Minister: Rev Andrew Watson
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Psalm 100 v 4
Carrigart is a small village on the Rosguill Peninsula of County Donegal. The village is a popular holiday destination due to its proximity to the many beaches of nearby Downings and Rosapenna. Our Church is on Church Road, heading out of Carrigart towards Milford.
A warm welcome for visitors to Sunday services is always guaranteed!
The Bewglas Centre shares the church grounds. It is a Christian Conference/Residential Centre offering self-catering accommodation for up to 35 people and may be booked on a weekly or weekend basis, or even for a day conference. Click the heading above for further details.
Carrigart Presbyterian Church is now on Facebook! Please like and share.
The Cross of Christ
(Read Romans 5 vs 1-11)
What’s going on in the street over there?
Oh, just another execution, not uncommon in Jerusalem in Roman times. Only this one seems to have excited extra interest. It’s not just two common criminals, it’s the man on the central cross. Many insist he’s a good man, a teacher who urged people to obey God and who performed miracles like a prophet, kindly healing people of all kinds of disease. Others say he’s a deceiver, a blasphemous rabble rouser who’s going to get everyone into trouble. Some just think he’s crazy or not even that important. We could be tempted to tut and shake our heads and carry on as usual.
The New Testament speaks repeatedly about the death of Jesus on the cross and insists this is not just the most important thing Jesus did, it’s the most important event in world history, ever! This is not simply another human drama. This is the one, unique, divine rescue mission. This is God providing salvation for His world!
Scripture gives us four distinct pictures to explain what God is doing in this thing called salvation, four pictures of what it means to be ‘saved’ by the Almighty.
The first picture comes from Old Testament worship at the Temple and is called Propitiation or satisfaction. A worshipper approaches God but doesn’t dare come without an offering. He’s aware God is holy and we humans are not. God has every right to be angry and punish us so a costly offering must be made to placate God’s righteous indignation.
We may not like to think of God in such terms but here’s the thing. God is more than holy. He so loves the world He has made the offering on our behalf! The Apostle John writes, ‘This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’ (1 John 4 v 10)
The next picture comes from the market place where in ancient times people were for sale as slaves. This is where we see Redemption. For a slave to become a free man a price had to be paid. He had to be ‘redeemed’, ‘bought back’.
Human beings are pictured as enslaved by the burden of guilt and the binding power of sin. Jesus Himself said, ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10 v 45) It wasn’t just His life of generous kindness, the Bible makes it clear that this ransom to set us free was paid when He gave His life and died on the cross. Peter writes, ‘it was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ…’ (1 Peter 1 vs 18-19)
The third picture of salvation given in Scripture is from the law courts and is called Justification. We are guilty before the judgement seat of Heaven. God is just, He will not look the other way and say, ‘Let’s just forget about it.’ How could we trust a Judge who did that? Sin matters. Sentence must be served. And on the cross God suffered in our place. The Father lost His Son. The Son suffered separation and holy wrath on our behalf. Now whosoever trusts in Him is no longer condemned but declared righteous, given a new standing before God.
The Apostle Paul writes, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood.’ (Romans 3 vs 23-25)
As we sometimes sing in church,
‘Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.’
And fourthly the Bible pictures salvation as Reconciliation. The ‘prodigal’ son or daughter is welcomed home, restored to a loving relationship with God as our heavenly Father. No longer enemies, alienated or far away but brought near into a place of grace and hope, blessed as God’s children through the death of His Son.
God is holy and just, yet in love He has come to our rescue. At the cross of Jesus we see God provide atonement to satisfy divine wrath, pay the price to redeem us, suffer in our place so we can be acquitted and remove the offence so we can be forgiven and welcomed home as His dear children.
This is salvation. This is what believers see when we look at the cross. How should we respond? With everlasting gratitude, obedient love and willing service. Nothing less will do.
‘Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all.’
9.4.20 - The Trial
8.4.20 - Wednesday's message
7.4.20 - Tuesday's message.
