URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion 8th June

Thu, 08/06/2017 - 06:00
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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 Acts 2: 14-21 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ” Reflection Speeches, chiefly of Peter and Paul, comprise (approximately) one third of the Book of Acts, Luke’s sequel to his gospel. Our passage is part one of Peter’s Pentecost address to Jews who have come to Jerusalem for the great feast of Pentecost (Shavout), the concluding festival of the grain harvest.

The extraordinary event which ‘the believers’ have just experienced as wind and fire, has resulted in a loosening of their tongues. This enthusiasm has caused a wider commotion. To any who will listen, Peter, no longer the broken man who fled from the scene of his Lord’s crucifixion, now interprets the event in the light of Easter. It is nothing less than the coming of God’s Spirit long promised  in the scriptures in ‘the last days’ . He turns to prophet Joel for confirmation and finds there the vision of God’s Spirit set loose amongst God’s people. What was promised is now happening. The gift of prophecy is being distributed regardless of class or gender.

To speak the prophetic word, regardless of ridicule or disbelief (‘not drunk as you suppose’) is now part of the Christian’s duty. God’s Spirit is no less active now, as it was then. If that makes us and our hearers uncomfortable, it is both a wake up call to us, and a call for change in how we live. Since God’s Spirit is active throughout the world (‘upon all flesh’) we should expect to find kindred spirits both within and outwith the church. To work with others requires a generosity of spirit from all who share the vision of a changed world, and we in the church should not be found lacking.   Prayer Generous God
Your Spirit is ever active amongst us
prompting us to speak your truth.
May we have the courage of our convictions
to speak out at the right time,
and in the right manner,
so that all who share your vision
may be gathered together
into one commonwealth. Amen. Today's Writer The  Rev’d John Young is a retired minister of the Synod of Scotland and member of Giffnock URC 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 June

Wed, 07/06/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 7th June 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 Acts 2: 1 - 12 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.  Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Reflection Imagine the scene: roughly one hundred and twenty folk assembled in a room, feeling rather lost, despondent and unsure about what to do without Jesus. Then suddenly they experience an extraordinary storm. A violent wind. Sparks. Flames. And the folk both in this room as well as in the growing crowd outside, break out in wild chatter. Chatter in dozens of languages from across the globe.

The oral transformation within this community has sometimes overshadowed the auditory transformation. Notice how Luke uses the verb “hear” three times in his narrative. Except that the Greek word extends beyond “hearing”. A better translation would be ‘to listen’. It is important to capture the active, purposeful nature of the verb. To listen.

When we acknowledge this shift away from speaking and towards listening, we can recognise that the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is the gift of listening to one another in order to discern the will of God.

The United Reformed Church embodies a ‘conciliar’ way of working. Conciliarity affirms that the Church listens to the Holy Spirit through the Councils of the Church including Church Meeting, Synods and General Assembly. Conciliarity encourages us to take the time to truly listen to each and every voice that speaks. In so doing, we embody God’s affirmation that everyone is a channel through which the Holy Spirit is heard. Everyone is valuable. And conciliarity means, just like the first community at Pentecost, there is a openness to listening to diverse voices.

The theologian Walter Brueggemann argues : ‘The capacity to listen in ways which transform depends upon trust in the speaker, readiness to be impacted, and willingness to have newness come into one’s life.’ (Walter Brueggemann, Genesis, pp. 103–104)  What ‘newness’ could come into our churches, if we listen to the voices which are not often heard - including those with a mental illness or disability or in poverty? Indeed, what transformations would we see in our society and our world?   Prayer Spirit of the living God,
Open our ears that we may listen
in ways that transform
our churches,
our communities,
our world.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Amen. Today's Writer Dr Nicola Robinson is a member and elder at Augustine United Church, 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 6th June 

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 6th June  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 Acts 1: 12-26  Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred and twenty people) and said, ‘Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.’ (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) ‘For it is written in the book of Psalms,

“Let his homestead become desolate,
 and let there be no one to live in it”; and
“Let another take his position of overseer.”

So one of the men who have accompanied us throughout the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.’ So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. Reflection I once heard a very striking sermon about Judas, the memory of which has never left me. It was preached by a deeply wise and pastoral Methodist minister who was once a close colleague. ‘What if’, he said, ‘Judas, instead of killing himself, had repented and asked for forgiveness? What then?’ I can remember that he paused while we all took this in and thought about it. Would others have killed him, so that he still died, but not at his own hand? Would he have been punished as he deserved? What would have followed? But it didn’t take long for us to work out what one hymnwriter calls ‘the table of forgiveness’ and to recognise that if Judas had repented he would surely have been forgiven. And, even more, he would likely have become one of the leaders of the early church. After all, his betrayal was not so very far from Peter’s, the one who betrayed Jesus three times before the cock crowed. The ‘what if?’ question helped us to see something more clearly about the radical quality of Gospel forgiveness. What’s odd is that we have forgotten how astonishing it is that Peter could have come back from where he did, could have risen from the place of the betrayer to be the rock on which the Church was founded. And Judas, if his story had taken another route, could have been forgiven too. We would then have a world in which there were many churches named for St Judas, a world in which ‘Judas!’ was not an insult or an accusation, but a name people would choose for their firstborn. We might have had St Judas’ basilica in Rome and we might have had a Christian story that said that even someone who could ‘sell’ Jesus for thirty pieces of silver could come back and be forgiven and redeemed. Judas’ tragedy is not so much that he betrayed Jesus, but that he could not believe that forgiveness was possible or that he did not have the time to discover it or to hear Jesus speak the kind of words that Jesus spoke to Peter.  

