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.

Friday, 30 June 2023

Summer Blessings

So here is a final seashore incident for us to consider.

Acts 16:6-10 They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas

That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew now for sure that God had called us to preach the good news to the Europeans.”

In a sense this completes one theme and yet introduces our next of journeys through the bible.

I have often been heard to say that the problem with many a church is that it tends to say, “Lord, I have an idea, please bless it.” Rather than in terms of scripture to wait upon the Lord.

Albert Einstein was traveling from Princeton on a train. When the conductor came down the aisle punching tickets Einstein reached in his vest pocket; he could not find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn’t there so he looked in his briefcase, but still could not find it. He looked in the seat next to him, but it was not there.

The conductor kindly said, “Dr. Einstein, I know who you are, we all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket, don’t worry about it.” The conductor then continued on his way punching tickets. Just before he went to the next car he turned around and saw the great scientist on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, “Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don’t worry. I know who you are. No problem. You don’t need a ticket.”

Einstein said, “Young man, I too know who I am. What I don’t know is where I am going.”

Perhaps the answer to right decision making and finding the right direction for our lives is found in the in the ancient words of Proverbs 3:5-7 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil.”

Father God, as I seek to live for Jesus, I do pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me in my decisions, empower me in my efforts, and open the doors of people's hearts to your message. I do not want to try to live my life for you on my own efforts. I am thankful for your assurance that you — as Father, Son, and Spirit — go with me. In Jesus' name, I thank you. Amen

Thursday, 29 June 2023

Summer Blessings

We pick up the next part of Paul’s shipwreck venture in Acts 28:1-2 “Once everyone was accounted for and we realised we had all made it, we learned that we were on the island of Malta. The natives went out of their way to be friendly to us. The day was rainy and cold and we were already soaked to the bone, but they built a huge bonfire and gathered us around it.” (The Message)

Luke reported that the ship carrying Paul was abandoned as it broke up in the storm and that all the passengers, prisoners, sailors, and officers got ashore safely, as God had promised through the apostle Paul. Then Luke continued: The people of the island were very kind to us, building a bonfire on the beach to welcome and warm us in the rain and cold.

What a wonderful blessing! After two weeks in a horrendous storm and the ship breaking up, all the people on board with Paul were safely ashore and welcomed by the kindness of the people of Malta. Despite the bad weather, they came outside and greeted these weary, hungry, cold, and shipwrecked people with a warm fire. Hospitality is a gift that we give to others and that demonstrates the loving welcome of God. While believers were not the people offering hospitality in this situation, these unbelievers on the island displayed the heart of God by welcoming and caring for outsiders. Hospitality is a gift we share with others because it is one we received when we became children of God!

Today, Malta has seemingly more churches per member of the population than any other country.  With a land mass smaller than that of the Isle of Wight there are a total of 359 churches (313 in Malta and 46 in Gozo). Perhaps that shows how  a simple act of kindness can have a profound and lasting effect. Perhaps we need to remember the words of Jesus, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35

God, we are aliens and sojourners in this world,

but you invite us to be your guests.

You lavishly offer us your hospitality

and lovingly welcome us into your family,

You invite us to share in the abundance of your kingdom.

God, you have shown us that providing hospitality to strangers

opens a doorway into the Kingdom of God.

Remind us that when we offer hospitality to others,

we are receiving Christ into our midst and so fulfilling the law of love.

We open our hearts to embrace the stranger, the friend, the rich, and the poor,

We open our lives to offer a generous heart toward all. Amen

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Summer Blessings

 Acts 27:39-41

When daylight came, they did not recognise the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.”

Of course not all seaside ventures are peaceful, tranquil scenes.  In today’s verses we get a snippet of the dangers of sea voyages in the Mediterranean. 

In this episode we see the miracle at the end of this terrifying experience for people on board this ship: Everyone's life was saved! The ship's captain and sailors and the Roman commanding officer and other soldiers all followed the directions of Paul and trusted in God's promises to Paul.

God doesn't promise Jesus' followers that they will be immune to storms. Life can be hard, challenging, disappointing, and exhausting. None of us will make it out of this life unchallenged or unscathed. As Jesus' followers, however, God has promised that we will never be abandoned* and that we will arrive safely home with Jesus when our storms are done. Our job is to be faithful and help others find Jesus in the storm!

