too – through the trials of life.

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The more “senior” of you here this morning – will remember those little biblical verses – those catchy choruses that we learned in Sunday school, and we can still remember today.

You know ones like – “and the lord loves me – I’m as happy a can be – my cup is full and running over !”

With all the actions.

So simple – so ‘childish’ we might think – but in that unpretentious wee chorus – we learn that God loves us very much – and that we should be happy because he blesses us beyond all our deserving – and so much more beside !!

They may seem childish – but they remain – somewhere in the deep recesses of our memory bank – to be recalled in difficult times – to give us comfort and reassurance in those dark times.  They lift our spirits and help us to ‘pick ourselves up and get going’ again.

God has a lot to say about making decisions – He’s made a few in his time – and He shares his advice with us – with you – here in His Word.

When you are desolate and in pain – do you turn to the Bible for words of comfort ? – they’re there – but do we draw from that divine resource ?

He offers us a vast resource of advice, support, guidance, help and hope, but it lies untapped by so many people.

For example ~

When we have relationship problems – is the first thing we do to turn to the bible to see what God has to say about love and respect ?  His word gives us advice on what makes a good relationship – see 1st Cornithians Chapter 13 v1 – 13 for details.

(Perhaps you might like to pause or rewind this video if you want to take a note of these readings so you can look them up later?).

When we feel unsure and lack confidence – do we open those holy pages  – at 2nd Corinthians v9 – and read how God’s grace is sufficient for us – how His strength is made stronger in our weakness ?

When we feel downtrodden and insecure

Do we read for ourselves how the meek will inherit the earth – Matthew 5 v 5 .

And how bless-ed are the poor in spirit – Matthew 5 v 3.

When we feel that God has forsaken us – do we turn to Hebrews 13:5 to hear that He has promised that He will ‘never leave nor forsake you’ ?

Or when we feel afraid of the future – do we read in the very next verse – Hebrews 13 : 6“so we say with confidence, the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

When we feel worried – how often do we turn to the Gospel of Matthew and read God’s promise – “do not worry – for I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20.

When we are bereaved or worried about death – do we read those wonderful words in Paul’s letter to the Roman church  – “I tell you – nothing in all creation – nothing –

can ever separate us from the love of God – not even death”.   Romans 8 : 31 – 39

When we feel that life is getting to much – when we are over burdened with worries and concerns – how often do we draw comfort from the words of Jesus when he says to us – “come to me all who are weary – hand your burdens over to me – and I will take them and give you peace and rest?”  Matthew 11 : 28 – 30

And when we face temptation – do we read Pauls’ letter to the Hebrews  at Hebrews 2:18 – where he writes – “because He (Jesus) suffered when He was tempted – He is able to help those (you and I) who are also being tempted” ?

This Sunday in Lent calls us to reflect on all this.

To reflect on His word and seek His will, so that our faith and our lives – become all the stronger – so that when temptations squares up to us – we will have the strength to square up to them – gaining God’s strength – in our weakness.

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Aye – temptation – it’s an awful thing right enough!

Do you struggle with difficult issues ?

I know I do – we all do – and maybe our first thought isn’t to pray or look in the Bible for help – maybe it should be and I hope and pray that it will be and so tap into the greatest source of power, positive energy, help and comfort the world has ever known.

These things there, waiting for you – if you will open your mind, open your heart to the great God of the universe.

Aye, but will you? I pray that you will.

And I pray for you in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of His holy word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

Our ‘thought for the week’ this week is in the form of a Poem – a Poem about Prayer – and it’s called ~

The Difference a Prayer makes

I got up early one morning

And rushed right into the day;

I had so much to accomplish

That i didn‘t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,

And heavier came each task.

“why doesn‘t God help me?”! Wondered.

He answered, “you didn’t ask”

I wanted to see joy and beauty,

But the day toiled on, gray and bleak,

I wondered why God didn’t show me.

He said, “but you didn’t seek

I tried to come into God’s presence;

I used all my keys at the lock.

God gently and lovingly chided,

‘my child, but you didn’t knock”

I woke up early this morning,

And paused before starting the day,

I had so much to accomplish

That I had to take time to pray.

Taking time, MAKING time to pray for help, comfort and calm changes your whole outlook on the day.

Believe me, I know. For years I didn’t know about the power of prayer – and now I pray each morning for help and support and calm through the day – and what a difference it makes.

In our busyness it’s Tempting to overlook prayer – so why not try a simple prayer for yourself? Stick with it, persevere and you will find out for yourself.

What have you got to lose? Nothing.

What have you got to gain? A whole knew way of seeing the world – of seeing your life.

And please – don’t be tempted to think otherwise.

Now that IS good for thought!

 

AMEN.

 

BLESSING

May you know God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..

And may the blessing of almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.

Amen

 

May God bless you and

may He bless your loved ones too.

Have a good week  – and please – keep safe.

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Meditation’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

Have  good week – and Please – keep safe

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“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10