Archive for February, 2009

Personal Devotions - Part 2

Posted in Personal Devotions on February 23rd, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

In my last Blog posting I outlined the start to my personal devotions, and I want to continue on that theme particularly in the area of prayer.

Once I have completed my bible reading, the rest of my devotional time is devoted to prayer and / or worship. I have a deep desire to pray true and spiritual prayers as opposed to religious and self-important prayers. What I mean by that is that I try to express in plain and clear language to God who I am and what I desire in my relationship with Him. The parable of the “Pharisee and the Tax Collector” in Luke 18: 9-14 is a stark reminder to all believers that it is not the appearances that matter but the reality of our relationship with God. The Pharisee in his prayer justified himself before God, while the Tax Collector humbled himself. I seek to follow the Tax Collector’s example in my own prayer life, asking God to reveal my motives and attitudes rather than assume that I am in perfect spiritual health.

I ask God to search me and all my motives and attitudes and where I need to confess and repent of things - I do. I ask God to wash me and to cleanse my mind and my emotions. Sometimes it is just the things that happen in every day life that can weigh down on us and cause us to stumble in personal pride or jealousy or a hardness of heart towards someone.

In my devotional time, I also spend time asking God to fill me and anoint me with his Holy Spirit. There might be a particular area where I ask him for help. It could be in parenting, or husbanding or even in ministry. I am of the firm conviction that I can only be fruitful through what I receive from God. In my devotions I seek to be filled and to draw on my relationship with God for my life.

My devotional life of prayer is first an expression of my relationship with God, before it is a list of requests and desires. If I am struggling to express myself in prayer, I use the Psalms to remind me of the kind of real and intimate language that is typical of spiritual prayer and so far removed from religious appearances.

May God bless you in your own devotional journey with Him. Next time I will continue with the theme of prayer and worship.

Personal Devotions - Part 1

Posted in Personal Devotions on February 16th, 2009 by phil – Be the first to comment

One of the areas that Christians often seem to struggle in is that of personal devotions. Many Christians seem to feel that they are either not doing enough or that their devotional times are ineffective or filled with distracted thoughts. This blog posting and maybe 1 or 2 more will be devoted to sharing something of my story of personal devotions in the hope that it will be helpful to others.

I normally start my day with devotions. When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, I often lie in bed for a few minutes looking out the window and wondering whether it is possible for my clock to have gained a couple of hours overnight. Although I love my devotional times with God, I seldom bound out of bed with enthusiasm, it normally takes me a few moments to get going.

First things first. I wander down to the kitchen and make myself some coffee. In our household I also make sure the dogs are fed, because if I don’t they become restless and noisy (barking), which has a direct impact on the quality of my devotions. It is hard to be spiritual while at the same time calling the dogs to order through the window. By the time I get to my study and have my bible open in front of me about 15 minutes have passed since my alarm went off.

I generally start my devotions by reading a passage of scripture. I have been reading according to a bible reading plan for about 5 years now, which for me has been a hugely valuable tool. Every day I read a portion of the Old Testament and the New Testament. My reading takes me between 15 and 20 minutes and I underline and highlight verses along the way that I feel are specifically significant for me or where God is speaking to me. This helps me to concentrate and remain focused while I read. Whether I feel like it or not, I always read the bible. I may change other aspects of my devotions if I find that I am becoming stale, but I never change the pattern of reading the Word. Next week I will spend time on the subjects of prayer and worship.

to be continued….

God Answers Prayer

Posted in Testimony on February 9th, 2009 by phil – Comments Off

This week we have heard amazing news of answered prayer. A couple we know based in South East Asia are going to have a baby after 9 years of trying and a physician in South Africa giving them a zero percent chance of an unassisted pregnancy. I don’t know how many prayers have been prayed over the years either by the couple themselves or by friends or by corporate prayer meetings in local churches. But I do know that there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude to God and celebration in his faithfulness and goodness in answering these prayers.

As the news was announced on Sunday in our local church there was a spontaneous eruption of applause and praise. Praise because God has acted in his sovereign power and overturned an ‘impossible situation’. Praise because God has done it amongst us. This is not a story we have read in a book of an unknown people. This has happened in our family and God has visited us with his mighty power. Praise because God has looked upon their lives and shown his compassion by answering their cry.

As the psalmist says in Ps 20: 5 (ESV)

May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!

We give glory to God and celebrate with joy at the blessing that has come upon our friends!