URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion: 24th May

Wed, 24/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 24th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 6: 3-10     If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.   Reflection In the sometimes bewildering world of the Internet we can struggle to discern what is right and true.  Anyone can claim to be a Christian or a Christian teacher, with a website, a book, a video or a following seeming to add credibility to that person.  So often what we read or see is nothing more than “an unhealthy craving for controversy" that creates “constant friction among people”.  The melange can cause great confusion even as various people vie for our attention.  So how can we discern rightly in the midst of all the confusion and competition for our attention?

In this passage, Paul gives us four criteria to use for discernment.  First, Paul suggests that we should be aware of anyone who teaches a "different doctrine" from the one he taught.  Today, the letters he wrote become our guide in this, presenting his Spirit-inspired counsel for many different people and places.  Second, Paul indicates that we should not trust anyone who does not "agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ".  Anyone who departs from the clear teachings of Jesus in the Gospels (not what we wish or imagine he should have said but what he actually did say) should cause us concern.  Third, Paul cautions us about anyone who teaches anything that does not "accord with godliness".  The word "godliness" indicated to his readers a moral attitude expressed by the way one lived.  For Paul, this moral attitude would have reflected his doctrine as well as the words of Jesus.  Paul believed that any teaching outside these parameters would produce many problems and conflicts among Christians.

Paul presents a fourth criteria by which to discern in the second half of this passage.  Paul suggests that we must beware anyone for whom the "love of money" seems to be an issue.  Surely there are those who seem to use "godliness" as a way to promote their own financial gain.  Paul does not say that money itself is wrong, nor does he suggest that it would be inappropriate for a ministry or leader to ask for financial support.  But he does warn Timothy that those who seemed to focus on money would cause many problems among Christians.

We Christians are blessed with a greater diversity and variety of resources to help us grow in our faith than all the previous generations of Christians combined.  This is an amazing advantage for us, but it also contains many traps into which Christians fall almost every day.  Following the standards for discernment that Paul set for Timothy might enable us to avoid these traps and receive the greatest benefit from the resources available to us.  This will enable us to extend the good news about Jesus into the world around us.   Prayer Almighty God, we are so grateful for everything you have provided for us so that we might grow as followers of Jesus.  Thank you for equipping us to share your love, grace and mercy with the people around us in the name of Jesus.  But we also realize that we need the help of your Holy Spirit to discern rightly that which is beneficial to us and that which might lead us astray.  We pray that your Holy Spirit might remind us about Paul's guidance to Timothy so that we might apply the standards Paul set for Timothy in our own hearts and minds.  Please help us use the resources you have given us to grow to maturity in Jesus.  And help us encourage our sisters and brothers in Christ as they to seek to discern rightly what is truly from your heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Rodney Woods is the minister of the City Temple in London. Bible Version   The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®).  © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 23rd May

Tue, 23/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 23rd May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser I Tim 6:1-1-2 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Reflection
Oh dear! The record of Christianity with regard to slavery is not a good one. Our instinctive tendency is to play that down – as many Bible translators do. The Message, for example, says that the author’s advice to slaves is “to make the best of it”, which is not what he wrote at all. Alternatively, we simply ignore the passages advocating obedient slavery, placing them in square brackets and moving swiftly on. Today, however, let us pause.

Friedrich Engels, in his essay on the Book of Revelation, describes Christianity as a religion of slaves. He saw in Revelation the seeds of the revolt of the slaves against the empire – the whore of Babylon. The trouble is, he noted, that those in power have been only too ready to promote a less revolutionary and more compliant form of the religion. Slave owners had a particular motivation so to do. They have then co-opted others – such as the author of this letter – to defend and justify the system in the name of good order and Christian conduct.

We do not have to believe all of Engels’s revolutionary creed to accept his insight. In popular usage, “being Christian” often means being nice, compliant, not rocking the boat, even being a doormat. Note how the author is especially keen that Christian slaves with Christian masters should be obedient and hard-working – for such good “Christian” relations are what makes the world go round. At least, the world of the well-off slave-owner and the middle-class epistle writer.

And yet, at much the same time as this epistle was being written the revolutionary religion of Revelation was also taking hold. The later slave-owners of the American South and the West Indies were only too pleased to make their slaves into obedient, 1 Timothy 6, Christians. But when those slaves sang of the exodus, they were beginning also to see possibilities in the gospel that their masters had ignored. Their Bible pointed to a world that could and should be turned upside down, in which slaves are freed, empires fall and justice reigns. The Christian slave-owners who made their slaves Christian so that they were obedient were in fact unknowingly arranging their own downfall.

