“They went in search of pasture for their flocks. They found rich, good pasture, and the land was spacious, peaceful and quiet.” 1 Chronicles 4:39-40 (NIV)
Spacious, peaceful and quiet is the opposite of how we live life. Cluttered, chaotic and noisy are more familiar to most folks!
However, we often long for the spacious, peaceful and quiet moments and sometimes need a gentle reminder that we control life rather than life controlling us. We need to create spacious, peaceful and quiet moments to enjoy the rich, good pastures He has provided.
This verse tells us that ‘they went in search of pasture.’ They found rich, good pastures. We need to search for these pleasant pastures to allow us to graze on the rich and the good.
Don’t blame the circumstances you find yourself in at present. Only one person prevents you from finding rich pastures - it is yourself! Only you can control life: social media, your phone, your screens, your music and your family.
I was reading about Susanna Wesley this week, who had 19 children. It was a daily routine for her in a house full of children to throw her apron over her head for privacy and spend two hours alone with God each day. That was in the days before mobile phones absorbed us for hours each day, and then, oh dear, we have no time left to pray!
The answer to our problem lies in the word ‘search.’ Rich good pastures won’t land on your plate. You’ve got to search for them! But when you find them, how spacious, peaceful and quiet will those rich pastures be?
‘Moreover when God …enables any man to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God.’ Ecc 5:18,19
We have been very blessed of late with such joyful church meetings where the blessing of God has been poured out upon us. We appreciate this blessed outpouring, for no man or woman can give the deep inner joy that has come to us.
However, after being ‘up there’ in the glory, we quickly realise we need to return to ordinary life again. If life looks a bit too mundane, at times, we must learn to transfer some of the glory we’ve felt at church into everyday life.
No one can go around on a ‘high’ all the time! Even Jesus did not do that. If we did, we would be unbearable to live with! We would appear false and superficial.
We must learn to take Christ into ordinary, mundane life and find the joy of serving Him there. As this verse suggests, it is a gift from God to accept our lot and be happy in our work. Taking Christ Jesus into our lot in life will bring wonderful contentment.
When we find Christ in daily life, we won’t long for our shift to be over, or pine for long weekends and holidays. Instead, we appreciate the gift given in the quietness of our daily routine and common task.
After all, this is what the majority of life is about. Church meetings are only a percentage of life, even if you belong to a lively, busy church. You still have to go home! If we can find Him when we are: at home, at work, on holiday or in church, then we’re discovering the wonderful gift of God. Living and breathing and serving God, contented with the lot He has given us, is the best and godliest path.
Find Him in the quietness and the crowd. Find Him when you’re exhausted and when you’re refreshed. In every aspect of life, He is with you all the time. This is the gift of God.
Last Sunday morning we had a lovely service. My theme was the anointing. It was a happy service, and, at the end when we were offline, it was as if an explosion of joy burst amongst us. He dealt bountifully with us!
We had been singing, ‘I am standing beneath your wings’ when it began to happen. I could feel the Spirit falling, and people began to lose themselves in worship. I signalled to Mark, our pianist, to choose a song, and he began playing, ‘I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart.’ Suddenly, we were alive with the joy of the Lord. It was wonderful.
We’ve had the privilege of an influx of Nigerians at church recently. Some are university students and will only be with us for a short time. It was lovely to see them so free in their worship. We Scots must be pretty sombre to them!
Perhaps we caught something of their joy: culture and ways of worshipping didn’t matter anymore because we were all in the presence of the Lord. His light was all around us, and we were enjoying His Presence.
It was the talk amongst us for several days - the joy of those last ten minutes on Sunday morning. I felt the effects of it physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for several days and can feel it even now as I write. Joy is incredibly infectious, and it passed amongst us like fire.
The lead-up to the weekend had been a difficult few days for me, but it was worth it all for those ten minutes of heaven.
