“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus….”
We are into our final week of devotions, and will be spending the next 6 days, from tomorrow, focusing on Psalm 1, which is a wonderful Psalm about the benefits of meditating on the word of God. As we go through this week, we will be “revising”, quite aptly, the various methods of meditation that we have learned.
So, a psalm on meditation, using the methods of meditation we have learned over the past 35 days.
As it’s revision time, here are some of the things that I have learned, or been reminded of, over the past few weeks. This is not necessarily all new stuff, or deeply profound, but I feel greatly enriched for having reflected on these things for a few weeks. Feel free to add your own!
Daily Bible reading and prayer is vital to my spiritual health and wellbeing.
Prayer is the root of all fruit.
If I can worry, I can meditate.
Meditation is not complicated; it just takes time.
I will use a mixture of these methods in future, depending on the text.
I can’t meditate if I am in a hurry.
I have been recalling scripture a lot more throughout the day, and it has been informing my thinking and behaviour.
My physical wellbeing plays an important part in my walk with God.
Application, application, application.
I need to slow down when I read, and link Bible reading and prayer with the practice of meditation on scripture.
This has been more than a duty (though at times it has been that) – it has been a delight.
God is always speaking. I need to take more time to listen.
I need a good and consistent Bible reading plan.
Journaling works for me and helps me to formulate my thoughts and prayers.
There are so many rich streams of thought in Psalm 119!
I have enjoyed blogging and the interaction with everyone who has commented.
I wouldn’t want to blog every day in the future, but I will blog more and hope people will keep interacting.
I have been very encouraged by the mass participation of the church family, young and old alike.
I need to keep moving forward and not worry if I miss a day. “Don’t let yesterday’s famine rob you of today’s feast.”
I want to keep memorising scripture.
We all need to be self-feeders.
Spending time with God needs to be my number one priority
How about you? What have you learned? Or been reminded of?
Enjoy this week of revision as you meditate on Psalm one!
Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Remember Sunday’s message on how to interpret a Bible passage – how to understand what it means? The first point is always to look at the context. What is happening here? Who is speaking? Who is being spoken to?
Leading up to this statement by Paul to the Christians in Philippi, he has stated:
“I’ve found the recipe for being happy…” (the secret of being content).
A recipe for happiness.
That would sell well.
So what’s in the recipe? What are the vital ingredients?
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (MSG)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NIV)
Staying connected to Jesus and receiving his strength to face anything, anywhere.
Those who wait on the Lord (through meditation on his word and prayer) will renew their strength (recharge their batteries, be revitalised, be energized, be encouraged, be given hope).
In the negative, this might read:
When I am not connected to Jesus, when I go it alone, I find that I have no strength to do things, I get stuck, I come up against a wall and I lose a sense of contentment and happiness.
So here’s the recipe for happiness.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
Learn it, live it and pass it on.
In the video devotional today, Pastor Tommy Kyllonen reflects on Psalm 119:24.
“Your statutes are my delight; they are my counsellors.”
When we started 40 Days in the Word, I expressed my hope and belief that, for many of us, this would be a journey from duty to desire to delight.
I hope that you are on that journey and that, as we enter the last week of 40 days, you start to develop a very firm resolve to continue to delight yourself in the law of the Lord – starting on day 41!
Have a God-blessed day.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Any worriers in the house?
As Rick Warren says: “If you can worry, you can meditate!”
Instead of turning anxious thoughts over and over in your head, you turn over scripture – meditating and ruminating and praying.
I have long since liked the Message version of this verse:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.” (MSG)
I do believe in displacement.
Trying to just stop doing something is hard – sometimes impossible. Replacing it with something else is easier.
Let prayer displace worry at the centre of your life.
Let Christ and his peace displace anxiety.
Instead of worrying, pray.
It’s not just a case of “Don’t worry! Don’t be anxious!”
Displace worry. Displace anxiety. By praying and thanking God and presenting your requests to him.
