Remember: Satan’s Power Is Limited

Whatever happens today, remember that as strong and as ugly as the evil one appears to be, he has limited strength and ability. Jesus Christ, ruler of our universe, has all power and authority. He is on the throne and rules all nations. You can trust this powerful Saviour to be near you and to give you all you need today to follow him.

Rev 12:1-9 “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.”  And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. “

Prayer: High King of Heaven, this strange visit fits our this world. Every news story of misery and corruption is an echo of the dragon waiting like a thief to devour all that is good and to vandalise your shalom. Thank you for the good news that evil has met its match in Jesus, and give me the patience in this day as I wait for its complete end. Amen
(Philip F. Reinders, Seeking God’s Face, p.537 – using material from Belgic Confession, Article 12)

Your Not Always Obvious Opponents

Today’s prayer:

“God of truth and light, my sworn enemies – the world, my own flesh, and the devil – are not always obvious opponents. They are shifty prowlers, usually hidden and wickedly crafty. So make me wise to their schemes but mostly alert to your grace.

In Jesus’ name, amen”

Philip Reinders, Seeking God’s Face, p.523


 

I love how this prayer recognises the presence of sworn enemies ‘in my own flesh’. Ruthlessly honest. The problem is not just ‘them’, it’s also me. As Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn observed, the dividing line between good and evil runs down the centre of every human heart.

Thankfully, God’s grace in us in Jesus is greater than the shifty prowlers in the world.

Seeking God’s Face

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Every follower of Jesus wants to be a person of prayer. That’s what Eugene Peterson suggests in the introduction to Seeking God’s Face. I think he’s right. Trouble is, few of us know where to start or what to say.

This is where Seeking God’s Face  is brilliant. It encourages a daily practice of prayer and reading by providing a structured program throughout the year.

Each daily reading has several sections:

Invitation: A brief passage of Scripture drawing the reader into a mindfulness of God’s presence.

Quiet: The reader is encouraged to be still before the Lord. Turn off. Slow down. Be quiet. “Cultivating a stilled, attentive heart before God and quieting down actual noise and internal noise is a vital step in preparing to hear God’s voice.” (p.19)

Bible Song: Each day has a Psalm to be used a prayer. These Psalms guide the reader to respond to God. It might be confession of sin, praise for His goodness, or magnifying his power. Following these Psalms will take the reader through the entire Psalter twice in the year.

Bible Reading: The readings follow the celebrations of the church year: Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost etc. The readings are for meditation: to hear the voice of God. Since we believe the best place to hear God’s voice is Scripture, this is a welcome alternative to reading what someone else has written, and to hear God’s word directly.

Quiet: The second period of quiet presents an opportunity to move to a more contemplative frame, opening ourselves to what God will say to us in his word.

Dwelling: The reader is encouraged to slowly re-read the Bible passage, listening for words and concepts that stand out as they read. This is lectio divina – listening for God’s voice and seeking to grow in our walk with him. The author acknowledges this may be new for some, but in a world where we are so used to interpreting, studying and analysing the word it is good to train ourselves simply to listen deeply.

Free Prayer: Several prayer points are noted, which are excellent prompts to broaden our prayer focus well beyond our immediate needs and personal gaze. For example: the first time I used this book it was suggested I pray for the continent of Australia. I thought that was pretty good!

Prayer: Each day has a set prayer where the living theology of the reformed confessions is enfolded into the Christian activity of prayer. One of the true benefits of this volume is that it works the faith heritage we know and love into our devotion and praise.

“If we can begin to weave these core Christian beliefs into our prayers, most likely we’ll find them trickling into our minds, embedded in our hearts, and lived out in our lives [.22]

Blessing: a final blessing closes the session, reminding us of God’s good intentions and his gracious provision.

 

Each day is conveniently arranged on a page opening, with a helpful table pointing the reader to the correct reading for each respective date.

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I love the way Seeking God’s Face opens my mind to God’s voice in his word. I love the way it slows me down. I love its depth of content. I love the way it draws me into the reformation heartbeat.

