Evangelical Magazine https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com A bimonthly print magazine, published by the Evangelical Movement of Wales Fri, 17 Jan 2020 11:53:26 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 The valley of vision https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/the-valley-of-vision/ Thu, 20 Feb 2020 18:00:53 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2771 ‘Nah!’ is a word I’ve been hearing more in our house recently. I think it’s teenage-speak for ‘that’s ludicrous, pointless, irrelevant, wrong.’ And I have to make a confession. A good few years ago now, a friend gave me a bag full of old books. As I explored the collection, some caught my eye. There was an old set of the Treasury of David by Spurgeon. ‘That will look amazing on my bookshelf,’ I thought. One book, The Valley of Vision, made me think, ‘Nah.’ Pointless. Irrelevant. Old. Yes, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover and all that. I did.

Everyone knows that the Puritans were a rather stern bunch who took everything so seriously. Who would ban mince pies after all? And the cover of this book simply confirmed all of my worst suspicions. And yet, as I eventually opened The Valley of Vision, the more I read, the more I realised that while the Puritans were serious men and women, they were deeply serious about joy.

If you’ve never opened up this book, it is a collection of rich, deep, honest and humble prayers. Honestly, I don’t think any other book has taught me to pray ‘your Kingdom come,’ quite like this one. And as I read it for the first time, one particular prayer caught my eye. It was all about joy.

What is Christian joy?

The first line started to unpick everything I knew about joy.

All thy ways of mercy tend to and end in my delight.’

Surrounded by theologies that teach a warped version of Christianity, one in which God intends us to be happy because of good health, financial success, nice cars and so on, we are tempted to shy away from saying ‘the chief end of mercy is our delight.’ It somehow sounds superficial and self-centred. Does God really want me to be happy?

The Puritans think so. In fact, their prayers are continually filled with joy. Not of a shallow and fleeting kind, but one rooted deeply in the soil of God’s grace. A soul-filling, God-glorifying happiness. As I read these words for the first time, I found my own joy to be lacking.

‘Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy.’

Could it really be that God had shown mercy to me, loved me when I was his enemy, and was now sanctifying me all that I might know him to be my supreme joy?

I fear that we are reluctant to speak of joy like the Puritans did, because for many of us it is an alien concept. ‘We are far too easily pleased’, as C.S. Lewis wrote. We are content to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts with the shallow joys of possessions, comfort, holidays and entertainment. We find our appetites for joy quickly satiated by spiritual fast food when a banquet of grace is laid before us in Christ.

A joyful God

As I continued to read this prayer I felt an appetite for joy that I hadn’t known before.

‘Give me more joy than I can hold, desire, think of.’

Like many people today I’d found joy to be a fleeting concept, an idea, a hope. Unfulfilled. Why? Because unlike the Puritans, I had separated joy from God, I had divorced happiness from the gospel. I had never grasped that God’s great, redemptive desire for my life was that my soul delighted in him. For me, joy was an end in itself, and it was unthinkable that God sought my joy for his glory’s sake.

Yet these Puritans knew more truth than I did; their prayers were not vain or an empty hope. They were built on the faithful promises of God. The Apostle Peter knew that as Christians hold on to Christ in faith, even through the bleakest of circumstances, they can ‘rejoice with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.’ And that joy-filled reality fills these great prayers.

This prayer warns 21st century Christians. Do not overestimate this world’s joys and securities, and do not underestimate God. The God of the gospel is supremely joyful: what else could he be? If we are serious about knowing him, we’ll be serious about pursuing joy in him for joyful is what he is.

So, open this book and read these prayers. But I warn you, prepare to be deeply dissatisfied with the shallow joys of this world, deeply unnerved by the shallowness of our pursuit of God, and deeply moved by the mercy of God towards lost sinners! As you read these truth-filled, heart-rending cries of the Puritans, you’ll hear the call that C.S. Lewis wrote of: ‘Come further up and further in.’ And one day, of course, as this prayer exalts, we shall find that “there is no joy like the joy of heaven”, and on the glorious day our joy will finally be complete as we gaze on the face of joy itself.

Joy

O Christ,
All thy ways of mercy tend to and end in my delight.
Thou didst weep, sorrow, suffer that I might rejoice.
For my joy thou hast sent the Comforter,
multiplied thy promises,
shown me my future happiness,
given me a living fountain.
Thou art preparing joy for me and me for joy;
I pray for joy, wait for joy, long for joy;
give me more than I can hold, desire, or think of.
Measure out to me my times and degrees of joy,
at my work, business, duties.
If I weep at night, give me joy in the morning.
Let me rest in the thought of thy love,
pardon for sin,
my title to heaven,
my future unspotted state.
I am an unworthy recipient of thy grace.
I often disesteem thy blood and slight thy love,
but can in repentance draw water
from the wells of thy joyous forgiveness.
Let my heart leap towards the eternal sabbath,
where the work of redemption, sanctification, preservation, glorification
is finished and perfected for ever,
where thou wilt rejoice over me with joy.
There is no joy like the joy of heaven,
for in that state are no sad divisions, unchristian quarrels,
contentions, evil designs,
weariness, hunger, cold,
sadness, sin, suffering,
persecutions, toils of duty.
O healthful place where none are sick!
O happy land where all are kings!
O holy assembly where all are priests!
How free a state where none are servants except to thee!
Bring me speedily to the land of joy.

 

The Valley of Vision’ is a devotional book edited by Arthur Bennet and published by Banner of Truth. It contains a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions.

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A love letter from God https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/a-love-letter-from-god/ Thu, 13 Feb 2020 18:00:03 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2767 It’s February 14th, and you receive a red envelope through the door. As you pick it up, you wonder – what was the name of the postman? The postmark isn’t clear – I wonder why it’s smudged? The envelope looks like it’s good quality. The stamp is second class – I wonder why it wasn’t sent first class? You open the envelope to find a card – an interesting design you think, a slightly embossed picture with some glitter. I wonder how it was made? How many other cards are there like this one? Then you place the card down and get on with your day.

From this scenario, you could make the case that you have missed the point. It’s a Valentine’s Day card! There’s a person behind it, someone who wants to declare their love to you! So – open it, read it, read it again and hear from the one who loves you!

