Aug 292013
 

Reading the bibleSo far in this mini-series on having a relationship with God we have focussed on our prayer life. We have looked at many aspects of this. If you missed any, click on any of the links on the left hand side.

This week we are going to have a brief look at how the bible can help us in our relationship with God.

If you have been following this blog for any length of time you will be aware that I am constantly quoting scripture. I want ‘the word of God’ to be central in my life. It is not just a book with some good ideas; it contains the living, breathing words of God. The bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness”.

I am sure you will agree that this is a bold statement and one which can be understood in the context of the gospels and the epistles. But what about Leviticus, or indeed some of the more obscure Old Testament books?

God can use any part of the bible to teach us about His character, His plans or anything He wants to communicate.

If we want a relationship with God we need to know what He thinks about everything. This will help us follow and serve Him. We need to open our bibles daily and allow God to speak to us. The bible is God’s love letter to us, it is the maker’s handbook. Without it we are floundering around in the dark. We need to be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Some while back in this blog I did a whole series about the bible. Below are some links if you would like to explore further.

How reliable is the bible?

The Canon of scripture

The authority of the bible

The sufficiency of the bible

Can you trust the bible?

Bible contradictions

Interpreting the bible

Bible versions

Memorising the bible

Helpful links

If you would like any help to get started please feel free to contact me (see tab at the top) and I will do my best to help you.

 August 29, 2013  Posted by at 8:38 pm Bible No Responses »
Aug 222013
 

Pray reading bibleOver the last few weeks we have been looking at developing our relationship with God through prayer. I do hope you have found it useful. If you have missed any, please feel free to click on the subjects on the left hand side of this web page.

We have looked at how we can come to God boldly at any time; we have discovered what we can actually say to God when we approach Him; and last week we looked at the model that Jesus gave us to approach God in prayer.

This week I want to take one more look at this subject. This may seem quite obvious but I believe it easily gets overlooked: Did you know that great chunks of the bible can be turned into prayers? In other words, we can actually pray the bible as we are reading it. Let me explain:

Take Philippians 4:6-7 which says:

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This passage can be turned into a prayer quite easily. Choose the thing that is worrying you the most at the moment and pray something like, “Dear Lord, Your word says that I am not to be anxious about anything but I confess that “such and such” (insert worry here) is really bothering me. I thank You that You want me to bring this problem to You. Help me to leave it at Your feet. I accept and look forward to the peace You have promised me in this passage, the peace You say will guard my heart and my mind. This is all possible because I am ‘in Christ Jesus’ who has provided peace to me through the cross. I accept Your gift with thanksgiving in Jesus name. Amen”.

See how easy it is?

Let’s just do one more here. This is how I would generally pray for a friend who wants a deeper experience of God (do you know someone like that?). I would take Colossians 1:9-13:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”

I would pray in the following way: “Lord I want to pray for (name). I pray that You will make Your will known to him/her and that he/she walks in a way that pleases You and You will help him/her to bear much fruit in his/her life. I pray that he/she is strengthened with Your power and is able to endure and be strong even when the going gets tough. I pray that You will give him/her joy as he/she realises that You have qualified him/her to share in the inheritance of your son”… etc.

There are very many prayers in the bible and even more passages that can be turned into prayers.

Next week I plan to move on to the subject of reading the word of God as another way of developing our relationship with Him. But this week, as you are reading the bible, why not try praying God’s word back to Him? I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.

I shall leave you now with a few passages that can get you started:

2 Kings 19:14-19

John 17

Ephesians 1:15-21

Ephesians 3:14-21

1 Timothy 2:1-2

 August 22, 2013  Posted by at 10:05 pm Bible, Prayer No Responses »
Aug 162013
 

lords prayerOver the last few weeks we have been looking at the subject of prayer as part of the wider theme of having a relationship with God. As Christians we all know how important prayer is but we are often unsure how to start. We have looked at how we can come to God boldly and at any time, and last week we looked at what we could say in our prayers.

This week we shall look at one of the most famous prayers of all: ‘The Lord’s prayer’. We probably all learned it at school. The fuller version is in Matthew 6:9-13:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Jesus Himself taught this prayer to His disciples as they saw what an effective prayer life He had with His father.

The idea is not that we simply quote and repeat verbatim the words of the Lord’s prayer (as so many do), but rather that we use it as a template. For example:

Our Father in heaven Start thanking God that He has revealed himself as our father with all the comfort and protection that brings. He is for us and we are in His family, we can come to Him boldly.
hallowed be your name Hallowed means Holy. We begin to move into worshipful prayer as we remember His name as He has revealed it throughout the bible, for example “the Lord our Shepherd” (for guidance and care); “the Lord our Provider”; “the Lord our righteousness”, etc.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven His Kingdom comes where there is evidence of His presence and love as He touches people with healing or salvation. We pray for our friends and family here who we want to see touched by God’s kingdom. There is a stark difference between heaven and the earth and we are praying for more of heaven to invade earth. More light, more power, more righteousness, more peace.
Give us this day our daily bread Do we need provision today? Not just physical but maybe emotional? God wants to provide for us. If we don’t need anything at the moment, then we should thank Him for what He has already given us. It is always good to have a thankful heart.
and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors. Is there any sin we are holding onto? Release it to God now and ask for His forgiveness, and then accept His forgiveness. We should ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us anyone we are holding a grudge against or have not forgiven. We should ask Him to help us to forgive them, to make the choice to forgive them (even though we may not “feel” that forgiveness), then wait on God for our feelings to change.
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil We ask God to guide us along whichever path we go on today. We resolve to not go to places that may cause us to be tempted. We ask for God’s protection over us, our family and our friends.

