Thought for the day

Thought for the Day Friday 27th November Ken Williamson

This Sunday will signal the beginning of the season of Advent in the Church. This is a time of waiting and preparation for the arrival of the prophesied birth of Christ. I can’t help but reflect that we are already in a season of waiting and preparing at present. We are patiently awaiting the arrival of a possible vaccine for COVID while preparing ourselves for more weeks of restrictions.

When we think of Advent and the birth of Christ, we must not view the birth of Christ as the end of a story, rather, it is actually the beginning, a new beginning.  Jesus would herald a new and final way to be in a right relationship with God. Because of Jesus, we all have an opportunity for a new beginning with God. 

You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. Isaiah 40: 9-11

Thought for the Day Thursday 26th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

I have just spent an extremely frustrating 45 minutes trying to access a hospital appointment online. I didn’t make it! I was told that my laptop was far too old for the system that the hospital operated! The appointment didn’t take place.

One of the issues and frustrations of Lockdown is that we are unable to attend many things such as appointments, meetings and social gatherings, and a lot of these have gone online.

But what about those who do not have a computer? What about folk in rural areas with unreliable Broadband? They too become frustrated because they miss out…and they can feel ‘second class’ as there is so much that they do not have access to. 

Thankfully, we all have direct access to God. If we cry out to him, have a conversation with him, pray to him, he will be there and he will hear us. We do not need dial-up or put in a password; no need for reliable Broadband or and updated laptop; no need for the latest i-phone or tablet.

God is God to each one of us, and NO ONE is left out. In the Bible, these words are written,  “I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.” (Psalm 17:6)

Thought for the Day Wednesday 25th November Ken Williamson

Often when I am out walking I will stop at the station and watch as the trains arrive and depart, people starting and ending their journey on the train. Every Journey has two things in common they all have a beginning and they all have an end, or they all depart from somewhere and end up at a destination. We all make journeys all the time to and from different places. Many are on longer or more difficult journeys, perhaps we are all currently on one of the most challenging journeys we have ever faced through COVID 19. The encouraging news is that the destination or end may well be coming into sight, and that should give us all great encouragement; no matter how far we have yet to go.

Jesus has promised to sustain us on a much greater and important journey, the journey throughout our lives, and to be with us on that journey for its entirety.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation 22: 13

Thought for the Day Tuesday 24th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

“We bring the good news of great joy!” 

This is what the angels said to the shepherds when they told them about the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago.

We could have almost had the same headlines yesterday when we heard the good news about the Oxford Vaccine and its impending roll out to this nation and other nations across the world.

However, those who received the Good News about Jesus’ birth, then had to wait just over 30 years to see the fulfilment of his ministry and mission – and we still experience all the effects of that now through Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection three days later.

In terms of the vaccine, we need to wait to see the fulfilment of what it can do to eradicate the virus (but hopefully, just a few months of waiting, not 30 years!)

As we wait for the vaccine to be rolled out, we need to continue to be self-controlled NOW in the way we live and to encourage and think of others. We thank God for the scientists and medics who have made this happen.

The Covid Vaccine will be a life-changer in 2021. Jesus Christ is a life-changer for all time. Do seek him out!   

Thought for the Day Monday 23rd November Ken Williamson

We all need a hand up at times, we need help and encouragement, perhaps to complete a task or just to keep on the path we are following. Indeed, today many of us are probably hoping our Prime Minister will offer us a hand up of sorts,encouragement, as we await to see what measures we will face from 2nd December onwards. Irrespective of what may be announced, we needed to be encouraging and supporting each other through these trying and difficult days, it may only be a phone call, a text message, a chat on face time or a friendly nod or wave on the street. Every little act of encouragement is vital to someone.

I am always grateful that God is a wonderful encourager, Paul Wrote of the type of encouragement and love that comes from God.

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loves us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope. Encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2 16-17

I pray that we can be encouragers of each other in the days ahead.