In generations to come, people will look back on the church of 2017 and be amazed at the things we got so wrong. Our complacency about climate change. Our scandalous silence as child tax credit was limited last month to only two children per family, with rape victims having to prove that they did not want the third child. Our blind eye turned to the refugees being shipped back from the European continent and treated like slaves. We have no right to criticize the author of this letter; we are in the same boat. The gospel already contains the seeds of the destruction of our complacency and hard-heartedness too.   Prayer Loving God,
father of slave and slave-owner,
obedient slave and revolutionary,
prophet and justifier of the status quo,
open our eyes to the fullness of your gospel
and challenge us to see the seeds of our own downfall
in the poor and the oppressed around us.  
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Gethin Rhys is policy officer for Cytun and a member of Parkminster URC in Cardiff. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions: 22nd May

Mon, 22/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 22nd May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 5:17-25     Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching; for the scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain’, and, ‘The labourer deserves to be paid.’ Never accept any accusation against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I warn you to keep these instructions without prejudice, doing nothing on the basis of partiality. Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

No longer drink only water, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.The sins of some people are conspicuous and precede them to judgement, while the sins of others follow them there. So also good works are conspicuous; and even when they are not, they cannot remain hidden. Reflection If you can’t get guess which verse instantly grabbed my attention, then you have never attended an Elders’ Meeting!

Before I start it is worth mentioning that Paul (if indeed it was he) probably didn’t have the URC’s Elders in mind when writing, but rather presbyteroi; ‘the older men’ – the ones of significant responsibility and age whose experience would mean they would naturally be looked to for leadership. It is therefore helpful to consider all men and women in our churches who have a leadership role – any who labour for the community of God.

The number of Facebook posting ministers and elders who look forward to ‘an evening with Glen(fiddich)’ or a ‘nice bottle of red’ at the end of the day is worthy of note. It seems that this imbibement is entirely Biblical. Was that a universal ‘hoorah!’ I just heard?

At the risk of ill-informed speculation, we can read between the lines of vs.23 and envisage Timothy drinking only water and suffering from numerous ailments or weaknesses. ‘A little wine’ in his case could certainly have been justified to purify the water. Medicinal indeed!

We might also imagine a young man whose heavy responsibilities might cause him considerable stress manifested through his ailments. Paul’s suggestion makes perfect sense.

We have cause to reflect on the strain and stress of ministry, eldership and leadership in our church life;
  • the effort that goes into maintaining buildings and structures,
  • the 5 or 6 people who are on every committee,
  • the family life disrupted,
  • the ever-diminishing number of people available to take on roles,
  • the challenge and toil of discerning and enacting vision through mission,
  • and, no doubt, the expectations we face.

All of this will have an impact on us: perhaps even physically as it did on Timothy, and may at times mask the wonderful privilege and joy of serving.

I’m not advocating that we all turn to the bottle, but perhaps we do need to take seriously how we offer rest, relaxation and restoration to those who are tired and close to burn-out.

Perhaps we can build this important facet of our spiritual and physical well-being into our church life.
Perhaps we can stop judging our leaders by how busy they are – working to ban the idea that the phrase “I’m terribly busy” is somehow virtuous.

Perhaps we might indeed, leave a bottle of something fruity on someone’s doorstep, as a sign that they are appreciated and should take a breath, pop their feet up and relax.   Prayer God who rested on the 7th day,
You do not call us to self-destruction,
but to a life of wholeness.
Help us to learn that we cannot serve each other or you,
if we do not care for ourselves.
Help us to get the balance right and to not feel guilty.
Help us to listen when You tell us through our bodies that we need to stop
and find our rest in You. Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Martin Knight is minister of St Paul's URC in Croydon. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions: 21st May

Sun, 21/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 21st May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Timothy 5. 1-16  Honour widows who are really widows. If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach.  And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be put on the list if she is not less than sixty years old and has been married only once; she must be well attested for her good works, as one who has brought up children, shown hospitality, washed the saints’ feet, helped the afflicted, and devoted herself to doing good in every way. But refuse to put younger widows on the list; for when their sensual desires alienate them from Christ, they want to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.  Besides that, they learn to be idle, gadding about from house to house, and they are not merely idle, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say.  So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, and manage their households, so as to give the adversary no occasion to revile us. For some have already turned away to follow Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so it can assist those who are real widows.  
  Reflection Welfare is a tricky business. Human need presses on all sides. How do you distribute the proceeds of the widows’ fund? This chapter gives advice, but also illustrates what a minefield it is. Timothy is advised only to help “real” widows, which seems to cut out the younger ones, especially any “merry” ones!.  We have to smile at the author’s condemnation of the flighty gossip-prone ones!  (Who says the Scriptures are boring?)

But widowhood is no laughing matter. War creates widows every day. The widows and children of Syria still cry out in 2017. Child brides become widows overnight. There are no age restrictions. All need urgent help. Christians and Muslims alike weep at the futility.

So what is our response?  Christian Aid Week rolls round again, and we walk the streets, and knock on doors, and we hear the blunt grunts:  ”charity begins at home!;” “I don’t give to foreigners” and so on.  The western world is pulling up the drawbridge… UK first….America first…. but the widows of the world will not go away.

Two of the best known widows in the Scriptures were beautiful people: Naomi and Ruth. Their story must always be our story. They found bread in Beth-lechem  (“House of Bread”). Boaz became an answer to prayer.

