Sunday Worship Guide
Sunday 1 August 2021 Kinlochleven and Nether Lochaber Parish Churches
‘The Lord your God is gracious and merciful’ (2 Chronicles 30:9)
Hymn What grace, O Lord, and beauty shone
Around Thy steps below;
What patient love was seen in all
Thy life and death of woe.
2 Thy foes might hate, despise, revile,
Thy friends unfaithful prove;
Unwearied in forgiveness still,
Thy heart could only love.
3 O give us hearts to love like Thee!
Like Thee, O Lord, to grieve
Far more for others' sins than all
The wrongs that we receive.
4 One with Thyself, may every eye
In us, Thy brethren, see
The gentleness and grace that spring
From union, Lord, with Thee.
Prayer Gracious and eternal God we turn to you in prayer and come in our desire for you. By your grace and mercy you satisfy us. We want to worship you and to know your sanctifying power. You are the unchangeable God, the God of covenant promises, the hope and strength of your people. Cleanse us from our sin through the blood of Jesus. By your Spirit do a mighty work in us so that we grow in Christian graces. We pray in Christ’s name and to his glory. Amen.
Scripture Acts 4:32-37 32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated ‘son of encouragement’), a Levite of the country of Cyprus 37 having land, sold it, brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Message The message today continues the series on the ‘things which accompany salvation’, looking this week at ‘grace in the Christian life’. This is in the sense of being gracious, kind and forgiving. ‘Great grace was upon them’, verse 33. The apostle Paul teaches us to ‘be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you’ (Ephesians 4:32).
Qualities such as these are the result of the Holy Spirit working in us, who is helping us conform to the character of Christ. For an example of graciousness, we need to look no further than the life of our Lord. He was ‘anointed with the Holy Spirit and power and went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38).
God is gracious. In his grace he gives us the good we do not deserve. In his mercy he withholds from us what our sins do deserve. Christ took the penalty for them. God’s forgiveness does not mean he lowers his standards. Forgiveness and repentance go hand in hand. He is intent on making us better people.
A woman caught in adulterywas brought before Jesus by some scribes and Pharisees. He listened to what they said. He addressed them. ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her’. The woman’s guilt was not in doubt. Had the law been applied strictly she could have been stoned to death. But those who heard his words were so convicted by their own conscience that they withdrew, leaving only Jesus and the woman. ‘Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more’, he said. (John 8:11). There was no condoning of wrong.
Being gracious is being kind, loving, understanding as well as being ready to forgive. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It is avoiding harshness, it is not being forbidding, unkind or uncharitable. It is sometimes not saying what you know to be true, so as not to show someone up, and to let them save face.
Alexander Whyte, one of Scotland’s churchmen of a bygone era, gave people in his congregation a card with this piece of wise counsel: ‘Before passing on some bit of news first ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind to repeat it? Is it necessary to repeat it?’ Whyte, it is said, was a healer of wounded spirits.
Barnabas whose real name was Joses had been given the nickname ‘son of consolation’. That word suggests comfort, strength, encouragement, and that he came alongside people. Barnabas, you recall, was the believer who came alongside Saul after his conversion, while others kept him at arm’s length.
In musical notation a grace note is a form of ornamentation, secondary to the notes of the tune, but adding variety, expression and beauty. Likewise grace in a person’s life makes us attractive, so that we reflect the beauty of Christ. It helps win people for the Lord. It is the result of Christ in us. ‘Great grace was upon them all’. What a testimony to salvation in a person’s soul! The Lord can make this a reality in us, if our hearts are open to his transforming presence.
Prayer Loving Father we want to be people in whom your gracious Spirit has wrought a mighty work, so that we display this mark of Christian character, in graciousness and kindness. And as Jesus taught us we do pray further, saying, Our Father… Closing Words May God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep us, both this day and for evermore. Amen.