This passage from Acts 1 about the appointment of Judas’ replacement is full of notes of blood and revenge. The need to look for someone else to make up the number to twelve is backed up with scriptural argument from the Psalms. We might wonder whether Peter, who makes the argument in this passage, reflected on how, so easily, it might have been him who was to be replaced, as well as Judas. Did no one among them think they should do the practical thing of replacing Judas but that they should also mourn him, and weep for one who had not been able to bear the burden of being forgiven or who had not heard how profound is God’s love? Perhaps they should have prayed that even on the other side of death, Judas might yet be saved from the hell he had made for himself. For Jesus harrowed every hell, didn’t he, even for those tormented, like Judas, for the terrible things they had done.   Prayer Thank you, merciful God,
for the depth and strength of your forgiveness.
Give me humility to receive it,
courage to believe in it
and a voice to speak of it,
so that everyone I meet may truly know
that there is always a way forward,
everyday a new beginning
and eternally forgiveness
from your loving heart.
In the name of Jesus
who died to save us all,
every last one,
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Susan Durber is the minister of Taunton URC. 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 June

Mon, 05/06/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 5th June 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 Today, following on from Pentecost, we start to work our way through the Book of Acts as we think of the earliest Church and what it can teach us now.  We will continue, on Sundays, to work our way through the Psalms. Acts 1: 1-11 In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’  So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ Reflection Few of us, I guess, relish the thought of bidding farewell - unless, of course, we’re glad to see the back of the person concerned!  Saying “goodbye” can be tough.  And, come the “ultimate farewell”, we can struggle with the reality of it so much that we say nothing rather than embrace the vulnerability of letting go.   We collude in pretending that there is nothing to prevent things remaining just as they are.  It is, perhaps, for this reason that the Ascension is not observed with anything like the prominence given to Christmas or Easter. Life, however, entails bidding farewell – endings as well as beginnings.   For others’ flourishing we often have to let them move on.   Parents know that one day their children are likely to leave home – for university, for work or to share their life and love with another.   In his thoughtful book, Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense, W.H. Vanstone suggests that “authentic love” can be recognised as and when we are willing to relinquish control of the other for their sake.   No one could claim doing so is easy, though!   Such is “love’s expense”.

The Ascension reminds us that the disciples had to bid farewell to Jesus and to accept that life from then on was to be lived without the physical presence of their friend and Lord.  Luke suggests that they were “gazing up towards heaven” – focusing on the reminder of departure.  It was tempting to dwell on reminders of where they had last seen him.  Their attention, however, is redirected to the future – reoriented back to the city, back to life’s duties and encounters.  In Matthew’s account of the Ascension Jesus tells them to “Go!” and adds the Great Commission as the work to keep them - and us - occupied (Matt. 28: 19).  He also assures them, Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  (Matt. 28: 20).   

Without the Ascension only those close enough – in time and place – could rejoice in the presence of God-in-Christ.   Like the rest of us he could only be in one place at any one time.  Because of the Ascension, as Brian Wren puts it, Christ is alive!  No longer bound to distant years in Palestine, but saving, healing, here and now, and touching every place and time.  (© 1968, 1995 Stainer & Bell Ltd.)   We dare to believe that he is with us, “always, the end of the age”.   In letting him go, we are invited to continue his “love’s endeavour”.   What once was committed to Jesus has now been committed to us.  We may gaze upward, in hope of inspiration, but it is in the here and now that we can and must serve God. Prayer God, enable us, we pray, to believe that you never leave nor forsake us.  
Bless, this day, any and all known to us
who know the pain and heartache of having to say farewell
to those whose company they yearn to keep.
Trusting in your abiding presence
increase in us our willingness to love and serve you without counting the cost.
In the name of the Ascended yet ever-present One.  
Amen. Today's Writer The Revd Geoffrey Clarke, is the minister, of The Crossing Church (Methodist/United Reformed Church), Worksop 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 for Pentecost

Sun, 04/06/2017 - 06:00
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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 Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far from foes, give peace at home:
where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but One,
that through the ages all along,
this may be our endless song:

Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Listen to the hymn here.
  (Rabanus Maurus ninth century; trans. John Cosin, 1627) Reflection This hymn, from the 9th Century, is attributed to the German monk Rabanus Maurus who was a Biblical commentator and became Abbot at the monastery at Fulda in Germany.  John Cosin, the translator, was an Anglican priest who was deposed under the Commonwealth but became Bishop of Durham after the restoration of the monarchy.  

