Serving You, Lord, doesn’t begin with our choice. It begins with Your call. The initiative is Yours – not ours. Thank You, Lord, that You love us so much. Thank You for saving us – and calling us to be Your servants.
“They had turned away from the Lord. They had chosen to go their own way” (Jeremiah 2:13). When, Lord, our message isn’t popular, help us to remember that it’s Your message – not ours. You have not called us to preach a superficial message. You’ve called us to preach a searching message. We are to invite our hearers to think about what their wrong choices are doing to them: ‘Have you not brought this on yourselves by forsaking the Lord your God when He led you in the way?’ (Jeremiah 2:17). We are to leave them in no doubt about where their wrong choices are leading them – ‘“Your own evil will punish you, and your turning from Me will condemn you. You will learn how bitter and wrong it is to abandon Me, the Lord your God, and no longer to remain faithful to Me”, I, the Sovereign Lord Almighty, have spoken’ (Jeremiah 2:19). This isn’t what people want to hear. It’s what they need to hear. Help us to be faithful to You – even when it’s difficult and discouragement is never very far away from us.
‘Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!’ (Jeremiah 2:28). Teach us, Lord, that man-made ‘gods’ cannot ‘save.’ They cannot even begin to compare with You – ‘the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:28). There is no comparison between You, Lord, and the gods – ‘I am God, and there is no other’. For ‘all the makers of idols’, the future holds nothing but ‘shame’ and ‘disgrace’. You’re calling us on to a much better and brighter future. ‘Saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation.’ We thank You, Lord, that this is the great and glorious future which awaits all who obey Your call to salvation: ‘Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth’ (Isaiah 45:15-17,22).
Lord, You call us to ‘return’ to You (Jeremiah 3:14,22). You call us to make our response to You. You invite us to say, ‘Yes, we will come to You, for You are the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 3:22). How are we to come to You? We are to come to You, confessing our sins – ‘We have sinned against the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 3:25). We are to come to You, trusting You to save us – ‘Surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel’ (Jeremiah 3:23). We thank You, Lord, for all the blessings that You give to those who return to You. You are ‘merciful’ to us. You do ‘not treat us as our sins deserve’ (Jeremiah 3:12, Psalm 103:10). We become Your children. We call You, ‘Father’ (Jeremiah 3:19; Galatians 4:6). You ‘cure us of our backsliding.’ ‘In Christ’, we become ‘a new creation’ (Jeremiah 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Thank You, Lord.
‘If you will return, O Israel,… then the nations will be blessed…’ (Jeremiah 4:1-2). Help us, Lord, not only to seek blessing for ourselves. Teach us to pray that others will be blessed also. Your blessing is not to be kept to ourselves. It is to be shared. We are not to be small-minded people – ‘What will I get out of it?’. Help us to remember what Jesus said to His first disciples, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’. This is still Your Word to us today. May we never rest content with being an inward-looking Church. Christ has given us a worldwide mission: ‘You will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’. We are not left to face this great task on our own. Christ says, ‘I am with you always’. We thank You, Lord, that we do not take up this great challenge in our own strength. Christ says to us, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you’ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).
‘One disaster follows another. The whole land is ruined… My people are fools. They don’t know Me… They are experts in doing wrong, and they don’t know how to do good’ (Jeremiah 4:20,22). Lord, we read the daily news. We wonder, ‘What’s going to happen next?’ We ask, ‘Where will it all end?’ Are we to give up hope? No! Teach us, Lord, to look beyond the things that are happening in our world today. Help us to keep on looking to You, Lord – ‘the God of hope.’ You say to us, ‘There is hope for your future.’ Sometimes, we feel like things are just going from bad to worse. When we feel like this, help us to remember Your Word: ‘I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope’. ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Jeremiah 29:11; Jeremiah 31:17; Romans 15:13).
‘A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way’ (Jeremiah 5:31)! Sometimes, Lord, people are happy to listen to ‘prophets’ – so long as their preaching isn’t too challenging. They’re happy to attend the services conducted by ‘priests’ – so long as nobody expects them to change their way of life. They don’t want ‘prophets’ and ‘priests’ who take Your Word seriously. Help us, Lord,, to be serious about preaching Your Word. Help us to be serious about living in obedience to Your Word. This won’t be popular. We won’t be giving people what they want – but we’ll be giving them what they need. We’ll be challenging them to ‘get real’ with You, Lord. Help us, Lord to do what You want us to do – not what other people want us to do.
