Saturday, 28 May 2011

Why pray...

Due to the hassle with revision, late night sleepovers with my books and my dolls have been a constant occurrence; sleep, something I haven't had enough of! I usually end the day with a prayer, but lack of sleep and 'ending' the day at 2am isn't helpful when you're trying to connect with your Father in Heaven; I usually end up sleeping in the middle of my prayers, therefore, skipped praying a few times. Recently, through radio talks on 'Prayer' and books on 'Prayer', God made it very clear to me that, a lack of prayer, is a stumbling block for me on my spiritual journey...

Any good relationship fails with the lack of communication. When close friends stop talking, they soon lose touch with each other's lives, and soon their friendship becomes thin; when communication stops, so does the connection. Likewise, a book I'm currently reading, 'A Praying Life' by Paul Miller, shows how indifferent prayer is from talking to a friend. God can't wait to get involved into our lives, but He does give us a choice in life, we've got to ask Him to get involved. How will we ever know what the Lord has for us if we don't even take the time to talk? The primary and most important purpose of prayer is to help us renew our connection with it is VITAL!

In our busy world, we never seem to have time for prayer, but it is so important. Jesus tells us, "...your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."(Matthew 6) therefore, even if it is not very long, a truly heartfelt prayer is perfect for God to help you renew your relationship with Him. I sometimes feel that prayer has to be well thought out and complicated, it can be but its not the only way to pray. With the 'Lord's prayer' as an example, we can see that 'Prayer', is like a simple on-the-spot conversation with God. When we can spend hours talking to our friends each day, we certainly ought to spend some personnel time with the Best Friend we could ever have...

In Elizabeth George's study 'A Young Woman's Call To Prayer' (that I'm still working on), she encourages us to set apart a time, make a schedule and get ourselves organised...set a special place, a special time, where we and our Savior can spend some quality time together. She also reminds us that getting organised would evoke a longing in our heart, that in turn drives us to do it!

Moreover, I find that many times, my prayers are very selfish, I feel guilty and ashamed at the end - I just end up making a list! That is certainly not how we should approach prayer, although we can 'ask' we also ought to 'thank', 'apologize' and 'praise & glorify' God - He deserves all of it! Praying can help us prepare for important times in our life or give us comfort at the 'deepest valley' situations in life, but like Charles Spurgeon wrote: 'Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greatest work.' - That is so true! Thus, we are to value prayer and make sure it is not just a list of wishes and things for God to do for us but a proper 'give and take' connection and conversation; it is not something we do when we need something but, 'Prayer' is what we need! Furthermore, it is God we need in our lives so, beyond all other requests, our prayers must be centered of asking Him to enter into our hearts and renew us.

Prayer does work miracles! Many forget the power that prayer has as it starts coming out of practice and not passion; when we pray for others and ourselves the Holy Spirit can do wonders through us; prayer has immense power. It can touch hearts, blow minds, show love and heal can do a lot more! However, when we pray we ought to have faith and believe that the Lord will certainly answer but in His own time, in His own way and in accordance to His will. When prayers take long to be answered or don't get answered, it is very easy to stop believing and trusting, however, we should remember and trust that God knows what is best for us and He will certainly do it His way, but the best way!

There is still A LOT for me to learn about prayer and its vitality, my entire life time would not be enough. It is so important for us to renew our relationship with our Father and pray, so I urge you to try to do it regularly, it does make a noticeable difference in our lives - giving us peace and motivation as He is in control. We ought to remember to pray, not out of practice but, out of passion! Finally, let us also remember what Elizabeth George likes to say: 'There is no right or wrong way to pray...except not to pray'.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

During these exams I've learnt a few vital things that I always overlook. I feel that these four points are some of the keys to maintaining a strong relationship with God...

