Friday, October 29, 2010
1. Repent - first to God. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Repentance is the first step towards restoration. Without it, nothing else will work. Admit what you have done. Next, repent to those who you may have hurt in the process. Own up to your weaknesses and sins and begin to mend your relationships. You have to expose sin. You can be made whole and forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
2. Humility - Pride will ruin you as well. "The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God…" (Psalm 10:4). When you humble yourself, God will lift you up. (1 Peter 5:6-7). It cannot happen any other way.
3. Memorize Scripture - Find some verses that you can hide in your heart to overcome sin.
Start with James 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 and quote them when you are tempted.
Make Psalm 51 your own prayer. Here are some others to help you. Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Peter 2:11; Romans 8:13; Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 6:13; Galatians 5:17; Philippians 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:22; Psalm 101:2,3; Proverbs 6:25-29; Proverbs 5:18-20; Proverbs 8:13; Job 31:1-4; Matthew 5:8; Romans 8:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 6:18-19; 2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; James 1:15 and 4:3; 1 John 2:16
4. Be Accountable to Someone - Don't let shame and guilt keep you trapped in sin. You can't deal with private sin privately. Confess your sins to someone (James 5:16). Find someone who is more spiritually mature than you and confide in them. Let them ask you tough questions. Be willing to show them your cell phone, computer history, etc.
5. Set Up Boundaries - Get an Internet filter. Set blocks on your phone. www.bsecure.com, www.covenanteyes.com, and www.hedge.org are great. Remember, whatever boundaries you set up do not deal directly with your heart. You must get sin out of your heart. You'll always find a way around any boundary if your heart is not pure.
6. Guard Your Heart - As I said before, the main issue is your heart condition. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Psalm 119:37 asks the lord to turn my eyes away from worthless things and preserve my life according to Your Word.
7. Find Materials To Teach You - Stephen Arterburn's book "Every Man's Battle" is good. He has some for women, young men and other situations of life. Bill Perkins book "When good Men Are Tempted" is also good.
8. Find A Support Group - There are many support groups online.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I went to a meeting last night for the table hosts for the Hope Women's Resource Center fundraising banquet. That place has really changed in such a short time! They now have an ultrasound machine and have remodeled the whole place. It looks incredible! Since about September, they have given almost 70 free ultrasounds to ladies. Statistics show that if women see their baby through ultrasound, they are 90% more likely to keep that child rather than abort it. It's great to be part of such a wonderful ministry. They were talking about an mobile RV that they want to purchase to reach the ladies of other smaller cities in the area. HWRC is located on 6th street in Pine Bluff across from the old Sears building.
I start my training as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) at the first of November. Is a program established to provide a voice for abused and neglect children brought to the attention of the courts. Voices for Children is the Court Appointed Special Advocate program established to provide a voice for the children of Jefferson and Lincoln counties, who have come to the attention of the court because of abuse or neglect, until a safe and permanent home is established. What Do Court Appointed Special Advocates Do? 1. They stand up for foster children so they'll stand a chance. 2. They serve as a fact finder for the judge by thoroughly researching the background of each assigned case. 3. They speak for the child in the courtroom, representing the child's best interest. 4.They continue to advocate for the child until a safe and permanent home is established. What a great opportunity to reach troubled families for Christ in Jefferson County!
I've been reading a ton on pro-life lately. Randy Alcorn has a lot of great things to say at his website - http://www.epm.org/ Type in "Pro life" in the search field.
Our Fall Festival is this Sunday night, October 31 from 6-9 pm. Last year, we had over 3,000 people in attendance - it was amazing! We have more games, activities and food this year and expect an even larger crowd. What a safe, family-filled, alternative to Halloween!
I'm reading through the Old Testament right now - did you know that the first recorded word of mankind was about marriage! (Genesis 2:23). God was the first dad to ever give his daughter away in marriage. He was the first pastor to ever perform a ceremony!
Go VOTE!!! November 2nd!!! Watch this video at http://www.valuevotersusa.com/.
Monday, October 25, 2010
What types of personalities generally stir up conflict? There are 8 types of potential conflict personalities:
• Bird Dogs - They sniff out items for your attention
• Wet Blankets - They have a negative view of every situation
• Entrepreneurs - View ministry as a great "network" for their business, sales, or dating life
• Captain Bluster - To them, every sentence ends with an exclamation point!
