URC Devotion

URC Daily Devotion 28th January 2020

14 hours 15 min ago
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I Corinthians 6: 12 - 20  ‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything.  ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’, and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!  Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, ‘The two shall be one flesh.’ But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.
Reflection ‘You were bought with a price’. Anyone who’s done sex work will understand that phrase. People sell time, expertise and labour and some people sell their body or the services their body can provide. They are bought with a price. Women, and men, find their options narrowing and, with bills and debts to pay, a few months on Babestation or a web cam at home or nights on the streets are ways out. I don’t suppose that the Roman temple prostitutes of Paul’s time were driven by anything different from those who are sold for a price today. There are some things in this world that do not change very much.
  So, Paul writes to tell the Corinthians that they have been ‘bought with a price’ too – by Christ himself, but always from love. Perhaps Paul is reminding them how loved by God they are and what dignity they have, but by using these words he might also give them a kind of empathy with those some of them have been ‘buying’ for a price. The Roman world had a very different view of sex from that of Victorian, or even contemporary, Britain, and we should not be surprised to know that the lonely or the exploitative, even in church communities, might do this.  
  It can never be right for anyone to treat another person as a commodity to be bought. But, anyone who follows the Christ who proclaimed that tax-collectors and prostitutes would be first into the Kingdom of God knows that sex workers have full human dignity and grace. Christ welcomes all his people as part of his body. Like Saint Aidan, who bought Saxon children out of slavery, Christ pays the price to set us all free, those who do sex work included.
  Prayer:
Loving God, who made my body
to be a holy temple,
save me from exploitation and pain,
deliver me from any who would hurt me,
and give me freedom and courage
to let my body be a sign of your love
a place where joy is found
and where you are glorified,
this day and always, Amen.     --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr Susan Durber is Minister of Taunton URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 27th January 2020

Mon, 27/01/2020 - 06:00
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1 Corinthians 6: 9 - 11 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.  And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Reflection These, startling, verses have caused pain for those of us who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Modern Bibles have struggled with translating the words rendered, in our version today, as “male prostitutes” and “sodomites.”  The Greek words here, arsenokoitai and malakos are difficult to translate; the King James version has “effeminate” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” whilst the Good News version translates both words as as “homosexual perverts.”  
  Malakos - which the King James translates as “effeminate” means “morally soft.”  A Roman man could be accused of this if he was deemed to take an excessive interest in clothes, a fine life, the company of women or possessions.  Similarly a man might have been seen as malakos if he touched his head too often with his finger or wore a goatee beard!  Taking the “wrong” sexual position with another man would also render a man as malakos.  Romans weren’t bothered by men having sex with other men but were very concerned about the social, and physical roles taken.  

Arsenekoitai is now thought to mean “temple prostitutes.”   In pagan society worshippers could go to a temple, have sex with a shrine prostitute and see this as a form of worship.  

Paul’s words reflect his concerns for purity in a very different social context to our own.  Roman sexual mores were concerned with rôles rather than relationships and Paul seems not to understand the concept of two people of the same gender  forming a life long loving relationship. Paul was appalled by the sexual excess and abandon - often linked to pagan worship - in the new Corinthian church; and later criticises those who use prostitutes.  

Translating these attitudes into a modern idiom is difficult.  Perhaps Paul would condemn those who use others simply for lust, who treat the other as a piece of meat as they coast through dating apps and one night stands.  Perhaps Paul would recognise the validity and worth of committed costly love no matter where it is found.
Prayer
Lord Jesus,
you found love in strange places,
let prostitutes follow you and find their worth;
reclined with your beloved disciple at the Last Supper;
and healed the Centurion’s treasured boy.
Help us to celebrate love in all its diversity,
to understand and critique our culture,
and to be careful with our use of Scripture,
that we may not condemn but celebrate your creation.
Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Andy Braunston ministers with four churches in and around Glasgow and co-ordinates the Daily Devotions project.  Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 26th January 2020

Sun, 26/01/2020 - 15:16
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width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer{ min-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupContent{ padding:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnCaptionLeftContentOuter .mcnTextContent,.mcnCaptionRightContentOuter .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardTopImageContent,.mcnCaptionBottomContent:last-child .mcnCaptionBottomImageContent,.mcnCaptionBlockInner .mcnCaptionTopContent:last-child .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardBottomImageContent{ padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockInner{ padding-top:0 !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockOuter{ padding-top:9px !important; padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Sunday 26th January Psalm 133
1 How excellent a thing it is,
how pleasant and how good,
When brothers dwell in unity
and live as brothers should!

2 For it is like the precious oil,
poured out on Aaron’s head,
That, running over, down his beard,
upon his collar spread.

3 Like Hermon’s dew, upon the hill
of Zion it descends.
The LORD bestows his blessing there—
the life that never ends.

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this to the tune Bishopsthorpe here.

Reflection

Some sociologists and political scientists encourage us to think of communities, societies and political unions in terms of three dimensions. A healthy community has demos, ethos and telos.
 
The members of a community recognise each other as members of a common body, in commitment and imagination they together constitute a demos, a people. The community shares common values, commitment to certain ways of relating to each other. This is the ethical dimension through which groups become ‘communities of values’. Finally, the group shares a common purpose or end, a telos.
 
