Daily Readings – August 2020

Daily Readings and Prayer Points
This month’s daily meditations are by Ian Challinor from when Jesus began to teach in Matthew 5:1-20 and the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37. We will also remember the persecuted church in our daily prayers.

Saturday 1st August
Matthew 5:1-2 Now when He saw the crowds He went up on a mountainside and sat down and His disciples came to Him and He began to teach them.
In Mark 3:13 we read ‘Jesus went up a mountainside and called to those He wanted and they came to Him’. In our verse He sat and began to teach. We tend to look at the gospels as accounts of Jesus written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John but the words of instruction and guidance are all spoken by Jesus. He also performed the miracles, these were His works. The ministry of Jesus sets out everything for us, as we read in John 2:25 for He knew what was in the heart of man. What man or woman knows the heart of God that they could teach of Him: It is written by the prophets they will all be taught by God, John 6:45. On the Mount of Transfiguration a voice from the cloud said “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” There speaks the voice of wisdom. What a privilege, what an inspiration, what a blessing to be taught by God.

Prayer Point
Let us pray for each other at this time of uncertainty, that presbytery be given wisdom in its decision making and pray also for the persecuted church in North Korea where Christian life is cheap.

Sunday 2nd August
Matthew 5:3 Blessed (happy) are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
In the Old Testament an Israelite would look at his estate and feel blessed by God. Today people feel blessed simply through good fortune and their own hard work. In the New Testament being blessed by God is a state of inner happiness or joy. Being poor in spirit simply means God is known but not loved, acknowledged but not worshipped, the kingdom of heaven awaits. In Isaiah 57:15 he writes of God ‘I live in a high and holy place’ but also with him or her who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. What heights of love, what depths of peace that God sent His only begotten Son into this world. It is the blessing of Grace and the beginning of a faith not of our own. God chose the foolish things to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, the lowly and despised things to nullify the things that are, God chose us. Then the King will say to those on His right “Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world”.

Prayer Point
Pray for church in vacancy and give thanks for the faithful ministry of Douglas. Pray for Christians in Saudi Arabia that God will keep them safe.

Monday 3rd August
Matthew 5:4 Blessed (happy) are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. When God created the human body he built in safeguards. One of these was mourning, the ability to grieve and move life on. The mourning described here in our verse will certainly move our life on, when Jesus calls us he reveals in us the true nature of our lives to the extent we realise how far away from God we are. God’s advice to us in Jeremiah 6:16 is “Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls. “This is the moment to ask, seek and knock. Maybe being sorrowful of life or life in general is the beginning of prayer and because God is faithful we can put our trust in His promises. Isaiah 57:18 ‘I have seen his ways (that is our ways which are detestable), but I will heal them, I will guide them and restore comfort to them. Also in Revelation 7:17 ‘For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd and He will lead them to springs of living waters and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’.

Prayer Point
Pray to give thanks for the young ones in our church and those who nurture them, remember the Street Pastors who have had to get close to people to help, and those Christians in Syria who have known suffering and civil war since 2002.

Tuesday 4th August
Matthew 5:5 Blessed (happy) are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Many believe wrongly that meekness is weakness. Strength, intellect or any other human attributes will never guarantee an inheritance of any part of God’s kingdom. Only belief in Jesus will do that. Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls”. The King James actually says ‘meek and lowly’. Jesus also said “If you have seen me you have seen the Father”. When we learn from Jesus, which is something we strive for, so it can be said of us that we are changed at least outwardly becoming more Christlike. If Jesus is one with the Father then as we are always saying, we are all one in Christ. Jesus came as a lowly servant so we must take on that mantle of service. Those who are meek see themselves as they really are and yes they are strong and they also know they can be angry at the right time but they cannot be angry at the wrong time. When pride comes so does disgrace but with humility comes wisdom. Pride comes before a fall but humility comes before honour.

Prayer Point
When we phone up to ask about someone they generally say they are fine. This makes life difficult for the pastoral team. Pray for them.
Pray for those in authority over us, in their decision making for us, remember Christians in Pakistan who are at the bottom of the caste system and treated as such.