John and Charles Wesley set out for America in 1735, enthused at the idea of preaching the Gospel to Native American people. During the voyage the ship was struck by a terrifying storm. John was afraid. He prayed with the English passengers, one of whom brought him a baby to baptise in case they were all about to die.

Shortly afterwards he was at another service with a group of German Moravians when a huge wave engulfed the ship and water poured down into the cabins. While the English passengers screamed in terror, the Moravians continued singing - men, women and children seemingly untroubled.

Later he asked one of the Moravians if they hadn't been afraid. He replied that not even the women and children had been afraid. None of them were afraid to die.John knew that they had something he didn't, an absolute trust in God. They were prepared to lose their lives because they knew that God was never going to let them go.

Father, thank you for the assurance that you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are always with me — that I am never abandoned or left all alone. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being God's presence within me, the Breath of God being with me every breath I take. Strengthen my faith in your presence and empower me to courageously face my future because I know you are with me and empower me. Thank you, O God, for always being near. In Jesus' name, I offer my adoration and praise for your abiding nearness. Amen.

Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Summer Blessings

In Acts 21:5-6 we meet Paul and his companions on one of their many journeys and read, “At the end of the week when we returned to the ship, the entire congregation including wives and children walked down to the beach with us where we prayed and said our farewells.  Then we went aboard, and they returned home.”

What a wonderful picture the church at prayer on the seashore with the waves lapping at their feet. On the shore - this bible episode indicates that any place may be proper for prayer. It gives a new emphasis that God is everywhere, and can as easily hear prayer on the seashore as in the most magnificent temple. 

This is an instance, where the apostle evidently prayed with the church without a form of prayer. No one can believe that Paul thus poured forth the desires of his heart at parting, and commended them to God in a prescribed form of words. 

Scenes like this show more clearly than abstract arguments could do that such a form was not needed, and would not be used. Paul and his fellow-Christians, on the sand of the sea-shore, would pour forth the gushing emotions of their souls in language such as their circumstances would suggest, and no one can read this narrative in a dispassionate manner without believing that they offered prayer.

In your minds eye walk along the seashore.  Hear the Waves. There is an ebb and flow to the spiritual life, just as there is an ebb and flow to the waves breaking onto the sand. It is much like breathing. Inhaling and exhaling. Inhale as the waves come in. Take in an expectation of every- thing God might have for you today as you fill your lungs. Exhale as the wave returns to the sea. Breathe out any heaviness you have on your heart or mind or in your physical being. In and out. Receiving and releasing. There is a consistency of God in the waves. There is a consistency of God in you. Let him fill you.

Feel the stones under your feet. Ask yourself what is cluttering your mind this day? What worries consume your thoughts? What do you need to turn over to God? Find a stone on the beach. Allow it to represent all that you need to give up to God. When you are ready, throw the stone into the ocean. Watch God receive it.

Take your shoes off and feel sand running through your toes. Let it fall between your fingers. Know that God has numbered the sands on the shore just as he knows how many stars he has set in the sky. How big is your God? Write a word to describe God in the sand. Leave it there as you continue the journey.

Lord, as I walk daily with You, I will put my hope in You today, all day long. Remind me, through Your Holy Spirit, to look to You for guidance.Call me into Your quiet presence to think on Your truths and precepts. May I not be distracted by the world. Thank you that You give me the hope, help, and peace I need. Thank you that You never cease to call me to Yourself. Help me to respond afresh to Your presence in my life as I seek You daily in prayer and meditation. Help me, Lord Jesus Christ, walk with You, my Lord and God, Amen!

Monday, 26 June 2023

Summer Blessings

One of the delights of summer is that of heading to the coast a walking along the seashore. It’s interesting to note how often the location of significant bible events took place on a beach. Take John 21:8-10 where we read, “The rest of us stayed in the boat and pulled the loaded net to the beach, about 300 feet away. When we got there, we saw that a fire was kindled and fish were frying over it, and there was bread.“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went out and dragged the net ashore.”