In the central assertion of this Psalm there are two concepts that jump off the page (or the screen). The later imagery of beards and oils, mountains and dew, enthralls. But the two ideas that challenge are these: brothers and dwelling in unity.
 
To think of ‘brothers’, though we are really far better to read ‘kindred’, remind me that closeness and intimacy are inherently challenging. It is often easier to love humanity, than it is to love the humans most closely connected to me in family, church, workplace or school.
 
‘Dwelling in unity’ speaks of an ongoing engagement from which I cannot easily withdraw. It contrasts with the sort of encounter from which there is escape. Despite the frictions of proximity there is unity and peace. This is ethos, but it is also a good, an end in itself.
 
This Psalm of ascent may have been sung by pilgrims as their paths converged and the crowds became a throng. Their end, as a gathering moving people, was the holy mountain and the worship of the true God, the God of Truth.
 
 
Prayer

As we gather towards our houses of worship today, O God!
Put this song on our lips too.
In imagination remind us
of the joys of community
in right relationship.
Make us a people equally committed to
The journey towards our Kingdom destination
and to journeying well together.
In the name of the one who is always before and always beside.
Amen.
    --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College Copyright Sing Psalms! (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 25th January 2020

Sat, 25/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Saturday 25th January

I Corinthians 6: 1-8
When any of you has a grievance against another, do you dare to take it to court before the unrighteous, instead of taking it before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  Do you not know that we are to judge angels—to say nothing of ordinary matters? If you have ordinary cases, then, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to decide between one believer and another,  but a believer goes to court against a believer —and before unbelievers at that? In fact, to have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—and believers at that.
  Reflection “Love keeps no record of being wronged”, Paul will tell the Corinthian church in 13:5.  The Church is the creation of the Holy Spirit, whose work is to transform it into a Jesus-shaped community.  Love is the hallmark of that transformation – not fluffy feelings, but radical, cost-bearing relationships, that put forgiveness above winning, and continued fellowship above even the quest for personal justice.  That is why Paul tells the Corinthians that going to law against one another is evidence that they’ve already lost (6:7).
 
This is a huge challenge for churches and members in our current culture of blame and litigation.  “Reputation Management” is a church industry under Charities Commission legislation. It means protecting the Church against exposure, liability and financial penalty.  Protecting the institution is, in Paul’s terms, massively dangerous. It’s what gives rise to the numerous legal horror stories of people being sacrificed for the sake of maintaining the reputation of the Church, at the cost of justice.
 
The “good name of the Church” lies precisely in the Jesus-shaped relationships Paul is advocating, which are the unmistakable signs of the Spirit’s reality and work.  This is what will draw people to the Church, for all its failings.
 
Paul assumes that a Jesus-shaped, loving Church will be a safe place where justice is done, better and more transparently than in any court!  Love is always on the lookout for the good of the other. I can be free enough from resentment to waive my own need to win (as he suggests) because everyone else in the fellowship will have my back.  Then everyone wins, because love, justice, compassion and forgiveness are all in play to heal the rifts and resentments that smash relationships. That’s when the Church looks most like the Kingdom of God – and wins big!
  Prayer:  Flood my heart with divine love, Holy Spirit!
Free me from my captivity to the hurts of yesterday.
I do not ask you to change the hearts of my enemies;
instead, I ask you to change my heart,
so that I can be a channel of your love, justice, compassion and reconciliation.
Amen.   --> Lawrence Moore, Mission & Discipleship consultant, Worsley Road URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 24th January 2020

Fri, 24/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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I Corinthians 5: 1-13
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant! Should you not rather have mourned, so that he who has done this would have been removed from among you?

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present I have already pronounced judgement  in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus,  you are to hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not a good thing. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, as you really are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral persons—  not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since you would then need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother or sister who is sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge?  God will judge those outside. ‘Drive out the wicked person from among you.’
Reflection  In my experience, churches are places full of people who like to enjoy themselves.  Christmas party season is a great opportunity to gather together with a variety of people to enjoy the festive season. Church halls host parties for the Women’s Guild, Men’s Friendship Club, Junior Church, Caledonian Society, Elders’ Meeting, and many others, with buffets and roast meals all loaded onto heaving plates.  New Year (or Hogmanay) follows swiftly on the tail of Christmas parties, with late-night celebration, joviality, drinks (including a congratulatory dram or two) and the customary revelries as the clock chimes midnight. 
Today’s passage gets us to think about what it means to judge those ‘of the world’ who are seen to behave in ways we feel strong enough to question: whether that be greed or drunkenness, revelry or making idols, or putting before the world a view of sexuality which is informed by our anxieties and assumptions.  Instead, this letter wants those ‘inside’ to think about the hypocrisy of this position which suggests distancing from the world rather than be part of it. Yet this passage calls upon those of faith to sort out their own house first – to consider what it means to be party people, to be people with diverse sexualities, needs and desires. It is our responsibility to revise our understandings to reflect those among our fellowship; we on the ‘inside’ are compelled to think about what makes us into people who like to celebrate, like to embrace a variety of relationships and encounter a plethora of needs and interests. 
If we can embrace and own our ‘inside’ celebrations, relationships and passions in their complex multiplicities, then our own interactions with the world in its ‘otherness’ can be nothing but welcoming and loving, embracing the humanity we share and enfold. 
  Prayer
Loving God, help us to behave
without hypocrisy
and with love.
Open our eyes
to the diversity among us
and the ways we are your people.
Make us quick to judge ourselves
ahead of others, that we may better appreciate 
your kingdom in the world. Amen.   --> The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett is the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Newcastle University Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 23rd January 2020