So do we.

Don’t forget the widows. They focus our Christ-like response. Always.   Prayer God of Ruth, teach us friendship.
God of Naomi, help us to love and care for our families.
God of Timothy, help the Church to be wise and generous.
God of Jesus, accompany us into ministry,
into compassion,
into a world where the tears of widows are dried
in Jesus’ way.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd David Jenkins is a retired minister and member of Marple URC in Cheshire.
. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 20th May

Sat, 20/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 20th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.  They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving;  for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed.  Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives’ tales. Train yourself in godliness,  for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance.  For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.

These are the things you must insist on and teach.  Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Until I arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to teaching.   Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.   Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress.   Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers Reflection Leaving to one side problems of authorship and dating, Chapter 4 offers important elements of advice for today, being addressed to all who have pastoral responsibilities within the Church. Specifically this means advice to pastors, but it can equally be applied to the care of each Church member for the other.

I recall the inscription from 1Timothy 4 on an ordination gift (a book) to me some 32 years ago.  It quoted verses 12-15, starting with the words ‘Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct , in love in faith, in purity’. Even though I wasn’t in the first flush of youth, I had cause to recall these words with gratitude. Age is not a reliable guide to spiritual maturity.

Chapter 4 instructs Timothy on his duty to restrain false and useless teaching. It also reminds him of the prophetic character of his calling and encourages him to exercise it. The letter starts with a stern warning against the teaching of those who shamelessly claim to preach the truth, but who actually lead folk into a rigorism which is alien to God’s abundant generosity. We recognise this tendency today in those who insist that ever greater discipline on our part is necessary before we can be confident of our salvation. Timothy is urged to reject this. And so should we. It is the grateful heart, full of thanksgiving for all that God gives us, that gives us confidence in our faith, not a reliance on ever stricter practices. We are not called to be less generous than God, but as generous.

What the life of faith means in practice is a sustained and sustainable lifestyle, one that has to be worked at. An attitude of thankfulness to God when things are going well for us is not too difficult. However, when we are mired in the mud of life, struggling to maintain our temper, dignity and confidence, gratitude to God is not as easy. Verses 8-10 remind Timothy of the hope that is in us – a hope that can sustain us through thick and thin, and today we may need reminding of this!

‘Do not neglect the gift that is in you’ (v14) is a reminder and encouragement to all church workers to be ‘intentional’ in what they do. No one person, no matter how talented she or he is, possesses all the gifts the Church needs. But the harvest of God given gifts members possess - sustains and enriches the whole Church.   Prayer Gracious God,
when siren voices urge us
to doubt our experience of you
in favour of new certainties,
help us to value the wisdom of others
according to
             the kindness,
             the generosity,
             the love
which you have shown
and are showing to us
in the life of your Son,
who gathers us together
to be your people
in word and action. Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd John Young is a retired minister and member of Giffnock URC in Glasgow. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 19th May

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 19th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 3:14-16 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.    Reflection Paul uses the words of a poem or hymn to explain the mystery of our faith. The hymn stresses the humanity of Christ and the universal nature of salvation. It reminds us not so much of Jesus’ birth but the fact of Christ’s humanity and that the arena of humanity was where Christ carried out his work and mission. This first line points us towards Jesus’ death. The second line, contrasts ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’ pointing us to the risen Christ. It speaks to us of the completion of Jesus humanity as death is overcome through his resurrection.  Line three continues this thought with reference to heavenly powers.  Lines four and five shift the focus to the effects of the mystery within humankind – the focus develops from Christ to mission.  ‘Among the Gentiles’ and ‘throughout the world’ remind us on the universal nature of the Gospel. Belief is the human response to Christ and proclamation is both the consequence of belief and the responsibility of the believer. The hymn ends with Christ exalted in glory.

The hymn articulates the mystery of our faith by reminding us of the centrality of the Christ-event but also reminding us that human response and responsibility is essential in the missio Dei. As surprising and unlikely as it may seem God invites us, despite all our faltering steps of faith, to be necessary partners in God’s mission. The hymn reminds us of the intimate relationship that exists between Creator and creation which has been re-established through the incarnation, death and resurrection of God’s Son.  It is a hymn about restoration and wholeness – the reconciliation of God and humanity into a unified relationship through the human experience of Christ.   Prayer Calling God,
you invite us to be partners in your mission
to tell the story of Jesus
and all that his life, death and resurrection means for us
and for the whole Creation.

Sending God,
you entrust us with your message of restoration and wholeness
guide our faltering steps of faith
that we may be witnesses of your reconciling love.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Lindsey Sanderson is the minister of the East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint Pastorate in Scotland.    Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 18th May

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 18th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 2:9 - 3:18  also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes,  but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.  Let a woman learn in silence with full submission.  I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

The saying is sure: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.  Now a bishop must be above reproach, married only once, temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money;  they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons.  Women likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.  Let deacons be married only once,[i] and let them manage their children and their households well;  for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. Reflection For those of us who are women in church leadership, or for all of us who have learned from or been nurtured by women in church leadership, this passage needs to be read carefully.