Thought for the Day 20th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

Ken was writing yesterday about persevering – something that we all have to do at the moment! The Bible speaks a lot about persevering. In the New Testament, it says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal...” (Philippians 3:13-14)

That passage could easily be applied to us in this time of Covid as we try not to look back to how things were, but we press on until we see the end in sight.

However, this passage from the Bible actually says and means so much more, as I Have stopped mid-sentence. In its full form, it says, “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

This passage is not just about this window of time when we are coping with Covid. This is about our whole lifetime, and we are encouraged to seek God and to walk with Jesus in this life, and to look ahead to the goal of eternal life (life after death) with Jesus.

As a short-term passage from the Bible, it’s good. As a long-term passage, it’s so much more than good!

Thought for the Day Thursday 19th November Ken Williamson

As I have shared with you before I love to take my daily exercise on the walk along the Tyne. It almost always gives me something to reflect on or inspire me. Yesterday as I walked I stopped by Alston Arches and spent some time watching the fish leaping up over the breakwater. It got me thinking about how much we are like those fish at the moment. They are fighting against the flow of the river to get upstream. They have to show tremendous perseverance to continue and complete their difficult journey. As we struggle to battle our current pandemic we need to show similar perseverance.

The bible has much to say about perseverance, and Paul writes

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Thought for the Day Wednesday 18th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

There is a chapter in the Bible that starts with this verse, “Oh that you would burst from the heavens and come down!” (Isaiah 64:1 NLT)

This is the prophet Isaiah writing, and I think he must be very fed up! I can imagine his Oooooooh, being long and drawn out and absolutely full of frustration. He has had enough and he is crying out to God, ‘for goodness sake, get down here and sort this out yourself.’

Have you ever been so frustrated with God or with life itself, that you have had enough and just want to cry out to someone and let them know how it feels?

God LONGS to hear from you. He wants to know exactly how you are feeling and what you are thinking. He wants you to pour out your heart to him, (warts and all)

God calls you his child, and like any child letting a parent know exactly how he or she feels, they would not hold anything back. 

So, when you pray to God, don’t hold back; don’t think you need to use ‘the right words.’  Just tell him things exactly as they are.

And, if, like Isaiah, our prayer comes out like a moan or a groan, with very few words attached, then be assured, “…the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26)

Thought for the Day Tuesday 17th November Ken Williamson

We have been reflecting on hope these past few days in our thoughts for the day, and we all need to have hope. However, we also need people who encourage and do not discourage us. A great many will be facing difficult times during our current restrictions, perhaps they cannot get out the way they would like, they cannot visit friends or family. Now is the time to be an encourager, pick up the phone and have a conversation and offer some encouragement. Now is a time for gentleness and kindness with one another. I have taken great encouragement from the Christmas lights, they bring just a little joy to the darkness of winter and longer evenings. The bible is not short on what it has to say about encouragement.

“The imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Pet. 3:4; “We were gentle among you…” 1 Thess. 2:7; “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Prov. 15:1-2

My prayer for us is that God’s Spirit fills us with gentleness, kindness, and words of encouragement for others—including those who see “things” quite differently than us.

Thought for the Day 16th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

At the end of last week, we were thinking about how having hope can really keep us going during difficult and uncertain times. It is important during this time of COVID that we can hope (and realize) that this time of the pandemic WILL come to an end. However, we need patience and courage to see this time through.

In the Bible, in Psalm 130, the Psalmist is waiting for the Lord, as he feels cut off from God. But he knows that God will come to him and he uses an interesting phrase to describe this. He writes,

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

The writer of the Psalm thinks about his waiting for the Lord, as a watchman waits for the dawn to come. If you are on watch duty, however long the night seems, there is the certainty that dawn and daytime WILL come – it is not an uncertain hope, it is a certain hope.

That’s the same with our hope in God. It is not uncertain hope, it is certain hope because God is with us and will continue to be with us throughout this time of COVID and beyond.