Recently at one of our beginner's groups, I asked folks what their spiritual target was for this week. Some spoke of wanting peace from tormenting thoughts, whilst one said ‘I want more happiness’. Are you going through a difficult time? Does your way feel thorny, and your life in the shadows at present? It will pass. Remember:
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Christ focused on the joy set before Him. He longed to share the glory He once had with His Father before the world began. (John 17:5)
We should set our minds on Christ - the joy set before us. Like the joy given on Sunday morning, when He draws near, or of leading another soul to Him, of blessings today and hopes for tomorrow.
Christ encourages us to be happy. It is of great benefit in every way to us to find joy in our faith.
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24 NIV
Feel free to fill in our Padlet if you haven’t done it already. Tell us where you are from The link is below.
I find it remarkable that Christianity, the biggest religion in the world, has sprung from such a tiny source. Not only is Judaism a small religion, but Jesus, born a Jew, was born into poverty. The greatest story ever told began in an insignificant little town thousands of miles away. There, His only visitors were peasant shepherds who came to see this tiny baby lying in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.
We hardly know anything about the first thirty years of this man’s life. When He did begin to preach, it was only for three years. During that time, He gathered a band of only twelve men who argued between themselves as to who was the greatest just before He died. They had little understanding of His teachings. Even when He explained the things that would happen around His death, they still couldn’t understand. After Christ had been raised from the dead and Mary had seen Him alive, they still didn’t believe. Not until they saw Him for themselves did they realise that Christ was the Son of God and had defeated death.
What a momentous task was given to these men: they were asked to preach the Gospel to the whole world. It must have seemed impossible, especially when they were fiercely opposed and many were put to death for their faith! And yet Jesus said:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”Matthew 24:14 NIV
This prophetic word must have seemed impossible to fulfil. As these Christians tried to preach the Gospel they were persecuted, and some were burned to death. This Jesus had left no written instructions - He had just taught a few uneducated men. Yet today, we see the truth of the Gospel in every nation. Through the use of the internet and social media, it has been made known. This is an impressive fact.
Over the last year or two, from time to time, we have gathered information on visits to this website. It has been a wonderful surprise to me that it has been visited by many people from different countries, towns and cities. We have had visits as far away as China, the Russian Federation and Fiji!
What started as a small idea has been running for over ten years and has been visited by many. It is because of the words of Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit to promote the Gospel that this has been so.
Would you increase our joy by sharing with us where you are from? We’ve included in this Thought a link to a Padlet which enables you to tell us where you are from and, if you wish, share a photograph of yourself.
Let us bring glory to His Name. He said the Gospel would be preached to every nation. I’m sure the Lord Jesus didn’t know about the internet! And yet we see a fulfilment of His words. The Gospel is preached everywhere by many Christians in many churches. Praise Him! We are privileged to live in such a time as this to see the fulfilment of His word.
Have you come out of Egypt yet? Egypt represents the old life and the old self. Have you left the old life behind and moved into the new one? Finding the fullness of life in Christ will bring you great joy.
Sometimes we are afraid to leave the old and familiar behind and find the new and unknown instead. But if our Lord brings His people out of Egypt with joy, surely we shouldn’t be afraid or reluctant to step into the new. He knows what is best for us.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
So why be reluctant to leave the old behind? Why hold on to rags when you can have royal robes?
Take your eyes away from what you’re leaving behind to look at the great joy in the heart of God. He is pleased to bring you out of Egypt. He wants to deliver you from a life of slavery to sin to a life of freedom and joy in the promised land.
He has plans to prosper you and wants to give you hope and a future. He wants to fill your spiritual life in the future with blessings. He wants you to fulfil your call. What more could we ask for?
Come away from the known into the unknown this year! Don’t be afraid, but follow, trusting, believing and hoping every step of the way.
To enter the unknown, we have to move forward. It won’t come to us - we have to strive for it! We have to go through the doors of opportunity that are before us. We have to want a deep spiritual life. We have to yearn for more of God.
