In our own homes: Let us look to Jesus – and be changed by Him.

We compare ourselves to other people. We like to think that we’re doing pretty well. What, Lord, do You think about all of this? Are You impressed? You’re saying to us, “What about Jesus? How do you compare to Him? Help us, Lord, to look at Jesus – and see where we need to be changed. Help us to look to Him – and be changed by Him.

Lord, we’re always making choices. Sometimes, we make good choices. Sometimes, we make bad choices. Life can be very confusing. We wonder, “What’s for the best? What are we to do?” Show us Your way. Lead us in Your way. Give us the strength that we  need to walk in Your way.

Lord, we’re being pulled in two different directions. You’re drawing us to Yourself. The world is pulling us away from You. Help us to confess our sin – we need to be better than we are. Help us to trust in Your power – You’re the only One who can make us better than we are.

What happens to us, Lord, when we turn away from You? Everything starts falling apart. It may seem like we’re getting on well – but there’s an “emptiness” (2 Kings 17:14) at the heart of everything that we do. Having Jesus as our Saviour – this is all that really matters. There’s nothing more important than this. Help us to keep on coming to Jesus, to keep on enjoying “the fullness of life” that He gives to us (John 10:10),

Lord, we give up so easily. We start well – then, we lose our way. We don’t stick at it. How are we to keep on going – when the going gets tough? You keep on going – when we feel like giving up. Keep us by Your power (1 Peter 1:5). Keep us from falling (Jude 24). Keep us – looking to Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Do not be afraid because of the words you have heard” (2 Kings 19:6). Help us, Lord, to listen to Your Word. When the world’s voice seems to be so loud, help us to hear Your voice. Help us to hear Your Word of encouragement: “The zeal of the Lord will do this” (2 Kings 19:31). When fear threatens to overwhelm us, help us to remember that You are “able” (Daniel 3:17) – “able to help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18), “able to provide us with every blessing in abundance” (2 Corinthians 9:8), “able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

“Carried off to Babylon” (2 Kings 20:17); “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!” (Revelation 14:18 & 18:2). Everything seems to be falling round about us. We hear so much bad news. We wonder, “What, Lord, do You think of all this?” Even “in Babylon”, there were “the chosen” – people who belonged to You (1 Peter 5:13). Help us to be Your people – “in the world” but “not of the world” (John 17:11,16).

A book was found – “the book of the law” (2 Kings 21:8). Everything changed. When, Lord, we listen to Your Word and act upon what it says, nothing remains the same. When, Lord, we stop listening to Your Word, we get dragged down into the ways of the world. When this happens, help us to “return to the ancient paths”, to “the good way” – Your way, the way of salvation, the way of holiness (Jeremiah 6:16).

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord” (2 Kings  18:5). Josiah did “according to the law of Moses” (2 Kings 23:25). Help us, Lord, to trust and obey. Give us faith – faith that changes the way we live, faith that leads to obedience.

“The king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valour … all of them strong and fit for war” (2 Kings 24:16) – A prisoner of war is taken out of the battle. What a sad state of affairs it is, Lord, when Satan sweeps in and takes control of our lives. Help us to resist Satan – in Your strength. You are stronger than Satan. Help us to remind him of this: “Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

“Finally, in the end, it came to the point that He cast them out of His presence” (2 Kings 24:20). Help us, Lord, to hear and heed Your Word of warning. We thank You, Lord, that You are “patient … not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Help us never to presume upon Your patience – “Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2).

Sometimes, Lord, we read, in your Word, things that make us wonder, “What’s this all about?” What are You saying to us in the parts of the Bible that don’t jump out at us? We ask, “Do we really need to read a long list of names?” You say to us, “All of these people were important to Me. I loved every one of them. You are important to me. I love you,” Thank You, Lord, for Your love. You know each one of us by name. You never forget us. You always remember us. You remember us – because You love us.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us our own name. It makes us feel special – “I’m me. I’m not somebody else.” We thank You, even more, for giving us the Name of Jesus. His Name is the Name of our salvation. Among all the many names of people, from all over the world, there’s one Name that stands out. It’s the Name of Jesus. Why is Jesus so special? It’s because He’s Your Son – and He’s our Saviour.

“Jabez called upon the God of Israel, ‘Oh that You would bless me …’ And God granted his request” (1 Chronicles 4:10). When we ask for Your blessing, help us, Lord to pray for Your mercy – “Have mercy on me, O God, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Help us to make Your blessing the most important thing in our life. What’s the point of having plenty of friends, if we fall out with You? “Oh that you would bless me” – May this be our heartfelt prayer.

