Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
There is no better way to start your day than by having a ‘quiet time’ with God – and let our gracious God set the pace and the agenda for our day. It was the Perth City Mission Superintendent who introduced me to a “Quiet Time” - and the Latin/Greek teacher, leading Scripture Union on Friday mornings, who encouraged it.
People do not call it a ‘quiet time’ for nothing.
If God did not want to talk with you, He would not have given us the Bible. If God did not want us to talk with Him, He would not have given us the desire to pray.
Even with what appears to be months of ‘slow down’ we are still being encouraged to ‘slow down’. It is obvious – but sometimes the obvious things are not so obvious.
Matthew 11verses 28,29 from the ‘Message’ - “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Work and Rest – it became one of the themes we learned at Crieff many years ago.
We have to SLOW DOWN to read God’s Word - “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realise what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
2Timothy 3verse 16 .
These are words for life – words of love – words of light – words of comfort – words of encouragement – words of reassurance – and these words can change our lives from the inside out. God gives us His word and we respond in all kinds of ways.
God can meet you in any book of the Bible – on any page – from any Chapter – as we take time to slow down and read part of His Holy Word.
One friend said he was going to read through the whole Bible in one year – from the book of Genesis to the book of MAPS! Very few people can keep that up and get through it in one year – and they can become guilty.
Bible reading and prayer are not two separate activities. They are two parts of a conversation. You find a quiet place – and you read – and you talk to HIM.
Matthew 6 verse 6 - again, from the ‘Message’ – “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”
Keep prayers simple – “Lord, here I am – I want to hear from You – will You speak to me – open my eyes – open my ears – open my mind – speak to me.”
Read for DEPTH not for DISTANCE. It is not a race – it is more an exploration.
“But the man who looks intently (SLOWLY) into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard , but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1verse 25 .
If you want to be blessed this is how to read God’s Word. This is what Bible Meditation is all about – mulling it over in our mind.
You cannot meditate upon Scripture quickly – you cannot look intently in a hurry – there is a difference between a deep gaze and a quick glance.
Psalm 119 verse 11 - “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Reading the Bible keeps you from sinning. The Word goes deep within us, and this begins to change how we act and live and behave.
SLOW DOWN TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE – What is in this for me?
Isaiah 50 verse 4 – “He awakens me morning by morning, he awakens my ear to listen as a disciple.”
Of course, this can apply to any time of the day – It does not necessarily have to be in the morning – but we do have to guard our time – and set aside some time during the day.
When God speaks to us it is seldom like a PUSH – it is more like a PULL. –
He pulls us – He draws us to come closer. He calls us to come closer to HIM.
Come on Moses, you can do this – lead My people out of Egypt.
Come on Mary, you can do this – My people need a Saviour.
Come on Peter – step out of the boat – come to me - I am calling you.
God speaks to us through his WORD.
Hebrews 4verse 12 – “The Word of God is alive and active. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
God speaks through His Creation – the mountains – the water – the stars – the colours and patterns – the singing of the birds of the air.
Romans 1verses 19 to 20 is written to believers in Christ - “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse”
God speaks through His still small voice – think of Elijah.
1Kings 19 verses 11,12 “. . . And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” God did not show up that day in a spectacular way – He spoke in a still small voice – a whisper.
God came into Elijah’s cave – God was so close in that cave that all He had to do was whisper.
God is not afraid to come into our cave – He is willing to come and speak to us about our fear – our anxiety – our pain – our disappointment – our addictions – our temper – our deepest need.
Emmanuel – God with us . Remember - that is one of the profound messages regarding Jesus Christ coming into our world.
SLOW DOWN TO RESPOND IN PRAYER -
Psalm 5 verses 1,2 - “Give ear to my words , O Lord, consider my sighing . Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.”
Three different ways of praying in two verses – words – sighing – crying.
Our ultimate objective and goal is not to study about Jesus Christ - but to spend time with Him.
RELAX – slow down – be still – open you heart even before you might open your Bible.
READ - Psalm 119 verse 18 - “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”
We are reading for depth – not distance. There is a lot to see as well as learn.
REFLECT – Think about what you have read – ponder - Psalm 119 verse 97 - “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”
Luke 2verse 19 – “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
It can be most helpful too to write things down – it can turn the grey into black and white – and it gives a record of what you have read or learned – or where you have been in God’s Word.
Pray - We then can bring matters that may be concerning us that day.
1John 5 verse 14 - “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
I heard this a few years ago – “Some may be concerned that they fall asleep when praying – if you do, do not worry – no father ever became angry if a child fell asleep in his arms.”
Slow down – relax – read the Scriptures – consider what you have read – meditate and ponder – and pray, with thanksgiving.
“Loving gracious Father – help me to put much of the above into practice – help me to hear what You are saying and teaching through the Scriptures – hear my praying. Strengthen me – uphold me when I find life challenging and tough – fill me with Your love. Holy Spirit, lead me and guide me and keep me serving – in Jesus Name. Amen”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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