When it comes to reading the Bible, we can often forget why we do it. When we simply read the Bible for reading the Bible’s sake, there should be no surprise that our devotional times will often seem dry and cold. When we read the Bible, let’s remember that it is an invitation. An invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation.

Intimacy

If someone sits opposite you on a train, you might be able to guess a few things about them by being nearby – perhaps their line of work, their preferred reading genre, their taste in music or their personal hygiene. However, your knowledge about them would be very limited. To really get to know them, what would have to happen? They will have to speak to you; they will need to use words!

God has revealed himself through THE Word, his Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible is ultimately about him. Remember, the Pharisees had the Scriptures, but Jesus rebuked them because they’d missed the whole point: ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me’ (John 5:39). So as we read Scripture, we are learning more about Jesus and encountering him. We will see his ways, his goodness, his love, his power, his glory and his purity. As we get to know him better, we will know more intimacy with him. We will know what he loves and what he hates. We also have been given the Spirit, the same Spirit that inspired the writers. With the Spirit of God dwelling within us, helping us to see Christ, who is the exact image of his father, we are taking part in a divine moment. We are on holy ground.

This is so much more than just reading a book. This is relational!

Joy

What is it like to be near to God? What is it like in his presence? Psalm 16:11 tells us, ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’ God’s Word is something to be delighted in (Psalm 1:2). Jeremiah, going through deep trials also experienced the joy of God’s Word, ‘Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart’ (Jer. 15:16). We are invited to encounter Jesus in his word, and as we do so, we are invited to take part in something that creates much joy. Why is it that we don’t have to work hard to schedule time to watch our favourite TV programme or sports team? Because they bring us joy! As we seek to read our Bibles, let’s remember this is an invitation to soul-satisfying joy!

Transformation

What you spend your time beholding you will become. If you spend lots of time with someone, it’s not long before you start to pick up their mannerisms and quirks. So, as we behold Christ in his word – guess what will happen? ‘We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another’ (2 Cor. 3:18). As we experience the reality of God’s love for us in the gospel, as we see the beauty of Christ, as the Spirit brings this word to life – we will change. We will begin to love what he loves and hate what he hates.

Responding to God’s invitation

There’s so much more that could be said about this, but let’s get practical. Here’s the glorious invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation. But how can we make this happen? Here are three very simple and practical suggestions.

Plan

If you don’t plan to read the Bible, it quite simply won’t happen! Make sure there is a time in the day you set aside to spend time reading the Bible. For most, this will be first thing in the morning, before there are any other distractions or pressures. If you find yourself distracted during this time, why not charge your mobile phone outside of your bedroom overnight, and buy an alarm clock (they do exist!). This way, the first thing we read and the first voice we hear is our loving creator.

Making a plan and sticking to it can often sound restrictive, yet within the right boundaries as humans, we flourish. When I studied music at university, I used to dread the rehearsal rooms. In there, through the walls, you could hear the most amazing musicians, which was very intimidating! On their instruments, they were free, liberated. How was this accomplished? A plan: determined, regular practice. Through this restriction, they found freedom. By planning to read God’s Word regularly we are beginning a path to wonderful, truth-reminding, soul-fuelling, sin-freeing liberty!

Pray

Reading the Bible is relational; God is speaking to us! Prayer becomes the second part of the conversation. We talk to God about what he has said to us. Don’t close your Bible when you pray. Think through what God has said and use this to praise him, to confess sins, to be thankful and to ask for specific help. ACTS is a helpful acronym here – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Share

Reading the Bible is not a private thing! It’s something that is meant to be done with other believers. So when you read the Bible, don’t keep what you’ve read to yourself. Share it with someone. Why not read the same book as others in your church, and share what you’re learning together? As God has given each believer the Spirit, together we will get a greater understanding of his word!

So as we come to the Bible this week, please don’t see it simply as a book to read. But see it as an invitation – an invitation to intimacy, joy and transformation. God has written you a love letter. He wants to declare his love for you! Open it up, read it, read it again and hear from the one who loves you dearly.

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The hour that changes the world https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/the-hour-that-changes-the-world/ Thu, 06 Feb 2020 18:00:35 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2741 A simple method to strengthen your prayer life

I want to share with you a simple way to deepen your prayer life. It requires discipline, time to pray (of course), and a desire to grow in godliness. I learned this method of prayer during my first semester at seminary, when I found myself enrolled in prayer class. In retrospect, it makes sense that a seminary would have a class on prayer, but at the time, I found it surprising. Even more surprising was the grading system. Most of our grade was derived from our daily prayers. We had to pray for an hour a day, every day, then record our prayers in outline form, turn them in, and the professor would grade them.

When confronted with the syllabus, I was shocked by two things, and I assume they are the same two things you are thinking of. First, is it even right to grade someone’s prayers? Turns out, the answer is yes, it is right. Or at the very least, it was helpful. Over the semester, I learned to be thankful for the grading. It helped make my prayers precise by challenging me to think through what it is exactly I’m doing in prayer. What am I asking for, and why? It turns out that knowing a theologically precise professor with his apparently infinite supply of red ink was on the reading end of my prayers helped make me pray in a more thoughtful way than if I was simply praying to God. Obviously there is much wrong with that sentence, but somehow it was the truth – or at least it was the reality of Dr Rosscup’s prayer class.

The second surprise: AN HOUR? How am I supposed to pray for an hour a day? Doesn’t he know that I’m a super-busy seminary student? And, no, we weren’t allowed to split it up. An hour, all at once. That was just the way it was.

At first, the idea of praying for an hour was daunting. I didn’t really know where to begin. Stopwatch, check. An hour of time set aside…ok…Dear God…ummm…ok, it’s been 30 seconds. This isn’t going well.

An hour of prayer

One of our assigned books for that class helped. It was  An Hour that Changes the World: A Practical Plan for Personal Prayer, by Dick Eastman. In it, he suggests that Christians should make it their aim to pray for an hour a day. He derives this suggestion from Matthew 26:40, where Jesus asks, ‘Could you not watch with me for one hour?’

Eastman says the best way to pray for an hour is to split up the hour into twelve blocks of five minutes, then pray with a timer, and pray through the different blocks, five minutes at a time.