This hymn is often sung at ordinations - and is included in Rejoice and Sing - but isn’t well known in the URC despite the haunting plainsong tune which is easy to learn and well worth knowing.

The hymn is a beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit - who is often neglected in churches.  The Spirit’s blessing is, to us, “comfort, life and fire of love.”  The evocative second verse reminds us of the precariousness of life which, thankfully, we don’t experience in Western Europe now the way many in our world do and in the way that Maurus would have done in a much more dangerous age.  The Spirit is urged to teach us about the Father that we may sing for ever in praise of the Three-in-One.  

The song is one I love not just because of its antiquity and haunting Plainsong tune (best sung a cappella), nor because of its resonance with ordination (and papal elections) but because it reminds us of the power of the Spirit sustaining the Church and believers through the ages that we may better know God and better sing the praises of the Divine.  

The hymn unites us with our past and reminds us of our vocation - to live and sing the praises of Almighty God.   Prayer Holy Spirit,
fire of Divine love,
anoint and cheer us,
that we may sing God’s praise,
with our lips, heart and action,
now and forever,
Amen. Today's Writer Andy Braunston is a minister-elect of the Glasgow Southside Cluster and co-ordinator of the URC Daily Devotions project. 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 Devotional: 3rd June

Sat, 03/06/2017 - 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 St John 20: 19-23 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”   And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Reflection I love Indian food in general and in particular those served in the “curry-mile” on Wilmslow Road in south Manchester.  I used to go there with other ministerial students from Luther King House at the end of very busy days.  At times, we were so hungry that we struggled to wait for meals to be served.  Luckily, they always serve some poppadoms and delicious dips once we arrived - that helped a little while the ‘real’ meals are prepared.

This embodies perhaps the mini-Pentecost, when Jesus breathed the Spirit on his friends to give them enough strength, as they waited for Pentecost. That waiting for Pentecost was very long and demanding for confused, fragile, vulnerable, ill-equipped, backsliding, persecuted and ostracised disciples.  I suspect that Jesus foreknew the challenging waiting for Pentecost and decided to give them a glimpse/flavour of the Pentecostal anointing.  Yet, the disciples were not to be satisfied with this mini-Pentecost.

The Lord did not give them the full measure of the Spirit so that they remain hungry for more and weak enough to need one another’s fellowship. Moreover, Jesus gave them just enough power so that they were not tempted to attempt changing the world right away.

Perhaps we do not always feel that we have all it takes to enact God’s promises in our lives and in the Church. Today, God may be exhorting us to keep dreaming His impossible-looking visions until we are fully equipped and anointed. Jesus might be telling us that we have all it takes in us, to help us wait faithfully for more. Maybe Jesus wants to encourage us to forget about changing the world for now. Maybe we are merely expected to dwell in his peace, as he gives us strength and mercy, just about enough for each and every day.

How hopeful are we today? How joyfully expecting are we for God’s great things to come?   Prayer Anointing God
may your breath, reassure us
that you are closer than our next heart-beat,
help our unbelief,
still our restlessness,
cease all our narcissistic strivings
and sustain our faithful waiting.
May you always find us grateful, thankful, joyful
and in fellowship with one another.
May you always find us on our knees:  
hungry and dreaming for more.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Bachelard Kaze  is the Minister of Marlpool, Eastwood and Langley URCs in Derbyshire. Bible Version   THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® NIV® © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion

Fri, 02/06/2017 - 16:44
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line-height:150% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templateHeader .mcnTextContent,#templateHeader .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:150% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templateBody .mcnTextContent,#templateBody .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:150% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templateFooter .mcnTextContent,#templateFooter .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:150% !important; } } View this email in your browser Daily Devotions over the Summer

Dear <<First Name>>

On Sunday we celebrate Pentecost and commemorate the Holy Spirit giving birth to the Church so we thought that, in the weeks that follow Pentecost we would, in the Daily Devotions, work our way through the Acts of the Apostles.  

The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are a two volume work seemingly from the same, unnamed, author which, together, deal with the life of Jesus, the spread of his message from Pentecost and the growth of the Church from being a Jewish grouping into something which welcomed Gentiles as the Gospel spread into the Roman Empire.  

The Earliest Church was called to evangelise in an age with many competing truths and gods.  It lived in the shadow of a merciless empire which subjugated peoples to its will and imposed its culture upon them but which gave the illusion of peace and harmony.  Christians were called to fearlessly proclaim the faith to an often indifferent audience.  

This doesn't sound too different to the world we are called to evangelise now and, over the Summer months, day by day we will reflect on how our earliest forbears in the faith responded to God's calling and see if we can learn lessons for our own journeys of discipleship.

We take a break from the narrative on Sundays and continue to look at Psalms and, every so often, we look at a saint and see how their discipleship can serve as a model for our own.

