Word for the Day

23rd November 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

Responding to the plague

Unprecedented.  Have you heard that word used over the last few months?  At some times it seemed as it was the favourite adjective for the pandemic.  Of course it is quite true that we have never experienced a time like this and it may be true that there has never been a time when the whole world has experienced a virus like this. Just imagine yourself back in the 15th or 16th centuries, though.  Your known world would have been much more limited and your experience would have been centred around a much smaller area and group of people.  There are lots of things, especially to do with communication that you would not have had – phones, internet, TV radio and so on.  More importantly though there were lots of things that you would not have known.  Science was nowhere near as developed then as now, so the concepts of viruses, vaccinations and so on were unknown.  During that period there were a number of plagues which ran amok through whole communities.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in the middle of one those plagues?  No-one really knew why people were dying everywhere and no-one had any idea what to do about it.  Whole communities were wiped out.  It must have been very scary.

How did the Christian community respond to the challenge?  There are many stories of incredible devotion and service to others, but there was a very interesting piece of advice given by the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, who was himself seriously ill at one of these times.  It was part of a very long letter to a friend of his and has been quoted by a number of folk during this epidemic.  It is amazing how relevant it is for our day.  See what you think –

With God’s permission the enemy has sent poison and deadly dung among us, and so I will pray to God that he may be gracious and preserve us,  Then I will fumigate to purify the air, give and take medicine, and avoid places and persons where I am not needed in order that I may not abuse myself and that through me others may not be infected and inflamed with the result that I become the cause of their death through my negligence.  If God wishes to take me, he will be able to find me.  At least I have done what he gave me to do and am responsible neither for my own death nor for the death of others.  But if my neighbour needs me, I shall avoid neither person nor place but feel free to visit and help him

(Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, ed. T.G. Tappert (London: SCM Press, 1955) 242   -from  a letter of 1527)

 

22nd November 2020

Today's spoken Word for the Day comes from Don Brown. He considers the need to do something to help others. You can hear it here

21st November 2020

From Kay Hamer

What are you doing here Elijah?

1 Kings 19 verses 9—13

God asked Elijah this question twice. It seems to me that it needed to be asked twice. Why was that and what did God want to hear?

Elijah had run away because he was afraid. He was actually hiding from God. Well, of course, God knew that and the fact is that it is not a good idea to try to hide from God. He is all knowing and, because He loves us, He watches over us always. Elijah didn't admit to the running away bit however so God asked him again.

On meditating on this passage or, more to the point,  'the question' I was led to wonder how I might answer if God were to ask me 'what are you doing here Kay?'.

I looked at some different aspects of 'here'. So here is a selection of where this led me.

  1. In my life.
  2. At Queens Road Church.
  3. This afternoon, at home, doing my own thing.
  4. In my family.

I asked myself some questions about my life here and now e.g. Am I passionate about prayer and listening to God?

  • Elijah was able to hear specific guidance. God said go and he was able to obey.
  • I long to hear specific guidance as did Elijah.
  • If God said 'go' surely I would go!
  • Do I spend as much time listening to God as I do talking to Him?
  • I asked myself, ‘am I sufficiently open to hear God speak'. It will come in a whisper! Lord whisper to me.
  • Lord help me to stand in the mouth of the cave.

There is so much more to think around these words.

  • Can I encourage others to travel this journey with me?
  • Am in the place God wants me to be?
  • Would He need to ask me twice?

At church I would want to hear God's guidance as an individual but also as a family.

  • Surely we want to hear Him leading us in His way?
  • Lord show us your way forward.
  • Lord God 'your way is best, show us your way'.
  • I question whether I am being, doing, living how, as a part of this family, God has called me to be?
  • Is the part I play honouring to God?
  • Each of us has a significant part to play.

What would be your answer if you were asked the question put to Elijah?

 

So what am I doing this afternoon? Well, of course, I am writing this Word for the Day.

As I write I pray that God is guiding me so that those who read these words are challenged and encouraged in their walk with God.

Each day is another opportunity to hear and obey. It is a gift from our Heavenly Father to be lived for His glory.

As we look back at night on how today has gone, would He need to ask twice 'what have you done today?’

Our walk with God is not about doing, it's more about being and living out our salvation in ways that bring glory to God.

 

Finally, we all have a part to play within our families. That might be our human family or the Christian family to which we all belong.

Praying for each other is a privilege, and Prayer Network is such a blessing; knowing the power of prayer in our lives as we support one another in this way.

Our church family is indeed a loving, caring part of God's church, so as we ask Him to show us the part we have to play, it would be good to know that He won’t have to ask us twice.

 

My prayer for all who read this article is that we grow closer to God as we live our daily lives and that we are able to hear Him as He guides our way.

Lord help us to live lives that reflect our love for You.

The Lord bless you.

Kay

 

20th November 2020

From Rev Ian Macnair

KNOW YOUR BENEFITS (1)

Psalm 103 always reminds me of my childhood. Grandpa Redman used to come and stay with us from time to time. He was a saintly man who loved the Lord and loved the Bible. He knew this psalm off by heart and would often recite it: ‘Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.’

It’s a psalm of praise.

It begins with the individual: ‘my soul’. Then it moves outward to the congregation: ‘the people of Israel’. By the end it has encompassed the whole universe: ‘all his heavenly hosts … all his works everywhere in his dominion’.

It starts in the narrowest compass: ‘all my inmost being’. It expands to the broadest vista: ‘his kingdom rules over all.’

There is so much in this psalm for us: as individuals, as a congregation, as part of God’s eternal purpose stretching beyond time and planet earth – to eternity and heaven itself.

It has a particular application for people who are going through tough times. Verse 6 says, ‘The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.’

If that’s how you feel today – oppressed – then this psalm is particularly for you. It may be family issues, health issues, work issues, financial issues, and it’s like a heavy weight pressing down on you.

Oppressed.

The Lord knows. He cares. You can find all that you need in him.

Praise the LORD, my soul.

There are many who blame God. ‘Why should it happen to me? It’s not fair.’ And they blame the Lord. But not David. The idea behind this expression of praise is that of kneeling, bowing before God, not rebelling but submitting, not objecting but accepting.

At the very start this psalm is deeply personal. Praise the LORD, my soul – just David and his God.

All my inmost being.

Worship demands all there is of me. Anything less does not do God justice. This was God’s instruction to his redeemed people in Deuteronomy 6:5.

‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’

Don’t hold anything back from God. He doesn’t withhold anything good from us and we should not withhold anything from him. It’s whole life commitment. God deserves nothing less.

Worship demands all there is of me and worship reveals all there is of me. What does it mean to be human? What is my life? Am I just a naked ape? Am I just a product of blind evolution? Am I just a complex machine? Am I just a pawn in the political game?

These definitions devalue our lives. They make us less than human.

If I want to know the full measure of my potential as a human being I will only find it in submission to the great God who created me in his own image.

Worship reveals all there is of me. It releases my full potential.

 

19th November 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

Two sides of the coin

Every Word for the Day that I have submitted always has a footnote ‘Faith not fear’

Hopefully this serves as a reminder to each of us that we are all in a battle. 

Faith, like fear, has two sides, just like a coin has two sides. Faith placed in the right thing is healthy, and faith placed in the wrong thing is unhealthy! 

And so with fear. Fear of the right things is healthy, fear of the wrong thing is unhealthy!

Many things are this way, passion has two sides too, lust and love, one negative, one positive.

In Daniel 4:1-37 Nebuchadnezzar had no fear of God and faith in only himself. A very bad combination that cost him his sanity. On the other hand, a young Jewish boy named Daniel had no fear of man and great faith in God which gave him great sanity and wisdom.

The contrast of their lives show us the importance of living by faith in God versus living in fear of man.

Fear magnifies your opponent / Faith glorifies your Saviour!

