Daily Readings and Prayer Points
The daily notes this month focus on the psalms largely, with a portion around Christmas devoted to the birth of Christ. The inspiration to volunteer to do these daily notes came from the notes written for October by Sam Macdonald, assisted by Ann, and submitted when he was 90.
The psalms are a wonderful help to devotion, prayer and singing God’s praise. In the Highlands we are used to unaccompanied psalm singing. According to Warren Weirsbe in the ‘Weirsbe Bible Commentry’, referring to the psalms, “The Hebrew title is
‘the book of praises’ (tehillim). The Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) uses psalms for tehillim; the word means ‘a song sung to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument.’ “Psalms were originally sung to accompaniment it seems.
The book of Psalms is divided into five books: (1-41), (42-72), (73-89), (90-106) and (107-150). The first three books end with two “amens”, the fourth ends with an “amen” and a “hallelujah” (praise the Lord) and the fifth closes with a “hallelujah.” As we read the psalms may we add our own amens and hallelujahs as we come to pray, praise and petition the Lord and thank Him for his great goodness, using the psalms to help us worship.
Like David and others who scribed the psalms we may come from different circumstances and conditions in life to find a God who is changeless, knows us through and through and yet, through the Christ who came at Bethlehem, is willing to forgive, heal and become our friend because of Jesus’ death for us. We may already know and love the psalms and find many that have spoken to our souls and it may be that all we wish to do is read and reread the wonderful words which the Lord has made precious to us at various times in our lives. You may wish to sing at home and surely God inhabits the praises of his children.
You may find you prefer the King James Version to the NIV.
(Scripture quotes are in the NIV version.) And you may not feel the need of anything except the bible but I have found helpful notes in the Life Application Bible and a helpful understanding of the scriptures from The Weirsbe Bible Commentary by Warren Weirsbe. May God bless His word to you.
Daily Readings submitted by Mr Iain A Macdonald, one of our elders.
Hymn choices have been submitted by Susan MacKenzie and Ann MacDonald.
Tuesday 1st December
Psalm 1 v1-3
1. Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The company we keep, the advice we regularly listen to, the television and internet we look at, the books we read and the close friends we keep and their attitudes are important.
Do we delight to think about what God says in the bible and spend time giving attention to it and feeding on it?
God blesses us and the things we do as we listen to what he says and do what he wants. And he wants to continually give us ‘living water’ and nourish our souls and refresh us. Alexander Maclaren said, “Religion lacks depth and volume because it is not fed by hidden springs.” We need the hidden springs of the ‘living water’ of God’s Holy Spirit to refresh us. And we are thus refreshed and blessed so we can be a blessing to others.
It does not mean we can ‘willy nilly’ do what we like and expect to be blessed, though, and that everything we chose to do will prosper.
Hymn: The Two Ways – Jason Silver
We thank you, Lord, for your Word. Help us to read it, meditate on it, obey it and be a blessing to others. We pray for the work of Scripture Union, the Bible Society and The Gideons International as they make known your Word in our society. We pray for Christian politicians, educators and the Christian Institute as they stand against the counsel of the ungodly in a society that has forgotten and abandoned your truth. Give them courage and wisdom.
Wednesday 2nd December
Psalm 1 v4-6
4. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
This second half of psalm 1 is in sharp contrast to the opening three verses and highlights the end of ‘the wicked’ or ‘sinners’. Since God’s word says that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Roman 3 v23) and also that ‘If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?’ (Psalm 130 v3) how then can we escape ‘the judgement’? We may not view ourselves as ‘sinners’ or among ‘the wicked’ but God is the judge. ‘All our righteous acts are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64v6.).
How then can we avoid being among ‘the wicked’ who ‘will perish. ‘Our” hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness,” We cannot trust our “sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name” as the song goes. (from the hymn ‘My hope is built on nothing less’ by Edward Mote.) ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3v16) As we trust in Christ, because of Him, we ‘shall not perish’ as we deserve, we will have eternal life and the Lord will indeed ‘watch over’ us.
Hymn: Blessed Is The Man – Sons Of Korah
We thank you, Lord Jesus, that because of your death for us on the cross we are forgiven and avoid the punishment and judgment we rightly deserve. We thank you for your mercy and ask that you would help us to share your grace and mercy in our family, church and community. Help those who lack an assurance of your love, those who think they are good enough by themselves and those who think they are too wicked that they cannot be forgiven.
Thursday 3rd December
Psalm 8 v1-2
1. Oh Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger.
God who created the universe from nothing by the word of His command and who holds the earth, the planets, the stars and all the galaxies in place has ‘set his glory above the heavens. ‘How majestic is the Lord’s name in all the earth. And yet this omnipresent, omniscient Lord of all the universe has ordained praise from the lips of children and infants, sucklings even. We read in Matthew chapter 21 that when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things Jesus did and the children shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David” they were indignant. But when they asked Jesus if he heard what they were saying he said “Yes,” and asked them if they had “never read,’ From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?”, quoting this psalm. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and we read in 1 Corinthians 1 v27 “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”
God indeed ordains praise from the lips (and hands) of children and one of the young Sunday School pupils has also spent time drawing pictures with scripture verses to give to older people in the congregation during this difficult time. Say if you would like one.