I hope you continue to find the Devotions a useful resource.  If you wish to encourage friends to subscribe you might want to forward this email to them and encourage people to visit this page which is the archive of the previous devotions (so they can read them).  It has a link where they can sign up to receive the Devotions themselves.  You may also want to use this poster in church, or in a church newsletter, to encourage people to sign up and receive them.  

1,500 of us receive inspiration in our in boxes each day - I hope it helps as you Walk the Way of Jesus today.

with every good wish


Andy


Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator URC Daily Devotions Project

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URC Daily Devotion: 2nd June

Fri, 02/06/2017 - 06:00
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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 2 Tim 4: 6-22     For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
 
Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
 
Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus. Do your best to come before winter. Eubulus sends greetings to you, as do Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brothers.
 
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.  Reflection
I often feel encouraged by the realisation that we can achieve the same reward as the apostle Paul, what he calls the "crown of righteousness".  Paul felt he could claim this reward because of three things.

First, Paul had "fought the good fight".  This reminds us that, despite what we may prefer, living the Christian life can be a big struggle and very difficult at times.  Paul does not give us an unrealistic vision of what it means to live as a Christian.  Instead, Paul anchors us in the reality that sometimes it is a genuine struggle for us — a struggle with the World, the flesh, and the Devil.  But Paul shows us that it is also a struggle we can win as we are in Christ!

Second, Paul had "finished the race".  Living as a Christian is a bit like running a marathon.  It takes a lot of perseverance and endurance.  But the marathon that each Christian runs is unique to that Christian.  We each have our own race to run.  We each have our own course to run on.  What matters is not how fast we run or how long it takes us but that we actually finish the race before us.  Empowered by the Spirit of God, every Christian can certainly finish their race.

Third, Paul had "kept the faith".  All Christians have a responsibility to know and maintain the truth of God's Word and the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But "keeping" the faith means even more than this.  It means that we must zealously guard and protect that which God has revealed to us in his son Jesus Christ, embracing it fully in faith.  We are called to keep the faith as it has been handed down to us from generation to generation throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ.

As we pursue this "crown of righteousness", Paul's closing words give us some further insights.  His struggle with Demas reminds us that many people will abandon us, falling in love with the things of the world.  His longing for Mark and Luke reminds us that we cannot live the Christian life alone.  We always need friends and companions on the journey with us.  The warning about Alexander reminds us that many might work to harm us or hinder us as we seek to live for Jesus.  This is not a sign of failure, but rather an indicator of our effectiveness.  Paul's instructions also remind us that we need our books and "parchments" (dare I say "Internet"?).  He praise of God also encourages us that sometimes people will desert us, but that no matter what the Lord will stand by us, sustain us and rescue us.

May we all run our races with the confidence that the Lord will deliver us from every evil deed and bring us safely into his heavenly kingdom.   Prayer Loving Father, you have called us to yourself through your son, Jesus Christ, giving us each a race to run and a faith to keep.  We pray that you might protect and preserve us, sustaining us in this marathon, until like Paul we might claim a crown of righteousness.  Give us the courage we need to face our struggles and the grace we need to endure.  May our lives be lived for the glory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, until that day when either our race is finished and the crown is won or Jesus himself returns to bring us into your heavenly kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Rodney Wood 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: 1st June

Thu, 01/06/2017 - 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 2 Tim 4: 1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. Reflection Throughout the ages, God has used his ordinary servants to challenge individuals, communities, nations and even the whole world. You can recall people like Martin Luther, nicknamed  ‘God’s volcano’ by Michael Reeves in his book The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation.  

Reeves holds that many people in churches in Rome paid for masses to be said for them and their deceased.  Hence masses tended to be said at double speed to the point that many in the congregation could not even understand. Reeves notes a case where two priests allegedly even said masses simultaneously at the same altar.  The Reformation in Germany was sparked by stories  of unsound teachings such as: ‘when the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs’   It is in this context that Luther felt charged by his faith, conscience and God to preach the Word and rebuke the wayward Church with ‘some’ degree of  patience and careful instruction (through his 95 theses).

It can be quite difficult to be faithful to the Word and dare rebuke in this difficult time for Christian service.  It can be quite challenging to remain focused on God’s countercultural charges in times of trial, rejection, mockery, challenge and conflict. This makes me think of the hymn Will you come and follow me? Lines that are relevant to me in this context include:

Will you leave yourself behind… Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare? Will you let me answer prayer ... Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,  through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

I find it helpful to be reminded of where I get my charge from.

Ultimately, it is God who wants to correct, rebuke and encourage through us. We are simply like waiters, send by the chef to serve wayward customers with challenging and rebuking love. I would say that if we dwell in Christ and if our charge is of God, then we won’t be able avoid correcting, rebuking and encouraging those in need.  We need not worry how,  for God will guide us accordingly.  If we truly love people and wish them well, then God’s Word, in our heart, will be like a fire shut up in our bones. Can we contain it when needed and yet also release it  at the right time and the right way?   Prayer Loving God  
grant us,
humility to seek your face,
faithfulness in our service,
wisdom to instruct carefully,
patience to bear for as long as it takes,
discernment to be in tune with your living Word,
boldness to rebuke in love,
optimism to encourage
and faith to reshape the world around.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev’d Bachelard Kaze is the Minister of Marlpool, Eastwood and Langley URCs in Derbyshire. Bible Version   THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®  © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 31st May

Wed, 31/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 31st 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 2 Tim 3: 1-17 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!

