Q&C Oct4 Praying for Manhood [fighting and hurting]

I Timothy 2 is a preachers land mine!
Remind me to thank the apostle Paul someday.

God uses Paul to press into the church at Ephesus what their stance or conduct should be in the areas of politics, church function and gender-roles. The principles that are laid out in these touchy passages still hold true for the church today that wants to behave as the household of the living God, as a true part of the pillar and buttress of the truth of God (key verse). They become the regulatory principles for the biblical church.

The principles must continue to be true in our churches even if we might not need to make application in exactly the same way Paul does for the church in Ephesus. Caution though– often times we lean hard into application, so much so that we actually soften, change or throw out entirely the biblical principle. Paul’s very instruction to the proper conduct for the church is found in the principles- which cannot be changed without stepping outside of God’s regulatory principles for life as a Biblical church.

In dealing with the principles for godly men in the church Paul, here, gives us a succinct and clear picture. “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling.”  I won’t attempt to capture everything that this means for the men of the local church (that sermon is here) but it is noteworthy to mention:
~ the principle for men in the church is a life marked by a posture of active holy prayer. This captures both the stance of the heart (holy) and the actions of the hands (actively motivated as a response of worship)
~ the ‘check your mirrors’ application for guys it is often with what we spend our time and energy doing that mirrors the condition of our heart. Holy hearts given to seeking God result in holy hands active in worship.
Hearts bent on ego, opinion, self-rightness, a need to be applauded, worshipped or in flexing our status muscles- mirrors itself in the reactions of a heart bent on anger and quarrelling.

We spent quite a bit of time making application for men in the church, the push is that it is in prayer that this battle is fought. It is in prayer that  this fight can be won against our own selfishness. It is in a humble posture of acceptance and calling out to God for the work of His Son to transform our hearts, from the need to be right to allowing him to have the rights over our lives, that we find renewed authority. Authority that is an application of Christ’s authority in all the corners of our lives. This is the godly authority that lives out Ephesians 5:25-33  kind of love, as a godly man. This is an authority that can only be applied as we preach a clear gospel to our hearts- in prayer.

Questions and comments

This gets us to the questions and comments that were shared on Sunday after the sermon:
1) What is the reference for “the fight is not against flesh and blood?”
An interesting thought as we navigate these verses- the book of Ephesians was written to the same congregation that Timothy pastored. It is with the book of Ephesians that provides some of the backdrop application for the charge that Paul gave Timothy to act out in the church.  Ephesians 6:12 is the direct quote for this passage of realizing that our fight is not primarily against the struggles we often make it. Not against a bad government, or a dysfunctional church, or a person in our lives. The real fight is a spiritual fight- a fight behind the fight. A fight that can only be fought in seeking, asking, knocking, calling, submitting to the spiritual work of God in our lives. A fight that is best fought in a place of prayer. It’s the same language that Paul uses in I Timothy 1:18 as he encourages Timothy to take up the charge of fighting the spiritual fight for the church.

2)What does a woman do when she wants to submit to the authority that is in her life (husband or father), but he is being selfish and not fulfilling his role?
Great question and comment. The reality is there are many men who live selfish and are demonstrating they are not living out a godly expression of spiritual authority. When men refuse to live out of a true spiritual authority exercised in prayer first and gospel love second all those who are under the influence of this authority suffer, in various degrees.
There is no one simple answer to this question. This link might help with some of the hard work of building a more stable relationship with the hope that a gospel-centered approach will break through and bring repentance where needed, and redemption where possible.  Stuck in a Relationship

Hoping for this, but there are times when we need some very direct outside help. If you are someone who is getting hit, abused or being manipulated in ways that are causing deep harm – this is something you cannot overcome by yourself. We do church in community so that you’ll have a place to get help. Elders are to be godly men who are able to speak into the authority of others in the church. You need to talk to your Pastor- today! He may need to call in other authorities to help bring to bear the weight of repentance and help that an abusing man needs to get in his life in order to stop hurting others to this degree. Call your pastor today! Press him to get help lined up for your situation right away. [If its hard for you to talk to or open up to your pastor- tell someone you feel will listen and who can go with you or on your behalf to the pastor/elder].
If he doesn’t seem to be moving on this- you need to call your mental health crisis help line. We have dealt with ours in Halifax, N.S. They are courteous and able to get you the kind of contacts/help you might need.  Halifax Crisis help line

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling.”  – MEN- LET’S PRAY FOR OUR CHURCHES!