Hymn: Oh Lord Our God – Divine Hymns
Thank you, Lord, that you said to let the little children come to you and not to hinder them and thank you that you say that the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. So we bring the children of the Sunday School and the Girls Brigade to you, Lord, and all the children of our families and of other Sunday Schools, asking that you would bless them.
Friday 4th December
Psalm 8 v3-5
3. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4. what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5. You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory.
It amazing to see on a clear, dark, frosty winter night, somewhere away from city lights, the Milky Way, the stars stretching out into the vastness of space, the craters of the moon and shooting stars. We can stand in awe, words failing us. We can phone our family and friends to tell them but they have to see it for themselves.
Is it an even more wonderful thing that the one who holds the universe and is the creator of this vast and truly awe inspiring cosmos is indeed ‘mindful of us’ ? Mindfulness…….. the amazing mindfulness of our creator God. As we spend time meditating on the psalms and contemplating this creator God who is worthy of all the praise contained in the psalms may we know confidently that he cares for us whatever our circumstances, young or old, sick or well, sad or happy, rich or poor. The Lord of the universe, of time and eternity cares for me!
Hymn: All The Earth – John Alexander Wilson
Lord as we think of how vast the heavens are, help us not only to appreciate the greatness of your power that created it from nothing and its sheer magnificence and beauty. Help us also to know that you are mindful of us. Enable us even when our circumstances are difficult or we are ill or sad or in financial difficulties to know that you know the way we take and are ‘mindful of us’. And if we are confident and do know that you are mindful of us help us to help those who don’t know this or are doubtful or need encouragement in difficult times.
Saturday 5th December
Psalm 8 v6-8
6. You made him ruler over the works of your hand; you put everything under his feet: 7. all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, all that swim the paths of the seas. 8. the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
The God who created this vast universe is mindful of us and wants us to be mindful of the planet he has created for us and he has made us ruler over the work of his hands. We have to look after this wonderful and amazingly varied creation. But we must not be like someone who has received a very wonderful, ideally suited gift that has been made especially for them which they are grateful for, marvel at it, take great care to use well, maintain and look after BUT do not know or acknowledge the giver or say thanks.
Hymn: O Lord Our God How Wonderful – Bill Monaghan
Lord we thank you for your beautiful world. Help us to appreciate and care for it and to manage the farmlands providing our food, forests providing our timber, seas providing our fish, mines producing our minerals, cities, towns and villages to live and work in and transport that take us to and fro, sometimes to quiet, lovely remote places to relax and enjoy the beauty of creation. We ask that you would help us to deal wisely with global warming, drought, famine, deforestation and looking after threatened species. We thank you for birds that cheer us up in our gardens this winter. Help us and the RSPB to care for birds, like the ones we see migrating across the skies.
Sunday 6th December
Psalm 19 v1-6
1. The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2. Day after day they pour forth speech,
night after night they display knowledge. 3. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 4. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5. which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course 6. It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
In Psalm 8 David says how wonderful and amazing it is when he considers the moon and the stars and how God has set them in place in this great cosmos that God is ‘mindful’ of man. In Psalm 19 in the opening verses we read in wonderfully poetic language how the creation speaks night and day to tell forth the glory of this Creator God who is ‘mindful’ of us. David who spent much of his days outdoors and witnessed many a sunrise and sunset likened the sun to ‘a bridegroom coming from his pavilion’ or a ‘champion rejoicing to run his course’. The rising and setting of the sun speaks of the glory of God, without using any language, to all the earth where every language is spoken. The creation is a witness to God. But not everyone wants to know God and suppresses the truth that God is revealed in Creation and are therefore without excuse. Soberingly we read in Romans1v21, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal nature – have been seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” If we rise and witness the winter sun coming up over the hills above Daviot or setting early over the hills in the west may we know that God is speaking to us and is also ‘mindful’ of us.
Hymn: All Heaven Declares – Vineyard
We thank you Lord for eyesight and health and for revealing yourself in creation and for the beauty of the land we live in.
We pray for all who admire the beauty of the hills and lochs and sea and ask that you would grant them understanding and a seeking after you who created that beauty. Lord, may we be enabled today in a time of worship to reflect on your creative power but also be thankful for making things new through Jesus.
Monday 7th December
Psalm 19 v7-8
7. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple. 8. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes.