A night of futile fishing leaves empty nets and empty hearts. Jesus takes the initiative and meets them in the early morning light. He invites them to eat: ‘Breakfast is ready!’ There is an abundant table ready - of fish, food, love, warmth, and great joy. Here, fractured relationships are healed.

Jesus is interested in our work and lives and knows what we need. We see this when Peter is encouraged to try again and with Jesus’s intervention, he is overcome with surprise. Not only is Peter's livelihood assured but Jesus also cares about his nutrition needs “Come and have breakfast” and bring some of what you have caught. How simply and sensitively Jesus deals with us! He knows our needs and our hunger. He knows too that we can only manage the revelations of the divine in small portions. I could do well before my daily breakfast to listen to the Lord speaking my name and saying ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Imagine him serving me, if not with bread and fish, perhaps with a muffin and coffee! I begin to notice that through the day he continues to serve me what I need.

We are assured that God is in our midst, involved in our struggles. Deliberately try to leave spaces in your schedule, to allow for interruptions, they may be life’s surprises. Trusting that Jesus knows what we need, allow him to transform and lighten our load and accept his care and attention.

Jesus, you meet me at the water’s edge of my ordinary life. You accept me lovingly, you encourage me, you invite me to abundance. Nourished by the food of your word, warmed by the fire of your unfailing love, may I in turn nourish, heal and love those I meet today. Amen

Sunday, 25 June 2023

Walking with God

Isaiah 30:21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

These words sound to be way before their time; almost like the GPS SatNav. 

An American preacher shares how his brother  had come home from Italy to visit him, and attended worship at the congregation where the minister served. After the service, he wanted to go to Mammoth Cave and show his wife and son one of the natural wonders of the US. 

The preacher and his wife  tagged along, and told his brother knew the way. The visiting brother said, “Naw, we’ll use the GPS and that will get us there faster.” 

The preacher-brother later said he should have never listened to him! We went through Amish country, down every backroad, and ended up at a caravan in the middle of nowhere! 

The preacher asked his brother to let him see his GPS, and he had entered Mammoth Cave, Kentucky…not Mammoth Cave National Park! 

We can claim to have the directions, but are we sure that they are right? There is only one true source for Christ...and that is His Word!

I w

onder are we listening to God’s Positioning System.

Notice the word says, “This is the way, walk in it.” Whether you turn to the right or to the left, that voice will guide you if you listen. The Lord cares about our lives. How we live matters to God. We are not free to chart our own course and navigate our own lives. The Lord has a standard. How do we know that standard? One, He has revealed it to us through His Word. This is why we should study the Scriptures. Second, He has revealed it through that inner voice. Our consciences will lead us in the ways of the Lord if we learn to heed the voice. 

Nobody has an excuse. We can’t say we didn’t know what the Lord expects of us. Instead, we need to tune our hearts to hear His voice. We should follow as the Lord leads us, always measuring what we hear against God’s Word, so we don’t mistake hearing the voice of the Lord with our own selfish desires. There is a way God expects of us. Walk in it.

Father, I come before You in the Name of Jesus, and I choose life today! I will walk in faith and not in fear. Because the Lord is on my side I will not fear what any man can do to me. Father, in the Name of Jesus, I ask You to open my eyes to any hidden areas of fear in my life. Amen

Saturday, 24 June 2023

Summer Blessings

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Summer can often be a time of contemplating our next steps on the the pathway of life. Some years ago I heard someone comment that schools that train men and women for ministry should be attracting "the best and the brightest." Thankfully, the Lord also uses some of us who don't fit that description! In fact, according to the apostle Paul, "Not many [who were called] . . . were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth" (1 Corinthians 1:26).

Jesus' disciples were ordinary people without an advanced education. But they had been taught by the Lord Jesus himself and were empowered by the Holy Spirit.

The Lord used these ordinary people to spread the good news about the risen Saviour. And because of that they stood out. Those who questioned them "were astonished and . . . took note that these men had been with Jesus." That's the key: they had been in Jesus' presence.

Sometimes we may wonder, "Am I good enough to talk about the Lord? Do I know enough? Will others accept what I have to say?" The answer: Of course, if only we spend time with Jesus by listening to him and walking with him. If we do, it will become clear to the people around us, and they will recognise that we have been with Jesus. Are you willing to give it a try?