  1. Praise and worship
  2. Waiting on the Lord
  3. Confession of guilt and sin
  4. Praying Scripture
  5. Watching
  6. Intercession
  7. Petitions
  8. Thanksgiving
  9. Song
  10. Contemplation/meditation
  11. Listening
  12. Praise

I put this into practice, and over the course of the years, I have morphed the list. So while my twelve blocks have changed, I still use the same basic approach to prayer. Here is what my list looks like now:

  1. Praise
  2. Confession
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. Intercession (things in my own life)
  5. Petition (for others)
  6. Missions
  7. Church
  8. Evangelism
  9. Family
  10. Scripture/Meditation
  11. Prayer through the passage
  12. Singing

So practically, this is what it looks like. I’ll close the door in my office, grab my list (I have this written on the front page of my Bible), and while I have graduated from the timer approach, I do still keep one eye on a clock. Then I spend five minutes doing each of the following:

Praise

If you are familiar with the ACTS acronym, the first twenty minutes follows that. I’ll spend five minutes praying in light of God’s attributes. I’ll focus on one or two that are particularly on my mind that day. For these five minutes I try to pray like David in 2 Samuel 7:18-29.

Confession

Here I spend some time confessing sins to the Lord. I examine my heart and pray that God would reveal sins of both commission and omission, which I then bring before the Lord, confident of his forgiveness.

Thanksgiving

At around the ten minute mark, I begin thanking God for things that he has done and prayers that he has answered. It actually takes self-control to hold this section off, as my thanksgiving often creeps into my praise. But I aim for it here.

Petition (my own life)

At this point, I pray for things for my own life. I ask for wisdom for what is going on at home, at church, or for events I have coming up even that day.

Intercession (for others)

I have a little journal that I’ve used to keep track of prayer requests from other people. I’ll spend time praying through it, or through our church’s prayer list.

Missions

Here I pray for our church’s missionaries, and particularly for the ones that my wife and I support. Honestly, this is probably my favourite part of the hour. I love thinking about how the God who hears my prayers from Washington DC is the same God who rules the Chadian desert, the Genevan suburbs, and Bhutanese mountains. All the stars are above me, but under him, and I know that our missionaries in many ways depend on our prayers.

Church

After praying for our missionaries, I then pray for the two ministries I’m involved in: Immanuel Bible Church and The Master’s Seminary. I pray for our elders, and church unity. I pray for the professors and the students. This five minutes goes pretty fast.

Evangelism

Then I turn my attention to evangelistic opportunities. This is probably the hardest for me, because these five minutes are the hardest to keep them from being redundant. It can easily seem that I’m praying for the same people day-in and day-out.

Family

I’ve added this section in the last few years. I’ve found it helpful to keep my prayers for my family all in one section. I pray for my daughters, for my wife, for our parenting. There is no shortage of stuff to pray for here.

Scripture meditation

This is the first time I open the Bible; I’ve found that if I open it earlier, I have a hard time getting back to praying. I’ll read a Psalm or a prayer, or maybe a chapter from a prophet, and then just focus on what the Lord was doing in that prayer, and imagine how it was answered.

Scripture prayer

Then I’ll go back and spend five minutes praying through the passage I’d just been meditating on. Thanking God for what he did, and asking God for things in my own life that reflect on how I see his will in light of the chapter I’ve just spent five minutes meditating on.

Hymn

I’ll close by either singing (if I’m alone in the office) or by praying through the lyrics of hymn.

Voila—one hour of prayer.

If you are having a hard time deepening your prayer life, let me commend to you this approach. Your list may vary, you might like some of Eastman’s categories that I vetoed for example. The point is that a large chunk of time is quickly filled when it is divided. The act of dividing up your prayers makes you more intentional and thoughtful about their content. And, as I learned from Dr Rosscup, the more precise your prayers, the more you appreciate the answers.

This article first appeared at https://thecripplegate.com and is reprinted with permission

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Couch to 5k – A beginners guide to prayer https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/couch-to-5k-a-beginners-guide-to-prayer/ Thu, 30 Jan 2020 18:00:32 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2708 From prayer wimp to prayer warrior

A few years ago, I wanted to improve my fitness. Rather than pay a fortune for a gym membership, I decided to take up running. There was a problem, though. While some of my friends were running triathlons and marathons, I was struggling to run to the end of the street. I knew what my friends could do, but I couldn’t do it myself.

I’ve met lots of Christians who have the same dilemma with prayer. They want to pray, and they listen to enough prayers in church to know how to pray, but whenever they try to pray themselves, they quickly run out of steam and get discouraged. They want to be prayer warriors but discover that they’re prayer wimps.

Perhaps that’s how you feel, too.

Couch to 5k

For aspiring runners, there’s a programme called ‘Couch to 5k’. The idea is that even if all you’ve been doing is sitting on the couch for years, you can soon learn to run at least 5km – just over three miles. So that’s the programme I started.

Of course, the programme doesn’t say to go straight from the couch to 5k. We can’t run before we can walk. So the programme suggested jogging slowly for 100m or so, and then walking for a minute or two to get your breath back. (Or, in my case, walking for several minutes!) Then you’d jog a bit more.

For the first couple of weeks, I was probably only running about 500m each time I went out – not the 5,000 metres which was my aim. But again, that was OK, the programme said. And, of course, the more I ran, the better my endurance became.

In precisely the same way, our persistence in prayer can only come about as a result of our praying. The more we pray, the more persistent we will be. If we haven’t prayed much, or we’re a bit out of practice, it may be hard at first. But if we persist, we’ll build up those spiritual muscles, and breathe new life into our praying.

Couch to 5k – in praying

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to do a ‘couch to 5k’ in praying? Couch to 5k works by alternating walking and running. Walking gets your breath back and running builds your stamina. When I first started running, I struggled to run for more than about 30 seconds before I had to walk again. Perhaps your prayer life is like that. Maybe you struggle to pray for more than a minute or two before you run out of spiritual energy. If so, don’t think you’re the only person who feels like that. It’s how everyone starts.

