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 »
Jun 272013
 

Just like usMy daily bible readings have brought me to the life of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 & 19. Elijah suddenly appears out of nowhere in chapter 17 as he boldly addresses the king and declares “there will be no dew or rain until I say so”. Wow, that is impressive! He goes on being impressive: performing the miracle of the continually replenishing jars of oil and flour with the widow at Zarephath; then the “one man against 400 – altar stand-off” where he confidently challenges the prophets of Baal to see whose god is the best. He mocks their efforts as they get ever more desperate to prove a god who only exists in their imagination, and to compound it all pours jar after jar of water onto his sacrifice and confidently stands back as God shows up in full pyrotechnic glory.

Does this type of story ever make you feel insignificant? Elijah seems to be a member of a different species, perhaps a secret agent angel parachuted down by God to get the job done. Has God given up using imperfect men and women now, who blow it time after time? Actually, no. As the story unfolds we see that Elijah was a man just like we are (James 5:17).

We shouldn’t rejoice in his weakness, which can be quite a temptation, but should rejoice in the fact that God treats us all with amazing grace. We can, like Elijah, experience amazing times with God, enjoying His presence or when ministering for Him. God blesses us and we feel great. But what happens when, shortly after, fear takes hold or disappointment occurs?

Ahab and his wife Jezebel issue murderous threats and Elijah is suddenly running scared. He runs to the middle of the wilderness and asks God to kill him. What happens next should be a comfort to all of us who struggle with fear, depression, doubt and anxiety, or simply feelings of inadequacy. God provides food and water for Elijah, leads him in the right direction and then gently speaks to Him through a whisper which suggests real gentleness and care.

God wants to do the same with you. You may have reached rock bottom and the end of your abilities, but in that place of vulnerability God will prove to you His wonderful grace as you submit again to His will and allow yourself to be lifted up by Him.

 June 27, 2013  Posted by at 10:56 pm Grace, Sanctification 1 Response »
Jun 202013
 

Giving with graceIf you have been following my blog for a while, you will know that I have been exploring the many aspects of ‘grace’. Grace is a doctrine which will totally transform us if we truly embrace it.

This week I am going to talk about “giving”. This is not a subject that is particularly embraced but it is one that can teach us plenty about grace.

No other chapters in the Bible use the word “grace” more often than Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. They are a great template for the grace of giving in the New Covenant. Have a read and then I will take the following 10 key points out of it (and part of chapter 9):

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-15)

(1) They gave themselves first to the Lord(v5)

The Macedonian churches knew their priorities. Giving yourself to God first includes what you do with your money. Does God come before your money?

(2) They gave joyfully(v2)

God loves a cheerful giver – “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

(3) Giving is in response to Christ’s giving(v9)

He gave first.

(4) Grace giving is voluntary

Paul said he was not commanding them. (v8)

(5) Give out of a sincere desire, motivated by love(v8)

Let God’s love and generosity to you be the motivating factor.

(6) Give willingly(v10)

(7) Give as much as you are able to(v3)

Not just as much as you are able, but God’s grace will even allow you to go beyond your ability.

(8) The goal is equality(v13)

If we have extra, share with those who lack.

(9) Grace giving increases more growth in all areas(2 Corinthians 9:8, 10, 11)

(10) Give so the gospel may spread

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (2 Corinthians 9:13)

 June 20, 2013  Posted by at 10:18 pm Giving, Grace No Responses »
Jun 132013
 

MephiboshethI am currently following a bible reading plan which takes me through the whole bible in a year, reading a few chapters each day. Just recently I came to one of my favourite stories in the Old Testament and it is a wonderful picture of the grace that we have received.

The main part of the story is in 2 Samuel 9. I will briefly outline the situation:

King Saul has failed as Israel’s king and David has been chosen to take his place. Saul is jealous of David and is determined to kill him. He pursues him for a long time and even though David has two clear opportunities to kill Saul, he refuses to do it as he doesn’t want to touch God’s anointed king. David waits for God’s timing to receive his promised position as king. Saul’s son Jonathan is best friends with David and is fully committed to him, refusing to help his father in his pursuit.

Eventually David becomes king after Saul and his son Jonathan die in battle. Even though Saul was his enemy, David wants to show kindness to a member of Saul’s family, namely Mephibosheth (Jonathan’s son, Saul’s grandson). Mephibosheth is summoned to the king’s palace.

Now Mephibosheth is crippled, being lame in both legs. He has to be carried everywhere and is totally dependant on others helping him. In an extraordinary act of grace, David gives him all of Saul’s property and states that he shall always eat at the king’s table.