Wednesday 5th August
Matthew 5:6 Blessed (happy) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. God does not hold back on His blessings, from the manna from Heaven to the striking of the rock at Horeb. There was enough food and water for more than two million Israelites, symbolic of Jesus as the bread of life and all who believe in Him have within themselves the living waters of Eternal Life, and all are filled. When Jesus came and revealed the depths of the sin of despair in our hearts it left a great void, an emptiness in us, of course the pleasure of sin is only temporary anyway and always leaves a void. Only Jesus has the capability of filling that void, when he came he called seek you first the kingdom of heaven and it will be given to you, righteousness is needed, you cannot enter heaven without it. On the cross a great exchange took place. Jesus took our sins and He gave us His righteousness. This righteousness is so great it will stand the test of God’s judgement. We have indeed been filled.

Prayer Point
Pray that the Lord will place those students coming out of HTC and the seminary in Edinburgh where they are needed, pray for those who organise and distribute food from the food banks, to those who need it most. Remember Christians who suffer greatly at the hands of boka haram and other terrorist organisations.

Thursday 6th August
Matthew 5:7 Blessed (happy) are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy. In Matthew 18-27 the king is owed a great deal of money by his subject but the king in his grace cancels the debt, but then the man calls in the debts of those who owe him. When the king finds out he throws the man into jail. This is how we are judged outside of Christ. We were bought and redeemed at a price through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus. His loving kindness towards us is pivotal in our Christian lives and that is why it is good to be reminded of the good Samaratin. Kindness is a gift of the Spirit to be used as such. As Jesus looked down from the cross He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. Mercy extends from the cross and we cannot repay like for like. Rather Proverbs 19:17 ‘He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward him for what he has done.

Prayer Point
Pray for those in refugee camps whose lives consist of squalor, hunger, thirst, organised crime, persecution and now the virus. May God’s hand be upon them. Pray for all nomination committees in our town churches and remember the untiring work carried out by doctors and nurses.

Friday 7th August
Matthew 5:8 Blessed (happy) are the pure in heart for they will see God.
The Psalmist says who may ascend the hill of the Lord, who may stand in his Holy place. Surely this would be the time for Satan to say to us all “You are not good enough, sinners”. The Bible tells us different. This is God’s amazing grace towards us. At this stage in our Christian walk we already know that we cannot see the Kingdom of God unless we are born again. We know Jesus died for us and that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. We know we are washed by the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. However we should remember not to delude ourselves for we are still sinful but at the same time we cannot deny Christ. In John 1:11, we read children not born of natural descent or human decision but born of God. We may have started poor in spirit and looking through a glass darkly but now when perfection comes the imperfection disappears. ‘When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child’. When I became an adult I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face.

Prayer Point
Remember Christian women the world over who often have to carry the burden of family life and remember too those in hospitals, care homes and hospices. Pray for those in Cale House and Beechwood and those who support them.

Saturday 8th August
Matthew 5:9 Blessed (happy) are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.
We think of peace in terms of getting through the day without falling out with anybody or a ceasefire between two armies, peace is hard to come by. There can be a contradiction of terms when we say we fought hard for peace. In Philippians 4-7 we read ‘And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’. In other words God’s peace is beyond human knowledge. What we do know is only through that He has told us through the mystery of the Gospel. We do not fully grasp the precious gift that Jesus gives us when He said in John 14:27 “Peace I leave, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives (that would not be enough), do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid”. Why should we? For we have this inheritance kept in Heaven that can never perish, spoil or fade. Having this God-given peace we must endeavour to live peaceful lives, to live in peace with all people and give honour to God as sons and daughters of God.

Prayer Point
Pray to give thanks for Tearfund, M.A.F. and U.F.M. for their support of missionaries worldwide. Remember missionaries who often work in dangerous situations. Pray for the emergency services who took on other roles during the virus.

Sunday 9th August
Matthew 5:10 Blessed (happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The previous seven verses were aimed at people with a certain character of Jesus. Today’s verse is aimed specifically at those who are persecuted, meaning wherever we are in our walk with Christ, persecution may come upon us. So what holds our heart, mind, body and soul together? It is of course the word of God, our Bible. For perseverance we read in 2 Corinthians 4 from verse 8 ‘We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed’. If we are looking, look for strength daily, remember these words “I will never leave you or forsake you”. Our focus is always on Christ. It is his righteousness, it was hard won on the cross of Calvary. By another strange contradiction of terms, why should people die for what is right? Yet Jesus died for righteousness. What springs to mind is Pilate when he said to our Lord “What is truth?”. It seems the world can live without righteousness. We began our walk poor in spirit focusing upward on the Kingdom of Heaven, the Christian continuing onward even through persecution, always focusing on the Kingdom of Heaven.

