GOOD FRIDAY

“Oh the wonderful cross! Bids me come and die and find that I truly live. Love so amazing so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

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THE SPEAKING GOD WHO LISTENS

habits-of-grace“First sounds His voice. By his Word, He reveals Himself and expresses His heart, and unveils His Son as the culmination of His speaking. By His Word, He creates (Genesis 1:3) and re-creates (2 Cor. 4:4), not just individual members, but a body called the church.

And wonder of wonders, not only does He express Himself and bid us hear His voice, but He wants to hear ours. The speaking God not only has spoken, but He also listens- He stops, He stoops, He wants to hear from you. He stands ready to hear your voice.

Christian, you have the ear of God. We call it prayer.” David Mathis from Habits of Grace. God listening

PAINTING THE MORNING WITH PRAISE

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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

A PRAYING LIFE – A BOOK RECOMMENDATION

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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.

 

a praying life bookPaul 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.

 

IMPORTANT CANCELLATION NOTICE

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.

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS

1cc19207f9a7be506aef9a6dac205b3bWe 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.

habits-of-graceThe 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

 

Imperfect DiscipleThe 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.