Trace back to what is making you anxious. What is at the root of this anxiety? What am I fearful of? What is bothering me? What is keeping me awake?
And present it to God. Be specific. Here it is God. Here’s the culprit. I’m bringing it to you.
Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
So here’s a prayer:
Father, I get anxious about stuff all the time. But I do want to turn my anxieties and worries into prayers – and I want to be thankful. As I bring my anxious thoughts and cares to you, as I pray them to you, I ask that your peace – a sense of your wholeness in place of my brokenness – will come and settle me down again.
Let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.
In Jesus’ name.
If you are reading this on Sunday, today is the last official message on 40 days. Dave will be speaking on how to integrate the word of God into every area of our life. In the evening, Dave and I will be interviewed together about 40 days and then we will have a Q and A session.
Next Sunday I will be speaking on “What happens next!?”
Philippians 3:12b (NLT)
“….I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
Pastor Jud White, who gives the video devotional today, looks a little like the actor Kevin Bacon. But he’s not trying to sell us mobile phones, he’s reminding us of some powerful verses in Isaiah 55, and of how the word of God is like rain and snow that falls on the earth, waters it, and causes it to bud and flourish and produce seed and bread.
The rain and snow always water the earth where they fall.
God’s word is like that, says Isaiah.
God’s word always accomplishes in us what God wants it to accomplish. It never returns to him empty. That would be like snow or rain falling upwards.
God says it, God sends it – like the rain and the snow – and it refreshes and nourishes and encourages and strengthens and creates life and health and vitality.
I’ll have some of that.
When I think that prayer is the root of all fruit, and that if I don’t stay connected to Jesus in prayer, I will simply be hanging apples on a dead tree, and when I consider that the word of God produces nourishment, and seed and bread,
I would be stupid to neglect either, would I not?
I’m a slow learner.
But…I press on! Jesus has taken hold of me for a reason and a purpose. He has created good works for me to do. He has written my days in his book – all of them.
“I’m off and I’m running and I’m not turning back.”
So, my friends, if I’m going to mash up my metaphors:
“Let it snow, let it snow!”
I want more seed and bread and fruit in my life.
We are running to get a prize that will last for ever – the stakes are high!
There is no quitting and there is no looking back!
If you can’t get out of it, get into it.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 (NLT))
Thank you God that you are working in me. Thank you that it is you that causes me to grow. Thank you that it is not all dependent on me. There is an energy and power available to me that is not of my own making.
We should all carry a sign around with us– GOD AT WORK.
Today I pray for desire. Desire to do your will. Desire to lead. Desire to follow. Desire to serve.
Give me more of the “want to”. More of the “can’t wait to”. More of the “I get to!” More of the “I’ve just got to…” Give me enthusiasm. Give me creativity. Give me ideas. Give me get up and go. Give me passion. Give me fervour. Give me child-like excitement.
Magnify this desire. Increase it. Turn on the turbo. This is not something that I can make or produce by myself, any more than I can make myself be hungry or thirsty. Please work in me to give me the desires and the appetites that please you.
I pray for a deeper love for God, a deeper love for your people, a deeper love for those that don’t yet know you, a deeper love for your word.
Work in me – and give me the desire to do what pleases you.
And today I pray for power. Give me strength. Give me energy. Give me “can do”! Fill me with your resurrection power and energy for this day. Energise me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Please give me the power to do what pleases you; the things that make you smile.
You work it in. I work it out.
You breathe it in. I breathe it out.
Apart from you I can do nothing.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Thank you God that you are at work in me. Thank you that you will finish what you have started.
Philippians 1:27a (NIV)
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
The video devotional from Pastor Gene Appel is very good today, speaking about the word of God being “living and active.” (Hebrews 4:12) Check it out if you haven’t seen it (www.40ditw.com).
Talking about “living and active” – Jenny and I went on a bread-making course last week. It was a Christmas present and I really enjoyed it. We made ten loaves of bread between us!