Wed, 22/01/2020 - 06:00
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I Corinthians 4: 14 - 21
I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  I appeal to you, then, be imitators of me. For this reason I sent you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ Jesus, as I teach them everywhere in every church. But some of you, thinking that I am not coming to you, have become arrogant.  But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power. What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?
  Reflection Growing up, we may have (or have had) someone in our lives to whom we look up, someone we aspire to be like, someone who we respect and want to base our own lives on.  For some it will be a parent or guardian, for others it will be a teacher, a youth leader or a Minister, for example. Alternatively, there may be several people involved.  For me, family, teachers, Boys’ Brigade Officers and Ministers all played their part.
Paul called upon the Corinthians to imitate him.  Having started the Church in Corinth, he saw himself as a ‘Father’ figure and was trying to unify the people by assuring them that he had their best interests at heart.  Paul walked close to God, spent time in His Word and in prayer and, as a result, was aware of God’s constant presence in his life. God was Paul’s inspiration, the person he looked up to.  Paul wanted others to imitate these aspects of his life, this Christian living. 
Paul may have been writing as long ago as A.D.55 but we could do worse than follow his example even today.  Living as God would want us to, not just talking about it, has stood the test of time as a way of life. To know what God wants us to do in serving Him, we need to stay close to Him, following Paul’s example of reading Scripture and spending time in Prayer, in conversation with Him and, very importantly, live our lives in such a way that  His light shines through to those we encounter in our daily lives. 
  Prayer Lord God,
Thank You for all those who guide us through life, especially those whose guidance is inspired by You.
Help us to listen, to discern what is right and then to act as You would have us do as an example to all around us.
Help us to constantly focus on You, both through Scripture and Prayer.
In Jesus’ name.
Amen!   --> Today's writer Jeff Newall, Lay Preacher, Christ the Vine Community Church, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 22nd January 2020

Wed, 22/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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I Corinthians 4: 8 - 13
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Quite apart from us you have become kings! Indeed, I wish that you had become kings, so that we might be kings with you!  For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, as though sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to mortals. We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless,  and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day.
Reflection
We all reckon to know the danger of being “rich in things and poor in soul”, as Fosdick put it. But the Corinthian congregation were probably a pretty poor,  humble and downtrodden lot, and Paul’s accusation that they have become rich is more than tongue-in-cheek.

But people who are poor in things might hope to become rich in soul – and this is how the Corinthians are now seeing themselves, never guessing that they are to become a by-word in Christian history for spiritual arrogance and divisiveness. And churches like this may still be found today – convinced that they have been blessed by God, and eager to show off their spiritual gifts and shame others with their moral rectitude. Churches, that is, that pretend to be something that they really are not.

And then there are those who try to help them change course. Perhaps an apostle, or a minister, or just a faithful and honest friend, who knows that any church is as much a hospital for sinners as it is a school for saints. Someone who recognises the human weaknesses within any fellowship that church leaders can sometimes try to disguise. When we become too self-satisfied and proud of our church life, we need a “fool” like Paul to risk their reputation and show us the truth about ourselves.

We hear plenty about ministries of encouragement, but maybe there is a place for ministries of discouragement as well. Only of course, anyone responding to such a calling is going to be in for a hard time, and will expect (like Paul) to be treated like dirt. Sometimes you’d be a fool to step out of line and say the things that need to be said – but maybe it’s still possible to be a fool, for the sake of Christ.
  Prayer

Loving God
may we be ready to speak truth to power
and also to weakness.
May we never expect of others
more than we demand of ourselves.
Keep us wise in our judgments and our actions
or let us be foolish – but only for Christ’s sake.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d John Durell, retired minister, member of Waddington Street URC, Durham Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 21st January 2020

Tue, 21/01/2020 - 06:00
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1 Corinthians 4: 1 - 7   Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.  I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.

I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters,  so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, ‘Nothing beyond what is written’, so that none of you will be puffed up in favour of one against another.  For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?
  Reflection
  I do enjoy a good mystery: from intriguing crime-scene to intricate resolution, I marvel at the intellect of the detective – and the imagination of the writer. I don't have a great track-record in spotting all the clues and predicting the outcome; but just occasionally I manage successfully to identify “whodunnit”. Because when it comes to contemporary fiction, that's how mystery works: we're invited not just to be entertained, but to join in the sleuthing – to prove our prowess and hope thereby to win the satisfaction of having worked it all out ourselves.

So when we come across the term “mystery” in the Bible, perhaps our instinct is to imagine it's this same kind of exercise in testing our detective talent – seeing if we've got what it takes to grasp the hidden, complex principles that would baffle lesser mortals.

But that's really not what Paul means when he writes of “God's mysteries”. Against a 1st-century backdrop in which various cults claimed to offer initiation into the still-secret ways of spiritual beings, the Apostle emphasises that in Christ, God's purposes are now made plain to all upon whom God's Spirit is graciously poured. And so for disciples, the essential point about a mystery is not that it's arcane and difficult, but on the contrary, that it's been revealed. 

