Church at Home – 27th September 2020 – 1 Peter 4:1-6

“Is it worth it?” When we make sacrifices and endure hardship that’s the question that we sometimes ask, isn’t it? Or other questions like “What am I even doing this for? “or “What’s the point anyway?”. 

Athletes, train with the finish line in mind. The medal. The congratulations. The parade in their hometown. That confirmation that all the early mornings, the sweat and tears, the strict diet were all worth it in the end because they pushed themselves to give their best and achieved their dreams. 

Peter writes to Christians under pressure. They are enduring persecution from their neighbours and the internal pressure that they feel: that pressure to conform. Sometimes it’s tiring being the odd one out isn’t it? Their neighbours continue with their worldly pleasures and their idolatry and they enjoy the pleasure of fitting in and being normal. Whereas the Christians abstain and repent and discipline themselves and that does get hard. So, like an athlete we need to keep the finish line in sight. Whether it’s suffering the same hardships as everyone else (like these current COVID-related restrictions we all must endure), or suffering alienation and mockery and persecution because of our faith, or suffering those temptations to conform you have a fight on your hands if you are to be a Christian in this world. 

In this passage Peter instructs Christians to have the same attitude regarding suffering as Jesus had. Peter talks about suffering a lot in this letter because the people he was writing to were suffering. We are suffering too. The people of Ireland are suffering. These are hard times. Lonely times. We find ourselves isolated from family and isolated from community. The simple things of a normal, quiet life are now infected with fear. I see it in my own family. My four-year-old son has started talking about death. If we go out in public together, he clings to me. Maybe you’ve noticed similar things in your own family. That’s just suffering these restrictions that have been put in place to protect us. And let me say that it is our duty to protect one another. It is our Christian duty to love our neighbours and these days that means keeping our distance and taking the precautions we need to take. The restrictions we abide by out of love for one another are good, but they can result in loneliness and hardship too. Aside from the restrictions some of us have fallen sick, so there is that suffering too. Numbers are increasing. We are suffering in Ireland and Ireland is not alone in this. People all over the world are suffering. 

The church is affected in its own way. Our services are restricted. Numbers are restricted and the elements of our worship are restricted out of a need to protect one another. Many have made the decision to stay home, and I support them in that. Nobody should feel forced to come and I will help those who wish to worship at home. We have our website. We have our CD ministry. I can send the text of sermons to people. 

Even in pre-pandemic times the church has its struggles, and we’ll have the same troubles in post-pandemic times when they come, and they will come. Peter describes those kinds of struggles here in this passage. Worldly people have a great time engaging in worldly pleasures and are surprised at these oddballs, these Christians, who won’t join in. Society is increasingly intolerant of genuine Christian faith. You’re seen as a delusional person if you believe the gospel and strive to live in obedience to Christ. The only kind of faith that society appears to accept these days is a kind of box-ticking religious observance for about an hour on Sundays, and then after that you’re supposed to go back to being “normal”. Anything beyond that is mocked and even met with abuse. 

So, whether it is COVID or even just “normal” life, in this word the church will suffer. If we know that we have a struggle, a fight on our hands, what should we do? 

Here’s what Peter says we should do: 

1 Peter 4:1 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))  

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body has finished with sin.  

Arm yourselves. That’s the only imperative in this passage, it’s the only point here in today’s text where we’re told to do something. Let me faithfully pass on that message to you today, with your struggles. Here is what God’s word says to do: arm yourself! What are we to arm ourselves with? Hope! We must arm ourselves with hope! 

I want to be clear: I’m not talking about optimism. I’m not talking about putting on rose-tinted glasses. I’m not talking about “ah it’ll be grand”. What was writing about and what I’m talking about, is the attitude of Christ. 

Jesus never denied the reality of his suffering. Jesus never tried to pretend that it wasn’t really that bad. Jesus was betrayed, abandoned, abused, tortured, and killed in a way that was deliberately designed by the Romans to make a death slow, painful, and humiliating. On top of that Jesus bore the weight of God’s wrath taking the full punishment that was due to us, his people, for our sins. This was not an easy thing. This was not “grand”. If ever there was suffering this was it. 

But Jesus had hope. Jesus was able to endure this agony because he trusted in the Father. Jesus trusted that out of this darkness God would bring a great and glorious light – the salvation of sinners like you and me. 

Jesus was able to endure, and not only endure, but continue to be loving and gracious, because he had armed himself with hope. Because he trusted in the Father. 

The more we trust in God the less we will seek comfort in the things of this world. The more we trust in God the less we will despair when those things fail us or turn against us. We can trust God to see us through darkness because God Himself has gone down into deepest darkness. God knows suffering. God knows mourning. God knows. God has been there, and he will be there with us.  

Worldly people, people who don’t have the hope and the life that only God can give, will seek the comforts of this world, or “what pagans choose to do,” as Peter refers to them in verse 3. 

Christians have a greater treasure, a greater hope: living for the will of God, knowing that God is in control, that they belong to him. What can the world do? What do we have to fear in this life if we have been made right with God, if we know that God loves us and is taking care of us?  

What do those who belong to God have to fear? We know that Jesus is alive. We know that he died to save us and so all our sins have been atoned for in him. We know that God is not waiting to condemn us, but to embrace us. Even death has been defeated. How could we put our trust in anything but Jesus? Now that our trust is in Jesus, we have nothing to fear. 

I’ll never ask you to pretend that things aren’t so bad. I’ll never ask you to put on a fake smile and pretend like your heart isn’t breaking. Things are bad. What we’re going through, it’s bad. But never forget to arm yourself with the attitude of Christ, with the hope that comes from knowing that you belong to God and he is in control. 

It is worth it. We know the finish line is glorious and we know that Christ has already won the prize for us. Your faith making you the odd one out: it’s worth it. The precautions that we must take to protect one another: it’s worth it. We’ll rejoice together. Soon enough. We’ll have a proper celebration. 