As believers we can look at the setting sun and marvel that our God who created such beauty is mindful of us. Yet creation alone does not tell us fully what God is like, what he wants of us and what he wants to say to us. Yes, ‘by the word of the Lord were the heavens made’ (Psalm 33v6) but God speaks directly and personally to his children through his word and it is wonderful to know that our souls can be revived by his word and we can be made wise by his statutes. We have come to know and love favourite parts of the God’s word which have given “joy to our hearts”. Rather than think of God’s word as a nuisance like a motorist who thinks he can ignore the maker’s instructions for car maintenance we should respect and follow God’s instructions. May we find the commands of the Lord are’ radiant giving light to the eyes’ and be able to say that God’s word “is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”(Psalm 119 v105)
Hymn: Every Promise Of Your Word – Keith Getty
Thank you Lord for the ways that your word is a comfort, a guide and an encouragement to our souls and speaks to us personally and encourages us. Open our eyes that we may see wonderful things in your word. We pray for those who preach and teach the scriptures giving instructions and encouragement from them. We continue to pray for a minister for our congregation and for other churches in the city.
Tuesday 8th December
Psalm 19 v12-14
14. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
David, the psalmist acknowledges our inability to see our errors, asking for his hidden faults to be forgiven (v12), kept free from wilful sins ruling over him and so be blameless and ‘innocent of great transgression’ (v13.) We too need to be humble in life and acknowledge our need of forgiveness and accept that we cannot see our hidden faults and we need to be kept from sin by God.
But we are not to wish, like Burns in the poem, ‘To a Louse’ “Oh wad some Power the giftie gie us,to see oursels as ithers see us.” David is not seeking that just ‘some Power’ would help him to see himself as others see him but that the Lord who knows and judges all things would forgive his hidden faults and keep him so that wilful sins would not rule over him. And he wishes to please God and say the right things, not to be ‘politically correct’ or to please others. He wants the words of his mouth and the meditation of his heart to pleasing in the sight of the Lord, his Rock and Redeemer. We must likewise, ask for forgiveness, pray to be kept by the Lord and trusting in Jesus who died on the cross so that by believing in him we, likewise, get strength from our Rock and Redeemer to speak and think aright.
Hymn: Lord I Need You – Matt Maher
Lord we pray that with your help our words and the meditation of our hearts would be acceptable to you, our Rock and our Redeemer. Forgive our angry, careless, impatient, thoughtless words and our wrong thinking. Put us right where we are wrong.
We pray for the Girl’s Brigade leaders and girls that they would be enabled to Seek, Serve and follow Christ.
Wednesday 9th December
1. ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ This verse of Scripture, part of Psalm 22 is one of the most memorable of all. Jesus knew the psalms and quoted them. This verse (v1) which Jesus quoted on the cross and David had been inspired to write hundreds of years before is an agonizing cry and later verses prophesy Christ’s death. The verses, ‘They pierced my hands and feet’ (v16) and’ They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture’ (v18) distinctly and supernaturally tell of the events of Calvary. Although David expressed his sense of personal forsakeness to God it would have been nothing compared to the foretold future forsakeness endured by Christ in being made sin for us which the psalm thus prophesied. In verse 24 we learn from David that God ‘has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.’ The cry in verse 1 is like a child crying to a father and verse 24 is like the response from a child saying that his cry has been heard. God the Father heard Christ’s cry and vindicated him.Verse31 ‘They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it’ tells us that Christ is accepted by the Father and his righteousness will be proclaimed to succeeding generations. ‘For he has done it’ reminds us of another short sentence Christ uttered from the cross, ‘It is finished.’
Hymn: My God, my God why have You left me here
We thank you Lord that we can come to you with our cries of agony, forsakeness, sorrow, loneliness, fear, happiness, joy and praise and you hear us. Help us to persevere in prayer believing deliverance and answers will come in your time. We pray for those mourning, those awaiting treatment, those feeling isolated in homes and those separated from loved ones.
Thursday 10th December
Do you know this psalm by heart or by head? Do you know the Shepherd? Do you own verse 1 and say, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” In verses 2 and 3 David, the psalmist speaks OF his shepherd who makes him lie down in green pastures, leads him by quiet waters, restores his soul and guides him in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Then he speaks personally TO the Lord who is his shepherd in verse 4 and 5 saying, “4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for YOU are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. 5.YOU prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. YOU anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Are we comforted by these words and know that we too can say, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for YOU are with me”? And are we wonderfully assured to be able to say as in verse 6 “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” May we be greatly comforted and our fears taken away knowing the Lord is OUR shepherd and we shall not want.
Hymn: Surely goodness, surely mercy
Thank you Lord Jesus that you are the Good Shepherd and lead us gently by still waters and restore our soul. We thank you that when we go through the valley of the shadow of death you can be with us and those we love. Help those with cancer and serious illness to know you can be with them. Bless chaplains, hospice staff and other carers and family who can bring your comfort to the sick, isolated and dying.
Friday 11th December
1. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven,
Whose sins are covered. 2. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose mouth there is no deceit.
