Daily Readings – April 2021

Daily Readings and Prayer Points
Submitted by Dr Donald MacVicar, Session Clerk

The old adage for the month of April is that it ‘comes in like a lion and out like a lamb’ in terms of the weather at either end of the month. The readings for this month relate to April 2021 years ago; a month of momentous change for humankind. In a totally different way it could have been described as a month coming in like a lion and out like a lamb. A month commencing with the depth of the Crucifixion, then Resurrection of Jesus and finishing approximately one month later with His victorious Ascension to heaven.
The daily readings will follow the course of this remarkable month and will largely revolve round people, the characters involved in this life-changing period of history.

Thursday 1st April
The night before his arrest Jesus took his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, Matt 26 v 36, Luke 22 v 39, a secluded spot at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Knowing what was ahead of him he was greatly troubled and anguished that he was sweating drops of blood. He even pleaded before God to be excused the ordeal to come, ‘Father, Take this cup from me’. Yet in prayer he knew he had to go through with it since God had determined this, ‘yet not what I will, but what You will’. As we consider the sacrifice of Jesus, turn to the words of James Montgomery’s hymn. ‘According to Thy gracious word’.

Prayer Point
Help us to follow the example of Jesus. He was deeply sorrowed and troubled over what was to happen. His first instinct was to turn to his Heavenly Father. Pray for our sorrows or troubles or for others experiencing the same. Pray for the Kirk Session who meet this evening to discuss a number of things including possible reopening of the church for worship.

Friday 2nd April
Following his betrayal and the sham trial in front of Pilate and the High priest, Jesus was crucified in Golgotha on the Hill of Calvary. Amidst the agony he witnessed to the two criminals being crucified on either side of him. One criminal showed no remorse and continued hurling insults towards Jesus even to the point of his death. The other criminal however showed remorse. In the midst of His own agony Jesus gave these saving words to him, ‘I tell you the truth today you will be with me in paradise.’ With His death we read Matt 27 v 45-55 darkness came over all the land. At the moment of Christ’s death the curtain of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook, rocks split and tombs broke open.

Prayer Point
Pray for understanding and grace to realise the depths of agony, physical and mental that Jesus endured as he suffered on Calvary’s cross, for us.

Saturday 3rd April
Luke 23 tells us of the Roman centurion, a battle hardened soldier who on seeing what had happened, praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man’. Others it is said who were witnesses ‘beat their breasts and went away’. This had been a gross travesty of justice and they felt guilty. This violent state sponsored murder seems on face value to be utterly unfair. But there was a deeper purpose in Jesus death though. The apostle Peter later was to encapsulate it in his ministry, ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’. 1 Peter 3 v 1,4.

Prayer Point
Read Matthew 6 v 5-15 as Jesus taught disciples how to pray. ‘When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you’.

Sunday 4th April
A follower of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus body and laid it in the tomb where a guard was placed to watch over it. Jesus friends’ Mary Magdalene and Mary came to look at the tomb when a sudden and further supernatural event took place before them. Mark 28 describes a violent earthquake heralding the appearance of an angel with the most incredible news, ‘He is not here, HE IS RISEN!’. A short time after, while on their way to tell the disciples Jesus, the risen Jesus met them, ‘Do not be afraid’ Jesus reassured them in the middle of the maelstrom of these events. Today is a day we would in normal times meet at our Easter Communion Service. As we are reminded of God’s grace through Jesus we often sing the well known hymn, ‘Jesus Christ is risen today, Hallelujah!’.

Prayer Point
Pray in thankfulness for this greatest discovery, that Jesus arose. We would traditionally commemorate this day of resurrection at the Easter communion service in the church. Pray for Rev Douglas Horne who is recording this week’s Easter service. Pray also for the special evening service of readings and praise.

