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Messages from the interim moderator
New Year for some is still a time of predictions. Newspaper columnists and others fill space by guessing the future. At the end of the year, few though look back and admit to being completely wrong or having missed what would be important. No one predicted a devastating pandemic, or Princes Harry and Andrew giving up royal duties, or Bill Bailey winning a TV dancing competition. Maybe this year St Johnstone will win the league, Methven will have a bypass, Almondbank will have a paying car park.
As we start this new year, different people will approach it in different ways. Some with anxiety, some with happy expectation, some with uncertainty, some with indifference. Today I offer the top predictions for 2021. These are not from politicians, celebrities or media columnists, and they should encourage and reassure anyone who needs such encouragement or reassurance about their life or the future.
1. The Bible will still have the answers you need to get through another year. From Psalm 119: Your word, O Lord, is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens; your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path; the unfolding of your words give light, it gives understanding to the simple; all your words are true, all your righteous laws are eternal.
2. Prayer will still be heard by God and be our direct line to him for encouragement and blessing. 2 Chronicles 7:12: the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said: "I have heard your prayer." Psalm 32:6: let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found. Proverbs 15:8: the prayer of the upright pleases him.
3. The Holy Spirit will still be active. Psalrn 139:7: Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Wherever I go you will be there. Romans 8:15: you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father."
4. God will still hear the praises of His people. Psalm 47:6: Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. Hebrews 13:15: Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
5. There will still be God-anointed preaching and teaching and leading. Isaiah 55:11: my word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty. Ephesians 4:11: It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.
6. The cross of Jesus will still be absolutely essential for life now and always. Colossians 1:20: and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Galatians 6:14: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
7. Jesus will still save the lost. Luke 19:10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. John 14:6: Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'
8. Jesus will still love you. Romans 8:38+39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
9. God will still pour out blessings upon His people. Proverbs 10:6: Blessings crown the head of the righteous. Psalm 24:5: He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Ezekiel 34:26: I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. Ephesians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
10 The Church will still be the place to be. Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. And all the more as you see the day approaching.
Now these are not just likely or unlikely predictions or guesses. They are infinitely more than that for they are God’s promises to people who trust him. There must be something in the Bible words today for each of us to be encouraged by as we enter this new year. If we would live our lives remembering and living by God's word then 2021 will yet be a peaceful joy-filled blessed year.
This prayer from Billy Graham, written for The Saturday Evening Post in 2008, is just as relevant more than a decade later.
Our Father God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we admit our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future. We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.
In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love. In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need. In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.
And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: “Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end” (Psalm 119:33).
We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. Bring our divided people together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).
As we look back over this past year with all its hurts and sadness we thank You that your love and goodness could still be seen. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and centre of our lives this year.
And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. in the name of our Lord and Saviour, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come. Amen
The Church of Scotland will be providing a recorded service every Sunday via its website and social media platforms. It will also aim to provide guidance and ideas for how congregations can connect with each other and offer spiritual practices for members to follow in their own time. Cormac Russell writes on Asset Based Community Development, and he stresses: 'We are not engaging in "social-distancing"; we are engaged in "physical distancing" while remaining social.'
Good Friday: worship at home.
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