Ready from Rest

Preached on: Sunday 20th August 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 23-08-20 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Luke 8:40-48
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– Ready from our Rest
– Time = Love

Rest from worry

Preached on: Sunday 6th August 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this message.
Bible references: Luke 12:13-34
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– luxury worries; commercial worries; life worries; world worries
– set the right course before you meet the worries
– work in the Kingdom to help other with their worries
– think on God’s wonders and provision
– prioritise seeking the Kingdom

The waiting is over (Christmas message)

Preached on: Sunday 25th December 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this message.
Bible references: Luke 2:22-32
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– A long wait
– Wait for salvation, revelation, hope
– Recognise and celebrate that the wait is over

I wonder what you’ve been waiting for today. I wonder if your waiting has come true and I wonder if there’s anything you’ve ever waited a really long time for. You might have been thinking ‘Oh, Christmas is a really long wait!’ I wonder if there’s anything else you’ve waited a really long time for. Why don’t I give you 20 or 30 seconds just in a moment to turn to your neighbor and say what is the longest you’ve waited for something and what was that something the longest you’re waiting for something and what was that thing you waited for. Over to you just now.

Well, sounds like there’s some interesting stories to share there. And so, what was the longest someone waited for something and what was that something. Anybody willing to share. Fiona? Having Alexanthemos, and what a gift to wait for. Yeah, well great to wait for and good to have him here. What else people? Harris? What was the ….. your birthday every year. Having to wait a whole other year till we get to that point. Anyone else? What’s the longest you’ve waited for something? Rachel? 12 years and still waiting for sleep, definitely! Can anybody beat that? Cara? 10 years to get a dog oh you’re getting pretty close there. But yeah, no definitely. Hope? Waiting for Christmas each year. Leonie? Another dog, as well. Yeah, yeah. six years of asking you eventually wore down your dad. He caved to last. Us softies, we give in eventually.

Well, I’ve been waiting four years to be at a Christmas Day service in person. Yes! I’m here! And I bet some of you were waging ‘Is he gonna make it this year?’ Particularly if you heard the Manse family had to dodge a vomiting bug during the week. it was this close. But, basically we ostracized Hope for a day. She is the best little girl in looking out for her dad and little brother. So, she is a star, So, well done little one, you put up with a lot to help us as a family. But we’re here.

But none of our waiting is really quite as long as Simeon’s waiting. We don’t exactly sure how long he waited but it was probably quite a while, boys and girls, and certainly that’s the idea we get in the passage. And if you read on in the passage you come to Anna and she’s 84 at this point, and she’s been waiting a really long time. But for Simeon we read that he had been waiting for the ‘consolation of Israel’ and I think there’s a lot in that phrase. I think probably it’s he’s looking for freedom for his country because they’re oppressed but I think he’s also waiting for God’s Kingdom to come and to bring the good that God had promised in the Old Testament. And God had painted many pictures in the Old Testament of what it would be like when His Kingdom came and he was waiting for that consolation but maybe waiting also to be proven true that this God, this revelation of God, this faith that they were clinging to, was true. This was the true God and they wanted that to be known. So, now it comes true because he goes on to say ‘Sovereign Lord, you may dismiss your servant in peace for my eyes have you seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all nations. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.’ Jesus was the promise Simeon had been waiting for and He would be the way of salvation, He would be light to see God more clearly so that we could see God’s heart and His ways, and Jesus would prove that the faith and promises of the Old Testament were true and that any who had faith in Him would share in God’s future Kingdom.

Boys and girls, I know that we’ve all been waiting for a really big day today. Waiting for presents and now we begin to wait for that lovely food that I’m sure is coming later today. Waiting to spend time with family and I bet there’s a few of us in the room and at home that are waiting for a rest. But let’s remember what we have in Jesus. Salvation, a revelation of God, and a very sure hope that the waiting is over and the real celebration can begin.

But let’s notice something else from our passage, that no one around Jesus and the family, other than Simeon or Anna, knew what was going on. No one else was expecting God to show up in that way, as a baby, and so, I’m not going to ask you to share but I wonder what was your least glamorous present this year, the one that you’re like ‘Oh, that’s lovely.’ secretly thinking ‘Hmm.’

