“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” (Philippians 4:6 (NIV))
I hope you are getting on well with 40 days. Feel free to leave comments on this thread and to share your experiences. Also remember not to worry if you miss a day, start afresh the next day and keep on going!
This verse from Philippians has long been a key verse for me. My life is not free of anxiety! And the worse times are the night times. So I have been chewing on this verse at night, repeating it in my mind, and bringing specific requests, anxious thoughts, worries, petitions to God my Father, and leaving them with him.
The subsequent promise of this scripture is not that everything will immediately be fixed and sorted, but it is that the peace of God will guard your heart (emotions) and your mind (thoughts).
I also find it helpful to journal (which is a little bit what we are doing during 40 Days with our workbooks). I have been journalling for many years and I write down my prayers, my thoughts, take notes on sermons, on books, write down good quotes, highlight great events in life, as well as reflect on the troubling times. Sometimes, on days like today, I make lists. Lists of prayer requests and petitions. People I have said I will pray for, people who need jobs, who are facing illness, experiencing loss and bereavement, slipping away from church and faith.
And then I make of list of things I am thankful and grateful for, some profound, some quite small and seemingly insignificant.
This is what this verse is all about – and we know that God hears us and answers us.
May you be filled with that confidence today – and the peace of God – as you bring your prayers and petitions, and praise to your Father in heaven.
“… I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12b (NIV))
It’s been good to read your thoughts and comments on 40 days so far. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
In his book on prayer, Tim Keller identifies four changes that he made after studying and wrestling with prayer, following a major crisis in his life.
He took several months going through the Psalms, summarising and paraphrasing them and using them as the basis of his prayer life.
He always put in a time of meditation between reading the Bible and praying – scripture was the foundation for his prayer life
He began praying morning and evening, not just in the morning
He began praying with greater expectation
I think, in light of 40 days, his second point is particularly relevant. We are reading the Bible, meditating on one line, word by word, pronouncing it and rolling it around in our mind, emphasising different aspects of the verse as we go. And then we are considering how to apply it before praying. The Bible is informing our prayer.
This is a great way to combine the Word of God and prayer.
I am also noticing how this affects me during the day. On Day 2 of 40 Days, I was crossing the road with Beth, my daughter, using a zebra crossing. As we stepped out, a car failed to stop and drove right through the crossing. I muttered several angry words, calling the driver a complete idiot…. As I did so, the words from that morning’s reading….”Whatever happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel…” wafted into my consciousness…
This Bible reading, meditation and prayer may have a serious effect on my behaviour….. And I think that might just be the point?
Have a God-blessed day.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Phil 2:13 NLT)”
I pray that this will be the case for us during 40 days. That God will work into us the desire and the power to do what pleases him, in this case letting the word of Christ dwell in us and change us every day.
I really liked what the pastor on the video devotional said yesterday about the difference between “having to” read his bible at youth camp for 10 minutes a day, which he perceived to be just another chore, and the approach of the young students who were taught by their Rabbi to lick honey from their tablet, and to see the scriptures as something wonderful and delightful, sweet to the taste like honey.
Even on DAY 2, I thought: “Oh no! I haven’t done my reading! I need to fit it in!” It felt like homework!
As we proceed through 40 days, we can choose one route or the other! We can see each daily reading as something to fit in to our busy schedules, a bit of homework to do as quickly as possible, or we can savour the daily time with God, like looking forward to a gourmet meal, asking: “What are you going to say to me today Lord, what delights am I going to taste in your presence.”
This cannot be done in a hurry.
It’s important that we create a space and place in our days to take our time, to read slowly, to meditate on each word of the verse, and to pray in response. Be creative in creating that time and place. Make it special. Let’s expect each day to reveal a new treat, something delicious, the presence of the living God.
“The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes….They are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb” (Psalm 19)
“WHATEVER happens, conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil 1:27 a NIV)”
Someone cutting in front of me in traffic? That woman beeping her horn incessantly and infuriating me? My kids squabbling and fighting over breakfast? The press of work and the tightness of time?
No matter what comes my way, no matter what people say, no matter what happens in my day….When provoked, maligned, mistreated, stressed, distressed, distracted….