• Fickle Financiers - They vote with their offering - withholding or giving
• Busybodies - They love to tell others how to do their jobs
• Snipers - They pick off the leadership in private conversations
• Bookkeepers - They keep written record of offenses
Conflict usually happens because of four reasons: 1. Doctrinal differences, 2. Moral differences, 3. Cultural differences, and 4. Personal differences.
We must be peacemakers - rightly upholding the Truth of Scripture and the Vision/Mission of our Church while loving and helping those who stir up conflict. We must confront conflict and those who bring it with Truth in Love. Remember - there is a TON more that unites us than separates us. We must walk in unity and resolve conflict. We must not compromise Scripture, Christ-like character, the Church or our calling to please any of these personality types.
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:1-5 NIV
Sunday, October 24, 2010
1. The church is the most powerful force on the face of the earth. Acts 1:8 says we we will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come so we can be witnesses to many areas. The church must display it's power and be a change agent in Jefferson County and every county that touches it.
2. When Pentecost came, ALL the believers were present - from every nation. Acts 2 lists these out. The church MUST be made up of ALL believers from every culture, nation, people and language. The church must be black, white, yellow, red, and brown. Not just the church as a whole, but each of our churches.
3. One of the biggest obstacles that has prevented the church from being powerful today is the spirit of racism. We must break racism and come together. If the church doesn't come together, then we say God isn't powerful enough to break ANY bondage and stronghold in Jefferson county.
4. We see that the early church - ALL of the races present in the first part of Acts 2 - ate together in each other's homes, worshipped together in the church, sold their possessions to help each other out (rich helped out poor), and many more things in fellowship and unity. WE TOO must return to the model of the New Testament's 1st church. WE TOO must come together. What divides us is small compared to what unites us - Jesus unites us. We are no longer a black, white, Hispanic, or Asian race - we who are in Christ are all brothers and sisters in Him. We are the chosen generation - a royal priesthood!
5. In Revelation 4:9 we see God worshipped and every nation, tribe and language was in heaven. Heaven is not segregated. Heaven is not racist. Heaven is full of white, black, yellow, red and brown people. All together worshipping and praising the Lord!
6. We must come together and break the spirit of racism in Jefferson County. John 4 tells how Jesus (a Jew) asked the woman at the well (a Samaritan) to give him a drink. At first she was unsure of it. After all, she and he were different races. But she gave him a drink from the same dipper she drank from. IF OUR CHURCHES ARE GOING TO BE POWERFUL AGAIN IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WE MUST DRINK FROM THE SAME DIPPER. The church must show it's power given through the Holy Spirit. Racism divides us.
7. Race is not the most important thing - while our heritage and cultures are important, race can divide us. What brings us together is not RACE, but GRACE. We have been saved by grace through faith. We must allow the grace of God to be poured into our lives and then we must pour into the lives of others - regardless of race.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
1. Confrontation should always be for restoration of relationship - to God and to each other.
2. Follow the steps of Matthew 18:15-17 for confronting sin and offense
- Confront one on one - in private
- If that doesn't bring reconciliation, take one or two witnesses with you
- If that doesn't work, the church leadership should become involved for discipline purposed
in repentance and restoration
3. Make sure you don't confront if you are offended, bitter, or angry
4. Confront in love. This means show gentleness, humility and encouragement.
5. Confront early on - when you see "smoke". Don't wait till the situation is blazing out of
6. Only seek counsel about how to confront from someone more mature spiritually than you.
7. Don't gossip about the situation. Don't go and tell everyone what the person has done when you haven't gone to them.
8. Make forgiveness and repentance priorities.
9. Pray with the person and offer to meet to help them overcome sin.
10. If others have been wronged, counsel the person to go to them and make it right. Offer to go with them.
11. Be prepared for rejection. Don't try and force repentance. Don't get angry. Continue to pray for this person and practice love and forgiveness towards them.
12. Use scripture not personal opinion.
Scriptures on confronting: Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; James 5:19-20; Matthew 7:3-5
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Here is what I had to do and hopefully good advice on how to deal with mistakes:
1. Make sure you are not in sin. Check your heart. If you have sinned, repent and ask for forgiveness.
2. Make sure you are under authority. If your actions were intended to undermine your authority, you must repent.
3. Take ownership of your mistake! Don't try and blame others or find a small glimpse of bringing others into sharing the responsibility of your mistake. Especially don't lie or bend the facts. Nothing says "lack of integrity" like shifting blame.