But, you know, maybe, maybe what is overlooked more often than not, what we think is not that needed, is more needed than we ever knew. It’s more important than we’ve ever realized. That the flashy stuff is here today and then put in a cupboard and gone tomorrow. And so, when I say the waiting is over, Jesus is the salvation and revelation that we need, it can be tempting to go ‘Okay.’ it can be tempting to put on a nice smile, ‘Lovely lovely. Yes good service Scott.’ and we kind of just gloss over this because it’s old news. It’s old news to many of us. We’ve heard it for years upon years. But let’s not be a people who do that to Jesus. Let’s not be a people who just gloss over Him. Let’s be a people who are joyful, who are delighted that this is Jesus. That He is our salvation, He is a revelation of God’s heart for you and for this world, and He is very truly God come in human form. And let’s take that into the new year, to be a people who don’t gloss over Jesus and celebrate what we have in Him and through Him. I hope you have a really excellent day together with whoever you spend it with and enjoy the rest of the Christmas break as well.

Worth the wait (Watchnight)

Preached on: Saturday 24th December 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this message.
Bible references: Luke 2:1-7
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– Inconvenient faith
– Waiting for it to pass
– worth the wait

Let us take a moment to pray before we think about God’s word:

Our Holy God, we come before you this Holy Night as our hymn has just said, we come with awe and joy, with faith and love. But Father, we likely also come with our doubts and even our sorrows. Maybe sorrows that are very raw, maybe very new and so we would ask, our God, to meet with You this night, to meet with You and to hear from You. For we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

I was trying to switch off from work and so decided to watch a little TV on one of the various apps that I can turn to on my phone and in the adverts, and before and during, there was a comedian popped up and he said this line which probably made me chuckle; I probably shouldn’t ‘I love Christmas but by the end of it I hate everyone near me.’

And, I don’t know if you can sympathize with that at all. I’m not saying that I do, but, just in case my wife’s watching from home, but there are bits of Christmas that seem, at times, a little inconvenient. I wonder if you find any parts of Christmas inconvenient. Because something can be inconvenient if it’s bothersome. Maybe you find the stress of buying presents a little bothersome and thinking ‘Oh, what did I get them this year?’ Maybe the stress of preparing this special meal with all the anticipation and how many courses or parts of potatoes should there be, is it mashed and roast and boiled or croquettes, or all four. Some thinking can be inconvenient if it’s disruptive, it’s Christmas, disrupts our routine. Maybe you really like your job and the idea of taking a holiday just feels disruptive or maybe the prospect of being woken before seven o’clock tomorrow morning. And I’ve already warned my daughter, if the clock says anything beyond or before zero six, she’s not to come to through. Something can be inconvenient if it’s vexing some of us. Haven’t seen our family or friends in maybe a wee while and maybe there’s good reason for that because some of those family and friends can be somewhat vexing. In all these ways, and more besides, it may be possible to see Christmas as somewhat inconvenient.

And I have to wonder that very first Christmas did Mary find some of Christmas inconvenient just a little. After all, here’s a girl, a young girl ridiculed, likely ostracized for being pregnant before the wedding day, and everyone’s a little bit unsure if it’s really Joseph’s or not. Here’s a young girl then at eight months pregnant because of the whim of an emperor thousands of miles away, she has to travel three to four days on the back of a donkey, to cover about 90 miles, all just so that she can have her name, and probably not even her name, written on a bit of paper. This young girl then arriving in said town of Bethlehem and finding nowhere to stay, forced to give birth in a stable as a measure of last resort.

With all these very, very clear inconveniences I have to wonder was Mary just waiting for Christmas to pass to get it done, get to the other side?

Well, knowing a little of Mary’s character I’m not sure she was that kind of individual. You see, nine months earlier in a passage that we’ve looked at earlier in our Advent series she said, in response to the angel ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.’ I think those words marked out Mary’s path because they marked out her character as well. Here is a woman of faith whose maturity of faith, even at such a young age, let’s remember she would be in her somewhere in her teens, her maturity of faith knew that faith had to be combined with action and with actions, that at times, can be very inconvenient. If that’s her character then why did she do it and why did she persevere all the way? Why was she not simply waiting for Christmas to pass?