Monday 5th April
Mary Magdalene belonged to the seaside village of Magdala. In Jesus earlier ministry of healing he had cast out seven demons from Mary. From then forwards she was a devoted and faithful follower of her Lord. She was the first person to witness the empty tomb and the first person to encounter the resurrected Jesus. Mary reached the disciples in Jerusalem. John 20,18 and reported the exciting news to them and also that she had even met the risen Lord ,’I have seen the Lord’ she said and also told them of what Jesus had said to her. Many many others in successive times and generations have also been able to say, ’I have seen the Lord’.

Prayer Point
Pray that we too as beneficiaries of Jesus sacrificial death that we too may pass on the good news as Mary did. ‘I have seen the Lord’.

Tuesday 6th April
That same day, Luke 24 v 13-31 Cleopas and his friend were walking the seven miles home to Emmaeus from Jerusalem. It may well have been that they were at the Passover and maybe even at the crucifixion at Calvary. Deep in conversation, their heads bowed, probably troubled by events in the city ,the two men talked about the Cross, the earthquake, the empty tomb even and tried to come to an understanding of it. They were mystified though. They could not find answers to it despite their deep conversation. Then Jesus came up beside them, quietly and unobtrusively He listened to them as they tried to figure out the mystery .They were to discover they had a unique answerer, the very Jesus who had gone through all this.

Prayer Point
As Cleopas and his friend showed they were doubters, lacking assurance and certainty, pray that we fallible people who are like Cleopas at times may have it confirmed that Jesus understands and can also walk with us in life.

Wednesday 7th April
So Jesus listened without revealing his identity to them. Coming from Emmaeus these two would have had ample opportunity to know of Jesus. As Galileans, They would be well aware of Jesus succession of healings, His miracles, His claims of deity, His goodness. Yet they were blind to this largely. Their knowledge and impression of Jesus purpose was shallow. So shallow that Jesus scolded them Luke 24 v 25 ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory? Is this not an encouragement for us also to deepen and consolidate our understanding of the reasons for Jesus life and death?

Prayer Point
Pray for this evening’s prayer meeting. Pray with thankfulness for the technology which allows us fellowship in these times and for those who coordinate this.

Thursday 8th April
Jesus, risen Jesus then gave it to them clearly Luke 25 v 25 Jesus said to them, ’Did not the Christ HAVE to suffer these things and then enter his glory ’ Jesus HAD to suffer, had to suffer ejection unfairness and an excruciating death. He HAD to suffer as part of the will of God to suffer for Cleopas and his friend. Likewise he HAD to suffer for us all, for you and for me. I regard to this, read over the wonderful Charles Wesley hymn, “And can it be ‘that I should gain, an interest in the Saviour’s blood. Died he for me who caused his pain- For me, who him to death pursued…’

Prayer Point
Pray for relief from the pandemic which has so affected this world. Pray for those suffering through bereavement or ongoing illness. Pray with thankfulness that our community have largely been spared.

Friday 9th April
So In Luke 25 v 27we find Jesus enlightened these two travellers. ‘Beginning with Moses he and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ There are so many examples of the Old Testament writings pointing to the New Testament. It has been said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament on the other hand is the Old Testament revealed. Jesus was effectively saying to Cleopas and his friend to expand their knowledge, deepen their knowledge, delve into scripture. We should all be encouraged to follow the same advice from the words of the Saviour.

Prayer Point
Pray for the vaccine outreach. Extend thankfulness to medical scientists who developed the vaccine. Pray that vaccination would continue in a fair fashion and be distributed to countries less equipped to afford and administer it.

Saturday 10th April
To do his explanation Luke 24 v 27 again Jesus began with Moses and all the prophets revealing to the two what was said concerning himself. By my count he would have disclosed the prophesies and statements of seventeen men of God as they journeyed!. What a journey these two men experienced as they walked the road home to Emmaeus as they listened to this stranger still with unrevealed identity as a companion. They were to say later, ‘We’re not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened up the Scriptures to us, v 32. Isn’t it the case too for us that our hearts feel like burning when we discover the truth?