For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men, their folly will become plain to everyone.

Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured!

Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is* useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. Reflection 2 Timothy is the last of the Pastorals and in many respects should be read as Paul’s last ‘Will and Testament’. Paul is probably imprisoned in Rome, abandoned by all but a few friends and facing imminent death. However in the third chapter of 2 Timothy, there are stark warnings, and some of it makes uneasy reading. It’s not so much a finger wagging exercise from Paul, listing all the things that could happen to disciples if they fail to take seriously the seriousness of following Christ, but a deep plea to everyone he knows, to hold onto the faith of Jesus Christ, which he has brought them, especially in the midst of temptations.

There is no doubt that Paul is speaking earnestly to Timothy, to bolster him up as he faces the challenges of discipleship, but people’s behaviours and attitudes seems to be in the forefront of Paul’s mind, and even Paul is open about the persecutions he had encountered along the way in following Christ, and is saying to Timothy to expect them.

How we behave as disciples indicates the legacy we pass on to others. We just need to look at the media to see how easy it seems to bully, abuse, persecute, slander, and arrogantly disrespect people whether in groups or individuals.
The seeds we sow as Disciples of Christ will untimely be our legacy within the Kingdom of God.

I have no idea when ‘the last days, distressing times will come’, but this I do know; we must always be faithful to our God, keep faithful to the Good News of Jesus Christ, and be aware of the prompting of the Holy Spirit. For it is only when we hold our faithfulness before God, that we can be assured that our legacy of sharing the Good News will be passed on to the next generation.   Prayer God who breaks the boundary of space,
who is within us and around us,
who is within life and death,
who is in the minute and the majesty,
who is in the very fabric of humanity and creation,
who is in the dust and starlight,
who is in the encounter and the seeker.
Bless my faithfulness this day and in the coming days.
Amen. Today's Writer The Revd Ruth Dillon is minister of Fleet URC and Beacon Hill URC, Hindhead in the Wessex 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: 30th May

Tue, 30/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 30th 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 2 Tim 2: 14-26 Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.”

In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. Reflection Over the years I have worked for a number of Japanese and Swedish corporations.  Although they differ they are the most collaborative and consultative cultures I have come across.  Issues that might ordinarily take a few hours to discuss can go on (seemingly) endlessly.  In a lot of cases, the deep and long debates that go on in Japanese and Swedish companies can result in a deep and long-lasting commitment to a policy or plan; but in some cases it can seem like an excuse for avoiding making a decision!  So, I have a great deal of empathy with Paul as he warns us to avoid wrangling over words.  Sometimes you just need to go and do something, rather than talk about it.

The one-time Chief Executive Officer of Avis, in the early 60s, Robert Townsend, would not have worked well in Japanese or Swedish cultures.  He is famed for turning Avis around.  One reason he cited was how he made decisions.  He claimed that he made his decisions quickly, and in doing so only got 1/3rd of them right, but quickly realised when they were wrong and then corrected them.  Avis could make two decisions (and get it right) long before others had debated and come up with the right decision first time.  Clearly this approach can’t be used in all cases, but I suggest it could be useful sometimes even in our churches.  Have you sat through local mission committee meetings endlessly debating what to do … when a practical approach would have been to go and try something, and if it didn’t work change your approach and try again?  As the old Latin proverb puts it solvitur ambulando; literally solve it by walking (doing), or as Nike puts it, just do it!   Prayer Dear Lord, it is good to talk;
talk can bring us closer together,
talk can enable us to understand others better,
talk can identify how we are to love our neighbours.  

I pray that you will give us the gift of communication
to let us listen to the cries from our neighbours.

But when talk prevents us from doing,
\or becomes a screen to hide behind
please let us stop the talk and gird ourselves for action.  

I pray Lord that you would equip and strengthen us for work we have to do.

Finally, Lord, I pray that you will give us the wisdom to know when to talk
and when to do.
Amen Today's Writer Alan Yates is a member of Trinity, High Wycombe URC 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: 29th May

Mon, 29/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 29th 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 2 Tim 2: 1-13     You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; and what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. Share in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving in the army gets entangled in everyday affairs; the soldier’s aim is to please the enlisting officer. And in the case of an athlete, no one is crowned without competing according to the rules. It is the farmer who does the work who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he will also deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself. Reflection What hardships confront you in your Christian witness, and how are you facing them?

Hardships – “even to the point of being chained like a criminal” (2:9).  In 3:11, Timothy is reminded of the sufferings Paul faced in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra.  You can see those hardships in Acts 13 & 14, while Paul (as a current URC theme would put it) walked the way of Christ and helped people to develop their discipleship.

