Saturated in The Word

Preached on: Sunday 2nd January 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button abovesermon text 20220102. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 20220102 slides.
Bible references: Colossians 1:1-8
Location: Brightons Parish Church
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PART 1

So, let me assure you this is not a power kick. I’m not running up to get into the pulpit as quick as possible but I just know that having sat upstairs recently it is really difficult to see the speaker when the speaker’s down there, so that’s why I’m here at the moment.

 

Now, today we’re going to break the sermon into two parts – sorry Andy, I’m mucking up your Bible arrangement here I need more space – we’re gonna, we’re gonna split the sermon into two parts so, when I stop speaking, I haven’t finished.

 

So, this is part one and then we’ll move on to further parts of the service.

 

We’ve already said that today we’re looking at a new book. New book, new year, the book of Colossians. So, I thought I would start to see what the brain fog is like at this time of year by asking a few questions. Now, I know what it’s like I sit there with you when someone says that they’re going to ask questions you’re thinking ‘Don’t ask me!’ You don’t need to answer anything. Think about these in your own mind.

 

Before Advent, what was the name of the book of the Bible that we were studying? Okay, probably easy enough.

 

Next question – What was, what was the main thing that you felt that you learned from our study in the book of Malachi?

 

next question – If you met me out the front in the fresh air later on and I said ‘Give me a summary of the book of Malachi’ How do you think you would go?

 

I put some of those questions to myself this week as I was getting ready to look at the book of Colossians and I thought it was a bit of a challenge to be honest, but new year, new book, new series, I want to throw that challenge back at you, and I want to, I want you, in your mind’s eye, to think a month ahead, or two months ahead, once we’re well through the study of the book of Colossians, and I want you to picture being able to talk to me and summarize the book of Colossians. You think you could do that? Do I think I could do that?

 

I take great inspiration from listening to other people talking about their spiritual disciplines. For example, taking our Minister Scott. Last year Scott got us all or offered a Bible reading plan, he followed it himself, he built it into the rhythm of the church, he allowed us to make questions, he put on some sessions about it, and he lived it through himself.

 

Think of what else Scott’s been doing while he’s been here. He got us into a series on prayer and he tried to get us to pray, to practice prayer, to think about different ways of praying, he even videoed himself walking around the streets praying. Wonderful, wonderful, spiritual discipline. Disciplines for us to learn.

 

Could you bring up the screen please, yeah next, next slide.

 

This is my friend Sundeep. Judith I think you’ve been to Sundeep’s place with me. Sundeep, like me, is an adopted son of Scotland. Sundeep’s from India and there’s something kind of mystical about Sundeep. He tells me that he flips a coin every new year and decides whether to grow a beard or not and then when he grows it for that year he doesn’t cut it and I’ve seen it in about October, it’s quite impressive, it has to be said, but Sundeep has a spiritual discipline that I just love.

 

He saturates himself in the Bible. He saturates himself in the Bible. Now, I’m sure you’ve got a picture of someone who’s just reading and reading and reading and reading and reading, and not doing anything else. Sundeep doesn’t do that. Sundeep from India believes that the scriptures were written to be heard and so Sundeep saturates himself in listening to the Bible and he puts the Bible on around the house. He’s got one of those audios, a good one is Youvision for example, and he plays it and he plays it and he plays it. So, he plays the Bible in the kitchen. He plays the Bible when he’s in the car. Apparently puts his headphones on and he plays the Bible when he goes to sleep at night. He saturates himself in the Bible. I wonder what that would look like if we did something similar?

 

Next picture please.

 

I wonder if anybody can tell me who these two chaps are? The guy on the left, not too difficult, I don’t think, Any ideas? Justin Welby. Does anybody know who the guy on the right is?

 

That man’s name is Dick Lucas. Dick Lucas is a retired minister in London. He’s 96 years old and Dick Lucas has a practice, every year he picks out one book of the Bible and he studies it for the whole year. That’s a Bible study.

 

Next slide.