David had sinned greatly by desiring the wife of one of his faithful soldiers Uriah who he wickedly arranged to go into the heat of battle for him and be killed so he could take his wife. He tried to hide his wrongdoing but when he kept silent his ‘bones wasted away’ (v 3) and his ‘strength was sapped as in the heat of summer’ (v 4.) But eventually he said ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord’ and he says to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin.’ (v 5.) David then concludes to God,’ Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found.’ (v 6.) We may have cause to say, thankfully, that we too were given an opportunity to confess our sins, repent of them and pray to the Lord while He could be found. Charles Spurgeon said, “God does not permit His children to sin successfully”. Warren Weirsbe in talking of David’s chastening says of it, ‘Chastening isn’t a judge punishing a criminal; it’s a loving Father dealing with his disobedient children to bring them willingly to a place of surrender.’ God promises to instruct us and teach us in the way we should go (v 8) and tells us ‘not to be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding’ (v 9). May God continue to teach us the way we should go and know that if we come contritely and confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Hymn: Blessed is the man
Heavenly Father we come to thank you for your word which is for sinful folks like us and we come seeking forgiveness through the only One who was without sin, Jesus our Saviour.
We pray that you would protect the army families that we know and the ones living in our parish. We pray for those in the forces and the police who protect us from evil. Help those in authority not to abuse their power but to serve honestly and for the greater good and not corruptly or with self interest.
Saturday 12th December
Psalm 39 v12
Hear my prayer, O Lord, listen to my cry for help;
be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien,
a stranger, as all my fathers were.
God chastened David after he sinned grossly and David repented like a wayward child returning to a father. Sometimes bad things happen and not because we sin. David was anointed king yet waited many years to be king. One of his sons even tried to kill him and be king. Sometimes we are innocent, sometimes not and sometimes we cannot say how bad things are happening to us. He was perplexed, downcast, depressed and dejected. He decided to ‘put a muzzle on his mouth’ (v 1), not speaking of it when wicked people were about. His anguish increased. He eventually spoke to the Lord, asking for perspective and to know, ‘how fleeting is my life’ (v 4). In his agony he acknowledged, ‘the span of my years is as nothing before you’ (v 6). Despite his despair he says ‘ But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.’ (v 7).We may view our circumstances as punishment or a correcting influence from God but we must be careful not to misinterpret this. David asks the Lord, ‘remove your scourge from me.’ (v10), thinking his circumstances were part of God’s disciplining. This strong, heartbroken, discouraged warrior who had fought Goliath then cried to the Lord for help,’ be not deaf to my weeping’. We may do the same and put our hope in the Lord.
Hymn: I said I will guard my ways
Help us Lord when things do not go the way we want or as quickly as we want. Help us to wisely keep our own counsel or speak to you Lord before we speak to others unwisely. Thank you, Lord, for wise confidants with whom we can share our worries, sorrows or discouragement. We thank you for the ‘Easties’ and the prayer groups on line and for friends we can phone. We pray for those mourning, depressed or anxious.
Sunday 13th December
Psalm 40 v1- 8
1. I waited patiently for the Lord;he turned to me and heard my cry. 2. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 3. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
The exact circumstances David was alluding to in this psalm are obscure but it is a psalm of David telling of his needs and how the Lord met them. We do not know what the ‘slimy pit’ is but we can be sure it wasn’t a literal one. We can’t be sure how and when the Lord ‘set his feet on rock’ and gave him ‘a firm place to stand’. But we do know that David knew it was the Lord’s doing and it was Him who ‘put a new song in his mouth, a hymn of praise to our God’. And as a result he said ‘Many will fear and put their trust in the Lord.’ He then goes on to say that the man is blessed ‘who makes the Lord his trust’ and who ‘does not look to the proud’ or’ turn aside to false gods.’ He then speaks to God, ‘Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, The things planned for us no-one can recount to you;’ (v 5)
And then, although David lived in a day of literal animal sacrifices he says to God, ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire’. And he says, ‘I desire to do your will, Oh my God; your law is within my heart.’ (v 8.) May God lift us from whatever slimy pit or difficulty we face and set our feet on a rock and put a new song in our mouth to praise our Saviour and may we not want to go just through the motions of religion but desire to do God’s will and have His law in our hearts.
Psalm 40 I waited for the Lord my God (Tune Ballerma)
Help us today to worship you, Lord, in spirit and in truth. Enable those who lead us in worship to bring a message of gospel hope and of your great love, Lord Jesus. Raise up people who have your law in their heart. Put a new song in our mouths our God to magnify. We pray for a revival and a turning to you Lord when’ many will see and fear and on the Lord rely.’
Monday 14th December
Why are you downcast, Oh my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
My Saviour and my God. (v5-6 &11) Sometimes we long for essential things we don’t have and can say ‘As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?’ (v1-2) The temple musicians and assistants were in exile and this psalm recalls longingly a time when they were able to worship in the temple ‘leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng’. In (v6) we read, ‘My soul is downcast within me’. Worship in the temple was badly missed. And men taunted ‘all day long,” Where is your God?”‘(v3) But to this question, ‘Why are you downcast, Oh my soul?’ there is a reply and a note of hope, ‘ Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. ‘And although we may long to be in church singing and playing music like the temple musicians especially at Christmas we can also know that ‘ By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me- a prayer to the God of my life (v8). So. ‘When can I go and meet with God? (v2) Because of Jesus, believing in his death on the cross for us, here, now.