Q&C from Sunday Sept27 Christians and Politics [should Christians be starting revolutions?]

Three things you should never talk about::Politics, Church and Gender Roles

We started the precarious walk through I Timothy 2 last week. Typically after someone has read our text on Sunday, during worship, they end with reminding the congregation, “This is the Word of God”. The congregation then affirms, which has been part of church history, their willingness to submit to the text with a response of, “Praise be to God.” This week at PAXnorth was different… after I Timothy 2 was read, their was the reminder, “This is the Word of God.” The reply that came back as an encouragement to the deer-in- a headlight Pastor was- “Good Luck!” – it was a great, funny and tone setting moment- truly a reflection of the culture of our church.
The preaching and conversations over the next two to three weeks may be difficult ones. God’s design for the church:: Designed for Authority and Influence [Politics, Church and Gender Roles] I am thankful that PAXnorth does not shy away from these conversations and together seeks to place ourselves under the word of God.
We had some great discussions after the sermon on Sunday regarding Designed for Authority and Influence :: Politics
  A couple of Questions and Comments from Sunday:
“You mentioned prayer and prayerfully considered voting as acceptable means of Christian influence in politics. Are their others? Are there things we should not do as believers?
“How can Paul’s desire for us to have peaceful quiet lives under political authority be reconciled with the observable history that the Church thrives under oppression (i.e. China, 1st century church) Doesn’t this ideal conflict with the reality?

These are very helpful and practical questions that call us as those who are Christians to consider how we are actively living as good citizens of heaven first and Canada/Nova Scotia/Halifax second. We talked about on Sunday the sense of living in holiness, seeking the peace of where we live, so that the Gospel might have a much easier job of being proclaimed and lived – must be a key point in  our political considerations and actions. For God desires that all we be saved and be able to come out of their ignorance of His great plan of redemption – this is definitely the main point of Paul’s instructions regarding praying for our rulers, I Timothy 2:1-7.

Here is a bit more from Desiring God- on what a Christian response, life or action might look like in keeping Paul’s instructions to us as believers. Thanks Jordan K for posting this link.
 Should Christians start revolutions? Or just live quietly?

Remember part of being good citizens is exercising the right to vote. Vote in such a way as to prayerfully enjoy the freedom to live and share the Gospel. “Pray for those in the high positions in our country” May we see a revival of the Gospel across Canada!


We don’t purpose to be able to solve all the mysteries and difficulties of faith lived out. But we are willing to wrestle through them openly and honestly.   Saying that, we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation (grace).

QandC prt1 Sunday Sept21[what good is sorrow for sin?]

  Sermon #2 from I Timothy 1:12-20

  Our intern Vaclav helps us tackle of couple of the questions that were asked on Sunday.

   Q. After we have been saved and as we study the Word of God, should others be seeing a change in us? When we meditate on our sin we will see our need for the gospel. But isn’t it easy to slip into a worldly sorrow and shame, being overwhelmed by the consequences of our sin? Should we not be moved rather to pure repentance and communion with Christ?

The apostle Paul said, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.(2 Corinthians 7:10)

In Luke 18:18-30 we read of the rich ruler who trusted in his own goodness, just as Saul (Acts 9:1-19), who later became the apostle Paul, trusted in his own goodness. Both met Jesus.
The ruler came to Jesus. Jesus came to Saul. But when confronted about their sin, the ruler felt only “worldly sorrow” and walked away very sad. But when Saul was confronted with his sin against Jesus he felt “godly sorrow” which led him to true repentance, a change of mind about God and about himself.