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The Weeping Judge
(First read Luke 19 vs 28 -48)
The crowds are cheering their hero. Look, here He comes, the One Who made the blind see, the disabled rise up and walk, Who even raised the dead. Waving their palm branches they jubilantly welcome the Saviour King promised by God through His prophets centuries earlier.
Yet as we look at their champion he is not waving, smiling, punching the air or giving ‘High Fives’. No, He’s weeping!
His fans go wild as He ‘cleans house’ in the Temple, chasing out the crooks and welcoming the needy, making it what it should be, a house of prayer and a centre for compassion and healing. Yet instead of riding and enjoying this wave of popularity Jesus weeps and earnestly pleads for people to heed His warning.
The Judge of the earth weeps as He foresees the destruction of those who refuse to humble themselves before God, who refuse to repent and welcome the Saviour Who has come on this occasion in gentleness with the offer of peace. The Weeping Judge is distressed, deeply offended by our disobedience and rebellion but equally distraught as He warns of the consequences.
Here is grace, but if grace is rejected then judgement must come. Within 40 years Jerusalem would be overthrown and her people killed or scattered. Jesus could see it coming, and it broke His heart.
‘The days will come when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.’ No escape! ‘They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls.’ No mercy! ‘They will not leave one stone on another because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.’ No second chance!
Jesus, Son of God, kind and gentle Saviour King and healer, solemnly warns us against sin and of its fatal consequences.
Our generation needs to stop telling our Maker He’s wrong! We’re inviting trouble. Jerusalem rejected Christ and suffered for it, we should learn the lesson. The prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…’ (25 v 20) ‘Woe’, that’s an old fashioned word. It means trouble and sorrow. Expect trouble and sorrow if you disregard God and His commands!
Yet this generation kills children and calls it ‘compassion’ or ‘women’s rights’ and even criminalises those who try to save these innocents. This generation applauds almost every form of sexual immorality and calls it ‘love’, ‘freedom’, ‘diversity’, ‘inclusivity’. Why are we surprised if we experience trouble and sorrow? Worse is yet to come! Our judgement must surely be overdue!
Isaiah warned, ‘Therefore as tongues of fire lick up straw and dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the Law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the Word of the Holy One of Israel.’ (25 v 24)
Make no mistake. God is holy. His righteous anger burns consistently against all sin and yet His deep love is aroused to save sinners. We see this perfect balance in Christ Who will one day come again to judge the living and the dead but on this occasion pleads with tears for people to accept grace and be saved. For yes, God flooded the earth for human violence and cruelty but He also provided refuge in the Ark. He rained plagues on the proud, idolatrous Egyptians but ‘passed over’ the Hebrew homes sheltered by the blood of a lamb.
Jesus the Judge wept as the crowds cheered, but not in hopeless despair for He had come to put things right. He had come to be our sacrificial Lamb, the lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. At the cross a few days after this Jesus would not just condemn human sin but take on Himself its guilt and shame and punishment on our behalf. He would satisfy divine indignation, make full atonement and demonstrate for ever the depth of God’s love so that all who humbly repent and take shelter in Him by faith will not perish but experience cleansing, reconciliation with God and everlasting life.
The evidence against the human race is everywhere and it is damning. We are ‘guilty as charged’. The sentence is everlasting trouble and sorrow in the torment of Hell. But the ransom has been paid. Acquittal is still possible. The Judge looks earnestly in our faces and our hearts. What does He see?
The Apostle Peter speaks of a day of final, cataclysmic judgement when everything as we’ve known it will change forever. ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise…’ Peter writes, ‘He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’ (2 Peter 3 v 9)
So despite the very real challenges currently facing us, not least the corona pandemic, this remains a day of grace and opportunity with God. May it not be lost on us!
May we rather humble ourselves and pray and turn from our wicked ways that He might visit us with healing and salvation.
