James Smith on PRAYER
Another wonderful gem from www.gracegems.org. This post is inspired by both the new Prayer Request post, Praying for One Another, and Phil Walker's devotional on Mark 1:35 (scroll down to posts from 02/01/11) ~ "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed."
The primary goal of the Christian is to be Christ-like, right? So we must follow His example in all things…including prayer.
Thomas Brooks, an English Puritan, said, "The best Christian is he who is the greatest monopolizer of time for private prayer."
(James Smith, "Sunny Subjects for All Seasons" 1858)
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17
How important is a spirit of prayer! It is . . .
the proof of regeneration,
the manifestation of grace in our hearts, and
the evidence our title to mansions in the skies!
Prayer is . . .
the breath of the renewed soul,
the beating of the sanctified heart,
the effect of the life of God within us.
O that I had prayed more!
Prayer should become a habit with us--then everything would furnish us with matter for prayer. Prayer should mingle with our pleasures and our pains, with our labor and our rest. O for more prayer!
We should never do--what we cannot pray God to bless.
We should never go--where we cannot ask God to go with us.
If we would hold fast our profession,
if we would adorn the gospel,
if we would honor Jesus,
if we would enjoy our mercies,
if we would get good by our trials,
if we would see all things working together for good,
if we would conquer Satan,
if we would overcome the world,
if we would crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts
--we must pray!
Prayer, if it is believing prayer . . .
opens Heaven to us,
unveils the glorious face of God, and
brings down foretastes of the joys of paradise,
makes us a match for all our foes,
enables us patiently to carry every cross, and with perseverance to climb and pass over the loftiest hills we meet with on our heaven-bound pilgrimage!
Those who pray, will, by deriving strength from Heaven, by drawing down wisdom from above--withstand every storm, and shout God's praises at last.
Tempted Christian--pray, and you will overcome every temptation.
Troubled Christian--pray, and God will deliver you out of every trouble.
Perplexed Christian--pray, and God will make your way plain before your face.
Doubting Christian--pray, and God will disperse your doubts, and chase your fears away.
Trembling Christian--pray, and God will strengthen you with strength in the soul.
Sick Christian--pray, and God will make all your bed in your affliction.
Dying Christian--pray, and death will lose all its terrors, and you will gently fall asleep in Jesus.
Lost sinner--pray, for God who heard the publican and justified him, will hear you and save you.
O for the grace of prayer, that we may in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God.
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2
James Smith, Grace Gems, prayer
Getting to Know You: What's Your Favorite Bible Verse
I don’t know about you, but this is a question I always have a difficult time answering. It seems God is constantly revealing to me the hidden treasures of His Word through the most unlikely verses, and so it’s not uncommon for my favorite Scripture to change on a monthly, or sometimes even a weekly, basis. With that said, rather than trying to pin down one verse and calling it my favorite, I want to give you a list of four verses that have proven especially influential in my own life.
“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:”
While this verse doesn’t necessarily answer the question “Why me?” that we so often ask ourselves, it does clear up any misconception that it was because we were something special. In Israel’s case, they were not chosen because they had impressed God or because they were a great multitude of people; in our case, it wasn’t because we had earned God’s favor or because we had anything great to offer Him. It is for this reason that Paul wrote, “…by grace are ye saved.” (Ephesians 2:8)
“Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: the poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.”
Most of you don’t know this about me, but I come from a broken home. About three years ago my life was turned upside down, and yet this is a verse that brought comfort to me countless times when nothing else could. Whether you are without a father, a mother, a healer, or a friend, know today that God can be whatever it is you have need of (Philippians 4:19). He can be your helper in a way that nobody else ever could.
“Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.”
It’s amazing to me when I look back over the most difficult times of my life and see how God was able to bring good out of a situation that seemed completely hopeless at the time. I know now that if I hadn’t experienced some of those trials I most likely wouldn’t even been saved today, and perhaps wouldn’t be here at all. God’s love for Israel moved Him to turn their curse into a blessing, and I know that, if you let Him, He’ll do the same for you.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
This is such a powerful verse, and it has held a special place in my heart for a long time. When I remember the bondage of sin that used to weigh me down and then consider the freedom I now have in Christ, a sense of joy fills my soul that couldn’t possibly be described in a blog post. When the devil, the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10), brings up our past sins to the Lord, I can imagine our heavenly Father answering, "Sin? I see no sin when I look on my child. He is without condemnation." Truly, there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
So what about you? What Scriptures has God used to encourage, motivate, and uplift you when nothing else seemed to do the trick? Leave a comment and let me know, as I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love to read your story. Whether it’s one verse or even a whole chapter, I always love reading how God speaks to others through verses I myself might have been overlooking.
getting to know you
Praying for one another
Zachary, your post inspired a new blog that is probably overdue. As we are building a strong community of like-minded believers here at memverse, it would be great if we could uphold each other in prayer, praying for special needs and events in each other's lives as people feel free to share. The Scriptures we are memorizing are full of promises of God answering our prayers, as well as testimony of a prayer-answering God who did move often in response to the prayers of His people.