Prayer Point
Let us pray and give thanks for Donald, Calum, Sheila and Iona for all their work in and for the church. Pray for the Bible Society and translators of the Word. For the first time in nearly two thousand years there is a tiny church in Somalia. Please pray that it will grow.

Monday 10th August
Matthew 5:11 Blessed (happy) are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Today’s verse is addressing us in the singular blessed (happy) are you etc. At the moment we do not suffer from physical violence. Our persecution comes mainly through restriction of liberty to worship and public speaking. We read in Isaiah 51:7 ‘hear me, you know what is right, you people who have my law in your heart’. We all know what it is like to live in this world with all it’s temptations. There is a story from the first century about Tertullian. A Christian man approached Tertullian complaining of all the work he had to do in the pagan temple probably getting a hard time. “What am I to do?” the man asked “I have to live” to which Tertullian replied “Must you?” The world may have its three score and ten but we have something greater. We have the promises of God, Justification through the blood of Christ and Sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer Point
Pray that local councillors will appreciate the difficulties facing local churches. Pray for the Gideons that more avenues would be opened up to place Bibles. Pray that converts in Yemen would be kept in safety.

Tuesday 11th August
Matthew 5:12 Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
As we come to the end of the Beatitudes there is a sneaking suspicion that Monty Python (if you remember them) must have studied the Beatitudes before they sang the song ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. As we look at each of the Beatitudes beginning with the poor in spirit we see a growing faith we gaze ever upwards in perseverance, we embrace hope and we are increasingly thankful for the mercy seat on which we rest. The love of God sustains us, filling our hearts as we are led by the Holy Spirit. In all things we cast our eyes on Jesus who suffered for forty days in the desert at the hands of Satan. So great was His suffering He was attended by angels. Ultimately He was to suffer humiliation on the Cross before He could sit at the right hand of the Father. Like the apostles we may have to suffer trials in our lives before we receive the Crown of Glory.

Prayer Point
Give thanks for all the services that are broadcast throughout the world. Pray to give thanks for churches who send missionaries abroad. Pray that Sudan would have an end to hostilities.

Wednesday 12th August
Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
In the Old Testament, when the people of Israel offered up the grain offering it was to be seasoned with salt so that it would be pleasing to God. In our fallen state, worship to God was unthinkable. Now, by the Grace of God, we have been seasoned as it were, by salt as we have been following in the Beatitudes. Where once there was silence we offer up our prayers, we go to church and offer up our praise and worship. It was said of many men and women that they were the salt of the earth, meaning they were Godly people at peace with themselves and with God, Scripture held their life. We may not have scaled those heights yet. My mother used to put the salt at the side of the plate and season accordingly – a case I suppose of ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. Being seasoned, accordingly we should all be ready as Christians to uphold our faith so we are recognised as Christians.

Prayer Point
Pray that this pandemic has made people think about God. Pray for the elders and pastoral care. Consider Christians in Sri Lanka where I S are still active.

Thursday 13th August
Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill that cannot be hidden.
Having journeyed through the Beatitudes and having gained the salt of the earth, we arrive in the city of light – a city upon a hill, a light that is to be seen no matter the compass point. Seamen still use the light of stars to get their bearings and sunlight powers the satellite that operates the sat-nav, yet men and women the world over reject the one light that guarantees their journey to Heaven, Jesus. In the beginning by the word of His mouth God said “Let there be light”. He saw that it was good and separated it from darkness. From the beginning there was a choice of light or darkness with the light revealing knowledge, understanding and wisdom. As the Psalmist wrote ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path’. Today the Christian travels by the same word.

Prayer Point
Pray for those confined to their homes and give thanks for the tireless work and patience of their carers. Pray for the 350,000 Christians in Iran, many in prison. Remember the British woman still held in prison.