Why did one find joy in God and the other only sadness?
Both have seen their sin, but one has seen it in the light of who Jesus is, and saw God’s kindness to him and has repented; and the other has seen only his sin and loved it too much to be able to look at God’s kindness, forbearance and patience toward him, felt only regret. Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” So it is always the same way how we come to God or turn back to him, by looking at, contemplating and believing the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ.

  When we see God’s kindness to us sinners, it will lead us to repentance, a change of mind, which will turn to a “pure devotion to Christ”. (2 Corinthians 11:3) And that is only because of the grace of God.


Need a little more on how transformation happens in the life a Christian?
Take a few minutes to read Transformation

Q&C prt3 [couldn’t someone else die for sin?]

questionscommentsOur church plant/ pastoral intern Vaclav answers for us one more of the questions that were submitted on Sunday. We didn’t get a chance to talk about this in our open forum but it’s a great question- a vital question when it comes to true Christianity:

Q3. You mentioned that our sin is so offensive to God that it can only be righted by another’s death and it cannot be our own. Did it have to be Jesus’ death? Could it have been someone else’s? Why not our own in response to our own sin?

Ezekiel 18:20 says according to the law, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” But our sin is not just against another sinful human being. Our sin is against a holy and infinite God. And a sin against an infinite person requires an infinite payment.

If God let you and me die for our sins against him we would be paying for it forever. So God in his mercy and love sent a perfect substitute, his Son the man Christ Jesus, to not only die our justly deserved death, but also to live the perfectly righteous life we could not live. So Jesus fulfilled both, he took away our unrighteousness [our constant striving to be good enough for God] and he fulfilled the righteousness we did not. Jesus came “to fulfill all righteousness”. (Matthew 3:15). In three hours on the cross as an innocent and perfect sacrifice Jesus suffered the eternal punishment we deserved. “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24). Death for our sin would hold us forever because sin was in us, but death could not hold Jesus because there was no sin in his righteous soul. Our sins were credited to Jesus Christ, and in three hours in his righteous nature he has absorbed the infinite wrath of God for our infinite offence against God. There is no one who does not sin, except Jesus. Not us, but Jesus is Gods only salvation for us.

Here’s a great place to find some good basic answers to some good basic questions about the Bible:: Got Questions?


We don’t purpose to be able to solve all the mysteries and difficulties of faith lived out. But we are willing to wrestle through them openly and honestly.   Saying that, we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation (grace).


Q&C prt2 Sunday Sept3 [the Gospel, the Gospels, and Same-Sex Relationships]

PART 2 of Questions and Comments from Sunday, Sept 3

Caveat to Church Pastors and leaders who may read this:  If you are not having [or making room for] these types of conversations with your people you are, in my opinion, ill equipping them to navigate the very realities that they encounter everyday in the culture we live. My experience, a combination of theology in churches and  realities in an urban culture, is that most Christians have very little idea on how to engage in reasonable and winsome conversations while holding the truth of God’s Word. If that is the case- the shame is to us, the leaders/pastors in the Church – and it causes the Gospel witness (the Goodnews of Jesus Christ), entrusted to us, to be silent or to be ignorant. But I don’t want to sabotage this PART 2 QandC so I’ll leave this rant for my own personal blog East Coast Veritas which needs a good meaty topic of late. 

  The following question (s) comes out of our kickoff sermon in the pastoral epistle of I Timothy. A series we have entitled God’s Design for the Church.
I Timothy 1:1-11 God Designed the Church for Gospel Clarity
God uses the struggles of a young church plant in Ephesus to help us see what are the most important concerns for the church’s conduct as they live out spiritual life together I Timothy 3:14,15. The very first thing he addresses, which sets the stage for the rest of the letter, is Gospel clarity.

Another question that came out of our Questions and Comments time after the sermon focus, along with several others, might be even more ‘thorny’ then the last ones addressed in Prt 1 [law, slavery, hypocrisy] – after you read this you should say something like, “You guys talked about those things in an open forum on a Sunday morning as part of your worship service?!… whoa.” 