Prayer Point
Pray for emergency services, health and social services which have been stretched over the last year. Grant courage, resilience and perseverance.

Sunday 11th April
Let us look at what Jesus may have said regarding Moses and all the prophets. Deuteronomy 18v 15 as Moses on his treaty to the Israelites said, ’The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers’. In the desert of Sinai regarding the manna from heaven reference John 6 v 58, ‘The bread that came down from heaven’ or the water that gushed from the rock at Meribah in Sinai reference John 7 v 37 ‘Whoever believes in me ‘Jesus said, ‘will have streams of living water flowing from within them’. There are many further instances of the life and experience of Moses that point to Jesus.

Prayer Point
Pray today for Rev Donald Morrison who is recording today’s service. Donald was a member in the East Church in the early 1990s. He was called to the ministry and served in Lochgilphead Free Church till his recent retirement to the Black Isle. Pray for him and that the service may be a blessing.

Monday 12th April
Jesus would almost certainly have asked the two sojourners to consider the Psalms. Many of our most familiar Psalms depict the forthcoming Jesus. Psalm 22 may have been included as Jesus recalled Old Testament pointers to Jesus, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ The very words Jesus cried out himself at the ninth hour as he hung on the cross. The last words Jesus uttered before his death. Words of crushing despair as at that moment he carried the sins of the world.

Prayer Point
Pray for the young folk in our church. The last year has been a big challenge with disruption of school and normal social contact and activities. Pray for those who would usually attend Sunday School, Youth Group, Girls’ Brigade, toddler group. Pray for leaders also who have kept the witness going in lockdown.

Tuesday 13th April
Jesus may also have referred himself to Psalm 8, v 4 says ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.’ Lower than the angels in descending through the incarnation into this world. But now crowned with glory and honour through his wonderful resurrection. And still Cleopas and his friend listened attentively to this stranger on the road. With them, the very subject of Moses and David’s divine insights from centuries before.

Prayer Point
Pray for the friends at the other pole of life. Pray specially for those in Nursing Homes who have suffered greatly in so many ways, not least in being denied contact with their loved ones. Pray for those known to us.

Wednesday 14th April
CS Lewis was a 19th century writer. In his book Surprised by Joy he related his early years of battling against God and termed himself atheist. He felt though that for some reason God was interested in him despite his antagonism and began soul-searching and reading. He gradually came round to admit that God was God and knelt and prayed. He immersed himself in church and the gospels and was aknowledging the truthfulness h of God but still maybe like Cleopas has not understood God’s Son, Jesus. In a famous passage he wrote of a day outing to Whipsnade Zoo. He wrote “When I set out I did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, when we reached the zoo, I did’. Lewis referred to his journey to Whipsnade as his Emmaeus Rd. Cleopas and friend as they walked with this ‘stranger’ were also quickly establishing an understanding of Jesus. Amazingly through The Saviour’s very own words.

Prayer Point
Pray for those in our fellowship who have been bereaved in the last year. A number of our friends have passed to Eternity and we have felt a bit powerless to pay our respects in the tradition we are used to. Pray for those bereaved and pray for those who bring comfort at these times of loss.

Thursday 15th April
Saul, a hot headed legalist was also heading on a different road in this region. Read Acts 9. From Jerusalem to Damascus he was travelling. There on this road he was stiffened to his very core as the risen Jesus appeared before him in a brilliant flash saying so pointedly to him, ’Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? ‘Saul, to become Paul of course would carry the news of the truth of Jesus to many. So did CS Lewis in his own way. So did Cleopas and his friend as they returned to Jerusalem to carry this greatest of news of Jesus resurrection to the disciples in Jerusalem. We too in our corner are asked to carry the news of Jesus.

Prayer Point
Pray that indeed we may carry the news of Jesus by either what we say or do. Grant us the opportunities to witness and serve Pray for our Nominating Committee who meet tonight. Pray earnestly for God’s will.