4. Don't fall back on stupid sayings like, "Everyone makes mistakes" or "I'm only human". While true, these statements only communicate lack of responsibility and that you are only trying to weasel out of the consequences.
5. Be at the mercy of those you have hurt, wronged, or failed. Ask for forgiveness and the possibility of making the wrong right.
6. Be willing to accept the full consequences from your mistake - even if you don't agree with the consequences. Be appreciative of any grace or mercy.
7. Learn from your mistakes. How do we keep this from happening again? What processes or structure can we implement to prevent mistakes in the future?
8. Move on. After you've done everything you need to do - repent, make it right, etc. - move on. Nothing will put you more into neutral than being bummed out about something forever. How well you recover from mistakes is a sign of maturity. Don't quit saying your sorry over and over once restoration, restitution, or forgiveness has taken place.
Lord, let me always be quick to repent, quick to listen, quick to receive correction, and always be willing to remain in You and you in me.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
...He asks you to build an ark - especially because when it had never rained before. (Noah)
...He asks you to walk on water. (Peter)
...He asks you to leave your homeland and go the land He will SHOW you. (Abraham)
...He asks you to undergo rib removal to create something called a woman. (Adam)
...He asks you to use trumpets to make a city crumble to the ground. (Joshua)
...He asks you to marry a prostitute. (Hosea - and her name was Gomer too!)
...He asks you to hold your walking stick out and the sea in front of you will split. (Moses)
...He tells you that you are going to have a child at the age of 100. (Abraham)
...He tells you that you are going to birth the Son of God when you are a virgin. (Mary)
...He asks you to return to the place where you killed someone and set 3,000,000 people free. (Moses)
How is your relationship with God? You'll never agree with His rules and requests if you are not growing in your relationship. Rules without relationship always leads to rebellion. Grow your relationship - get to know God better so when He asks you to do the impossible you'll say yes and let Him change the world through you!
Friday, October 15, 2010
1. Inspect what you expect! You must evaluate your ministry before, during, and after. Don't just hope something is going like you want it.
2. Deal with the smoke before the blaze! If you sense a problem arising, take care of now before it gets out of control.
3. Bring correction early in the game. Don't let correction be something your people see you do seldom and abruptly. Let them know you correct all the time to point them and your ministry in the right direction.
4. Let your systems serve you! Stuff is meant to serve you, not you serve the stuff.
5. Make sure your people are not just WITH you but FOR you. If they are just WITH you, they will leave you when issues/problems arise. If they are FOR you, they will stick through thick and thin times.
6. You gain the people you serve.
7. Don't resist respectful push back from your people. Give them a chance for feedback and teamwork. You don't want "yes men" who just agree with you all the time. If they are on your team, they have the right for RESPECTFUL push back.
8. God is in the details! Make sure you go over every detail (or have someone assigned to the many details of your ministry).
9. Put more stock in the "touchdowns" rather than the "extra points" of your ministry. If you concentrate on the extras too much, your main stuff will suffer. What are your "must-do's", "should-do's" and your "could do's"? Prioritize and do the main things first and best.
10. Mercy must accompany truth! (Proverbs 3:3; Psalm 85:10)
Monday, October 11, 2010
2. I agree with the Arkansas Unmarried Couple Adoption Ban. There are many reasons I agree with this. One of them is kids coming out of an unstable home life need to go into a stable environment. The church, rightfully so, helped push this through to being accepted back in 2008. Now, the same church that pushed this through has to step up and start adopting kids and becoming foster parents. We just can't tell others they can't adopt and hope someone else does it - the church's married couples and singles have to start adopting and being foster parents!
3. I'm so desperate for our young families in the church to succeed. My heart is full of things to say to them. I've recorded 6 lessons on CD and have 3 more in the works. My plan is to give one lesson out every two weeks to the families of our church to help them grow as a family.
4. I'm excited about the single ladies' oil change/car wash this coming Sunday afternoon. It is going to be good as we serve some of our single moms, widows and single women of the church. Anyone who wants to help, let me know. We'll probably serve about 30 or so ladies.
5. Why should you pray for the impossible - because Jesus did the impossible!
6. What should your vision be as you walk through the door at church? 1. How can I serve and love those who are visiting today? 2. What can I write down from the message today so I can it share with someone this next week? 3. What is the Holy Spirit wanting to do in my life today? 4. What do I need to leave outside these doors that will inhibit #1-3?