May God bless you this day. 

Thought for the Day Friday 13th November Ken Williamson

I take my daily exercise along the walk by the Tyne. It never ceases to change, sometimes the river is high and at others is so low. At present, the leaves are changing colour and falling from the trees, at other times they are in full leave and bloom. Indeed, I almost always see something different every time I walk there.  However, one thing remains the same, it is always beautiful and it always leaves me feeling better than when I set out. It acts as a pick me up, in a period when there are so many things we can’t do, we need to find hope and joy in the things we can. Alex yesterday pointed us towards Jesus as a source of constant hope, and Paul had this in mind as he wrote to the people of Corinth about three things that they were to endeavour to have as qualities in their lives. Faith, Hope and Love.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13: 13

In these ever-changing times, these are qualities to sustain us all.

Thought for the Day Thursday 12th November Rev Alex Dunstan

 

On Tuesday, Collins updated the English Dictionary for 2020. New words included furlough, key-worker, self-isolate and coronavirus. Their word of the moment was lockdown!

I was thinking about this, and thinking what my ‘word of the moment’ would be. It would NOT be lockdown or even Megxsit (Harry and Megan exiting the Royal Family!)

My word of the moment would be HOPE. In the week where a new vaccine is becoming a reality; where a new president-elect for the USA has been voted in; and closer to home, where my 90-year-old friend has come home from hospital after a month of ill-health, there is plenty to hope for.

Real hope comes from God. Above and beyond all earthly hope, God promises hope in Jesus both for this life and into eternal life. The Bible describes eternal hope like this: “If we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.”

(Romans 8:24)

We don’t physically see Jesus, but we can know his presence with us day by day and we know that we can be with him eternal life to come.

That is HOPE in its fullest measure!

Thought for the day Wednesday 11th November Ken Williamson

Today is perhaps one of the most poignant annually, in all of history. Today is the day when many of us will stop and remember those who answered the call of their nations and went to war, and many did not return. It is not a day to celebrate victories, but a day to remember those who were selfless and not selfish. We must also remember today those who continue to be selfless and continue to serve us in so many ways. We in Haltwhistle have many young men and women who continue to serve or are preparing to serve us in our armed forces in different roles all over the world. Many have served us selflessly during the last few months during the current pandemic, we should remember them all today.

The bible has much to say about selflessness, with Jesus the greatest example of selflessness ever, in John 15: 13 he spoke of the great love he would have for us as he prepared to lay down his life for us:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Jesus never forgets us.

Thought for the Day 10th November Rev Alex Dunstan

As I was out walking earlier today, Ken’s Thought for the Day from yesterday came to mind and I was thinking about the war and those on the Home Front.

We could do well to follow their stoicism and courage as they didn’t know how long the war was going to last; there would have been times of very bad news and times of more hopeful news; they were unable to see loved ones; they coped with gas masks, air-raids, rationing and queues and there were a barrage of rules and guidelines to abide by from the government of the day.

Their time of trial was on a far larger scale than ours and they got through with resilience, hard work and helping others.

During this second lockdown period, with Remembrance and the war in mind, let us take as our example those who lived through the war, and let us try to be courageous and resilient and see what we can do to help others (socially distanced of course!)

In the Bible, God says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Let us be courageous at this time, knowing that God is with us and we can take our example from those lived through far tougher times.

Thought for the day Monday 9th November Ken Williamson

Yesterday we remembered those who sacrificed their lives in two great global conflicts. Those who when called upon did their utmost to uphold freedom and liberty. Apart from during the Second World War, we will never have had to do so in such a strange and different manner. It just highlighted to me the ever-changing world and society we now find ourselves in. It is now becoming strange to actually see large crowds, anywhere, even on our televisions or on social media. We have had to become adaptable and ever changing in so many ways.

Yet I am reminded of one thing that we are promised never changes, as the writer to The Hebrews wrote:

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever “

Hebrews 13: 8

May God bless you all and keep you safe

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