Fore Street Topsham, Exeter

Minister : Reverend Paul Collings BTh (Hons) : email : : Telephone : 01392 206229 : Mobile : 07941 880768

About Us

St Nicholas Methodist Church has existed on the present site for over 150 years since it opened in 1867.

We are a friendly community of believers where all are welcomed. We help each other to worship God, and strive to live more like Christ in service beyond the walls of our church building.

Part of the
Exeter Coast and Country Circuit of the Methodist Church.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Journey Through Lent

When the prophet Elijah fled the wicked queen Jezebel, he traveled 40 days and nights until he reached Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8). There, in the shelter of a cave, he heard God — not in the mighty wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a gentle whisper.

Following on from yesterday’s little and large, David and Goliath episode, today we find another 40 day trial faced by the Old Testament prophet, Elijah.

I wonder how many of us have had periods in our lives when faced extended periods of fear and distress. So often, it is the small almost insignificant things that brings us solace and safety.

A mother was having an exasperating morning. The phone rang constantly, she had washed a contact lens down the drain, our washing machine had died, and her dog, Princess, sat on the decking outside and barked incessantly. Her head reeled with an impending headache.

She called to her young daughter, "Anna, please go tell Princess to be quiet!"  

"But Mom," she pleaded with conviction, "Princess is singing 'Jesus Loves Me'--I just know it!"

Cheered by her insight, the mum realised that God speaks in different ways; what she considered noise, her daughter saw as one of God's creatures praising Him. We don't have to be inside a quiet, peaceful sanctuary to learn from Him. We just have to be listening.

Perhaps we need to sing quietly.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire

thy coolness and thy balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm!

Monday, 27 February 2023

Journey Through Lent

In the famous story of David and the giant Goliath , God’s people endure 40 days of taunting and challenges from Goliath before David is sent to the battlefield with bread for his brothers and decides he’s the one who will fight for his people (1 Samuel 1:16)

We’ve probably all heard the expression, “This is going to separate the xmen from the boys!” Those words are said when about something that involves danger and risk. Things that take courage and a willingness to sacrifice. Things that are gruelling and gut-wrenching. Things that require maturity and perseverance, not just boyish enthusiasm and energy.

David may have been the smallest boy in the camp that day, but he was the biggest man on the battlefield. Why? Because he had superior armour and weapons? No… Because he faced his challenge with faith. And he had long before learned the lesson that the challenge before us is never as great as the power behind us.

Perhaps this Old Testament incident is all about getting the right perspective. When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He's so big we can never kill him." But I wonder, when David looked at the same giant and thought, "He's so big I can't miss."

One commentator reviewing such against all odds situation said, “If God's will is in your little stones, they will surely bring down giant Goliaths... but you have to make the throw!” 

When we are right in the middle of a 40 days of fear and facing against all odds perhaps we should use the words that David wrote in later years, 

Psalm 18:1 Lord, how I love you! For you have done such tremendous things for me.

2 The Lord is my fort where I can enter and be safe; no one can follow me in and slay me. He is a rugged mountain where I hide; he is my Savior, a rock where none can reach me, and a tower of safety. He is my shield. He is like the strong horn of a mighty fighting bull. 3 All I need to do is cry to him—oh, praise the Lord—and I am saved from all my enemies! Amen

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Journey Through Lent

You may recall how Moses led the Israelites out of cEgypt toward the Promised Land. According to Exodus 34:28 we read that during this journey, God called him to the top of Mount Sinai for “forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water”. There, God gave Moses His covenant, the Ten Commandments, so they could live in alignment with the Lord.

The similarity of Christ’s wilderness experience is plain to see particularly the sense of going without in order to gain a more meaningful gift.  In Moses case of course it was the Ten Commandments; God’s principles for life and living.

These scenarios from scripture are the basis of the practice of giving up something for Lent.  All too often this practice remains with the notion of what we are to give up with little thought of what will replace this space in our lives. I recently came across a number of ideas to not only go without but to replace with something more positive. Here are just a few:-

GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, "In everything give thanks." Constructive criticism is OK, but "moaning, groaning, and complaining" are not Christian disciplines.

GIVE UP looking at other people's worst points. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.

GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?

GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God's grace be sufficient.

GIVE UP judging by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ. 