Thankfully there is a prayer equivalent to ‘couch to 5k’, and it works in a very similar way. In ‘couch to 5k’, we begin by walking. That gets us moving and later will also help us to get our breath back. In prayer, the best equivalent of walking that I know is reading a short passage from the Bible that reminds you of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. That will get you moving, and later on will help you think of many more things to pray for.

There are lots of places in the Bible that we can use for this, but one of my favourite passages to help in praying is Ephesians 1:3–2:10. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s a great place.

So how might this work in practice? The praying equivalent of a warm-up walk is to read a single verse – or perhaps even just half a verse. So you could start by reading Ephesians 1:3 which says, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.’

Hopefully that’s got you moving, so it’s now time to run a little – in other words, it’s time to pray. Use what you’ve just read to help you. So you might pray something like this:

Father God, I want to praise you for the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to thank you for all the blessings that you have given us. I thank you that those blessings aren’t just here on earth, but you have also blessed us in the heavenly realms. I’m not sure exactly what that means so please help me to understand more about these heavenly blessings and what they mean for my life. I’m sure there are many spiritual blessings in Christ that I don’t see or don’t value. I’m sorry if I take for granted the blessings you give. But please help me to see all the heavenly and spiritual blessings that I have in Christ.

At that point, you may run out of spiritual energy. Or, if you’re a little more used to praying, you might want to keep on praying over this verse – perhaps because you could bring to mind specific spiritual blessings that you want to thank God for. But it doesn’t matter either way. It’s not a competition. The point is that you’re praying, and you’re using God’s Word to help you. That’s great!

But whenever it is that you feel you’ve prayed through all of Ephesians 1:3, it’s then time to walk for a little bit. So now we read verse 4: ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.’

Now that’s a verse that will get us running (praying) again! Perhaps try it now. Turn verse 4 into a prayer. You could thank God for choosing you. You could ask him for help in believing these truths and for help in living a holy life. If you’ve doubted these truths, or lived as if you’ve doubted them, you could ask forgiveness and for God’s help to put that right. You could pray for friends who are struggling or doubting these truths. You could think of Christians in other parts of the world who would be helped by bringing these truths to mind. You could pray for friends who are not yet Christians that they would come to believe these truths.

And when you run out of things to pray about from verse 4, you can catch your spiritual breath by reading verse 5, and then praying over that verse. At the end of the paragraph, you might want to draw your prayers to an end. Or you may feel encouraged to keep going! It’s up to you. But end by thanking God for his help, and asking him to help you again tomorrow.

Couch to 5k does work. And I guarantee that if you do the praying equivalent, you’ll find – perhaps to your great surprise – that praying gets easier and easier. It will never become effortless, just as running is always hard work. But the more you pray, the more your spirit will grow, the more persistent you will become, and the more your prayers will flow. Soon, you too could find yourself moving from being a prayer wimp to becoming a prayer warrior.

 

If you’d like to know more about using the Bible to help you to pray, Donald S. Whitney’s Praying the Bible is a wonderfully practical (and short!) guide.

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Treasures in jars of clay https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/treasures-in-jars-of-clay/ Mon, 27 Jan 2020 18:00:12 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2737 For over a century, Uganda has been known as the pearl of Africa. But come with me to the village of Kasana, and we will find treasure of a different sort. These Treasures are children and young people with special needs and disabilities. Their bodies are like jars of clay, and, initially, you might be overwhelmed by the brokenness and frailty of their physical bodies and minds, hindered by pain, deformity or disease. Here in Uganda, many see them as worthless, a burden on their families, their bodies and minds useless and dysfunctional due to cerebral palsy, brain and spinal injuries, genetic disorders, or learning difficulties. But in the eyes of our heavenly Father, each one is a precious and valuable treasure, uniquely created in his image, fearfully and wonderfully made by him.

It wouldn’t take you long to see treasure shining and spilling out. As one girl leads her friends in praise and worship songs, smiles stretch across faces, and many eyes and faces light up exuding an inner joy, peace and contentment. There are many remarkable stories as, in the face of human frailty and weakness, God reveals his glory and power. This year it has been exciting to see two girls starting to walk independently. We rejoice and thank God for the big and small things he enables each child to achieve, whether it is gaining a kilogram in weight, taking a few steps, eating some ‘normal’ food or learning to write their name.

New Hope

Six children with disabilities live in one of the family groups at New Hope, Uganda. Some of these children are totally dependent for all their needs, needing round the clock care, feeding tubes and regular medication. Another fifteen children live with their families and join the Treasures school class each day. Other children and families in the wider community are supported through monthly group sessions, physio sessions and home visits.

As their physiotherapist, I’m able to use skills God has given me to help children to develop, and to prevent complications which are a result of their disabilities. This involves stretches and exercises; teaching new skills like rolling, crawling or walking; getting children well-positioned in chairs, wheelchairs and at night; and helping parents and carers to do these things too.

Many need therapy, equipment, care and help to reach their God-given potential. We are regularly blessed by God’s provision. Last month I returned to Uganda with a hoist, a special walking frame and several pairs of specialist shoes. God certainly provides for all our physical needs, often through sponsors and visiting teams, and he provides for our emotional and spiritual needs too.

The treasure of the gospel

The name Treasures in jars of clay comes from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:7. The ‘treasure’ Paul is speaking of there is the priceless, precious light of the gospel within the believer, the only hope for the hopeless. The gospel and a desire for people to know God and come into a personal living relationship with him as their heavenly Father is at the heart of all that happens at New Hope Uganda. In the beginning, New Hope Uganda’s foundational verses were Psalm 68:5-6, which speak of God being the ‘father to the fatherless’. Fast-forward thirty years and the vision continues to be to bring the fatherhood of God to the fatherless, place the lonely in families, and bring his love, healing and the light of the gospel to the broken.

At Kasana Children’s Centre (New Hope Uganda’s main site) there are seven family groups where children experience love, protection, discipleship and family. Over 400 children and teenagers receive a Christ-centred education at the primary and secondary schools. There is an Investment Year programme, where young adults are given the opportunity to experience different workplaces, alongside being discipled and trained in biblical manhood and womanhood. Gospel truth is taught clearly in each of these contexts, as well as in the church services, pastoral training institute, and on Musana FM radio station.