Now, in these dark times, and even when things get a bit more normal again, let us arm ourselves with hope. 


Lord, we pray that you would keep us in this day of trouble. Help us to put our hope in you our loving Father. Help us to take care of each other. Help us to be imaginative in how we show love and kindness as we minister to one another during this time of restrictions. 

We pray for our government. Bless them with wisdom and help them to govern this country with justice. We pray for all our frontline workers. Protect them and help them in their work. 

We pray for those who feel lonely and isolated. Comfort them, Lord, with the knowledge of your love. Give them hope. 

We pray for those who grieve the loss of loved ones. We pray for those who are sick, and their family. Lord, bring your healing, comfort and peace into these awful situations. 

We pray all these things in Jesus’ name. 



Important Announcement Regarding the Resumption of Congregational Worship in Corraneary

Dear Corraneary church family,

I am happy to be able to bring you some good news today. The kirk session of Corraneary met on the evening of Tuesday the 15th of September to discuss the resumption of congregational activities in Corraneary and the preparations that would be needed for this to happen.

Session agreed on the necessary safety precautions that need to be put in place and voted to resume congregational worship once these preparations had been completed. I am happy to say that the preparations have been completed and we are ready to meet again on Sunday the 27th of September at noon.

To make our services safe we must follow the guidelines issued by the government and PCI until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. a cough, raised temperature, loss of taste or smell) please do not attend church, seek medical advice and isolate.

Keep a safe distance (currently 2 metres) from others before, during and after worship. Please refrain from congregating to chat before or after the services. Please do not make any physical contact with those outside your household (no embracing or handshakes).

Please use hand sanitiser, which will be provided in the church building. You may bring your own hand sanitiser, mask and water for a drink. All members of the congregation are formally requested to wear face coverings during the service.

To keep numbers low we ask that only members of Corraneary attend these services. Should non-members/visitors arrive we would ask that they wait until all members have been seated to see if there is space for them to safely attend.

To allow for social distancing within the church building, some pews have had to be closed off. As a result, you may not be able to sit in your usual pew at this time. Each family should sit together at a safe distance from other families. The minister will remain in the pulpit for the duration of the service. At the end of the service, you will be directed to leave the church in an orderly fashion. Please follow the instructions given. Space is limited in the meeting house and if we run out of space inside the building, people will be encouraged to remain in their cars and listen to the service over the outdoor PA system.

Services will follow a scaled-down format as in the other congregations of the Bailieborough Group. Services will be shorter than usual with a reduced number of hymns and the children’s talk included in the sermon. There will be no singing, although people are welcome to hum along to the music. Pre-recorded music will be played. There will be no Sunday School for the time being. You may bring along a children’s Bible or colouring sheets.

If you do need the toilet, please wipe surfaces you touch, including handles, with wipes provided and place them in the bin provided after use. Young children should be accompanied at all times.

I know this is not the type of service that we are used to. I don’t believe anybody thinks this is ideal. It is not the type of service that we have been missing and longing to get back to. It will be some time before we are back to something resembling the old normality that we miss. We are starting small, but we hope that God will bless us and enable us to grow.

Please see the “Staying Safe at Church” guidance below. Please keep all ou

God bless,
Rev. John.

Church at Home – 20 September 2020 – 1 Peter 3:13-22

Hello everyone, thank you for joining me! Today we will be looking at 1 Peter 3:13-22, which you can read by clicking here.

I don’t know for certain, but I would say it’s highly likely that you are a better gardener than me. I think most people are. The poor plants that are sometimes given to me to take care of all seem to wither and die on me soon afterwards. I like plants but I just don’t seem to know what I’m doing. I give them too much water, or I don’t give them enough water, or put them in the wrong place. So, at home, my study doesn’t have any plants in it, even though I’d like a bit of greenery to brighten the place up. But even though I’m a terrible gardener I do at least know that sometimes plants need a bit of pruning. This is especially true if you’re hoping to grow some fruit. You prune off the plant to direct its growth and so it grows some nice fruit.

The Bible often talks to God’s people with that kind of gardening or farming language. Jesus said:

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:1–2 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

God’s people are like a garden and he is the gardener, so he removes dead branches and he prunes the living branches. That branch that gets pruned might feel those sharp pruning shears and get worried or scared, but what God is doing will help that branch to grow fruit.

The Bible tells us:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

If we belong to God, if we love him, then no matter what happens to us in this world God is working it all together for our spiritual good. God is working in us, making us more like Jesus.

Peter used a different kind of imagery earlier in this letter. He writes in chapter 1:

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:6–7 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

Peter is writing to people who are being persecuted for their faith. They are suffering because they are Christians. When we suffer for our faith Peter says that suffering is like fire that that refines our faith, just like metal is refined to purify it. It’s different imagery, but it’s still about this thing that hurts but is ultimately being used for our good.

When we suffer as we follow Jesus, we are in fact being blessed, like that branch that’s being pruned or the metal that’s being refined. God works things for our good. God is taking care of us even in the dark times.

Peter repeats that message here in today’s passage. He tells them in verse 14:

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’

1 Peter 3:14 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

He says in verse 17:

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

1 Peter 3:17–18 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

We followers of Jesus, this is the path that we’re called to walk. Through suffering, glory. Peter’s argument for how to endure suffering has been “be like Jesus”. We are encouraged in our suffering because God himself has suffered. When the world hates us we are consoled with the knowledge that Jesus was hated first.

But it’s not just suffering. Peter want us to see that the way to true strength, the way to true glory and true victory is this way of Jesus. We’re not just suffering for the sake of suffering. We suffer on the path to glory. The pruning produces fruit. The heat of the furnace produces pure gold. The story of Jesus does not end at the cross, in darkness and despair as an innocent man dies. There was a resurrection. The tomb is empty.