May in this Lenten period we be people who like Mary the sister of Martha choose the better part. (Luke 10:41-42)

Dear God, I've let the act of doing become self-serving, filling the void of discontentment. I thank you for all that you've blessed me with. And I pray that I may find contentment by slowing down and sitting at your feet, like Mary, and in doing so find the blessing of following our ways. Amen

Friday, 24 February 2023

Journey Through Lent

The number 40 shows up often in the Bible. Because 40 appears so often in contexts dealing with judgment or testing, many scholars understand it to be the number of “probation” or “trial.” This doesn’t mean that 40 is entirely symbolic; it still has a literal meaning in Scripture. “Forty days” means “forty days,” but it does seem that God has chosen this number to help emphasise times of trouble and hardship.

In Genesis 7:12 tells us God was so troubled by the wickedness of the world that he planned to destroy all life – with the exception of those righteous few on the ark – and “rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.”

Noah and his sons needed patience to complete their ark building work. They had to toil under the constant scrutiny and, perhaps, laughter of those who would pass them in their labours and shake their heads, express disbelief, or openly ridicule them

Jesus and his disciples were also mocked, rejected, and threatened with physical violence up until the end of Christ’s mortal life when those threats were realised. They could relate to Noah, the outsider, and laughingstock. Whether Noah ever actually built this colossal ship is a matter of great debate amongst scholars. However, all seem to agree that the symbolism of this Old Testament narrative holds much truth that needs to be taken seriously in today’s context.

Even Mikhail Gorbachev once said, “We are all passengers aboard one ship, the Earth, and we must not allow it to be wrecked. There will be no second Noah's Ark.” 

However, I think that we can be encouraged that we can see how God desired to be in relationship with Noah. Today  God, through our relationship with Christ, looks upon us with eyes of grace and mercy, desiring a personal relationship and intimate fellowship what ever the storm we face.

Lord, as in the days of Noah, when the earth was filled with sin and wickedness, you found the righteousness of Noah. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to pursue righteousness and godliness in these evil times. Take everything in our lives that opposes your precepts and will. Flood our hearts with love, faith, hope, joy, patience and peace. In Jesus Name, Amen! 

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Journeying Through Lent

There are a number of reasons why Lent lasts for forty days. In fact the number 40 is Mentioned 146 times in Scripture. The number 40 generally symbolises a period of testing, trial or probation. During Moses' life, he lived forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery.

A comical, but illustrative, story shows us how adept we are at rationalising our actions. 

A very overweight man decided that it was time to shed a few pounds. He went on a new diet and took it seriously. He even changed his usual driving route to the office in order to avoid his favourite bakery. One morning, however, he arrived at the office carrying a large, sugar-coated coffee cake. His office mates roundly chided him, but he only smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said, "What could I do? This is a very special cake. This morning, out of my forced habit, I accidentally drove by my favourite bakery. There in the window were trays of the most delicious goodies. I felt that it was no accident that I happened to pass by, so I prayed, 'Lord, if you really want me to have one of these delicious coffee cakes, let me find a parking place in front of the bakery.' Sure enough, on the ninth trip around the block, there it was!" 

Temptation is strong, but we must be stronger. We should not tempt fate and we should not rationalise our actions. 

Jesus, like Moses before him, retreated into the wilderness where he fast for forty days. Each of the temptations that Jesus faced involved a seizure of power: power over the elements of creation by turning stones into bread, political and military power by gaining power over the kingdoms of the world, and the power to force God's protection in an inappropriate manner. That Jesus was tested throughout his ministry was widely held in early Christianity. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us, "For do we not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathise with out weakness, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15

As we enter lent may we contemplate how Jesus supports and strengthen’s us to overcome temptation.

Jesus, merciful and faithful High Priest, You are with me always and see everything I do. Your Scripture says that we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin. Fashion me in Your image. Give me Your wisdom and strength to avoid sinning. Show me when and how to flee from situations where I am tempted. If it means making some difficult decisions, give me the courage to make them. I want to devote myself to You, and I need Your Spirit to help me. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Ash Wednesday

In Greek mythology the sirens are creatures with the heads of beautiful women and the bodies of attractive birds. They lived on an island and with the irresistible charm of their song they lured mariners to their destruction on the rocks surrounding their island. 