During our Sunday service at Kasana, it’s wonderful to see the inclusivity of the gospel – through the tribes and nations represented, and the freedom that children and adults with disabilities have to worship God in their own, sometimes noisy or ‘messy’, way. In the Treasures class the gospel is also intentionally shared with children with special needs. With the help of a translator, I share a multi-sensory Bible lesson with the children, helping them to know more of God, his love and salvation through Christ. For some, we have no idea how much they can understand, but we know that God can do a work of grace in their hearts. Others do seem to have a simple faith, and it’s lovely to hear them pray and see them daily trusting in God.

In 2004, the Lausanne Forum for World Evangelisation recognised that people with disabilities worldwide are a huge under reached people-group, with only 5-10% effectively reached with the gospel. As individuals and churches, let’s prayerfully consider how we can grow in Christlikeness as we welcome and include those with disabilities, and recognise the joy, value, diversity and challenge that God’s image-bearers with special needs could bring to us.

Treasures in Heaven

God has a perfect plan and purpose for each precious life, and he has determined the number of days for each one (Job 14:5). Some of our Treasures have surprised us with their fighting spirit and their ability to bounce back from serious medical problems. We are thankful to be needing to consider how to support and care for adults with complex disabilities, as some of our teenagers have exceeded doctors’ expectations, and God continues to give them strength and life for each new day.

But for many, life here on earth is hard, and for some it is short. Working with children with complex needs and disabilities has made me think a lot more about heaven. Michael Bates wrote in his book Disability and the gospel, ‘Weakness and brokenness can serve as a whisper reminding us that while life is good, heaven is unimaginably better.’ Three Treasures I’ve worked with in the last two years are already home with Jesus, and another may soon be joining them. It is hard to see children struggling with pain, reflux, breathing, fits and other medical problems. This makes me anticipate heaven and that glorious day when sufferings cease, when brokenness is a thing of the past, and when, with new resurrection bodies, we will be home forever. But here and now, there are many Treasures here at New Hope Uganda (and much closer to home too) who are in need of your prayers, and parents and carers who need a daily outpouring of God’s grace and strength as they care for their Treasures.

If you are interested in finding out more about New Hope Uganda, Treasures in Jars of Clay, or how you can pray, please email Susanna (physio@newhopeuganda.org) or visit the website www.newhopeuganda.org

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A second chance https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/a-second-chance/ Thu, 23 Jan 2020 18:00:24 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2765 I was number seven in a large family of six brothers and two sisters. We were brought up in Shropshire by a loving Christian mother, but my father didn’t believe in God. He suffered with mental health issues after fighting in the Second World War, and I never knew fatherly love like my friends. I would often receive a beating and life was very difficult with him around. We all attended the local Baptist chapel in Madeley, and my mother would make sure we were all clean and tidy before setting off, which was quite a task! Being so young though, I never really understood what was going on in the service.

Turning away from God

As time went by any faith I had in God was severely tested. My eldest sister had several miscarriages and two stillborn children but gave birth at last to a lovely little girl. Sadly she became terminally ill and died at sixteen months old. I felt betrayed by God and totally heartbroken. After the funeral, a local church pastor came to see me, but I didn’t want to hear his words. Apart from weddings and funerals, I never went to chapel again, and I turned my back on Christianity. Soon after this my eldest brother was diagnosed with a rare heredity brain disease, followed then by two more of my brothers. At this time I turned further away from God and went on a path of self-destruction, drinking and fighting. Eventually, needing space away from my family and friends, I moved to Wrexham.

Church or pub?

After being here for some time, I received invitations to come to Bradley Road Baptist Church Christmas services, and I would place them each year on my mantelpiece. I would look at them from time to time, trying to decide if I was ready to try again with God. Then on the 20th December 2015, I made a bold decision. I got myself ready and made my way to the church and stood on the opposite pavement, looking at the people going inside. As I watched a friend of mine appeared. He was worse for drink and asked me, ‘Why are you standing there?’ I couldn’t say anything but turned back to look at the people going inside the church. He exclaimed, You’re not thinking of going in there are you?’ I told him that I wanted to, but I was just thinking about it. ‘Come with me to the pub, let’s have a drink, it’s Christmas,’ he said, and stumbled past me.

Clinging to God

I managed to dash across the road, and I entered the church thinking, ‘What have I done?’ I received a warm welcome at the door and found a quiet spot to sit on the lefthand side towards the back. I thought about leaving before the service began, but I was glued to my seat and I just couldn’t move. The service was great, with children in nativity costumes and I enjoyed singing the Christmas carols. As the service ended I went to make a sharp exit but as I turned to the door an open hand was put before me. I was asked, ‘Are you visiting?’ I explained who I was and why I had come in. ‘Will you come again, what about Christmas morning?’ I committed myself to going, and I loved the service. And as I continued to go to each Sunday, something changed within me. I came to believe that Jesus had died to take away all the bad things in my life. I felt an inner peace about everything, even though many in my family had suffered so much. I began to cling on to God, especially through the loss of someone very close to me. And even though darkness has sometimes crept in, God is faithful. On the 12th November 2017 I was baptised and am so grateful that God did not give up on me. He gave me a second chance, and I am delighted to be called a Christian.

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Missionary Margaret Missing https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/missionary-margaret-missing/ Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:00:43 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2735 What does it mean to walk by faith? For me, this is exemplified in the lives of three female missionaries: Dr Helen Roseveare, Margaret Hayes MBE and Maud Kells OBE. They all had two things in common; they worked in the medical field, and they worked for the Lord in the Congo. (The Congo changed its name several times during their lifetimes, Belgian Congo, Zaire, Democratic Republic of the Congo. I am just going to refer to ‘Congo’ throughout this article.) The Congo is a landlocked country in Africa, west of Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda which has known revival in the 1950s and great suffering in the Simba Rebellion of the 1960s.

Both Helen Roseveare and Margaret Hayes were serving the Lord in the Congo at the time of independence in 1960. Unrest and instability led to five years of brutality in the country. In 1964, the Simba Rebellion brought severe danger and both Helen and Margaret, separately and along with their co-workers, were placed under arrest and terrorised. Helen was raped. Both faced this suffering with the thought that these were not their sufferings, but the Lord’s.

