URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion: 20th May

Sat, 20/05/2017 - 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 4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.  They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving;  for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 19th May

Fri, 19/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 19th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 3:14-16 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 18th May

Thu, 18/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 18th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 2:9 - 3:18  also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes,  but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.  Let a woman learn in silence with full submission.  I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 17th May

Wed, 17/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 17th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 2: 1-8     First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; Reflection Pray for everyone. That’s the advice given here and that doesn’t change. We pray for everyone because, as we are reminded, God loves everyone and so ‘desires everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’ Some things, like God’s love for everyone, do not go away, so neither should we cease to pray for everyone.

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 16th May

Tue, 16/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 16th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 1: 12-20  I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 15th May

Mon, 15/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 15th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser 1 Tim 1:8-11 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, fornicators, sodomites, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. Reflection Now how did I end up with this passage, let alone choosing it. For even if I can squirm out of the labels of folk that Paul lists, I am then caught in the net, with “whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching”. Guilty! So there’s no way I can be judgemental of anyone else, but does it also mean I must drown in my own guilt for letting God’s side down? I don’t want to be semantic with words, but if I say I am ‘caught in the net’ and can’t wriggle out – do I really want to?

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 14th May

Sun, 14/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 14th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser For the next couple of weeks we look at 1 and 2 Timothy.

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion:  13th May

Sat, 13/05/2017 - 06:00
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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 5: 7-19 Be patient, then, my brothers, until the Lord comes.  See how patient a farmer is as he waits for his land to produce precious crops.  He waits patiently for the autumn and spring rains.  You also must be patient.  Keep your hopes high, for the day of the Lord’s coming is near.  Do not complain against one another, my brothers, so that God will not judge you.  The Judge is near, ready to appear.  My brothers, remember the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Take them as examples of patient endurance under suffering.  We call them happy because they endured.  You have heard of Job’s patience, and you know how the Lord provided for him in the end.  For the Lord is full of mercy and compassion.  Above all, my brothers, do not use an oath when you make a promise.  Do not swear by heaven or by earth or by anything else.  Say only “Yes” when you mean yes and “No” when you mean no, and then you will not come under God’s judgement.   

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

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 12th May

Fri, 12/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 12th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 4:13-5:6  Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 11th May

Thu, 11/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 11th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 4:1-12      Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?  You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that it is for nothing that the scripture says,

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 10th May

Wed, 10/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 10th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 3: 13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.   Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish.  For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. Reflection My father always used to curb my impulsiveness by saying

‘Count to ten, Richard.’

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 9th May

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 9th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 3: 1-12  Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotions: 8th May

Mon, 08/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 8th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 2: 14-24 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you?  If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,  and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?  So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 7th May

Sun, 07/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 7th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 2: 1-13  My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?  For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Have a seat here, please," while to the one who is poor you say, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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URC Daily Devotions: 6th May

Sat, 06/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotions: 6th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1: 19-27  You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;  for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.
  But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.
  If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.   Reflection Form or substance? Early Christians, brought up as observant Jews, had been taught the importance of keeping every letter of their law with the effect that for some it had been more important to get the form right rather than understand and live by the intention, the substance of such guidance and law. We remember how, time and again, Jesus was criticised for associating with those considered unclean and for healing sick people on the Sabbath – Jesus was indeed far more concerned about the substance of God’s teaching and revelation than with its codified form but it seems that early Christians continued to wrestle with an apparent conflict between Law and Liberty. As we still do.

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


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URC Daily Devotion: 5th May

Fri, 05/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 5th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1: 16-18 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. Reflection
“It wasn’t me!” I spent many years as a youth worker and have lost count of the number of times I heard this denial of responsibility (even though I might have watched them do it!) from a young person in my care.  It’s not only young people who shift blame – adults are just better at hiding it.  I wonder if this was the way things were in the community James was writing to? Was he writing to people who were blaming God for not only the bad things that happened to them, but also the wrong things they were doing? It reads to me like someone being very patient with people who are wilfully misunderstanding their situation. Perhaps they were using “alternative facts” to cover up their wrongdoings – deceiving themselves into believing they were right? This passage leaves them in no doubt “do not be deceived” – stop kidding yourselves – only good stuff comes from God – God is not to blame!  In these uncertain times this seems so appropriate – for those who would like to blame God, or use God as an excuse – look for the truth God gave you and we might just be the “firstfruits of all he created”   Prayer Lord, when we are tempted to shift the blame,
when we are tempted to escape from our responsibilities,
when we are looking for an easy way out –
be our rock, be our strength,
and help us face your truth regardless.
Amen Today's Writer Ann Honey is a Church Related Community Worker serving at Robert Stewart Memorial Chapel at Fenham in the Northern Synod.   Bible Version   New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved Copyright © 2017 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion: 4th May