Lord, You want to lead us in the way of victory (1 Chronicles 5:22). You don’t want us to be disobedient and defeated. You want us to be obedient and victorious. Why do we draw back from the kind of commitment that will bring blessing into our lives? Do we think You’re going to ‘lead us up the garden path?’ Do we think You’re ‘taking us on a wild goose chase?’ Do we think that You’re going to take us so far along Your way, and, then, leave us to go it alone? Teach us, Lord, that Your way is better than the world’s way. Show us that you’re always with us, supporting us and giving us the strength that we need to keep on walking in Your way.

Often, Lord, we forget names. You never forget our names. You forget our sins – but you never forget us. You forget our sins – how great Your forgiveness is! You never forget us – How great Your love is! What can we say about Your love and Your forgiveness? All we can say is this: “Thank You, Lord.”

In Your Word, Lord, we read about “a city of refuge” (1 Chronicles 6:67). We take refuge in You, Lord. You are “our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Refuge, strength and help – What great blessings You give to us! Where do we find these blessings? – We find them all in Christ. When “evil” threatens to overwhelm us (1 Chronicles 7:23), we run to Jesus, we are strengthened by Him, and we receive help from Him. What are we to do when You bless us so much? – We are to give all the glory to You. Without You, Lord, we “can do nothing” (John 15:5). With You, we can “do all things” (Philippians 4:13) – because You give us the strength that we need.

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.

Jack McHugh

Lord, some of the names, in Your Word, make us think about ourselves: What kind of people are we? What kind of people are we becoming? “Esh-Baal” (1 Chronicles 8:33) means “man of Baal” or “man of shame.” “Merib-Baal” started off as “opponent of Baal”, then it became “loved by Baal” or “my Lord is Baal.” We wonder, Lord, how does Baal, the god of the Canaanites, get among Your people? The answer is not hard to find. We let him in. We give him the chance to wreck our lives. Forgive us, Lord. We have taken our eyes off Jesus. Help us not to be “double-minded” (James 1:8) – trying to listen to both You and Satan at the same time. Help us to be single-minded in our devotion to Jesus (Matthew 6:22).

Lord, You speak to us about “very able men”, who were called to do “the work of the service of the house of God” (1 Chronicles 9:13). Some have been called to preach Your Gospel and teach Your Word. All of us have been called to serve You. We may not preach or teach – but there will be something for us to do. Some were “chosen to be gatekeepers.” Some were “assigned to take care of the furnishings … .” Some were “entrusted with the responsibility for baking.” Some were “singers or musicians” (1 Chronicles 9:22,29,31,33). Lord, You have something for all of us. As we do Your work, help us to hear Your Spirit saying to us, “’Tis a task the Master just for you has planned … There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.”

Saul “was unfaithful to the Lord.” Help us, Lord, not to become like Saul, who “did not keep the command of the Lord … and did not seek guidance from the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Saul had started well. At the beginning, everything had looked so promising. What went wrong? Lord, we think about Saul – and we think about ourselves. It happened to Saul. It can happen to us. Drifting away from You happens when we start to lose interest in worshipping You, reading Your Word and speaking to You. Everything falls apart. We become like Saul – a shadow of what we once were. We wonder, “Can things be turned around?” Yes! Your Word is alive. Your Spirit is alive. Renew in us the life that comes from Your Word and Your Spirit.

We read, Lord, of “the mighty men of the armies”, “the mighty men who helped … in war” (1 Chronicles 11:26; 1 Chronicles 12:1). Lord, You’re teaching us about spiritual warfare – “We are not carrying on a worldly war … the weapons of our warfare are not worldly … the weapons of our warfare … have divine power to destroy strongholds.” You’re calling us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Lord, help us to become “mighty” for You – “mighty” in Your strength, “mighty” in Your victory.

“The kingdom of Saul was turned over to David according to the Word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 12:23). Lord, You’re calling us to be spiritual leaders – “let us bring again the ark of our God” (1 Chronicles 13:7). We’re to call the people to return to You and rejoice in You (1 Chronicles 13:4,8). We’re to warn the people that failure to do Your will leads to the withdrawal of Your blessing (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). Where Your Word is honoured and given its rightful place, there will be blessing among Your people (1 Chronicles 13:14). Help us, Lord, to be faithful in hearing Your Word and doing Your Word. This is the way of obedience and blessing (James 1:22,25).