Zachary, thanks for sharing about your dog, Ginger. I will pray for you and your family during this difficult trial. I will also petition God for the safe return of Ginger if it is in His all-knowing, all-loving, perfect will. I twice had our family dog (different dogs a few years apart) run away when I was young growing up in Indonesia. One was gone for a couple of weeks and we have strong reason to believe was stolen and tied up, but managed to escape after losing a lot of weight. The other just returned after almost a week and acted like nothing had happened. I know of others whose pet never returned. May God encourage you through this challenge.
I ask the memverse family to pray for me as I am facing a lot of big changes coming soon, as I plan, Lord willing, in the next 6 months to get married to a wonderful girl God sent me to. I also plan, Lord willing, to walk away from a 22-year career as a math teacher to be able to focus more directly and passionately on the spreading of Scripture. There is a lot up in the air as to what exactly that will look like. It is very exciting and a little scary all at the same time.
May we lift each other up in prayer before our all-powerful Father in heaven and watch Him answer and work in our lives. What can we pray for in your life?
Postscript (River La Belle): Thomas Watson has said, "When we pray for those things which are absolutely necessary to the glory of God or to our own salvation, we can pray fervently and persistently. But when we pray for those mercies or comforts upon which our salvation or His glory does not depend, then we must learn to couch our petitions in submissive resignation to His will and wisdom." Excellent. I just thought that we should all keep this in mind as we share our requests.
What's the Difference?
No book in history has ever compared to the Word of God. It has been hated and loved; burned and cherished; neglected and trusted; criticized and yet never undefended. Many countries have banned Its use entirely, while others have built their very foundation upon Its words. Amazingly enough, what makes God’s Word unique is not the fact that It has proven so controversial, but that It has proven Itself accurate time and time again:
- Scientists once falsely believed that air had no weight, even though God had told us otherwise thousands of years earlier (Job 28:25).
- At a time when it was largely accepted that the Earth rested upon the back of a large animal or giant, the Bible spoke of its suspension in space (Job 26:7).
- Long before the discovery of atoms, the invisible “building blocks” of Creation, God had revealed “…that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Hebrews 11:3)
- During an age when Science claimed the earth to be flat, Christopher Columbus sailed west through faith in the Scriptures: “It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…” (Isaiah 40:22)
In Isaiah 55, God promised us that His Word would not return unto Him void. Like the rain and the snow from heaven, It has a purpose that will be accomplished. Though mankind has attempted numerous times to block that purpose, they have failed miserably on every occasion and have served only to further prove the inerrancy of Scripture. As it was said by Charles Spurgeon, “Had I written [the Bible], there would be men who would pull it to pieces at once, and perhaps quite right too. But this is the Word of God; come, search, ye critics, and find a flaw; examine it, from its Genesis to its Revelation, and find an error. This is a vein of pure gold, unalloyed by quartz, or any earthly substance. This is a star without a speck; a sun without a blot; a light without darkness; a moon without its paleness; a glory without a dimness.”*
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Without a doubt, the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It has no equal, and thus reflects the nature of Its Author (1 Samuel 2:2). Jesus is Its grand subject, our good is Its design, and the glory of God is Its end (John 1:1, 14; 1 Corinthians 7:35; Philippians 2:9-10).
Volunteer to Verify Verses
As both the number of users and the number of translations has grown, we have more and more memory verses being entered each week. After returning from Christmas we realized that the number of verses that need verification had become very daunting. So there is now a new page where you can help verify verses.
The page takes a while to load but you will get a list of the verses in your translation that haven't yet been checked. There are instructions on the page on how to do this. Once you have made any corrections, the verse will go to a final verification step. We have been testing this out with some early volunteers and it has already dramatically reduced the time we spend correcting verses.
