A good new year

There was a revival in Croy near Inverness between the years 1763 and 1774. Many were converted during that time under the ministry of James Calder, and in his diary he mentions that many of the converts were young people. 

Here is what he wrote in his diary on New Year’s Day, 1765. ‘As the year 1763 was a happy year in this place – much happi...

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Are you a scribe who shares?

It is impossible for us to know what Jesus thought of the answer given by his disciples to the probing question he asked after his teaching about the kingdom (the question is found in Matthew 13:51). They affirmed that they had understood all that he had taught in the seven parables recorded in the chapter.

Whatever their grasp of his teaching was...

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The Pattern Prayer and Prayer for Divine Blessings

A question that arises is whether or not there are differences between what Jesus said in the Lord’s Prayer and what he says later in the Sermon on the Mount about asking, seeking and knocking as expressions of prayer. Perhaps one difference is that the Lord’s Prayer guides us what to say in prayer and the later verses guide us regarding how we pra...

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Heavenly joy

I was reading a sermon this afternoon by Duncan MacGregor, a minister in St. Peter's in Dundee during the nineteenth century. He was reflecting on heaven, and it is good to think about it.

During his sermon, he mentioned the verse, 'When his glory is revealed, ye shall be glad with exceeding joy.' He then expanded: 'Exceeding joy - joy without...

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Living in the kingdom of God

What ideas do we have about the kingdom of God? Perhaps we imagine, or daydream, about a smooth domain, free from troubles, where everything flows like clockwork. Is this what the disciples of Jesus were told to expect when he instructed them about his kingdom?

Jesus did say that there would be a kingdom, indeed a growing one, that would spread...

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God’s rescue mission

In Luke 15, Jesus told a parable with three parts. The three parts are each concerned with something that was lost - a sheep, a coin and a son. Moreover, Jesus told the parable in order to point out the errors of the Pharisees to themselves. 

I attended a sermon this morning in which a preacher spoke on the first two - the sheep and the coin....

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Praying for Divine Blessing

There are many promises in the Bible regarding receiving blessing from God. Sometimes, the promises are given in an individual way and at other times they offer blessings in a corporate manner. Usually, those blessings, while promised, are given in answer to prayer.

No doubt, we are aware of the need for prayer, but we are also aware that not all...

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Where to look

Recently I read in a book that while we can only make sense of life by looking backwards we have to face it by looking forwards. I suppose the author was saying that by looking back we can see where we have come from. However, the author did not say that there was any confidence coming from looking forwards. All was uncertain in that regard.


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Thoughts for heavenly citizens

In Revelation 17:1–19:5, a prolonged description is given of Babylon, not the ancient city, but what it represents in Revelation, the city of fallen man as opposed to the heavenly city. How should we respond to the description because it is connected to much of what we see around us?

Babylon is condemned because she tried to take the place of God....

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Knowing Jesus and his joy

The Lord’s Day is an obvious day for thinking about aspects of the experience of Jesus, our Saviour. Every detail concerning him is precious to us. There are many matters about him that we will think about today, whether in private at home or in public in church or elsewhere.

We live in a world often marked by disappointments, frustrations and...

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Life in heaven

Sometimes my mind goes back to Christians I knew when I was young and who have long left this world. I know that they are in heaven, in the presence of God. I know that their souls are now perfect in holiness, that they cannot sin again, and they are fit for the presence of God in glory.

Recently, I have been preaching through the Book of...

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Priority of love

Recently I started reading Hugh Binning’s book Christian Love. Binning was a Scottish minister in the seventeenth century and although he was only twenty-six when he died he had made a big impression on religious and political leaders. His short book highlights the importance of believers living lives of love with one another, as indicated by

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Pentecost Sunday

Today is Pentecost Sunday when numerous Christians celebrate the coming of the Spirit in a special manner to empower the New Testament church for worship and witness. It was the commencement of an incredible contribution from the eternal God that remains with his people and will do so until the next major event in the story of the church, which is...

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Adoption and Justification

In God’s gracious plan of salvation, adoption is one of several important features which together indicate the greatness of his grace. Adoption for a believer occurs at the commencement of his Christian life. Yet since it is not the only benefit that occurs then, we have to note the order in which several simultaneous aspects of salvation occur.


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Forgiveness and prayer

What was the first thing I was conscious of when I became a member of the family of God? It was that my sins were forgiven. I had received pardon from God. The one who was now my Father had declared that I was forgiven. How did I know that was the case? Because he stated so in his Word. 

Not that my name was mentioned there specifically. Even...