 

I’ve been preparing for today. I’ve looked at one of Dick Lucas’s commentaries on Colossians because he’s actually, you’d miss him in the street, this is what someone has said of him ‘Lucas is the author of a number of evangelical books and commentaries with John Stott, J.J. Packer and others. Lucas was a key figure in shaping the conservative evangelical movement in the United Kingdom during the 20th century.’ That man was a key mover in our church in the 20th century the great thing is he’s still going and he’s still producing work and he’s still studying the Bible. I love, that I love that spiritual discipline. What would it look like if we, as a church, really got serious with the Bible and started studying it at that depth? What would it look like?

 

Sundeep saturates himself in the Bible. Lucas saturates himself in the Bible. As we’ll see when we go on to look further in Colossians, Paul also saturated the Colossians with the truth of the Gospel.

 

Right my voice is starting to tire so I think we should break.

 

PART 2

Almighty God, now, as we open up Your Word and see what you have to say, may You breathe upon it, May anything that comes from me that’s not of You be just cast away like chaff but may Your truths go deep down inside as we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Right, time to do some scene setting. The book of Colossians, well, in fact, I should stop just there, it’s not a book, it’s a letter. It’s a letter from Paul and Timothy. Paul is in prison. We know that because he says as much at the very end of the letter but if you go through the book of Acts you can trace through just exactly where Paul went and what he did.

 

Paul’s story is in the second half of the book of Acts and you’ll see that he winds up in prison quite often and there’s one reason for that; Paul consistently preaches the resurrection, he preaches the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He consistently gets into trouble with his own ethnic group, the Jews. He consistently gets in trouble with every other ethnic group in the Roman empire, the Gentiles. And, basically, well he just offends people.

 

Actually, that’s not quite true. The message that he brings is what offends people. You’ll see it again and again as you read through, he starts riots in Ephesus – not himself, but a riot flows from it – there’s death, there’s a plot to kill him when he’s in Jesusalem. He eventually, he was probably executed in Rome. He’s just a troublemaker. He offends people. His message offends people. And in a Scotland of 2022, we have to realize that the message of the Gospel is offensive.

 

So, what’s this letter about? Paul, writing in prison, dispatches a letter to this little group of Christians in Colossae. Now, at the time, it’s probably maybe 30 years after Jesus has been killed and the resurrection of Jesus, so the Lord Jesus Christ is in everybody’s living memory, and although Paul’s never been to Colossae, he writes this letter to encourage people, as Billy read to us, he writes and he says ‘Look you’re doing great.’ Massive encouragement, massive encouragement to the small group of Christians in Colossae but it’s not just some random letter of encouragement. You see, Paul’s been told that there’s something going on in this church that is not good and he wants to nip it in the bud.

 

You see, they’ve got muddled like my duck on a bike. They’ve got muddled by all sorts of things. Now, in this letter it’s not explicit what it is that they’ve got themselves confused about, and I think it’s actually very interesting that Paul, on this occasion, does not explicitly set out what the problem is. You see, anybody who’s read anything about Saint Paul and about his letters, will know that he was really, really good at calling things out. he was really good at calling things out. I mean, let me put it this way, he was a little bit more Glasgow than Edinburgh, and plenty of the letters in the Bible, Paul does exactly that. At one stage Peter really cops it. If you ever read the book of Galatians or the end of Romans and you’ll read of the accounts where Paul, well, let’s just say he had a real nose for sniffing out heresy. So, although something really serious is going on in this little church, Paul’s decided not to confront it up front. Instead, he’s tried a different strategy, Saturation, saturation. I talked about Sundeep and how he’s saturated in the Bible, well, Paul decides that he would saturate the Colossians with Jesus, he’d saturate them with Jesus’ supremacy, His sovereignty, His sacrifice.

 

It’s as if he’s decided that whatever it was that was undermining these Christians, they just needed more Jesus. Jesus front and center. And you know, to be honest, initially it’s all a bit over the top. You have a look go home during the week and read the first two chapters of Colossians. I hesitate to say it but, Paul’s a bit of a fanatic. But there’s a reason for it. You see, they were getting conned, they were getting distracted, and they were getting confused by conflicting messages. You see, on the one hand there are all sorts of pressures to conform to tradition, probably Jewish traditions, and then, on the other hand, there were all sorts of weird philosophies coming on. They had nothing whatsoever to do with the Gospel.

