Be Alert! – Sunday 3 May 2020

Candidates' Sunday 2020

The Salvation Army, Prestonpans Corps
Worship@Home Sunday, 03 May 2020

(Sunday 3 May is Candidates Sunday in The Salvation Army United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland, a day when we consider the call of God on our lives, and in particular, those who may be called to full-time leadership within The Salvation Army. Some of the material here is from resources provided by the Candidates Unit)

Sing: Blessed Assurance

(YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDeiy9-t2GE)

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story, this is my song.
Praising my Saviour all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I, in my Saviour, am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with his goodness, lost in his love.

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

Sing:       I shall not fear

(YouTube: Stanley Ditmer's Retirement)

I shall not fear though darkened clouds may gather round me;
The God I serve is one who cares and understands.
Although the storms I face would threaten to confound me,
Of this I am assured: I’m in his hands.

I’m in his hands, I’m in his hands;
Whate’er the future holds
I’m in his hands,
The days I cannot see
Have all been planned for me;
His way is best, you see;
I’m in his hands.

What though I cannot know the way that lies before me?
I still can trust and freely follow his commands;
My faith is firm since it is he that watches o’er me;
Of this I’m confident: I’m in his hands.

In days gone by my Lord has always proved sufficient,
When I have yielded to the law of love’s demands;
Why should I doubt that he would evermore be present
To make his will my own? I’m in his hands!

Stanley E. Ditmer

Bible Reading                         Colossians 2:20-3:4

Key verses:

‘So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.’
Colossians 3:1-2 (The Message)

‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.’     Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina (or ‘divine reading’) is the practice of reading Scripture slowly, meditating on it, praying and contemplating. Below is a common four-step process, which you may find helpful. but the most important aspect is taking time to hear God speak. Follow this method with our passage for today.

  1. READ a brief passage of Scripture – “take a bite”
  2. REFLECT & meditate on a word or phrase that caught your heart – “chew”
  3. RESPOND in prayer to what God called to your attention – “savour”
  4. REST in God, contemplating his word to you – “digest”

Pray what you see

Prestonpans SquareLook closely at this photograph Square in Prestonpans, or locate a photograph of your own area. Give thanks to God for the good things that you see. Ask him for blessings and pray for opportunities for God to work in our community.

Further Prayer Points

  • Give thanks for all officers and territorial envoys serving this territory today. Pray for encouragement, good health, times of personal spiritual renewal and courage to be bold in mission.
  • Ask God to place on your heart people you know who may be needing to respond to the call to officership and territorial envoyship. Pray for them to be alert to God’s voice and obedient to respond.
  • Remember all applicants for officership and territorial envoyship, with their hopes and dreams. Each year there are Assessment Conferences where those who have applied for officership / territorial envoyship spend time sharing their
    Pray God’s guidance and blessing on the applicants and the assessment team.
  • Pray that people may pay attention to what God is calling them to do and to be, beyond the everyday business of life. Pray for hearts that are committed to God’s ways and purposes, not the ways of the world.
  • Pray for yourself and the part you play in the building of the Kingdom of God, whatever age you are.

Song                God, grant to me a vision new

(To the tune of ‘God’s Soldier’. You may need to play the tune twice)

God grant to me a vision new
Of what you’re wanting me to do;
New understanding of the way
You plan for me from day to day.
Lord, by your Spirit help me see
The way of fruitful ministry,
Exciting possibilities,
God-given opportunities.

We’re going to fill, fill, fill the world with glory;
We’re going to smile, smile, smile and not frown;
We’re going to sing, sing, sing the gospel story;
We’re going to turn the world upside down.

Lord, I would know your life in mine,
Your resurrection power divine;
Your Spirit’s strong life-giving breath
Ending the grasping hold of death.
I claim your Spirit’s strength and grace
To meet the future face to face,
New lease of life when all seemed dead,
New strength to face the days ahead.

The future glows more brightly now,
I hear again God’s gracious vow –
‘I know the plans I have for you,
Plans that will prosper, not harm you’.
New purpose and direction planned,
Supported by God’s guiding hand,
His hopeful future spurs me on,
To greater victories to be won!

Denise Brine and Harry Read

 

Look up! Look in! Look out!

INTRODUCTION

‘Look up!’ When things or situations look up, we usually understand this to mean that they increase in quality or value; if there is a person we look up to, this is someone we have respect for. Looking up means a change in how we view things or people and usually involves an improvement of some kind or a positive response.

Photo of the Empire State Building, upper half, looking upward

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA

There was once a young tourist who found herself fortunate enough to be exploring Manhattan in New York. After a long day of sightseeing, the traveller had the Empire State Building as the last place on her list to visit. Her eyes were glued to the screen of her phone, trying to make sense of the map and looking for the little blue dot which would tell her that she had reached her destination – but to no avail. She was hopelessly lost.

In true tourist fashion, the woman hailed a yellow New York cab and, with a slight hint of desperation in her voice, wearily pleaded with the taxi driver to take her to the Empire State Building.

The taxi driver looked somewhat confused at this, so the woman frustratedly repeated the request. ‘Please can you take me to the Empire State Building!’ Calmly and with a smile on his face, the taxi driver pointed upwards. ‘You were here all along!’ he laughed. ‘You just needed to look up.’

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul is reminding the people there not to lose their focus or be distracted by the things around them, but to keep their focus on Jesus Christ and the things around him.