Hymn: There is a quiet place
We thank you for the choirs that some of us miss, for our organists and praise band, for praise on the internet and T.V. and for ‘Songs of Praise.’ We ask that you bless them.
We pray for those in homes, the house bound, confined and isolated that they would know your love despite physical confinement. We pray for the downcast and depressed that they would nevertheless be able to put their ‘hope in God.’ We pray for staff and patients at New Craigs and for psychiatric nurses.
Tuesday 15th December
1. God is our refuge and strength an ever- present help in trouble. 2. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall in to the heart of the sea. Even in the midst of great uproar when kingdoms fall or in the midst of a pandemic we need not fear. Or when illness, sorrow, job loss, bereavement, disappointment or family tragedy strike we need not fear. As our circumstances change, sometimes without warning, do we know that our Lord is ‘an ever-present help in trouble’? EVER present. The Lord Almighty who ‘makes wars cease to the ends of the earth’ and ‘breaks the bow’ and ‘shatters the spear’ and ‘burns the shields with fire’ (v 9) says,
‘Be still and know that I am God’ ( v 10). Do we KNOW that He is God? Christ came so that, through His death for us we might know that peace that transcends all understanding. May we be enabled to come to our Saviour with all sorrows, fears, regrets praise and thanksgiving. And to be still, and KNOW that He is God.
Hymn: O come before the works of God
Lord we thank you for music and for YouTube and the services of those with technical knowledge that help us to listen to music similar to that referred to at the foot of today’s daily notes so we can be still and know that you are God. Lord, we pray for those at the mercy of disasters such as locusts, floods, famine and the explosion in Beruit and that we might be generous to agencies such like Christian Aid and Blythswood Care who help the needy. Help the shoe box team. Lord, help us to be still and to know you are God and to know you want us, your children, to act as well.
Wednesday 16th December
Psalm 51 v1-13
David having sinned and covered it up when he had Uriah killed and took Bathsheba to be his wife took some time before he acknowledged his wrong and pleaded to God, ‘Have mercy on me, God, according to your unfailingly love’ (v 1). He wanted his iniquity washed away and cleansed from his sin (v 2). His great wrong to a loyal soldier and his wife were, as are all sins, a great offence and wrong done ultimately to God which David eventually confesses. ‘Against you, you only, have I sinned and done evil in your sight’ he says plainly, without excuses or glossing over. ‘AGAINST YOU ONLY’ and ‘DONE EVIL’ he says in contrite confession. He knows God desires, ‘truth in the inner parts’ v6. He wants to be cleansed and says that then he,’ shall be whiter than snow’. (v7) He says to God, ‘blot out all my iniquity. ‘(v 9). And he asks God,’ Create in me a pure heart, Oh God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ‘(v10) He wants the joy of God’s salvation restored and to be granted a willing spirit to sustain him. (v12) ‘Then’, he says to God, ‘I will teach transgressions your ways.’
Hymn: Create in me a clean heart
Lord Jesus we have sinned. We sometimes take a long time to admit it and to seek your cleansing. Thank you that because of Calvary we can be washed whiter than snow. Have mercy on us.
We pray for prison chaplains in Porterfield Prison and those in Prison Fellowship who bring hope and teach about your mercy to prisoners. Help us as a church to reach out with your mercy, Lord.
Thursday 17th December
Hasten, Or Lord, to save me; Oh Lord come quickly to help. v1
The psalms contain different types of praises and prayers. This urgent cry is very different from one which talks about waiting patiently on the Lord my God. It is like the desperate cry of a child to a parent. David’s personal fears are focused on. He wants those who seek his life put to shame and confusion. Some desired his ruin. We may not have enemies who could kill us so we may not find it easy to identify with David’s urgent cries to deal with his enemies but we may easily say ‘amen’ to verse 4,
‘But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say “Let God be exalted!” And then he returns to his urgent need, ‘Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay.’ (v5) Are we lonely, misunderstood, personally abandoned, cheated, neglected or betrayed? We may feel an urgent need of financial or medical help. Many occasions could justify an urgent cry to God. We may be a busy mum who whispers, ‘Lord give me strength.’ The Lord is ready to hear us.
Hymn: Be pleased O God to deliver me
Lord, you had enemies who had you nailed to the cross. We who were your enemies have become your friends because of your death on that cross for us. Thank you. We pray that you would uphold persecuted Christians who are in great danger. Help the work of Barnabas and Open Doors and us to support them.
We pray for protection for those working in antiterrorism, internet crime, against anarchy and organized crime as they face the forces of evil as they work to protect us.
Friday 18th December
The Life Application Bible says of this psalm, ‘God’s eternal nature us contrasted with man’s frailty. Our time on earth is limited and we are to use it wisely, not living for the moment, with our eternal home in mind. ‘Accredited to Moses it affirms God’s greatness and everlasting power, ‘Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.’ (v 2) God for whom, ‘a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by’ is contrasted with men who ,’are like the new grass of the morning- though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered’. (v 5-v6).’ The length of our days is seventy years-or eighty, if we have the strength’ but they quickly pass, and ‘we fly away.’ (v 10). Moses asks God to, ‘Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom and to ‘satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. ‘(v14) And he asks God, ‘May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendour to their children’ (v16) and for, ‘the favour of the Lord our God to rest upon us’ and to establish the work of our hands (v17). We can say ‘Amen’ to these ancient cries to God.