Friday 14th August
Matthew 5:15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In Jesus’ day it was very difficult to light a lamp, a wick of sorts floating in oil. There were no matches or lighters so people would leave the lamps on and cover them when they went out. This was the background to this verse. As Christians we cannot, we dare not switch our Christianity on and off. In a perfect, imperfect world, Christians would be the first emergency service guiding people through the cones on this life’s highway, being the breakdown truck of life’s car crashes. I remember a time when if someone asked the question “Who or what is God?” the answer would inevitably be “God is good”. It would be a sin to deny the goodness of God and keep this gift of light under a cover. Ever since Calvary, Jesus has been that light, let us share him with others.

Prayer Point
Remember in your prayers the work of the Salvation Army and the Red Cross. The national church in 121 George Street. Pray that our church would return to its first love. Eighty years ago Iraq was a Christian rose in amongst the brambles of the middle east, ask God to uphold what’s left of his people there.

Saturday 15th August
Matthew 5:16 In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.
What can we give to God that He cannot give to himself? He has spent a lot of time and effort on us (since the creation of the world), (His inspired word/teaching), and it has been costly (His Son Jesus). The Father gives and the Shepherd calls. We answer the call to the mission field but what if no one believes us? What then? We turn to Jesus of course. Twice He said “If you don’t believe me, at least believe in the miracles (His good works). We all have gifts of some sort. Let us use our good works for the benefit of others. In short, there are three things we can do, pray, speak and serve. I am sure we can all find something there to use to the glory of our God.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Kirk Sessions and Deacons’ Courts in the four town centre churches for wisdom in their deliberations. Pray for charities and give thanks for those who supported them throughout the virus. Remember the street children of Brazil greatly abused and deemed to be worthless. Pray earnestly for them.

Sunday 16th August
Matthew 5:17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.
God instigated His Laws so that we would all be accountable to him, one set of laws for one people on one planet because all lives matter, they would be a code of conduct to live in peace with Him, his laws have been taken and used as the law of our land. Such was the high standard of his law given for our protection and salvation that no one could keep it. Do you remember the song ‘Everyone wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die?’ A strange paradox. We want the best of both worlds. We want to enjoy the fruit of the tree but like Adam we fall short of the glory of God. We want to go to Heaven but to die is to face judgement. What is a man or woman to do? Come to Christ. He came to fulfil the law. He now becomes our protection and salvation, he also intercedes on our behalf before the Father.

Prayer Point
Pray for the Royal Family especially the Queen that God would continue to inspire her as she inspires us. Remember Christians in elevated positions that they would be salt and light to those around them. Pray for protection from terrorists remembering especially Christians in Chad.

Monday 17th August
Matthew 5:18 For truly I tell you until Heaven and earth disappear not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.
Nobody seems to know how Philadelphia lawyers got their notoriety. Was it because they used the small print in the law to get their clients off? Maybe they drew up the draft for the American constitution that was signed there. Jesus (without Him nothing was made that has been made, including the law) assures us that the law is unchangeable. God’s law is as true today as it was in the time of Moses, a perfect example of God’s fairness and impartiality. We are all accountable to the law of God and Jesus by His perfect sacrifice has redeemed us so that we have full rights as sons and daughters of God. Eric Clapton once sang ‘I fought the law and the law won’, fighting against any law is futile at best. God’s law was made perfect so that it would achieve perfection, there is no perfect reason to fight the law. Far better to surrender to Christ.

Prayer Point
Remember those in the congregation now back at work. Pray for schools that staff and pupils will be kept safe. Pray to give thanks that Christians enjoy the measures of freedom they now have in Morocco.

Tuesday 18th August
Matthew 5:19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Life is like a snakes and ladders board. Some take the ladder to fortune and stardom as is their want, many sliding down the snake to oblivion. Some see the snake as a barrier, others do not have a head for heights. The Christian way to the crown of life has its temptations. Lot spent his life with Abraham. He was present when Abraham prayed and spoke to God but when Lot saw the plains of Jordan he took them and settled there. The next time we read of Lot he is living near the gate of Sodom on the edge of sin so to speak, see how it creeps up on you. The Lord sent His messengers to warn Lot of the impending judgement, he dallied and he only just escaped the flames by the soles of his feet. If you are climbing that ladder of faith you need to avoid the serpent. He will tell you that you don’t need the law, its for the guidance of fools and you are not a fool. If you are like Lot you just might escape the flames. God made his law great and glorious so his name would be great and glorious and when the sinful nature weakened the law God did not reduce the sentence, no he sent his Son to uphold it for us, so that our name in his kingdom would be great and glorious.