Paul deals with three main things in his address to women: appearance (v. 9), behaviour (v. 10), and learning (vv. 11-14). Presumably none of us have a difficulty with the idea that a church leader’s appearance, behaviour and learning should all be appropriate to her (or even his) role.  But why the apparent stance against women’s leadership by Paul?  

Paul is writing at a time when women, generally, would not have had the same education as men. For Paul, women are relatively uneducated and so easily deceived – just as Eve is deceived by the serpent because she only heard the Lord’s admonition against eating the fruit second hand from Adam (in the Genesis story Eve had not yet been created when the Lord God shows Adam the tree of the knowledge of good and evil).

Paul might never have imagined that there would come a time when Jewish girls will go through ‘bat mitzvah’ when their brothers go through ‘bar mitzvah’, when young women outnumber young men at universities, when women are every bit as qualified as men to teach and preach and lead.

Paul is right that a leader’s appearance, behaviour and learning are all important – but we are wrong if we think that women can never achieve those standards.

In our world of equality of opportunity in education, Paul’s teaching about leadership is equally applicable to women and men and all leaders are called to be respectful, thoughtful, honest, gentle, not greedy, and holding fast to the faith. Thank God that these are gifts and graces given by God to all – for without God’s grace surely women and men would all fail in leadership.   Prayer We thank you Lord
For your grace and power
Poured out on women and men.
Grant to all people your grace,
Give to all leaders your gifts,
That your whole church may learn the truth of the gospel.
In the name of Jesus, the servant leader.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Ruth Whitehead is the Moderator of the South Western Synod. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 17th May

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 17th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 2: 1-8     First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; Reflection Pray for everyone. That’s the advice given here and that doesn’t change. We pray for everyone because, as we are reminded, God loves everyone and so ‘desires everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ Some things, like God’s love for everyone, do not go away, so neither should we cease to pray for everyone.

‘Everyone’ includes ‘kings and all who are in high positions’ and so today’s premiers and presidents, and all in high positions, need to be included in our prayers. Praying this way because, among other reasons, we wish to live in peace and quiet, is quite legitimate. Those who think otherwise live in fortunate places where such things can be taken for granted.

Living a quiet life does not trump the duty to tell the truth. The lives of many faithful followers of Jesus, Saint Paul being one example, demonstrate that. Sharing such knowledge of the truth can lead to inconvenience, conflict and even suffering.  Sometimes this comes from the hands of those in high positions, those for whom you have been praying.

Yet, while some things, like God’s universal love, and our call to inclusive prayer have not changed since this letter was written to Timothy, others have. Unlike in his day, in ours these people in high positions now include Christians, as well as those of other faiths and those with none.

In Timothy’s day Christians might (and should) pray for those who wielded imperial authority but they were not permitted to not hold such authority. Today, truth-telling Christians are able to respond to God’s love for everyone not only through prayer but also with political action, involvement and responsibility.

Churches in our day are in a changed and changing place from those in Timothy’s day, socially and politically, so we are not limited to organising or acting in exactly the same way as churches did then. In whatever new ways we act or organise, however, we continue to pray for everyone because God still loves everyone, desiring them to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.   Prayer Loving God,
We pray for everyone,
including those in high positions,
including followers of Jesus.
May all enjoy lives that are peaceable and quiet
and may we play our part in making that so.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Trevor Jamison is the Environmental Chaplain for Eco-Congregation Scotland and a member of Augustine United Church in Edinburgh.
. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 16th May

Tue, 16/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 16th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 1: 12-20  I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have suffered shipwreck in the faith; among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have turned over to Satan, so that they may learn not to blaspheme. Reflection What a jam-packed reading this is.  One commentary I looked at devoted 14 pages to this passage!  Don’t worry, I want to focus on just two aspects; calling and gratitude.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt (feels) inadequate for the role they were called to do.  In a small way, I have a lot of empathy with Paul as he shares his calling with Timothy.  I identify with four key elements within this journey of Paul: he was called, forgiven, trusted and strengthened.  This was no vindictive ordeal where Paul was called and then sent off to fend for himself, he was made ready for his work.  Firstly, he was forgiven so that he could leave his past behind and focus on the future.  Secondly, he was trusted by the Lord to do His work; and if the Lord says he is fit to do the work who are we to disagree.  Finally, he was strengthened for the tasks ahead.  If your call is from God you too will be forgiven, trusted and strengthened; thanks be to God.