Lord our God, draw us into your presence, and help us to spend time with you so that others will see through our lives that we have been with Jesus. Amen.

Friday, 23 June 2023


To journey with Jesus means breaking down the barriers that divide us and accepting others without judgment. It means welcoming and mixing with the unclean, the profane, and the diseased.

In Matthew 7:1-4 we read, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

Who am I to judge?' must rank as one the best known phrases of Pope Francis. Perhaps that is because it touches a very sensitive point in our pluralistic cultures. How can we ever judge the behaviour of others? This can sometimes degenerate into a passive, uncaring attitude towards others: I will not judge you, for you are responsible for your own choices; now do not expect me to help you in any way, for I am not responsible for you at all. Jesus is saying something quite different: be careful not to judge others more harshly than you judge yourself, try to be free of prejudice for this can cloud your judgement.

In his little book Illustrations of Bible Truth, H.A. Ironside pointed out the folly of judging others. He related an incident in the life of a man called Bishop Potter. "He was sailing for Europe on one of the great transatlantic ocean liners. When he went on board, he found that another passenger was to share the cabin with him. After going to see the accommodations, he came up to the purser's desk and inquired if he could leave his gold watch and other valuables in the ship's safe. He explained that ordinarily he never availed himself of that privilege, but he had been to his cabin and had met the man who was to occupy the other berth. Judging from his appearance, he was afraid that he might not be a very trustworthy person. The purser accepted the responsibility for the valuables and remarked, 'It's all right, bishop, I'll be very glad to take care of them for you. The other man has been up here and left his for the same reason!'"

Although this story may bring a smile to our faces, it still has a deeper significance.

Thomas a Kempis Says “In judging of others, a man labourers in vain, often errs and easily sins; but in judging and examining himself, he always labourers fruitfully.”

Thomas a Kempis also prayed; Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,To love what I ought to love,To praise what delights Thee most,To value what is precious in Thy sight,To hate what is offensive to Thee.Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,Nor to pass sentence according to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;But to discern with a true judgment between things visible and spiritual,And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of Thy will. Amen.

Summer Blessings


“Who do you say I am?” —  Matthew 16:15

Busyness seems to be driven by a determination not to “miss out on life.” Behind much of the rat race of life today is the unexamined assumption that what I do determines who I am.

Jesus did not have that problem. His identity as the Son of God and calling as the Messiah were clear. He never asked a question to which he didn’t have the answer. When he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” he did that for their benefit. The disciples looked back and responded with the names of prophets from the past because people believed that the Messiah, their promised deliverer, would be like those prophets.

But Peter had seen enough to know that Jesus was the true Anointed One (Messiah). Peter had an inspired confession of faith. He declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Peter was a prophet as he spoke these words. He affirmed the truth of God, professing that Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour. That is what we do as prophets. We share in Christ’s calling as prophets when we point to him as the one true Saviour and Lord of all.

We are anointed as prophets to tell people who Jesus is. We are called to make Jesus famous.

As a Christian, this is your identity. This is who you are. Whom can you introduce to Jesus today?

Lord Jesus, make me more like you. Make my calling sure. May my heart and my mouth be open to confessing you as Christ, my Lord and Saviour, in whose name I pray. Amen

Thursday, 22 June 2023

Summer Blessings

Mary . . . sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.   Luke 10:39-40

Here we see Mary and Martha met Jesus. If you describe yourself as a “doer” or an organiser, you can understand where Martha was coming from. She welcomed Jesus and his disciples into her home—a wonderful thing to do. But she made herself so busy with the preparations and the work of hospitality that she didn’t slow down and pay ­attention to Jesus. In fact, she got upset with her sister, Mary, for doing just that.

Do you ever make yourself so busy (even with good things) that you miss out on hearing the voice of Jesus in your life? Jesus told Martha not to be worried and upset but to ­focus on the main thing that is ­important.

Does this mean we shouldn’t do any work for the kingdom of God? Should we only sit still and reflect on the Bible and pray? No, we are certainly called to be active doing the Lord’s work. In fact, the story of Mary and Martha comes right after the parable of the good Samaritan, a story in which Jesus praises someone who works hard to be a neighbour, showing compassion and hospitality.