Peter paints this picture for his readers of the absolute victory of Christ over all powers. He even makes this obscure reference to Christ proclaiming his victory to rebellious spirits from the time of Noah. It’s probably mentioned to emphasise Jesus’ complete victory over all and to remind us of that time when being obedient to God was such rare thing – just eight people on that boat.

Peter reminds us too that Christ’s victory is our victory. By faith we are saved by his death for us on the cross.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

1 Peter 3:18 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

He died to bring us to God, and he was victorious, so we have been brought to God. We’ve been forgiven. Just as Jesus is risen, we are raised to new life in him.

We have nothing to fear from this world. We belong to God and God is working all things, even the things that cause us pain, for our good. God is pruning us to bear fruit. God is refining us to purify our faith. We are walking along the path that Jesus set, through suffering and on to glory.

Peter tells us what we should do instead of fearing this world:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (NIV (Anglicised, 2011))

Remind yourself that Christ is Lord and that he is your Lord. Submit to Christ. And be prepared to give an answer to those who ask you about your hope.

Because Christ is victorious, and we belong to God we have a hope that the world doesn’t have. We don’t just feel the cut of the pruning shears. We know that we are being taking care of and made fruitful and that gives us a strange hope that will make the world curious. We demonstrate our hope by refusing to give in and return hatred for hatred, by refusing to stop loving each other and even the people who hate and mistreat us.

We’re called to walk the path of Jesus. It’s a hard road but it’s the only one that leads to true joy, true hope, true life, true glory. If we stick to the path even when things get tough, even those who mock us will have to stop and think maybe we’re going the right way.


Lord, we thank you that we have a real living hope because Jesus is alive. We thank you that you are always taking care of us. We pray that you would increase our trust in you and help us to be your witnesses in this world. Help us to follow Jesus, even when it gets tough.

Father we know that the hardship we endure is being used to refine our faith, but it is still hard. We pray that you would also give us comfort. We pray for those who have been bereaved, especially in our own congregation. Those who have lost loved ones and family members. Be near them in their mourning, we pray.

We pray for our young people and the young people all over the country, moving on in their education or looking towards careers. It’s normally a time of great transition and uncertainty and even anxiety and that is heightened this year with the added worries over the Coronavirus. Bring your peace and your wisdom to those who worry and feel uncertain of how things will go for them or their loved ones.

We pray that cases of the virus in this country would decrease again. We pray that you would protect all our healthcare workers, carers, and frontline workers. We pray for an end to this soon and, for the time being, the strength to endure.

We pray all these things in Jesus’ name.



Church at Home – 13th of September 2020 – Psalm 1

Sincere thanks to David White for filling in for me while I take some time off due to illness. David will be preaching on Psalm 1 today, which you can read by clicking here: Psalm 1.

Rev. John.

In this psalm we have two different types of people. We have the righteous man at the beginning and we have the wicked at the end. Now who doesn’t want to be the righteous man at the beginning? About him we read that he is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season who’s leaf doesn’t wither. In all that he does he prospers. Who doesn’t want to be in a position where all he does prospers?

As for the wicked… I don’t think anyone wants to be forgotten or blown away like chaff. But there are only two types of people in this psalm; the righteous and the wicked.

If we look at the righteous man closely however we see that the bar is set very high.

This man does not walk in the council of the wicked. This can be simply not keeping bad company, not keeping the company of those who want to break into banks and shops, not keeping the company of those who want to get involved in hooliganism or cause trouble. On the other hand it could go right the way through to the other extreme of not taking business advice from someone who is not a Christian. Where do we draw the line?

This man does not stand in the way of sinners. When I read this I think of those Warner brothers cartoons with the character standing in a desert valley with a herd of wildebeest charging toward him. This is not what the psalmist meant. A better way to look at this is th think of Saul before he became the apostle Paul looking after the cloaks of those who were throwing the stones at Stephen. Saul might not have thrown any stones but he was part of the crime. He took part every bit asmuch as those who did throw the stones.

Now sits in the seat of scoffers. Again that can go from making a blasphemous film right the way over to laughing at a video clip of someone walking into a lamp post or parking a car by driving through the fence and dropping six feet into a vacant parking space. Again where do we draw the line.

If we go by the sermon on the mount we go for the strictest interpretation we can think of and then go a bit further.

And his delight is in reading the Law of the Lord. Yes we can enjoy reading Gods word. We can get encouragement from it, we can get comfort from it, we can get strength from it.

But do we always enjoy reading it?

If we have a lot of things on our plate and we are trying to do more than there is time for does it not then become a bit of a chore? Can it not become something that is eating into our precious time on days like that?

We then see that this man meditates on God’s law day and night. Do we do that? Do we do that when we are watching a film ore are we more interested in following the characters in the film? Do we do that when the tax returns need to be sent in? or are we too concerned with making sure that everything is correct? Do we do that when we have a long journey to go and a deadline to meet, like catching a plane?

Yes, things can push God’s word from its place as our number one priority. We are human. And if we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves. As Paul puts it in Romans 3:10 and he is actually quoting from Psalm 14 here “There is none righteous, no not one”

Who then is the man at the beginning of this psalm? If we step back and look at this psalm as a story what do we see? We see a story about a righteous man. We are told a few details about this righteous man. We then encounter a tree. After we encounter the tree we see some sinners or wicked people. At the end of the story the wicked people are judged.

 Does this not sound familiar? Like the story of the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis we are told about a righteous man, Adam. We learn a few things about him. We find out how he got his wife. We see him receiving the law. (He was not allowed to eat the forbidden fruit.) We then encounter a tree. Eve was tempted to eat the fruit from the tree and she gave some to Adam. We then see sinners or wicked people. At the end of the story the wicked are judged.