They sang so sweetly that all who sailed near their home in the sea were fascinated and drawn to the shore only to be destroyed. When Odysseus, the hero in the Odyssey, passed that enchanted spot he tied himself to the mast and put wax in the ears of his comrades, so that they might not hear the luring and bewitching strains. But King Tharsius chose a better way. He took the great Greek singer and lyrist Orpheus along with him. Orpheus took out his lyre and sang a song so clear and ringing that it drowned the sound of those lovely, fatal voices of sirens. The best way to break the charm of this world’s alluring voices during 

Lent is not trying to shut out the music by plugging our ears, but to have our hearts and lives filled with the sweeter music of prayer, devotion, reading God’s word, Holy Spirit inspired self control, and outward acts of charity. Then temptations will have no power over us.

In the Gospel of John, we find Jesus pointedly says to his Jewish hearers 'If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.'  John 8.31 

He stresses the importance of keeping his word. Doing this shows that we are  his followers. It means having the truth – or seeing things like God. This also means being free – from all dark deceptions. There is much to ponder over in this.

Jesus’ hearers were puzzled about becoming free, since they thought that they never were slaves. It was William Barclay, the well known Scottish Theologian who said, “Christian freedom does not mean being free to do as we like; it means being free to do as we ought.”

Holy God,

Whose glory touches and transfigures the mind and the material,

Whose intimate, gentle Spirit embraces our vulnerability

and fills our empty spaces with hope,

may we know the deep calm that only You can give.

Through the mystery of absence and presence,

come, fill us with Your emptiness, Your eternal silence.  Amen

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Shrove Tuesday

Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, don’t make yourselves look sad like the hypocrites. They put a look of suffering on their faces so that people will see they are fasting. The truth is, that’s all the reward they will get. 17 So when you fast, wash your face and make yourself look nice. 18 Then no one will know you are fasting, except your Father, who is with you even in private. He can see what is done in private, and he will reward you.

Today is Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, as the French call it. It's also known as Pancake Day in Britain, or more precisely "Shrove Tuesday". Historically it was the day that all went to confession to have sins "shriven" or absolved by the priest, to be better Christians throughout the six weeks of Lent.

Pancakes are part of the celebrations because Lent was traditionally a time of fasting, so fatty foods like meat and sausage were all used up during the Fat Tuesday feasting. The easiest way to prepare and eat was through the making of pancakes. This part of the celebrations probably pre-dates Christianity because communities all over the world would hold an end-of-winter feast to use up the last of their winter meat before it spoiled.

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday weren't originally celebrated in reformed Presbyterian churches because of the strong connections to the Roman Catholic Church. These days, however, many people are more interested and intrigued with mixing traditions rather than maintaining doctrinal standards. We're more into what I term "pancake piety," where we mix the best of the different strands of Christianity in order to be more inclusive in our community. There's nothing wrong with doing that, because some of the oldest traditions on our Christian calendar were once a mixture of biblical celebrations and pagan feasts.

So, today we gather to feast and have fun, to sing and party, to revel and relax. And whether or not we go to confession and have our sins shriven, we understand that Jesus is the holy and only One who absolves us from our past mistakes and justifies us before God. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but with Christ as our Saviour, we can be forgiven and restored to God's kingdom.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, from what we read in the Gospels, You loved to feast and have fun with other people. We know that at the heart of our celebrations, You are in the midst of us. As we gather together to celebrate this day, we seek Your forgiveness and long for Your absolution from all of our sins. In Your holy name, we ask and pray. Amen.

Monday, 20 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

The one who conceals their sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy. Proverbs 28:13

We have all heard the saying, "confession is good for the soul." but how and why?

In the washroom of his London club, British newspaper publisher and politician William Beverbrook happened to meet Edward Heath, then a young member of Parliament, about whom Beverbrook had printed an insulting editorial a few days earlier. "My dear chap," said the publisher, embarrassed by the encounter. "I've been thinking it over, and I was wrong. Here and now, I wish to apologise." "Very well," grunted Heath. "But the next time, I wish you'd insult me in the washroom and apologise in your newspaper."  

This is the essence of what this proverb is saying; that hidden wrongs have a habit of festering and causing inner dis-ease. At many a church service following a time of reflexion and confession, the words of assurance for 1 John 1:9 are spoken. Here is how J B Philips paraphrases this verse. ~ "if we freely admit that we have sinned, we find God utterly reliable and straightforward—he forgives our sins and makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil." 