Paul never lost his gratitude for what God had done for him.  In this passage, and in others, Paul reminds us that he was a great sinner, the chief of sinners.  He knew he was forgiven (otherwise his sin would have incapacitated him) but he never forgot his sin.  In remembering his sin Paul avoided any pride in his ‘own’ achievements and it served as a constant reminder to him of Christ’s love for him.  Just imagine if someone bought you a coffee and someone else paid off your mortgage, who would you be more grateful to?  For us sinners, God has done a lot more than just pay off our debts he has given us new life; forgiven, trusted and strengthened.   Prayer
Lord, as I read of your great servant Paul,
and I look into my sins
I realise what an almighty God you are;
you don’t give us what we deserve,
you give us what we need.  
For this we are eternally grateful.  

Lord I pray that we will never lose the sense of immense gratitude
for the way you unendingly forgive us and strengthen us
and then trust us to do your holy work.  
Amen Today's Writer Alan Yates is a member of Trinity URC, High Wycombe  and Moderator of General Assembly Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 15th May

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 15th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 1:8-11 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. Reflection Now how did I end up with this passage, let alone choosing it. For even if I can squirm out of the labels of folk that Paul lists, I am then caught in the net, with “whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching”. Guilty! So there’s no way I can be judgemental of anyone else, but does it also mean I must drown in my own guilt for letting God’s side down? I don’t want to be semantic with words, but if I say I am ‘caught in the net’ and can’t wriggle out – do I really want to?

That net might just be my salvation from drowning! The image of nets Jesus uses is of his friends, the fishermen, as he calls them to use their nets to be fishers of people. It is a positive image of being rescued, saved, brought home, rather than being ensnared by the nets. Reading on in Timothy – it is about “conforming to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” As Gospel is good news, we are being reassured, that we are being restored into a loving relationship with God, in a way that Law cannot do, for we are all failures and miscreants (love that word) guilty and doomed. But because of Jesus we know we are also all loved beyond measure - forgiven where we need forgiveness, strengthened to resist temptation where that is needed, and drawn close to Jesus Christ as our model of human living for inspiration and guidance.   Prayer Now is the time, Lord, I need:
Forgiveness for all the wrong-living
that needs putting behind me;
Resistance against all the temptation
to return to those ways;
Realisation of all the possibility of living for you;
Guidance for all the right choices;
Peace of mind to know
You are there loving me through it all.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Kevin Watson is the Moderator of both the Yorkshire Synod and the General Assembly. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 14th May

Sun, 14/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 14th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser For the next couple of weeks we look at 1 and 2 Timothy.

I Tim 1: 1-6 From Paul.  God our Saviour and Christ Jesus commanded me to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. Timothy, because of our faith, you are like a son to me. I pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ will be kind and merciful to you. May they bless you with peace! When I was leaving for Macedonia, I asked you to stay on in Ephesus and warn certain people there to stop spreading their false teachings. You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith.  You must teach people to have genuine love, as well as a good conscience and true faith.  There are some who have given up these for nothing but empty talk.  They want to be teachers of the Law of Moses. But they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they think they do. Reflection There has been much said about “fake news” and “alternative facts” recently.  Much has also been said about getting back to an unspecified time so we can re-experience “greatness.”

This feels depressing as we wallow in self-delusion and falsehood. But in other ways it’s heartening to realize there is very little is new under the sun. Those in the early Church experienced the same thing and survived it.

So how do we move onwards?  I think taking Paul’s good advice….. just stop it!  ……have faith and love! …….grow up and realize that self-importance isn’t real importance at all!

Perhaps if we all heeded this we’d be able to move on from this rather depressing period in modern times.   Prayer Loving God,
How frustrating it must be for you
To see us endlessly repeat our mistakes.
Twisting words to suit ourselves
Lacking love
Missing the point of faith.
And yet you are there
Endlessly patient
As we stumble our way to you.
Thank you for your faithfulness
For that merciful kindness
That holds us close
even we are barely aware
That you are there. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Chris Dowd is a minister in the Hull Area Team. Bible Version   Contemporary English Version®
© 1995 American Bible Society. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion:  13th May

Sat, 13/05/2017 - 06:00
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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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 5: 7-19 Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes.  See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops.  He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains.  You also must be patient.  Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.  Do not complain against one another, my brothers, so that God will not judge you.  The Judge is near, ready to appear.  My brothers, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering.  We call them happy because they endured.  You have heard of Job’s patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end.  For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.  Above all, my brothers, do not use an oath when you make a promise.  Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Say only “Yes” when you mean yes and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God’s judgement.   

Is anyone among you in trouble?  He should pray.  Is anyone happy?  He should sing praises.  Is there anyone who is ill?  He should send for the church elders, who will pray for him and rub olive- oil on him in the name of the Lord.  This prayer made in faith will heal the sick person; the Lord will restore him to health, and the sins he has committed will be forgiven.  So, then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed.  The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect.  Elijah was the same kind of person as we are.  He prayed earnestly that there would be no rain, and no rain fell on the land for three and a half years.  Once again he prayed, and the sky poured out its rain and the earth produced its crops.