If you go through each stage of this prayer slowly as I have shown, you could easily pray for 15 to 20 minutes without even thinking about it. Why not give it a try now? Ask God to help you and you will find it gets easier. I can’t stress enough how much God loves it when we spend time with Him and share with Him the things that are happening in our lives.

 August 16, 2013  Posted by at 1:37 pm Prayer 1 Response »
Aug 012013
 

What do you say to GodIn last week’s post we looked at the fact that we can come to God boldly and at any time. This is because Jesus has made a way possible for us to enter into a relationship with God through his sacrifice on the cross.

What do we say?

I think that the majority of us understand the fact that we can approach God boldly and at any time. The problem arises when we get there: What do we say? How do we speak to God?

Firstly, we don’t have to use ‘King James English’. We are not required to use “thee’s” and “thou’s” and speak in lofty tones.

Secondly, we don’t have to recite great long eloquent prayers. I believe that God likes a chat. He knows what we are thinking about and He knows the answer before we have even formulated the question. God likes to be consulted. There is an amazing mystery in the character of God in that He loves to hear our prayers and responds accordingly, especially when we pray with faith.

Different types of prayer

When thinking about what to say and how to say it, it is really useful to go to the bible where many examples of different types of prayer can be found. I have listed just a few below to help us:

  • Petition – This is simply another word for a request. In Philippians 4:6 it says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
  • Thanksgiving – It is always good to go back to God and tell Him how thankful you are. None of us like to be taken for granted. It is a good idea to get into the habit of thankfulness. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks”.
  • Adoration – Telling God how good He is. Just doing this helps us to lift our gaze out of our own troubles and get everything into a right perspective. When we adore, magnify and love God our faith rises, as we remember how strong, loving, kind, merciful and good He is. The Psalms are packed with passages of adoration which can be used in our prayer times.
  • Confession – These are prayers we pray after we have messed up. We come to Him confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness. We then receive that forgiveness according to his word. A great example of a confessional prayer is Psalm 51.
  • Intercession – This is when we pray on behalf of others. These kinds of prayers are seen throughout the bible. One example is when Abraham intercedes for the city of Sodom in Genesis 18:20-33.

Times of intercessory prayer can be wonderful occasions when God really uses us to meet the needs of others. True intercessors are faithful and persistent and are often unknown. They are heaven’s secret warriors who do battle in the heavenlies and see mighty victories accomplished.

Next time we will look at ways we can pray through verses in the bible. We will also look at the model that Jesus himself gave us.

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:28 pm Prayer No Responses »
Aug 012013
 

Relationship through prayerDuring the remaining part of the summer and possibly into the autumn, I will be looking at various ways that we can develop our relationship with God.

I’m starting with a subject which has had many books written about it and has been discussed and debated endlessly. I think the reason it has been talked about so much is that we all realise how important it is and yet so many of us find it difficult to do.

It is an enormous privilege to pray to the God of the universe, the great and awesome God who created all things. To get an audience with a King or Queen or Head of State would be an almost impossible task, but the God who created us, the supreme ruler and creator of the universe invites us freely to come and talk to Him.

Boldly

The main problem with approaching a Holy God is that our sin blocks us from getting near. As Christians we can actually approach him boldly because of what Jesus has done in dealing with our sin. Jesus has made a way. Hebrews 4 states all that Jesus accomplished, culminating in verse 16 which says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

It also says in Hebrews 10:19-22:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water”.

In the Old Testament the people of God had to go through all sorts of purification rituals and animal sacrifices to approach God, and with real fear, in case their sacrifice wasn’t acceptable. But now we can have confidence in the sacrifice that was made once and for all by Jesus our redeemer.

Any time

We can approach Him at any time, day or night. God is always ready to speak to us, His door is always open, He is never asleep.

It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” (Psalm 121:3-4)

This means that whatever is going on in our lives, we can discuss it with Him. It doesn’t mean we necessarily have to pray great long prayers, but we can simply ask for help, tell Him our needs, ask for guidance and especially keep an attitude of thankfulness. This can be through short prayers throughout the day.

Knowing we can come to Him boldly and at any time, I guess the next big question is “so what do I say?”. We will look at this next week.

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness.” (Martin Luther)

 August 1, 2013  Posted by at 10:13 pm Prayer No Responses »