Family Worship 'Helps'


Day 1

Pray (AC-ts)

Read — John 1:1-14

Message Scott Woodburn 


These are troubled days and all of us are without answers and often without comfort. Yet today God's people may have trouble but they are not without comfort. We trust in Christ. Who is this Christ? Some today say they like Jesus, He was a great teacher, if only His followers could be as good as He was. The same individuals however see Jesus as merely a good man, an example to be followed. Who is this Christ really? We are given the answer in the magnificent opening chapter of John's Gospel. He is God (v1-2), everything that has ever been made was made through Jesus (v3), in Christ there is life and light (v4) and Christ has not and will never be overcome by the darkness in this world (v5). His arrival was announced by John the Baptist (v6-8) because Christ is the King of kings and because God Himself was taking on flesh and dwelling among us (v14). Don't miss how important the coming of Christ was in human history. There has never been another moment like it. The Son of God came to that which He had created, He humbled Himself by taking on flesh and submitting Himself to our weakness and to the law of God (Galatians 4.4). This is extraordinary and amazingly He wasn't received by His own (v11). Yet today Christ remains our only hope and to all who receive Him, who believe in His name, He saves them and welcomes them into His family (v12-13). These are troubled days but Christ is still our only comfort in life and in death.


Pray (ac-ST)

Sing 

Westminster Shorter Catechism 

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

  1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.



Day 2


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 46


Message Alan Burke


This time last week many of us were going about our business as normal, most of us could never have imagined that today we would be in a ‘lockdown’. The world has been thrown into chaos by something that we can’t even see. 


At this time I direct our attention to the opening words of Psalm 46 (1-3). They remind the people of God how He is their strength and refuge, a very present help in trouble and as a result, they need not fear. 


Fear what? 


Well the picture given in v2-3 is of nature convulsing, an apocalyptic scene, creation is coming undone. Even so the 

Lord though the psalmist is reminding those who are his that they have nothing to fear. For He is the eternal refuge of those who are His, He can provide help and strength in any circumstance, no matter what comes, even if the earth were to end, we can have confident trust in God. The one who made the earth by the power of His word. 


And as we were reminded yesterday the Word of God, who was with God and was God (John 1:1), humbled Himself by taking on flesh and submitting Himself to our weakness so that as John 1:12 ..all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Through faith we are the children of God and whatever comes in the days and weeks that lie ahead nothing can change that, we need not fear for we can know God is our strength and refuge, a very present help in trouble. 


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing 


Westminster Shorter Catechism


Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?

A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.




Day 3

Pray (AC-ts)

Read — Matthew 10:24-31

Message Scott Woodburn

Matthew 10.24-31

As Christians in this part of the world we have grown accustomed to peace and prosperity. Persecution and trouble is for the church in other parts of the world, but certainly not us. The Lord however gives us a different perspective. Jesus tells His disciples that we can expect difficulty in this life. Staggeringly there were those who claimed that Jesus was in league with the devil (v25). If they believe this about Jesus then the members of His house can expect no different treatment. Elsewhere Jesus makes it clear that in this world we will have trouble (John 16.33). Today our trouble is called Covid19, tomorrow it may be something else but it will come. What is our response? To rest in Christ and to have no fear of those who seek to silence the witness of the church (v28). We are to take what Jesus tells us and to shout it from the rooftops (v27). All the while fearing only God (v28). Our enemies can trouble us today but only God controls eternity. God is sovereign, He is the King, and He alone can destroy both body and soul in hell. We fear God today (Proverbs 9.10) with a filial fear - a fear a child has for their parent. We know how powerful He is and we know He will one day pour out His anger upon those who stand against Him, but He loves His church. God is so amazing that He knows how many hairs are on your head (v30) and even when one little sparrow falls to the ground (v29). So fear not, this mighty, awesome God, is for you, He loves you and if He knows when a sparrow dies, imagine just how much He cares for you.   