Remember the acronym 

  F= false
  E=evidence
  A= appearing
  R= real

With much love

Graham

‘Faith not fear’

 

18th November 2020

In today's spoken Word for the Day Graham Parsons talks about the difficult bits. Hear what he has to say here

 

17th November 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 4:1-7

George Mueller of Bristol (although he was originally Prussian) was a very famous Christian in the 19th century. He was famous for his good works, overseeing and running orphanages and schools, caring for over 10,000 orphans, and providing education for over 1,200,000 children. He was even more famous, world famous in fact, because he obtained the funds for all this work by the method of faith and by prayer. Obviously such an effective pray-er would receive many requests for prayer, and one day he was approached by a very earnest young man. "Brother Mueller, I struggle so much with people, they annoy me constantly and so easily, would you pray that God would deal with my impatience." Mueller with a beatific smile on his face replied, "Of course young man, let us kneel and pray." Eager for a divine answer, the young man sank to his knees. Mueller began to pray. "Oh Lord thank you for this young man, and his request for patience; send him lots of people to get under his skin, to annoy him, to vex him, and to irrita..." At this point the young man had surged to his feet, pulling George Mueller from his knees and began to remonstrate with him. "I wanted patience not irritation!" "Young man," Mueller replied, "how will you ever grow in patience unless your patience is stretched?"

This is one of my favourite stories about George Mueller, not least because I can easily imagine the horror on the young man's face as the easy answer he so wanted was replaced with a more true solution. I find it fascinating that Paul, in verse 1, uses 2 levers on his people. The 1st is: I am in prison for the Lord and for you; the 2nd is that he urges them to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. What is the aim of this serious appeal that he makes with such intensity? Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. The idea of bearing with one another suggests something that we may not always want to hear or to know. Sometimes, people in Church can irritate us, and even annoy us; they can be selfish, and even disappointing. Yet how we respond to this displays our spiritual maturity not theirs. Are we humble enough to look at our own flaws and weaknesses? Do we exercise patience with those who are trying to grow? Is our response mature, or one of self-righteousness?

This is not to say that such selfish or irritating behaviour shouldn't be challenged; particularly long held patterns of behaviour that are unhelpful. The excuse of, 'well, that's just their way,' will give them no excuse before Jesus. We are called to challenge each other to be more, to real communion, and to honest fellowship. To a true family dynamic. Yet we are called to do so in humility and in gentleness, not through anger and irritation. We are called to real, honest community, which is both the most rewarding, and at times challenging, way to live.   

We are called to be one family, so pray for us as a family; pray for those you know and love to be with, but also for those who you may love slightly less. Pray that we may grow and abound more and more in love and harmony. Also feel free not to emulate George Mueller's prayer for those you think need more patience.

 

16th November 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

How’s your mental health?  Not really the sort of question you can ask, is it?  All the same, according to the pundits in the media, nowadays it is a burning issue.  With fears of coronavirus virus complications through to the second lockdown, job losses, and shenanigans at No 10,  let alone thoughts of Brexit and how that may affect life and prices in the shops, there is so much negativity that the media can throw at us at the moment. It is not surprising that there is an increase in the number of people using ‘life-lines’ and an increase in people talk of increased rates of depression and so on.

How does this all fit in with our Christian faith?  I know that clinical depression is a real issue which needs real medical and therapeutic treatment, but I wonder if there is a level of depression caused by concern over events such as those mentioned above which is unnecessary for Christians.  In his letter to the Romans 12:2 Paul warns his readers (and us) against being conformed to the pattern of this world or, as J.B.Phillips put it in his paraphrase, ‘Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould’.  It is so easy to let the media news folk mould our thinking and attitudes into their moulds, thinking of things in the way they want to portray them.  How much of our conversations and phone calls replay what they tell us mirroring their ‘negativity’?

Paul does not only tell his readers what not to do, however, he gives good positive advice – ‘but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’.  The opposite of being conformed to the world’s pattern is changing our minds – developing new ways of thinking.  He goes as far as saying that if we do this we will even be able to know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.  How can this be done?  Paul is not specific at this point, but in his letter to the Philippian Christians he gives more than a hint. ‘Finally, brothers and sisters,’ he says in Philippians 4:8, ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure , whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.’  These are the things we should be filling our minds with rather than continual negativity.  The best place to find these attributes is to fill in our minds with God’s Word.  If we are prepared to make the effort to thus change our thinking patterns, it will affect what we talk about to others, encouraging them to think positively.

In the previous verses in Philippians, (4:4-7), Paul has again encouraged his readers ‘Do not be anxious about anything ….. present your requests to God’   and then commented that ‘the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’

Surely this is the peace of mind, which comes from God, which can help us avoid much of the depression and uncertainties caused by concentrating on the negatives?

 

15th November 2020

In our spoken Word for the Day Graham Carpmail talks about our love of Jesus and love of others. You can hear it here.

14th November 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

So now we return to the prayer that Paul started all the way back in verse 1, and what a prayer it is! I'm sure we all have memories of sitting in church and listening to someone praying, wondering if the person praying had maybe forgotten they weren't delivering the sermon. Spurgeon and Moody were notorious for interrupting long prayers with comments such as: 'while our brother finishes, let us sing a hymn!' Paul's prayer is not a lengthy prayer at all. It is, however, a prayer that can be preached on. Each verse is full of thought, comment, devotion, and theological truth.

There are many things that can be said regarding this prayer. This is a Trinitarian prayer: all of the Godhead is involved. He prays to the Father, that we would be strengthened by the Spirit, so that Jesus may dwell and belong and be welcome in our hearts. This is an invoking of the full Godhead for our benefit. This is a prayer requesting the complete involvement of God in our internal life. That we would know, not merely as an intellectual exercise, but we would know deeply and fully the weight and profundity of God's love for us.

Not only is this prayer invoking an awareness of God's all consuming love, it goes further with an incredible statement, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. That we may be completely filled, like a cup that is just about to overflow, with the fullness of God.

Realising the weight of this prayer he finishes with a simple declaration of fact: God is able to do this. Not only is He able to do this, He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine. Yet this is not a sermon, it is a devotion on a prayer, so I'll stop now with a simple suggestion. Take this prayer and pray it for yourself, then pray it for your family, and finally pray it for the Church.

 

13th November 2020

From Simeon Colville

God first

Reading- Philippians 4:10-13

In this passage, Paul explains how his experiences both of hardships and need, and of times when he had what he needed have shown him the secret to being content through everything. He has done this through trust and contentment in what and who he knows God is. No matter what he is going through, he knows that God will provide for him. He doesn’t focus on whatever is going on around him, even if it is really bad, because he knows that God is all he needs at any time.

If, or when, we face bad times, it is important that we try to remember all that God provides for us and how much He loves us. It is important to remember that whatever struggles we are facing are a lot smaller than God, and what He can deal with, and that He will help us get through them.

But it can be hard to look to God before anything else when you are going through a time where everything seems to be pointing towards helplessness and that there is no way out. Paul says that he had to learn how to be content with what God gives, and Paul went through a lot of bad things, including imprisonment and being shipwrecked 3 times. But throughout all of that, he was able to trust God to help him with everything that was going on. And although our experiences may not seem as bad as what Paul faced, what happens to you is really important to God, and He wants to help.

This might not be an easy or quick process; remember to look to God first, before getting stuck thinking about the bad things. I’ve tried to start doing this but it does take time to get used to putting God first when you are in need. But once you do start trusting him in that moment you will see that when you let God take control, there is no need to focus on the bad because as Paul says in verse 13, “you can do all through Christ who strengthens you”. And that doesn’t mean you can do anything that you want to do, but that you will be able to get through those dark moments much easier with God on your side.

 

12th November 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

I have always appreciated the first three verses of Psalm 1 with its encouragement to take delight in and drink deeply of the 'Law of the Lord', or perhaps we would interpret this for us today as the 'Word of God'.  Then, in verse three, this drawing and drinking deeply of the Word of God is likened to being a tree planted by streams of water:

‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.’

I was meditating on this again last week. I have always looked at flourishing trees and just thought how amazing it is that they stand tall and strong and their roots stretch wide and deep bringing them all the nourishment that they need.  Apart from the basic knowledge of how this happens from school biology lessons, I had not thought much beyond that.  However on Countryfile the other week (yes I confess to watching Countryfile) they were talking with a man who has developed technology which allowed him to listen to trees as they draw up the water from the earth.  What was so staggering about this is that it is really noisy and sounded like a gushing waterfall, although technically I suppose it’s a ‘water-up’.  So as I returned to ponder Psalm 1 again and you read of being likened to being like a tree planted by a stream and that the leaves do not wither, because we dwell on the word of God, it made me realise, that the tree works daily to achieve its fruitfulness and longevity and it works really hard to flourish in all its beauty.