Don’t let distractions keep you from the highest, however lovely they may be for you. For example, as a young mother, I was encouraged to strive to grasp hold of my calling. We can become absorbed in family life, especially when our children are young. I had to make sacrifices to connect with my calling, which is never easy.
We must lift our eyes and catch a glimpse of the call of God, hear His voice and feel the tug at our spirits. We will find great joy and satisfaction as we explore the promised land when we arise and come out of Egypt. For He says:
“He satisfied their hunger with manna - bread from heaven”. Psalm 105:40b NIV
What a lovely thought that God our Father, the creator of the universe, acknowledges the beginning and the end of the year in His word. For we also read in another part of the Bible, “a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.” (Psalms 90:4 NLT).
The Lord observes not only a thousand years but every day of the year. Yesterday, the first of January, the eyes of the Lord were continually upon you, every moment of the day. And so it will be every day of this year. There is not a day in the year in which He is uninterested. The complete verse says:
“It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”
If the eyes of the Lord are continually upon us - for we, the redeemed, are His ‘land’ - then let us be careful to use each sacred day for His glory. What a privilege to get up each morning and to dwell in His presence throughout each moment.
If the eyes of the Lord are continually upon us, we ought not to waste our precious hours. We all need time to switch off and unwind because if we didn’t, we would become like overwound toys, losing our sense of well-being and restfulness. But there is a difference between resting for a while and wasting time.
Let us commit each day to His hands. These hours will never be given to us again. They slip through our fingers like sand and are gone forever, but if we commit our days to His hands and allow Him to guide us, our year will become rich.
The NLT version brings another detailed thought:
“a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year!” Deuteronomy 11:12 NLT
The changing seasons could speak of the different seasons of our lives: whether we are in the youthfulness of Spring or our final season of Winter. Or it could simply be speaking of hard times and blessed times. The Lord cares for you, watching over you, like a parent over their children.
Even if this translation literally meant the different seasons of the year, it is a lovely thought to think He cares for us in the bleak midwinter when nature appears frozen in silence or at the beginning of Spring when new shoots appear. Through all these days, He cares for us. In the heat of long, hazy summer days or amidst the beauties of Autumn, each day He watches and cares.
Make each day special: let us care for our Father in heaven, even as He cares for us. Let us watch for Him as He watches over us. For it is only then that we shall be guaranteed to have the very best that life can bring us.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very blessed and fruitful 2023.
If at any time you would be interested in tuning into our services, you will find us on Instagram @struthers_cumbernauld.
God bless, Diana.
Amongst the busyness of family, friends and festivities at Christmas time, I am often aware of a peculiar stillness and silence in the spiritual world.
One came amongst us on whom “the Spirit of the Lord will rest.” Isaiah 11:2 NLT
This Babe lying in the manger carried the most beautiful anointing known to man. God had come to dwell amongst men. Something that had never happened before had come to pass: God became a man.
Even the stars in the heavens were affected, for we read, ‘his star rose.’
Never again would men need to suffer alone, for Christ is described as ‘a banner of salvation to all the world’. Isaiah 11:10 NLT
He saw the needs of all men, for His mercy and compassion would reach the end of the earth.
“He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.”
Isaiah 11:4 NLT
Despite its humble beginnings, Christianity has become the biggest religion in the world. His Light has reached the very ends of the earth. He has turned more people to faith than any other religious leader.
“So the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.” Isaiah 11:9 NLT
Let something of the silence of the miraculous break upon you. We are witnesses: Immanuel, God is with us. That tiny Babe, laid in a feeding trough, has become the banner of salvation to the ends of the earth. And more than this He has brought a Light into the world that no one can ever put out.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 NLT
Do you ever feel glad when ‘they’ are gone? Whoever ‘they’ are for you: whether it’s work, family, church friends or visitors, we should be able to be happy with our own company.
If we cannot be happy with our own company, there is something wrong, something incomplete. I don’t mean we should want solitude all the time, but there must be a time when you can be happy to be alone with your thoughts and feelings.