The choice we all are left with on today is not to justify or defend our sins, but to confess and turn away from them. Renounce them for what the are and tell God about them, even though He already knows.

God loves us and wants to hear from us everyday concerning every issue of life so that He can lead and guide us through His Holy Word and His Holy Spirit. The truth is that in reality, confession is a means of owning up to ourselves, our faults and failings, but doing so in the presence of the Holy One who wills our wholeness.

As Fred Beuchner puts it,"To confess your sins to God is not to tell God anything God doesn't already know. Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you. When you confess them, they become the Golden Gate Bridge."


Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

Saturday, 18 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of their friend. Proverbs 27:17 (The voice)

I am sure that we have all heard of the saying “sparking off each other;” the dictionary defines this as people who are trying to achieve something together strike sparks off each other, they react to each other in a very exciting or creative way. But as with all of the Proverbs there seems to be two sides to each proverbial coin.

Anyone who has worked within an educational environment will have witnessed an incidental playground when and altercation has given rise to the outcry, “He said so and so, but she said….”

Most thinkers believe this statement regarding iron sharpening iron relates to having a good friend, honesty that improves one’s character and calls out sin in a loving way; though there are those who believe it refers to someone who brings down another, and argue it is a negative statement.

Either way, the phrase "iron sharpens iron" from Proverbs 27:17 highlights the important truth that people affect one another, words and actions define relationships for better or worse, and they change people, so people need to act accordingly. 

One day a farmer grabbed his shot gun to shoot at a flock of pesky crows. Unfortunately, he didn’t see his sociable parrot that had joined the crows. After firing a few shots, he walked over to the fallen birds and was surprised to find his parrot badly ruffled with a broken wing. When the farmer’s children saw the injured bird, they asked, “Dad, what happened?” The farmer simply replied, “Bad company.”

Scripture often warns us to avoid harmful influences. Regardless of our age or spiritual strength, over time, unwise influences will negatively affect our walk with the Lord. Do we adversely affect uses others and wrongly influences their ability to accomplish their goal.

Dear Lord, teach me to love others the way you first loved me. As I build relationships with others, let them see you in the extent of my generosity, the authenticity of my kindness, and the depths of my love. All of those things are only possible through you, the God who abides with me and calls me friend. Amen.

Friday, 17 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. 
Proverbs 18:21

A Greek philosopher asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying: “It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the fainthearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind.”

Later the philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. A dish of tongue appeared on the table. The servant said, “It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts; destroy reputations; promote discord and strife; set families, communities, and nations at war with each other.” He was a wise servant.

The power of the tongue for good or ill is seen throughout the gospels. Do you remember the centurion who came to Jesus seeking healing for his sick servant and said to Jesus, “Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed.”

Later, James in his letter writes, “ With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12)

God’s Word is trying to tell us that your words display who we really are. Problems, stress, troubles, and trials will force what is really inside out. What do we say when we are stressed? What do we say to the people in our lives when we are aggravated, annoyed, frustrated, and angry? What comes out of our mouths?

I recently read, “When it comes to speech we are verbally schizophrenic and we have a bipolar mouth. We can bless one minute and curse the next. It’s like the Christian driving down the road listening to Christian music singing along and worshiping God then out of nowhere someone pulls out in front of him and the Christian begins to curse the guy saying all kinds of bad and evil things toward him. Blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.”

Well may we pray these words from Psalm 19

Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!   
Keep me from stupid sins,  
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,   
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;    
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them    
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,   
God, Priest-of-My-Altar. Amen (The Message)

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs


Before his downfall a person’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honour. Proverbs 18:12 or in it’s more colloquial rendition, “Pride comes before a fall.”

In actual fact the original setting says, “Pride comes before the fall.” alluding to Genesis and Adam and Eve’s sinning.

Interestingly, again proverbs places the seat of this emotional turmoil within the heart yet also indicates this is the place from which true humility springs.

This proverb contrasts arrogance with lowliness. Arrogance sets up a person for failure, humility creates the best conditions for success. Life is uncertain, so no effort is guaranteed to succeed. Yet, according to Proverbs, those who humbly seek God's will and the advice of others are more likely to achieve their goals. 