‘Their ears are closed… The Word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it’ (Jeremiah 6:10). Sometimes, Lord, we feel like we’re ‘hitting our head off a brick wall’. So few people show any real interest in hearing and obeying Your Word. It seems like Your Word is ‘going in one ear and out the other.’ It would be so easy for us just to ‘settle down’, to start ‘taking it easy.’ This is what so many people do: ‘They dress the wound of My people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace”, they say, when there is no peace’ (Jeremiah 6:13-14). Help us, Lord, to be faithful to You – not to settle for being popular with those whom ‘the Lord has rejected’ (Jeremiah 6:30).
‘Stop believing these deceitful words, “We are safe! This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”’ (Jeremiah 4:4). Help us, Lord, never to allow the place of worship to become more important than the Person we worship. We worship You, Lord. May we not talk a lot about ‘the Church’ – and never speak of Christ! May we not become more concerned about ‘the Church’ looking good than we are about what You, Lord, see when You ‘look at the heart’ (1 Samuel 16:7)! Deliver us, Lord, from self-centred talk – ‘I love my Church. I never miss my Church. I always support my Church’. Help us to see that there’s a great deal of ‘I’ in this kind of talk – but Christ is conspicuous by His absence! May there be less ‘Look at what I have done for my Church’ and more ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20).
‘Wise people are put to shame, confused, trapped. They have rejected the Word of the Lord. They don’t really have any wisdom’ (Jeremiah 8:9). Deliver us, Lord, from thinking that we’re smart. Keep us from becoming wise in our own eyes. Deliver us from the ‘know it all’ attitude. May we not have an answer for everything – except the most important question, the question of salvation: ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Deliver us from knowing so much – yet knowing so little about what really matters! ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’ (Jeremiah 8:20). Keep us, Lord, from becoming so obsessed with getting on in the world that we make no time for You. When, Lord, we’re getting too busy enjoying all the pleasures of this world, help us to remember Jesus’ words: ‘What good will it do you if you gain the whole world – and lose eternal life?’ (Matthew 16:22).
We read, Lord, about those who are ‘circumcised only in the flesh.’ They remain ‘uncircumcised in the heart’ (Jeremiah 9:25-26). Teach us, Lord, that salvation is not a matter of outward conformity to religious rituals. What we need is ‘circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit’ (Romans 2:28-29). Help us to remember Jesus’ words: ‘You must be born again’ (John 3:7). Help us to see clearly that, even when we’ve been ‘brought up in the Church’, we still need to open our hearts to Christ. Even when we’ve heard Your Word preached many times, we still need to be born again through the power of ‘the Spirit of the living God’ (2 Corinthians 3:3). Teach us, Lord, that our religious rituals mean nothing if, in our hearts, we remain unconverted: ‘Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation’ (Galatians 6:15).
‘The Lord is the true God; He is the living God, the eternal King’ (Jeremiah 10:10). Can there ever be anything more important than worshipping You, Lord? We know the answer as soon as we ask the question! Very often, our lives gives a very different answer. We have taken our eyes off You, Lord. We have forgotten that You are the true and living God. We sing the words, ‘O Lord, Thou art my God and King… Each day I rise, I will Thee bless…’ – but they have a hollow ring about them! Help us, Lord, to make a real commitment of our life to You: ‘Teach me to live, day by day, in Your presence, Lord… Teach me to praise, day by day, in Your Spirit, Lord… Teach me to love, day by day, in Your power, Lord… Teach me to give, day by day, from my wealth, O Lord…’ (Mission Praise, 627).
