I’ve always struggled with self-discipline when it comes to reading the bible regularly or having a consistent prayer life. I’ve tried numerous different methods over the year but the only constant seems to be me failing to stick with them.
Recently I purchased a copy of Daily Bread. This is a Scripture Union UK publication that contains a short passage from the bible and a short study guide to match. It starts and ends with prayer points and ‘think it through’ exercises which try to make the bible verses relevant to the reader.
It generally takes me 5-10 minutes to do and has been a real encouragement – it is not hard to get into or burdensome on my time, but gives me a daily reminder of what God has done for me and helps me to focus on something other than my own troubles.
Each reading is also available online at Daily Bread UK and to give you an idea of what each study is like, I’ve pasted the one from October 24. It is exactly the same thing in a printed book (that lasts 3 months) that you can purchase here in Australia for $7.95. Be warned, the website is pretty awkward and wants to use pop ups.
I’ve not tried the Matthias studies but I imagine they would be just as helpful to many people. But as Joel said tonight, everyone is different and whatever works for you and helps you be consistent in your study and prayer life is worth doing.
Tuesday 24 October 2006
Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 42,43; John 16
… and a time to be bold
Say the ‘Jesus prayer’ to quieten your heart and to help you be open to God: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.’
Acts 26:1–18 (NLT)
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.”
So Paul, with a gesture of his hand, started his defense: 2 “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3 for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
4 “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. 6 Now I am on trial because I am looking forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. 7 In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, O king, they say it is wrong for me to have this hope! 8 Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to get them to curse Christ. I was so violently opposed to them that I even hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.
12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to fight against my will.’
15 “ ‘Who are you, sir?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now stand up! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about this experience and about other times I will appear to you. 17 And I will protect you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles, 18 to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’
‘This King Agrippa was the son of King Herod who persecuted the church in chapter 12, and the great-grandson of the King Herod who tried to kill Jesus as a baby. So his family hadn’t been exactly friendly towards the Christian faith. But that didn’t stop Paul! What did Festus want Paul to explain (25:26)? And what did Paul talk about? Paul holds nothing back from Agrippa – what he used to be like (vs 4,5,9), how he met Jesus (vs 13,14), his calling from God (vs 16–18), the power of the gospel to transform people’s lives. It’s a great story, and if you didn’t have an obviously dramatic conversion yourself, your story might seem tame by comparison. But which is more important – hearing about exciting events, or hearing about the one who is able to bring about such a transformation? Paul is clear that it is Jesus who has made the difference to his life (v 15). Can you share that same confidence even though your story will be different?’
‘What could you say about your life if you followed the same pattern for your witness as Paul did here? Ask God to make you as bold as Paul in sharing your testimony, and to give you an opportunity this week to do so.’