Prayer Point
Continue to remember our church vacancy and for God’s provision of the right minister. Pray for doctors and dentists treating patients after a long absence. Pray for Indonesia where Christians have been targeted by Islamic bombers.

Wednesday 19th August
Matthew 5:20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Exam time at school is always a fretful time. The teacher has been patient and has worked hard with you. You also have worked hard but the examiner judges your work to be a failure. We cannot always get things right. The Pharisees had a righteousness all of their own, it was impossible for them to keep the Ten Commandments. We can try as hard as we like but we can’t keep them either. Society gets round this by having a righteousness of its own. A man like Banksy makes graffiti acceptable as an art form. Painting a rainbow on a public lawn is expressive. Neither of these is now vandalism. Soon pulling down statures will be a sport. The true Christian goes to Calvary where works is a result of faith and the author and finisher of our faith is Jesus Christ who sees our failures and forgives us if only test examiners would do the same.

Prayer Point
Pray for Sandra and Diego whom we have sponsored since Raigmore. Pray for our parish in Raigmore that we may get the opportunity to re-engage with the people. Give thanks for the sterling work of the praise band and media team, not forgetting our organist Jim Fraser.

Thursday 20th August
Luke 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher” he asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Is the expert of the law trying to trick Jesus, it was a matter of great debate in the ruling council. From the time the Egyptians sealed their Pharaohs in tombs with vast riches to Vikings setting their leaders afloat on a blazing boat, man has sought eternal life. One of today’s problems is that some Christians believe they have to keep the Commandments. Others cannot or will not because they think God’s love is enough. This indifference sends out all the wrong messages to those we hope to tell. We have a duty of care to tell them the truth of the gospel, eternal life was a problem in Jesus day. Our gospel call is, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, if we come to Jesus just for eternal life our motives are wrong. The foundation of the Christian faith is built on love, Jesus has brought us to a saving faith in himself and because of that it allows us to enter into his eternal rest.

Prayer Point
Give thanks and pray for those on whom we are dependent for pulpit supply. Give thanks for Christian messages delivered by Radio Highland and Hospital Radio that listeners would be encouraged. Pray for the many Christians imprisoned in Vietnam that they would be humanely treated.

Friday 21st August
Luke 10:26 “What is written in the law?” he replied “How do you read it?”
Jesus responds to yesterday’s questions “What must I do to inherit eternal life” with two questions what is written in the Bible in respect of eternal life? We can recall on the road to Emmaus, Jesus encountered the two disciples and told them all that was in the Scriptures concerning Himself. The Jesus of the Bible is our focus. Only in Him do we have that hope of eternal life and the other question ‘how do we read it?’ which can mean how can we achieve that goal? Our goal is that of Joshua. As Joshua was about to enter the Promised Land the Lord spoke to him saying in Joshua 1-8 “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful”. This is one of the reasons we have daily devotions.

Prayer Point
Pray for all the various denominations and all their work in the town. Pray to give thanks that the church in Uzbekistan is growing despite the intolerance. Pray for the elderly in the churches.

Saturday 22nd August
Luke 10:27 He answered “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself”.
In the time of Noah, God saw that the inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was evil all the time. So what has happened to change that? Our God is a faithful God. Just as God promised Abraham that the nations would be blessed through Him. He promised in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of flesh so that we will love Him with all our heart and soul and give us His Spirit to keep His laws. How was this to come about? Jesus the Son of God is the answer, although the Father loved us, our sin was a barrier to him. Jesus in obedience to the Father came to remove that barrier, by his death on the cross, he removed our heart of stone by washing with his blood and gave us a heart of flesh. He taught us obedience, gave us a good conscience and a sincere faith, this was God’s plan for us as it has been said ‘God loved us before we loved Him’. And in Jesus we grow in sanctification and love.

Prayer Point
Pray that the construction work outside the church will not interfere with regular worship. Give thanks that the medical staff in the Highlands have been kept relatively free from the virus. Pray for the believers in Eritrea, one of the worst countries in the world for persecution.

