Friday, 29 October 2010

Being specific - Ten of One Thousand

Whilst it is true that followers of Jesus are to have an attitude of thankfulness in "all circumstances", there is a danger that our thankfulness becomes too general and not focussed. Once our prayers lose focus the next step is to ask ourselves, "Is there any point or need to pray that, or something similar again? God has already heard my request and I know he already wills that that it be so, so there is no need to keep waffling about it."
To put it another way, it is hard (although not impossible) to be diligent about something which we can't relate to a specific purpose. Surely this is one of the first subtle barriers to praying "without ceasing". If we accept that it is already hard enough to be persevering in prayer, any steps we can take to aid us should be adopted with enthusiasm.

The other danger is that our thanks are quite specific but only relate to our own particular situation. We are to be thankful for good gifts which benefit others too.
The Bible gives us specific things for which to be thankful, so let's use them to aid us in persevering prayer which also includes a worldwide view.

Here is one:
Thank God for the faith seen in other believers and for their love for one another. We see this prayer offered in several of the letters of the New Testament. Who have I heard of recently for whom this is true - both at home or in the worldwide church?

And so ten more of one thousand:

31. for the women in our study group who are growing in faith and hunger for the truth and their genuine love and service for one another
32. for the faithful teaching and prayers of the one who rallies us each week
33. for a couple recently married who are battling circumstances to keep on showing love in a difficult situation
34. for the evidence of faith and love at the Lausanne Congress a few weeks ago
35. for a son getting better after many bouts of sickness in the night
36. for snatched moments of sleep inbetween changing sheets and pyjamas
37. for a servant hearted husband who was so helpful with the above
38. for a sister's birthday and the fun she enjoyed with friends
39. for the visit of my little sister and time for the children to enjoy their Auntie's company
40. for the gift of grace which means we can enjoy these simple pleasures

holy experience

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Ten of One Thousand

21. For the Lausanne Congress and the encouragement it has brought to so many
22. For truth that teaches us how to do the right thing (Titus 1:1)
23. For the cousins from Bangalore
24. For the smooth running of our globalink site and the opportunity to pray for the worldwide church
25. For the good that can come from information technology
25. For a daughter who loves to listen to stories
26. For a son who loves to help as only two-year-olds can
27. For a little sister coming up to stay this week
28. For the privilege of free medical treatment
29. For the beauty of Autumn
30. For Hope for a broken world and broken people

"Sing a new song to the LORD for he has done marvellous deeds."
(The Bible, Psalm 98 v 1)

holy experience

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Overflowing - Another Ten of One Thousand

What if thankfulness were the first evidence of a life lived in an orientation of faith towards our Creator?

I say first, not just in the sense of the beginning but also in the sense of the primary evidence.

If we think about it logically, it is the first right response to the beauty and magnitude of creation itself - not simply to wonder at what we see, but to be moved to give thanks for it - even in the earliest stages of wondering to whom it is we speak. I once read about someone whose first encounter with God was a conscious decision to say thank you for something every day. Once formed, the habit became a lifestyle. The first meeting became a friendship. Thanksgiving is the natural response to a true understanding of God as creator, therefore it is the beginning of worship.

But is it not also the characteristic of one much further down that journey - the one who knows the God to whom they speak and who lives in relationship with Him? If I think of the believers I know who have most influenced me for good in their life's example, I find it's true that they are also the ones who live in an attitude of thankfulness. Cynicism is not a trait for which they are known. They say thank you both with their words and their lives poured out in generosity and service to others. Thansgiving (in word and deed) is the natural response to a true understanding of grace, therefore it is the essence of worship.

"And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your LORD, you must continue to follow him. Ley your roots grow down into him and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness."
(The Bible, Col 2:6-7)

And so ten more of one thousand:

11. for creation which speaks to us
12. for truth which is unchanging
13. for a place to go to study this truth and the leader who teaches us so well
14. for grapes, grapes and more grapes!
15. for time spent with a sister and 2 lovely nieces who now live far away
16. for the hospitality of another sister living not so far away
17. for my baby sister who is always there and ready to help with grape recipes!
18. for a husband who is always so willing to serve
19. for those standing up for truth despite hostility
20. for a reminder to keep on praying and not give up

holy experience