Question #2 “Emphasis on homosexuality seems odd to me (I Timothy 1:8-11)– there is nothing in the Gospels about homosexuality being wrong- so how is condemning it ‘in accordance with the gospel’? 

GREAT QUESTION! Here are some of the excellent answers that were shared that might help us see where people are coming from or help us navigate through this.
“When it comes to the Bible’s addressing of homosexuality does it really come right out and say it is wrong in the New Testament? I know that in Leviticus it talks about all kinds of sexual relationships that are forbidden under the law (Leviticus 18). But I am not so sure that it means the kind of loving relationships that some of my same sex friends have with each other. I really struggle with the condemning of these kinds of relationships. I am not sure how I should react to the thought that it’s not accepted by God or His Church?”

   “Saying that God is silent on homosexuality is not entirely true. Jesus addressed sinful sexual relationships and broken thinking about what the law did or did not allow more then once.” [See how he lovingly but firmly points out to the woman at the well the real struggle of her heart’s worship by pointing her back to her failed relationships and her current relationship. John 4:4-26.  Essentially he points out to her the place where she is trying to quench an inner thirst by physical and sexual relationships; Also see how he handles the Teachers of the law regarding their lack of understanding on the heart issues behind how easily they could turn to divorce Matthew 19:3-9. The human tendency to put the passions of the heart above the intentions of the Creator are no surprise to Jesus;  Jesus also addresses sexual sins using the phrase ‘porneia’ which is a bit of a ‘junk-drawer’ type word and includes all kinds of sexual relationships, Mark 7:21. Its the same word Paul picks up to be in step with Christ’s and the O.T. stance on sexual boundaries, Romans 1:26-32].  

    “I think when you start using arguments based on a particular section of scripture, separating them from the whole of scripture, then you’re not basing your argument on a broader Biblical Theology and you begin to get in trouble. The Bible is clear in both the Old and the New Testament that sexual relationships outside of marriage between a husband and wife is an act of sin or rebellion against His intended design for marriage. The truth is He has made us all for relationship. We do feel loneliness, or passion, or desire or joy in relationships in all kinds of degrees, in all kinds of ways. It is how God designed us, it is a good design and these are essentially good desires. The intensions of such a make up is so that we might discover their fulfillment in God first and most, then we might enjoy these things in each other. So the Maker of our hearts certainly must know how they will be best filled up and has the right to declare the boundaries of what will be for our best good and His greatest joy.”

A further point from the Sermon text (I Tim. 1:8-11) is that this is a short list, a highlight list of teaching, thinking and behaviour that is contrary to sound doctrine. “Well what is sound doctrine?” we ask. Paul qualifies sound doctrine here as “that which is in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” The point being these things listed, and others, are NOT in keeping with those who claim to know and live the Gospel.

Here’s an article and a video that may help to clarify the conversation a bit more –

Jesus never addressed homosexuality so neither should his followers right?
 Jesus and homosexuality

Here’s a video discussion:
How can homosexuality be wrong if it doesn’t hurt anyone?

I recognize that writing out these questions and comments can result in an over simplified response. We however as a church need to continue to make space for the hard conversations as we submit our hearts to God’s clear Word.

We don’t purpose to be able to solve all the mysteries and difficulties of faith lived out. But we are willing to wrestle through them openly and honestly. Saying that, we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation (grace).

We had a couple more Questions and Comments on this Sunday. We may get a few more up before the end of the week.

Brad Somers
Lead Pastor

Q&C prt1 Sunday Sept13, 2015 [from the law to slavery to Christian Hypocrisy]

I Timothy 1:1-11 was our kick-off passage for our Fall Series
I Timothy:: God’s Design for the Church
     The main thrust of I Timothy 1 is that God has designed the church with and for Gospel Clarity (to hear more of this take some time and listen to the podcast)   questionscomments
We had some great discussions during Questions and Comments coming out of this passage. Here’s some of the conversation we had- with a bit more added to help in our thinking:

Question #1 From I Timothy 1:8-11 – talking about the right and wrong use of the law- as a part of Gospel Clarity
            ” Curious to why slave trading and perjury are in this list? Why was it important to Paul? Why should it be important for us?”