Over time, we will add alerts for when there are verses that need to be checked. For now, NIV and a couple of the other major translations are already up to date.
P.S. We're thrilled at the response to the referral competition. We have a record number of new users the past two weeks.
verse verification, checking verses
Holy Unto the Lord!
My dad put me in touch with a website: www.gracegems.org. Be sure to check out the website, as it is absolutely PACKED with free downloadable solid Reformed books, articles, quotes, etc., both from the Puritans as well as more modern authors, such as Spurgeon, Ryle, Robert M'Cheyne, and Arthur Pink.
Anyway, I have been receiving their wonderful "Daily Grace Gems" for over a month. They are basically just small excerpts from Reformed authors, mostly Puritans, that are meant to encourage you in many different ways, depending on the nature of the gem.
I got this one a few days ago and was greatly blessed by it. I thought I would share it with all of you, praying that you would be greatly heartened and convicted, and inspired and motivated to greater levels of holiness, by God's grace alone.
Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture?
Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture?
(James Smith, "Holiness Unto the Lord" 1865)
"On that day even the harness bells of the horses will be inscribed with these words: 'Holy unto the Lord.' And the cooking pots in the Temple of the Lord will be as sacred as the basins used beside the altar." Zechariah 14:20
We are to write on all that we ARE, on all that we HAVE--"Holy unto the Lord!" We are no longer live unto ourselves--but unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself up for us. We are to have . . . Christian, is there anything in your house, in your business, or on your person--on which it would be unfitting to write, "Holy unto the Lord?" If so--ought you to possess it, practice it, or wear it? O Spirit of holiness, come down and by the finger of Your power--write, "Holy unto the Lord!" upon our hearts!Enable us, as the effect, to write upon all we that have and are, upon all that we purpose, plan, and do--"Holy unto the Lord!" in large and pleasing characters, such as all may understand!
holy sorrows, and
pursue holy objects.
1. See then, what we should BE--holy. This was God's end in our election, redemption, and effectual calling. This is God's design in all our trials, troubles, and exercises; they are for our profit--that "we may be partakers of His holiness."
2. See also, what we should DO--write, "Holy unto the Lord!" on all that we possess. We have no right to possess, use, or wear anything--on which we cannot write, "Holy unto the Lord!"
Would such an inscription look well on some of our costly furniture, fine clothing, or entertainments? Would it? Do not shun the question--but let conscience take it up, examine, and return an honest answer.
We should use all that we have--as consecrated to Jehovah's service and praise:
our mental powers,
our physical strength,
--all should be used for God, and for His glory! When about to employ any of these, we should pause, and ask, "Will putting them to this use honor God? Will it serve His cause? Will it bring praise to His most holy name?"
All who see us, dwell with us, or visit us--should be able to perceive that we have written upon all we have andare, "Holy unto the Lord." Until they can, we are not what we ought to be--and God's end in what He has done for us, and conferred upon us, is not answered.
We are to write on all that we ARE, on all that we HAVE--"Holy unto the Lord!" We are no longer live unto ourselves--but unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself up for us. We are to have . . .
Christian, is there anything in your house, in your business, or on your person--on which it would be unfitting to write, "Holy unto the Lord?" If so--ought you to possess it, practice it, or wear it?
O Spirit of holiness, come down and by the finger of Your power--write, "Holy unto the Lord!" upon our hearts!Enable us, as the effect, to write upon all we that have and are, upon all that we purpose, plan, and do--"Holy unto the Lord!" in large and pleasing characters, such as all may understand!
Grace Gems, James Smith, Holiness
Announcing the Memverse Referral Competition
As we all know, the start of a new year is a great time for resolution making and it is a great time to refer people to Memverse. We are going to run a competition from now until Easter, April 24th 2011. The more people you refer to Memverse, the more chance you will have of winning one of the three prizes:
- A Silver New Beginnings Pendant
- The $100,000 Word by Daniel Staddon
- A $25 Amazon gift certificate
The winners will be chosen randomly from the Referral leaderboard but the higher your referral score, the more chance you will have of being chosen. If you have a score twice as high as someone else you will have twice as much chance of being chosen. Three people will win and the one with the highest score will get to pick their prize. The second highest score will pick next and the third highest will get the remaining prize.
I'm hoping that people will be creative in finding ways to refer people. Feel free to post links on your Facebook page, post a flyer in your church, email people you know, add a link from your blog, buy Google Adwords (there are lots of free coupons available on the web). Remember to use your referral link to make it easy to get credit. However, please do not spam people and give Memverse a bad reputation. Targeting a few influential people who have a passion for memorizing will be much more effective.