As he here wraps up his encouragement to the Corinthians to lay aside partisan divisions over particular apostolic heroes, Paul makes the point that because the unfolding of mysteries is God's initiative, not human achievement, it's not to be used as a pretext for pride or judgement. For judgement, again, is God's prerogative; and because God has a habit of revealing mysteries, in due time it'll be the things we ourselves have kept hidden – the purposes of the human heart - that God shall uncover.

In the meantime, we too can be “stewards of God's mysteries” – not by claiming mastery of secrets, but by sharing what God has revealed.

Prayer

God of grace and truth,
you summon us to proclaim
what has been revealed among us,
the mystery of faith:
that “Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.”
In our Walking the Way,
empower us by your Spirit
to be bold in witness,
faithful in hope,
and generous in love,
to the glory of your name. Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dominic Grant, minister, Trinity URC Wimbledon Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 20th January 2020

Mon, 20/01/2020 - 06:00
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I Corinthians 3: 16 - 23   Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,
and again,
‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,  that they are futile.’

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you,  and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
  Reflection
  In his book Imagine Church, Neil Hudson writes: “The goal of a whole-life disciple-making church arises from the Biblical conviction that Jesus is Lord of all and that the core vocation of the Church is to make whole-life missionary disciples” (2012, p. 84).  Hudson makes the case for Christian communities to be supportive and nurturing in such a way as to encourage each other to be disciples in their daily lives, when they are scattered, at work, school, Aldi, wherever. This is Church as a community that puts Christ at its centre – on Sunday when together and throughout the week, when apart.  Gathered and scattered - still Church, still ‘God at work’ in the world through and within human beings. 

In this part of his letter, Paul continues his case for how the Corinthians should be Church together.  The question in verse 16 should have brought a lightbulb moment for the hearers. Paul encourages them to look beyond their little community.  To consider how they gather together and for what purpose. Paul encourages them not to overthink this. Might sound foolish to the wise folk of this world, but God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisest of wise guys.  Paul reminds them that the apostles and teachers that have taught them are not leaders to create some kind of earthly hierarchy. No – the order is this. Apostles serve the students. The students become the church. The Church is Christ’s body.  Christ belongs to God. It would be unwisely foolish to think otherwise. We can get wrapped up in our own structural wisdom that we completely forget Christ. 

“Don’t you all know that you are God’s holy structure and that God’s Spirit lives within and dwells among all of you?”  As we consider how we ‘do church’ together, Paul would encourage us not to lose sight of the fact that we ARE Church together and God’s spirit dwells there.  That alone should bring us to our knees in awe.  
    Prayer
  God, we thank you that we don’t have to be the wisest people.
You choose us anyway.  Sometimes more than once as we wander away and you call us back.
Remind us who we are.  Remind us of your Spirit at work within and among us.
Wherever we go, remind us of your presence with us and your love for the people we meet there.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen   --> --> --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend --> Today's writer The Rev’d Angela Rigby, Minister, Christ Church URC Tonbridge and St Johns Hill URC Sevenoaks Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. I Corinthians 3: 16 - 23 

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,

‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,

and again,

‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,  that they are futile.’

So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you,  and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Reflection
In his book Imagine Church, Neil Hudson writes: “The goal of a whole-life disciple-making church arises from the Biblical conviction that Jesus is Lord of all and that the core vocation of the Church is to make whole-life missionary disciples” (2012, p. 84).  Hudson makes the case for Christian communities to be supportive and nurturing in such a way as to encourage each other to be disciples in their daily lives, when they are scattered, at work, school, Aldi, wherever. This is Church as a community that puts Christ at its centre – on Sunday when together and throughout the week, when apart.  Gathered and scattered - still Church, still ‘God at work’ in the world through and within human beings. 
In this part of his letter, Paul continues his case for how the Corinthians should be Church together.  The question in verse 16 should have brought a lightbulb moment for the hearers. Paul encourages them to look beyond their little community.  To consider how they gather together and for what purpose. Paul encourages them not to overthink this. Might sound foolish to the wise folk of this world, but God’s foolishness is wiser than the wisest of wise guys.  Paul reminds them that the apostles and teachers that have taught them are not leaders to create some kind of earthly hierarchy. No – the order is this. Apostles serve the students. The students become the church. The Church is Christ’s body.  Christ belongs to God. It would be unwisely foolish to think otherwise. We can get wrapped up in our own structural wisdom that we completely forget Christ. 
“Don’t you all know that you are God’s holy structure and that God’s Spirit lives within and dwells among all of you?”  As we consider how we ‘do church’ together, Paul would encourage us not to lose sight of the fact that we ARE Church together and God’s spirit dwells there.  That alone should bring us to our knees in awe.     

Prayer
God, we thank you that we don’t have to be the wisest people.
You choose us anyway.  Sometimes more than once as we wander away and you call us back.
Remind us who we are.  Remind us of your Spirit at work within and among us.
Wherever we go, remind us of your presence with us and your love for the people we meet there.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen   Reflection Copyright Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 19th January 2020

Sun, 19/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Sunday 19th January Psalm 132
1 LORD our God, remember David
and the hardships which he bore.
2 To the Mighty One of Jacob,
to the LORD, this oath he swore:
3 “My house I will never enter;
4 rest and slumber I will shun,
5 Till I find the LORD a dwelling
fit for Jacob’s Mighty One.”