But the word of God is not chained.  Therefore, Paul said (2:9-10), he endured everything for the sake of enabling people to obtain salvation in Christ Jesus.  And he urged Timothy to do likewise: to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and to pass on his words to faithful people who would be able to teach others (2:1-2).

This devotional passage happens to be set for the day after the German Kirchentag (24th-28th May), a festival congress of churches which includes URC participation in this commemorative year.  The theme may help to set whatever hardships we are facing in the context of the whole span of God’s work for the world through the ages.  It is 500 years since Martin Luther’s attempt to bring the Church back to true gospel teaching on salvation.

Disputations about the true way to receive life from God spread in the context of competition between rulers and assertion of cultural identities.  Hardships escalated through incarcerations, executions and religious wars for most of the next 150 years, and division between churches persisted.

Now we have had the more ecumenical 20th century, and currently one of the Reformation’s key issues is being resolved through the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification*.  When considering this, the Reformed Churches particularly want to emphasise that righteousness in Christ means both justification and justice, so justification (being set right with God) should bear fruit in work to right injustices in the world.

The aim of Paul’s teaching, as he said early in his first letter to Timothy (1 Tim 1:5), is “love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith”.  As we approach Pentecost we could explore this point from Paul’s conclusion to Timothy (2 Tim 3:16): “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”

We can take courage and strength from God as we face hardships – and as we help others to face theirs.

*  The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was agreed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.  It was supported by the World Methodist Council in 2006, and the Anglican Consultative Council in 2016.  The United Reformed Church Mission Council in October 2016 gave warm support for the World Communion of Reformed Churches’ intention to associate with the Joint Declaration.
  Prayer For facing hardships, this prayer comes to mind from use every week in a Congregational Church Scout Troop.  It was written by Roman Catholic, St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556).

Teach us, good Lord,
to serve thee as thou deservest,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will. Today's Writer The Rev’d Bernie Collins is a member of Avenue St Andrew’s in Southampton and Convenor of the URC Mission Committee 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: 28th May

Sun, 28/05/2017 - 06:00
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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 2 Tim 1:1-18  From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, sent to proclaim the promised life which we have in union with Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear son: May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy and peace.  

I give thanks to God, whom I serve with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did.  I thank him as I remember you always in my prayers night and day.  I remember your tears, and I want to see you very much, so that I may be filled with joy.  I remember the sincere faith you have, the kind of faith that your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice also had.  I am sure that you have it also.  For this reason I remind you to keep alive the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For the Spirit that God has given us does not make us timid; instead, his Spirit fills us with power, love, and self-control.  Do not be ashamed then, of witnessing for our Lord; nor be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christ’s sake.  Instead, take your part in suffering for the Good News, as God gives you the strength to do it.   He saved us and called us to be his own people, not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.  He gave us this grace by means of Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but now it has been revealed to us through the coming of our Saviour, Christ Jesus.  He has ended the power of death and through the gospel has revealed immortal life.  

God has appointed me as an apostle and teacher to proclaim the Good News, and it is for this reason that I suffer these things.  But I am still full of confidence, because I know whom I have trusted, and I am sure that he is able to keep safe until that Day what he has entrusted to me.  Hold firmly to the true words that I taught you, as the example for you to follow, and remain in the faith and love that are ours in union with Christ Jesus.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us, keep the good things that have been entrusted to you.  

You know that everyone in the province of Asia, including Phygelus and Hermogenes, has deserted me.  May the Lord show mercy to the family of Onesiphorus, because he cheered me up many times.  He was not ashamed that I was in prison,  but as soon as he arrived in Rome, he started looking for me until he found me. May the Lord grant him his mercy on that Day!  And you know very well how much he did for me in Ephesus. Reflection We learn, in this letter to Timothy, of the personalities of the people actively involved in creating the life of the early churches, and their relationships to one another in family life and in the congregations.  Still more powerfully, we witness the giving of God who saves us and calls us to proclaim the promised life that “we have in union with Christ Jesus” .  Paul makes it clear in the opening words of greeting that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus “by God’s will”.  Paul met Timothy on his first missionary journey in Asia Minor at Lystra where Timothy lived.  Timothy was a Christian who was well thought of by those around him.  His mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, both Jewish, were also Christians and members of the local congregation.  Timothy’s father was Greek (Acts. 16 v 1-3).  The name Timothy, in Greek, means “honouring God”.    Paul knew the family.  Paul and Timothy had a long association developing and supporting the life of the early churches.  Timothy  became an evangelist under Paul’s guidance, helping with the long ministry of teaching at Ephesus and acting as messenger taking letters from Ephesus to Corinth.  His manner was reserved and gentle in contrast with the apostle Paul’s.  Paul had a trusting relationship with Timothy addressing him at the opening of this second letter as “my dear son”.