 

Now, you might find this odd, but when I was a brand-new university student about 100 years ago I put this verse up from Colossians 2 on my bedroom wall. Colossians 2:8 ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than Christ.’ You see, one of the papers I was studying was philosophy and I knew that that could be a real danger, that the things of the world could really take me over. How on earth at that age I’d grip that I don’t know, but I must have found that verse in the Bible and put it up there. And that was Paul was trying to point out to these guys because they were like my crazy duck on the bike, they were all over the place, and people were throwing in all sorts of things that were extra to the to the Bible, extra to the truth, extra to the truth of the Gospel. And you know, I think we get that today, I think we get that.

 

There’s a wee phrase I’ve heard more and more it goes something like this:

 

‘Well, I don’t know what to think anymore’ ‘I don’t know what to think anymore’ Just look around us. There’s moves afoot again to change the law to permit assisted dying. Now, there’s some in the church that’s saying that’s okay, and there’s others in the church that, it’s not this church I’m talking, the church nationally, but there’s others in the church that are calling it out as a great evil. Or, and I hesitate, but there’s this business in our own denomination, an allowance for ministers to solemnize what the law of the land is calling same-sex marriage. Or there’s this whole question of gender recognition and the massive confusion that that is causing our children, and all of us, as to what a man and a woman is. Political confusion but it’s also dividing the church.

 

‘Well, I just don’t know what to think anymore. It’s all a bit befuddling.’

 

Paul’s solution at least with these new Christians in Colossae, is to help them get their thinking right to center the church on Jesus Christ, and the truth of the Gospel, and so he writes to impress upon them something that’s become, frankly, unfashionable or at least it’s a word that’s become unfashionable these days.

 

You know that word is? Doctrine, doctrine. What we really believe. So, Paul sets out in the letter to say ‘Here is what the Gospel is. This is what you believe. This is the work of the cross. Not only that, Epaphras got it right when he told you what it was.’

 

Now, I hope that as we get into this series we’ll see that being explained more and more from the pulpit, as we see just what these intense words in the first two chapters of this book really, really are. It’s hard to digest. You’ve got to take it slow. Paul is a fanatic but in those two chapters, like I said earlier on, if we really study God’s word, if we really get to know those two chapters, it’ll be a bit like when Ewan was balancing that broom; we’ll be looking up and we won’t be looking down.

 

Here’s what Colossians 3:1 says – I was tempted to bring the broom up but I couldn’t trust myself it would drop from here, but imagine I’ve got the broom – ‘Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above not on earthly things for you died and your life is now hidden with Christ and God when Christ who, is your life, appears then you will also appear with him in glory.’ I think that’s marvelous!

 

Time’s running out for me and I haven’t actually got to the part in the Bible reading that Billy gave to us, so, I’ve probably got seven or eight minutes maybe. Let’s bring up Colossians 3:1-4 if we could Neil. Thank you very much.

 

This is perhaps, the broom and the duck are silly, silly illustrations but Paul’s letter is a massive encouragement to look, to look up, but here in verses 3 and 4 he’s giving them a massive encouragement and he’s saying ‘I’ve heard about you, I’ve heard about you, we’ve all heard about you, we’ve heard about you even though we don’t know you, and we’re praying for you. We thank God for you because we’ve heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.’

 

Now, sometimes it’s hard to pray but I found this verse really, really encouraging. Sometimes it’s hard to know how to start to pray. Sometimes we can feel dry and aren’t in the mood to pray, or we’re just not motivated. Go to this verse. Paul just starts by saying thank-you, thank-you God, thank-you God for the Colossians. Thank-you God for the people at Brightons, thank-you God for the people in Falkirk, thank-you God for the people we know and such and such. That’s a really, really easy way to get into prayer.