I need to watch my life and lips….and not only contain and restrain reaction, but LIVE a life, a proactive and joy-filled life that is worthy, that lines up with and matches up to the gospel good and transforming news that has changed my life.
God has been kind and gracious to me. Am I going to be kind and gracious to others?
Am I going to live worthy today?
Father, whatever ….WHATEVER….happens today, help us, each one of us, to live a life that is truly worthy of the amazing gospel that has broken into our lives.
In Jesus’ name
Great to read people's posts yesterday!
And so our journey begins: 40 days in the word! It also happens to be the beginning of Lent! What a great way to spend Lent and prepare for Easter!
During these next 40 days, I am going to write a short blog each day to share some of my thoughts and reflections on my own daily devotion, and our collective experiences as a church.
In the comments section under each blog, you are very welcome to add your own reflections and experiences as you engage with this campaign.
Together, as individuals, families, small groups, young and old, I am hopeful and confident that these 40 days will have a significant impact on our love for God’s word and our ability to read it, understand it and APPLY IT.
What I have done so far….
I have watched the first small group session on bible study methods and the PRONOUNCE IT method. I have done my first daily reading, looking at and meditating on the verse:
“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.” (Phil. 1:6)
And I have signed up to daily devotions on the website www.40daysintheword.com. Today I listened to (the video wouldn’t work on my ipad!) the first talk on how to clothe myself with Godly qualities, putting on love which binds them all together.
I think the material is great, accessible, practical, easy to follow, and you can do a little bit every day without it being overwhelming!
God has not finished with us yet – he has started something really good in our life, and he will finish the job! Be patient with yourself and others…
God can do an awful lot in 40 days! God bless you in your journey.
We are really looking forward to launching our "40 Days in the Word" campaign on Sun 8th February. 40 Days is a church-wide weekly study of six principles of the Word of God: the authenticity, reliability, power, comfort, interpretation and doing of God’s Word.
We are encouraging everyone to join Community Group during the 40 Days...even if you can only go to a group for that time period.
Geoff Lee, our Senior Pastor, will be using this blog to write daily reports on his experience during the 40 Days...it would be great if everyone could add comments and share their own experience too!
08/02 – Kick-Off WeekSunday Message: Building my life on the Bible.Community Group: Social evening.
15/02 – Week 1Sunday Message: Inspiration – Why can I trust the Bible?Memory Verse: Colossians 3:16.Community Group: Pronounce it.Daily Bible Meditation: Philippians 1:6, 1:27, 2:13, 3:12, 4:6, 4:13, 4:19
22/02 – Week 2Sunday Message: Transformation – How can the Bible change us?Memory Verse: Ps 119:18.Community Group: Picture it.Daily Bible Meditation: Mark 1:40-45, 3:1-6, 4:35-41, 5:21-43, 6:35-44, 6:45-51, 7:31-37
01/03 – Week 3Sunday Message: Illumination – How can I see what God wants me to see?Memory Verse: Jam 1:22.Community Group: Probe it.Daily Bible Meditation: Mark 8:34-38, 9:33-35, 10:17-31, 11:25, 14:3-9, 15:33-39, 16:1-20
08/03 – Week 4Sunday Message: Observation – How do I study the Bible?Memory Verse: Psalm 119:11.Community Group: Paraphrase it.Daily Bible Meditation: James 1:19-20, 1:22-25, 2:17-18, 3:13, 4:10, 5:19-20
15/03 – Week 5Sunday Message: Interpretation – How do I know what it means?Memory Verse: Matthew 7:24.Community Group: Personalise it/Pray it.Daily Bible Meditation: John 3:16, Philippians 1:6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 23:1-3
22/03 – Week 6Sunday Message: Integration – How do I integrate God’s word into my life?Memory Verse: Psalm 119:105.Community Group: Principles of Bible interpretation.Daily Bible Meditation: Psalm 1:1-6 (Using one of the new methods each day)
We hope you will join us as we commit to loving, learning and living the Word for 40 days. Find out more >
So Summer draws to a close. Autumn is in the air. Colours change, temperatures fall, darkness draws in earlier.
Seasons are always changing, it’s what seasons do, with perennial predictability and inescapable inevitability.
You may or may not have your favourite season, depending on your temperament and type.