Sunday 23rd August
Luke 10:28 “You have answered correctly” Jesus replied “Do this and you will live”.
There is a saying ‘live by the sword and die by the sword’. The Bible also gives a choice, live by the law and die, or, live by the law and live, in other words live by the law by works or live by the law by faith. The expert of the law had studied the book of the law and answered correctly. Only daily reading of our Bibles will we learn what we need to know, even Paul wrote I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert he quoted Scripture to Him omitting a crucial line, to quote all would mean surrendering to Christ. Satan will do the same with Christians. He will remind us of our broken works and omissions, he will show us the small print that tells us we are not good enough and omit the print that tells us Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and our Saviour. Follow Him and you will live.

Prayer Point
Pray that as hospitals return to normal that those in authority will make wise decisions. Remember Bob and the open doors team that they would be encouraged in their efforts. Pray that the EU parliament will continue to put pressure on Turkey with regard to their treatment of Christians.

Monday 24th August
Like 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself so he asked Jesus “Who is my neighbour?”
The expert of the law accepts Jesus is a teacher with exceptional knowledge. Is he jealous or boasting of his own knowledge? Why is it that since the fall of mankind people have felt the need to be loved for what they do, that they feel the need to be accepted by their peers and that if people can’t see their good points they need to be told. They have not quite reached ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ and are miles away from ‘blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth but never in this state have they been closer to Christ. To go from “I thank God I am not like other people, robbers, evildoers and adulterers, I fast twice a week, give a tenth of all I get, to go to, God”. “Have mercy on me, a sinner, is only a prayer away. If men and women feel the need to be justified and loved then surely Jesus fills that void. It just needs someone to tell them.

Prayer Point
Pray for those who organise Christian Conventions on line. Pray that they will reach and feed those who would normally have been there. Remember Myanmar formally Burma where Christians are forced to study and practise Buddhism.

Tuesday 25th August
Luke 10:30 In reply Jesus said “A man was going down to Jerusalem from Jericho when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away leaving him half dead”.
The parable is about loving God and our neighbour. It is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. On the one hand we have a group of men, thieves and cowards who, just by looking at this mans’s appearance decided he was rich and relieved him of all his possessions. It is unlikely the man would have put up a fight against this gang but they beat him half to death anyway. This is the fallen state of mankind. Thou shalt not covet, steal or kill. We need to note the downward spiral of sin. On the other hand what of the man? He was well dressed, he had started life well, he was beset by robbers. Because it is a parable the robbers may signify the weight of sin in his life. He was left naked, sin strips you of decency and dignity. He was left half dead. After the pleasure comes the price. It takes away the zest for life. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Prayer Point
Pray for Christians in Afghanistan suffering severe penalties for their faith even death at the hands of their own families. Pray that our own Sunday services will reach out to new people, to this end continue to pray for a minister.

Wednesday 26th August
Luke 10:31 A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side.
The road from Jerusalem the Holy City led to Jericho, the city that should never have been rebuilt. It was the first city to fall to the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land and therefore a first fruit offering to the Lord. There is no mention of others on the road perhaps signifying the world’s indifference to the needy, when along comes the priest, recognised by his garb, returning from worship and service, maybe. Is that why Jesus mentions Jerusalem? How the man’s heart and hopes must have soared. After all a priest, apart from a high priest was as close as you could get to God. They organised and carried out the sacrifices like a go- between man and God. They stood on street corners praying. Jesus tells the parable without revealing the man’s identity. With no clothes he is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave or free. We do not know the colour of his skin – just a man in need and the priest passed by on the other side of the road. How the man’s hopes must have been dashed! As Christians our faith is in Jesus, not in man.

Prayer Point
Pray for those in Cameron House and Ballifeary Care Home. Pray for their safety and that they will be able to see their families. Pray for unity for Christians of all denominations. Pray for those in Cameroon forced to abandon their homes and suffering the loss of the harvest.

Thursday 27th August
Luke 10:32 So too a Levite when he came to the place, saw him and passes by on the other side.
The man’s condition must have deteriorated somewhat. He would have been in need of water for his thirst and his wounds. His hopes soar again at the sight of the Levite’s garb. Surely he would help. To be a Levite was to be privileged. Leviticus means to be called so the Levites are charged to call the Israelites to a Holy God through instruction in civil, sanitary, ceremonial, moral and religious instruction and could be touched only by a priest with regard to purification. Chapter nineteen of Leviticus echoes God’s concern for neighbours and aliens but it has not made any impact on this Levite. The King James actually tells us that the Levite not only saw the man but looked down at him before crossing the road. The Levite had forgotten the privileges God had given him. He basked in his position and looked down with disdain at the wounded man. He could not see God’s grace and mercy in himself so there would never be an outward show of compassion and love.