So it made me ponder some questions:

Do I take my easy access to the Word of God for granted?

Do I look at others flourishing and presume it ‘just happens for them’, when actually drawing on and dwelling in the Word of God is hard work and a daily commitment?

If I have the river of God flowing in, around and through me, by His Holy Spirit, do I choose to draw from its richness or just hope something splashes over me and that will be enough?

How seriously do I take dwelling in the Word of God that I may be fruitful in every season?

I find these questions challenging and so will continue to ponder them for some time to come.

With much Love

Graham

‘Faith not fear’

 

11th November 2020

Today Kath Lewis reads from Psalm 119:105-122 & 169-176. You can hear it here. When you have heard it perhaps you will spend some moments in considering whether your life reflects the same attitudes, dedication, humility and piety as the Psalmist's. You may like to listen again.

 

10th November 2020

Ephesians 3:7-13

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Sometimes we are so familiar with Scripture that when we read it, we can pass straight over a slightly odd verse, such as verse 7. Take a second, and read verse 7, and see if you can find anything that might be odd to us in the 21st century. Did you spot anything?

My question from reading verse 7 is this: how many of us would put the idea of being a servant along with the ideas of it being a gift, and coming with a sense of power? Surely this is an oxymoronic idea. It must be a contradiction, because a servant is not usually someone of power, nor is it usually considered a gift to be a servant. The one who is served is surely the gifted one, and also the one who is served has the power, not the one who serves. Yet Paul clearly considers it a huge honour, and a sign of God's immense grace in verse 8, that he is called to be a servant.

So how are we to understand this idea? Firstly, we must recognise that the One that Paul serves is worthy. Even for us in this day, it is a great honour to be called to serve at the pleasure of the Royal family or the President of the United States, and Paul is called to serve One who is greater than them all. Paul is called to serve One who is greater in character, greater in position and greater in power. He is the One who would lay down his life for His enemies, He is the Lord of lords and King of kings. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, so great is the One that he has been called to serve. All earthly title and power is a mere shadow to the substance of His eternal reign.

Secondly, Paul is not worthy, he isn't being down on himself; he oversaw the brutal oppression, and even killing, of those who loved Jesus, the One that he now serves. He set himself up as an enemy of Jesus and His Church. He was Jesus' enemy, and had made himself so, yet now, by Jesus' grace, is his friend, brother and servant.

So what of us? We combine the 2 ideas that are true for most of us, that at one point we were the enemy of God and yet were won for Jesus by the grace of His Spirit, and secondly we serve the eternal One who is unchanging. Just as Jesus was worthy then, so He is worthy still. It is an honour for us still in the 21st Century to be called to serve. This is good, as just as Paul was called to serve, we are still called to be His servants. So the question we are left with is this: how will we serve Him today?

 

9th November 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

Both … And…

As far as we can see, John wrote the letter we call First John, to a group of Christians who were experiencing a time of uncertainty.  It seems that a significant number of their church had left the fellowship to follow an ‘enlightened’ teaching.  They claimed a special spiritual ‘knowledge’ which was only available under certain circumstances.  Those who remained would have been feeling insecure and fragile. Were they right to stick to the faith they had started with?  How could they tell what was true and what was false teaching?

John’s letter aimed to deal with both things  – to encourage them to continue in their faith and to help them to know how to recognise false teaching.  In the middle of his letter he gives a clear statement of what it means to obey Jesus’ command.  I wonder how you would answer the question ‘How can I obey Jesus’ command?’  John gave a double answer, where I guess some of us might have just given a single one.  It is found in 1 John 3:23

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he gave a similar double response

Jesus replied; ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul; and all your mind’.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:

Love your neighbour as yourself.

All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:35-40

The age old dispute between the importance of faith or works is neatly answered by these two statements.  It is not either … or… , but both …  and… 

This is both a challenge and an encouragement to the oft repeated maxim – All you need is love.  It is a challenge to the rather slushy sentimentalism of ‘lovey-dovey’ don’t upset anyone and do what makes everyone happy kind of love.  However, if the true definition of love, as John describes it, is taken into account it is an encouragement.  In 1 John 3:16 John writes

This is how we know what love is:

Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

The love which we need is that of Jesus, Himself.  We need to receive the tremendous love that Jesus has shown us in giving his life for us and then show that same measure of love towards our brothers and sisters.  This is very different from the love mentioned before and just is not possible for us to attain, without that trust in Jesus.  When we appreciate who Jesus is and what he has done for us, then we can be motivated to love others with true ‘agape’ love.  The cricketer and pioneer missionary, C.T. Studd captured something of the priority here when he claimed that

If Jesus Christ be God and died for me

Then no sacrifice would be too great for me to make for him.

This would then include loving through good works.  When stimulated by God’s love for us, practical loving help to others is essential.

John goes on to say

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need

but has no pity on him

how can the love of God be in him?

Dear children, let us not love with words

but with actions and in truth.

 

 

8th November 2020

Sandra Hobley provides today's spoken Word for the Day. She reads and speaks about the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10:38-42. Listen here

7th November 2020

From David Depledge

In my last contribution (16th October) I talked about talking the talk. Jesus did not just talk the talk, he also walked the walk. After saying that there was no greater love that a man can show than to give up his life for his friends (John 15:13), Jesus proceeded to do just that, as he died to put us right with God.

But we are mere humans, albeit those who seek to follow Jesus example. So how do we walk the walk? We cannot cover that in one devotional but here are some starters:-

 1 John 3:16-18 tells us.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

In the UK, at this time, we are not likely to be called on to die for the sake of our friends but we can give our lifetime over to loving our families, our brothers and sisters in Christ and, in fact, anyone we come across who needs our help. We can be generous with our material possessions but we can also be generous with our spiritual wealth, with what we have learnt about God and the salvation he offers us.

Walking the walk also involves our moral choices. The Ten Commandments is a good place to start (Exodus 20: 1-17) but there is plenty more in the Bible to help us with those choices. But let us not kid ourselves. It is not easy. We come across circumstances that the Bible does not specifically cover and we have to use principles (such as love, justice, grace) to come to our moral decisions. We can see a summary of how we should be in 1 Peter 1: 13-16

13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.

What a challenge! We need to walk in Jesus footsteps and we need to be holy. We can only do that by staying close to God with the help of the Holy Spirit with all the implications that has for our priorities, our time and our behaviour.

 

6th November 2020

NOVEMBER!

Alexander Pope, the 18th century English poet and essayist, wrote:

‘True Wit is Nature to advantage dressed,

 What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.’

These words have often come back to me when I’ve wanted to be original but someone else has said it better than I could. So my Word for the Day is not original, but I hope as helpful to you as it was to me.

Extracted from Ray Simpson's Book ‘Celtic Daily Light’, Readings for Thursday 5th November 2020.

CLEARING THE DECKS AND BONFIRES

This is the time of year when the cold and the dark seem set to take over, a time when our instinct is to withdraw. It is the Celtic season of Samhain, when those cattle which had to be brought down from the hills, and which could not be accommodated, were slaughtered.

The bonfires which we associate with this season get their name from the ‘bone fires’, in which the inedible parts of the carcasses were destroyed.

The fires are also associated with the idea of clearing the decks for winter; the leaves and the excess things of summer are swept up and burned.

Something in the human psyche, too, needs to clear the decks, and to accept a reduction in the number of choices that are available to us, and to settle down.

Our ego resists the idea of accepting limits. Some people get depression at this time of year. Others flout what God is saying through nature by indulging in a reckless life-style throughout the winter.

Yet think of the animals who hibernate. Think of the wonders of spring flowers – they would not be able to burst forth if they had not first lain still in the wintry earth.

So how should a Christian respond to this time of year?

In two ways.

First, by fighting against the darkness of fear, despair, self-concern and evil spirits. We expel these in the name of Christ and receive his strength, faith, and self-less love.

Second, by not fighting against the God-given rhythm of the season, but by going with its flow. November’s grey days, dark nights, cold rains, thick fog help me to accept that I am mortal.

This means that I will take more time to be inside, alone, still with God.

I will take more time for study and the inner life.

I will spend less time dashing around, purchasing, starting schemes.

Father, Saviour, Sustainer, as this cold, dark month encroaches
give to us the stability of the deep earth and the hope of heaven.

Amen.