Hymn: Teach us to number our days
Lord we pray you would help us to use our time wisely. Bestow your favour on us and help our children and grandchildren and the children of our parish and city to know ‘your splendour.’ Bless Scripture Union as they tell of ‘your splendour.’
Establish the work of our hands. Help those in work to work conscientiously as to you. Help those without work, especially the young and those we know not be disheartened. Help them to know that you care, especially at this time of pandemic.
Saturday 19th December
1. Oh Lord, the God who avenges, Oh God who avenges, shine forth. 2. Rise up, O judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
This psalm expresses strong emotions and cries for justice, calling God to ‘pay back the proud’ (v2) those who ‘ lay the widow and alien’ and ‘murder the fatherless’ (v6). In contrast to this evil, ‘Judgement will be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.’ (v16) But despite such evil and injustice there was God’s comfort,” When I said, ‘My foot is slipping, your love, O Lord, supported me.’ When anxiety was great within me your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (v18-19) God is appealed to, “Can a corrupt throne be allied with you- one that brings on misery by its decrees?” (v20. We have to view these cries as cries to God from the heart. God always will stand for justice for his people and all people of the earth. When we cry out he answers according to his righteousness, not our perspective or desire. We have to interpret these psalms in the light of Christ who hated sin but came to bring mercy and even told us to love our enemies. In Christ justice and mercy meet and he wants justice and mercy in his Kingdom and wants us to be channels of that.
Hymn: God of vengeance
Lord Jesus, who suffered for us, help your people to help those who suffer injustice and pain. We pray for the women of our world, for those who are poorly paid and are even slaves, for migrant people and for the unborn who need protection.
Help persecuted Christians and all oppressed people. We pray for Barnabas and Amnesty International. May we play our part in bringing justice. Help peace makers, governments and those who sort injustice and help campaigns like ‘Black Lives Matter’ to sort injustice wisely, courageously and lovingly.
Sunday 20th December
1. Shout for joy to the Lord , all the earth. 2. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
This psalm is an exuberant encouragement to all the earth to shout for joy to the Lord, to worship the Lord with gladness and to come before him with joyful songs. We are encouraged to know two amazing things… the Lord is OUR creator ‘who made us’ and ‘we are HIS people, the sheep of his pasture.’ We who are his are encouraged to give thanks to him and praise His name. Are we as enthusiastic as we should be about praising the Lord who is our creator and about Him being our Shepherd?
Let us ‘give thanks to him and praise his name’. (v4) Let us acknowledge that ‘he is good and his love endures forever’ and know ‘that his faithfulness continues through all generations’. (v5) God’s faithfulness continues to this generation so let us praise Him amongst it enthusiastically.
Hymn: The Lord is good, and His love endures
Lord we thank you that you are the same, yesterday, today and forever and we praise you for dying for us and for being our Shepherd, Lord Jesus. We thank you that you love the young of our generation and we pray for the creche, toddler group, Sunday School, Youth Fellowship, Girls Brigade and The Way group for 18-30 youth and all the young at this challenging time. Help them to remember their Creator in the days of their youth.
We thank you for those who bring us worship services today, enabling us to praise you in this congregation and others, in different denominations, throughout the city, Scotland and the world.
Monday 21st December
Matthew 1 v17
(v17.) Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to Christ. In Psalm 100 we read, ‘For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations’. In all the generations from David to the promised Christ the Lord was good, his love endured and he was faithful. And he was going to fulfil the promises which the prophets foretold centuries before. There are a few days to go to Christmas and for many the planning is nearly over but God’s planning spanned generations in its organization and was conceived in the mind of God in a way that is inconceivable to us and here it was now, we read ,coming to fruition. As we read on we will learn of a child who was conceived in God’s way, in God’s time and in God’s plan. A child like no other.
Hymn: Matthew’s begats
We thank you Lord that you know our needs and planned for us long before we even knew we needed your mercy.
We pray for those who plan our police, the forces, schools, hospitals, transport, our services, local and national governments and for all who serve us. We pray for and thank you for those who plan and manage the church, overseeing building, repairs,
finances, possible eventual reopening, the administration and for Sheila as she liases and coordinates that.
Tuesday 22nd December
Matthew 1 v18-21
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. (v 18)
Things did not go to plan though, at least not Joseph’s. It did to God’s. And’ because Joseph was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had a mind to divorce her quietly.’ But that didn’t go to plan for Joseph either. It did to God’s because after Joseph “had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,’ Joseph, son of David do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived of her is from the Holy Spirit.'” (v 20) Then the angel revealed more of God’s plan to Joseph, ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ Sometimes we are pleased to have a child named after us or someone we love or to choose a name with special meaning. But this child was to have a name of God’s choosing and a name whose meaning only God fully knew the significance or meaning of… ‘Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ Jesus, the name above all names.
