Category: Pastoral Reflection

Pastoral Reflection for December & January

Rev Kenneth I Macleod considers what lessons we may learn from Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan, to encourage us as we step into 2021.

“Do not come near it (the ark), in order that you may know the way, for you have not passed this way before.” Joshua 3:4

As we move from 2020 into 2021, I thought that this verse was so appropriate. Whatever the situation or experience we are going through, there is always something in the Scriptures to guide and help us. The Book of Joshua is a thrilling and dynamic book. It’s a journey of progress, conquest and victory all undertaken by faith.

One of the key lessons in the book is discovering how important it is to follow God’s timetable and directions. It is a lesson that is absolutely essential for our journey of faith through this world. We have to learn to go at God’s pace and do just as He says. We want to do everything the way we want and when we want. However, that might not be God’s way.

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Rev Kenneth I Macleod shares some more thoughts on Psalm 23 in this Pastoral Reflection for November.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies: you anoint my head with oil: my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:4-6

Last month we reflected on verses one to three of not only the best-known psalm, but one of the best-known sections of the Bible. This Psalm has been an inspiration, encouragement and balm to many a soul over the years. Now verse 4 tells us that the shepherding work of our Lord, who is the Good Shepherd doesn’t stop as life draws to a close - the shepherding takes over even in death. Death is the enemy that comes closer every day. We are powerless in its face and alone in its presence, as it closes round us, unless….we have the Shepherd. That is what makes “the valley of the shadow of death” so different for the Christian, because the Shepherd is with us. When all human care and support can no longer do anything for us, yet the Shepherd is still there.

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Rev Kenneth I Macleod shares some thoughts on Psalm 23, The Shepherd's Psalm, in this Pastoral Reflection for October.

The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

I have preached frequently from this psalm and make no apology for doing so, as it is not only the best known of all the psalms but remains one of my favourites. It is short, simple, sweet and yet so deep with meaning, encouragement and assurance. There are many themes highlighted in the psalm but probably the three main truths that tie the psalm together beautifully are Provision, Direction and Communion.

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Pastoral Reflection for September from Rev Kenneth I Macleod

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands: you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.” Psalm 8:4-9

Last time we saw how David was blown away by the concept of God’s greatness as he considers the marvel, glory and wonder of the creation. However, in v4 we find David quite simply cannot get over that God is mindful of us. “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” David is more or less saying, “Lord, why are you so mindful? What have we done to be so raised and elevated in this majestic creation that You should take such an interest in, and care of us?”

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“O Lord, our lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8v1,3,4

This psalm bursts with praise to both the glory and grace of God. David paints amazing pictures with his sense of awe and joy. We are taken back, above and beyond the heavens to the very beginning itself. Of course we know that behind the beginning is the God of Creation, Grace, Providence, and Redemption. We are not sure when David penned this psalm but I can imagine it’s after a night gazing into the starry sky. David is in absolute awe with the enormity and vastness of God’s creation and the minuteness of man in comparison. There have been times we too have gazed at the vast expanse of a star filled sky, aware that we are only seeing a fraction of what is there. Like the psalmist we say, What a God and “what is man?”(v4)

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy Chapter 6 verse 5

Israel at this point were standing at the borders of the Promised Land. Moses is preparing them for entry. The preparation has to be spiritual first of all, otherwise every effort is doomed to failure. Allegiance to the Lord has to be the number one priority-and that is the same for ourselves too. God requires that we love Him with all our heart. God requires to be on the throne of our heart. So, I want us to think a little about this love and how it manifests itself our lives.

God’s love is born into our heart the moment we are regenerated. The moment God, through His Spirit, touches our lives, breathing new life into us, something radical and life changing takes place. It is impossible for God to come into our life and for us not to know it. That doesn’t mean that a person who is converted, immediately has full assurance of faith and knows they are born again. Sometimes the experience may be long and drawn out from our perspective. However an interest and desire for God and the things of God has surfaced in our life. Prior to this there may have been thoughts of God, even good thoughts, but they were fleeting and temporary. Now the heart is genuinely seeking after God and desiring to know more of Him. A love has been born in our heart and that comes from God. The Bible tells us how it works. “We love Him because He first loved us.” That tiny statement is packed with deep eternal truths. The love we experience for God has come about only because of His love to us. What does God’s love mean and how does it work in our lives?

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9

Paul as we know wrote this letter from prison. It is not the kind of letter someone would expect to get from prison. This is a letter that is full of joy, hope, love and peace. Paul was so aware that his imprisonment was for the furtherance of the gospel, the good of the Philippian church, and of course in God’s great plan, for the good of the church down throughout the generations.

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“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law, that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success, wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua Chap 1:7-8

From a human point of view, Joshua had the unenviable task of taking over the leadership of Israel from Moses, the great man of God. I’m sure Joshua would have felt overwhelmed at the prospect, but God reminded Joshua in v2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Moses is gone, but the work has to carry on. That is something we always have to remember. God uses many people; some more than others; but at the end of the day, no one is more than a servant. One day our service here will be over, but the work will carry on. I would imagine Joshua would have felt fearful, however the Lord comes and encourages Joshua and tells him to be strong, courageous and not to fear. Joshua is encouraged to be strong in v5-6 based upon God’s presence. We should also grasp hold of the fact, that we can count on the Lord’s presence all the time, as we seek to serve Him. God will enable us to inherit the land of Promise. He has given His Word on that, and He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us. We too are having to fight our way to inherit our Promised Land. Along the way we face enemies within and without that are seeking to blow us off track, and even destroy us. It is a journey we could never hope to complete without the presence, grace, strength and help of God. As God gave Joshua the command we also see He gave a promise as well. Very often we will find in Scripture a promise accompanying a command.

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“Fight the good fight of the faith.” 1 Timothy Chapter 6v12

Paul had real admiration for the young Timothy. He saw great promise in him as a gospel worker. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus, with the intention of coming back; so in the meantime he had written this letter to him, concerning issues that were arising in the church. This letter is dealing with false teachers who were troubling the church. In the letter Paul shows that true Christianity is evidenced by a lifestyle that is shaped by the gospel. Paul knew, just as we do, that the Christian life can often be a struggle, and so he encourages young Timothy with these words-“Fight the good fight of the faith.”

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Pastoral Reflection for Thursday, 7th May

A Reflection on Psalm 121

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved: He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper: the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and in from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 121

This is a psalm that is all about being Kept. I am sure that is something we all want for our lives-to be kept. Kept safe. Kept from danger. Kept from falling. Kept from hurt and harm. Kept from being lost. Kept from shame. Kept close to the Lord. We live in such a dangerous, deceptive and uncertain world. A world that is constantly threatening us spiritually, morally, physically, mentally at every turn; so the theme of being kept is really precious to us.

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