I wonder how many contemporary Church leaders have been influenced by Christian family backgrounds to take up their vocation to proclaim the “promised life which we have in union with Christ Jesus”.  As a child of the manse, I grew up recognising Sundays as special days of the week.  They were a different kind of working day geared to meeting the commitments of Sunday morning service, Sunday School and Sunday evening worship too. There was Sunday - best wear and Sunday lunch (no playing cricket outside in the street either).  Sunday was chiefly a day for quiet and devotion. There was the regular sharing in worship and fellowship, as well as some social times, with the members of the ‘family’ of the church  those who were called to be God’s “own people not because of what we have done, but because of his own purpose and grace.”  

Timothy is encouraged to trust that God will keep safe the gifts God gave to him  through Paul in the laying on of hands.  He must hold firmly to the “true words” Paul taught him and remain in the faith and the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit “who lives in us”.  The same Spirit will supply the sustaining power to endure through the suffering of humiliation, rejection, even imprisonment and maybe death, for the Good News.  There is no shame in these circumstances.  Paul, apostle and Timothy’s mentor, was in prison in Rome..”a prisoner for Christ’s sake” simultaneously deserted by “everyone in the province of Asia”. The outstanding exception in this bleak picture is the caring conduct of Onesiphorus who worked for Paul in Ephesus and seeks him out in Rome.  It is heart-warming to hear Paul’s appreciation of Onesiphorus’ companionship, a man who “cheered me up many times”.     Prayer Loving God  
We thank you for family, friends and others in the Church who have inspired us to find our own relationship with You. Please bless us and keep us.  
We are Your people not because of what we have done
but because of Your own purpose and grace.  
Amen Today's Writer Pamela Dowling is an Elder who served at the former St John's URC in Forest Hill. 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: 27th May

Sat, 27/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 27th 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: 17-21 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.

Grace be with you.   Reflection Do you consider yourself rich?  Like poverty, richness is a relative term.  We may not find our names on the Forbes list of billionaires, but we are probably not struggling to exist either.  The middle is a comfortable place to be, just like Goldilocks and her porridge, we're just right.  So this passage isn't really relevant for us, right?
Wrong!

I would suggest that richness might incorporate a major element of independence - having the skills and income to live life as we choose rather than in a way forced on us by someone else.  We may not have everything on our wish list but at least we have choices as to what to do with what we have got.  Many in our world have little, if any, choice of how to live their lives.

The danger for us is that because we have choices, we start to believe that those choices are our "human right" in spite of the fact that more than half the world are denied that right for one reason or another.  And that is my understanding of the word haughtiness.  It could be just pride or arrogance, but I think it’s more than that, a belief that it is my right as a person to have this choice regardless of the cost or the impact on others.  So when that choice is threatened, or even taken away altogether,  it triggers a strong reaction which can be hurtful or even violent.

For Timothy, as a young church leader, he was likely to be facing such issues on a regular basis since Ephesus was a large trading and commercial city with large sums of money and goods changing hands daily. So this was a very real issue for him as it is also for us in our busy western culture.  Paul's advice to Timothy, and to us, is to set our hopes on God's provision rather than on our own provision of  "stuff" - either the money available to acquire "stuff", or the "stuff" acquired already.  If we rely on God's provision, (and sometimes that provision includes "stuff") we know it’s because God loves us and wants us to enjoy it.  So we can and should be generous with it, we can and should do good works with it and we can and should share it with others - all contributing to a good life in preparation for God's coming kingdom.

But (and you knew there'd be a 'but', didn't you?) once we get comfortable, we start to forget that God was the source of the provision; we start to think we were, and still are, in control and we forget God's part in it all.  In doing so we risk losing much more than "stuff".  Paul is making clear to Timothy, and also to us, that the church (and that of course is the people not the building) needs to make sure that not only do we believe that all our provision comes from God, but that we behave in a way which makes it clear to everyone else that that's the case.  This is especially important for those in leadership roles because an important part of those roles is the making of disciples and part of that is modelling  the way of life ourselves.  And of course we can't do this on our own, we need help.  So let's pray:   Prayer Creator and sustainer God,
We pause for a moment to reflect on all that we have, which for many of us exceeds what we need or deserve.  And in that time of reflection, we offer to you our thanks and praise for all your blessings showered on us, past and present.

In bringing all these to mind, we realise that many times we have forgotten where these blessings came from, we have been so wrapped up in the busy-ness of life that we act as if we are in control, that our decisions were critical, that we deserved the benefits.  Forgive us for all those times when we allowed ourselves to be carried along on waves of success or struggle instead of stopping to look for you in what is going on around us.