(Read Isaiah 26 and Matthew 6 vs 5-13)
So how are the self-isolation and social distancing going in your home?
‘Cabin fever’ hasn’t hit us too badly yet, though to date both cars are washed, the garden fence is repainted and Hazel has rearranged the kitchen cupboards. New tunes are being learnt and old board games exhumed. So far, so good!
We can laugh and humour is one coping mechanism to help us through these challenging times, along with patience, courage and public spirited kindness.
And faith? Where does that come in, if at all?
Christians are grateful that we can bring our concerns to God. In His great Sermon on the Mount our Master encouraged His followers to bring our requests to ‘Our Father in Heaven’, confident He already knows and cares about our needs. Here’s what He says, ‘When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father Who is unseen. Then your Father Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6 v 6)
Jesus was saying this by way of contrast to some religious people He called ‘hypocrites’ who made prayer like a performance to gain admiration from their fans. While it’s good to gather together when we can to worship and pray it’s also something we all need to do daily at home. Just listening to someone else repeat nice words is no substitute for each of us humbly bringing our own personal concerns before the Lord.
Now it’s often the case that people in the New Testament are echoing something said or written in the Old Testament and this is an example. Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 6 v 6 includes a phrase almost word for word that was written 700 years before by the prophet Isaiah (ch26 v 20). Here’s what Isaiah said, ‘Go my people into your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until (God’s) wrath has passed by.’
Isaiah ch26, like so much of Scripture has a kind of ‘twin track’ going on. On the one hand it contains solemn warning for those who stubbornly disregard God and His commands. Judgement is coming!
But on the other, this passage contains tender assurance for those who trust in God, that even though we have not always pleased or served Him fruitfully, He will bring about new life and security. The trouble will pass. We are promised an inheritance in ‘the new Jerusalem’. Therefore, even in our present trouble we can pray using Isaiah’s words with thanks, ‘You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.’ (Isaiah 6 v 3)
At the moment we don’t have much choice, we’re all stuck indoors for fear of catching corona virus. It’s serious times when all people of faith should be earnestly praying to God for grace and mercy on His world. But every challenge brings an opportunity and perhaps, if we are willing to ‘hide ourselves’ in our homes for these next weeks, spending extra time humbly praying to God, we might emerge with greater peace and more - new life through Jesus Christ the Lord!
19th March 2020 - Following formal advice received today from Church House, all services in Carrigart and Dunfanaghy, as in all other PCI churches, are cancelled until further notice as a result of the Covid-19 virus outbreak. We will let you know when we can reopen for worship. We pray it will be soon!
Pastoral visitation has also been discouraged due to risk of infection. However, if you require to see the minister urgently, please do contact Andrew or an elder. Rev Andrew will from time to time post some messages/video here and on Facebook which we hope you will find helpful during this difficult period.
Celebrating the Lord's resurrection with visitors and friends.
Our new sign!
“Finding Our Way Home is a collection of prayers and reflections by Presbyterian minister Andrew Watson that invites the reader to contemplate and celebrate the gift of ‘home’ – both earthly and divine. As well as addressing key events in the Christian calendar, such as Easter and Pentecost, the book considers universal subjects including marriage, parenthood, ageing and bereavement.
Finding Our Way Home offers consolation during times of difficulty in our lives, but it also invites readers to express joy, gratitude and wonder for the many gifts bestowed upon us by a benevolent creator: be it family, friends or the untold beauty of the natural world.”
Available from Veritas bookshops and website or request it from your local bookshop.
All royalties from the sale of this book will support the work of two charities: Mission Aviation Fellowship and A21.
"Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". John 1 v 29
Wordsurfers.com - a place of Thoughts, Readings, Prayers by
Rev A Watson
'Finding Our Way Home' is a book written by our minister. The collection of prayers and reflections invites the reader to contemplate and celebrate the gift of home both earthly and divine. Available in local bookshops, through Veritas or on Amazon.