  1. His ways are not our own - God has His own way of working things out; just because He doesn't work the way we want Him to, it doesn't mean that He is going to do nothing. During my English and Music exams, I prayed for two sections to come up because I was confident about them...but, they were the two that failed to turn up in the entire paper! I was so frustrated! I guess at one point, I was slightly angry with God, for not working my way. My frustration blinded my eyes and I failed to see God's amazing, gracious hand at work - although, I wanted two other topics to come, what was remarkable is that, God helped me remember points for the questions that did turn up. Although He doesn't work my way, His way was certainly the best as, at that minute in the exam, I could not recall anything from the topics I wished for!
  2. He's not going to let us down - Jeremiah 29:11 - 'For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' This verse always strengthens when I am filled with stress and anxiety about a wrong answer or something I missed. It reminds me that my life is in God's hands, which I am very grateful for. No matter what happens to me, I can rest in peace that He only does what is best for me. Although at times life seems totally unfair and miserable, I know its hard to, but we've got to trust that He knows the way and that He'll carry us through. We have a choice: we can let worry and anxiety reign inside us and be filled with sorrow, or we can rest in God's peace joyfully, trusting Him to straighten the path.
  3. Never lose faith and hope - Like John 14:14 says, when we ask God for anything in His name, He will do it. However, He will not give you everything you ask for. He will answer you in His way, in His time, if it is His will for you - unlike us, God is omniscient, He knows the end result, therefore He does what He knows will strengthen us and bring us closer to Him. We've got to trust Him and have complete faith in Him no matter how bleak the path ahead looks.
  4. Give Him all the glory - Ever so often, when we reach the place that we've aimed to reach, or when life brightens up on us, the euphoria of the situation can push us to forget the root of our success, unfortunately, I do it a lot. Proverbs 21:31 says: 'The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.' When He showers His love on us and brings us to this peak in our life, we've got to remember to humbly accept that we are not at the root of it, it is God who works; we have got to give Him the glory, just like John outlines in Revelation 4.
These four key points that I have learnt, all intertwine and work together to build up one thing - my relationship with my Father. Although they seem easy to do or obvious, I struggle with them most of the time because they're so easy to forget. However, we can always call on God to help us nurture and practice these in our lives.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Abhorrence to Appreciation

An abhorrent sight I see,
with trials, temptations and grief.
Disorderly due to my sins
and a pain that doesn't ease.

I turned to liars a many
to satisfy a soul so weak,
but in none I found a remedy
and none who'll hold me near.

My sin had become so heavy
I slipped farther behind than all
As I carried my burden heavy
I pretended I was well to all

Suddenly a sight shook me
up on a mountain top,
t'was a bright light from a wooden tree
that brightened the world so dark

A Man hanging from that tree
blood gushing down His face
His misery however, lifted
my burden one by one

As they took His body away
and placed it in a tomb
my grief grew so much 'cause
I knew He didn't deserve it at all

But three days later he arose
beating death once and for all
my sins and burdens he carried away
carried away so far

Now I rejoice in the love He showed
even to a sinner like me,
who hardly deserved what He did
hanging on that tree.

My grief, pain, tears have gone
by Your sacrifice alone
no one else could do the same
only Your grace and love.

Savior, You are Lord to all
help me to always see
that it is not me who lives
but you who lives in me.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Exams - I love them!

I love exams. Although stress heavily builds up and I feel I've got to cry, I still love them! As they're very near, I am going to cut off all distractions (including the internet - except for research), that is not fun, but I still love them. The reason why is because, they make you stronger; they prepare you for what is to come in life. Without these, we will not be able to learn and test ourselves to make sure we'll be able to handle whatever comes our way.
Likewise, spiritual exams are designed for the same reason; in fact, they're a lot more important. God will constantly test us to make us stronger, to help us learn and to prepare us for His kingdom. James unravels this beautifully:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1)

Just like I will have to face my exams, we will have to face trials in life, wait a minute, we'll have to face them WITH joy! Why joy? We know for certain that what these trials will produce will be worth it, we will not only be strengthened in our faith but also in our relationship with our Savior. 
Many people think that a Christian life is 'worry-free', but actually it is harder than that. James doesn't say 'if you face', he says 'whenever you face' - there is certainty; it is a definite statement. Although it is hard, God offers a way out:

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  (James 1)

'Ask and it shall be given to you' - God will not by any means bombard us with too much to handle, he knows just the right amount that'll help us. Even then, if we do find it difficult, it is comforting that we can always ask Him and He will answer.

Pondering on this thought, I wish to face my exams. Although life would be a lot easier without them, I feel its vital they're there to help us grow. 'The horse is made ready for the battle but victory rests with the Lord.' (Proverbs 21:31) With this in mind, let us face our trials and our exams with joy and peace.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Those Pesky Weeds...