Pray (ac-TS)

Sing 

Westminster Shorter Catechism 

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.




Day 4

Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 63:1-7


Message Alan Burke 


‘Thirsty for God’

I can imagine if we were in the desert as David in this psalm, foremost on our minds would be a drink of cool refreshing water. Not David though, as he cries out to God (v1) it is clear that what he longs for, what is foremost in his mind in the day of trouble that he faces, is the Lord. He longs more than anything to worship God in the sanctuary with the people of God (v2). David in the desert fleeing from either Saul or Absalom is concerned not for his life but for closeness and fellowship with the Lord. 


It a thirst that is in all of us, some people try to satisfy it with things this world tries to offer but only the Lord Himself can give us a spring of water welling up to eternal life. This spiritual thirst that can be only be satisfied in the Lord Jesus, that’s what we are reminded of in John 4:7-12. Knowing this should lead us to respond with our lives, and should lead us to yearn more for God’s goodness, because v3 His love is ‘better than life'. 


He is the one (v5) that brings satisfaction, the one who is worthy of praise, in the midst of the sleepless nights (v6) that we now face, just as David thought upon his God, knowing his confidence was in the Lord, his help is to be found it Him(v7). We too through faith, no matter what we face with Covid-19 in the days that like ahead, can look to our Saviour Jesus Christ who satisfies like nothing else can, look to Him who is our help, trust in Him above all else. 


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing 


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 4. What is God?

A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.





Day 5


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Matthew 11:25-30


Message Scott Woodburn


There is much to be discouraged about in these days. Everything is uncertain and people seem to acting in aggressive and uncaring ways. I suspect we are seeing the world as it truly is. God's sovereignty is once again a great comfort for us. He is God and it is His gracious will to reveal what He wants to who He wants when He wants (v25-26). We are incredibly blessed that the sovereign God has opened our eyes to see what is really important in this life and unsurprisingly it isn't found on a shelf in Poundland. The Gospel of Christ has been revealed to us not because we are wise or powerful or have all the answers but because our eyes have been opened by God Himself. We have received Christ like little children (v25) because we know that apart from Jesus we have nothing. We needed Him and He graciously drew us to Himself revealing truth to our souls. We need Him now and He graciously is in the midst of His people. These words may seem like idle nonsense to the self-sufficient man but to us they are more valuable than gold. Jesus alone has the authority to reveal the things of God to whosoever He chooses to reveal them (v27). Why would we look anywhere else today? Today He calls the tired, the sinful, the depressed, the worried, the fearful to Himself. "Come to me" says Jesus "and I will give you rest." (v28) What a promise in an exhausting world. Not a fortnight in Portrush but rest from sin, rest from guilt, resting in God knowing that His wrath no longer abides on us. True rest. Soul rest. Coming to gentle and humble Jesus (v29) will see us saved and joining His school to learn from Him. Fear not, come to Jesus, there's none greater.  


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing 


Westminster Shorter Catechism


Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?

A. There is but one only, the living and true God.





Day 6


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 51:7-12


Message Alan Burke 


This Psalm of David, is a prayer for forgiveness. A longing for forgiveness that only came after Nathan had brought him face to face with the heinousness of his sin, following his elicit affair with Bathsheba and subsequent actions (2 Sam 11:1-12:25). In the opening verses he had prayed for restoration (1-2), confessed his sinfulness (3-6) and in these verses (7-12) he prays for cleansing (7), creation (10) and once more for restoration (12). 


Cleansing, David is asking the Lord to cleanse him, because he knew that he could not do it for himself (7), he had no power, no merit, no worth in himself to bring about this cleansing. For he longed for this so that joy and gladness would be his once more (8). Asking that the Lord would hide his face so that his sin would not be exposed. 


Creation, he begs that the Lord would create in him (10), a pure heart, knowing that it could only come about through the intervention of the Lord himself. In the midst of it he knew that the Lord had not really left him (11) and prayed then for…


Restoration, then he asks that the Lord would restore him (12). David he had experienced spiritual dulness because of his own moral bankruptcy.


