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God’s invitation has always been for us to draw close to Him.  We see right from creation, in the garden of Eden that in the cool of the evening that God would walk in the garden with Adam and Eve

Time and time again through the OT we see the invitation to draw near to God.

Enoch walked with God right into heaven in genesis 5

Abraham was called to follow God in Genesis 10 to a new land that God would show Him, and on the way he built altars as physical representations that God was there.

Jacob dreamed of a stairway to heaven in Genesis 28.

Moses encountered God in a burning bush and was invited up onto mt Sinai into the visible presence of God.  He also built a tent of meeting – a place he regularly went to pray where a physical cloud of God’s presence would come down in Exodus 33.

God called Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 in a time when hearing from God was incredibly rare, so rare that Samuel, a young child at the time, didn’t know who it was.  He was the first in a line of prophets who God sent to call His people home.

In Jeremiah it says several times Time and time again I have sent you all My servants the prophets, proclaiming: ‘Turn now, each of you from his evil way of life, and correct your actions. Do not go after other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I have given to you and your fathers.’ But you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me. Jeremiah 35:15

David – the greatest king of Israel, a man after God’s heart, shepherd, giant slayer, song writer communicates through the psalms the invitation of God and that we are created to worshp and draw near.   In Psalm 27:8 he writes When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”

 

I grew up going to the catholic church, where it was more of a Sunday thing and a set of rules.  God seemed far far away on a cloud somewhere and wasn’t relevant to real life.  I didn’t think much about God between Sundays and if I did it was more about if I had been good enough or how many hail marys would that cost me at confession at easter time.   I never thought of God in the context of relationship or friendship.

It wasn’t until I was about 16 that I began to wonder if there was more to life, more to me and more to God.    The very first time I went to youth group my whole grid on God was shaken as I heard someone pray and I just knew he knew God and that God was real and that I could know Him too, in fact I knew I MUST know Him.  I had no idea what that looked like but that sense of I MUST KNOW GOD was so strong and real.  I went to their easter camp and on the Saturday afternoon the speaker said go find a space by yourself and talk to God.  I found a space by myself under a big tree and cried and cried because I knew I wasn’t good enough to talk to God, or go to heaven.  That night the speaker told us about jesus and how He made the way for us to come close to God and I went forward and gave my life to Jesus.   God had been drawing me and it wasn’t about how good I could be, He had made the way through the death of Jesus and my part to play was to say yes to His invitation.

It’s almost a chicken and the egg scenario… what came first… God invites us to draw near, we draw near, He draws near, He invites us to draw near, we respond and draw near, He draws near, He invites, we respond, He draws near.

The good news is that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done – God invites us to come close, to be His friend, to be His child.

Romans 5:8 says But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

 

So how do we do it?  How do we draw near to God?

We see in Matthew 6 that Jesus gave His disciples guidelines on how to make this real in their lives.  He says

But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you [c]openly.

 

We can see keys in this verse that will help us develop a lifestyle of prayer and seeking God.

 

On Purpose – one of the key words in this passage is when.  We need to have a when.  We need to schedule our times with God and make it an on purpose regular commitment to carve out time with Him.   Our lives get so busy and filled up with work, extra curricular activities, people, families and I know that unless I have made it a regular rhythm to spend time with God it gets to the end of the day and its like ooops, hey God thanks for a great day you’re awesome snore snore snore….

The key is to find what time works for you.  Some people are morning people and delight in spending time with God in the morning.  Some people are NOT morning people but find that giving God that time as a sacrifice sets them up for the day.  Others do lunch with God and find time in their breaks to read the bible.  Some listen to the audio bible or a podcast on their commute to and from work, making their car a holy place.  Though once I have been having a worship time with God in the car and literally had to pull over because I burst into tears and was overcome by His presence!!!   I am a in the night hours person and have my reading time at night because that works for me and is a way of ending my day with God’s words filling my heart and mind.  Find what works for you and then in the immortal words of nike, just do it.  Do it on purpose and be intentional about it.