 

5th November 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

When I was a lad, Bonfire night was one of the highlights of the year. Preparations began weeks, if not months, ahead by searching for firewood, (Chumping was the Yorkshire dialect!)

 We would look everywhere for wood that was unclaimed. or we would go raiding! That was the term for stealing wood from other bonfires. It was vital that the bonfire was made as a sort of den so that it became your HQ  always guarded day and especially through until late evening. 

When kids came to raid your wood, your bonfire would be your refuge and arsenal.

When bonfire night eventually arrived the procedure for preparing the wood to be set alight was like a military exercise!

The fire would be kept alight all night sometimes!   Because our bonfires were also hollow, doubling up as a big Tipee like den  we would fill the space with kindling and screwed up newspaper which meant that they never failed to light(even on a rainy night)

Discovering our God-given gifts and abilities takes the same careful attention as starting and maintaining a bonfire. Our gifts from God are ignited when we believe and use them for His purposes. Because God wants us to “fan [our gifts] into flame,” He gives us exactly what we need to identify and develop them: a spirit of boldness, power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

When we love the way Jesus loves, our passion reveals our gifts. Once identified, self-discipline with maintenance and regular use will develop our gift into the perfect instrument of God’s will. And when we let God work through us for His purposes, He gives us the power to use our gifts in supernatural ways.  

The fire God ignites when we know and use our gifts cannot be contained like a bonfire. God also gives us the boldness to use our gifts to serve everyone we meet, to fan our flame into a roaring bonfire whose light would pierce the darkness for miles (Matthew 5:14-16).

If you are lighting a bonfire tonight have fun!

With much love

Graham

 

4th November 2020

Our spoken Word for the Day from Angela Montgomery is a little different. Today Angela re-tells the story of the woman at the well in John 4: 1-26 and then talks about its meaning and its promise. Hear it here 

3rd November 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 3: 1-6

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles –

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I don't know if you've ever noticed this when you read the Bible, but Paul gets excited about Jesus. In fact, Ephesians 3 starts with Paul getting so excited, he loses his place in his letter and begins to digress. He's that excited, it's almost like someone who you haven't seen in a while, who has so much news to share, that it all has to spill out, or they might forget some of it.

So what has got Paul so excited? What has got him to interrupt his thought and prayer, which he continues in vs14? What has him so excited is this: that this generation is the first to share in the knowledge of God's eternal plan, that Gentiles, yes even us Gentiles, would be joined and grafted into the vine of Israel (Romans 11:17). That we would be heirs with Israel in the inheritance of faith. That we can legitimately look back at the stories and experiences of faith as our stories of faith: the faithfulness of Abraham, the deliverance of the Exodus, the heroes of Samson, Samuel, and David and Jonathan. These are now our heroes today; we are heirs of faith.

Not only are we heirs of faith but we share in the continuing experience of Jesus. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is now our God; the God who shared with Daniel untold mysteries, the God who comforted Isaiah and his people. This God is now our God, and Paul, His apostle, who loves and adores the Jewish faith, is now called to share this truth with Gentiles. These are things to be excited about, a rich past to be cherished, nurtured in and grown from, and a present and a future that is so rich and full of promise as we continue the witness of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.

So as we share in the wisdom of Israel, what is your favourite story of the Old Testament? What story has inspired and encouraged you? Give thanks that that story is yours to share in Jesus.

(If you would like to tell us the answer to those questions we will put your response in the “Our Stories” part of the website – email it to us)

 

2nd November 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

How many times have you heard this in the last few weeks?  "Christmas will be different this year!"  Lots of TV and radio presenters and even the Prime Minister have used this phrase many times.  With all that’s been going on around us it’s a bit obvious, isn’t it?  Ian has got in on the act in helping us find the Christmas story in Mark’s Gospel.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.  Thank you, Ian.  All the same, I wonder how you anticipate Christmas being different this year and whether or not you welcome it.

There are some of us who are guilty of always complaining about the commercialisation of Christmas with the heavy emphasis on expensive presents and decorations which more often than not don’t include the reason for the season.  Obviously ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers and manufacturers will be bemoaning how Christmas will be different this year, especially if the lockdown gets extended, although on-line retailers are probably rubbing their pockets with glee.

It is interesting that the most common comment about the difference of Christmas this year centres around the ‘family’ aspect of the season.  Missing the opportunity to have the whole family together and enjoy that extra large turkey or whatever you have.  This is what the Government seems most keen to be able to make possible and has been given for one of the reasons for the new lockdown.  This is something we would all applaud, especially when isolation and separation seem to be having such a devastating effect on the mental state of the nation.  We all hope to be able to spend some time with others in our family over the Christmas period.  The prospect of zooming Christmas lunch was greeted with a definite thumbs down at the after church chat on Sunday morning.

One of our best exponents of ‘thinking outside the box’, Sarah, was explaining something of what she has in mind for QRBC’s Christmas activity, based on the recent successful ‘Trail of light’.  It sounds great and could involve a lot of us, so look out for it.

It has made me think about how we, as individuals or families, might positively aim to make Christmas 2020 different as we put thought into how we can endeavour to put Jesus right at the centre of all we do.  It is his birthday party and even if others have succeeded in ‘gate-crashing’ for their own ends, there is no reason why we should just follow them.  After all Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:2 not to conform (ourselves)any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of (our) minds.

Maybe, as we plan what we are going to do for this ‘different Christmas’ we can do a bit more towards claiming the season back again for celebrating the incredible fact of God becoming man. I am not making any concrete suggestions as this is supposed to be a ‘thought for the day’ but just suggesting that it is something worth thinking about and putting into our planning right at the beginning.

 

1st November 2020

Today's spoken Word for the Day is from Graham Carpmail and has a clear message from Joshua 1:9  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’" You can hear it here.

31st October 2020

From Rev Ian Macnair

CHRISTMAS LOST? (2)

As we look for a perspective on Christmas from Mark’s Gospel the next thing we hear are two voices.

The first voice is the voice in the wilderness.

It is part of the fulfilment of that amazing prophecy in Isaiah 40:3. It introduces John the Baptist, the voice of one calling out in the wilderness.

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan.

Marshall McLuhan famously said that the medium is the message. That was certainly true of John the Baptist.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

He was a rugged, prophetic character, uncompromising, challenging and rather frightening.

And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’

John’s message was about two baptisms: a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, and a baptism with the Holy Spirit. One was a baptism to get rid of something. The other was a baptism to receive something. John had the authority to carry out the first baptism but not the second.

The whole point of Christmas is to remind us of two things: there’s something we’ve got that we need to get rid of, and there’s something we don’t have that we need to receive.

The thing we desperately need to be rid of is the pandemic of sin.

The thing we don’t have that we desperately need is the power of God’s Spirit. And for this we need Jesus.

The voice in the wilderness. You won’t hear this voice in the royal palace or even the Temple. It’s out there in the open country. It’s where shepherds watch their flocks by night.

The second voice is the voice from heaven.

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

Mark’s introduction to the good news of Jesus ends where he began – with God. A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’

In the true Christmas story heaven is as important as earth, if not more important. Of all the voices that clamour for our attention it is the voice of God that is supreme, and not even God speaking to us but God speaking to his Son Jesus, a conversation that we are privileged to overhear. Because of this special relationship Jesus can bring God to us and Jesus can bring us to God.

Has Mark lost the Christmas story? No. He draws our attention to the gaps and asks us to fill them. Where does the good news begin? What are those prophecies all about? What is the voice in the wilderness saying? What is the voice from heaven saying? In the answers to these questions lies the true meaning of Christmas.

 

30th October 2020

From Rev Ian Macnair

CHRISTMAS LOST? (1)

Where is the Christmas story in Mark’s Gospel? It seems to have been lost. No angels, no shepherds, no wise men, not even a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. Here is Mark’s verse 1.

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This is all the more strange, given that scholars have identified a running theme in Mark’s Gospel, ‘the Messianic Secret’. Examples can be found immediately in his opening chapter.

Verse 34: ‘[Jesus] would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.’

Verses 43–44: ‘Jesus sent [the man cured of leprosy] away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone”.’

Shhh. It’s a secret. And yet right at the beginning in verse 1 Mark lets us in on the secret: the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

For Mark, the beginning is not an event or a time or a place or people. For him it all begins with God and his Son Jesus.