The greatest threat that I face each day is my pride... It is so great that it is almost tangible; it keeps growing. My pride is not something that causes 'big-headedness', it affects my relationship with my loving Savior.
Pride may be a short word, but the effects it leaves are certainly not short... Ignorance, Doubtfulness and Disbelief are all closely associated with pride. Once pride conceives inside us, it gives birth to these horrendous triplets. A prideful heart is too haughty to admit its inability to fathom all the mysteries of life and of the Bible; it is too prideful to realize that its understanding is finite. Pride is like a weed in a beautiful garden, although it doesn't belong there, it is very hard to eradicate it, when it grows it causes detriment to the growth of the plants around it. Our prideful hearts can be the foundation to our sinfulness, it is what that causes us to be so vulnerable to the distortions of the world, it is what leads us astray.
Our spiritual growth is vital. The fig tree that didn't bear its fruit was destroyed...our faith ought to bring forth some fruit. Whatever inhibits our faith from growing into a fruitful tree must first be identified. In my case it was that underlined pride, but there can be other causes too: a short temper, doubtful heart, sinful thoughts .etc. As Paul says in Acts, my dearest, please be watchful. When we do find this weakness we have got to get rid of it.
However, the plant cannot eradicate the weed, we need a 'Weed killer' - Call on Jesus...He will not only take away the weed but also unearth its roots - I know that He is the best and only Spiritual Weed Killer ever! His word has the ingredients and instructions to formulate the perfect weed killing recipe; all we've got to do is faithfully search and seek Him alone. Lets get rid of those pesky weeds!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Christocentric Word - Steps to Salvation

Genesis 3 - This remarkable chapter was the subject of the teaching by Pastor Derek Sewell during the communion service today. As we unravel another Biblical truth we realize just how much we still have to learn about our Savior.
Genesis 3 does talk about 'THE FALL' - You may wonder why I labelled it as 'Christocentric'...I did too!
Although it reminds us that we are the fallen race, this chapter lays out the 'Steps to Salvation' very clearly, even in the beginning. This certainly directs my thoughts to the Calvary!

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. - This verse outlines the cause of the fall...the cause of our falls! A doubt is planted in our mind and the enemy attacks our very foundation - the trust and belief we have in God! This causes us to wander away and thus stray from His unfailing Love.

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. - This verse blatantly depicts the consequence of the conception of that doubt. We are drawn to sin humanly, we love it, we find it alluring, we want to do it and the doubt doesn't help. The doubt in fact provokes us to act on the evil thought and commit the sin; we disobey His commands.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. - This verse proves and accentuates the fact that we all have a conscience. When we do something wrong i.e. commit a sin, our heart is aware. Although we fail to admit it or even dismiss the idea, the fact is that each and every one of us knows that something is missing or that something is not quite right. Therefore, we begin sewing fig leaves; we hide inside our own fake lives trying to cover up our sins, mistakes and shameful deeds.

9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” - These two verses are astounding. It first made me wonder why is an Omniscient God asking where man was?! Then it struck...We ought to confess our sins - THAT IS THE FIRST STEP TO BEING SAVED! We ought to recognize the fact that we are a sinner and confess with our own mouth to the Lord that we have wronged Him. That is what Gos was trying to get them to do...infact, I feel that Moses was inspired to add this subtle detail to teach us to confess.

Following on, we see the blame game which we all do most of the time...but that is a 'NO NO' in the Steps to Salvation.

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. - This is the most compelling verse in this chapter. This verse reminds us of the ultimate consequence of our sins - DEATH...not just mortal death but spiritual DEATH, doom in hell! However, it beautifully unveils the alternative, an animal was shed in their place to cover up the shame of their sin - Just like Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins, His blood was shed to clothe us with righteousness - NOT because we deserve it, we really don't - because He loves us so much that He cannot watch us suffer through eternity!

Isn't it mind blowing to know that even in the beginning, God planned to save us from our sins because He knew that we would wander off. So what are the key steps to Salvation?
With this passage in mind and Romans 10:9  - 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved....
We see that we ought to...

  1. Recognize that we are sinners
  2. Confess our sins to the Lord instead of hiding them
  3. Believe that He is Lord and that He died for our sins
  4. Seek to obey Him
...Then we certainly WILL be saved.

My dearest, I urge you, if you haven't already accepted the Savior as your Lord, to do so immediately. He lives, He really does, ask Him to speak to you and show you. The painful truth is that anyone, anyone who doesn't believe in the Lord Jesus and believe that He died for their sins, and accept His sacrifice is on  their way to hell. Please my friend, do not make that painful mistake, He loves you and is waiting for you!