CONTEXT

Most scholars believe that Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians (along with those to the Ephesians, Philippians and to Philemon) from prison around AD 55-60. In Colossians 1:24, Paul refers to his current suffering and mentions a fellow prisoner in Colossians 4:10.

Colossae was a small town on the banks of the River Lycus in south-east Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Because of a prosperous trade in dying cloth, there were people from many different cultures living and working there. This led to several different religious practices being observed and the lines between the different cults and religions often became blurred.

The church in Colossae had recently been established by Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) and its members were mainly Gentiles. Paul had become aware of difficulties in this fledgling church. There had been false teaching (Colossians 2:8) and questions about adherence to Jewish Law had been raised (Colossians 2:16-23).

In his letter, Paul attempts to develop the spiritual maturity of these new Christians as well as combat some of the false teaching and practices that have crept in. Paul reminds the Colossians that they have been transformed, made alive in Christ. Under his authority, they are no longer bound by their sinful past or human rules. Chapter 3 discusses spiritual maturity in the light of this freedom in Christ.

Look up!

Overhead shot of three children looking upThis idea of looking up and changing our perspective is a frequent message throughout the Bible.

In times of trouble or difficulty, the Psalmist reminds us, ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’ (Psalm 121).

When miraculously feeding the five thousand, Jesus keeps his focus on the Father. Mark 6:41 says, ‘Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, [Jesus] gave thanks and broke the loaves.’

In times of blessing and challenge, our gaze turns upwards, towards God. Paul reminds the Colossians to do the same. ‘Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you.’  (v2, MSG)

When our focus is on God, our perspective is no longer restricted to the things that distract us and we recognise that we are part of a much bigger picture. Not only does our perspective change, but our purpose does too.

If only the lost tourist had looked up, she would have seen the landmarks that would have given her a sense of location and direction. When we look up, look up to God, we find our purpose and direction.

Music is transformed when musicians look up from their own parts to follow the direction of the conductor. Our corps, centres and communities can be transformed when, together, we look up to follow God’s direction.

Look in!

With the focus rightfully placed on God, we can see things from his perspective and allow ourselves to be continually transformed by him. Paul calls you to ‘Set your heart on things above’ (v1, NIV). The word for ‘set your heart’ literally translates as ‘seek’.

There is an active intentionality within the life of the believer when we try to see God’s perspective on things. We don’t simply look up as passive observers; we actively search for Christ and allow him to have lordship over our lives. Every aspect of who we are – every thought, aspiration and action – should be governed by Jesus Christ.

We sometime sing the words:

Skeleton with heart‘Over every thought, over every word,
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord,
’Cause you mean more to me than any earthly thing,
So won’t you reign in me again.’
Brenton Brown 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)

When we look up to the things of God, this demands that we look in towards ourselves and see those areas of our lives which need to come under his reign. This is the life of holiness, the journey of Christlikeness. The Message describes this beautifully in verses 3-4 of Colossians chapter 3: ‘Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life.’

Looking up helps us to look in.

Look out!

Meerkat lookout

Paul’s desire was not for the Colossian people to stop there. Changing our viewpoint to God’s viewpoint does not mean that we take ourselves out of the world or cease to be a part of it. In fact, the very opposite is true. The amazing thing about lifting our gaze upwards is that it immediately widens the view. So when we look outwards, what do we see?

Colossians 3:12-25 tells us how we should work out family, relationships, community, work, all from God’s perspective.

Living under the reign of God helps us to look up to the things of God, and look in, to our new life with him.

‘Let every detail in your lives – words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way’  v17 (The Message).

William Barclay comments:

Christians will view everything against a backdrop of eternity and no longer live as if this world was all that mattered.’ (William Barclay)

CONCLUSION

So what are you looking at? On this Candidates Sunday, what is God’s perspective on your life?

Maybe you are distracted by the things of this world, the challenges of life or the ambitions and achievements that dazzle. It is so easy to lose our way when we have our heads down and focus on our immediate situation.

But Paul warns us, ‘If you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it’ (Colossians 3: 1 The Message).

We must learn to Look up! Look in! Look out!

Jesus calls us to look up! To look to him and find our purpose and direction, to see things from his perspective.

Seeing with God’s perspective, we can then look in at our own lives and see where God needs to rule. Which aspects of our lives, our thoughts, dreams and achievements, are seen through our human eyes and what might these look like through God’s lens?

Once we find our purpose and direction, once we see those areas of our lives which need to be in Christ, we can look out and see how to live this new life ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.

Then we can begin to ‘be alert to what is going on around Christ – that’s where the action is’ (Colossians 3:2 The Message).

 

Song                Be thou my vision

(YouTube: Celtic version by 4-Him)

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart!
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best thought in the day and the night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word;
I ever with thee, and Thou with me Lord:
Thou my great Father and I thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one

Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
Be thou my armour, and be thou my might;
Thou my soul’s shelter, and thy my high tower;
Raise thou me Heavenward, O Power of my power!

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou my inheritance all of my days.
Thou and thou only, Thou first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, when battle is done,
Grant Heaven’s joy to me, Bright Heaven’s sun.
Christ of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be thou my vision, Thou Ruler of all!

Tr. Mary E. Byrne & Eleanor H. Hull.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Benediction: May God’s blessing surround you each day

About prophetable

My wife Elizabeth and I were commissioned as Officers (ministers) in The Salvation Army in 1997, and have served in appointments in England and Scotland. Since July 2016 I have been working in The Salvation Army's Scotland Office as combined parliamentary and ecumenical representative.
This entry was posted in Devotionals, Worship and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.