The most significant thing about Christmas is that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus stepped from eternity into time.

Mark forces us to ask questions. If Jesus was the Son of God why would he enter the world? How would he enter the world? What titles would be appropriate for him? How would he be received? What would he achieve?

Mark suggests these questions and encourages us to explore them. He compels us to fill in the gaps in his narrative from this one central and essential clue: Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

In verse 3 Mark jumps from eternity to history, to what God revealed through the prophets:

a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD, make straight paths for him.’

The importance of this prophecy from Isaiah 40:3 is seen in the fact that all four Gospel writers quote it. All through the centuries the promise had remained unfulfilled: the LORD God is coming. Get ready. And now it was to be fulfilled – by the coming of Jesus!

Unlike the other Gospel writers Mark prefaces his Isaiah quotation with another, from Malachi 3:1. God said:

 ‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.’

Question to Malachi: ‘Who’s coming?’ Answer: the LORD God.

Question to Mark: ‘Who has come?’ Answer: Jesus Christ the Son of God.

It’s another way of saying, ‘They will call him Immanuel—which means “God with us”.’

And there’s another subtle twist in Mark’s use of Malachi’s prophecy. Here’s what Mark wrote:

‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.’

Do you see what’s happened? A revelation from God to the prophet has been reshaped into a conversation between God the Father and Jesus his Son.

This is what Christmas is all about: an event in human history, a very public event, foretold 700 years in advance, documented and verifiable.

But behind it is a relationship outside of human history, the relationship between God the Father and his Son in eternity, a divine plan and purpose – we might almost say, a divine collaboration.

Matthew and Luke give us the historical details of the birth of Jesus but Mark gives us this conversation from heaven and challenges us to fill in the gaps.

 

29th October 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

The Myna Bird

I have been remembering a story I heard a little while back. It was about an elderly lady called Margaret, who owned a Myna bird.

 

Most of the time, Margaret’s bird lived in his cage. Margaret loved her bird and cared well for him. She gave him food, water, and the odd treat. At night, she would put a cover over his cage so that he slept. In the morning she would take off the cloth and he would wake. The Myna bird did not have to worry about anything while he was taken care of by the loving Margaret. The cage was a place of safety for Margaret’s bird.

Occasionally, Margaret would open the cage door. The bird would step out of his cage, stretch his wings, and fly around the room. You would think that the bird would like freedom, but it was torture for him. He would land on the window ledge and stare outside for hours watching the birds who were free. This was a reminder to the bird that, ultimately, he was captive. He was not free.

In his mind, Margaret’s bird would dream of freedom. He would imagine what it must be like to soar in the fresh air. He imagined what it must be like to build a nest, find a mate, and decide when he would sleep and eat and make his own choices. But, it could only be a dream, because his world was the room and the cage that Margaret kept him in.

Early one morning, Margaret came into the room and lifted the cover off the bird. She thought that the room felt a bit stuffy and so, she opened the window.

She left the room and carried on with her daily routine. Unknown to her, a slight breeze blew and the cage door sprung open. For the bird, this was his big chance. This is just what he had been waiting for. His big moment.

The bird stood at the open cage door and weighed up the situation. Would he take his freedom, or remain in the security of his cage? He could hear the birds outside and he longed for the freedom that could be his if only he would stretch his wings and fly. But the cage was secure and made him feel safe.

As the bird tried to make up his mind, Margaret came back into the room. She saw the open window, the open cage door. Margaret ran to the window and promptly shut it. She then went to the cage, closed the door, and popped the cover over the top. The bird went to sleep and dreamt of what he would do if only he was free.

Something to think about:-

  1. In what ways are you like Margaret’s bird?

  2. In what ways is our Church like Margaret’s bird?

  3. How can we as individuals and as a church experience more freedom?

With much love

Graham

‘Faith not fear’

 

28th October 2020

We have frequently heard it said over the last few months that these are "extraordinary times." As Helen Jones brings our reading of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 consider what these times have taught us and imagine how God, who has not been surprised, sees our situation. You can hear Helen here.

 

27th October 2020

From Iain Colville

Ephesians 2: 11-22

“Peace in our time?”

At different times, most of us will have been in situations where we were an outsider, a stranger or foreigner who didn’t belong in a potentially hostile place.  Can you recall how that felt?  You may have felt isolated and scared, not knowing what to do or how to act.  You may have felt uncomfortable and keen to get away.  Perhaps this is how you feel today?

Paul begins this second half of Ephesians 2, by noting that his Gentile readers (which will include almost all of us) were once separate and excluded from the promises given to God’s special people the Jews. Take note of the language Paul uses to describe this initial state of the Gentiles (v11-12): “separate from Christ”, “excluded from citizenship” and “foreigners… without hope and without God in the world.” 

But Paul’s real point is that the wonderful work of Jesus upon the Cross has shifted us Gentiles from being “far away” from his love and mercy to being “brought near” to the extent that Gentiles and Jews are now one people (v13-15). There is no longer any barrier or “dividing wall of hostility” between us because Jesus came to bring peace and reconciliation (v14-17).  No longer strangers and foreigners, the Gentiles are now fellow citizens with God’s people, fellow members of God’s household (v19), being built together into a holy temple where God dwells by his Spirit (v21-22).

We find ourselves in a strange new world, where “hands – face – space” is the oft repeated mantra, with the rule of 6, and those different tiers of risk and restrictions that prevent us from meeting with friends or family, and from being church as we know it.  It’s entirely natural that this feels like a strange and foreign land, where each of us seems to be isolated and cut off from many of the familiar aspects of our normal lives. And it’s good to be reminded that in place of those feelings of fear and exclusion, Jesus brings peace and welcome, and a sense of belonging.  

In Jesus and Paul’s time, there were some physical reminders of the spiritual exclusion of the Gentiles, for example the division of the Temple in Jerusalem between the Court of the Gentiles and the inner courts where only the Jews could enter.  But the barriers and reconciliation that Paul describes in these verses were essentially spiritual barriers and a spiritual reconciliation.  

Whatever we may be feeling about our current circumstances, Jesus’ work on the Cross has not been undone.  He has still saved us; He has still brought us together in peace, into a new humanity as fellow citizens and members of the same household; and He continues to build us into his holy temple, a place where he dwells today by his Spirit. Perhaps we need to ask Him to show us where He’s at work in our lives today and how we can share His peace to this broken and isolated world?

If we are members of the same spiritual household, there’s no need to distance ourselves from Jesus. Indeed, as always, he longs to come close and to bring us near to His promises and grace.  Perhaps today, you need to invite Jesus to come into your bubble in order to minister His peace to you?

 

26th October 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

Yesterday was officially Bible Sunday for 2020, although some churches celebrate it on a different day.  On the Bible Society website for Bible Sunday there was a report of the importance of Bibles to children in some of the churches in Malawi.  This was what was written –

One child loved the Bible so much he read 10 stories a night

There are about one thousand children at Nsungwi Church in rural Malawi. For Sunday school they split into classes with about 100 kids in each class. This is church on a big scale … until it comes to their resources. There may be a thousand children in the church, but there are just 40 children’s Bibles. In one class, five children each week are allowed to take a Bible home. They must read a story every night and learn one by heart. One child loved the Bible so much he read 10 stories a night. Bibles are brought back to church the following Sunday. Children’s hands shoot up as they offer to retell stories they had read and knew inside out. Stories such as David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark, Jacob and Joseph are told with pride, clarity and accuracy. The Bibles are passed to another child. Children can wait around six months for their turn to take one home. One child said, ‘The Bible tells me about God’s love.’ Another said, ‘We love the pictures, and the stories teach us good behaviour. A very little boy added, ‘We know these stories off by heart and they help us trust in God.’ Clapperton, who leads Bible Society work in Malawi, said, ‘I remember one of the first churches we went to. We brought 120 Bibles, which we thought was quite a large number. When we got there, we found there were 750 children. Almost every week, churches ask us for Bibles and we can’t say yes to them all. We are still just focusing on the cities because the need is so great. But we believe we are sowing seeds. We trust God the seeds will germinate and grow, and these children will know the foundation of God’s word in their lives.’

Providing Children’s Bibles for situations like this was the project that Bible Society in Coventry were supporting last year and Jane and I had the privilege of visiting this time last year.