All of this David found in the Lord when he called out to Him


Ultimately through faith, we have ‘cleansing’ because of what Christ Jesus has done for us, His blood has cleansed us from our sin (1 Jn 1:7). He has worked his ‘creative’ power we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). And in the midst of all our sin and failures, when we are broken by it we know that it though Jesus alone that we have restoration, that we can become the children of God through faith (Gal 3:26) and can have joy of salvation. 


Pray (ac-ST)


Sing 


Westminster Shorter Catechism


Q. 6. How many persons are there in the Godhead?

A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.




Day 7 - The LORD’s Day


Westminster Shorter Catechism


Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?

A. The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel

of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever

comes to pass.




Day 8

Pray (AC-ts)

Read — Matthew 6:27-34

Message Alan Burke 


Just a few weeks ago many of us were preoccupied with the normal everyday stuff that each of us had to deal with and off course along with that there were those worries and anxieties. Now our worries and anxieties are over something as insignificant as toilet roll and on the other extreme over the real threat that coronavirus is to us. But Jesus challenges His followers to make a choice when it comes to our outlook on life, choosing between faith or worry.


These verses we look at from Matthew, forms part of the Sermon on the Mount. Just before them, Jesus had just taught his followers to choose between God and wealth (v19-24) and this is key to help us to understand what Jesus says here in v25-34. Verse 25 begins with the word ‘therefore’, the thing is if we trust in God not wealth, then in all aspects of life we should trust God. Trust God because of who He is, because of who he is we don’t need to be anxious, after all He is the God who created the world and all that is in it and upholds it by the power of his word (Heb. 1:3). 


To make the point, Jesus gives us two examples from the natural world, He tells us to look to the birds (v26), consider the lilies (v28-29), and the grass of the field (30). He is telling us that we are more valuable than any of these things, after all we are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:28). What is more, is that God in His grace has given us more than we deserve in that He did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all (Rom. 8:32). What we need more than anything right now is to remember who God is, and put Him and his Kingdom at the very centre of our lives (v33), knowing that through Christ Jesus we are his, and making His rule and our relationship Him our priority. For every day He has planned for us (Ps. 139:16), and nothing we can do, worry and anxiety cannot add a single day to our lives, neither can stockpiling toilet roll (v27), let tomorrow bring what it will bring (v34), the Lord reigns over it all. 


Pray (ac-TS)

Sing 

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees?

A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.




Day 9


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 34.1-8


Message Scott Woodburn

At age 40 I'm glad to say that I still have all my own teeth. Perhaps a day is coming that I won't be able to utter that boast but today it is true. I have no need as yet for dentures but if I ever do I want to be like those people in the adverts. They apply new cream to their dentures and suddenly they are living life, eating all sorts of food and finishing by water skiing in the Mediterranean. No fear! Yet life is not like the adverts. Fear and worry are unwelcome but often constant companions. We fear Covid19. We fear getting old. We fear our children getting sick. We fear the state of the world. We are not alone. David wrote Psalm 34 after pretending to be insane to avoid the vengeance of Achish the king of Gath (David had killed Goliath of Gath). In it he is a man of fears and troubles (v4&6&17). He also speaks of the brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (v18). I've heard it said that life is only the good bits in-between the bad news. What a bleak picture of life! Today we cannot be magically made unafraid but David speaks of another fear that enables us to bless the Lord at all times (v1). It is the fear of the Lord (v7&9&11). The one who fears the Lord knows Him, loves Him and seeks to honour Him above all else (v2&3). The Christian life was never promised to be without trouble and yet in this Psalm we read that our God delivers us from our fears and troubles (v4&6). He will never put us to shame (v5). He hears us when we cry (v6). We are called blessed because we have taken refuge in Him (v8). Indeed Christ Himself (called here THE angel of the Lord) camps around us and will deliver us (v7). My brothers and sisters today your cheeks may be wet with tears and your soul my be burdened with the weight of fear but can I invite you to do something with me? Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together (v3). Let us taste and see that the Lord is good (v8).         