Help us to keep you at the front of our minds, help us to look at the world through your eyes, to actively seek your guidance through prayer and the scriptures, and to show to the world, not in a Uriah Heap "ever-so-'umble" kind of way, but in a joyful and grateful kind of way, that everything we have comes from you and we don't ever want to forget that.
Amen. Today's Writer The Rev'd Sheila Coop is the minister of Macedonia URC in Failsworth. 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: 26th May

Fri, 26/05/2017 - 06:00
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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 Timothy 6: 11-16      Aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ; and this will be made manifest at the proper time by the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen. Reflection Be it by Spirit-inspiration or coincidence or an informed decision by the person commissioning these reflections, I find myself with a personally appropriate theme. Ordained forty-one years ago and having served as College Principal and Synod Training Officer for eighteen, I am now teetering on the brink of retirement from my professional posts and indeed active ministry. It is then a ‘time for reflection’ (to borrow a Scottish Parliament phrase). Please forgive the personal here, but I hope that these thoughts resonate with others. Thinking back over time, I am conscious that the virtues suggested in I Timothy have been present and absent in perhaps equal measure over my ministry!

For me, I have had two vocations, running together, not in parallel but intertwined – minister and educator. Two passages have underpinned them: Deuteronomy 30:15, ‘See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil’ and John 10:10, ‘I am come that they may have life, and have it abundantly’, words that are echoed in today’s passage – ‘take hold of the eternal life to which you were called’.
Celebrating the sacrament of eternal life, pastorally working with people to restore fullness to their lives, educationally supporting folk to realise and achieve their potential as people fashioned in the image of God – these have lain at the heart of my calling. When I reflect on that, I feel anew the thrill of my vocation. Yet, I am also aware that our increasing institutionalisation as a Church, our anxious fears over survival, the seeming pressures to ‘manage’ decline, our lack of imagination and creativity too often draw us away from life, from life-enhancing decisions, from what enlivens and energises us, from concerns that are more truly eternal.

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.   Prayer Source and lover and sustainer of life,
help us to see others and ourselves as made for abundant life
help us to choose life when we are faced with decisions
help us to choose life in our daily living. Today's Writer The Rev'd Dr Jack Dyce is the Principal of the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College and a member of Port Glasgow URC. 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 for Ascension

Thu, 25/05/2017 - 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 Acts 1: 1-11 Dear Theophilus:

In my first book I wrote about all the things that Jesus did and taught from the time he began his work until the day he was taken up to heaven. Before he was taken up, he gave instructions by the power of the Holy Spirit to the men he had chosen as his apostles. For forty days after his death he appeared to them many times in ways that proved beyond doubt that he was alive. They saw him, and he talked with them about the Kingdom of God. And when they came together, he gave them this order: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When the apostles met together with Jesus, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time give the Kingdom back to Israel?”

Jesus said to them, “The times and occasions are set by my Father's own authority, and it is not for you to know when they will be. But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They still had their eyes fixed on the sky as he went away, when two men dressed in white suddenly stood beside them and said, “Galileans, why are you standing there looking up at the sky? This Jesus, who was taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you saw him go to heaven.” Reflection For a contemporary Jewish audience, Jesus’ farewell to His disciples would be recognised as a clear parallel with Moses who ended his days on the top of Mount Nebo, where he commissioned Joshua to be his successor. In the Gospels of Matthew, John and Luke, and in the Acts of the Apostles, Jesus is doing the same thing: He is commissioning His disciples to carry on His work.

On one level, we can look at the Ascension as a farewell event. It was a painful human moment, filled with emotion. If we go to any railway station or airport, all around us are people saying goodbye: some for a short time; others for a longer time; and others still for whom it is probably farewell for ever. This man, this Jesus, whom the disciples had lost once when He was crucified; they are losing Him again. The emotion of painful separation, grief, is palpable in the story. And into this fragile human moment, God acts supernaturally: Jesus is taken up into Heaven and became hidden from their sight.

The 20th Century theologian, Karl Barth, called the Ascension “an historical turning point”. The Ascension is Jesus re-gathering His followers. Jesus did not choose learned or powerful people to be His disciples: He chose every day, working people; He chose the outcasts. And just as He called them the first time, He calls them again.

For the disciples Jesus was hidden from their sight at Ascension; they knew they would never see Him again in the flesh and stood there in shock and amazement. Like we can be, there were paralysed into inaction. The Disciples needed a nudge, for they were staring into the sky. The angels speak to them, assure them and they begin their descent of the mountain to begin Christ’s Church.

The Ascension is about Jesus is completing His journey and us beginning ours. Jesus becomes human, is born as a baby, lives His life, is tried and executed. He rises from the dead, and in the Ascension, Jesus is going home. Jesus who is fully human, in the Ascension forever changes the doorway between Earth and Heaven. This is the truth: Jesus, a human-being, entered heaven - a human-being entered heaven!

That is the amazing mystery of the Ascension: a human-being entered glory and is with God. And because Jesus did, we can, too.   Prayer Loving God,
today as we recall Your Son’s return to glory,
we give You thanks that,
in Your Son, we, too, now have our home with You.
As the disciples came down the mountain
and began the work to spread the news of Your love,
fill us anew with Your Spirit
and revive Your Church.
Amen. Today's Writer Walt Johnson is an Elder of Wilbraham St Ninian's URC in South 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: 24th May

Wed, 24/05/2017 - 06:00
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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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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 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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} } @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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