Well, I think Mary knew that this inconvenient faith was worth it. It was worth it because she also knew whom she carried in her body. God. Who’d taken on human form and come very, very close.

It’s a startling thought to think that the God of all creation would become human, would humble himself so incredibly.

But that is what we remember and celebrate this night and although the joy is not maybe as effusive as we had at the family service, it’s a joy marked with a measure of awe, with awestruckness, and maybe that was what Mary also carried a little off, because, I think, more than her having a blind or a duty bound faith, I think Mary had faith in a God who had come close, who is part of humanity now, and who had come to change the world.

For Mary could also recall these words of the Angel before she had replied the angel had said to her ‘He (this child) will be great and the son of the most high, His kingdom will never end.’ Mary knew that God had come to change things. He’d come to bring hope and, in giving herself through inconvenient faith, Mary got to partner with God and His purposes and it transformed our life.

So, what about us, friends, on the cusp of this new Christmas Day? What’s God’s word for us tonight?

Well, what if friends, the invitation of God at this Watchnight Service is not simply to go through the motions of tradition or duty-bound faith, where we turn up and tick the box? What if the invitation is to see the inconvenient faith leads to life and it leads to great opportunities? What if the greatest inconvenience actually might lead to the greatest opportunity, to let God into your life tonight and in the years to come? That, if you allow Him, the King and the manger to be King in your heart, King over your life, then who knows where inconvenient faith might lead you. Who knows how inconvenient faith might transform your life beyond your imagining.

Earlier today I was on Facebook very briefly because one of my friends whom I follow and it popped up a little notification, and Marion, I met Marion well four years ago this Autumn just leading into Christmas, and four years ago Marion came to faith and she came to faith because someone said to her ‘Marion, it’s not about being a good person, it’s not about this Christianity lark, it’s about a relationship with Jesus,’

and so, bold as brass, Marion, four years later, puts on Facebook about her friendship, her relationship with Jesus and how it has transformed her life. How she has transformed from this woman who was who was struggling and doubting and in a place of real darkness at times, to a place of joy a place of confidence and wanting others to know this very same Jesus.

Friends, you can know this Jesus this year too and we’d love to help you. You can put inconvenient faith into practice by coming to church and getting involved. We all like to have Sunday to ourselves but, if you don’t turn up, you miss out. You don’t get to hear from God through His Word preached and through gathering with His people. You can put inconvenient faith into to practice by reading His Word, the Bible, and praying, giving Him some time and space amongst all the busyness. You can put inconvenient faith into practice by learning His ways and learning to walk in Him and, let’s admit, it’s all horribly inconvenient, it requires a measure of sacrifice but, maybe if like Mary, we’ll respond in faith and entrust to the one who came at Christmas then maybe, we too will find a new and fuller life through Jesus.

Now, you may be someone who’s been following Jesus for a little while you wonder ‘What’s the word to me tonight, Scott?’ Well, I was reminded this past week of Eugene Peterson who said that a mark of being a faithful disciple is someone who lives out a long obedience in the same direction, a long obedience in the same direction. So, maybe tonight, rather than on Hogmanay, maybe tonight, on the cusp of a new Christmas Day, may we make that commitment to Jesus, to keep on keeping on, to keep following, to keep a long obedience in the same direction, to keep on the journey, long though it may be, heavy though the loads may feel at times, because both our journey and the journey of Mary, well they’re just an echo, a pale reflection really of a much greater and more sacrificial journey, that of Jesus who journeyed from the glories of Heaven to earth and took up human form, and became a servant rather than being served, and he kept journeying, journeying faithful all the way to the cross that you and I might know life in all its fullness.