When you read of the importance these children put on the stories of the Bible when they are able to take them home (possibly once in 6 months according to the story), it makes you think about the importance that we give to the Bible and its stories in our lives.  The current Director of the Bible Society, Clapperton Mayuni, bought his first Bible when he was at school in the 1970’s. (He told us about this a few years ago.)  Now his life is committed to sharing this good news with others.  The keenness that some folk have in getting hold of their copy of the Bible is only matched by the way the Bible gets hold of them.  I trust that the ease with which we can get a copy of the Bible (or many copies) does not dent our love for it and the Jesus it shows us.  May we learn to value it as much as these children in Malawi.

 

25th October 2020

You can listen to Graham Carpmail considering the trials of life and what God has done about it, here

 

24th October 2020

From Iain Colville

Ephesians 2: 1-10    “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”

After his great flight of oratory in the previous passage, Paul almost seems to catch his breath as he calls to mind the contrast between his readers’ (and indeed his own) original state – living in depravity and sin, deserving of God’s wrath – with the glorious grace and mercy of Jesus, which brings us life and salvation. 

It is often said that we can see more clearly as we look back with hindsight.  I wonder how often do we review and reflect upon the impact that Jesus has had upon our lives? 

Following in Paul’s footsteps, let’s start by considering the path we trod before we came to know Jesus and his salvation. Whether we were conscious of this at the time, just like Paul’s readers, we were following the ways of this world and Satan’s rule (v1-2). Paul makes clear that this was the status of even the Jews (v3). And in that place, we all were “children of wrath”, deserving of God’s judgment and death.

But let’s not dwell in that place of doom and disobedience. As someone once said, looking forward from the darkness of Good Friday towards the glory of the resurrection: “it’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” 

Paul takes us in one leap, from the darkness into the brilliant light. Once again, Paul’s words seem to stream from the page in one joyous breath: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (v4-9).  

Take a moment to re-read these verses and give thanks for all that Jesus has accomplished for each one of us: from the Father’s great love for you when you were dead in sin, raising you to life in Jesus, seating you with Jesus in the heavenly realm.  I pray that we’ll each catch something of Paul’s infectious joy and delight as we let these words sink in.

And there’s more: having been transformed by Jesus’ grace, we are now a new creation, a work of art made by God’s own hand, in order to live a lifestyle of good works (v10). Let’s look to make sure we can see our heavenly Father’s craftmanship and artistry in each other.

 

23rd October 2020

Jenny Young has some thoughts on the 'Tunnel of Dismay' and an encouraging prayer in her spoken contribution which you can listen to here.

 

22nd October 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

‘Walking in another’s shoes’

I would like to encourage you this week to read Ruth chapter 1.  In this chapter we meet many characters who are experiencing life in so many different ways.  As you read this familiar chapter again take a moment to consider these characters: Elimelech, his wife Naomi, their sons Mahlon and Chilion, then their wives Ruth and Orpah.

Their life is mostly summarised in first five verses of this chapter. Consider anew what they are living through and who they are.

Let me introduce them to you again:

There is the successful, innovative Elimelech taking his family to safety.

The two pairs of newlyweds, with many hopes and aspirations of the life to come and what it will hold.

Then there is the middle aged woman devastated by the loss of her husband and both of her sons.

Finally the vulnerable young women from Moab about to travel to a foreign land to become unacceptable immigrants.  One of them chooses to go, the other stays.

Now pause and ask yourself some questions:

Do you relate to any one of these characters more than another?  Why is that?

How easy do you find it to put yourself in the shoes of each one?

What would you want to say to each one of these people?

In your context, your home, your neighbours, our church who are those represented by Elimelech, Mahlon, Chilion, Naomi, Ruth and Orpah.  Who are you to them, are you able to step into their shoes for a moment? In what way are you being God’s hands and feet?  What would God have you say to or do for them?

It is profoundly challenging for some to relate to those of a different background than ourselves, whether that is ethnicity, or class or age, but as God’s children we are called to draw alongside everyone.  Often we are the only expression of God that people meet, that is both awesome, in the correct meaning of the word and can be inspiring, if we allow God’s Spirit to work through us.

With much love

Graham

‘Faith not fear’

 

21st October 2020

From Rev Ian Macnair

THE INVISIBLE ENEMY

The first wave of covid-19 looks set to become the second surge. The Prime Minister, primed by his scientific advisers, warns us that we need to be extra careful, introducing further restrictions – and greater penalties for ignoring them.

The relaxation of lockdown, accompanied by an unusual spell of good weather, has tempted us all to throw off restraint and take our freedom back – with ominous consequences.

How do you fight an invisible enemy?

I recently came across some reflections from Jelena Miličević, a facilitator in the Langham preaching movement in Bosnia & Herzegovina, and wanted to share them with you. Here they are.

How careful am I when it comes to spiritual things? Do I take care not to ‘infect’ other people with my negative attitudes, or with my anger and lack of kindness for people who come into contact with me? Do I put a mask over my mouth to stop words that are not glorifying to God, words that might infect, or even kill?!

I confess that sometimes I don't realise how much I can endanger other people when I thoughtlessly judge, complain, criticise, or tell inappropriate jokes. Sometimes my careless words and actions can offend someone so that instead of me being someone who brings people closer to Christ, I am the one who drives people from Christ. 

The enemy of our souls is invisible. We don't always recognise him. He lurks in the shadows and brings doubt, fear, judgement, anger; and he tempts us to sin. We collect his ‘germs’ and spread them around, not thinking about the people we contaminate along the way.

We need to be more careful about what we think, speak and do.

We need to shine the light of Jesus and allow the life of Jesus to spring up from within us.

We show our love for our neighbours by being careful and taking care of them.

We become those who bring hope and joy to others and who show strength to resist every fear and temptation. 

'Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Colossians 3:12–17).

 

20th October 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 1:15-23

Some passages of Scripture are just so incredibly rich and full that to plumb their depths would take not one devotion, but rather a lengthy series of books. For me, Ephesians 1:15-23 is such a passage. This is a passage that is full of challenge, hope, insight, inspiration, and aspiration. There are so many profound ideas, you can struggle to work out where to start!

Firstly, there is the simple challenge of who Paul is. Look at his response to hearing good news of the Ephesians, he is full to bursting with joy and praise. How do we respond to good news from other places and people. Yet this passage also reads with such sincerity, and with no condemnation, Paul is simply expressing how he feels and his reaction to their good news. There is no finger wagging or self-guarding, this is a call to genuine delight and aspiration to respond with thanks and praise at the good news of others.

Secondly, there is the encouragement to more. The Ephesians are doing well, and Paul points to the more that they have yet to experience. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. There is so much more, even when things are going well, for us to experience of God, both in terms of our knowledge of Him, the truths of His word and His kingdom, and in our experience of His power.

Thirdly, there is the call to just glory in who Jesus is. Look at the place that Paul gives to Jesus, our friend, our brother, our King, and our God. Jesus is far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

I could say so much more, instead I will leave you to read, think, and pray over this rich passage, with a promise that I have prayed for you, the very same prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians.

 

19th October 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

Did you see that sniffer dogs are being used in airports in some countries to find people with Covid-19? It is amazing what these dogs can pick up.  Apparently some of these dogs are able to detect  certain forms of cancer or diabetes.  There are smells there that we cannot detect ourselves but can be picked out by these dogs. Quite amazing.

It got me thinking about the verses in 2 Corinthians 2 where Paul says that Christians smell.   Actually the word used is a fragrance as God … through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him (Christ). (2 Corinthians 2:14). If someone or something smells they emit an odour which everyone who comes in contact with them will smell.  Paul indicates that everyone who has contact with us, as Christians, should sense the knowledge of Christ.  They should see Jesus in us, mixing the metaphors a bit!.

He uses the pictures of a victorious army returning home in Roman days.  The general would lead in his troops to loud acclaim and these would be followed by their captives. All along the route as they entered the city people would be making sacrifices and burning incense to thank their gods.  Paul pointed out that the smells from these sacrifices would have different significances to the soldiers and the captives.  To the soldiers they were the smell of success and life of celebration ahead.  To the captives they were the smell of slavery or even death.  Same smells – different meanings.