Friday 16th April
Returning though to the actual Emmaeus road, the three travellers eventually reached their destination. The two friends urged Jesus to stay with them. Only when Jesus broke bread and gave thanks did they recognise Him and at that point he disappeared from their sight. They may have recognised Him from the nail scarred hands or from the cuts on his scalp from the crown of thorns. They may also have recognised Him from his style of breaking bread and the depth of his giving thanks. Their hearts were ‘burning’. They retraced their steps back to Jerusalem to inform the disciples.

Prayer Point
Pray for Duncan Fraser, Treasurer and his team who have overseen our finances in this extraordinary year. We are thankful for the ongoing great generosity of the congregation.

Saturday 17th April
In John 20v 19-23 the disciples of Jesus were huddled together, we read, behind locked doors in a room in Jerusalem. Ten of them. Judas of course was not there and Thomas was absent from their group that day. They were bewildered by events, possibly guilty of their desertion of Jesus as the forces murdered him and in a confused state maybe not fully realising the purpose and deity of Jesus. Jesus, the risen Jesus came and stood amongst them in that room .In the midst of their ‘lockdown’ he said these calming words, ‘Peace be with you’. He then charged the disciples to continue the mission Jesus had started and that they were tasked to continue. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord (v 20) Jesus in his resurrected state would appear TEN times to his disciples.

Prayer Point
Pray for those who have prepared our audiovisual presentations each week. To Ann, Robert and Sheila who do a power of work behind the scenes to promote and distribute our weekly services. Pray with thankfulness for the unexpected grant from Scottish Government which will allow us to live stream services to further promote the Gospel.

Sunday 18th April
Thomas John 20 v 24 was missing from this group in the locked room. Thomas, ‘Doubting Thomas’, as he is known made it clear he would have to see the risen Jesus for himself to believe it was Him. In his saving grace towards Thomas a week later Jesus again visited the gathered disciples. He scolded Thomas for his lack of trust, ’Stop doubting and believe’. This having being straightened out for Thomas ‘Jesus went on to issue a statement for benefit of all mankind, then and now,’ Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed’. For the remainder of his life Thomas went on to witness to the truth of Jesus. Given his insights of the grace of Jesus in His life and His death, what a witness he must have been.

Prayer Point
Pray for those whose faith is tested as was the case for Thomas. Pray that today’s service may be a blessing. Pray that praise prayer and word may all be acceptable.

Monday 19th April
Mark in 16 v14 has a slightly different slant on Jesus appearing to the disciples. He ‘rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen’. On face value these events that the disciples had live through could have been hard for them to assimilate and understand. The claims of deity, the healings, the miracles, the holiness of Jesus that they were all partakers of as they walked with Him but they did let Jesus down on occasions. Even at the pinnacle of Jesus anxiety before Calvary seeking solitude and private prayer before His Father he returned to his disciples and found them asleep. ‘Could you not keep watch for one hour? The spirit is willing but the body is weak’ Jesus said to them.

Prayer Point
Pray for schools who have now returned from the Easter break. Pray for protection and safety for pupils and staff. Pray for teachers who so often go the extra mile.

Tuesday 20th April
John 21 begins with the story of the miraculous catch of fish. Seven of Jesus ‘disciples arranged to meet at the Sea of Tiberias or Galilee to go out fishing. No doubt they would have talked and talked of recent events and no doubt would have racked each other’s brains to make an understanding of the events that had unfolded round the death of their leader. They fished all night but caught nothing. Early in the morning an unidentified voice because of the darkness shouted to them to throw the net to the other side of the boat. Thinking maybe to themselves they would have nothing to lose by doing so, they followed the voice’s command and in doing so there was such a catch of fish that these seven strong men could not haul in the net. Only then did they twig that this voice was that of Jesus. ‘It IS the Lord’. They proclaimed.

Prayer Point
Pray for this world. This broken world in many ways. Pray for peace in troubled areas in the Middle East, in Myanmar in Yemen and so many other parts where there is tension.