Thu, 04/05/2017 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion: 4th May table.mcnFollowContent{width:100%;} table.mcnShareContent{width:100%;} td.columnsContainer{width:30%;} p{ margin:10px 0; padding:0; } table{ border-collapse:collapse; } h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6{ display:block; margin:0; padding:0; } img,a img{ border:0; height:auto; outline:none; text-decoration:none; } body,#bodyTable,#bodyCell{ height:100%; margin:0; padding:0; width:100%; } #outlook a{ padding:0; } img{ -ms-interpolation-mode:bicubic; } table{ mso-table-lspace:0pt; mso-table-rspace:0pt; } .ReadMsgBody{ width:100%; } .ExternalClass{ width:100%; } p,a,li,td,blockquote{ mso-line-height-rule:exactly; } a[href^=tel],a[href^=sms]{ color:inherit; cursor:default; text-decoration:none; } p,a,li,td,body,table,blockquote{ -ms-text-size-adjust:100%; -webkit-text-size-adjust:100%; } .ExternalClass,.ExternalClass p,.ExternalClass td,.ExternalClass div,.ExternalClass span,.ExternalClass font{ line-height:100%; } a[x-apple-data-detectors]{ color:inherit !important; text-decoration:none !important; 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} } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1:12-15  My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.  But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away.   Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.  But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it;  then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Reflection You have to love the writing of James as it contains so many gems that could be taken at face value and make you feel a little despondent! There are so many encouraging words and phrases he trots out that make it seem simple to live a faithful and holy life. And yet it is so much harder to be a worthy human being than just reading an exhortation to a certain behaviour and being able to put it into action!
His motivational words, however,  can speak into the darkness, pain, struggle and world of doubt in which we often find ourselves. Looking a little more deeply into the simple, easy answer style of his writing, what is he actually telling us here? His advice is be strong, be faithful, trust God, don’t blame God for the bad bits, step up and take responsibility for your own actions and seek to make wise choices and sound decisions, grounded in Christ.
I love the quote: ‘I cannot control how others treat me, but I can control how I react.’ And this ties in perfectly with the writing in the Epistle of James. He was writing to a persecuted people and was seeking to help them make good choices in the place they found themselves. And still today we have a choice whether to moan, criticise, gossip, condemn, argue back, hurt, or walk away and choose a different, peaceful, response to conflict and trials.

James is telling us it can be done and God is with us in it and we can choose a better, more fulfilling life- that has an impact on us and those around us. It won’t be easy and we won’t always get it right, but we are called to try.   Prayer Lord, lead me from temptation.
Guide me in the time of testing.
Be my rock in times of doubt.
Strengthen me in times of fear.
Love me when I am lost.
Bring me hope when I feel despondent.
Enable me to make sound choices.
Inspire me to act to challenge injustices.
Help me to be the change
I want to see in the world around me.
And let me live the love you have for me,
each and every day.
Amen Today's Writer The Rev'd Jenny Mills is the minister of Newport Pagnell URC & West End United Church, Wolverton. 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: 3rd May

Wed, 03/05/2017 - 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 James 1: 9-11     Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the field; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. It is the same with the rich; in the midst of a busy life, they will wither away. Reflection What about this business of boasting? We’ve all been been brought up not to boast. But this is a different kind of boasting - we’re not boasting about what we’ve achieved, but about what has been achieved in us. The lowly have been raised to dignity. The rich have been lowered to humility. All have been altered - to their greater potency and effectiveness in witness to the Gospel, and to their greater contribution to the fellowship of their Christian community. But it’s maybe the rich who have benefited most.