Earlier years

Margaret was a trained midwife, converted at the age of 18, and had been a ward sister for three years when God called her to the Congo. She was at a convention and it was a speaker from UFM (Unevangelised Fields Mission) that spoke to her heart. In her book A Reluctant Missionary Margaret explains her hesitations. She had a speech difficulty, surely that would be a barrier? But God spoke to her through her daily Bible reading (something that was to be a feature of Margaret’s later experiences in captivity). ‘Why are ye so fearful?’ (Mark 4:20) and ‘Who hath made man’s mouth?’ (Ex. 4:11).

Missionary service begins

After Bible College, and time in Paris to learn French and then in Belgium to study tropical medicine, Margaret began her work at Maganga, in primitive conditions. The dispensary was a mud and wattle building, with a roof of banana leaves that leaked. Creepy crawlies populated the building at night, and the furniture was made of packing cases. Here she encountered her first leprosy patients. In return for treatment and food, they worked on the compound, and hearing the gospel, many were saved.

Margaret worked hard, adjusting to the country and the culture, experiencing what she described as ‘medical adventures’. In July 1960, at the time of independence, all missionaries were told by their embassies to leave, and so Margaret found herself back in the United Kingdom. But it wasn’t long before Margaret accepted an invitation to return to Congo to begin a medical work in a village called Bopepe. An American missionary, Mary Baker, had been living there alone. The area was surrounded by jungle, there was no running water, just a wood stove and a generator that worked for three and a half hours a night.

The first dispensary was set up in Bopepe: mud walls, mud floors and a leaky roof but the waiting room was packed most days as clinics began with Bible reading, prayer and a short gospel message. Margaret saw God at work in amazing ways, healing bodies and souls through their ministry.

Captured by Simbas

Margaret’s time at Bopepe came to an abrupt end with the Simba Rebellion of 1964.

The Mission HQ had told missionaries to prepare to leave but Margaret’s daily reading through the devotional book Daily Light encouraged her: ‘Fear none of these things thou shalt suffer, be thou faithful unto death.’ She was put under arrest at Bopepe and again God spoke to her through her Daily Light reading on 4th November: ‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you.’ A long walk to Banalia ended in house arrest and Margaret’s fervent prayer, based on Psalm 56:3, ‘Lord, I am afraid, therefore I am trusting in thee to help us in this special hour of need.’ The verses in her Daily Light reading for 8th November form part of how the Lord spoke to her and comforted her. For example, she read Psalm 37:24, ‘though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand’ and Jeremiah 1:8, ‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.’

Margaret and her fellow missionary, Mary Baker, kept up their normal pattern of daily Bible reading during their time in captivity. Margaret confided to Mary that she herself kept coming across many passages that contained promises of deliverance, though she was not especially looking for such texts. Mary told Margaret that her experience was different and led her to believe that she would die at Banalia. Margaret was the only person to escape the massacre at Banalia and Mary was the last to be killed.

In the jungle

When she was in the jungle with the women and children, with nothing but insects as her witness, Margaret rededicated her life to serve the Lord in the Congo, to live or to die there. Early in December, a report on British radio stated that all white people had been killed at Banalia. This dashed Margaret’s hopes of being rescued. She spent Christmas Eve in a room filled with Simba soldiers bearing rifles and spears.

A Simba soldier told her he had been delegated to cut her throat. ‘You are a Protestant missionary aren’t you? Well then, you won’t mind dying, as you believe you will go to heaven,’ was his comment. But a major came in and told her she wouldn’t be killed as she was needed for medical work. After running clinics for the Simbas, she fled but was captured again. On 26th June 1965, she was liberated. The Daily Sketch newspaper on June 28th carried the headline Massacre Town Nurse is Found Alive. She went home, hardly recognisable, as the suffering had taken its toll.

Return to the mission field

Margaret later returned to the Congo, but also served in Niger as a Sister Midwife in a remote hospital on the edge of the Sahara Desert. She was awarded the MBE in 1987 for ‘nursing and welfare services in Niger.’ She retired in 1997.

Lessons from a life

It has been my privilege to get to know Margaret a little, to read her books and even to include her story in my lectures about women missionaries. The lessons I have learnt from her example are many, but what always strikes me is her wholehearted and sacrificial dedication to the Lord and his work. It is worth reading her books to catch a glimpse of her deep spirituality and her moment-by-moment walk with God in times of suffering. She truly is an inspiration and an example.

She sums up her testimony of God’s faithfulness in all her years of service for him in the words of 1 Kings 8:56: ‘There hath not failed one word of his good promise.’

What a challenge!

Margaret’s miraculous escape from the massacre of all her colleagues, her capture and harrowing experiences at the hands of the rebels, and her eventual release when all at home thought she was Missing, Believed Killed, is told in her book of that title.

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Sharing Jesus with a Jehovah’s Witness https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/sharing-jesus-with-a-jehovahs-witness/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 18:00:06 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2731 As we seek to share the gospel with Jehovah’s Witnesses, it is vitally important to understand that it is the organisation, not the Bible, that governs the life and practice of every Jehovah’s Witness. That is why, if you ever get into Bible ping-pong with them, it very rarely gets anywhere. Allegedly, you cannot understand what the Bible teaches because you are not in the ‘organisation’.

The ‘united organization’ is the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. This is the organisation that they think is under the ‘protection of the Supreme Organizer’ (Jehovah). It is to this organisation that every Jehovah’s Witness pledges allegiance. Therefore, in the mind of the Jehovah’s Witness, to leave the organisation is to leave God, and to leave God is to forfeit any chance of surviving God’s impending judgment.

So where do we begin?

Asking Jehovah’s Witnesses questions, discussing Bible verses with them and sharing your testimony are all good ways of engaging with them. The Holy Spirit can work through all these means to help a Jehovah’s Witness to wake up spiritually. However, I have found we usually need to use CPR: Care, Prayer and Resolve.

Care

…but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame (1 Peter 3:15–16).

When they get you out of bed at a silly hour on a Saturday morning to answer their knock on your door, smile at them. Tell them it is good to see them and share with them how you love the Bible and invite them to meet you on neutral ground, such as at a coffee house, perhaps invite a mature Christian to join you.