Wednesday 21st April
After this breakfast of fish John 21 v 15 describes the reinstatement of Peter. Peter was a rather excitable type I think. We remember that he denied Jesus THREE times before the crucifixion at Calvary. Sitting there with his co-disciples with Jesus before him he must have felt sheepish and remorseful. Jesus in his gracious kindness broke the ice for Peter. THREE times in return now Jesus tested Peter for his love towards Him. Peter was accepted back into the fold having been tested by his Master. ‘Follow Me’ Jesus said to him. Remind ourselves of the same words Jesus said to Peter and his brother at the start of Jesus mission in Galilee these thirty years before, ‘Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men’. Mark 1 v 17.

Prayer Point
Pray for this evenings Prayer Meeting. We pray for the encouragement we see in good numbers attending. We pray for our country; for revival, for a reawakening to the truth of Jesus and all that he offers to our society.

Thursday 22nd April
Simon Peter, now accepted back did indeed follow Jesus for the rest of his days and what a powerful first hand witness he carried. This humble Galilean fisherman became a powerful apostle/missionary and writer. Christian tradition holds that Peter too, as was the case of his master Jesus, was crucified for his Christian witness. In 1 Peter 2 v 1, 2 Peter himself writes for us ‘Therefore rid yourself of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good ‘Peter tasted of the Lord Jesus. The Lord was good to Peter, and He was gracious to him.

Prayer Point
We pray for our Church, central and also at Presbytery level. Huge challenges face the Church of Scotland. We pray for wisdom be given to leaders. We pray especially for our Presbytery Clerk, Trevor Hunt who has worked so selflessly. Pray also that the merging of Highland Presbyteries into one organisation may go smoothly and be in accordance with God’s will.

Friday 23rd April
Staying at the Sea of Tiberias for today’s thoughts; successive people of many generations, could also claim to have also heard the voice, the call of Jesus, in the darkness. In an earlier chapter of John 12v 46 regarding spiritual darkness Jesus himself said, ‘I have come into this world as a light, so that no-one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’ This latest miracle of the 153 fish from the lake was a further sign to the disciples of the almighty power and grace of God’s son.

Prayer Point
Pray for our Deacons’ Court who have worked very hard in the last year on our behalf. Pray for George and Marlene who coordinate and for our Fabric Convener Calum who has had at least one weekly visit to the church and halls to assess organise and supervise repairs to our ageing building. Pray for Calum and the Fabric Committee.

Saturday 24th April
The time on earth for Jesus was coming to a conclusion. As Jesus had instructed on the Emmaeus Rd to the two strangers, he did so with his friends the disciples again. Luke 24 v 45-48. The vital truths were repeated to them, message was explained and reinforced. Jesus was preparing them for action for His cause as His days with them were coming to an end. His message to them ‘You are witnesses of these things’. The disciples had been hard nuts to crack but they were now coming to an understanding of the unique supernatural yet wonderful events since they were called from the Galilean shores to serve Jesus.

Prayer Point
We pray especially today for those going through illness, some of a progressive nature. We pray for each such person known to us. Pray for the assurance that Ps 23 brings, to us all ‘For You are with me, your rod and staff they comfort me’.

Sunday 25th April
We know that Jesus appeared on TEN occasions in his resurrected body. These appearances were not confined to Jerusalem or its environs. Matthew 28 v 16-20 describes what we know as the Great Commission. Jesus told the disciples to go to a mountainside in Galilee. Likely this would be a place familiar to them in the days of Jesus earthly mission. On that hillside Jesus appeared to them and said ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. AND SURELY I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS EVEN TO THE VERY END OF THE AGE’.

Prayer Point
Pray that we may be uplifted and encouraged by these words that Jesus promises to be with us always. Pray with thankfulness that Jesus claimed the victory. That He conquered death and returned to his Father and there to intercede for us. Pray for Rev John Tallach who leads our Service today.

