Hannah Spruijt, contributor of today’s post
Time alone is not something I have in abundance these days. I am blessed with a son who likes to follow me everywhere, all the time! I can’t even go upstairs alone to fetch something without hearing him trailing after me! I tend to find prayer and reading my Bible difficult with any form of distraction, so I’ve had to adapt our morning schedule so that I can have a few moments peace alone, in order to connect with my Father before the day begins.
With the joys and challenges of raising a tricky, spirited and wilful little boy daily bringing me to my knees, and sometimes to tears (!), this time in the morning has become SO precious and necessary. For the first time in my life, I feel I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Finding encouragement in God’s Word, imploring the Holy Spirit for his strength and enabling power, admitting how much I need Him just to get through the day and praising Him for his faithfulness and promises. This is now essential. I’m not trying to sound like a saint- it is the truth! I’m so aware of His grace helping me daily through this season of life.
In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching the people how to pray. He warns against hypocrisy and showing off with our prayers, and tells us to ‘go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father’ (v6). I had a little chuckle to myself when I read this; I do try! I am very thankful that our sleep-training clock seems to work with my son, so as long as I make sure I’m done with praying before the ‘sun comes up’ I will (usually) be uninterrupted! Otherwise I hear a familiar little voice outside the half-open door “Mummy, are you still talking to Jeeesus?” Of course, I don’t have a problem with him joining me to pray then, but for my own sake, I value that time alone with the Lord so that I can pour out my heart to him (I pray aloud!).
I have recently been challenged by my devotional notes to use my prayer time to PRAISE as well as come to God with my list of needs. I’m going through a lovely book by Joni Eareckson Tada, and she pointed out how David made such a great life choice by deciding to reflect in the morning on the strength, love, goodness and protection of the Lord. In Psalm 59, David reveals there are men waiting outside his door wanting to kill him; I’d say that was pretty tricky situation! The Bible points out here how seeking God and praising Him in difficult times is special. Joni writes “when you begin the day singing about His strength, you’ll be less likely to ‘sing the blues’ when the day is over”. What a challenge for me! I often don’t feel like praising when I wake and think about all that needs to be done in the day, how tired I feel (ha, already!) and how I know I will need to be consistent and firm in boundary setting, yet showing the love of Jesus to my pickle… phew. But this is Joni’s prayer, and I make it mine too. Will you join me?
“How good it is, Father, to colour this day with praise before any other brushes paint it in dark shades of cynicism, negative talk, and despair. Thank you for meeting me in the quiet corners of the morning. With David I say, ‘You are my fortress, and my strong refuge. I sing of your strength and love because you share it so generously with me!’” AMEN
VICKY STEPHENSON, Contributor for today’s blog post
The foreword to this book opens with the phrase “It’s hard to pray”. This is often something I have felt, so I was challenged to read the book and reflect on my prayer life.
Paul Miller has a very open, easy to read style. The book starts by
looking at why we don’t pray. He hold up a mirror to our cynical frustrated hearts. Then he goes back to basics: Praying isn’t about the prayers but about relationship with God. The book is full of examples and very honest stories from the author’s own family life. There are moments of great joy but it also faces the hard reality of prayers not answered in the way we would like. He speaks of messy prayers; God knows we have messy life so why do we think that God expects to have perfect polished prayers? Just babble to God with whatever is in your head and after you have shared all of that it will be much easier to just sit and be still in His presence. There is a stress on the importance of time spent in prayer but not necessarily huge chunks at a time. Take baby steps, starting with five minutes maximum at a time but do it regularly. Use little prayers throughout the day to develop more awareness of the presence of God.
On this great foundation he builds the middle section which is a great biblical exposition of why we should pray and why we can trust God to answer. The end of the book draws it all together with very practical tips which I have found useful and encouraging: prayer journals and prayer cards for example.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who wants to reflect on where they are with their praying life. I look forward to chatting about to it to some of you.
Lesley Grindrod, contributor for today’s blog post
You may have noticed that I sometimes quote scripture from translations of the Bible other than our beloved NIV. There’s a very simple reason for this …. I believe it’s possible that over-familiarity with certain verses of scripture can cause them to lose their impact and relevance in our lives.