There is a difference between this psalm and the Garden of Eden. The writer of the Psalm might have had the Eden story in mind but in The Garden of Eden Adam became a sinner. In Psalm 1 the righteous man stays righteous. He is like a tree whose leaf does not wither. This Psalm might be based on the Garden of Eden story but it is talking about a different Adam. It’s talking about Jesus.

In Matthews Gospel Jesus tells a parable about a wedding. The king hosting the wedding banquet sends out invitations but the invited guests all have excuses and don’t come.

Mat 22:2  “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 

Mat 22:3  and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 

Mat 22:4  Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ 

Mat 22:5  But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 

Mat 22:6  while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 

Mat 22:7  The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 

Mat 22:8  Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 

Mat 22:9  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 

Mat 22:10  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 

Mat 22:11  “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. Mat 22:12  And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 

 “Friend, How did you get in without a wedding garment?” That is the point of the story. The kings servants invited people from the highways and byways to the wedding just as we have heard the gospel. The banquet is full of these people but one guest has found another way in. He had no wedding garment so he was thrown out. When we trust in Jesus we receive garments of righteousness.

If we want to be like the man in Psalm 1 then when God looks at us he must see the righteous man. If I am trusting in Jesus then I am wearing garments of righteousness. When God looks at me he does not see my sin, he sees the righteousness of Jesus. If you are trusting in Jesus then when God looks at you He does not see your sin He sees the righteousness of Jesus.

 We can appear in verse 5 in the congregation of the righteous if when God looks at us he sees Jesus.


Church at Home – Psalm 95 – 6th of September 2020

Sincere thanks to David White for filling in for me while I take some time off due to illness. David will be preaching on Psalm 95 today, which you can read by clicking here: Psalm 95.

Rev. John.

Psa 95:1  Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

Psa 95:2  Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

If those words sound more familiar than the rest of the psalm, it could be because you have heard them used as a call to worship in a Church service.

Where else might this psalm have been used where might it have been used when it was first written? Scholars have suggested that it might have been used at a festival celebrating God’s enthronement. The people could have recited this on the way up to the temple. However in her commentary on psalm 95 Beth Tanner says that “little of the details of such a festival are recoverable”. What she is saying is that they are only guessing but they are guessing based on what they see in the psalm.

If we look at the psalm in that light we can see where they are coming from. If you were to visit a king in one of the countries that surrounded Israel at that time you would have had to get through the army then find a gate to get through the walls. It would have been a frightening experience. Once inside when you saw the kings garden and the lavishly decorated rooms you would experience a different set of emotions. You might be impressed by what you saw. You might feel privileged to be allowed in.

This psalm recreates those feelings; the terror while you approach the castle and the delight on seeing what is inside. It shows us what it is like when we go up to worship God and it warns us of the danger of putting God to the test

What is the psalm about?

It is primarily answering two questions.

Why would we want to come to God? And How can we come to God

A few years ago we went to England where we visited Windsor. On the street going up to the castle was a souvenir shop. In the door was an Irish Guard. He was made of plastic but there were two tourists having their photograph taken with him. We went up to the castle. When we got in We saw the nice gardens at the homes of the people who worked and lived in the castle and the church where some of the royal family got married. While walking around the castle I saw a tunnel. It could have been a drain or it could have been for ventilation. It was closed with iron bars. Beside it was an Irish Guard. This time he was real and surrounded by a large group of tourists.

The Guard at the castle was real, the guard at the shop was not. This is the first reason we are given in the psalm for wanting come to God. God is real. If we were to look around at the time this psalm was written and see all the pagan nations with all of the different gods that they worshiped. They are false gods but this psalm assures us that God is real.

Verse 3 tells us that He is the great God and on that level we are given nothing to compare him with. We are then told that He is the great king above all the gods. The kings of the pagan nations all followed and served false gods. God is above these false gods, the pagan kings serve them. God cannot be compared to anything in the created world. He is beyond compare.

We are then told in verses 4 and 5 that he owns this world. He owns it because he made it. This not just telling us that he is the creator. It is telling us that he is bigger then creation. The false gods that the nations served each had their own sphere of influence. Some claimed to be in control of the sea some controlled the rivers some were in control of different nations. They were all inside creation. God made it all. He is bigger than creation.

Why would we want to come to God? Because there is nothing that compares to him.

How can we come to such a powerful God? The answer is found in at the beginning of the psalm. “Let us shout aloud to the rock of our salvation.”

Who is the Rock of our salvation? 

As the Children of Israel were crossing the wilderness on their exodus from Egypt they got thirsty. God told Moses to strike a rock. When Moses struck the rock water came out.

Commenting on this story Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians

1Co 10:3  and all ate the same spiritual food,

1Co 10:4  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Jesus is the rock of our salvation.

The psalmist gives us another reason for wanting to come to God. We are told that God is our God. We are the flock under his care. He wants a personal relationship with us. He wants to lead us as a shepherd leads his sheep. He wants to be our shepherd. He wants to guide us so that we don’t get lost. Had the children of Israel allowed God to lead them in to the promised land they could have been building their houses and their nation instead they were left wandering around the wilderness for 40 years.

How can we come to God to be led by Him?

If we are the flock under His care then he is the shepherd. Jesus said in John 10:11

“I am the good Shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Jesus laid down his life for us.

Jesus is the good shepherd.

The last reason we see in this psalm for coming to God is a bit different from the others. We are told about the punishment the Israelites received for putting God to the test. We are given reasons to be fearful. If we turn to proverbs chapter 9 and verse 10 we read “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

If the fear of the Lord drives to God then it has achieved its purpose.

We are also in this section told how we can come to God. Look at the last verse. God judged the Israelites by refusing to let them enter into his rest. God is the one who can grant rest. If we turn to Matthew 11:28 Jesus says

Mat 11:28  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Why would want to come to God? Because He is real

Why would want to come to God? Because He wants a personal relationship with us

Why would want to come to God? The fear of the Lord should drive us to Him

How can we come to God?