The apostle Peter learned the truth of Solomon's words. He made a brash, prideful promise to the Lord: that he would never forsake Him even if others did (John 13:36–38). His pride betrayed him. He fled when Jesus was arrested (Matthew 26:56) and denied knowing Him to a servant girl and others in the high priest's courtyard who asked (John 18:15–18, 25–27). After Jesus restored Peter following the resurrection, Pete

r put aside personal pride (John 21:15–19). Yet even as an apostle, Peter sometimes struggled with image and reputation (Galatians 2:11–14). 

But what of this honour found in humility. Samuel Brengle who was an early Salvation Army officer and great Holiness Teacher was once introduced as the, “Great Dr. Brengle.” He later wrote in his diary, “If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He uses me and that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O, that I may never lose sight of this.” 

Merciful God,
give me the same attitude as Jesus,
who emptied himself
and was obedient to you
all the way to his death on the cross.
Make me eager to put others before myself,
and their needs before my own.
I ask this through your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Pomdering Proverbs

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Over the past decade, an entire industry has sprouted up promising the secrets to happiness. There are best-selling books like The Happiness Project and The How of Happiness, and happiness programs like Happify and Tal-Ben Shahar’s Wholebeing Institute.

Love and happiness may not actually originate in the heart, but they are good for it. For example, a 2005 paper found that happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure. In the study, participants rated their happiness over 30 times in one day and then again three years later. The initially happiest participants had a lower heart rate on follow-up (about six beats slower per minute), and the happiest participants during the follow-up had better blood pressure.

We all know that stress is not good for our overall health, but did you know that too much stress can affect your bones? 

Science has determined that when we worry or become anxious, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol at normal levels is a helpful natural steroid, but when we stress too much and for too long it can have a negative lasting effect on our bones.

So it would seem that the book of Proverbs was well ahead of it’s time. 

Scripture is full of the word but and probably the most well known and least followed is found in Matthew 6 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  BUT store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Perhaps it is a question of where do we put what is most precious? Whether on public display or hidden, Jesus asks us to consider the real importance of what is valuable to us. Think about what was important to Jesus, how his words and actions showed the attitude and outlook of his heart. Maybe our medicine dose for today is to see what is in Jesus’ heart connects with what is in ours and ask God to help us grow in contentment as we appreciate what is true treasure.

Generous God,
in abundance you give us things both spiritual and physical.
Help us to hold lightly the fading things of this earth
and grasp tightly the lasting things of your kingdom,
so that what we are and do and say
may be our gifts to you
through Christ, who beckons all to seek the things above,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Perhaps this proverb is most appropriate for Valentine's Day/ How often have you heard or even used the words, “I’ve set my heart on…” and then the description of some treasured desire follows.

But what is your deepest desire? I’m talking about the most heartfelt hopes and dreams you have for how your life may unfold and who you will become. Whether better relationships, a successful business, increased energy, or enjoying motherhood, cultivating worthy desires is crucial to a joy-filled life.

It has been said that desires dictate our priorities, priorities shape our choices, and choices determine our actions,” which determines who we become. Here is the formula, in simpler terms:

DesirePrioritiesChoicesActionsWho We Become

But our proverb also states, “but the Lord determines our steps”. Is it then a question that contentment comes when our desire and the will of God coincides? Well yes.

Philip Bliss in the mid 19th century wrote the hymn, “I am so glad that our Father in heaven” that contains the verse.

If one should ask of me, how can I tell?

Glory to Jesus, I know very well!

God's Holy Spirit with mine doth agree,

Constantly witnessing Jesus loves me.

A person can plan out every aspect of their life. That does not mean planning is wrong—but what we plan needs to be prepared in a spirit of humility and obedience. If we seek God's will and walk by the Spirit in the light of God's Word, the Lord will guide his steps.

God of enduring love

When our steps in life our unsure,

When the way to go is unclear,

Guide our path

God of enduring love

When life throws us curveballs,

When things look bleak,

Strengthen us.

God of enduring love

When we find ourselves surrounded by too much stuff,

When we want more and more to satisfy us,

Draw our hearts to you.

God of enduring love

When we lost our hope,

When we grieved and grieved some more,

Hold us in your arms.

God of enduring love

When we are drowning in a sea of unknowing 

When we are overwhelmed by the tasks of work and life,

Lift us up into your hands of love.

Monday, 13 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Whatever you do, do it as service to Him, and He will guarantee your success. Proverbs 16:3

This proverb is almost a mirror image of the gospel verse where we find Jesus saying, “ask anything in my name and I will do it.”

