Sharon Durant, contributor for today’s blog
This is part of a quick spiritual health check I have been working through as part of my own daily devotional time. It’s encouraged me and I wanted to share it with you.
Am I grateful for the cross?
Not: Do I understand the cross?
Not: Do I tell others about the cross?
The question is, am I grateful for the cross?
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:15 that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Am I grateful that I am one of those sinners he came to save?
We cannot appreciate the cross until we really know that we are sinners. If you take a minute to reflect on those moments you are glad your nearest and dearest didn’t see… those thoughts you are glad you didn’t speak aloud… those hurtful words you can’t grab back… These are not the slip-ups of a basically decent person who deserves praise; they are a signs of a sinner who deserves judgement.
If that makes you feel sad, then it is also a sign that the Holy Spirit is at work in you, convicting you of sin.
But that wretchedness is actually a sign of spiritual health. It is a sign that you know you need Jesus. Only the humble and broken will be justified and exalted (Luke 18:14). Feeling rubbish about sin in your life is not a sign you are spiritually decaying; it is a sign of health, that you are grateful for his sacrifice. You are grateful for the cross.
Thank him today.
Hannah Spruijt, contributor of today’s post
My little boy is learning to talk at a breath-taking pace at the moment. He loves to copy mummy and daddy and it seems new words are emerging every day! I was reflecting earlier on hearing his first ever ‘baby sounds’ at six months, and how that occasion brought with it such a heart-bursting, joy-filled ‘wow’ moment for me. Hearing his little voice ‘talking’ for the first time brought alive a whole other facet of his personality; so precious! It made me reflect that God loves to hear us, as His children, talking to Him too! Zephaniah 3v17 says “He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing”. How amazing that he delights over us! He loves to hear me when I pray.
I’ll admit that I’m not good at praying. It takes a discipline and a focus that doesn’t come naturally to me. However, I am incredibly good at worrying! I know I spend a good portion of my time every day (and certainly when I can’t sleep at night) worrying about my health or the future. Our recent studies and talks in the women’s ministry have helped me see that this is a bad habit that I need to work on with God’s help. 1 Peter 5v8 says “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. I can relate to this! The devil would much rather I stay in a place of worry and fear and if I am not ‘spiritually alert’, he is able to achieve that.
How can I fight this habit and choose to move forward in faith? Kathy’s list of practical applications is already helping.
- Romans 6v6 reminds me I am no longer a slave to sin. I don’t have to be ruled by worry. In Christ, I have freedom from sinful bad habits!
- Romans 8v13 tells me I need the power of the Holy Spirit to ‘put to death’ the sinful bad habits in my life. I can’t do it in my own strength; I need to ask God by His Spirit to help me.
- 1 Timothy 4v8 reminds me that I have to enrol myself in ‘godliness training boot camp’. It’s a choice! I’ve already admitted that I’m not a disciplined person, so I know it won’t be easy, but this Scripture reminds me of the eternal value in doing so.
- I have to humble myself before God and admit I have a problem. The identification of the habit of worry, and its root of fear, in my life is the beginning to being able to work on it.
- Applying Scripture, like a bandage on a wound, will help me to be able to fight the habit. We know the Bible is our ‘sword of truth’ (Ephesians 6v17); I need to pick it up and fight!
- This is key for me. I am determined to replace worry (my bad habit) with prayer (a good habit). Just as I love to hear my little boy’s voice, God longs to hear my voice giving my fears and worries to Him. I have begun to ‘shoot up’ prayers to God every time I feel the fear or worry begin. I can already tell you I need to get MUCH better at this!
- Kathy reminds us to be accountable to each other. Here’s where I need you, friends! Please will you hold me accountable? Ask me how my prayer life is (I slightly wobble as I write this, knowing I’ll have to be truthful when it’s not going so well!) and please encourage me on my journey as I move towards cultivating the good habit of prayer. Let me know what bad habits you’re trying to kick with God’s help, so that I can encourage you too.
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.
Praying today that you all will have a blessed week as you serve our Lord in your daily lives. We are near the end of our studies with Way of Wisdom: Choices with a Gospel mindset. The study this month is titled, ‘Entrusting the Outcome of Our Decisions to God’. Although we are not meeting specifically for this bible study, I encourage you to do it with your study buddy. Hard copies are available at the church or the study is also available under the heading ‘Bible Study Questions and Notes’ on this blog site.
In order to practice the way of wisdom with our big decisions as well as our day to day choices, we have to set our sights on growing our faith, not worrying about failing to make the right decisions. As we think it through, along with prayer, we must trust God with the outcome.So I pray this study will encourage and challenge you as you make choices with a Gospel mindset.
So let us continue to spur one another on in our faith; let us pray for one another Proverbs 3:5,6 this week:
“ Lord, help us to trust in you with ALL our heart, not depending on our own limited understanding. Help us to seek you in ALL we do. Help us to know that when we follow your Word and your ways, you will make our paths straight. Thank you lord, Amen.”