Later on in the story we see that Ziba (Mephibosheth’s servant) spreads a false rumour about Mephibosheth to David, resulting in Ziba receiving a substantial part of his master’s estate. In 2 Samuel 19 we see Mephibosheth vindicated, but he never seeks revenge. He doesn’t care that half his estate has been handed over to Ziba. He is just happy that his king, David is back and he can share his meals with him again.

This is an amazing picture of what King Jesus has done for us. We were not able to help ourselves (spiritually crippled), we were in essence enemies of the king. But Jesus sought us out, determined to show kindness to us. King Jesus has now given us full access into His palace where we can enjoy food, shelter and protection for the rest of our lives (and into eternity).

Let us never lose the wonder of how far away from God we were (even further than Mephibosheth) and how now, through no effort of our own, we have been brought right into the king’s presence. Let’s be like Mephibosheth, who even though he lost material possessions, it really didn’t compare to the joy of spending time with his king.

 June 13, 2013  Posted by at 8:48 pm God's family, Grace, Salvation, The gospel 1 Response »
Dec 282012
 

Read meTo wrap up my series on ‘God’s book’, the Bible and especially as we are near to the start of a new year, I thought we could consider going through the bible in a year.

Have you ever read the whole bible from cover to cover? It’s not as difficult as it may appear and if you were to commit about 20 minutes a day to reading it you could easily finish it in a year. There are various ways to go through the bible in a year so I thought I would give you a few links below with some suggestions:

(1)  Read it from beginning to end, starting Jan 1st at Genesis 1 and finishing the last chapter of Revelation on the 31st December. This doesn’t require too much imagination!

(2) Chronological:  Read the bible as the events occurred in real time. For example, Job lived sometime after the beginning of creation (Genesis 1) but before Abraham was born (Genesis 12). As a result, the book of Job is integrated into the Book of Genesis.

(3) Historical:  Read the books of the bible as they were written historically, according to the estimated date of their writing.

You can find these three ways of reading the bible in a year at this link http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/.  You can also choose which version to read it in.

Have a look at this site http://www.oneyearbibleonline.com/.  It sort of does what it says on the tin. There are lots of ways to do it; sign up to an RSS feed, mobile phone app, print a plan off etc.

Here’s one to print off and tick after completing each day http://www.navpress.com/uploadedFiles/15074%20BRP.dj.pdf

I am going to join in with Queens Road Wimbledon daily bible reading plan. They are changing their name to ‘Everyday Church’ on 1st January 2013. Their leader is Phil Moore, who will be tweeting comments on each days reading. He is an excellent bible teacher with great insights. The link is here http://www.qrc.org.uk/biblereadingplan

I pray that God will help you to read the whole bible in a year, but don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. It should be a delight not a chore.

Finally, I just wanted to recommend a few resources that I have found really useful as I have studied the bible. I hope you find them useful too:

I use the following website whenever I am looking up bible verses in different versions. I also sometimes sign up to receive a free daily e-mail, they have all sorts of subjects http://www.biblegateway.com/

This website has quite a lot of resources for studying the bible, with many bible versions, daily bible readings, a daily devotional and lots more http://www.biblestudytools.com/

The following website has a vast array of bible commentaries and other material covering just about every verse in the bible. I found this site really useful for looking up all sorts of Greek New Testament words and phrases, giving a greater understanding of what is meant in the text. http://www.preceptaustin.org/

I have already mentioned the following site when I talked about bible difficulties as it is really useful for looking into apparent bible contradictions.  It also covers all the major cults and where they misinterpret the bible www.carm.org

Here is a website where you can get a free bible download service and good Sunday school resources check it our here http://www.houseandhome.org/niv-bible-download

Now we have finished this latest series, please feel free to contact me if there is anything you would like me to cover.

God bless, Adrian

 December 28, 2012  Posted by at 10:46 am Bible No Responses »
Apr 232012
 

2people_talking_375x253In my post about discipleship and accountability, I stated how important it is that we become accountable to other Christians to help us in our Christian lives.

I have listed below a number of bible passages that speak about this subject. To save you even getting your bible out, you can click on (or hover over) each verse and read the passage. Why not have a little study of these verses….?

Proverbs 25:12                                                    Proverbs 27:17

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12                                             Galatians 6:1-6

Colossians 3:16                                                    1 Thessalonians 5:14

James 5:15-16                                                       Hebrews 3:13

Accountability involves being honest, asking honest questions of each other. I have recently been reading about John and Charles Wesley, famous evangelists and preachers of the Eighteenth century and the founders of Methodism. When they were at Oxford University they started what was called “The Holy club” with other students, as they were determined to live a Holy life. They were so keen to help each other that they set out 22 questions that they hoped would help them in their quest. I have listed these below: Continue reading »

 April 23, 2012  Posted by at 7:21 pm Accountability, Discipleship 3 Responses »