My brothers, if one of you wanders away from the truth and another one brings him back again, remember this; whoever turns a sinner back from his wrong way will save that sinner’s soul from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins. Reflection At about the time I was preparing this reflection I attended a day’s workshop of practice guidance as part of my ‘continuing professional development’ as a social worker.   This is a requirement to stay on the professional register and be deemed fit to practice.  The letter from James to all God’s people is rather like practice guidance for those called to be Christians.  The letter is a collection of instructions.  

James uses vivid figures of speech and models like Job and Elijah to illustrate his instructions.  The letter stresses the necessity of patience to endure present circumstances while waiting for God’s coming.  A farmer patiently waits for the seasons’ rains to refresh the soil on his land so that it can produce the precious crops for harvest.  James tells his ‘readers’ to be similarly patient and to keep their hopes high as they anticipate the coming of the Lord. Likewise, the prophets and Job demonstrated patience in their endurance under suffering.  They trusted in God, who is compassionate and merciful, and God provided for them in the end.  Remembering that God wants the best for us, Christians can endure suffering for the Gospel and, in God’s sustaining love, be happy.  

The next instruction follows the words of Jesus about making promises which must be done clearly and simply by saying “Yes” or “No” to a commitment.  No swearing, no oaths by heaven or earth, or anything else. We need to take care and guard our tongues.  

James reminds those he is writing to of the need to pray, if in trouble, or to sing praises, if happy.  If a brother or sister in the fellowship is ill, then the church elders should be sent for to pray for that person and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  The fellowship needs to be strong now, as then.  Christians must be patient with one another to endure stress and avoid falling into the temptation of offloading irritation in complaints or grudges against one another.  And, there must be confidence and trust with confession of sins and prayers to promote fitness of soul and body and healing and offset the danger to the soul of the believer who may be falling away from the true path of faith towards spiritual death.  

James offers Elijah as an example of a great pray-er who “was the same kind of person as we are”, praying against rain when it was not needed (no rain fell) and then for rain when it poured and watered the soil so that “the earth produced its crops”.  The same holds true for those who follow Elijah’s example.  “The prayer of a good person has a powerful effect”.     Prayer Dear God  
May we be patient,
as James instructed,
enduring what we suffer in faith
till You come to restore us and make us happy.  
Empower our fellowships with the grace
to foster growth in faith and healing.  
Make our prayers effective.  
Amen Today's Writer Pamela Dowling is an Elder who served at the former St John’s Church URC in Forest Hill. Bible Version   Good News Bible © 1994 published by the Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK, Good News Bible© American Bible Society 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992. Used with permission. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 12th May

Fri, 12/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 12th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 4:13-5:6  Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you. Reflection The Letter of James is theology from below. It speaks from the grimy hut where migrant workers live, from the soup queue, from the broken housing on the edge of town, for the families with no bread-winner, for people who sleep cold on the street. It seems to come from an era in the Holy Land, possibly the 50s or 60s AD, when big landowners were getting bigger and everyone else was sliding down – from smallholding to tenancy, to day-labouring and debt, and on to begging, destitution, the gutter and the grave.

So these verses are a howl of protest, against hard hearts and greedy eyes. Planning, pomp, profit – you cannot live by these alone. Even the powerful need to pray, and look to God. When they do (it says elsewhere in the Letter), they might start to look with compassion and respect on their neighbour.

Who works for you, is another of James’ questions. What are these workers paid? Does it all get paid on time? Or is a mighty debt owed to the poor and to God, by people who are more used to owning the world and the world owing them? For God listens in the shack and the shanty. God cares about decent reward for honest work, for harvests that are truly shared, for generosity and justice with the goodness of earth.

So is there a question for you and me, about what we have and where it comes from, about how we plan and what we hope for, about whom we share with, and about what God thinks of it all? If those questions linger in our minds, it might just be God who put them there.   Prayer God of justice,
  please help us to see through your eyes:
  to see human worth and need;
  to see what we owe – to others, to justice, to you;
  to see the smallness of our own ambitions,
  and the greatness of your judgment and love.
For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. Today's Writer The Revd John Proctor is General Secretary of the URC, and a member of Emmanuel URC, Cambridge. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 11th May

Thu, 11/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 11th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 4:1-12      Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?  You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says,

“God yearns jealously for the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says,

“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters. Whoever speaks evil against another or judges another, speaks evil against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbour? Reflection Like many people, when I watch The Apprentice on BBC1, I cringe when the candidates return to the Boardroom to face Lord Sugar.  In every episode, people, who have agreed with and supported one other throughout their work in that episode, suddenly rewrite the history of what happened and tell a story of how wonderfully they, alone, performed.  Often they also share a very biased tale of how it is solely their colleague’s personality failings and incompetence which caused their team to fail so dramatically.
As much as I enjoy watching programmes like The Apprentice, there is something very uncomfortable about watching people highlight the faults and weaknesses of their former colleagues and trample on the others in a futile attempt to get ahead.
How often do we hear similar stories in the life of the Church?Surely this is a same problem that James was writing about.  If we are serious about submitting ourselves to God, shouldn’t the Church be more willing to put the needs of other people in the community first? Maybe we really could be working in harmony and supporting one another?  Maybe we could even highlight the wonderful things the other members of our community do and not pick on the things which they maybe don’t do so well at?
What would the Church look like if we prioritised supporting the rest of the Church community? How very different would our own church look if we humbled ourselves and accepted the grace of God to be more alive in all we do?   Prayer Grace-giving God,
So often we find ourselves consumed by pride.
Help us to be less proud,
let us be more supportive of those we work with.
Open us to a fresh sense of humility
and lift us with your mercy.
We offer ourselves to you afresh:
ready for you to use us to serve your people.
Amen Today's Writer John Grundy is an ordinand at Northern College in Manchester. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 10th May