Through Jesus the Rock of our salvation.

Through Jesus the Good shepherd.

Through Jesus the one who can give us rest.



Opening Up to God – Stepping Forward Together – Webinar for church leaders, 16th of September

Opening up to God

Attention all leaders of the Bailieborough Group! On the 16th of September PCI are hosting a webinar on moving forward in ministry with confidence and hope during these difficult times. I would encourage all who lead and serve in our congregations (elders, committee members, organisational leaders, and volunteers) to consider attending. Registration must be completed by the 14th of September. Please click here for more information and registration.

Church at Home – 30th of August 2020 – 1 Peter 3:8-12


In today’s passage Peter gives some instruction for all Christians, no matter what their situation. This is guidance on how to live the Christian life. How do we walk this road following Jesus in a world that hates him and his followers?

Let’s remind ourselves of how Peter’s journey began.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.

(Matthew 4:18-20, NIV)

That was the day that Peter was called. A fisherman by trade, he was at work when Jesus came along and called him. He became a disciple of Jesus and left everything to follow him. Did you notice how Jesus called him? “Come, follow me,” and invitation and instruction. Christ’s disciples are invited to follow him, to trust in him and go where he leads them, to listen to his instructions and, in faith, to obey them. Then Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Christians have a new identity and role, a mission. Jesus would make them fishers of people, catching people up out of this dark world to being them into Christ’s kingdom. Call and mission. They go hand in hand.

Notice what Jesus doesn’t do. Jesus does not walk up to these fishermen, explain some theological concept to them to get them to understand, and then say goodbye and move along leaving them to their fishing. Their lives unchanged except for a new opinion on how to be right with God.

Jesus called them to a new life, a new mission. This is what it means to be a Christian. It’s not about having the right ideas. It’s also not about doing the right things either, and I hope you’ll see that today because I’m going to be talking about doing good and how Christians should live. Being a Christian is about faith in Jesus Christ, and true faith involves following in obedience. It involves living the life that God calls us to and empowers us to live.

Part of the new identity that we receive when we come to faith in Christ is a new purpose. Being a Christian is not just about getting to heaven. We look forward to heaven of course, but what about now? We believe that God is in control of all things and what that means is that we are here right now because that is how God has ordained things. Whatever your life situation is, wherever you are, God is in control, you belong to God, he has redeemed you, he is working in you to transform you and he can work through you to achieve his purposes. God can take a fisherman like Peter and turn him into a great apostle and missionary. God can work through all of us.

What we’re looking at today is the topic of Christian ethics: how to live a good life. Peter has been giving instruction on this in the areas of how to relate to government, how to relate to employers, how to relate to your spouse. Now as he begins to wrap up, he writes the word “Finally” and he comes back up to a bigger scale and gives general instructions for all of us.

Peter says to “be like-minded”. We must live this life together. God himself has brought us together and so we must maintain that unity in mission. How do we work together? How do we ensure that we’re all of the same mind? Focus on Jesus and following where he leads. If the followers are to be united, they need to keep their eyes on the leader. This is why it’s so important for each of us to practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer. It’s why, if you have kids, it is so important for you to tech them to read the Bible for themselves. Sit down with your children and read with them. Teach them how to pray. Talk to them about God. We must all follow the Leader, and if we do that, we’ll be united.

Sometimes we’ll have to take time to discern where Jesus is leading us but there are some things that are plain and true always. We are called always to be sympathetic, loving, compassionate and humble. No jostling for position. No hatred or hard-heartedness towards each other.

Peter tells us in verse 9:

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

There’s a cycle of evil in this world. They did this to us, so we’ll do that to them. They said something about me, so I’ll get them back. And it goes on and on and on and on, until we forget who started it or why, and it doesn’t really matter anymore anyway, because the hatred has taken over. Personal grudges become family feuds and it can continue for generations. Sometimes it’s overt and explodes in violence, sometimes it’s a cold-hearted contempt that simmers for years. It can happen on the small scale and the big scale. This kind of thing turns whole nations and races against each other.

Grace is the only thing that breaks this cycle. The grace to not return evil for evil, but to interrupt that cycle by blessing the one who hates you. If you’re a Christian, then you are called to this. Whoever started it, it stops with you. Because you belong to Jesus, and not to this world. You belong to the one who prayed for the forgiveness of the people killing him. You belong to the one who gave his life as an atonement for your sin. You belong to Jesus because of God’s amazing grace, and so grace is the way you must live.

Peter then quotes from Psalm 34:


‘Whoever would love life and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.’

(1 Peter 3:10-12, NIV)

If you want a life that is lovely and good, listen to the one who made you and do what is right. Be honest. Turn from evil, don’t give into it. Seek peace.

This isn’t a guarantee that life will be rosy if you just do x, y and z. These are general principles, like the book of Proverbs. And this is a reminder that the life that God calls us to is a good one. He leads us to green pastures. He longs to bless us.

This isn’t a prosperity gospel, or some guarantee that life will be great. Peter was writing to people enduring persecution and hatred. This isn’t a list of things that you must do to be saved. We are saved by putting our faith in Jesus and his sacrifice in our place on the cross.

This is certain though: God sees and listens to the prayers of his children. He is with you in your struggles and he will give you the strength to go on.

The life of following Jesus can be hard sometimes. We sometimes must fight against ourselves and the temptation to give in to evil and hatred. Sometimes we’ll be mocked, excluded, or hated. But Jesus leads us to blessing. Even if we endure suffering in this world we belong to God, we know God and he will never let his children go.


Sovereign Lord, we pray that you would help us to be a light for grace in this dark world. Help us all to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, to take the time to feed ourselves on your holy word and to seek you in prayer. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and work in us and through us.