It was You, Lord, who “established David king over Israel” (1 Chronicles 14:2). Help us to be like David. He “inquired of You” (1 Chronicles 14:10,14). He “did as You commanded him” (1 Chronicles 14:16). He gave all the glory to You (1 Chronicles 14:11,17). Help us, Lord, to seek Your will, to do Your will, and to give all the glory to You.

Lord, You’re calling us to worship You – to “raise sounds of joy,” to praise You with “loud music,” to worship You “continually (1 Chronicles 15:16; 1 Chronicles 16:6). May we bring to You true “spiritual worship” – the dedication of our lives to You (Romans 12:1).

Our whole life is to be a song of praise to You, Lord – “O give thanks to the Lord … Sing praises to Him … Glory in His holy Name … Seek His presence continually” (1 Chronicles 16:8-11). “Continually” – Lord, this is more than gathering together with others for worship. “Fill Thou our life, O Lord our God, in every part with praise … “

Sometimes, Lord, Your “No” – “You shall not build Me a House to dwell in” (1 Chronicles 17:1-4) – means “Not now – later” – “one of your sons … shall build a House for Me” (1 Chronicles 17:11-12). What are we to say about the ‘delay’? We call it a delay. You, Lord, give us Your promise – “the Lord will build you a House” (1 Chronicles 17:10). You say to us, “Still the vision awaits its time … If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Lord, there are no “giants” able to stand in Your presence (1 Chronicles 20:8). We face the “giants” of unbelief, disobedience, spiritual pride and self-righteousness. By Your “divine power”, these “giants” will be brought to nothing (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Let the “giants” come tumbling down. Let us “grow in grace.” Let us give all the “glory” to You, Lord (2 Peter 3:18).

“Satan stood up against Israel … ” (1 Chronicles 21:1). Satan is much more powerful than we are. He’s not more powerful than You, Lord. Satan prevails against us. He does not prevail against You. Help us, Lord, to come to You – and receive Your prevailing power. In our own strength, we cannot stand against Satan. In Your strength, we shall stand against him – and we shall triumph over him.

In Your work, Lord, we need visionaries, managers and workers. David was a visionary. He had the original idea of building the Temple. Solomon was a manager. Under his leadership, the vision became a reality. The people were important. They built the Temple. Help us, Lord, to find our place. Help us to play our part. Help us to “do the work for the service of the House of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:24) – and help us never to forget this: “thanking and praising the Lord” (1 Chronicles 23:30). Help us to remember that You’re more important than all of us – the visionaries, the managers and the workers.

Lord, You are our Commander-in-Chief. Your work is to be done in Your way – “as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (1 Chronicles 24:19). Help us never to ‘get too big for our boots.’ Help us never to imagine that we’re more important than we really are. You’re the One that’s important. You’re the One that’s at the centre of everything. Help us, Lord, to exalt You – and not ourselves.

Lord, You’re calling us to serve You. We’re to serve You in the world. Before we can serve You in the world, there must be this: “ministering in the House of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:12). Part of our worship involves the dedication of “gifts for the maintenance of the House of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 26:12). When we’re worshipping You in Your House, when we’re supporting the work that is centred on Your House, help us to remember this: When our service of worship ends, our service in the world begins. Help us, Lord, to offer our whole life to You – not just the ‘religious’ part of it. Help us to serve You every day of the week.

“It is Solomon your son who shall build My House (1 Chronicles 28:6). Lord, this was the Word that You spoke to Your servant, David. What a Word of hope this was! David had heard the words, “You are not to build a House for My Name” (1 Chronicles 28:3). His heart sank – but You lifted him up again. It wasn’t all about David – and it isn’t all about us. It’s all about You. You do things Your way – not our way. May we learn to say, “Not My will, Lord. Your will be done.”

Joyful, generous and wholehearted giving (1 Chronicles 29:9) – Where, Lord, does this kind of giving come from? It comes from You, Lord. It comes to us when we’re learning to worship You, when we’re learning to say, from deep in our hearts, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty” (1 Chronicles 29:10). It’s this kind of worship that inspires our giving. When we’re learning to worship like this, our giving will become a joyful privilege rather than a legalistic burden. Our giving will become thanksgiving – “Our God, we thank You … Everything comes from You. We give only what has come from Your hands” (1 Chronicles 29:13-14).

God bless you all.

Charlie

6 thoughts on “In our own homes: Let us look to Jesus – and be changed by Him.

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