They may suggest you go through one of their publications. It is okay to do that and to ask questions along the way. They like to be the teacher and you must appear to be the student. The first few meetings are all about making a friendship with them.

As you progress, you can then ask more difficult questions and even challenge them. They will be more likely to answer and engage with you once you have become friends by showing them love and care.

Sharing your testimony is powerful. Tell the Jehovah’s Witness how you came to have a relationship with God, how you know that your sins are forgiven because Jesus died for you and that your future is secure because Jesus rose back to life. You have what they are searching for, so do not keep it to yourself.

Prayer

Prayer is the real key to their freedom. We are engaging in spiritual warfare when we enter into a discussion with a cult member: ‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 6:12).

We must be aware that the people on our doorstep are not the issue, rather it is the enemy who has blinded them: ‘In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Rather like Saul before he was converted – and became Paul – cult members ‘have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge’ (Romans 10:2). They need to have the scales taken from their eyes, something which only the Spirit of God can do. So pray that God would open their eyes and their hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to them who the Lord Jesus truly is. Once you know some of their names, set up a prayer group or ask your church to pray for them.

Resolve

Friends, be encouraged that people are ‘waking up’ and leaving cults. After many encounters with Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may feel you have been banging your head against a brick wall and your efforts have been a waste of time. But don’t let the enemy plague you with such thoughts. We are to sow seeds and pray, leaving the results of our efforts in the hands of our merciful God. So, resolve to keep going, keep sharing, keep loving. Ask God to give you such a burden for the Jehovah’s Witnesses that you may be used to reach these lost people for Christ.

Lord, help us to bear fruit in this forgotten mission field.

What next?

Leaving a cult is incredibly costly. Those who leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses are told they are leaving God. They may well also be leaving behind family, friends, work and everything they have ever known. Many who decide to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses can therefore quickly find themselves very lost and lonely in a confusing world – a world they had previously been separate from as they believed it was evil. They suddenly must think for themselves and can struggle with everyday living. While they have chosen to leave the cult, the cult doesn’t quickly leave them, such is the psychological hold that these groups have over their adherents. As a result, those who have left the Jehovah’s Witnesses will be anxious, wondering if they have made the correct decision in leaving. The church can also be a scary place to those who have been constantly told that churches are ‘pagan’ and ‘of the devil’.

They will need friendship as they will most likely have been shunned by their family and friends still in the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They will need practical support, as they may struggle to live outside of the organisation. They will need patience, as they will still believe some of the things they have been taught and be confused about Christian belief and practice. They will need love, as they have lost all that they once held dear

Without support from loving, compassionate Christian believers, the struggling Jehovah’s Witness may well head back to the organisation. Alternatively, they may drift into atheism, rejecting everything to do with religion.

May we with love and patience, point them to the one who can truly heal them and set them free.

This article has been taken from the book Sharing the gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness by Tony Brown and published by 10publishing. It is reprinted with permission.

 

If you want to purchase this book from www.10ofthose.com add voucher code EM50 to receive 50% discount.

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Nothing out of his control – The sovereignty of God https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/nothing-out-of-his-control-the-sovereignty-of-god/ Thu, 09 Jan 2020 08:00:03 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2727 I was sitting on the beach, surrounded by friends and looking out to sea. The water was as calm as a millpond, and the sun was setting, its orange light reflecting perfectly on the water below. The scene was stunning and serene. Yet, the sea is not always like this. At other times it is rough and something to be feared.

Life can be peaceful and joyful; our circumstances just how we would want them or at least as close as we think we can get. But life is not always like that. It has a habit of hitting us hard in a variety of ways.

You lose your job. The house that you’ve made a home is taken away. Your doctor speaks out loud the dreaded diagnosis you hoped you’d never hear. Your heart is wracked with grief at the death of a loved one. People turn on you because of your faith in Jesus. You watch on as others are torn apart by tragedy. These are just a small collection of the difficulties we can face as we live our days here.

Life is not always calm – it is often like a torrential sea bashing against us.

Where does bad stuff come from?

Why is there suffering in this world? The answers are many. We could point the finger at people, whether others or ourselves. So much pain today is a result of human greed, pride and selfishness or even human foolishness.

Similarly, we could talk about Satan. The Bible tells us that he is an enemy of God and is seeking to destroy the goodness of God’s creation. From the beginning, he has sought to bring harm and hurt.

Or we might simply say this is the way the world is. The Bible tells us we live in a world that is groaning and in a state of decay (Romans 8:22). The presence of natural disasters and illness should not surprise us.

Yet, when we look at the Bible, we also see another answer – one that can shock us and send our minds into a spin. Why do bad things happen? The Bible tells us that the ultimate answer is God.

Now, I need to be careful here to explain what I mean. The Bible is clear that God is not the author of evil (cf. James 1:13). It is never right to hold God responsible for sin or the presence of evil in this world. Yet, the Bible teaches clearly that God is a sovereign God. That means he is in control of all things that happen here and anywhere.

One of the clearest statements of this is found in Ephesians 1:11. We are told that God, ‘works all things according to the counsel of his will.’ That means that he orders all things and he is in charge of all things. We are wrong if we try to shrink this statement to only include things that we like. By definition ‘all’ must also include all of the bad things that happen.

The great winds that blow, bringing such devastation; they do God’s bidding (Psalm 148:7-8). The authorities in power – some that work good, others that work evil – are only there because God has put them there (Romans 13:1). Satan’s work, as he acts to destroy and ruin, is exercised within the restraints that God determines (Job 1:12). Even the greatest act of wickedness that there has ever been, the brutal murder of God’s perfect Son on the cross, was an act that had its origins in God’s perfect will (Acts 2:23).

Why do bad things happen? God is a sovereign God. Therefore, nothing can exist or happen outside of his permission and will.

How is this good news?

Let’s be honest. This is not always an easy answer to deal with. When bad things happen, we would love to leave God out of the picture. It is awkward to think that God would have had anything to do with the tragedy I now see or experience. It simply doesn’t fit with the view of God that is stirred in our minds when we read of him as a loving father.