Some of the follow up Theology in Community responses were:
    “The law when used properly points us to the brokenness of our own hearts and of the cultures we live in. This kind of using of others (perjury and slavery) was condemned in the law.” Romans 1-3 also Romans 7:7 demonstrate and confirm this use of the law.
” The law confronts the sinful tendencies of our heart to ‘own’ or ‘take advantage of others- this is good use of the law. -Points out our moral failure as a culture even though we think we are more sophisticated now.”

However Paul’s main point here as you move through the text is the law can convict us, may even convince us of our inabilities to live good moral, fully God-pleasing lives but this is where it stops. The law is impotent to transform us. We can’t transform our internal state of sin and brokenness simply by acting better (this is what we would call religious moralism). NEXT week we will look further at how the Gospel is the only means of transforming a condemned-under-the-law sinner, like Paul.
(I Timothy 1:12-18; Ephesians 2:8-9)

One of the conversations/ arguments that we touched on is the contradiction that we perceive in the Bible and in the history of the Church regarding slavery. (i.e Paul condemns slavery here, yet instructs slaves to remain with and be obedient to masters elsewhere. Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22 The O.T. law allowed for paying back a debt by becoming a bond slave Lev. 25:39 to a debtor until paid) – this is to say nothing of the Slave trade of modern history and even today. This propels us into some bigger, and maybe more uncomfortable questions for those who call themselves Christians who believe the Bible.

Questions like: Why has the church been responsible for so much injustice? Why are Christians such hypocrites?
The length and purpose of this blog precludes from a full answer to these questions here but let me highlight a couple of  recommended articles and a video to help us wrestle through these questions:
Blog Articles    Does God and Jesus Condone Slavery?
Christianity and it’s role in Slavery?

Video: Heres an interaction with  Dr. Timothy Keller as he addresses several cultural arguments put to him at Berkley University

All Christians are Hypocrites , so aren’t Christians the best argument against Christianity?
Highly recommend this Veritas video series to help you both think through and navigate conversations like the ones we are having at PAXnorth.

We don’t purpose to be able to solve all the mysteries and difficulties of faith lived out. But we are willing to wrestle through them openly and honestly. Saying that, we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation (grace).

More Questions and Comments to Follow
Brad Somers
lead pastor

Weekend Intensive Gospel Journey 101

Get Started Here:: GOSPEL JOURNEY 101
This is a required class for those who are interested in joining a Discipleship Group (D-Groups)

What is Journey 101? This study is designed to be the first steps of introduction for those who are investigating being a deeper part of PAXnorth community, either for a part of or for the life time of their spiritual journey. This study will unfold for you the biblical foundations from out of which PAXnorth finds expression.

This class looks at the basics for living out of God’s greater mission as a church, understanding scriptures, the Person of God, how humanity began and how we have become what we are, as well as God’s primary intentions and to what lengths He is prepared to go.
With this in mind we DO ask that anyone who is considering PAXnorth as their church home would prayerfully and with a desire to grow take Journey 101.

Why is Journey 101 required? We believe that this will give you a strong foundation for understanding the basics of Biblical Theology and helping you to understand how a church is designed to live ‘missionally’ in its culture. PAXnorth is a community of diverse spiritual backgrounds. Our goal is not that you will believe all that we believe but simply that you would know what we believe and why. We would hope that this will inspire you to journey alongside of PAXnorth, or another church community, who is truly seeking to make a difference and raise the ‘value’ of the context in which we together live. If you feel called to engage the culture with us it is important that you understand the spiritual foundation we are coming from.

Journey 101 will be a foundational requirement for ALL those who are taking the initial steps to being a part of PAXnorth, whether they are still spiritual skeptics or if they already hold a PHD in theological studies. For many of the continuing theological studies, that we will offer, with few exceptions, Journey 101 will be an initial requirement.