The Holy Spirit does not let us down.   Prayer Who am I, Lord?
Am I humble? Am I arrogant?
Am I lowly? Am I rich?
Teach me, Lord, who I am,
what I am, and what I must become.
What am I, Lord?
Am I humble? Am I arrogant?
Am I lowly? Am I rich?
Enable me, Holy Spirit,
to realise who I am,
and empower me to become what I must become.
And lead me in the way I must walk
in my new self-awareness.  Amen Today's Writer Ed Strachan is a Lay Preacher, Elder and Member at Heald Green 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: 2nd May

Tue, 02/05/2017 - 06:00
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padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnImageCardLeftImageContent,.mcnImageCardRightImageContent{ padding-right:18px !important; padding-bottom:0 !important; padding-left:18px !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcpreview-image-uploader{ display:none !important; width:100% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h1{ font-size:24px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h2{ font-size:20px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h3{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ h4{ font-size:16px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent,.mcnBoxedTextContentContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ #templatePreheader{ display:block !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent,.preheaderContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .headerContainer .mcnTextContent,.headerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .bodyContainer .mcnTextContent,.bodyContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.leftColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.centerColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent,.rightColumnContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:18px !important; line-height:125% !important; } } @media only screen and (max-width: 480px){ .footerContainer .mcnTextContent,.footerContainer .mcnTextContent p{ font-size:14px !important; line-height:115% !important; } } Today's Daily Devotion from the United Reformed Church View this email in your browser James 1: 5-8     If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Reflection How easy it is to fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t really need to pray and ask God for wisdom! After all we are so-called responsible adults aren’t we? However, perhaps one of the signs of our maturity and growth as Christians might be our own acknowledgement of need when such arises. How often do we soldier on in our own strength and energy thinking that we’ll do it “my way?”  Is it any wonder then that we find that things fail and we fall flat on our faces?  If only we were to realise our own inability and vulnerability first and then follow this advice from James.

However, such a request does need to be asked for in faith and the belief that God will answer and provide what is needed. All too easy it is, such being human nature, to ask someone’s advice and then not take it. This may be because it is not favourable to us or perhaps even contrary to what we really want. It is only then that we discover for ourselves the Father heart of God and need to realise that His ways are always better than ours.  

Certainly if we ask Him in full assurance of faith and without wavering, He will supply all we have need of.  However, this may not necessarily always be agreeable to us.

We are blessed to live close by the sea, and see the tossing of the waves. How often does a piece of man-made debris bounce and sway in the wind-energised flow making it seem so flimsy and fragile?

How unstable and aimless we may become if we don’t earnestly ask God in our times of need for the help which He alone is able to give us.

Surely wisdom is taking all the help He so willingly wants to provide for us, and not chucking it back in His face because it does not quite fit in with our own agenda?

Let us therefore ask in assured faith.  Not having any preconceived ideas of what we crave for,  but in childlike trust, being grateful for the gift of wisdom which we are given.  If we ask without any wobbliness, he will impart all that he deems is best for us.   Prayer All seeing Heavenly Father,
how I need your Fatherly advice.  
Speak to me.
All caring God,
how I long for your strong shoulder to lean on.
Draw close to me.
All loving Saviour,
how I yearn for your warm embrace.
Enfold me.
All knowing Lord,
lead me into your wisdom
for your word is truth.
 AMEN. Today's Writer Verena Walder is an Elder and Lay Preacher at Tabernacle URC, Mumbles in South Wales. 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: 1st May

Mon, 01/05/2017 - 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 Today we start to read and think about the Book of James.

James 1: 1-4      James, a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: greetings. My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. Reflection We’ve all heard about the zeal of the convert. James, brother or half-brother of Jesus, was not a follower at first, but, after the Resurrection, he rapidly became head of that small but growing group of Jewish believers in Jerusalem. He’s writing here to the fellowships of Greek-speaking Jewish believers, scattered around the then known world. He’s telling them not to be dismayed, but glad, when they face trials and difficulties. Adversity will test their faith and find it sufficient for the occasion. They will develop and reach maturity.

We complain, don’t we, when things go against us because of our faith - when we’re mocked, or heavily tolerated, or condescended to because of our life direction? These annoyances should serve to confirm us in our faith direction, but let’s not forget for a moment our Christian sisters and brothers in various parts of the world, whose sufferings really do dwarf what we face.

Oh, and by the way, the Greek word used for “servant” in the first verse really means a position between servant and slave. James has the status of dignity, but one without the freedom, as he perceives it, to leave the service of his Master. Isn’t that true of us, as well?   Prayer Lord Jesus,
save us from exaggerating the problems
we experience when witnessing,
but enable us to rejoice and mature.
May our suffering fellow-Christians,
facing real hostility where they live and witness,
know the strength of your presence in their suffering,
and may oppressive and despotic powers
know your love and impulsion
towards justice, toleration and mercy.
Grant us the wisdom and self-knowledge
to recognise ourselves as both servant and slave of the Gospel,
and keep us in that knowledge and perspective.
Amen. Today's Writer Ed Strachen is a Lay Preacher, Elder and member of Heald Green 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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