Following Jesus is a call to be in relationship. Jesus invites me into the very heart of life, the source of goodness; to be with him 'in the Father'.

We learn from the Gospels that it was the close relationship he had with his Father which led Jesus to behave in the ways that he did. The movement of God's spirit within me draws me into the life of Jesus and the Father. I take a few moments to recognise and appreciate where God is working around me.

In these words of Jesus, we ourselves are being invited to share in the life and work of God to share God's life, to do what God does. The Last Supper discourse in John is about our being initiated, being drawn into the godhead: as children, as friends of God and- here, as co-workers with God.

Lord Jesus, I give you my hands to do your work. I give you my feet to go your way. I give you my tongue to speak your words. I give you my mind that you may think in me. I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me your Father and all humankind. I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work and pray in me. Amen 

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath. Proverbs 15:1

Have you ever been in a fraught situation where the quiet words of a gentle person has defused the situation. Disagreements can be compared to a fire. In response to a fire, we can do one of two things. We can either fuel it to keep it going and growing, or we can put it out.

On every trip they take, frequent fliers hear these words from the flight attendant: “In an emergency, please make sure your oxygen mask is in place before assisting your child with their mask.”

Have you ever wondered why this instruction is given? Because if a parent can’t breathe, they can’t help their child, and before they know it, neither of parent or child is breathing. The same is true with our emotions. If we cannot control our anger or other emotions, we certainly can’t expect others to be self-controlled...

Throughout the Bible, it is assumed that anger is a part of life, and that there is an appropriate response to it. It is very rare, however, that anger or aggression is a correct response. Gentleness is a divine trait: nothing is so strong as gentleness; nothing is so gentle as real strength. Gentle words, quiet words, are, after all, the most powerful words. They are more convincing, more compelling, more prevailing." 

Dear Word of Life, may our words be shaped by a heart that is more and more in line with yours. Help me to develop the habit of gentle, wise words. Amen.

Friday, 10 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you slacker consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler. 
Yet it prepares its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Do you remember the “Nature Table” that once was part and parcel of every primary school classroom, when we were encouraged to bring something that we had found in nature. Sometimes our contribution was just for decoration whilst on other occasions they would lead to imparting some new knowledge.

We are surrounded by lessons on how to love God and love each other. Of all these, Scripture of course plays the biggest role. But the world around us was also spoken into existence by God. We don’t need to choose one-over-the-other in our spiritual growth.

Our natural environment doesn’t just teach us about Creation in an academic sense, although it can. It leads us towards an appreciation of God’s glory. It can help us nurture the fruits of the spirit. The sense of wonder that nature sparks can inspire personal dedication to God.

In other words, when Psalm 19 states that “the heavens declare the glory of God,” it reminds us that the goodness of creation points towards the goodness of the Creator.
Followers of Christ are invited to practice eco-discipleship. God calls us to not only learn about Creation, but to learn from Creation.

Eco-disicipleship is our opportunity to explore how Christ’s Good News applies to all of creation. We can learn from the way nature behaves. We can practice working with the land ourselves. Furthermore, we can practice listening to those whose lives are more integrated with nature, like farmers or indigenous people. We can also simply walk in a place teeming with natural beauty impossible to ignore, and let that stillness lead us into worship.

Creator God, Thank you for the rich lives we are privileged to have, the living things around us, and the beautiful plants that populate your earth. Thank you for the blessing of harmony in nature, and may the earth continue to thrive under your loving presence. Oh God of new creation, we thank you. Amen.

Thursday, 9 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Proverbs 4:23

Heart is used in Scripture as the most comprehensive term for the authentic person. It is the part of our being where we desire, deliberate, and decide. It has been described as "the place of conscious and decisive spiritual activity," "the comprehensive term for a person as a whole; his feelings, desires, passions, thought, understanding and will," and "the centre of a person. The place to which God turns."

Beware the hostile heart. That's the warning of Dr. Redford Williams from Duke University's Behavioural Medicine Research Centre. He has been saying for years that having a hostile personalities can kill us--most often by heart disease but also by injuries and accidents. Anger speeds the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and disrupts the coronary arteries.

Some indicators of a hostile heart are impatience with delays, mistrust of co-workers, annoyance with the habits of family members or friends, and a persistent need to have the last word in arguments or to get even when wronged.