We returned last week from our holiday in Italy, where it was hot and sunny. When we landed at Heathrow, it was grey and cold and raining. Isaac, our son, stepped on to the tarmac, raised his hands to the air and sighed with contentment: “Rain” he said, “glorious rain.”
My wife, Jenny, and I did not share in his moment of contentment.
Yet, in the changing seasons, God, in his goodness, satisfies our twin desires for change and for permanence.
This is expressed by C.S.Lewis in the Screwtape Letters, as a senior devil called Screwtape instructs a junior:
“[GOD] has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.”
Screwtape, in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The beginning of September is a natural point of change and transition, the start of a new season. It is part of God’s rhythm of change and permanence, feast and famine.
I walked past a field this last week that lay empty following a summer harvest. Ploughed over and ready for the next season. Ready for new seed, for renewed growth.
Its stark emptiness spoke to me. Just a short while ago it had been full of crops, waving in the breeze, now it was just soil and stubble.
Sounds like Cockney rhyming slanging for toil and trouble.
Famine rather than feast. Emptiness rather than fullness.
On my walk, I also passed fields that had been left empty for a little while. Fallow ground. Ground and soil left alone without seed and crop to restore nutrients and life to the soil. The farmer knows, in his wisdom, that such land will produce greater harvests in the future, following a period of barrenness and emptiness. Such ground is ripe for harvest.
But at the moment, it is fallow and full of weeds.
Two of the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah and Hosea, use a picture of a fallow, hardened, weed-filled field, to speak to God’s people about the condition of their hearts and God’s desire to make them fruitful – to bring them to harvest time, to restore their relationship with God.
We can use the beginning of a new season to heed the words of the prophet:
“Sow for yourself righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” (Hosea 10:12)
Yesterday morning Geoff preached the first message in our series on Ruth - hope in suffering. During the message he quoted from an essay by Eric Liddell called 'Victory over Circumstances.' Here is the full article...
Victory over Circumstances, by Eric Liddell
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. (Isaiah 43.2)
God does not say that because you believe in Him, he will keep you from hardship and suffering. He says, if you trust him, he will strengthen you to meet all the experiences of life in a conquering spirit. You will have secret resources of power to call on when they are needed.
Life is full of hard experiences, bitter disappointments, unexpected losses, grim tragedies. How do Christians face these? Here are several thoughts that may be of help.
1. Evil does not come from God but comes through the sin, malice, callousness, passions, selfishness, and neglect of man. God is not responsible for these.
There are also disasters, calamities and accidents which are the other side of the privilege and joy of living in such a world as this. If there were no spice of risk, there would be no zest of adventure.
2. Sometimes evil comes through the direct malice of man. It is easy to harbour feelings of hate, a desire to be God’s instrument of vengeance. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a hate like that. For hate desolates both the wronged and the wrongdoer. This work of punishment is not ours but God’s.
It is a perilous position for any man to take up that he is the instrument of the judgement of God. God is working in the hearts of those who have wronged us as well as in our hearts. His mills are grinding out resistlessly the judgements of righteousness. Leave all to God. The justice of God is far more sure and unerring, for it is the justice of love, a love that will not let men go, but follows them still through all the mazes of their flight from it, till it brings them to redemption. It is this vision of God behind the scenes that calms the heart and takes away the restless heat of rancour and revenge. It is this that helps one to face all in a magnanimous spirit.
3. Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working. He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out his wonderful plan of love. ‘All things work together for good to them that love God.’ He is always master of the situation. There is infinite resourcefulness in the almighty love. Many a man has become great in spite of, as well as because of, disaster. This is the victory of God’s love, but it does not come to all. It comes to those who keep their faith clear, and their lives clean towards God. It comes to those who keep in touch with the divine love, are linked to the divine will, and look for chances of helping on the purposes they are sure God still has for them. ‘This is the victory that overcomes the world, [the world of disaster] even our faith.'
[Thoughts based on The Victory of God by James Reid.]Taken from Eric Liddell’s book, The Disciplines of the Christian Life,SPCK Publishing, London, 2009. Reprinted by permission.http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Victory_Over_Circumstance_FullArticle [6th July 2014]
Based on the book by Ken Shigematsu.
