Respect dare series – day 24 – Time with God

Psalm 119:9-16

Beth. How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Getting into the Word and spending time with the Holy Spirit are the two greatest actions I can take to invest in my marriage. Intimacy with God the Father, Son, and Spirit is where my energies, convictions and actions must stem from.

My action for today: I took time to read and meditate on Philippians.

My prayer for today: Abba Father, keep me hungry. Make my heart’s desire to be running after you and sitting at your feet. Remain my first love. May my love for Glenn be the purest of love that stems from you. Amen

Time in the Word

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A new year’s resolution?

I must admit that I like taking time to set a list of goals in the lead up to each new year. I find it fun to look back on what I hoped for the year before, too. My love of introspection might play a role in the enjoyment factor! There is usually two sets of goals – one set about what I want spiritually or feel God calling me to, and another set just things I’d like to do.

This year with baby soon to arrive my whole list is pretty much “subject to motherhood”! But the top three remain important – God first, then Glenn, then baby/our family. But what does this look like? What is it to put God first, and what should I be doing in order to set Him first? It’s a fairly ambiguous goal as simply “God first”.

We currently have some friends staying with us who are pastoring a church. They commented that the outcome of a big pastor’s conference was that Christians grow the most when they read the Bible; that discipleship must start by getting people into His Word. My first reaction was a little judgemental – “Really? They had to have a conference to figure that one out?” But then again, the Word is my passion so of course I’m going to feel that way.

Last night, reflecting on the conversation with friends and my ambiguous goal, I was able to come back to a very simple truth. God has given us two incredible gifts to enable us to walk with Him and draw close with Him. One is His Word, and the other is His Holy Spirit, who dwells in all believers.  How blessed we are to have the Spirit and the Word. But it is up to us to read, study, and meditate on the Word. It is also up to us to keep up a connection with the Spirit; a relationship only grows when both sides invest in it.

If you haven’t set a New Year’s resolution yet, or even if you have, I would encourage you to set this as one too: Spend time daily with the Spirit and daily in the Word. Set aside time to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit, and find a study or reading plan that gets you into God’s Word.

May His richest blessings be upon you this year. May He give you strength to persevere through trials, and joy to celebrate achievements and times of abundance.

Experience God this year through His Word and Spirit

Experience God this year through His Word and Spirit

Holy Spirit

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14:26

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-17

Word of God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

A Perfect Summary

Sometimes you come across something that sums up what you believe, or are thinking or feeling, so nicely that all you can do as you read it is think: “YES! YES! YES!”

Most of you know that I am passionate about Christians knowing their Bible. “But why? What is the point?” some ask. Others say: “But it doesn’t have any relevance for my life or for the world today”.

Coming across Psalm 19 this week, I think it argues my case for me:

     The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
     the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
     the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
     the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
     the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
     the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 

     More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
     sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 

     Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
     in keeping them there is great reward.
     (Psalm 19:7-11)

Give it a look:

Knee Jerk Reactions

Babies are born with natural reflexes. Some of these fade, some of them change, and others can be dominated by will and practise. We can build motor patterns in our brain, which enable some movements to become automatic, and thus faster and more precise. Consider when you write your name: you no longer have to think about it. When you take a mouthful of potato at dinner you do not think: “grasp fork, stab piece of potato, lift arm, close mouth . . .” These are now automated responses.

The same should be true in how we respond to situations arising from daily life. If our earthly nature is the “natural reflex”, then the Christ-like responses will be the “developed motor patterns”. We may not know at the start of the day whether we are about to be yelled at by the boss, hugged by a stranger, laugh with a friend, have an easy run with the lights, and so forth. However, we can root ourselves in the Lord and thus respond in a way pleasing to Him.

Paul wrote:
For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25).

Reading Nehemiah this week has made me wonder just how much I turn first to earthly instinct and how much is my response to seek God and what is Christ-like. The more I am in the Word of God, the more my behaviour and responses imitate Christ.

Nehemiah had rooted himself in the Word of God whilst living in exile under the Persian Empire, serving the king as a cup-bearer. To him fell the task of overseeing the rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem when the Jews were allowed to return to Judah from exile. Whilst rebuilding, he faced persecution in the form of mockery, danger to his people as well as his self, and assassination attempts. How did he act in these circumstances? He fasted, prayed, encouraged the people to trust God, worked with a sword at his side, and continued to completion the work that God had set him.

Nehemiah returned to the king for a short period before receiving a second grant to return to Judah. When he returned he found his own people once again moving away from the Law of the Lord (the reason God sent the Jews into exile in the first place). What did he do? He acted once more in fear of the Lord and fervour for His Law. He cast out of their roles those walking in disobedience and planted God-fearing men in their place. He consistently chose fear of God over fear of man.

How did these responses become second nature to him? How did they become his automated responses? He studied the Law of the Lord, sought after God, prayed constantly, fasted when troubled, and put God’s priorities above his own comfort. Nehemiah lived with his eyes fixed on the Lord in reverent fear.

If we are to be delivered “out of the body of this death” as Paul puts it, then we must follow his example, and that of Nehemiah: Seek after God; Fear Him; Read His Word; Seek after His truths: and Mediate on Christ.