Lord, You speak Your Word to us. You call us to obedience. You say to us, ‘Obey My voice.’ Often, Lord, the story of our life is summed up in the words: ‘They did not listen or pay attention. They did not obey’ (Jeremiah 11:7-8). Your Word is not just ‘something to think about.’ When You call us to obedience, we’re not to say, ‘I’ll think about that later.’ ‘Now’ is the time for obedience to Your Word: ‘Obey now the voice of the Lord’ (Jeremiah 38:20). Help us, Lord, not to put this off until tomorrow. You’re looking for our obedience today: ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7). When, Lord, we’re deeply involved in religious ritual – ‘burnt offerings and sacrifices’ – , You say to us, ‘To obey is better than sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Help us, Lord, to see that obedience involves our whole life – not just ‘never missing a service’!
‘“If any nation does not listen, I will completely uproot and destroy it”, declares the Lord’ (Jeremiah 12:17). When, Lord, we are challenged by Your Word, help us not to look out to the world and say, ‘That’s what’s happening “out there.”’ Teach us to look into our own hearts. Help us to ask, ‘What’s happening “in here”?’ Teach us to pray, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart’ (Psalm 139:23). When the searchlight of Your Word begins to shine on our lives, it becomes clear that ‘all is not as it seems’: ‘They speak well of You with their lips, but their hearts are far from You’ (Jeremiah 12:2). Our situation seems hopeless. We cannot change ourselves: ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil’ (Jeremiah 13:23). We thank You, Lord, that You speak to us Your Word of hope. We can be changed. You can change us: ‘I will give you a new heart’ (Ezekiel 36:26).
At the beginning of the lockdown, Jack McHugh, the Moderator of the Presbytery of Greenock and Paisley, wrote a letter to the members of our Presbytery. For several months, I have been including Jack’s letter in these times of worship “in our own homes.” In this letter, he calls us to pray. Although our Presbytery, now, has a new Moderator, we continue to include Jack’s letter.
Keep on praying!
As you read Jack’s letter, pray for the people he mentions – and don’t forget to pray for him, giving thanks to God for his much-needed and much-appreciated spiritual leadership.
Call to Prayer
Jeremiah 33:3 – Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As we face the uncertainty surrounding the present coronavirus pandemic and the fact that we cannot see, feel or touch the problem, it can lead us to become either sceptical about its seriousness or terrified of what it could do to us or our loved ones. There is no doubt that we face the greatest test that our nation has faced since the end of the Second World War. It proves, once again, that we really do not have all the answers to life’s problems. However, even in the uncertainly and the need to listen carefully to the scientific and medical experts, who are seeking to help our nation get through these difficult times, I believe that there is One who does have all the answers, and we can pray to Him. I have no doubt that we have all been earnestly praying in these days, but I have been led to believe that, although we cannot come together as a Presbytery, we can still pray together. I would like to suggest that we, as a Presbytery, endeavour to set aside time each day at the same time if possible to pray about the present situation; and I would suggest 11.00 a.m. It may be that for some that is not possible, but let us pray every day at whatever time is suitable for each one of us. Let us pray for doctors, nurses, scientists, emergency service workers and indeed all who would seek to respond in these difficult days. Pray for the vulnerable folk in society; let us pray for those who have had to self-isolate, and for folk who contract the virus that they will make a full recovery. Let us pray for families with children who are at home because our schools are closing, that they can cope with the need to keep the children interested and occupied. Let us pray for our congregations and the folk in our Presbytery and nation. Pray for folk whose employment and income is adversely affected by not being able to work. Pray for our politicians in Westminster and Holyrood that God will sustain them and inspire them with His Holy Spirit that their decisions will be in accordance with His will and purposes. Let us all remember that God is Sovereign and that he has shown the depth of his love for us by sending His Son, Jesus, into our world to be our Saviour and our Lord. He will not abandon us now in our time of need.
God bless you all.
We’re now in a new Presbytery – Clyde Presbytery (formerly two Presbyteries -Greenock and Paisley; Dumbarton). The new Moderator is Rev Ian Johnson. Thisis the letter that he wrote for the Season of Advent. When he mentions the start of Advent he’s referring to last Sunday (29th November 2020)which was the fist Sunday of Advent.