If you are busy and life too stressful, make a point of looking for quiet moments. They will be there somewhere! And when you find them, make the most of these moments by quietly reflecting, taking deep breaths and letting calmness take hold of you.
‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.’ Isaiah 7:4 NIV
If we carefully consider our moments in life, there will be seconds, minutes, and even hours where we can gather our strength.
Perhaps this word doesn’t apply to you? You have too many long, lonely hours where you long for some company. Well, for you it’s a case that you need to savour the moments when life brings others around you. Enjoy each moment while you have them, and then when they’re gone, instead of pining for them to return, reflect on each God-given moment and be thankful for these small mercies.
Whichever situation you find yourself in, whether too busy or too lonely, find the moment and let your heart be glad in Him. For He has promised:
“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 NLT
When all the family are gone, we can be glad that He remains in our heart's quietness, and we are complete in Him.
These words are powerful when the Holy Spirit applies them to our hearts. In my reading this week, I came across them along with the quote:
“And let thy loving kindness, like a cord of threefold strength, entwine about my soul.” (The Song of Solomon by Joseph Irons.)
The cord of threefold strength brought a fresh realisation of the magnetism that comes over a soul when they are being drawn towards the Highest. Loving kindness entwines itself around the soul in threefold strength from Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How powerful is that draw when the Godhead is united in one purpose to allure and win our souls? How utterly attractive He is as we find ourselves drawn away from sin and selfishness to the beauty of holiness. We will indeed begin to run!
If this truth pierces our hearts, it silences all the little foxes sent into the vineyard by the enemy of our souls. All the misunderstandings, petty divisions, hurt, backbiting, gossiping, and whispering in close-knit circles will lose their power when the threefold cord of His loving-kindness winds around our hearts.
Nothing else will matter. The yapping of the foxes will cease. We will be drawn away from them and drawn into Christ: the One in whom there is no misunderstanding, division, hurt, backbiting, gossip or any form of unkindness. He is perfect in power and purity.
“Draw me, we will run after thee.” Let your soul be lost in Him.
Where are you today? Are you lost in darkness? Then look up to the Light. Have you pulled the wrong way, tempted by all that is wrong? Then turn your gaze as far as you can and look in the direction of Christ. Are you in the midst of conflict? Are you angry with another? Are you indignant over the way someone has been treated? Then look to the only One who is perfect and let His loving kindness wrap around your soul, bringing you away from the sound of conflict into God's silence and perfect peace.
“Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.” Isaiah 5:17 NIV
The second part of this verse caught my attention: “lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.” This speaks to me of the spiritually rich who have gone before us.
I was one of several who had the privilege of knowing the founders of the Struthers group of churches which began in the fifties. As a young girl, I have happy memories of being under their ministry, and being hungry for the things of God, receiving mighty blessings as a result.
These spiritually rich leaders have gone home to glory now. The lambs remain behind to feed amongst the ruins of the rich. We don’t only remember the memories or the blessings they left behind. If we did, our blessing would soon run dry. They trained many of us to find our way into the presence of God; we learned to hear and obey His voice, which brings me to the first part of the verse:
“Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture.”
We must learn to graze in our pasture if we are to find our way into the blessing of God. Each child of God is unique and should recognise their particular qualities and purpose in the Kingdom. We each bring our flavour to the work of God.
The church must continue to grow in number and with vision. As we can all see from looking around us, churches grow in various ways. It is not ours to judge because some are different from the ways God has led us. However, I feel it is vital for our church to maintain something of the rich quality I received in my early years. I seek in my pasture to not only reach the unsaved and ungodly but to bring something of the beauty and glory of Christ to the church. I seek rich pastures where souls can feed on His loveliness.
I am never satisfied with a church service unless there comes the wonderful Christ-centred qualities of purity and light in worship that I love. It reminds me of what attracted me into the deep in the beginning.
Let our prayer be that when our days are done, we might leave behind amongst our ‘ruins’ the richness of the deep blessing of God for the lambs who follow after us until they learn as sheep to graze in their pasture.