Have you ever yearned for a deeper, richer, more fulfilling relationship with Jesus? But somehow this seems elusive or even impossible…
For many Christians, there is certainly a desire to walk more closely with God and to be transformed into the likeness of Christ – but we struggle to line up our life accordingly.
Our new Sunday evening series, God in my Everything, is looking at God being central to every area of our life – our work, our rest, our play. We are basing this series on the eponymous book by Ken Shigematsu.
Sometimes we are led to believe that parts of our life are for God – the holy bits – church, Bible reading, quiet time, ministry…
And the rest of our life is just the secular stuff – work, money, family, friends, hobbies..
Sometimes we think that becoming more like Jesus just means we need to do more of the spiritual stuff and less of the secular stuff.
We speak of our ministry at church and then our everyday jobs…
But what if God were really in our everything – our waking and sleeping, our working and resting, our hobbies and our praying…?
And what if this were to apply for every Christian – not just the super spiritual ones, the specially anointed and gifted ones…
What if this applies to the busy mum with young kids, the pressured businessman, the student, the young person at school, the single person, the married person, the young, the old – every vocation, every walk of life….
The term “Rule of Life” goes back to an ancient pattern of monastic living that was introduced and outlined by Benedict in the 6th Century.
The word “Rule” comes from the Greek word that means “trellis”. A trellis is a support system for a vine or plant that enables it to grow upward and bear fruit.
Like a trellis, a rule of life supports and strengthens our relationship with God so that we can become more fruitful. The life is not in the trellis, it is in the vine – but the trellis helps the vine to grow well and to become fruitful!
(Source: God in My Everything – Ken Shigematsu)
For busy people, a rule of life can seem like another thing “to do”. More responsibility, more effort….
But the rule can be flexible, and it also involves not doing certain things, developing a healthy rhythm, saying no as well as yes.
As you consider building a rule of life, here are some things to remember:
1. Start simplyChange does not happen overnight.Introduce simple and achievable practices.Whatever we do repeatedly – even if it’s simple – has the power to shape us.
2. Build slowlyThis is a life-long process!
3. Prune regularly"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1-2)
If you are going to add something to your plate – consider taking something off it.
4. Be energy consciousWhen are you at your best? When do you have the most energy?Early morning – late at night.Recognise the rhythm of your day, your week and even your year…
5. Consider your life stageDifferent seasons of life equals different patterns and rhythms.
6. Stay flexibleThe rule is to help us and strengthen us – it is not to rule over us.
7. Make time for funDo things that bring you joy.
8. Include communityVitally important for spiritual growth and health.
Follow our sermon series on God in my everything >
Rachel and Hamish Macdonald are our Youth Pastors here at Plymouth Christian Centre. They are currently in Honduras combining a missions with holiday. Here's the latest from them...
"We were very thankful to arrive safely ,and it's been so lovely to catch up with old friends, it feels like we have not been away from them. We are helping in a church project in the afternoons run by the local church and supported by Compassion.
We have taken our 5 day holiday to Roatan and after an arduous journey are enjoying the benefits of Island life! Sun, sea, sunburn, mosquito bites, no electricity or water, and the relaxed vibe that means no one is bothered by such things! It's lovely. The kids have been diving, Flora and Hamish saw a large barracuda whilst snorkelling. There is so much sea life and turtles; it's very beautiful. We are enjoying time to read and reflect which is doing us good. We got talking to an older lady who was riding a horse. It turns out she was born in Plymouth and now lives in the states! On our return we are going to visit her friend. We also got talking to a missionary on the beach who is doing workshops on worship for the churches in Tegucigalpa! so had a very interesting chat with him.
We are really looking forward to getting back to valley of the angels where we will be doing lots of fun things for the kids over the Easter holidays - for the kids that don't visit families at that time. Rachel will also be involved in some musical items for a special service .We will update with pictures of the projects when we can (internet it scarce where we are.) Missing the young people and wish they could be with us,we went to a small black baptist church on the island and it was great even though the style of worship was like England 40 years ago. There was much joy and moving around! Liz crudge would have been smiling! Love to you all at the Plymouth Christian Centre.
We miss you x Rachel and Hamish."