 

Place – Jesus instructed his disciples to go into their room, shut the door and spend time with God.   The idea is to have a meeting place, just like Moses did with his tent of meeting where he would go and meet with God face to face as friends.  There is something about having a room, or a chair or a place where you go and meet with God.   In the movie War Room the women turned their walk in wardrobes into prayer closets and created an intentional space to spend time with God.  It gives it the sense of this is my God meeting space, when I come here, when I sit in this chair or this room, I meet with God.

Susanna Wesley was a mother of nineteen children who recognized her need for quiet being with God. (No small feat when you have nineteen children and no netflix, movies, iphones or ipads ) To ensure she had quiet time, she would put her big hoop skirt over her head to create a private sanctuary. She trained her children not to interrupt her if they saw her with her skirt over her head!

 

Personal – each of us are wired in unique ways – to live and to connect with God.  How you pray and worship will look different from the person next to you.  There are so many creative ways to spend time with God and there is no one right way.  Prayer doesn’t have to be kneeling beside your bed with your hands clasped – unless that works for you!

In our high school girls connect group we’ve been doing Youth Alpha and one of the sessions was on prayer, followed the week later by a session on the bible.  Over those two nights we talked about the different ways that we pray and read the bible.  Some of them journal, write out prayers, draw prayers, do word studies, follow youversion bible plans, dance, lie on the floor, sing out loud, meditate, memorize… you get the picture.  Paul Saunders shared how he likes to go for walks and over the course of his walking God would show him some random object or thing outside and speak to him, like object lessons.

 

Persevere – I remember the first time I felt God in my bedroom – it was a completely unexpected moment – I knew that God was at church and at camp but that God in such a tangible way would be in my bedroom blew my mind.  I was just sitting in my bean bag, so you know, not on my knees with my hands clasped – I seriously really knew nothing when I became a Christian! – listening to some worship music a friend had given me.  All of a sudden it was like I felt an incredible peace and joy and love and all the things I had felt when I gave my life to Jesus.  I jumped up and jumped around and danced because I was just so happy.  My parents actually asked what was going on – I think because the music sounded um, joyful instead of um, more metal which had been my genre of choice.

But its not always like that.  Sometimes I’ll pray and worship and have that awareness of God’s presence, that peace and sense of Him that I’ve grown to recognise as God, but other times its like me talking to you right now in conversation.   Sometimes words jump off the pages, okay, I confess, the screen of my bible, like it was written just for me and other times  its more like just reading.  But I know that Jesus said that when I draw near to God, He draws near to me and rewards me for seeking Him.   I think that is why God uses the word SEEK.

Firstly as children of God and in fact as human beings God is always with us, in the sense that God is omnipresent and therefore always near everything and everyone. He holds everything in being. His power is ever-present in sustaining and governing all things.

But there is that shift when we consciously fix or focus our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God, when we turn aside from everything around us and the distractions of the world and life to focus on God and God alone.

(1 Chronicles 22:19)  “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.”

Jeremiah 29:13 says You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The passion translation says: Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door.

We have to preserve in spending time with God.  Though we may not feel it every time we read the bible, pray and worship it is having a positive effect on our spirit and our life.  Time with God is never wasted.  Often what we store up in the silence comes back to us in the storm and we find that the things we have read in the past comes back to us at the exact right time we need it.

Every time we draw near to God, He draws near to us.

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photo-1434030216411-0b793f4b4173God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

Psalm 18:20-24 MSG

 

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I am LOVING this book by @andrewbergh!!!! I’m being good and reading it day by day as andrew instructs and love the gold revealed each day, that makes the Word come alive.  This is the best book I’ve read about HOW to read the Word and WHY it’s so worthwhile.  I think every new Christian should read it to get a solid foundation in developing a friendship with God, and every older Christian should read it to get a fresh sense of wow.  This book could revitalize your walk with God.

And it’s Free! Like seriously!  Get it from here http://bit.ly/tilbook
http://www.liveinspired.space/start

From the website: This book will not only help fix this but it will encourage you on a practical day to day plan to live inspired by God’s Word. I’d like to encourage you to start the 21-day inspired life project outlined in this book. I believe it’ll be an incredible investment of your time to either empower you or encourage you to get God’s Word from your head to your heart, every day for yourself!