6 This we heard of in Ephrathah,
found it in the fields of Jaar:
7 “Let us hasten to his dwelling,
worship at his footstool there.
8 Rise, O LORD, and dwell among us,
resting with your ark of might!
9 May your priests be clothed with honour;
may your saints sing with delight.”

10 For the sake of your own servant,
David, your appointed one,
Do not turn away your favour
from his own anointed son.
11 God has sworn an oath to David
and he will not turn from it:
“I will choose from your descendants
one who on your throne will sit.

12 “If your sons will keep my covenant
and the statutes I make known,
Surely then shall their descendants
sit for ever on your throne.”
13 For the LORD has chosen Zion—
there he wishes to remain:
14 “Here’s my resting place for ever,
here it pleases me to reign.

15 “I will bless her with abundance;
for her poor much food I’ll bring.
16 I will grant her priests salvation,
and with joy her saints will sing.
17 I will raise a horn for David,
for my chosen one a light.
18 With disgrace his foes I’ll cover;
he’ll be crowned with glory bright.”

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland sing this Psalm to the tune Blaenwern here.


Reflection

Psalm 132 is the longest of the Psalms of Ascent. Many scholars think the Psalms of Ascent were used by Israel especially for the pilgrimage feasts for which large numbers of pilgrims would make their way to Jerusalem for the celebrations.
It may have been used as a kind of liturgical re-enactment in Israel while still under a monarchy.  It first celebrated David’s capture of Jerusalem and then the carrying of the Ark into the city, followed by the rehearsal of God’s promise that one of David’s sons would sit on his throne forever.

The national story of Israel begins with Abram building a primitive altar in Canaan before which to worship God. Israel’s first steps are enstoried as a people who worship the One True God. Later on, as they journey through the wilderness, we are given that Moses erected a portable Tabernacle or “Tent of Meeting”, within which was kept the Ark of the Covenant. Yet King David desperately wanted to build God a “proper home”, though he was not to see it come to pass.

All good religion, I believe, strains towards the future. It is written in hopeful voice and tenses of anticipation. Tales of hardship endured, and overcome, in company with the Lord of Love become the nourishment from which confident hope emerges. 
Sundays bring rest and the occasion to look back at the paths we have followed, recently and in the more distant past. As we gather in our Tents of Meeting today. May we dream and pray and long for a society that is a worthy habitation for the Master of all our hopes - where abundance truly belongs to the poor.

Prayer
 
Journeying God of all nations:
faithful pilgrims on the way to worship at the temple
came from different regions and with
different faith experiences.
In all our worshipping today
may we each have a sturdy sense of anticipation
and an enlivened hope for our world.
 
Master of our best dreams
may your longing be found in us and seen through us in holy action.
Amen.   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr John McNeil Scott, Principal of the Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College Copyright Sing Psalms, (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 18th January 2020

Sat, 18/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; 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1 Corinthians 3: 10 - 15

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw —  the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If the work is burned, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.

Reflection

We all hope our churches are based on the foundation of Jesus Christ but what we build on the foundations, Paul warns, will not necessarily be equally wholesome. Each generation chooses to build with gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay and straw. The latter will obviously be quicker, cheaper and easier. When the refiner’s fire - to use an Old Testament image for God’s judgement - sweeps through the building it will destroy the cheap combustible materials. The building will crumble back to its foundations. The picture of using gold, silver and precious stones instead introduces an echo of the Temple, the place where the worship of God was central.

Paul is not of course arguing that the church taps should be gold-plated. Those responsible for the taps and much more are challenged about how they are building the church. Our generation likes to look back on past ones and highlight their blind spots, perhaps even pulling down the statues of former heroes. Are we equally humble about the possibility that what we claim is gold will be seen to be straw?

One of the most stimulating and challenging aspects of regular contact with the World Church is to encounter different perspectives on what is of lasting value. Some British Christians seem very quick to decide any advice from another continent can be discounted as merely a result of their misguided culture; such friends do not always recognise how much of what is claimed as important in European churches is seen by a Pacific Islander as a terrible corruption of the Gospel, a result of our culture of individualism and consumerism.  

For Paul, the judgment is for God to make, so we can spend energy not on criticising others’ false gold as much as on examining our own handiwork. We may need to dig down into our foundations rather than assume the fashionable is always golden.

Prayer

Lord God
We want to honour Jesus Christ, the foundation that has already been laid.
We thank you for those who built more good foundations for us.
Give us wisdom to build well on the best of them, resisting the allure of the easy and the quick.
Give us discernment to recognise false gold, however seductively packaged.
And when you come to judge our imperfect efforts, please do it with mercy.
Amen --> Today's writer John Ellis, former Moderator of General Assembly and Secretary of Capel United Church in Kent Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 17th January 2020

Fri, 17/01/2020 - 06:00
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width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer{ min-width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupContent{ padding:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnCaptionLeftContentOuter .mcnTextContent,.mcnCaptionRightContentOuter .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardTopImageContent,.mcnCaptionBottomContent:last-child .mcnCaptionBottomImageContent,.mcnCaptionBlockInner .mcnCaptionTopContent:last-child .mcnTextContent{ padding-top:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardBottomImageContent{ padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockInner{ padding-top:0 !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageGroupBlockOuter{ padding-top:9px !important; padding-bottom:9px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Friday 17th January
1 Corinthians 3: 1-9

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?  For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Reflection

Any public speaker knows that there is nothing like a good metaphor to change the way we see the world, and even, some would say, to change the world itself. We all like to hear facts, opinions and stories, but most of us, if we are really to develop our thinking and our being,  are truly shaped by metaphors.