Lord, today would have normally been a united service where all the congregations in our group would meet together in Corglass. We miss those times of gathering together in greater numbers and without any need to be distant from one another. We miss the singing. We pray, Lord, for a swift end to this pandemic and the return of those things that we miss so dearly about our worship together.

But Lord, we thank you that we can still worship you, whether at home or in smaller numbers in a meeting house. You are still with us in power. Protect us and our loved ones we pray.

We pray for a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in our country, for the healing of the sick and for comfort for those who mourn.

We pray for our children returning to school. We ask that you protect them and their teachers, but also that they would enjoy the experience of learning and seeing their friends again.

We pray for justice and peace in America, an end to civil unrest and the injustice that gives rise to it.

We pray also for those we know now as we take a moment of silence.

We pray all these things in Jesus’ name.



Church at Home – 23rd of August 2020 – 1 Peter 3:1-7


Good morning everyone. This morning we will be reading from 1 Peter 3:1-7.

The Greco-Roman world that Peter and the original readers of this letter lived in was different in many ways. This was a society where government and religion were deeply entwined and the emperor, was worshipped. This was an economy in which slavery played a huge role in the normal functioning of society. And it was very much a man’s world. A patriarchal society. In that world, where it was a given that the wife would be the same religion as the husband, what happens when a married woman comes to faith in Jesus? She’s born again. She has a new God-given identity. She’s a beloved daughter of the King. She’s an heir to eternal life in Jesus Christ. How should she live with her pagan husband? Should she continue to live with him at all?

Because of the change that faith in Jesus brings about there are these points of conflict when the world interacts with the church. How should we handle these moments of culture-clash? We looked at how Christians should respond to government and how Christian slaves should conduct themselves in relation to their masters last week. To sum it up, we respond with grace, goodness, and courage. We submit. That doesn’t mean that we can’t speak out against injustice, but however we respond to the world it must be a gracious response. We can’t abandon grace, because we depend on grace. We have received the grace of God and so we must be gracious.

We are called to submit. Now, that sounds like a terrible word to our ears because we’ve got it into our heads that being submissive means being less. We think that submission is for lesser people and we want to be equal at least, so there is no place for submission. But being submissive doesn’t mean being a lesser person. Jesus submitted. God himself! He submitted to the incarnation, God Almighty taking on human frailty. He submitted to his parents. Luke’s gospel says that when Jesus was a child, he was obedient to his parents (Luke 2:51). Imagine God doing chores. Was he any less God during that time? No! Jesus also submitted to the cross and suffered for our salvation. The cross is the heart of our faith. If you want to know about God – God the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, Creator and Sustainer of the universe – our religion says to look at the cross. A naked man dying a horrible death at the hands of the state. Was he any less God? No!

Submission doesn’t mean being less. So, when Peter tells wives to be submissive to their husbands, he’s not telling them to be less, or that they are less. He’s instructing them on how to work within the patriarchal culture of the day so that God is glorified through their goodness. They are not to react to the false religion of their husbands by fighting them or leaving them, but with grace. And they do this so that God will be glorified in their gracious response and the man may be won over to Christ. This submission isn’t just resignation it is mission, it is tactical. We disrupt evil and shine light in the darkness by being gracious people in a grace-less world.

Note also that Peter says that the wives are to be submissive to their own husbands. Not to husbands in general or men in general. The Bible does not teach that women must be submissive to men in general. Peter’s words are instructions for wives on how to be faithful, missional Christians in the context of the existing relationships that they have.

In the inevitable culture-clashes that come with living in this world while belonging to heaven we must ensure that grace is our response. Grace and goodness and courage are how we must stand out. Although this was a quite different culture, it does seem like some things never change. The women of Peter’s day had their own beauty industry to deal with. This society had unrealistic beauty standards just like modern Ireland does. Back in the ancient Greco-Roman world elaborate hairstyles were the big thing and so women spent a lot of time and effort on making their hair very fancy. Peter instructs these Christian women to instead focus on cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit. He’s not talking about being some mousey little character that never speaks up. Gentleness is not weakness; it is strength under control. A quiet spirit doesn’t mean someone who never speaks up, but someone who is at peace, someone whose trust in God is evident by their ability to rest in God’s care.

What about the men?

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
(1 Peter 3:7)

It’s a smaller statement but it’s packed! Firstly, Peter says that husbands are to act “in the same way”. This is continuing what Peter began in the previous chapter. First, he called on all Christians to submit to the governing authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17), then he called on slaves to submit to their masters (1 Peter 2:18-21), then at the beginning of today’s passage he says “in the same way” when instructing wives to submit to their husbands, and here he continues his instruction to husbands with that phrase again, “in the same way”.

A healthy marriage is not one partner bullying and bossing someone around (that’s abuse, and you need to get to safety if you are being bullied or abused in your relationship). It’s a partnership and that involves mutual submission and deferring to each other. Peter’s reference to the woman as the weaker partner isn’t any commentary on the worth or character of women, but the simple reality that women are usually smaller, less physically strong and face disadvantages in a patriarchal society. This isn’t to be exploited by men so that they can bully or intimidate their wives – that is a terrible sin! – a good Christian husband will treat his wife with respect. Husbands and wives, men and women, are on an equal footing before God. Peter reminds the husbands that their wives are also heirs – just as they themselves are – of the gracious gift of life that comes to us through Jesus. It’s not just the sons who are heirs, but the daughters too. Men and women are equally blessed by God’s grace. Peter warns husbands that if they do not treat their wives with respect their prayers will be hindered. Husbands, God may not listen to your prayers if you do not treat your wife with respect.