Remember that you will also benefit from the people they refer so the sooner you start the better.
A New Team Member
The little social bar at the bottom of the screen seems to be either loved or hated. I'm pleased to announce that it is now optional. You can disable it on the profile page (Profile -> Profile ... I know, it's confusing)
The really, really cool aspect of this new feature is that it was implemented by our second volunteer developer, Alex Watt. Please feel free to start pestering him for new features :)
A week before the Bible Bee finals Alex contacted me and asked whether he can help contribute to Memverse. I said, 'Sure', and he started immediately. You can imagine my surprise when I saw him on the video winning the whole competition! As I've mentioned before, my vision is to have more people actively working on improving Memverse. All the source code is open-sourced on GitHub and now that I've dragged Alex through the process of getting set up and contributing it should be much easier for the next person!
One note on the toolbar: many people do use it to refer a friend to Memverse, share links to the leaderboards, popular verses, and the blog. That's the only reason it's there. We definitely are not storing any of your information.
Meebo, toolbar, volunteer
Knowing What You Believe
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”-Galatians 1:8
For Comments on the Spurgeon Devotional
As good as Spurgeon is, I haven't been reading the daily devotional nearly as often as I should. I read today's and was convicted about it, and now I am going to try to read the devotional for every day.
I thought it would be a good idea to have a blog post for the purpose of commenting on the devotional (because as good as Spurgeon is, there are bound to be TONS of comments. . . right?) . . . so here it is. :)
Spurgeon, daily devotional
New Memorization Page
We are excited to finally announce the beta release of the new memorization page. You'll find it under Memorization -> QuickMem. There are probably still a few kinks to be worked out so don't start using it unless you're the kind of person that likes to live on the edge.
It is intended to eventually replace the old 'Memorize' page. So why did we need a new one?
First, this one should be a lot faster to load each verse, especially for those of you who are on slow internet connections. It downloads the next verse while you're working on the current one.
There is also another feature which we think will help people stay on top of their memorization schedule: when a verse is not strictly due for review, you will have the opportunity to skip it. A little 'fast forward' button will appear and you can click on that to skip to the next verse in a passage that is due. This obviously only applies to verses that are being presented as part of a passage. (I realize that the fast forward button color scheme doesn't match the rest of the website ... if anyone is good with Photoshop and wants to make one that does, that would be great).
For those of you who use the 'Chapter Review' page, verses that are due as you work through the chapter will now be updated. So feel free to use the chapter review page as the main way to review your complete chapters. We're working on a better way to alert you when chapters are due for review.
Finally, there is a new Memverse counter on the home page which will update as verses are memorized. We can look forward to the day when that hits 1 million!
QuickMem, chapter review, memory verses, Memverse counter
It's Christmas Time
It's just under a month until Christmas and then a week or so after that it will be 2011. Here are some recommendations from my 2009 experience:
Take this period to slow down on adding new verses. It will be busier than normal despite our best intentions, there'll be more on your mind, and it's better to go in to 2011 with a nice clean slate. (This is from someone who hasn't made it to the end of his verses for quite a few weeks now!)
Set a realistic goal for 2011. Take a look at what you've achieved the past few months and then set a goal that you think you can achieve with a bit of a stretch. Remember, the more verses you have in your head, the more time you'll need for review so if you added 100 this year, you might want to consider adding 80 next year. We are working on helping those of us who keep falling behind on their verses so don't throw in the towel just yet. :)
Finally, hope springs eternal in the New Year. January 2 is a great day to get someone to join you in memorizing the bible. So get a friend to join you. It's much easier together.
Getting to Know You: How do you Memorize?
What is your technique for memorizing God's Word? I do not think that I'm wrong in saying that the main function of Memverse is the review, not the memorizing ... So how do you memorize Scripture off-line?
memorization, getting to know you
Getting to Know You: What is your favorite verse?
The subject is pretty much self-explanatory. What is/are your favorite passage(s) of God's Word? Why do you love them so much? What is/are your favorite book(s) of the Bible and why? Once again, this is a pretty small post, so let's make up for it in comments! :)
Live Broadcast of Bible Bee Final at 11am (PST), 2pm (ET)
Bible Bee broadcast the final live. If you missed it this year, make sure to watch next year for some great inspiration.
Bible Bee, 2010