 

But what is Paul giving thanks for? Verse 5 – it’s the faith and the love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven, and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the Gospel that has come to you. God’s grace in all its truth faith and love from hope. Now, faith, hope, faith, love and hope are big themes throughout the New Testament and we’ll get into that further as we’re doing this study. But I wonder, I wonder about this for a moment? Are there reports from Brightons about their faith and their love so that other Christians are praying for them and thanking God for their faith and love? I wonder, I wonder if people think upon us and pray and thank God for that? It’s a question for us to ponder isn’t it? Now, I’m putting that challenge down. I want to make sure that there’s not something that’s lost from this part of the passage and this is what I will finish on. Their faith and their love is founded on something. The Word says that it springs up from something. It springs up from hope. Well, that’s not true. It springs up from the hope, the hope and again hope is a massive theme in this book a massive theme of Paul’s.

 

I hope that others preaching this service, this series will go back and get into that some more but let me just let me just touch on hope for a moment. Hope is one of those words that you actually hear a lot at new year.

 

‘Well, I hope 2022 is a bit better than 2021.’

 

‘Well, I hope we can, I hope it snows so that we can go sledging.’ I think this is not forecast.

 

‘I hope folk Falkirk win the league.’

 

Can I say that that’s hopeless?

 

Setting your sights on the unknown like Covid 19, I mean we do hope that the vaccine program, the vaccine program is going to put paid to the pandemic and we do hope that it’s going to go away, but that is not a Christian hope, that’s just wishful thinking. It’s like taking a lottery ticket. Christian hope is something so much different and so much deeper and again that’s what Paul is trying to teach these young Christians in Colossae. Your hope is in something which is certain. If we had time I would take you into Romans 8 where Paul unfolds what hope means. That hope is a certainty. Hope is seeing something that is certain, that we do not we do not see now but that we know Christian hope is certain.

 

It’s not like the hopelessness of today. It’s not like my crazy duck that seems to be a metaphor of the world that we’re in, where we’re going around in circles and our heads are spinning and our eyes are turning, and it’s just hope less. There’s a bumper sticker that you see on the back of cars in New Zealand. It only came to mind this morning when I was thinking about this and the bumper sticker says ‘He who dies with the most toys, wins.’

 

How wrong is that! How wrong is that.

 

Think of the broom, think of the magnificent Ewan Norton and his broom trick, and think of my crazy duck. We don’t want to be like these Colossians. We want to learn from this. We want to learn from this book. We want to balance the broom.

 

May that be so as we go forward into this year. May that be so.

 

Isaac Watts wrote a magnificent, magnificent hymn Amazing Grace. I might have that wrong, it might be John Newton. Actually it was John Newton the slave owner. Amazing Grace. And that’s the amazing grace that Paul talks about and that’s the amazing grace that we’re going to sing now. Amazing, Amazing Grace.

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Introduction to Colossians teaching series

Preached on: Sunday 2nd January 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here Intro slides.
Bible references: Colossians
Location: Brightons Parish Church
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Give him a go but I call him my ‘duck on the bike’. The family think I’m I’m mad with the duck on the bike but here he goes.

 

High tech Christmas everybody!

 

What on earth am I doing talking about these things? I promise you, it will become clear.

 

If you could bring the map up. Brilliant. Today we’re starting a new series in a new book and we’re going to be studying the book of Colossians if you can and I always find it helpful when I’m reading the Bible to try and figure out a bit of what’s going on and who’s writing the book, where it’s coming from, and what’s going on, so I found this map, not a great map, but it shows you where Colossae is and you can see that Colossae’s in the middle of modern day Turkey and it’s about a hundred miles inland from a Roman town called Ephesus, where you get the book of Ephesians from, and well, the thing about the Colossians was they were they were a bit like my duck on a bike. Can you bring my duck on the bike up just so people can see him. He’s a bit squashed I think that’s photography copyright Brent Haywood.

