Friday, 27 November 2015
Monday 23rd November was International Day of the Bible. The idea was to share, either publicly or online, with the world how much the Bible means to your life, by sharing a favourite Bible verse or passage.
It got me thinking about how much the Bible has meant to me since I was a young child. How I loved the Bible stories I was taught in Sunday School. Then as a teenager being part of a youth group where we were taught God's Word. How much it meant to me as I left home to go to university and relied on a regular quiet time and how that has continued to this day.
As a result, I have many favourite Bible verses, and the list is continually growing.
When I was baptised at the age of eleven I shared my then favourite verse from Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NIV) That very day I became ill with terrible stomach pains which progressively got worse over the next twenty-four hours. My GP had no idea what was causing it, so he called an ambulance to take me to the hospital. It turned out to be appendicitis, and because my GP had failed to diagnose it (being convinced that was one thing it was not), they operated just in time before it ruptured. In those days, it meant a long stay in hospital and I hated being away from home. So, my favourite verse became even more real and meaningful at that time.
Over the years, various verses have become meaningful to me and a favourite for a particular season. They have become part of my testimony. It's a mistake to think that our testimony is just about when we first became a Christian. We have a testimony to share with the world which is regularly updated as we daily experience the presence of God in our life. I think it sad if all we have to share with others is something that happened years ago. It's as if we are telling people that God changed our lives once but makes no difference to us now.
In the last few weeks Psalm 71:16a (TLB) has become a favourite of mine. "I walk in the strength of the Lord God." I have it written on card and keep it near my bed so that it's one of the first things I see when I wake. Being only a few words in length, and also because it means something to me, it is easy to memorise and repeat to myself during the day.
It means a lot to me in my present circumstances as I'm so aware of my physical weakness. Actually, not just physical weakness but my spiritual weakness too. In my weakness I am far more dependent on God's strength. I need him in all that I do. I need his strength working in and through me so that I can accomplish all he calls me to do.
When I was healthy I was far more independent, I did things in my own strength. But now, in my weakness I can do more because it is not me doing it but the power of God working in me.
This verse is a great reminder for me and brings me much needed encouragement. There's no need to do something on my own and in my limited strength because I have God's presence with me, providing me with his strength. Whatever I do, whether it's cooking a meal for my family, meeting up with friends, serving God at church, I do it in the strength of the Lord. Wherever I go, whether it's staying at home, going shopping, worshipping at church, I go in the strength of the Lord.
There is so much for us to discover in God's Word and it can help us in so many ways. "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
To Think About:
What does the Bible mean to you? How can you use the Bible to encourage yourself and others?
In what ways has it made a difference in your life?
What is a favourite verse of yours and why does it mean so much to you?
Would you consider posting a comment - I'd love to hear what your answer is. Let's encourage one another.
Friday, 13 November 2015
Do you ever wake up and feel overwhelmed at all you need to accomplish this day? Or do you get to the end of your day and feel like you've wasted the time?
I know I can often feel like that, and I know there's so much more for me to learn when it comes to using my time wisely - in work, rest and play.
Psalm 23 has been in my thoughts a great deal these past few weeks and I've spent time meditating on just one phrase or sentence at a time.
It was while I was meditating on Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need." (NLT) that I realised God had given me all the time I need for each and every day. His gift to you and me is time, but it's up to us how we use what he has given us. The psalmist writes in Psalm 90:12 "Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom." (VOICE)
I'm conscious that I can waste my time on things, that while not necessarily bad for me, are not that beneficial. Such as the time I spend on social media or playing an addictive game on my mobile phone, or watching television.
Paul writes to the Corinthians "All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life]." 1 Corinthians 10:23 (AMP)
I can be so easily distracted from what I'm supposed to be doing. I start to daydream or try to do too many things at once.
I get caught up doing things that aren't for me to do, things that God hasn't called me to do, but I do them because I've been afraid to say no to someone, or because I mistakenly think I'm the only one who can do them properly.
If you and I are to live a balanced life then we need to use our time wisely in our work, our rest and our play. Let's take a moment to look at those three areas:
Work: Do we make the most of our time at work? Are we diligent in our work whether our boss is there to oversee things or not? Do we take longer breaks than we are entitled to? In our service to God are we living out our calling and focusing on that which he has asked of us or do we get involved in too many other things? Jesus focused on what God's purpose was for him. He did not allow anything or anyone to distract him from this.
Rest: Jesus modelled what it means to have time alone with God. Times when he would get away from the crowd just to be with his Heavenly Father. The wisest use of our time is to spend our first waking moments in God's presence. This sets the direction for our day.
We all need rest and sleep. Living with M.E is teaching me just how valuable times of complete rest and sleep are. I cannot function without them. Having the appropriate time to rest and sleep is a good use of our time and makes us more effective in the things we do.
Play/Leisure: Do we make time to be with family and friends and enjoy their company? What do we do for relaxation? Do we do things which are good for us, such as going for walks, developing a new hobby or mastering a new skill? Do we choose carefully what we read or watch on television?
If we misuse the time we spend in our work or our service, then other areas of our life will suffer, such as our relationships. I believe that relationship is important to God and should also be important to us. Jesus knew when to serve and when to spend time enjoying the company of friends. For example, he shared a close friendship with Lazarus, Martha and Mary, and could be found relaxing in their home on more than one occasion.
Using our time wisely is not about being constantly busy. Busyness does not always equate to having a productive life. We can be busy doing all manner of things that may not actually be necessary. We can be so busy that we make ourselves ill (I've known that from personal experience) and that is not using our time wisely.
To use our time wisely we may need to eliminate some things from our life. It may also mean spending more of our time on something else. For example, for me it means ensuring I have periods of complete rest structured in to my day. For you it may be something else, such as including some quality time with a family member.
If we are going to be wise in the way we use our time, we need the kind of wisdom that comes from God. Not only that, we also need to be constantly in tune with the Holy Spirit, open to his prompting and reminding. We need to listen to his words of wisdom and the guidance he gives us as we move through our day. Then we will be living carefully and as Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians "making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil." Ephesians 5:16 (AMP).
To Think About:
Consider how you spend your time. Is there something you need to eliminate from your life so that you are using your time more wisely?
Is there something that you could be spending more time on so that you are making the most of your time?
Is there something you could put in place which would help you to use your time wisely?
Friday, 6 November 2015
Sunday, 1 November 2015
Back in the summer I was really struggling with my frozen shoulder. The pain had got so bad that it wasn't just certain movements which caused me pain. The pain was pretty constant, whether I was doing something or sitting still. The physical pain was also affecting me emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I really did not feel like worshipping God. In fact, to be honest, it was the last thing I felt like doing.
Worship is fine when things are going well with us. We come along to church on a Sunday and join in with the praise and worship – we feel like worshipping God. During the week we worship God in our hearts and attitude easily because we feel like it. It comes more naturally.
We are called to worship God. Paul writes in Romans 12:1 " And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (NLT)
But what about when your life feels like it’s falling apart in front of you? When you are suffering with long-term health problems, when someone you love becomes sick, when your spouse walks out on you, when your child rebels, when you have financial problems, or you are in danger of losing your home? Is it really possible to still worship God then?
We can learn a lot from King David who wrote Psalm 13 when he was a fugitive, on the run from King Saul.
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me. (NLT)
The question is: Will you and I do this?
To Think About:
What is your natural reaction when in the midst of a trial?
Will you go to God, tell him exactly how you are feeling and look to him for his help?
Will you choose to focus on God rather than your trial or circumstances? What are some practical ways you can worship God?