I wonder if we can even begin to estimate how much of our faith world is shaped by the metaphors Paul uses. There are countless ones in his writings even just to describe the church; living stones, a family, betrothed to Christ… These are so familiar to us. And even within these few verses in this letter he has us as infants, milk fed not ready yet for solid food, as seedlings in need of watering, as God’s field, and as God’s building.
 
These particular metaphors show how Paul sees our belonging to Christ as something that will always involve growth and development. Just as babies grow into adults, as seedlings grow and flower, as fields move from seedtime to harvest, and as buildings emerge from their foundations, so following Christ is like an organic process of growth and change. It’s much more like that, you might say, than signing once for all on a dotted line, or being converted from one state to another.

So, on this day, perhaps we might reflect on what growth the Holy Spirit is nurturing in us right now (the word ‘growth’, in this context is of course already a metaphor, if a deeply buried one). If prayer is like sunbathing, then how can we turn our faces towards the energy that will help us to grow in Christ, to grow as human beings?
 
Prayer

O God,
nurturer of my humanity
and tender carer of my flesh and spirit,
give me courage this day
to let myself be grown in you,
that I may become
more fully your creation
and more completely myself,
in the name of Jesus,
on whose path I long to walk.
Amen. --> Today's writer The Rev’d Dr Susan Durber is Minister of Taunton United Reformed Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 16th January 2020

Thu, 16/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Thursday 16th January
1 Corinthians 2: 14 - 16

Those who are unspiritual[e] do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are discerned spiritually.  Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.
 ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?’
But we have the mind of Christ.

Reflection

Nicky Gumble shares the story of a South-American au-pair taking the Alpha Course. She got a bit exacerbated by children, running riot in the house. She exclaimed quite passionately: ‘what are you doing, on earth?’ She rather meant: ‘what on earth, are you doing?’ Christians, immersed in the Spirit’s culture, should not be surprised and disheartened that the world around does not understand their beliefs and actions.  Paul makes the challenging point that people who do not have the Spirit of Christ, are alien to Kingdom culture and thus unable to grasp Kingdom realities. Similarly, a blind person cannot fully appreciate a beautiful outfit, and a deaf person cannot give credit to the best symphony.

The church of Corinth was largely made up of gentiles. As their church planter, Paul wanted to equip them to live for Christ and by Christ’s Spirit in a secular and polytheistic society. The previous verses suggest that there are divisions in the congregation because of disagreements over issues such as the message of the Cross. I am also convinced that sharing in the Spirit of Christ increases harmony and unity in relationships.

God’s will can be challenging, demanding and even controversial.  As we seek to honour Christ in all we do, the Spirit can give us the grace to accept God’s will and leading, even when they sound like foolishness to the world around us. To people who struggle to understand the Bible and its relevance for their lives, my advice is to always seek the Spirit’s assistance through prayer before, during and after they read.

When we go through rough seasons of life, when things around us are bewildering, the Spirit of Christ can share God’s wisdom and heart with us, so that we can persevere when others would give up.
 
Prayer

Christ, our way, our truth and our life,
thank you for sharing your heart and mind with us.
In confusion, may your Spirit bring clarity and peace.
In division, bind us together through unity in diversity.
When ridiculed for being faithful to you,
grant us the grace to keep our eyes fixed on you.
When we feel lost and shaken,
may your Spirit be our anchor and compass.
Amen.  --> Today's writer The Rev’d Bachelard Kaze Yemtsa is a minster in the East Midlands Synod Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 15th January 2020

Wed, 15/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Wednesday 15th January
1 Corinthians 2: 6 - 13

Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the human heart conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.

Reflection

One of the interesting things that sociologists of religion tell us is that people in our society are spiritual but not religious.  Folk are interested in a range of spiritual things but don’t see themselves as religious. All those folk who like mindfulness don’t realise that it’s a form of meditation.  A friend of mine once told me of the Buddhist meditation group he attends (in a former Methodist chapel) where they meditate each week, have a box for donations and a rota for the tea and coffee.  He went on to tell me he wasn’t religious....

Paul talks long and hard about the spiritual realities of life, comparing and contrasting them to the wisdom of the world.  Spiritual truths counter the wisdom of our age - the first don’t want to be last after all. The Lord of Life was put to death as a threat to the status quo.  And yet our people long for spirituality; they don’t dream they will find it in a church.

Maybe that’s because we spend longer talking about pulpit supply, rotas, the building or the budget than we do about the spiritual.  My born again Buddist friend was longing for a spiritual practice, having found it he then mucked in with all the normal stuff.

Perhaps my church might have attracted him if we’d talked more about the things of the Spirit.