Waiting in hope (Early Watchnight)

Preached on: Saturday 24th December 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above AVAILABLE SOON. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this message.
Bible references: Luke 2:1-7
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– Why the wait?
– Waiting for hope
– Worth the wait


Waiting and loved

Preached on: Sunday 18th December 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above AVAILABLE SOON. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 22-12-18 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references:
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– waiting to be loved
– the message of love


Waiting for King and kingdom

Preached on:
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above AVAILABLE SOON. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 22-12-11 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Luke 1:26-38 & 46-56
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints
– In the waiting you are seen
– Waiting for justice
– Waiting for King and kingdom


Waiting on God

Preached on: Sunday 4th December 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above AVALABLE SOON. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 22-12-04 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Luke 1:5-25
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– Waiting when God is silent
– Waiting then God speaks
– The God who waits and acts


Prayer changes things

Preached on: Sunday 30th October 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this sermon.
Bible references: Luke 17:20-21 & 18:1-8
Location: Blackbraes Shieldhill and Muiravonside

Let us take a moment to pray before we think about God’s Word:

Come Holy Spirit and soften our hearts to the Word of God. Let there be light.
Come Holy Spirit and teach us the things of the Kingdom.
Come Holy Spirit with power and deep conviction, for we ask that ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Recently, down the roads at Brightons we had a few volunteers come and share an incredible story with us, during the service there. We have an All Together Time which is normally some time to engage with the children but we also use it to maybe share testimony or are there bits of news. And so, I’d asked Nadia and Allison to share a recent experience of theirs because, on the Monday night just before, Nadia had been at the Fellowship Group that she attends and during that time someone had shared a prayer request for their son, who’s a student, to find some accommodation. I’m sure we’ve read in the news about the lack of accommodation for students and so, they committed it to prayer. On the way home that night, Nadia remembered that she knew a friend in Glasgow who had a flat and sometimes it was available and so she contacted her friend who came back that night and said actually, it was available and she was just waiting to see how God might want to use it. So, by the following morning, this student had a flat. But the story doesn’t end there, because then Nadia went to Pre-Fives, the toddler group down at Brightons that morning, the Tuesday morning, and during the prayer time before the start of it one of the other volunteers, Allison, shared a Bible verse that had spoken to her that week or maybe even that morning, about sharing your faith and being bold to share your faith and so, in that time of prayer, Nadia really took that to heart and when she went into Pre-fives that morning and got talking with some of the adults there, she met a couple and, rather than just exchange the usual pleasantries, because she took that word of prayer and encouragement from Scripture to heart, she decided to share, with them, this answer to prayer from the night before, and it opened up a whole range of conversation about faith, about coming to church, and then, maybe, God was on the case of this couple who’d just come along to toddlers that day, that He was wanting to be part of their life. And it all began with prayer. With a few words of prayer on a Monday night, with a few words of prayer on a Tuesday morning leading to a cascade of events the next day. And who knows where it will continue in that couple’s life. Who know. All this, prayer changes things. It brings about the unseen Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke about in our passage. It brings about that unseen Kingdom into both our lives and into the lives of people around us. And our passage today, we are called to prayer, we are encouraged to pray and, also, that we can keep on praying.

In verse 1 of chapter 18 we read ‘Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.’ To show them that they should always pray. Jesus calls us to pray, to be a people of prayer and part of this parable with this widow women, part of its purpose is to hold up to us her example that, without her persistence, nothing would have changed, and what we, in part, are to take away from it is that, without prayer, nothing which truly matters will change either. And that’s a point Illustrated across the scriptures.

So, we can go into First Timothy Chapter 2, a verse often used in reference to prayer where Paul says to Timothy ‘I urge first of all that petitions prayers intercession be made for all people for kings and all those in authority that we may live peaceful and quiet lives.’ Now, let’s remember, Paul is writing at a time when the church is being persecuted and so, he’s encouraging prayer for a leader, an emperor who was evil, that people wouldn’t like and I’m sure we know some leaders of government or others that we don’t like but yet, we are to pray for them because our prayers affect society, they affect leadership. But, maybe, the opposite is also true that when we don’t pray, things don’t change. And so, we all know of the economic crisis that we’ve been facing, particularly at the instigation of the mini budget some weeks ago, and we might want to just simply blame Liz Truss or others for that kerfuffle and the impact upon our lives. But, what if we, God’s people across this nation and here, are in part to blame because we just moaned and we criticized and we judged, but did we pray? Did we pray consistently for those in government?