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We live in a world where everyone seems to be given a label.
In a social media rich world we can define ourselves by likes, followers and comments.  We find our worth in what others say about who we are, based often on a highlight reel, manufactured viewpoint.
Our own self perception can be flawed too, affected by the voices of our past and our failings, shaped often by quickly spoken reactions of people that hold important roles in our lives.
But who are we really?  How do we know what voice to listen to?
The most important voice to listen to is that of God.  Our creator.  Who sees ALL and knows ALL, and loves us in the midst of everything we are.
We all need reminders of what He says….

1.       I am fully forgiven and free from all shame and condemnation (Romans 8:1-2, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1 John 1:9).

 

2.       I act in audacious faith to change the world in my generation (Joshua 10:12-14, John 14:12).

 

3.       I overcome my fear and anxiety; I trust in the Lord with all my heart. God is with me (Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Peter 5:7, Isaiah 41:10)

 

4.       I am able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life (Exodus 3:9-12; Psalm 57:2, Colossians 1:24-29).

 

5.       I am fully resourced to do everything God has called me to do (Deuteronomy 8:18, Luke 6:38, Philippians 4:13).

 

6.       I have no insecurity, because I see myself the way God sees me (Genesis 1:26-27, Psalm 139:13-16, Ephesians 5:25-27).

 

7.       I am (or will be) a faithful spouse and a godly parent- our family is blessed (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Ephesians 5:25-27, Colossians 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1-7).

 

8.       I am completely whole- physically, mentally, and emotionally (Psalm 103:1-5; Matthew 8:16-17, 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:24).

 

9.       I am increasing in influence and favor for the kingdom of God (Genesis 45:4-8, 1 Samuel 2:26; Acts 2:37-47).

 

10.   I am enabled to walk in the sacrificial love of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, 1 John 3:16, 4:9-12).

 

11.   I have the wisdom of the Lord concerning every decision I make (2 Chronicles 1:7-12; Proverbs2:6, Ecclesiastes 2:26; James 1:5).

 

12.   I am protected from all harm and evil in Jesus’ name (Genesis 50:20; Psalm 3:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:2-3).

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7 Arrows for Bible Reading – Gospel Coalition

The seven arrows of Bible reading were an attempt at developing a tool for proper hermeneutics to power these relationships. We did not want our people to simply talk about the Bible. We wanted them to understand the Bible and know how to apply it to their lives. Each cluster would read a predetermined passage of Scripture and discuss it using these seven arrows.

The goal was for the clusters to start by summarizing the main point of the passage as succinctly as possible, ideally in one sentence.

5 Things Your Habits Say About You – Relevant

Behavioural therapists and others who study human behaviour will tell you there’s only one difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. “It’s all about their habits,” they say.

1. They reveal what you value least—and most.
2. They reveal where you spend your time.
3. They reveal the state of your mental health.
4. They reveal the state of your spiritual health.
5. They reveal the state of your physical health.

EVERYONE IN YOUR LIFE WANTS ONE THING FROM YOU by John Michael Morgan

No one ever talks about it but it’s there. Intensely burning within every person on the planet regardless of their age, sex, race, status, or job. Everyone wants it and they want it from you.

I’m talking about RECOGNITION.

Everyone wants to be recognized and acknowledged. This is why a simple smile, making eye contact, or just saying “hello” to a passing stranger matters. It matters because it matters to them!

Because of this desire we all have, you can motivate and influence those around you by simply giving someone recognition. When someone feels acceptance, recognition, and appreciation from you they are more likely to support you, help you, or anything else that you’d like them to do.

Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage by John Piper

Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples is a new ebook from Desiring God aimed at aiding couples – whether dating and considering marriage, or engaged and preparing for marriage – to get to know each other better in some of life’s most significant matters, and be more fit to discern God’s leading for their lives.

Along with the questions contained in this blog post, we’ve packaged three additional resources from John Piper in hopes of enriching such important preparation.