Getting through the dark days of late Autumn and early Winter is always hard, and can get many down. There are many other issues in our communities, country and world that cause anxiety and make life difficult for large numbers of people (from illness and loneliness, to financial pressures, to wars and climate change). And all of that was before the global pandemic struck, and the additional stresses that it has brought. Though we may not all admit it, we are all struggling in some way.Sunday marks the start of Advent. It is a time when we look back to the words of the Jewish prophets, like Isaiah, addressed to people who were dispirited, disillusioned and finding life hard. They spoke of God’s continuing presence with them, his concern for them, and his constant and active involvement in their lives; they spoke of God’s Vision for the future, of a world of peace and justice, and his plan to bring about change; they spoke of the need for a new relationship with God. We believe that the birth of Jesus marks the start of God implementing his plan to bring about change. In Advent we look back, but we also look forward with hope, to the fulfilment of Jesus’ promises, to a world renewed, a world transformed, a world grounded in a new relationship with God through Jesus.Many of us may identify with the words of Isaiah, “Even those who are young grow weak; young people can fall exhausted.” It has been hard work this year, and we are weary, but the Prophet went on to say, “Those who trust in the LORD for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” Let’s pray for each other that we find that renewing energy-burst from God, and go out to live and share the hope and Good News of our amazing God with the dispirited and struggling folk around us this Advent.
‘These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them will be… completely useless’ (Jeremiah 13:10). Lord, Your Word challenges us to think seriously about ourselves: Am I on the way to becoming ‘completely useless’? Each of us must think about what’s been happening in our lives – ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord? Where is the soul-refreshing view of Jesus and His Word? What peaceful hours I once enjoyed! How sweet their memory still! But they have left an aching void the world can never fill.’ Teach us, Lord, for real change – for ‘a closer walk’ with You: ‘Return, O Holy Dove!… The dearest idol I have known… Help me to tear it from Thy throne, and worship only Thee. So shall my walk be close with God…’
In ourselves, Lord, there is sin – ‘O Lord… we have sinned against You’. In You, Lord, there is salvation – ‘O Lord our God… our hope is in You’ (Jeremiah 14:20,22). In You, Lord, there is no sin – ‘You are too pure to look on evil’ (Habakkuk 1:13). In ourselves , there is no salvation. We are ‘spiritually dead because of our disobedience and sins.’ We need to be ‘made alive’. How can this happen? It is not something we can do for ourselves. The new birth can only be received as Your gift. Help us to stop trying to save ourselves. It cannot be done. Salvation cannot be earned. It is Your gift. It must be received by ‘faith’. Teach us to look away from ourselves to Christ. In Christ, we see Your ‘great love for us.’ Through receiving Christ as Saviour, we are ‘born of God’ (Ephesians 2:1,4-5,8; John 1:12-13). Thank You, Lord, for such a great Saviour and such a great salvation.
Lord, some of our problems come from outside of ourselves. Other people cause problems for us – ‘This people will fight against you’ (Jeremiah 15:20). Some of our problems come from within our own hearts. Our own sins cause problems for us. There are ‘fightings and fears within’. We are ‘tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt.’ Help us to tell You all about it – how it really is. ‘Just as I am’ – This is how we must come to You, Lord. Our ‘fightings and fears’ do not simply disappear the moment we pray, ‘O Lamb of God, I come.’ We do, however, have Your promise: ‘They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you’ (Jeremiah 15:20). We thank You, Lord, that You will lead us in the way of victory (Colossians 2:8-10).
‘O Lord, my Strength and my Stronghold, my Refuge in the day of trouble, to You the nations will come from the ends of the earth… They will know that My Name is the Lord’ (Jeremiah 16:19,21). Give us, Lord, a faith that is personal – The Lord is my Strength, my Stronghold, my Refuge. Teach us that our faith must not be private. It is not to be kept to ourselves. There is to be no ‘us and them’ attitude. We are not to have a ‘we are the people’ attitude. The Gospel is for the nations. Help us not to say, ‘I’m okay. That’s all that matters.’ The Gospel is to be taken to the ends of the earth. Help us to reach out to others – to share the Gospel with the people we meet. Help us, Lord, to tell people what You have done for us. Help us to tell them what You can do for them. May we let them know how much You love them. May they come to know that You, Lord – our God, can be their God too.