As we share Jesus with all we meet, not always by word but by living out his love to others, there will be those who recognise and welcome this ‘fragrance’.  We should not be surprised, however, to find that the acts of love and kindness in Jesus’ name, will not always be welcomed but may even be rejected or laughed at by others. These are those, Paul says, who in their current state are rejecting Jesus and so heading towards death.  This should not stop us from ‘emitting this odour’ or living out Jesus in our communities.  We do not know which people will be attracted to Jesus by our words and actions and who will be turned off.  That is between them and God.  Our role is to be the fragrance of Jesus in our homes, communities and work places so that have the chance to ‘smell’ his love and goodness and be drawn to him.

 

18th October 2020

Today Ruth Jess speaks about the life of hymn writer John Newton and reads one of his hymns. You can hear it here

 

17th October 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 1: 11-14 - What are you worth?

What's your worth? What's your value? That's a hard question to answer isn't it? Believe it or not, that's a question some companies actually do have to ask when they send employees into dangerous areas, for kidnap insurance.

So how much are you worth? I suspect the answer would depend very much on who you ask. To our families I suspect that we're worth a lot more than we would be to others. To a materialist they might simply examine the value of our assets; how much we have and own. So how much are you worth?

I think Paul gives us an answer of our value in God's eyes in the verses 11 to 14 of Ephesians 1. The answer is that we have great value, immense worth. How can we see this? We can see this in many ways. Firstly, as I said the other day, we were chosen; but look at the skill of the One who chooses us, in verse 11. We were predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. We were chosen by a master craftsman. I'm friends with a very skilled carpenter (no pun intended!) and it's fascinating watching him choose his wood. He examines the grain, and the weight of the boards, after carefully deciding which wood would best suit his purposes. This can be an exacting purpose, depending on the purpose of the wood. Yet imagine the skill and the intent that went into your choosing! You were chosen by not just a skilled carpenter, you were chosen by the One who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. Now that is a master craftsman! He works out the whole world to His purpose. So you were chosen with immense care.

Secondly, we are given a personal seal of value: you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit. We only put seals on items and statements of significance and value, or on certain things with which we wish to be identified. God wishes to be identified with us. Yet we are not given a simple seal. We are given the complete investment of Him coming to live with us, by the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly, how much are we worth? We are to be the receivers of a vast and rich inheritance. This is one of the reasons we are receivers of the Spirit, so that we can be assured of this inheritance. Look at verse 14, which states that one of the purposes of receiving the Holy Spirit is that He is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

So how much are you worth? A very great deal, and we need to know this. We are highly valued, we are worth much. Yet we do not know this in order to lord it over others, rather we know this so we can be secure to serve. Look at the incident with Jesus when He served the disciples in John 13:3, Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God. Jesus was supreme, and fully knew His value, and then choose to serve. So also, we are called to serve. Let's give thanks that we are loved, and then use that knowledge to share with, and to serve others, to the praise of His glory.

 

16th October 2020

From David Depledge

John 14: 1-7

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’

We have probably all heard it said “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” It is easy to say something, but often it is harder to actually follow through and do the things that we talk about. Often, we do a good job of talking about what is right and what we should be doing and what we believe…...... Well, at least, that is what we think  - but is it true?

What should we be saying? What is talking the talk? Many outside the church view Christians “talking the talk” as something very negative. They believe the church and Christians are saying “Thou shalt not…..”  have fun, swear, drink alcohol, smoke, use drugs, have sex outside marriage, steal, go to war, and so on.

They say that Christians are hypocritical because sometimes Christians do some of the things they have spoken against or that people believe they have spoken against.

Others will say that the church is always asking for money – the “thermometer” on the board outside saying just how much is needed to mend the roof or restore the bells.

Some will say Christians are bigoted because of Jesus statements about being the only way to God.

But what about us? We can see that people are getting wrong ideas about the Christian faith but how good are we at explaining “The Way”? Do we talk about our Christian faith at all or do we consider it just a private matter between ourselves and God?

Or perhaps we are very happy to talk about all the great things the church is doing in Coventry; about Foodbank, the Winter Night Shelter, Coventry City Mission, The Light House Counselling Centre, Global Care, Carriers of Hope and many more examples. But what do we say about what motivates this?

Perhaps we are prepared to talk positively about attending church services, saying they are ‘helpful’ or ‘lively’ or ‘uplifting’ but are we able to say why we attend, why we want to worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Can we explain our relationship with Jesus? Can we explain why it is a current blessing and a solid hope for the future?

So how do we speak for Him today? The same way the disciples did long ago. They heard the words of Jesus and believed them – that is a huge first step and it is step of faith. They took His words and obeyed them. They confessed their sins to Jesus as their Lord and God. They believed that He died to take the punishment of their sins and rose from the dead to give them new life. Then they followed His example and command to tell others about “The Way” - about Jesus, who he is, what he said. When we follow Him in “The Way,” we can be assured of following Him all the way to heaven. 

So that is challenging stuff about talking the talk. In my next contribution we will think about walking the walk

 

15th October 2020

From Rev Graham Banks

I would like to encourage you by my sharing what I would describe as a Bible Mashup today!

So, from 1 Peter 5:6-7 ; Psalm 118:24 ; & 1 Thessalonians 5:18  a wonderful chorus is created to help you through today as you turn your eyes to Him.

IN ORDER TO HEAR MY VOICE, you must release all your worries into My care. Entrust to Me everything that concerns you. This clears the way for you to seek My face unhindered.

Let Me free you from fear that is hiding deep inside you.

Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life. REJOICE IN THIS DAY THAT I HAVE MADE, trusting that I am abundantly present in it. 

Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, THANK ME IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

Trust Me and don’t be fearful; Thank Me and rest in My sovereignty.

With much love

Graham

‘Faith not fear’

 

14th October 2020

From Miranda Shieh

You Have a Life Line

Have you ever tried getting hold of someone on the phone, and the line is busy or you are greeted by the answering machine? Or, have you ever wanted to make that call just to find out that there is no network in that area, or you do not have enough credit to make the call? How frustrating that could be.

Did you know that once you make Jesus Christ your Lord and Saviour, you instantly have permission and unrestricted access anytime, anywhere into the very presence of your Heavenly Father? You do not even have to worry about losing His number. In Him, that is in union with Christ Jesus, and because of His love for you, you now have access to a unique and royal network, a life line to His throne room. So, you get to go boldly into His throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Unlike that busy telephone network, you now have an unclogged lifeline through prayer. What an assurance. You enter His gates with thanksgiving in your heart and His courts with praises because you are loved by him, have been freed and adopted into an imperishable inheritance.

Your Almighty Father who has every solution to every problem you’ll ever have has now crowned you with a royal garment. For you are now chosen, a royal priesthood and His special possession with a royal line (1 Peter 2:9).  But remember that you have to take your place as a Royalty and use your royal line to allow Him access into your life. You do not have to beg like the Centurion did when his daughter was dying for your Father to heal you. But notice, that even when the Centurion came and begged Jesus to come and heal his daughter, His response was I will…it is my will, just give me the permission to heal (Mathew 8:5-7). For the Centurion’s asking was an indication of his faith in the Healer. He is saying to us, it is my will to give you all good things, to heal your body, to meet that need, to comfort you but I am just waiting for you to come to Me, to give me access, so I can give you the answer. It may take some private time alone with Him for you to hear it but He will never disappoint you.

Jesus, the firstborn among many brethren, of whom we are, depended on a direct and unceasing communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit and the fruit was evident in the success of His earthly ministry. This was same for every successful man and woman in Scripture. And what about us who have been earmarked to do even greater works and we have so many witnesses to learn from and our Helper – the Holy Spirit.

He is calling us today to, pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances for it is His will in Christ Jesus for us (1 Thessalonians 5 16-18). So, if you are afflicted; ill-treated, or suffering evil, then pray (James 5:13). If you are happy, sing praises to Him (James 5:13). Let every bit of your life and your daily task be an act of worship to God. For the effective prayers of those who have been made right with God will make tremendous power available; which is dynamic in its working; The power to heal you, set you free from that captivity, overcome your battles, to withstand evil, to be over your circumstances and not under, to be joyful and stand tall in the mist of adversity because the greater one lives in You.