Or let’s go to Acts chapter four. We’re at the end of chapter four. We read that the church is facing persecution and has gathered for prayer and, in one of the verses, we read that they pray. ‘Stretch out your hand O Lord.’ and maybe we wonder ‘Well, they’re just asking for God to take away the hardship, to click His fingers and magic it away.’ But that’s not actually what they pray. They pray for themselves to be changed, for them to have boldness in the face of their circumstances and maybe that’s the most pressing area for prayer for us, to be changed, to be changed from the inside out rather than just wishing things away. In these examples we can see how prayer is essential and so why it should be a priority for us. We are called to prayer because prayer changes things and especially changes ourselves. But, brothers and sisters, do we see it that way?

It’s often said that we’ve got time for everything else but prayer. Everything else seems much more urgent. Everything else seems to take greater priority but not prayer. We don’t make the space to slow down. We don’t meet the space to give time to prayer, to learn to pray. We put it off. Yet, the parable of this widow shows us why we are called to prayer. Just as her circumstances would not have changed without her persistent action neither will ours without prayer. So, let us respond to the call of Jesus to be a people who pray.

Now, one of the common pitfalls with this passage is to think that Jesus is saying we must persist in prayer because God is as unwilling as the judge. We read about his unwillingness in verses four and five. We read there ‘For some time he refused but finally he said to himself ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think yet, because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice so that she won’t eventually come and attack me.’ He’s unwilling, he’s selfish, he’s only looking out for himself really and it’s common to think that maybe Jesus is comparing like with like, that God is like the judge. Yet, what Jesus actually says of God in verses 7 and 8 ‘Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones? He will see that they get justice and quickly.’ God is different to the judge. Jesus is not arguing like with like. He’s arguing from a lesser example to a greater example and He does that to encourage us. The Scriptures teach us that there’s at least five ways in which we have something greater in God than what this woman experiences.

So, for example, she is but a woman, a poor widow woman. She had no status in society, easy to be overlooked and ignored but that’s not our situation. We are the children of God and so we come before our Heavenly Father who will not ignore us.

She had no access, no rights really, to come before this judge but we have access. The way is open for us in prayer, to come before our God any time that we please.

She had no-one to come alongside her as she went to the judge. She went alone but that’s not the case with us because we have Jesus as an advocate before the Father for ours, we have the Holy Spirit living in us to take the groans and yearnings of our hearts before God on our behalf.

She had no leverage to influence this judge but we don’t need the leverage because we have the promises of God to stand upon, to claim, to cling to. He will be faithful to those.

She came to a cold court of law but, brothers and sisters, when we come in prayer, we come before the throne of Grace, the throne of Almighty God.

Jesus is arguing from the lesser to the greater. He’s saying, in effect, if this poor woman got what she deserved from such a selfish judge how much more should we be encouraged to pray because God is our Heavenly Father and we are reconciled to Him through Christ.

So, brothers and sisters, are we encouraged to be a prayerful people? Are we praying through the week, not just on a Sunday, and do we do so together at any point? Possibly not, but then, the thing to do is not to shrink from prayer, not to think it’s beyond you or too hard, but to give it a try, to find ways of growing in prayer.

When I came to faith at the age of 19, I probably had only three experiences of prayer, three common experiences.

The first was growing up saying bedtime prayers. Maybe you did the same and you maybe had a rote prayer. I had a rote prayer but that fell away probably around primary school somewhere and prayers at bedtime stopped. I heard prayers on a Sunday morning being said at church there by the minister and I had prayers from the minister at maybe a school assembly. Literally, those were the three areas of prayer I’d only ever come across in my life. But when I came to faith at the age of 19, a month later I started studying at Herriot Watt University because I’d taken a gap year after school, and when I went along to the Freshers Fayre, I found out about the Christian Union and got involved with the Christian Union and, within a very short space of time, some folks from the Christian Union invited me along to the prayer meeting that they held on a Wednesday morning at half past eight – Yes, even students can get up early! – when we gathered at half past eight for classes before starting at quarter past nine and we prayed. And, at first, I probably just did a bit of listening because I’ve never been exposed to something like that, but being in that environment around those people, it taught me to pray and to grow in confidence to pray out loud and that was a gift, a real gift. I probably wouldn’t be standing in front of you without that influence in my life.