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Entering the family of God

A long time ago, I was not a member of the family of God, although I was brought up in a family in which God was honoured. The issue that kept me out of his family was my sin. Among those sins was the sad attitude that I did not want to be a member because I foolishly imagined that all God offered was a set of rules that inhibited life and led to...

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Robert Bruce and the Lord's Supper

Robert Bruce (c. 1554-1631) was an Edinburgh minister and his sermons on the Lord’s Supper, when published and grasped, became a crucial source in Scottish Presbyterianism of discovering the meaning of the Lord's Supper. In the main he followed the view of Calvin. We need help in understanding what takes place at the Lord's Supper and Bruce's...

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Children of God

In the Bible, there are various ways in which the idea of sonship is used. Angels are called sons of God in the book of Job, and they could have this title because they are dignified creatures of God. Humans also are termed sons of God by creation, and still retain some features of this relationship because they are made in God’s image. Israel as a...

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Experiencing real love

We all know that the Christian life is an expression of love. But what is Christian love? We can assume that somehow Jesus will be involved, either as the source or the object of it; we can assume that the Holy Spirit will be involved because love is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit; and since God is love, we can assume that the Father will be...

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Jesus as the Morning Star

One of the titles used by Jesus of himself is that he is the morning star. The morning star is generally regarded as the planet Venus and it was called the morning star because it is usually seen shortly before daybreak, and thus indicates that the dark night will soon be over. Given this background, it is not difficult to see what Jesus meant...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (8) - Elisabeth Welsh

Elisabeth Knox was born about 1568, and was about four years of age when her father died. While she could have recalled some details of her father, it is more likely that her commitment to and understanding of the Reformed Faith was helped more by her mother Margaret Stewart (Knox’s second wife) and stepfather (Andrew Ker). 

When Elisabeth...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (7) - Margaret Stewart

It is impossible to look at the Reformation and not come across the work of John Knox, and when we read about his life we can see the contribution made by his wives. Both are worthy of consideration, but we will focus on the second, because her daughter, as well as herself, made notable sacrifices for the Reformed Cause in Scotland as the...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (6) - the poem of John Davidson

In the first blog in this series we mentioned a couple, John Campbell of Cesnock and his wife Janet Montgomery, who had connections to the Lollards. Their granddaughter Elisabeth was married to a Robert Campbell and they were the subjects of a poem written by John Davidson, the well-known minister of Prestonpans, who dedicated it to their...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (5) - Isobel Scrimger

Isobel Scrimger is mentioned in Anderson’s Ladies of the Reformation and her significance for the history of Scotland is that she was the mother of James Melville, and the aunt of Andrew Melville. Although she was the aunt of Andrew, she brought him up after his mother died when he was two years of age. Her own son James was only about ten years y...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (4) - Elisabeth Adamson

Elizabeth Adamson was the wife of James Barron, a burgess of the city of Edinburgh, and a follower of John Knox. In 1555, John Knox came to Edinburgh and among his activities he engaged in house meetings. Among his listeners was Elizabeth. David Calderwood tells us that she ‘heard Mr Knox with greediness, because she was troubled in conscience, a...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (3) - Helen Stark

James V died in December, 1542, the same month in which his daughter Mary was born. A regent was appointed, and the one chosen, the Earl of Arran, recanted the Protestant faith under pressure. Unlike ones just mentioned (in previous blog), I have not read of his repentance. He functioned under the control of Cardinal Beaton and a prolonged...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (2) - Katherine Hamilton

In 1517 Martin Luther triggered what we now call the Reformation when he nailed his famous theses to the church door in Wittenberg. The Reformation was a work in progress and initially those who advocated it in Scotland were not fully Calvinists or Presbyterians. Instead, it was the views and writings of Luther that had great influence. One of the...

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Women of the Scottish Reformation (1)

Recently I spoke on Women of the Scottish Reformation. In this blog are my notes of what I said about women connected to the Lollards. Details about others will be given in subsequent blogs.

In 1560, Scotland became a Reformed country. The Reformation movement had been a long process, and 1560 would not be the close of opposition to it. We are

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The Start of Another Year

The commencing of a new year is obviously a milestone in our lives. In olden days, a milestone was a place where a traveller could rest and look back to where he had come from and look ahead to the remainder of his journey. The journey may have been long or short, yet the milestone was a place for getting his bearings.

It is good to pause and...

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Spurgeon on a preaching priority

Reflecting the other day upon the sad state of the churches at the present moment, I was led to look back to apostolic times, and to consider wherein the preaching of the present day differed from the preaching of the apostles. I remarked the vast difference in their style from the set and formal oratory of the present age. I remarked that the...

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