7. If you don't take a double take when God reveals His plan for your life, you probably didn't hear from God. Just when you think you've got everything about His will for your life all figured out, He'll spin your head around every time.
8. "One of these days..." is not a good excuse for procrastinating God's plan for your life. Most of the time, "one day" never comes. Don't consider His plan - DO IT! Go for it!
9. A person's first step away from God is usually when they step away from the people of God.
10. Whenever God asks you to give up something, trust Him - He will always replace it with something better!
Friday, October 8, 2010
It is important to ask the right questions - in prayer, in counseling, in small group, etc. Right questions bring about right answers. Asking who, what, when, where, why and how are very important for knowing God's will. We tend to ask questions out of order. You don't ask, "What is God's will for me?" before you ask, "What is God's will?" He has a specific purpose for you but not before you find out His purpose for all mankind.
Be sure to ask questions to the Lord in order as well.
Who? Who am I? Who are you? Who am I to be with?
What? What am I to do? What's my purpose on this world?
Where? Where am I to do it?
When? When am I to do it?
Why? Why is it important?
How? How am I to do it?
I preach, teach, counsel and minister ONLY because I asked the "who" question first. I found out who I am in Christ. Then, because of who I am in Him, I found out what I was to do, when I was to do it, where, why and how. I find out these each new day as I reaffirm who I am In Christ. "Who" reminds me of my calling.
John 1:12 - I am God's child.
John 15:15 - As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 - I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 - I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 - I am a member of Christ's body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 - I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 - I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 - I am complete in Christ.
John 15:5 - I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 - I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 - I am God's temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 - I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 - I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 - I am God's workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 - I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Hebrews 4:14-16 - I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 - I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 - I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 - I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 - I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 - I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 - I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 - I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 - I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 - I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
That's who I am in Christ and so much more!
Neil T. Anderson wrote, "The more you reaffirm who you are in Christ, the more your behavior will begin to reflect your true identity!"
What question are you trying to answer? If you're feeling, stuck, maybe even frustrated with God, perhaps you need to go back and make sure you're asking him the right question at the right time. Make sure they are in order. Make sure you know who you are. This only comes about as you know who He is.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
In Acts 5:19, the Angel of the Lord opened the door and let them go and told them to speak words of life to the people at the temple. So, the apostles left and obeyed - at the risk of being beaten and killed. When the council found out what they were doing, they sought to kill them this time (5:33). Most people stop doing what put them in jail when they are released because they don't want to go back to jail and face a stiffer penalty. But not the people of God. They had a calling to preach and teach - to build the Church.
Gamaliel, a doctor of the law and Pharisee (Paul's mentor before he was converted), said not to hurt them because if what they were doing was not real, it would quickly fade. He even gave a couple of examples of those who had done the same in their own names and failed.
Acts 5:38-39 is awesome - "So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."
They agreed partially with his advice and just beat them and told them not to speak in Jesus' name anymore. Again, what did they do? They rejoiced that they could suffer for the Lord and continued daily in the temple and from house to house teaching and preaching Jesus!
Don't let opposition keep you from preaching and teaching Christ. Acts 6:1 says that the number of disciples was multiplying. Keep on preaching and teaching the word. What you are doing is of God (v. 39). I'm amazed at the apostles resolve, dedication and loyalty to the Lord. I pray that my devotion would increase to that of the early apostles! I must preach and teach in Jesus' name. When we do this, His church will grow and multiply! Preach Jesus!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
1. History - Genesis to Job
2. Wisdom/Worship - Psalms to Song of Songs
3. Prophets - Isaiah to Malachi
4. Gospels/Early Church - Matthew to Acts
5. Letters/Application - Romans to Revelation
Reading a 3 or 5 circle plan simply means to start with the first book in the "circle" and then read to the last book in that circle. When you finish the last book, start over in the circle.
Decide if you want to do the 3 or 5 circle plan.
The Three Circle Reading Plan - 3 chapters of the Bible a day
Start at the beginning of Psalms, Matthew, and Romans. Read one chapter each day until you complete each circle, then start over.
The Five Circle Reading Plan - 5 chapters of the Bible a day
Start at the beginning of Psalms, Matthew, Romans, Genesis, and Isaiah. Read one chapter each day until you complete each circle, then start over.
Here is a diagram to help.
There are many more Bible reading plans out there. We have some posted on our church website:
I would get a bookmark for each section or write down the chapters you read each day so you'll stay on track.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Myth #1 - I have a right to be happy in my marriage and if I'm not happy, then I need to move on to someone who can make me happy.