Instead of going to either extreme (trying to do everything or doing nothing at all), we can focus on the most important thing, which is Jesus himself. Inspired by his love, we can show hospitality to the people around us.

Lord, help me to focus on the one thing that is important: you. Help me to welcome you into my home, my heart, and my life. Amen.

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Summer Blessingsu

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. —  Hebrews 4:9-10

Vacations are often a source of rest for many people. They are something that we long for ­after many months of hard work.

Each week we need a time of rest too. Earlier this month we spoke of God’s rest on the seventh day when he completed the work of creation. That set a pattern for us that is worth keeping. In the midst of our busy lives each week, it is good to take a day to rest from our work, to take time to worship and honour God, and to give to and share with others, especially people who are in need.

The author of Hebrews points out that the promise to enter God’s rest still stands. So, for all of us, this remains something to strive for and long for.

Echoing the warning signs mentioned earlier, Hebrews notes that some of God’s people hardened their hearts and refused to trust in God, so they did not enter his rest. Nevertheless, the promise of entering God’s rest is still there.

The promise is for everyone who believes in the good news of Jesus Christ. Entering God’s rest is something we may long for and desire. It is even something we can begin to enjoy in Christ now, and we are promised that it will be complete when Jesus comes again.

This is not a call to stop all of our activity and our work. Instead, it is a call to continue believing in Christ, knowing that through him we will enter God’s promised rest and live with him forever. 

Lord God, help us to find true rest in you. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 June 2023

Blessings of Summer

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, he hurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.”  Genesis 29:13-14

When you’ve made a mess of your life, you need a safe place to land.

After a long journey, Jacob, running for his life, arrives at the home of his uncle. These are “his” people, his mother’s family. This, surely, should be a good place to begin rebuilding his life. The fact that God had guided him to this spot—and Laban’s warm welcome—must have reassured Jacob. He would have a home away from home.

Perhaps “your” people are a group of friends to whom God has led you, people who will stick with you through good times and hard times. Perhaps you’ve made a mess of your life, but God has led you to find reliable support in a recovery group or even in prison. Sometimes God graciously pro­vides us safe places, as he does for Jacob, so that we can begin growing and rebuilding our lives.

But the most important change God works in our lives is not in our circumstances or our location; it is in our hearts. God may sometimes grant a reprieve from the effects of our sin. But as Jacob will learn, God continues to pursue us until we rest in his grace alone.

The only place to truly be at home is at the cross of Christ, where sins are forgiven and messed-up lives are made new. Won’t you flee to Jesus today? 

Holy Spirit, thank you for providing places of temporary refuge in the midst of our harried lives. Keep directing us toward the true rest that is in Christ alone. Amen.

Monday, 19 June 2023

Blessings of Summer

Genesis 2:1-3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all [his] work. . . .

I must admit that I miss the notion of Sunday as a different day from all the others. Although as a child, I recall attending 3 services a day plus morning and afternoon Sunday schools; in many senses far from a day of rest.

From earliest times the people of God replicated the story of creation because “On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day Because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done.

Nick is a small-business ­owner. He runs a restaurant. He opened it a few years ago, and he is still spending countless hours improving its operations and managing the staff. “There’s only one problem,” Nick admits. “When Sunday comes, I have no time or ­energy for the church.”

We all live in a world that pushes us to run faster and work harder. How does your calendar look? Do you have time for God and for your spiritual welfare? Do you have time for your loved ones and for the ministry of your local community of faith?

In the Bible we discover the God-ordained rhythm of life. God the Creator labours for six days and rests on the seventh. We all need regular time off to rest and be spiritually recharged in God’s presence.

The concept of biblical shalom, or peace, is all-encompassing. It includes inner wholeness and tranquility. Such harmony is unattainable if we routinely ignore our spiritual and physical rest.

Sabbath can be described as God’s “reset button” for us. Resting is central to wholeness because God uses his holy day to restore our shalom. Let us not forget about our spiritual and physical rest as we search for meaning and inner peace!

Father, thank you for teaching us about the healthy patterns of work and spiritual rest. Help us to stop running so that we can take time for you. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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.