 

But my duck on the bike, he gets a bit crazy and his eyes go spinning and, as we’ll learn about later on in the sermon, that’s what happened to the Christians in Colossae. They got a bit befuddled and they got a bit muddled up, but Ewan showed us what the apostle Paul taught them when he brought them the book because in the book, and we’ll learn about this as we look as we look at the passage later on, when Billy reads it to us, but in the book Paul was encouraging them not to get befuddled by everything down here, by what’s going on in the world but he encouraged them to look up, to set their minds on Christ, to set their hearts on Christ and then by looking up things on earth kind of had a way of working out.

 

So, I hope that was an okay children’s address for some of you oldies.

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Midway Mini Message (Tuesday evening)

Preached on: Tuesday 19th January 2021
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..
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Good evening everybody, welcome to our Midway Mini Message. It’s midway through the month and hopefully it’ll be a mini message but, when preparing for tonight, I had a load of ideas, so I’ll try and keep it as brief as I can!

Tonight, is about helping us engage with the 2021 New Testament Reading Plan. Hopefully many of you have begun to read through this. We’re currently in the book of Mark, the Gospel of Mark, and it’s been encouraging to hear how different people have begun to be engaged with it, forming little groups to support one another even, which is amazing!

But maybe, like other new year’s resolutions at times, you’re beginning to feel “Like okay, halfway through the first month this is becoming hard” and some of the initial enthusiasm is a waning a little bit. Maybe you’re even finding a little bit more difficult than you thought, that you’re reading through, you’re being diligent, but maybe not getting as much as what you hoped you might from it; and my plan, my hope is that tonight, and in future sessions, we might equip you in that, and encourage you through this this year as we read together through the New Testament.

The Psalms remind us that those who dwell, meditate, chew upon the Word of God can know the blessing of God. Psalm 1 says “Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law, day and night.” That blessedness is not about protection from all perils and hardship, but it does include peace and well-being, includes growth of character, stability, delight, joy, even in the midst of hard and difficult times, and many much is the testimony that I and others could share of the benefit of digging into God’s Word and how, through it, we have met with the living God, and our faith has been sustained, maybe especially in the difficult times.

Now this way of reading scripture, that we’ve begun one chapter a day, is a particular way and it may be quite different from what you’ve ever done before, and many of us have maybe used things like Daily Bread or other resources like that, where someone has prepared things in advance for maybe three or four months and you read a bit, and they’ve got some thoughts to read, or you might use an online reading plan from the Bible app for example. Often it can jot around different parts of the Bible, maybe following a theme hopefully. Some of the reading plans maybe do work systematically through a portion of the Bible and again, though there’s often some people’s thoughts on that and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve used it myself, as you know as I’ve said often, I’ve used the Lectio 365 app a lot last year. Pretty much it was my main source for devotions but this year I thought I’d do something different. Go back to a method I’ve used a lot and invite you to give it a shot and journey with me in this, that we might know more of Jesus and more of the teaching about Jesus, and how we are to live as Christians. And so, we’re focusing there on the New Testament.

There’s a couple of things to bear in mind to try and get the most out of this. I guess, first of all we need to remember what Paul said to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all scripture is god breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training and righteousness” and so, if we approach the Bible in that way, then it will change how we receive things and how we expect things will come more expectant. I think expecting to hear from God and the less nice bits, the less glossy bits, the bits that we think “Oh, it’s just a Sunday School lesson” we might take more heat off it. Might not be, as you’re reading through, the thing that initially jumps off the page that you’re meant to hear. It may be something else and so, just bear that in mind, as you come to it, that you’re coming to God’s Word, that it is from the heart of God and there might be something there, will be something there for you, even in those days where it’s like “I’m just not getting anything”. Maybe in that time especially, is when you see that you have to love your neighbor – Sunday School lesson – “Oh, I know to love my neighbor!” well maybe take some time to think about that and see where God takes you by His Spirit.

So, that this is a method I’ve been using for years. It’s been used by billions of Christians, probably most Christians, probably in other countries who don’t have access to other resources. I assume that this is just the way that they’re doing it, they’re just reading through the scriptures and then learning about God, and then learning what it means to follow Jesus. As they read through, and God is speaking to them, and it’s been used from the day the Church began, it’s just how they’ve been using it and through that their faith has been sustained, has been grown, and I pray it would be the same for us.