Truth - Only God can truly make you happy and full of joy. Only Christ can meet your deepest needs. Only He can give you joy. Joy is different than happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances - if they are good, you are happy. If they are bad, you are unhappy. The Joy of the Lord is unwavering. Paul wrote Philippians while in jail in Rome. He used the word "joy" (rejoice and joyful) 16 times to show us how to be content no matter what the circumstances are. Also, obeying God and becoming more like Him brings you joy. If you are looking for someone else to make you happy, you'll be forever searching for the person that doesn't exist. Find your joy from the Lord.
Myth #2 - The person I'm married to isn't my soulmate. I need to find my soulmate.
Truth - If you are married, the person you are married to is your soul mate. Mark 10:7-9 says, “A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” A husband and wife are “united.” They are “one flesh” and “no longer two, but one." You are “joined together,” and God has made you "soul mates."
Myth #3 - I don't love my spouse anymore and want to find someone I really can love.
Truth - You probably don't love them like Christ loves them if you are feeling this way. True love is patient, kind, not arrogant, not rude, not easily angered, not self-seeking. True love keeps no records of wrong. It rejoices with the truth. It protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. True love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Fake love is selfish, rude, unforgiving, arrogant, prideful, unkind, manipulative, angry and abusive. Are you loving your wife/husband like that or like 1 Corinthians 13? 1 John 4:8 - "God is love." Are you doing God-like acts toward your spouse? (i.e. forgiveness, patience, serving, devotion, prayer)
Myth #4 - We have "irreconcilable differences". That's grounds for divorce.
Truth - The only grounds for divorce for the Christian are adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9) and abandonment (1 Corinthians 7:15) by an unbeliever. Still, reconciliation is to be sought and divorce is to be seen as a final resort. In an abusive situation, the wife (or husband) should definitely separate herself and the children from the abusive husband. But even in this kind of situation, a time of separation with the goal of repentance and restoration should be the goal. Remember this about irreconcilable differences - you are different from your spouse - that's not grounds for divorce. It's grounds for marriage! Men and women are different. Men and women think differently, communicate differently, and want different things from relationships. You are made to complement each other and need to find out the true Biblical roles of husbands and spouses. Your weaknesses are complemented by their strengths and your strengths complement their weaknesses. Plus, saying that there are things that are irreconcilable is saying that God isn't powerful enough to solve your problems. He can do anything! Your marriage isn't too far gone for God to solve!
Myth #5 - I married the wrong person.
Truth - Yes, this is possible. Perhaps you made the decision to marry this person out of disobedience or lack of close fellowship with God. Maybe He was saying "NO", not to marry someone whom He did not desire you to marry. Even if a marriage was not God’s desire and He was saying "No, No, No," the moment you said "Yes" He said "Yes". It is still within His sovereign will and plan. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), and “marrying the wrong person” is never presented in the Bible as grounds for divorce.
A good marriage is not about marrying the right person. It is about doing the right things - doing what God says you should do to be Christ-like. It is about growing individually in Him - letting God pour into your life and then letting that overflow onto your spouse.
Let me put it another way - hopefully one you'll remember. Proverbs 14:4 says, "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox."
Marriage is like the ox - strong, great, and productive. But remember this - if you are going to have an ox (marriage), then you will have ox poop (problems)! There is no such thing as a "poop-free marriage." Most couples don't think they are going to have poop in their marriage. When they find things that "stink" in their marriage, they think they married the wrong person or they fell out of love, etc. You don't throw out the ox (marriage) because of it's poop (problems). You scoop it up. You put it in it's place. You avoid walking in it. You get rid of the poop, not the ox!
Don't bail on your marriage just yet. Let God work on you first. Don't point out the shortcomings of your spouse. Ask God to change you first.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Moses cried out the Lord (v. 25) and the Lord showed him a tree. Just an ordinary tree. He threw the tree into the water and the water became sweet. Notice something important here - when Moses cried out, God SHOWED him a tree. God didn't create one on the spot. He didn't cause one to just appear. The tree had always been there - God just showed it to him.
I'm sure Moses and Aaron, along with the Israelites, walked right by that tree a hundred times without once seeing the potential inside of it. It was ordinary and simple. It didn't stick out and was not glamorous. It was not a huge western red cedar. It wasn't the mighty, 100 year old oak. Just an ordinary tree. Imagine - they probably ate lunch under it and complained about their lack of water, not realizing that the solution was right in front of them.