As we begin our fall semester and kick-off D-Groups we will be offering a Gospel Journey Intensive
Friday night and Saturday morning
SEPTEMBER 25 and 26
  To Sign up and get a pdf of GJ101
please email

Questions and Comments


As our first act of response: We will give you a minute and 20 seconds to write out your Question and Comment


Since the inception of PAXNorth Church we have tried to make room for Questions and Comments following the morning sermon.
Here’s how it works:
~ we ask people to fill out a comment/question card with, something that stuck out to them, or something they want to ask.
~ then we gather the comments at the front
~ the comments and questions are not to put the Preacher on the spot, nor to be used as a platform so the Pastor can try and prove how ‘all-wise’ he is.
~ it’s a place where we read the comments, and questions back to the congregation, receiving feed back from each question and allowing/guiding them to work out the truths of scripture in some way together; This is a means of a few short moments to do “theology in community” on a Sunday morning. Yes, as part of our worship time every Sunday morning.
~ the parameters are, it needs to be something that is relevant to what we have been looking at from God’s Word that morning (we quickly discovered that some of us have religious hobby horses that we seem to be beating every time we open our mouths… so keep to the scripture focus of the sermon that day).

What does this do in creating an environment of worship at our church service?
~ our young skeptics have often commented that it gives the service a greater amount of ownership to the listeners. One visiting hipster once said, ‘Yeah, its not simply the sleepy hearers listening to the talking head.’
~ it helps me as the primary speaker at PAXnorth to understand more clearly the points/places of application that our congregation may be wrestling through.
~ it has often helped to clarify and challenge those whose thinking is not clear or simply not right on the truths of scripture by someone else other then the guy at the front.
~ it has become a key transition point from our preaching (which we do at the first of the service) to our confessional prayer and into worship through music.

Questions and Comments has become an important part of teaching our people how to wrestle with both scripture and application with out devouring one another. It’s a good wrestle and not one that we always feel resolve on after we have talked it out a bit. As a church, we are o.k. with that (not feeling like all the questions are neatly, nicely resolved by the end of the service). We want people to wrestle with the truth of who God is and what He has said and we strive to make a safe community for this, even as we preach direct and clear truth from God’s Word.

Over the next several weeks we are going to try and post some of these questions and comments to our website so we can give you a sense of how this plays out with us. We are going to try to both capture and give some answers to the difficult questions that are being asked. If you want to chime in we are o.k. with that. Just so you know though we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation.
Welcome to Questions and Comments!

Brad Somers
lead Pastor
PAXnorth Church

“He Restores My Soul” Psalm 23

sheep-still-waterFollowing up on a comment/encouragement made this past Sunday as we looked through Psalm 23. In particular we spent a few minutes focused on God’s Word as a primary source that our Good Shepherd has given us to see our souls in a constant flow of being renewed or restored.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” Psalm 19:7a

This cross reference from Psalm 19 gives us a direct link to one of the great places we can find renewal in our every day. God’s Word has been a source of hope, renewal, correction, etc, etc, etc for those whom we look up to as examples of christians who have walked in renewal in the face of adversity. Here is an inspiring, helpful and deeply instructional quote that John Piper uses in a couple of his books and sermons regarding one such giant of faith, George Muller:

“That river of reality is the Word of God and all the great saints have been made great by it. Let me give you one example in conclusion to spur you on to more meditation and more delight. George Müller lived from 1805 to 1898 and is famous for establishing numerous orphanages and relying on God for help in remarkable ways. Listen to his testimony about how and why to meditate on Scripture.

‘While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the eighth edition for the press, more than forty years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as a habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed in the morning.

Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of Godand to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, whilst meditating, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began, therefore, to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, very soon after, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.

The difference then between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events, I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the Word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even an hour, I only then begin really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.

It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that thefirst thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.'”

Praying through Psalm 23 for our church and family.

Pray that you’ll know by experience this work of the Good Shepherd!