Wed, 10/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 10th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 3: 13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.   Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.  For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. Reflection My father always used to curb my impulsiveness by saying

‘Count to ten, Richard.’

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama, was facing the White House press pack and pausing before answering one of the many questions directed at him.

‘What’s the matter Mr President, don’t you have an answer for us?’

‘I like to let my brain catch up with my mouth', he replied.

Wisdom lies in not giving way before the first impulse. A gentle attitude is one which takes time with people. A dismissive attitude is one which has already settled the matter and is already moving on to the next thing.

This deferral of judgement until all the facts are known is a fruit of the Spirit which is much needed in our impatient age.   Prayer Lord Jesus,
Help us to be patient with one another,
seeking truth in the other.
Deliver us from the pressure to dismiss others.
May the mind of Christ,
Be evident in our speaking and in our actions,
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Richard Church is a member of the leadership team of Islington URC and Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship). Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 9th May

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 9th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 3: 1-12  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. Reflection The cartoon showed two young couples talking over coffee, with toddlers and toys spread across the carpet. Then a child stopped playing, pointed intently at one of visitors as he sipped, and said with painful and honest clarity, ‘He does NOT drink like a fish.’

Oops!  Words get to places we do not expect. Then they come back to bite us, and damage friends and friendships along the way. Words can be potent and poisonous.

‘The knack of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person in the wrong way at the wrong time.’ Someone I knew was described in this way, many years ago. The person in question has been long with the Lord. But the words have stuck with me. Words do that. They hang around, like an old bruise or strain. Sometimes they can make us limp a bit, long after the original blow.

Words make a difference to the world. They bind us to promises, reveal our thoughts and feelings, and make and break relationships. Words stir, scare and assure. They insult and deceive, encourage and honour, beckon and warn. Words matter. What we say, how we say it, and where and when and to whom, shapes the world, and sculpts a landscape of hope and concern around our neighbours and their living.

Be careful, is the message of James. Let us not be too fond of the sound of our own voice. Surely the best way for our speech to flow pure is to keep the spring fresh – the state of our heart, as we walk with Jesus. Then God’s word-made-flesh might just be heard in the words we say. That would be good news.   Prayer Prayer
God of truth and trust,
  guard our tongues and our talk,
  guide our tone of voice and our turn of phrase.
Teach us to bless, to build up, to nurture, to nourish,
  by the words we choose and the ways we use them.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, your word in our world. Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd John Proctor is General Secretary of the URC, and a member of Emmanuel URC, Cambridge. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions: 8th May

Mon, 08/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 8th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 2: 14-24 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,  and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.  Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren?  Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.  Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?  For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.   Reflection There is a saying ‘walk the talk’, which some think is a quick way of saying ‘faith without works is dead’. However, that is not entirely true. Walking the talk implies that we should put into practice what we believe, but faith, without it being lived and embodied in our lives and living, says James, is dead. It is not a matter of not living up to what we profess but if faith does not include action on our part it is actually dead. It is not an optional ‘step further’. It is an imperative that we should do something with the faith we profess and just talking about it is not enough - or using it for easy platitudes as seen in the first few verses is not enough. The examples given however, can be slightly disturbing to say the least. Abraham’s ‘works’ was to offer his son as a sacrifice - which while it was prevented is not something to emulate. Rahab is not too much better, deceiving the messengers by sending them off in the wrong direction allowing Moses’ spies to escape. Such deception perhaps is necessary when seeking to save the lives of endangered individuals, as was seen in World War II, among other occasions; but it is not the usual behaviour of people of faith. Yet it is these very extremes which give this passage its challenge. Sometimes we have to go outside of what we are comfortable with, or others would deem sensible to really show we can ‘walk the talk’ - without crossing unacceptable boundaries. As we recall the death of Christ we see there the ultimate example of this. For Christ did not just declare his love for all but showed us how far that love was willing to go.   
     
The faith Jesus showed in enduring the cross is the reason we look to his ‘works’, not just for confirmation of the way of love, but as our calling to follow his way of compassion, care and acceptance to  those who he met. It is that call that shows that our faith is a caring compassionate, accepting faith if we put it into practice.   Prayer Gracious God,
May we hear your call to be and do as your disciples
May we prepare ourselves
to step out of our own comfort zone
to respond to those who need
with compassion, care, and acceptance.
Make us quick to act
and slow to speak
so that your love may be revealed.
For the sake of Jesus Christ,
in whose steps we walk.
Amen   Today's Writer The Rev’d Hilary Collinson is the minister of the Tees and Swaledale Pastorate. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 7th May

Sun, 07/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 7th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 2: 1-13  My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?  For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court?  Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?  You do well if you really fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself."