Lifestyle

  • Own a home or not? Why?
  • What kind of neighborhood? Why?
  • How many cars? New? Used?
  • View of money in general. How much to the church?
  • How do you make money decisions?
  • Where will you buy clothes: Department store? Thrift store? In between? Why?

Don’t You Want Your Daughters to be in Love on their Wedding Day? by Gary Thomas

If the main reason you’re getting married is because you’re “in love,” what happens when the infatuation fades and you don’t feel that same “in love”? What’s going to keep you in the marriage then?

Here are some of my favourite (aka inspiring, informative, challenging and relevant!) reads from around the net this week:

who do you want to be

Evangelizing to People Who Have Heard it All Before

5 ways to share your faith without shoving it down people’s throats.

Within a society where people know the gist of what Christianity teaches but words such as “converts,” “evangelism” and “proselytize” are increasingly associated with religious zealots, abusive cults and violent terrorism, it’s becoming more difficult to communicate faith-based ideas without being offensive or perceived as a close-minded bigot.

Historically, evangelism has sometimes been used as a weapon to hurt, shame, guilt and induce fear. Its longtime associations with obnoxious street preachers, sleazy televangelists and corrupt organizations make it even less appealing to the public—and to Christians themselves.

7 Ways to Become An Indispensable Youth Leader – Pastors.com

It has been said that “nobody is indispensable” and, to a degree, that is a true statement. But I can tell you that, as a former pastor and current leader of a youth ministry organization (with 20+ employees), there are certain staff losses that hit the church or ministry harder than others. Losing these kinds of employees leaves a bigger hole in the ministry because they have made themselves more and more indispensable through working harder, smarter and longer.

This brand of youth leader is the last to get cut when finances go south in a church. Indispensable staff members (no matter what their position) have worked hard in the good times so it makes them almost impossible to let go in the bad times. And firing? Forget it! Unless there is some moral issue, you find a way to keep these employees happy. Why? Because they are working hard and producing results!

The Issue Is Never The Issue – Going To The Source

It’s only until we’ve allowed God to take His place in our hearts and lives that we can then look past the complaints from/about each other, or the lack of connection – all the little, daily issues we face being married.

We can’t look to our marriage/spouse to fulfill or complete us – they were not designed to be our “salvation.” Christ is the only way.

When our security is in the Lord, through spending devoted, undistracted, daily time with Him – only then can we truly love our spouse, and be loved by them.

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible : A few simple habits to build into your Bible reading

Amid the hours of serious Bible study, I treasured this advice. Sometimes, we read to study and understand and wrestle with the truth. But sometimes, we read to make our hearts happy. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” for “your words are sweeter to me than honey.”

“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” – John Stott

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“Complaining about a silent God while your Bible is closed, is like complaining about not getting texts when your phone is turned off!”  James Goll

LOVED this (How To Read The Whole Bible In 2015) that i read from The Gospel Coalition last night on how to read the Bible in a year, and also how to dig deeper and more meditatively.

I personally read the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan—read through the OT once and the NT and Psalms twice, and have done so as a personal rhythm for the past 5-7 years.  Each year I switch it up by changing what version I read it in.  Currently I’m reading the AMP version.

The Gospel Coalition article has some fantastic links to Bible Plans and extended reading and a fabulous breakdown of the themes of the Bible.

bible hand really good

Do you want to read the whole Bible this year?

The average person reads 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year.

(For those who like details, there’s a webpage devoted to how long it takes to read each book of the Bible. And if you want a simple handout that has every Bible book with a place to put a check next to every chapter, go here.)

Audio Bibles are usually about 75 hours long, so you can listen to it in just over 12 minutes a day.

But the point is not merely to read the whole thing to say you’ve done it or to check it off a list. The Bible itself never commands that we read the Bible through in a year. What it commends is knowing the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and meditating or storing or ruminating upon God’s self-disclosure to us in written form (Deut. 6:7; 32:46; Ps. 119:11, 15, 23, 93, 99; 143:5). Read the rest of this entry »

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