‘The Lord’ is ‘the Fountain of living water’ (Jeremiah 17:13). You say to us, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’ (Isaiah 12:3). We can be ‘like a tree planted by water’, a tree that ‘does not cease to bear fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:8; Psalm 1:3). You speak Your Word to us: ‘“Where is the Word of the Lord?” Let it come!’ (Jeremiah 17:15; Psalm 1:2) You bring Your salvation to us: ‘Save me, and I will saved’(Jeremiah 17:14; Psalm 1:6). You give Your blessing to us: ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord’ (Jeremiah 17:7: Psalm 1:1). We rejoice in Your ‘eternal love. We drink from ‘the streams of living waters’ – and we discover that ‘grace,… like the Lord the Giver, never fails from age to age.’ Help us, Lord, to press on to Your heavenly and eternal glory: ‘In Your presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures for evermore’ (Psalm 16:11).
‘The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him’ (Jeremiah 18:4). Lord, this is what You’re doing in our lives. You are ‘the Potter’. We are no more than ‘jars of clay’ (Jeremiah 18:6; Isaiah 64:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7). Our lives are ‘marred’ by sin. Often, we feel like giving up on ourselves. We thank You, Lord, that You never give up on us. You look beyond what we are now. You see what we will become. You are preparing us for ‘eternal glory’. ‘We are being renewed day by day’. ‘We are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:16-17; 2 Corinthians 3:18). ‘Jesus, You are changing me. By Your Spirit, You’re making me like You… You are the Potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way…’ (Mission Praise, 389).
‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stubborn and would not listen to My Word’ (Jeremiah 19:15). Lord, You’re warning Your people. You’re calling us back from the way of sin and disobedience. You’re calling us to return to You. You’re looking for people who will take You seriously. You’re calling us to live in obedience to Your Word. You’re calling us to worship You with the dedication of our lives and not only the words of our lips. Sometimes, we wonder, ‘Will Your blessing be lost forever? Is there a way of rediscovering Your blessing in our lives?’ ‘There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin. There’s a door that is open and you may go in. At Calvary’s Cross is where you begin, when you come as a sinner to Jesus’ (Mission Praise. 682).
‘Cursed be the day I was born!… Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?’ (Jeremiah 20:14-18). Lord, we read about Jeremiah. We see that he is deeply depressed. He has been preaching Your Word. He’s getting nothing but abuse in return: ‘The Word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long’ (Jeremiah 20:8). We thank You, Lord, that he didn’t stop preaching. He kept on going. He felt like giving up: ‘If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His Name”’. We thank You, that he was driven on by a greater Power – ‘His Word is in my heart like a fire’. No matter how much he tried to keep silent, he could not do it (Jeremiah 20:9). We thank You, Lord, that he moved forward in triumphant faith: ‘The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior’ (Jeremiah 20:11). We thank You that he called upon Your people to worship You: ‘Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord!’ (Jeremiah 20:13). Help us, Lord, to keep on worshipping You and witnessing for You – especially when the going gets tough.
‘Perhaps the Lord will perform wonders for us as in times past…’ (Jeremiah 21:2). Lord, we read about “times past” – and we say, “That was then. What about now?” Help us never to assume that You will always bless us. May we never forget that yesterday’s blessing belong to the past. Teach us not to live in the past. Keep us from saying, ‘He has blessed us in the past. He will keep on blessing us.’ Help us to ask ourselves the searching question, “Do we really want to keep on enjoying Yours blessing?” Help us to keep on seeking Your blessing. If, Lord, we do not seek You, there will be no promise of blessing. We will hear a very different Word from You: ‘I have determined to do this city harm and not good… I will punish you as your deeds deserve’ (Jeremiah 21:10,14). May we never take Your blessing for granted. May we never forget that we could be ‘in for a rude awakening’ – if we do not start seeking You, Lord. Help us to start seeking You today: ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart’ (Jeremiah 29:13).
We thank You, Lord, that Jeremiah kept on speaking to people who had given up on worshipping You (Jeremiah 22:9). His message was clear: ‘O land, land, land, hear the Word of the Lord?’ (Jeremiah 22:29). Lord, You’re speaking Your Word to us. Are we listening? You’re looking for people who will listen to You. You want us to pay attention to Your Word. Your Word is like ‘the sound of a trumpet.’ It demands our attention. Many people say, ‘We will not listen.’ Your Word shows us ‘the good way’ and calls us to ‘walk in it.’ Many people say, ‘We will not walk in it.’ What about us, Lord? What do we say to You? What is our response to Your Word? We thank You, Lord, for Your Word of warning: ‘I am bringing disaster on this people… because they have not listened to My Word.’ May we not bring this judgment on ourselves. Help us to listen to Your Word and walk in Your way (Jeremiah 6:16-19).
