Janet Purvis: This Week I’m Reading…
I absolutely love this interview with Janet – one of the kindest and most lovely ladies I have ever known. Sit back and enjoy reading about her journey with Jesus, and tips for our own daily walks with the Lord! Lx
1. What Bible passage(s) are you currently reading/have read recently and found really encouraging?
Recently, I have been reading John’s Gospel as part of a women’s bible study group at our local church. Just a few weeks ago we reached the account of the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:17-42). It might seem weird to say that I found this passage really encouraging as it describes what might be regarded by many to be a story of defeat and a terrible miscarriage of justice. Yet, my friends and I were all truly amazed and reassured afresh by the passage.
Because this account has God’s control written all over it, literally. Not one thing, however horrific, happened then, that had not been planned from before the beginning of time.
“This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled”. (v24)
This was how God’s rescue plan was worked out for all who believe. How wonderful!
2. What’s been the one, key take-away message so far and how is it changing your day to day life and relationship with God?
Don’t ever fear that the world is out of control! Don’t doubt God’s power and His love for you for one minute! The news at the moment seems particularly shocking and bewildering: terrorist attacks, big political changes and economic uncertainty. Sometimes it is difficult to take in all that is happening around us.
Put yourself for a second in the place of the women, including Jesus’ mother, standing by the cross and witnessing Jesus being put to death, as described in John 19. In the space of a few days, everything seemed to have changed for the Jesus they loved and followed.
One moment He had been making a triumphant entry into Jerusalem in the company of his loyal disciples. The next He had been betrayed by one of them, deserted by the rest, handed over to the hated Romans by the Jewish leaders and was now being brutally crucified. They must have thought the world had gone mad.
And yet, as we read the passage, we learn that details of the crucifixion, like the casting of lots for Jesus’ clothing by the soldiers (v24) and the piercing of Jesus’ side (v37), had been foretold in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years earlier. There is repetition of references to Scripture being fulfilled – of everything being completed and finished (v 24, 28, 30, 36, 37).
The crucifixion was happening at the time of the annual Passover festival when the Jewish people remembered how God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt many centuries before. Specifically, they gave thanks for how God spared the firstborn son of each Jewish household, marked by the blood of a perfect, sacrificed lamb, known as the Passover Lamb. Now, well over a millenniumlater, the ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus, had come to offer rescue from sin and death through the shedding of His blood for us on the cross.
So the message for me and for us all is to be in awe of God’s love and power and to be reassured. It is truly remarkable that, even while dying on the cross, Jesus instructs one of his disciples to take care of his mother (v 26-27). In the midst of apparent chaos, Jesus reaches out and loves us. Therefore, however bad the news headlines might be, this passage is teaching me and everyone to take heart, to trust and not to be afraid.
3. When, where and how do you read the Bible?
The ideal for me is to read it in the mornings, though it can happen at different times of day. My plan is to sit somewhere quiet and calm with my bible and notebook, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have good ‘quiet times’ just about anywhere.
I enjoyed reading about the mother of the evangelist, John Wesley, called Susanna, who was born in 1669 and had 19 children! For obvious reasons it was difficult for her to find a quiet corner so her children knew to ‘drop the volume’ when they saw her throw her apron over her head – they understood this was her private time with the Lord. I can’t say this is a technique I’ve tried, though!
4. What helps you keep a good routine for reading the Bible, and what helps those habits stick?
I find having some kind of structure really helps me in getting the most out of reading the Bible. Last year quite a few family members all used the same Bible in a Year app. This was really useful, not least because we could ask each other how we were getting on. I also like Joni Eareckson Tada’s ‘Pearls of Great Price: 366 Daily Devotional Readings’.
5. What piece of advice would you give to girls who want to start reading the Bible for themselves, or get back into it?
Like others have said, I would really recommend starting reading the bible with a friend. It might not be possible always to be with each other when you do your reading, but you could plan to do the same readings over a period of time and then compare notes about how you are getting on.
I like having a notebook to record things that have really encouraged me. It can be great to share these with friends sometimes, especially on days you know they are facing a particular challenge.
I also have to hand a note of prayer requests some of my friends share on a regular basis. It is a great way of supporting one another. I also find it inspiring to follow something like freshfaith or amazinggrace on Instagram and have bible verses coming through to my phone throughout the day.
Janet is married to John and they have 2 grown up children. After studying languages at university, she worked as an accountant in London for many years before becoming a magistrate 11 years ago as well as being involved in the women’s work in her church. She is a great believer that God uses everything in our lives, however apparently random, good or bad, to transform us bit by bit into the people He wants us to be.