Yet, the Bible doesn’t present God’s sovereignty as a problem to be fathomed out. Instead, it is given to us as a truth to love and to be comforted by in the hard times. How can that be?

Firstly, the fact that God is in control of all circumstances means that nothing happens without a reason. The illness you face or the disaster that has struck is not an accident. It is part of God’s sovereign plan. It is true that often we don’t know why things happen in the way they do, but it is comforting to know that there is a why.

Next, if God is in control then the reason must be good. God is a good God who is just and righteous, merciful and gracious. His will and purpose reflect his character (Romans 12:2). The Bible encourages us to see suffering and hardship in this light. Think of the cross of Jesus. Is there a more heart-wrenching sight than seeing Jesus being brutalised, ridiculed and enduring the excruciating agony of the cross? Yet, we know, God was working for good.

Finally, if God is in control of the bad things that happen then there is hope. The Bible speaks of a day when evil will be defeated, and the brokenness of this world will be replaced with a perfect New Heavens and New Earth where God’s people will live with him forever. If an act of evil were able to exist outside of God’s will, we couldn’t be certain of this future.

A truth to use

What does the Bible say to us as we suffer and experience the batterings of life? None of this is out of God’s control. Not even the smallest part of it has taken place without his permission and will.

Now, I know that this answer does not take the pain away. I do not offer it here in a glib way thinking that once you grasp this truth then life will be easy. Yet, the more we get it, the more we are able to taste hope and experience joy even in the heartache of life.

The book of Revelation was initially written to a church that was suffering and struggling in various ways. How does God comfort them? One of the key themes in the book is the sovereignty of God. From beginning to end, no matter how big the disaster, no matter how real the persecution, God is sitting on the throne of history. This truth brought hope then and still brings hope today.

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Daily Reading App Reviews https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/article/daily-reading-app-reviews/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 18:00:55 +0000 https://www.evangelicalmagazine.com/?post_type=em_article&p=2719 SheReadsTruth App

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that there are times where I really struggle to sit down and spend time in God’s Word. I’ve tried my fair share of Bible study notes and reading plans but have been massively helped by the SheReadsTruth app.

Through the app, you can access a wide range of Bible reading plans which go through either a book of the Bible or a theme. For each day, there are a range of linked Bible passages with a short commentary by one of the SheReadsTruth team. You can also share your thoughts and responses to what has been said by posting comments. These are a real encouragement, to hear how God is working through his word in the lives of other women all around the world – although some of the cultural references and examples are directed to a more American audience.

On the app, you can also read several Bible translations where you can bookmark and make notes linked to different passages. It has been a great encouragement to me, and I hope you find it a help too.

Hannah Mitchell

YouVersion Bible App

I am one of 390 million people around the world who have installed this app. David Suchet has become the most familiar voice in my life ever since. The app is free to download and gives you access to over 2,000 versions of the Bible in over 1,300 languages. Many versions come with full audio support to listen on the go – hence my familiarity with David Suchet! You can download entire Bibles through the app so they can work offline and in train tunnels during the commute to work. It comes with all the bookmarking and highlighting features you could desire. The app links to your social media accounts so you can share favourite verses, you can also create Bible art with many stored pictures or you can use images from your own photo library.

There is a community that sits behind the app allowing you to connect to friends from church and talk about passages online. You can also find local events to attend. The app contains thousands of hours of video content and has a sister app just for children (my kids love it). There are thousands of devotional plans to choose from and read each day on many subjects from prayer to pride or joy to jealously, written by respected ministers such as Tim Keller, R. C. Sproul, and even figures from church history such as J. C. Ryle and many of the Puritans. But there is also a lot of questionable material (doctrinally) – so do your research on the author before you read or share the plan out.

The app encourages daily devotions displaying consecutive days of use and ‘perfect weeks’; you also win badges for completing plans, reading challenges, bookmarking and highlighting passages and connecting with other believers.

As a pastor, I find this app incredibly useful for my own devotions. But it also allows me to set up groups around focussed reading plans and discuss the content with church members throughout the day through the comments section. I can also see when and what my members are reading and what verses have particularly spoken to them. Sign your church up today, stay connected throughout the week and read more of the Bible!

John Funnell

Daily readings app

When you’re about to pursue a time of devotion to God, the last thing you want is a distraction. When you’re using an app for that, such distractions come from either having too many bells and whistles or from being not very user-friendly. Daily Readings does the job here, but then what would you expect from the same team who designed the Christian Hymns app.

The main content of the app is the tried and tested devotion from Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening. Being well over a hundred years old, you might think that means outdated language. But the team have carefully updated some of the language – enough to bring it up to date. Each day you have a key verse to meditate upon and some thoughts from Spurgeon as he reflects upon it.

Having spent a few minutes meditating on Spurgeon’s verse of the morning or evening, you might be ready for something more, and this is where the team that created the app have added some ideal extra features. For one, there is a suggested longer passage that you can read so that your diet of Scripture is not a minuscule solitary verse but a whole passage. Sometimes this is the context in which the verse sits, but other times it is a related passage from another part of the Bible. You don’t have to pull up another app to read this, but tap the reference and up comes the passage in the ESV.

Taking things even further, you’re provided with a hymn which is chosen to fit the theme of the devotion to spend some time in further worship. But you’re not just provided with the words of the hymn, you’re even given the tune so that you could sing along. Finally, there are a few prompts to reflect and pray to finish. These are a brilliant addition so that your devotion in the Word leads into prayer and lingers in your heart.

If it’s lacking anything, then it would be a notification to remind you to do the devotion. This would have been particularly helpful for me for the evening devotions, as I’m only in the habit of doing a devotion in the morning! But other than that, if Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening is the kind of devotion that will help you, then this app is ideal.

Jonny Raine

OurDailyBreadYouth

This is found on Instagram and directed at teenagers and young people. Each day there are three posts. One is a short Bible verse, one is the daily passage to read to ‘Explore the Bible Story in a Year’ and the third one is a devotional linked to the Bible verse of the day. This consists of an attractive photo/picture with a Bible reading and a 150-word devotional in the comments. These devotionals are directed at young people and are a good mix of illustration and solid teaching. For young people that use Instagram, it is an excellent resource. Search for ourdailybreadyouth.

Nichola Napper

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