Pray (ac-TS)


Sing


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 9. What is the work of creation?


  1. The work of creation is, God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.



Day 10 


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — John 14:1-6


Message Alan Burke 

Trouble can come at any stage in our lives, the diagnosis of an illness, the loss of a loved one, the unexpected situation. Today our trouble is the Coronavirus, something that we cannot see, that has us living in fear, Trouble has come in a way none of could have imagined. Today we look to John 14:1-7, the disciples were with Jesus in the upper room, reclined at the table, trying to wrap their heads around Jesus’ own words that He would die (12:20-36). Their hopes and expectations had been thrown into disarray and they were troubled.


To this Jesus tells them not to be, instead to trust in God and Him (v1). Directing them, as well as us to the means by which one can overcome a troubled heart, that we can be free from much of the anxiety in all of life’s circumstances. In the midst of Coronavirus, lockdown what ever it may be Jesus gives us the means to overcome trouble and that is to have ‘Have Faith’


Each and every day, troubled or not this is what we need, what our nation needs, what our world needs, to ‘Have Faith’. Have faith in Jesus because ultimately everything else will fail us. For Jesus went to the cross to deal with our sin, so we could have the steadfast assurance at life end we will go with Him too. That’s what He reminds His followers (v2-3), He has gone to prepare a place for all who have faith, we know the way (v4), even though at that time Thomas didn’t understand (v5), and that way is faith in Jesus (v6) and if you know Him, you know the Father. What does this mean, well it may not be popular but there is only one way to the Father, to eternal salvation and that is through faith in Jesus. So in trouble look to him, in your self isolation, look to him, in your fear, worry, anxiety because in Him we know the way.


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing 


Westminster Shorter Catechism


Q. 10. How did God create man?

A. God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.




Day 11


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 90.12-17


Message Scott Woodburn


As I sit to write today's devotional it is after two days with two funerals. Unfortunately funerals are not rare or new. This week's funerals have been my 14th and 15th respectively since September and my 141st since the 1st July 2005. Death called the enemy in Scripture is the wages of sin and whilst it is always there, the events of these days have brought it more to the fore. In Psalm 90, the only Psalm we have by Moses, he pulls no punches. He speaks of our frailty (v3-6&9-10) and the shortness of our lives (v10) but he doesn't allow us to wallow in the bad news. He prays that the Lord would teach us to number our days and that we would have wise hearts in the midst of our weak condition (v12). We could approach life with an attitude that says "Life is short so live it up because you are a long time dead!", such an attitude is not new. Paul when discussing the resurrection says that if we are not raised to life then we we may as well eat and drink for tomorrow we die (1 Corinthians 15.32) BUT in Christ we will be raised to life. A great day is coming when Christ will come and the faithful will be raised imperishable. Today though, a pandemic is everywhere, the coming of our Lord seems distant, so how are we to live? Moses prays. He asks God for mercy and pity (v13). The Lord knows that we are dust filled with frustration and frailty. "Have pity on us!" Moses cries. Have mercy on us and return to us O Lord! He continues by praying that God's steadfast love, His covenantal love, would satisfy us everyday (v14). We know that life is fleeting and the joys of this life can be short lived. O Lord! May our souls be saturated and nourished by the knowledge of Your steadfast love! "I will be your God" says the Lord "and you will be my people." THE LORD IS FOR HIS BRIDE! His love for us will not be diluted, it will not wane, He loves us steadfastly. Knowing the difficulty of life Moses prays that we would see good days (v15). We will see evil, we will weep at gravesides, we will feel the weight of our frailty but Moses asks that we will see good, we will rejoice at the birth of our children, we will love and be loved, that the evil days would be tempered with God given gladness and that future generations will see the glorious power of the Lord (v16). We are all short sighted people. We think about today, my life, my family, my health. Yet Moses prays for the generations to come that they will know the Lord. Edengrove is almost 250 years old. It has stood through wars, empires, pandemics and it still stands. The Lord has been our dwelling place throughout many generations, may there be many more to come! Finally he prays that the Lord would establish the work of our hands, that our lives would have a significance (v17). You are one individual out of billions on this earth, yet in Christ your life is not in vain. We are favoured by the Lord because we have trusted Christ. Your deeds unheralded and unseen in this life are known by the Lord. O Lord, establish the work of our hands! So in fear and frailty we cry "teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom!" 