As we made the dough, we added the live yeast, and then we left the dough alone and let the yeast do its work. The bread rose as the yeast worked through the batch.
The Bible is like the yeast. Living and active. It works its way into every area of our lives if we allow it. It affects everything. That’s why daily meditation, little and often, is so important.
The word of God is living and active and it will change us.
We are back at this verse again – whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. And I can see how God’s living and active word is working on me. Scripture, including this one, is coming to my mind when I am tempted to get angry, shout at other drivers, be sharp with my children, use unkind words with Jenny.
I am challenged by the word of God. Conduct yourself in a manner that is worthy of the gospel. Be slow to speak and slow to get angry! God is working in me, giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
What God has started – he will finish.
So Father, I pray for each and every one of us today. That your word would be living and active in our life. Like yeast. Affecting every area. Help us to live worthy of the gospel in response to your glorious grace.
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We are now “personalising it” and “praying it”! If you missed the small group teaching, these methods are explained on pages 81 and 82 in your workbook.
This is a really good way of allowing God to speak to you more directly through the word and of turning scripture into prayer.
Praying the scriptures is always a good idea.
Once again this debunks the idea that “God never speaks to me”. We will find, quite quickly, that as we take a little bit more time and meditate on the word, and as we recall it throughout the day, and as we pray it, that God encourages us and speaks to us often.
Today’s verse is a great verse!
“I’ve started, so I’ll finish!”
Thank you God that you are not finished with us yet!
Thank you that we are a work in progress. And that as we look back and see your hand on our life, and on the way that we came to faith, we can be assured you will continue to work in our life “until the day of Christ Jesus” – until the day we die or Jesus returns.
God still has some painting to do on the canvas of your life. He still has some shaping and some moulding to do on his potter’s wheel. He is still sculpting, chipping away, creating a masterpiece. He still has some refining to do in his fire. He still has more strength and more joy and more blessings and more love to pour out into your heart.
He still has adventures and good works stored up for you.
He has not finished yet.
You still have much to learn. Have patience young Jedi!
As I thought about applying this, I took Rick Warren’s four areas of application, and I thought about what God has started in me through 40 days of the Word…
Personal: I can and will be confident and assured that God is still at work in me
Practical: I will submit more to God’s work in me through prayer and meditation
Possible: I will devise a plan for after 40 days to continue and develop this habit
Provable: I will have something in place for Day 41!
God has started something powerful and amazing in you, and he will be faithful to complete it!
If you would like a musical interlude to go with your coffee and blog this morning/evening, have a listen to this old song by Steve Green:
James 5:19-20 (NIV)
I’m tired today. I’ve been up since 4:15 am and haven’t slept well for a couple of nights. I’m finding a few things are on top of me instead of me being on top of them. I found the Bible study irritating, the words were swimming on the page, I don’t think I could paraphrase “Jesus wept” the way my brain is feeling at the moment.
Being spiritual is such a physical thing.
If you are tired, haven’t slept well or eaten properly, or are feeling unwell or facing illness, it’s hard to connect with God and to hear his voice.
Rick Warren addressed this in his small group study this week as he talked about four common problems that people face in having a daily quiet time (discipline, dry spells, distractions and discouragement). He discussed the need for regular and sufficient sleep, the need to look after our physical wellbeing, to be as fresh and awake as possible when we come to spend time with God.
Sy Rogers has a phrase: “if it’s good for the body, it’s good for the soul.” John Ortberg says, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing that you can do is take a nap.”
We are physical beings, and our physical, spiritual and emotional parts all interact and affect the others. It’s important to recognise this in ourselves. There have been times when I have wanted to burn the church down, have doubted, have been discouraged, have been dry… where I mainly needed to get some rest, take a break, eat something, fill my emotional bucket.
You might not be having a spiritual crisis so much as needing to get some rest and recharge your batteries.
Don’t underestimate these factors when it comes to building and maintaining your time with God, and playing your part in the community of faith.
Let’s be real about this.