Hymn: Breath of heaven, Mary’s song
Lord as we plan help us to listen to what you say and be guided like Joseph when things don’t go our way. We pray for the nominating committee, presbytery planning, our moderator Hugh Watt and Fraser Turner at Trinity, for Dalneigh, Old High and St Stephen’s and Donald MacVicar and the Session and the Deacons Court that we may be sensitive like Joseph was to your leading, Lord. We pray for our church nationally as we seek to change and to reach out with the message of a Saviour.
Wednesday 23rd December
Matthew 1 v22-23
‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”- which means “God with us.” Isaiah foretold the coming of Immanuel about 700 years before his birth. Sometimes when, like Joseph, we think things are out of control we should know that sometimes by an unfathomable design God is working his grand and awesome purposes out for his own glory and our good. Sometimes through an angel or more often through his word he helps us know he is working his purposes out. May we be enabled to trust him.
Hymn: How could it be Joseph’s song
We thank you, Immanuel, that at times of great challenge and uncertainty, at critical points in our personal and national life we can turn to you and be reassured that you are in control.
Lord surround those we know who are very ill, who mourn or who are going through financial uncertainty or distress.
Lord give wisdom and calm to the governments in Scotland, the UK and worldwide and all who make critical decisions in our daily lives as we manage uncertainty, a pandemic and seek a vaccine.
Thursday 24th December
Luke 2 v 1-5
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (v4) In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (v 1) And everyone went to his own town to register (v 3) and that is why Joseph went to ‘Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David’ (v 4) He went with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. In the crowd that was streaming into Bethlehem for the census there may have been other expectant mothers but none quite like Mary who would give birth to a special child like no other.. Jesus… Immanuel… God with us!
Hymn: Child in a manger born
Help us, dear Lord, in the rush of Christmas to think of others. We pray for the homeless and the migrants, for single mothers and the lonely. Help us to support charities like the Salvation army and C of S Crossreach who help the vulnerable and marginalized.
Friday 25th December
Luke 2 v6-20
The time came for Mary to give birth and she gave birth to her firstborn and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. “There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in a manger.'” (v8-12).
‘A great company of angels praised God saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom this favour rests.” (v13-14) The shepherds said to one another,’ Lets go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ (v 15) ‘So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in a manger.’ (v 16) They spread the word about what they had been told about the child and people were amazed at what they said. ‘But Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned praising God for the things they had seen, just as they had been told.’ (19-20) We too should both ponder, treasure and spread this amazing news of a Saviour.
Hymn: Glory to God is the highest
Lord Jesus thank you for coming for us. Help us today to ponder this amazing truth, treasure it like Mary and share it with others like the shepherds did. We pray for all serving you and us today at work and for those in homes, hospitals, hospices and abroad, away from loved ones.
Saturday 26th December
Matthew 2 v9-12
Herod made a pretext of wanting to worship Jesus like the Magi and asked them to inform him once they had found him so they could worship him. ‘After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed. On coming to the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incence and myrrh. Having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.’ (v9-12) Herod could not be trusted. May we also come this day with pure motives to worship in spirit and in truth. On Boxing Day when servants were traditionally given gifts may we use our gifts for Jesus as his servants. And on a day when we have left overs may we not merely give Jesus, who gave up heaven for a cross for us, our leftovers of time, talents, means and energy but a fitting portion.
Hymn: We three kings
Thank you Lord Jesus that you came to earth to die on the cross for us. We worship you, King of kings. We pray for the homeless and those struggling with addiction at Christmas and for the work of Cale House, Beechwood and Road to Recovery.
We pray for missionaries and those who serve you and have dedicated their lives to mission abroad.
Sunday 27th December
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy (v1-2). Every psalm we have read has been written by someone inspired to write in a particular circumstance. We do not know who wrote this or why. We do not need to know or understand the background for God, by His Spirit, to speak through it. We can feel they could be our words. WE cry for mercy out of the depths. WE agree, ‘If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, Oh Lord, who could stand?’ (v 3) And are comforted knowing, ‘with you there is forgiveness.’ (v4) We too can be waiting for the Lord like a watchman waiting for the morning. The unseen winter sun may seem barely a glow as it begins to slip up above the horizon of the Daviot hills. But it will surely come, as the Lord likewise will surely fulfil His promises. We known how we should respond to the instruction,’ Put your hope in the Lord’ v7 May we experience the Lord’s ‘unfailing love’ and that ‘full redemption ‘ and ‘hope in the Lord’ by trusting in Jesus and his invitation to come to Him for forgiveness, and rest in His unfailing love.
Hymn: I will wait for Thee
Lord we thank you that you hear our cries for mercy, forgiveness, help, encouragement and hope. We thank you for churches with gospel services in Inverness, on the internet and television. Bless the messages of redemption and hope, particularly our own service to us. Thank you for those who preach. We pray for HTC, for those who train and are in training there and throughout Scotland.