‘Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!’ (Jeremiah 23:1). Help us, Lord, not to be like the false ‘prophets’: ‘They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.’ What were these false ‘prophets’ saying? – ‘They keep saying to those who despise Me, “The Lord says: You will have peace.” To all those who follow the stubbornness of their hearts, they were saying, “No harm will come to you”’ (Jeremiah 23:16-17). Lord, You’re calling us to be faithful. It will not be easy. Often, we will be tempted to ‘take the easy way out.’ We will feel the pull of the world: ‘Just be the same as everybody else.’ When we feel that we are being pulled towards the ‘easy’ option, show us, Lord, that there is something else we must never forget: The ‘easy’ option is also ‘the broad road that leads to destruction.’ Help us to keep on following Christ on ‘the narrow road which leads to life’ (Matthew 7:13-14).
‘I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied’ (Jeremiah 23:21). Before we can speak for You, Lord, we must take time to listen to You. Teach us that we dare not attempt to speak for You if we are not prepared to spend time listening to You. Everything could have been so different – if ‘these prophets’ had taken time to listen to You: ‘If they had stood in My council, they would have proclaimed My words to My people and would have turned them from their evil ways’ (Jeremiah 23:22). Lord, You don’t force us to listen to Your Word. You invite us to listen. The choice is ours. We can allow other things to become more important than spending time with You. Help us, Lord, never to become ‘too busy’ for the ‘one thing’ that is more important than anything else – listening to Your Word (Luke 10:41-42).
Lord, we wonder, “Can our lives be changed?” You say to us, ” Yes! They can be changed. I can change them: ‘I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord.’ This, Lord, is no superficial change. This is real change, change which makes a difference. It’s a change of heart: ‘they shall return to Me with their whole heart’ (Jeremiah 24:7). Lord, we wonder, “How are we changed?” You tell us, ‘I will change you’: ‘I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live’ (Ezekiel 37:14). We become new people – ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 6:11). This is the great change, the change that makes all the difference. It’s not just a little change here and there. It’s everywhere. No part of our life remains the same. Every part of life is changed. When there’s a real change of heart, everything changes – ‘all things have become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). ‘Change my heart, O God…’ (Mission Praise, 69).
‘I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears My Name’ (Jeremiah 25:29). We thank You, Lord, for the privilege of being Your people. With this great privilege, there is also the great responsibility of living as Your people. We are not to be Your people in name only. We are to live the life of Your people. Help us, Lord, never to think that we can enjoy the privilege of being Your people, if we are not prepared to bear the responsibility of living as Your people. Teach us that privilege and responsibility belong together: ‘You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins’ (Amos 3:2). We cannot say, ‘I belong to You, Lord’ and then live whatever way we like. We have been ‘raised with Christ.’ We have received new life through faith in Him. Help us to keep on living this new life: ‘Set your hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Colossians 3:1-2).
‘He has spoken to us in the Name of the Lord our God’ (Jeremiah 26:16). We thank You, Lord, that Jeremiah was Your true servant. We need people like him today. He was faithful. He was unashamed of You. He was unafraid to speak up for You. We see this same faithfulness in Christ’s apostles: ‘Day after day, in the temple and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and preaching the Good News that Jesus is the Christ’ (Acts 5:42). We could do with people like that today, people who are enthusiastic about sharing the Gospel, people who are eager to win others for Christ. We, Lord, can become people like that. You can make us like that – if we let You! As we hear Your Word in Church, as we read Your Word in our own homes, may we pray that You will give us the strength to share, with others, the Word You have given to us.
God bless you all.
Here’s a link to notes on Bible readings for the Second Sunday of Advent (6th December 2020 – Revised Common Lectionary – Year B)
Here are some more links that will take you to some more notes on God’s Word.