Monday 26th April
Back in Jerusalem Jesus appeared before them for the penultimate time. Acts 1 v 4-5 He ate with them. He told them to remain in Jerusalem for ‘the gift that my father had promised’. This is a reference to the Holy Spirit which was promised to them to allow them to act under the authority of God for the forthcoming days where they were to proclaim the Good News in Christ’s name. There has been theological debate whether Jesus conferred the Spirit on a separate occasion to Pentecost for the disciples. However we do know the Holy Spirit came at the Day of Pentecost for the benefit of all mankind Read the wonderful description of this day in Acts 2.

Prayer Point
Pray for the work of the Holy Spirit, who came down at Pentecost. Pray that the Spirit would inspire us not just as a church but as individuals.

Tuesday 27th April
Finally to the ASCENSION. Resurrected Jesus returned to the disciples in Jerusalem for the tenth and last time. Convinced by now that they had a clear understanding of their Master’s life death and resurrection he led them out of the city to a small town named Bethany Luke 24 v 50. Bethany, a town he knew well. There Jesus lifted up his hands and blessed his friends, the disciples. While blessing them he was taken up to heaven while Acts 1 tells us that a cloud hid Him from their sight as He returned victoriously to heaven to sit at His Father’s right hand. Paul in his letter to the Colossians 3 v1 gives us who benefit through faith a remarkable insight and truth. ‘Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set you minds on things above, not on earthly things.’

Prayer Point
Pray for those caught in addictions of different types. Pray for the services who approach these unfortunate folk who are entrapped and can often see no way out. Pray for services regarding approaches to alcohol, drugs and gambling. Pray for those stepping away from their compulsions which can be so difficult.

Wednesday 28th April
Luke 24 v 52-53 The disciples then returned to Jerusalem ‘With great joy’ where ‘they stayed continually praising God’. Remind ourselves of their situation forty days before (study day 17). Then they were huddled together in a locked room in the same city. Now they are transformed, filled with joy, filled with the Spirit continually at the temple, praising God. Released out of their self enforced lockdown into the light of understanding, moulded by the prompting of Jesus on these ten occasions. Only now as Jerusalem was to become the launching pad for the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations, only now could they be called real disciples.

Prayer Point
Pray for this evenings prayer meeting that it may truly be a blessing. Pray too for those who maybe cannot come and join as not comfortable with IT and zoom. Pray for each and we look forward with anticipation to the day when we can all meet again without the restrictions we are subject to at present.

Thursday 29th April
We of course in Inverness have experienced lockdown of a different cause. The sanctuary of the East Church has been closed for over one year. The first time in its 200 + year history that there has been prolonged enforced closure. We look forward indeed to the day when our lockdown is over and we can return to Sunday and Wednesday public worship. Reflecting back how God had moulded his disciples for mission in his resurrected presence we pray too that when we return we would do so joyfully as we consider the mercies the grace that God has spared us through this extraordinary year.

Prayer Point
We again pray for patience as lockdown continues. We pray as we can see light at the end of this tunnel that we remain thankful. We are thankful for Gods hand in and over us in the last year. We pray too that God may also guide people who may have evaluated their lives in the last year as the mortality of life was so manifest to us.

Friday 30th April
As the disciples stood there in Bethany as Jesus ascended two angels came along beside them Acts 1 10-11. They gave them another truth of massive importance,’ This same Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven ,will COME BACK in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven’. Like a thief in the night or in a twinkling of the eye as was said. But believers have to take courage and confidence from the well known words of disciple John Chapter 14 v 1-3, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 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 ‘. Read the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn, ‘Rejoice the Lord is King; your Lord and King adore; mortals give thanks and sing and triumph evermore: Lift up your heart, lift up your voice; rejoice, again I say REJOICE. Amen

Prayer Point
Pray for a closer walk with God as we continue this journey on earth. Pray for the mighty truths of the Gospel such as the second coming of Jesus. Pray too for the personal touch of the Triune God offered to each of us, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’. Amen