But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  For the one who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.   Reflection James was writing as pastor of the church in Jerusalem, to Jewish Christians who had scattered because they were being persecuted. This was just a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, emotions were running high, and James’ main concern was to keep his readers focussed on loyalty towards God whilst they were under pressure in a society that oppressed them economically and abused them for their faith in Jesus.

In this passage, James makes it clear that his readers need to be very careful to welcome everyone. They must not be prejudiced against poorer people who cannot afford expensive clothes and accessories – in fact, they must remain impartial, just like Jesus. More than that, James exhorts them to remember the law as written in Leviticus, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’

There is so much here that is important for us today at every level: Jesus’s ministry was in welcoming and caring for people, he talked to everyone, made everyone feel comfortable – from children to government leaders - even including people who were viewed by society as unclean (the ‘poor in dirty clothes’ of our reading). He healed their sickness.

We are still challenged as individual disciples and as church together, to live-out our calling; to minister to the poor, care for each other, care for those outside our doors and borders, and at all times, to remain focussed on God.

A church that takes time to be welcoming, healing and hospitable to everyone, prayerful and loving in all aspects of life, is demonstrating discipleship in action.  

At the time of writing, it feels even more important that churches act as James directed – it’s time to protest against national and international policies if they violate these caring essentials of our discipleship. As church, we must offer compassion.

The Message Paraphrase of the final line of today’s reading has this to say: For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.   Prayer Dear God,
you sent Jesus,
who loved and cared for every one of us in every situation.
Help us to be like Jesus in everything we do.
Help us to truly love our neighbour as ourselves,
and to live this love as we minister to today’s poor,
whoever and wherever they may be.
Give us courage and guidance
when we need to speak out,
and Lord, don’t let us keep quiet.
Keep us focussed on you.
Amen   Today's Writer Linda Rayner is a member of Bramhall URC in Cheshire and URC National Co-ordinator for Fresh Expressions   Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotions: 6th May

Sat, 06/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 6th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1: 19-27  You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
  But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
  If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   Reflection Form or substance? Early Christians, brought up as observant Jews, had been taught the importance of keeping every letter of their law with the effect that for some it had been more important to get the form right rather than understand and live by the intention, the substance of such guidance and law. We remember how, time and again, Jesus was criticised for associating with those considered unclean and for healing sick people on the Sabbath – Jesus was indeed far more concerned about the substance of God’s teaching and revelation than with its codified form but it seems that early Christians continued to wrestle with an apparent conflict between Law and Liberty. As we still do.

The Greek words for “religious” and “religion” in the final section of today’s passage were often used to indicate “ritual” rather than “holiness,” form rather than substance. James uses direct, every day instances to make it clear that for the followers of Jesus it is the way we live our faith that is crucial, the example we set in our personal lives and in the way we treat others.
  James is in effect adding a commentary to the words of Jesus noted at Matthew 7: 26-27: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell – and great was its fall!”
  The Letter of James is often entitled “Practical Religion” – but how often does our practice reflect well on our faith?   Prayer Most gracious God,
thank you the clarity with which the Apostle James wrote.
Forgive us when we have paid lip-service to our faith
but not let your Word take deep root in our lives.
May the lives we lead
be an example of the faith we proclaim
in the power of our Lord and Saviour.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Julian Macro is a retired minister and member of Verwood URC in Dorset. Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 5th May

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 5th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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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){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .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; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1: 16-18 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. Reflection
“It wasn’t me!” I spent many years as a youth worker and have lost count of the number of times I heard this denial of responsibility (even though I might have watched them do it!) from a young person in my care.  It’s not only young people who shift blame – adults are just better at hiding it.  I wonder if this was the way things were in the community James was writing to? Was he writing to people who were blaming God for not only the bad things that happened to them, but also the wrong things they were doing? It reads to me like someone being very patient with people who are wilfully misunderstanding their situation. Perhaps they were using “alternative facts” to cover up their wrongdoings – deceiving themselves into believing they were right? This passage leaves them in no doubt “do not be deceived” – stop kidding yourselves – only good stuff comes from God – God is not to blame!  In these uncertain times this seems so appropriate – for those who would like to blame God, or use God as an excuse – look for the truth God gave you and we might just be the “firstfruits of all he created”   Prayer Lord, when we are tempted to shift the blame,
when we are tempted to escape from our responsibilities,
when we are looking for an easy way out –
be our rock, be our strength,
and help us face your truth regardless.
Amen Today's Writer Ann Honey is a Church Related Community Worker serving at Robert Stewart Memorial Chapel at Fenham in the Northern Synod.   Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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