Prayer Point
Pray that the people of our land will see revival. Pray for elders and deacons as they seek guidance. Pray that Christians will be protected from rising Hindu extremism.

Friday 28th August
Luke 10:33 But a Samaritan as he travelled came where the man was and when he saw him he took pity on him.
Jesus now turns the spotlight on Himself. He is the Samaritan travelling on the road. He had come down from Glory (and for the sake of the parable) as a Samaritan a perfect disguise for they were greatly disliked by the Jews. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are. He was made like us and given the name Jesus for He would save His people from their sins. He was made like us to suffer when He was tempted, He was made like us to serve us, He was made like us so that He could understand our weaknesses, He was made like us to atone for us on the cross. We can just imagine the scene as Jesus offers this half dead man his much needed drink of Living Water. We also have benefited from His compassion with the offer of Living Water.
Prayer Point
As China tracks down Christians using artificial intelligence pray that the Lord would uphold them. Pray for any in the church who have lost loved ones these last months. Give thanks that so many of us have benefited from online services by gifted preachers.

Saturday 29th August
Luke 10:34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.
Physically the man’s injuries are there to see. The good Samaritan sees he needs oil to sooth the injuries and wine to resuscitate and he needs to be taken to a place of rest to recover. Spiritually Jesus the good Samaritan (and we find ourselves back at the beginning of the month) came for the poor in spirit, the broken and the contrite of heart. He came for sinners. Our verse speaks of the Cross. He came to apply balm to the wounds of our sin. He came to heal these wounds of sin by washing them in His blood which is the wine. The donkey is the beast of burden which carries our sin away. It was not something we asked for because we could not see, he came because He could see the injuries of our sin.

Prayer Point
Remember Central African Republic where thousands of Christians have to flee as their homes are destroyed. Pray that the UN ceasefire will be successful. Pray that God would be in the midst of everything we do, may His healing hand be on all the churches in our land.

Sunday 30th August
Luke 10:35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the inn keeper. “Look after him” he said “and when I return I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have”.
This verse reminds us that our pastoral work is never done just like the good shepherd who watches over his flock day and night. It is a reminder that loving your neighbour is not something like a one-off but a commitment alongside our daily lives. This verse also speaks of the finished work of Jesus. We in our brokenness are being watched and looked after by the inn keeper, which is the church, charged to look after us and is equipped with everything we need. Paul lists them in 1 Corinthians 12-28 although we have a modern day equivalent. Jesus has not yet gone to the Cross but because of the Cross we have the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Jesus gives the church two silver coins which have nothing to do with money but the silver indicates how greatly we are prized. The last part of the verse simply means that whatever trials and tribulations, if any, we as a church have suffered we will have our reward in heaven. In Proverbs 19-19 we read ‘he who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord and He will reward him for what He has done.

Prayer Point
Pray for victims of violence against Christians. May God give them comfort and healing. Remember the elderly and infirm in the church who are unable to attend Sunday Worship. Pray for the various church committees as they deliberate over our future.

Monday 31st August
Luke 10:36-37 Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? The expert of the law replied “the one who had mercy on him”. Jesus told him “Go and do likewise”.
There are two instances of Jesus giving the command “Go”. Today’s verse is one and the other is “Go out and make disciples in all the nations”. Both are linked. We go and show mercy to all people as Jesus would have us do but it is also part of discipling showing those who have just confessed Christ as their Lord the Christian way of life. Sometimes we try too hard sacrificing our time and effort to the Lord, but God gives us a simple instruction in Hosea 6 ‘and I desire mercy, not sacrifice and acknowledgement of God’. Micah writes in chapter 6 verse 8 ‘He has shown us what is good and what does the Lord require of you? – to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God’. We could also add live in peace, overcome evil with good and do not take revenge. Jesus is the good Samaritan who shows that good works come from faith. “Come you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, 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. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you visited me”. A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs chapter 11 verse 25.

Prayer Point
Pray that Christians throughout the world who find themselves in trouble will be reminded that God is their refuge and strength. Pray that pastors and evangelists worldwide would be aware of God’s upholding and guidance. Give thanks that God has upheld ourselves, church and country, and pray that He will help us to remain faithful.