Monday 28th December
2. But I have stilled and quietened my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me
David begins by saying his heart is not proud and we have to accept he is not ‘boasting about being humble’ as the joke goes. He is a warrior, a man who by God’s grace had achieved great things. Yet he says ‘I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. Then he says how he stilled and quietened his soul like a weaned child. ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we take nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it,’ we read in 1 Timothy 6v 6-7. All our achievements come from God. We do well if we know it and thank him. May we too be humble, not think too highly of ourselves, content and dependent on God. May we put our’ hope in the Lord both now and for evermore’. (v3).
Hymn: Lord my heart is not haughty
We pray for the young feeling pressure to be great, beautiful, successful or loved. We pray that they may find assurance and love in you Lord Jesus. Help us to demonstrate a love that is found only in you, Lord Jesus. We pray for students and C.U.s reaching out to them. We pray for Christian Focus, S.U and CLC providing books to encourage the young and old alike and thereby to know your love, Lord. We pray for a venue for a cafe for CLC.
Tuesday 29th December
‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!’ (v1)I n conveying the good and pleasant nature of brothers living together in unity David likened it to ‘precious oil poured on the head.’ (v2) Oil on the head was an eastern custom of welcoming hospitality to refresh on entering a house but the reference to Aaron and oil running down on Aaron’s beard is to a special precious oil used to anoint Aaron as the first high priest of Israel, showing that he was dedicated wholeheartedly to God. When God makes us Christians he pours his Holy Spirit on us from above through the precious blood of Jesus and we become part of the priesthood of believers dedicated to God and His service. The dew that fell on high Mount Hermon was heavy and refreshing in contrast to the ordinary dry arid land of Israel, like Mount Zion, and came from above. All blessings come from above whether precious oil or dew from heaven. If, through Christ, we are brothers or sisters we should display love from above. Jesus said ‘By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (John 13v34). Surely ‘there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life for evermore.’ (v 3)
Hymn: Precious oil
Forgive us Lord that in the Highlands we, your children, have not always displayed unity. We thank you for unity and pray for the different churches and fellowships as we come together in Street Pastors. Manna House, CYC, Blythswood Care, Girls Brigade, Elevate, Gideons, The Bible Society, S.U., ‘Acclaim’ and the ‘Male Voice Choir and others’. Bless The Foodbank and the Shoe boxes we pray. Help us to stay united as we move forward as a church and to show unity with our fellow Christians from other churches. We pray for Paul Haringman, Dot Getliffe and some of our own as we work together.
Wednesday 30th December
Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise you perceive my thoughts from afar (v1-2) God is all knowing. We too can say to God, like David did, ‘You are familiar with all my ways.'(v3). ‘Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.’ (v 4) , ‘Such knowledge is too lofty for me to attain.'(v 6),’ If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me your right hand will hold me fast. (v9-10) and ‘your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them can to be. (v15-16) But we may not always have confidence in our all knowing, all powerful, loving God and wobble and doubt. We then can, like David, ask God’s help,’ Search me, O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.’ (v23-24) We too can know God helping our anxious thoughts and leading us in the way everlasting.
Hymn: Lord from the depths to You I cry
Lord you know us better than we know ourselves. We praise you and your greatness and thank you for your mercy to us. Help us not to have anxious thoughts. Help us as we support and pray for family and friends in homes and for their carers. Bless the C of S homes, Cameron House and Whinnieknow, and all homes in the area. We pray for the NHS, Raigmore, from the maternity services to those in end of life care and all who serve there, for ambulance staff, surgeries and home visitors and carers. Thank you for prayer meetings by internet.
Thursday 31st December
The theme of this last psalm is profoundly simple, ‘Praise the Lord.’ It is short, easy to read and plain. Praise was to be’ in his sanctuary’, ‘in his mighty heavens’ ‘for his acts of power’ and ‘for his surpassing greatness. ‘Praise was to be joyous and loud with trumpet, harp and lyre, tambourine and dancing, strings and flute and resounding cymbals. And everything with breath had to praise the Lord. Not everyone had an instrument. Should we be any different? We are to ‘sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (Ephesians 6 v 19-20.) David throughout the psalms turns his mind to praise God. He has been victorious, deceitful, betrayed, sinful, despairing, contrite, stressed, grieving, waiting, wicked, rejoicing, thankful, crying for help, humble, weak and human. In the psalms we see a perfect and merciful God being addressed by imperfect sinful needy man in many situations and praised.
Hymn: Praise the Lord
Lord of time and eternity, as this year closes, we acknowledge that for some of us it has brought great sorrow and loss, unexpected illness, trial, and financial and personal struggle. Comfort us. For some we have rejoiced over new life and happy celebration. We thank you. Your church faces local and national changes and we come seeking your help and mercy, cleansing and forgiveness. Lord we acknowledge our need of revival.
We come with fears and concerns for our world…. pandemic, Brexit, global warming, terrorism, war, famine, political divisions and discord. We seek your help, small as we are with all we are and have known this year, and to praise your holy name Lord Jesus.