Many of you, like me, were brought up in Christian families. At our parent’s knee or in Sunday school we learnt to recite certain verses by heart. If I suggest ‘John 3:16’ ‘Psalm 23’or ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ – I’m sure we could launch immediately into pretty accurate memorised responses. (In my case these would be from the old King James Version – the only Bible ever used in my parents’ home!) But oh how easily the words trip off our tongues.
So here’s my challenge – has familiarity caused the essence, power and divine purpose of His Word to lose its impact? Do we honestly meditate on what these precious words of life mean as we expertly regurgitate them like a student who’s memorised a Shakespeare quote for an English exam?
Here’s a little tip that has honestly revolutionised my relationship with the written Word of God. When your daily reading brings you to a passage that you already know ‘off by heart’ – try looking it up in a version you don’t often use. You don’t need to purchase expensive ‘hard copies’ – they’re almost all available on the internet via various free Bible ‘aps.’
Of course it’s important to check that a version you’re unfamiliar with is reliable and accurate –chat with church leadership to put your mind at rest! Two versions I highly recommend are the Amplified Bible and The Passion Translation. Both of these expand meanings and draw out wonderful nuances from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. I’m not suggesting we set aside the version we feel most comfortable with. But it’s a wonderful way of breathing ‘new life’ into a passage of scripture that over-familiarity may have caused to become ‘stale.’
For example, here’s The Lord’s Prayer from the Passion Translation (Matt 6:9-13)
“Our Father, dwelling in the heavenly realms, may the glory of your Name be the centre on which our lives turn. Manifest your kingdom realm and cause your every purpose to be fulfilled on earth, just as it is fulfilled in heaven. We acknowledge you as our Provider of all we need each day. Forgive us the wrongs we have done as we ourselves release forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Rescue us every time we face tribulation and set us free from evil. For you are the King who rules with power and glory forever, Amen.”
And Hebrews 13:5 from the Amplified Bible
“For He, God Himself has said ‘I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let you down or relax my hold on you. Assuredly not!’”
Wow! Did He really say that?
This is from Anne Holmes, our Women’s Ministry leader at Corsham Baptist Church:
“Good morning, due to the severe weather conditions we are experiencing we are cancelling the Women’s Day of Prayer this evening. Thank you to all those who had offered to read and take part and come along. You have been a blessing and encouragement to me.”
As we spend time around the warmth of hearth and home, let’s take time to pray for our world.
On Christ the solid rock we stand, ALL other ground is sinking sand.
There’s been a late change of plan due to the nasty weather overnight. Please spread the word that we will not be meeting at Priory Street tonight.
We had a great time at our bible study on Monday focusing on 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The notes are now on this blog under the heading of Living Out God’s Grace bible study/notes.
While studying and reading for Living Out God’s Grace Bible study series, I have found great treasure in two books which I highly recommend.
The first is called Habits of Grace by David Mathis. It also has a study guide to accompany the book. David says this: “Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church. Though seemingly normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow — including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.”
It is an engaging and realistic focus on the grace channels God gives us to grow in Him. You can download it free or to purchase a hard copy at: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/habits-of-grace
The second book is The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared Wilson. His writing style is witty, punchy, and real. I have found it to be very helpful to getting to the heart of my heart in following Christ more faithfully and realizing His joy. It can be purchased on Amazon or other similar websites.
Just a reminder of our time for friendship, cake, and bible study! You won’t want to miss it!
WHEN: tonight-26 February
TIME 7:30 pm
WHERE: Corsham Baptist Church Hall
See you in a bit!
Billy Graham, was a man of God who reflected God’s glory. He is a man who was preserved from scandal and unbelief. God’s anointing was on Billy to faithfully preach the Gospel to hundreds of thousands of people, many coming to follow our Lord Jesus Christ.
Billy was biblically faithful. He called us to be biblically faithful. It is not what we think, but “what the Bible says!”
In our Bible study Series, “Growing in God’s Grace,” we are now focusing on the Scriptures as a habit of God’s grace to shape our lives. So, in honour of Billy, this post contains Billy Graham’s notable quotes about the Bible-God’s voice to us. May it so fill your heart and mind to action in growing closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.