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?


A. God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.




Day 12 

Pray (AC-ts)

Read — John 15:1-5

Message Alan Burke 


We are familiar with many different symbols that we recognise just at a glance, they can be of a brand, organisation, while others are symbols that represent an idea, covey something to us, like that yellow daffodil worn in march, or the poppy in November, or even the ring on the third finger of the left hand.


In Jesus’ day on the temple In Jerusalem there were golden vines with grape clusters that were symbolic of the nation of Israel (Is. 5:7). Here Jesus takes this imagery and applies it to Himself, Israel’s place has now been taken by Jesus (v1) and those who are in Him are the people of God though faith, the branches of the vine (v1). No branch that is Christ can be wholly fruitless, the warning is given to those who have not trusted in him, who do not bear fruit that it will be cut of, and those that do remain in Him will be pruned to increase their yield, just like a grape vine must be pruned (2). If we are His, cleansed by Him (v3), then he will work spiritual fruit in us, for without him we can do nothing of eternal significance (4). So the reminder is thus today, in what we face, in trials, remain in him (v5), knowing the warning for those that do not remain in Him, who show that they never had a saving relationship with Christ, their destiny is described with the language of the judgement of God (v6).


If you know Him in what we face this day, abide in him, know you are justified in Him alone. If you don’t know him, then turn to him, for judgement will come.


Pray (ac-TS)

Sing 

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?

A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death.



Day 13


Pray (AC-ts)


Read — Psalm 95.1-6


Message Scott Woodburn


The Lord's Day is tomorrow. A day that once again our church building will remain firmly closed and you and I will remain firmly isolated at home. There will be good in this pandemic and I pray we will see a new appreciation for our local fellowships. A teacher once told me "Familiarity breeds contempt" and I wonder sometimes if we see that in the church? We do the same things every week, the same preacher preaches every week, the same people annoy us every week, if only we could join the perfect church! Truth be told, the perfect church isn't perfect and we would soon grow bored there too. May we grow in appreciation for our local fellowship. May these days of isolation cause us to long to meet again! Why? Well for one, think on what the preacher does at the start of the service. Not the welcome and certainly not the announcements. I'm thinking about what we Reformed types describe as the "Call to Worship". We see that here in Psalm 95. "Come" we are told. "Come". The Lord in His Word calls us to sing unto Him, to make a joyful noise before Him, to come into His presence with thanksgiving and to sing His praise (v1-2). God Himself calls us to gather before Him. You and I are currently not calling with anyone anywhere, we are to isolate, stay away, keep our distance and yet the thrice holy God calls us to draw near. What an invitation! But at the minute we perhaps don't feel like answering it. Times are tough and frankly we are struggling. Yet why would we say no? We don't worship a plastic god but a great God (v3a), He is a great King ruling over the earth and above all other so called gods (v3b). Indeed He is the God of creation who holds the earth, mountains, sea and land in His hand (v4-5). This same God invites you and calls you to worship. This is not a chore but a privilege. The Lord says "Come". Our response? "Let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!" (v6). 


Pray (ac-TS)


Sing


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?


A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.



Day 14 - The LORD’s day 


Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q. 14. What is sin?

A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.