We are living in times when we are continuously being separated physically from each other and circumstances are such that we may not always be able to reach out to others when we want to. God is calling us today to a place of intimacy with Him and with Jesus Christ. That fellowship that is a distinguishing mark of Christians (1 John 1:3). You can enter into that intimate relationship and you do not need to only depend on others to access that lifeline, although there’s is nothing wrong with having others pray for you.  For we are called as a body of Christ to strengthen and lift each other up. But God is calling you to come personally to His throne room today.

You may say, I don’t know how to get there. Remember that you have God’s Word that is alive, active and able to bring itself to pass, you have a helper, the Holy Spirit who is in you to teach, help you and to intercede in your behalf in harmony with the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of Truth will teach you everything, but you must live in, be rooted to, knitted in and never depart from him. As you fellowship continually with the Father and Jesus Christ, what so ever you desire when you pray, in accordance with His will, believing that you receive you will receive (Mark 11:24). So, ask in faith, in the Name of Jesus and you will receive, so that your joy may be full (John 16:23-24). Does that not awaken within your soul the fervour for persistent prayer?

Part 2 will look at how to keep our life line unclogged

 

13th October 2020

From Rev Neil Martin

Ephesians 1:3-10

When I worked in Aldershot, I would occasionally be asked to go and speak at a fellowship group on Tuesday afternoon. When I arrived, I would be encouraged to go and and sit with the three or four men in the back row, which I was never entirely sure if that was for my benefit, or for theirs! After a hymn and the notices, I would get up to speak to the group, before they finished with a final hymn. This hymn was the same song with which they finished every meeting.

The song they sang was "Count your blessings" which, if I can trust the internet, was written by Johnson Oatman Jr. The first verse is as follows:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

There are 2 ideas going round my head as I write this devotion. The first is how completely unequivocal Paul is in this passage. If you asked him the question, 'Paul how blessed are you?' his response is pretty clear: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. How blessed we are, completely and utterly. The second is we may sometimes feel like we're not blessed; we may have issues of health, or money worries, or family problems. Or we may be just fed up with the daily restrictions we are currently facing, and don't feel blessed. But we were reminded on Sunday that we walk by the Spirit not by sight. How blessed are we? We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

What do some of these blessings look like? Here are just 2 examples:

Firstly, we were chosen in love to be holy and blameless. We were not selected grudgingly, or with a passive apathy. We were chosen; picked deliberately; considered and selected; wanted. We were chosen in love to be holy and blameless. To look and sound like, to reflect the glory of our Creator. We are chosen.

Secondly, we were chosen to reflect praise. We praise things that are impressive and good. We don't generally praise a missed goal; but we cheer a scored goal! We reflect praise onto Him because of His incredible grace to us.

There are many other blessings given, but I'll leave you to enjoy looking into them.

 

12th October 2020

From Rev Ralph Hanger

Have you ever been asked to do the reading in a service?  Nothing to it you may think.  Sometimes it is not quite so straightforward.  It is not just a question of reading the words, it involves reading with meaning and there are all sorts of things that can trip you up.  Take 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 for example.  In these few verses one word is repeated 9 times (+once in the past tense).

[3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, [4] who comforts us  in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. [5] For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ,  so also our comfort abounds through Christ. [6] If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;  if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. [7] And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings,  so also you share in our comfort.

Comfort is one of those words which can be a noun or a verb and it is being used in both ways in these verses.  It could be a little confusing to think who is comforting whom and what is it that is being used to comfort them.

The first point is that Paul points out that all comfort basically comes from God, who is the God of all comfort (vs3).  This comfort has been given to Paul and friends in all the troubles they were experiencing.  In itself this is encouraging, but Paul says there is more to it than just soothing his problems.  Because he has received this comfort from God, he can now pass on that comfort to others in trouble.  This is important that we can (and should) pass on what we have gained to others.

Let me explain how this works.  Sometime ago, in Malawi, a friend of ours had been married for a little while but just could not get pregnant.  For a Malawian lady this is more than a little difficult.  Then she announced she was expecting and everyone was eagerly expecting the birth.  The day came – and the child was still born.  She (and many others of us) were devastated.  How or why could this happen?  She was a keen follower and servant of Jesus, well loved by everyone.  We all cried with her and prayed with her that she would know the consolation that only God could give in the circumstances.  Months later she came to us and said ‘I think I know a little of why God allowed this thing to happen to us’.  Obviously we were keen to hear more, so she told us that a very good friend of hers had also just had a still born child.  Alice, our friend, said that whilst other people just could not help her friend, she was able to sit with her, cry with her, pray with her and assure her of God’s love for her – because she had been there before and received the comfort which God can give.  It was a great lesson for us.

Paul had learned this.  The comfort he had received in his troubles, from God, he could pass on to the Corinthian Christians in their troubles, because he had been there before and been comforted by God.  Especially during this time of coronavirus epidemic, when so many people are getting depressed and  frustrated, those of us who have experienced something of God’s comfort and peace should be looking for opportunities to share this ‘good news’ with those who are suffering.

Two other helpful notes are that

  • this comfort ‘abounds’, is found in plentiful quantities – in Christ – because he has had similar experiences
  • this comfort leads to endurance – greater strength through future difficulties.

One other note about this word ‘comfort’.  If you remember it comes as part of the standard Anglican wedding service promises – to comfort.  For reasons which are not relevant to this note Jane and I were given the opportunity to write our own wedding service, so long as we left in the important ‘legal bits’.  We spent a complete safari holiday with two other friends, who were also about to get married, going through the Anglican and Congregational wedding services asking ourselves what each word and phrase meant and how they were relevant to ourselves.  When we came to the word ‘comfort’ we were not sure what it meant.  We came to the conclusion that it did not necessarily mean applying a cold flannel to the brow when needed but could also be being like a gad-fly, stimulating or stirring up.  In the end we promised to encourage one another.  There are times when we need that more active ‘comforting’.  I know I have needed it on many occasions over the years – not that I have always realised the benefit at the time!

Whichever type of comfort you receive from others or directly from the Lord, are you willing to pass it on to others?

 

11th October 2020

Today Margaret Newby reads Isaiah 40:12-31 which talks about how unimaginably big and powerful our God is. "'To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?' says the Holy One."  You can listen here.

 

10th October 2020

From Rev Ian Macnair

KING DAVID’S LAST WORDS (5)

‘If my house were not right with God …’ (2 Samuel 23:6).

If David did believe that his house was ‘right with God’ then subsequent history was to prove him wrong. The kings who followed David were rebellious and disobedient.

God was faithful. He sent prophets to warn them and judgments to waken them, but ultimately they failed to rule in righteousness and the fear of God and that royal dynasty came to an end.

When we come to the final verses of 2 Samuel 23 David turns from the promise of blessing to the problem of evil.

‘But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
       which are not gathered with the hand.

Whoever touches thorns
       uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
they are burned up where they lie.’

At first sight this looks a bit obscure.

David is again using picture language: not this time the clarity of early light or the refreshment of sunshine after rain but the way we deal with sharp thorns.

If you’ve been digging up branches with vicious thorns you don’t gather them up with your bare hands, or if you do, you don’t do it more than once. They’re sharp. They cut you. They need to be handled with extreme care. You need gloves and a suitable tool to prevent them doing you damage.

David combines two thoughts with this imagery of evil people. The danger they pose in the present is all too real but in the future they will be destroyed.

Eugene Peterson puts it like this in The Message: ‘Better not try to touch them; keep your distance with a rake or hoe. They’ll make a glorious bonfire!’

This stark contrast presents us with two visions of the future.

A future in Christ: the blessings of salvation. A future without Christ: the fire of judgment.

It will soon be Christmas, when we celebrate the coming of God’s Son, born as a tiny baby to a human mother. Jesus came to be our Saviour. But, more than that, he came to rule as King. He came to redeem but also to reign.

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this’
[Isaiah 9:6, 7].

How much do you know of the reign of King Jesus in your life? Is he reigning as your King or is your life a republic in which you are the president?

Peace on earth and good will towards men? Yes. But only when Jesus is King.

These are David’s last words.

 

9th October 2020

Today Brenda Parsons reads Luke 10:30-35 and reflects on what we do with what we have got. You can hear her here

 

Archive of earlier contributions

here (14th March to 20th April 2020)

 here (21st April to 31st May 2020)

 here (1st June to 20th July 2020)

here (21st July to 31st August 2020)

here (1st September to 8th October 2020)