Whether it’s in our interactions with governing authorities, employers, or in the home, Christians are called to always be gracious. Doing so shows our gentleness and our quiet spirit. It shows that we trust the one who is truly in charge. It shows that, unlike the world, we do not believe that submission and service is demeaning because our best revelation of God comes through his own submission. Jesus stooped down to be amongst us and even die for us. We’ve been shown the strength of gentleness and submission. We needn’t fear that submission makes us any less because God almighty walked this path.


Lord help us to trust you enough so that we’re not always trying to assert ourselves. Let us be happy to yield to each other out of love and respect. Help us, Lord, to think more highly of others than of ourselves. Give us that faith and contentment in you that we need for this.

Lord, our country continues to suffer through increasing cases of a deadly virus. Please help us to adhere to the government guidelines, both as an act of submission to governing authorities and also as an act of love and submission to our neighbours. Help us to be careful for each other’s sake.

Bless those who are fighting on the front lines against this virus and to provide the services we need. Heal them, protect them, bless them we pray.

We pray for a reduction in cases and for the defeat of this virus so that we can do the things that we so miss once again. We look forward with hope to the day when we will gather again and sing your praises.

In Jesus’ name we pray,



Church at Home – 16th August – 1 Peter 2:13-25

Imagine if someone told the so-called “ugly duckling” the truth. That it was in fact not a duck at all, but a swan. You know the children’s story. I’ve mentioned it before in relation to this letter. The “ugly duckling” gets bullied by the other ducklings for being different, but when he grows up, he discovers that he is a beautiful, graceful swan, not a duck. 

Why didn’t anyone tell him, back in those horrible days when he was being abused and called ugly, that there was nothing wrong with him? That the things that make him different are just part of what he is and that one day he would mature and be a great swan. 

Wouldn’t that change the story? Wouldn’t that help that little cygnet to endure and even rejoice in the ways that he is different. Wouldn’t it give him hope and strength? 

Peter, writing this letter to Christians all over the Roman province of Asia Minor (the land that makes up most of the country of Turkey today) is a bit like someone taking that bullied little swan aside and telling him what he is and what he will grow to be in the future. 

These Christians were once pagans like their neighbours. They heard the gospel, believed in Jesus and were saved. Born again. A new identity. A new purpose. A new hope. But because of their differences they were being persecuted. They were suffering for their faith. So, when Peter the apostle writes to encourage them, he doesn’t just tell them to cheer up, he reminds them of their identity. Peter reminds them what they are. 

These are not just some people with new ideas that make them strange where they once used to fit in. They are, as Peter says in his greeting, “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood” (1 Peter 1:2). 

That is the identity of every Christian. You included, if you belong to Jesus. If you’ve put your trust in Jesus and his sacrifice for your salvation and accepted him as Lord, then what Peter says of the first readers of this letter is also true of you. 

While we have this new heavenly identity we still must live in this world. This sin-broken world. Part of living in this world, and living out our faith, and being different is enduring the world’s negative reaction. Just like that little swan, we will suffer for the ways that we stand out. And yet we must stand out. We must be different. We must live out the identity we’ve been given. Or else what use are we? We’d be like salt that’s lost its saltiness or a lamp that’s been covered? How can the world see the different way that Christ calls us to if we don’t live it? 

Suffering for the faith is to be expected. We may suffer persecution, or we may suffer through temptation, but there will be suffering or struggle in the Christian life. It’s a struggle to swim against the current. So, as well as telling Christians the amazing truth of what we are and the hope that we have, Peter also instructs us on how to live this life going against the flow and enduring the suffering that comes with it. And that’s really what we’re getting into today in this passage. How to confront the darkness. How to react to evil. 

Imagine that young swan is told that he is in fact a swan. How should he react the next time he’s taunted for being different? Should he shout back? Should he declare that he is a magnificent swan and how dare these silly ducks try to bully him? Should he become mean as a reaction to the meanness he’s suffered? No. Christians must respond with grace and goodness. We fight the darkness not by becoming like it but by shining our light. 

Peter says in verse 16: 

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” 

(1 Peter 2:16, NIV) 

Free people and God’s slaves. Same thing. We are truly free people because we belong to God our Creator and live to serve him. We’ve been liberated from the darkness of this world that has power over others. But we must use our freedom for good and not as an excuse for evil.  

The two examples Peter gives here of how Christians should react to the world are submission to authority (namely the emperor and governors) and submission of slaves to their masters.

The emperor at this time wasn’t just obeyed, he was worshipped. So, these Christians, freed from this idolatry by the gospel, with their eyes now opened to the ugliness of that worship, how should they act? They must not worship the emperor, but they must still obey the law and submit to authority. We must too. We must keep the law, even the laws we don’t like, so long as they do not contradict God’s law. We are to show ourselves to be good citizens who benefit our society. 

Peter’s words on slavery can be a bit alarming to modern ears. I could go into how slavery in the Greco-Roman world, was very different from modern slavery, which it was, but slavery is still bad, and some people say that this text is an example of the Bible justifying slavery. The slaves are told to submit to their masters out of fear and consciousness of God. It says nothing about slavery being good. As I said earlier, this passage is about how to confront the darkness. How to react to evil. 

Jesus gave similar instructions. For example, Jesus said: 

 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 

(Matthew 5:39, NIV) 

We are to react with grace and courage and goodness in response to evil. Being told to turn the other cheek when someone strikes you does not justify the act of striking. Nobody thinks for a second that Jesus is saying that slapping people on the cheek is okay. In the same way a slave being told to submit to their master is not justification for slavery. This passage does not attempt to justify slavery. It is instruction for those who suffer on how to respond to evil. How should Christians respond to evil? In the same way that Christ responded. 

Christ endured his suffering. He never responded to cruelty with cruelty. He never returned hatred for hatred. Even as he was being nailed to the cross, Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who were crucifying him. Jesus responded with grace, and if we are followers of Jesus then that is how we must respond too. 