You’ve probably already begun to realize that, as you read through chapter by chapter, there’s stuff you don’t understand and it’s the same for me. I’m reading through things I’m not always understanding everything and that’s okay. It’s okay not to understand everything that day, that you can come back to another time, another year, maybe another decade, and maybe at that point it’ll be then that it falls into place for you. So, it’s okay not to understand stuff. I’m not getting everything, I don’t expect you to get everything either, okay and that kind of thing is maybe more for Bible studies or maybe for Sunday preaching, or maybe some more intensive kind of Bible reading routines, that you can use in our benefit, but it’s not this.

Okay, so let’s bear that in mind as we come into it. It’s also worth bearing in mind that we’re going to come across a couple of different genres in the New Testament. So, we’ve got the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – and they’re very different from the epistles, the letters by the Church fathers like Paul and John and Peter – so, the early apostles. Okay. And it can be helpful just to be aware of that dynamic, that in the Gospels the focus is very much on Jesus, on who He is, what He came to do what He did, and some of the teaching He passed on, and that those Gospels are written for all the Church to read, and know, and apply. The epistles are a bit different – they’re as relevant for all the Church, but in a different way, because they were written to our particular audience, sometimes a particular congregation or a group of congregations. And then we’ve got the Book of Revelation, and we’ll talk about that nearer the end of the year, because that’s a whole other different type of genre. And what you take from the different genres, how you approach the different genres, will be different, and it’s worth remembering that ,and if you’re not familiar with that, or you just want a bit more help, I’ve got two resources for you to consider getting a copy of.
Okay. now if you’re listening back to this message on the telephone we can get either of these resources printed off for you although one will probably be more helpful than the other. The more helpful one and useful for everybody, is the Bible Society resource and they’ve produced online resources, that you can either read online or downloaded and printed off, for each book of the Bible, and each book of the New Testament as well, and so, it gives you a bit of an introduction to the book, it tells you who wrote it, gives you some inspiring quotes from it, it gives you a bit of a structure to maybe help understand. In that way it gives you ideas of what this might mean for you as well as some maybe discussion questions to think about yourself or talk about with others, and I’ll put a link to this resource in the description of this video.

The other resource is by a group of people who come under the title The Bible Project, and most of it, they’ve got a website and a Youtube Channel, and for each book of the bible, as well as loads of other ideas and themes and issues. They’ve produced videos and the videos take you through a bit of a cartoon drawing that they’ve done, and so we can print off this cartoon drawing for people to read but without the commentary it might not mean quite as much. So, we can get that for those that are not on the internet but again, as I say, it might not mean as much without the commentary, and these are five to ten minute introductions.

That was the book of Mark. There’s also the book of Galatians just to give you a very quick overview to remind you what to maybe expect or be having in the back of your mind as you’re reading through. So, the Bible society and The Bible Project really helpful as you come to the scriptures as well as simply knowing that it’s the word of God and approaching it with that kind of heart and disposition.

Now, when you’ve been reading through hopefully you’ve been engaging with the questions and with the prayer stuff because it really needs both for these to be truly meaningful. I think Tim Keller, in his book on prayer, he talks about how prayer and the reading of scripture just have to and should dovetail so closely together and that one needs the other and vice versa, and so, don’t skip on that, don’t approach it in a peripheral way. You’re coming to God, you’re coming to hear from Him as he’s spoken through His word. and use the questions that are there. So, for example, going through the gospel of Mark, I’ve been thinking “What does it show me here of Jesus?” and I’ve just been reminded of His power and the dynamism He carried by the Spirit and that lives changed and there was an expectancy with Jesus, and Have I got that expectancy? Have I kept that expectancy? and that’s, in part, what prompted the message and following prayer time on Sunday, that as I read through the scriptures, that’s what arose in me; as I saw more of the person of Jesus but equally those other questions “Is there a sin to confess? There’s been a couple of, as I’ve read through things, thinking “Oh Lord, I don’t live that way!” or I see something and that how that person responded to you and my life too. “Forgive me Father, forgive me.” Or maybe there’s been a command to follow or something you’ve needed God’s help with. Who knows, maybe what it’s been, but again there will have been things for me and there’s so many thoughts going around our heads just now and in general. Isn’t it so.