Now, I will always encourage you to learn to pray out loud. I think it’s something we should learn to do but I recognize not everyone is quite ready to take that step yet. We can all find ways of growing in prayer, of weaving it into our day, our week, our rhythms so that it’s not just from Sunday to Sunday when we pray, but that we pray in many other ways, that it comes as easy as breathing to us, and, maybe, as regularly. And if we will grow in prayer, if we will find ways and rhythms to do so, there will soon come to be encouraged to pray all the more, just as Jesus sought to do in this parable.

Yet, we all know, there are times when prayer seems to go unanswered and that is the context of our passage today. In verse chapter 17 at verse 20 we read that Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come and they asked this because they prayed for this, they’d been praying for 400 years, if not more, for the Kingdom of God to come. They wanted to be free of Roman rule. They wanted to see God’s Kingdom established with His justice and peace for their people and their land. And so, they asked this new Rabbi ‘Well, when will the Kingdom of God come?’ and then His answer, both of what we read and the portion we skipped over, He says that the Kingdom is hidden in part. He says, in verse 20, ‘The Kingdom of God is in your midst.’ it’s hidden, part through Him, through Him coming into the world. The Kingdom is breaking into the world. But He goes on to say more is to come. The Kingdom is here but not yet. It’s here in part but not fully. And so, He goes on, in the parable we read, to teach us to pray, to be persistent in prayer even. And so, in verse 1, He speaks of not giving up. In verse 3 the widow is described as coming, who keeps coming to the judge. The judge says in verse 5 that she keeps bothering him. She’s that persistent. In verse 7 Jesus speaks of the children of God who pray day and night and in verse 8 that He wonders when He returns, will He find faith, ongoing, persistent faith that displays itself in prayer. I wonder, does that describe us? Are we a prayerful people? Or, have we given up?

The Greek word for ‘give up’ in verse 1 can also be translated ‘to faint.’ It speaks of someone who has grown weary, who’s lost heart, who’s become discouraged and feels helpless. Maybe you come to church feeling that way today, or you’ve known seasons like that and, maybe, you’re in that place because you’re waiting, you’re waiting for God to answer our prayer and, when He seems to delay, you maybe wonder ‘Well, why does He delay?’

I’m not sure I can give you an answer to the why, but I read something that gave me encouragement nonetheless, as we wait upon God. Warren Wiersbe, one commentator, said ‘God’s delays are not the delays of inactivity but of preparation.’ God’s delays are not the delays of inactivity but of preparation. And he bases that upon Romans 8 verse 20 where Paul says to the church at Rome ‘We know that, in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, God’s chosen ones.’ called ones as Jesus said in the parable are ‘the children of God’ and that includes us. And so, this verse is as true for us as for the Christians in Rome, that we know that, in all things, God works, God works for the good of those who love Him. God is at work. His delays are not of inactivity but of preparation.

We might gather today feeling discouraged about many things. The last time I was with you I brought news about the future of our churches in the Upper Braes and you may feel like God is inactive. Why are things not changing? Why is the church in decline? You might also wonder in this message ‘Well, if we start to gather for prayer, if we started a prayer meeting, if we learned to pray out loud, would God then change things, might we have a future?’ I can’t promise that. Even if you started to pray and gather for prayer, the building still might close yet, that does not mean God is inactive. Maybe in that season, maybe through those prayers, God begins our work of preparation, our work to change your heart, to make you more like Jesus, to grow you in faith, to grow you in passion, to grow you in boldness, to help you see you’re part of something new. Who knows what He might do and teach as you pray in that season but His delays are not of inactivity but of preparation. For our part, we are to keep on praying in and through the delays, refusing to give up, just like the persistent widow because we know we come to God our Heavenly Father and that He works for the good of His children.

So, brothers and sisters, let us take heed of God’s Word to us today and respond, both to the call and the encouragement of our Lord, to pray and, in so doing, be a people who keep on praying. May it be so. Amen.