Jesus entrusted himself to God, and so we must do the same. We respond with grace because we know that God is sovereign over all. It is better to reflect the grace of God that we have been shown than to reflect the hatred of the world that we experience.  


Sovereign Lord, may we entrust ourselves to you knowing that you are in control. You are Lord of all. We pray that you would help us to live lives of faith, which enable us to be gracious even in the face of hatred and opposition. 

We pray for our government and all those all over the world who have been entrusted with authority. We pray that they would lead with wisdom, justice and a love for those in their care. 

We pray for the safety of the people of Ireland as we are seeing a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. Help us to care for each other by exercising caution and abiding by the guidelines issued by our government. 

We pray for the protection of the vulnerable. We pray for comfort for those who mourn and healing for those who are sick. We pray for strength, skill and protection for those leading the fight against this virus. 

We pray also for those we know personally now as we take a moment of silence. 

In Jesus’ name we pray. 


Church at Home – 9th August 2020 – 1 Peter 2:11-12

We continue in our journey through 1 Peter this morning. This was circular letter that the apostle Peter wrote to be passed around to the congregations of the church in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, all places in the Roman province called Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey.

There are two big themes in this letter. Peter introduces these themes in the opening verses, and these are the themes of identity and persecution. Peter has been telling these Christians who they are. They’re God’s elect exiles, according to the very first verse of the letter. He tells them in the next verse that they “have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood”. Peter goes on to write about the living hope that they have because of Jesus and his resurrection. He reminds them of the inheritance they have: eternal life, something this world cannot take away from them.

This is all about identity. Christians have been made into something new by God. We are different. In the verses preceding today’s text – I preached on them last week – Peter shows us that we are a temple and priests. We are a temple, a dwelling place for God himself. God makes himself present in this world through us who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and working through us. We are priests, we know God and make him known to the world.

This is huge stuff! It’s not that we are some people with an outlook or philosophy or hobby. We have a sacred identity graciously given to us by God. We are different.

Peter’s letter can be seen as a sort of guidebook for foreigners in a hostile world. We are the foreigners. The church is a colony of heaven here in this world. Because of the identity and calling that we have as Christians we will encounter opposition and even persecution from the world. That’s the other big theme: the suffering or the struggle that Christians have in this world as we strive to be loyal to our heavenly identity and calling. Peter was writing to people who were being persecuted by their neighbours. These Christians used to be pagans like them, but now they have changed, and they live differently.

So, this is a letter about Christian identity and the struggles that Christians will face as they live out this identity in this world. Although we are different we have a mission from God to make him known in this world. We can’t isolate ourselves in a Christian bubble. We are foreigners, but we’re not like a closed off isolated community, neither are we like tourists. We are more like ambassadors. Although we are different, we still live in this world with a mission from God to make him known.

Peter urges his readers:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

(1 Peter 2:11-12, NIV)

Part of the struggle that we face as we live in this world is the internal struggle against sinful desires. We are surrounded by temptation to conform to the ways of this world. To hate. To lie. To lust. To be selfish, or greedy, or proud. These things are presented as not only permissible, but normal. The truth is that these desires, however common they might be, are waging war against your souls. We can’t take this lightly. The world pressures us to conform, to be “normal”, to fit in, but the church must remain different. We can’t be this alternative community that we’re called to be if there’s nothing alternative about us. Jesus called his disciples the light of the world and the salt of the earth:

‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

 ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

(Matthew 5:13-16, NIV)

If a light is not any different than the darkness is it really light anymore? Is it any use at all? If salt loses its saltiness, what good is it? If so-called Christians are indistinguishable from non-Christians, then are they truly Christians? If the church is no different from the world then how can it be the church?

Peter says that these Christians are to live such good lives that even their accusers will end up glorifying God (v. 12), echoing what Jesus said in Matthew 5:16. The idea is that the people living in darkness will see our light and come out of the darkness and into the light. We are a missional community and being missional does not always mean standing up and preaching or going door-to-door to talk about Jesus (although it does mean that sometimes). The most powerful evidence that you can give for the truth of what you claim to believe is to live a good and faithful life. To be good even when it costs you – especially when it costs you. Talk is cheap. Let the world see that you believe by living accordingly

To be a Christian is to be different. The church is not of this world. And yet, we are still in this world. That brings with is struggle, but also responsibility. There is a struggle to maintain our distinctiveness in the face of temptation to conform and persecution. Our responsibility is be a holy presence here in this broken world as an act of love for even the people who might hate us. We love them by showing them a different way to live. A good way of life. A life of grace and holiness.

I have my passport here. I’m not going anywhere but this passage got me thinking about what it’s like to be in a foreign country and to be a foreigner. When you go abroad on a trip sometimes, you’ll be asked what the purpose of your stay in that country is. We are here in this world as foreigners. We belong to another world. We belong to heaven. What is the purpose of our trip here? To glorify God with the lives we live. To be like light in the darkness. To be different in good ways.

Let us all hear today Peter’s urging to maintain our distinctiveness, to be the foreigners that God has made us to be. Abstain from sinful desires and, even in the face of persecution, to live such good lives that we glorify God.


Lord God we pray that you would help us to serve the people of this world by being light and salt, by being faithful to our calling to be different. Help us to abstain from sinful desire and to live good and faithful lives.

We pray for the people of Beirut in the aftermath of that dreadful explosion. We pray for healing for the injured. We pray for comfort for the mourning. We pray for shelter and help for those who are displaced. We pray for the hospitals, help them to manage this disaster. We pray that aid would come to Beirut to help the people there.

We pray for our country as we are currently experiencing a sharp rise in cases of COVID-19. Help us to contain the spread of the virus. Help those who are infected to recover. Be with all those who are grieving the illness or the death of a loved-one. Protect us all Lord and help us to be safe.

We pray for the people in our lives who need help. We take a moment of silence to pray for them now.

We pray all these things in Jesus’ name.