Whether you’re busy and your schedule is overgrown, or whether you’re looking for renewed opportunity to deepen your sense of God’s presence, Seeking God’s Face is just what you’re after.

As a Pastor, I can only dream about how my local church would grow and mature if every person used Seeking God’s Face for a year!

 

You can order Seeking God’s Face from Book Depository, Koorong, or direct from Faith Alive Resources

…and I should point out it’s way cheaper to buy this title through Book Depository.

Dave

Come Thirsty

How do we deepen our walk with God when we’re already maxed out with too many commitments?
I’ve just started a new series at Gateway Church called “Come Thirsty” which seeks to draw us into a closer walk with God through gaining some faith rhythms and changing some of daily habits.
Yesterday’s introductory message considered the impact of our frantic pace of life on our faith. Typical, we are so busy, so fragmented, so glued to the screen that we neither hear the voice of our soul or the voice of God any more.
And when we do connect with God, we come with a list of requests – all the things we’re asking him to do for us, rarely taking the time to love and praise him for who he is.
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If this is the typical tone of our spirituality, then might it be true that we’re only loving God for what he gives, and not for who he is?
In contrast, the Bible presents a heart warming picture of loving God for who he is, and not first and foremost for what he gives . In Ps 131 David says
“…I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131:2, NIV)
But we’re so busy, so self absorbed, that all were doing is asking and requesting. We’re not weaned at all. And here’s the thing: if we don’t slow down, we’ll never be weaned. We’ll only ever think of God as one who gives us stuff: always at the breast seeking satisfaction.
But Psalm 131 presents a picture of someone who loves God for who he is, and not merely because of what he gives. This picture may be a little troubling, because this ‘loving God for who he is’ is not often our experience.
So, in order to hear our soul’s thirst for God, our challenge for the next two weeks is this
  • Find one block of 30 minutes per week for the next two weeks
  • As you enter into that 30 min period, simply pray “Lord, reveal yourself to me anew, let me feel my own soul’s thirst for you. Open my heart, my eyes, my ears to you. Let me love you for who you are.”
  • Do nothing else during that time: no reading, no prayer, no phone (turn it off!!), no writing, no speaking. Just wait and listen to your soul.
  • After 30 mins, write down your thoughts in a journal or a notes app
  • Sometime during these next two weeks , share your experiences with a friend

 

The full text of my message can be found at SermonandStudy.com and audio is available from our iTunes feed and from our webpage

Prayer for the Week

Almighty and merciful God, by whose grace your faithful people are able to bring you true and praiseworthy service: Grant, we ask, that we may so faithfully serve you in this life that we do not fail to attain your heavenly promises through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

[adapted from ‘The Book of Common Prayer’ 1662]

Yours are the hands

Christ has

No body now on earth but yours;

No hands but yours;

Yours are the eyes

Through which is to look out

Christ’s compassion to the world;

Yours are the feet

With which he is to go about

Doing good;

Yours are the hands

With which he is to bless now.

– St. Teresa of Avila

What I am posting about lately

Just to fill you in…

I thought I would just give you an update about how the blog is working of late.

I have been following a guide for daily devotional reading: A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants (Job & Shawchuck). This great resource was recommended to me by Jack de Vries, the Mission Training Coordinator of the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia. There are readings for each day, following the basic form of

Prayer

Psalm for the week

Silence

Daily Bible Readings

Reading for reflection

Prayers for myself, the world, and others

Reflection: silent and written

Hymn or song for the week

Benediction

A few week’s ago I set myself the goal of regularly working through ‘A Guide to Prayer…’. I started recording my thoughts in a devotional journal, and after a few days I thought that I would share them with you. Perhaps the daily readings and the comment I make might also encourage you to be more regular in reading your bible and focusing your mind on the things of God.

This sort of discipline is not always easy to sustain. Well, I don’t always find it easy.

So I hope these posts help you deepen your understanding of the goodness of God and of his call on your life. As always, I encourage you to comment regularly, and engage with the subject matter.

Grace and peace,

Dave