Can you hear them? "God brought us here and we are in need - we don't have good water. We don't have a solution to our problem. Wah, wah, wah." The answer to their problem was right in front of them the whole time. Because they were complaining about what they didn't have, they couldn't see what they did have. Isn't that like us sometimes?
We too are sometimes so blinded and concerned with what we don't have. We mumble and complain about what God has not given us and miss out on what He has given us. We are looking for the perfect answer when it is right in front of us. "I don't have enough workers for my ministry. I don't have enough money for that. Hasn't God called me here? Why won't He provide?" The answer could be right in front of you. Have you cried out to God and asked Him to show you the solution? Are the people you need to help you fulfill your ministry right in front of you?
We need to stop complaining while surrounded with the answers to our problems. We need to open our eyes - the people and resources to accomplish God's will are right in front of us - we just have to recognize it, go get them and put them to use - turning our bitterness into sweetness.
Who do you need to have lunch with this week to talk about joining you in your ministry? What resource are you stepping over or ignoring that can be invested into the Kingdom today? What have you been complaining about instead of crying out to the Lord about? He will show you the answers every time.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Hebrews says this about Bible study: "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil (Heb. 5:12-14, NIV). God wants you to grow and mature in the Word.
Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of the time you spend in the Word:
BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Get a quiet place. Block out a certain amount of time to study. Try to study in the same place at the same time each day. Get your materials together (Study Bible, notebook, pen). Lose the cell phone and turn off the TV and Radio/MP3 player. Pray for God to reveal His Word to you and then begin.
1. BIBLE VERSION: Get a Bible translation you can understand. The NIV, NLT, and NASB are good. I recommend a study bible that has a summary before each book. A good study bible will have commentary at the bottom to explain each verse and what's going on. The NIV Life Application Bible, NLT Study Bible, MacArthur Study Bible, Thompson Chain Bible, and Nave's Topical Bible are all good.
2. BIBLE TOOLS: There are even Bible study tools out there. Bible dictionaries and a good commentary are helpful. There are also study books that go along with a certain topics or books of the Bible. Take time to browse your local Christian book store's Bible study section. You can also find a lot of things online for free. I recommend http://www.biblestudytools.com/ and http://www.studylight.org/. A good online bible is found at http://www.biblegateway.com/.
3. START IN THE RIGHT PLACE: If you have never read much of the Bible before, start with the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament. Read to understand the life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus first. He is the center of all scripture. If you have a red letter edition of the Bible then read the words in red. You may even read a chapter of Psalms and Proverbs a day.
4. PICK A BOOK AND FIND OUT ABOUT IT: Another thing you can do is pick a book of the New Testament - lets say Philippians. Find out things like 1) who is the author?, 2) why was it written?, 3) to whom was it written?, 4) what is the historical background? and 5)when was it written? Asking "who, what, when, where, why" will help you to understand the overall meaning of a particular book of the Bible.
5. GO SLOW: Start with the first chapter of the book. Go through it verse by verse. Ask what each verse is saying. Look for key words. After you read the first section or chapter, ask yourself what you got out of it and how you can apply it to your life. You may want to make notes in a journal or notebook.
6. STUDY BY TOPICS: You can also study the Bible by topics. Most bibles have a concordance at the back to help you find the topic you are looking for. This will help you with specific issues in life (i.e. patience, love, anger). Remember, the Bible is a book of principles. Ask yourself, "what principle of God's Word did I learn and need to apply?"
7. MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE: I recommend finding and memorizing scriptures that deal with what you are going through or what you are studying. Write down the verse on a Post-it or index card, put it in your pocket and pull it out throughout the day to memorize it. Repetition is the key to memorization.
8. MARK THINGS IN YOUR BIBLE: For example, you might want to use a yellow highlighter for key scriptures you want to memorize. You may want to use a blue pen for making notes of something the pastor said in the margin. Write in red another Bible reference that applies to what you are reading. Develop a system of marking that works for you.
9. APPLICATION: The things you read in the Bible are always meant for you to apply. They are never just simply head knowledge. Ask yourself how you can apply the principles of what you have just learned. Write out an action step. Then pray that God will help you apply this to your life.
Studying the Bible takes time, consistency, and diligence. Start small, be consistent, and watch how you grow spiritually.