Sunday 19th May

Read Psalm 57

If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as or an app such as YouVersion

Do you find worry and concern never seem far away from you? – then meet David.  Many of his Psalms are written about times of danger or anxiety in his life and this one is no different, its background is found in 1 Samuel 24 where, hiding in a cave from Saul, he finds himself with an opportunity to take his adversary’s life, but he restrains himself.  He knows not to do wrong to escape his troubles but of course it means that he has to live with anxiety. 

How does he deal with it?  He asks God to have mercy on him and to vindicate him, and this is what he says, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (v1).  He sticks with it and by the end of the Psalm moves into praise, “my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (V7).  We may not all be musicmakers but many find it useful to play or listen to Christian music that praises God, it turns the eyes up instead of dwelling on the troublesome present worries. 


Monday Romans 15:3-13 

Paul has clearly stated that the believer’s position is not to please themself but to bear with the failings of the weak (15:2) and, if example was needed, he holds up Christ before them.  Christ did not please himself and he refers to Psalm 69:9 which relates the insults and treatment of God the Father which Jesus took on himself.  As he did that, so should you.  He commends the scriptures which of course in this time would be our Old Testament which he says was written to teach us.  The Old Testament is not a redundant part of the Bible for New Testament Christians, on the contrary it remains the Word of God for our endurance and encouragement (v4) 

Accept one another as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God the apostle says.  This praise that will come about if both Jew and Gentile believer are bound together seeking the benefit of each other.  Today we may not be thinking of Jews and Gentiles but people who have faith in Christ but who come from different ecclesial backgrounds.  There are many who wear the Christian badge but who belong to different Christian communities from us.  We need to understand the difference between fellow believers and kindred spirits.  There may be some who have faith in Christ as saviour and lord but are confused and act and live differently from us, we might figure them as “weaker brethren” in Paul’s words, but we must not turn our backs on them but in gentleness care for them.  There were many times Jesus sighed at the lack of faith of his disciples but he held on to them and brought them through. 

Tuesday Romans 15:14-33 

Paul doesn’t want his listeners to feel put down by his words because he has felt it necessary to go over what they would know already in their mixed community of Jews and Gentiles in Rome, he assures them that he is convinced of their knowledge and competence to instruct each other (v14).  Sometimes we need to be told things again not because we have forgotten them but to strengthen those things which we already know.  He tells them in verses 15 &16 that he was given the role of minister and apostle for the purpose that the Gentiles might become an acceptable offering to God.  He speaks of his various travels around the Mediterranean world not going to places others have evangelised but to places where Christ was not known.  Sometimes ‘mission’ today has become an opportunity to ‘steal’ believers from one community to add them to another whereas fresh evangelism seeks to bring those outside the Church into its fellowship. 

The apostle tells them of his possible future moves and that he hopes to see the Roman Church on his way West to Spain (v23).  He asks for prayer that he may be kept safe from opposers of the gospel in Jerusalem because he is going there with money gifted by Churches in Greece which he hopes will be received well by the more Jewish Churches.  Prayers should always be offered for those who are at the forefront of the gospel in preaching and service. If Paul needed that so do our contemporary leaders. 

Wednesday Romans 16:1-16 

Chapter 16 is the last Chapter of Romans and Paul is drawing to a close with a great list of people, fellow believers who he wants to greet and it is amazing how many there are considering he has not yet been to Rome.  Obviously there was a great deal of movement among people at this time because Paul would have had dealings with them some time before they moved at Rome.  He doesn’t just mention their names but he says something about many of them, commending them in their work.  He obviously viewed these people not as passing acquaintances but as close fellows in the body of Christ. 

In my home Church, Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh, there were quite a number of people who went into ministry or overseas on missionary work.  On Saturday night, which was Prayer meeting night, when 30 or 40 gathered to pray, there was a map of the world on the wall with photographs of former members who were overseas or in ministry in Scotland with threads joining the photos to where they were now.  It was a guide through all the prayer time for people to remember and pray for people we once knew and shared with in worship.  When I returned on holiday it was quite something to see my name on the wall.  My Church hadn’t forgotten about me. 