It is worth reviewing the small group material for yourself and addressing some of these quiet time killers! Be honest with yourself and see how you can apply some of the solutions that Rick Warren offered.
In the meantime, I’m off for a very spiritual nap….
James 4:10 (NIV)
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
“So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (James 4:7-10 – The Message)
That’s a great line from Eugene Peterson: “Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”
We speak of standing on our own two feet. Pulling ourselves up by our boot laces. Going it alone. Doing it our way. This is the pride of thinking that we can manage our lives better than God. That we know better. That God can simply not be trusted with such important things as our money, or our love life, or our future. We don’t say it so crassly. We just live like it’s true!
The Bible speaks of getting down on our knees. Humbling ourselves before God. Recognising our weakness and our dependence on him.
Prayer is one of the key ways that we humble ourselves before God. It acknowledges our boundaries. Our weaknesses. Our limitations. It brings us to our knees, physically and/or metaphorically. We bow before an Almighty God.
As Corrie Ten Boon once said: “A man is powerful on his knees.”
I am often tempted to think I can do things in my own strength, or that if I entrust my money or my life to God, he might just mess things up.
This is what I was talking about yesterday as I looked at bearing fruit in John 15. Jesus was speaking to his disciples about staying connected to him in prayer.
Much prayer….much fruit. Little prayer….little fruit. No prayer…no fruit.
Sometimes, by my actions, I act as though I don’t believe the truth of what Jesus says. I act as if I can do this by myself. I act as if it depends on me. I am prayerless.
This never lasts, however, and ultimately, after a period of self-delusion, the air clears, my vision becomes a little less unimpaired, and I have a very real sense of my utter weakness and inability to do this on my own.
I find great reassurance in these times to sit quietly and say “Yes” to God. To write and journal and cry out to God for help.
I never feel powerful on my knees, but when I am weak, then I am strong. When I feel I’ve got it all together, I could not be more wrong.
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Let’s get down on our knees before our Master. It won’t be long before he lifts us up and puts our feet on solid ground.
James 3:13 (NIV)
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13 (NIV))
Last week we looked on Sunday at how to study the Bible for yourself. We considered the four phases of 1) Observation – what does it say? 2) Interpretation – what does it mean? 3) Correlation – what does the rest of the Bible say on this subject? 4) Application – what do I need to do about it?
When considering the second phase of asking what a passage means, I talked about how it can sometimes be helpful to look at other translations and paraphrases of the Bible, which might give us a slightly different angle or use different phrases that help us to understand the verse. (A paraphrase takes the original Hebrew/Greek and gives the meaning or the essence of what the author is saying, without sticking very literally to every word of the original text.)
The best known paraphrase versions are The Message (by Eugene Peterson), The New Living Translation (NLT – an effort to revise the original “Living Bible”), and perhaps the J.B. Phillips version.
You can read all of these versions and many more for free online at websites like Bible Gateway or Bible Hub.
So when we are perhaps using the “paraphrase it” method of meditating on a verse and putting it into our own words, we may find it helpful to read a few different versions as we chew over the verse and what it means.
If you want to carry on using this method beyond 40 days, the Psalms are a very good place to use the “paraphrase it” method, taking these ancient Hebrew prayers and putting them into your own language and making them your own. Tim Keller writes about doing this in his book on Prayer. He spent several months just reading through and paraphrasing the Psalms, making them into his own prayers. You could do this, and write your prayers in your own journal, for example.
So a couple of paraphrases for our verse today would be:
“Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.” (The Message)
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honourable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.” (New Living Translation)
“If you are wise, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about them, then you will be truly wise!” (The Living Bible)
My best and fairly mediocre effort this morning (after two cups of coffee and some borrowing from Nietzsche!):
“A life well lived is made up of many small and seemingly mundane actions and decisions that you make day by day and week by week. It is a long obedience in the same direction. It is knowledge of the truth that you quietly and consistently put into practice.” (Geoff Lee version)