Prayer

In you O God
do our hearts find their rest,
in your are our longings stilled,
our hunger sated
and our thirst quenched.
Help us to speak of the truth we live,
that our people might be saved.
Amen. --> Today's writer The Rev’d Andy Braunston ministers with four churches south of Glasgow in the Synod of Scotland. Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 14th January 2020

Tue, 14/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Tuesday 14th January
1 Corinthians 2: 1 - 5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,  I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Reflection

Some years ago in, I think, Australia, a group of church-going young people were asked to define some of the Christian jargon that is commonplace in churches. According to them, ‘Redemption’ is what you do with a voucher, ‘salvation’ is an ointment you put on a graze and ‘grace’ is what you say before a meal if you’re having the vicar over for tea.

One of the questions I am often asked as a Children and Youth Development Officer  is “Have you any tips on how to do a children’s address?” to which my answer is always “Keep it simple and avoid jargon”.

You see, whilst WE might think we know what a word or phrase means, we can’t be sure that the listener shares that same understanding. And this is true not just of children in the church but also the adults who are there, too. And the adults who maybe aren’t at church with whom we are tasked to share the Good News.

We can make our faith as difficult and wordy as we want, we can use jargon which actively excludes others, we can be a little clique with in-jokes and our own language… but how does that help us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

How refreshing that Paul in his letter to the emerging church in Corinth recognised this.

How disappointing that, some two thousand years later, we seem to have forgotten.

Jesus knew what to do – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Prayer

Loving God,
Help us to use language that builds bridges rather than walls
Help us to use language that opens You up, rather than closes You off
Help us to remember to keep it simple.
Amen --> Today's writer Leo Roberts, Children and Youth Development Officer, North Western Synod Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 13th January 2020

Mon, 13/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Monday 13th January 1 Corinthians 1: 26 - 31

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters:  not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one  might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Reflection

This is the first time I am writing a Devotion; therefore I feel no pressure to write something clever !?!

As I reflect on the words of this passage, I consider first how others see me (the reference to human standards) and how they may not see me as anything special or unique or powerful….as I don’t shout the loudest or strut! But how God uses us time and time again to show or demonstrate something to others.. It may be he that he enables us to be positive in dark times, or to smile and say nothing when we are tempted to say something negative or that he just encourages us to just ‘BE STILL’ (Psalm 46:10) and in that shows others what real patience looks like.  Whatever it is, God chose us; he CHOSE us…..How great is that we are called and chosen to be children of God…. This is a gift that keeps giving, as time and time again, God shows us that he is on our side, bringing us through challenges and difficulties; sometimes in a more triumphant way than we could ever have imagined.

However, the passage also reminds us to be humble and to recognize that we must not become boastful; not easy when things are going well or when you are being held up by others or when you get that job or that partner or win that prize. 

We are reminded that God is our centre and we are reminded that IF we are to boast, we must boast recognising who chose us; who made us whole; who continues to be faithful, who is  always kind, who works through us.. As the passage says ‘we must boast in the Lord’.

Prayer 

Father God, how awesome you are, and 
How Humble we should be; 
But sometimes that isn’t easy when things are going very well.
Lord, please remind us to focus on you; to keep you at the centre; to boast IN you;
Always remembering the gift of life and love that you have given us as HIS children; making us whole, joyful and secure.
And in this way we are able to bring more people to your Kingdom planting seeds of joy and goodness across the world. --> Today's writer Alexandra Priddy (nee Bediako), Elder and Children's Church Leader, Trinity Mill Hill URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12th January 2020

Sun, 12/01/2020 - 06:00
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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentColumn{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Sunday 12th January Psalm 131
 
1 My heart’s not proud, O LORD,
nor haughty is my eye;
I do not occupy myself
with things too great or high.

2 My spirit I have calmed;
my heart is pacified.
My soul is like a little child
close to its mother’s side.

Just like a little child
my soul is calmed in me.
3 O Isr’el, hope in God the LORD
now and eternally.

Reflection

This short Psalm, thought to have been written by David, has a wealth of meaning for all of us who lead busy full, lives. There is humility and gentleness of spirit, and a true sense of being at peace and rest in the one who is our hope, the Lord God Almighty.

There is a beautiful sense of simplicity and childlike trust rather than always trying to make life more complicated than it really is. Our society does seem to dictate the opposite and these observations consequently appear so refreshing and life-giving. Such is not taking on too many things that might cause confusion, or in fact make our faith in the Lord more complex than it should be. Rather than deepening our theological intensity, it is more importantly developing our own awareness of God himself. Perhaps it sounds too simplistic in this day and age?

But how is it that David, whose life was not what one could call uncomplicated, can write such words which convey such peace and rest? The secret seems to be in the calmed and quiet spirit to which he testifies, something which he has had to cultivate through his relationship with his God which brings such a wonderful contentment in life. There is a striving not to be tearing around like the proverbial, but instead being like the cosily, comfortably contented, peaceful and replete child, nestling in his Mother’s arms after a satisfying and adequate feed, not having a care in the world.