One of the other things that I find helpful is to take some notes in a journal. Literally a sentence is all you need to write down, one sentence. Turn it into prayer if you like – I often do that nowadays. Rather than just here’s a thought, I write down a prayer with the thought and with that kind of heart. Or it maybe with the verse that has jumped out to me. And then, at the end of the week, you can, on a Saturday, if you’ve done all your five readings Monday to Friday, on a Saturday you can just take some time to look back over the week and see if you’ve got any more thoughts. Talk to God about it a bit more and then on Sunday you’ve got Church so no need for a reading that day. Yeah?

So, the questions are there to be used. Please don’t just bypass them. I do try to use them. And approach it prayerfully, and, as I say, you’re not looking to understand everything but you’re trying to see “Well, what is God maybe saying to me today, here, now?” You’re looking for what grabs your attention or what strikes your heart or what encourages you, challenges you. But, as I say, there’ll be days, there will be days where you’re reading through and it’s hard work. I have been there myself, and in that day you’re maybe just need to take a pause, maybe say “God I need Your help. I’m not getting anything today.” and maybe it’s coming back to it later in the day, or it could be just seeing if there’s something that sounds a bit dull or bland or the Sunday School lesson “Love your neighbor” and maybe that’s the thing you should dig into because it’s all God’s word, it’s all beneficial, there’s something you can get from it if we seek God’s help and put in a bit effort, at times, as well.

So, I encourage you that and then just take it into prayer and pray about it and think if you approach it that way I think you can get something helpful from it each day.

But I am conscious that there will be things that come up you know like “What does that mean?” or “Does this mean that?” or “Surely no!” or “I’m really confused!” and so, that’s where this idea about having a question and answers session. The idea came up for a questions and answers evening, and so for the 16th of February myself and a couple other ministers from the Braes Churches will get together to record a video to upload for the Tuesday night where we answer some of your questions. Now, to give us enough time to do that and juggle that around everything else, I need your questions in by the 4th of February, which is a Thursday. Get them in. That gives us about a week to do some digging for you, think through some stuff and come prepared and get the recording done. Can’t promise we’ll do every question but we’ll try and do as many as we can. We just don’t know who’s going to get involved because it’s not just Brightons reading this plan, which is really encouraging, it’s also Slammannan and I think we’re sending it out to Blackbraes and Shieldhill, Muriavonside, which is great, as well. So, who knows what will come! So, get your questions in and help us all just to chew things over.

Nevertheless, as I say, the goal in this is not to understand everything, I don’t think anyone has understood all of scripture, and that’s okay, the goal of this primarily is to nurture your relationship with God and so you’re looking for What are You saying to me today, God? What’s the thing that encourages me or challenges me? What’s prompting me to speak and praise You? and sometimes the wonderful thing about this way of reading the scripture is that some days, not all the time, but more often than not, something will come along that maybe just speaks into a situation and that you’re particularly facing. It’s like I needed to hear that and it’s just really striking how God does that and I’ve known a number of seasons where that has been the case.

So, I pray that we get some of those for each of us as well going through this year but especially I pray and hope that as we go through this it’ll grow your faith that you’ll get to know Jesus so much more, you’ll get to see what this is about and the life He calls us to individually and as a Church, and I think, if we support one another, nurture one another, learn from one another, take on board these questions, and approach the Bible as God’s word, with that sense of expectancy, that He will speak to us, He’ll give us something day by day, our daily bread. Man does not live on bread alone but from the very word of God, and I pray that each of us might know that this coming year.

So, thanks for tuning in. I’ve tried to keep it as brief as possible, probably longer than a mini message, but nonetheless I pray it’s of blessing to you.

And so, as you go from , may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you this night and forevermore, Amen