Our wise heavenly Father issues the same call to us about His life-giving words recorded for us in the Bible. The transformation of a hostile heart begins as we listen to God, meditate on His Word, and allow Him to alter our behaviour and speech. It's a prescription I need to follow each day. How about you? Let God's Word fill you mind, rule your heart, and guide your tongue.

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit
that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit
to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit
that I always may be holy.
St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)

Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. 
Proverbs 3:5

This week we start with Proverbs of the Heart. Eugene Peterson in is inimitable and helpful way way paraphrase Proverbs 3:5 as, “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.”

It was Frank Sinatra who used to sing a song that contained the words.

What more can I say?
From the bottom of my heart I need you
You're part of my day
My inspiration is you alone
To call my own
I love you, I love you
From the bottom of my heart I want you
It's you I adore
 I'd be on my way to heaven
If you'd say "I love you from the bottom of my heart"

If we place these words in the context of our relationship to God’s love for us found in Jesus, they take on a deeper meaning. Couple this proverb with Jesus loving words of, “…don’t worry and don’t keep saying, ‘What shall we eat, what shall we drink or what shall we wear?! That is what pagans are always looking for; your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart on the kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.” Matthew 6:34-35 (J P Phillips) and we see the wisdom of this proverb.

Everyone knows that you don’t eat bananas until they turn yellow. The internal transformation of the fruit inside the peel is what causes the yellowing effect indicating when the fruit is. Because we are God’s people, the work of Jesus changes our lives from the inside out. His grace transforms our hearts and minds, overflowing into our actions. 

Prayer; Lord, create in me a clean heart, guide my path. Teach me to guard my heart, to keep my eyes focused on You, and to resist evil. Let my words and actions be acceptable in Your sight. Like the flowers reflect sunlight, so let my heart reflect the light of Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it? Proverbs 17:16

I often am amazed at the amount of money people can spend or lose. It’s rare that a month goes by without news of a famous actor or business-person who has lost everything. The cause usually boils down to some kind of folly.

How could you have millions of dollars and then lose it all? Well, you could spend them on luxuries or disposable goods or gamble it away at casinos or in bad investments. You could waste it by throwing huge, extravagant parties for weeks on end. If you were in business, you could take wild risks and produce inferior products that cost you a lot but wouldn’t sell because no one wanted them. There are lots of ways to lose a fortune!

But all these actions are irresponsible and foolish. Instead of being invested for the common good, money is squandered. Instead of nurturing responsible productivity, wealth is wasted in foolishness and self-indulgence. A famous proverb—perhaps with today’s verse in mind—states, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Act foolishly with your money, and you won’t have it for long. Not only will you lose it, but your church and family will not be blessed by it either. It will be a loss for the kingdom of God.

Wisdom with our money is needed. Wise people invest in kingdom-honouring businesses, their church, family, and community. Does your investment strategy reflect eternal values?

Lord, help us to be wise with our money. May we seek your wisdom when we have opportunities to use your money. Amen.


Monday, 6 February 2023

Pondering Proverbs

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19

While chasing prey, cheetahs can run about 60 miles per hour, but only in short spurts. This fast cat’s speed is limited to sprints because of its small heart. Endurance at that speed would require a larger heart.

The Christian’s life of obedience calls for endurance. It cannot afford the “heart condition” of a small heart, possibly engaging only in a spurt now and then. Proverbs talks about a person’s life as a reflection of his or her heart.

Talking about someone’s “heart condition” and how it shows in their life, one might ask, “How big-hearted is he?” or “Does she have the heart for it?”

A physical heart condition may prevent someone from strenuous activity, but a spiritual heart condition is more dangerous.

For example, if we have a heart condition that makes us miserly, we are not apt to share from the abundance we have been given. On the other hand, a heart condition that leads to sharing the joy of Jesus, who lives in our hearts, gives us the stamina for a life of faithful obedience.

Who or what has your heart? Remember, we should “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 . Filled with his unconditional love, we’ll have a large, well-conditioned heart!

Faithful Father, thank you for people in our lives who demonstrate hearts of compassion and obedience. Grant us the largeness of heart to be what you want us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Community Groups Regularly Usiing the Church

Regrettably, due to the current restrictions, there are no community activities at the church premises.

Watch this space for news of when activities will restart.