Thursday Romans 16:17-19 

After his long list of greetings to various people in the Church at Rome Paul moves to the close with a warning to watch out for false teachers and to keep away from them (v17).  This has always been a problem throughout the history of the Church and indeed throughout human history, who should we listen to and who should we beware of.  It is a bit like the warning to a child to keep away from strangers and the child says, “What’s a stranger?” 

There are one or two things that Paul mentions that are worthy of note; first, he speaks about those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way.   Paul has already gone over the matter of divisions about food (we could also add observance of special days Gal 4:10) and how not to make these a cause of division, it was also the case that the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 aimed to bring Jewish and Gentile believers together and not to cause division.  False teaching will tend towards separation and division so watch out for that. 

The other thing he mentions is people not serving Christ but their own appetites (v18).  In other words watch out for those who are benefitting their own ends – Paul spoke of one of his helpers, Demas, who had forsaken him, “having loved the things of this present world” (2 Tim 4:10).  We need to ask, does this preacher need expensive clothes, cars, mansion houses and a private plane?  On top of this he talks of “smooth talk and flattery” (v18).  Don’t be taken in by soft words intended to boost your ego. 

All these teachers are teaching things that are “contrary to the teaching you have learned”(v17).  This is where the Paul wants to point them back to the message of the apostles who were sent into the world to spread the Word of God in the Gospel.  If anything is seen as deviating from this they ought to steer clear.  Paul says he wants them to be “wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil” (v19).  

The best example of how people should steer clear of false teaching is given by Luke in Acts 17:11 where he tells of Paul leaving Thessalonica to go to Berea whose people were, “of more noble character than the Thessalonians” for they, “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”.  It’s never a good idea for congregations to sit back and just drink in everything they are told; they need to do their own work in checking out and learning from the scriptures so that preacher and people work together. 

Friday Romans 16:20-27 

In case they think they are on a never ending battle the apostle tells them that “the God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v20).  An end is coming he says and blesses the people with “the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you” . 

Having sent his greetings to the many people he knows at Rome he now sends greetings from the people he is with and who join in Paul’s greetings to them.  Tertius was the one who wrote down the letter because we know that Paul’s eyes were not the best (Gal 4:13-15).  He was staying with Gaius who had a spacious home – the Church in Corinth met there – and he also mentions Erastus an important public figure and Quartus. 

He closes with a great benediction in v25-27 where he speaks of his gospel, the message he proclaims bout Jesus Christ which he says was kept hidden in history but is now revealed which is that the Gentiles as well as the Jews are included in God’s plan that through the obedience of faith they might also be saved.  Some things in scripture are only revealed when the right time comes for them, which is perhaps a word for us when we are puzzled.  God is wise and his glory is already seen in Jesus, but more will come to light when we see him again. 

We will leave the New Testament for a while now and return to the Old Testament picking up at the close of David’s life in 1 Kings and looking forward to the developing history of the people of Israel after him. 

Saturday 1 Kings 1:1-53 

David is in his latter years and exhibiting the frailty of old age.  When we were looking over housing on returning to Scotland we checked one house in Edinburgh which we found out had been the final dwelling of Rev Derek Prime, a minister of many years in Charlotte Chapel, Edinburgh.  Derek wrote a book in his retirement called “A Good Old Age” which was a book that went through the alphabet looking at many things that retired and elderly people ought to take on board.  I would commend it to you; the elderly have wisdom for the younger. 

Abishag, the Shunammite, was his live-in carer (we shall come across her later) and he suffered a degree of confusion in that his family had to tell him more than once about what was going on in the kingdom (v13&14).  Nevertheless when he grasped the importance of what was going on he took control to set to right what was to happen after he was gone. 

The situation was that contrary to David’s sworn wishes that he should be succeeded by Solomon, Adonijah had planned to take the throne when he was gone,.  Wise counsel was given by Nathan the prophet, Zadok the Priest and Benaiah the leader of his guard and the plan of Adonijah was thwarted.  Sometimes politics is important to make sure that the right people get placed in influence.  How much our prayers and actions are needed for that today.