The question to us is how do we indeed achieve a similar close, restful feeling in our spirits, when life is anything but calm and collected? Maybe the secret is found in other psalms of inspiration from David, such as “He leads me beside still waters” (23:2) and “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him?” (37:7)

Prayer

Drop Thy still dews of quietness
till all our strivings cease.
Take from our lives the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess,
the beauty of Thy peace.
Lord, warm ours hearts to yours,
that resting in you,
peace, calm and contentment
may become the hallmarks of our lives in you.   --> Today's writer Verena  Walder Lay Preacher and Local Church Leader at Tabernacle URC,  Mumbles. Copyright Sing Psalms, (C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh. EH1 2LS Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 11th January 2020

Sat, 11/01/2020 - 08:41
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line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions from the URC --> inspiration in your inbox --> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Saturday 11th January
I Corinthians 1: 18 - 25

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

Reflection

They liked playing mind games, those ancient Greeks – they called it philosophy, the love of wisdom: well, at any rate, the men in the leisured classes did as Paul had found on his visit to Athens. Paul seems to have tried to share their approach, offering them something new. It was quite interesting for an hour or two, but not life-changing. But it was life-changing that was Paul’s mission and his letter to the Christians in Corinth suggests that he had taken a very different approach when he had moved on to their city, seemingly targeting a very different set of people – “not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.”

In our tradition we have valued a “learned ministry” and understandably so because to grow in our Christian faith we need to move beyond bland baby food. But Paul’s experience, and the experience of Christian leaders of every generation, shows us that playing mind games may entertain and develop interest for a while, but will not change lives. Dr John Short (a former minister of Richmond Hill Church, Bournemouth) wrote, “True eloquence is not of the schools: it is the offspring of a spirit that is impassioned by some great message that has laid hold of it, possessed it, and made it the instrument through which the message is uttered …. Paul learned that it was hopeless to attempt to get in touch with the reality of God by philosophy as the Greeks of his day understood it.”

So, Paul could write, “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles … For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”

Is this the Gospel we preach?
 
Prayer

When I survey the wondrous Cross,
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
 
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

Isaac Watts   --> Today's writer The Rev’d Julian Macro, Retired Minister, Member of Verwood United Reformed Church Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 10th January 2020

Fri, 10/01/2020 - 06:00
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I Corinthians 1: 10 - 17

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose.  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’  Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.

Reflection

We are all different, we are individuals and often see things differently.  As Christians we need to be united in what really matters. As a lay preacher I go to many different churches and each has its own traditions and characteristics.  What matters is that they all should be following the truth in Scripture and worship the one true God. 

A new minister was surprised when during the first part of every service the congregation all sat on the left side of the church and during the second hymn, they all moved to the other side.  He asked a few elders about this and eventually it was explained that the only heating used to be a fire on the left side, so they sat near it but as it burned brighter it became too hot so they moved away.  Despite having a new central heating the tradition continued. 

This might be a slightly ridiculous story but sometimes we can cling to ideas that have no relevance today and no foundation in the truth in Scripture.  How many churches and members do things because it has always been done that way, rather than because It is the right way? By following such ideas we run the risk of following the modern equivalents of Apollos or Cephas rather than the simple truth from Jesus.

Paul was warning against anything becoming more important than the truth that the power lies in the cross of Christ.  We can follow the example of the early Scottish Congregationalists who held that every congregation is united in their faith, hope, and obedience to the gospel.  As the United Reformed Church we should all strive to be united in Jesus and to follow His teachings, as individuals and as a church.

Prayer

Loving God,
We thank you for the truth that we can find in scripture,
We thank you that we have your Holy Spirit with us to help us understand as we read your word.
We ask you to help us see what matters and lead us to the paths of truth,
Protect us from false ideas and doctrines but keep us on the path that Jesus shows us

Amen   --> Today's writer John Collings, Lay Preacher, member of Rutherglen URC Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 9th January 2020

Thu, 09/01/2020 - 06:00
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I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,  for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Reflection

Who am I? How do I know who I am? The question of how we understand ourselves and our identity is hugely complex. Tomes of sociological and psychological theory have been written addressing this topic. Most basically, identity is tied up with what we believe about ourselves and about the world around us. 

Paul’s opening remarks to the Corinthians are interesting, because he is writing to a community wrought with division and in crisis about what they believed and as a result who they understood themselves to be. Anyone who’s ever experienced a crisis of identity will know it can be a pretty destabilising experience.

Rather than open with criticism and condemnation, Paul affirms the Corinthians’ worth by thanking God for them. But he does this by thanking God for who they find themselves to be in the light of God’s grace and in Christ Jesus, which sounds a bit like a backhanded compliment. In fact, what Paul seems to be doing is reminding them that their identity is rooted in God and in God’s provision to them. 

I’m reminded of some words attributed to Archbishop Justin Welby, when in 2016 he made the shock discovery that the man who he believed to be his father was not in fact his biological father. He said, “I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes”. 

In contemporary life, there are umpteen voices that will seek to tell us who we are – advertisers, public policy decision makers, political propagandists dare I say it (as I write we are in the midst of the general election campaign). We also see the impact of social media on shaping our young peoples’ identities. 

Sometimes, we too face destabilising crises of identity just like the Corinthians. But I take comfort in Justin Welby’s words which seem to echo Paul’s 2,000-year-old sentiments, “I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ… and my identity in him never changes.'' 

Prayer

Loving God,
Thank you for your love. 
A love that is rock-solid and unchanging. 
In times when we struggle with our beliefs,
Or knowing who we are,
Help us to remember the firm foundation
That you have offered us, 
In the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord and our brother. 
Amen.  --> Today's writer Jonnie Hill, Ordinand at Northern College and member of Chorlton Central Church in Manchester Copyright New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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